2011 Display Device Price Freefall

Market Report on Used and Refurbished LCDs

The used CRT display device market has been on a slide for some time.  We have one of the only, and best, CRT refurbishing factory account purchase orders (which includes certified recycling of incidental breakage and parts recycling).  But the orders there have been cut from 180,000 units per month in 2006 to 5,000 units per month in 2011.

Part of that pressure comes from supplies from within Asia itself.   Office buildings in Hong Kong, Shanghai, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Taipei, Seoul, and Jakarta were replacing their working CRTs in mass between 2008-2010.   Even steady demand in Africa, South America, and the Mideast was fulfilled cheaply by Asian supply.  Shipping from the East Coast of the USA through the Panama Canal, across the Pacific, for refurbishing in Indonesia, and shipping back to Egypt... that was more expensive than refurbishing locally for export.

That, by the way, was one of the big factors to the "California Compromise" collapsing a year ago this month.  While BAN and California explored the idea of setting high standards for Asian Refurbishers to meet, the Asians decided it was too little, too late.

Now, the same thing is happening with used LCD prices.   Below is an excerpt from one of my favorite, Taiwan-based trade journals.  Today there is oversupply in the large (new) LCD market causing layoffs and work stoppages, and some factories are going back to cutting LCDs into smaller sizes and targeting the same emerging markets as refurbishers.

Butterfly Effects: Watchdog Who Trod On Loaf

Tomorrow's Sunday Sermon is drawn from Hans Christian Anderson's Tale, "The Girl Who Trod On The Loaf".  O E-Waste Activists... There will be gnashing.of.teeth@hell !
"There was once a girl who trod on a loaf to avoid soiling her shoes, and the misfortunes that happened to her in consequence are well known. ...[S]he was a poor child, but proud and presuming, and with a bad and cruel disposition. When quite a little child she would delight in catching flies, and tearing off their wings, so as to make creeping things of them.
If you have never read Hans Christian Anderson, don't start your kids with this tale.  I read it at age 10, and it has always been on my short list of nightmares.  It's a story about a girl named Ingen, from humble beginnings, who finds fortune from a wealthy woman, but who begins to look down on other dirty people and to set herself above them.   She is given a loaf of bread to bring to her hungry parents, but rather than take a long route, uses the loaf to cross a mud puddle.  She sinks into a 3 page Bosch painting of hell, which is mainly populated by things that disgusted her and things she did which made the world more disgusting.  She hears the world above, and is shocked by her own reputation, even among those she thought admired her.  She is finally freed, long after everyone she knew is gone, by a girl crying for her, which triggers Ingen to weep.  At first she weeps for herself, which doesn't free her...  It is only when the girl that cried is an old woman, and she remembers Ingen again, that Ingen cries for someone besides herself...

Despite tales of "collateral damage", there is never a tear of remorse from BAN, from NRDC, from CBS... not even a  Platonic Apology.  The E-Waste Priory, with shiny consciences, robed in green, sing their own praises to Euro idealists.   Before them, on a leash, they show the muddy poster orphan.   Knowing his place, he never speaks a word, never asks for a share of the royalty on his photos.  Geeks of color are unlikely to sue.  Maybe they were kinda polluters anyway...

Monarch Butterfly, wingless by ~dudecon on deviantART
The Priory's anti-ewaste campaign against Butterfly Geeks repeats a tired dynamic.  Overstate the problem, omit data, mount a poster child, attract funding from industrial complex (shredders, anti-gray-market, dictators), tax citizens, destroy value, and arrest bad examples.  It retraces wrong steps society has taken before, from witch trials to segregation to lynching... all means to a noble end.  Through withdrawn import permits and seized sea containers, they pull apart, shredding the wings of the refurbishing industry.

In the long run, those NGOs rationalize, their standard will bring better jobs, better lives, and less pollution (at least to refurbishers, if not to mining communities).  They are very, very certain of their moral path.  From the safety of their cathedral, their Green See offices, they care about the muddy people, and their brand of compassion betters the world in the long run.  They go on "waste tourism" trips, snap shots of the unwashed,.  They wish and aspire on the recycling ghetto's behalf, that they will "leapfrog" to a shiny city on a hill, and grow back more beautiful wings. Like the PTL Club prays for gays to become straight.

