18 September 2005
The library reserve system works in mysterious ways. I request books, CDs and DVDs, and then I wait. Sometimes the materials come right away, and sometimes they take longer. Sometimes I get a postcard in the mail that tells me that my request just cannot be granted. I have no way of knowing if what I want will ever show up, and if so, when.
Well, it turns out that two DVD sets of second seasons of TV shows I enjoy showed up within a week of each other. I've long since given up on remembering when or why I request things, and for all I know I'd searched all DVDs for "complete second". Anyway, now I'm midway through watching both the second season of Dead like me (as I mentioned yesterday) and also Penn & Teller: Bullshit!. Jessica enjoys B.S.!* (as do I) so out of courtesy for her (and because I enjoy seeing her enjoy a DVD) I watch it only with her.
Formerly I would sometimes end up succumbing to temptation, watching episodes ahead and inevitably ruining the surprises and telegraphing the jokes by giggling early. So it takes some discipline to wait. It helps that I've got other stuff to watch on the side, too.
So anyway, we're watching the second season of these anarchic showmen and their exposés, and this time around the subjects are as sintersting as before, if not more, with the added benefit of them being more comfortable with confrontation and editing. The first season saw them addressing ESP, ouija boards, and bottled water, and this time they go after some bigger targets: P.E.T.A., the war on drugs, and 12-step programs. Here is a list of all the episodes.
One episode this season, however, stands out, even more than the first one's Secondhand smoke: Recycling. Their standpoint, which they back up with research from their crack team, is that recycling is largely not good for the environment or the economy. The make some sound points (it's cheaper, right now, to make new plastic bottles than to refine and reuse old ones to make new ones) and some that don't seem to stand up to scrutiny (there are more trees now than ever, mostly in tree farms, so saving paper doesn't save trees that don't need to be saved anyway) and some that are basically irrelevant (landfill space isn't exactly scarce). But they fall into the same trap that the network news and other sensationalist reporting does: they're out to entertain more than inform. They don't clearly state that they are focusing almost entirely on consumer curbside programs (which do, admittedly, waste a lot of time and fuel) and not the industrial re-use of waste, except in a brief mention on a toilet paper label, in a segment played more for a laugh than anything else.
But am I just being defensive because they've finally come after something that I put stock in and moreover, do? I don't think so. Their gleeful nihilism dismisses the eventuality that the costs of recycling will be cheaper than starting from scratch. They do point out that aluminum recycling is cost-effective and worthwhile, but they stop there at offering positive options or alternatives.
If ever an issue warranted followup or further explanation, it is this one. For them to dismiss it with the same sacred-cow-busting attitude as they do genuine nogoodniks like cosmetic surgery for children or the mortuary industry does everybody a disservice, if not the whole planet.
But I'm not going to stop watching them, of course.
* At least that's what the covers from the library's discs call the show. I'm happy that they buy the show, even if the title is potentially offensive.