End Of Year 2022

 I initially considered creating a long and detailed review of 2022 however on further reflection I decided on a more sparse post. One main reason is time and energy. There are so many complexities involved that I do not have the time or energy to do a worth deep dive. So I will list a few items as place holders and perhaps in a year or two or ten or a hundred I might get back to them.

For me 2022 started in a mostly positive manner. In November of 2021 I made my first airplane trip since the pandemic began; I flew to Los Angeles and spent some time at museums and at Loscon. In December 2021 I made a much longer trip to Washington DC where I had time for more museums and to attend Worldcon which had been postponed from the summer. With those two trip experiences and seeing the success of the vaccination and boost programs I had positive expectations for 2022. 

Then in February Russia invaded Ukraine. Certainly I and most people were glad that Putin did not get his wish for a quick takeover of Ukraine and the installation of a puppet regime.  Unfortunately there have been many killed and injured along with great destruction. While one might hope for an end to the conflict and Russia to withdraw, I think it is more likely this will be an ongoing conflict. Depressing as it sounds I think there is a 50% chance that the conflict will continue and there will be active fighting at this time next year.

On the domestic USA front there were several major events in 2022. In June the Supreme Court overturned Roe v Wade decision. Roe v Wade might not have been the best decision ever rendered in terms of the reasoning and articulation however for several decades it increased the individual liberty of women. Now Roe v Wade is overturned. One thing which struck me was how often we heard phrases like "settled law" when nominees for a SCOTUS position appeared before a Senate committee. So now we have increased hand wringing and moaning in some of the public commentators about the decline of the status in the rating polls. SCOTUS appears to sinking to the low levels already reached by both executive and legislative branches. One possible approach to the situation is to decrease the amount of interference the federal, state and local governments play in mandatory control over lives of people. Of course that means the authoritarians of all stripes will be dismayed because from my vantage point each authoritarian thinks their own authoritarianism is proper, just and legitimate.

Schools are back in operation and now there is a discussion about what policies worked and what policies did not work. One trend I see is that teacher unions lost some political clout and some positive status in the general public. Interest and enrollment in private schools, charter schools and home schooling appear to be on the upswing. There are also some politicians and some parents supporting laws like the "don't say gay" and similar restrictions on school curriculum. Perhaps this will open up a larger discussion about what is the purpose of education and how to best meet that purpose. Perhaps. But honestly I doubt if there will be a discussion using the tools of rationality and critical thinking in the coming year. It will likely take more than a year for all of the overblown rhetoric to clear out.

As I write this end of year note there is still a lot of political divide in the USA. I expect this political divide will continue for many reasons; a primary reason is how much political positions are based on loyalty to an ideology, a party or a politician instead of well researched data and critical thinking. I want to emphasis that I am not a member of the Republican party and I am not a member of the Democratic party, in fact I am not a member of any political party. And just so there no misunderstanding; I do not necessarily think all political parties are the same so I am not guilty of a naive "both sides" rhetoric; it is all much more complex and complicated.

I will conclude with my suggestion that the best path forward is to drop loyalty to a political party or loyalty to a religion and instead look toward benevolence, empathy, pan-critical rationalism, reason and critical thinking which I have discussed in other posts.



Review of the novel City Limits

 Review of the novel City Limits by Jim Peron


The novel opens by describing the situations of two recent High School graduates, Brian and Tony, in the context of their small rural Kansas town with the usual problems associated with small Kansas towns. Not to mention Brian's mother, Eunice, who is kindhearted but often misguided in how she interacts with Brian and Tony. However this novel is not an angst filled coming of age story set in Kansas, certainly the humor in the first chapter overshadows the angst. There is even humor in Brian and Tony deciding to relocate to San Francisco and their trip. The novel does not turn into a travelogue or road story although that might have been interesting. Nor is it a romantic comedy although during the novel there is both romance and comedy. The novel is about characters and life as they create and experience it.

