December 31, 2013
December 30, 2013
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December 26, 2013
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New Hampshire, USA — Coal contributes 60 percent to India’s power mix today; solar is less than 1 percent. But what was a factor-of-seven difference between the cost of coal and solar two years ago shrank this summer to just a 1.8x gap. Can solar catch up within the next ten years?
In 2011 big coal plants were signing PPAs with tariffs for INR 2.8/kWh while solar was as high as 18/kWh. Now large grid-connected solar can be had at INR 7/kWh, while imported coal, on the rise to help offset a ~10 percent power deficit (baseload) exacerbated by rapidly rising power demand, is pushing INR 4/kWh without taking into account subsidies or cost of externalities. And that doesn’t begin to address the challenges of grid-connecting villages, much less the hundreds of millions of citizens who remain off-grid.
The answer to this lies in domestic solar power, both centralized and distributed, built relatively fast at any size and requiring less than 1 percent of the nation’s land. Four factors have to come into play, though, for solar to truly supplant coal in India in the next decade, according to Tobias Engelmeier, managing director at Bridge to India:
– Looking at longer-term costs. Getting solar costs down to INR 5/kWh in the next couple of years, and lower beyond that, will require improved materials, production, and efficiencies, but long-term solar costs are heading downward. Costs of non-replenishing fossil fuels including coal, meanwhile, will increasingly depend on foreign supply and demand markets.
– Costs of infrastructure and grid management. As an infirm power source, solar’s higher incorporation will require extra investments in a number of areas from storage to demand response. On the other hand, adding more coal plants and imports will mean more infrastructures in mining and a supply chain for imports. It’s still unclear how those all will compare.
– Measuring externalities. Beyond simple end market pricing, coal has several arguable cost-adders that should be factored in, most notably pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, water usage, soil degradation, etc. Factoring in all costs will increasingly be important.
– Valuing energy security. Notice how U.S. foreign policy decisions, including wars, made in the past few decades have been linked to dependence on imported oil? Don’t expect India to follow that lead, given global politics and current supply situations.
Have an Idea for Renewable Energy In India? In May 2014 the 5th annual Renewable Energy World India exhibition and conference returns to New Delhi in 2014, now alongside DistribuTECH India and co-located events POWER-GEN India & Central Asia and HydroVision India. The call-for-papers deadline is this Friday, October 25; topics can range from solar to wind to biomass to geothermal and heat pumps, waste-to-energy, hybrid plants, energy storage, resource forecasting, and numerous related issues.
Inside India’s Latest Solar Policy Guidelines: India’s Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) has approved guidelines for the next phase of the country’s National Solar Mission (NSM), which called for bids for 750 MW of solar plants, offering about 18.75 billion rupees ($303 million) in grants. Here’s a summary of the latest draft proposal‘s high points and key changes, from a sizable domestic content provision to a tweak to viability gap funding (VGF) and some reassurances for both developers and state manager SECI.
India’s Plan to Harness Biomass: The New York Times takes a closer look at India’s goals for biomass as a growing renewable energy source and economic enabler for its agriculture sector which supports more than half the nation’s population. Taking its cues from Europe’s embrace of biomass, India sees the potential to generate at least 18 GW of electricity, part of overall plans to more than double its renewable energy supply to 55 GW by 2017. That runs somewhat contrary, though, to another report that a dozen biomass power plants have scaled back their output since demand for the costlier power source has plummeted in the past year.
December 25, 2013
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Thirty some years ago my wife made me a set of japa beads out of some tulasis who had appeared and left their bodies in New Vrindaban. At the time we had ideal circumstances for growing tulasis in the Northern Temperate zone with the winters and all. We had a greenhouse that was attached to a heated building so she had maximum natural light and a warm space to grow in. The benches were made on top 55 gallon steel drums laid on their sides and filled with water.
I painted the south end of the drum flat black so during the day the drums would soak up heat with their thermal mass and at night give bottom heat to the tulasi plants. They got over a meter high (4 foot) and quite bushy so the stems got big enough to make beads. As a matter of fact, while the beads were regular japa size, the head bead is 7/8″ (17 mm) in diameter. Which may be normal in more moderate climates but big for here.
I treasured that she made them for me but put them away and never used them out of fear of losing them I have lost several sets of beads over my lifetime, including the ones that Srila Prabhupada handed me when I was initiated. I used to travel a lot and would leave them in places I couldn’t get back to so I held these in reserve.
A few years ago I realized i wasn’t traveling anymore and as my life expectancy diminished I figured I better use them now or never. I never take them out of the house and on the rare occasion I do want to take some beads i have a second pair I use so there is no risk of losing them.
After using them for a couple of years I noticed that they tangle more than regular beads. The inner dynamics of bead movement in a bag while chanting sometimes causes the beads to get snarled which usually just needs a couple of shakes and they flow again but I realized it was happening a lot.
