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December 07, 2006

Comments

I can double-up. Some of the virtual worlds now allow you to purchase avatars with a certain skill-set. The skill-set might take hours to develop (think of levelling up in an RPG), so there's a kind of globalized market now for these digital goods, where first-world money pays third-world labor, often child labor (kids jamming their fingers on keyboards to develop the skills and transfer them). Wish I had some links at the moment.

But now the serious question for any ethicists who might be lurking out there: The idea that we ought to lay off chocolate, given these facts, is surely right. After all, there are alternatives (Cadbury) and, even if there were not, one would think [hope, at least] that laying off the chocolate wouldn't be a grave setback to an individual's quality of life.

But what about cell phones? There are just a whole lot of jobs out there that I couldn't accept if I insisted on not using a cell phone. Am I obligated as well if the cost is a severe restriction on many of my hopes, dreams, ambitions? For some reason, it seems obvious to me that if we were put the choice decide as a collective market between cell phones and the horrible abuse of some improverished country, we would have to lay off the cell phones (after all, then no individual is closing off whole occupational categories, since nobody expects you to use the darned things), but it is not so obvious to me that in the existence of an unjust structure, that an idividual has to unilaterally burden herself at the cost of her life's plans.

A scene out of some Smith & Hawken catalog: sitting out on the patio in teak furniture, wearing gold jewelry with diamond accents, snacking on chocolate, interrupting a virtual world game to take a cell phone call.

We care more about people we can exploit.

Who the hell gives a damn about Cuba? or Zimbabwe? or North Korea?

Well I can tell you that liberals don't, not in any meaningful way.

Look, what are the countries that have been most exploited by the evil capitalists and how are they doing? Japan, Germany, South Korea, for instance.

So go ahead and support Cuba, Zimbabwe, Palestine, etc., because they are against the cycle of people paying other people what the market bears.

Fine, they produce worthless stuff, or nothing at all, I don't have to pay for it. If we want free trade to end in various counties, well then you want the government to take over everything in those countries. My take is that trade is a deterrent to tyranny. If you want to shut down that, fine, enslave those people to their strongmen. Just don't expect me to be in favor of sending help to the bad guys because they are impoverished, or to care when their dictators denounce the US at the UN.

I'm not sure I understand what Ara is talking about with the cell phone stuff. Is he saying that cell phone service shouldn't exist in remote areas even though wired phone service infrastucture is way too expensive to install, because it exploits the people there?

What is the alternative? No phone service at all?

Perhaps the happy natives prefer sending messages by beating drums or sending runners and the modern world shouldn't meddle with that.

If you're a libertarian, or have any libertarian sympathies, you should therefore hope that the market works in these cases; and you should regard people who make fun of campaigns like these, when they are not genuinely amusing, as working against conservative principles.

Exactly! I've been saying this sort of thing for a while, as a Libertarian who really, sincerely cares about social justice (but distrust's Big Government's benevolent hand in getting us there).

Coffee. Buy the shade kind.

If you want to keep poor people poor, then don't buy anything from them. I don't think that is social justice, but I'm being typically contrarian.

It's been quite literally years since I bought any coffee or tea that wasn't Fairtrade, and I try to buy only Fairtrade chocolate, too.

I don't always succeed in this... but Green and Black chocolate is so good that it's easy not to be so tempted by much else available. It was a real surprise to me to discover that Cadbury's in the US seems to count as luxury foreign chocolate. Then I tasted Hershey's. Uck.

DaveC, the point of Fairtrade is to ensure that people who produce something that we don't need but like to have (coffee, chocolate, etc) get fairly paid a decent price for the work they do: surely a positive goal for anyone? I was working for Oxfam when Fairtrade was launched: but I thought then and think now that it is one of the most practical ideas for grassroots change that I'd ever heard of.

DaveC: f you want to keep poor people poor, then don't buy anything from them. I don't think that is social justice, but I'm being typically contrarian.

No, Dave. If you want to keep poor people poor, only buy things from them through large-scale operators to whose direct advantage it is that the people they buy from stay poor.

Since it is cocoa, doesn't that mean that anything with cocoa rather than just candy bars would be causing grief?

Beware of the Nile Perch - gruesome stuff, but just an example of many.

