History and Future: Reuse of Chips Without Fire

Readers may recall that a journalist confirmed one of my theses about Guiyu, China.  There had to be something else going on besides "aqua regia" (using acid to recover gold), or it would not be financially viable for Guiyu to import PCs.  Sure enough, similar to the cell phone chip reuse documented at TechTravels, there was chip harvesting and reuse going on.  That's a huge savings compared to mining.

The river in Guiyu is polluted from textile dying mills in the area, but we don't want to understate the pollution coming from circuit board residuals.   It can be pretty nasty.

You could almost make the case that Guiyu is internalizing the pollution that is being diverted from the mining communities, i.e. make the case for Chinese altruism. But can fair trade recycling find a way to incentivize Guiyu to maintain chip harvesting and reuse without shouldering the pollution of the residuals?

Circuits that come apart in water may allow the chips to be reused more safely.
The National Physical Laboratory (NPL), along with partners In2Tec Ltd (UK) and Gwent Electronic Materials Ltd, have developed a printed circuit board (PCB) whose components can be easily separated by immersion in hot water. The work was part of the ReUSE project, funded by the UK government's Technology Strategy Board.

Recyclable electronics: just add hot water

The National Physical Laboratory (NPL), along with partners In2Tec Ltd (UK) and Gwent Electronic Materials Ltd, have developed a printed circuit board (PCB) whose components can be easily separated by immersion in hot water. The work was part of the ReUSE project, funded by the UK government's Technology Strategy Board.

Recycling this printed circuit board is as easy as making a cup of tea - simply add hot water, and the bonding material dissolves away leaving you with 90% of your components to re-use as you wish
Recycling this printed circuit board is as easy as
making a cup of tea - simply add hot water, and
the bonding material dissolves away leaving you
with 90% of your components to re-use as you wish

The Challenge

The electronics industry has a waste problem - currently over 100 million electronic units are discarded annually in the UK alone, making it one of the fastest growing waste streams.
It was estimated in a DTI-funded report, that around 85% of all PCB scrap board waste goes to landfill. Around 70% of this being of non-metallic content with little opportunity for recycling. This amounts to around 1 million tonnes in the UK annually equivalent to 81 x HMS Belfasts.

The Solution

The aim of the ReUSE (Reuseable, Unzippable, Sustainable Electronics) project was to increase the recyclability of electronic assemblies, in order to avoid an ever-growing volume of waste.
The project partners designed, developed and tested a series of unzippable polymeric layers which, while withstanding prolonged thermal cycling and damp heat stressing, allow the assemblies to be easily separated at end-of-life into their constituent parts, after immersion in hot water.

Historical Marker: Mining Vs Recycling

The historical marker, near the Nevada-Arizona border, marks a gold mine, on federal land.

That pile of mining waste is farther away than you think.  Its b i g .

If I could just dump all the electronics onto federal land, submit them to acids and fire, I'd leave less pollution, and since the land was owned by the government, I'd have no cleanup cost.  Federal land mining by private metal companies bankrupted Superfund.

I admit that if we reform the General Mining Act of 1872 - which needs another "Historical Marker" - that the mining may move to rainforests in the southern hemisphere.  But reform of GMA 1872 would also boost recycling stocks, and would cause Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia and other "mining magnets" to change their own policies on metal mining.

The worst recycling is better than the best metal mining.  Build your house next to here and drill a well for drinking water and see how it goes....

Here's another idea (thanks George Hinkle)...

Hopeful recycling for Africa in Ghana.

Sure we can do them both here at home.  But if mining is unleashed, why leash recycling?  THAT'S OUR DOG IN THIS FIGHT.  Hell,  instead of outsourcing mining, what if we outsource our better activity, recycling?  (My suggestion)

This is a company using reuse in Ghana to subsidize Ghana's e-waste recycling.   Bad as in "good".

If I ran "Basel Action Network" or "Greenpeace" or "Natural Resources Defense Council", I'd notice that this MINING activity is visible from the highway... Hell, it's visible from OUTER SPACE.  But a small recycling hut - even one with an Asian child pooched out on the scrap pile - would not be visible in this photo.

And which one, from this distance, would you be more worried about drinking from?