I took them out and thad a close look at them and could see that while Vidya had done a few passes with the file after cutting the individual beads to approximate roundness there was still a flat edge on the bottom so I got a file and started to roundthem off some more. This took several hours in a few different sessions. The large head bead itself was quite square and was the main culprit for tangles to I really rounded off the ends of that as well as all of the beads
Tulasi’s stem is square so that had made some sharp corners but I round them as well as at the edges. Some of the beads were a little misshapen and I had noticed when I came to them that they distracted me so I smoothed them up so they glide unnoticed through my fingers now.
So although it took decades to complete I now have a set of New Vrindaban tulasi beads that are top notch to chant on and it adds a dimension to my chanting I believe.
December 23, 2013
This was recently shared with me via email.
Time is like a river. You cannot touch the water twice, because the flow that has passed will never pass again. Enjoy every moment of life. As a bagpiper, I play many gigs. Recently I was asked by a funeral director to play at a graveside service for a homeless man. He had no family or friends, so the service was to be at a pauper’s cemetery in the Nova Scotia back country.
As I was not familiar with the backwoods, I got lost and, being a typical man, I didn’t stop for directions.
I finally arrived an hour late and saw the funeral guy had evidently gone and the hearse was nowhere in sight. There were only the diggers and crew left and they were eating lunch. I felt badly and apologized to the men for being late.
I went to the side of the grave and looked down and the vault lid was already in place. I didn’t know what else to do, so I started to play.
The workers put down their lunches and began to gather around. I played out my heart and soul for this man with no family and friends. I played like I’ve never played before for this homeless man.
And as I played “Amazing Grace”, the workers began to weep. They wept, I wept, we all wept together. When I finished, I packed up my bagpipes and started for my car. Though my head was hung low, my heart was full.
As I opened the door to my car, I heard one of the workers say, “I never seen nothing like that before and I’ve been putting in septic tanks for twenty years.”
Apparently I’m still lost….it’s a man thing.
December 20, 2013
Now winter downs the dying of the year,
And night is all a settlement of snow;
From the soft street the rooms of houses show
A gathered light, a shapen atmosphere,
Like frozen-over lakes whose ice is thin
And still allows some stirring down within.
I’ve known the wind by water banks to shake
The late leaves down, which frozen where they fell
And held in ice as dancers in a spell
Fluttered all winter long into a lake;
Graved on the dark in gestures of descent,
They seemed their own most perfect monument.
There was perfection in the death of ferns
Which laid their fragile cheeks against the stone
A million years. Great mammoths overthrown
Composedly have made their long sojourns,
Like palaces of patience, in the gray
And changeless lands of ice. And at Pompeii
The little dog lay curled and did not rise
But slept the deeper as the ashes rose
And found the people incomplete, and froze
The random hands, the loose unready eyes
Of men expecting yet another sun
To do the shapely thing they had not done.
These sudden ends of time must give us pause.
We fray into the future, rarely wrought
Save in the tapestries of afterthought.
More time, more time. Barrages of applause
Come muffled from a buried radio.
The New-year bells are wrangling with the snow.
December 19, 2013
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Whole milk from organic dairies contains far more of some of the fatty acids that contribute to a healthy heart than conventional milk, scientists are reporting.
A study shows that drinking whole organic milk is more likely to lessen the risk factor for heart disease than conventional milk.
The finding, published Monday in the journal PLOS One, is the most clear-cut instance of an organic food’s offering a nutritional advantage over its conventional counterpart. Studies looking at organic fruits and vegetables have been less conclusive.
Drinking whole organic milk “will certainly lessen the risk factor for cardiovascular disease,” said the study’s lead author, Charles M. Benbrook, a research professor at Washington State University’s Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources.
“All milk is healthy and good for people,” he continued, “but organic milk is better, because it has a more favorable balance of these fatty acids” — omega-3, typically found in fish and flaxseed, versus omega-6, which is abundant in many fried foods like potato chips.
Under government requirements for organic labeling, dairy cows must spend a certain amount of the time in the pasture, eating grassy plants high in omega-3s; conventional milk comes from cows that are mostly fed corn, which is high in omega-6s. Nonorganic cows that graze in pastures also produce milk with greater amounts of omega-3s.
The research was largely funded by Organic Valley, a farm cooperative that sells organic dairy products. But experts not connected with the study said the findings were credible — though they noted that the role of milk in a healthy diet and the influence of fatty acids in preventing or causing cardiovascular disease are far from settled.
“I think this is a very good piece of work,” said Dr. Joseph Hibbeln, a nutritional neuroscientist at the National Institutes of Health.
The researchers looked at 384 samples of organic and conventional whole milk taken over 18 months around the country. Although the total amount of fat was almost the same, the organic milk contained 62 percent more omega-3 fatty acids and 25 percent fewer omega-6s.
The ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 in the organic milk was 2.28, much lower than the 5.77 ratio in conventional milk. (The figures do not apply to nonfat milk, which strips away the fatty acids.)
