Pulp secrets from Victorian virgins!
(and other pressing issues I ignore)

Yesterday I took a break from blogging. Well not a break, really, because I had to do other things so I didn't have time for blogging but before I left I managed to put up some pictures of Coco, who doesn't think I do enough.

Coco is right, of course. From her point of view, I don't do enough. I'm sure that many people -- especially the single issue people -- think I don't do enough to address or assist with their Most Important Issue, whatever it may be. So from a Single Issue perspective, almost anything I write about is wrong, unless it's about the Single Issue, and I'd damn well better agree with them on it, lest some Single Issue commenter come and tell me that I'm wrong about a singular issue.

The worst part about taking a break from blogging is the feeling that you're "falling behind."

Falling behind from what? The constant manufacture of new morality? The stuff that's wrong in the world, which needs to be discussed here and now? Spare me. It will be discussed elsewhere and always -- and in far more detail than I could muster.

The worst thing about blogging is that my penchant for examining things logically leads me into a truly awful state of nothing making any sense. I find that if I take something and scrutinize it long enough and closely enough, eventually it becomes insane. (How do I keep my bearings without losing my marbles when bearings and marbles are both round?) Even deciding which issue is worthy of focus is an exercise in the insane, and more unsettling to me is that the very act of picking an issue to write about involves bias. Perhaps what I should do in order to be fair is use the dartboard method. Just take apart a newspaper, spread it out, and throw a dart aimlessly, then focus in on that.

Nah, that's no good. I mean, suppose the dart landed on the obituary of some nice old woman whose family was grieving? I'd have to write about her, and if I learned that she belonged to some benevolent organization of philosophical crackpots which I hated, then the whole blog post would become a needless and pointless exercise in gratuitous cruelty. What if, for example, the dart landed on an article about "violent racial slurs" directed against Vietnamese women riding the subway? I might want to know what racial slurs are "violent," as well as the race of the insult slingers. And that might be considered racist, although I'd only want to know the race of the slur-mongers because of the standardized meme that because of a thing known as a "power imbalance," only white people are capable of racism. What about the question of their free speech rights? I wouldn't want to appear to be gratuitously injecting Ann Coulter into the debate, so I'd have to scrupulously leave her out of it. You know, if you mention Ann Coulter in the context of race, angry Coulter fans will accuse you of making unfair comparisons. In fact, by even mentioning her here, I could be seen as injecting her into the debate even if I admitted that a racial slur is not the same as a sexual slur.

But I'd better not utter the words "slippery slope" anywhere in the same paragraph, and I don't think any explanation is necessary. Which means that if I discussed this story at all, I'd be safer to slant it against Bill Maher. (Maybe, but is "slant" really the right word?) Anyway, I've had enough of defending the free speech right to use vulgar or offensive speech for the time being, because people don't understand the distinction between the right to do something and the advisability of doing it. There might very well be a free speech right to say something, but there's just as much a right to not say it and to criticize someone for saying it. Who gets to be the victim?

A much safer topic would be Canadian diamonds:

In 2005, Canada's first two big diamond mines in the Northwest Territories unearthed 15 pounds of the gemstones, worth $4 million, each day. Today, three mines are open, and more are planned, bringing a flush of cash to northern Canada and making the country the third-largest producer of diamonds by value, surpassing even South Africa.

The territorial government is cheering the miners on. "Diamond mining is critical for us," Brendan Bell, the minister of industry, said from the capital, Yellowknife. "We don't want to be a one-trick pony, but if you have to be reliant on one industry, diamonds are perfect."

No debate there, right? I mean, diamonds from nice, clean Canada (a place nearly as clean as Joe Biden) have to be morally superior to blood diamonds from Africa, right? A wonderful solution for the problem of finding a politically correct engagement ring.

Not so fast.

According to the official spokesman for the Nishnawbe Aski Nation, Canadian diamonds are morally no better than blood diamonds from Africa:

Alvin Fiddler, deputy grand chief of the Nishnawbe Aski Nation, said De Beers Canada in particular is causing environmental devastation and disrupting his community of 45,000 Cree and Ojibwa in northern Ontario.