Answer:  See USGS.gov

"Bazaaristan" or "Bizarrestan": $10 Trillion Per Year Generated by Poor

"There is nothing 'underground' about it.  It is our preconception that says it is 'underground'".
FINALLY someone else is explaining what I've been screaming, via this TED Talk.  Thanks very much to our 2012 intern from Univ. Paul Cezanne in France, Adelaide (author of the French blog at right).

This is what I took away from my time in Peace Corps.  The defamation of 1.8M people is way off base, and the fact it is primarily coming from non-profits in Seattle should be a big wake up call to liberals.

Biography of speaker Robert Neuwirth, Author of "Stealth of Nations", below.

In his 2012 book Stealth of Nations, Robert Neuwirth challenges conventional thinking by examining the world's informal economy close up. To do so, he spent four years living and working with street vendors and gray marketers, to capture its scope, its vigor--and its lessons. He calls it “System D” and argues that it is not a hidden economy, but a very visible, growing, effective one, fostering entrepreneurship and representing 1.8 billion jobs worldwide.

The OECD Legacy: Recycle Black, Recycle Proud

Here's the fundamental truth.  The biggest predictor of waste is wealth.

The wealthier a nation is, the more wasteful it is.

Presentation at MIT: Sustainability and Tinkerer Blessings

The theme of my presentation at Mass Institute of Technology (MIT) University this afternoon.

It's a class on international development strategy.

It took me back to high school.

This slide explains how I turned from philosophy to scrap recycling.

Recycling goes beyond human health, it conserves energy and resources for future generations.   The opponents of recycling have trouble coping just with the fact that kids they photographed 12 years ago are now adults working in smartphone factories in China, and understanding that Africans began throwing used televisions away 30 years ago.  This is ultimately about whether we are intelligent enough, and care enough, to do things today which affect the generations yet to be born.

Grouchy Marxist Defamation or Groucho Marx Defense?

Groucho Marx
“I have nothing but respect for you -- and not much of that.”
― Groucho Marx

My company, Good Point Recycling, used to charge residents $10-20 per TV, which most people were willing to pay every 10 years when they threw one away.  Here is a 2006 article (Burlington Free Press) praising us for the process and markets we used,..  

Interestingly, it's reposted on the wall of Basel Action Network.  It was posted in 2006', in happier days when BAN called me regularly to help them "certify" Pledge signers (like "Tom", in the article), before their consultants accused me of lying about the factories described in the article, which BAN chose to post on its website.

So, the article goes into detail about the distinction between "unknown" export markets and the use of legitimate export refurbishing factories.  BAN not only posted this article about the distinction, but BAN has also inserted language into their E-Stewards program describing "semiknockdown" factories, with instructions that any parts which may be electively upgraded or replaced must be removed in the USA before the CRT is exported.  

BAN also negotiated for the same terms in our "California Compromise" agreement, which fell flat in 2010.

Groucho Marx
“Are you going to believe me, or what you see with your own eyes?”
― Groucho Marx

To finesse the obvious differences between factories (like the one in Indonesia, at left) and the dirty recycling in Guiyu China, Jim Puckett, the Chief Executive at BAN, wrote in an Op-Ed piece that the disposal of parts replaced (common in an elective upgrade at the contract manufacturing factories) would be illegal, and speculated that the "discarded parts" would be "poisoning people", ergo "fair trade" was not possible.

In my emails to BAN over the years, I have offered to prove or certify that any electively replaced parts could be shipped for recycling to a place BAN approved, such as Japan or Belgium, which would solve that dilemma.

In responding for BAN, Jim said that he was aware of that option but that he did not want to promote it, because he distrusted and resisted globalization.  He said that no matter how hard we tried, that the nature of "exporting jobs" to poor countries meant exploitation.  In other words, whether or not I found a way that Basel Convention said was legal, that he objected based on his philosophy, that rich people who employ less rich people are exploiting them... something Karl Marx would say.

