Impossible Foods’ new pork is 0% pig. That’s a big deal. – Vox

Pork is the most consumed meat on the planet, accounting for 36 percent of global meat intake. If Impossible Foods can get us to eat and enjoy a meatless version of it instead, it could help save millions of pigs from suffering on factory farms and curb the impact of pig farming on the environment. It could also improve human health, not least because it’ll help us combat risks like antibiotic resistance.

You can soon buy meatless Impossible Pork and Impossible Sausage – Vox

TIL: Pork accounts for 36% of all meat consumed in the world. Whoa.

Faux pork will probably help Impossible Foods make inroads in Asia, a huge market where pork is extremely popular. It provides a way to guarantee continued access to the beloved meat even when, say, an epidemic hits. Since August 2018, the African swine fever epidemic has killed a quarter of all pigs around the world. China’s herd has shrunk by at least half. On the plus side, surveys have shown that Chinese consumers are very open to meat alternatives, more so than Americans.

Thoughts on The Skywalker Saga

Star Wars has always been dear to me. It’s the fantasy side of Star Wars that appealed to me, growing up. The epitome of the hero’s journey of the original trilogy. The much hated, but still interesting story (when combined with The Clone Wars) of the prequel trilogy. And the resuscitation of the series with the final trilogy.

I was very excited with the reboot. I looked forward to the setup of new stories in the fantasy world that I spent countless hours across multiple mediums in.

However, the latest trilogy has left me more disappointed than anything else. I was personally disappointed because I was expecting the stories to be designed for me. Be more complex than replaying the same story from the original trilogy.

In fact, my own rating of the latest trilogy keeps the final episode, The Rise of Skywalker, as the nadir of the trilogy, often competing with Attack of the Clones (Episode 2). However, over the holidays, with time to ruminate, I think Star Wars hasn’t changed. I think I’ve changed.

Star Wars has always been designed for the young generation to get excited about space fantasy. And in that mission, a look around the younger generation attending the movies is a very clear reminder that they are successful. They don’t worry about the plot holes (yet) and don’t worry that Rey as a Palpatine is a missed opportunity from The Last Jedi. They just enjoy the fun camaraderie between Rey, Poe and Finn. They are fascinated by the Jedi powers of force healing and force-time.

So, from that perspective, I am genuinely happy for them. For me, though, The Clone Wars and The Mandalorian have presented far more interesting plots than the latest trilogy of movies did. The books have always been a good source of complex plots and experiments on storytelling in this fantastic world.


Battery impact of dark mode in OLED screens

With both iOS and Android supporting dark mode, some interesting analyses on energy consumption savings of dark mode is now available.

Personally, the most interesting takeaway is that dark grey (with significant accessibility improvements) is about as battery efficient as ‘full black’ (which still has some accessibility concerns).

XDA has more to read

The fundamental cause seems to be the energy curve of OLED screens

Energy consumption v luminance

At the recommended 0.3% of luminance of white on a Oneplus Pro screen

Now, barring unique display profile / configuration of the OnePlus Pro screen, this is a good scientific observation (also backed up by 2 real world measurement experiments).

So, wonder why Apple is at least marketing pure black dark mode in the iOS 13 screenshots.

Whatsapp too gets hacked

The end in “end-to-end” sort of hides the fact there are several layers that exist before the data is fully encrypted, in a way that makes it invisible to the transport layer. First of all, you have to type it in to your phone, which exposes what you type to people (or cameras, mind you) around you. Even if your screen is covered, and keyboard, you are still leaking data from your keyboard, both visually and acoustically

But then there’s also the operating system that your app is running on; you simply rely on the fact that your keyboard isn’t logging things as you type them, your camera isn’t recording when it shouldn’t, so on and so-forth. There are a lot of “loose” ends before the end-to-end shrouds your messages in mathematical secrecy. And then, there’s the recipient. In most cases, you have no idea what situation the recipient is in or who he or she might be. For all you care, they might be just broadcasting your texts to the building across from them.

Encryption is just part of the puzzle, it is definitely not panacea.

On one side, I do not want people over at Menlo Park to peer through my chats on Facebook’s WhatsApp nor do I want people in Switzerland to go through my ProtonMail email. I am not sure if they cannot right now, but I know without E2E, they can. I’ll take that side of the deal, and you should too. Similarly, basic encryption protects you from a customs officer at the border having a bad day, or an ex-boyfriend that just wants some dirt. The same argument goes for mitigation dragnet surveillance. Not everyone, yet, can afford NSO Group’s software.

Yet, how do you explain to tens of Indians or Myanmar residents that you simply cannot control people’s behavior, when you are benefiting from the encryption mostly? Apple put on a brave face when it resisted FBI’s attempts, but will it be able to do the same if there was a bigger threat to national security? Will Microsoft? Would we even know that these companies cooperated with the government? If Google tomorrow drops a key logger on your phone, I am not sure if anyone would be the wiser.

iOS and landscape video

There’s simply no way around it — actually watching video using Apple’s native TV app is just an appalling user experience. Here’s how it works: if you’re watching a video on the TV app — presumably, one that you bought or rented on iTunes, streamed through one of Apple’s native partner channels, like HBO or Showtime, or whatever the method for using Apple TV Plus will be — on an iOS device, it will play in portrait. It also looks terrible.

The Verge

I agree that I find a lot more iOS video apps, especially Apple’s default to portrait video when the phone is rotation locked.

