Monday, January 14, 2019

FEDERAL: Government Shutdown 2019

1. PARTIAL GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN: Really? Federal Government Workers? Sorry to hear you can't go 2 weeks without a paycheck: I'll tell you what I told my boys when we were raising them: ALWAYS save AT LEAST 10 to 15% of your income, NO MATTER WHAT! Put it away before you see it: if you never have it, you can never spend it. There. Lifetime savings plan started. Parental advice administered. 2. PARTIAL GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN: This is a PAID VACATION - TAKE IT! After the Partial Shutdown ends, our tax dollars are going to pay you for ALL THE DAYS YOU WERE SCHEDULED TO WORK BUT DID NOT! If I were you (ONLY thinking of what I would do), I would hope it would go on long enough so I could take a vacation to Mexico, Death Valley, and the Virgin Islands - all while getting paid and NOT HAVING TO TAKE A VACATION DAY! WOW! AWESOME! HOW LUCKY ARE YOU? Alternatively, take a "temporary" job and go for the double income score. Work while furloughed, and when the shut down ends, receive payroll checks for all the days you were scheduled to work but didn't. What a great opportunity for a bump in pay, or to do a different job for a change. With the sub-4% unemployment rate, job opportunities abound. 3. PARTIAL GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN: Emphasis on "Partial". Who really notices when Federal "NON-ESSENTIAL" personnel do NOT show up for work? Probably nobody. NOT saying that they don't do an important job - just saying that its likely that nobody will miss whatever important service is being done. Heck, its the Christmas Holiday - nobody is doing any working anyways, are they? (except Retailers and Utility companies). 4. PARTIAL GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN NUMBER: Look how "serious" our leaders are taking this SHUTDOWN CRISIS! Pelosi luxuriating in Hawaii (also getting paid), and Trump canceling all vacation plans to be at the Whitehouse to be available to negotiate an end to the shutdown. Heck, Trump even through in a quick trip to the troops in Iraq, which, not surprisingly, he was roundly criticized for making - go figure! (seems the troops appeciated it, anyways!). Not supporting EITHER POLITICIAN, but the contrast is striking to me. During a shutdown, I believe CONGRESS and the PRESIDENT should be in Washington DC sitting at a table (Trump/Congress: nobody leaves to go to the bathroom until we get this resolved! <HUMOR>). 5. PARTIAL GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN NUMBER: Emphasis on "Partial". The VAST MAJORITY of our Federal Government remains open, and everyone gets their Social Security checks, etc. Remember, STATE and LOCAL governments are still open, unless they get most of their funding from the Feds (which MOST don't). 6. (dedicated to Mike S.) FEDERAL GOVERNMENT SCREWS ITS EMPLOYEES: PRIVATE EMPLOYERS must pay their employees for time worked, or face STIFF FINES. The Federal Government EXEMPTED THEMSELVES from these rules, as they do with almost every employment law they impose on private employers. The Federal Government exempts itself because they feel that laws like these are too cumbersome and difficult for them to abide by, yet the make private employers like me do so. Why don't government unions push for changes, such as requiring payment for labor on time? Because they'd rather push for benefits and pay raises, as they KNOW that after a shutdown, they will get paid for every penny they worked, and for many, get paid for time they did not work. To my fellow Furloughed Federal Americans: Enjoy your PAID vacation, and don't forget to say THANK YOU to those of us who are paying for it! Peace and Happy New Years to All!

PHOTO: Yuma Crossing map from Mission Days

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

FACEBOOK: I Don't Care What You Think!

