Pre 2006 - Chaucer and recycling connection

12/25/05 A Chaucer poem gives insights to "True Stewardship" and "Recycling Export" debate...
A thousand times I have heard men tell,
That there is joy in Heaven, and pain in hell;
And I accorde well that it is so
But natheless, yet wot I well also,
That there is none doth in this country dwell
That either hath in heaven been or hell,
Or any other way could of it know,
But that he heard, or found it written so,
For by assay may no man proof receive.
But God forbid that men should not believe
more things than they have ever seen with eye!
Men shall not fancy everything a lie
Unless themselves it see, or else it do;
For, God wot, not the less a thing is true,
Though every wight may not it chance to see.

I used to think that moving up in an organization, or to a position of more stature in society, was moving from low to high. As my old boss, Hank Southworth, put it, "going from ground level to seeing things from 50,000 feet". That the higher ups in society saw things from a bigger perspective.
Now I understand, and see evidence of, the fact that moving up constrains you. You have access to more information, definitely, and better information perhaps. But the virtue of your importance constrains you. Just as you cannot get as drunk at a party when you are a senator, you cannot speak as radical a thought, even if you suspect or allow yourself to believe it.
In that way, moving up is actually digging in deeper. You are more constrained in your thinking as you rise in society. Loss of face is a greater loss for a great king than it is for an urban laborer.
By moving down, one opens more options and lowers the ante. With a lower ante, one can take greater risks.
One still needs access to good information. To the degree that the highest ups have better info, they are closer to the truth. It is just the social pressure that constrains them. A bum on the railroad tracks is free from social pressure, but I guess doesn't have as much interest in, or access to, worldly information.
To some degree, pressure and risk of loss of face would raise the effort and diligence, and I would guess that a senator might try a little harder to succeed in an argument. That's good. But if a person on the street is motivated by a Higher Power to achieve truth, I do believe that the dignity at stake can be equal.
If the internet grants an encyclopedia of information to every motivated man, increases in stature will drop in value.

Hypothetical Perfect Recollection

Looking at the human brain like Steve Pinker (How the Mind Works), as scientific observer, you realize that everything we "see" or "experience" is product of stimulation on the brain. What one person's eye sees as the color red, you could not say with absolute certainty is another person's "red". Even though the two agree, what the different brains show as "normal" may simply be synchronized (red is to Dick as blue is to Jane)..
So why do two experiences, separated by passage of Time, appear so differently in the Mind? I look at my 3 children playing together today, making noise and games and worlds of pretend, and it reminds me of my own childhood play. I wish to myself that I could see this moment this clearly my whole life, to preserve and permanently enjoy the sight.
I suppose, if the mind could not differentiate between past and present, that it would be pretty confusing to walk around functionally. If I could hear every single conversation I have ever had at the same clarity and decibel that I hear noise NOW, it would be pretty distracting. Finding my place in the current world would be like "fast forwarding" on a TIVO or VCR tape. But hypothetically, for all practical purposes, if I was well fed and in no imminent danger, "living in the past" would be a nice thing to do. So far as every human had at least a few "good memories", we could all enjoy ourselves more equally, rich and poor, like spending the same dollar over and over again.
If we all had a camera strapped to our bodies 24 hours per day (something probably imaginable in the next decade or two, at least for a handlful of people) we could achieve a facsimile of Perfect Recollection, but minus the impression or thought that it's making or creating. If I see someone steal for me that I thought was honest, I'm shocked. Once I've seen that person steal from me over and over again, I'm going to see them with a different emotion.
What ties this to recycling? Surely there would be a greater useful purpose served by perfect recollection, as we measure our efforts to make our lifestyles sustainable.
I'm constantly thinking about what my children and grandchildren will see in the world they mature in, and how they will hold me and my generation accountable for this world. Orangutans and mountain gorillas will be pretty much limited to DNA samples in labs and specimens at zoos, kind of like Panda bears where national news is made whenever one of the specimens bears young. The extinctions will be largely blamed on natural resource extraction... copper mines and timber harvests Borneo, coltan (for cell phones) and timber from central Africa
The mining and extraction companies are run by intelligent people, who manage publicly traded stocks, and who are simply meeting demands placed on them by earners. Those earners create demand for resources, which creates roads into forests, which creates access to habitat by poor people who don't have electricity and therefore can't enjoy the same things the earners enjoy. So they enjoy other things, like "bush meat", or sell the bush meat (gorilla and chimp steaks) to tourists giggling over the "endangered species platter" at a local restaurant. Military bases bring demand for liquor bars and strip joints. Casinos and gambling zones bring demand for prostitutes and escort services, which attract people addicted to drugs, bringing demand for other criminal services. Mines and timber harvesters create environmental destruction in their own right, but also bring whisky, gambling, prostitution, drugs, and endangered species poaching to the heart of the rainforest.
If I play my whole life back, will the recycling I do make a difference? If we cannot meet 100% of world demand for metals, resins, and fibers through recycling, would the mines be there anyway? Does it matter if the PNG OK Tedi River mine dumps 60,000 MT of mine tailings per day, or 80,000 MT of mine tailings per day?
I chose recycling because it is hands on, Karma, measurable. It means engaging in business, rather than meditating on a mountaintop. I hope to raise 3 kids who are agents of conscience, and who can do good things in this world.
But if the Right that you do is dependent on undoing the Wrong someone else is doing... Have you really made a difference? Or are we like brakes on snowmobile, pounding through virgin forest?
I'll be anticipating the answer to that question at the end of my life, and I think some future generations will be digging through records like this one to determine WHAT in the HELL my generation was THINKING, wiping out the gorillas, chimps, orangutans and blue whales. But the truth of the question is posed every day, as if the Hypothetical Perfect Recollection was already here. I can pretend at this moment that I'm recalling this moment perfectly. Recalling as in what was I thinking, right now (not as an observer with future knowledge at my disposal). But if I ask myself one day "what were we thinking?", maybe I will remember this moment, as I pretend I'm trying to figure out exactly what it is I am thinking, as humanity plays the role of a self-conscious comet, headed into the planet, creating not a gulf of mexico or other crater-lake, but with the same result. Two or three lifetimes is more like an instant blast than it is like the thousands of lifetimes evolution took to create this creation.

