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Energy-Wasting TV-Top Boxes, Stephen Fry on Unbelief, Frida Kahlo’s Birthday: The Live Wire

| July 5, 2011

Wishing you a beastly July 4th. (© FlaglerLive)

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Your Energy-Wasting TV-Top Boxes

From the Natural Resources Defense Council: “More than 80 percent of U.S. homes subscribe to some form of pay television service. Transforming those signals into shows, movies, and sports on the screen currently depends on approximately 160 million set-top boxes, nearly all of which are owned and installed by the cable, satellite, phone, or other service provider. […] What we found was startling: In 2010, set-top boxes in the United States consumed approximately
27 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity, which is equivalent to the annual output of nine average
(500 MW) coal-fired power plants. The electricity required to operate all U.S. boxes is equal to
the annual household electricity consumption of the entire state of Maryland, results in 16 million
metric tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, and costs households more than $3 billion each
year. Fortunately, there is great potential for improving the efficiency and reducing the cost of
operating these electronics relied upon by so many viewers. […] Today’s set-top boxes operate at near full power even when the consumer is neither watching nor recording a show. As a nation, we spend $2 billion each year to power these boxes when they are not being actively used. […] DVRs typically use around 40 percent more energy per year than their non-DVR counterparts. […] Better designed pay-TV set-top boxes could reduce the energy use of the installed base of boxes by 30 percent to 50 percent by 2020.” See the full report.

dvr set-top boxes energy waste consumption nrdc

From a Times editorial: “In Europe, where power costs more, manufacturers include a deep-sleep function that allows the box to save power when idle. American companies are hesitant to embrace the sleep-function technology because these machines could take several minutes to reboot. But power management in set-top boxes certainly poses no greater challenge than in cellphones. Like cable boxes, phones are always connected to a network, yet they sleep when idle, wake up instantaneously when called upon and serve as portals for all kinds of data. The service providers who buy and distribute set-top boxes have largely ignored the power problem because the costs are borne by customers. To focus the industry on efficiency, the federal government might have to regulate the boxes the same way it does household appliances like refrigerators, which use only a fraction of the power they consumed before regulation. Then this conservation problem surely would be solved.”

cable dvr set-top boxes energy waste energy hogs consumption nrdc report

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Happy Birthday, Frida Kahlo

'Le due Frida' (1939) (Click on the image for larger view.)

She was a painter, a revolutionary, an occasional surrealist, and she was also Diego Rivera’s wife. Twice. They married in 1929 and 1941. She had affairs, some of them famous: Leon Trotsky was among them. She was born July 6, 1907 in Coyoacan, Mexico, as Magdalena Carmen Frida Kahlo Calderon. She died on July 13, 1954. From The Times obituary: “the artist had no special explanation for her methods. She said only: “I put on the canvas whatever comes into my mind.” She gave one-woman shows in Mexico City, New York and elsewhere, and is said to have been the first woman artist to sell a picture to the Louvre. Some of her pictures shocked beholders. One showed her with her hands cut off, a huge bleeding heart on the ground nearby, and on either side of her an empty dress. This was supposed to reveal how she felt when her husband went off alone on a trip. Another self-portrait presented the artist as a wounded deer, still carrying the shafts of nine arrows. A year ago, too weak to stand for more than ten minutes, she sat daily at her easel, declaring: “I am happy to be alive as long as I can paint.””

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Nude Recreation Week

Manet's grassy lunch. (1863)

If you’ve got the post-July4th blues, there’s always this to perk, or shrivel, you up, depending on the circumstances: July 4 kicked off the annual Nude Recreation Week. From msnbc: “nudists are inviting all of America to doff the duds, slap on the SPF 30 and join them for a skinny dip, a hike au naturel or an outdoor frolic in their birthday suits. “We’d like everyone to know how much better off we’d all be if everyone knew the physical, spiritual and emotional benefits of nudism,” says Dr. Gerry Goodenough, a Corona, Calif., nudist. “The constricting emotional doors all drop away, and pretty soon we’re all playing like little kids again.” Well, like naked little kids again. “If people would only try it once, I think they’ll see the joys of being naked outdoors,” says Carolyn Hawkins, spokesperson for the American Association for Nude Recreation in Kissimmee, Fla. “During Nude Recreation Week, most clubs open the doors for free and let people come in and see how much wholesome fun nude recreation can be.” (Surprising nude fact no. 1: Famous American nudists and skinny dippers include George Washington, Benjamin Franklin and John F. Kennedy.) […] The AANR (the American Association for Nudist Recreation) estimates naked Americans will spend $440 million on so-called “nakations” this year. […] (Surprising fact no. 3: Nudists at sea have a dress code. In the formal dining room, clothes must be worn for safety reasons. Trays of scalding coffee and flaming basked Alaska don’t mix with exposed skin aboard rolling decks). It may sound like an oxymoron, but the nudists are uniform in beseeching the understanding of their clothed brothers and sisters who mistakenly believe their pastime involves swinging, swapping or other adventures.” The full story.

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David McCullough on Patriotism

From the Big Think: “I don’t think that most Americans have any idea of what those brave Americans of that founding time went through and when Abigail said, posterity who will reap the blessings will scarcely be able to conceive of the hard ships and sufferings of their ancestor, she was elapsed right. Too many people, if they think about it at all, think of it as a kind of costume pageant and they think of the founders as elderly men and women with white powdered hair done up in satin clothes that seem quite silly. And what they fail to understand is that almost all those people that we honored Washington, Jefferson, Adams, Abigail Adams were young in 1776 young during the revolution.”

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Stephen Fry on God and Religion: the Gentler Gorge Carlin

From the Big Think: British comedian Stephen Fry on the importance of unbelief: “The most important philosophy I think is that even if it isn’t true you must absolutely assume there is no afterlife. You cannot for one second I think, abrogate the responsibility of believing that this is it because if you think you’re going to have an eternity in which you can talk to Mozart and Chopin and Schopenhauer on a cloud and learn stuff and you know really get to grips with knowledge and understanding and so you won’t bother now. I think it’s a terrible, a terrible mistake. It may be that there is an afterlife and I’ll look incredibly stupid, but at least I will have had a crammed pre afterlife, a crammed life, so to me the most important thing is you know as Kipling put it, to fill every 60 seconds with you know what is it? To fill every unforgiving minute with 60 seconds worth of distance run. You know absolutely, so that’s all I’m saying I suppose. Is that there is no point wasting time being lazy, though of course indolence in a divine way, actually has its advantages. Oh, shut up Steve. Okay, next one.” The full text, and an abbreviated video below.

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1 Response for “Energy-Wasting TV-Top Boxes, Stephen Fry on Unbelief, Frida Kahlo’s Birthday: The Live Wire”

  1. rickg says:

    Loved the Stephen Fry video. Most interesting take on life. I miss those Jeeves and Wooster episodes. If you’re wondering about the purpose of life please watch.

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