The Ocean Cleanup in LA

Have you heard of the “Great Garbage Patch” in the Pacific? Did you know that there is a company “The Ocean Cleanup” dedicated to cleaning up this garbage, to recycling the plastic and finding ways to reuse the collected plastics. This mission to clean up the ocean is admirable and I support them through yearly donations. You can request a donation receipt as well by selecting the topic of “Donation Receipt”. In the future, I hope they will be able to use the plastic collected to make more than just sunglasses like plastic bottles and items that contain mix use of plastics and metals. And yes, I even bought the sunglasses and blogged about it.

Through various research organizations, the Ocean Clean Up organization observed that one of the sources comes from the rivers that flow into the ocean. During periods of heavy rain, plastics that have been discarded upstream/upriver get washed into the ocean. As a way to counter the plastics that end up in the ocean, the Ocean Clean Up team also started to collect plastics that come from the rivers. One such collection effort can be found in LA. Known as Interceptor 007, it is located at the mouth of the Ballona Creek at Marina Del Rey. They even broadcasted live the “maiden voyage” to position the Interceptor at the mouth of the creek and the rationale to deploy in LA.

I need to find some time to take a stroll down to Ballona Creek to take pics.


Free Money? Sounds sus….

In this day and age, I have been so conditioned to view items in bank statements with a lot of suspicion EVEN WHEN it’s in my favor. With all the different ways an account can be hacked (like phishing) or different money fraud schemes (nespresso pods), seeing this entry on my bank account sparked a little concern. You see… I wasn’t expecting to get any free money (at least not on this account).

So naturally I asked these questions:
1) What is this? Have I been hacked?
2) Why am I getting free money? Nothing is free…

Fortunately, a Google search shows that this is a legitimate credit from California.

Biden’s College Loan Debt Forgiveness Plan

If you haven’t heard, President Biden plans to go forward with plans to forgive up to $10,000 in college loans for individuals making under $125,000 a year. Obviously there are specific rules a debtor will need to follow in order to take advantage of the loan forgiveness. Reading through the articles, there are clear lines of political division masked behind the “concerns of the national debt/fiscally irresponsible”, “unfairness to those who have already paid”, and “increasing inflation”. Let’s breakdown some of the arguments as I see it.

1) Concerns of national debt. I find this argument inherently flawed. Both political sides have used this argument when the other side has been pushing a spending plans. Republicans criticized Build Back Better. Democrats criticized Trump’s Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. They clearly can’t be right and the criticisms from both sides are just smoke screens to confuse the voters.

Ultimately, voters really need to think about what kind of “national debt” is considered good debt. Using a line from advocates of higher education, taking on debt in order to obtain more schooling is good. The idea is that education will result in higher wage increases and overall higher wages making the debt more as an “investment” in the future. If voters are to also consider this “investment” hypothesis and apply to the national debt, what sort of programs are appropriate then for US to incur any sort of debt?

I personally believe investments in infrastructure, education and healthcare are critical for the future of US. These kinds of investments will undoubtedly payoff in the future (whether 5 years or 50 years) benefiting American people. Even just around infrastructure, did you know that US has an overall score of C- ( With tragic issues like what happened with the Flint water crisis, and even the current crisis in Jackson, MIssissippi, infrastructure improvements should be one of the top items on every American’s list. Improvements to fix/update highways, bridges, internet, electrical grids, water systems, sewage systems, etc… are critical since they are used everyday by millions of Americans.

With education, teaching future generations the skills needed is critical. It’s not just the advanced skills from “STEM” majors (aka science technology engineering mathmatics) but also the basic building/trade/technical skills that support every day life (carpentry, electrian, mechanic). Education helps maintain a bustling economy. Unfortunately, the emphasis on “advanced” skills seems to outweigh any thought about the basic trade/technical skills. It doesn’t matter how skilled a brain surgeon might be at the operating room table, if the hospital is not built correctly or wired correctly, or if the mechanic does not fix the surgeon’s car correctly…. that surgeon is useless to society if something happens to the building, or operating room or even his car.

And finally, healthcare is also critical to the future of US. By guaranteeing the right to a minimum standard of healthcare, the US government can ensure a standard of living for generations. If the government were to either set a minimum standard OR provide the minimum standard of healthcare, American’s would have access to yearly general check ups which would also provide a benefit of potentially spotting future health issues ahead of time instead of having to require ER visits to handle sudden (potentially preventable) medical issues. How can a “1st world nation” really say they are “1st world” when so many rely on ER visits for healthcare?

