stuff gets examined.

Posts Tagged ‘environmentalism

Entropy in Action

leave a comment »

Our family car is so full of reusable grocery bags, we have trouble putting anything in it.


Written by balloonhed

July 10, 2011 at 10:54 am

In the Future #1

with 2 comments

In the FutureIn the Future

What Are We Teaching Our Children?

leave a comment »

Good: behaviour that provides positive outcomes for all people involved . . . or as many possible. Stuff done in the spirit of kind thoughts for those around you.

Evil: Unenlightened-Self-Interest. Exploitation of a situation to certain ends knowing it will cause harm to other parties involved. Forcing people to act against their own best interests. Profiting off the discomfort of others.

As a civilization, we theoretically stress the values of Good over those of Evil. In practice . . .  Evil behaviour is a necessary tool in how the modern world works, especially in business.

We tend to teach children behaviours that can be categorized as “Good” in school. But are we really doing them a service? Perhaps we need to look at the requirements of real-world life and revise what we’re handing down.


 The Standard: Bullying is bad. All schools teach that bullying is a problem that must be nipped in the bud, that a bully is someone who is in need of help just as much as the victims. We have bullying help lines, anti-bullying songs, books called “I was a Bully,” yadda yadda.

 The Adult World: The skills that bullying develops – intimidation, leadership, coordination, project management, coercion, psychology  – are very useful skills in the areas of sales, politics, office life, interpersonal relationships, and law enforcement.

 Conclusion: Crass and unskilled bullying should be punished as usual. Skilled manipulations and coordinated campaigns against one or more individuals show a lot of promise in many lines of work in the child’s future. This should be rewarded. Efforts to curry favour with principals and other higher authorities to reduce the impact of bullying behaviour is also a laudable skill, and should be positively recognized.


 The Standard: Children are taught we need to be nice to each other. Old people need to be visited and helped across streets, the handicapped assisted, younger kids offered support, people in difficulties accorded sympathy and leeway.

 The Adult World: People who don’t look like me are using up resources I could be using. I’m all for helping people out, but those lazy welfare recipients, unemployed people and old people are eating up all the taxes that get sucked out of me. And the freakin’ Immigrants! Don’t get me started. What’s in it for me? My political candidates and news sources of choice tell me this, too – it’s us against them and them and them, so why am I helping them out?

 Conclusion: Children should be taught the value of a “I scratch your back, you scratch mine” view of life. Do nothing unless your interests will be well-covered in the results


 The Standard: Schools have emphasized for decades now the importance of being aware of the earth’s needs. Schools have been adorned with poster-painted images of the globe in green and blue, with rainbow-lettered slogans about loving the earth as long as I can remember. Don’t litter, recycle, go with your class on spring cleaning trips through the neighbourhood, yahoo!

 The Adult World: While environmentalism has become a massive and popular fad, it’s still only truly given any time when it’s convenient or politically expedient. I’ll be nice to the earth as long as I don’t have to give up my next smart phone upgrade, can still buy a terrible plastic water bottle at the corner store when I forget to bring a reusable one, or give up my first-world consumer habits. Likewise, windmill farms and hydrogen fuel cells sound great! But, given the prices and all, don’t we have all sorts of coal power and oil infrastructure lying around? Shame to waste it.

Conclusion: That’s very nice you’re making sleeping mats for poor people in Africa out of old pop bottles, kids, but to really make a difference you’d also have to stop asking for new video game consoles, trips to Disneyland, over-packaged fast food, and  new clothes every new school year. Don’t wanna do that? That’s OK – the third world will suffer the negative impacts of environmental degradation first, due to the fact it’s the place we’re making all the crap before we do, thereby functioning as an early-warning system. Focus your later educational efforts on engineering and bureaucracy or law enforcement so you can benefit from all the jobs building giant domes over cities and riot control.


 The Standard: Honesty is the best policy. Even if you’ve done something bad, it’s better to fess up and avoid further consequences derived from the fact you lied, too. Keep your promises, tell the truth.

 The Adult World: Modification of truth, leaving out key details, or liberally interpreting questions and thoughts of others are tried-and-true tools for getting stuff done. Promises are great in theory.

