Russia just had to remind us all that it’s still a nuclear power. Then they told us that they were having their nuclear forces conduct drills, I guess because you never know when you might need nuclear missiles those times when you are not invading Ukraine. The Associated Press article in the Seattle Times that brought us this information was as short on details as you would expect given that everything is up in the air at this moment (the morning of Friday, Feb. 18).
I mean, when they’re talking about missiles, are those short-range missiles? Long range? Really long range? Are they tactical nuclear weapons? You know, like itty-bitty nuclear weapons? I think that would be everyone’s preference going into an invasion the Russians say they aren’t going into.
How do you drill with nuclear weapons? Does the guy who operates the missile launcher shout “BANG” extra loud? Do the guys forced to play the enemy have to fall down en masse? Does the missile launcher lose points if the make-believe bomb make-believe explodes upwind, so he and all the troops he’s with suffer make-believe fallout?
I’m dying to know what an invasion of Ukraine will do to the Dow Jones Industrial Average. So far, it’s been tanking because of the fear of war, but something tells me investors will rally when war is upon them, and they start calculating all the ways industry can profit from it. Once wars break out, everybody remembers how good they’ve been for business. World War I was terrific for sales of heroin, I’ve heard.
There’s a bunch of interesting local news. A big development for Real Change is that King County is dropping the police enforcement of the bicycle helmet laws soon in most places, including Seattle. Instead they’ll try to get people to wear helmets through education and by giving helmets away for free.
It could be interpreted as a vote of no-confidence in the police. Were there not strong evidence that the enforcement of the laws has been mainly among the homeless and minorities, it probably wouldn’t have come to this.
The same may be a factor in the lawsuit before the Washington Supreme Court to the effect that transit enforcement of prepaid fares is unconstitutional. I don’t really understand the legal arguments on either side of the lawsuit; I never took Law 101 in college. I am kicking myself for that now. Instead, I took Philosophy 101 and learned how to tell when a ship that has had all its parts replaced is a new ship or still the old ship. (Spoiler: it doesn’t matter, it’s completely up to you. You control the horizontal, you control the vertical — not philosophers. This is the official position of the International Association of Philosophers: “Don’t drag us into the stupid ship problem. We’ve had it up to here with the ship problem.”)
I do know that the people bringing the lawsuit are mainly basing it on a Fourth Amendment argument, saying that demanding to see proof of prior payment is a form of prohibited search and seizure. The idea is, as I understand it, you can ask to see the proof of payment and you can be evicted from the transit if you don’t agree to do so, but it stops there. No arrest, no fine. Just get off the bus or train. I support that idea, not that the Washington Supreme Court is going to care what I think about it. I bet they have their own thoughts about it I could never imagine.
In other local news, several local rich people are preparing to donate $10 million to solve homelessness in this area. Amazon, Starbucks, the Ballmers and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, among others.
So far, I’m not very impressed. To have any long-term impact, that money has to be spread out over years so some of it can earn money to spend later. They’re talking about using the money to guide people into suitable shelters. Suitable shelters are a fiction.
Homeless people need housing now. They don’t need to be kicked into inappropriate shelters. New units need to be built and the new occupants need breaks on the rent. It’s not rocket science, it’s been done over and over. Just be quick about it.
Read more of the Feb. 23-Mar. 1, 2022 issue.