December 17, 2005

Letter to the Iraqi People:

May God bring each of you peace and justice, health and sustenance to you and your families.
My name is Robin, and I am a father of three, and I run a small recycling and parts company in the state of Vermont. It is a cold winter here, but the people are used to the ice and snow, as fathers and mothers have taught the kids how to live in peace with it for many generations. I can imagine, for your children, the desert sun must be less of a burden than it would be for me, but they would not enjoy playing in the ice and snow as much as my children do. Both the sun and the ice must be enjoyed but treated with respect.

I’m writing to you because I was thinking yesterday, after your election, what it must be like to be going through such a revolution. The first thing that struck me is that when change happens this suddenly, quickly, and violently, that different people will come to different conclusions at different times.

Just as some Americans know more about the world than others, I am sure individual Iraqis must see the war and restructuring differently. Sometimes Americans are kind of uneducated about different histories in the world, and some of us are pretty ignorant of our own history, too, for that matter. This gives rise to different views here of what is happening and why, and who to believe and when. Is it the same there?

I’m sure to you it is obvious why some of your young men and women could still be absolutely convinced that the American army is there to do harm. Some of you may have had cousins, friends, sons or brothers who joined the resistance. Some of them have killed themselves, or killed others, trying to protest in dignity a change brought by force by a foreign soldier. Some of you, like some of us, have also lost family and loved ones to those acts of hate, anger or protest.
I just thought I’d write you this note to share my own perspective. I’m politically an independent. I did not vote for Bush in the last election, though that was more from my concern about how he borrows money than it was about the war.

When it came to the war, I was hopeful. I must confess I was naively certain America army would would face chemical weapons during the first days of war. Like millions of others, I was led to believe some things, some of which may never have been explicitly said. Our journalists, like yours, want an exciting story, and the suspicion is more exciting than the doubt. An expectation grew that Sadaam Hussein was building weapons and testing his ability to expand his power. The fact that he shot at our planes, and evidence that he tried to assassinate George Bush’s father after the first Gulf War, really didn’t put him in a position to be heard if he protested his innocence. I say if, because I don’t even remember that he did protest his innocence. Not loudly enough, that’s for sure.

