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Incoming BYTES
contains highly variable subject matter including commentary on the mundane, the extraordinary and even controversial issues. At Incoming BYTES
we want YOU to think...if you dare...


Friday, December 31, 2010


Here at Incoming BYTES  we wish everyone the best for the holiday season. We hope you had a wonderful, peaceful Christmas holiday, and for  2011, we wish you a safe, very Happy and prosperous New Year! 

Here comes 2011.  Some view the new year in fear and trepidation, others with open arms, accepting their lot in life whatever it may be.   How about you?   What are your dreams?   What do you want to happen, what can you expect to happen, and  what shall we individually learn from those events?   Will we endeavor to be  more faithful to God,  become more intelligent, and actually use the brains we are each given?   Shall we abandon the norm of acceptance of all we are handed,  to rebel seriously,  --and without hesitation, try to change things for the better?  What are you going to MAKE happen?    Casual observation suggests that society may, in apathy, continue to ignore what is substantially important in life.   

I must admit it is more fun to watch television and “be entertained” rather than think about difficult subjects. It is easier to watch “Jeopardy” than it is to actually think and plan quantum change in our own lives.
 Perhaps we should watch less television, and thereby kill two birds with one stone, make the mind more active and lessen the amount of brainwashing that comes our way at the same time.  Make no mistake about it, just as one example, we are conditioned and brainwashed to become perfect shoppers, as Black Friday and Christmas prove annually.
  Must we  as a society continue to accept the commercial  wishes of the powerful, malignant and greedy, and the curious political burden of undemocratic democracy that is  cast upon us?
  Are we being desensitized and trained to “accept” corrupt, unsatisfactory political solutions and gargantuan 'big money'  environmental disasters?  Are we being rapidly  prepared for “third world” conditions of poverty even as the international rich grow ever richer?    Is universal, one-world  government at hand?  Do you fear the future?   People kept in a state of fear are easier to control.  

I believe we should not only have high expectations, but question what those expectations should be.  Let us not be told what our expectations should be, but decide for ourselves.   It is not wrong to dream of better.  Is it not wrong to expect better in real life. It is not wrong to expect good health care,  fairness, justice, political honesty,  a healthy environment, a good life and ultimately, personal happiness. 
From the 365.242199  days of civilization  we survived in  2010, hopefully we  have gained a modicum of  knowledge, learned from the  collective human experience, cobbled together some new  ideas, and perhaps rediscovered  some pearls of wisdom from the past, --but perhaps we should also take a serious look at what we really accomplished to date?   Have we met all of our  goals, inspired  dreams  in others and encouraged thought?
 Perhaps we have planted  a few innocuous, strange  seeds ourselves  that may  grow unnoticed at our feet or in the minds of others. Perhaps others will think because of something you said, or an idea you offered.   I hope so.   Will our western society become responsible,  more reflective and reactive to make necessary changes to  provide betterment, --in fact assure  life for all human beings on the face of the earth? 
 The question is, what have we done collectively and as individuals to ensure that we continue to exist,  and what can we do in 2011  to change things for the better?

 Shall we make a list of “New Year’s Resolutions”  only to abandon them, as usual,  within a few weeks, or even days? It is  trendy to make a list and chuck it every year, but is it more appropriate to write a “bucket list” of lifetime objectives  and  really stick to them?   We shall see. 

Happy New Year! 

p.s.  Please do not drink and drive! 

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The Christmas Shopping Experiment.

From  Incoming BYTES we hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas!
 This year I discovered that  carefully exploring  the market  a few days ahead  of the holiday itself, specifically  without buying anything at all, paid off.  It  actually made it  easier to go out and buy something, a specific something, even during those  last commercially-pumped, frenetic days just before Christmas.  

Maybe taking   “ Time for a Last Minute Christmas Reality Check” wasn’t such a bad concept.   It somehow  seemed more logical to buy a planned present rather than “just go shopping and buy on impulse”.   It seemed to be a better idea to stay focused than just wander, somewhat stunned by hype and hurry,  into commercial traps aimlessly, one after the other.  
  In practice, it  did seem easier to stay focused on the job at hand and actually resist the distraction of commercial Christmas hype --than it had in previous years.