Generally though I'm sick and tired of this middle class ethical consumer guilt trip thing. I mean honestly, who has the time and the heart to feel guilty every time one buys a snickers at a gas station or orders a mousse au chocolat and a double espresso in a restaurant?

People who advocate change through consumer behavior are still firm believers in the free market. Since I firmly believe that the free market is mostly a myth I call bs. Effectively the government is outsourcing its work to the citizens. Governments (and this includes the so called free marketeers of the Bush admin) slap tariffs and import restrictions on all sorts of things when it suits them, so why should they not be forced to either totally prohibit the import of unethical products or at least increase their price significantly through regulation and label them with big, fat stickers as unethical?

A few high up people in national governments and internationa institutions making such decisions could achieve a million times more in a very short time than a few Guardian readers behaving ethically for the next 40 years. So pressure them and forget the guilt trip - it's more efficient and less annoying.

I submit that what is bad in each case is not the product itself, but the legal system in the country that produces it. Novakant is right -- feel guilty all you like, but it's not going to change things. What's needed is reform at the level of legal and political institutions in the developing world.

So, as a libertarian, I support your right to buy whatever you like, or to abstain from buying whatever you like. I think, though, that the best way to make a difference with regard to child labor, slave labor, and the like, is to support efforts toward political education, legal reform, and good government in the countries that now foster these practices.

DaveC: I'm not arguing anything. I think you raise a good point. It's a genuine puzzle to me.

Who the hell gives a damn about Cuba? or Zimbabwe? or North Korea?
Well I can tell you that liberals don't, not in any meaningful way.

speak for your own lousy self.

I'd guess that the power per avatar computation is not accurate. The rest, sure, informed purchases and all that, but I'm thinking that the 10-15k avatars is the average online usage, and not the power usage per avatar. So yes, people's faux-life personalities might be consuming power at that rate while they're on. Not so much, while they're not on.

One could count blogs this way as well, note. You're typing into your blog from your home computer, which burns power at (say) 150-175 W/hr, and your blog resides on a server that consumes 200 W/hr. And hopefully, your blog is being read by people on computers burning power at 150-175 W/hr.

One could count blogs this way as well, note.

Blogs: making the world worse.

I think that's a slogan a lot of politicians could get behind.

Once again I wonder which post DaveC actually read before spouting off. Certainly not this one. Regardless, his ever-more-apoplectic responses to Hilzoy are fascinating, in a Mel Gibson/Michael Richards/Danny DeVito fashion (mostly DeVito - if DaveC were a crazy drunk, he'd be a lovable, vertically challenged crazy drunk, ably charming the lovely ladies of The View).

Reminds me of a besotted Uncle at a Christmas get-together several years back who ranted on about Zionist Bankers and black helicopters after someone innocuously mentioned an article on plunging buses they'd seen in the New York Times. (True story, slightly embellished for effect - thank god the peas were fresh.)

Skepticism about the total-transformation possibilities of market pressure is certainly in order, but the fact is that market demand can and does affect things on a fairly wide scale. The Whole Foods chain, for instance, has given a major boost to the organic farming labeling laws in a lot of US states, and opened up business opportunities for organic producers of many kinds. There's a symbiosis of interest and opportunity that is worth more than a drive-by sneer - not as a replacement for politics, but alongside it.

I realized some years ago that many libertarians treat organized purchaser action in the marketplace very much as some kinds of grammarian approach changes in English usage. You'll find few grammarians who flat-out claim that the masses aren't entitled to shape usage, particularly when it comes to historical change - I'm not aware of much sentiment in favor of undoing the great vowel shift, for instance, or trying to roll back to pre-Elizabethan definitions across the board. And yet no effort of today's hoi polloi to shift usage is likely to pass muster, and conscious efforts to encourage alternatives for social or political reasons (like "they" instead of "he" as a third person singular as well as plural pronoun, on the grounds that a bit more than half of us aren't "he") are just right out...unless of course it's a change sanctioned up front by grammarians. That's what it really comes down to: the changes that are okay are the ones that come from the right sort of people.

A lot of libertarians seem exactly like that, except with corporate boards in the place of grammarians. If they decide on a change of policy, that's fine. But it's not fine if they've been pressured into it, which means that any effort to hurt their company's profits by withholding purchases is not okay. Individually, customers are sort of allowed to make decisions for their own reasons, but it's outside manipulation of the market if they try to tell anyone about it, or to organize and coordinate their efforts.