As the combat wrapped up, I continued to be hopeful. Though the search for WMD came to seem a farce, I thought the war was justified more by hope than by fear. The chemical weapons were not the most important thing, to me, about the war. I do remember people giving other reasons for the invasion, and those are the reasons I listened to and still hope are correct.
This letter is to share those ideas about this war with someone on your side of the sea, and to ask for your perspective. I hope, in my deepest soul, that this is like the American invasion of Germany and Japan, neither of which had oil or other resources to exploit. I’m not speaking about the cause of those invasions, but about the outcomes. The people of Germany and Japan were lied to and suffered greatly at the hands of their own rulers. Some Americans must have been shocked at the cost of assistance after the war, for the rebuilding of those countries. Americans had seen Japanese commit suicide and fight to the last woman and child to protect barren islands, like Iwo Jima. It must have been difficult to imagine that those same Japanese would one day participate in a democracy and peaceful world economy larger than that in Mexico, Brazil, England, France, Germany or Italy.

Today, Japan is the second most powerful country, economically, on earth. All Japanese children go to school. It has fine hospitals and fine cities, and awesome factories, which have for decades been the models for, the pride of, Asia. Taiwan, South Korea, Singapore, Malaysia, the Philippines, Indonesia and now China are following Japan; American factories emulate those which grew from Japan’s democracy. I think of it as a nation of intense pride, though much more humble and circumspect than it was in the years leading up to the war.

As I watch the news from your country, Iraq, I wonder how many years it took for the people of Japan to believe that America would help to rebuild the nation and leave it alone? And if our cause is the same, I wonder how many years it will take for your people to believe it. As your insurgents see our history of meddling in Palestine and Iran, did the Japanese see as “hegemony” our footprint in China and the Philippines? If the analogy between Japan and Iraq is stretched too thin there, I hope the difference will be paid out over years rather than as a different outcome entirely.

I hope that my children will fear and respect Iraq as my generation feared and respected Japan – for its economic might, the talent of its children and inventors, and the influence it will hold on its neighbors.

As I watch and read the news from Bagdad and Washington, I’m pretty sure America’s plan really is to do for Iraq what it did for Japan and Germany. To jump-start an Iraq which will rebuild itself.

Some Americans stayed in Japan, of course, but I think everyone in the world understands they are guests, and Japanese are in charge. I’ve never been to Iraq and I’ve never been to Japan, so I my letter couldn’t be very convincing to the insurgents following the jihadist roadmap today. What do I know, and what do my opinions matter?

I cannot say I know that much. I can say I lived in Africa for a couple of years. I think that many of the Africans I knew continue to live under such oppression that they’d secretly welcome an American invasion and a Japanese-style reconstruction. Probably not a majority of Africans. And if it ever happened, and violence continued during the process, you and I both know they would have second thoughts along the way, as you have.

I can also talk about trade and business around the world. This century is exciting and new. The internet, international banking, posts and jet travel have made it possible for even a tiny businessman like me to make close friends and business partners in faraway places. Can you believe that in the past 2 years we’ve had visitors to our little Middlebury, Vermont, junkyard from Hong Kong, Alexandria, Kaunas, Jakarta, Accra, Taipai and Guangzhou? In Egypt, in India, in China, Ghana, and Cameroon, and Lithuania, and Peru, we make business deals with small businessmen and women. Like me, they are trading and negotiating and brokering, and we are building our reputations side by side. We shake hands by email. We wave our fingers in frustration by email. We say thank you by telephone.

Last year, someone asked me if I was worried about Americans losing jobs. I thought about it. I realized that I consider myself a closer friend to the man in Hong Kong I trust, or the woman from Egypt who confides in me, or the man from Cameroon who watches my kids for me as a favor when I run to the bank. I have more in common with honest and hardworking people than with lazy and loud people who happen to share my language. I believe my children will have friends across international boundaries, and that common citizenship will mean no more or less to them than a common license plate address in an Orlando parking lot.

Someday I hope my kids and I will meet more Iraqis individually, and we will trade together, and we’ll introduce you to our business partners in other new countries. I’m sure when I do, that there will be young men working for you, like the 18 year old John on my staff, who has a new baby and is trying to build his first job. And people like Brian, who served in the first Gulf War, not knowing much history about Japan or Iraq or Iran at the time. Or Michelle, a mother of three whose husband passed away, and now works in our machine shop and sometimes drives the truck. Or Yadji, my first business partner in Cameroon, who has worked off and on for me in Vermont, shoveling snow he could not have dreamed of as a boy in Africa.

