Wednesday, May 9, 2012


Etcetratech - The Perfect Beast
Rob Day consistently writes good stuff. His latest piece is particularly thought provoking. Here's a snippet.

The argument we've made as a sector so far goes like this: Clean technologies (or green technologies or advanced energy or whatever the heck is the latest punchless label du jour) are going to be big in the future, so clean technologists should be considered vital for America's economic future.
I'm going to go out on a limb and assume Rob doesn't want to say "heck"... he wants to say FUCK! He might even want to say FUCK FUCK! because sometimes one FUCK! isn't enough... Anyways, Rob has to play with kid gloves. I don't. 

Here's my offering for the new punchless label du jour.. Etcetratech

The funny thing about Etcetratech is that we're told to believe it's vital for our future but we don't really know what it is. We've jumble juggled the names, over promotionalized the possibilities and gerrymandered the fidelity right out whatever it was we thought we meant to try to define.

Here's how bad it is... In the Bizarro world of Etcetratech, clean doesn't necessarily mean clean. A subtle marketing twick has somehow allowed clean to mean cleaner. A reasonable person would say, ok, you mean cleaner than clean right - like ultra-clean or something. No!!! Come back one year!!! In the world of Etcetratech clean may be defined as, cleaner than dirty. Imagine what would happen if you tried this logic with your mother.. 

Mom:John Robert Anderson! You are absolutely filthy. Go wash yourself up. 
John:Yes Ma
Mom:What's all this dirt and grub on my new carpets. I told you to wash.
John:Can't you see my hands are cleaner than they was? I cleaned em' like you said. 
Mom:Cleaner you say? Well I know someone who's going to have the cleanest clock of all time. 
John:Who Ma?
Mom:It's a surprise. Your dad will tell you when he gets home. 

After reading Rob's article I watched an old interview between Larry King and John Stewart. Stewart riffs on the idea that the news needs more analysts and less pundits. Stewart explains how the news has become a staged debate between Coke and Pepsi. The Coke guy gets 5 minutes to say why he likes Coke and the Pepsi guy gets his schpeal and then there's a commercial break. After the commercials the moderator finishes the show with, "that's all the time we have, YOU decide." 

The Etcetratech media is playing a similar Coke vs. Pepsi game but with a larger and more awkward schmorgesborg of choices. In a strange way the game isn't really about choosing at all - it's about giving the audience the feeling of choice. This is where John Stewart's point comes back in - the energy debate needs more analysts and fewer pundits. We don't need slick/shiny advertisements that make you feel good - we need better information so we can make better choices. Sometimes you need to call a dumb idea a dumb idea and not give it the time of day. Sometimes, you need to admit a horse is dead even though it may have been a great horse in its day. The editors of the offending news outlets like GTM, REW and RI need to step up and start containing the debate. 

Wait, wait, wait cries the defender of choice

  • We shouldn't put all our eggs in one basket.
  • There are no silver bullets. We need a little bit of everything.
  • We need a Free Press. 

First off, I'm all for energy diversification but we already have plenty of baskets. Secondly, I don't believe we need a little bit of everything - we need the best of the best. Thirdly, free press my ass. We've got too much press printed because it fits and not enough that's fit. Let's up the quality a couple notches. 

I'm not talking about a revolution in thought here - I'm talking about an attitude adjustment. Personally, I know I'm tired of the saccharine Coke vs. Pepsi game show I've been reading about for many years in the green news. I figure a lot of people feel the same way because that's just how the Zeitgeist works. If the show sucks, change the channel. Better yet, listen to some music or go out and actually see a movie in the theater. Anything that doesn't suck should work. 

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