Harbour Air to test an all electric sea plane from Seattle


The reason why we don’t have electricity driven planes –

A battery is nowhere near as energy-dense as a liquid fuel. Jet fuel, for example, has a specific energy of 11,890 watt-hours per kilogram. Top-tier lithium-ion batteries currently max out around 250 watt-hours per kilogram. That means you’ll need a far heavier amount of batteries to match the distance traveled with conventional aviation fuels.

Why Harbour Air?

But all of Harbour Air’s routes are less than 30 minutes, so there’s plenty of juice in the current and upcoming generation of batteries to meet the demand for these routes, and the planes don’t have to be quick.
Another consideration is that fuel is often the largest single expense for most airlines. Its price is volatile and spikes can hit small airlines especially hard. Electricity prices, on the other hand, are far more stable.

Game of Thrones…

“The Bells” was a fantastic episode when it came to a conclusion. There are some deserved criticisms when it comes to the narrative employed for us to get to this conclusion.

However, purely from the perspective of subverting the ‘expected’ aka romantic / poetic justice plot, the episode was masterful. To be clear, this was considered as one of the options from about the time Danaerys was considered to be a child of the ‘Mad King.’

In fact, what makes this particularly fascinating to me is how effective the narrative was in creating Danaerys as the protagonist. As a viewer, we were super effective and gullible at attributing her success as a ruler only to her. It was not to her advisors.

In hindsight, there were certainly signs that Dany had the signs of pushing back at any cost when she was pushed to a corner. You can find many thought pieces when it comes to her decisions on Yunkai and Astapor. However, the truth is that we all believed her and given how it was all setup against Cersei and ‘evil,’ we were gullible enough to believe in her ‘good.’ We wanted her to be better while not acknowledging that she has the power to be far worse for the realm.

There were some brilliant narratives embedded in the rushed storytelling though –

  • Varys was sentenced to death after being one of the only people to fight on behalf of the common man
  • Varys may have tried to poison Dany – this was pretty well setup for an open question that remains unanswered
Season 7 when Varys pledged loyalty to Dany

Some other poignant moments from this discussion

  • Tyrion started fighting for his ‘friends’ and ‘supporters’ and hence started making potential errors in judgement right from Season 7
  • It was devastating that Tyrion was the one who turned in Varys – for ‘loyalty’. Yet he immediately hedged as familial relationships and Jaime’s survival was important for him as evidenced by his fight for Varys and clear judgement miss when it comes to Dany.

There are people who are rightfully disappointed in what seems to be a break of character for Dany. Some specific complaints include – how does she snap into gratuitous burning of innocents. Someone who’s so emotionally unstable cannot have come this long.

I believe that the showrunners take the blame for this. However, I also empathize with their decisions. From their perspective, they had the balance the following:

  • Provide actors enough but not the whole story for preserving the subversion and plot twist.
  • Balance the narrative in early seasons without showing your hand on the conclusion
  • Cause a wow factor when it came to the actual subversion

Now, could they have done better for a more satisfying landing of the plot twist? Yeah, I think so. However, that’s not to say that the landing was unfair or that Dany turning into a Mad Queen was wrong. Heck, there are people who read into this since Season 5, leaned into it Season 6 and continued to hold steady as the seasons progressed.

Now, one might argue that Dany’s previous excesses in torture were justified given the moral high ground she took, while the callous burning of a million+ people doesn’t. I agree with this as well. However, I believe that it is a case of a rushed storyline and hopefully the books will provide us with the necessary closure here. The episode attempts to justify this in the beginning – Dany’s position pivots from being the ‘rightful heir’ for the throne to ‘save the world from tyrants.’ This is a classic despotic repositioning of the goalpost in order to justify yourself as the wielder of power. However, again it was rushed and did not land well.

There are other examples of this rush – the included audio of previous characters discussing Targaryens and their penchant for the crazy, the rushed scenes as Jon contemplates what the heck he signed up for with blind loyalty, Tyrion’s bet on the wrong side of history. All of these were critical for the scorched earth landing to hit. However, they were lost in the flames.

There are some additional takes you I highly recommend you read:

Let me end with, in my opinion, a brilliant take by the show on Cersei’s death. Cersei’s death is prophesied in The Feast Of Crows as follows:

When your tears have drowned you, the valonqar shall wrap his hands about your pale white throat and choke the life from you.

Cersei always believed that it would be Tyrion who’d be her cause of death. The book readers, including me, always felt that it’d be Jaime, who’s 9 seconds younger than her who’d kill Cersei. The show’s take on it was absolutely brilliant.

Jaime was the cause of Cersei’s death, by bringing her through the specific path across the Red Keep. Jaime’s hands are around her neck to comfort her and they die choking in the rubble. I believe that the show should take a well earned bow for this.

This is America

And why is Congress taking the step? Because companies like Intuit,  the company behind TurboTax,  and H&R Block have been lobbying lawmakers for years to take the step.

In other countries, the agencies in charge of taxes have their own programs which make filing taxes more efficient — and free — for citizens. But that would eat into the profits for the tax prep industry, which was estimated to pull in $11 billion in 2018.

$11B can definitely buy you some influence in Washington. That said, what’s particularly interesting is that it’s a bipartisan initiative. I’d imagine that at least the Democrats would have wanted people to file their taxes easier as they’d need that to fund some of their future projects.

Good Guy Microsoft

For instance, the FCC report suggests that broadband, as it is currently defined, is not currently available to around 25 million people. Sounds reasonable. But Microsoft’s data says that some 163 million people “do not use the internet at broadband speeds.”

So, this is inference by proxy and not a direct measurement. Why am I positive that the clown at the top of FCC is going to use that same argument?

The full report from Microsoft is here