If I visit your place of work in 20 years, I guess I’d meet adults who began grade school during the Gulf Wars, and people who fought on both sides of your insurgency. If you are smart and successful, you will probably have Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds on your staff, enabling you to trade and deal as a franchise in every part of the country, and across its borders. Maybe you will have a few Africans, Mexican, and Japanese employees as well. Maybe one of my cousins will work for you, without worry, in peace, like I worked in Africa in 1985, or like the Lithuanian and Cameroonian who have worked for me.

Maybe I will hear face-to-face a side of this I have not thought of. Maybe my mind will change before then.

My father’s cousin was Jack Hensley by the way, the American construction contractor who was kidnapped and assassinated last year. He was older than I am and I didn’t know him, though I know his younger brother, Ty. Jack and Ty’s father, Jerry Hensley, fought the Japanese in WWII. When I started this letter, I didn’t plan on bringing that up, and I promise it won’t come between us if you fought against this Japanese-style liberation by occupation and separation.

This is more than a hope or dream, but far from a certainty. We will be with a new president of the USA long before then. Watch us two years from now, when America begins to prepare for life without George Bush 41. Better yet, come to Vermont for a visit, and we’ll share a maple-syrup-snow-cone.


Robin Ingenthron, USA Citizen

Veterans Day, 2005

Yes, it does appear that this will be a quarterly blog, about a career in recycling, and how this career, or perhaps any career, can succeed in making a positive impact on the world.
I met a guy from Montreal when I was 17, during a 3 week "work camp" in Switzerland in 1979, Robert D. There were a lot of discussions between us that kind of resemble this blog so far. He was an intense guy, I really liked him, though he ruffled feathers with some of the German and Danish camp volunteers who also became good friends. Anyway, he was 25, and he had it all worked out in a career/spiritual search way. An Artist! Create!! Make beauty, produce it, mine it from deep in your soul! His measure was the creative beauty each of us produces. His counsel on my political and environmental worries was that no matter how hard one works or tries, there is someone else in the world who will disagree with it. If one actually begins to make a difference, someone else will work even harder to destroy what you are creating, and will feel equally strong about the opposite of what you are trying to achieve. If you aren't finding that nemesis, it's because you aren't actually accomplishing or changing anything, I think he'd say. I stayed in touch with Robert for a couple of years, and then gave his address in London to an acquaintence/friend of mine visiting London. (She came back fascinated and enthralled and thanking me for introducing her, that he was fantastic. He wrote back a scalding letter that he was not a youth hostel and how dare I give his address to mere acquaintances. He also called her at least a good lay, so I didn't feel too bad. But staying in touch with people... well, the ball was in Robert's court after that (*footnote - jeez, RD googled his name and found this, and now I need to correct several things, e.g. we were in touch after that... well, I meant that the frequency of correspondence cooled thereafter.. Or maybe it just sticks in my mind because the shame I felt turned to resentment, as it does, and anyway, this is all allegory, I think. Anyway, RD has a good sense of humor about this, and hopefully he is at least flattered that I recall his advice and impact in a way that attributes it great importance, whether or not the recollection is lucid or comprehensive...).
I wanted to measure myself in terms of "an agent of conscience" or "agent of (positive) change". Robert thought the Kennedy proved the outcome of trying to be an effective agent of change, and told me to !CrEaTe! It's true that my idea that I'd always be an artist "on the side", as a "hobby", hasn't produced that much (basically several notebooks of mere doodles and an occasional outburst of song or rap poetry, mainly to my kids). *note to self - hit save*, and I wasn't as successful as I thought I might be in turning 1% of my time into an artistic statue of David. The fact that this is a "quarterly daily blog", published 3 times per year, kind of illustrates or proves the point. Anyway, I was talking about Robert's vision to my mother, who I've always considered incredibly creative. She put me to bed telling me stories about her childhood and brothers and sisters. I put my kids to bed with stories of her creativity. Maybe I'll share one later. But I put Robert's maxim to her about his intense belief in his decision to be an artist, and she said it was great, but said that in her early adulthood she decided that raising a child can be like creating a work of art, and that one could be a mother with the same intensity as a Da Vinci or Michealangelo, and wind up creating or contributing to the creation of another person who would be like a work of art to society.
Robert wrote back: "Babies are babies. Art is Art." I'd also say that just as artists change their styles and approaches and productivity over their careers, that my mom's parenting went through definite seven or eight year periods... For me that was 1-7, then 8-15, then when I was 16... well, I'd have to go back and look at it more closely but that seems kind of right, though obviously my eye, as a beholder, was a different lense and light of the mother/artists work during those different times..
This brings me to my own parenting. Twins are now 9.5, little boy is 5. As this business, Good Point Recycling, grows and creates more jobs, we are recognized in both the local and recycling community. In early 2003, I had one employee - me - who wasn't paid at all (I wrote checks for the truck which was bought off my home mortgage, but that's not really income). By November of 2003, I had hired one part-time job trainee (Roy) from the Workforce Training program in VT, and a kid Rayce who came in after high school to do demanufacturing. Almost all the material was trucked to ElectroniCycle. I'd occass...
One of my sons just woke up. Maybe I'll get back to this later.

