Category Archives: China

Made in ‘WHERE?”


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I was so excited today when I found these little plastic containers (like Ziplock storage containers) that have snowmen and Merry Christmas and other holiday stuff on them to use for putting cookies, candy, other baked goods in for the holidays. They weren’t on my shopping list, as I was only going for more apples on sale for the apple butter I am making and selling now.

They were only about $1.69 a package (three in one package, and five in the other), BUT what made me so excited about these cheap plastic products is that they were not only BPA-free but MADE IN AMERICA!!! Not made in China, like just about everything else we come in contact with. (Again, let me say, I have nothing against China, per say, I just think we need to be making our own products and putting Americans to work.)

I was going through my grandkids Halloween candy yesterday, and I had to throw away a bunch of candy bracelets and rings and stuff – all made in China. I will not indulge in any food products made there, or pet products either. Especially not for my grandkids – food stuff, not pet stuff. Quite frankly, I can’t help but wonder if China is trying to poison us and the rest of the world with their inferior products – but that’s a whole blog post on its own!

This led me to start thinking about, and not for the first time, where in the hell all of our drugs – name brand and generic are being made, since that is not information we are typically privy to as consumers – though maybe we should be. I know I would like to know where the drugs I may have to take are coming from, since I take that much care in selecting other consumable goods I buy.

Do any of you know where your medications are made? Do you think this is important?

Okay – off to NaNoWriMo land – need to get in an hour or so tonight. Didn’t get much done last night, had to catch up with a few of your blogs – I was blog-jonesin’ 😉 But I am still at it!!

Just something I was thinking about . . .

nanoPoblano   NaBloPoMo_1114_465x287_NOV

 

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Outer Space Treaty


orion-image

While reading the newspaper today, it was mentioned that on this day back in 1967 the Outer Space Treaty was agreed upon and entered into force. This agreement prohibited placing weapons of mass destruction on the moon or elsewhere in space. Space exploration was recognized as a peaceful endeavor and a benefit to all mankind , among other things.

That was almost 50 years ago . . . I can’t help but wonder what will happen in the next 50 years. Will Russia, India, China, and North Korea honor this treaty as they excel in their space exploration?

Just something I was thinking about . . .

Autumn Leaves – The Politics at Hand


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Sept 21 WordPress Daily Prompt: Autumn Leaves

Changing colors, dropping temperatures, pumpkin spice lattes: do these mainstays of Fall fill your heart with warmth — or with dread?

I have mentioned that politics do not dominate my landscape per say. But I have to admit, when I read this prompt, I couldn’t help but think of politics and how the mid-term elections are coming up. I have also heard that mid-term elections typically have poor turnouts, which I understand, as I myself have skipped a few over the years.

I have to tell you, I am now making it my business to know who is running and who I am voting for. We have got to start instilling some change in this country, in the way problems/issues/legislative actions are approached and then dispositioned, in the way those who WE elect into office represent us once they are elected, and in the way we are actually represented overall as a whole – a constituency.

This takes a lot of research and a lot of time, but I am dedicated to it. I can’t afford not to – none of us can! Complacency leads to neglect, which leads to contempt – I can promise you, not because I want it to, but because it does.

Regardless of how you vote, and what your ideologies are – you have to ensure you educate yourself and make your voice heard. The “Old Guard” just doesn’t have their hand on the pulse of America, and they certainly aren’t hearing us.

Just something I was thinking about . . . ☮

biggestloser-didntvotenon-voter

Catching Up On a Few Things


Owls in tree
Baby owls in my tree – look closely, there are 5 sets of eyes!

The world really freaks me out – I mean like frightens me, especially for my kids and grandbabies. I heard that North Korea is really incensed about some movie scheduled to come out in October, with Seth Rogen and James Franco. It’s called “The Interview.” The movie is about a plot to assassinate leader Kim Jong Un. He is pissed and feeling completely disrespected and has said if this movie is released it will be considered an “act of war that we will never tolerate.” Seriously, we are going to have a war with North Korea over a movie . . .

