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Jess Zimmerman's Posts

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Money is a miracle cure for ‘wind turbine syndrome’

There’s a down side to getting energy from wind: People who live near turbine farms report annoyance and even health effects from the noise. Amazingly, though, people with turbines on their land don’t have these symptoms, even though they live closer to the turbines than their suffering neighbors! What’s effecting this miraculous immunity? Turns out: Money. According to public health professor Simon Chapman, people who benefit financially from wind turbines somehow don’t report “wind turbine syndrome,” even though the turbines are right in their backyards. Incredible! What other ailments can this miracle medicine cure? I volunteer to be the test …

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London and Sydney have cute accents, great plans for biking

Both Sydney and London are making a push to become friendlier cities for biking. London’s instituted a big new bike-share program, and Sydney is building a giant network of bike lanes. Let’s check in on these two charming-accented metropolises and see what we can learn from them, shall we? London: London is going great guns with its bike hire program. (Literally. Arnold Schwarzenegger and his great guns dropped in to help promote it.) Users have traveled over 6 million miles in total six months. This Big City details what London got right: The bike hire system is cheap, huge, flexible, …

Read more: Biking, Cities

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Too much is not enough for The Edge’s green mansion

U2’s The Edge is planning a mansion complex that’s a metonymy for post-Joshua Tree U2: It means well, really, but it’s just way, way over the top. The five homes (!) averaging 10,500 square feet (!!) are supposed to be built to LEED Gold standards, so bravo to The Edge for that. But if you really want to be green, maybe a network of oversized houses full of buffalo and belly dancers and groupies and giant lemons and shit is NOT the way to go. And especially not when you’re building it in a pristine, environmentally sensitive area like The …

Read more: Green Home, Living

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You know who else hated bike lanes? Hitler.

Is this the one internet meme that never gets old? Okay, Godwin’s Law isn’t going to win the bike lane argument, but we could watch history’s most famous hater bitch about bike lanes all day. “The flowers make you feel like you’re riding through the countryside!” “THAT IS WHAT WEEKENDS ARE FOR!” Incidentally, Vancouver’s bike lanes sound just delightful. Notable YouTube comment: “Haha, classic. I masturbate to drivers complaining about bike lanes.” Get on (or off) with your bad self, YouTube commenter.

Read more: Biking, Cities

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Republicans lose Senate vote on EPA, call it a win

The riders that would forbid the EPA to regulate greenhouse gases didn’t succeed in the Senate yesterday. (They’re likely to do very well in the House, thanks to the Republican majority and some very disappointing Democrats.) That hasn’t stopped Senate Republicans from declaring victory, though. There were four riders dealing with EPA powers; no single one got 60 votes, but they went ahead and added up all the senators who voted for any of the four. And there were 64 of those, so they won! Yeah, somebody needs to watch Schoolhouse Rock again. And not just the one about how …

Read more: Politics

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Crazy idea from the feds: Maybe companies should stop shipping contaminated meat

Here's a good way to prevent a food recall: Don’t ship contaminated food in the first place. Companies that process meat have to test it for salmonella, E. coli, and other buggies, but they can send it off to stores before they get results. The Department of Agriculture has recently caught on to the fact that maybe this is dumb, and they’re proposing that meat products be held until the lab results come back (a matter of 48 hours or less). This approach could have prevented 44 outbreaks in the last four years, averting hundreds of cases of food poisoning …

Read more: Food, Food Safety

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Liev Schreiber and Naomi Watts are a hot, famous, rich advertisement for biking

Stars: They’re just like us! They bike around town with their kids in a trailer! They get annoyed at taxis! They really should be wearing helmets! New York Magazine has an interview with city natives Liev Schreiber and Naomi Watts, in which the famous couple dishes about their bike lane usage and their frustration with taxis: So what do you think about bike lanes? Pro or anti? Schreiber: Pro when I'm on my bike. Very frustrating when I'm driving through midtown. Do you use the bike lanes? Schreiber: Yes, we absolutely use them. We do.

Read more: Biking, Cities

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Watch a tricycle spank a bus in a low-speed race

It’s the Thunderdome of transportation: Comedian Mark Malkoff on a child’s tricycle, going up against the famously slow M42 bus. Two modes of transport enter, one mode of transport leaves … well, okay, they both leave, but one gets there a minute and a half faster. And it isn’t the bus. Malkoff framed his experiment as crummy mass transit vs. child’s toy, but it’s really human power vs. traffic. The bus isn’t the bad guy here -- sure, it may take more than 14 minutes to travel a mile, but it’s also getting a lot of people a mile closer …

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Biodegradable wool coffins keep you cozy six feet under

Here’s a win-win if we ever saw one: You can spend eternity in the postmortem equivalent of a Snuggie, AND it’s better for the environment. Corpses are one thing we’re never going to be able to stop throwing away, so it’s worth finding lower-impact methods. Wool coffins are all-natural and fully biodegradable, making them a friendlier option than metal. (Comfier, too, but it’s not like their denizens care.)  

Read more: Living

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Would you vote for the Koch Brothers Appreciation Act?

After watching end-of-life planning become “death panels” and estate taxes become “death taxes,” Democrats are finally figuring out that owning the spin is all about owning the terminology. Accordingly, they’ve been having a grand time proposing amendments to give a more accurate name to the “Energy Tax Prevention Act,” which would “prevent energy taxes” by completely neutering the EPA’s ability to regulate greenhouse gases. (The House and Senate are scheduled to vote on the act this week, though the White House has indicated that it would be vetoed if it passed.) Everyone restrained themselves from suggesting the names we would …