f/k/a archives . . . real opinions & real haiku

May 18, 2004

Another Silly One-Day Gas Boycott

Filed under: pre-06-2006 — David Giacalone @ 6:28 pm

About an hour ago, I received a much-forwarded email from a very good friend of mine.  It irked me.  Here’s my Reply email to her, which I hope is self-explanatory (and persuasive):


Dear [Old Friend],


I hate to sound like a grump, but I must ask you not to send me any email message that asks to be forwarded “to everyone you know,” or any similar kind of chain letter.   There are lots of reasons, but the most important to me are

(1) they are a spammer’s or pervert’s dream — the email address of every single person in the entire chain becomes available to everyone who receives the email message.  I bet you care about that for yourself, and I definitely do for me.


(2) almost every single one of these chain letters is either false, futile or f-ing-stupid.

I just checked out the May 19th Gas Out email message at Urban Legends.com and pasted their information below.  (It contains their usual, useful analysis.)  If you plan to send this material to someone else, please don’t just hit Forward; instead, paste it into a new message, so that my email address and name aren’t distributed further. 


Thanks for your patience with me. Email and internet hygiene (along with common sense) are important!


stop sign Don’t Buy Gas on May 19th   [from UrbanLegends.About.com]
Yet another variant of the ‘Gas Out’ chain letter, this one urging consumers to boycott gas stations on May 19th to ‘send a message’ to the oil companies 

Description:  Email chain letter
Circulating since:  May 2004
Status Ill conceived
Analysis:  See below   

Comments:  With U.S. gasoline prices at a 13-year high, it’s understandable that consumers are fed up and hankering for relief, but it’s fair to ask whether mass-forwarding yet another “boycott gas” chain letter will achieve the desired result. Based on past experience, the answer is: not likely.

There are two glaring flaws in the approach:

  1. A successful boycott requires a sustained, organized effort by a large number of participants; randomly circulating a chain letter amounts to no organization at all. And we know from past attempts that no matter how many people jump on the bandwagon, actual participation in email-driven boycotts is spotty and ultimately negligible.

  2. It’s illogical. Refusing to buy gasoline on one particular day of the month won’t affect the oil companies’ overall sales or profits. Why not? Because everyone who skips buying gasoline on May 19 will be filling their tanks on the 20th. An effective boycott would require consuming less fuel, not just buying it on one day instead of another.

The claim that a one-day boycott would result in an industry loss of over $4.6 billion is a pure fabrication, by the way. According to Euromonitor International, the total sales of petroleum products for all U.S. gas stations in 2002 was $205 billion, which works out to just over a half-billion dollars a day.

Update:  1-Day Gas Boycott Is Just a Lot of Hot Air – “A one-day boycott may make you feel like you’re standing up to Big Oil, but in reality, it won’t do much, despite what the email promises.” (Detroit Free Press, 18 May 2004)

I know my readers are too knowledgeable to fall for Chain Letters and meaningless boycotts.  Don’t forget to go to hoax protection sites like Urban Legends and Purportal.com, when you aren’t sure whether you’ve been sent a lot of cyber b.s. 

The Sovereignty Promise as Exit Strategy/Excuse

Filed under: pre-06-2006 — David Giacalone @ 3:29 pm

This weblog usually stays away from politics, so let’s just call this posting prognostication — a little musing spiced with our customary skepticism.

exit  Many in the press and public are wondering whether the June 30th date for the transfer of power in Iraq will hold (e.g., Newsweek, Pencil It In,” 05-17-05).  Others ponder what “sovereignty” really is, if U.S. troops are still in Iraq (e.g., Consortium News. com, Iraq’s “Sovereignty” Mirage, 05-18-04). 

The pyj team had an “aha! moment” on Sunday, when we heard Secretary of State Colin Powell being interviewed on ABC This Week.  Secretary Powell told George Stephanopoulos that theoretically the new Iraqi government can demand that foreign troops leave and America would respect such a request from a sovereign state. 

Our reaction:  that’s their exit strategy! 

  • As in: America has to keep its word, and we promised the Iraqi people and the world that we’d hand over sovereignty.  Evil-doers lie, but God’s Good Guys don’t.

Secretary Powell, the good man and good solider, sent up the signal on Sunday.  Weren’t we listening?  Some administration officials are said to be preparing talking points, in case they announce that sovereignty will be delayed.   But, couldn’t that be a distraction or a bureaucratic sop?


idea dude small  If we were political strategists, with an eye toward averting a re-election disaster in November, we would certainly be looking for a way to cut America’s losses in Iraq, in order to heal the Administration’s wounds before they’re mortal.  No matter how many American troops stay in Iraq after the handover of sovereignty, more Americans will be killed, much more American money will be spent there, and ugly turmoil or rebellion will surely take place.  There certainly won’t be any great success tableau to present to the voters before Election Day.


Seems to us that it would be politically advantageous to pull out under the cover of promised sovereignty for the great people of Iraq.  Sure, we can leave some advisors and earmark reconstruction funds, but politics dictates bringing our boys and girls home and showing the world that we keep our promises.  If Iraq turns into a hell hole, we can always say “they asked us to leave, although we advised against it.  We are not occupiers or imperialists.”   When you have no exit strategy and no control over events, the Sovereignty Excuse must look very good as a way out. 


What do you think?

  • Update (05-25-04):  Somebody needs to remind TChirs at TalkLeft that Colin Powell has already told the nation that we would pull out American troops when the new Iraqi government asks us to do so.  All the vagueness about a withdrawal timetable will just make it easier for the Aministration to say it’s surprised when the new government asks us to leave, and we “reluctantly” acquiesce to their full sovereignty.

Judge Says Everybody Does It

Filed under: pre-06-2006 — David Giacalone @ 12:50 am

Facing a recommendation that her law license be suspended for two years, Franklin County [OH] Common Pleas Judge Deborah P. O’Neill replied with a refrain familiar to any parent: “But, everybody does it!” — every judge, that is.


judge mercy  Eight of her fellow judges brought the initial complaint against Judge O’Neill.  She says that she is “a conscientious judge” and will appeal.  According to News Channel 4, the feisty jurist responded to the filing of the complaint in June, 2002, with a statement that the charges were political in nature and:

“There isn’t one allegation in this complaint that could not be immediately directed toward any judge in Ohio, including the eight who initiated this groundless complaint.”


“I will not allow the independence of the judiciary to be tarnished by this obvious attempt to personally discredit me or thwart my candidacy for higher office at the expense of the public.”

Per Columbus’ News Channel 4, charges in the 56-page complaint include, inter alia:

  • “[T]hat O’Neill consistently displayed rude behavior toward her own staff and others in her court, including members of the public, and denied due process to litigants in her court.

  • “[T]hat O’Neill consistently displayed rude behavior, including showing up for court sometimes two hours late, not allowing a court reporter a lunch break and allegedly yelling at staff and sheriff’s deputies in open court.”

  • That “O’Neill also allegedly pressured both sides to reach a plea agreement because she was going away. She allegedly told the lawyers, ‘No plea, no bail, and he’ll sit in jail until I’m back from vacation’.”

You judge for yourself, dear visitors, and let us know your feelings.  

prof yabut small flip  Okay, but would Judge O’Neill push a lawyer off a bridge, if her colleagues did?


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