For myself, thanks very much, Hilzoy!

My take is that trade is a deterrent to tyranny.
My take is that ideology is a deterrent to fact. I know it's terribly gauche to mention fascism, but c'mon. Read history much? Look at China much?

At the very least, try to add some qualifiers: 'free trade,' or 'private individuals engaging in international trade', or something like that. It wouldn't make it true, but it would at least indicate some CYA foresight.

I find it funny that you mention Cuba, pointing out that it 'produces nothing that we want.' While you weren't looking, they ramped up a pretty impressive biotech infrastructure, and have been selling their wares to a number of other countries. China is a consumer of Cuban biotech goods, for example, and Germany has their new cancer treatment drugs in clinical trials. Just because we're not allowed to buy it doesn't mean it's not valuable.

The existence of those kinds of cases should motivate us to drop our restrictions on trade with Cuba, shouldn't it? That's been the liberal mantra for years: by not buying from them, we've doomed Cubans to poverty. Perhaps you're more liberal than you thought.

not to mention you're missing out on cigars

(I always wondered how strictly enforced this ban is in the US: how widely available are they? did anybody ever get fined for lighting one up? thrown into jail for importing them like booze smugglers in the prohibition? I can't imagine the bigwigs in Washington and in boardrooms across the country not having a cuban cigar ever so often. Anybody got any superior inisght into this matter? ;) )

Not too happy Bruce uses the term 'grammarian' to describe those types. Safire prefers the term 'language maven', and I would prefer to not lower the term grammarian to the level of Safire and John Simon, who Pinker memorably dissected here:

In recent years the loudest Jeremiah has been the film and theater critic John Simon. Here is a representative opening to one of his language columns:
The English language is being treated nowadays exactly as slave traders once handled the merchandise in their slave ships, or as the inmates of concentration camps were dealt with by their Nazi jailers.

What grammatical horror could have inspired this tasteless comparison, you might ask? It was Tip O'Neill's redundantly referring to his "fellow colleagues." Speaking of the American Black English dialect, Simon says:

Why should we consider some, usually poorly educated, subculture's notion of the relationship between sound and meaning? And how could a grammar -- any grammar -- possibly describe that relationship? As for "I be," "you be," "he be," etc., which should give us all the heebie-jeebies, these may indeed be comprehensible, but they go against all accepted classical and modern grammars and are the product not of a language with roots in history but of ignorance of how language works.

This, of course, is nonsense from beginning to end (Black English Vernacular is uncontroversially a language with its own systematic grammar), but there is no point in refuting this malicious know-nothing, for he is not participating in any sincere discussion.

Speaking of malicious know-nothings, Tom Delay enjoys a good cuban cigar, apparently

Ah, I just read the SecondLife source article, and the numbers are: 1 million avatars, 4000 servers. Computing kWhr/yr per avatar comes to just under 9.

I know, this is just an incidental part of the discussion, but incidental is my life.

1 million avatars, 4000 servers. Computing kWhr/yr per avatar comes to just under 9

so they have all these servers sitting around doing nothing else but serving avatars? where are the servers that run the game logic ?

I don't understand the question. I'd guess the avatars are data, while the game logic is a program. The avatars probably actually reside on a sizeable drive array.

I think the point I'm trying to make is power usage is most accurately put in units of W-h per year for the actual login time per user, which is going to come out to a much smaller number than the given one (unless one is logged in and playing 24 hours a day, 365 days per year).

None of this is to dismiss that it's a waste, rather to emphasize that the waste is spread a lot more thinly than implied.

Or you could say there's being something over 6 million kWhr/year wasted on SecondLife, in total. And that's probably overstated by a factor of 2 or more, if 4000 is the processor count, as discussed in the comments section at the linked article. A total waste of power, though, as far as I'm concerned.

Liberal Japonicus: There are lots of grammarians I like and respect, and defer to (which is much more meaningful than just liking). On the other hand, you're right that a bunch of the hard-core harrumphers don't actually have any systematic grounding in how grammar actually works. I'll see if I can remember this the next time I do my own harrumphing.