The net result?  A surprising  reduction in spending of  approximately 50% occurred.   Less money was  spent foolishly on impulse. Less money was spent foolishly to  quell imaginary  last minute shopping “gift size”  anxiety.  Fewer dollars were spent on unnecessary purchases. Perhaps  less money was even  used  to soothe  guilt anxiety left over from last year. 
Best of all, there IS far  less debt to face in January.
 I wonder if there is a genuinely  profitable object  lesson to be considered  here?   Was this a personal best borne of  rebellion,  because of meticulous  planning and logic, or just skepticism and  recognition of the fact that unfair and overbearing commercial retailing practices are exacting a terrible toll on  society under the guise of a "holiday"?

Let’s try this on for size.  The plan resulted in  more thoughtful presents, less stress,  an intact bank account and best of all,   fewer bills to deal with.  I did not spend money I do not have. I did not spend next month’s mortgage payment, rent, or  grocery money pretending to be Santa. 
 The big question is,  did it detract from the fun and  enjoyment of the season itself?   Happily, no! 
 Rejoice!  It seems that either we have an improved Christmas shopping strategy, --or have just become older and wiser. 

Monday, December 20, 2010

Time for a Last Minute Christmas Reality Check

Christmas Shopping in Blister               photo by wlk photography

Bah, Humbug !    I have to run to the mall for some last-minute gifts.  With only a few days left before the big day,  procrastinators beware.    It really  is time to scurry around for those precious  gifts, so  hurry, beat the Dec. 24th   rush, listen to the nice Christmas music, and do that last minute shopping. Get the perfect gift.  Spend that money.
  Perhaps there really are some  lost opportunities not available  to you again until next year,  like those you missed on Black Friday, which, conveniently, is another artificial and  manufactured  retail trap for the gullible.
When you do  get to the mall, find a parking spot  and shop frantically,  are you being encouraged to panic and buy without thinking?  Are you  being taken advantage of by retailers using the psychology of Christmas and encouraged to spend more money than you can really afford  as we are increasingly encouraged to do  every year?

The “last minute rush” and panic is built upon guilt.  The Christmas season is pushed upon us  just after Hallowe’en, and retailers everywhere delight in pushing our buttons.  The psychology of Christmas sales.  A two-month shopping spree, the retailing game is  at it’s best and coincidentally, the most profitable. Don’t think, just spend.  
Did your brother give you a better gift than you gave him last year?  Did you forget your cousin completely, so have to make up for it this year?   Did you  spend more on your son than on your daughter?   How about your sister?  Was  there an element of favoritism involved and the guilt that  lasted all year has to be “fixed” with that perfect gift this year? How about dear old Mom? Nothing is too good for Mom, everybody knows that.  
Did you change your mind at the last minute and decide “those” gifts were not expensive enough, and were not “meaningful enough"  so you need more?     Did your best friend buy you something extravagant and you have to make up for it this year?  Do you have to sell your soul for the lavish gift of your dreams for your significant other? Will it finally be a “perfect Christmas “ if you can only  spend enough?  
Are you running out of time? Buy this, grab that, and quickly....I can run  the credit card up and worry about it in January. Stop.
 Maybe it IS  time for a reality check.  
Let us slow down, breathe deeply and recognize that today’s Christmas retailing business is structured and  built only for commercial  profit.  Retailing  has virtually  nothing to do with promoting peace and goodwill or             “ helping you”.  Retailers are not  showing you  the real meaning of Christmas with  “warm and fuzzy” tear-jerking home-coming promotions  so common at this time of year. “The perfect gift solves everything” according to the retailer.
  As long as it is expensive enough.
  “Merry Christmas, Mom”, as the returning,  surprised, and obviously  lonely  mother sees how beautiful the “perfect commercial products” from XYZ   have  made her home look.  Someone that has not bothered to visit all year  has showed up,  done the work and spent money they probably needed for their child’s clothing,  but so what?   It is the  retail glitz that counts. The warm and fuzzy moment.   Is that any better?  No.
 It plays upon the psychology of Christmas and the minds of the guilty.  Unfair practice?  Yes,  but retailing knows no bounds.
 In more relaxed times, Christmas had meaning.  There were small, individual hand-made presents, arts and carefully  crafted  items that were specially made for the delighted  individual to whom  they would be presented .  Perhaps they were made even  months prior to the big event. Only if one failed to be thoughtful,  constructive, and well organized would one have to dash to the market in chagrin at the last minute  to find something, anything, to “fill the gap” for the “missing”  present.  Buying a “store-made” gift was the exception, not the command performance  it is today.  “Home-made” gifts are shown to be  less glitzy than “bought” ones are, and promoted to be deemed of lesser value.
Lesser value? “Folk art”, hand-made gifts and objects  from 60 to 100 years old or older may  command prices in the tens of thousands of dollars today.   Compare that to a cheap ‘similar gift” made in Japan or China. No such comparison will be available 60 years from now, since the cheap import would have been long discarded as trash. 