This is from http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-28014069:

The North Korea [foreign ministry] spokesman was quoted by the state KCNA news agency as saying: “Making and releasing a movie on a plot to hurt our top-level leadership is the most blatant act of terrorism and war and will absolutely not be tolerated.”

He added that the “reckless US provocative insanity” of mobilising a “gangster filmmaker” to challenge the North’s leadership was triggering “a gust of hatred and rage” among North Korean people and soldiers.

“If the US administration allows and defends the showing of the film, a merciless counter-measure will be taken,” the spokesman was quoted as saying.

What can you say about that? I certainly believe in free speech, but at what cost? Is this particular movie and article of free speech worth poking this crazy frickin’ bear? What do you think?

And then I heard Iran, Iraq, and Syria want help from the U.S. in the form of air strikes to help them fight against ISIS. The world just keeps getting stranger. Not sure what I think about the request – could be advantageous later, but then again, it seems whenever we get involved in this type of conflict, especially in that part of the world,  those we go to help seem to turn on us later. I don’t know, I just can’t help but think if we ever have another civil war here, the United States would not tolerate any other country stepping in, in any way, shape, or form. I understand about needing a peacekeeper/peacemaker/mediator sometimes, but who appointed the U.S. government in that role?

They still haven’t found the plane and I am beginning to think they never will. I don’t know, maybe aliens did snatch that baby right up, or maybe Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 went through an area like the Bermuda Triangle. I remember growing up, we all talked about the Bermuda Triangle and whether it was weather-related, pirate-related, alien-related, or a series of coincidences  – we weren’t savvy enough at the time to think any government might be involved. Now that I am older and with the advent of cable TV and the Internet, I don’t hear much about the infamous triangle anymore. Maybe it’s lost its appeal, with everybody paying attention to Lindsey Lohan, Justin Bieber, that icy blue-eyed criminal and zombies and other useless kind of stuff.

Speaking of that icy blue-eyed criminal  – his mugshot finally hit over 100,000 likes on the Stockton Police Dept.’s Facebook page. The noise on him has definitely quieted down a bit. I can tell you some of the comments are on that page are just stranger than fiction. REALLY!

Russia has hinted they may pull out of the International Space Station (ISS) in 2020, as opposed to getting the full life out of it, manning it until 2024 or 2028. They want to re-allocate Russian ISS funding to work on projects with China and India. It sounds like Russia wants a piece of the moon, if you ask me. Anyone paying attention to NASA lately had to have seen that one coming . . . I did. I see lots more to come on that regard, and I can promise it will be interesting to say the least. NASA has high hopes the amicable international partnership of the ISS will continue. I hope they are right.

There’s a new Planet of the Apes movie coming out – that just scares the shit out of me . . . really LOL!! Like the world isn’t a scary enough place, without thinking about apes being in control 😉

On a joyful note, I did find out there are at least five owl babies!! I don’t believe the nest is in my fig tree, but is in in one the trees in that little corner thicket, maybe in one of the cedar trees. Haven’t seen them in over a week now, so maybe they got big enough to fly away. Sure hope they come back next year!

Just some things I was thinking about . . .

You Best Be Paying Attention ‘Cause Shift Happens


Many years ago I watched a video called “Shift Happens” – a real eye-opener on the world we now live in. Since then it has been updated a few times and has changed a bit. I found several out there, but this revision is by one of the the original creators and I found the info presented here, as far as numbers go, is the same used in the 2013 and 2014 versions. (Plus, I am not entirely sure who actually updated those with additional info.)

I can’t say I hope you enjoy the video, as it is not for pleasure, more as it is for pause, consideration, education, and maybe even enlightenment. The world is so different from the one I grew up in, and is even different from the one my kids grew up in. People born in the last decade have had just about every move they have made digitally tracked in some form or fashion. (That’s another topic for another day!)

We are not the greatest country in the world anymore (yes, we Americans often think that!) – if nothing else because our “natural” resources are lacking . . . our human resource is not only out-numbered, but out-educated, and possibly even out-motivated, it seems. Taking these things into consideration, maybe we need to start thinking about “re-inventing the wheel” as it pertains to our future or the United States may find it quite difficult to keep up or even compete.

I don’t know  – just something I was thinking about . . .

What do you think?

