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Jess Zimmerman's Posts


If you were a real hipster, you’d ride this electric velocipede


Oh, you're one of those cool sustainability-minded hippies, huh? You live in Portland or Brooklyn or someplace committed to dense living and local food? You compost and knit and check up on your chicken's psychological profile before you eat it? You're a member of the food coop and the community garden, and you kit out your bike like a Victorian gentleman? Well, sorry, you just got out-retro-cooled by this electric velocipede.

Read more: Cities, Living


People in China are beating the smog by sticking cigarette filters in their nostrils


Beijing's smog is legendarily bad -- on some days, stepping outside is kinda like trying to breathe in an ashtray. So it's not that surprising that someone on Sina Weibo, China's equivalent of Twitter, decided to deal with the pollution problem by shoving cigarette filters up his nose.

Rumors have spread over the Internet in China that taking cigarette filters and inserting one into each nostril can block the tiny PM2.5 particles of pollution that make breathing difficult and cause respiratory ailments. Some people have posted pictures online demonstrating the technique, although it was often unclear whether the pictures were in jest or in earnest.

“A magical fix for coping with the haze,” said one message that has been repeated many thousands of times on Sina Weibo, a microblog site that is China’s most popular equivalent of Twitter. “Take two cigarette filters, strip away the wrapping paper, and insert them in the nostrils.”

Read more: Cities, Living


The orchid mantis may be the most beautiful bug we’ve ever seen


Malaysia's orchid mantis has a pretty uncreative name, given that it is a mantis that looks exactly like an orchid. But we'll cut it some slack, because it's a mantis that looks exactly like an orchid, and man, that's really cool.

Read more: Living


Turns out community gardens are basically Fight Club


Think community gardens are sweet cooperative spaces where a neighborhood can come together to cultivate food and companionship? You poor sucker. Modern Farmer has the lowdown, and it's pretty low. Turns out those idyllic little greenspaces are actually hotbeds for theft, hard partying, vandalism, and culture clashes.

Among the horror stories ModFarm has collected:

Read more: Cities, Food, Living


Just look at these rescued baby cyborg seals

Vancouver Aquarium

Vancouver Aquarium released seven rescued harbor seal pups last week, five of them outfitted with head-mounted transmitters. The babies are being sent back to 1984 to kill Sarah Connor and prevent her child from becoming an anti-Skynet rebel. Vancouver Aquarium No, wait, no. The antennas are just for tracking the seals' movement, so aquarium vets can make sure the babies -- who've been receiving care and rehabilitation for months -- are doing OK after their release. These transmitters don't interfere with the pups' quality of life at all -- they're weightless in the water, and they'll fall off by next …

Read more: Living


The rare Joshua tree gets its star turn in this gorgeous time-lapse video

Unless you make a special trek, chances are you'll never see a Joshua tree -- they only grow in the Mojave desert, and even the ones there may be under threat from climate change. Luckily, photographer Sungjin Ahn has put together this lovely time-lapse video so you can appreciate the weird prickly trees in all manner of conditions (mostly sunrise, sunset, and various configurations of clouds, but it's all gorgeous).

Read more: Living


Those pardoned turkeys are gonna die anyway

Last year's turkeys, which are dead.
Todd Martin

Today President Obama is "pardoning" two turkeys with conventional taste in music -- Caramel, who reportedly likes Lady Gaga, and Popcorn, who's more into Beyonce. Sure. Anyway, they're getting a presidential pardon for the crime of being edible, and will be sent to an idyllic turkey farm where they can run free until they drop dead in a year because modern turkeys are just not built to live.

Read more: Food


These beautiful toilets are actually raising awareness about public restrooms

Lava Mae

The lack of public toilets is a problem when you're on your way home on the subway and you drank one beer too many, but they're a much bigger problem if you have no home and no access to facilities. Increased public access to bathrooms doesn't just mean everyone has a pot to piss in; it can also increase health, dignity, confidence, and employability for the homeless. And San Francisco nonprofit Lava Mae is getting the word out about that -- in the form of a parade of beautiful artistic toilets.

Read more: Cities


Someone has made cheese out of Michael Pollan’s belly button bacteria


When Michael Pollan said we should make our food ourselves, we kind of thought he meant home cooking, not culturing cheese from your belly button bacteria. But scientist Christina Agapakis and scent expert Sissel Tolaas have done just that, producing dairy products made using Pollan's navel microbes. And it looks almost edible. Almost.

Christina Agapakis and Sissel Tolaas
Read more: Food


These works of art are made out of dead bees


Artist Sarah Hatton collects dead bees, but we promise it's not some sick weird thing. She collects them into complicated mandalas, swirling mathematical patterns like Fibonacci spirals that she intends to be "symbolically linked to monoculture crops" and representative of " the bees’ loss of ability to navigate due to the toxins locked within the very source of their sustenance."


Read more: Living