Living

Effing brilliant

The light-related news keeps flooding in

On Thursday GE launched a line of CFLs that look like … wait for it … regular incandescent bulbs! At least one other company (competitor Philips) has tried the clever disguise, but GE says, “No, for real, this one is really small and it really does look like a normal bulb.” Or words to that effect. This on the heels of the company’s announcement that it has stopped trying to develop a high-efficiency incandescent. In other lighty “news,” communities across the country are using LEDs for holiday light displays. From the National Tree (which is festooned with LEDs donated by, …

Can we get those good cars here?

NYT: Temporarily relax regulations to allow Big Three’s European models in the U.S.

The Big Three make high-quality, fuel-efficient cars. No, really, they do. They just sell them in Europe — Ford Ka, anyone? And now that $15 billion of the the $25 billion designated in the 2007 energy bill to provide funds for fuel-efficiency retooling will likely serve as loan guarantees to keep GM and Chrysler solvent, where will domestic fuel-efficient cars come from? Christian Edstrom at the New York Times blog Wheels suggests the Big Three bring some of those fuel-sipping European models to the U.S., and that the feds make it easy for the auto industry by temporarily green-lighting models …

Sin-free meat alternatives

Origins of cereal linked to religion, vegetarianism

The mental_floss blog has an interesting piece on the origins of cereal. Only a short bit of it is eco-related, so I’ll post that here (emphasis mine): Meat Is Murder (on the Colon) During the early 19th century, most Americans subsisted on a diet of pork, whiskey, and coffee. It was hell on the bowels, and to many Christian fundamentalists, hell on the soul, too. They believed that constipation was God’s punishment for eating meat. The diet was also blamed for fueling lust and laziness. To rid America of these vices, religious zealots spearheaded the country’s first vegetarian movement. In …

For some families, the holidays are all about the grub

  This is the holiday season in just about every culture. I was born and raised a Unitarian Universalist, thus of the Judeo-Christian background, so in my house it’s Christmastime. For some folks, Christmas is about peace and good tidings. For others it is a joyous celebration of the birth of their savior. In my family it was, and still is, all about the food. It’s about presence rather than presents. There are many items that must be on the table, or else it simply is not Christmas. Among these are the clam dip, the wild-rice dressing, grandma’s cranberries, and …

Pops goes solar

My father installed a solar system and radiant-heat floor in his barn

A couple of years ago, my folks retired. Pops ripped out the bottom of the barn on the old family farm, set up a woodshop, and got to work. Check out his stuff here. Nice, eh? I’m pleased to say that Pops’s pots are now solar heated. With no urging from yours truly, he installed a radiant heat floor powered by a solar system on the south side of the barn. When the the thermostat senses a >10 ° heat differential between the outside air and the floor, it circulates ethylene glycol, in a closed loop system, through the solar …

Notable quotable

Bob Lutz: Fuel-efficient cars, like global warming, a crock of sh*t

“At $1.50 per gallon, the American public wants sport utilities and large pickup trucks.” – GM Vice Chairman Bob Lutz, going off-message from his boss Rick Wagoner’s pledge before Congress to implement “a dramatic shift in the company’s U.S. portfolio” toward “more fuel-efficient cars and crossovers”

Umbra on e-books

Dear Umbra, I have noticed that digital book readers have started to enter the market and wonder if they are more ecologically sound than conventional books. I am interested in buying one but suspect that they are full of metals that damage the environment in their production. Also, they would use up energy when in use, but I have heard that this is minimal. On the other hand, paper books take a lot of production and transport to reach the reader. Which would be the more eco option? Jonathan A. Glasgow, Scotland Dearest Jonathan, It hurts to say it, but …

Me, on film

Food Fight snags documentary honor

For those of you who don’t get quite enough of my writing, you can see me holding forth on the big screen! That is, if the documentary Food Fight finds a distributor. I hope it does; I hear it’s good. (I do get quite enough of my writing, and I’m repelled by the idea of watching a celluloid image of myself talk; so I haven’t been able to watch the review copy I’ve been sent.) Food Fight, directed by Chris Taylor, explores how our food system got so screwed up and what folks are doing to fix it. Interview subjects …

O come all ye enemies of the human race

The American Coalition for Coal Ponies, or America’s Manly Power, or whatever they’re called, has a site up where you can watch little lumps of coal singing bastardized holiday songs. Yes: exploiting religious hymns in service of selling a product that kills tens of thousands of Americans a year and may soon make the planet inhospitable to human habitation. Ho ho ho! More from Kevin Grandia.

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