Monday, May 10, 2010

The Oil (Quick) Sands

I think the first time that the magnitude of this oil catastrophe really hit me was when I heard that the spill spanned over an area larger than Jamaica.

The numbers are just as incredible, though. 210 000 gallons per day. Nearly five million gallons in total, so far (multiply that by four for the rough measure in litres).

The insult to this injury is that all of us who were at least partially satisfied with the consolation of a major corporation like BP, the fourth largest in the world, hemorrhaging millions of dollars in cash and loads of public embarrassment, are actually in for loads of disappointment.

A BP (British Petroleum) rep estimated their daily costs of controlling the clean-up at around $10 million per day, not including the cost of lost oil. The company, though, amidst all this chaos and ideas for funnelling out the oil, burning it, and poking and plugging new holes, announced a few days ago a net profit of over six billion dollars in the year’s first quarter. For them, this clean-up is like a few kilometres off a full tank of gas – it barely moves the meter.

If that’s not enough, we’ll also – if we intend on driving at any point in the near future – have to pay more money for gas because of their fuck-up.

BP heads like multimillionaire CEO Tony Hayward and Chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg are laughing, because a sizeable chunk of their money is invested in oil. And what happens to the value of oil when it gets spilled, burnt and blown up? Svanberg and Hayward buy their spoiled, punk-ass kids a new Land Rover and their plastic wives a Tiffany’s shopping spree.

These guys don’t skip a beat, because it’s the small business owners along the Gulf Coast, the people who drive to work every day, and the natural world in general, that will ultimately suffer. The way it has been, and the way it will be for many years to come.

As consumers we’ve become oil-dependent not because we want to be, but because we have to be. Electric cars, boats and planes were invented decades ago, but were destroyed and buried, because there is too much to gain from this black gold. Four of the world’s top five wealthiest corporations are oil-based; the second being Exxon Mobile, who suffered a similar oil spill to BP’s two decades ago, in Alaska. These guys don’t skip a beat.

It isn’t America controlling this world, it’s American corporations. Barack Obama campaigned for an end to off-shore drilling, but his lack of say in the matter has surprised everyone. He’s beginning to realize how dependent America’s economy is on Shell, Exxon and Chevron. These transnational companies have caused transnational dependence, and it’s becoming impossible to control them.

Canada makes its bones in oil too, no doubt about it, but the inequity in their distribution of wealth is incomparable to ours. The divide between rich and poor in the U.S. is unreal for a developed country. Our economy suffers from the same dependence on oil that we do, and it’s the major corporations that made it that way. We can only blame ourselves to a certain extent – this wasn’t our plan, was it?

So this is less a call to action than it is an angry rant. In this system, boycotting oil is boycotting your own well-being. The Canadian dollar rises and falls with the value of oil. What we can do is ask, and hope, and pray, that our government and international governments regain control over the companies that they gave birth too. They created a monster, and what’s worse, they need that monster just as much as it needs them.

But there is one upside to this oily catastrophe. The G20 in Toronto will be the perfect venue to express your anger. The government’s fear is putting power in the hands of the people – where it should be.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

6 Tracks + Videos for 2010 - Happy 1/3 of a Year

Some people spend so much time finding the coolest music of today that they don't take the time to really enjoy what they're listening to. But if you really are just on a quest for the perfect track, check these out first. Some of the best tracks of late 2009 and 2010 so far, finally with videos. Enjoy.

Six songs, because there are too many top fives for this internet to handle.

The Heavy - How You Like Me Now?

Phoenix - Love Like a Sunset (Animal Collective remix - Deakin's Jam)

Johnny Cash - Ain't No Grave

Gorillaz (feat. Bobby Womack and Mos Def)

Broken Bells - The High Road

Clipse feat. Cam'ron - Popular Demand

Friday, April 2, 2010

Body Bags to Dime Bags

When we unwind outdoors this week with a joint that is so much sweeter when the weather's just right, will we think about where this stuff comes from?

And I don't mean regular suppliers, or that list of five guys you or your friends call in desperation when they're craving a hit, but the people who have made the fateful decision to put their freedom -- and lives -- on the line, for the dollar.

We probably won't, but we probably should. And not because we should feel sorry for the tens of thousands killed in Mexican border cities (though we probably should), or the hundreds of thousands in jail or on probation all over North America, or the millions who will get so high they'll blurt out the dumbest thing they've ever said, but because legalizing a drug that is so obviously fit to be legalized is something we all --whether you smoke twice a day, or twice a month-- have a stake in.

Drug cartels in Ciudad Juarez and Tijuana have been operating for over half a century along the Mexican border. Mexico is not only a major narcotic supplier, but the gateway between the wealthiest drug-consuming market and South America's world-class drug producers.

It's only been recently, though, that the violence has escalated to an uncontrollable point. So much of what you read will trace the violence back to the 2006 election of Felipe Calderon, and his quest to dismantle the drug trafficking industry in Mexico, but this isn't entirely true. Statistics show death rates in these cities already on the rise before Calderon, and independent of government intervention. This began as a battle between cartels, and the police and military --the ones who have not yet been corrupted-- have become a third party to violence.

In the past few months we've heard about more high-profile murders. Police chiefs and officers are making weekly news. Recently a Monterrey police chief was found decapitated in a car with his head on his lap...his brother dead in the back seat.

Now most of what people smoke up here is home-grown green. Everyone is always raving about B.C. bud, but that's where a significant chunk of our weed comes from. Despite the stretch of fertile, uninhabited ground our country has, grow-ops have become the norm. And because this process has become so scientific, the weed we smoke has so much more THC than the weed our parents' generation smoked that many think it should be placed in a higher class of drugs.

