The price of gas
The past day or so, you may have seen quietly panicked little men on television discussing the rise in the cost of oil. Yesterday, it broke the $50/gallon barrier for a few hours. There are also whispers of "troubles in Nigeria." So, what, exactly, are these "troubles" in Nigeria?
To put it simply, a revolution is happening. This isn't making the mainstream news for some reason, although it has been reported in the past. As early as June, it was thought that Shell Oil might have to leave Nigeria altogether. Why? Because the years of corporate dominance Shell has enjoyed there may finally be at an end.
Shell has been "heavily criticized" for the past decade for its abuses in Nigeria. I say "abuses" and not "alleged abuses" because I feel that Shell is doing wrong in that nation. I've heard the stories of the men executed for speaking against Shell and the darker rumors of Shell's involvement with those deaths. On top of that, does anyone really believe that so many "insurgents" would suddenly just rise up and try to overthrow their government and rid themselves of a company that was truly beneficial to them? That kind of logic, often used by the defenders of Shell, is a base atavism to the days of slaveholders.
I have bought perhaps ten or twenty dollars of gas from Shell in the last five or six years. In this case, it isn't simply an anti-corporate stance that makes me reticent to give them my money, it's the idea that my money literally helps kill people in Nigeria.
So, while you may complain at the pumps this winter, at least you are alive and free to complain. The Nigerians dying for your comfort appreciate you.
Notes and other wastes of time
It's been kind of a rough week around here, mostly for reasons that are personal and therefore not currently something I'm gonna write about in much detail. Let's just say that bank balances that begin with the minus sign, plus a dead cat, plus the threat of a third round of flooding in three weeks have the catastrophe haus a little preoccupied.
Not to mention the constant delays with the drug runners and pimps. What the hell is wrong with those guys? Do they not know I am on a schedule?
Screw implants, just call her a lot!
First off, this following bit comes to us from Japan, which automatically gives it a "-5" credibilty factor modifier. Japan is rare in the sense that we kind of know what is going on there (unlike China), but we are not sure that what they tell us isn't just absolute bullshit (Fox News).
At any rate, there is currently a Japanese doctor who claims that he has created a ring tone for cell phones that will increase a woman's chest size. I have a better idea, let the Japanese girls all come over here for a few years and eat Bovine Growth Hormone, like god intended - ok?
So. That's the plan, huh? Just get her a ringtone? Right. Like I said, it's in Japan, so who knows?
If you can't pray nice, don't pray at all...
Apparently, the problems inside the greater Christian Church do not, in fact, revolve around salvation by grace or deeds; they revolve around a single door in Church of the Holy Sepulcher. It is comforting to know that Men of God can be so Christlike in these troublesome times.
Well, that's about it for today. I had some ideas for longer pieces, but they started turning into monsters. I'm not a paid writer, so I don't see the need to get into something that might require real research. That, and I still have a cat to cremate and rain water to contend with.
More bang. Less buck.
It seems that we have been wrong about how this country really works all along. Thankfully, we have Virginia Postrel to set us straight with her new book "The Substance of Style." Don't worry, I'll be reading and reviewing that book soon, but what really has me at the moment is the commentary she was allowed on NPR last week (16 Sept).
Ms. Postrel's basic theme is that we have it easier now than we did twenty years ago. What has made our life that much better? One word: Variety. Never mind the fact that Americans don't seem to make much of anything anymore, there's simply more and more of it on the shelves and that's a Good Thingtm.
According to Ms. Postrel, greater consumer choice does not translate easily into standard of living calculations, which is why all those studies show that wages and standard of living have stagnated - if not declined - over the past twenty years or so. "The standard of living looks more stagnant than it really is." But, "thanks to greater consumer choice, we're much better off than we were 20 years ago--so much better off that we take our good fortune for granted. Average Americans now expect options only the rich used to enjoy."
I feel better already. In fact, I might just run out to my local grocery store and stand in awe at the 40,000 items on the shelves and know that we truly are reaching the pinnacle of human acheivement. Nevermind the fact that I still can't really afford things like soy milk and mangos or the good cheese and gourmet whole bean coffee, I can still feel happy knowing that the middle class is moving ahead in society - closing in on those upper class bastards who have kept the miracles of exotic fruit a secret for fifty years.
