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What’s in MY Wallet? Moths. 3 July 2009

Posted by splait in Uncategorized.

I love eBay.

eBay has made it less expensive (as a businessperson) to buy the products I need for my clients and for myself. For most things I use, I can find a price on eBay that makes me happy.

In addition, eBay has made it easier to find things I want that, pre-eBay, were not easily found.  Movies, books, filling in my comic collection.  I can even buy whatever I am looking for from someone in Australia or England or South Africa.  eBay knows no boundaries in that regard.

It’s great!

I hate eBay.

Ever since I was a kid, I have collected things – baseball cards, comic books, scifi books, coins, stamps, comic character figurines.  I can’t tell you how many different collections of things I have had over the last 45+ years or so.  There were times when I collected certain things because I was pretty certain they would have value in the future.  Someone else would want my things and be willing to pay more for them from me than I paid originally so they would become their things. (Bwahaha!)

Only eBay makes it much easier for people to find the things they want now.

I took Economics in college.  I know about supply and demand.

eBay didn’t change the demand, it changed the supply.

Now, if some kid wants a copy of Batman #101 (for instance), s/he just has to go to the eBay site and search for it.  If there isn’t one available right now, wait a week.  Someone will sell one.  Or check it every day.  It’s easy with the Saved Searches feature.

So, the 12,000 comic books I have in my attic aren’t worth much anymore, and that’s a bummer.

On the plus side, eBay has made it easier to sell, also.  Now I have the entire world to sell to instead of just the comic buyers in Atlanta or at a comic convention.

Would I prefer to not have eBay?  Nope.  It’s just one of those unexpected (by me) results of progress.


You designed it to do WHAT? 1 July 2009

Posted by splait in Uncategorized.

I have worked in the high technology industry for over 30 years, and it never fails to amaze (and sometimes amuse) me how a technology can be created with a purpose in mind, and then something no one expects to happen happens because of that technology.

There’s been a lot written about how Twitter has affected the political climate in Iran.  It also played a pretty big role in the last Shuttle mission.  Could you have predicted this if you had created Twitter?  Maybe, but I doubt it.

The Internet changed how the music and book publishing industries work – shook them to the core, actually.  Artists and writers that would never have seen the light of day for their works are now able to self-publish, and others, many well established as at the top of their professions are sharing some of their stuff free of charge (horrors!).  Authors and artists are finding audiences for their work that they never dreamed of.  Middle-men are being cut out and the creators of the art are able to keep more of the proceeds, which, IMHO, is the way it always should have been.  People who create nothing shouldn’t get to get rich off of that nothing.

The Internet has provided a platform for us schlubs who want to share our thoughts with hundreds, thousands, and maybe millions of people who we will never meet and know.  What a great thing!

So what’s the problem, you ask me?

There are those who hate.  They have used instant communications and blogs and websites to find other disaffected individuals to spread their venom and create mayhem – even convince some to commit murder.  Read this article about the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) for more information.

Support the SPLC.  We do.

There are also those who write malware that attack our computers with pornography and bugs that cause our operating systems to choke.

We have cell phones that let us surf the web and share pictures with each other, tweet, and post on FaceBook.  Unfortunately, peer pressure and and a great deal of parental non-participation in our kids’ lives have created a monster almost impossible to control.  Pandora’s newest box has been opened, and kids will no longer be the same.  Why do 7-year-old kids have web-capable phones?  For that matter, why do high schoolers?

Yeah, I know.  I’m a communist or something.


In Carl Sagan‘s last book, Billions and Billions, he wrote on the speed of new technology development and humankind’s naivete.  He was correct.  Technology develops faster than our ability to cope with it.  Are we humans mature enough (as a single race) to handle all this?  Can and do we use the technologies at hand to make the world a better place to live, or are we just making the world a smaller and more “convenient for us” place to live?

Pick one.  Both are correct.  Does that make it right?

And sometimes we ignore what science is telling us, or we chose to lay the evidence out for future generations to deal with.  And yet, aren’t the technology developers and users the ones responsible for maintaining the integrity of the planet and the lives of others?  In other words, should they be developing technologies we really can’t handle?  Who decides whether we can handle the stuff, anyway?

Are we so stupid that we are willing to continue on this path without regard for future generations, or even maybe the ones living right now?

A tough nut, truly.  We are such a curious race.  We want to know what’s out there and how it all works.

Billions and Billions was published in 1997.  Many of the essays in it were published individually before that.  Dr. Sagan calls for the countries of the world to seriously take a look at how we are damaging the planet and each other and take action before it is too late.

Silent Spring was published in 1962.  Written by Rachel Carson, it was the first time anyone had written about the damage we are doing to the environment and picked up on by the general English-speaking public.

Our politicians and major corporations (and many of the masses, too) want to lay saving the planet from greenhouse gases and other pollutants on those future generations.  That may be too late.  Hell, it may be too late right now, although scientists believe that it’s not.  However, the longer we put off getting away from fossil fuels, cutting down our forests for no reason (except money), polluting our rivers and land, and committing other general mayhem to the planet, our kids (or theirs) won’t have any place to live!

Why have we wasted 47 years?  Why are we (as a race infesting this planet) so complacent? WHAT ARE WE DOING???

In my house, we recycle paper, glass and plastic as much as we can.  Been doing that for years.  As a technology consultant to homeowners and small businesses, I insist that all electronic equipment being replaced or just retired be recycled through me.  I take them to a place that assures me that all rare earth elements, as well as any other part of the computer that can be reused is recycled, not dumped in the ground.

MBH drives a hybrid automobile, while I selected the most efficient fossil-fuel-burning small SUV as my means of transporting whatever I need for my clients.  When a good hybrid comes out in the size I need, I’ll buy it, as long as I can determine that it does less harm to the planet than the one I drive now.

There are more things MBH and I can do, and as we become aware of them, we will take the responsibility on, because we know that WE ARE, EACH AND EVERY ONE OF US, RESPONSIBLE FOR THE FUTURE OF THE PLANET.  We have taught our daughter what we know, and she also takes responsibility, as does her fiance (I’ll have to come up with some blog moniker for them).

What are YOU doing to repair the Earth?  Let me know!