EU Law: If you sell it, take it back!

EU electronic waste legislation becomes compulsory
Retailers will be required to take back old electronic equipment

By Jennifer Baker | IDG News Service | Published 08:33, 14 August 12

A European Union law that will require all large electronic retailers to take back old equipment came into force yesterday.

The new rules are part of a shake-up of the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive and will gradually be implemented across the E.U. over the next seven years.

Waste electrical and electronic equipment, or WEEE, is one the fastest growing waste streams in the EU, but currently only one-third of electrical and electronic waste is separately collected and appropriately treated. Systematic collection and proper treatment is essential for recycling materials like gold, silver, copper and rare metals in used TVs, laptops and mobile phones.

The revised directive will increase the collection target from its current 4 kilograms per capita to around 20 kg per capita by 2020. By 2020, it is estimated that the volume of WEEE will increase to 12 million tons and the E.U. authorities want to see at least 85 percent of that collected and treated. From 2018, the directive will be extended from its current restricted scope to all categories of electronic waste.

Meanwhile the retailer take-back plan means that by February 2014 at the latest, larger electrical goods stores, with a shop space of 400 square meters or larger, will have to accept small WEEE items, such as mobile phones, free of charge, without consumers having to purchase a new product.

The revised directive also includes a clampdown on illegal exports of waste electronic equipment. Equipment that is no longer under warranty can only be exported to non-OECD countries if it has been certified to be fully functional and sent properly.


Obviously the same thing should be true not just for electronic items, but for all other types of items such as furniture, vehicle parts, clothing and linens, etc.

This is one more thing about the USA which is sickening. If a vendor sells a product, that vendor should be required to also accept the used/expired product back in order to safely and properly dispose of or otherwise process it. This makes sense because if a company is already involved with the distribution and sale of an item, it can already tap into that distribution/supply system to simply return the used items. The manufacturers of the items can also deal with the responsible disposal of items that they produce. Think of things like furniture where the materials cannot be recycled by the consumer and would contribute massively to landfill waste. There is no excuse for this. Such a law will also encourage manufacturers to think about how they manufacture items in order that they can eventually be disposed of in a responsible manner.

Every store in Germany which sells beverages in bottles must also accept the bottles back and pay the redemption value to the customer. In California where I live the whole redemption thing is a sad joke. Stores which sell dozens if not hundreds of beverages in redeemable containers each day do not even bother to offer the redemption back.

I’m willing to bet she rode her bicycle with the bottles to return to the supermarket.
I miss being in Europe!

Check out “SideCar Ride”

“the next great frontier in observational cosmology”

21-cm cosmology

Using radio telescopes to detect hydrogen emissions during a very early stage of the Cosmos before galaxies formed. Because the emissions were so old, the waves have stretched and are now 21 cm long.

The line is of great interest in big bang cosmology because it is the only known way to probe the “dark ages” from recombination to reionization. Including the redshift, this line will be observed at frequencies from 200 MHz to about 9 MHz on Earth. It potentially has two applications. First, by mapping redshifted 21 centimeter radiation it can, in principle, provide a very precise picture of the matter power spectrum in the period after recombination. Second, it can provide a picture of how the universe was reionized, as neutral hydrogen which has been ionized by radiation from stars or quasars will appear as holes in the 21 centimeter background.

However, 21 centimeter experiments are very difficult. Ground based experiments to observe the faint signal are plagued by interference from television transmitters and the ionosphere, so they must be very secluded and careful about eliminating interference if they are to succeed. Space based experiments, even on the far side of the moon (which should not receive interference from terrestrial radio signals), have been proposed to compensate for this. Little is known about other effects, such as synchrotron emission and free-free emission on the galaxy. Despite these problems, 21 centimeter observations, along with space-based gravity wave observations, are generally viewed as the next great frontier in observational cosmology, after the cosmic microwave background polarization.


More: “21-Centimeter Cosmology” –Birth of the Universe Found in an Atom of Hydrogen

Purslane-Kale Salad

There has been purslane at the farmers market recently. Purslane is in the same family as Miner’s lettuce – the Portulacaceae family which is also called the purslane family.

