Susan's Musings

These musings—blog entries—are for the year 2007. Other years can be accessed from the blog's home page, use the link in the upper right.

Business profit at the expense of worker protections
Lately there's been a lot of "news" about tainted goods from China, from cat food to children's toys. It prompts me to wonder why the protections established inside America cannot be imposed on imported goods.

American companies complain that worker's health care benefits make them uncompetitive in the global marketplace, as the cost of the benefits is added to the cost of their products.

Labor is another imported item, whether it is "offshoring" or built into imported goods. Think of all the "inexpensive" clothes made offshore and sold here with American brands on them. That practice was adopted because the cost of offshore labor is less than American labor. Why is the offshore labor less? No health benefits, no workplace protections, no minimum wage, etc.

I will not be surprised if American businesses demand that domestic worker protections be abandoned because it hurts the businesses' competitiveness abroad.

Why not extend the protections of domestic workers to foreign workers who produce goods sold in America? Just as we have our dolphin-free tuna, why not have our sweatshop-free clothes?

Leveling the playing field should not mean the lowest common denominator, but instead the highest. (12-6-2007)

A War on Knowledge?
Prez Bush admits Iran stopped its nuclear weapons program four years ago, then in almost the same breath says "Iran was dangerous, is dangerous, and will be dangerous" because it knows how to build nuclear weapons. Bush claims the basis for the danger is knowledge.

Beware Americans! If knowledge is danger, we are all at risk of being threats to national safety. If you thought the War on Terror would be endless, think of a War on Knowledge.

Clearly—isn't it?—the "knowledge is danger" theme is pure BUNK and must be laughed off the stage by everyone. Start laughing. (12-5-2007)

Monday thoughts on the economy
Thinking about our economy. Our form of capitalism defines everything as a buy-sell transaction. It's one thing to produce goods for sale, but what does it mean for prosperity to be based on the sales of services? America has increasingly turned from a producer of goods to a producer of services. When times are hard, services have no buyers. Is there a limit to the ratio of goods to services that is viable, is there a point beyond which prosperity is not sustainable? Are services an additional cost of goods? How much is too much?

For me subsistence is a touchstone, and the goods needed for living seem to be the true foundation of a viable prosperity: food, clothes, shelter, medicine, school books. Related services are also necessary: healers, teachers, journalists and writers.

Modern American economy is based on people buying things they do not need with money they do not have.

Surely this is not a recipe for a sustainable supply of goods and jobs.

Even worse these days everything is for sale, even debt. Now we have prosperity based on the ability of homeowners to pay mortgages with rising interest rates on over-priced homes. A downward spiral is in sight: if the job market shrinks, more people will default on their mortgages, leading to more layoffs. (11-19-2007)