2) Unfairness to those who have paid. Why wasn’t this argument used when the US bailed out the banks and the automobile companies during the start of the great recession? If the US government can “pay” to save corporations, why can’t the same US government that “WE THE PEOPLE” created also “pay” the debts of students?

Back in the 2008, depending on the various sources (MIT, Wiki, Rolling Stone, Balance) the US government ended paying anywhere from a minimum around $500 BILLION to over $7 TRILLION. Assuming the numbers are accurate, the reader should be reminded that the $500Billion (minimum) went to corporations. At the same time, the American dream of owning homes were being shattered by foreclosures, under water home values and personal mortgage debt. American people were literally being ignored because the government made some calculation that certain financial institutions were just “too big too fail.” Hypothetically if the $500B were to have been distributed to the approximate 300M US citizens, each citizen would have received approximately $16,700.

With Biden’s loan repayment, eligible debtors would receive $10,000. Again depending on the various sources (CNBC, Daly Caller), the US government would be paying around $330 BILLION. The payment would only target a small subset of the US population based on the criteria set by the administration. At the very minimum some 20MILLION borrowers would now be debt free and be able to divert the loan money towards some other debt or future savings. That’s 20 Million borrowers who might now be able to stop living “pay check to pay check” and be able to have the ability to plan a more financially secure future.

3) Increasing Inflation. To be honest, I’m not sure how a sudden $10,000 deduction from a balance would affect inflation. Many borrowers are only putting $300-$1000 towards their debt on a monthly basis. At most the borrower will now have an extra $300-$1000 to spend on other debt or towards something important/necessary (maybe fix a car? or emergency fund?) I don’t think the extra money will lead to the increase in inflation so suddenly. I feel like pundits talk about the $10,000 as if borrowers are going to go somewhere to spend all $10,000 at once irresponsibly. Please let’s give the borrowers some credit…

Overall, I think Biden’s Loan Debt Forgiveness Plan is great. However, I think the amount of $10,000 is too much all at once. A more reasonalbe alternative would be $5,000 to knock off the borrowers balance. I also agree with the income restrictions qualification as a way to limit high earners from this program. In my study of American history, I’ve realized that America generally rewards or favors people and corporations through various financial benefits such as tax cuts, tax incentives, and even tax loopholes. Biden’s plan is one of those rare plans that try to help the common American citizen. What’s not to like about that?

Did the California DMV get hacked?

I don’t understand why the California DMV OTP challenge page to confirm my “identity” is in Chinese. Did they do some sort of upgrade and failed to keep the OTP challenge in English? Or… Did they get hacked? When a US or state goverment system goes to some foreign language page… it doesn’t really boost the confidence in that web page.

The DMV page also made it difficult. I could not contact a service representitave nor a technical representative to ask about the validity of this OTP challenge in real time. The chat bots are UTTERLY useless. I ended up having to ping them on Facebook and Twitter… but of course… tech service isn’t available their either.

NBC’s War Games!? Seriously!?

I stumbled upon this YouTube video from NBC (click here) where US experts play a mock game of China invading Taiwan.

After my initial shock of the whole concept of the mock war game wore off, I think there are two major questions that really will determine how the invasion will play out.

1) What is America’s appetite to fight a war for another country? Or what is American’s appetite to fight a war based on principles of democratic freedom?

2) What is the global response if/when nuclear weapons are used?

For #1, let’s admit it that the current war between Ukraine and Russia is a proxy war between Russia and US/NATO allies. More importantly this is a proxy war of two political ideologies: autocracy vs democracy. Despite many countries currently helping Ukraine through money, weapons and other sources of aid, Russia is dead set to reclaim Ukraine. I’m not sure that US/NATO will ever send troops to help Ukraine push Russia out. I also don’t think US/NATO will retaliate even if Russia accidentally/purposely fires upon US/NATO assets resulting in loss of life. Ultimately, US/NATOs unwillingness to commit troops for bloodshed is Russia’s current saving grace. Furthermore, as this war continues to extend, reports about future famine in African nations looms as Ukraine supplied a significant amount of the world’s wheat. Nations who are affected by the lack of food may become important players in forcing peace by supporting Russian claims. How’s that for a global political russian mafia move?

