Al Gore vs Gorvachev: The .eco Domain

August 27, 2009

Those who try to lead the people can only do so by following the mob
~Oscar Wilde

Al Gore and Mikhail Gorbachev are in a battle for the control of the .eco domain. The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (Icann), the body that oversees the internet’s structure, decided to make available the “green” domain. Gore supports Dot Eco LLC, while Gorbachev is linked to the Canadian Big Room through Green Cross International, the charity that he founded.

Big Room promises to donate a quarter of the sales to environmental and social causes, it is also saying that they will to ensure that it will award a domain name only to groups that provide proof of their green credentials, thus making .eco into a cyber environmental certificate. Dot Eco is promising 50% of their profit to green causes, and it has no defined if they will be vetting any company to get the .eco domain. Note the difference between offering a percentage of sales versus profits.

Of course, Gore and Gorvachev do not mention the amount of money that they expect to make with the .eco domain. The price tag is $100,000 USD, but the Daily Telegraph calculates is worth billions.

The problem I see with this internet news is the bastardization of the words sustainability and green. The word sustainability has been cheapen down in the media to mean “ecologically friendly”, ignoring the economic and social factors inherent to it. I do not want to start raging again the concept of “green” that neohippies all over the world are spewing guised as knowledge. This is the mob I refer to in my quote, the people that promote green business until big business want to go green, then they will cry foul and hypocrisy. The fact that they do not mention the huge profit they can make from the domain also makes me wonder how innocent the business are. It is OK to make loads of money, but is not OK to pretend all you want is a better world; Sustainability is about BOTH, and the fact that they do not recognise it shows how the leaders become the followers of wannabe good-doers.

Who are this companies to decide who is green and who is not? Certain companies are not environmentally friendly by nature, e.g. oil companies, but they are companies like British Petroleum with a CSR and some like Pemex or Shell. A lot of companies, specially organic promoters, lie about the goods of their “green” products. As students of sustainability, we have it hard enough to define which companies are or are not following sustainable practices, we do not need self serving institutions policing the internet, which is the ultimate free expression medium.

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What is you label?

March 2, 2009

Labels are for cans, not people.
~Anthony Rapp

I was having dinner last night with some friends, and the conversation moved to political stances, neo-hippies labels, and driving cars. Talking about left, centre, and right wings, one of my friends asked me how do I label me. “I am above labels” I answered, “everybody has a label” she replied.

According to one test I took in Facebook, I am a class-3 liberal. The test levels can classified you between a a Class-10 liberal to a Class-10 conservative. But I find more often than not that lot of  people like to put labels on themselves, and those labels, though providing a sense of belonging, limit their ability to think. I find people in the streets that join causes just because they are liberal, or because they are perceived as “just”, without further thinking. Can you be a liberal and a conservative at the same time? Can you be a leftist with a brain, and a rightist with a heart? Let’s ask ourselves the following questions:

  • Can you be pro gay marriage but against abortion?
  • Can you be socially liberal but fiscally conservative?
  • Can you support the efforts in Afghanistan but be against the Iraq campaign?
  • Can you give money to the World Wildlife Foundation while hoping that the guys at Greenpeace get soon real jobs?
  • Do you support welfare programs but are against a big government?
  • Can you drive a car but at the same time be an ecologist?
  • Do you think that a biker that rides on the side walk, run red lights, and go against traffic is actually worse person than a driver that obey the law?
  • Can you support genetically enhanced crops and still think that organic crops have a place on the market?
  • Can you be a meatarian but support vegans?
  • Can you work on Bay St (Canada’s Wall St) and still support the ideals of Mohammed Yunus about banking to the poor?

If you answer to YES to more than three questions, I welcome you to the unease world of thinkers that do not know all the answers, but actually may make a difference. The world is more complex than simple labels make us think!


Olympic Torch Protest

April 7, 2008

Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I’m not sure about the universe.
~Albert Einstein

Any protest against China repression in Tibet would a well deserved one, but a protest has to be done in a smart way, trying to get the message to the people that can change it, and avoiding by all means to look stupid and radical.

