An interesting Quote About History, Slavery, and Pecking Orders

While walking about clifton, watching the passing sites, scenes, and people, good friend, Abu Abdullah, quipped the following:

“There are two types of people; Masters, and Slaves. Whether this is for better or for worse is irrelevant”

Hmm, food for thought. There is remarkable truth to this, and for the most part it is a fact that must be understood if one is to do anything about one’s own place in these categories.

Many people tend to ignore History, the few who actually pay attention to History tend to view the past as a more simple age than the present.

By extension they see people of the past as more simple than people of the present.

The sole reason that people actually think the past is simpler than the present is that people of the present learn about the past from history books written and taught simple-minded people.

People of the past had desires, ambitions, lusts, loves, loathings and burning hatreds, intelligence, desperations, debts, and inner demons as complex, if not more so, than people of today.

Life during the French Revolution, the First Roman civil wars, or the end of Egypt’s 18th Dynasty was as complicated, if not far more so, than life today.

Reading history written by the simple minded makes us into simple minded people, in turn.

Ignoring History makes us oblivious to the reality of what is going on around us, because the world of today was built by people of yesterday.

There are two types of people; Masters, and Slaves. Whether this is for better or for worse is beyond this blog’s scope.

I think that one’s position in society’s pecking order; master, or slave, has a bit to do with how well one understands history. Or at least the few aspects of history directly relevant to one’s situation.

14 Oct 07 Sunday

Problem with Boycotting / Buycotting Citgo or any other Gas Company – Commodity markets

Often, hosts of well meaning folk, conservative in some cases, liberal in other cases, send out calls campaigning for boycotts – or in some cases “buycotts”, of different Oil and Gas companies. The reasons usually relate to the politics of the host country where that company is headquartered.

An Example: BP – Al Sharpton recently called for a Boycott of BP because “None of its executives are Black.” Some environmental activists have called for boycotts of BP due to environmental dumping of pollutants into lakes.

“Free Tibet” activists have also called on Boycotting BP for assisting the Chinese government in exploiting Tibetan Oil. They further point out that by BP investing with PetroChina they indirectly support the China National Petroleum Corporation (CNCP), which is “a company active in the Sudan, where it was implicated in the deaths of nearly 2 million Sudanese and the persecution and displacement of several million more.”

An Example: Citgo – some people want to boycott Citgo because the company is Venezuelan and Hugo Chavez, Venezuela’s President, is an “American Hater” who supports our country’s enemies. The argument further goes that he’s a dangerous near-dictator who suppresses dissent in his country, etc., etc. They argue that he has “Vowed to bring Down The Government of the USA” and is pursuing a dangerous Socialist revolution along the lines of Castro’s.

Activists sometimes play fast and loose with facts. Would anyone mind providing actual factual references that a Chinese Oil company was implicated in the death of 2 MILLION SUDANESE? A claim on this massive scale requires extraordinary evidence.

Some individuals – usually progressives – view Chavez as a courageous Democratic leader who reinvests his country’s Oil Profits into assisting the poor, and opposed the spread of America’s Imperial Ambitions. They argue that Venezuela unlike Saudi Arabia or Middle Eastern Countries is a democracy with concerns for social welfare.

The reality is more complex, scandals exist over corruption in Venezuela’s National Oil company. I know an individual who had a personal deal with a Chavez family member concerning Petroleum, but pulled out due to the absurdly shifty and corrupt nature of people – who shall not be named – with whom he was dealing.

As for Tibet, China, and BP – extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. Is some proof or evidence given of atrocities on this MASSIVE scale? No, well meaning activist simply take these words at face value without even bothering to look deeper. And why not? Righteous indignation trumps reason often.

And what exactly does “implicated” mean here? Implicated by whom? When, and how?

All of these are based on misunderstandings – and at a point the misunderstanding borders on Bullshit and distracts people from more useful actions.

