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Ranchers don’t want Joan Jett on a Macy’s float because she’s a vegetarian

joan-jett-peta-flickr
David Shankbone

It doesn’t matter that Joan Jett is a rock legend; her vegetarianism is chapping the South Dakota ag industry’s hide. She agreed to perform this Thanksgiving on the Mount Rushmore float in the Macy’s parade, but ranchers aren’t down with her bad reputation:

South Dakota Cattlemen's Association President Cory Eich, who farms and ranches near Canova in eastern South Dakota, said Wednesday he thinks it was a mistake to select Jett because she is a supporter of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, which promotes a vegetarian diet and criticizes livestock production practices. Her stands don't mesh with South Dakota, a state where the cattle industry makes up a huge part of the economy, he said ...

"To me, it seems like a huge blunder," Eich said. "I guess I couldn't disapprove more. I don't understand what they were thinking."

UGH! What were they thinking?! Maybe that Jett’s a platinum-selling music pioneer? Maybe that “I Love Rock ‘N’ Roll” is a good way to make people think South Dakota isn’t a boring place to visit? Maybe that someone waving and wearing a full-body steak costume wouldn’t be as sexy as an actual rockstar?

Read more: Living

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Can we save the planet by shrinking all the humans?

tiny-man-chicken
Arne Hendriks

We aren’t sure if Arne Hendriks’ idea to shrink everyone is a better or worse climate solution than geoengineering. The Dutch artist thinks that, in light of too many people and not enough resources, the obvious solution is “Honey, I Shrunk Humanity.” Then we’ll all eat a lot less, use way less energy, and finally put those doll clothes in the attic to good use.

Writes Wired:

Read more: Living

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This may be the last backpack you ever need

We weren’t aware people wore backpacks unless they were stuck in the ’90s or high school (WHICH IS WORSE?!?), but apparently somebody does, because Daniel Eckler has designed the perfect backpack for them. You may see a nondescript beige bag below, but it’s actually The Backpack To End All Backpacks:

backpack-front-470

Eckler doesn’t just have an unusually large collection of school supplies. He and sustainable apparel firm Mijlo created the backpack in protest of fast fashion and how quickly we cycle an endless parade of STUFF through our closets. The bag is designed to go with everything (OK, except your tux or scuba gear) and outlast changing fads. A $32.50 donation on Kickstarter gets you your very own.

Read more: Living

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Watch this elderly British guy blow-dry his pet fox

Just like that obnoxious couple and that sad lady who made all those sandwiches, viral video “What Does the Fox Say?” is getting turned into a book. (Sigh.) Our hearts were growing ever more jaded until, like the sudden appearance of a magic, cynicism-stopping fairy godmother, we saw this video of what the fox ACTUALLY says:

Spoiler alert: The fox doesn’t actually talk. BUT his owner, a charming elderly chap, describes the noise he makes (purring!), and then gives him a bath and DRIES HIM WITH A BLOWDRYER. Crack! Snap! Candy coating of cynicism is crunched underfoot!

Read more: Living

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Pee-powered pollution robots are the future

pee-powered-robot
Bristol Robotics Laboratory

Urine is liquid gold -- for comedians, 13-year-old boys, and now robots that monitor pollution.

How so? Basically a heart-like squeezing device pumps pee into a fuel cell, and the fuel cell powers a robot called the EcoBot, which measures environmental factors. If this sounds vaguely familiar, it’s because University of Bristol researchers previously made EcoBots that ran on rotten fruit, dead insects, and wastewater. (Fun, right?) Here’s the scoop:

Each [EcoBot] is powered by a microbial fuel cell, containing live microorganisms like those found in the human gut or sewage treatment plants. The microbes digest the waste (or urine) and produce electrons, which can be harvested to produce electrical current ...

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Nothing says Thanksgiving like turkey ice cream

thanksgiving-ice-cream
Leela Cyd

“Some roasted turkey, carmelized onions, and fried turkey skin, please -- and can I get that in a waffle cone?” Soon you may find yourself wrapping your lips around these perplexing yet sensual words. That’s because Portland ice cream shop Salt & Straw has fixed its local, seasonal gaze on the tastiest November holiday (no offense, Saxophone Day), whipping up five limited-edition ice cream flavors to confuse and beguile you:

  • Salted caramel Thanksgiving turkey, which has turkey fat caramel ice cream punctuated with fried turkey skin brittle (but will it put you to sleep?!)
  • Mincemeat, which boasts “a heady punch of brandy-soaked fruits with an aggressively spiced ice cream base”
  • Apple cranberry stuffing, which incorporates both bread pudding and “locally made celery soda” (wha?!)
  • Sweet potato and candied pecans, which sounds almost edible -- especially when you get to “Vermont maple-infused marshmallow pillows” (!!!)
  • Pumpkin custard and spiced chevre, which had us at “pumpkin cheesecake”
Read more: Food

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This bamboo scooter runs on air

Not only is this scooter made of steam-pressed bamboo instead of plastic, but in place of a gas tank, it has A TANK OF AIR:

bamboo-air-scooter

The EcoMoto was an Australian industrial design student's third-year design project “aimed at developing a concept motorbike built around a compressed air powered engine.” As Darby Bicheno explains in his deep Australian accent, the air-powered engine is quiet and capable, perfect for short city trips. As long as the air compressor you use to fill the tank is powered by renewable energy, it’s pretty dang green.

As if that weren’t cool enough, Bicheno’s bitchin’ bike uses LED lights instead of incandescent ones, as well as quick-growing bamboo. His goal was an exposed yet elegant scooter; from the looks of the prototype, he totally succeeded:

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Pollution is making Chinese sperm damaged and “ugly”

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Raul Villegas

Sperm: Usually so beautiful, right? (Not really, but just go with it.) But in China, pollution is making sperm so long and gross that it’s a wonder anyone is having sex at all.

Li Zheng, the director of Shanghai’s biggest sperm bank, discovered the fugly sperm as part of a decade-long study on male infertility. Thanks to poor air quality, Chinese men’s sperm is weird-looking and sometimes doesn’t even swim at all. Writes Quartz:

The just-completed research found that two-thirds of the semen specimens at Shanghai’s biggest sperm bank failed to meet World Health Organization sperm-count standards.

Read more: Living

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Do 30 squats and ride the subway for free

woman-doing-squats-flickr
dvonya

Usually popping a squat in the subway station is discouraged, but now Moscow is awarding free subway rides to people who do just that. For every squat Russians do, they get 1/30th the value of a subway ride; do 30 and you ride free.

According to the Wall Street Journal, it’s “an effort to promote physical fitness and sports” in light of the upcoming Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia:

Each squat will be counted by a special machine marked with the Olympic logo that will be placed next to electronic ticket vending machines.

Read more: Cities

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3D-printed disposable panties are greener than they sound

cosyflex-disposable-underwear
TamiCare

Disposable anything sounds super-unsustainable, so why should disposable panties be different? Because they’re 3D-printed out of biodegradable fabric called Cosyflex in a uniquely low-waste method, according to Ecouterre:

By layering natural rubber-latex polymers and cotton fibers using a spray gun, a technique that requires neither cutting nor waste, Tamicare’s technology can churn out a pair of skivvies in under three seconds or up to 10 million per year.

Cosyflex undies are meant to be an alternative to Depends, rather than a fun thing for lazy, laundry-averse people to try. Think of them as the biodegradable spork of the underwear biz: They ain’t as good as the real, reusable thing, but they’re better than plastic disposables. (Plus, doesn’t “Cosyflex” sound like something you want on your bum?)