28 February, 2009

Something To Loathe

Just because they are both a root cause and a symptom of why we are where we are today.

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25 February, 2009

Some People Don't Think Before They Open That Trap.

http://www.treehugger.com/files/2009/02/joel-makower-says-we-have-just-5000-more-days-video.php  missed it by an order of magnitude, it's more like 500 days.

I don't think we have almost 14 years left to amend how we're abusing the earth.  I don't think anyone in their right mind thinks so, and I think that pulling a figure like that out of your ass during a presentation trivialises the problem and no matter how green this guy presents at he's done immeasurable damage to the cause, especially for all those people who now think we have ages before anything needs to be done.

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23 February, 2009

Here Comes The Algae Over The Hill!

Solazyme, cleverly harnessing the hidden strengths of algae to make diesel fuel.  Also note that the "reporter" actually tastes the oil - I'm told that you can actually use this oil as a food.  If they ever read about using algae to scrub smokestack exhaust and convert it to algae oil, I think they'd soon have a whole lot of power stations producing a whole lot less mess, and giving back diesel fuel instead of consuming it...

While commercialism is the focus of  most sustainable/renewable/zerocarbon power ventures that's not necessarily a drawback, as it helps spur developments like this one and bring us closer to giving Earth a chance to recover.

Here's a thought for you, green technologists out there:

Algae and bacteria are poweful allies indeed.  Between them they do the scutwork of turning all manner of toxic and waste substances into useful sources of food for some other organism.  So how about splitting up the path between garbage and your petrol tank with one or two stages of algae?  One to convert plastics to a biomass that's tailored for algae to eat, another to convert food wastes to that intermediate biomass, and so forth.  Exhaust stack wastes to intermediate biomass, old fish and chips oil to intermediate biomass.  And then you wouldn't have to tailor algae to each specific conversion, just a handful to convert anything to intermediate biomass, and then a handful to take that intermediate biomass and convert it to whatever output product you need - be it fuel oil, animal feed, or a tasty snack food.  BONUS:  More stages = more growth, means you end up with a lot more algae and output product than you put in.

Any biotechs out there want to try that?

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22 February, 2009

The "It Doesn't Grow On Trees" Game

My Dad was never a hippy, although he was in the right bracket for it.  And now we're seeing that maybe those hippies were right.  Maybe we need to do things for the earth not because "that might save us" but because we know that even if it doesn't, it's the right thing to do. (BTW Treehugger the singular is "hippie" not "hippy."  I should know cos when it comes to language I could teach Grammar Girl a thing or three, having had to make a special effort to learn English as a toddler and being thrown from a German speaking family straight into an English-only speaking school.)

What my Dad was, is a very smart man who could see the writing on the wall, in the mid 60's and 70's.  So he started a game with m.  "I'm going to tell you something 'doesn't grow on trees'," he'd say.  "You have to tell me why I'm wrong and why it does gow on trees."  Being a kid, a contradiction game sounded like delicious fun to me, and I'd play enthusiastically.

"Don't slam the car door - car DON'T GROW ON TREES YOU KNOW!" he'd say.  And I'd wade in.

"But they had to smelt the metal for the car, using coal or oil or wood.  They all come from trees!"

"Eat all your vegetables.  THEY DON'T GROW ON TREES YOU KNOW!"

"But trees had to be cleared for the farm where they grow, and they use fertiliser that should have been for trees, and the tools that farmer used are like cars, they had to burn something to make his tractor and plough!"

... and so on.  I got tired of the game eventually, and stopped reacting as joyously.  And there are only so many things to point out in life, before you realise, depressingly, that it all comes down to either million-year-old trees or contemporary trees.

A few years ago I was letting a friend's children wash dishes and play in the kitchen, and they broke a large plastic vegetable drainer I'd had for ages and repaired several times after minor mishaps, and when it finally broke beyond repair, I was very depressed.  The children's mother spoke to me and said she'd buy another one, and I remember thinking about my father's game, and about the crude oil that would b processed to make the plastic, the oil/coal energy that would be used to form the new strainer, and the cost of transporting it around the world.

"But," I said, "They grow on trees, you know?"

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19 February, 2009

Algae As Stack Scrubbers And Biofuel.

I'm thinking that in the Australian Government's push to have clean power, they are barking up the wrong tree if they think "clean coal" isn't an oxymoron.  Whether you pump up sludged-up dinosaurs or dig up their carbonified remains, you're messing with the balance.  Whether you pump the resulting pollution straight into the atmosphere, or if you "scrub" it first.  Either way, it's not at all clean, and the wastes just keep accumulating.  TANSTAAFL, There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch.

But if you use the pollution to feed algae along the way, and then use that algae as a supplementary fuel to the coal...  Hmmmm...  I'm just saying, if you have a few acres of shallow algae pools and dry the algae with the otherwise wasted smokestack heat, you might just be onto something...