What is really bringing significant value to the "ghettos"?  Reuse and refurb of high tech equipment.
"Third-party companies have built $100+ million per year businesses in buying used computer equipment, refurbishing it, and selling or leasing it out to someone else"  [CBRonline.com 2005]
Or, from our Tale,
"...Her mistress said, “you ought to go home again, and visit your parents, Inge, and I will give you a large wheaten loaf to take to them, they will be glad to see you, I am sure.”
The Watchdogs are very sensitive to public revelations of unintended consequences.  Lip service - that "the perfect not be the enemy of the good".  But they are very, very proud of the e-steward certification, the "perfect" recycling standard they have laid claim to.   They say it is the only "legal" standard, but charge you money just to look at it.
"So Inge put on her best clothes, and her new shoes, drew her dress up around her, and set out, stepping very carefully, that she might be clean and neat about the feet, and there was nothing wrong in doing so. But when she came to the place where the footpath led across the moor, she found small pools of water, and a great deal of mud, so she threw the loaf into the mud, and trod upon it, that she might pass without wetting her feet. 
They select an end point, a recycler who pays for the endorsement.  Those who pay expect to see repercussions on their competitors.  So BAN.org runs with a story that the large, sustainable, non-mining, ISO, recycling, white box factories are "illegal" and "polluting".  Their end point justifies the means.
"But just as she placed one foot on the bread and lifted the other up, the loaf sank in deeper and deeper, carrying her down until she disappeared entirely, and nothing could be seen but a black, bubbling pool! That's the story."
I speak for the geeks
The anti-recycling publicity (recycler bites environment) creates cognitive risk in the environmental community, leading to wild goose chases of "waste tourism".  Shredding companies financially benefit.  Planned Obsolescence interests benefit.  Environmentalists: what happened to organized religion, what has happened in medicine, and what has happened in vigilante lynch mobs, could happen to us.   Our higher power of best intentions, our spiritual materialism, may lead us to trod on a loaf if it gets us to our destination and is more convenient than getting our feet wet in the actual "murky" market of the emerging economies.  Anxiously seeking to prosecute, without benefit of diagnosis, is reckless.  Like a cub scout applying a tourniquet, E-Stewards need med schooling.

Any well-meaning misdiagnosis does more harm than good.  It leads eventually to backlash, to Tea Party distrust of regulatory immunizations.  It can lead to distrust of even enormously beneficial policies - like the end of leaded gasoline, which cut lead poisoning in urban children by more than 50%.
 "At least we meant well, we THOUGHT Indonesia was burning the computers" 
Our environmental community, from Silent Spring Garden Club to 350.org, must see the passion we have harnessed as a weapon to be wielded carefully.

Primum non nocere

Why WR3A Certification (2007) Woulda Shoulda Coulda

R2 Certification and E-Stewards Certification Growing Pains:  Been There.

silver label for working, repairable, scrap, and dumping
The crybaby e-scrap companies, the public outings of single export loads, the fees to see non-published standards, the waffling by EPA over which standard to endorse... It's a category killer.  The public already discarded ewaste once, and is bound to lose interest if we don't prioritize our goals.   This week someone I know in our business got confused and thought a company in Chicago was "under indictment" (he got confused over the Executive Recycling Colorado indictment).  No, having BAN publicly end your application to be the best company ever does not result in prison.  What my friend's confusion illustrates is the perils of using "certifications" as a substitute for rule of law. We are all attracted to the idea of a simple solution to a complex, robust, multi-niche industry.  As the developer of an earlier fail-to-thrive certification program, I know.

WR3A 2011 Annual Meeting: Protect "E-Waste" Babies in the Bathwater

WR3A is  Keeping Recycling Exports Good for Environment, Democracy

As I prepare for the industries most important Electronics Recycling Events - the EScrap 2011 Conference (next week in Orlando, Florida), I'm preparing WR3A's most significant updates for the past year.

The WR3A Annual Meeting will be held at the Omni, in the Olympic Room, at 7:30-8:30 AM on Wednesday, October 5.  The chief item is how to bring overseas WR3A members "under the tent", to encourage partnerships with sister organizations in Malaysia, Europe, Africa, and Latin America.  If the organization doesn't have the financial stamina to "certify" overseas buyers (not even E-Stewards, TechSoup Global, or R2 have really come up with a solution affordable monitoring of faraway buyers), how do we protect the innocent without attracting "fast friends" among the reckless?