The best price of the year is deep-discounted by desperate retailers trying to top off annual sales and maximize profit, -- not to do you any favours. How can a product be worth  $ 99.50 all year,  and then suddenly be a “once in a lifetime opportunity ” at $19.95 just because “Christmas” came along?  A little bit of skepticism is in order.   

The fact is, that gift you have the sudden urge to buy  was probably manufactured  in China for mere pennies, and the real cost of it may have been your job, or that of your neighbour. Think for yourselves.
It is Christmas, sure, there may only be a few days of retailer “magic”   left, but that really is enough  time to think for yourself.   Your smarter better half may even  love you even more when you show her the zero balance on your credit card come  January.    

I’m off to the mall.  Gotta get that perfect present.  I  could have made something nice instead.
Why didn’t I think of this four months ago?

Bah, Humbug!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

North America...Rent this Idea !

Audi A2                                         photo by Audi
At Incoming BYTES, we believe  it appropriate  to offer cutting criticism and poke sharply at questionable events, issues and projects, especially  where justifiable criticism is  earned.
 It is equally an excellent idea to point out the clever, intelligent and the good.  Well,  good things very worthy of note  are happening in Paris, the City of Lights.
Paris will be the first city in the world to offer a major car-sharing program.  Yes, you read it right, a car-sharing program. Paris has had a successful bicycle-sharing program for three years and has cleverly decided to pioneer a car-sharing program featuring compact  electric cars. 
How smart is that?  Very. 
Initially, some 3,000  4-seat electric cars will be located  at 1200 docking locations throughout the city of Paris.   Pick it up here, and leave it there.   Reserve the car in advance, drive all over, and  return it to any station handy.    The driver needs the mandatory driver’s  license and an annual subscription and security deposit. 

How much more clever could that concept be?   The program will  be operational by the end of 2011.   The City of Paris is to be congratulated on their foresight and progressive plan.
 Way to go, Paris ! 

 Removing 3,000  gasoline-driven vehicles from the streets  is a sound environmental initiative. 
Electric vehicles are clean, quiet, and efficient. Battery technology can only get better. The newest battery technology by a German company, DBM Energy, allows an electric vehicle to be charged fully in 6 minutes or less and driven 375 miles at 55mph.  That should be enough range for almost everyone.   The ‘rent and drop at any location'  is inherently clever.
This is better than just a “good”  idea.   It is an idea whose time has arrived.
  Now all we need are  a few clever Canadian and  Americans entrepreneurs  to “discover” the concept and put it into action.    Hopefully, action that will be coming to a city near you  –and the sooner the better

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Does This Thing Really Fly?

Avro ARROW CF105 Fighter 1959                                                             photo courtesy of ArtEyePhoto

I would not care to have the reader  believe that Incoming Bytes  is eternally earth-bound and contains only  skepticism or criticism,  or that it is  intended  to be so at all times, but the astute reader will also recognize  with incoming news articles, bits and bytes  of information,  timing is everything.  Specific commentary is often better placed immediately.  So be it today.  Recent  announcement by Ottawa that Pratt & Whitney is being loaned $300 million taxpayer dollars  “to create and maintain” jobs is worthy of just that commentary,  and more.

Money itself is not the issue. Governments do waste money.  The loan itself,  funded by the taxpayer, is not the issue.   It is mere peanuts compared to the unnecessary  billion-dollar long gun registry, the unnecessary billion-dollar G-20 Summit security bill, and  other just-as-creative but  unnecessary  government incentives, ad nauseam.  

Don’t misunderstand,  most Canadians will applaud the idea and agree  the ‘creation and maintenance of jobs” is a wonderful thing,  indeed, it is a worthy goal and mandate of any government,  but in recalling the past and comparing it to the present, I do wonder. The memory is long, and curiosity often gets the better of me.    The shadows of political backtracking, inconsistency,   non-transparency, inexplicable decisions,  foolishness and bureaucratic hypocrisy are seemingly brought to the fore.