It is in the San Francisco area that the other characters are introduced. And they are quite a bunch of characters. Stella encounters Brian and Tony soon after they arrive in San Francisco and it is with this encounter that the narrative jumps up a notch. From arranging for Brian and Tony to rent an apartment in the Castro to assisting them in acquiring suits for a job interview, Stella fulfills the role of older sister, mentor and also guide around San Francisco. The limo driver Anthony, his boss Mr. Santori and the daughter Elizabeth Santori soon follow in the narrative. Brian, Tony, Stella, and others try to avoid getting tangled up in their own minor machinations while working to unmask a major deception and scam against the ill, desperate and unsuspecting.

This novel references many actual events with a fictional but loving eye. And locations are described with just a bit of literary license however the locations are generally easily recognizable to those familiar with the area which adds to the texture of the narrative. I have lived in the Silicon Valley area for many decades and thus am familiar with the Bay Area and certainly San Francisco where I meet the author many years ago. One might easily image some of the events happening today such as Stella confronting the street evangelist. Or taking a ferry to Sausalito to interview for a job and being driven back in a limo.

There is much in the novel about being human; what it means to be part of a social circle, a family not of relatives but of chosen persons. And importantly the development of the individual; not the infantile pseudo-individualism one typically associates with a toddler; instead the honest, benevolent, rational, and mature individual which one ideally develops into as they become an adult. The novel covers the time span of only about a year yet one sees Brian and Tony develop and grow in their new home and with Stella and all of the others. It is in this sense that if I had to use only one phrase to characterize this novel I would call it life affirming. 


End of year 2021

The year 2021 as been something of a ride from the hopeful distribution of Covid-19 vaccines to the surge of first the Delta variant and then the Omicron variant in the last few months of the year.

I obtained my first Covid-19 inoculation on February 16 2021, it was Moderna. On March 19 I received by second Moderna inoculation on March 19 2021. My Moderna booster was September 13. In each case there was the expected injection site soreness and the common post vaccination symptoms for about 36 to 48 hours. The probability of a couple of days discomfort for me certainly beats the probability of a person such as me having Covid-19 and being in the hospital or worse. The discomfort clearly was better than the alternative both for me personally and for society as a whole.

A book which vividly describes the alternative is Year of the Nurse: A Covid-19 Pandemic Memoir written by Cassandra Alexander who is a Registered Nurse working in Intensive Care in a Bay Area hospital and who may be familiar to some for her other role as a writer of paranormal romance fiction. The book starts in early 2020 and chronicles in vivid detail what actually was happening in the hospital Intensive Care ward and general in the realm of medical care in the hospital. The book is very much a plain spoken account.  The medical procedures are described in detail, the agony and sometimes death are described, the severe impact on the medical staff if detailed. This is a book which I recommend to those you need to be told about the impact of the first year of Covid-19. And if in reading the book the reader finds it necessary to put it down occasionally thus reading it in small amounts of the span of weeks, that is when I would suggest remembering those medical person who lived the experience day after day, week after week, month after month.

The author has a webpage about the book at:
and there is a link to a page about where to purchase the book, it seems that the ebook is available at almost all ebook sales sites.

Something which really needs emphasis is that the Covid-19 vaccine is not just for the protection of the individual, it is also and I think more importantly for the protection of others particularly those with underlying medical conditions which preclude them from being vaccinated. I have, and I suspect most people, have in their social circle at least one person who has a medical condition which prevent vaccination. And even if you do not know the person, there are many people for whom catching Covid-19 would lead to serious illness, probably with long term harmful outcomes and possibly death. So think about others and get vaccinated if you can.

In September and October there were some venues which opened up to the public after being closed for over a year. One such venue was the City Lights Theater in San Jose California. City Lights Theater stages some very fine plays. In March 2020 just days before the world premier of a play titled Coded everything went into isolation. The play written by San Jose State University professor Kirsten Brandt. In October 2021 the play was able to open at City Lights and I went. There was a mandatory vaccination and masking policy for the audience. Typically City Light Theater performances are mostly sold out however the performance I attended was only about a third of normal attendance.  The play is about women in technology specifically the game creation industry. This play is really really good and very much worth seeing. The cast was all women and they gave a tremendous performance.

