Friday, January 5, 2007

A Little Note to Exxon-Mobil

WASHINGTON — Exxon Mobil Corp. gave $16 million to 43 ideological groups between 1998 and 2005 in an effort to mislead the public by discrediting the science behind global warming, the Union of Concerned Scientists asserted Wednesday.

Anyone who has seen the film Jurassic Park will remember the scene where the dinosaurs first escape into the park, after Newman breaks down the computer system and shuts down the power. As the dinosaurs (not necessarily from the Jurassic Period) roam the park eating people and each other, Dr. Ian Malcolm, the mathemetician of the group, played by Jeff Goldblum, says quietly to himself, "I really hate being right all the time."

When I read the first paragraph of the news story I posted at the top, I said (quietly) to myself, "I really hate being right all the time." Well, not necessarily all the time, since that would take all the mystery out of life, but some things are just too obvious to be anything but rotten to the core; and this is a prime example.

For a whole summer, while gasoline prices were rising above the $3 a gallon mark, and XOM stock was having it's best year since 1980, those of us with a cynical nature wondered what was going on. Crude oil suddenly got very difficult to find, and the anti-Al Gore jackasses were out in full throat.

As it turns out, the oil made a sudden comeback. Apparently the dead Jurassic dinosaurs are everywhere - as long as we look in the right places, and the anti-Al Gore contingent (polite word for jackasses) turned out to be paid shills by big oil. Go figure.

And some people wonder why I am so cynical. Not one to shy away from a fight, the XOM spokespeople (polite word for jackass) has something to say about the report of bribery:

Irving, Texas-based Exxon Mobil called the scientists' report Wednesday "yet another attempt to smear our name and confuse the discussion of the serious issue of CO2 emissions and global climate change."

Smearing their name is easier than sex with a crack-whore (polite word for Exxon-Mobil executives).

And, what issue are we confusing, exactly? Is there any doubt about the science? Are people confused when they wander outside on a January day in New Jersey and find that they can comfortably wear short pants? Are they confused by the images of icebergs breaking apart? Science does not mislead. Corporations and businesses mislead. They have a long history of it, and it surprises me a little that people are buying-into the bunk that Exxon spent $16 million spreading around.

I think the only serious discussions of CO2 emissions are taking place in scientific circles, while the people at big oil companies would have us drive in circles wondering why it's so damned warm outside.

If you're feeling chilly, you can read the whole story here.

Wednesday, January 3, 2007

A Little Note to the YouTube Team

As we know, I bristle at hypocrisy. I find it in so many places, that I accidentally bristle when I don't mean to. Then, I find myself apologizing to the person in line behind be, as they accidentally brush up against my bristle.

Anyway, the bristling hypocrisy to which I refer is the video going around of the Saddam Hussein hanging. It's all over Google, and it's corporate little brother YouTube. Where's the hypocrisy, you ask?
The hypocrisy lies in the fact that the YouTube has an anti-nudity policy.
They have this Community, and a subsequent Code of Conduct.

Here is what they deem as their Code:

Don't Cross the Line

Here are some common-sense rules that will help you steer clear of trouble:

  • YouTube is not for pornography or sexually explicit content. If this describes your video, even if it's a video of yourself, don't post it on YouTube.
  • Don't post videos showing dangerous or illegal acts, like animal abuse or bomb making.
  • Real violence is not allowed. If your video shows someone getting hurt, attacked, or humiliated, don't post it.
  • YouTube is not a shock site. Don't post gross-out videos of accidents, dead bodies and stuff like that. This includes war footage if it's intended to shock or disgust.
  • Respect copyright. Only upload videos that you made or that you have obtained the rights to use.
  • We encourage free speech and defend everyone's right to express unpopular points of view. But we don't permit hate speech which contains slurs or the malicious use of stereotypes intended to attack or demean a particular gender, sexual orientation, race, religion, or nationality.
  • There is zero tolerance for predatory behavior, stalking, threats, harassment, invading privacy, or the revealing of other members' personal information. Anyone caught doing these things may be permanently banned from YouTube.
Don't Cross the Line? Common sense? Where is the "line", exactly? The third code says that videos with real violence are not allowed. What then, is a hanging, if not real violence?

So, I can't show tits, Britney's up-skirt no panties video (more Google hits coming), crotchless panties (in general), breasts, vagina, masturbation, flapping penis, pussy (cats excluded) or anything that may be considered pornographic by the Judeo-Christian ethically-too-moral-for-the-room yahoo's that complain about such things ...