Off Topic - this, is just out and out depressing (heard a similar report about Darby several months ago on NPR). No good deed goes unpunished.

The Cuba embargo will be wildly successful any year now. You always need to give a policy at least 40 or 50 years for a fair trial. We can start thinking about changing Iraq policy around 2050.

Don't get me started on Canadian Football. They are systematically trying to weaken our resolve to stick with the running game. It is a slippery slope, like the newfangled soccer style kickers getting in somehow and replacing good Americans like Lou Groza.

I may have been a bit rash about defending cell phones. My wife and kids think it's a remote control to operate DaveC, which is bad in every way. Another warning about phones: Keep at least one wired phone in your house (not that you can get them anywhere.) If you have a big ice storm that knocks out electricity, you may still have phone service, but not if you are totally dependent on those wireless gizmos that need wall outlet power.

I don't think I have to choose between deciding, now, not to buy any chocolate that isn't FT or Cadbury, and also deciding to do whatever I can to affect the relevant laws. In this case, I opt for both. I also deny that this involves being consumed by guilt: it's a simple, one-time decision. Register the fact, decide accordingly, move on.

I think of this as just another way of registering a consumer preference. If I found out that some type of chocolate bar was produced in horribly unsanitary conditions that made it actually dangerous, I would both decide not to eat any such chocolate bar and (depending on the circumstances) possibly to advocate for changes to food safety laws. There's no need to choose between them.

If I had any idea what DaveC's comments had to do with my post, I'd reply.

Ara: hard to give a quick, drive-by response, but I don't think you're obligated not to use cell phones ever, given both the magnitude of your individual purchasing decision's actual effect (small) and the availability of alternate ways of trying to help (e.g., by trying to change the situation that makes this sort of thing possible, and/or by pushing cell companies to be careful about suppliers.) But it's a question that deserves a longer response than this.

I don't understand the question. I'd guess the avatars are data, while the game logic is a program. The avatars probably actually reside on a sizeable drive array.

i guess i just don't understand the point in trying to calculate the cost of one small part of what the game servers do. it'd be like calculating the "cost per JPG" of a web server as total_power_used / JPG_count. if you (generic you) get a big number, you then say "JPGs use too many resources! stop serving JPGs!" well, no. obviously, a web server does more than just serve JPGs: it serves HTML, it runs back-end stuff to generate HTML, it runs databases, it runs security stuff to keep intruders out, etc.. likewise, game servers do more than serve avatars. just turning the servers on without connecting them to the net uses a pretty good amount of power. just don't get the point of singling out "avatars".

i admit that i am probably missing the point here.

Or you could say there's being something over 6 million kWhr/year wasted on SecondLife, in total.

right, that's a more meaningful stat, IMO.

Having read the FP article now, I'm somewhat relieved to hear that the Congolese warlord-coltan link can be weakened by recycling cell phones, remote controls, and dead computers.

Any suggestions here as to where and how that recycling can actually take place?

this, is just out and out depressing

sure is.

Any suggestions here as to where and how that recycling can actually take place?

many big-box electronics and office supply stores (Best Buy, Office Max, etc) will take cell phones for recycling. don't know about your area, there are a few computer recycling companies around where i live, and our local landfill has a special section for electronics.

Don't get me started on Canadian Football.

Don't get me started on American football, a bastardized, watered down version of the pure game. Fair catching? HAH....that's for dandys!

Officially, this thread has convinced me to give up North Korean chocolate.

Slarti is right about the calculation. Unfortunately, if you do it correctly then you lose the "Avatars use more energy than Brazilians!" headline, and the whole story goes away. I've never played Second Life, but I'm sure there are many hobbies and entertainments that "waste" far more than 6 million kWhr/year. Can we calculate the resources "wasted" on professional sports?

just don't get the point of singling out "avatars".

I don't get it, either. But it wasn't my idea in the first place.

right, that's a more meaningful stat, IMO.

Sure, but you have to be careful with aggregate waste like that. For example, did you know that we waste several tens of billions of kilowatt-hours per year, just by not keeping our car tires properly inflated?

