Thursday, August 14, 2008

Prayer solves gas pains?

Every time (and it happens quite frequently) that I hear someone say "Americans are stupid" or something to that effect, I cringe. It doesn't matter how intelligent that person is, once they utter that phrase they go down in my esteem. It's like saying Newfoundlanders and Labradorians are stupid — it's a sweeping generalization, and it makes you sound ignorant and arrogant. There are over 350 million Americans and if they were all stupid, America would not have reached the super power status is has today — I'm not saying it deserves that status, but it didn't get there by being a country populated entirely by idiots. 

That being said, there are, like anywhere, some stupid, arrogant people in the United States and some of them are crediting God for lowering their gas prices

I make no secret of my lack of spiritual beliefs, but I try not to infringe on the spiritual sides of others. However, this really got my goat, as it were. There are over 6 billion people living on earth today, and according to the World Bank over one billion people live in extreme poverty, living on less than $1 a day. According to world religion statistics compiled by, the number one religion is Christianity with approximately 2.1 billion devotees, followed by Islam with 1.5 billion, Hindus close behind at 900 million, and so on  — in short, there are a lot of believers out there, which leads me to make what I believe to be a well-educated guess that a lot of people pray at least once a day. 

Though most world religions teach you to be selfless, chances are a lot of people are praying that they make it through the day, and yet a lot of people die from something we take for granted in the West like nutritional deficiencies or influenza, many of them small children. So it boggles my mind that there are people out there praying for gas prices to be lowered, particularly since they believe their prayers are being answered. 

When I first heard the story on CBC radio this morning, one woman complained that she had to make the decision between food and gas for her car — now, I don't know her exact situation, maybe there is no public transit where she lives, and she can't carpool or walk to work. But then again, maybe she can, and in that case she needs to get her priorities straight. 

The "Pray at the Pump" movement are ignoring some statistics from the Federal Highway Administration, which says Americans are driving less — 53.2 billion miles less — and that's what's causing the drop in American gas prices to $3.78/gallon from the over $4/ gallon it was this in July. 

Perhaps I'm taking this too seriously, and I should be laughing off people who think the drop in gas prices is a direct result of divine intervention. But there's something about this that just reeks of a sense of entitlement due to living in a first world country. 

Someone told me recently that if third world countries were as rich as Canada or the U.S., they would be just as decadent. That may very well be true, but it's no excuse for whining over not being able to drive our cars when some people don't even have access to bicycles.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

The elephant in the University

I was going to avoid making commentary on the Memorial presidential search for a couple of reasons, not the least of which is the over abundance of commentary already being made, but ignoring the elephant in the room in this case has almost become impossible. And it's probably more important than Russia trying to ban emo and goth culture, which is what I was originally going to write an entry about.

First off, I've interviewed Joan Burke a couple of times and I liked her. I'm a sucker for a polite politician, I must admit, especially one that took the time to call me back when I was a student journalist (okay, I guess I still AM a student journalist, but whatever), even if she did end a few interviews asking me what I was doing in school like some aunt I hadn't seen since I was *this* high. 

We've got a great deal on tuition and education in the province and we owe a lot of it to her — or perhaps to Danny, which is what brings me to my point. Burke is suddenly admitting to interviewing and vetoing presidential candidates for the University, which is dicey at best, but I find if very interesting that all the blame and ire is falling on her while Danny Williams seems to be getting off scot free. When was the last time anything happened in that government that Danny didn't know about?

Tom Rideout, you say. Yes, the man acted of his own accord, and look what happened to him — not only was he demoted, but his fellow cabinet ministers hung him out to dry claiming he bullied them into giving him extra money for his constituency (after finding out there will still communities in his riding without paved roads, I can't say I blamed him). Rideout was leader of the Progressive Conservative party at one time, not to mention premier of the province and deputy premier under Danny, and NO ONE in his party stood up for him. 

The Muse first heard rumblings of something fishy happening vis-a-vis government interference with the University's presidential search during the winter semester, and even asked Burke if she was involved in the vetoing of any candidates. She denied any involvement or knowledge of such interference. Perhaps we worded the question incorrectly, or maybe she hadn't actually vetoed any candidates yet — but then why were the rumours flying already?

I don't think Burke is totally blameless for this intrusion into Memorial's autonomy — she is a very strong willed and independent person, in my experience. But It's no secret that Danny likes to be in control (really, what premier doesn't?), so I wouldn't be at all surprised to discover that he was the puppet master in this scenario. We'll just have to wait and see if Burke will go down in flames for this, bring the whole government with her, or if it will all blow over in the face of oil money and more jobs for Newfoundlanders and Labradorians.