I told Jim that the "tested working" and "fully functional" and "accidental breakage" would require the same downstream diligence, that trading with poorer people, if inherently unfair, would extend to other trade, including sale of new devices, purchase of new devices, and certainly the mining of metals to make new devices.   Jim actually said he objected to those things too, but they were outside the scope of "waste" and therefore outside of his mission statement in Basle.   He didn't buy my suggestion that the big factories which certified the recycling of breakage, returns, and parts would be very valuable in the countries they were in. In fact, one WR3A member factory became a licensed take-back program for CRTs generated in that country.  If BAN killed them, and the majority of the e-waste disposed of in those countries originated there (See Williams/Kahhat study, referenced below), he'd be making e-waste worse...

So my point here is not to delve back into the specific arguments over the Basel Convention Annex IX, which explicitly says that export for repair is LEGAL... I'm just trying to demonstrate what Donald Summers, the BAN consultant, was referring to when he described "the genuine policy debate at issue" with personal attacks.  The general policy debate was about globalization and Marxist economics, not about whether contract manufacturing (e.g. Foxconn factories which make all IPhones and IPads) were mythical.

In the BAN web page articles above, on BAN's own website, BAN admits these factories are refurbishing.   And BAN negotiated terms for the semiknockdown factories with me, and BAN met some of the factory executives via Skype at E-Scrap 2010.   And BAN chose to support language allowing Manufacturers (OEMs) such as Dell, HP, IBM, Lenovo, Samsung, etc. to continue to use the factories (which take warranty returns, for example) in the language of HR2284, the Responsible Recycling Act.  The factories are NOT MYTHS.

So Basel Action Network obviously knows these factories exist, and is willing to let OEMs use them, and is willing to let E-Steward Recyclers use them if certain parts are removed (like bad capacitors). BAN says nothing if the devices these SKD factories buy are tested working (in which case the parts are removed anyway) and sold to a middleman (but not directly to the factory).  If this is obvious and proven and not disputed, why do so many people I meet think that the genuine policy debate between R2 Certification and E-Stewards standard is about POISONING CHILDREN??????

Or is it about rape, murder, and arson?  (See BAN's depiction of ASU Professor Eric Williams below)...

Groucho Marx
“Next time I see you, remind me not to talk to you.”
― Groucho Marx

The Best Mining is Worse Than Worst Recycling

Rereading some articles in The Atlantic by Adam Minter (whose ShanghaiScrap blog is down for maintenance, see opinion pages at Bloomberg), and I was stunned by the negative comments about recycling by "trolls" in the follow up.

There's an overwhelming bias, not just about Asian and African recyclers, but an undercurrent of distrust of American recyclers as well.   If an American recycler sells bales of copper wire to China, and if the Chinese are making Christmas lights into slippers (from the insulation) and electric-grade copper, it must be wrong.   People comment, knowingly, that it must waste energy (shipping Christmas lights all the way to China), or that the toxics released (by older insulation) make it a better idea to landfill them.  Or that the Chinese are taking shortcuts to take the Christmas-tree-light-recycling-jobs away from Americans.

The trollish comments on mainstream articles about recycling are missing the point of recycling.

The world is consuming raw materials.

Raw materials come from one of two places:  from waste or from the earth.

Recycling is not a form of "waste disposal", it is a form of urban mining.

How "Dual Citizenship" (or Multi-Citizenship) Works

We used to hear, 30 or 40 years ago, that the USA did not allow dual citizenship.  Or that the USA didn't used to allow it, but now it does.

Here is the deal.   Who decides who has citizenship in France?  France does.  Who decides whether someone is granted citizenship in Botswana?   Botswana.

If I'm the government of Guacamolepeonda, and I declare that all people with red hair are citizens without need of a passport or paperwork, that red haired people setting foot on our soil are citizens... the USA has nothing to say.

As explained by the US Department of State website:
U.S. law does not mention dual nationality or require a person to choose one citizenship or another. Also, a person who is automatically granted another citizenship does not risk losing U.S. citizenship. 
If a red headed American sets foot in Guacamolepeonda, perhaps by accident, he/she is at that moment a legal citizen of Guacamolepeonda under out Guacamolepeonda constitution.  You have the right of due process in the USA to defend the revocation of your citizenship.  So you are, no matter what, a dual citizen for the amount of time the USA revokes your citizenship.