I was very lucky to see the play when I did because just a few days later I received an email from City Lights saying that part of the production had Covid-19 symptoms and a positive test. So the remainder of the performances were cancelled. Fortunately they had made a video of a previous performance so during the rest of the scheduled run the video could be purchased for streaming. Even though I had already seen the performance live I was so impressed that I paid to see it again via the streamed video. Unfortunately the streaming arrangement was for a limited time just to finish out the scheduled run so  it is no longer available. However if you get a change to see it performed I very strongly recommend it.

Perhaps 2022 will be better than 2021, of course perhaps not. In either case we humans can continue on pursuing science, understanding the challenges of how our physical world is changing, respecting other people and with attention to being benevolent and kind. 

Be happy and stay healthy.


End of Year 2020

 At the end of  year one often sees blog entries or social media posts giving a personal account of the year which is ending.  I considered that approach for this year since 2020 was a year of some unexpected difficulties which thanks to the competence of modern medicine are being addressed.  However I decided to not be overly personal since 2020 was a year of such large scale events that devoting a blog post to the my stay-at-home or medical or other issues just was not a compelling idea.  Therefore I will give a few thoughts about me observations of 2020 on a larger scale.

In any year it is typical to see some humans acting in a manner which I would consider as worthy of praise. And in any year it is also typical to see some humans acting in a manner which I would most definitely not consider worth of praise. And occasionally the same humans fall into both categories at various times. My perception of the year 2020 is that the stresses combined to magnify both types of behaviors.

The SARS-COV-2 virus and the associated disease Covid-19 had their beginning in 2019 however really started to impact the world in 2020. The efforts of the medical professionals to treat those with Covid-19 and the rapid development of vaccines are both a big plus.  Ending 2020 with the vaccines being administered to front line workers seems to be resulting in many people looking at 2021 with increased hope.  Unfortunately there was some very disappointing behavior in 2020.  There were adults who would not properly wear a mask for no other apparent reason than that they just did not feel like it.  I live in the Silicon Valley and most people in this area participate in the behavior one would expect of decent adults and properly wear a mask.  There are a few who do not however they are a distinction minority. Fortunately the local pharmacies, medical offices, and food stores all have masks policies.

Another item related to Covid-19 is the poor behavior of some politicians.  The ones who would go gathering at restaurant after telling everyone else to stay at home.  And unfortunately there were politicians, pundits and even some persons in the medical field that failed to properly distinguish between they were making recommendations based on really solid evidence versus when it was just their best recommendation based on preliminary data or no data at all.  I can imagine that they felt compelled to say things in an effort to increase compliance with their recommendations.  The problem is that exaggerations have a habit of discrediting the very tools and approaches one needs to use to address a serious epidemic.  It is really fine and should be encouraged to say "I do not know" when one is still working on a problem. To just say "I do not know but based on experience and what little we do know here are some recommendations" can go a long way towards maintain the credibility the scientific community.  

Also the CDC and FDA agencies of the Federal government of the USA which were supposed to be handling the initial response botched things early on when it came to the test kits to detect who was infected.  This has been well documented in major publications such as the Washington Post so there is no need to rehash the details here.  However when the pandemic is over it might be a good idea to do a thorough re-evaluation of the CDC and FDA in order to remove the rules and processes which lead them be late to have testing available and to initially put out tests which did not work while at the same time labs around the world in other countries had tests weeks ahead of the USA.

