E-waste in China
I was talking to some old-time pros in the publishing industry, and they argued that printed books were a resource-conserving technology, as opposed to all of us reading from electronic readers that will no doubt, like cell-phones, become obsolete quickly, and then thrown away—or sent to Nigeria or China or elsewhere, where small children and the poor will poison themselves trying to extract what they can from huge mounds of e-waste. If publishers could figure out how to control returns (and thus stop having so many books being landfilled) perhaps books, which last many, many decades, might be an "alternative" to the petroleum-based economy.
On another matter, and one related tangentially to my post on Dickens
, I cannot stop thinking about one of Dickens' later, great, and somewhat overlooked novel, Our Mutual Friend
, and how it seems a novel very much of these times. Why? Because it's all about money—where it can be found, how to acquire it, what one can do with it, and how to lose it. It's about an economy based on trash—in this case the huge mounds of rubbish that traveled on, and were found in and next to, the River Thames in the nineteenth-century, and are now in the above-mentioned developing world. It's about an economy literally based on detritus and fakery, about parasites and frauds who exploit others and whose very social respectability is, literally, full of rubbish.
In a world of Madoffs and Stanfords, defaulting banks, environmental waste, and of an economy filled with speculators, con-men, and people who want to get filthy rich as filthily quickly as they can, Dickens' Our Mutual Friend
speaks very loudly and clearly for the dignity of labor and of cleaning up our act.