Agreeableness and Cognitive Enhancement vs Heroic Compassion

Agreeableness is a focus of Buddhism and Cognitive Enhancement - Chemical Happiness, Generosity, and Loving-Kindness.  In the second part of the essay, J.Hughes of "Ethical Technology" uses psychological terms associated with conflict-avoidance and associates them with compassion.
The factor of agreeableness appears to be particularly relevant to the virtues of generosity and compassion.  People who score high on agreeableness are more compassionate, trusting and helpful throughout their lives while people low in agreeableness will find it hard not to be uncooperative, unsympathetic and easily irritated regardless of how much they meditate and think loving thoughts. Agreeableness has been found to be correlated with empathy (del Barrio et al., 2004) and volunteering (Carlo et al., 2005).
Agreeableness is also related to several other personality constructs that have moral valence. Michael Ashton and colleagues (2005) have found that agreeableness is related to Honesty-Humility and Greed-Avoidance scales, which include personality descriptors such as sincere, fair, and unassuming as opposed to sly, greedy, and pretentious. Agreeableness and Honesty-Humility are in turn negatively associated with the ‘‘Dark Triad’’ traits of Machiavellianism, Narcissism, and Primary Psychopathy (Lee & Ashton, 2005).
This worried me.   So many things in the article trace true to my roots.   I was a philosopher first and a recycler second;  I chose recycling because I wanted a karma or work-ethic yoga which would produce less consumption.  Most work and effort (making cars, for example) tends to increase consumption, especially if your goal is to provide material goods to "have nots".    I spent a long time looking at global population growth, came to some disturbing conclusions, and chose recycling because I didn't think I had the talent for solar energy... conserving energy became my path to creating energy.

A disagreeable lawyer in South Africa
Anyway, the article focuses on Buddhist thought practice and meditation.   It associates compassion (of which Dalai Lama spoke) with agreeableness.  I have been concerned about my disagreements with environmentalists, with environmental regulators, and other do-gooders.    I'm conscious that my taking Socratic method over agreeableness has cost me chits and has been a difficult path.  Jim Puckett has actually taken my defense in some groups, saying that he respects the role of the "crusader" who is trying to right an injustice, and that he identifies with some of my confrontational positions.

What I do not buy in this article is the association between agreement and empathy.   It ignores the complex society which de Tocqueville and others warned us about, a "tyranny of the majority", or unjust concensus.  In the case of recycling exports, I've tried to show that it's a "false majority" which agrees to boycott trade between haves and have nots.

Halloween Images Of E-Waste (Scary Black People)

Sweet Mother, I no go forget you... 

This was what I remember dancing to at my farewell party in Ngaoundal, Cameroon, in 1986.   Prince Nico Mbarga's small tabletop TV would have been at least 9 years old by then, probably older.  Prince Nico Mbarga was born in 1950 of a Cameroonian father and Nigerian mother,  he died in 1997.  He was considered a bit of a "one hit wonder" for his iconic tune "sweet mother", sung in pidgin English, which has become the "happy birthday" of mothers day music in my family (embedded towards the bottom of this post).

I'm a white man, with a little black used television.  Here is a black man, with a little white used television... How does poetic language make us afraid to trade with one another?

While I think that a Prince Nico Mbarga outfit would be a fantastic Halloween costume, I cannot say that I find it scary.  But his little white television set has been labelled a big, big, e-waste problem, worthy of laws to keep the next Prince Nico Mbarga from ever buying another used RCA.   Today I want to look closely at the TV in the 1977 photo, and ask how poetic language can make something seem more ghoulish, more noble, more scary, or more heroic.

The United Nations Environmental Program has definitively shown that 85% of used electronics imported to Nigeria are reused (70%) or repaired (15%), and the remaining 15% is a figure very close to the 11% of new-in-box returns at Wal-Mart.  The trade in used electronics, like the trade in used cars here in the USA, was found to be... um... dull.

But the legislation HR2284 finds the trade in used electronics to be anything but dull.... It declares them harmful and dangerous.  HR2284 would put a stop to this.  Why are we sooooo afraid of Prince Nico Mbarga's little white television?

It's Sunday, and sometimes my blogs go off on a tangent on Sunday.  As I listen to Prince Nico Mbarga, and I recall the pidgin English of my years in Cameroon, I'm struck by the similarities in emotions I feel to the first poem I ever learned by heart.  H.W. Longfellow, The Village Blacksmith, was about hard work done by hand.