I hope everyone attending or visiting our booth has seen the three biggest WR3A recognitions of the past 6 months:

Interpol III: X Defense of Export Trade

Save the Internet Entrepreneurs!
"Laptops, Monitors, PCs, all free today"
"Concerning non-violence: it is criminal to teach a man not to defend himself when he is the constant victim of brutal attacks." - Malcom X

The 2009 Interpol E-Waste report author thinks the problem is about MONEY.  "Why do people do something illegal?  It must be for money!"   The report attacks everyone exporting anything, from family fly-and-buy internet cafe owners in Africa, to CRT cullet furnaces in Malaysia, to smelters in Canada. They came out and accused everybody except mining, incineration, and landfills.  It is a sick, sick, and twisted finish to a decade of racist and paternalistic poster child campaigns.  Enough.

As Lt. Columbo explained in the previous post:  Money is exchanged for VALUE.  The fact that someone paid for something is NOT evidence that something was done wrong.
  1. Criminals export junk electronics
  2. Wahab and Liu export electronics
  3. Therefore, Wahab and Li may be criminals
The report sets about looking at data, describes how importers like our Wahab buy used computers with money, and implies the money is evidence that they are exporting junk.   Paying for something someone else is willing to sell, it is somehow suspicious.

Where does this type of logic lead us?
  1. Rapists have sex
  2. John and Mary had sex.
  3. Therefore, John and Mary may be rapists. 
Puritanical rules, such as "no exports" or "no export of intact units" are intended to discourage "inappropriate trading relationships".   But trade is not evidence of discard or theft - it is right between the goal posts.  You didn't steal it from me, I didn't dump it on you... we made a deal and traded.

New World Order: Interpol Calls Recycling Criminal

More on the Worst E-Waste Study Ever Published

Oblique 1970s crime allusion
" Gee, now I learned something.  See, I had just assumed that the more someone pays for something, the more money it's worth.   You know, I had two old cars, and one of them, the one I drive, it still runs, but darn if I can get someone to offer me anything for it.   But my BMW 3.0 convertible, the one with the cracked windshield, missing the timing belt, and needing new plugs, I got offered a lot of money for that - more than $30 grand.   So... Interpol... by your logic, there must be some criminal enterprise behind the BMW market...  That's terrific.  Thanks so much for that. "

This week, ("If used computer exports are outlawed") we examined the simple and obvious inspection and purchase of used electronics (using our Ghana buyer Wahab as an example), through the lens of Interpol's description of "waste tourists" and "organized crime."

The 2009 Interpol reportElectronic Waste and Organized Crime, Assessing the Links (excerpt)  teaches us that the more Wahab pays for the item, the more likely he's a criminal. 
"Televisions and monitors, for instance, can be bought for £2-£3 each and sold on for twice that. ... This suggests a combination of premeditation and organisation, as well as indicating the perpetrators’ awareness that the waste shipment is illegal (i.e.organized criminal activity)"
Even the respected journal E-Scrap News re-broadcast the Europol headline that the E-waste market is being cornered by criminals.   Meanwhile, this week's biggest news is the indictment of Executive Recycling Inc., Brandon Richter, and Tor Olson.

You hear the hum of regulators on motorcycles.  Finally!  Someone is going to arrest someone, and once and for all, set an example for "ewaste exporters"...

You will remember Executive Recycling from the CBS 60 Minutes episode, Wasteland.  That episode did a superb job of covering one side of the story... they got a Polk Award for following the trail of ewaste to a place it didn't go, but finding another atrocious toxic mess, which maybe might have originated from another recycler, similar to Executive Recycling.  How does this USA grand jury indictment compare to the Interpol's new world order and "criminalization of value?"

The USA grand jury indictment of Executive Recycling covers more than 15 counts. Those include fraud and generally misleading business practices.  But there are also elements of the indictment which look disturbingly like the Interpol report... as if they are trying to come up with a crime proportional to the journalistic backlash.  From the Executive Recycling indictment:
4. A significant portion of e-waste collected by the defendants ER, BRANDON RICHTER and TOR OLSON were Cathode Ray Tubes (“CRTs”).  CRTs are the glass video display component of an electronic device, usually a computer or television monitor, and are known to contain lead.
Yes, the CRT tube has vitrified lead.   My kids are watching Chitty Chitty Bang Bang on one, in my living room.   There is no reference anywhere in the indictment as to whether the monitors ER sold were for scrap or refurbishment.  I would assume from the photos taken inside of Executive Recycling containers that a lot of the tube glass could definitely NOT be reused.  But the monitors circled by CBS in Hong Kong were probably going to a reuse factory.  The indictment above seems to brush aside the nuisance of determining whether the CRTs were waste or remanufactured.