 In many  ways it is a  shame that the modern Wikileaks was not fully functional in 1959.   That was the year the AVRO  Arrow  was shot down, not by enemy fighters or  terrorists, but  by  Canada’s own slightly frumpy  job-maker and his helpers   who  seemingly  shot Canada  squarely in the foot as they killed off a potential  multi-trillion dollar industry.  Fifty-one years after the AVRO Arrow, -- are the Conservatives changing their minds?  How about some tongue-in-the-cheek?  Can this bird fly?  The Arrow  was  more than capable of flight at Mach 2.0 at 50,000 ft.
For anyone that has any meaningful  recollection of the aircraft industry in Canada, today’s  announcement must bring to mind the absolute contradiction in government policy  with the willful and unprecedented  destruction of the aircraft industry by the same  Conservative government on February 20th, 1959 .

On that date, the highly successful Canadian aircraft and aerospace industry was dealt a mortal blow, as the highly advanced CF-105 AVRO  Arrow fighter  program was scrapped  with little notice,and seemingly little justification then, or since that sad event.

 That government decision was disastrous.   Fourteen thousand aircraft workers, designers, aerospace engineers and hundreds of thousands of spin-off jobs  disappeared overnight, as  successfully-tested prototypes of the  Arrows on the tarmac at A.V. Roe   were ordered quickly chopped into little pieces to be sent for scrap metal and engineering drawings and plans were ordered destroyed. Arrow engineers quickly drifted south to the US industry.

The ARROW was proven to be a technically-advanced,  performance-superior aircraft that was faster, equipped with weaponry that is still used today, and it’s performance  remained  unequaled by any foreign fighter aircraft until the mid-1980's.   With a substantial  market potential for both the aircraft itself and the powerful, all-Canadian Iroquois engine,  the aircraft was all-Canadian and the Canadian aerospace industry was totally viable until the then Prime-Minister of Canada,   John Diefenbaker and his Conservative government shot it down, --if only to make  the American aerospace industry successful instead.
 What happened, and what was the REAL reason?  Worse yet,  at what cost was such an arbitrary, foolish decision made?
Just for the record, Pratt& Whitney is reportedly using that loan to employ 200 more engineers to develop a lighter, more powerful engine, possibly even  to be used in the “new”  F-35's Canada will be purchasing. 
Go figure

Maybe the backwash from that  governmental Arrow  boo-boo has finally caught up.  Extremely  expensive American  F-35's will now be purchased from the US  Aerospace industry to replace the prohibitively expensive but aging  American F-18's previously purchased from the US Aerospace industryIs there any lesson to be observed here?
Will this bird fly, or is the latest loan an official  admission that the fateful  decision made 51 years ago to kill the Arrow  was a “mistake” and has  finally come home to roost?  


Sunday, December 12, 2010

Get a Horse ?

On the Road to Blister                          photo by WLK Photography

Might we be reverting to horse & buggy days in North America much  sooner than expected?  Whether in Toronto,   Dallas, or in “Twixley”,  an imaginary village in  Morgidoo’s Christmas Carol, it strikes me that  fuel must ultimately be affordable if it is to be purchased at all.   Does that make sense?
 I cannot imagine any logical  reason why the richest corporations in the world might  need more money for crude oil other than to satiate endless greed, but at the current OPEC meeting in Ecuador, it is likely the collective OPEC eye has been secretly attached to the $100.00/barrel  benchmark with crazy glue  if only because the rest of the world will meekly accept  it.
 According to some, that price is “affordable”.  Really?

Meanwhile, OPEC is estimated by the US Department of Energy  to have suffered through a  miserable year, with a paltry  increase in profits,-- $750B  -- only 32% more than  in 2009. 
Not enough money?  My eyes are misting with sympathy  already.   

Is there ever enough profit in the petroleum industry? Our eyes may be soon be smarting from oil fumes, our lungs may be burning from  sour gas wells, and billions of essential life forms continue to die from sloppy,  ecologically disastrous spills and failures in the industry, but profit for the greedy will never seemingly  be “enough.”   

