Susan's Musings

This section of my web site is for unstructured self-expression. Sort of a blog. Your comments are appreciated. In any case, I get to vent. Essays, monographs, poems, book reviews, and comments.

Please visit my separate economics blog.

Prior years: 2106 2105 2104 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 2001
Shift in Consumer Habits
Brantano, a UK chain of shoe stores, has moved into bankruptcy. Because this is the UK, they call it "administration." What went wrong? "Like many other retailers, Brantano has also been hit hard by the sharp decline in sterling, the ongoing shift in consumer shopping habits and the evolution of the UK retail environment."

Oh, the real explanation is the shift in consumer habits. There is some discussion in The Guardian article about how Brantano fits, or tried to fit, into "shopping habits." The Guardian goes on to say:

"All retailers are under pressure from rising costs because of increases in business rates, the introduction of a minimum wage for over-25s and the fall in the value of the pound against the dollar, the currency in which many products are bought on the wholesale market. Hinton said it was harder for footwear specialists to cut employee costs because floor staff were required to fetch stock and explain shoe sizes to customers."

BS. That is blaming everyone except the executives who are supposed to be steering the ship.

The reality is that their business model and the quality of their product failed, and the willingness of consumers to buy it — changed.

And so we see the power of consumer actions: quit buying a brand of shoe, and down they go. (3-22-2017)

Death of a friend and co-worker: Lynda Shiratori
I met Lynda in 1983 when we worked on the same project at Charles Schwab In San Francisco; we were both software developers. Over the years I learned about how her Japanese parents had immigrated to Idaho, where they raised 12 children; Lynda was the last and the youngest.

She loved to travel. She told me about trips to Egypt and India, where she returned several times. She studied spirituality. She helped the needy; I'm reminded of a crippled man (whom I never met) who lived in Mill Valley, she used to bring him groceries, prepare meals for him, and massage him with essential oils. She liked to dance, and took dance lessons with much younger people who were amazed at her energy and determination.

I last saw Lynda on Friday, November 4th of last year. She visited me, we went out to dinner, and had a nice catch-up chat. She was ill then.

According to her obituary, she died in Idaho on February 9, just a few days ago. She had been ill. I am sad to lose her. (2-16-2017)

Civics classes
I took a Civics class one semester in high school. I thought everyone still took civic classes. Today I learned how wrong I am. Americans! Teach your children civics if their school will not. Adults, study civics on your own if you did not take a high school class. How in the world can we be informed about what our government should be doing, how it is supposed to do it, if all we have to rely on is the commercial media with their self-interest? We desperately need an informed population. Please do your part! (1-18-2017)
Trump and the Power of Fear
Carolos Maza of Media Matters has narrated a video that provides an invaluable explanation of how the American government has come to its current condition and how Trump convinced people to vote for him. High recommended. (1-18-2017)
Video:The west was built on racism
This video appeared in the 1-18-2017 issue of The Guardian. (1-18-2017)
Sexuality and Politics
My remarks constitute a two-page PDF document.. (1-7-2017)
Leadership or misery
I am reading Winston Churchill's The Birth of Britain. In a discussion of Canute, who reigned over England from 1016 to 1035, Churchill wrote something that seems particularly poignant in January 2017 as America faces four years of a Trump presidency:
"Here again we see the power of a great man to bring order out of ceaseless broils and command harmony and unity to be his servants, and how the lack of such men has to be paid for by the inestimable suffering of the many." (1-4-2017)
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Revision: 1-4-2017.