Conclusion: Kids should be given lessons in complicating/variegating  the facts of a situation to help them develop important life skills.  Really good modification-of-truth efforts should be applauded.


leave a comment »

The following things are Crap: stuff that may amuse in the moment, but will eventually end up in a junk drawer or box of miscellaneous stuff. And likely broken.

• Non-brand-name toys made in China (especially those annoying little rip-off toy cars that lose their wheels immediately)

• Pretty much anything put in a kid’s “loot bag” from a party.

• Toys that come in fast food kid’s meal in order to make kids make you buy them.

• Almost anything from a “dollar store” that isn’t bought with a specific purpose in mind (i.e., nails, tape). And, more often than not, once the specific purpose they were bought for is met, they become crap: I’ve had the misfortune to cross paths with a number of one- or two-use dollar store screwdrivers, for instance.

• 90% of stuff for sale at shopping mall kiosks.

• Kid’s stickers

• Virtually everything in a souvenir store or stall at a fair/carnival/etc

Crap is a modern innovation that comes out of the consumer desire to fill a hole with something. Usually, that hole is an instant gratification urge or some desire to express individuality by owning unusual or unique (to your immediate world) Crap. Children are especially vulnerable to the Crap urge, and parents, in their efforts to quell the cries, are the biggest enablers of Crap vendors. Holidays and special events are also big entry-points for crap – the urge to fill a stocking with “novelties” often results in a bunch of stuff that seems amusing in the moment, but just breaks and otherwise gets left around to annoy.

I speculate that the propagation of Crap is as big a threat as bigscreen teevees and cars to the long-term health of the world. It’s largely unnoticed – it doesn’t get advertised on teevee, and is very cheap. I suspect it would be difficult to find out how much Crap is manufactured and sold every year.

We need to realize the negative impact Crap has on us and our environment. We need to stop enabling the production of Crap.

Written by balloonhed

February 2, 2011 at 2:55 pm

Everyday Alphabet – Rr – Robot Revolution

with 6 comments

Robot revolution

. . . i considered having the world’s power elite depicted in screens saying “ouch” in their languages of choice from the comfort of their inner sanctums, but the detail required would exceed the capabilities of the resolution used for everyday alphabet – for instance, the caption at the bottom of  each screen saying “Washington,” “Moscow,” etc. And i wouldn’t have been able to include the two light bulb-headed robots, which are the only robots in the thing.

Self-Made Men

leave a comment »

Our eight-year-old wanted to stay up after his bed time. I made a deal: he could stay up an extra half hour if he promised not to make a fuss when the time came. “OK,” he said.

When a half hour was up, I escorted him to his bed. He immediately started to complain and sass. I reminded him of our deal.

“Oh, I don’t care about the deal anymore – I already got what I wanted.”

It sounds childish, but it’s the model being repeated by so many adults in the world. The truly wealthy only achieve that state by exploiting the infrastructure of the society they live in. “Oilmen” get there because of the millions of people who drive cars, the corporations that turn oil into stuff for the millions, etc. Having achieved wealthy status, many such people are claiming that societal considerations like government and social safety nets are useless, and they’d like to see them gone – in fact, such individuals use their money-derived influence to see this come into being, and often enter politics just to make the world more perfect for their own concerns.

The behaviour is similar in the treatment of the Earth – It has provided a living through being exploited, and nothing bad has come of exploiting it – Clearly, we’re off the hook as far as reciprocating goes.

It’s easy to forget or disregard something that gets to be taken for granted. This tendency has been the downfall of many previous human civilizations. Such things need to be looked at, checked for health now and then.

Should the rich be taxed at a higher rate? of course, until there is some sort of limit placed on personal wealth. There is merit in working hard and pursuing risks, but there must also be homage paid to the means these people used to get there.

Written by balloonhed

January 21, 2011 at 9:22 am

Future Summary

leave a comment »

“We could have saved [the Earth] but we were too damned cheap.”
— Kurt Vonnegut

Written by balloonhed

January 18, 2011 at 9:54 pm