First, a little background.
Geekbrief has a video podcast hosted by Neal’s wife Luria Petrucci (aka Cali Lewis). It comes out roughly three times a week, and it’s a short, fun look at the latest gadget news. It’s well put together, but retains an amateur feel, which is something that appeals to me. Cali is a pretty good host – she knows her stuff, she’s very attractive, and most importantly of all, she never stops smiling.
Geekbrief has been on my subscription list for nearly two years, and I’ve donated money to the show to help out on more than one occasion.
I love my “Shiny, Happy Tech News”, but earlier this year, Cali announced that they were going to buy an RV and spend a year driving around the US, visiting every state.
This immediately didn’t sit quite right with me. My initial reaction was to wonder how they could afford to do this when they were apparently making the show on a shoestring and quite happy to take a few dollars here and there from fans.
Then I saw this video of them looking at RVs:
For this little jaunt, they’re looking at buying a vehicle that costs at least 6 figures – possibly as much as half a million dollars. I started to question not just where my money had gone, but the environmental impact of driving a “house” that does 5-10 miles per gallon around the US for an entire year.
I posted the simple question on a blog post about the trip:
I’m interested to know what you’re doing to offset the carbon emissions from this “trip”.
I had expected a simple response along the lines of “we’re looking into it” – but all I got was Neal’s jokey response “We’re going to eat more cows!”.
After trying to make my views a little clearer, Neal responded with:
The Big Trip is about celebrating American exceptionalism, not about politics. It’s perfectly okay for you not to celebrate with us. Here’s what I think about environmental fascism: http://www.nealcampbell.com/2008/04/20/not-easy-not-being-green/
I don’t know if I’m getting old, but I find the use of the word ‘fascism’ to be a little tasteless. And while Neal didn’t directly call me a fascist personally, he certainly implied that’s how he felt about my views.
I will admit that the phrase “American exceptionalism” did make me laugh though.
But I do want to get one thing straight. I’m in no way a “rabid environmentalist”. But excessive waste does annoy me. And making even the tiniest concession to the environmental impact of driving such a huge vehicle around the country isn’t so much about global warming as it is about cleaning up yourself. Common courtesy.
But there are many other reasons why this “Big Trip” doesn’t sit right with me:
- The fact that they’re happy to take money off viewers on the basis that they have to scrape together the cash to produce Geekbrief. Yet they don’t seem to bat an eyelid at spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on a shiny RV.
- The fact that they’re taking donations from fans for the trip, but haven’t said what will be happening to the RV and equipment after they get home. Presumably they’ll be keeping the RV for their own use whenever they want to go away. Nice.
- The fact that it doesn’t seem to have crossed their mind how “insular” it looks to consider your own country to be the be all and end all of technical innovation.
- The fact that the utter extravagance of it all has apparently not occurred to Neal and Cali.
To me, the “Big Trip” sums up everything that’s wrong with America. It refuses to acknowledge the world outside the USA. It’s a display of rampant consumerism that flies in the face of fans who have donated to get this small, amateur tech show off the ground. The lack of any notion of the environmental impact is just the tip of the iceberg.
It seems the whole trip is aimed at fulfilling Neal & Cali’s personal ambitions to drive around their country in total luxury. I don’t know where my personal donations ended up, but it feels like they’re being used to give the show’s producers the holiday of a lifetime. I find that a bit of a slap in the face when I have to scrape together enough money just to pay the rent every month.
I’m not asking them to cancel their trip. All I’m asking is that they be a little more open to the issues.