What is missing in the indictment is an allegation that ER is missing the 3 years of data showing the actual fate of every CRT sold, as required by EPA CRT rule.  It is not illegal to sell commodities based on their metal content.   If dictators start seizing any imports that contain lead, a whole lotta laptops and cell phones are going off line. and China may stop the import of cars from GM.  An indictment that says "CRTs contain lead" is not clarifying.

The indictment includes references to a wire transfer of $29, 982 from the Bank of China on behalf of Heng Tong Trading Company (also evidence of crime).   That means ER sent something of value in the containers - Copper coils?... Cigarettes?  Drugs?  Cash? Harley Davidsons?   SOMETHING had value.  Perhaps it was a "mixed bag".  Perhaps more of the CRTs were working than we thought, or perhaps ER shipped so many containers that this is a trifling amount, and most of the contents was waste.  Again, record keeping is the moral of the story.  The ominous mention of payment as evidence of "waste" transit is disturbingly like the Interpol NWO paper.

None of the detectives we are watching - EPA, Interpol, BAN - have really done their job if they insinuate that the TRADE itself and PAYMENT for goods is evidence of the crime.  The Interpol report describes (in passive voice) how Chinese fishermen are involved in ferrying "waste" onto the mainland.  Did the poor Chinese fishermen form a coop to pony up $29k as a favor to Executive Recycling?

If Used Computer Exports are Outlawed

Only OUTLAWS will export used computers.

Here is what happens.  An African like Wahab pays $3-6K for used computers.  He then pays $7-9K to get a sea container packed, through customs, and to his place of business (or his partners place of business) in Accra.  That's the price for a wholesale shipment of computers and display devices to Africa.  

African Shop
This is $10K to $15K for a 40' high cube container, which would fit approximately 400 TVs or 1100 15" computer monitors.

To make sure that the goods he will ship are worth this cost, he is a "fly and buy" consumer - he personally inspects the goods, and packs them into the container himself.   The Watchdogs in Europe call this "waste tourism", and according to Europol, Wahab is a "criminal".  He's black, he exports.  He fits the 'profile'.

If Wahab burns or dumps anywhere close to 80% (300 TVs or 800 monitors) in primitive conditions, he will make, tops, about $3 in copper and metals on the 300 to 800 scrap (citation).   That's $900 on the TVs, $2,400 on the monitor scrap.

The remaining 100 TVs now cost $10K - $900 = $9,100 or $91 per used TV.  That's breakeven, on the best possible shipping cost ($15K would cost $141 per used TV).

The remaining 300 monitors now must sell for $30.33 to $47 each to break even.

Why do most Americans, and most journalists, believe this scenario?
  1. They never spoke to an African Importer as a source to any article.
  2. They never read the published reports (e.g. Ghana Study 2011)
  3. They believe anti-export watchdogs more than they believe the math, studies, and interviews above.
  4. They believe that the supply of display devices in the USA and Europe is because the CRTs and 15" LCDs don't work any more, rather than because they've been upgraded for newer and better and flatter displays (made in Asia)... 
Change in fashion does not equal "obsolete" to 3 billion people earning $3K per year.

Parkour: Do No Harm

I have been under the gun for several important deadlines in the business this month, auditing financials, environmental audits, and managing the huge increase in volume.  I'll probably post some more when in San Francisco (APEC meeting) and Washington DC (Peace Corps 50th Anniversary) this weekend.  It's a cross-country parkour of airports, hotels, conference calls, and bank deposits.

The previous post (Part I) has bugged me for months, and I finally just posted the bugger.  There is something important about horizonal and vertical lobbies, and how interested expertise plays upon cognitive risk perception in the public policy.  E-Stewards is definitely trending towards vertical lobby standards - establishing a standard which keeps out riff raff.  R2, on the other hand, is the first standard to be made mandatory law (Vermont regulations).   I can be arrested and put in jail for not meeting R2 standards.  It has some kind of a burden not to implement a standard based simply on the fact that not everyone meets the standard.  Facts are called for.

ISRI, AGMA, NSWMA: Part I - Trade Orgs, Regulations, Grey Teeth and Free Trade

A First Draft Treatise on Horizontal and Vertical Industry Lobbies...

Please don't read this unless you are an academic.  The non-academics laugh at my pompousness (at least, differently than academics do).  Recyclers... I waste their time which should be spent recycling.