The November 2020 election results show Biden/Harris as the winning ticket. Perhaps 2021 will be the start of better times in the realm of politics.  And I will point out that I was not a Biden/Harris supporter and I also was not a Trump/Pence supporter. I do not say that expect the Biden/Harris administration to be as bad as the Trump/Pence administration however I do not have high hopes for Biden/Harris.  I find there to be a lot of authoritarian tendencies in both the Trump/Pence policies and what I expect will be the Biden/Harris policies. We should not forget that much of the problems that we face today are the result of terrible policies such as the  War on Drugs and the militarization of the police. And the record of Harris is very problematic. So is it possible that Biden/Harris will not behave like over zealous authoritarians? Possible however I would not bet a nickle on it.  

A bunch of politicians are now starting a clamor about repealing Section 230.  Of course reasonable voices who understand the situation point out what a terrible idea that would be. Will the clueless politicians listen? We should all remember a few years back when the SESTA-FOSTA legislation was proposed and reasonable voices who understood the situation said the legislation was a really bad idea which would cause a lot of harm. The clueless politicians passed it anyway and the harm that was predicted has come to pass. Let us not forget that Harris was a co-sponsor of the legislation which has caused great harm. I will not be surprised if Biden and Harris continue to attempt to cause more harm in 2021.



A Note About Politics And Tribes

 As I write this an election season is upon the USA.  In observing the various races and in particular observing the race for POTUS I notice the too common phenomena of tribal behavior. I use the term tribal behavior to indicate the tendency to either support or oppose an idea based on the identity of the persons or persons proposing and supporting the idea rather than on the merits of the idea.  Recent examples include the Affordable Care Act which was based in part on the ideas of Governor Romney who was a Republican yet is now denounced by many Republican politicians. Or consider tariffs and budge deficits.  So does the anti-war movement often go into hibernation if a Democrat is in the office of POTUS as some have alleged?

I am not the first to make these observations.  I do not expect a change anytime soon and I would not be surprised if the trend continues and possibly gets worse. My opinion is that what is needed is a deep and serious improvement in the ability of individuals to think critically about their own ideas with a view to discarding falsified ideas.  This is different from the justification approach of searching around using the filter of retaining whatever supports one's current position and discarding whatever does not support one's current position. Unfortunately I do not see a shift away from the Justification approach in near future.


Travel Notes and Lessons

The following are some lessons learned and lessons remembered as well as general travel notes inspired by my 2019 trip to Ireland.  The following notes are organized by topic. I offer no guarantees, these are just my opinions and I suspect that some will have other opinions and will publish their opinions on their own blog.

TOPIC: Currency, Credit Cards and Related Topics

Since this particular topic discussion is verbose; I will give the short version which is always carry plenty of local currency and do not over stress worrying about exchange rates and always carry a good credit card and an ATM card.

In preparing for this trip I would occasionally see discussions about currency exchanges and getting the best rates. What I found in general that is there is no general rule that is absolutely perfect. I usually try to avoid changing money at an airport since typically an airport does not have as many competing firms where as in the center of a city like Dublin there are a wider variety of exchanges often relatively close. I arrived in Dublin with Euros in my pocket which I had kept from from trip to Paris a few years previously. This allowed me to quickly buy a bus ticket into Dublin where I went to my hotel, checked in and then went to exchange a larger amount. I suggest always changing in large amounts of $100; doing $20 or $40 just is a waste of time. Also your time in a country is limited and there are more interesting and valuable things to do than waste thirty minutes of time and six Euros in taxi fees to get a five Euro better exchange rate.

My practice is to carry plenty of US Dollars in case I need to change unexpectedly as well as a card for doing cash withdrawals from an ATM. There are more ATM locations than currency exchanges so plan to use an ATM at least once in your trip and probably when you do not expect it.

I was fortunate to have the Capital One Venture card with Contactless technology which meant that as long as a shop's sales terminal supported Contactless then there was no need to do the signature step. And almost all stores in Ireland had terminals which support Contactless. Note that the staff at a store tended to look at the front of the card for the Contactless symbol while on my card it was on the reverse. Also they were not used to people from the USA having Contactless cards so I would proactively hold up my card and say "Just need to tap this" and depending on the location of the terminal either the cashier or I would do the tap and the transaction would proceed. I found no person there using the term "Contactless" everyone used the term "Tap" and  even though it technically does not require touching the card to the terminal almost everyone does touch the card to the terminal rather than try to find the distance where the transaction went through.