Is the Giant Panda Sleeping?


Let me start by saying that I have nothing against China or the Chinese people. What I am fixing to talk about is bigger and far more encompassing and quite frankly it’s not about the Chinese people either. It’s about governments and their desire for control and expansion. It’s about the second-largest economy in the world.  It’s about people in general not paying attention to what’s really going on around them – which is hard to do, as there is a lot of noise coming our way these days. Sometimes it’s hard to get a clear channel on anything.

Mainstream media is good at distracting people from what’s really important and needs our attention or consideration, by providing us lots of other crap to focus on. Right now one of those focuses is North Korea, Iran and Syria, as well it should be. But, we better not lose sight of the sleeping giant panda or fire-breathing dragon – however you choose to look at it. I’d be willing to bet there is a legend somewhere that tells the story of how one became the other . . .

Most of us are aware that we , the United States, owe China an immense amount of money — in the ballpark of $1.3 trillion, if my sources are correct. The U.S. government continues to borrow from them.

The Chinese have also been buying a considerable amount of U.S. assets over the past decade, with projections in U.S. investments of $15-20 billion a year over the next decade. They appear to be focusing on acquisitions in energy, financial services, food production, real estate, and manufacturing, as well as entertainment and technology. The Chinese own One Chase Manhattan Plaza and the General Motors building, in New York – both nice commercial real estate coups for sure. They own all the AMC Theaters.

Most of these assets are owned by the Chinese government, under various state-owned entities. China needs energy to fuel their rapidly growing industrial development, and have purchased power assets in Portugal, Brazil and the Philippines. They had an unsuccessful attempt to buy the U.S. oil company Unocal in 2005.

The Chinese government also purchased private equity assets that fund GM pensions, if I understood correctly. I want to do some more research on that, & a few other things. I have so many questions. Though these are my opinions, I do try to thoroughly research topics I am interested in, verifying my info with several sources. Most of this information came from sources like Reuters, Market Watch, LA Times, USA Today, Business Week, and Forbes – encompassing a variety of agendas.

There is concern about China’s foothold in technology and possible breaches in our national security. Some analysts think that it’s in China’s best interest to stay friendly with us, as our markets thrive, so do Chinese investments. But what if their overall strategic goal is to control or even own the U.S. in some unknown manifest destiny design. They have quite an established growing assertive military presence, as well. Regardless of what might happen, I would not want to be at the mercy of a Communist country.

A month or so back I happened across CNN doing a piece on The Guardian’s Predictions for the World in 2014. Predictions shared involving China were:

  • China will eventually be the world’s largest economy.
  • Though Western brands will continue to dominate, China will own them.
  • U.S. will soon celebrate Chinese holidays.
  • Western politicians will clamor for Chinese investors.

I don’t know, maybe it’s just me, but I find all of this a little disconcerting. I am not a political person, nor do I know much about economics. I realize the world is now a global economy, but maybe the U.S. is a little too open for business? And why do we do so much business with China, in particular? The government does not allow any partnering with them involving NASA, spaceflight, or manned exploration – but then again there is considerable technology involved in those endeavors and International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) come into play.

I will be writing about this again, as I have so many questions that are not answered and concerns I wish to address. I also did not want to make this post to awfully long, as I have lots more data to share. I would love to hear what you think about this, too. Is the giant panda a good business partner or a wolf in sheep’s clothing?

Anyway, just something I’ve been thinking about . . .

locator map of China

** I watched a most interesting program quite a few years back about China – I have been keeping an eye on this development for quite a few years now – their growth, increase in consumption, and interdependency with the United States. In all honesty, it was a bit disconcerting. This link no longer shows the ABC News/Bob Woodruff video, but you can read the accompanying story.