AGMA, ISRI and NWSMA. Each is a trade organization which lobbies for a variety of interests.  A small electronics asset recovery firm at ISRI has little in common with a large automobile shredder at ISRI.   A software licensing company at AGMA has little to do with an ink cartridge manufacturer at AGMA.   A third organization, NSWMA, holds the key to the challenge inherent in these organizations: horizontal and vertical.
At NSWMA, there is really not much difference between what the smallest member does - collect trash - and what the largest member does (collect trash).    The biggest threat to the large member is the growing small member, and the biggest threat to the small member is the large NSWMA member.

Copper Factbook

Is disposal (landfilling and incineration) the opposite, or competitor, of recycling?  Nope.  Recycling raw material (scrap) feedstock has only one true competitor.  That is mining, or virgin feedstock.

Therefore, if you really want to be an expert on "e-waste" or "e-scrap", you need to take the time to stay up on the raw materials markets.   I've often linked to US Geological Survey as an excellent source of information on raw materials and scrap material demand and production.   But if you want to drill down deeper, research the metals industries.  Here is a copy of the 2010 World Copper Factbook, produced by the ICSG (International Copper Study Group).

2010 World Copper Factbook

Policy analysts, protesters, regulators, trade journalists, and academics do of course need to follow logic and understand the psychology (cognitive risk) behind law and policy.   But they also need economics, current events (recent history), etc., to know the "competitor" backwards and forwards (ref: Sun Tzu).   If poverty and cost externalization is the key factor behind "e-waste exports", then one would predict Haiti is a major importer.  Of course, smelting capacity and finished copper demand are far better predictors of where e-scrap travels.  The smelters and mines are also, surprise, surprise, the source of pollution in Southern Chinese rivers - NOT the reuse or recycling.   Surgeons removing the wrong organ... it's generally frowned upon.

The maps in this ICSG publication refer to raw material trade (imports and exports) only, but they also distinguish between raw copper cathode and refined copper. Poverty does have one advantage - they can sort, by hand, various grades of copper wire in order to distinguish between these different markets.  Automated shredders, to my knowledge, don't know communication grade electric copper from a bathroom pipe.  Sorting these coppers by hand, and recovering reuse (added value) like copper heat sinks that can be directly reused - that is a win win.  Metal sorting isn't just environmentally good (bravo to the housewives with blue bins), it's also a moral good, as well as a good wage, for women in China. It creates affordable recycling, well paid jobs in the importing nation, avoids mining and refining pollution, etc.

Them Apples: Boum Boum CRTs

Below is what Americans were watching on their TVs when Cathode Ray Tube display devices were first being MASS introduced in the mid 1950s.  Technically, the first distribution was in the 1930s (boum, boum, below) - but there was an interruption (World War II, boum boum) during which sales of TVs in the USA and Europe stopped.  The TV mass market sales resumed in the late 1940s.   When in 1951 the "CBS Columbia" TV was priced at $499.95, people thought it controversial that white Italian American Frank Sinatra was singing a duet with black Ella Fitzgerald (Moolight In Vermont).

(the video of Moonlight in Vermont was removed by youtube... I liked the showing of interacial singing... but maybe this replacement 1951 video will stand in)...

If today the developed nations are saying that Africa and Asia is not as far advanced as the USA was in the 1930s, 40s, and 1950s... boum boumI beg to **** differ.  

If the developed nations are saying that, in hindsight, TVs and CRTs should not have been introduced into our nations, and we are trying to save Africa from our fate, then we need a single, simple, logical example of a TV "e-waste" disaster here in the USA.   Who was poisoned by the television?  Who died?  What is the USA equivalent of the "most toxic place on earth"?  And did the pollution generated by TVs in the 1950s outweigh the image of Ella singing with Frank on TV?  That would be the case for sacrificing internet in Africa to stop "digital dumps".

The entire case against reuse rests on false data - that 80% of the exports are NOT reused or repaired, but are primitively burned in witches brews and caldrons by black and yellow children.   Residue, yes... but 80%??   This is complete and utter malarky.    One would imagine a dump in the USA somewhere has resulted in someone in America being harmed since 1938.  The only Boum, Boum was in the sound system.

English Lesson: Recycle is a verb

Recycling is the present continuous form of the verb "to recycle".  Scrap and commodity are nouns.

"Recycled" can be either a modifier or a past participle of the verb "to recycle".  "Recycled content" (modifier) means that something made of steel is remelted and molded into something new made of steel.

