Something to Learn: The Efficacy of Recycling Plastics

Environmental advocates maintain that plastics are largely single-use: A 2020 Greenpeace USA survey found that plastics with resin codes #3–7 are virtually impossible to recycle, because of limited facility processing capabilities and insufficient market demand. Lawsuits are currently ongoing against Walmart and Keurig Green Mountain, arguing that those companies have violated Federal Trade Commission guidance by presenting plastic items as recyclable. The corporate giants have defended themselves against the allegations and emphasized their commitment to sustainability. (Walmart said in a statement that the company is “a strong advocate for the environment” and recycling, while Keurig has maintained in court that its labels advise consumers to “check locally” regarding recycling options.)

From: https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2021/01/recycling-wont-solve-climate-change/617851/

Clarence Thomas and the Future of America

I was able to borrow Corey Robin’s The Enigma of Clarence Thomas from my local library after thinking about these themes for so long. As I read it in hardcover, I don’t have a set of notes, so I thought I could write a summary from his eyes:

There has been a corruption of the black man in America. It is a corruption led by progressives seeking to atone for America’s long history of slavery and post-slavery racism. The root cause of racism is unknown, therefore we can never hope to defeat it. Heavy racism will always exist, regardless of our best intentions as a society.

The progressive path is a path proven to fail. The reason why is our political systems are systems led by (racist) whites. Improvements suggested by white people, implemented in systems controlled by white people are simply another means of control of black people by white people.

It does not matter whether the intention of a program is honorable or not. The end result is always the same. Programs meant to help the underprivileged simply set up guidelines to help others abuse them.

Programs like affirmative action reinforce who is in control (white people), making a black man’s success dependent on the recognition and charity of the white man. I know, because I have lived it for myself. Even if a black man is lifted through such a program, there will always be a stigma, both to people who view the man, and within the man himself, that this was only possible with whites’ help.

If schools really cared about equity, they wouldn’t use affirmative action to “bestow” opportunity to blacks. Instead, they would look at other ways to evaluate individuals that wouldn’t bias against blacks in the first place. The reason they don’t is simple: elitism. Schools (the white men who control them) have no desire to give up their power. Anyone’s claims for diversity is merely superficial; you want things to look fair not you want things to be fair.

Eminent domain is supposed to provide fair compensation for the use of land. Let’s talk about what it really is: the right for a government to take advantage of poor (usually black) people, giving “fair” price for land that is immediately gentrified or magnified in value once blacks are disposed of. This “protection” simply makes it easier for those who know how to play the game (wealthy whites in power) to once again take advantage of blacks.

It’s futile for blacks to seek political power – they can never change things when they will always be outvoted at large. Instead, the path forward for the black man is through the economy, through capitalism.

The black man must create his own institutions, develop his own wealth, and then use his economic wealth to speak, to breath power into his politics. Talk is cheap, it’s money that proves the real values of a man. Therefore, one’s use of money needs to be freed. One needs to be allowed to use his money in any way he likes, he must have the ability to earn money in any way he likes. If money can help a man’s viewpoint get visibility, he must have the freedom to use his money to get this viewpoint, communicated by intermediaries, across.

He must have access to guns. Yes, this means white people will have the means to hunt him down, but they always did anyway. A right to bear arms means he can now protect his property, his family, his woman.

The police are surely racist. But this racism is what can make the black man strong. Survive and be stronger for it. What progressive rights have done are to make the black man weak. Things like welfare and social services allow the black man to learn dependency. They prevent him from understanding the truth of America and forging him into someone who can overcome hardships and lead a new generation – his own family. Instead, these efforts let him leave his responsibilities as a man. Prisoners are being punished for crimes. Punishment = a different set of rights versus normal citizens. These penalties are critical in making a black man who can survive America.

I’ve been able to live through both types of black men. My father was a liar who left me.  I could never understand why he never felt responsibilities towards his own children. My mother could not raise me. It was left to my grandfather to teach me the values to survive in America, as an entrepreneur who refused to suck on the government’s tit.

The black man can never be dependent on anyone other than other black people. We are on our own. We must be left free to our devices to succeed.