That's just a guess, of course; I could be off by an order of magnitude either way. It all depends on how diligent we all are on that front, on average. I could come up with some really shocking wastage figures by computing how much energy is eaten up by automatic transmissions; it's probably on par with that several tens of billions of kilowatthours. Does anyone really need automatic transmissions, outside of the relatively small disabled population?

Point is, any given activity that's indulged in by a lot of people is going to use up a lot of energy. Some of those activities can be thought of as "better" than others (soccer playing, for instance, results in a higher level of fitness and, reportedly, better overall health) while others are more pure enjoyment (for instance, watching sports. One could argue that being a soccer fan, though, may entail some elevated risk).

We could cut back on use in the long term by accomplishing population reduction, certainly, but we haven't even got to zero growth yet.

I swear I wrote all of that previous comment without reading KCinDC's post, first.

I swear I wrote all of that previous comment without reading KCinDC's post, first.

Uh-huh. Please turn in your comment badge to the nearest available authority, preferably Mr. Thullen.

Oh, by the way: I had once toyed with the notion of an exercise bike (or treadmill, or whatever) that provided resistance via back EMF. Which kind of implies a generator. Which in turn implies that one could tap into the dozens of sweating bodies at Bally, for instance, to get a leetle teeny boost for the power grid. I've seen figures like a quarter of a kilowatt over an hour, but that certainly has to be scaled for level of fitness. The human body can put out about 5kW peak in terms of motive power, but few can sustain more than a kilowatt for more than a few seconds.

Probably you couldn't go a long way toward recharging your electric car battery, but you could at least feel like you were doing something.

Uh-huh. Please turn in your comment badge to the nearest available authority, preferably Mr. Thullen.

Badges? We don't need no steenkeeng badges.

Actually, I'm just a sock puppet for Slarti, and he got a bit mixed up.

Glad to see that the 'wasteage' argument has already been conducted before I got here. I wonder how much 'wasteage' we could calculate from running independent coffee shops instead of Starbucks and independent grocery stores instead of WalMarts? (Lack of bulk purchasing and delivery would be a huge 'waste' expense just to start).

What? The independent stores do something that you personally value? I'm not properly valuing that when I call the other stuff 'waste'? Hmm.

:)

I have a friend whose speciality as an architect is energy-recuperating buildings. If I understand her, the field is still getting going, but the gym-generator (an idea I think a lot of us have had) is definitely something they're looking towards.

The drawback of human-generated power is wastage. The human body isn't all that efficient, mechanically, so there's all kinds of power generated that doesn't go into motion: it goes into running the body's engine. Which gets expressed as heat. Which requires cooling. Which, in turn, requires either air conditioning, or a decent fan, or both.

And yet: not a bad idea. Not one that's going to solve our energy needs, but not bad.

Argh, the wasteage of allowing people to exercise! The mind boggles! :)

And how much energy does the brain waste while the mind is boggling?

Not to mention the energy wasted for those extra e's in "wasteage".

In order to reduce brain wastage, I'm leaning toward rigging it so we can all exercise in our sleep.

Oh no, the extra 'e' isn't waste! I value that 'e'!

Seb - we need those extra 'e's for describing the administration, otherwise it's just "evil."

Sebastian is cracking me up. Reuse, recycle, renew those e's!

've never played Second Life, but I'm sure there are many hobbies and entertainments that "waste" far more than 6 million kWhr/year.

Well, the story hook is that Second Life is a, well, second life, so calculating the green footprint of the avatars is cute. But relatively meaningless.

And I say this as an occasional homeless Second Life resident.

"We care more about people we can exploit."

Yes, this caring business can become kind of dicey, if you're not careful.

Look at where caring got Andrew Carnegie.

He had to bring in the Pinkertons to shoot a few of his employees who wanted a little less caring and a little more return on their labor. Then, he builds a bunch of libraries where the children of his laborers could go and read about the vanguard of the proletariat, for free mind you, the ingrates. They turned right around and formed unions and moved to the suburbs and got educated enough to call other people "wogs". In fact, they had to import more people from other countries to care enough about them to call them "wogs". Then the wogs asked for a higher minimum wage and health insurance and suddenly we have proposals to send them back to their own damned countries where it's cheaper to care about them and keep creative destruction to our ownselves.

