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.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Lighting Up Bourbon Street

Whether you're into football or not, I think we can all agree that the Super Bowl was a welcome diversion.

For America, January was filled with political doubts and speculation that did little to ease the minds of a population still struggling with a defeated economy, and a 10% unemployment rate. The Super Bowl was the best thing that`s happened this year.

When Tracy Porter intercepted a Peyton Manning pass in the 4th quarter and ran the ball in for a touchdown, he vanished -- if only for 10 seconds -- every nagging issue on the mind of the American viewer.

Iran flexing, Earthquake in Haiti, Rahm Emanuel tirade, Obama's uncertain future, America's uncertain future. Fuck all that, this is Super Bowl Sunday.

Bourbon street. American symbolism. A cool and colourful city until Girls Gone Wild uncovers a lens and the streets are filled with bare tits and beads, and then the tits and beads are washed out with dirty Atlantic saltwater. Katrina stripped New Orleans.

Who knows which nudity got more exposure, but for many they were just two more reasons to avoid a place they had never really planned on visiting anyway.

But nothing lights up a city like a Super Bowl win. Do you think anyone would know about Pittsburgh if it weren't for the Steelers? Pittsburgh is Pennsylvania's Hamilton.

For the first time in recent memory, CNN's tone --if only for 10 seconds-- has radically shifted. This bliss isn't ignorant, it's a mental vacation.

For non-Americans, natural global order was restored. For better or worse, west is best. Almost 2% of the world's population was tuned in to this game. Who says sports are meaningless?

The Super Bowl means infinitely more than any of us would understand. While many see it as a meaningless demonstration for all-American consumerism, I'd argue its preservation of sanity for some North Americans. Who doesn't need to disconnect from reality once a year?

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Julian Casablancas: Back to the Future

This is one of those albums that slips through your fingers when it's released, and then you realize five years later that it redefined the music of that decade.

Julian Casablancas (The Strokes) made something strangely original by combining a few different sounds that already existed. It seems like the music of this decade is taking that sort of direction. It isn't necessarily a bad thing, it's just a new form of creativity that builds on old forms.

What keeps his music unique is the vocals. Casablancas' lyrics and sound made Is This It one of the best albums of the previous decade. And while this one won't be making any top 10 lists (other than a few "top 10 albums you never heard" lists), it is a blueprint for a new kind of electric rock.

Yea, Phrazes for the Young was released in 2009, but it's a prophecy for 2010+. Fresh decade, fresh music.

Now this video is pretty fucking strange, and maybe the song is too at first, but give it a chance...listen to it again...and again...blogwin...blogwin.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Where's Your Angry Face?

So keeping up a blog was getting a little bit tedious so I decided to prorogue for a little while. I guess I felt this nagging sense of responsibility to do...something. It'd be nice if our Prime Minister felt the same way.

Yea, bad joke, but I guess in a lot of ways that's how I view prorogation.

Like a bad joke, it's something that you know people won't laugh at/support, yet you do it anyway, and I guess you hope that it's so ridiculous/undemocratic -- so backward -- that people are thinking, "No, it can't be a serious joke/issue, or else he wouldn't have done it." So people go along with it and laugh...and laugh...and laugh...until they forget what they're laughing about.

If you aren't on board with this comparison, that's fine, but I hope you understand that this process is completely flawed.

Some reasons Harper prorogued government:

1. Hoping the Afghan detainee scandal will blow over, so he isn't forced into assigning -- or accepting -- blame.

2. Cabinet shuffle: ministers in Harper's government who have new responsibilities would probably not have had time to prepare for debate from the opposition.

3. Allows Harper to prepare for something that he should have been adequately prepared for: outlining the next step of Canada's economic comeback

4. Stephen Harper is an asshole
The prorogue card has only been played three times in Canadian political history; two of which were by Stephen the span of one year.

This is one of those abuses of power that we're so unfamiliar with, and Harper feels that with all that's going on in Haiti and the Middle East and the U.S., our attention will be drawn away from Canadian politics. We're not that stupid, are we?

On Saturday, thousands across Canada came together in protest. A similar demonstration to last year's coalition rally, but with one clear exception.

The entire movement was launched by a student. Alberta's Christopher White used Facebook and other social media venues to take his cause to the streets. You can't get more grass roots than that.

With all of these tools at our disposal, students have more power than ever to shake shit up. This protest is evidence that Facebook groups actually mean something. So we should be getting to it.

The problem is, we're not angry enough. I mean we're still angry about a lot of different things, maybe more than ever, but most of them don't mean a fucking thing in the grand scheme. We need to contain that anger and channel it.

I blame this in part on the music of the last decade. Since 2000, all of the music we've heard is missing one of the most common emotions that we feel. There's no angry music in the mainstream, and any angry music that is out there is just angry for the hell of it.There's no Rage Against the Machine, no Public Enemy, no NWA. And why not? Haven't we had enough shit to be angry about? A lot more, I'd say, than in the 90's.

The Harper government has become an expert at giving us a false sense of security. They do this by directing their policy toward immediate satisfaction.

The Immediate Satisfaction plan:

1. Pay off students and other low-income earners (mostly non-conservative voters) with GST cheques. Those cheques are great, but put that money back into our cities.

2. Avoiding a significant investment in an environmental strategy (a long term plan with immediate costs that are ugly; but very, very necessary).

3. PR: Ads focusing on diminishing their competition, cliche Harper photo-ops.

Another unfortunate aspect of this issue is that the opposition is so fucking disorganized that they can't properly communicate this to everyone else.

So what do you do? Harper thinks he's invincable and his opposition doesn't have the balls (I'm convinced they do have the brains) to make things right. What do you do? Whatever you can.

You aren't angry enough to protest? I get that. Join a Facebook group, post some angry Tweets, but most importantly; talk about this shit, and get other people talking about it. Plant it deep, so when election time roles around, all the clouded rhetoric and Conservative bullshit will be far, far beneath us.

The end of radical music.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

More Relevant than Ever: The #1 Canadian Doc.

The Corporation is a 2003 documentary written by Joel Bakan, and directed by Mark Achbar and Jennifer Abbott.

The documentary is an entertaining, intelligent critique of the modern corporation. It also provides a brief outline of its birth and upbringing.

Whether you agree, disagree or don't really give a shit, you'll have to admit that The Corporation busts the industrial world wide open. It gives an idea of who is being exploited, for how much, where, and for what true purpose.

If you have international roots, you may value a greater understanding of what the fuck is going on in some third-world countries. Corporations have sucked countries dry for the benefit of excess. As always, though, there's two sides to every story.

I'm not completely sold on the image of the corporation as an evil force. At least, if I do see the evil, I can accept it as a necessary evil. This isn't the sort of issue where you can pick a side: we've all been born and bread in a corporate world, and there's no justifiable way to curse the ground that you walk on.

Anyway, check it out. A little long I guess, but it's broken down into seperate sections. Interviews include Naomi Klein, Noam Chomsky, Michael Moore, etc.

Friday, January 8, 2010

The Rap/Rock Combo Can Work...I Promise

Blakroc = Mos Def + The Black Keys

Combining these two genres has been done before, yea, but this soulful compound may make you re-think your pessimism.