One value of using the Capital One Venture card for many of my purchases such as museum or event admission fees and meals is that when I got home I had a record. If I asked myself what was the name of that nice little cafe where I had lunch on a particular day I could get the info from the transaction history online from the Credit Card website.

In the four weeks of this Ireland trip I used my Capital One Venture card about 110 times on everything from snacks to lodging. Just do the transaction in Euros and let Capital One do the conversion.

A final item that many do not consider but which I recommend is using the Starbucks mobile app payment system. Yes I know there is better coffee than Starbucks but that is a discussion for a different time and a different venue. I have used the Starbucks app many times in the USA and when in Dublin I needed a bit of energy so I walked into a Starbucks where I got a double espresso and a croissant. The cashier scanned the Starbucks app on my phone and international tech worked perfectly. Of course the Starbucks store reader needs to be working, a few days later I went into a Starbucks with a broken system and they were waiting for repairs. But in general having the Starbucks app with at least 25 dollars credit on it is a good idea. At this point someone is saying that this is giving Starbucks an interest free loan of 25 dollars. To which I reply well obviously and so what, the convenience factor in my value system far out weighs any trivial amount of lost interest.

Which leads me to the final point; always carry the local currency with you. In addition I always had an emergency twenty Euro note with me but stashed away from the rest of the currency as a "just in case" something happens like being mugged or pickpocketed or loosing the wallet, fortunately none of those happened to me and I never needed to use the emergency twenty euro note. In Dublin twenty Euro will typically get you a taxi back to your hotel.


I used taxis in Dublin about three or four times and a couple of times in Belfast and twice in Kilkenny and one in Limerick. What I found was the cost was lower that I expected however with one exception taxis were cash only. The exception was Dublin. When I first got to Dublin I saw reference to an app FreeNow which one installed on their smartphone and added a credit card then used the app to pay for a taxi which was part of the FreeNow system or to both summon and pay for such a taxi. I tried it and it worked sometimes and sometime it just would not work. In one case I got a taxi from a taxi queue and during the trip asked the driver about using FreeNow to pay and the reply was sure. When we arrived at the destination I brought up the app on my phone and the taxi driver did like wise and both were connected to the service however each time the driver tried to do the charge the back end glitched. Fortunately I had currency so I paid currency. Just as I was leaving Ireland got an update the app notice that a new version was out.

What I found out near the end of my trip is that Uber is operating in Dublin however not with independent drivers but only with regular taxis. So the last time I needed a taxi I got out my phone and fired up the Uber app and did all of the steps just like I normally do. It connected with a taxi and give me information about the vehicle and the name of the driver just as usual and I saw the little automation as the taxi got closer. The driver got me to where I was going and the Uber app did the charge to my credit card just like it always does.

I have been told that Lyft might be trying to get a foot hold in some parts of Ireland however this is not something I bumped into so I do not have info on that.

TOPIC: What to see and do

The most important this to remember is seeing everything is not realistic expectation. There will be either a lack of time or lack of funds or logistical problems getting to a location. Or the "if I had only heard about it when I was still there" lament heard when someone hears about some fantastic thing as their bus, train or plain is taking them to their next destination. If one expects one of the above to occur then when it does occur it will not be such a shock.

One approach is to have a list of items for each local longer than time, funds and logistics permit. Thus it is easy to go to the next one on the list and not fret. Good websites provide reasonable evaluations. I have used and booked through TripAdvisor and Viator for various tours and events and have found them both to be accurate in the description of the tour or event. Certainly there are others just be careful to check them. For example I used GetYourGuide in Dublin for the first time and all was as advertised.

I suggest stopping in the local tourist office and looking around at what is advertised, many of the items might not be to your taste but typically they have some good information. For example in Limerick that is how I found out about The People's Museum of Limerick which had just opened was not prominent in search engines and is too small for Viator or TripAdvisor.

