Thursday, December 11, 2014

Gimme That Old Time Religion.

      One of the religions practiced all over the Middle East in Old Testament times was the worship of Baal and Astarte.  Together, they were fertility symbols;  Baal, whose symbol was the bull, represented male sexuality, and Astarte, whose symbol was a bare breasted woman holding a snake, represented female sexuality.  It was known that this cult was ancient, and may have started with agriculture---or did it?   I just finished watching the DVD of "The Cave of Forgotten Dreams."   This is a photo tour Chauet Cave,  a Cro-Magon cave discovered only in the 1990s, which contains the oldest cave paintings ever found.  Mostly, they are beautiful paintings of Ice Age animals.  If you have not seen this film, by all means, rent the DVD. But at one place in the cave is a figure of a nude human female--the only human depicted anywhere in the cave---shown alongside a bull bison.  And these paintings were made 32,000 years ago.   Was the cult of Baal and Astarte Europe's original religion?  Makes you wonder.

"Shareholder Value" in Ruining Country.

An interesting op-ed piece in the Wall Street Journal by William Galston, claims that the demand for short term profit by Wall Street investors is ruining American companies, and ruining the country.  When investors continually demand maximum short term profits, it prevents management from making the kind of low profit but necessary long-term investments that keep a company competitive in the long term.  Investment in things like expensive new plant and equipment, which might take twenty years to pay for itself, and training and re-training of the work force, can lower short term profits, but are essential for long term competitiveness and even for survival. Ploughing money back into the host community by helping with school programs and other infrastructure can also help the long term survival of a company.   When demand for continual short term profit prevents a company from making this kind of investment, it not only ruins the company, it ruins the country.