Archive for July, 2008

Is it better for the environment to drink cow’s milk or soy milk? – By Jacob Leibenluft – Slate Magazine

Interesting little article on Slate: Is it better for the environment to drink cow’s milk or soy milk? by Jacob Leibenluft

it takes about 14 calories of fossil-fuel energy to produce one calorie of milk protein on a conventional farm …

By comparison, Pimentel’s data suggest that it takes about 0.26 calories of fossil fuel to make a calorie of organic soybeans

I’m really struggling with my resistance to being vegan these days. Someone described biofuels (at least the ones that use food crops) as a crime against humanity because the food could be used to, well, feed people. The same is therefore true of dairy and meat. Eating animals is a crime against humanity in a world that doesn’t have enough food. And yet I still find myself craving and eating dairy products, even though on a certain level I find them rather gross.

Part of the problem is eating out. …

Posted at 9pm on Jul 31, 2008 | 2 comments
Filed Under: Meditation & practice

Almost Jupiter

Having a 20-month-old, I’ve become acutely aware of the aesthetic delights involved in blowing bubbles, but because the damn things are so ephemeral I never get a chance to really appreciate them.

Cue this slideshow. These really are quite extraordinary photographs. Enjoy!

Posted at 10pm on Jul 29, 2008 | no comments
Filed Under: Apropos of nothing

Views of Jupiter

There are some amazing pictures of Jupiter and some of its moons on Boston.com Quite astonishing,

Posted at 7am on Jul 26, 2008 | 1 comment
Filed Under: Apropos of nothing

Re-Incarcerated iPod

For most of the time since buying my iPod Touch last October it’s been “jailbroken,” meaning that I’ve hacked it to bypass Apple’s propietary protections in order to install unauthorized software on it, the grounds being that it’s pretty ridiculous for a computer manufacturer to insist you can only run their software on the machine you’ve bought from them. And the iPod Touch is nothing but a handheld computer.

So that’s been great. I’ve had various programs running on it such as an ebook reader (on which I’ve read several novels), some games, a flashlight, and I can’t remember what else.

But after the launch of Apple’s Application Store on iTunes I decided to un-jailbreak my iPod by installing the latest update to the iPod firmware, meaning that I could use the store but could no longer use the free but unauthorized applications that I’d installed.

That doesn’t seem much of a …

Posted at 7pm on Jul 23, 2008 | no comments
Filed Under: Technolust

Where the bleep am I?

A friend just wrote to ask whether anything was wrong, given that I haven’t been blogging here and that I haven’t been writing on Wildmind.

Actually, I’ve just been busy teaching at my local university — a six-week stint I do most years. I’ll say more about that later.

For now I just wanted to comment that I’m writing this post on my iPod Touch using the new Wordpress application. I’ve been checking the app store morning, noon, and night since the app was first announced a couple of weeks back and was excited to see that it had finally arrived.

I can’t comment too much on how it’s working given that this is my first go, but I did have problems with the app crashing when I as entering my blog details — not a promising start. But since getting past that hurdle the app seems to be working …

Posted at 6am on Jul 22, 2008 | no comments
Filed Under: Apropos of nothing

McCain on Mrs. McCain

The Real McCain by Cliff Schecter, published a few months ago, reports an angry exchange between McCain and his wife that happened in full view of aides and reporters during a 1992 campaign stop.

Three reporters from Arizona, on the condition of anonymity, also let me in on another incident involving McCain’s intemperateness. In his 1992 Senate bid, McCain was joined on the campaign trail by his wife, Cindy, as well as campaign aide Doug Cole and consultant Wes Gullett. At one point, Cindy playfully twirled McCain’s hair and said, “You’re getting a little thin up there.” McCain’s face reddened, and he responded, “At least I don’t plaster on the makeup like a trollop, you cunt.” McCain’s excuse was that it had been a long day. If elected president of the United States, McCain would have many long days.

Indeed.

You’ve probably not heard about this outburst, despite the newsworthiness at …

Posted at 7pm on Jul 6, 2008 | 5 comments
Filed Under: Politics

Are we doomed? (Part 2)

Yes.

Here’s an article from Games Radar (Don’t ask. No really — don’t ask) on the skewed priorities of Wikipedia.

