On Bourdain, David Perry, Bob Akers, and Lloyd and Bessie Mae Presley

Anthony Bourdain goes to West Africa for the food, comes back singing about electronics geeks and wizards
Let me present the ontological argument for inclusivity - including inclusivity of people who appear to strongly disagree with your beliefs.  I've learned not to be angry, or afraid, of people who are wrong.  Not being afraid, being brave about things like patriotism and cultural appropriation, and finding commonalities and strengths to emulate in your adversaries, is just good practice.

"Mass communication has brung us all within earshot (and memes) of people who strongly disagree with what we grew up believing. Some people are frightened and threatened by that. Those people (right or left) are pretty similar in my experience (my family's from Taney County Mo, I went to Carleton and my kid's at Middlebury). There must be a better word than snowflake, but it's a short step from fear to intolerance."

This is a comment I just left on an interesting article on "PC" culture on liberal campuses compared to "Faith and Patriotism" core values (and mandatory courses) on Christian universities (ran across David M. Perry's  "Why Do Christian Schools Get a Pass in Conversations about Academic Freedom".  And (screenshot below) he responded by Twitter before I got far along in today's blog.

The original topic I was searching Twitter for is references to the Ozarks, which I've been thinking about again lately.  Not just because we are preparing our annual family holiday gathering on the Missouri Arkansas line, and not just because of my fascination or obsession with the parallels between Agbogbloshie and Branson.

At the conference in New Orleans, I was politely greeted by Bob Akers, the new Executive Director of E-Stewards.  He ran the Surplus Exchange in Kansas City, which I visited about 15 years ago.  Great organization, and it managed to earn E-Stewards Certification in a reuse context... similar to Fair Trade Recyclers earning R2 certification.

And he's the only person I will meet this year, outside of the family, who will recognize 2017 as the 50th Anniversary of the Presley Family Jubilee... and what that meant to culture and industry in Branson, Missouri.  It was sometimes debated whether Lloyd and Bessie Mae Presley were truly locals (she was from Oklahoma, they moved from Springfield MO to Branson in 1967 to open the theater) but they were quickly looked on as 100% local as more and more Andy Williams, Dolly Parton, Wayne Newtons and Acrobats of China shows followed them there.

Electronics Recycling Conference 2017 Presents Jim Lynch Lifetime Achievement Award To

Scary Times in New Orleans...

What a great time I had last night, here in New Orleans, Louisiana.  I'm here to attend the 2017 ERC conference, run now by Sarah Cade of Chicago.  The annual international conference is a unique group of people, which took off from the launching pad of an organization, TechSoup, run by my pal Jim Lynch of San Francisco.  Jim's a legend, and each year this electronics reuse conference presents an achievement award in his name.

While the Bourbon Street Halloween Parade was truly a sight to behold, and Jazz Saxophonist Gary Brown was giving rare encores late into the night, the pinnacle of the evening, for me, came early.  At 6PM, I was presented a "Lifetime Achievement Award" for alleged contributions to the field of electronics repair and reuse. The honor was bestowed on me by Jim and Sarah, based on a vote of past Jim Lynch honorees, such as the distinguished Nancy Jo Craig of Baton Rouge, Charles Brennick of InterConnection in Seattle, Kyle Wiens (founder of IFIXIT!) and others.


Not cultural appopriation b/c photo snapped by Swiss woman? Oh and Halloween. That.

Jim Lynch himself introduced the award.  I was touched that he spoke about the several hour drive he and I shared together coming back from Retroworks de Mexico. He hit the sweet spots of my career, and my passion for defending reuse techs in emerging markets.

The Fireworks Economy of Agbogbloshie, Part 2

Fire is the dynamic that attracts teenagers and young men to a wire burning site.  Fireworks economy.  Build a bonfire, attract a crowd.  The wages at the wire burning site on the Odaw River are so low because 1) the youth suffer chronic unemployment and, 2) burning wire adds very little value. There less plastic on the wire, which makes it worth a little more, but the clump of wire weighs less, because the plastic is gone.

Who else is attracted to fires?  You got it, photojournalists.

Enter photojournalist #10.

Shin Woong-jae

Shin is from South Korea and came to NYC to study photography, according to his bio.  His instagram and twitter feed was all about wire burning, and I'm sure he's the "China Man" the Musketeers told me about a little while ago.  He seems like a nice guy.  Not a credible scrapyard expert (see Adam Minter or Jon Spaull's reporting for that), but at least gets the jist of the philosophical question of whether photojournalists wars can create "collateral damage".  Seems sincere in understanding the pitfalls of "photographer protagonist".

The Fireworks Economy, Part 1: Burning Wire Adds No Value

European and American NGOs and Regulators who are entranced by the flames at Old Fadama's "Agbogbloshie" scrapyard have three main boogeymen.  Many argue that sales of used goods should be banned to Africa based on public concern over three "questionable" practices:

1) Burning Wire
2) Breaking CRT Tubes
3) Circuit Boards

So many documentaries have now been filmed with close up camera shots of each of these, that we receive RFPs that ban our company from doing work unless we promise not to do business with Africans.  As someone who lived in Cameroon for 30 months in the 1980s - and is still in touch via Facebook with my landlord from the small town of Ngaoundal there after 30 years - this "segregation" of business distresses me greatly.