The other issue with the chemical manipulation of marijuana is that it influences greater variation in the product being sold. With this variation comes ruthless, money-hungry entrepreneurs doing anything to gain a competitive edge. So while the situation in Vancouver will never be what it is in Tijuana, it's expected that major traffickers will --at some point-- go to war, and innocent civilians may be caught in the cross-fire.

This has happened in Mexico, and plenty of Canada's Marijuana does still come up from South America, through the Mexican blood-baths of Ciudad Juarez and Tijuana, and eventually through the U.S.-Canada border. But how much of this violence would cease if Marijuana were legalized?

Not all of it, of course, but millions of North and South Americans in the narcotics industry could become legal business men, and their rivals legal competition. Government regulation could cap monopolies, and guns would be obsolete. Serious money could be pumped into struggling South American economies.

Now I'm not naive enough to believe that there aren't significant downsides, but this is a pretty significant upside. This doesn't exactly cover the coke and amphetamine issue (in the last decade Canada has become one of the largest Meth and Ecstasy suppliers in the world), but one step at a time.

What I've gone over is minute in scope of the endless personal and political issues that you should think about, but save that conversation for sobriety. Smoking Marijuana is of those few privileges in life that should be enjoyed -- no questions asked.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Terrorists, Rednecks & Conspiracy Theories

Two weeks ago a New Yorker article outlined the debate between the Obama administration and pretty much everyone else in America, over where the trial of the self-proclaimed planner of the 9/11 attacks, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, will take place.

Mohammed is waiting to see whether he'll be tried at a military tribunal at Guantanamo, or an American courtroom in New York's Foley Square. If you come up with your choice immediately, think harder.

This could be the trial of the century, and it's Attorney General Eric Holder's quest to show that the American legal system is strong enough to handle terrorism cases.

WTC smoke in mirrors? If you believe in most conspiracy theories, you're probably a pretty fucking paranoid individual. But if you're interested in one or two, it's only evidence of your own Western sanity.

Many, including a reported 30% of the American population, still aren't convinced that the 9/11 attacks were perpetrated solely by Al Qaeda terrorists. The precise damage, justification for the Iraq oil-raid, and continually unanswered questions (after nearly a decade) contribute to this doubt.

Now if this theory interests you, the idea of having this trial in New York is suspicious. Having Mohammed convicted in front of the entire world will give us another turban-wearing Al Qaeda A-rab terrorist to point our fingers at; maybe, so we won’t point them at the American government. Sounds naive right? But you can never underestimate the naivety of the American population.

Right now, the redneck majority is battling another vicious enemy; health, while trying to hang on to their most precious commodity; guns. Let the ignorance die off, I guess.

The trial of Khaled Sheikh Mohammed will be a fantastic spectacle, but it’s not worth the risk of the Obama administration losing more support in the South. Them southerners aint worth the fuckin’ hassle, but, unfortunately, they still hold the key to Obama’s success.

Be afraid.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Music We Should All Listen to Once in a While

A 2009 track by Timber Timbre; one of the music scene's most interesting, thought-provoking Canadian artists. One of those songs we rarely hear where the lyrics are just as important as the music itself.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Trade Season: Williams for Khadr?

After a few major sports trades I came up with some general Canada-America swaps that would favour team Canada on several different levels. Some are serious issues that deserve serious consideration, and others aren't so serious, but may be far more agreeable.

Like anything else I've blogged about, from politics to pop culture, my only goal is that some passionate thought -- whether shared or not, but preferably shared -- is generated.

1. Colonel Russel Williams <--> Omar Khadr

Omar was just 15 when he allegedly threw a grenade killing an American soldier, and the evidence against him is thinner than the barrier between good and evil in Afghanistan. Even if he is guilty, he was 15. Should have been a minor-niner, should have been studying for his G1 test, touching the skin of his first girlfriend. When you’re 15 in a war, you do whatever you’re told to stay alive. There’s no other side of the story but the side you’re on.

Now Coronel Russel Williams, he’s no boy, he is a fucking man. A great white Williams, a military wasp, a UCC boy, Ottawa resident, murderer and rapist (allegedly). It was reported that the victims in the sexual assault cases were bound naked to chairs and photographed by their attacker. A square-jawed coward who took the tools he was given to protect our country and used them against us. Apparently his dark past began when his parents divorced. Boo-fucking-hoo.

This isn’t a Canadian, this isn’t even a human being, so why does he deserve Canada’s leniency? You don’t want him there either, America? Take him to Kandahar with your Marines; take him to the front lines. Show him what happens to rapists and murderers in this decade’s capital of rape and murder. Torture his psyche beyond recognition. Take him to Guantanamo and clog his pores with sweat and blood.
Sometimes we need that Old Testament sternness, that Hova justice.

2. Adam Giambrone <--> Rahm Emanuel

Americans seem to –eventually— appreciate adulterers (Clinton, JFK, etc.), and our government needs a shit-talker to spice things up. I’m also quite certain that Emanuel can run the TTC more efficiently than Giambrone.

3. Harper <--> Obama

Pretty obvious how we’d benefit, but Obama would just be happier here.

4. All professional Canadian golfers <--> Tiger Woods

I’ll take a sex addict any day if he’ll give us an athlete to cheer for year-round.

5. Curling <--> Base-ketball

Yea, it isn’t a real sport, but anything’s better than curling. Curling’s not a sport, it’s a fucking hobby. I’ll admit to having dreamed about Cheryl Bernard, though. Curling does nothing pleasant for our Canadian reputation.