I guess this is the new trend, so here goes: Dear Face Book Friends, This is where I stand. Period. I make no apologies to any or all of my FB friends for this. I don't listen to what politicians SAY - instead, I pay attention to what they DO (WHICH IS ALL THAT MATTERS). For the issues I most care about, all American political parties show little or no concern for these issues, as far as I can tell: - Reducing INCOME INEQUALITY (California has the highest in the nation) - "the rich get richer, and the poor get poorer" here in California. - Reducing POVERTY (California has the highest poverty rate in the nation). - Create GREENHOUSE GAS REDUCTION POLICIES that do not disproportionately burden the poor (California leads the nation in this one too: our "Climate Change" laws disproportionately increase living costs for Latinos, African-Americans, and American Indians. - Increasing INCOME OF PERSECUTED CLASSES. - Reducing COLLEGE COSTS and BRUTAL STUDENT LOAN DEBT. - Allowing AFFORDABLE HOUSING to be built. - Feeding those who are HUNGRY. - Housing those who are OUT IN THE COLD TONIGHT. - Addressing the OPIOD CRISIS that is now KILLING 70,000 people in America each year. - Addressing the SUICIDE CRISIS that is now KILLING 40,000 people in America each year (mostly the young). - Addressing the CHINESE THREAT posed to America (Russian is a shrinking power, while China is a rapidly growing one); the Chinese people are OPPRESSED and have FEW FREEDOMS. - Addressing the FEDERAL DEBT, climbing towards $22,000,000,000,000 (that's $22 trillion dollars) - that means LIVING WITHIN OUR MEANS AND STOP SPENDING LIKE DRUNKEN SAILORS. - Helping the MENTALLY ILL and the PHYSICALLY DISABLED. - Removing American Troops from perfectly capable countries like Germany and Japan, who are rich and can defend themselves. - Removing American Troops from various quagmires across the land (mostly the Middle East): Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Yemen, Jordan, Pakistan (I can't think of them all right now) where we spend $TRILLIONS$ of dollars and thousands of lives, and end up causing NOTHING BUT PAIN AND DESTRUCTION. - Provide our military veterans with appropriate MEDICAL TREATMENT that they have earned. - Ending CORPORATE WELFARE like the billions recently heaped upon AMAZON and primary owner and $160,000,000,000 (that's $60 billion) Jeff Bezos, who clearly does not need welfare. - Addressing (lowering) Health Care Costs to make them more affordable for more Americans. - Institute TERM LIMITS for all politicians, and remove their massive permanent pensions for life after one term served in office; they should be working for the people and not to line their own pockets. - The MEDIA and POLITICIANS seek to divide us to serve their own petty interests: we have much more in common than we have in differences, but in our "click bait" world, conflict is what "sells", so that is what we get - PLEASE KNOCK IT OFF - IT BRINGS OUT THE WORST IN EVERYONE. - Change the laws to allow AMERICAN INDIANS to have more say over how their reservations are run, and let them do what they have to do to reduce the POVERTY of their tribal members (American Indians have the highest poverty rate of any group in America by far - and nobody seems to care). - Parents: control your children's Smart Phone, Computer, and Tablet use, which studies are showing to be EXTREMELY DETRIMENTAL to their health and their futures. - Compromise and Resolve IMMIGRATION ISSUES, and bring back things KIND OF LIKE the Bracero Program of the 1940's - 1960's. - Move the world towards ZERO POPULATION GROWTH; there are no Worldwide problems that can't be reduced by LESS PEOPLE! The world is still expanding the human population across the planet like cockroaches! - Businesses Employing FELONS when they get out of prison so they don't RECOMMIT CRIMES AND GO BACK TO JAIL (ban the box!). - Ensuring equal access to PUBLIC EDUCATION FOR ALL, especially in the inner cities. - Removing Unconstitutional Laws that MAKE BEING HOMELESS A CRIME. Yes, I wrote this entire listen off the top of my head in about 10 minutes. I'm not a drone, a robot, or play for one team (D's or R's) - I try to be an independent thinker that resolves the issues of the day - so SUE ME! There are plenty more, and I'll add to the list as I have time. This will do for right now. Peace brothers and sisters. PHOTO: Death Valley "Wild Burro" round up!

Saturday, November 24, 2018

NATION: Gender Pay Gap - A "Peek" at the Truth?

The current "Gender Pay Gap" (GPG) currently reported in America is in the 78% to 82% range. Many studies have shown that the gender pay gap in America is smaller than what is reported, once male and female "work dynamics" are taken into account. A recent study, summarized below, reinforces that dynamic.

DEFINITION: "gender pay gap" (Cambridge English Dictionary)
noun, also "gender wage gap"
​...the difference between the amounts of money paid to women and men, often for doing the same work:
The Government's aim is to enable women to know whether or not their employer has a gender pay gap.