And be aware of individual interests, just because several people like Cathedrals does not mean that they are a must see. Personally I am not much interested in Cathedrals, Synagogues, Mosques, etc unless there is some very important architectural feature. Some people like to visit the graves of important persons; others like to visit their birth places. So decide what interests you and if with a group realize that you might be in the minority.

TOPIC: Communications (T-MOBILE)

This short discussion about communications is only focused on T-Mobile because of the different practices of the various providers.  I am a T-Mobile user so what I describe is T-Mobile specific and plan specific.  As a T-Mobile user with a good plan I was able to  land in Dublin and if I let the phone auto connect to a cell service it did and I had voice and text.  So someone could call me at my usual mobile number and it just worked.  Or they could send me a text.  This is due to an arrangement T-Moblle has made and it is great.  Well almost great because the data part of T-Mobile was not included.  So what is required is go to the T-Mobile website and buy a supplementary data plan.  The one I bought was about 50 Euros and it was worth every Euro to have data for finding museums and checking restaurant reviews, etc. Someone might be saying but 50 Euro is a bit of money and my response is a person will more than recover the cost in terms of a better quality of trip and will very likely save almost that much in finding less expensive restaurant options.

TOPIC: Food and Eating

Almost every large hotel has the breakfast buffet which as the advantage of being able to serve many people relatively quickly. This is particularly important for large bus tour groups. August was tourist season and there were many of these tour groups. Typically there are two prices; cold buffet which is cereal, fruit, pastries, juice and coffee or the hot buffet as a higher price which includes the cold buffet as well as scrambled eggs, grilled tomatoes, potatoes, bacon and sometimes sausage. Some hotels included breakfast in the price of the room and some did not. I would sometimes do the hot buffet for breakfast and then do a light lunch.

I seldom eat at McDonald's in the USA however I will occasionally eat once at a McDonald's in another country for comparison. For example the best McDonald's meal I had outside the USA was in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico; the worst was in Yokohama, Japan. London England and Paris France were sort of in the OK middle was was Australia. Of course I realize that single point samples are not valid for much however I find it interesting. In Waterford I got the Quarter Pounder with Cheese Meal (fries and Orange Juice) for 7.10 Euro. The burger was just barely OK but the fries were definitely below par so I would rank it in the lower tier along with Yokohama.

I found that Yelp reviews and Google reviews were usually very accurate in recommending places to eat. Overall the quality of the food in Ireland was very good and the service fine.

TOPIC: Head, hands and feet

In some parts of the world such as Ireland one will often encounter ancient stone steps, spiral stairs, low ceiling and door frames so here is a reminder:
1. Keep one hand always on the hand rail
2. Go slowly and carefully and watch where you put your feet.
3. Keep the other hand palm up and flat about two centimeters above your head.
4. When you reach a level area and there is no longer a hand rail and your hands feel wet avoid the often unconscious impulse to wipe your hands on your clothing. Your hands might just be wet or they might be covered with rust. Particularly in open air sites such as King John's castle in Limerick Ireland there any many bare iron hand rails and door fixtures. A little hand sanitizer and a facial tissue will take off the worst and later when a restroom is available a vigorous scrub with soap and water will take care of the rest. I strongly suggest always carrying a small packet of facial tissues at all times.

In some "Out in Nature" sites there was no wind protection so one should be very careful that one was not blown off one's feet. I was not blown over however during many sudden gusts I noticed that I and many around me were bending over with our hands on our knees in order to lower our center of mass as well as reduce the surface area for the wind to impact. Plus one had to be careful about stepping because some of the rocks were not stable as well as being slick. The trick was to always look ahead before one took a step to where one could reach out a hand to steady oneself on another higher rock nearby in case of a wind gust or a slick or unstable rock.