Question for the Dali Lama: Transcendance vs. Tradition

Going to see him at Middlebury College today (Friday) and tomorrow.

How do you balance the defense of tradition made increasingly "exotic" by globalization, with the Buddhist empowerment of transcendance?

TV Industry Forecasts and Retrospective

I know that recycling is a science.  I learned about paper making from paper engineers, and if you don't know how paper is made you won't be a good recycler.  We made a big mistake in 1992 promoting recycled content in writing paper when we could have first maximized it in toilet paper.  That was just a money mistake, it was wasteful to cut down trees to make toilet paper (making fibers shorter) when the main challenge to recycled writing paper was that the fibers were too short to make quality writing paper....  One part passion and two parts study has been a good recipe for this environmentalist.

Since I took the "special assignment" of CRT Consultant for the Massachusetts Department of Environmental  Protection in 1998 (a queer public management option where you accept a "demotion" and get 3 days per week and a $11K salary increase), I've been learning about display devices.  Still a very "visual" technology, like writing paper.  But very high tech and "science-y", as Colbert might say.

I'm really good at these now.  I read industry magazines, some translated from Chinese or Japanese, and I follow what is going on.  This keeps me from chasing a "today's price" on, say, used LCDs, or allows me to sell my stocks of display devices short when the market is turning.   And the market has been turning the wrong direction on display device pricing for the past 3 years.

Last year was good for cell phones and pads, and therefore for small "touchscreen" display makers.  But it's been a real tough time for big TV screens.  CRT manufacturing may actually outlive Plasma Display screens, and few Americans would have predicted how long they stayed valuable.  But there's an end in sight.
The large drop in volume is due to decreased TV shipments into Japan, down from 19.8 million units in 2011 to just 7.5 million units in 2012, following the end of government subsidies for eco-friendly consumer electronics. Not counting Japan, global TV shipments are set to remain broadly the same in 2012, with growth in developing TV markets like Latin America and the Middle East-Africa offset by the small decline in North America and Europe.
Meanwhile, shipments this year of legacy cathode ray tube televisions (CRT TVs) and plasma display panel televisions (PDP TVs) will continue to fall precipitously. CRT TV volumes will slide from 25.5 million in 2011 to 15.8 million this year, while PDP TV shipments will retreat to 8.9 million in 2012, down from 13.9 million last year.
Growth will return to the television market in 2014. Once this stabilization occurs, the year 2015 will see global shipments return to growth, and sales will rise in countries such as Brazil, India and Indonesia.
The one prediction I've made about the sale potential for used CRTs has been this:   The last new CRT will be made before the last used CRT is resold.   Now, because of Communist Party Chinese (aka Military owned factories) investment in CRTs, they have been produced quite stubbornly and at a probable loss.  But the adage about the "last used sale" beating the last new sale is still true.

Reality of Recycling Vs. Mining: By Satellite

Welcome to Mexico.
Here is the view of our "e-waste" facility in Sonora, Mexico (Retroworks de Mexico).

And here, above, a few dozen kilometers away, is the Copper Mine.

OK... LOoK!  This is a woman, Lidia, working at the Recycling operation.

Recycling isn't perfect.  But compare the press over "recycling" toxics in Africa to the coverage of Africa's actual most toxic sites - the mines that the virgin ore for lead, copper, gold, silver - and the mercury, cadmium, and other chemicals that spew out.

The planned obsolescence and mining industry has developed a terminator-spy, an anti-recycling, anti-reuse organization raising environmentalist donations to fight the only alternatives to mining, refining, and disposing... recycling by hand.

Why I'm Pro Globalization

First, the anti-Globalists have to admit there's not much we have to say in the matter.

Pretending that the USA and Europe can isolate themselves, and that Asia, Africa, and Latin America's 6 billion people are going to develop better or more slowly without us is an a priori joke.  There simply is no solution to "globalization" and kvetching about it is like complaining about getting old.  Hippy grandparents yearning for the good old days of starvation and smallpox in poor countries is not my scene.  Wealth is increasing (see chart below) in countries which trade most.