On the other hand, Sally Struthers looks like she wants to give an Emeril Lagasse "BAM" to the bowl of mushed cassava she's handing out to the goiter-infested kids she's prattling on about. She ought to get a real job in one of Pat Robertson's gold mines in Africa, lose a little weight through the new arsenic-leeching diet, and help Pat pay the mortgage on his 73-foot luxury trawler, not that his boat is that small.

Speaking of trawling, what I hate is when I give a guy one of my fish and he's back the next day asking for another fish. I tell him to keep the fish by his bed, but he whines that his rice cooker is taking up too much room and he had to eat the fish.

So, I teach him to fish. Then he's back whining about the sludge coming out of the pipe at the back of my factory which is killing the fish and poisoning the river where I taught him to fish AND he couldn't fish anyway because he slipped a disk moving my lentils from the kitchen to the swimming pool cabana and back again because I decided they clashed with the Hugh Hefner grotto/mermaid theme.

So, I clean up the doggoned river and I give my fish guy some health insurance, and long story short, next time I see him, he's got three fish and I have only one. Plus, I can't find the lentils. Sheesh!

It makes a guy want to move to the Marianas with Tom Delay and Dick Armey, where you can care about people with very low overhead and no heavy-handed regulation. Plus, you can rest your drink on the top of the bargirl's head because she's on her knees doing her second job because she's so tired and underpaid from her 12-hour a day career stitching that little crocodile on to your golf-shirt. You would teach her to fish but she might become some sort of fishing entrepreneur and quit her second job, which is really all Tom Delay cares about.

Rosanne Barr. What about her, you might well ask? Here's a woman, a bit of a suburban schlub, who hated her life because nobody cared about her, and through some biting comedic talent, got all of the other suburban schlubs to care about her so much that they now give her all of their meager fish, which they can't afford to give her, and even though she has more than enough fish for the daily bouillabaisse at posh joints, because she depicts their suburban schlubbery in such a funny way. They care now more about her than she does them.

Now that's fishing.

As Milton Friedman once said to John Maynard Keynes:

"You give them too many fish and my lentil stock goes down, dammit."

And don't get me started on Barbara Streisand sitting in the British Library in the 1830s pondering a way to deduct the overhead costs from her production of "Lentyl" from her taxes.

A little work never hurt anyone, which is why I do as little work as possible.

Jes -- Indeed, Green & Black's hot cocoa mixes are top notch.

I don't think I'm a fan of Cadbury (IIRC, it's unbelievably oversweetened, and the eggs are revolting) but I have long been a proponent of the idea that Hershey's "chocolate" is really floor sweepings held together with corn syrup and some food coloring. I wouldn't eat it as a gift, much less buy it.

As for grammarians, I recall hearing Geoff Pullum list rules promulgated in recent how-to grammars, and showing that they are the exact same rules found in grammars written in the mid-19th century. But apparently language, unlike any other aspect of human culture, is not supposed to change. Grrrr.

pondering a way to deduct the overhead costs from her production of "Lentyl" from her taxes.

AHHHHH!!! PUNS!!! RUN-AWAY RUN-AWAY!!

That was an impressive post, John. Mind if I respond to the pun by lighting you on fire, so that I might keep you warm for the rest of your life? ;)

Sometimes my cheap puns turn out to be more expensive than I imagined. ;)

My most recent chocolate tasted more like Lindt, not floor sweepings.

But I will pick up some Green & Black next time I'm in Yes Natural Gourmet.

Hilzoy: Do you think there any dissimilarity between the case of chocolates and cell phones or are they on par? I think there is, but I'm not sure I can articulate the right reasons.

about the human generation of energy, Japan is already there

Round about now it's time for me to mention: (a) Engineer-Poet (left hand side ... no, the other left ... um, never mined, I can't compete with Thullen's depths) has an interesting post about carbon-free or even carbon-negative energy production; and

(b) good ol' sunny California has just adopted AB 32, which should give E-P someplace to practice his trade.

[It's worth remembering that California is the fifth largest economy in the world and is, behind the US, one of the largest emitters of greenhouse gases.]

[yes, both Sebastian and I will be registering with the Air Resources Board as major emitters of greenhouse gases, thanks for asking. we were unsuccessful in getting an attorney exemption written into the bill.]

[sob.]

[ok, in reviewing this post it appears that the margaritas served as our office's x-mas party hit harder than expected.]

"Does anyone really need automatic transmissions, outside of the relatively small disabled population?"

I've heard that it's now difficult to be much more efficient driving stick - probably that's "as" for a lot of people. Certainly Mrs. R. is in the wrong gear most of the time, or I must be.

Ara: the ones that leap to mind are: (a) in the case of chocolate, the object of the boycott is companies that actually engage in bad practices, while in the case of cellphones it's a product whose extraction frequently involves bad practices; (b) giving up cell phones can, as you suggested, involve sacrificing your job (and, if you regularly travel on remote deserted roads, possibly your life), whereas giving up chocolate is just a drag, and giving up all chocolate but Cadbury and FT isn't even a minor inconvenience.

Imho, it would be nice if all products whose manufacture possibly involves child labor/civil wars/etc. had some procedure allowing us to tell the OK ones from the bad ones, so that we could tell the difference, and reward the good companies.

And Lou Groza was a starter at tackle, too!

(I'm just sayin')

Hershey's chocolate has the distinct undertone of vomit. That Americans buy it is a sign that market efficiency is bollocks. You really don't need additional information when your chocolate tastes of sick. That is all.

Hilzoy: why should the companies themselves do it? A third-party could manufacture a portable (wireless) bar code scanner which syncs up to a database of firms.

Ahem: you're exactly right about Hershey's! That vomity acidic flavor is what I couldn't quite identify.

Ara: I didn't mean the companies themselves should do it; just that some such procedure should exist. I don't think the companies themselves were behind either the (inadequate but better than nothing) certifications for conflict-free diamonds or renewable timber.

And Lou Groza was a starter at tackle, too!

Is this ancient prehistory of sports, i.e. before the 80s? 'cause if so, y'all are OLD.

Yes, we are old. But we are also WISE.

There were giants in those days.

I'm not just talking pre-1980, but pre-1960s. Lots of players regularly played two ways (offense and defense - the last in the NFL, IIRC, was Chuck Bednarik) and there were no such animals as specialist "kickers." Usually a back (like Doak Walker, former Heisman winner, RB for the Lions, or QB George Blanda), but occasionally a lineman stepped up to do the job, not some tiny European who'd never seen a game before and would jump up and down afterwards yipping "I keek a touchdown! I keek a touchdown." (Alex Karras's characterization of Garo Yepremian, BTW.)

Groza was not only the best kicker of his era, but started at tackle for the Browns for a decade or so, and was, I believe, All-Pro at least a couple of times.

And - what is more - he kicked it straight ahead, with the TOE of his boot (hence the nickname "Lou the Toe"), none of your round the corner sissy soccer-style sneaking up and kicking it with your damn instep!

Men were Men in those days. And Women were . . . well, frankly, bored much of the time, so I guess that wasn't much different.

Listen and learn, O Grasshopper

Lots of players regularly played two ways (offense and defense - the last in the NFL, IIRC, was Chuck Bednarik)

Deion Sanders, occasionally.

64 Browns offensive threats: Jim Brown, Dr. Frank Ryan, Paul Warfield, Lou Groza. Mighty good.

Some kickers were born to play linebacker. Matt Petrovich was the place-kicker for Florida until a couple of years ago, and he ran harder (not necessarily faster, mind you) than anyone to make the stop. And occasionally, he did make the first hit. Big boy; loved contact. There was a Florida State kicker who was absolutely HUGE, but he wound up playing for the '49ers (IIRC) and getting into drug trouble.

Engineer-Poet (left hand side ... no, the other left ... um, never mined, I can't compete with Thullen's depths) has an interesting post about carbon-free or even carbon-negative energy production

The thing I appreciate about E-P is that he always comes armed with numbers. The math is easy to access; actual numbers and statistics less so. And he's not afraid to lift his eyes to look at the big picture.

Ah, spelling error: it was Piotrowicz. Just pronounced something like Petrovich.

You should mention Jerry Kramer, who was the second string kicker for the Packers. Looking at his site, he's got this, which should be of interest to folks who remember the pre Gogolak kickers. (and a googled webpage with a great Gogolak anecdote)

Listen and learn, O Grasshopper

I think I'm constitutionally incapable of either. Frankly, I blame the parents.

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