 

Russia and Your Space Station


I read an interesting article in the paper a few days back regarding all the upheaval in Ukraine with Russia, and how this is affecting the relationship between Russia and the U.S. when it comes to the International Space Station (ISS). I know a little about NASA and the ISS and its operations, and I can tell you this issue is troubling to me. We have an ISS mission operations control center in Russia, as well as here in the U.S. at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. Our astronauts train in Russia for the Soyuz flights that ferry them back and forth to the ISS. The following is an excerpt from an internal NASA memo:

“Given Russia’s ongoing violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, until further notice, the U.S. Government has determined that all NASA contacts with Russian Government representatives are suspended, unless the activity has been specifically excepted. This suspension includes NASA travel to Russia and visits by Russian Government representatives to NASA facilities, bilateral meetings, email, and teleconferences or videoconferences. At the present time, only operational International Space Station activities have been excepted. In addition, multilateral meetings held outside of Russia that may include Russian participation are not precluded under the present guidance.” SOURCE: NASA Watch

From what I know, there are teleconferences at least weekly and emails probably daily. Before each flight of a vehicle to the ISS, Flight Readiness Reviews and Stage Operations Readiness Reviews are typically held and ALL international parties attend in person or via teleconference. Most configuration changes of any kind often require all international partners to agree and sign-off on. I have no idea what exactly has been deemed essential and how this is impacted by the sanctions the U.S. currently has in place with our partner in space.

We are dependent on Russia to get our astronauts to the ISS. We have much invested in the way of funding and are gaining enormous benefits in areas that will not even be realized for years – the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer could possibly change the basic concepts of physics; medical studies regarding cancer, aging, medications, etc.; as well as many other important scientific and technological advances.  When NASA’s Space Shuttle Program ended, with no crew vehicle to take its place, the price of the seats on the Russian Soyuz went up, now costing approximately $70 million. Sometimes two of those seats belong to us, meaning that cost doubles.

I’ve read that Charles Bolden, NASA’s administrator has said Russia’s space agency Roscosmos will continue to cooperate with NASA as far as providing our astronauts a ride to and from the space station. He has assured that Russia depends on us and can’t run the station as we supply many essential power and operating systems. He mentioned in 2008, when there were diplomatic issues involving Georgia, there were no problems. Well at that point the ISS was not completely assembled. I doubt both of the robotic arms were onboard and I’m pretty sure the satellite deployers had not been delivered. The robotic arms are used for so many tasks and operations and the small satellite deployers are a definite advantage in this newer area of technology. In my opinion, the only guarantee we have is that Russia wants our money.

My understanding is that the Russian cosmonauts spend the majority of their time living and working in the Russian modules and predominantly only work on their own science investigations – which if you ever look at a NASA Expedition Press Kit, these science experiments/investigations are written in Russian, so if you do not know the language or have an interpreter, most people have no idea what the Russians are really working on. (Though I am sure someone at NASA does.) They may even use their own communication systems separate of NASA’s, as well.

Also, if I understand correctly, the Russian Zvezda Service Module is the main piece of the station when it comes to powering all other systems and if it goes down – the whole thing can die. Having said all that, the Russians could just shut the parts of the U.S. side of the station down that they didn’t want to use and that would be that. I’d be willing to bet, there’s probably ways to disconnect the U.S. modules and let them deorbit, if so desired.

The space station was conceived as an engineering feat, to result in not only great advances in science and human space exploration, but also as a model for international cooperation – peace, compromise and teamwork. Under the circumstances though, I can’t help but wonder if Russia would try and use their advantage and take over the station.

I don’t know, and I am not an expert on any of these things. I am just thinking about the possibilities of what can happen with operations of the space station and the ramifications of the state of the world and our own affairs in this country presently. WE have a lot at stake here and I don’t think most of us really even know it. It’s not just about who owns, runs, funds the ISS and the science we get from that – it’s about who ultimately owns the skies with satellite technology and just as an aside, human space exploration.

I just realized North Korea has a space agency. North Korea has a space agency and China has landed a rover on and is exploring the moon and Russia is the only way our astronauts can travel back and forth to the space station that we as a nation and as taxpayers own a big part of. Regardless of your opinions of NASA, space exploration, and its funding . . . Is it just me or is this picture disturbing?

Just something I was thinking about . . .

Why Do We Keep Giving Our Jobs Away?


This is an article I originally wrote back in December 2004 about the problem of outsourcing American jobs to other countries. I recently found it and was surprised at how nothing has changed in the last ten years and this piece is still pretty spot on. Actually things may be even worse. There’s a greater number of aging baby boomers to work some of these jobs, and they are having an even harder time, often being terminated from their jobs 10-15 years before retirement age, now dipping into their retirement savings to live – but that is another story for a different day.