All-news TV is really a video blog
All news TV is really a video blog—constant facts and factoids broadcast with no value. Well, that's a disservice to blogs, many of which do have value. (11-15-2007)
A little cat humor
This animated cartoon was sent to me by a distant cousin on the Isle of Jersey. Be sure to hear the audio. (11-11-2007)
The inferno: wildfire in Southern California
This photograph was taken near the home of a co-worker near Santiago Canyon, Orange County, California. Amazingly enough she was not evacuated and her home is safe. (10-29-2007)
Why cats domesticated
I've got a theory about why small wildcats domesticated: touch. Domestic cats love to be touched. And people love to touch them. More . . .. (8-26-2007)
At our house cat hair is a condiment
Spoken by Steven McKinchak as Master of Ceremonies at an awards banquet of TICA about 1997. (8-26-2007)
Sectarian violence
Sectarian violence permeates the modern world. As a child of European descent growing up in Christian America, I was taught a history punctuated with acts of Christian sectarian violence. But I did not know how long there has been Muslim sectarian violence. What I discovered was that violence, especially sectarian violence, has been at the heart of Islam since its inception in 630. More . . .. (7-21-2007)
Why can't a programmer tell the difference between Halloween and Christmas?
Because OCT31 = DEC25. (Found as a tag line on a website.)
Okay, for those non-programmers who cannot get the joke, OCT refers to an 8-based system and DEC refers to a 10-based system. In octal, 31 = 3 x 8 + 1, or 25. In decimal, 25 = 2 x 10 + 5, or 25. (7-12-2007, revised 12-10-2009)
Origin of the domesticated cat
The ongoing Cat Genome Project recently (June 29, 2007) published their initial findings on the origin of the domestic cat. They made a genetic assessment of 979 modern cats, both domestic and wild, from three continents. They found five lineages of mitochondrial DNA indicating that each wild group represents a distinct subspecies of Wildcat, Felis silvestris. This DNA research indicates that Wildcats became domesticated in the Fertile Crescent (modern day Iraq) perhaps as early as 100,000 years ago. More . . .. (6-30-2007)
Women's complaints about men
We ask our men to share the parenting and the housework so we can have the time to pursue careers as scientists, artists, academics, and CEOs. When the men fail to deliver, we are upset. We take it personally. Wrong. When men agree to share parenting and housework, what they are really saying is "I understand what you want, I care for you, I support your dreams, and I'll do this to the extent of my abilities." What we refuse to understand is that civilized man is not able to meet this contract all of the time. And he hasn't been able to for at least 8000 years. More . . .. (6-8-2007)
The Anglican Church and Protestantism
In 1852 John Mason Neale (1818–1866) delivered a lecture in Brighton, England which was published as "The Bible, and the Bible Only, The Religion of Protestants" and is now (2010) available on Google Books. This is a lengthy lecture and one you may appreciate as much as I. What I found the most interesting was the following points:

a. Is the English Church Protestant? No. This is the theme of the lecture.
b. What is Protestant? The only common belief is in the Resurrection of the Body; that there is One God is denied by the Universalists ("Socinians cannot be said really to hold the first Article, because if they deny God the Son, they clearly deny God the Father as Father").
c. What is the basis of these Protestant religions? Their interpretation of the Bible. "Then, I think, at last we have discovered the true and genuine principle of Protestantism. Every man has a right to interpret the Bible according to his own understanding; after giving it the best attention which his opportunities and capacity enable him to bestow."
d. Which leads to "the horns of the dilemma." "Either you must confess Roman Catholics . . . to have as good a right to their opinions as you have to yours, in which case, what dreadful bigotry, intolerance, ay, and wickedness, is your denunciation of them; or, . . . you say that all men are bound to interpret the Scripture according to your own private judgement."
e. He goes on to say "So much for the right of private judgement, which forms the positive belief of Protestants. I am not going to waste words in showing you that the Church of England openly and palpably rejects it. . . . All this, mark you, does not in the least prove that the Church of England is right in holding this opinion; that is quite a different question, and one with which we are not at all concerned now: it only proves that, as a fact, she does hold it."
f. And then he addresses the error in the title of his talk: "The whole Bible and the Bible alone does not form their religion. Not the whole Bible, because they, in point of fact, reject a good deal that is in Holy Scripture; not the Bible alone, because they hold a great deal that is not in Holy Scripture." (5-19-2007)

