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"Well, 'F' Them!"
I always hate when radio guys, who can't use swear words on the air, use girly approximations of them like the one above. Last night, while driving home, I flicked on 97.1 fm, and that's what one of the guys on the air said about Ikea -- either Conway or Whitman, I guess, since I was driving home between 9pm and 10pm.

The issue they're getting their manties in a wad about? Iraq? Darfur? Poor public transportation in Los Angeles?


Ikea is going to start charging 5 cents for their formerly free plastic bags. Here's a link to a post about it from Consumerist:

According to Treehugger, IKEA will be charging $.05 for each plastic bag starting March 15 in an effort to encourage environmentally responsible behavior. IKEA will also be reducing the price of their re-usable blue shopping bags (also known as the greatest laundry bag ever) to $.59 from $.99. From Treehugger:
Proceeds of up to $1.75 million (that's a whole lot of bags) from the bag campaign will go to American Forests, the nation's oldest non-profit citizens conservation organization, to plant trees to restore forests and offset CO2 emissions...

The first commenter there, Gena, was as silly and pissy as the radio hosts:

Looks like IKEA is off the shopping list. I'm all for the environment, and like the concept of stores giving customers an incentive for bringing their own bags in, but charging us to shop with them? No way. Plenty of other stores want my money and won't charge me to package my purchases.

You're not going to shop at Ikea over 5 cents? Right.

My favorite comment in response was from somebody called Rey:

What does it mean to be "all for the environment" but unwilling to take small steps to prove that commitment?

Here's the comment I left:

I already bring my own bags. I got them from fold up very small.


I have four in my car for when I go to the grocery store, and one in my purse in case I'm out and go to the drugstore or something. Why use up resources unnecessarily?

And in France, non-chichi grocery stores do charge for them. And sometimes don't even have them. My American friend who lives there, married to a Frenchman, always has plastic bags folded up in small triangles in her purse in case she goes to the store.

It's a different way of thinking. They're much more conservative about resources there, and it's a good thing.

You also get ONE napkin there, not a stack.

And nobody there tells you to "Go 'F' yourself." Or, if they do, my French isn't fucking good enough to know.

Posted by aalkon at February 22, 2007 1:47 PM


Ahhh America...Give us convenience or give us death.

Posted by: RedPretzel at February 22, 2007 6:20 AM

What IKEA is good for...

Posted by: Hasan at February 22, 2007 7:46 AM

I never really thought about how much we waste until I started going to France, where resources are rarer and cost more. How many times do people take three napkins when one will do? How many people drive enormous cars when they really don't need to (meaning they're polluting the air of the rest of us unnecessarily)? How many people, without the 5 cents a bag charge, think to bring their own bags? They sometimes thank me for doing it at Whole Foods or Trader Joe, but I'm often looked at like I'm nuts...even though the bags I have even fit right over the wire thingie for plastic bags at the grocery store.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at February 22, 2007 7:47 AM

That's pretty amazing, Hasan.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at February 22, 2007 7:50 AM

> when they really don't need to

Wiggle words! Wiggle words! Deep in the human heart, there's this hardscrabble fantasy that somebody --usually the owner of the heart, but sometimes Al Gore-- knows which resources everyone ought to be consuming and at what rate, thus maximizing fulfillment, humility, productivity, or some other terribly important principle (other than liberty, that is).

The most important thing about this fantasy is how it flatters the fantasist. (Or Al Gore.) I think it gratifies the interior tensions from the times where Mom or Dad would say 'I'm doing this for your own good!', which makes no sense to child who's going to the doctor for shots.

It's also fascist. It's as small-minded as a Somali warlord. It horribly mis-characterizes the nature of our collective genius and the sturdiness of our greatest invention, the economy.

The Ikea instrument is unremarkable. It shows only the essential sluttiness of the electric guitar in an age where garage-bench tinkerers own such finely-crafted tools. Your Uncle Ernie has a wrench set that would have made Henry Ford (or Orville Gibson) weep with envy a hundred years ago. Take his toolbox back five hundred years, and it would have changed history.

A master luthier named Benedetto wrote a book on building archtop guitars about ten years ago. As an illustration, he built an elegant piece to his usual proportions out of knobby pine. It sounded angelic, but it looked like hell. The secret is technique, not materials, and it's been that way for many many years.

Also, there's no excuse for putting a hardtail bridge on a solidbody. With no whammy bar, it's just a plank.

Posted by: Crid at February 22, 2007 8:18 AM

Curmudgeon. I'm sure Amy didn't intend a guitar discussion here, but briefly, as I understand it a tremolo bridge has a considerably different tone from a hardtail, specifically producing more reverb, and better tuning stability. As to essential sluttiness, touché.

Posted by: Hasan at February 22, 2007 8:45 AM

Loved your first paragraph, Crid. I don't care if people have or use "more than they need," as long as they pay for it. And the only laws that should determine the price of anything are the laws of supply and demand. I'm fine with someone driving a Hummer that only gets 9 miles to the gallon. What bothers me is that my taxes are keeping gas prices artificially low.

Posted by: Pirate Jo at February 22, 2007 8:55 AM

The absolute best electrics sound like shit without refined, thoughtful amplification anyway. The tonal variations from the bridge are trivial, angels-on-the-head-of-a-pin considerations. Hendrix died thirty years ago, 36 years ago: If you can't slam the compression, crank the distortion and dive-bomb like drug-addled, hormone-entranced madman, why bother?

