The Null Device
Posts matching tags 'oil'
What do you do if you're an oil company facing negative publicity over a controversial project like the Canadian tar sands? Well, you could always adopting the name of a much-loved company in another industry, as
Paramount Resources Pixar Petroleum Corp. has done.
This is, of course, not the first example by far of an unpopular company changing its name (there has been Cheney-era mercenary company Blackwater renaming itself after a popular exchange-rate website, and carcinogenic drug dealers Philip Morris adopting the name Altria, a name which goes so far in the direction of heavy-handedly calculated benignness that it comes out the other end sounding appositely creepy), though as far as chutzpah goes, it might well set some kind of record.
Correlation of the day: Rock music quality and US crude oil production, by year; more precisely, "rock music quality" consists of number of songs in Rolling Stone Magazine's list of greatest songs of all times:
There's more on the theory here.
Notice that after the birth of rock & roll in the 1950’s, the production of “great songs” peaked in the 60’s, remained strong in the 70’s, but drastically fell in the subsequent decades. It would seem that, like oil, the supply of great musical ideas is finite. By the end of the 70’s, The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, the Motown greats, and other genre innovators quickly extracted the best their respective genres** had to offer, leaving little supply for future musicians.The graphs don't line up precisely, of course, though follow a similar arc.
The correlation may initially seem spooky, and invites outré speculation about the relationship between Rockism and Hubbert's Peak Oil theory and whether, as the Rockists would have us believe, we passed Peak Rock in the mid-1960s and have been in decline ever since. However, there is a more prosaic explanation; one which, in retrospect, seems obvious and somewhat boring.
The cultural phenomenon of rock'n'roll (at least in the classic sense that is venerated by the likes of Rolling Stone) was a product of the economic factors of its time, such the rise of the modern teenager, with disposable income and the freedom from harsh adult responsibility to identify along generational and subcultural lines, which were a result, in part, of an abundance of cheap oil. When one looks at it from this angle, one finds other correlations: the rise of plastics (made from oil), suburban sprawl, car culture (it's little surprise that the teenagers of the baby-boom era were about cars, from big ol' Cadillacs to hippie VWs, the way today's teens are about iPhones and social networks; witness the references to cars, and to making out in the backs of them in drive-in cinemas and such, in classic rock songs). Rock'n'roll in its classic sense was very much a product of the economic factors of cheap oil.
(via Boing Boing)
Alarmed by the potential impact of reduced oil consumption on their fortunes, the Saudis are pushing for oil consumers to pay producers compensation for lost revenue if they reduce their oil consumption to reduce global warming:
“It is like the tobacco industry asking for compensation for lost revenues as a part of a settlement to address the health risks of smoking,” said Jake Schmidt, the international climate policy director at the Natural Resources Defense Council. “The worst of this racket is that they have held up progress on supporting adaptation funding for the most vulnerable for years because of this demand.”It's hard to feel sympathy for the Saudis. While they try to sweeten their argument with a line about wishing to use the compensation money to "achieve economic diversification", they're not exactly short on cash; they can always build fewer palaces and flog off a few football teams and a gold-plated jumbo jet or three to make up whatever cash they need. Or they could have a word with the recording industry's lawyers; they're quite good at turning untenable monopolies from products of economic circumstance into legally enforced perpetual hegemonies.
With the continuing rise in oil prices, some are saying that the age of cheap flights is over, as airlines raise their prices and/or collapse. Think about the implications of that for a moment: historic Eastern European town centres empty of drunken Britons, speculators unable to flog second homes on the Bulgarian Riviera to Ryanair junkies from Gillingham, people actually packing onto trains to go from, say, London to Manchester (and Britain's chronically underfunded railway infrastructure creaking under the weight of the extra patronage). As for bargain shopping in New York, forget it: if you want to see New York, your best bet may be to buy an Xbox 360 and Grand Theft Auto IV. Perhaps the end of the age of cheap travel will finally usher in the Stay-At-Home Century, when tomorrow's people will range as far from their homes as their mediæval peasant ancestors, instead communicating through broadband links.
Meanwhile, General Motors is shutting down four plants that make its Hummer SUV, which for a long time embodied the ugly side of the American Dream. This is after gasoline (that's petrol to the Europeans/Australians reading this) reached $4 a gallon (incidentally, breaking the mechanical pumps at some older gas stations, whose designers never envisioned a gallon of gasoline costing more than $3.99), and dealerships are having trouble moving the hulking behemoths. Perhaps soon we will hear an old joke about Eastern Bloc cars being repurposed?
And still in America, CNN is now running articles about whether the age of the railroads has returned. (Mostly in reference to Europe and Asia as the paragons of modernity.)
Anti-corporate culture jammers The Yes Men recently infiltrated the Gas And Oil Exposition in Calgary, Canada, posing as oil company representatives and putting forward a modest proposal to turn the bodies of all those who die in the oil crash into fuel:
As security guards led Bonanno from the room, Bichlbaum told reporters that "Without oil we could no longer produce or transport food, and most of humanity would starve. That would be a tragedy, but at least all those bodies could be turned into fuel for the rest of us."
Noting that "150,000 people already die from climate-change related effects every year," he added, "That's only going to go up - maybe way, way up. Will it all go to waste? That would be cruel."
(via Boing Boing)
An excellent rant from Patrick Farley (of E-Sheep web-comics fame) about the present state of affairs:
I'm sick of being told that catastrophe is victory.
I'm sick of being told that mythology is science, and vice-versa.
I'm sick of millionaire drug-addicts instructing me on how to live a virtuous life.
I'm sick of being told that Petroleum is the Lifeblood of Civilization.
I'm sick of being told in late 2005 that "It's all Clinton's fault."
I'm sick of Working Class Heroes who can be depended on to swallow any shit, so long as it's wrapped in a flag and served on a Bible.
I'm sick of "Christian" ministers who show up at funerals carrying signs which read "YOUR FAG SON BURNS IN HELL!"
I'm sick of being told that questioning authority makes me a traitor.
I'm sick of being told I must fear God.
I'm sick of being told that the worship of force is the highest of human virtues.Someone should put this to music.
Some have argued that one of the reasons for invading Iraq was to stop Saddam Hussein's spiteful attempt to start selling Iraqi oil for euros rather than dollars, and thus to shore up the dollar's God-given manifest destiny. If so, it may have backfired.