I wrote about 10 pages since the last entry, and then got really discouraged because of a computer crash when I lost them. I guess Frontpage doesn't save a copy of your work like Word (autorecovery).
So I'm trying to get away from the discouragement. In the past I've put manic amounts of work into something and then lost it (like a Mac Plus SE20 with my 2.5 chapters of novel in it was stolen from my temp apartment in East Boston. Discouraging, but to be honest, I lost more of that novel to pints of Guinness than I lost to the break-in).
Maybe this will be a quarterly blog, we'll see.
I just wrote about 6 pages of material beginning with a lesson to my son (nearly 9 years old), going into an old discourse about SAME/CHANGE being the yin-yang of the subjective world, spiraling into the Gita, Evangelical Christianity, and Islam, and circling back to recycling. Available only on request. The main point (for a human audience) is that recycling is better than living in a monastery because there is this opportunity to actually subtract from catastrophic human impact on the environment. If 99 people throw aluminum cans away, the sole person who saves 100 cans can probably flush his toilet and sleep in peace.
Here's the conclusion (references to Heaven, Hell, masturbation, LSD, mitochondria's effects on universes outside hypothesized mitochondrial awareness, and redemption omitted) to the desktop blog on Spirituality and Recycling.
Way back in high school, I decided to believe that locking myself in a monastery and keeping my conscience shiny and pristine is not really adding enough value to a society as out of harmony as ours appeared to be. Instead I chose a more active, karma yoga, through measurably effective work, towards conservation of resources, and sustainability of the planet. I figured, if I had achieved sudden nirvana, and had the rest of my life to account for, that I might as well spend it recycling. So I might as well start there, and then pick up nirvana if I ran into it along the way, like Siddhartha with his ferry boat job. Recycling would pay the rent, and buys time, and makes the world better than it would be for my grandchildren if I did nothing.
Pretty soon I discovered just how much work there was to do. Because society is consuming those resources at a shocking, appalling, frightening and awing rate, it creates an opportunity to establish reversal, roll-back, or negative impact, deriving from my ability to reverse the sins of others. If 100 people throw away aluminum soda cans, I can pick the 100 cans up and save them, giving me moral standing and perhaps a “net” justification for my own consumption and lifestyle.
But if we spread the credit for recycling around among participants, then my recycling job eventually becomes a job someone else could do, and I need to find some other waste to address. Drawing a good salary at recycling may be a good “don’t blame me” alibi when my grand kids or great-grandkids are left holding the bag. “Yes, grandpa Robin, you picked up 99 cans, which probably made up for the toilet and shower you consumed that day (we are now out of water). It may even have paid for the paper you used to print out your recycling facts. But here we are, with no rainforest and a picture book of African and Amazonian wildlife next to a book of Dinosaurs (all disappeared)." At some point, the time comes to delegate someone else to pick up the cans, and we need to throw our vision and energy at a new environmental problem.
So really, recycling is just a way to produce sustainable wealth and income, a benign or symbiotic income producing method which produces wealth out of waste. That’s a good start. But the real work is in influencing or slowing the total rate of consumption.
If you believe that, fellow recyclers, then you understand that we cannot just measure our success in tons. It has to be part of a coherent story we tell our children about what we are doing. Recycling doesn't excuse us from the original, nirvana task, to foster spiritual progress, to maintain a just and fair and noble society, or to spark a creative rainbow of expressions. We should earn a living better than we could doing something extractive (like mining or cutting down rain forests) but use that platform to create Good in other concentric circles.
Recycling is not a license to be lazy, to drive drunk, or slap your kids, any more than keeping a clean house can offset cheating on your taxes, or praying in church can offset lying to your clients.
What is best about recycling is the degree to which resource consumption and resource conservation is measurable and creates a scientific common setting with religion and spiritual growth. The same could be said about organic farming, manufacturing hybrid or solar vehicles, or reducing the number of grams of mined aluminum in a soft drink tab. It is the potential for measurable karma which makes recycling careers unique. It is imperative that recycling be done honestly, in a total lifecycle analysis. If a recycling idea turns out to have environmentally perverse or unintended consequences, the recycling sage will thank the critic and change the direction.
You care enough to Change.
You care enough to Change and that sets you apart from animals which cannot change.
You actually set up systems which make it simple for everyone to change[1].
Perhaps we accept that not everyone can change, or even that everyone has to. Society has been comfortable in the past supporting a class of people, such as monks or priests, who specialize in heavy thinking and prayer and meditation (outsourcing our spirituality in an expanding and codependent economy). Some folks really really need to change, they are destroying their families and relationships through self-destructive hedonism and alcoholism… we also outsource working with those people, either to social welfare departments or to the police, it doesn’t matter that much if we don’t see it.
For my kids, it’s the most important thing to care enough to learn to change, and be honest enough to measure and monitor your change.
"The important thing for people, like the kids I'm raising, to care enough to learn to change, and be honest enough to measure and monitor the change."