No thank you, Daisy Racism
So, if the cat is out of the bag, so to speak, are ideas like alter-globalization and fairtrade going to do better if the rich and well regulated consumers get on the sidelines and boycott the emerging markets?  Of course not. The poor benefit more when they have more choice of people to trade with.

Third, having lived in Africa and having opened a recycling factory in Latin America, and having traded millions of dollars of goods with Asia, I can tell you that the Tin-Tin comics image of the emerging world is about as accurate as Uncle Toms Cabin in describing Atlanta.   The image of "primitive wire burning" recyclers around the world is intensely over-played, to the point of racial profiling, and belongs with "Arab terrorist" and "American cowboy" and "Japanese kamikaze".  All those anecdotes exist, but if that's your primary image of Dubai, Houston or Tokyo, you are ignorant.  Ignorant means "stupid with hope for a cure", though I'm sometimes afraid the condition is chronic.

Boycott as a response to "globalization" is like burning libraries to prevent pornography.  It's that damn stupid.  As a lifelong environmentalist who had devoted my life to recycling, I am ashamed to the point of tears that the "green movement" has harbored racist images of fixers and tinkerers, technicians and geeks.  We hurt the American economy when we shred items of value which could have been exported, and we hurt the buyers who then buy used product from Hong Kong or Shanghai with fewer choices.  Worse, when we shred up rare earth magnets and turn circuit boards into "fluff" to avoid superior hand disassembly, we help mining.
Mining is what builds the roads that kill the gorillas.  Mining "non-toxic" tin from Indonesian coral islands is what kills the sharks.  White eco-witch-doctors need to stop prescribing death.

If you are a "green" environmentalist, and you have friends who are global isolationists, tell them to get on a fair trade bandwagon, because boycotts are the new segregation, giving sinister meaning to "the new black".

Give the developing world a choice of jobs besides warrior, miner, poacher, sex worker... let them refurbish and recycle, give them incentives and tools, implement contracts to reduce child labor by paying adult wages.  Give boy scout badges for recycling to the poster children, and say "shame on you" to "watchdogs" who exploit poster children for money and don't share a dime with the kids.

I'm a globalist because I have friends in Africa, Latin America, and Asia who I met through trade, and we treat each other as equals, and we have all benefited.  My children eat with their children, my wife meets with my partners and their sisters and brothers.  None of this would have happened if I had been afraid to cross the tracks and trade with brown people.  I see my friends profiled, and I'm called names for expressing my loyalty to them.  Very harsh names.   I was too young to join the Civil Rights marches in the American south. But I learned enough about those marches, from my home in Arkansas, that I can spot a person using "inference" to make recycling, repair, and trade look  like it's causing poverty.

JTouch: Long Live the Hardware Kings

Americans (and everyone else) loves the touchpad screens on HTC Evo, IPhone, Samsung Galaxy, etc. i-Everyone is aware of i-something and e-waste.  What does J Stand For?

No, Steve Jobs didn't e-invent the i-touchscreen.  Apple saw the beauty of the nice, tight little Asian displays, and quickly worked to design an operating system to implement them.  But now Google Android and Microsoft have caught up, and I don't know how long it will take for someone in Asia to start making software.

JTOUCH... Only 2,400 employees.  CEO Yeh Yu Chou, his phone number is still listed on the web.
J Touch Corporation is principally engaged in the manufacture and distribution of touch panels. The Company's major products include resistive touch panels, capacitive touch panels and traditional touch panels. The Company's products are applied in the manufacture of smart phones, personal digital assistants (PDAs), portable navigation devices (PNDs), commercial point of sale (POS) tools and business applications, among others. During the year ended December 31, 2011, the Company obtained approximately 99.68% of its total revenue from touch panels. The Company distributes its products primarily in Asian markets. - Reuters
Find the Taiwanese Executive.  I see Japan, I see South Korea, I see China... Working together to produce films and cultural cooperatation.  Because these guys don't want a stupid war in Asia, not over Sino/Japanese islands or the Taiwan straight or Korean "unification".  They even avoid patent wars, at least better than Americans do.

They are not "outsourced".  They ARE the Source.   Let's hope they make enough money to buy beef and cars made in America, because the genie ain't going back in the 1955 Display Device catalogue.

