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Sarah Miller's Posts


Please enjoy this cartoon of tubby, fast-food-eating animals rolling around like balls

I wish I could hunt better but i am too fat

Someone has made a rather silly but funny video about what would happen if animals ate fast food and got all fat and useless. A very round alligator swims past a flock of flamingos, but can't manage to attack before his considerable weight pulls him underwater. A roly-poly leopard rolls out of a tree. A cheetah chases down an antelope, but as it makes the final leap towards its prey both lose their footing and end up bouncing across the savannah like two balls.

Read more: Food


Socially and sexually deviant species of octopus shares room with preteen girl

I am rare and was discovered in the 70s.
Dr. Roy Caldwell

The recent story of the unusual Larger Pacific Striped Octopus wanders off in exactly eight directions, one for each of its tentacles. It is therefore difficult to know where to begin, or end, or focus one's attention.

1. The species was only discovered very recently, in Nicaragua in the late 1970s. Its preference for living 130 feet underwater, near the murky mouths of rivers, made it virtually unspottable by divers. A Panamanian biologist named Arcadio Rodaniche discovered it, and he wrote up his findings in a 1991 paper that was never published.

2. Although the Larger Pacific Striped Octopus was discovered more than 35 years ago, two scientists, Roy Caldwell and Richard Ross, last week issued a press release to let people know about the species. It's been sort of neglected by everyone but Caldwell and Ross, and they are choosing this moment to say "Hey, look at this rare and unusual octopus. Stop ignoring it. It is special." (I paraphrase.)

Read more: Living


How now, happy cow? Why I deferred my reckoning with meat

cows grazing beef

After six weeks, on Feb. 12, my “I can eat meat if I want day” arrived. And I found I wasn't ready to decide one way or the other.

So I tacked on six more weeks to my experiment, which means that if I want, I can eat meat around April 1. In the meantime, I have decided that if I do eat meat at that time, I will have to know how it lived and how it died.

That sounds so pretentious. It is also, I admit, the rare person who has the opportunity to do this. I live in a pretty wholesome part of the country -- Nevada County, in northeastern California -- and there is no end to the number of places I can go to get totally fresh, farm-raised meat from well-treated animals who have not been given a lot of antibiotics.

Still, you can hear about the wholesomeness of meat that comes from little farms, but it means nothing until you experience it. So last week I went out and visited two places. The first was a pasture belonging to Nevada County Free Range Beef, a 4,400-acre, 400-animal operation spread across various pieces of land in Nevada, Yuba, and Placer counties. After that I went to the farm of a good friend, who raises goats and chickens for personal use, and helped her slaughter two of her chickens.

Read more: Food, Living


Watch rescuers save an injured bald eagle hit by a car on the highway


The bald eagle has been the national bird and national emblem of the United States of America since 1782. We Americans encounter it on the Great Seal from a such an early age -- and we encounter so few real bald eagles -- that our brains are probably wired to render as symbolic any eagle that pops into our consciousness.

Please don't do that symbolizing thing to this week's Eagle In The News: He is a simply a beautiful, noble, eight-foot-wingspanned, government-protected bird that was hit by a car Wednesday afternoon on I-84 in Portland, Ore., while roadside dining, and is critically injured. He has a broken leg, possible paralysis, and is being watched closely at the Audubon Society to see if he will survive into today. Two lanes of traffic were shut down, for 20 minutes, to save him. Rescuers had to creep up from behind to capture and treat the guy.

Read more: Living


Meet Green Ninja, the extremely earnest climate change superhero you didn’t know you needed

Screen shot 2013-02-21 at 8.14.32 AM

2012 was a big year for climate change. It was the hottest year on record. There were superstorms and derechos and thundersnow. You could be forgiven for getting a little depressed. But please do not  think we are alone in this battle against the warming of the planet. We have Green Ninja, a little animated green guy (in some videos he appears somewhat more awkwardly and kinda problematically as a real person, and we think there may be a branding issue here but we don't want to be naysayers), who is going to show America's youth how to fight climate change on the superhero level.

