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Sarah Miller's Posts


Swedish town is installing antidepressant bus stops


Umea is a city pretty darn far north of Stockholm, which is already way up there. And in the winter, it gets really dark for a really really long time. Which can bum a Swede out. So it is fortunate that an energy company (called Umea Energy) has decided to install ultra-violet, essentially happiness-producing lights at bus stops around the city.

During winter, there are only about seven hours of daylight in Umea -- from 8 a.m. until 3 p.m. Light therapy has long been touted as a way to help winter darkness blues, which is also referred to as S.A.D. (seasonal affective disorder) and which is, unsurprisingly, a big problem in Sweden and other very northern countries. Yeah, it takes more energy to run an antidepressant bus stop than a regular one, but the company says their energy comes from "environmentally sound sources," and we believe it because this is Sweden where they care about things. Also, we're talking about the mental health of an entire city here.

Read more: Cities


The Navy is laying off most of its trained spy-dolphins

U.S. Navy
They say "locate bombs" and I say "How high?"

When it comes to machines taking over jobs from humans, we are not always supporters. But the fact that many of the 24 dolphins currently involved in mine detection for the Navy will now be replaced by sea-drones strikes us as good news. And think about how psyched the dolphins must be. After lifetimes of hard work, it's now time for them to finally enjoy some well-deserved time just being dolphins.

Read more: Uncategorized


Cambridge scholars will study how robots are going to kill us all

Ms. President
Hello. I am going to rip your lungs out. Hello. I am going to rip your lungs out. Hello. I am going to rip your lungs out. Hello. I am going to rip your lungs out.

You know all those movies we've seen where robots take over the world? Movies like the Terminator series, and Starship Troopers? And also the greatest TV show of all time, Battlestar Galactica? Well we hope you had fun watching them, tripping out on the crazy evil robot weirdness of it all, because pretty soon, all those movies and all those TV shows are going to be called DOCUMENTARIES.

At least, according to some scholars at fancypants British university Cambridge. Yes, granted, British people are weird and they drink so much that half the time they are probably hallucinating. It is still worth mentioning that some professional Cambridge smart people who get paid to think about how fucked up things are going to be in the future are exploring what they see as the rather plausible idea that robots might try to wipe us out.


Texas town is building public bathrooms made entirely out of glass

These are not the very bathrooms in question, but same idea.

A small Texas town called Sulfur Springs has two brand-new public bathrooms made out of glass. They cost about $25,000 each. I am not going to make a big joke here about how they're a performance art piece on the nature of shame or something, because Texas might be a lot of things, but it's not a place where someone's going to spend a lot of taxpayer money on a structure where people can see you take a dump. So rest assured, they are totally private -- you can see out but you can't see in. It's still pretty neato.

Read more: Cities


Pot growers are using, and in some cases stealing, solar panels

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Let the sunshine in -- LITERALLY.

Apparently the newest big boosters of solar technology are illegal pot farmers. Officials in both New Mexico and California have seen an increased use of solar technology in several recently busted grow sites. The solar panels are generally used to run water pumps that are crucial in marijuana cultivation.

Now, everyone knows anyone associated with pot is into Earth-loving grooviness. And this might be part of why pot growers love solar panels, but it's likely that their popularity stems less from love of Mother Earth than from fear of getting caught. One of the ways that officials are alerted to the presence of a crop is excessive power bills. Solar panels are cheaper, ergo they create less suspicion.

Read more: Climate & Energy


Rare Galapagos tortoise breed gets a second shot at existing

A. Davey

Remember when Galapagos tortoise Lonesome George died, back in June? It was kind of a bummer, because he was the last ever of his kind, the Pinta Island subspecies. They had tried and tried to get the guy to reproduce, but he just wouldn't. He was like, "I'm the last Pinta Island tortoise, me, no one else, plus, I am not attracted to any of the lady tortoises whose eggs you want me to fertilize, so screw you," and then he probably ate some stuff and then, eventually, died. So ordinarily this story would be kind of over. But in this case, it is not, because scientists think that they can actually resurrect his subspecies.

Read more: Uncategorized


Kohl’s gets some unlikely patrons in the form of deer

After can we please go to Cheesecake Factory?

So, a doe and two fawns walk into a department store. No. That is not the setup to yet another amazing joke. It's reality, people, and it happened at a Kohl's in Iowa last week, when three deer came in through an automatic door. If you think there is nothing in this world funnier than the idea of three deer jumping back when the door opened and then recovering from their shock and tottering along inside, you are not alone. If it gives you great pleasure to think repeatedly of all the people inside freaking out when they saw deer walking through Kohl's, well, you are getting some idea of what the last couple days have been like for me.

Read more: Uncategorized


13-year-old genius from Sierra Leone builds generators out of scrap, makes you feel dumb

Next time you think you're really smart because you installed your own car stereo or fixed your toilet, you might want to check your ego with the knowledge that a 13-year-old kid from Sierra Leone named Kelvin Doe is probably about 400 times smarter than you are. With almost no training, he is able to build -- often from scraps he finds in the trash -- batteries, transmitters, and generators.

Granted, Kelvin has always had a pretty powerful motivation for making stuff. Sierra Leone doesn't have a dependable electrical infrastructure, and the lights only come on once a week or so. But where he goes, light follows. He has created battery lights to power people's homes. He has made an FM radio transmitter. And at MIT, where he is the youngest person ever to be part of their visiting practitioner's program, he is working to develop these skills so that he can return to his country and improve the quality of life.


The world has ended, or just about. Now, what wine do you drink with broiled rats and steamed slug?

Adam Foster
That doesn't look like a Chenin Blanc to me. For shame.

Finally, someone has written an important article about something that actually means something to me: what kind of wine we are going to drink with the disgusting vermin we have to eat when the world ends or is on its way toward ending. Author Lauren Davis of io9 begins by making the excellent point that good wine might last longer than anything else, and then offers a handy list of what vintages go best with which creature. Here is a sampling:

Squirrels: There are many foodies who consider squirrel the unsung meat, claiming the furry little critters taste a bit like boar or maybe a cross between duck and lamb. Squirrel is frequently braised in a dry red wine, such as a Claret, but a according to What to Pair With Wine's Joel Baxter the strong flavor of wild boar demands a complex wine like a Barolo or a Shiraz. If your squirrels fall more to the lamb-duck end of the flavor spectrum, opt for a Pinot Noir, which pairs well with both animals.

Slugs: A handy thing about slugs is that they take on the flavor of whatever you feed them -- and you'll probably want to feed them for a while before you eat them so you don't end up eating garbage-infused slug. When Ron Zimmerman of The Herbfarm, a Washington restaurant that specializes in locally sourced Pacific Northwest foods, served up basil-and-carrot-infused slugs at one diner's request, he paired them with an acidic Chenin Blanc.

Read more: Food


Vancouver is using recycled plastic to create Earth-friendly sidewalks

Graham Ballantyne

Why do those Canadians always have to be so goddamn perfect? They have national health care. They have a low murder rate. The chick from frickin' Revenge is from Canada. And now, Vancouver, that sparkling jewel of a city anchoring their western shore, is making intelligent use of recycled plastic by combining it with asphalt to construct the city's sidewalks. OK, Canada -- now you are just showing off.

Read more: Cities