Boycott’s FEEL GOOD. They make us feel like we are DOING SOMETHING. In fact are we accomplishing anything really? I believe action should accomplish aims – if you do something that which you do should do something. Accomplish something

The fact is that whether you do or don’t buy BP or Citgo gas doesn’t mean anything. Period.

No matter who you boycott it means nothing. Really. Why ? I shall tell you.

The world’s Oil Trade is Global in scope, and HIGHLY fungible meaning that the product is extremely inter-changeable.

As a fungible commodity , in practice it is traded, bought and sold interchangeably between all producers, suppliers, and distributors.

Crude Oil and Gasoline are both fungible.

Boycotts assume that the company being boycotted has no other recourse than the sales outlets being boycotted. Oil companies are not limited to their retail brand stores. They sell wholesale and retail to many outlets.

In other words “Oil is Oil” and “Gas is Gas” is the attitude all buyers and all sellers have.

If Shell or Citgo have declining retail sales at the pumps they will just sell the excess unsold output wholesale to another company. It will actually cause consumer prices to rise.

Oil and Gas Companies buy from their competaters all the time.

All of the time.

Besides the obviously problematic aspects of buying or not buying products for poorly articulated and understood political reasons, BP and Citgo, like ALL OIL COMPANIES trades product – rather promiscuously – with anyone with the cash to buy.

BP owns other Oil Companies which you may not be boycotting, in any case the company has thousands of Black managers on staff, and neither Al Sharpton or Jessie Jackson, both of whose political grandstanding often irritates me, have stated anything about the hiring practices of other oil companies. Did they do any research into other companies?

Are they willing to financially assist the thousands of minority BP employees if their plans to “cripple” this gargantuan giant actually succeed? Which they won’t.

The profits on wholesale Oil are immense.
Take Oil’s FOB price at USD $80 per barrel. This is an upper end, Oil prices have ranged from 75-80 depending on country and port

One BBL of Oil = 42 Gallons. The Exon Valdez held 11 MILLION GALLONS OF OIL. 11,000,000 gall.. 261905 Barrels of Oil

261905 x $80 = $20,952,400

Just selling a small tanker load wholesale FOB is a $20.9 Million dollar sale.
Some producers, like India, trade 2 million barrels of Crude a DAY.

India’s NOT exactly a major player.

Many Oil sales WILL NOT BE FOB, they will be CIF with additional freight and insurance costs and profit margins. Add $2 – 3 MILLION on top of the price.

So just by Citgo selling a single wholesale a tanker full of Oil to, say, Shell who will blend this crude Oil with their own production, gross revenue is over $20 Mil.

Refine this and sell it as gasoline, wholesale, to smaller Oil Companies means additional profits.

If Citgo’s pump sales decline they will sell the excess gas to another company, retail “supply” will be limited due to fewer outlets, thus with less supply demand will rise and so will retail prices.

A few thousand, or even hundred thousand, US citizens piously not buying refined gas from Citgo stations dwarfs what they make wholesale. They don’t care because they are selling gas and oil to the people you are not boycotting.

While most Citgo gas comes from Venezuelan Crude MANY COMPANIES – Many American Companies at that – buy Crude Oil from Venezuela.

Gasoline refined by Citgo or Shell or BP may or may not come from Venezuelan crude Oil.

ALL OIL COMPANIES TRADE THEIR PRODUCT WITH EACH OTHER. Excess production is frequently traded on secondary markets, as for primary markets Traders at Commodity Exchanges sell to everyone and anyone.

THE GAS YOU BUY FROM YOUR PATRIOTIC AMERICAN OIL COMPANY MAY HAVE BEEN PRODUCED IN VENEZUELA, IRAN, ALASKA, CANADA, OR TEXAS.

You have NO way of knowing. The scale of the trading involves millions upon millions of barrels over short periods. Commodity exchanges trade millions of barrels a day.

All of this is so that in Cincinnati we can drive all over the bloody place because our public transport is shite… right ?

If you drive past BP’s Green pumps and go to a Shell station you may still be buying BP Gas.