Apparently there is never enough oil used, either, and few people realize that the automotive industry was borne out of the necessity to use up all that crude oil.  We must therefore immediately devise more creative ways to consume oil  faster since it “reportedly”  disappears within a few weeks like magic when it is  spilled into Gulf sea water and onto pristine beaches.
I wonder how fast oil  will disappear in the freezing waters of the Arctic? Shall delusion prevent  the first Arctic well blowout,   guaranteed to happen in real life, and shall we all breathe a sigh of relief as it freezes into solid  floating islands of oil?  Perhaps the industry will creatively suggest it will help polar bears survive?   Oil packs instead of pristine ice packs.   How helpful.  How absolutely  predictable.

How shall we ever keep up the good work?  National television ads,  courtesy of Cenovus Energy  are currently advertising  how important oil “ is”.    Perhaps they feel additional brainwashing of the North American consumer is essential to justify  their multi-billion dollar expansion program in the oil sands.  Why waste advertising money on Canadians, when the oil will soon be going to China?    Better expand quickly , there is an estimated requirement  for 2011 of only 90 million barrels per day, according to the  International Energy Agency (IEA), but why not go for  100 million barrels per day, or 200 million barrels per day, let us  use it faster, get it all over that much sooner and make even bigger profits?  Perhaps with the total collapse of the petroleum industry, sanity can return to civilization? 

 It is little wonder Alberta  is proceeding full speed ahead with the questionable Athabasca Oil sands projects and planning  pipelines to the west coast.  The necessary supertankers shall be plying  pristine coastal waters ever so carefully just like the  Exxon Valdez did, if only  to enable  shipping Alberta’s oil to ChinaProfit is surely  more important than life itself.   That guaranteed  potential of  ecological disaster will help the greening of Mother Earth in Alberta  and ensure the supply of mutated fish for all.   Perhaps economic greed drives both stupidity and insane irresponsibility?

Happily, back at the meeting of OPEC ministers  no “immediate”   intention of raising crude oil prices or changing crude production quotas has been announced  at this moment, a move hardly necessary since they have been known to  cheat in the game of quotas anyway,  but OPEC producers are certainly  not outwitting one another in any bid  to lower prices either.

 Although economic conditions in the good old USA and Europe are substantially dampened at the moment with the global meltdown, international bailouts  and the shady shell games taking place  in all things financial,  with China’s burgeoning economy in an unprecedented growth cycle --in spite of an almost unheard of growth rate and now  a  5.1 % inflation rate, it is quite predictable the busy  Chinese  will consume more oil, store more oil, and  demand more oil, driving total demand and international   prices ever higher.
Should  we carefully avoid mentioning India in the same breath, which now  may be  the fastest growing economy in the world?   In India, modern life is taking hold.  Low-end “family”  cars at a retail cost of $2,000 per vehicles are coming out soon, courtesy of Tata Motors.  Literally millions of them will  be plying cow-paths  in the very near future, with happy owners imagining they are finally living the American dream of owning a car, --and simultaneously lining up for gasoline, each tiny vehicle  spewing pollution into the air in a gargantuan collective effort to catch up to the Chinese, who are already  suffocating  themselves in the worst industrial  pollution in existence.
We are all admittedly part of the problem, but even at that, I fail to see why in Canada, our proud oil producing nation, gasoline must be $1.29/liter, which is $5.80 per Imperial gallon.
   With crude  prices close to $90.00/barrel already and difficult winter conditions upon us, the die is likely cast, suck it up,   it will go even higher--- but in Venezuela, another oil-producing nation,  gasoline is sold  for mere cents/liter to it’s citizens, and  happy Hugo wants $100 USD per barrel  or better yet, even more, presumably to teach all North Americans the ultimate lesson in frugality.

We must therefore  remain slaves to OPEC and the petroleum industry and pay the piper, or alternatively,  grow as an advanced civilization, dream of using common sense, become smarter, and go electric.  Electric vehicles are viable and have been since gasoline was invented.
Either that or do like the gentle folk in Twixley, and just get a horse.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Narrow Tires, Big Snow in Blister

Blister General Store                            photo by  wlk photography

Shall we  pine for the old days when a  Model 'T 'and other choice vintage vehicles drove  through heavy snow easily because they had very tall, narrow tires?  
The old cars were solid, weighed far more, and displayed much higher clearance than modern vehicles.
It is snowing as we speak;  hopefully in the morning  it shall not look like the snow in Morgidoo’s village. Even the  Blister General Store is closed.  Perhaps the price of gasoline hasn’t been raised there  yet,  -or over in  the village of 'Twill, a few miles across the hills.

Fantasy and creativity and magic are all an essential part of the human psyche.  Shall we close our eyes and dream? 