Steel is rarely discarded or diverted from a landfill... But by virtue of the fact it has been remelted, it now has a "recycled content" label attached as a modifier.  "I recycled the steel" means it's still a verb if the subject doing the recycling is in the sentence, but in passive voice - "the steel was recycled", it becomes "recycled content steel".  Maybe I'm 6th generation steel recycler, and I've never even heard of someone throwing steel away in an incinerators or landfills.  If they did I'd pay for it out of the ash, it's always been a commodity to me as a recycler.  But even if I never pulled it from the ash or landfill, even if I came to your house and bought it, I've become part of a "waste management hierarchy".   How come my job is being redefined as "waste management" based on someone else stupidly throwing steel away?

Here's the slippery slope which lead secondary materials into a different category from mined ore, via lingo from the point of view of rich people, applied to poor people, who are assumed to be victims.

Is E-Waste Hazardous or Universal Waste? Not Yet...

Following last weekend's surreal blogging into the mind of Jesus, it's time to focus on recycling regulations and law.  EPA is about to tinker with RCRA definitions of used electronics, purportedly to close the "loophole" of calling something reused a "commodity".  It appears EPA wants to follow China's lead, and declare reused metals "wastes".   This will help complete the snatch of authority from Department of Commerce by the Environmental Protection Agency, once again leaving horrific mining of raw virgin ores "commodity" and relatively clean scrap metals will be "hazardous wastes."

I've written previously about the "rights" of states to form rules which are stricter than federal rules - so long as the federal rule agrees that the substance is in fact "discarded".  But the state environmental agency cannot charge into your house to find a "working" unit, and whether something "works" is a silly test if the non-working P4 is worth much more than the working P2.

What if a state wants to regulate an item which is excluded from "solid waste" as a "universal waste"?  Can an item which meets commodity exclusion rules still be hazardous?  Can it be universal, and hazardous, but not a waste?  Earlier this year, we looked at the "chicken or egg" problems which arose in one state which tried to make e-waste "universal waste" without classifying reuse as waste.

EPA and "universal waste" is something I'm very familiar with, going back to my days as recycling director for the Massachusetts DEP Division of Solid Waste (and later Consumer Programs division director).   EPA ultimately sided with Mass. DEP in deciding that scrap metals should not be treated much differently from mined ores.  If the ores were hazardous, then so should the scrap, but when the ores were not treated as hazardous, making scrap "hazardous" merely because it was secondary material was a mistake we didn't make.  Why another refresher course on universal waste and RCRA?

For now, since so many are confused about what RCRA says in the first place, is a refresher course in USA waste vs. commodity law.  The current USA law treats recycled scrap as the equivalent of mined ore.  That was smart.  The perfect should not be the enemy of the good, and if recycled content is the only alternative to virgin content, and the production of virgin content is more toxic than recycling, recycling is the good.  14/15 largest Superfund sites (which bankrupted Superfund more than a decade ago) are "hard-rock" metals mines.   RCRA as written saw that the worst recycling is better than the best mining.  Thanks to "Recycling Watchdogs", that is about to change.  But for now, here is the way recycling is governed by federal law:

Related Posts
First, here is the language in § 261.4  of RCRA

Bad Law: Mandate What's Right 80% of the Time

Here's where I draw the line on my liberal friends (and my conservative ones).   When you are convinced that something is the best answer or best trade or best technique 80% of the time, and you make it law.  Moderates and Independents, you know what I'm talking about.

If it's procurement, fair enough.   If someone is paying me for a service, and they want the service that is the best practice 80% of the time, that's fair to insist on it, and if I'm bidding to do that, obviously that's what I have to plan on doing.  If I don't execute, I should be subject to civil law.

Those good guys... imperfect... Hmmmm.
However, what if I have a client who really has studied what they are doing and, after careful consideration, wants the practice which is only ok to do 20% of the time?   To ban me from doing that in Vermont, when I'm servicing the 20% of New York and Boston clients for whom it's appropriate, there's a word for that.

This was a case of Vermont taking "procurement law" (best R2 and E-Stewards practices, brand new untested standards) and making it LAW.  If E-Stewards judges that 80% of export for repair is bad, and doesn't allow it, Vermont was going to go a step further and put you in jail for exporting the 20% of the time it's ok.  In the process of confusing procurement law with RCRA, Vermont used "focus material" as a synonym for RCRA hazardous materials, and used TCLP test as an OSHA standard.  It sounded "stricter", and if you buy into the poster child hoopla, stricter is gooder.

