Category Archives: News

houston

I’m not sure what to write about Houston, except that I’m really in shock.  I really can’t remember when there’s been a natural disaster in a place I knew, where I had friends and family.  What’s happening to Houston is really mind-boggling.  The graphic on the front of the New York Times sums it up well – unbelievable rainfall right dead center over Houston.  So many natural disasters, even New Orleans, seem avoidable or preventable or fixable in some way.  All I can think in terms of Houston is mandating that all future homes be built at least 3 feet above the ground.

The worst affected person I know is Jonathan’s sister.  She and her family have evacuated – been rescued by boat – and are staying in a hotel with their pets, as of today.  Prior to that, they were staying with a neighbor, as their single-story house in central Houston is under several feet of water.  Their neighbor’s house is built three feet up and has multiple stories.  Right now, Leslie doesn’t think they will ever return.  Perhaps they will move into an apartment.  While this will be financially devastating for them, he is a well-employed lawyer, and they will likely figure it out without having to resort to FEMA trailers like some others may need to do.

The worst story I heard was Sarah and Jose sheltering in closets with their family during a night of repeated tornado warnings.  I’m so glad they were only warnings, but wow, that sounded truly awful.

It’s odd being here in sunny Seattle, completely unaffected, living life as normal.  One day ‘the big one” (earthquake) may hit us, and the rest of the country will look through their internet windows in horror while continuing with their lives.  Hopefully not any time soon.  I was struck at one point that it was lucky it was my SIL Leslie and not my SIL Elizabeth going through this as E is expecting a baby any day now.  (She lives in Virginia.)  But of course, there must be hundreds of mothers on baby watch and hundreds more with tiny babies in Houston.

saudi music video

I am simultaneously inspired and horrified by this music video out of Saudi Arabia creating a sensation.  I am inspired by the brave and obviously vibrant women who made it, and horrified that playing basketball while cloaked and covered from head to toe is considered controversial.

 

It’s well worth watching if you have a couple spare minutes.  There’s so much debate about feminism (and all the isms these days), but very little discussion about the widespread subjugation of women around the world, especially the Arab world.

One thing that struck me recently is that the US has resumed trading with Iran.  Great.  We’re all becoming friends.  However, US women who wish to do business with Iran will have to cover their hair and obey highly sexist Iranian attire rules when in Iran.  This is being dictated by Iran of course, but also by the American companies they’re trading with, such as Alaska Airlines.  What are a few hijabs when we’re talking about billions of dollars in airplanes, right?

thinking about Trump

From what I have read, Trump didn’t really expect to win any more than we expected him to win.  Now he is scrambling.  The man is simply unprepared to be president.  Let us hope he gets his act together quickly.  I have been avoiding the news, but the headlines about his advisor-choosing process are stressing me out a little.  I do believe the debacle of the W presidency had a lot to do with bad advisors and bad influence, and I fear a repeat.  I would guess at this point, despite all his rhetoric, that Trump doesn’t really have a clue what he actually wants to accomplish and how he would go about it.  That means he’s going to be figuring it out over the next few months, and things could really go in any number of directions.

I went on Facebook shortly after the election seeking to find other like-minded individuals who were similarly disheartened by Trump’s election.  I did find this, but what I also found that I didn’t expect was an incredible amount of hate and vitriol directed at Trump voters.  Honestly, I was taken aback and disgusted.  I’m not talking about the posts expressing sadness that people who would vote for someone who speaks as Trump does and expressing concern over our country’s future.  I’m talking about the ones who insist anyone who votes for Trump is a racist asshole.  It seems too much to hope for that the liberal establishment will look in the mirror and ask how it is flawed and how they can improve so that someone like Trump isn’t an appealing alternative to their candidate.  I see a divide between my friends who grew up in affluent, urban areas and those from rural areas, particularly the rural south.  While nearly all my friends and colleagues are liberal, those who came from areas where there is widespread rural poverty and unemployment due to factory shutdowns are much  more likely to be sympathetic to the plight of the Trump voter whereas the former are more likely to dismiss them as stupid and bigoted.

I do feel anger, but I honestly don’t feel it towards Trump voters.  I know plenty of people who voted for Trump.  The people I know who voted for Trump are mainly single issue voters who vote pro-life no matter what.  (I know a lot of people think pro-lifers are inherently evil, and I obviously don’t agree with this point of view either.)  There are two groups I feel anger towards.  1: Democrats and Liberals who stayed home.  Voter turnout was very low.  My understanding is that more than Trump receiving a lot of votes, he won because Hillary won so few.  2: Hold your nose and vote Hillary voters.  Yes, these people voted, but their rhetoric dissuaded others from voting.  Needless to say, anyone who didn’t vote or who voted third party gets no sympathy from me if they complain about Trump.

Four years.  I want to say to the Democrats, Let’s get it together people!  Much as I love Hillary (and hate Bernie), the Democratic candidate slate for 2016 was weak and limited.  The Republicans sort of dissolved into Trump disarray, but they had a large group of diverse candidates, similar to the Democrats in 2008.  Let us hope some new liberal leaders will emerge in the next four years.