The manifestations in France against the Olympic Torch are a perfect example where people stop thinking and start acting for the sake of acting. To protest the Chinese repression on Tibet, they decided:

  • Attack the Olympic movement
  • Destroy the Olympic flame, one of the most beloved icons of modern times
  • Endanger the athletes that carry the torch, like Stephane Diagana, 1997 400-meter world champion

Why the activist don´t aim the protest to China´s Embassy and consulates? Why don´t they send massive letters of support to the Dalai Lama? Why not to close the access to China´s Embassy, Consulates, and Economic envoys? No, they decide to attack the Olympic torch and the French athletes. I am sure there are better, more effective, and way more direct means of protest against Human Rights violations, but they decided to stop thinking and to act for the sake of act.


Non-Conformist Conforming II

March 9, 2007

Non-Sequitur

by Wiley Miller


Non-Conformist Conforming

March 6, 2007

Hardly a man in the world has an opinion upon morals, politics or religion which he got otherwise than through his associations and sympathies. Broadly speaking, there are none but corn-pone opinions. And broadly speaking, Corn-Pone stands for Self-Approval. Self-approval is acquired mainly from the approval of other people. The result is Conformity.
Mark Twain

In Toronto’s “West” Queen Street West there are a handful of stores that appeal to that segment group that I call the New Hippies; people who try to hold liberal values but cannot look beyond their noses and don’t think what those values stand for. “West” Queen Street West has got stores offering merchandise with the “Che” Guevara, Marcos, Mao. The t-shirts you can get have clever quotes. I love to see how many people who call themselves anti-conformist can be targeted as consumers so easily because they conform to trends that are empty at the most. Real radicals aren’t buying t-shirts in trendy Toronto spots, are they?

What bothers me is not how they anti-conform against Gap by conforming with Atticus; is how they delude themselves by thinking they belong to a fighting liberal class that is above all the capitalist pigs, when they can’t look that they are being deceived by the marketing masters they said they hate: People like to eat organic, but in Canada, and many places in Europe and northern USA, organic food needs to be shipped from abroad, especially by plane. The new (rich) hippies buy this organic, expensive, healthy food that burn seven times its own weight in carbon monoxide to get to the store and look from above to the poor chavs that have to buy locally produced, pesticide-plagued food.

We have some cyclist that really believe they are above all drivers because their bikes don’t pollute and they ride even at -20 degrees; then they cut the line, run the red light, run over pedestrians, and ride on the sidewalk at expense of other people. Just so you can see them and follow their ecological friendly example.

My favourite example though is the t-shirt I saw in the aforementioned Queen Street at the Black Market Store, they sell a t-shirt that has got a bike, and below the legend “NO IRAQI WAS BOMBARDED TO FUEL THIS VEHICLE”, what a delight! All the rest of us, who have to drive, bunch of murderers, if only we get the message! The tiny fact that the t-shirt was manufactured in Bangladesh, infamously known by its sweatshops and child labour, is just unimportant. As long as they can buy the shirt at $14.95 plus taxes to deliver their message, the kid that was paid $1 a day should be happy.

UPDATE

I received some comments about how wrong I was for attacking the Black Market Store, and the Black Market Staff wrote to me that they never, ever sold the t-shirt that I mentioned. I think is quite clear that I am not attacking the Black Market store. They sell military outfits next to old rock concert t-shirts so I don’t consider it to be a new hippie store because they don’t have the pretension of being an activist store. I went anyways to double check where the t-shirts are made in, and found out that all new t-shirts are manufactured either in Canada or Mexico, countries with well established clothing manufactures and a very clean record on sweatshops (Mexican salaries could be higher, but the conditions are appropriate). They also sell used t-shirts at $15 dlls each, and they come from countries as diverse as USA, France, Guatemala, and yes, Bangladesh. I understand that they do not have control where the used t-shirt are made in, so they cannot really be sure that they never sold a used t-shirt as the one that my friend and I saw.