Collateral Damage?? COLLATERAL DAMAGE??!!

                                                           You guys are a bunch of cowards.

Environmental malpractice does not fit the definition of collateral damage.  the show is over.

Pics of African kids at Agbogbloshie dumps was a hoax.  NOT the largest e-waste dumpsite in the world, NOT the place where imported used electronics go.   It's an Accra city dump, taking scrap from millions of residents in Accra, and there are NO sea containers there, none.  Not just saying its less than 500 containers per month.

Saying NONE.   Zero.   Your story is complete hogwash.

Say It Out Loud. I Fix and I'm Proud

"We demands a chance to do things for ourself/we're tired of beating our head against the wall/and workin' for someone else" - James Brown (I'm Black and I'm Proud, 1968)

1968, I was 6 years old, and I remember this song.  I remember my parents, whites from the Ozarks, reacting to it... good people, but completely unable to appreciate James Brown's signing, or the lyrics to his song.  (skip to bottom to play Brown's music video)
And now we demands a chance To do things for ourselves we tired of beating our heads against the wall And working for someone else 
How can people be anything but proud to do business with these technicians of color in Ghana?  How low can we possibly stoop to defend the prison sentence of Joseph Benson for selling gently used electronics goods to these smart people in these markets?

The hardest working man in show business had a lot in common with the hardest working people in the electronics reuse and repair business.  I speak to people who are afraid to sell to these techs of color.   They would be ashamed, they say, if the clients knew they were trading to Africa.

Color and shame?

Say it loud.

The trip to Africa is not like my trips to China in 2002 and 2005.  This time, I already have the photos, I already have the records.   This time I'm not going to "investigate", to be the great white savior.  Been there, ashamed of that.   This time I'm going to meet friends of my friends.

Uh, with your bad self 
Say it louder (I got a mouth) 
Say it louder (I got a mouth) 

Look a'here, some people say we got a lot of malice 
Some say it's a lotta nerve 
I say we won't quit moving 
Til we get what we deserve 
We've been buked and we've been scourned 
We've been treated bad, talked about 
As just as sure as you're born 
But just as sure as it take 
Two eyes to make a pair, huh 
Brother, we can't quit until we get our share 

Ten "Feel Good" Facts about E-scrap Recycling: Gorillaz and #ewastegate

Gorillaz band photo.jpg
Maybe it was the Hans Rosling video?  Maybe I really am manic?  Or maybe a thaw, a "correction" is on its way.  

Without forgetting about the #Hurricane exporters, it occurs to me that there's actually really good news about "e-waste recycling".   Rather than emphasizing the "environmental malpractice", here's another way to look at it.


This is ultimately a happy ending.  Everyone was told there was a crisis, in ghoulish halloween hyperbole, singed with #ewastegate statistics, toxic adjectives and sad-eyed (brown) children.

As it turns out, the "third world", as we knew it in the 1970s, has virtually gone away.   And households in Africa who make a living fixing used electronics earn six times more than average wages, meeting the needs of growing cities without mining for coltan or cutting down rainforests to expose gorillas to tantalum digging.  

It's good work and it turns out you never needed to boycott these people in the first place.   And more good news keeps coming...

E-Waste Hoax 2015: PKDs Myth Busting Trip To Africa

Ok readers, you know my thing.   Be that guy.  

"All right then, I'll go to hell."  

Winston Churchill Quote that having enemies means you stood up for something once in your life.

Now, how do I announce the trip I'm planning this morning, without setting myself up as the next generation of exotic #whitesaviorcomplex hero, cruising to Africa, to visit geeks of color who've visited me in Vermont?  Visiting People I've done a little bit of business with, though without much profit to show for it.

Actually, this business (both African trade, and "being that guy" who stands up for it) has cost my business and my employees tremendous stress.   And we have to ask ourselves, how seriously should we take junk?  Someone threw it out once already, how long will they want to be forced to think about it again?  And how can my clients support hiring us, having seen the PKDs? (see below).

PKD Africa 2007:   Photo I couldn't resist taking on my last trip to Africa

Hans Rosling's "Don't Panic" = Best Documentary / Talk I've Seen All Year

This is brilliant.   Please watch it all the way through.  Hans Rosling is explaining what I call 3B3K much more elaborately than I have been able to.

Hans Rosling's TED talk was (I think?) produced by BBC and redistributed by National Geographic.

It's 60 minutes long, but Environmentalists and Recyclers everywhere should be strapped to a chair and forced to watch it.

If Rosling added all extraction (mining metals, fresh water, habitat) as well as energy extraction, it would be stronger.  But he will perhaps get a wider audience by focusing on the one hashtag.

Regulations: The Purpose of Rules

When there are Guidelines or regulations, there are reasons to follow them and enforce them.

  1. There is a positive environmental effect to the rules (or negative impact from not following the rule).
  2. "Rules are Rules".   If Rules are not enforced, other meaningful (see #1) Rules will also not be enforced.

If it is #1, there should be a science or test to demonstrate and constantly improve on the rules.  If for example there is a different rule (Universal Waste vs. EPA CRT Rule) in Vermont vs. NH, MA, NY (our three border states), enough time has passed to know the pros and cons attributable to the differences.   It's not about the alleged ego clash between 1990s MA DEP David Struhs vs. EPA Region I's John DeVillars.

If it is #2, I can accept that... So long as the Rules are applied evenly and to everyone.  If Vermont has a different rule from NH, MA, NY, and is applying the rule for consistency, you expect to see the same citations to my list of 9 other electronics processors in the state.

Our Own Tribes: Charlie Hebdo and Kandahar Massacres

Time for a limb climb.

"I'm a very common meme in Cairo"
Not that I'm an expert in foreign affairs, terrorism, or Islamic studies...

Like most of us, my wiser part of valor might stay respectfully silent during the Charlie Hebdo marches.  But my wife is from Paris (her brother kissed two of the victims the day before they were killed), and via Facebook I find myself at a crossroads between conservative and liberal friends, from the New England and Missouri/Arkansas, from Christian kin, and Muslim friends in Cameroon, Egypt, Ghana, India, Pakistan, Senegal, etc.

I was not really prepared for my first federal job, as a Cross Cultural Trainer for the United States Peace Corps in Ngaoundere (serving under esteemed also-thrown-into-the-fire Judi Brown).  But I had to make do.  And as I see my French nieces and nephews posting #JeSuisCharlie, and see the Arabic posts from friends in Cairo (now usually images of their messages, posted as JPG, so that they cannot be auto-translated or screened by authorities or NSA), and I hear the pain of Christian Coptic (Zabaleen) friends seeking asylum in Montreal, I feel like writing down a few words, in memory of the staff at Charlie Hebdo.  But I also want to offer a different defense for offended Muslims than what I'm hearing from the politically correct press.

Young Indonesian Covers "Hurricane" / Leslie T. Chang's Factory Girls

"Peculiarly self-obsessed... inaccurate and disrespectful"   
- See Leslie T. Chang's TED Talk.

Windyasari Septriani of Indonesia can learn Bob Dylan's song Hurricane, and can share it with us, because she is part of the 3B3K... 3 Billion People who live in countries earning, plus or minus, $3K per year.  You know, the fastest growing segment of internet users.