Morgidoo's Christmas Carol is coming soon... Don't forget to blink...
The Christmas Shop at Blister                photo by wlk photography

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Got Gas, Mr. Grinch?

BIG OIL                                              photo by r.a. kukkee  2010

With winter close to  full swing and the Christmas season fast approaching,    I thought, (or more likely imagined, suffering from a lack of natural sunshine ),  that  Corporate good-will might flare up for a change ('Tis the season to be jolly  and all that !)

It seems I guessed wrong.  Instead,  it appears  that corporate profits  remain their primary concern, and the Grinch himself is flailing about with much gusto in one  sector  in spite of  the spirit of the season, or the stifled North American economy.

Only a few days ago the price of gasoline once again  skyrocketed like magic,  inexplicably and forcefully,  just in time for Santa  to stuff  great bags of cash  into the bulging coffers, caves and penthouse apartments  of the richest and most powerful corporate elite  in the world.  Who else could that be, but the Petroleum Industry?

The price of gasoline at the pump  jumped more than ten cents per liter,  from $1.09 per liter to over $1.20 per liter  within a day.   Instantly.  Why did the price jump sky-high?   I wonder how that happens?
I am also curious to know 'who' actually makes the calls  to set the new  universal price we see almost immediately at the pumps, regardless of brand.

Let us imagine for a moment THAT  mysterious  “Mr. Who” is on the telephone.
  Hello? Is this Joe’s Gas station?  You got gas?  Surprise!   Your gas is a  new, improved price starting right now!”  
“....... But Sir, what about the gas in the  tanks here, should I sell it at  the old price?
Are you kidding, Joe?  You a bit stupid or something? Do as you’re told, don’t ask questions, jack up the price on it too,  why not?”  Mr. Who orders with disdain, “After all, what are the peasants going to do about it?”  Mr. Who, ( is he related to the  Grinch, by any chance? ) ,  smirks happily and hangs up.

What just happened at Joe’s Gas station seems to have happened everywhere. How can that be?  How can gasoline prices possibly be so closely orchestrated?

According to www.Oilprice.com,   the price of crude oil was  $89.02 as of Dec. 6th at 10.00 a.m. EST. (1).,    having risen from approximately $85.00 a few days previously.  That equates to a  price increase of  $4.00 US   for a whole barrel of crude oil.
One must immediately wonder how a $4.00 increase in the price of a barrel of crude oil equates to a pump price increases of a half-buck per gallon for  gasoline?  The fact is, it does NOT.  Did all petroleum industry executives fail to get a passing grade in  arithmetic in school?  Perhaps that’s the problem. Perhaps we should calculate it for them.

Let’s see....We know that about  20 US gallons ( 75.70 liters) of gasoline is  produced from each barrel of crude oil.  Crude oil is not all made into gasoline.    Other products such as diesel fuel, home heating oil, and various other oils and lubricants are ALSO  made from the same barrel of crude oil
Any doubt about that?   See for yourself Check them out at: http://www.txoga.org/articles/308/1/WHAT-A-BARREL-OF-CRUDE-OIL-MAKES

Regardless, and totally  ignoring price   increases on  other products listed the recent  price increase at  your local gas pumps infers  there was  an increase of about  $8.00 per barrel of crude oil.
  ---But wait, Virginia, the real price increase for raw crude oil in that same time period, as we now know, was only about $4.00 per barrel.
Clearly a problem exists. Does price gouging by error, or by designExecutive ineptitude, or just willful, blatant greed?   Organized criminal activity? Government control? Eyebrow- raising cooperation and a wink  between  oil-producing nations?   Perhaps the reader has other suggestions.
  Who is assigned the responsibility of calculating the price of gasoline, and how does it magically become the new, virtually universal price?

Is this all part of the cute board game called Monopoly?
Should  any thinking individual be expected to actually believe  there are not  cooperative and behind-the scenes forces controlling prices at the gasoline pump?       Huge and instantaneous price increases just do not magically happen, and there is one certainty. The imagination is sorely over-worked to believe it is “competition”.  

Vehement denial of unfair practice  is the standard response in any investigation of price-fixing, monopolistic practices or price-setting agreements by Big Oil.
The classic defense offered includes  arbitrary excuses historically used to justify windfall profits.
It is such good fortune we suffer to know why we are being robbed. 
 The search for answers  becomes  a quick  spin on a  “Wheel of Fortune” for which  the consumer must both play and pay.
  The wheel is spinning.... automobile owners everywhere are waiting at the pump with abated breath.....Which of these wonderful excuses shall be offered this time?  

