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Jess Zimmerman's Posts

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Limbaugh: Heat index is a liberal government conspiracy

Heat wave? What heat wave? That's just the government TELLING you it's hot outside, for its own nefarious reasons. You know the (evocative but false) parable about the frog and the boiling water? Rush is the frog standing in the pan, slowly dissolving into soup, wearing a lumberjack hat and yelling "BOY IT SURE IS COLD IN HERE."

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Monkeys go on looting spree in Rio

This video is in Portuguese, so just mute it and cue up a bit of old Ludwig Van as you watch sneaky monkey thugs infiltrate a Brazilian home. With humans perpetually up in their business, monkeys in Rio de Janeiro are fighting back by turning to a life of crime. This is no casual looting, either -- it's a monkey mob. The housebreaking simians have a signaling system (mimicking birdcalls) and a thoroughly orchestrated plan of attack. They're not quite backflipping through radar beams, but it's close.  LIke most things (especially crime sprees!) this is probably humans' fault, not for …

Read more: Animals

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Announcing this year's most walkable cities

Walk Score has announced its 2011 list of most walkable cities, with a twist -- this year there's also a "fan favorite" category, where you can vote for what city you think is the easiest to navigate on foot. Walk Scores are based on how easy it is to walk to various amenties, like schools and grocery stores, but hey, why not add a purely opinion-based popularity contest? Then you know not only what cities are the most walkable, but what cities SEEM the most walkable to their citizens -- or, at least, what cities have citizens most likely to …

Read more: Cities

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The only weather map you'll need this summer

Linda Sharps (@Sundry) has preempted your need to check Weather.com for at least the next week or so.

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In the future, cleaning robots will sniff out air pollution

Researchers at the Public Laboratory for Open Technology and Science have kitted out a Roomba -- you know, one of those robotic vacuum cleaners that cats ride around on and act out Citizen Kane -- to evaluate air quality. Lights on the Roomba indicate the presence of evaporated alcohol, and a long-exposure photo, above, can show which parts of a room are clean and which are fumey. Blue lights in the above photo mean that the robot detected polluted air. A roving robot could give a better sense of a room's air quality than a stationary sensor, and researchers plan to …

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Organic farming is not really better for you or the planet [UPDATE: Or is it?]

[Editor's note, 7/21/11: In retrospect, we should have approached this topic with a more skeptical eye. Grist blogger Tom Laskawy has written a smart rebuttal to the Scientific American piece that's summarized here -- read it!] Science writer Christie Wilcox lays out the top myths about organic farming in Scientific American, and they might surprise you: It's not really pesticide-free. Certified organic farms have to use pesticides from natural sources, rather than man-made -- but those aren't necessarily any less dangerous or harmful. Large organic farms still spray crops with pesticides and fungicides. And they have to use more to …

Read more: Food, Organic Food

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Republicans: We must protect children from energy efficiency

Republican Rep. Sandy Adams (Fla.) wants to limit funding for Department of Energy websites that educate kids about efficiency. She doesn't know how much money that will save, but by god, we must stop children learning at any cost! Adams has introduced an amendment to the Energy and Water spending bill that would limit funds for any DOE website "which disseminates information regarding energy efficiency and educational programs to children or adolescents.” This means, for instance, DOE's "Energy Kids" site, which disseminates such dangerous propaganda as "[CFLs] last much longer and use much less energy than incandescent bulbs, producing significant …

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Bikes — and rollerbladers — beat plane in Carmageddon race

What happens when L.A. is debilitated by repairs on a 10-mile stretch of freeway? Some people hop on a 35-mile plane ride to bypass it. And others get on their bikes and make it there in half the time.  A team of cyclists challenged JetBlue's $4 Carmageddon special, a 22-minute flight from Burbank to Long Beach designed to airlift people over the shut-down Route 405. Bikers and flyers set out at the same time, and bikers reached the goal (the Long Beach lighthouse) in half as long, 1:34 versus 2:54. Taking public transportation and then walking was also way faster, …

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Play chutes and ladders on public transportation

The designers of this "Transit Accelerator" in the Dutch city of Utrecht have the right idea about making public transportation fun: turn it into a board game, or recess. What other inspiration can public transit take from childhood? Personally I'd like to see merry-go-round train cars where you ride on My Little Ponies.

Read more: Cities, Transportation

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Mom who lost son in hit-and-run could face more jail time than driver

Raquel Nelson of Marietta and her three children were hit by a tipsy two-time hit-and-runner, Jerry L. Guy, in April 2010. Nelson's 4-year-old later died of his injuries. But prosecutors dropped a homicide charge against Guy, and he was sentenced to two years for hit-and-run and served only six months. Nelson, who was convicted this week of vehicular manslaughter for having the chutzpah to cross a street, could get 36 months -- six times longer than the man who killed her child.  What could Nelson have done instead? Basically either stayed inside or gotten some flying shoes. The court considered …

Read more: Cities, Sprawl