I know I should not let Ms. Postrel under my skin. After all, it was a commentary on NPR and NPR is not, despite its claim at "Public Radio", meant for the real Public. That is, not the "average American" that Ms. Postrel claims is living "better on the same income," again thanks to consumer choice. But her argument seems somehow flawed from the start. Comparing Robin Williams' character in Moscow on the Hudson and his reaction at the choice in a 1984 American store with today's sophisticated American's seeming lack of acknowledgement of even greater choice today: I have a word for you to learn today, Ms. Postrel, it's acclimation. I am sure that Vladimir Ivanoff would now be quite comfortable in Target or Home Depot, while perhaps members of the American underclass would not. And it doesn't get much better. Ms. Postrel manages to confuse her thesis in the space of two paragraphs, first stating that economists have a term for what she is describing and then stating that the numbers don't really exist.
But, hey, at least I still have my trip to the grocery store to look forward to. Maybe I'll point out to everyone there today how much better off we are as a society because there are two dozen kinds of chocolate topping for our three dozen kinds of ice cream (all made by three different companies, but that is another story).
Election 2004: Screaming Ninnies
There. I said it. The supposed high point of American Culture and Society. One of the reasons we are hated by "radical Muslim" groups. The basis of our so-called Democracy. The Election Process. It is now officially to be known as the Quadrennial Screaming Ninny Face Off.
And not just the two Ninnies at the center of the event, no. We get all the Helper Ninnies on the support crews, we get ninnies on the fringes of the spectrum, we get Has Been Ninnies and Neophyte Ninnies. And yes, The Nihilist Ninnies, too.
If this country deserved any better than what it is getting, then maybe we would wake up tomorrow and read a headline like this in the paper:
Election Called Off Until Substance Or Meaning FoundSure, I've maintained for years now that elections don't matter. And this one, despite a brief moment of uncertainty, is no different. We have two men who are both Yalies, both members of the elite Skull and Bones, who want to extend the American presence in Iraq, yada yada....
You've heard all that crap. So, I got some brand new doo-doo for you.
I'm tired of all the lurid expose books and cheap commercials with bad voice-overs telling me that the candidates are both Satan Incarnate. It cheapens whatever could have been left of the process. I could almost tolerate this charade if there were a series of debates, and I mean more than just three or four, that were given more than an hour-long slot in the networks' off time.
If we are going to pretend to be a nation of 300 million, stretching across a continent (and then some), then don't we need to actually have a discussion about what all these plans and platforms are about? I don't hear that in debates. I hear careful dodges and misused facts. Flights of fancy and absolute out and out lies. And, sadly, some forty percent of the public buys into it.
That roughly equates to the one-fifth to one-fourth of the "political class" and the remainder just "good Americans." The rest of us cannot possibly be bothered.
What's worse is that so many educated people are reduced to slobbering idiots during an election cycle. "Oh, God! The Supreme Court!" "The PATRIOT Act!" "The Gun Ban!" Folks, the system is made to sway. You can't always have it your way. Sure, progress is better than regress, but damn if the liberals haven't been simply handing this country over to the neo-cons for the last thirty years.
You get what you deserve.
Back to work, bitches.
Yea, well. Hiatus is over. When two people in two days ask you "why'd you stop writing," you realize two things: That at least two people were reading and that they are slow. I mean, shit, it was down for a month, ya'll. Come on now. Get with it, already.
And I still don't know how to get a better margin around my image files. Oh well. On with the show!
If anyone out there can clue me in on what this clip (use headphones at work) is all about, then please do. I just don't get it. Apparently, neither does Brad, or, at least, he claims to not really know. The girl is equally confused/confusing. At any rate, how the hell do you get suspended from livejournal?
At any rate, congrats, terrajen. You just became a meme. That should reinvigorate yr attempts at internet popularity a great deal.
CNN is telling us, and I quote, "Lost nuclear bomb possibly found". Possibly? Oh, nice. It's off the coast of Georgia, so congrats down there. This is what you get for not having Zell Miller comitted before he could be unleashed on the nation.
This is why I am not a published writer
New York Times, please take note: It was nice of you to publish the first chapter of the new novel by Kristin Gore and even nicer of your reviewer to bash it fairly badly.
Missus catastrophe is hounding me daily to write a book, to which I reply, "darling, I've not sucked enough dick to get that far ahead in this world."
Not to imply that Ms. Gore sucked cock to get a publishing deal. No, her ascent to literary status came in a much less time-honored fashion: she's the daugter of a vice-president who just happened to be at the right party talking to the right guest at the right time. From the Times review:
"At a reception for the nonprofit where Gore's sister works, the wealthy culture baron and the well-connected offspring of a political dynasty had a conversation that seems more the stuff of fiction than its source: ''What I really, really want to do is write a novel,'' said Ms. Gore. ''What a coincidence,'' replied Mr. Weinstein. What a country."What a country, indeed.
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