Official List of Excuses and Justifications for Windfall Profits
  • The price of crude oil at the pump (Set by Mr. Who?)
  •  Global prices (Controlled by Mr. Who?
  •  Low supplies (Controlled by Mr.  Who?)
  •  OPEC policy and agreement changes ( Controlled by Mr. Who?)
  •  Corporate losses. (  Details to be offered by Mr. Who?   )
  •  The bad economy
  •  Competition (we may have to laugh about that one)
  •  Bad weather
  •  Drilling and exploration costs 
  •  Refinery fires and equipment failures
  •  The unstable Mid-East and it’s perpetual political unrest, the war against terror (ad infinitum)
  •  Shipping accidents   ( the Exxon Valdez, was that oil collected in 5-gallon buckets for resale?....) 
  •  Oil spills  and rig fires ( BP Gulf --2010 --all that spilled crude oil in the gulf just “happily” disappeared after a few weeks?)
  • Government taxes on gasoline ( the most famous excuse offered in Canada ) 
Understandably, other exciting game features conveniently left off of the sparkling corporate wheel  are:
  • Corporate  greed
  •  Excessive Profits
  •  Multi-million dollar year-end  bonuses for chief executive officers.
  • Creative pricing agreements

We have but one question for the petroleum industry:   Which excuse are you going to use this time?  Not that it matters.  At this time of the year even Santa himself would have to call your actions unethical,  opportunistic,  and monopolistic price gouging.

 Naughty, naughty, naughty.   Santa’s list is getting longer by the day.


Sunday, December 5, 2010

The Beginning

Incoming BYTES                                        photo by r.a. kukkee

It is with some excitement and trepidation I have finally  taken it upon myself to speak my mind and write a blogA real blogIncoming Bytes, powered by the light of the early morning sun....

What will Incoming BYTES be about?  
Everything.     Everything that piques the curiosity, touches the  heart,  outrages, or offends the soul.  Justice,  societal mores,  the environment, social affairs, news, events, tragedy and triumph.   I will ask questions.   I will not only question, but  interpret, infer, critique, and at times praise what I observe.    I may provide a perceived answer or two, or leave that job to the reader.   I may at times  condemn or annoy shamelessly. Perhaps controversy shall arise at times, and offend, even though offense is not specifically intended.  Perhaps offense is actually earned upon occasion and if that is the case, so be it.
Above all,  I will express my personal opinion with HONESTY. 

 The second  question that must come  to the fore should probably be:  “Why?” 
Why bother to speak out?   The fact of the matter remains,  in Utopia, and modern suburbia,  ordinary individuals should  expect to be happy and pleased with what they see around them.  If they make observations that make them  become angry  and fail to  comment,  or simply do not bother to address lack of ethics,  poverty, crime, and daily issues, why expect miracles?  Instead, observe events and offer positive  ideas for change, or  we  cannot expect any change for the better. 
Societal pressure at times favours the status quo, does it not? Look out of the window in your neighbourhood.  Listen to your children, co-workers, the media and observe.  Clearly quantum change for the better  is needed in North America and world-wide.

It took quite some time to firmly decide that  writing a web log could be a suitable forum that can promote discussion.  Again, write about what?   The simple answer is, “literally everything”. Everything that amazes or surprises. New discoveries. Everything that prickles the mind or the soul. Everything that excites, amazes, causes  creative juices to flow, consternation and anxiety, or offends the sense of justice.  What offends you? What excites you? What piques your interest?  What makes you happy? What enrages you to the very core of your being?  Please leave a comment.

* By the way, we believe  it possible to express forceful opinion without the use of invectives and foul language.  Such language and offensive, hateful commentary will  be obliterated mercilessly from comments.  If the reader is  angry, he or she is requested to take time out, return later, and leave an insightful  comment in the form of civilized dialogue.

Will Incoming BYTES  be successful?   That decision is left to the reader.   Come again soon. 

*Note from North of Lake Superior:  In spite of the current interest in global warming, in Northwestern Ontario it seems it has not arrived, --at least not today.    It is winter, cold and dry, and there is a wonderful  blanket of snow  for kids of all ages to play in.