Look again at the refinement of the bridge (doing this from memory, saw it last night on digg). Consider the efficiency of the lines; the polish of the surface, the remarkable tolerances of the machined components. That bridge will play in tune for generations with minimal maintenance. A huge number of incredibly difficult issues of mathmatics and physics in guitar construction were answered by purchasing that bridge, and it came off-the-shelf. The excellence of such a piece comes from a gazillion man-years of development in a cheap commercial package.

Building a guitar with such solutions at hand doesn't illustrate much. You could build one from a rotting park bench. Brian May of Queen built his from an old fireplace.

Posted by: Crid at February 22, 2007 9:04 AM

The point is, in Al Gore's world, as in Stalin's, nobody's permitted to build and market bridges like that unless that had an order from the Kazakhstan and a stamped form in triplicate from the head office. To merely develop on spec would be something we "don't really need."

Posted by: Crid at February 22, 2007 9:43 AM

I don't care if people have or use "more than they need," as long as they pay for it.

The problem comes when they force you to pay with your lungs, as in the case of SUVs. And plastic bags are not made out of potatoes, which is why we're waging war in Iraq, and didn't really stick our nose into "the troubles" in Ireland.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at February 22, 2007 10:22 AM

We pulled the best of the Irish out of there, gave 'em badges, and set 'em to patrolling the streets of Boston. Bright red hair has been a fashion statement ever since....

Yes, you guys are right, things should be priced according to what they cost. But if you're just trying to take control of people to make them be the kind of people you want them to be, you're making a mistake

Posted by: Crid at February 22, 2007 10:54 AM

In Ireland, too, you pay for bags in the grocery stores. get used to bringing your own bags. And packing your own bags, actually.
A really big shopping trip at Ikea you spend 50 cents on bags? Big whoop.

An old fireplace? I love/d Queen.

Posted by: Kimberly at February 22, 2007 10:59 AM

That thing cooed like baby, too: Dynamite with a laser beam,

Posted by: Crid at February 22, 2007 11:09 AM

Warning: Overuse of parentheses ahead

I like the Ikea policy (and also that of Trader Joe's (bring your own bags and get entered in $25 raffle) and Whole Foods (bring your own bag and get $.05 back per, or donate that $.05 to one of a few local charities... this is in SF; I don't recall this being the case with Whole Foods in LA)), because they put the market to work on the issue of waste. If you think their policies are high-handed, by all means, go somewhere else. It's a free world. Otherwise, you can do yourself a little good by bringing your own bags. And once the bags are in your car, you might take them to Safeway, too (which is good, since the baggers there appear incapable of putting more than one or two items in a plastic bag).

Yes, you guys are right, things should be priced according to what they cost. But if you're just trying to take control of people to make them be the kind of people you want them to be, you're making a mistake

Crid makes an excellent point here. People hate to be told they must do something, but they sure respond to incentives to do things. Look at how cheap SUVs are these days.

Posted by: justin case at February 22, 2007 11:17 AM

I like Ralphs plastic bags... I wrap my bacholor foods and sandwiches in them and then all the trash in the house too... So there's rarely a need for big garbage jobs, and each one gets three uses (besides their marketing) before the landfill. These things are an extremely slender and lightweight grade of plastic. Izzat OK with everybody?

Posted by: Crid at February 22, 2007 11:55 AM

Izzat OK with everybody?

Mine is granted so long as you maintain strict adherence to the three use policy.

I never knew you cared.

Posted by: justin case at February 22, 2007 4:33 PM

Whoops - "Mine" above should be "My approval"

Posted by: justin case at February 22, 2007 4:36 PM

I was just so worried that you might be angry again...

Any chemists in the house? How many plastic bags like that, the little five-quart numbers, would it take to forge into something more obviously use but pedestrian, like a cover to an auto glove box? Aside from choking birds and fish, how bad should we feel about this?

A great book:

Note for LA people: Has there ever been a more wasted slice of radio spectrum than 97.1?

It's cool that they say effin' ess, though. Keeps the hypocrisy out loud where it belongs.

Posted by: Crid at February 22, 2007 4:57 PM

Crid has most of it on his first post. But, Ikea is still using a free marker thingie, so let them charger what they like for containment devics. In the USA, they might make for some confustion, but they may educate their folk to their way.

I like going to stores that give me free plastic bags becuase they are just the right isze for tossing trash down the chute without having to pound it.

No, I do not seperate "recyclables". If they were so valuable someone would purchase them from me.

Oh, side note, when I had a "manual labor" job we made sure to toss our aluminum cans and cardboard in the dumpsters because many folk were digging that stuff out and living decent doing it. If we put that stuff in the recycle bin, the proceeds went to the State/University.

Posted by: Guy Montag at February 22, 2007 8:55 PM

Guy, do you type these comments or just throw the letters up and hope they come down in the right place?

Posted by: Amy Alkon at February 22, 2007 8:59 PM

I thought the object of carrying folded up plastic bags in France was to be able to threaten the next brown fingered wretch that lit up next to me at dinner.

Posted by: Pat Patterson at February 22, 2007 10:33 PM

What, that you're going to pull the bag over their head and smother them?

Is there something I'm missing here?

Posted by: Amy Alkon at February 23, 2007 12:38 AM

No, we're all to civilized for violence here, merely threaten to put the bag over my head. That'll show 'em.

Posted by: Pat Patterson at February 23, 2007 4:51 AM

Wait, did I miss something here? One line says that recycleable (?) stuff must be worthless or else someone would buy it and the next says people make a living off it? Which is it?

Posted by: christina at February 23, 2007 9:17 AM

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