The word is called BAD LAW.  It undermines everything.  It is cynical to say that the law will never go after the 20%, that your solution is to make it easy to enforce and just use your judgement when or whether to enforce the other 20% of the time.

If 80% of gay marriages or interracial marriages are bad, they should be legal.  We are not in the business of  making state payroll officials into ayatollahs.  See?  The line works well when drawn against conservatives, too.  Vermont needs to beware the San Francisco "Tyranny of the Majority" as more liberal people relocate here.  There is a line between judgement and law.

There are lots of lists you can google and tweet which are based on this piecemeal thinking.  If it's illegal to drive while blindfolded in Alabama, how many more laws do we need to eliminate ever other thing you shouldn't be doing while driving, and how many times will those be bad 80% of the time?

The perfect should not be enemy of the good.

WR3A Wikipedia Listing VANDALIZED?

This is interesting.  This morning, I found that Someone had apparently hacked WR3A recently so it won't show up on search engines.  To be continued...

Worwd Reuse, Repair and Recycwing Association - Wikipedia, de free ...

wikien4.appspot.com/.../World_Reuse,_Repair_and_Recycling_Ass... - Cached
On Juwy 30, 2010, Discovery News presented an anawysis contrasting WR3A's "fair trade" engagement approach wif de Basew Action Network's (BAN) "trade ...

What has actually happened is that a wikipedia imposter site (wikien4.appspot) is showing up in google search above wikipedia... but the site is virtually indistinguishable from wikipedia.   Google should investigate.  The Google "Elmer Fudd" April Fools day listing can evidently be used by hackers to raise the cache above the normal listing.  I should probably laugh at this...  But I don't think Google intended the Elmer Fudd wikipedia to become a tool in environmental policy debate.


Someone at Google Foundation is already looking into the unauthorized use of logo, etc.  
http://www.gossamer-threads.com/lists/wiki/foundation/240900#240900  It is the type of site which looks funny, like a practical joke at first, but could be used with clicks to raise its importance in google search.   Google should death penalty the wikien.appspot.com domain until this is addressed.

Earth Population to Exceed 7 Billion: Video

According to recent statistics, the human population of planet Earth will exceed 7,000,000,000 (seven billion) in another month to two months.   In perspective, there are now fewer Tigers in the wild than there are in zoos in the USA... around 5,000.   The line of extinction blurs with loss of habitat, replaced by of vibrancy of the DNA (preserved in umbilical stem cells)... 

The best video on the subject of population growth remains BBC's Hans Rosling's, 

200 Countries, 200 Years, 4 Minutes

The key to his video is that no country (USA) is declining.  Neighboring countries are catching up.  In terms of international comparison, there is less difference between poor and rich nations today than there was 75 years ago.  


The plan is that as the statistics on international well being level out, that the birth rate will level out, and that we may be approaching a "soft landing" as far as survival of humans and life on earth.  If we are going to survive this "soft landing", then we should start to protect the other species and planetary diversity.   Otherwise, we may survive Noah's flood, but we may have nothing but picture books of coral reefs and rain forests and savannahs to show our kids.

I for one think that internet access is important to the soft landing. The video shows that human progress helps humanity on the whole.  As the old threats to our lifespan decline, we invent new concerns about "toxics" and "vaccinations".  

The key measure is not population, but the net common sense of the population.

Ethics of Religion: Imagine You're Jesus

(at the risk of offending absolutely everyone... this is about thinking).

Imagine You Are Jesus, and You've recently arrived back in Heaven.  You are looking down at the world, and You have some followers, some people who are genuinely enlightened by the golden rule, loving their neighbors as themselves, bearing fruit one hundred fold.

You also see about a million people who are just awful.  Just the worst.  Cruel, murdering, thieving, a million people who kill children.

Two of Your followers, named Pastor West and Pastor East, feel heartbroken by the badness.  West and East both live by Your golden rule, they both give away their possessions to help the needy, and they both try to be perfect as their Father in heaven is perfect.

Then Pastor West speaks up.  He tells the million violent and angry people that You, Jesus, spoke to him personally, and gave him a saintly prophetic vision... that You, Jesus, had told him Your plans for a place called Hell.  Agonizing, atrocious, flesh eating fire which never ends, forever and ever and ever, and that you were going to throw those million sinners into a firey doom.  And that you spoke of a place called Heaven, where all people who believe in You and change their ways will live in Joy and harmony.

Of course, You said no such thing.  Your allegories of gnashing of teeth were intended to describe a life trying to bless itself with material goods which pass.  Pastor West weeps tears of joy at the feeling of "Your" words, adding emphasis and importance to the "vision".