There is purslane that grows wild all over San Francisco in the cracks of the streets. If you are bicycling along and look down at a crack in the ground you’re likely to see purslane. Whether this is the same as the kind that is at the farmers market I am not sure.

According to the Wikipedia article:

Purslane contains more omega-3 fatty acids (alpha-linolenic acid in particular[4]) than any other leafy vegetable plant. Research published by Artemis P. Simopoulos states that Purslane has 0.01 mg/g of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). This is an extraordinary amount of EPA for a land-based vegetable source. EPA is an Omega-3 fatty acid found mostly in fish, some algae, and flax seeds.[5] It also contains vitamins (mainly vitamin A, vitamin C, and some vitamin B and carotenoids), as well as dietary minerals, such as magnesium, calcium, potassium, and iron. Also present are two types of betalain alkaloid pigments, the reddish betacyanins (visible in the coloration of the stems) and the yellow betaxanthins (noticeable in the flowers and in the slight yellowish cast of the leaves). Both of these pigment types are potent antioxidants and have been found to have antimutagenic properties in laboratory studies.[6]

Yes, this plant which grows in the cracks of the streets in San Francisco happens to be this ultra-extraordinary food source which is highly valuable. It can be considered among the best vegetables.

Recently I’ve been making kale-purslane salads and loving them. I use flax oil with it plus other things. The sharpness of kale seems to complement the mellow flavor of purslane perfectly.

Its so sad to me to see the wonderful abundance of Earth and all the things there are for us to enjoy and love, yet how this world is so badly mistreated and abused.

At least I can love and appreciate the beautiful things of this world even though I know that I will have to pass away from it, even though it is so sick and dying.

This weekend there are all kinds of “celebrations” occurring. The contrast between these “celebrations” and the catastrophes unfolding in our midst is just sickening.

If people could only do a little bit – people who always drive – 130 pound females in 1,500 pound vehicles – could make the effort to use a bicycle. If people could just stay near their homes and not go out and drive and pollute in these frenzies for their “celebrations” and instead tend to their neighborhoods, then perhaps there would actually be reasons to celebrate every now and then.

But, given the excess, the carelessness, and all the waste, to see such “celebrating” going on is just sickening.

Maybe one day it will actually be possible to let the purslane in all the cracks grow. After the vehicles have stopped and humans have burned up everything there is to burn, after the rains wash the toxins away, maybe then the purslane will be pure and nourishing and flourish.

No filetype association for Photoshop in Windows 7

After uninstalling earlier versions and installing the latest version of Photoshop on Windows 7 there is no longer a filetype association for Photoshop. For example, if one wants to open a .jpg file with Photoshop normally Photoshop would be listed in the “Open with…” menu.

Photoshop does not appear in the “Open with…” list of associated apps. If one tries to manually select Photoshop even the photoshop.exe is selected it still will not appear in the list of associated files.

I found the solution in a thread at

10. Curt Y,
Jun 5, 2012 8:08 PM in reply to Curt Y

Here is a registy fix for Win7 machines to the file association problem.

This from TinusHDCA user:

I installed Photoshop CS6, then found CS5 was still there. I thought, hey, I don’t need CS5 anymore, so I uninstalled CS5. then I found out that Photoshop was no longer available in ‘Open with’ when right-clicking an image…

So I went into the Registry, HKEY_CLASSES_ROOTApplicationsPhotoshop.exeshellopencommand and changed the (Default) from “C:Program FilesAdobeAdobe Photoshop CS5 (64 Bit)Photoshop.exe” “%1” to “C:Program FilesAdobeAdobe Photoshop CS6 (64 Bit)Photoshop.exe” “%1” (so changed CS5 to CS6) – and now I see ‘Adobe Photoshop CS6’ in my ‘Open with’ list when right-clicking an image…

What the Bay Area really looks like

Too bad there’s not a legend with this image so we can know exactly how deep each of these regions are, and how steep the dropoff is at the edge of the coastal shelf.