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A Brilliant, Economical - and Local! - Bore Water Pump!

If you need to pump water up to 200m lift, then a locally-made water pump with only one movin part can probably help you.  I realise that this isn't for everyone.  But I also know that a few of my readers are on hobby farms and the second most prohibitive cost of having bore water is the pump and running power to it.

The Brumby pumps come in a few basic configurations, and use compressed air to lift the water.  The one moving part is a ball valve, and apparently the whole pump's pretty much everything-proof and doesn't jam or wear out.  The Brumbies are very economically priced and because they run on compressed air, you can run a piece of tubing from a compressor somewhere nearer to power (or use solar or wind to compress air) - and that saves the usually horrendous cost of running waterproof electric lines down into your borehole full of WATER.  (Which is the natural enemy of anyone fool enough to hold onto a live electric cable near...)

The pumps can lift up to almost 200 meters, and produce a flow of up to 10,000 liters per hour, according to the video on the website.

Here's an article and a video one of these pumps used in south america to supply a community farm, and here's a link to Brumby Pumps in Toodyay, which is a bit more than an hour's drive out of Perth, and I'll quite happily drive out there and check them out and provide a more in-depth article, if there's interest in the product.

I'm so proud and happy to have found another one of those examples of local ingenuity, and I'm all for Australia leading in such things as cheap water supply and (another article coming up later) small scale biodiesel generating plant.  Also you may have seen solar panels out in the middle of paddocks apparently doing not much, well they are Sunmills, they use a low voltage pump to do the job windmills used to do, of filling stock and irrigation water tanks, and they are developed and made in Fremantle.  Again, if there's interest I'll go and do an in-depth on this technology as well.

For now, please pass these links on to anyone you in turn know who's involved in providing cheap community water, or who has a farm or hobby farm, or even who has a bore for their garden and has let the pump rust in piece because of the expense of replacing it.

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16 February, 2009

Why I Am Hating On Fast Foods. Again.

I'm not sure why, but it seems that some people are freaked out by the Body Friendly Zen Cookbook because it's a "diet."  Yes it is - but no it isn't.  It's not a diet in the sense that you need to strictly adhere to "5g of this and no more than a pinch of THAT" - no, not at all!  It's a set of guidelines for healthier better eating, and if the major foods are added to your diet and taken at the right times, that's all that counts.  From there, it's just a matter of basically "busking" the recipes (see here for one example) and making sure you have the right ingredients in it.  (That particular recipe had the right combination of particular cooking oil and tomatoes, for example.)

By the way:  Thanks to having moved just a few kilometers away from the temptation of fast and junk foods, I've been using the diet principles a bit more rigorously and suddenly find myself back down by about two kilos in three months, back from the borderline of obese to just slightly overweight for my BMI.  So the book achieves more than just great results with prostate problems, it also manages to trim weight off.

And it goes without saying that fast food more than once or twice a month is probably the worst thing ever you can do for your health, closely followed by not reading the ingredients on your packages of food.

A few possible ways to get the "good" back in your "good food" are here and here.

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15 February, 2009

Cooked Or Raw? Strangely Enough, Cooked.

Here's something that supports the Body Friendly Zen Cookbook - actually, several things.  But mainly, here's a question for you:

Given our family tree straight from the apes (I'm not getting into the creationsim vs evolution debate here - we have a clear history as far as foodstuffs and our digestive systems goes and that's that) are we better off with most of our foods raw, or cooked?

The answer may surprise you.

Seems we have had fire for long enough, and used it to prepare our food long enough, to have adapted to actually doing better on cooked food.  And - once again - The Body Friendly Zen Cookbook has been saying that all along...

In the book, I've said that humans are superbly adapted for our diet.  The diet we had up until about 400 years ago, anyhow...  And we are certainly NOT at all adapted for adulterated, processed, additive-laden, and differently-prepared foods.  For instance - did you know that peanut allergies only rose sharply in the last hundred years or so?  Coincidentally, in synchronism with a different, high-temperature, method of roasting peanuts...  Most people with a peanut allergy can eat raw unprocessed peanuts or boiled peanuts or slow low-temp-roasted peanuts just fine...  (BTW Please DO NOT just go off and eat a raw peanut if you're allergic - some people are genuinely allergic to all forms of peanuts, and before you try anything like that consult your dietitian or GP and make sure there's an allergy test done with raw peanuts first. You may, though, get a surprise.)

And we are in fact superbly adapted for our habit of storing certain vegetables and food all year around - so not ALL vegetables need be eaten only in season.  And - as the quoted article states - we are now superbly adapted to eating cooked and prepared foods - as long as we are preparing those foods in the ways our 100-generations-back ancestors prepared them.  So while it's true that tomatoes are one of our best foods for antioxidant lycopene, as I say in the book, tomato paste contains more accessible lycopene than raw tomatoes, and cooking tomato with olive oil and grapeseed oil allows your body to access even more lycopene, up to ten times as much as tomato paste alone.