But... Imagine it appears to work sometimes.  Of the million sinners, imagine that half of them pause, fearing death and Hell, and that they lay down their weapons and stop killing children...  Hundreds of thousands are spared, as armies and gangs set down their weapons, and pray for salvation from the Vision of Hell.

On the day Your two followers meet You in heaven, they each plead their case...

E-Scrap News, WEEE Dog BBQs, Geeks in Cribs

Las Chicas Bravas Retroworks Internet Cafe
[This is the first blog written in new googlese blogjava.]

I had a brief email discussion with Henry L. at E-Scrap / Resource Recycling.  I opened with something stupid, then I tried to make a point, which is that the Europeans have studied African "E-Waste" Imports, and yet don't get it.

The comprehensive studies the EU releases show that black Africans in Europe tend to carefully buy and screen electronics before importing them, and that only 15% are destined for disposal.  In principle, the reuse trade benefits symbiotically with shredding, because the buyers are less pressured to accept questionable material.  But in practice, the shredders see whole exporters as "competition", and drive them into the arms of people who do not remove the junk.  It's a vicious cycle.

Without stopping to catch their breath, European Greenpeace issues film of containers being unloaded in Accra.  Pristine, all shiny black and silver TVs, stretch wrapped.  Not a brown or broken TV in sight.  In other words, exactly as described in the Ghana study.  But the narrative tells you they go to a landfill to be burned.... stupid, stupid Africans paying $7000 to import TVs which no one wants, and burning them.  Tsk Tsk.

Then, the EU Police (Europol) release a report that Africans are indeed behind these exports to Africa, and describes them as "criminal" and "illegal" without a single piece of data, but a flippant description of "murky" relationships.

There is no reference to the Ghana study in the Europol report.  I guess "murky" means they are leaving open the possibility that blacks might reuse something, but they don't actually want to follow it too closely.  It's a circular argument - criminalize reuse, then declare that criminals have cornered the reuse market.

Look, I know Africa.  I have film of Congo reuse of refrigerators - using them as barbeque pits for dog meat.  I swam in the lake at Bukavu - and was horrified to see on the news, corpses floating in it a decade later.  I hesitate to defend a continent which is abhorrent in its leadership and shocking in its backward treatment of women.  I hate their dictators, I cry over the state of their corruption.

But strangling the techs of color in their cribs is a step too far.  Boycotting telecom and internet cafe entrepreneurs is a shockingly abhorrent reaction to recycling while black.

Zen and the Art of Recycling Apartheid



Free Market:  "You two should talk..."

What kinds of reverse marketing would it take to convince the wealthy girl that it's less ethical, or more risky, to sell the phone to the woman, directly or through her family?

What kind of marketing would it take to convince the girl to pay a tax so that the old cell phone is shredded into little bitty pieces of plastic and metal?

What kind of marketing would it take to get a dictator to pass a law, customs seizure, or import ban to keep the poor woman from obtaining the means to tweet and call and socially organize with a cell phone?

Shredding has its place.  But the shredder makes money on the girl's tax, not by adding value to the working phone.  The new cell phone company hopes to sell an additional cell phone to the poor woman.

This is my industry.   The free market is not perfect, there are cases of "junk along for the ride", cases of no infrastructure for recycling after the product is finished;  ultimately, the old woman may throw it away (even if it was purchased brand new). There are things that need to be monitored, and fixed, to ensure fair trade recycling.  Nevertheless, segregating these women is worse.  It is time to end "Recycling Apartheid".

Third party research has now documented a massive exaggeration:  1) of the number of bad units in the trade, 2) of the short useful life of display devices, and 3) of the toxic harm from reuse and recycling.  Who is funding this mad men marketing campaign?

Follow the money trail. Who benefits by convincing a nation with declining growth to shred added value, and to convince emerging nations to stop imports of used, value added equipment?

Planned obsolescence in hindsight.  New product makers, shredding companies, and dictators.  "Green Racism", even if well intentioned, even accidental, is a term we should take steps to avoid.  READ YESTERDAY'S E-SCRAP NEWS for the latest "accidental racism" news from Europol.  Africans buying used goods in Europe and sending it to their geek cousins at home, are "criminals"... (Below)

Another German Interview: John Cale

Describing the similarities between Crusaders.

It's human to define yourself via attacks on other people.

See also:  Top Ten List of African Dictators.