/*sidenote tool from arc90 */ /* end of Google Analytics code */ A Random Pattern: January 2006

A Random Pattern

Friday, January 06, 2006

China's Gas Guzzling

This article really got me thinking. We react to news every day, yet we are generally oblivious to much of the picture behind the scenes. The furor over the NSA wiretapping, the blogosphere blowup over MSN locking out a chinese blogger, and other daily news generally goes to show that once you start really looking into a decision it's not nearly so easy as we tend to assume (usually in outraged rants to our co-workers).

Take this article on China's growing energy use. It's from the perspective of a blog on alternative energy, but there is a lot of valuable insight into international politics and many other areas here. For example:
China has courted oil-rich nations such as Sudan, Venezuela and Iran that are officially out of favour with Washington, even dangling the possibility of using its United Nations Security Council veto to protect them against sanctions.

China last year repeatedly blocked U.N. attempts to punish Sudan for failing to stop atrocities in its Darfur region. China owns a 40 percent stake in the major oil consortium drilling in Sudan, and it buys half of Sudan's crude exports.
Does that give you a new, refreshed perspective on the Iran relationship we hear in the news? Many of you may already know some of the above, and many of the other points in the article. But reading them from a new perspective often puts the news we know into a different light, with new implications and possibilities of understanding. Give it a read, and tell me what you think.

Credit Cards - bewildered by the choices?

When I read this Credit Card Rewards article, it answered some of the questions I had, and helped me feel that some options we've looked at weren't "tricks" that would backfire. If you are a careful user of credit cards, and want to improve your understanding of the offers that flood your mailbox, then give this a read. Here's a blurb:

Why would credit card companies pay consumers to use their cards? Discover, the industry leader in cash-back reward cards, said it gave away $500 million in 2005.

This is, after all, an industry better known for tactics like offering low-interest teaser rates that shoot up or changing the terms of a contract at a whim. Therefore, it may come as a bit of a surprise that many of the offers are credible as well as lucrative for the consumer. Indeed, cash-reward cards may be one of the most consumer-friendly products the industry has ever marketed.

As the article says, if you need to look at the interest rate of the card then you probably need to not be looking at a new card, and instead pay down your current debt. I also highly recommend a financial adviser - our credit union provides a free financial advisor, and yours may also.