I woke up between 2-3AM last night, from a very vivid dream (and strong acid reflux from trying too hard to reduce the Thanksgiving leftovers).
In the dream, my company was about to make an announcement about our R2:2013 certification. As part of the announcement, I had prepared to release dozens of helium balloons, from the garage of my house (I blog and do accounting from an office over the garage). The balloons were mostly yellow and pink, there may have been a few reds or blues, and they were up against the ceiling of my garage and my office and around the awnings of my home. (Not sure exactly how I was going to "release" them).
Anyway, who should show up in my dream? Jim Puckett, executive director of Basel Action Network, came personally in response to the announcement. He didn't go to the warehouse... he showed up at my home in Middlebury, Vermont... to inspect my balloons.
It was cheerful and amicable, as my conversations with Jim normally are. Still, I felt the same spike in adrenaline I get when an OSHA or Homeland Security or Vermont EPA (ANR) inspector arrives by surprise. I was flustered enough, evidently, not to question why E-Stewards was inspecting my R2 certification, or why Jim himself was coming to my home.
Yes. Jim Puckett was there, at my home garage, to inspect my balloons. It was some kind of a privilege he had, because I was about to celebrate my certification.
Jim wanted to know if the balloons were "fully functional" before I released them. I remember him walking about outside the garage, peering at the helium balloons against the ceiling, and taking notes. No kidding. And this was normal to me.
Well, Jim had come to question whether or not I could verify that these were functional, working balloons. And I told him that obviously they were working, or they would not be on the ceiling, they'd be on the floor. He asked about some balloons that were a little smaller, and whether too much helium had escaped. The more questions he asked about the balloons, the more empowered I felt to push back. These were MY balloons, not his balloons, and they were floating, and if they weren't working then they wouldn't float into the sky, now would they?? I pointed to a flattened balloon on the floor of the garage.
It occurred to me this morning that the entire "release the balloons" dream was some kind of allegory for cathode ray tube sales, and #whiteprivilege. The most important tests for CRTs is whether the vacuum inside the tube is intact. California SB20 actually requires the vacuum to be released, ruining the CRT, prior to export, in a rule which has SCREAMED planned obsolescence since I became aware of it more than ten years ago. There are other tests, like age and size, but the vacuum test is the best test for repairability. Color can be fixed, even cathode ray guns can be replaced. But if the CRT vacuum is popped, the phosphor powder on the inside becomes practically impossible to repair.
There's no way to develop a test for CRTs which is as obvious as "the helium balloon is on the ceiling, it's obviously working unless you think I taped it there, in which case it's not going to release into the sky now, is it?"
But the feeling I experienced, when Jim Puckett came to my home to inspect my balloons that I bought with my own money, has to be similar to the feeling experienced by African, Asian, and South American CRT display traders. They have their tests, and if the tests fail they LOSE MONEY. They lose a lot of money if they buy deflated CRTs. They've been caught flat footed, questioned whether they'd paid money for something which wasn't working or repairable.
CRTs are more difficult than balloons, but this isn't exactly highest tech. While incredibly sophisticated in their original manufacture, Cathode Ray Tubes are like engine blocks in that any mechanic can lift the hood and see the oil running from the head gasket line and know that an engine is going to be worth repairing. That may have required an engineering degree 70 years ago, when CRTs and engine blocks were "high technology". An auto mechanic worth his salt can determine whether a car is a waste of time without revving it up and driving around the block.
The African "e-waste" traders are all worth their salt.
Joe Benson didn't have satisfactory proof that he hadn't taped bad helium balloons to the ceiling. The burden of proof was on him, because Lord Chris Smith, the head of the UK Environmental Agency, hasn't yet read that Jim Puckett has never, ever said that the vast majority of balloons released in to the sky are deflated. His sentence can't be explained by a rush of fear, a sudden judgement call. The UK Environmental Agency had years to consider the fate of Joe Benson. Unlike the case of Michael Brown of Ferguson, Missouri, or the two seconds it took for Cleveland police to shoot and kill 12 year old Tamir Rice, this Joe Benson story has been in documentaries and Puckett's slide shows, and on the cover of UK Independent and Guardian newspapers, and even reported by the BBC.
Benson's testimony breaks my heart. He didn't understand why he needed a lawyer. He totally underestimated the widespread white belief that black people are releasing popped balloons into the sky, and the majority of balloons they release into the sky are insufficiently tested for helium content. Benson thought it obvious, he could not have been in business for 25 years selling junk waste TVs to Africans who pay $10,000 per container of 500 TVs.
Tomorrow, back to reality. Inspecting the trade of black African entrepreneurs, and presuming them guilty, and sentencing #hurricaneJoeBenson to a jail cell, the liberal aristocracy fails to notice its #whiteprivilege much. Can you name the quote of the Aristocrat who slummed around a former colony, and found out that the uneducated masses were creating a future Superpower out of underclass democracy?
"In these words, which fell accidentally, and on a particular subject, from an uninstructed man, I recognize the general and systematic idea upon which a great people direct all their concerns."