Back to me again: Robin’s book helped me think a lot about racism. In some ways, perhaps Thomas is right. I do agree on his thoughts on diversity and elitism (I am also someone who takes advantage of it) in institutions. What I do not know is if we should just give up. I’ve heard Thomas referred to as a black nationalist and I never understood what that meant until I read the book: to me, it means creating a black nation-like entity within America. Blacks do their thing and be left alone, and whites the same.

The problem I see there is how that extrapolates into the future. I feel that if you want to achieve progress in economy, humanity -> move towards the Star Trek utopia where everyone is united on a common mission, you cannot do it divided. If you’re just thinking about the now, with no aspirations for mankind, then his view is fine. We can be stuck in the middle ages forever. You just live your life in the same place with your “people”, have kids, die. If we are simply animals, that’s the way.

If you want to explore the potential of humankind, however, it has to be different.

Perhaps that goes back into the core roots of conservatism vs progressive thinking, I don’t know. But from a selfish American standpoint, if I want to see the American economy to keep growing, I feel I need to find ways to get everyone to be part of the success. Extracting my wealth from the bottom may make me better off, but doesn’t grow the American pie. I want to see everyone contributing and befitting to maximize what humans can do.

A Spectrum of Feeling

One one end, there’s nothing more delightful than watching my nearly two year old dance to Shakira each morning, enthralled by the recent Super Bowl Half Time show.

On the other, I go to sleep wondering if I will wake up with a hard, dry cough or another of the COVID-19 symptoms. I know that if I do, that will almost surely mean my wife and son have it too. Any time I go outside and can just see another person from a distance, even though no one I’ve encountered “seems” sick, I wonder is this the interaction that proves my gamble foolhardy. If I sneeze or have a slightly runny nose, I wonder if other people see me and freak out. In my mind, I protest “it’s just allergies” and “I have this all the time” but reversing the situation, I understand the feeling – I’m thinking the same thing.

When an Option to Unsubscribe is really a F*ck You. (The Loot Company)

Recently, it looks like The Loot Company has taken over what used to be Loot Crate – I had purchased a crate long ago as a gift. As part of the takeover, they sent me this email highlighting that I could have my personal information removed from the database moving forward:

Loot Company.png

Sounds good right? Here’s where it falls apart:

1) I had to screenshot the email because I could not copy the text.

2) It seems logical that I could click the opt-out email address shown as a link to opt out. That area of the email is clickable but it just sends you to the website. That means you have to remember that email address and type it in manually (because you cannot copy the text) in a new email.

3) They are vague in the information you have to send for the opt-out. Any normal customer database only needs email as a unique identifier, yet they imply you may need to send more – this is an excuse to say they couldn’t remove your information later and blame it on you for not sending enough information. I’m supposed to know how their database works?

4) The most logical way to unsubscribe is to simply use the unsubscribe link at the very bottom of the email, but that unsubscribe turns out to be completely unrelated to this one.

I ended up emailing them, but it went to their support ticketing system – they could have easily set up an auto-unsubscribe process (remove any email address sending to that designated email address). I now have to wait a few days to see if they could figure out how to remove me.

Lawyers Cathy Hershcopf and Sarah Carnes at Cooley LLP claim they “totally respect your privacy so the decision is yours.” Lawyers are very precise in their work. Thus, while “totally” is perfectly fine when I’m emphasizing something to my friends, Cathy and Sarah are not my friends. Imagine a doctor telling you “it’s totally safe to operate.” It is safe or it is not. You respect my privacy or you do not.

The decision is mine, yet only if I can somehow get them the message (that they’ve made as hard as possible to do – physical letter? come on here! They use a digital communication tool to tell me to use a physical one in response. Insane.) I want out in the next 10 days. They ask you to send as much information as possible so they can find a way to remove you from the database. This is their respect for your privacy.

To the lawyers at Cooley LLP and The Loot Company – I hope when your personal information gets leaked through hack or privacy breach, and you wonder why those companies did not remove or protect your information better, you can look back at your own examples at where you “totally” respected others’ privacy.

(Update: As of one week later, October 17th, no confirmation that my information has been removed.)

(Update: As of one month later, November 12th, no confirmation that my information has been removed. I followed up with LootCrate over email and the social media accounts of both the law firm and LootCrate.)