June 28, 2008

Jeremy rides the zeitgeist

Our friend, from a way back, Jeremy Justus, of Piss Stance and Surveillance, Paranoia, and Abjection fame, is horribly, horribly, horribly right to be preoccupied with garbage and ideological surveillance.

But first we must segue, entirely inelegantly, for a momentary reminder of the trade-offs between actions and environmental protection. Eg, biofuel versus feeding people. Eg, punitive garbage and recycling regimes versus the black plague.

As always, it's increasingly a case of: pick your poison.

Now back to Jeremy's preoccupation with garbage, recycling, ideology and surveillance: his notions and mullings are steadily coming to rude life (not literature) across the globe, with outrageous and stupid-minded results.
"[A]s a Christian minister I’m required to speak out against injustice,” declared the Rev. John Bannister, the rector of Whitehaven, a seaside town in Cumbria, in the far northwest. Referring to the garbage cans residents here use, he said, “To be given a criminal record for leaving your wheelie bin open by three inches has, I think, really gone beyond the bounds of responsible behavior.”

Across Europe, residents are struggling to adjust to a new era of garbage rules. Britain, particularly, is in the midst of a trash crisis, with dwindling landfill space and one of Europe’s poorest recycling records. Threatened with steep fines if they dump too much trash, local governments around the country are imposing strict regimens to force residents to produce less and recycle more.

Many now collect trash every other week, instead of every week. They restrict households to a limited amount of garbage, and refuse to pick up more. They require that garbage be put out only at strict times, reject whole boxes of recyclables that contain the odd nonrecyclable item and employ enforcement officers who issue warnings and impose fines for failure to comply.

[A]s Ian Curwen, a spokesman for Copeland Borough Council, which encompasses Whitehaven, said: “Ultimately as a country, we have to do more. We can’t just keep producing and throwing things away.”

[Err, no, no we can't. The end of production, capitalism, and the global economy will be announced when your next recycling schedule is distributed - ed.]

But Britons do not like being told what to do. Encouraged by anti-government newspapers, they particularly resent government meddling, as they see it, in such intimate matters as the contents of their garbage cans. As regulations get more stringent and enforcement more robust, there have been reports across the country of incensed residents shouting and throwing trash at garbage collectors, illegally dumping and burning excess garbage, and even surreptitiously tossing trash in — or stealing — their neighbors’ garbage cans.

The twice-a-month collection regime, now in use in more than half the country, is particularly unpopular and became a contentious issue in recent local elections ... having infrequent collections creates a health hazard, what with the smell, the maggots and the rats.

“It’s supposed to be environmentally friendly, but it’s not,” Mrs. Cocks said. “How can it be environmentally friendly to have two weeks’ worth of rubbish in your house?”


And it doesn't matter how much of it's in a recycling bin, it's still garbage.

Jeremy is the leading candidate for becoming the Cassandra of all things garbage. It's a dirty job, but someone has to do it.

Take out the trash precisely, now. It's the law


  1. Common sense seems to have flown out the window, Caz.
    In the meantime some one has left the door ajar and paranoia and hysteria have sidled in.

  2. And goodness knows what might sidle out of the bins ajar!

  3. I miss ol' Jeremy Justus. Jer, if you google your name again and find this post, stop by and say howdy and let us know what you're working on.

  4. Who knew that Jeremy's floating signifier would have such potent relevance to our day-to-day lives, hey Drunka?

    I love it when academia collides in a big karboom with the real world.