Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Hot and not

Now, I cannot claim ownership of the Hot and Not gimmick. This is done by Jane Taber in her weekly column in the Globe and Mail that outlines the ins and outs of the current Ottawa political scene. I will use it as a way to highlight some random musings.

NOT: Terror-free Oil
This is a concept foreign to me until I read the paper this weekend. Apparently, a company has been started in the US (where else?) called Terror-Free Oil. It bills itself as the only supplier of gasoline that comes from nations other than those that support terrorism (obviously they aren’t buying oil from American companies then). The hilarious graphic on the actual pump at the first gas station opened by this company is a flow-chart outlining the following:

When your money goes to non-Terror Free Oil gas, it then goes to an oil company, upon which it arrives in an “Unfriendly Country”, and then on to “Islamic Terrorism”. However, if you buy from TFO, your money goes to an oil company in a Friendly Country or the US, upon which it is funneled into the “War on Terror”. OH….MY….GOSH….

Of course, the main source of their oil is Canada, which many gun-totin’, freedom-lovin’, terrorist-hatin’ Americans would not consider a Friendly Country, as we did not support the war in Iraq (at least Chr├ętien got one thing right). As well, another source is Venezuela, led by Hugo Chavez, who crazed Republican Pat Buchanan said should be assassinated by the CIA because he was akin to a terrorist and who trades oil, in exchange for doctors, with Fidel Castro, THE first modern object of American state hatred. But I guess because Canada and Venezuela aren’t run by Islamics, we are okay.

There are so many things wrong with that flow chart. First off, the company bills itself as being concerned for American energy security. And rightfully so. When you get the majority of your oil from OPEC nations with unstable political bases, you risk having that supply cut off at very short notice. But a more sensical way to reduce dependence on foreign oil would be to reduce consumption. But apparently it is easier to send 100s of 1000s of troops to the Middle East in a futile effort to exert influence on oil-rich nations than it is to tighten fuel efficiency standards for domestic auto manufacturers. Second, just because money goes to Middle Eastern oil companies and even states, it is the fact that those oil riches do not flow down to the people on the streets of these nations that bred terrorism in the first place, as well as the unjust and inequitable trade practices imposed upon other nations by the rich Western world. Maybe if Middle Easterners actually realized more of the wealth inherent in their nations rather than it all going to friends of Dubya in the House of Saud, there would not be so many disgruntled individuals. Besides any root cause theory, it is just plain ignorant to presuppose that all oil-producing Middle Eastern nations are hotbeds of terrorism or that terrorism is in anyway a legitimate offshoot of Islam. There are so many xenophobic and racist assumptions in the flow-chart it is sickening. Can you imagine the uproar if a company started up in the US whose sole marketing pitch was that the proceeds from the sales of their products were guaranteed not to end up in the pockets of African-Americans? or Jews? or fundamentalist Christians? or even worse….Catholics? (PS-If you want a good but mildly disturbing laugh, check out www.terrorfreeoil.org and watch some of the videos and take a good close look at some of the logos on the sides. Sick.)

HOT: Canada. In a related story, Peter Schiff, a financial analyst dubbed Dr. Doom, predicts the American economy will crash soon, and that American days as “the dominant economic power are numbered”. His reason: the US is in $8.5-trillion of debt (most of which went to financing the war on terrorism), the annual trade deficit is $800-billion, and the average American saves $0 annually. Awesome. On a positive side note, in his call to get all of your investments out of America, he recommends putting them into Canada. And he is American

HOT: “Mindless Eating” by Brian Wansink, Ph.D. This is the most fascinating book I’ve read in awhile. It is basically a collection of facts about the hidden cues that lead us to overeat. If you are health-conscious, weight-conscious, or you find the application of psychology to marketing strangely interesting, pick up this book.

NOT: Graveyard shifts. I just finished two 10pm-8am shifts at the new Shoppers Drug Mart in town. I have still not recovered after two full days. I don’t care if they were paying me $63/hr. It wasn’t worth it. Never again.

HOT: Cool websites. Two of my favorite of late are www.pandora.com and www.facebook.com. Pandora is a fancy internet radio that allows you to plug in bands or songs you like and then creates “stations” for you that are programmed to play music with similar features to those artists or songs. Facebook is a strangely enjoyable social networking site. You have to experience it. It is the modern version of the Six Degrees of Separation notion.

HOTTEST: Rugby. This is my current fix. I have recently rediscovered all the reasons I love this sport so much. Unfortunately, I live in the wrong country so I have to keep up on current games at bbc.co.uk/rugbyunion and then download them from aussietorrents.com and watch them on my computer. But it is worth every painstakingly slow downloading second. If you have never watched rugby or don’t even know what it is, the Rugby World Cup 2007 starts September 7. Give it a watch. Canada plays against Wales in their first match on September 9. It is the third most watched sporting event in the world after the soccer world cup and summer Olympics. So if pure curiosity cannot convince you to watch it, maybe peer pressure will.

PS-I have been informed that for my own good I’d better say that Sarah is in fact the hottest.