Now you can find $40 pads in Shenzhen (see "Death of Hardware").   I researched this, because the "death of hardware" headline looked to me like another case where we think that because "Polaroid Died" and "Eastman Kodak Died", that the headline is that "Cameras Died".

Hardware isn't dead.   JTouch is a company you never heard of, and they are making a billion dollars a quarter.  And they can produce the hardware cheaply enough now to sell it to people earning $6,000 per year.  That's a lot of people, a big market, a market bigger than a USA patent lawsuit can leverage.

In fact, the entire story of screen display technology "outsourcing", by Apple, or by whomever, as told by Romney and Obama, is a completely hysterical fiction.  IBM stopped making CRT monitors in NY in the early 1990s.  And that, my friends, was because Asia already owned the CRT business by then.

"Hardware is Dead"?   The king is dead, long live the king.  Incredibly good, profoundly useful, and shockingly cheap gadgets are going to change our industry.  They won't stop.  The question is whether the idea to make them non-repairable is ingrained in the industry now, and whether they will become like light bulbs, produced too cheaply to fix first, then re-designed to fail faster... or whether, mercifully, buyers in the $6000 income bracket won't put up with that.  In the USA, display panels are already becoming the new ink cartridge, and we barely finished breakfast.  But in Guangzhou, you can buy printed reverse-engineering books which tell you how to repair (or remanufacture, or counterfeit) every electronic device on the market, and if one gets a reputation for being "all glue and no screw," they may find USA and Europe to be their only market.

JTouch to increase revenues in 4Q12 from tablet product orders
Siu Han, Taipei; Alex Wolfgram, DIGITIMES [Thursday 4 October 2012]
Taiwan-based touch panel maker JTouch is expected to see fourth-quarter 2012 revenues hit the highest quarterly level of the year due to increased orders for touch screen panels used in tablets, according to industry sources.
The company is seeing increased orders mainly from international companies such as Samsung Electronics for its 10.1-inch tablets and is increasing its overall proportion of production of touch screen products used in small- to medium-size devices, added the sources.
JTouch has also been improving its production capacity throughout 2012 and is increasing the number of customers from China, added the sources.
JTouch's revenues for the third quarter are estimated at NT$1.4 billion (US$47.7 million), up 40%...
See Digitimes for more

4 Key E-Waste Tactics: Inference, Allegation, Indictment, Guilt?

Why should exports of used electronics be outlawed?  Let's look at the case Basel Action Network makes in its campaign to stop the used electronics trade.

The "watchdog" campaign to end USA's used electronics exports relies on inferences, allegations, indictments, and even proven guilt.  Which is which, and how concerned should environmentalists be?

1) Inference:  Poor children are found amid piles of e-scrap, and pollution is found amid piles of e-scrap.  The inference is that the e-scrap was imported, and that the pollution, the poverty, and associated risk to children will be reduced through prohibition.

- First, the water pollution in Guiyu comes largely from the textile mills in the area.  But some of the burning of copper and boards is certainly going to add to the pollution in the short term.  Did the material come directly off of a boat laden with imports?

Or was it material imported years ago?  Or was it recently imported, but a percentage of residue (e.g. 15%) of otherwise clean scrap or reuse product?  Or.. just perhaps.. does the fact China generates more "e-waste" than the USA have something to do with it?

And are the children helped more by prohibition or by investing in safer processes?  Is the problem manual disassembly, or fire?  I say fire is the problem and e-scrap can be recycled without fire, just as cotton can be picked without slaves.

BAN is good, really good, at inference.

Subjugation vs. Exploitation: Fear and Guilt

A black slave in South Carolina stands up and talks to the other slaves about learning to read.

A woman in puritan New England demonstrates cunning.

A woman in Saudi Arabia wants to tuck back her veil and drive a car.

A labor contract manufacturer begins to make their own brand on a third shift from reused parts.

An Indian woman elopes to marry outside her caste, erasing the dowry negotiations of her parents.


  [suhb-juh-gey-shuhn] noun
the act, fact, or process of subjugating or bringing under controlenslavement: The subjugation of the American Indians happened across the country.
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This is about the cultural cognition of risk, leveraged by a combination of quasi-religious faith and societal leveraging of a zero-sum concept of "exploitation", to subjugate groups for financial reasons.