Vitamin K is Activator X
Dr. Weston A. Price's research into health and dental defects led to his discovery of a vitamin-like substance found in the traditional diets of the healthy peoples he studied, a substance he called "Activator X." He found that Activator X played an influential role in the utilization of minerals, protection from tooth decay, growth and development, reproduction, protection against heart disease, and the functioning of the brain. Now Chris Masterjohn in a recent article in Wise Traditions, the journal of the Weston A. Price Foundation, lays out a clear case for the equivalence of Activator X and vitamin K2, that they are one and the same. More . . .. (5-5-2007)
A civic morality
Human society has for thousands of years adopted a personal morality—a code of behavior deemed correct and proper and by which individuals could be judged as good or bad. For American children, a personal morality might be reflected by whether Santa Claus judges them as naughty or nice. What America lacks today is a civic morality—a code of behavior of individuals as citizens, a set of obligations to their country and responsibilities for their country. A morality that is focused on their relationships with their country. More . . .. (4-7-2007)
Caifornia AB 1634
I am adamantly opposed to AB 1634, the erroneously named California Healthy Pets Act. Healthy pets are certainly better than unhealthy pets. But this bill has little to do with pet health, instead it will completely block all registered purebred cats and dogs as pets in California. Animal husbandry is central to civilization. The purebreeding of cats and dogs has been and continues to be invaluable to humans. It is absolutely ridiculous to ban the registered breeding of cats and dogs in this state and to deny such animals entry into the homes of Callifornians. PLEASE VOTE NO.

Furthermore it is not the jurisdiction of the State of California to limit pets. If you don't like that animals in shelters are killed, then find a real solution. The Best Friends pet sanctuary in Kanab, Utah is an example of a workable alternative. And you could always offer free spay/neuters! and make it easy for people to bring in their pets.

And is "pet overpopulation" a problem? Is it even a truth? Who is the State to say California can only hold so many pets? Egads! (4-7-2007)

Lunar calendar
I am enthralled by the moon which I watch every night when the sky is clear, an iffy proposition here in fog land. It was only about two years ago that I learned to tell when a moon was waxing (getting fuller) and waning (getting smaller). In case you don't yet know, a waxing moon looks like a right parentheses, ), which is to say it thickens on the right side. A waning moon looks like a left parentheses, (, because it is eroded from the right. I like to be aware of the moon's progress, but find the common method of drawing a calendar where each week is a separate line, does not fit the moon's cycle. So I drew my own: each lunar month begins on the new moon, which is the moment the moon is completely invisible. You are welcome to use my lunar calendar for 2007. (3-17-2007)
The future is all of us
For years I've read articles whose theme was that our future is in the hands of our children. I've read novels where women sacrificed their future for their children. Neither of these themes appeals to me. Everyone can contribute to the future, both to their own and to the rest of us. The only meaningful sacrifice for a parent is that needed to raise a child well. If children are so valuable to our future, what are we doing to prepare them for it? And how can we do that while acknowledging that everyone is valuable, children and parents, young and old? The future is all of us. More . . .. (2-9-2007)
Children are raised by children
Essentially, children raise children. Parents in their twenties and thirties may be legal adults, but their actual parenting efforts are primitive. They are barely out of emotional childhood themselves. In this light it is amazing that any family with children can be other than dysfunctional. Is this good? Is it inevitable? Is there another way? More . . .. (2-9-2007)
Common sense—choosing humane values
I recently read an essay by Patrick Reinsborough titled "Decolonizing The Revolutionary Imagination: Values Crisis, the Politics of Reality, and Why There's Going to Be a Common-Sense Revolution in This Generation." The essay was originally published in 2004. It jiggled a lot of ideas in me which I am noting here with some quotations. (2-4-2007)
Is skin color everything?
African blacks in America have long complained that the European whites have discriminated against them, suppressed, and repressed them. The recent influx of brown-to-black skinned people from India, especially as technology workers, is illuminating a different story. The Indians have the same colored skins as the African Negroes, their faces are different from European ones, their hair is wavy. Their voices have British accents and they comport themselves in a way to fit in with the white professionals with whom they work. They are here because they work for less—for now. They do not ask for handouts, only an open door. They are succeeding. They fit in—with black skins. Why don't many of the African-Americans? (1-26-2007)
What's in that tomato? Depends where it comes from.
Peter Bahouth, former director of Greenpeace, wrote an essay titled "The Attack of the Killer Tomato" which was first published in the Summer, 1994 Earth Island Journal, and has been reprinted a number of times since. It is available here. (1-26-2007)
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Revision: 3-16-2015.