For #2, I’m not sure how the world would respond. Would the global community come together to fight against the country who first used the nuclear weapon? Or would it only condemn the first user resulting in no real consequences? Based on the fact that the global community DID NOT condemn the invasion of Ukraine, I have very little hope that the global community will protest the use of nuclear weapon. I think the “NIMBY” attitude will prevail but I fear that attitude will only lead the world towards more negative feedback such as medical issues from radiation, contaminated food and land, and human migration to get away from the radioactive zones.

Let’s talk about Gun Control

US political inaction is pretty ridiculous. I think for the most part the Republicans are the ones who are do not want to anger their NRA donors. So much for representing the people right?

This is what I think the US should do immediately.

1) The US government should create a new department whose sole purpose is to create, manage, administer and enforce a brand new gun database.
2) The new gun database will register all new gun purchases going forward. Law-abiding citizens are also required to re-register their guns in this new database. As part of the startup, existing databases from any/all states will be used to cross check previous registrations with the new registration
3) Registration involves satisfying four different requirements. First, the gun owner needs to be trained at qualified gun training centers. Second, the gun owner needs to pass an psycholocial evaluation administered by a psychologist/psychiatrist to determine if the gun owner is deemed fit to handle the responsibilities of a gun owner but also as a “law abiding citizen.” Third, a registration fee must also be paid. The fee amount will depend on the type of gun being registered. The goal of the department is to be as self-sufficient as possible relying only on registration fees to be operational. Fourth, gun owners must maintain their training, psychological evaluation and paid registration fee every 3 years. Failure to do so will result in extra penalties, extra scrutiny and forced confiscation. After all law abiding citizens shouldn’t be missing payments.
4) The US government should also seek to regulate the gun market by setting higher prices for gun ownership. Simply put, the more damage a gun is capable of doing results in the gun being more expensive. Consequently, the more damage a gun is capable of doing, the more training, the more extensive evaluation and higher registration fee.

I will admit… I don’t know if this will work. But the fact that we’ve gone over 20 years without ANY LEGISLATION IS RIDICULOUS!! If we just look at school shootings, the fact that Columbine occurred in 1999 and we have also experienced many more deadly school shootings like Virginia Tech, Sandyhook/Newton, Marjory Stoneman/Parkland, and now Robb Elementary/Uvalde. And these are just school shootings. We’ve also experienced other mass shootings like in Las Vegas, Orlando and even in Buffalo. EGADS….

WE the PEOPLE of the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA must vote for change. We must vote against the NRA interests.

The SCOTUS “Leak”

By now, if you haven’t heard about the SCOTUS leak of the draft documents of the majority opinion of a recent court case…. You really need to at least read/listen the news on a daily basis. The consensus from various news pundits say that the DRAFT MAJORITY OPINION as it stands now would OVERTURN Roe v Wade. If nothing changes to the current draft, this ruling is extremely consequential and devastating.

Three thoughts come to mind….
1) What happened to the separation of Church and State?
2) The ruling calls into question our freedoms…. so then where are these “freedoms” that the “Land of the Free” claims to have?
3) What is happening to this country?

Separation of Church and State: A draft opinion comes out and suddenly all the high profile religious leaders start saying things like “our prayers have been asnwered” or “praising god“. How is this not religiously motivated? Would you expect this kind of reaction from religious leaders if we were talking about banning guns used in dometic terrorist mass shootings? Clearly the religious leaders “thoughts and prayers” have been shit for mass shootings and I think I now know why… these “thoughts and prayers” were all focused on creating political miracles that allowed the Republicans to shit on the Constitution in order to retain the power and advantages they need. Technically… McConnell for cockblocking Obama’s nominee (Gorsuch) because it was an election year and then fast tracking Trump’s nominee (Barrett) also during an election year. Egads… What is happening to this country?

I also don’t understand religions. They have an inherent double standard that they seem to ignore. Many say they follow the bible… yet it seems like they only cherry pick the passages of the bible that suits them AND ignore other inconvenient passages. Is that really “FOLLOWING THE BIBLE” or is it more like “taking inspration from the bible”? During the pandemic, Sure you don’t want to wear a mask, get a vaccine shot, whatever… because your religion/bible/pastor says its a sin (or whatever stupid reason). The government made exceptions for your religious values. YET, you expect the government to also support your religious values and impede on a person’s choice to get an abortion or not? Egads… What is happening to this country?