When I came back from Peace Corps, Cameroon, Africa in 1987 I spent a lot of time at my grandmothers' place in Forsyth, Missouri. One of the ideas I wanted to pursue was to broaden literature by allowing thousands of digressions via "footnotes". At the time the only computer I had used was a VAX system at Carleton College in Minnesota (class of 1984), and I realized it was going to be pretty hard to do with a typewriter, but I actually tried for about 6 hours to write an essay or journal which branched out into circular and wandering digressions. I'd set a footnote but put the footnote on a new page, unattached to the other pages, and put footnotes in the footnote page, leading to other pages, trying to use a 1.1.1 type of tracking.
It was probably a symptom of manic depressive disorder. But it was a good thing.
Today, with computers and internet, you don't have to write your own footnotes, you can link to other peoples work, or when you realize a connection you can hyperlink your own work. I'm just reminiscing how "high tech" and innovative it felt at the time.
Eventually I stopped keeping journals and just wrote letters to friends. Then I stopped writing letters to friends and raised kids, but I think a lot of good ideas are getting lost. So I thought I start a blog, about environmental issues in general and recycling in particular. Then someday when my kids are big maybe I can make a book.

Oldest posts 2003-2005 Imported

First, let me stick my blog neck out and say I seem to be the only person in Vermont who is still remotely open minded about how Iraq will turn out.

Here's my thinking. The daily bombs are awful, and if it bleeds it leads the news. Photos and AP wire stories travel instantly across the globe, giving us instant feedback. I'm not callous or blind.

What I don't know is how anyone could have predicted the outcome of Japan if they were relying on information from embedded reporters in Iwo Jima.

The outcome in Iraq will be told 50 years from now. It may be horrible, I'm not saying I'm convinced it's going to turn out positive like Japan. But I'm saying you couldn't predict Japan based on kamakaze pilots and Iwo Jima suicide bombers, and I don't know how hopeful anyone could have been during reconstruction. Japan didn't have oil or any natural resources to rebuild with, and didn't treat women particularly well (the #1 indicator of GDP, I think, is women's rights).

What you can predict is public opinion of going to war or staying in a war. FDR had to repeatedly deny that he was going to aid England by sending supplies during the Nazi attacks across the Channel. 90% of Americans were against entry into WWII, and 70% even opposed sending supplies to England by boat.

When the population is unable to debate use of force, the decision to stay in a war or wage a war falls on a small number of people who are isolated, who have to tune out the din of the surrender monkeys. That's probably not a great mindset for making careful considerations of withdrawal. Maybe we should leave, or should not have entered Iraq. But if 95% of the people yelling to leave don't know what "Iwo Jima" is, it kind of enables the war machine to tune out the careful good advice commingled in the pack of reactionary withdraw cries.

Sometimes I wonder if Putin is onto something when Russia buries every headline of Chechnya and denies submarines are sunk. I would hate that, because I consider myself reasonable and well-informed. The other thing that would be bad about that is that it would strongly indicate that USA has no business being successful anywhere anyway.

A German guy told me a few months ago that if the USA had never arrived in Normandy and Italy, and had not entered the war, that the Germans would have worked it out and gotten rid of the Nazis on their own. Interesting. I tend to think Nazi German would have lasted at least as long as Stalinist USSR, and in fact USSR might still be around today if they weren't bordered by free Berlin.