Wikipedia’s ethos is of course that any one can add information to it and therefore the information is accurate.

We learn for example that “Knuckles of Sonic the Hedgehog fame” (who?) has more words written about him than does God*, and that “Mario’s legacy” is worthy of 444 words while Jesus’ is worthy of a mere 418.

I’d go a bit further than the Games Radar article, which merely says that “the nerds and dorks tend to have a lot more free time – and passion – than the teachers and professors.” The nerds and dorks are bad enough, but there are also the obsessed nuts. I’ve had experience on Wikipedia with an article that is dominated by a couple of people who, I suspect, suffer from obsessions that amount to …

Posted at 11am on Jul 4, 2008 | 1 comment
Filed Under: Apropos of nothing

Are we doomed?

From time to time I think that the US is destined to collapse in the way that all empires eventually do. This mood arises especially when I read one of those surveys where some incredibly large percentage of American teens can’t find their own country on a map or doesn’t know who Hitler was, or when some equally astonishingly large fraction of the population thinks that the sun revolves around the earth or that dinosaurs were walking around a few thousand years ago.

So it’s especially depressing to come across a survey of American stupidity, which is what you can find at Tomgram, where there’s an extract of a book by Rick Shenkman.

Here’s a snippet:

22 percent of Americans [can] name all five Simpson family members, compared with just 1 in 1,000 people who could name all five First Amendment freedoms.

We’re doomed!

Posted at 6pm on Jul 3, 2008 | no comments
Filed Under: Apropos of nothing

We’re only human

It’s not often I discover a website where I want to systematically read all the articles. Today I found one. It’s We’re Only Human and it’s a psychology blog by Wray Herbert.

Here’s a great sample that’s of direct relevance to mindfulness and meditation:

Those with overall greater cognitive control–the ones who monitored themselves closely and adjusted efficiently–were also the ones who were best at handling stress … the ones who spotted and corrected errors in their own mental performance were in general more calm and relaxed, even with college life’s predictable stresses. The ones who did not inventory and learn from their mistakes were beaten down by life’s pressures.

Posted at 6pm on Jul 3, 2008 | no comments
Filed Under: Meditation & practice

Hitchens on whether waterboarding is torture

The whole question of whether waterboarding is torture is a bogus one. Nazis were prosecuted at Nuremberg and found guilty of using this precise technique. And the fact that it’s even in question that it may not be torture to drown someone shows how low the current US administration has sunk on the scale of morality.

Nevertheless, because there is a pseudo debate, Christopher Hitchens bravely had himself subjected to waterboarding and describes his experiences in some detail in a Vanity Fair article.

Since the article is entitled “Believe Me, It’s Torture” I don’t need to beware of spoilers.

Some salient points to extract are:

1. The official lie is that this torture technique involves simulated drowning. That’s like saying that giving someone electric shocks is “simulated electrocution” or hanging someone by the neck is simulated hanging.” It’s real drowning, and is torture.

2. Any information extracted is likely to be worthless because people …

Posted at 7am on Jul 3, 2008 | no comments
Filed Under: Politics, Religion & Society

Back to the future

There are some great pictures of the Apollo missions (remember them?) on Boston.com. Well worth looking at just to get a sense of the magnitude of the adventure we were capable of undertaking back in the 1960s and 1970s.

Before the Apollo pics there are some contemporary images of technology that might be used on future missions.

Apollo 12

Posted at 7pm on Jul 2, 2008 | no comments
Filed Under: Technolust

McCain versus McCain

Compare and contrast:

Calling it “one of the worst decisions in the history of this country,” John McCain ripped into the Supreme Court’s decision to allow Guantanamo detainees access to civilian trials for the second day in a row. “We’re now going to have the courts flooded with so-called “habeas corpus suits” … Our first obligation is the safety and security of this nation and the men and women who defend it. This decision will harm our ability to do that.”

John “Tough Conservative” McCain 2008

I don’t think [we should] necessarily [close Guantanamo]. But I think the important thing is it’s not the facility at Guantanamo, it’s the adjudication of the cases of the prisoners who have been held there without trial or without any adjudication of their cases. So the frustration is not the fact we have a facility at Guantanamo, although that certainly becomes symbolic. The frustration is, is:

Posted at 2pm on Jul 1, 2008 | no comments
Filed Under: Politics