I hope this trend of corporate greed at the expense of this country’s health and welfare changes soon. Personally, I think if you outsource jobs to other countries that can be done by American workers, you should be heavily taxed. I think companies who maintain their workforce in the United States should be given tax breaks, at least for a period of time.

I note in my article I am NOT an economist or historian, nor am I necessarily politically inclined, so I don’t know all the background about these types of things, but I know enough to know they can be done judiciously and pragmatically. Of course, this will most likely cut into some profit margins – so though it can be done, I am sure it would be a fight. In honor of Throwback Thursday, I thought I would share it with you & see what you think.

 Outsourcing American Jobs Dangerous Trend

I love to read Molly Ivins’ nationally syndicated column. Today’s article was Ivin’s review of two books. One of the books mentioned, “When Work Disappears: The World of the New Urban Poor” by William Julius Wilson, discussed the problems with joblessness in the inner city ghettos. She uses a quote from the book discussing his solutions, which she states as critical for all of us not just for poor inner-city blacks – “The problems of joblessness and social dislocation in the inner city are, in part, related to the processes in the global economy that have contributed to greater inequality & insecurity among American workers in general & to the failure of U.S. social policies to adjust to these processes. It is therefore myopic to view the problems of jobless ghettos as if they were separate from those that plague the larger society.”

This made me think, as I read, that a large percentage of the American workforce is now in danger of this “jobless ghetto” syndrome. I heard President Bush say, during one of the debates, that the key to ending unemployment and government assistance needs is EDUCATION for 21st century jobs. The way I see it, the market is becoming considerably service and technology based. The jobs of the 21st century are huge in the area of technical assistance (development, programming, maintenance) and customer service. These are also the jobs that have been outsourced to other countries, for considerably cheaper labor costs. This is a dangerous trend that has been on the rise in the last five years.

Now, I am not an economics or history expert, but the way it appears to me is that in the last half century jobs have increasingly changed in proportion concerning manufacturing and service-oriented jobs. In the early years of this country up until the first half of the 20th century, manufacturing was a huge part of the economic base. The last half of the 20th century saw a large majority of these jobs being outsourced to other countries because it was cheaper for the manufacturer. This left the service-oriented and technology fields as a way of providing jobs for American citizens. As proved from my last five calls to Dell, and other computer parts manufacturers they are involved with, ALL of their technical support has been outsourced, often times to places where the technicians’ English is accented so heavily, even if they are the most intelligent in the world, I can’t understand a word coming out of their mouths.

If we are sending all the manufacturing, customer service-oriented and technology jobs overseas, what jobs does that leave for Americans? Medical professionals, lawyers, dry-cleaners, and fast-food/restaurant jobs are a few of the jobs left. Do you recognize the large gap in salaries between the first two jobs I mentioned and the second two jobs – the haves and the have-nots?

Do not misunderstand me, I understand the importance of a global economy, but in my opinion we have taken the concept entirely too far. When there is no balance, a considerable amount of middle-class jobs disappear from the U.S. landscape. If this trend continues, jobless ghettos could be as common as tent cities during the Great Depression.

Just something I was thinking about, something I think about often actually.

(And RIP Molly Ivins, you are missed by many!!)

China’s Moon?


When our government decided to cancel NASA’s Constellation Program several years back, which would have taken us back to the moon and to Mars, Homer Hickman (author of Rocket Boys and October Sky) wrote a short story set in the not-so-distant future. This was his take on America in a “post-NASA” world, a world where the United States is not the leader in human space flight exploration.  I wanted to share it with you, as I have some specific opinions that are of a similar topic I will be writing on in the future, and thought this would be a perfect preface.  It’s an interesting tale, for sure – and a little disturbing to say the least.

I hope you find it interesting, as well, whether you support NASA’s endeavors or not. Oh, and were you aware that China landed its first rover on the moon last December?

The Boy Who Looked at the Moon by Homer Hickman

Just something I was thinking about . . .