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Ashley Braun's Posts


choc and awe

Droves of confused, well-meaning kids giving candy back this Halloween

This witch knows what's up with conventional candy.Photo: Brittany RandolphIs your candy scarier than your costume? Not if you're handing out local, organic apples, no. But if you're handing out your average candy bar (the kind without a mask) this Halloween, watch out for trick-or-traders out to stab you in the back -- with knowledge. Thousands of little boys and ghouls are expected to be roaming the streets, handing Fair Trade candy back to houses they visit in a choc-and-awe campaign called "Reverse Trick-or-Treating." Are the kids well-meaning? Yes. Will they grow up confused about how this holiday actually works? …

Read more: Food, Living



yellow bozos of texas

Tuning out California's Prop 23 with a song

Supporters of California's landmark climate-change law (AB 32) are tuning out the slippery campaign ads of the oil companies trying to overturn it via Proposition 23. Here's a catchy little ditty from the "No on Prop 23" camp set to the melody of "Yellow Rose of Texas." It's something clean-energy advocates are hoping California voters will be whistling on their way to the polls on November 2. Hat tip to my friend TH for passing it along.


spacing out on this one

Space tourism may ignite the effects of global warming

Maybe if there weren't so many movies shot in space, we wouldn't have this problem.Photo: Mark Bult If you "just want to get away" from Earth for a while by indulging your new hobby of space exploration, you may find the planet pretty steamed when you get back. According to researchers, the budding space tourism industry may be mooning efforts to slow climate change by blasting extra soot, or black carbon, from rocket engines high into the atmosphere. Ten years of soot from commercial space flight might do as much harm as soot from all current commercial air travel. (Soot …


should we give it our ethanol?

Our biofuel future: The bitter taste of land grabs and hunger

I admit I haven't been paying the most attention to the topic of biofuels the past few years, after studies made fairly clear that the social, energy, and environmental benefits of the predominant player, corn ethanol, were generally overhyped when factors like oily fertilizers and the wisdom of converting more land to corn came into play. Would Roz by any other name find biofuels as sweet?Photo: Roz NaylorAs it turns out, this not-uncommon assumption, that the biofuel bubble has burst, is an a-maize-ing farce, pointed out Rosamond (Roz) Naylor, professor of environmental earth systems and economics at Stanford, in the …


showing too much flesh

Wearing Lady Gaga's meat dress for Halloween — still a bad idea [VIDEO]

Lady Gaga can be an inspiration in some cases -- she's all over energy-saving tips, for example -- but when it comes to Gaga-inspired Halloween costumes, it pays to listen to your mom's advice on this one and not show so much flesh. While Gaga got away with marching her meaty flanks around the MTV Video Music Awards, following suit in a suit of steak for Halloween goes outside USDA recommendations. Make that any recommendations. However, I'm not sure who would actually try draping $250-worth of raw meat on her body for the sake of authenticity anyway. (Wait a second, …

Read more: Food, Living


a positive impact

Putting out the recycling could save your life

After they've saved your life, recycling bins also make a great setting for your next tropical getaway.Photo: You've probably heard that recycling can help you "save the planet," but did you know that it could also save your life? This past summer, two teens from Vancouver, Canada, fell almost seven stories from their apartment building roof after a wooden structure gave way -- and so did they. Fortunately, they were saved from a very negative impact by landing on a pile of recyclables put out by a neighbor who was trying to have a positive impact. Considering the 18 …

Read more: Living


I can haz chevronburger?

Lolcats punk Teh Yes Menz punking Chevron

Oh noes! Did LOL kittehs make teh ultamet pranksterz get teh punkings?  Translation: Oh no! Did the infamous Lolcats from the pop cat-culture website I Can Has Cheezburger punk the ultimate pranksters, The Yes Men? Not exactly, though that's what it looked like for a second. Chevron was planning a spendy (and ballsy) new ad campaign centered on "responsibility" and the phrase "We Agree" but prank-with-a-purpose group The Yes Men, along with activist organizations Rainforest Action Network and Amazon Watch, beat them to the punch by spoofing and releasing their own version of the ads right before Chevron's actual ad …


yeo yeo yeo what up?

The world's first organic dairy rap video

And now we have it: A song with an environmental message that doesn't suck. In the form of a rap ode to organic farming, no less. Thank you, Yeo Valley Organic. The hardworking yeomen and yeowomen at Yeo Valley Organic milk this genre to the last drop, from popping wheelies in tractors bedecked with shiny cow bling to their displays of perfectly timed lyrical and visual prowess: "Yeah, we're down with the soil association and we do lots of what? Conservation!" Why rap about how awesome organic practices are? "If you're going to talk about yourself and you're going to …


color bind

Purple wind turbines would solve nearly all our problems

Will fewer innocent victims be cut down by these violet blades of glory?Photo: Patrick Finnegan What is it about renewable energy that draws insects to their doom like a moth to a cleaner-burning flame? I was blown away to learn we've been painting wind turbines the wrong color. (White seemed like such a safe color -- unless you're one of those people who still thinks you shouldn't wear white after Labor Day). Alas, white is just about the worst color you could paint a turbine, if you're an insect or insect-eating bird or bat, that is. A new study tested …

Read more: Climate & Energy