Tuesday, March 18, 2014

The Price of Oil

So, I have this quilty little please I found on the Internet.  It is a site called Marine Traffic.  I don't know how I stumbled onto it a few weeks ago, but ever since, I have been checking it out about once a day.

Much like sites such as Geocaching and Where's George, it shows you a world that you don't think about, but that has a profound effect on your life whether you know it or not.  Geocaching shows the power of GPS technology on your daily life and Where's George shows exactly where your money goes, literally.

The Marine Traffic website tracks all of the shipping on the planet.  Mind you, not the military kind, but everything else.  Tankers, Yachts, Tugs, Cruise Ships, Cargo, you name it.  It shows where the ship is, its track, its last port of call and information about the ship.

The site also allows you to set up your own 'Fleet' of 5 ships to track.  When one of your tracked ships gets underway, or docks at a port, it lets you know via e-mail.  Sort of makes you feel like Aristole Onasis.

Since how our flat screen televisions or Mercedes Benz get to us is seldom our concern, it is interesting to see just how many of these super cargo carriers are plying the Seven Seas to get us all those wonderful consumer goods.  As I scrolled across the oceans looking at various marine traffic, I stumbled across the Persian Gulf.

The graphic at the top of this blog shows 'only' the tankers in and around the Straits of Hormuz.  The tanker traffic here is heavy to say the least.  What I found even more interesting was the 'holding' area near the city of Fajairah (below) off the coast of United Arab Emirates, just south of the entrance to the straits.  Here is where ships (all tankers again) wait their turn to head into the Straits to load up with that sweet crude bound for China or India or the Americas.

All of this infrastructure to supply an energy hungry world with cheap plastic, petro-chemicals and fuel that continues to pollute the planet.  You can bet that the major petro-states won't let this waterway become blocked or shut down for any reason.  It would mean severing the life line for all their economies.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

James Bond or Snow White?

So I came across this blog that documented famous Disney controversies surrounding some of their past films and the final controversy they sighted had to do with concept of the 'Disney Princess'.  The article referenced the unrealistic expectation that Disney has placed on young women throughout the ages.  This is nothing new and it has been debated endlessly over the past several years.  

Gazing at the image, the one thing that started to sink into my thoughts was the 'number' of Disney Princess that have been manufactured by Walt & Company since the 1930s.  There is over a dozen of them, all with the same basic story line and same basic physical characteristics.
This got me reminiscing about when I was attending senior level business courses in college, one of the key mantras of American Capitalism was, "Create a Need, Then Fill That Need". Where being successful, which means making a lot of money, entails that you find out something the people want (not necessarily need) and then market and sell something to fulfill that need.  Apparently Disney hit on this back in the 1930s and has been running with it ever since.  

This further got me thinking that American profit making can't be limited to one gender.  Women could not be the only targets of this tactic.  So how have the American Media Conglomerates targeted the American Male?  The first thing that comes to mind is the James Bond franchise.  Bond is cool, suave, sophisticated, lots of random sex with beautiful women, neat cars, licensed to kill, all the things that men want.  There have been almost as many Bonds as there have been Disney Princesses.  

Next came the ultra macho male film stereotype, epitomized by Arnold Schwartznegger in his various films of the 80s and 90s. (Commando, Predator, Total Recall, Eraser, etc....).  I recently watched a copy of Commando on LaserDisc and was on the floor laughing at just how ludicrous and funny it was.  Nothing but huge steroid induced muscles, catchy one-liners delivered in a heavy German accent and a body count that had to be in the hundreds, literally. 
Since bigger is always better in the male world, Arnold appears to have given way to the ultra large robot movie such as Michael Bays 'Transformer' series (I believe that the 4th one is about to be released) and the gawd awful 'Pacific Rim'. When your muscles can only get so big, make a 12 story ultra-muscular robot that kills things.  Again, create that need and fill it. 
This all makes lots of Money, Money, Money for the media conglomerates while we teach impressionable women to be be ultra thin and find a male for happiness and impressionable men, to get bigger guns and use more steroids.  

My point being.  This is all leading us down the wrong path.  This imagery of wanting and desiring such things is not only wrong, but downright hazardous to the health of society.  The only people that this type of stereotyping is good for are the owners of the large media companies.  We don't allow companies to advertise cigarettes and hard liquor to impressionable people, why do we allow them to market this type of behavior?