If you're tired of feeling "a little bit off," tired of not always feeling in top form, or have prostate or other urito-genital inflammations or diseases, or even some more common problems such as Type 2 diabetes or arterial plaques or irritable bowels - my book CAN help.  (In my case, using the guidelines in the book I managed to reverse prostate cancer and also lose a few kilos of weight.  And yes - the diet was the only thing I used to reverse my prostate cancer, in under seven months.  Your mileage may vary, but the health benefits of using this book as your guide to food and eating seem pretty proven to me.)

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12 February, 2009

Ars'ole'onists Is Too Good A Term.

For anyone that still doubts global warming exists, or who believe the effects will be "manageable."

Oh you stupid stupid person!  Just some quick side notes on the eastern states bushfires, which have irrevocably changed the lives of so many brave people:

  • The fires were so uncontrollably voraciously widepsread and successful because the weather was perfect, several weeks to dry out all the fuel to explosive perfection.
  • The heat is one of the things that seems to trigger a firebug's addled brain, so the heat must send out an imperative command to their conscious selves to start planning to light fires.  If you were of a religious persuasion, you might say they are getting a foretaste of their afterlife...
  • The unseasonal heat made Victoria and South Australia one of the hottest spots on Earth, unseasonla weather that can pretty much be laid fair and square at the door of global warming.  
  • From 46C - 47C days (115F - 118F) before and during the firestorm that has raged for almost a week, temperatures in surrounding areas have dropped from the normal mid-30s (93F) to only 7.5C, (or 42F,)which is a winter temperature in this region.
  • The energy released in all the fires over the entire firestorm was estimated to be the equivalent of more than 600 Hiroshima-sized atom bombs.  It was spread over a correspondingly wider area and a longer time, but the effect has been pretty much the same.
  • The sudden temperature drop can be attributed, I think, to smoke reflecting the sun's heat back.  Wait until there's no more smoke, and the deepest black-burnt ground for thousands of hectares...
Rather than try (as some in the Government are now doing) to hang someone for getting it wrong, I propose that almost everyone that survived got it right, and many of those that perished also had it right but were killed by freaks and artifacts of the fire such as logs blocking roads, fires making flashpoint jumps from tree to tree, and other variants.

For anyone that thinks larger cities couldn't go the same way, think again.  A rise of a few degrees bring the flash point of many materials closer to combustion.  Wooden framed rooves, all those tinder-dry palms standing in a row like so many matchsticks, an exploding car petrol tank - all will help spread flames afar, given a slightly drier and warmer environment.

And the "nuclear winter" effect from flying smoke and ash has been demonstrated in the weather currently being enjoyed by Melbourne.

Suppose one was to sentence an arsonist - a multiple arsonist especially - what would one serve on them?  Time for malicious damage to property by fire.  Time for damaging native flora and fauna.  Time for damaging native reserve and park land.  Reckless disregard for damage and harm caused.  Murder or manslaughter - one sentence per victim - at least hard time for those.

Emotional, financial, and personal hardship, trauma, and damage for each victim.  Double the sentence for each child thus affected.  And no anaesthetic, no chance of parole, and a requirement to be paraded in stocks once a year every year for the term of their life.

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11 February, 2009

The Body Friendly Zen Cookbook is now almost three.

It's been quite a few years now since I had news of my prostate cancer, and developed The Body Friendly Zen Cookbook, which this blog is the support blog for.  When I posted this article more recently, I was ecstatic that my results were still so excellent.

If this nice new feature of Blogger works, then this post will auto post on my birthday, and it will have been almost four years that I've remained prostate problem free, without any chemicals or drugs.

(BTW I'm writing this late in December 2008, have recently had another blood test, and still my PSA is at a level of 1.0 or less.  Since this is my 52nd birthday, I should be averaging 1.8 or more PSA, yet my levels are still like those of a 25 - 30 yo man.)

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07 February, 2009

EV News N Views N Boos

And not boos in a cuddly sense, either.  I said that I find current EVs are almost always styled to be as ugly as possible (car manufacturers would say "distinctive" but the aim is not to make EVs look like pink monkeys, come on!) and not very well designed electrically.   The Tazzari Zero is along the lines of all of that.  It looks like the unfortunate offspring of a Mini (car, not Mac) and a duck, (army or biological, take your pick, either way is as ugly,) and try as I might I couldn't find all that much grist on the site.  The Register has an article on it as well, there you go.

You may have noticed that while I'm tongueing for an EV to come along, I'm also becoming more and more disenchanted with the piles of battery ridden crap that are out there.  You'd be right, on both counts.  Given that electric cars were available in the 60's, it's frustrating that the current crop of EV's is pretty much exactly the same, give or take a handful of minor differences.  Honestly - you'd think technology that's been around for almost fifty years would have seen some improvements, definitely more than the paltry addition of a PWM controller and Li-Ion batteries - which is what most of our contemporary manufacturers seem to think is radical and wonderful and makes them justified in charging like wounded bulls for the privilege of owning an ugly resource-waster.

You'd also be excused if you (like me) were to wonder why the hell an EV, with less moving parts and and more of what we know are cheap to produce electronics (see things like $20 iPod clones and laptops that sell for $400, meaning they cost under $100 to manufacture) should cost so much and price themselves out of reach of most of the population.

And since EVs are meant to be the vanguard of a movement which is supposed to replace polluting fossil-fuelled vehicles, why then are they all busily researching how to make themselves faster and more powerful and more wasteful of resources?  Come on - some tossers with small penis syndrome out there may be willing to pay you an exorbitant price for your over-powered over-engineered over-wank-factored POS but what we need is less stupid greedy asshat manufacturers like you.  (You're the reason we're in this predicament now, fer chrissakes.)

So mainly it's boo to most of them.

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06 February, 2009

Longer Light Exposure Better For Cancer?

Sometimes I wonder if people aren't overthinking the things that may or may not cause prostate and breast cancer.  This article says there's a claimed link between longer exposure to artificial lighting and prostate cancer. Mind you, right at the end it's also acknowledged that there's a link between longer exposure to artificial light and breast cancer too.

I'm kind of wondering - maybe it's not actually the light.  After all, that would be the most tenuous and feeble of connections.  But of course even scientists have dreams and aspirations.  ("Hey! Let's find a link between two things that's so tenuous and nebulous that it'll take us two page just to list the causal chain!  THAT should get us a Nobel!")

But of course mostly that's not the way the world works, and the right link, when found, proves to be much more simple to explain and demonstrate.  Occam's Razor dictates that we should plunk for the most simple explanation, and to me there's a much simpler explanation:

People who spend more time under artificial light are generally citizens of more developed countries, and are that portion of the population that spend their time awake for longer at night.  That indicates a certain lifestyle, working long hours and getting recreational time in artificial light.  A lifestyle that eats a lot more processed food and doesn't have the time for homecooked wholefoods...  Or maybe they use more shampoo for some reason not directly linked to artificial light...

And it's easy to find a link between harmful diet and pretty much any cancer - more so than it would be to find a link between artificial light and cancer, I think. (I think even skin cancer, while caused by UV light, is facilitated more by harmful diet than by sunlight - don't forget that our forebears lived in broad daylight and full sunshine and there's no evidence to suggest that a skin cancer epidemic killed off as large a percentage of that population as it currently does of our generation.)

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05 February, 2009

Measure Your Power Consumption, Greenly

Onzo is a UK company that produces - well, it's not clear from their website, but power related items.  Stuff you can use to measure your house's power consumption and graph it on your PC.  Unfortunately, their website is totally useless (but they do say they want a web designer so that may change soon) but Treehugger found info on this item.  Now I want one...  %)

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04 February, 2009


Electric vehicles need to become desirable and visible.  The Aptera is certainly both of those, but I can't help thinking that they need exposure exposure exposure.  If they ever wanted someone to drive one of their vehicles around and make it visible, let them give me one!  I promise I'll love it and park it in all the coolest places!

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02 February, 2009

Your Supermarket Loves You(r Money And Not Much Else)

Do food companies actually care about your health?  They would have you believe so, and label all their products with "New! Improved! Healthy!" wording all over the package.  If you believed everything that they write on their packaging, believed all their ads and commercials, then eating sugar frosted floor dust flakes covered in watered-down permeate-boosted milk would turn you into the healthiest person walking the planet.

But we all know that this isn't so.  "Healthy" cereals (for example) are loaded with sugar to capture your taste buds, preservatives, flavour enhancers and modifiers, to make the shit more appealing and give it better "mouthfeel" and so forth.  And to top it off the natural vitamins and trace minerals and nutrional value have been cooked, baked, roasted, and otherwise processed out.

Still think the food companies have your interests at heart and not their bottom line and how they can extract more of your dollars?  How I'm persecuting poor innocent (extremely rich) executives who spend their whole days pondering how to give you the best and healthiest value for money?  Oh puh-lease!

How about knowingly selling poisoned food?  Also, please don't trap yourself into thinking of this as a one in a million occurrence.  It's just that this one gathered some public attention because it killed people, and in fact the decision to ship known tainted product is carried out routinely at every level from the primary producer up.  "Reckon they'll notice?  Nahhhh, screw 'em!" is a far more common reaction than "No! We'll cop a loss and throw this whole batch out!"

... just sayin' ...

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