Here's the problem... Taking out Germany (which did not attack USA) as long as you are going to take out Japan, because you are mobilized and have a license, was (let's say) a good thing in retrospect. Taking out Sadaam when you are already in Afganistan may have been sensible in a mideast reconstruction sense, and some of us were open minded to it without the WMA argument. The WMA argument (even the one that the price of oil was already predicted to skyrocket, and we were acting preeminently against future procurement of weapons of mass destruction by a Sadaam with 2006 oil revenue) was secondary to some of us. But we admit the WMA argument pushed the majority over the top, and without the BS claim we would have been outvoted.

That's why democracies are generally safer. It's the Catch 22 of the Iraq decision. You can't convince a democracy to install a democracy by force unless you convince the first democracy that they are under attack already.

Ok, what to do now?

Dumb Idea:

We have GPS tracking devices that are installed on animals for tracking.

USA and Iraq could put these devices on an animals, such as a large number of pooches or monkeys, or pigs, something not common in Iraq, to track them by satellite if one is reported stolen or missing.

If a bus or recruitment pickup or other work-solicitation vehicle shows up, they need to have one of the animals with them. People are warned not to get on buses without doggies or monkeys.

Maybe the same thing could be accomplished with a certain type of car or minivan which is rare in Iraq, GPS or lojack on any "red" vehicle, RFID tags would tell if the van is legitimate. But it would be more expensive than dog collars, I'm guessing.

- posted by Robin @ 1:44 AM
Thursday, July 31, 2003

This is a new "eWaste Recycler Blog" page just to help everyone understand how the export and recycling transactions work.

As of 7AM this morning I have already received 10 offers to buy used or surplus equipment or software (see part numbers below). These are all offers to pay, and include buyers across the globe - Denmark, UK, Asia, USA, Brazil.... By midnight I will typically have received 200 requests for parts and equipment. I have a backload from vacations etc. of about 2,000 offers I haven't even had a chance to read.

The point here is that there is a very legitimate repair market, and it is stronger (and I would argue, better) overseas. In South America, for example, becoming a "TV repairman" is considered something like becoming an engineer. In the USA you don't see many valedictorians going into the field.

Anyway, if I suddenly get quiet about who is exporting and to where, it is in part because I know that some of these people trading are fine people trying to repair stuff. But there is an increasing crackdown by multinational OEMs, which manufacture in developing countries. And admittedly, there is a black market - notice all the offers for software for example. They would rather see 100 legitimate repair shops close than see one repackaging used parts, or swapping used parts for new parts at one of their warehouses. The line between the "white" market -- legitimate reuse and repair, and the "black" market -- stolen goods, repackaged used equipment sold as new, and violation of EULA (end user license agreements -- see "OEM version" software solicitation below), is blurred, and referred to as the "gray market".

As multinational OEMs consider which country to invest in, they consider more than labor rates and political stability. A crackdown on the gray market is part of the package offered to foreign governments. Agencies for those governments, desperate for the OEM investment, begin to crack down on the refurbishers. Shortly before I visited China, for example, agents in Ninhai arrested approximately 100 printer/PC/toner cartridge/one-use-camera repairers, and jailed them without trial. This winds up shifting the parts recovery to the countryside.

So these countries still need parts, and in the environmental lifecycle analysis, we should feel good about supplying them. It is easier to sell the parts below hidden in a pile of scrap.

There are 2 bad outcomes -- toxics along for the ride usually refers to a contamination (mixing in a little bit of bad with a legitimate load, of copper scrap for example). In the example above, it is "goodies along for the ride". There is an incentive for the overseas repair people to get the parts they need by buying a whole load of scrap with the parts hidden underneath, avoiding high tariffs and hostile conversations with government agents.

Some USA companies are participating in this, it benefits both parties. I can get money and get rid of my scrap at the same time. But at the same time, the NEED the copper, aluminum, zinc, coltan, etc. to MAKE their new equipment. How can they ensure they can get the raw material without letting it support the gray market?

The solution: Set up "shredding" recycling operations, and companies (like printer manufacturers, who gave away printers in the 1990's hoping to sell $40 ink cartridges -- they FREAK over the used cartridge refurbishing in China). even voluntary participate in manufacturer take-back. These companies want to legitimize shredding as the best recycling method.