Or you may be buying Russian or Iranian or North Seas gas.
You can’t know.

Remember Oil is HIGHLY FUNGIBLE – anyone and everyone can, will, and does purchase Crude Oil and refined gasoline, diesel, ship Bunker Fuel, and Fuel Oil, from ANYONE SELLING ON THE MARKET due to the pricing structure of the product and the way Oil markets work.

Shell buys from Gazprom who buys from a j/v partner in Iran who also sells to BP who in turn sells to Israel…

Some smaller gas companies buy all of their gasoline pre-refined from bigger producers from Physical Commodity Traders.

So your red-white-and blue American company could be putting Iranian Crude Oil mixed with Mexican Crude Oil mixed with Iraqi crude Oil mixed with Texas crude Oil in your tank.

Another thing: Citgo is headquartered in Texas and is a formerly American owned company. Same Employees.
So now you want to put your fellow American workers out of work because of politics ?

This too is problematic.

Some people called for Boycotting independent retail chains like 7-11 or Petro Express because they buy from Citgo or even were “fronts” for Citgo.
When both chains announced that they were dropping Citgo as a supplier people saw this as “proof that our boycott is working..”

The later claim is Blatantly incorrect – and as for the former claim – again remember – independent chains buy from anyone they can.

They frequently change suppliers all the time.

When a supply contract ends they simply find a supplier offering a better deal. They may add Citgo again in 2 years.

As for BP – 1,535, of its officials and managers in the United States in 2005 were minorities – 24 percent.

This includes 614 blacks. Jessie Jackson and Al Sharpton would economically harm them with their silly boycott IF the boycott had any effect, which it wouldn’t.

Thirty percent of BP’s new hires from universities from 2004-2006 were minorities.

As for Citgo – the amount of market penetration of this one brand is such that boycotts wouldn’t financially hurt it anyway. Their wholesale sales of product to companies you AREN’T boycotting is greater than the small amount of profits your not buying retail from them.

More-over IF VENEZUELA STOPPED SELLING OIL TO THE USA THEIR ALTERNATIVE BUYERS WOULD LINE UP TO BUY THEIR PRODUCTION.

We would have a VERY difficult time in the USA making up the shortfall. We buy massive amounts of oil from them because we have to. Period.

Does BP harm the environment? in some cases yes, in other cases no. BP actually has a better safety and environmental record in many areas than other companies. in other areas they are abysmal and horrid. Like EVERYONE ELSE.

I object to the generally CRAPPY environmental records of many Oil producers. HOWEVER boycotts do nothing. More substantial actions require, first, understanding the nature of the beast itself and substantial changes in consumer behavior.

“Give me conveyance, of give me death!” Eh?

Behold – the handy dandy Auto-Rejection Principle

The Auto-Rejection Mechanism is a principle in many people’s lives.

Basically, if you believe that you can’t have something, you will tend to rationalize that you don’t want it so that you can be happy and comfy inside.

“I don’t want what I can’t get.”

Since our beliefs on what we can have, or deserve to have, are often deeply conditioned this principle dictates much of what we see as even being possible.

This principle can be observed in matters of romance: from casual dating to marriage, or work and careers.

_FIN

Virus and Backup WARNING Tale..

I just lost 50 hours of my life, and almost 4 years of development work, contracts, proposals, and email, because of two things:

1. My generally lazy approach to backups. Really, 350GB drives are dime a dozen these days but I still rotate 3 year old archives on and off aging 20GB hard drives and a set of scratched DVDs…

2. The MOST EVIL and heinous combination of spyware and computer viruses I have ever seen. I have NEVER encountered a spyware infection I wasn’t able to clean off a computer in 2-3 hours. Somehow somewhere a particularly virulent strain of two separate viruses infected my U3 FLASH ROM DRIVE !!

YES, they were able to compromise the potentially useful, but dumb in implementation, auto-magic loading U3 utility built into my jump drive, infect the READ ONLY HIDDEN PARTITION upon which the U3 software resides, and infect my personal laptop when I transferred my jump drive to it.

