Friday, May 25, 2012

Notes: 5/25/12

Sunspots an a sidewalk on a normal day - each round circle is a 'pin-hole' image  of the sun...

it was a fine eclipse!  About 6:30PM our local time while the sun was still quite high in the sky, an eerie dimness to the light of day fell over our world.. Once we saw that the eclipse had begun we went out into our street with our mylar filter and passed it around for our neighbors  to look through...There was a kind of celebration about our spontaneous gathering...
If you were in the strip of optimal eclipse you would see this 'Ring of fire' - the moon is between us and the sun -
For us in Fremont it was over 80% covered
I took special interest in the appearance of sun images caused by spots of light coming between tree leaves:  Just like a pin hole camera forms a true image inside the camera, so the light through every tree leaf opening will cast an image of the sun - when the sun was in eclipse every image was a crescent:
Each crescent is an image of the sun formed here on a fence

Peak of eclipse - no 'sun circles' but 'sun crescents'
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It is so good to see the national economy once again steadily improving . The investment market is climbing, manufacturing levels are better, unemployment is now back to 8.1% and continuing to get better, home sales are improving, foreclosures are down... Check the US Department of Labor statistics for the latest data:    
Used furniture store - Oakland
There is, however, an 'elephant in the room' (something obvious that nobody wants to talk about).  Most of the industrial products sold in the United States are now manufactured in foreign plants.  Our clothing is made in Asia, or Latin America, steel and heavy industry have left our shores, electronics produced in Asia, even household appliances are made in US factories located in Mexico.  Steve Jobs (founder of Mackintosh Computers) when asked by Mr. Obama about the manufacture of iPhones:  “Why can’t that work come home?”  Mr. Jobs replied, “Those jobs aren’t coming back.”

Rural poverty

The purpose of American business is to maximize profits and as long as quality workers can be found willing to work for considerably less than US living wages, manufacture will continue to be exported.  American company profits are being used to start new plants outside of the US where labor is cheaper.  We will never return to the days when our economy will be based on semi skilled work that provided middle class incomes - not until we restructure our economic model! The prime motive of US business in not altruism.

No matter which political party is in power those jobs are not coming back... That’s the ‘elephant’ no one wants to think about...

Where you go when you have bills to pay
It means that we have to think smart and develop in new directions - It is imperative that we have a well educated and well trained population.( the rest of the world recognizes this! ) There was never a time in our history when easy access to quality affordable education was more needed so that we can adapt and survive in this changing world economy

Homeless man in San Francisco - its safer to sleep on a busy street than in a quiet alley...
I am especially concerned that even research and development jobs are now being increasingly exported abroad... Why pay US graduates when quality research can be found abroad...?  Our new college graduates are entering an uncertain job market with massive college debt hanging over their heads.  

President Obama said this week: "My job as president is not to simply maximize profits. The job of president is to make sure that everyone has a fair shot."

A once fine home now divided into low cost rooms for rent

Tavis Smiley and Cornel West have a new book : “The Rich and the Rest of Us” that I want to recommend to you:  <>
They completed an amazing trip across America speaking to individuals and groups about current economic condition in America - the book is readable and fascinating. 
How do you transport "your stuff" when homeless - A grocery cart!
Here are some of the  facts they list about poverty in America today.
1.  Many people see poverty as caused by a character flaw. For the 150 million American currently in or near poverty their poverty is due to not being able to find work, massive war expenditures, the recession, corporate greed, or income inequality. Many have done everything 'right' but the jobs still aren't there.... 

2.  American manufacturing is not coming back. Over 50,000 manufacturing jobs have been lost each month since 2001...Mostly exported abroad to earn higher profits for American owners.

Living in an impoverished neighborhood - security is an ever present concern
3.  Most of the post recession jobs pay substantially lower wages than previous jobs... Many people with skills and training are now working as cashiers, stock clerks, or in food preparation.   Many people have to hold down two or three jobs to approach a basic living income.

4.  Those receiving support from the government are not just immigrants and people of color... Today nearly 48.5% of all Americans receive some type of government benefit - 70% of food stamp recipients are white.
Lucky to get minimum wage

5.  According to ‘Feeding America’ 50 million American go to bed hungry on a given night. Visits to food banks have risen 30% since the start of the recession.  

6.  The National coalition for homeless veterans estimate that over 67,000 veterans are homeless on any given night.   Services have long waiting periods. This is not right!

Churches like this often provide a range of physical as well as spiritual support to the poor
7.  The causes of the national deficit are not caused by government 'handouts'... Look at the evidence - Bush era tax cuts and the massive expense of the Iraq/Afghani wars, the trade deficit, the mortgage crisis and the recession... those are the real causes,

Link of the week:

8.  The wealthy is America pay only an average of 21.5% of their wealth in taxes - with the Bush era tax cuts they pay only 5.5% on all capital gains. Records show that the money they save from lower taxes does not ‘trickle down’ - it is not used to build American factories - not used for American wages - but saved in massive savings accounts or used to finance overseas operations and overseas salaries. 

Oakland homes and rentals - many who are one paycheck from being poor may live here...
9.  Rising health care costs are the major contributor to the rise in bankruptcy filings among elderly.    If the health care bill is not supported by the Supreme Court the number of uninsured will sky rocket.  For many, they will postpone care until their is an emergency need, and then they will use already overcrowded emergency rooms.  45,000 people died each year without health insurance before the National Health Care plan was implemented.

10. Poverty is not just an inner city phenomenon -  The number of poor people living in the suburbs of US cities rose by 24% in 2010, poverty in central cities rose by 20%.

11.  We can also forget the idea that someone can't be poor if they have a television and a washing machine...America is awash in cast off used appliances available for a bargain price... Many people acquired these "luxuries" in years past when they had a little more disposable income...

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