It is hard to find images like this which show the topographic features of not just the land but also the sea off the coast, but it it interesting to see what the Earth really looks like in this area even beyond the shore.


S Voice for Galaxy Tab 10.1

It is possible to run S Voice which is the Samsung equivalent of Siri for iPhones, on a Galaxy Tab 10.1.  S Voice, like Siri, is an app that takes voice commands and does various things.  I would not rate it as a robust app (on the Galaxy Tab) but at least its available if anyone wants to try it.

I downloaded it from a forum at  The file is called signed-voicetalk2.apk   Note that there are other versions of S Voice (also called Voicetalk) floating around on the Web but they are likely not to work unless they’ve been modified, as the above version has, to trick the app into thinking its running on a Galaxy SIII phone.

One thing I really found annoying about it – you can ask it what is the weather but the answer it gives is just displayed on the screen.  It would be nice if it would actually speak the weather.

Unfortuantely the set alarm function will not work on the Galaxy Tab 10.1.

On a side note, I came across a very cool site,, which allows one to do side-by-side comparisions of specifications for different models of mobile devices.  Right now the Fujitsu Stylistic M532 is the lightest 10 inch tablet on the market at 560 g.  If I were to get a new tablet tomorrow, I’d be inclined to either get the Fujitsu or else the Asus Transformer Prime.

Bicycles as far as the eye can see

Today was the 20th anniversary ride of Critical Mass in San Francisco. The amount of bicycles was simply astounding. At Market and Church as one looked back east down Market St. towards the Embarcadero it was a sea of flashing white bicycle lights unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. I wonder if it set a record for the largest bicycle ride.

The event was very peaceful and the police presence was almost unnoticable. To me this ride is a statement that there is a huge amount of people who want to see society change and new paradigms established which put the Earth, our environment, and our health first and not economic or other interests. There is no other interest without the Earth as we are all realizing. Everyone bicycling at Critical Mass today was speaking through action that they want to see changes in how we humans live on Earth, that we choose peace and wisdom as modes of being over conflict and competition.

The Oceanliner of State & Global Warming

I just read an article entitled Global Warming’s Terrifying New Math. Mr. McKibben’s article discusses some aspects of global warming that are important to discuss. It goes into detail about how that amount of remaining fossil fuel reserves in the Earth are already reasonably well known, who controls them, and what the grave consequences are of their being burned.

The bottom line is that humans need to change their habits. They need to start burning less fossil fuels and relying much more on renewable resources. Even these steps are not going to be cure-alls at this point as fossil fuel usage is so tightly integrated into the infrastructure of everything.

But there are steps that can be taken. If the USA could emulate a country like Germany the implications would be profound. President Obama spoke about altering the course of the ship of state – which he said is more like an oceanliner than a yacht – by just a few degrees and how that could have vast consequences down the road.

But even if the US could get to the level of Germany it would be much more than a few degrees. It would be monumental.

But the problem comes back to the same problems America has been having for a long time. It is a political problem. Yes, one can discuss the dynamics and economics of fossil fuel companies, etc., but until the political problems are solved, it will not be of much use. If the political problems are solved, it will be of major significance and provide paths to resolving many issues related to the global warming crisis.

Think about it simply: if fossil fuel consumption is to be decreased, the prices need to be increased. But the consequences of that are not what any elected officials want to stomach. Our electoral system is a broken mess and enables there to be vast manipulation and control by special interests. Until the political problems are solved the situation is bleak.

But if the political problems can be solved – something that at this point seems like a monumental task given the way things are – things could change dramatically. If the corruption, unfairness, and manipulation of the government and the electoral process can be dealt with, then it will be possible for there to be more wise policies and true governance which can lead the US into a healing direction.

Its sad, but all the problems facing the world come from problems with the mind. I had a discussion with someone about the meaning of environmentalism and started talking about mindfulness as taught by Buddha in many of his sermons. Mindfulness is doing things with awareness. Being aware of every way we move, everything we touch, all that we do. Being in touch with the effect we have on what is is around us.