Then both viruses added an annoying 9kb signature to EVERY EXECUTABLE FILE on my system. Yes, each file was infected with two viruses. THEN it downloaded an ANNOYING strain of the Smitfraud spyware and within a couple of days the computer was a mess.

I lost 50 hours so war over a two week period, while also undergoing some other personal crap, heartbreak, and a death in the family. Highly aggravating.

WORSE, and I kid you not, I suspect that the damn thing somehow seems to have affected the bios of my computer. Yes, I believe it actually flashed my bios.

After cleaning it from my computer twice, and somehow missing some tiny portion. suddenly my CD Rom drive was rendered ineffective, Yes, I can not boot from the cd rom, and the device can not be accessed in windows. Remove the hard drive and set the CD Rom as the first boot device and guess what? Nothing can boot from it, the floppy can still boot oddly.

Highly suspect, the hardware’s healthy but aging, a 3 year old Pentium 4 laptop, the odds of the CD Rom drive hald dying (the bios recognizes it, and windows sees the device but simply can’t mount any media inserted in it, or read from it) in the middle of this infection boggles my mind. If its a co-incidence, and I doubt it, its a rather annoying one.

In an odd coincidence my friend Abu Abdullah, a computer tech with 21 years of experience, was hit with the SAME type of infection independently of me within the same 72 hour time-frame, in spite of our having no connection or meeting within that period.. Being rather more 3r33t than I am it only took him 30 hours of labor to get rid of the damn thing.

Hmm.. he and I were both working on some international business opportunities.. hmm. An associate of mine in Australia with whom I’m doing business has been repeatedly hit with nasty viruses and spyware as well as heavy port scans of his computer in his home subnet..

Hmm…

Anyway the moral of the story is: External hard drives are as cheap as candy now, buy one or if you have the cash buy an external USB raid volume, a mirrored drive external unit. Backup, constantly, with obsession.

Two, be VERY careful. I’m usually careful enough I haven’t been infected by anything in years. And now *pow*.

a final lesson someone taught me, and a Jhon Balance Quote

My father taught me one last lesson.

I believe you can not truly understand life until you have actually seen, with your own eyes, someone die before your eyes.

This ideally gives you a sense of proportion.

Short of threshold experiences like: loosing your virginity, Satori / Nirvana / Enlightenment, and dying oneself, seeing life pass from someone in front of your eyes makes you realise how massive the Universe is, and how utterly impotent and helpless you can be in the face of certain things.

To quote the late Jhon Balance, of COIL “Eros and Thanatos are almost twins…”

To fear death is to fear life, to fear life is to fear your own essence, all things perish, few things thrive. Learning to thrive involves learning not to fear extinction.

Good night.

Show Review: 04.17.07: Z’ev, Sikhara, and other Industrial Acts, Cincinnati Noise

Be forewarned: This ain’t Marlyn Mansion, and it ain’t Nine Inch Nails

“Aw dude, I m missed the triple line-up Def Leopard, Nine Inch Nails, Avril Lavinge Show last night!!”
“Aw dude, it was a bitchin show !”
“Really, hey lets go the mall and drown my regret in consumerist shopping!”
“Alright! Yeah, Bitchin!”

As far as post-Industrial and Experimental music art is concerned, Cincinnati’s fortunate to have a good scene with some cutting edge artists. People like Ron Orvitz’s Iovae, Chris Rossing Ape, Mavis, and Robert Inhuman of Realicide, Collin Murray’s Evolve’s hip hop/Industrial explorations, Brian’s 12″ Agitator, and numerous other powerful experimental artists. Cincinnati’s not such a boring place underneath it all. Like any place, its as boring or interesting as you make it.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007 Skull Lab, OTR: exhausted from several nights wrestling with data recovery on a malfunctioning network server, I decided to check out the show at the Skull Lab (in the depths of over the Rhine, on McMicken Ave., far from the suburbs..) Numerous post-Industrial and experimental music acts were lined up, including the legendary z’ev. How could I miss this? Much less than missing interesting local acts.

