So Far Down the Rabbit Trail

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I am so lost in the rabbit trails. Some, from interest; some from need; some from sheer distraction. One leads off into another; they all seem to carry me someplace worth going. A few do. I wish I knew the difference at the beginning.

Here’s one: it connects the trail of “balonium“–an imaginary mineral I made up a few months back in a sensationalized story about mountaintop removal in Floyd County–and the “Story of Stuff.” Don’t know where it will lead but here are some threads of it.

1) We are blind to the externalized costs of the things we seem to get cheaply. The Story of Stuff uses this quote to describe externalized costs: “If some portion of the cost of producing a product are borne by third parties who in no way participate in or benefit from the transaction, then economists say the costs have been externalized and the price of the product is distorted accordingly. Another way of putting it is that every externalized cost involves privatizing a gain and socializing its associated costs onto the community.”

2) There really is an element essential for cell phones and laptop chips. It’s ore is called coltan. Eighty percent of it comes from the Congo.

3) Talk about your invisible externalized costs (in child labor, dead gorillas and vanishing ecosystem plus more than 4 million dead in Congo’s Coltan wars: Watch this. Read this.

4) And where and how (if anywhere and anyhow) to use this information as more than mere fact? Can it teach me anything? Then, can I in turn teach others?

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