Posts Tagged ‘Computers


It’s 2 a.m. Do You Know Where Your Contribution to Global Mercury Poisoning Is?

It’s like … ten thousand sick Nigerians when all you need is a clear desktop.

The day after we dropped off a non-functioning printer and a bag of old cell phones and chargers at the recycling center, we found this from the AP:

America Ships Electronic Waste Overseas

An excerpt:

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Most Americans think they’re helping the earth when they recycle their old computers, televisions and cell phones. But chances are they’re contributing to a global trade in electronic trash that endangers workers and pollutes the environment overseas.

While there are no precise figures, activists estimate that 50 to 80 percent of the 300,000 to 400,000 tons of electronics collected for recycling in the U.S. each year ends up overseas. Workers in countries such as China, India and Nigeria then use hammers, gas burners and their bare hands to extract metals, glass and other recyclables, exposing themselves and the environment to a cocktail of toxic chemicals.

“It is being recycled, but it’s being recycled in the most horrific way you can imagine,” said Jim Puckett of the Basel Action Network, the Seattle-based environmental group that tipped off Hong Kong authorities. “We’re preserving our own environment, but contaminating the rest of the world.”

Beautiful. You think you’re saving the planet, but really you’re just killing Chinese babies. Uhm … It was emotionally wrenching enough to get rid of my old Power Mac G3 in the first place (not to mention my dear departed iPod). I was hoping not to add unwilling complicity to murder into the bargain.

You just can’t win … so it would seem.

Lucky for us, we live in the civilized borough of Queens, and we dropped off our junk at Build it Green NYC‘s collection site in Astoria. In association with the Lower East Side Ecology Center, Build It Green provides a drop-off center for disposing of electronic equipment — the right way.

From their Web site:

Is any of the recycled material sent overseas?
No. We share your concern about dumping electronic waste on developing countries. Therefore we require that our vendors recycle all collected materials in the US and provide us with documentation about their down stream vendors. We audit this information to confirm validity.

Yay! We win.

For more information:


Ethereal Apple Logo at 59th and 5th

Let us worship it …
[<a href="
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I’m new to New York City, but I’m pretty sure this is not what they mean by “The Big Apple.”

I don’t know why I’m remembering this now, but when I was approaching the southeast corner of Central Park on the morning of the New York AIDS Walk this year, I saw something near the corner of 59th and 5th Avenue that gave me the creeps yet filled me with a sense of materialistic wonder.

There is a house-sized glass cube parked in front of a building there, inside of which seems to float an enormous, white, glowing Apple logo.

Like the glass-pyramid entrance to the Louvre, I have learned, this is (or will be) the entrance to a flagship Apple Store in Manhattan. A glass box in 21st century Manhattan is not quite as incongruous as a glass pyramid in the garden of a 12th century French palace. It follows more closely Apple’s current design aesthetic. (They haven’t tried a pyramidal shape for any of their hardward yet, have they? Not yet, anyway.)

It’s very minimalistic. (Can minimalism be expressed in terms of quantity if it is meant to be an expression of the littlest possible? This reminds me of the impossible “very unique.”) But the implied worshipfulness seems spooky to me. I don’t deny the existence of the Cult of Mac. I am a proud member. Treating this logo as an object to showcase in itself turns it from a simple storefront sign into something exalted. It’s like a golden calf, raised high so we may gaze up at it, like the star that led the Magi to Bethlehem.

the untallied hours