Land of the Free? For a country that claims “to have various freedoms”, specifically which freedoms are talked about? Freedom of speech? Freedom of religion? Freedom of fair trials? Freedom to bear arms? The founders/writers of the Constitution clearly couldn’t list all the enumerated rights (Ninth Amendment) but these rights do exist ie… the Right to privacy, the Right to Vote. Do these unenumerated rights follow the basic human rights list? Perhaps? From the 30 basic human rights, one of the rights advocates “to marry and have a family.” It should also be assumed that the converse is also a right (to marry but not have a family) or any variation of marriage and family to also be held as a right. Or perhaps the unenumerated rights follow the “natural right.” Regardless of which unenumerated rights are being defined, what is absolutely clear is that religion is actively violating these rights because religion says it can. Furthermore, why must someone who is NOT religious comply with the religious words/beliefs that are being written into law across various states? For American’s who “scoff at the Middle East and the Sharia Law“, I find that these abortion laws are strangely Sharia-like.

What is happening to this country? Whenever I read/listen to the news, I ask this as well. I think there are two major issues. First it’s the Republicans. They are disregarding any semblance of bi-partisanship. They are seeking to just destroy whatever the Democrats propose instead of offering a counter proposal. Remember the Affordable Care Act aka “Obamacare”? Many of their constituents were given healthcare probably for the first time through ACA and liked it. Yet Republicans denigrated Obamacare causing such a fury repealing the ACA would have negatively impacted their constituents. Another despicable Republican act is their opposition to the infrastructure bill. Yet, these Republicans are going back to their constituents claiming victory for something they voted against. The US Government should be reformed. Opposition to a bill should result in zero distributed funds. It’s all or nothing since that’s what Republicans are doing with the government.

Second, its the current duopoly party system. Both parties are heavily influenced by MONEY. The current system requires candidates to establish a large war chest in order to fund their campaigns. Funding campaigns requires meetings with rich individuals/corporations hoping to influence the candidate. Sure candidates can say they are not influenced by big money… but seriously…. Money buys influence. The government needs to transition away from dark money and lobbyists circling around the candidates and government officials. The government should abolish rules that support the two party system and seek ways where a 3rd/4th/multi party candidates can also succeed. Yes a parliamentary congressional system is possible requiring bipartisanship and coalition building. The current two party system are such broad based coalitions that effectively there are already multiple parties. But the government rules prevent 3rd party candidates from standing out.

Feeling disgruntled and hopeless? To be honest, I feel the same too. But I still believe if we continue to vote on what matters to us in 2022.


The Democratic Party Social Media Dilemma?

The Democrats have a media problem. They need to have a “Fox News/Tucker Carlson or OAN” equivalent in mainstream media. The goal of this new media organization is to counter, satirize, discuss and question the conservative agenda. Questions need to be asked to promote discussion and promote reality check.

Here are some questions to ask:
1) What was the real extent of Marina Butina’s infiltration of the Republican party?
2) Has the impartiality / non-political nature of SCOTUS been contaminated knowing that Justice Thomas’ wife has been privately supporting the lies of electrion irregularities even going so far as to encourage Mark Meadows to do “something”?
3) Why are Republicans openly hostile against COVID19 policies like mask wearing and vaccinations claiming these policies infringe on their freedoms yet brazenly implement laws like Texas’ SB8 that infringe on a woman’s freedom of choice and body?

Robert Reich’s Wealth & Poverty Class

I recently stumbled upon Robert Reich’s (link 1, link 2) Poverty and Wealth YouTube lectures. It’s only up to episode 5. I’ve already watched the first 4 episodes. In these first 4 episodes, Reich sums up some of the current social, political and economic ailments that are affecting the US and the world at large. I expect him to explore different facets of these topics over the next few weeks.

So far, he’s has so far talked about income equality, investor’s perspective, globalization and housing inequalities. He does a good job discussing the history of how the situation came to be by engaging listeners to think about these issues while also providing possible avenues of solutions.

I really recommend any of my readers to listen him.