Nutrition experts broadly agree that omega-3 acids offer numerous health benefits. That was the impetus for the United States Department of Agriculture to urge people to eat more seafood when it revised its dietary guidelines in 2010.
But experts disagree sharply whether omega-6 consumption should be reduced.
In ancient times, people ate roughly equal amounts of the two fatty acids. Today most Americans now eat more than 10 times as much omega-6, which is prevalent in certain vegetable oils and thus also fried foods, as omega-3.
While omega-6 is essential, some health studies suggest that such a wide disparity is associated with many ills, Dr. Benbrook said. A shift to drinking organic whole milk — and raising consumption from the currently recommended three servings a day to 4.5 — would take a big step to lowering the ratio, he said, although adjustments would have to be made elsewhere in the diet to offset the added calories of the milk fat.
Donald R. Davis, another of the study’s authors, said the longstanding assumption that the saturated fats in whole milk raise the risk of cardiovascular disease has been questioned in recent years.
Dr. Walter Willett, chairman of the nutrition department at the Harvard School of Public Health, did not question the underlying data in the study. But he said the conclusions and recommendations were based on the “false assumption” that omega-6 fatty acids are harmful.
Dr. Willett said omega-6s were actually associated with a lower risk of heart disease, and he called the ratio of omega-6s to omega-3s “irrelevant.” People should try to eat more of both, he said.
And he noted that milk was not essential to a healthy diet; adults in many countries drink little or none. “We don’t know all the long-term consequences, so I think the best strategy given current knowledge is to keep intake low to moderate (as in the Mediterranean diet) if it is consumed at all,” Dr. Willet wrote in an email.
But Dr. Hibbeln of the National Institutes of Health, who has conducted research on the effects of fatty acids on heart disease, said animal studies showed that high levels of omega-6s interfered with omega-3s.
At the same time, though, he cautioned that the mix of omega-3s in milk is different from that in fatty fish. The simple ratio, he said, “is not as meaningful as we would like it to be.”
Still, he endorsed the organic milk recommendation. “You’re heading in the right direction,” he said.
Organic Valley uses independent milk-processing companies around the country, allowing the researchers to compare samples of organic milk with conventional milk from the same region.
The company provided $45,000 for an independent laboratory to measure the fatty acids, and it is a corporate sponsor of Dr. Benbrook’s program at Washington State. The university spent $90,000 to analyze the data and prepare the paper for publication.
George Siemon, chief executive of Organic Valley, said he was hoping to gain a better idea of how organic foods differ from conventionally produced ones.
“Organics have lacked a science base,” Mr. Siemon said. “I just wanted to know.”
December 15, 2013
Use milk to get meat eaters to take to Masada, see quotes below to support the premise.
The milk is nothing, but it is cow’s blood transformed. Just like mother’s milk. The mother’s milk, wherefrom it comes? It comes from the blood, but transformed in such a way that it becomes nutritious to the child, tasteful to the child. Similarly, cow’s milk also, a most nutritious and valuable food.
Bhagavad-gita 7.3 — Montreal, June 3, 1968
Yes, you do not know. You do not know how to utilize the animal. Ignorance. The milk is also produced out of the blood.
So it is intelligence. You are drinking the blood in a different way, produced by nature with more vitamin values and more taste and more gentleman. Why should you kill one cow and try to drink the blood? The blood is there already, but in a different form, without any violence.
Srimad-Bhagavatam 6.1.17 — Denver, June 30, 1975
Another business is to protect the cows, and to give them food nicely so the cows will give enough milk. And from milk, you know, so many nice preparations, all full of vitamins. So why they should be killed? You are killing; the blood is not utilized, you are taking the flesh. But flesh is transformation of the blood. And milk is also transformation of the blood. So if you take, just like channa, it is as good as flesh. By taste, by benefit — as good as. So why if you can take the flesh and blood in a human way-blood is transformed into milk, and from milk there are so many good preparations-ghee, yoghurt, burfi, channa, so many preparations are available. This panir, channa, and let the animal live peacefully. Why are you cutting his throat? You require some benefit from the animal. Take this benefit. Why should you kill?
Morning Walk — May 10, 1975, Perth
“They cannot give up that small piece of meat. What is the difficulty? The same thing can be made by milk, milk product, channa. What do you call curd? Cheese. You prepare cheese and fry it. You’ll get the same taste.”
Lecture, London, 12 July ’73 / Conversation, Melbourne, 2 July ‘74
“It is a very good idea for people to come to our vegetarian restaurant and take so many nice things, especially the panir, fried cheese, and sandesh, kachori, rasagulla, samosa and in this way they will forget their meat-eating. If you make a soup of fried panir with asafoetida and ginger, this will replace lobster soup nonsense.”
Letter to Tusta Krsna, Mumbai, 9 Nov. ‘75