Trump

Holy shit.  I cannot believe Trump might actually win this thing.  Maybe it’s naivete caused by living out here in liberal-land – I know a grand total of ONE Trump supporter that I’m aware of in WA and dozens on the other side – but I felt it was a slam dunk for Clinton.  The NyTimes said she had a 90% chance of winning yesterday.  Now they’re saying 70% for Trump (which I guess goes to show how much they know.)  Honestly I’m furious.  H says it’s sexism.  Is he right?  I’ve been blown away by the vitriol directed at Clinton by some liberals around here and the ridiculous support for Sanders.  If not sexism, what is the problem?  What leads people to think that having Trump in charge is going to lead to a better outcome?

I was told by a colleague that I was sheltered recently.  He wasn’t directing his comment specifically at me, but more generally at all of us well-paid, over-educated, liberal engineers so far separated from the people who feel they’re losing their path to well-being.  At the time, I thought, yes, we are sheltered, but still . . . Trump will not win.

I am honestly afraid for our country if he wins.  I’m not worried about the wall between here and Mexico or his sexism, though these things are obviously troubling.  I’m worried about the vast amount of military power he will wield if he wins, and the incredibly difficult tightrope our president will have to walk in dealing with ISIS and Iran and Russia and so on.  The world is a perilous place and Obama, in a way, has kept us safe for eight years, as well as averting a general meltdown.  I’m not confident Trump can do the same.  And please spare me the talk about moving to Canada.  If things go south in the great USA, of the whole Western world will suffer.

Bush caused a lot of harm in his eight years.  I fundamentally believe Bush was a good guy, but incompetent.  I think Trump is both a bad guy and also a loose cannon.

And if only Hillary had won over Obama eight years ago, she would have taken the general election, I’m guessing Obama could have won in 2016.

olympics

How I love the Olympics!  I took two hours off from work yesterday to watch the women’s gymnastics individual final – best decision ever.

I am also highly amused by the green pool mystery.

I am having a hard time getting excited about track and field, formerly my second favorite spectator sport (after gymnastics) due to all the drugs.  It seems like everyone is doing drugs, no doubt including a fair few Americans, though I do think Americans are cleaner overall.  If I ever find out Michael Phelps is a doper, my heart will be broken.  I will never be able to watch sports again.  No evidence of that so far, though, and I frikking love watching him win.  He really rocks my world.  I can’t explain why.  It’s been a rough summer, frankly, and it just makes me feel good watching him win gold medals.

Anybody done or contemplated doing a Tough Mudder?

reflecting on politics

I saw an interesting suggestion to check your Facebook and see how many supporters the various candidates have in terms of likes for their pages among your friends.  I had to change to the mobile version.  In my case:

9: Hillary Clinton

0: Donald Trump

4: Gary Johnson (Libertarian)

6: Bernie Sanders

0: Ted Cruz

Now, obviously, this is only a small fraction of my FB friends, so it’s probably not very representative.  Nevertheless, I find it interesting that not a one of my FB friends like Trump enough to like his page.  Supposedly, 39% of Americans support Trump, at least to the extent of planning to vote for him.  I have never personally met a Trump supporter.  Not a one!  Have you?  I’ve written on here before that I can understand why some people might like Trump, even if I disagree with them, but I guess I don’t really have any friends that would or do.  (Who might like Trump?  Someone who has lost their job to globalization and otherwise feels left behind in our new global economy and ignored by the Democrats with their focus on social issues and series of trade agreements.)  There are some very conservative folks at work, not surprisingly, but certainly none of them have given any indication of actively liking Trump, though I imagine some of them will vote for him.

Of course, many people who don’t particularly like Trump will hold their nose and vote for him anyway, exposing our country to great peril.  For example, a passionate pro-lifer who really feels that abortion is state-sanctioned baby-murder, may feel compelled to vote for Trump, despite the fact I believe he is really pro-choice at heart.  Why?  The Supreme Court.  There will be a lot of Supreme Court voters on both sides, I would guess, people who dislike both candidates but recognize the stakes.

Really, I feel Hillary cannot lose as long as she keeps her health and avoids major scandal.  Demographics and the mood of the day are in her favor.  But she is not young.  Her VP pick is not perfect, but overall, I think he’s a good choice, and I suppose he would probably be able to step in if she had a heart attack before the election.  Let’s hope that doesn’t happen.

Assuming all goes as expected and Hillary wins in a landslide, what happens next?  I vaguely remember Democrats getting trounced in elections, but I don’t remember them completely reinventing themselves.  They may have done so, and I was just too young to notice.  Remember Dukakis?  He lost badly.  Trump may lose even more badly.  But what is the right path for the Republicans?  I’d suggest that the party might collapse, but again, both parties have gone through hard times before, and they seem to be able to evolve and become successful again.