The other solution: Mining. The more they have to pay for copper, the greater the incentive for copper mining. Sadly, this is SUCH a high polluting industry that you could never open a mine near a populated area. Where are the new investments? Among native populations... Borneo, for example, is a hot mining area.

We need to recycle to keep mining at bay. But we need to promote reuse. The secondary market is typically 7 TIMES LARGER than the "new" product market, because 7 people out of 8 car buyers on this planet will NEVER be able to afford a new car.

So what I promote is honest bill of lading -- state exactly what is on each containerload, naming the parts on the list below, along with the copper scrap and grade of scrap. But if I sell through a broker, I don't know for sure what the bill of lading is translated into.

The honest bill of lading approach I use is very difficult. Some overseas buyers won't touch it because they are afraid of the OEM enforcement against the "gray market", and I lose customers to companies which label the load as scrap.

Enough for now. The list of parts requested at 7 am this morning is below...

ICL Dumb Terminal P420 -CE
DELL Latitude CPT (V) UK Keyboard P/N 0w023
Looking for 2 x FCE2-6412-NE or FCE2-6412-E
20 x 2.5 inch Laptop drives-20GB please
MS OEM SOFTWARE/COAs/covers & manuals with COAs.
Microsoft OEM Software in small and large quantities. Buying in areas of 5-10 or more! The
Office 2000 SBE Office 2000 PRO Office XP SBE Office XP PRO Office 97 PRO Office 97 SBE WIN 95, 98, 98 SE, 2000 PRO and XP Windows 2000 Server Windows 2000 Server +5, 10 or 25 SBE Server 2000 Works Suite 2001 Works Suite 2002 Word 2002 NT Server 4.0 NT Server 4.0 W/5 Cal, 10 Cal or 25 Cal NT 4.0 Workstation

- posted by Robin @ 5:10 AM
Thursday, July 17, 2003

I am a buffalo in a Microsoft herd. But it is a fast-running herd of elites, with a digital divide behind us.

This is the new age "planned obsolescence" described by Vance Packard. Im real-time.

Unlike the automobile, which is now available/accessible by 90% of Americans, the web superhighway is still hovering under 50%. Sell your 10 year old car, and you made an 17-year-old's dream. Sell your 10-year-old computer, and you sucked in a sucker.

It's like if a 10 year old car went at 25 miles an hour and a new car drove at 90 miles an hour.... what would happen? Would kids still learn to drive? If not, how would the american economy and demographic be changed?

A speed limit regulated detroit because people were in physical danger. No such speed limit exists on the web. Bandwidth, processor speed go to the highest bidder.

But this microsoft obsolescence thing... who said that your kids couldn't learn to drive because the used cars only go 1/2 the speed of the new cars?

Subtext? Baby boomers with stock in new PC manufacturing enjoy the planned obsolescence drive. If kids can't learn to drive on Dad's 486, they have to support stock in dad's Gateway-ibm-hp-dell portfolio.

Will a 2040 history student be able to scan my blog? I will eventually publish. Blogger is like limbo between griper and author.

- posted by Robin @ 6:26 PM

I am a buffalo in a Microsoft herd. Directions I've always gone, things I always did that worked, no longer work (drag and click text-box for example).

This is the new age "planned obsolescence" described by Vance Packard. Im real-time.

Except, look behind us. I'm following, grazing. But unlike the automobile, which is now available/accessible by 90% of Americans, the web superhighway is still hovering under 50%. It's called the digital divide. Sell your 10 year old car, and you made an 17-year-old's dream. Sell your 10-year-old computer, and you sucked in a sucker.

How long before the other drivers demand they need to browse, too? It's like if a 10 year old car went at 25 miles an hour and a new car drove at 90 miles an hour.... what would happen? Would kids still learn to drive? If not, how would the american economy and demographic be changed?

A speed limit regulated detroit because people were in physical danger. No such speed limit exists on the web. Bandwidth, processor speed go to the highest bidder.

But this microsoft obsolescence thing... who said that your kids couldn't learn to drive because the used cars only go 1/2 the speed of the new cars?

Subtext? Baby boomers with stock in new PC manufacturing enjoy the planned obsolescence drive. If kids can't learn to drive on Dad's 486, they have to support stock in dad's Gateway-ibm-hp-dell portfolio.

Will a 2040 history student be able to scan my blog? I will eventually publish. Blogger is like limbo between griper and author.

- posted by Robin @ 6:24 PM

No comments: