Environmental sustainability vs. animal flesh foods

chart showing gallons of water required to produce 1 pound of food

Gallons of water required to produce 1 pound of food
source: http://www.vegsource.com/articles/pimentel_water.htm


and I really like this one:

chart of environmental sustainability and food chain ranking for types of foods

environmental sustainability ratings for where people eat on the food chain, and a proposed tax logic to reflect the true environmental cost for various foods
source: http://www.vegsource.com/articles/pimentel_resources.htm


chart of Earth's land area uses

Earth’s land area uses
source: http://www.vegsource.com/articles/pimentel_resources.htm

Think of all the other benefits too.  People who are vegetarian have much better blood circulation and hence enjoy many health benefits including better sex.

Also, people who do not eat animal flesh are much less prone to kill other beings meaning our planet would be a substantially more peaceful place without all the killing vibes.

As a surreal endnote, the day after I made this post here is an article that appeared in the news:

USDA buys meat to help drought-stricken farmers

WASHINGTON (AP) — The government will buy up to $170 million of pork, lamb, chicken and catfish to help drought-stricken farmers, the White House said Monday as President Barack Obama brought his re-election campaign to rural voters in Iowa.

First hi-res MARDI image

So much of the Mars missions is about astrogeological research.  I just read a very interesting article about scientists with the US Geological Survey who are part of teams that work with the rovers on Mars.

The descent phase of the Curiosity rover offered an important opportunity to survey the landing area in greater detail than would be possible from orbiting imagers.  The instrument for this purpose is called the Mars Descent Imager (MARDI).  We already saw some preview lo-res images from this instrument showing the view from Curiosity as it landed.

Today the first hi-res image of the MARDI has been released.  This would have been one of the first if not the very first image it would have taken during descent, when it was still relatively high up and only seconds after the heat shield had dropped away from Curiosity during descent.

But the coming MARDI images will be of high interest because they will show in detail the features of a wide area around where Curiosity has set down and these images will help guide the scientists to determine where to take the rover.  These images have already been taken during descent and are stored in memory and will soon be transmitted back to Earth.  The first MARDI images transmitted back were downsampled (reduced in resolution and size) in order to enable speedy relay back to Earth.

One interesting thing mentioned in the article is that the science teams which deal with operating the Mars rovers actually have to live on a wake-sleep cycle timed to the Martian day, which is 40 minutes longer than an Earth day.

As another side note, Google Earth (which now must be a misnomer) actually has an option to view Mars.  You can actually search for Opportunity and see the landing site of the Opportunity (and its now-defunct sister, Spirit) and the path it has traced since landing on Mars 8 years ago.  I was astounded to see that it has traversed over 20 miles and, just last year, it reached the edge of a large crater called Endeavour, the scientific significance of which is so great that it is actually being considered as equivalent to a second landing site.

Beyond this, the openness that one finds with NASA’s conscientiously disclosing almost all informtation about its rovers, and in fact about all its missions, is nothing less than extraordinary.  I think this alone – this openness – is an achievement to be highly proud of.  When they say that these missions are for everyone, they really mean it.

A higher-res version of the above image, along with caption is available at http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/msl/multimedia/pia16021.html

Thick stacks of clay minerals indicate chemical alteration of thick stacks of rock by interaction with liquid water on ancient Mars. Aluminum clays overlying iron/magnesium clays here in the ancient terrains of Mawrth Vallis indicate a change in environmental conditions. Aluminum clays may form by near-surface leaching while iron/magnesium clays may form in the subsurface. The image is from the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment camera on NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. (References: Wray et al., 2008; Loizeau et al., 2010.)

Sonic.net is offering free domains and hosting

Today I logged into my sonic.net account and realized that they are offering a free domain plus free web hosting.  They will actually allow you to pick a domain name and waive the registration fee for the first year.  The hosting will continue to be free.  The hosting plan has a 10GB transfer limit and 2500 MB storage limit which is going to be way more than an average person would need with their own site.

I highly recommend supporting sonic.net.  They are vastly better than every other company which offers Internet and phone service.  They are also a local company in Northern California.

I just switched today from basic DSL to their $39/month Fusion plan which includes a huge amount of bandwidth (was told it should approach 10 Mbps) and phone service that includes free long distance.  I was also able to keep my same home phone number.

I am one of those people who is appalled with television and refuse to own one.  I therefore do not have/need/want cable tv service.  I download mostly asian dramas which are not released into the US market and which are fansubbed.  I also watch news online and especially like Aljazeera’s news videos.  Aljazeera’s founder has won international recognition for his humanitarian media work and the network is far better than any other major news outlet in the world.

One great thing about Aljazeera is its focus on the tumultuous west asian part of the world and many of its articles, series, and videos tell stories about the lives of people in ravaged countries.  As an American who considers herself in touch with alternative media, I am still astounded sometimes by the depth of their stories and by the extent to which the entire Muslim and west-asian culture has been and continues to be ignored and maligned in this country.

Curiosity rover has successfully landed on Mars!


One of the very first images received from the Mars Curiosity rover after landing on the evening of 5 August 2012 Pacific Time.

“linearized” version of one of the first images from the Curiosity rover


image of Curiosity’s descent during parachute phase taken by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter


NASA’s Curiosity rover has, after a tricky process, successully landed on the surface of Mars.  It gives me hope to think that our species, with its intelligence and capacity to achieve great accomplishments, will also be able to achieve solutions to the serious crises our Earth is facing right now due to the actions of our species, and to find ways to live sustainably and peacefully on Planet Earth.

I also hope that the ability to make such achievements will not be limited to a select few in our society as increasingly seems to be the case.  It would not be an America anyone would recognize in which the opportunities for accomplishment are available only to certain, privileged classes.

It would be a shame if, while we bask in glory at technological accomplishments, there are symphonies or great works of literature unwritten, works of art never created, and classical knowledge which is not transmitted to the future because of our narrowness.

In terms of the dangers and threats we are facing on all levels right now, we are far from being past the perilous re-entry stage for our species and for our planet.

May we all summon the skill and perseverance to overcome the challenges we are facing right now as humans.


For more images and info on the Mars Science Laboratory visit here.


one of the first images taken by NASA’s Curiosity rover

So cute!

My Tripod.com site is still up!

I almost completely forgot about this. I created a site a looonnngg time ago on Tripod. I can’t remember how long ago but I’m pretty sure it was either before or just during the advent of Web 2.0. Tripod actually got bought later by Lycos, and Lycos still runs it.

I created my site with MS FrontPage which was simple to use yet gave my site a very clean, highly-customized look that still is appealing.

I really give credit to Lycos for keeping Tripod going all these years. In an industry where so many things are fickle and come and go at the drop of a dime, that’s really an accomplishment.

I am trying to imaging some server somewhere in some data center where the files for my website reside and how long the system has been running or how many times the hardware infrastructure has been modified or upgraded to keep Tripod going.

Tripod is still cool if someone wants to set up a site for their business or for personal use. Logging in, I see some new tools like Blog Builder, Photo Album, and their site-building tool called Zeeblio.

Installing Clockworkmod on a Verizon Galaxy Tab 10.1 LTE SCH-i905

The Verizon Galaxy Tab 10.1 SCH-i905 like pretty much all embedded devices has a special maintenance mode which is like a mini OS which enables various maintenance functions to be performed, such as flashing updates to the device.

This maintenance mode is referred to as the “recovery”. The stock recovery is the recovery system that is installed on the device by default. However there is an improved one called ClockworkMod Recovery which is really cool and has more features than the stock recovery.

The process outlined here will therefore require the latest ClockworkMod recovery image (sometimes also called a ROM, it is the file which contains the data which gets flashed to the Galaxy Tab to install the mini OS recovery environment). I obtained the most recent one here. The file in question is the recovery.tar.md5 for LTE (Odin; SCH-I905). You will see other versions listed there for other models.

In order to flash the file it is necessary to run a utility on the PC called Odin which is an acronym for “Open Disk Imager in a Nutshell”. It is available through here.

The flashing process is as follows:

– Shut the Galaxy Tab down by holding the power button until a menu appears and then selecting the shut down option.

– To start the Galaxy Tab long-press the power key (a couple seconds). When the text “Samsung Galaxy Tab” appears on the screen in large white letters, press the power button and the volume-up (the one closest to the power button) simultaneously until you see two big icons appear.

– The icon on the right, a big green robot, should be highlighted by default. If it is not, press the volume-up button repeatedly until it is selected. Then press the volume-down (one furthest from power button) button to select.

– It will give a warning and you can press the down button again to confirm. The tablet will now be in a special download mode whereby it can be flashed.

– With Odin running, connect the tablet’s USB cable to the PC. You should see it register in Odin.

– Now in Odin click on the PDA button and select the recovery.tar.md5 that was downloaded. Now click the start button. The flash process should be fast. A green progress bar should appear and finish and the tablet will reboot.

However there is a problem with this. Every time the tablet boots a script gets run which automatically overwrites the recovery environment with the default one.

The way I solved this was to edit the file /system/etc/install-recovery.sh on the tablet. This script is what runs the command to overwrite the recovery at every boot. To bypass the script, after the first line which reads:


add this line:

exit 0

which just makes the script exit immediately with no errors before it has a chance to overwrite the recovery.

Ok I’m tired of typing right now otherwise I’d explain all the steps to complete this last process. The way I did it was by having BusyBox Free installed on the tablet which is a complete set of shell utilities including the vi editor.

I also run SSHDroidPro on the tablet which enables me to ssh in via console from a PC.

Small but important victory

“Tethering” is a feature of a mobile data device like a smartphone by which the device acts as an access point allowing other computers locally to connect to the internet through its mobile data (such as 4G) connection.

One would think that, if a device such as a smartphone, is capable of providing such a function, that it would not be restricted by the mobile data provider. But this is America. And mobile data providers like Verizon, AT&T, and definitely others, are all dirty.

Verizon decided that it would find a way to force users of mobile data devices with 4G plans to pay extra for the tethering feature. This is complete bullshit. It shows unequivocally how rotten modern American industry has become, how it has stifled innovation in favor of scams, scheming, and extortion to make money.

But then along came the Obama administration and the Federal Communications Administration to rule that what Verizon was attempting to do is bullshit. Data is data. If you pay for it, its yours. No company can scam you and suddenly scheme to find ways to force you to pay money because a packet of data coming through the connection you paid for is different than another packet.

This is a significant and important victory. This is probably what it is going to look like if America is capable of beginning to win the fight of information freedom, which touches all the way to the core of personal and social information logos and the wars with Big Media and Big Internet.

People really need to take note and understand that if Republicans were in control, this most certainly would not have happened. I hope this is the kind of change Obama meant when he said “…the ship of State is an ocean liner, not a speed boat, things done today will last decades.”

Rental Bikes in San Francisco

Rental bikes are now a booming business in San Francisco, mostly with tourists. Not long ago I had the opportunity to closely examine one that was parked outside a cafe I was at. It looked like a very good bike, not something cheap. Here are the specs I noted:

bike model: Fuji Sunfire 2.0 19″
tires: Kenda 700x35c
fork: Suntour NEX 4610 disc brake compatible

Bike had disc brakes which was impressive. Also had a rear rack mounted to it which is notable because disc brakes can make rack mounting difficult/impossible.

Miang Kham Amazing Thai Wraps

I was at this restaurant a while ago and they served these amazingly delicious little hors d’oeuvre wrap things which are called maing kham. I wanted to create this post about it for reference purposes. Want to experiment with different recipes and ideas.

The ones I had had cashew, prawn (which I no longer eat), ginger, fried onion, and lime wrapped in butter lettuce.

The combination of the sour lime, the savory cashew and fried onion, and the sharp, zesty ginger made the flavor amazing.

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