Archive for the ‘capitalism’ Category

Cruise ships in the harbor
2009.09.23

The cruise ship season in Seattle is mostly over.  A cruise is a strange thing to witness as a resident of the place that is visited.  A thousand people come in to the city from the ship, do whatever it is they do, then, on Sunday night, they slide silently out of the harbor on to some next destination or to home, bringing with them the the same shock they brought on us wherever they land next.

I’m sure the cruise ships are good for the local economy.  They descend upon the city staying fairly close to the pier they tie to, consume, spend, gather, and then leave.  Its kind of awesome from an economic point of view if only a little rapacious and unsightly from every other point of view.  At any rate, I can see why the city encourages them to come.

I take exception to the way they continue running their diesel engines while moored.  Sometimes there are five or six ships blowing smoke at anchor all weekend.  This is to keep their systems running, no doubt but I think the city should find a way to power them from the grid while they’re here.  I’m sure it would take a lot of power, perhaps even a dedicated plant but the point source pollution would certainly be better for Seattle residents than the raw exhaust that these notoriously filthy beasts, who spend most of their time in international waters dumping and fuming to their hearts’ content, emit.

Advertisements

Sigg Bottles and BPA
2009.09.23

I use Sigg bottles so when my coworker told me about the media buzz surrounding  BPA in the bottles, I decided to get informed about the situation.  Sigg issued a letter of apology and have extended an offer to exchange bottles returned at the customer’s expense.  I went about trying to decide if I wanted to take them up on the offer.

First, I read their lab reports and decided that the old liners aren’t bad at all.  They may contain BPA in their construction but, if it doesn’t end up in the water, who cares?  I would like to see tests using acidic liquids like fruit juice, wine or tea.  I suspect the lower pH would increase the tendency for chemicals to leach out of any liner.  Alas, if they have done such tests, they have not made their results public.  Nonetheless, I am not particularly worried that their bottles contain BPA if basically none gets in the water under pretty strenuous circumstances.

As luck would have it, I have bottles with both liners so I decided to conduct my own experiment to decide whether to exchange my older bottles for new ones — a taste test.  I filled the two bottles with boiling water and wrapped them in the neoprene sleeves Sigg sells as insulation for their bottles.  After leaving them on the counter for 24 hours, I poured a bit out into two glasses and tasted them.  The water from the older bottle was far superior.  The newer bottle leaves a strong taste and odor of plastic in the water.  The older bottle was almost completely neutral.  I let my wife try the water from the two bottles and she also greatly preferred the water from the older bottle.

So, while I respect Sigg for responding to their customers and offering to exchange bottles with the older lining for ones with the newer lining, I won’t be sending my bottles in.  In fact, I now consider the bottles with the older lining vintage and will favor them over the newer ones.  I also won’t be buying any new Sigg bottles.  At this point, they are basically just very fancy plastic bottles.  There is no longer a compelling reason to choose them over more rugged, albeit less pretty, all plastic bottles.

This is yet another example of the mob evoking a knee-jerk reaction in a well meaning organization.  This is one of capitalism’s, and democracy’s for that matter, many failings.  Pity.