"They're not clean diamonds; they're not conflict-free diamonds," Fiddler told CBC News. "People are paying a price for these diamonds and it's our people in the Nishnawbe Aski Nation. Our people, our children, are languishing in poverty while these resources are being extracted from their territory."

Fiddler this week had an editorial published in the diamond industry trade publication Rapaport News, in which he outlined his concerns about Canadian diamond exploration and mining. He says several communities have called for a moratorium on mineral exploration on land where the legal title is under dispute.

"The battle over diamonds will be largely fought in the United States, where annual sales of diamond jewelry represent almost half of the $55 billion sold worldwide. The time is now for consumers in the United States to connect the dots and weigh in," Fiddler wrote in his editorial.

"Tell De Beers, other diamond miners and Canada that unless things change, Canadian diamonds are no better than conflict diamonds from Africa."

While Deputy Grand Chief Fiddler's paramount concern seems to involve Indian rights, paying off his tribe might not settle the moral question, because as he explains if you read his argument in the entirety, Canadian diamond mining threatens the environment:
Unfortunately, many Canadian diamonds are anything but conflict-free; ongoing aboriginal rights and environmental concerns should make consumers think twice before purchasing a Canadian diamond, too.

Nishnawbe Aski Nation, which means the people and the land, represents some 45,000 Cree and Ojibway people scattered across 49 communities in Canada's Boreal Forest--the world's largest intact ecosystem and Earth's last line of defense against global warming.

At 1.4 billion acres, the Canadian Boreal Forest is one of the largest unspoiled forest ecosystems remaining on Earth, a mosaic of interconnected forest and wetland ecosystems, teeming with birds, fish, plants, and animal life. Canada's Boreal Forest is also a potential treasure chest of timber, oil and gas, and minerals, including diamonds and is under heavy development pressure.

At present, less than 10 percent of the Boreal is protected from industrial development.

Unless something changes, corporations will carve it up without regard to the impacts to the people or the environment. While few American's have ever heard of the Nishnawbe Aski Nation or the Boreal Forest, scientists will tell them what the peoples that live there already know: It is critical to the earth in so many ways, and must be protected.

The Nishnawbe Aski Nation, along with many other First Nation communities throughout the great Boreal Forest have been in the grip of a diamond exploration boom led by companies like De Beers. That and other intensive resource development is causing environmental devastation. A complicit Canadian government seems to be turning a blind eye.

But the real culprit is the United States -- where "annual sales of diamond jewelry represent almost half of the $55 billion sold world wide."

Halfway into this one issue, I realized that I have been neglecting the Boreal Forest Ecosystem. And the diamond mining is just the tip of the, well, um, I don't know if I should use the word "iceberg" because that might offend cultural sensitivities of the threatened iceberg people and the drowning polar bears.

OK, Canadian diamond mining isn't the tip of the iceberg. It's the tipping point of the ecological balance of the planet or something, because it threatens 1.4 billion acres of land -- the touching of which (so claim the usual thousands of top scientists) will ruin the planet.

The evil Americans to the south are the primary problem. Not only do they buy 55% of the diamonds, they are also wood gluttons -- consuming 70% of Canada's exported forest products:

According to a 1993 United Nations report by the Food and Agriculture Organization, world consumption of forest products will increase over 70% between 1990 - 2010. More than 60% of this increase will occur in northern Canada. (The Taiga Trade - a report on the consumption and trade of boreal wood products; Taiga Rescue Network, 1995 pg. 72)

Canada is the world's largest exporter of wood?based products. As a result, forestry plays a significant role in Canada's economy. The single largest consumer of Canadian forest based products is the United States, which consumes 70% of all forest products exported by Canada.

What do the gluttonous Americans do with these virgin Canadian trees?

Glad you asked. Americans are not only environmentally immoral people, they are sexually immoral! For "we" grind up the beautiful Canadian virgin trees into paper pulp -- which is them used to print up sexually titillating catalogues!

I kid you not.

American sexism is ruining the pristine Canadian environment.

Fortunately, the environmentalists boycotted one of the primary offenders, and chained themselves to the doors of Victoria's Secret, causing the company to give the activists whatever the hell they wanted.

So it's not diamonds. It's paper -- pulp! "We" pay for the former, and "we" throw away the latter. But either way, "we" are guilty!