If everyone could cultivate mindfulness then, automatically, all the problems of the world would be solved. All environmental issues would simply go away.

The most significant thing every person can do to help the environment is to cultivate mindfulness.  By maintaining a healthy and whole body, and being in touch with one’s body and practicing healthy things like yoga, one is saving the world.

One can see the implications of these even in less-subtle ways.  For example, if a person smokes, they will be less healthy and less inclined to use a bicycle or to walk for personal transportation.  They will tend to rely on fossil-fuel powered devices.  By maintaining a healthy body, it enables one to practice a way of living that benefits the world.  When everyone starts becoming healthy together, things can radically improve in the world.

We have to consider who is really qualified to lead in these times. What is the meaning of responsibility? What is the highest responsibility, and how can it be recognized? Its a shame, because on the one hand there is all this wisdom out there about cultivating the self and the wisdom of mindfulness, yet there’s a disconnect with the actual system which is running things.

December 14, 6245

[Note: this post was originally published on 14 December 2009, hence the date in the title. I have put this post back at the top of the blog because I still feel strongly about this issue. Our calendar should begin at least as far back as 4236 B.C. and there are reasons why it could be pushed back even earlier.]

Should today’s date actually be the 14th of December, 6245?  I actually think that this year would make much more sense than the year 2009.

The earliest known calendar date is 4236 B.C. which marks the beginning of one of several Egyptian calendars that existed – a 365 day solar one they used (they also had a lunar based one for festivals, much as the Chinese still do, as well as another one for agriculture which the Chinese also still have).  The only problem was that they did not have a leap year, so their calendar actually drifted over time (actually I have read contradictory statements about this and am still researching it).  Whether this drift was accounted for or not I do not yet know, nor do I yet know if the record from that ancient date to the present is continuous without any gaps or unknown periods.

I think re-calibrating the current calendar year to 6245 (4236 + 2009, there was no year 0) makes a lot of sense, particularly with respect to understanding human historical development.   4236 B.C. is far enough back in archaeologic history that it could be seen as the beginning of human civilization and the end of the neolithic.  Although there are shortcomings with using the three-age system to classify periods of human development 6245 years ago seems about far enough back that it precedes the development of major civilizations and cultural advancement for which archaeological evidence exists yet is not so far back as to be meaningless.

It predates the Minoan, Sumerian, Chinese, and pretty much every other civilization such that there wouldn’t need to be negative date numbers to reference periods within these cultures as is currently necessary using the B.C. designation (of course there exists extensive archaeological record of human activity before then, but these do not include writing and include very few artifacts of the more advanced civilizations which would later arise).  It also significantly predates all bronze-age activity in all cultures, so it indicates a time, pre-bronze age, when civilization was in its nascent stage and the advances of the neolithic revolution (i.e.. agriculture, etc.)  were being aggregated which would later lead to the first major civilizations.  In short, the year 4236 B.C. seems like a much more logical anchor-point for human history.

Even though it is very rare for any ancient calendar systems to have been accurate, it would have been possible to re-calibrate them as necessary to take into account drift.  The extent to which this was done is something I do not know but would like to find out.  This is a fascinating area of study.

There is also the earliest historical event the date for which is known with precision, the Battle of Halys in 585 B.C., during which a solar eclipse occurred.  Calculating backwards using a known astronomical phenomenon seems like cheating however.  Its more interesting to find calendar systems which extend back continuously from the present time which are based on civilizations’ own developing astronomical knowledge.

Update: according to the National Institute of Time and Standards:

The earliest Egyptian calendar was based on the moon’s cycles, but later the Egyptians realized that the “Dog Star” in Canis Major, which we call Sirius, rose next to the sun every 365 days, about when the annual inundation of the Nile began. Based on this knowledge, they devised a 365 day calendar that seems to have begun around 3100 BCE (Before the Common Era), which thus seems to be one of the earliest years recorded in history.

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