An interesting new study offers compelling evidence that the choices and priorities of women account for much of the pay gap disparity. Information for this article comes largely from the Wall Street Journal article cited immediately below:

ARTICLE: Wall Street Journal -  "Parsing the Gender Pay Gap"
Appeared in the November 23, 2018, Wall Street Journal print edition.

The study examined data from the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) union shop. The MBTA has uniform hourly wages in which men and women adhere to the exact same rules and enjoy the exact same benefits. Workers are promoted based on seniority, not performance. Male and female workers of the same seniority have the same options for scheduling, routes, vacation and overtime. These rigid work rules would appear to give little to no latitude in providing men preferential treatment.

Nonetheless, in the MBTA study, female train and bus operators earned LESS than men. Harvard economists looked at time cards and scheduling from 2011 to 2017, factoring in sex, age, date of hire, tenure, and whether an employee was married or had dependents. 

• Male train and bus operators worked about 83% more overtime hours than their female colleagues.
• Men were twice as likely to accept an overtime shift on short notice.
• Twice as many women as men NEVER took overtime, which pays time-and-a-half.
• Male bus and train operators also took 48% fewer unpaid hours off under the Family Medical Leave Act each year. 
• Female employees were far more willing to take less preferable routes if it meant working fewer nights, weekends and holidays.


• Married fathers wanted more overtime cash.
• Married mothers wanted more time off. 
• Single mothers took 59% fewer last-minute overtime hours than did single fathers.

Monday, November 5, 2018

No Substitute for "Due Process": Kavanaugh "Victim" Recants

The #MeToo movement continues to promote "believe the victims of sexual violence", which in and of itself is simply a defensible philosophy. When it strays into the implied belief that the victims testimony alone is enough to put the perpetrator behind bars, or lose their job, and certainly be publicly shamed in the media and elsewhere, then the long tradition of "due process", no matter how flawed (mostly expensive and time consuming), goes by the wayside. This often can result in errors that punish and incarcerate the innocent. 

This approach is best described at the web site "Start by Believing" - check it out:

"The Innocence Project", which overturns the convictions of those who are innocent but wrongly jailed for many years anyways, has for many decades proven that the wrong people are often jailed. Read about their philosophy here:

A recent example is the Kavanaugh accuser, Ms. Munro-Leighton, who has recanted her made-up story. Should we blindly have believed Ms. Munro-Leighton, who claims Supreme Court Justice Kavanaugh and a friend raped her in his car. She later recanted this story as made up, simply because she wanted attention, and was angry. Read about how Ms. Munro-Leighton conceded that she made false statement.

I believe that we all want justice, but until we find improvements to "due process", this should be how we operate in this country: "innocent until proven guilty" is in danger of being thrown out the window for good. Americans are waking up to the realization that some of those who are victims of "accusation with no supporting evidence" turn out to be their husbands, children, parents and friends.

We are so far down this road that sexual assault defendants are no longer referred to in the media as "alleged", and are automatically assumed to be guilty. I claim that this is not who we are as Americans. I support justice and fairness wherever possible, independent of political party considerations.

As hard as it may be, the solution should be to report assaults as close in time as possible to when they occur, and not years later, when memories, not to mention evidence, disappear. I have close family members who are victims of severe sexual assault, and I understand why they are hesitant to come forward - a situation that is rightfully identified as a difficult hurdle to overcome.

For instance, though due process mandates the right to "question your accuser", it could still be done in a manner that is less threatening (and less public) to the "alleged" victim. 

Think about Munro-Leighton and what that could mean for any of us who are wrongly accused. The Kavanaugh accusers got all kinds of media coverage during the accusation, but I am willing to bet that the recanting of testimony by Munro-Leighton gets almost none - so far, that is an accurate observation.

Blog posts without photos are boring. Boat on a lift at King Harbor, only feet from destruction. 

Monday, October 22, 2018

NATION: Co-Living (aka Cooperative Housing) Coming to a City Near You?

This article came up recently in the Wall Street Journal: "Co-Living Takes on Bigger Spaces". I have been discussing cooperative housing as a solution for some time now. Indeed, I lived in a cooperative housing unit called the "Co-op" while attending UCLA. In fact, the "Co-op" (as it was unimaginatively called then, and is still called now) is still standing, and you can check on their rates. The co-op is sited on some of the most expensive land on the planet (Westwood, California), yet charges some of the lowest rates for housing anywhere.

Read about the coop as it operates today:

Here's the article (if the WSJ will let you read it):

'At co-living buildings, tenants lease tiny rooms in larger apartments shared with strangers. Renters have access to living rooms, kitchens and other common spaces, while amenities like cleaning services, dog walking and cooking classes are part of the deal.

This product, which is less than 10 years old and found primarily in large U.S. cities, represents only a tiny niche in the multibillion-dollar apartment industry. But developers are now preparing to build some of the largest new co-living properties in North America, a sign that the appeal of this type of housing could be broadening.

“Co-living’s institutional moment is now upon us,” said Chris Bledsoe, co-founder and chief executive of Ollie, which also recently opened a large co-living project with 422 bedrooms. “There’s no more flying by the seat of your pants.”'

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Overturn the Electoral College, Lifetime Seats for Judges and Senate - NOT SO FAST!

• The winner of the popular vote loses - that's not fair. However, that's what the "Framers of the Constitution" wanted. We don't have a "pure" democracy and never will.
• To eliminate the Electoral College (EC) requires:
(1) 2/3 vote in Senate;
(2) 2/3 vote in the House;
(3) 3/4 of all State Legislatures - 38 states as of now. The EC was designed to protect the small states from getting "trampled" by the big ones - that has not changed.
• Without the EC, national candidates would NEVER campaign or even care about the small states. Instead, they would just campaign in the large population centers of the country.
• With the EC, in a close race, all votes in the ENTIRE COUNTRY would have to be recounted! Remember Al Gore and Florida? That was only 3 counties, IIRC. The EC, by its very nature, avoids such a calamitous recall that could take months or even years!
• A recent effort to end the EC is trying to get states totaling 270 electoral votes to pass a bill in their legislatures pledging that the candidate who wins the national popular vote gets those states' electoral votes. It's been signed into law in 11 states, totaling 165 electoral votes, meaning they need another 105 to make it a reality -- which is very unlikely to happen.
• FUN FACT: The winner of the popular vote has lost the presidency five times: 1824, 1876, 1888, 2000 and 2016.

• To eliminate the "2 Senators per State" structure is even more stringent, and would require ratification by all 50 states (Article V of the Constitution) - that's NEVER going to happen.
• The 2 Senators per State structure was necessary to get the small states to sign on during the Constitutional Convention in the summer of 1787.

• Life Tenure for Judges: Madison wrote that life tenure for judges is the best way to secure steady and impartial administration of laws - that is still true today. Kind of like tenure for college professors.
• Side note: Kavanaugh cannot be impeached for conduct BEFORE he became a Supreme Court Justice. Also, Kavanaugh can only be investigated by a referral to federal prosecutors from the Senate, which is the only government entity to have judicial "Advise and Consent" powers.

Posts without a photo are no fun. Here's Brian in Beverage after a challenging hike up to Cove Spring. The funny part is that Brian is sitting in a "butt shaped" cut out in that rock. It was a very hot and very thorny, but very rewarding hike!

Monday, October 15, 2018

In Memoriam: Bev Morgan - Diving Pioneer and Founder of Dive N' Surf

I worked as the head instructor of Dive N' Surf in Redondo Beach in the late 80's and early 90's.  Part of the Dive N' Surf / Meistrell / Bev Morgan legend is described at the Dive N' Surf web site:

"In 1953, Bev Morgan offered Bill the opportunity to buy in to his local marine / dive shop, Dive N’ Surf. Bev owned the shop with Hap Jacobs, who later pioneered the modern surfboard. Jacobs wanted out and Bill accepted the offer on the condition that his brother Bob be brought in as the third partner. Bev agreed, Bob and Bill borrowed $1800 from their mother and each bought one third of the business. To keep themselves afloat, the twins continued lifeguarding on a part- time basis."

PHOTO: Me and Bev Morgan in 2006 at Bill Meistrell's memorial service at the famous Seaside Lagoon in Redondo Beach.

PHOTO: Me and Bobby Meistrell - I was honored to have known him. One of the greatest watermen EVER.