After some business meetings I hopped in my gas guzzling SUV and drove at breakneck speed down McMicken ave, ran inside, was mistaken by a couple of local cuties for my more famous (taller, and heavier, but just as friendly) ‘lil brother Yasin, and settled into the show.

The Skull Lab is a new art gallery and performance space, carved out of a decaying building on McMicken, a space smaller and more intimate than SSNOVA, but with a similar ambiance. I’m glad I caught some of the show, inside was a festival of truly experimental, cutting edge, and intense music and sonic phenomena generation.

– KMFDM and Skinny Puppy fans might… …just.. get it…

– Nurse with Wound, Current 93, and Einstürzende Neubauten fans would not only get it, but would probably experience intense auditory orgasms.

Sadly I missed C. Spencer Yeh – a genius at vocal manipulation whom I had the pleasure of meeting several months ago after a show. – and local noise artists Realicide – artists I greatly respect. I missed Realicide at the Southgate House last month and hoped to catch them this night. Ah well.

I’ve been a grindcore fan for 17 years – I first heard Napalm Death in 1990 and was turned onto Godflesh’s brand of Industrialcore in 1991, so naturally I looked forward to Capital Hemorrhage, but missed them as well. As for Chicago’s Vertonen, Blake Edwards’s, skillful project, I also missed.

I DID catch Sikhara’s entire set. Sikhara are three intense young men on drum sets playing complex, brutal, and seductive rhythms on top of loops of sampled noise and reversed and electronically manipulated voices.

Sikhara was “heavy” in every sense of the word. Blood poured (literally, the front man Scott’s face was covered in his own blood by the show’s end). My body rocked in a near trance with the rhythms – both ancient and modern.

Some rhythms were greatly like Rif’ai Dervish drumming (one of the song loops even had looped Takbir’s in Arabic, a strange sound to hear while the front man’s taking swills from a 40 oz. Malt liquor bottle and then savagely resumed beating rhythms on his drum). Others resembled African and East Indian traditional rhythms. Sikhara displays obvious skill and I hope to catch them live again. Their music is almost.. ritualistic.

Next up, the “Head Liner” – is legendary experimental percussion and an early founder of Industrial Music, Z’EV.
A musical artist whose early works included collaborations with Genesis P ‘Orridge and Psychic TV, and Keiji Haino. His work with DJ Dano was an early influence on what eventually became Gabber. Z’EV gave a mind-blowing percussive performance in the Skullflower’s backroom.

A set of mallet and drumstick manipulations of suspended drums, copper and steel constructed instruments, generating simultaneously dense and ethereal waves of acoustic phenomena, sonic energy emanating from his skillful manipulation was reflected by the ruined tile walls and fixtures of the room (formerly a bathroom) resulting in rolling soundscapes of unimaginable beauty and complexity.
From complex beats to intense drones and even melodies, THIS was the gentle “seduction” after Sikhara’s brutal near “ravaging”. Don’t get me wrong, Z’EV’s performance was heavy, hard, and almost mind altering.

Ron Orvitz’s IOVAE was an interesting climax to the night, he played two pieces of manipulated 4 track layered tape noises. Shortwave radio emissions, the sounds of his bathtub. Amplified drones and waves of noise reminded me very much of some of the gentler work of Boyd Rice’s NON. In fact, Iovae performed some of the most interesting noise art I’ve heard in a while. Tape manipulation seems to be a dying art. I had the fortune of briefly chatting with him after his set, over gear and tape layering techniques. Affable guy, with a great sense of style (much like Chris Rosseing).

There you go, and then I slept and my body recovered from several all nighters correcting network server problems, and then I awoke, drank a shite energy drink, and will now hit the world again.

See, Cincinnati’s as boring or exciting as people find it. It’s an interesting world out there, it’s not the place but the people in the place that matter.

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