The invention of some concerned scientists, artists, and writers, Green Ninja appears in a series of skits wherein he swashbucklingly attempts to alert people to their non-planet-friendly behavior. In one, a cartoon, a man finds his feet growing to gargantuan size, and Green Ninja shows up and sorts his recycling and turns off his entertainment system and cleans his fridge. In another (mildly racist live action), Green Ninja replaces a college student's steak burrito with a chicken one, and his roommate's beef jerky with a carrot. Wait, are you the Green Ninja or Captain Vegetable?

It is perhaps beginning to dawn on you that Green Ninja does not have a terribly good sense of humor, what with his silent judgment of your lifestyle. See for yourself:

Read more: Climate & Energy


This car runs entirely on coffee, just like you

Dunky, dunky, what's in the trunky?
Dunky, dunky, what's in the trunky?

OK, it only goes 65 mph, but that makes the Bean Machine the world's fastest coffee-powered car. Insert joke about cars stepping up to the counter and ordering a venti every morning, and do cars ever say "no foam," get it, because cars don't talk. But seriously, no foam. It does not run on milk. Just pellets made of coffee-grinding byproducts, which are burned for hydrogen to power the car.

The Bean Machine was designed by a British person, engineer Martin Bacon, which means it's actually also kind of cute, in a sort of under-the-radar, stubby pickup way. It's Simon Pegg cute.


Morrissey got McDonald’s shut down for his L.A. concert

Call me morbid, call me pale, today there's no McDonald's on sale
Call me morbid, call me pale, today there's no McDonald's on sale.

Morrissey, the lugubrious former lead singer for the Smiths, made an album in 1985 called "Meat is Murder." That was 28 years ago (I KNOW), but he has not since then altered his negative opinion of the consumption of animal flesh. That's why, during the singer's March 1 concert at Los Angeles' Staples Center, the venue's McDonald's will be closed. Yes, Morrissey is a pretty powerful dude.

We don't know if it's the British accent or just his general demeanor, but we do know this: Paul McCartney asked the Staples Center to shut down McDonald's too, and he got nowhere. (So, OK, it's not the British accent.) Former Beatle? Next! Goth hero with pompadour? RIGHT AWAY SIR.

Read more: Food


Disappearing packaging could save 70 million tons of waste a year

Aaron Mickelson

Pratt University master’s candidate Aaron Mickelson refers to himself as a "nerdy designer." I am just going to assume that's humblebrag for "I actually did something useful at art school," because Mickelson's thesis involves creating prototypes that would eliminate or greatly reduce packaging in five popular and overly packaged products. Instead of being shoved inside needless extra boxes and bags, Mickelson's product designs use the product itself as the package.


Rental jeans let you cover your butt without the commitment

OMG Kelsey you have to see these awesome new jeans I just leased!
OMG Kelsey you have to see these awesome new jeans I just leased!

The Netherlands, the country that brought you Anne Frank, pot brownies, and SUB (smug urban bicycling), is now making it possible for you to lease a pair of jeans instead of buying them. The leasing scheme comes from Bert van Son, owner of Mud jeans. It works just the way leasing a car does -- you put down some money, in this case about 20 euros, and you pay 5 euros a month for a year. At the end of the year, you can pay for four more months, plus 20 euros as a deposit on a future pair, and keep them. Or you can pay some shipping and admin costs to get a new pair, or you can return them altogether for a new model, which involves some shipping money and a new lease fee.


Fish swimming in water contaminated by anti-anxiety drugs turn into weird loners

All by myself I don't need anyone at all I know I'll survive I know I'll stay alive
All by myself. I don't need anyone at all. I know I'll survive. I know I'll stay alive.

Perch are shy. They like to band together for protection, swimming together in schools the way nerds all share the nerd table in the high-school cafeteria. But now that lots of people are taking anti-anxiety drugs and their drug-laced pee has ended up in waterways, perch are acting differently, in ways that suggest they too have been mentally affected by these drugs. They've gotten cooler. They like to do stuff alone. Hunting, swimming, all the other perch stuff -- they just like to fly solo.

Read more: Living