TOPIC: Multi-person All Gender Restrooms

These are not new to me since the are several "Unisex" or "All Gender" (the two terms are often used interchangeably) restrooms in the greater SF Bay area. I am mentioning this here because I expect they will become more common.  The one I encountered was identified with a sign outside the door saying that it was "unisex and for all" and also indicated there were gender segregated facility elsewhere.  In this facility my memory is there were about seven stalls with lockable floor to ceiling doors and an area with about four soap and water stations for hand washing and a baby changing station. I did not think much about using it however it seems that this was the first time that some had seen this based on what I heard on the day tour bus. The comment from one person on the tour was something like "We do not have anything like that in the state I come from. But I did give a try to see what it was like" and it appeared the commentor had no problems. One reason that I predict the "all gender" restrooms will become increasingly common is that it allows more efficient use of space for example in just needing space for one baby changing station instead of two.  Another reason is for venues which have events with varying uneven gender attendance there facility doe not need to create a facility which is underutilized a various times.

TOPIC: Hints on what to wear and what was useful

I joking told people that weather in Dublin for Worldcon in August was not that different from the weather in San Jose in January. Well it was a joke but with a bit of accuracy. There was wind and some precipitation on many days and the temperature did not get very high. I wore my black Scott T5 Travel Sport Coat and it worked incredibly well. In addition to the usual outer left and outer right pockets it has many inside zippered pockets for security as well as convenience. I found that I could carry all my Euro coins in the left front pocket and if I needed to pay a small about such as one Euro it was very easy to dip my left hand in to the pocket and bring up the coins and use my right hand to find the ones I needed. Yes I know that a skilled pickpocket could maybe reach their hand in the pocket and maybe I would not notice but at most I would loose maybe a few Euro which was trivial compared to the convenience of getting to the coins quickly.

I also had a monocular that I had years ago purchased for about $25 dollar on Amazon. The key thing about this monocular is that it has one hand hold and operation. Focus is done by a rocker on the top which you control with your pointer and middle fingers; the thumb and other fingers grip the unit. The one hand operation is really very handy. This is not precision optics but it is good enough for looking at architectural detail up on a building or a better view of birds on the water away from shore.

I will also mention Sea to Summit wallets. I have two; one I carry everyday at home and one which is only for travel. Thus when I arrived in Dublin I just needed to switch wallets since I already Euros in my travel wallet. And the Sea to Summit wallets are RFID shielded which is important. They are not cheap but I think are well worth the price. A hint, if you buy them on Amazon make sure you are getting the size you want since when I bought mine the Amazon listed three sizes on the same page and it was important to click based on size not on color. The smallest size is what I use. Also if you get the Fisher brand Telescoping Space Pen it will just fit in the zipped coin section of the wallet so you will always have a writing instrument with you and it writes at any angle. The price for on Amazon for a genuine Fisher Telescoping Space Pen is about $30 but in my estimation is worth it.

I hope these comments have been helpful.


Ideology And Tribes

For over a year I have been thinking about writing a blog post concerning ideology.  I made some preliminary notes but none seemed sufficient to convey the my ideas; partially I suspect because I was still developing and expanding those ideas.

It was the something which popped up on one of my social media feeds that prompted me to make this post.  The piece titled "I left the Republican ideological bubble. I don’t want to join another." can be found at: https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2018/12/03/i-left-republican-ideological-bubble-i-dont-want-join-another/ the author is Max Boot.  I am not a Republican however the points that Max Boot makes are not Republican specific.

One way to avoid getting into an ideological bubble is to be aware of the areas where one's own ideology is incomplete, lacking in explanatory ability or simple not accurate.  And the same goes for one's tribe.  And let us acknowledge that the term tribe as used here is not precise however it does serve the purpose of designating for any individual the persons and organizations which tend to have similar values and positions and typically are what the individual might call "my  people" or where a person might feel at home ideologically.  Yet I submit that it is with those that one feels most close to ideologically where one might start a critical review. And note this is not about personality but about ideas.

So as we reflect on the year almost concluded and look forward to the year about to begin it might be worthwhile to examine our own ideological bubbles.