Jess Zimmerman

Jess Zimmerman was the editor of Grist List.

This amazing off-grid hobbit house cost less than $5,000 to build

Self-taught builder Simon Dale constructed this straight-out-of-a-fantasy-novel house in four months for less than $5,000. The house is designed for low-impact building and low-impact living: it was made from reclaimed lumber and salvaged materials, and the Dales live off the grid, with a compost toilet, a green roof, spring-sourced water, and natural heating and cooling. Plus, have we mentioned that it's unrealistically beautiful? It looks like they should have a one-unicorn garage. If you're interested in a similar project, Dale has posted plans, process photos, and thoughts about the how and why of his hobbit hole on his website.

Make a speed-displaying vest for cycling at night

There are a lot of bike accessories that will let cars know you're there. But it can still be hard for them to tell whether you're speeding up or slowing down — which can make it tough for even a well-meaning driver to keep a safe distance. Mykle Hansen's speed vest is designed to reduce accidents that come from misjudging speed, plus irritation and aggression that come from cars assuming that bikes will slow them down. To make the vest, you'll need to be comfortable with electronics and know how to program an Arduino microcontroller. But you won't need any …

Car-crushing mayor wins an Ig Nobel prize

Remember Arturas Zuokas, the mayor of Vilnius, who ran over a Mercedes parked in a bike lane USING A TANK? He's just won an Ig Nobel prize, the coveted award for research (or, you know, a mayoral publicity stunt) that first makes people laugh, then makes them think.

WSJ: We can't trust climate science because neutrinos might go faster than light

Someone at the Wall Street Journal read a press release about a scientific finding! And then decided that since people are evidently still discovering things, climate science is probably going to turn out bullshit. Last month, scientists at CERN, the prestigious high-energy physics lab in Switzerland, reported that neutrinos might—repeat, might—travel faster than the speed of light. If serious scientists can question Einstein's theory of relativity, then there must be room for debate about the workings and complexities of the Earth's atmosphere. 

People love smart cities, as long as you don't call them smart cities

The vast majority of Americans — almost 80 percent — are totally on board with living somewhere that's close to jobs and schools, where the environment is clean and you don't have to spend much money on gas. They just don't want to live in places that are "sustainable" or involve "smart growth," because that shit is for hippies. Messaging is crucial when it comes to community planning, according to a panel at the SXSW Eco conference. Suburban and rural dwellers don't care about things like climate change, transportation, and land use, but those factors have serious impact on their …

Tolkien parody turns recycling into an epic journey

What I know about Lord of the Rings can basically be summed up in a single Flight of the Conchords song, but someone clearly had a terrifically good time making this recycling-based parody, so I still think it's pretty super. I haven't yet stayed awake through an entire Lord of the Rings movie but I made it through this whole thing! Separating your trash look pretty easy when the alternative is journeying to Mordor, doesn't it?

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