... but I can show Saddam Hussein getting hanged? It is odd, in this so-called moral society, that violence is acceptable on TV, on the Internet or otherwise searchable Googles by kids and grandparents ... but if we dare show nudity or two people making love on those same media outlets, harsh fines, letters and other such punishments will be handed down by people with initials in their names, like the F.C.C. And we all know what the "F" stands for.

I bristle.

So, here ... cartoon violence is totally acceptable under the YouTube Niceness Guidelines.


Tuesday, January 2, 2007

A Nation Grieves for ... what, exactly?

I was planning to take today off, out of respect for our National Day of Mourning, but I figured that a 3-day weekend was enough. It’s a shame that our federal government didn’t feel the same. Former President Gerald Ford died last Tuesday. It took a week to organize a National Day of Mourning? I suppose we couldn’t mourn properly on a Saturday or Sunday, especially when there’s a Tuesday after a holiday coming up. Beyond the seriousness of the event, it strikes me as a scheme cooked up by a bunch of people who specialize in them. It must be nice to be able to vote yourself a pay raise and organize a four-day holiday for yourself. I’m in the wrong line of work.

Speaking of which…

College football coaches appear to be in the right line of work. Pardon me for thinking straight, but it strikes me as odd that an organization (the NCAA) who would have such stringent rules prohibiting athletes from accepting anything as meager as a suit of clothes would allow the coach of the same team to earn the kind of money that the University of Alabama is offering Nick Saban. This is from ESPN.com:

The [University of Alabama] offer is worth $35 million to $40 million, and includes many variables. It could run from eight to 10 years.
There are 11 college coaches who make over $2 million a year. There are four coaches in the $3 million-plus range, if you count USC's Pete Carroll, who made $2.93 million this year and should be over $3 million next year. Notre Dame's Charlie Weis, Iowa's Kirk Ferentz and Oklahoma's Bob Stoops earn over $3 million.

I didn’t go to a big-time school as far as athletics is concerned, but it might frost me a little if I was asked to pay high tuition rates and saw that the coach of the football team earned 2 million bucks, especially when I have to pay $125 for a textbook or fight for time in the computer room. I like a good football game as much as anyone, but I would also like to know that my child or his professor was being given the same treatment as the football players or their coaches. Universities are institutions of higher learning, right?

I’m not that na├»ve that I have forgotten what athletics mean to schools, but if the NCAA is going to hold athletes to such a standard, maybe they should start to reign in the coach’s salaries as well? After all, the kids often come from poor families, and a $300 suit means as much to a kid as a big salary does to a coach. It strikes me as hypocrisy, and I bristle at that.

Maybe they should just pay the kids? After all, if universities are going to be free minor leagues for the NFL and NBA, and provide profitable programming for TV, then maybe the kids should reap some of the benefits that the professional leagues and television networks do?

This is usually where people tell me how wrong I am.

Sunday, December 31, 2006

Happy New Year

For a lot of people, numbers are important. I'm not just talking about numbers in general, but those even sorts of numbers. Tenth anniversary, Twenty-fifth reunion, first annual ... junk like that. Usually, it has something to do with a celebration. Whatever the reason, the twelfth, third or forty-second anniversaries aren't as important. Turn 40 years old, and people start hanging black crosses on your desk. At 41, you're a forgotten man.

That's what makes it so odd that our president is just not figuring out that the war in Iraq is kind of a big deal, and maybe he needs to re-think his approach. One headline said, "Time to reflect as death toll reaches 3,000". Another told us that U.S. Peace Groups have begun to rally now that the toll has reached that milestone number.

"We must bear witness to this tragic milestone, even though many people are already beginning their celebrations of the new year," the group United for Peace and Justice said on its Web site.

A tragic milestone? Sure. A milestone is defined as a "significant event in your life". That it is, but what makes it more significant than death #2,874 or death #1,540? Some even number that our brain tells us is significant, when what it really is, is just as tragic as the first or twelfth death. Death is death, and wrong is wrong, numbers notwithstanding.
Tell the parents of the 1,326th soldier that died over there that his or her death was not a milestone compared to the 3,000th. It's just a number, folks. Even or odd, it's a number.
Just as we have not progressed far enough as a society to have abandoned the silly ideas of superstition, we have not advanced far enough to realize that something that is wrong now was wrong then, regardless of what the people at Fox News or their Washington bureau, the White House tell us.

Apparently, our president is just now waking up to the fact that the number is of some milestone proportion, while he continues to be a millstone around the neck of progress in this country.
Here's a milestone number for you: 749 days until we relieve ourselves of this living, breathing encumberance to progress that sits in his office at the Fox News Washington bureau.

God rest the 3,000 who have died over there, and God bless the 134,000 who are there now. May they celebrate New Year's 2008 here at home, where they belong.