And of course, not just guilty of consuming diamonds and junk mail, but of everything else. The world is a dartboard of offensive offenses -- mostly committed by Americans -- but any particular issue that might be a blog post of passing interest for me is someone's single issue to be defended, offended by, and defended against in endless, unresolvable, noisy, ad hominem debates.

Take a day off from such a guilty world, and the issues will beat you to a pulp.

Well, at least the pulp I generate here is digital, and I didn't destroy virgin trees in the Boreal Forest Ecosystem to generate it. (Of course, I'm sure I said nothing original here. Which means others have beaten me to my own pulp.)

MORE: I cannot overstress the importance of focus, and in this regard I am not entirely sure readers fully appreciate or understand the true scope of the pulp problem:

Forty-six percent of all newsprint consumed in the United States was once Canadian forest habitat-- principally originating from the Boreal. (Bringing Down the Boreal, Forest Ethics)

Many of North America's largest catalogs and tissue product manufacturers use virgin boreal pulp. (Bringing Down the Boreal, Forest Ethics)

Catalogs, copy paper, lumber, newspapers, magazines, and even toilet paper are made from Canada's old-growth forests. (Bringing Down the Boreal, Forest Ethics)

Printing and writing papers are one of the largest end-uses of paper products including copy, book, junk mail, magazine and catalog paper. Many are made from Endangered Boreal fibers. (Bringing Down the Boreal, Forest Ethics)

What this means is that every time the morning newspaper hits my driveway, I should cringe at its very thwack! And not because of any media bias in the paper, but because the MSM is forcing me to aid and abet their conspiracy to destroy Canadian virgin trees. And I cannot win, because even though I throw the junk mail and catalogues directly into the trash without ever bringing them into my house, I am simply part of a vast conveyor belt system which violently cuts down the virgin trees, turns them into pulp, and finally transforms them into landfill down here. I have no say in the matter. And every time I blow my nose or wipe my ass, I destroy virgins and doom many more!

Any idea why the environmentalists would go after Victoria's Secret instead of the New York Times?

Let's look at the respective circulations. According to company president Bill Lepler,

... Victoria's Secret Catalogue mails 360 million catalogues each year. If a customer after a period of time does not respond, the company stops sending the catalogue.
Yet the New York Times prints 1.1 million copies of its newspaper daily, and some 1.6 million on Sundays, which works out to well over 400 million. Not only, the Times has "stakes in two paper mills in the US and Canada."

So made Victoria's Secret so incredibly guilty?

Was it?

Or was the company just a convenient scapegoat selected by activists (utilizing "mafioso" tactics) because sexy lingerie catalogues are seen as more "immoral" than the "straight news" of the New York Times?

posted by Eric on 03.12.07 at 10:05 AM


I like your blog and view it not every day, but a couple of times a month.

I must agree that rational analysis of human reveals insanity, but Wm. Faulkner said that the human heart in conflict with itself was the only thing worth writing about.

Like you, I'd probably grab a more loyal readership for my blog if I would preach to a particular choir, but I'm interested in too broad a range of subjects.

Tertium Quid   ·  March 12, 2007 10:43 AM

Eric, for mentioning Ann Coulter you clearly need rehab.

socrat   ·  March 12, 2007 11:56 AM

I only mentioned her because I was afraid she'd call me a wuss if I didn't.


Eric Scheie   ·  March 12, 2007 4:22 PM

Saphires are rarer than diamonds.

So why do they cost 10X as much?

DeBeers restricts supply.

Buy your SO a saphire. When she complains "why no diamond?" tell her that she, like a saphire, is rarer than diamonds.

It might be worth a try once.

M. Simon   ·  March 12, 2007 6:53 PM

Yeah, you go ahead and do that. Tell me how it goes.

Jon Thompson   ·  March 12, 2007 7:28 PM

Actually, I have a close friend who makes jewelry, and he told me emeralds are much rarer than diamonds, and should cost far more than diamonds.

The DeBeers consortium better hope that the Canadians don't discover more diamond-laden rock.

That's the trouble with considering such commodities investments; you don't know when they'll find more.

Eric Scheie   ·  March 12, 2007 7:53 PM

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