Saturday, December 6, 2008

The Oprah Bump

Stewart told me the other day that Kindles are no longer available for Christmas this year; the second year in a row. Seems a new Oprah bump has shifted to a love of all things Kindle™ and the e-book is flying off the shelf in record numbers only to be available to those who pre-ordered in November. Last year I wanted to give Stewart a Kindle for Christmas, but decided that the only safe thing to do was to aim for his Birthday in April. I received it in March and all was well. He loves it by the way.

Oprah says that a Kindle saves paper; but what is paper’s carbon footprint vs. Kindle? I’m all for saving resources, but paper has a very important distinction from plastic and metal: It is renewable. In the United States they plant trees for paper on tree farms, mostly short needle pines in the red clay of Georgia where nothing else can grow. And the net by-product of that planting is a reduction in carbon dioxide through sequestration and an increase in oxygen; we like oxygen. Quality paper, the kind needed for mass production for book printing takes long grain fibers. Every time we recycle paper, the fiber gets shorter so you must add higher and higher percentages of new pulp; meaning, more freshly cut trees. The plastic in a Kindle can be remolded but only at considerable energy cost, which most likely won’t be done, so the Kindle will end up on some big pile of toxic waste in China, currently where we send a lot of our electronic waste. One can not say that the metals from the micro components do not impact the Earth negatively. Lead solders work the best and we don’t like lead, but as of yet, we have not restricted it’s use. All I'm really saying is that it is not as simple as Oprah glibly states; we save paper, but at what cost? But I digress.

Here’s the thing: Twenty years ago, I used to really enjoy the Oprah Winfrey Show. At that time, she had just surpassed Donahue in the ratings. She was my friend at a time when I was home with two children in their elementary school years. She WAS my adult companionship. Fast forward to a few weeks back when I turned on the tube and saw her face staring back at me. Anticipating the relationship rekindling (pun intended) I sat back to enjoy . . . but I didn’t. In years past, I had gotten 30 to 40 minutes out of 60 that I would call the meat; this program spent some 30 seconds at the beginning of the segment repeating what had been talked about previously, followed by 30 to 60 seconds spent on what they were imminently to talk about. OK, then they would talk for 120 seconds about the real topic. This was followed by a rehash of those 120 seconds and a quick 15 seconds of teaser for what was to follow after the commercial. I felt ripped off! Doesn’t her audience get frustrated like me? Has she gotten so far away from what made her successful that she doesn’t even recognize that the heart of her show is gone?

Don’t get me wrong; she has and will continue to do some incredible work for humanity. She is a force, a brand. But to me, her show has no meat. Perhaps that was planned in this earth friendly, health-conscious society: Oprah has gone Vegan.

1 comment:

  1. I've never heard of Kindles, but that just shows how out of touch I am. But there's something about holding a book in my hand that feels good - call me old fashion. Although I do listen to a lot of books-on-tape while sewing/quilting, driving and baking (I hate to bake or anything that has to do with the kitchen).

    As far as Oprah goes - I don't like her anymore due to her religious beliefs.

    And global warming, well let's just say I don't agree with Al Gore.

    Love your blogs - keep them coming. Peg