The Story of Stuff


Regular readers of this blog know that I go on at length about the corrosive aspects of conspicuous consumption, and how our stuff takes a far too important place in our lives. While it is true that I sometimes talk about how this is destroying our planet, my main focus has been more about the prison we put ourselves in emotionally and spiritually by being so tied up and obsessed with our stuff. Of course, that is only part of the story, and a New York Times article this morning pointed me to an absolutely amazing video called “The Story of Stuff“, that details the ins and outs of the cycle of consumption, and makes some excellent points about the lack of sustainability in our current culture.

The maker of the video, Annie Leonard,  is a former Greenpeace activist, and there are a few rather indelicate ways she describes some parts of the system in the video. At times, she makes some rather blanket statements about using resources that leave out some nuance. But overall, I heartily agree with her main points that this system can not continue indefinitely as is, and that we fundamentally need to change our relationship to consumption so that the true costs are put in evidence. Continued life on our planet depends on it. The video is only 20 minutes long, and WELL worth watching. Check it out here.

Thanks Hillary


I don’t want to get all political on your asses and bore the hell out my readership (both of you), but I followed a chain of links this morning that reinforces why I don’t like Hillary Clinton, and why she is representative of what’s wrong with American politics today.

I really have a ton of reasons for not liking Hillary. I used to love her (in the 90s), and then I saw her change her views on a whole host of issues to pander to one constituency or another. Whether her support of bullshit issues like outlawing flag burning, or her much more grievous support of the Iraq war, her highest values have nothing to do with public service. Her highest value is power. In that, she is very much like a number of other high profile people in politics (or the White House). Can it be any other way? Can we imagine a system where (in addition to career, money and power) people actually do the right thing and get elected for it? I’m not sure at all.

This morning’s stomach upset started innocently enough. I was reading the New York Times and came across an article about Al Gore and the Nobel Peace Prize.  That got me looking at the presidential race, hoping against hope that Gore would run. That in turn had me considering the other contenders, and that led me to Hillary Clinton’s web site for a look at her stands on the issues. In particular I wanted to see what she had to say about energy and the environment. So I watched the video clip and had a gnawing feeling as she mentioned things like “clean coal” and “ethanol”.  A quick check of sources reconfirmed what has been obvious for some time. “Clean” coal isn’t clean (just cleaner than dirty coal) and our ethanol production in this country is a boondoggle. For her to mention these and pledge support to them is just to pander to powerful interest groups and look a little like she is doing something for the environment. But she isn’t. She just feels that she can’t take on these entrenched lobbies and their subsidies and win, so she has crafted a completely irresponsible and dishonest message about “protecting” the environment.

In short, she is a big part of the problem, not part of the solution.