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Baby elephant is as cute as its name is unpronounceable

You're such a cute baby, I'm sorry I call you "whatever the fuck your name is." (Photo courtesy of San Diego Zoo.)

Elephants are so stinkin' adorbs, the way they look like they're smiling all the time when they're actually just thinking about stuffing leaves in their mouths or stalking and subsequently murdering people who were mean to them a really long time ago. Baby elephants are the cutest elephants of all, which is probably why the San Diego Zoo Safari Park thought it was no big deal to stick a baby elephant with a name that no one in the United States, much less Southern Californians, will ever figure out how to pronounce.

The name is Qinisa, a Swazi word that means "to act with energy, act determinedly, fulfill one’s word, or speak the truth." Here is a San Diegan using it in a sentence: "I totally qinisa-ed that wave, bro." But it's not Qin-isa, no -- that would be way too easy. The name is actually pronounced with a clicking noise, like, (!) EEN-EE-seh, where (!) is a tongue pop like you're trying to signal a cat to get off the counter. It's not IMPOSSIBLE to pronounce, with practice, but it is a letter that doesn't exist outside of one family of African languages. Which makes it kind of a weird choice for a zoo baby you want everyone to talk about.

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Climate change T-shirt is (almost) the star of London’s fashion week

You know those people who want to be all annoyingly positive about everything, like oh, the world IS changing its habits, we're not all doomed to broil under the sun and boil to death in the hot sea? And then they offer as proof something like they now get 3 cents back when they use their own grocery bag?

Well, here's one for you, optimists: London fashion designer Vivienne Westwood wore a T-shirt reading "Climate Revolution" at London's fashion week.

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Russia has secret diamond reserves worth one quadrillion dollars

Our beauty is enhanced by zee fact zat zee world does not know of us. (Photo by Mario Sarto.)

So, we don't know if you know this, but diamonds are a reasonably important resource. Yes, they're widely used to trick women into spending the rest of their lives driving a minivan between Safeway, a middle school, and a soccer field while alternately saying "did you hear me?" and "do I have to spell everything out for you?" But they are also used for industrial things like -- oh, who knows. "Industrial things" is quite enough information. The point is that, after 30-odd years of secrecy, Russia has revealed that it has them and you don't.

Beneath a 35-million-year-old, 62-mile-diameter asteroid crater in Eastern Siberia, Russia has this massive shitload of diamonds. Like 3,000 years' worth. Like one QUADRILLION dollars' worth. Plus, they're supposedly really amazing diamonds because some meteor crashed into something and there was lots of pressure involved in creating them, which makes them extremely hard and thus well-suited to those industrial purposes that we are not getting into.

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Wasp named for Lady Gaga sparks nerdy outrage

You and me and whatever I'm parasiting on should start a bad romance.

Some researchers at the University of Thailand just named a recently discovered parasitoid wasp Aleiodes gaga, in honor of Lady Gaga. We don't know why they chose Gaga for this honor; presumably someone should ask, but maybe no one speaks Thai, because no one has. At any rate, other than having gossamer wings like Lady Gaga might wear in concert and goggly blue eyes like the weird glasses she might wear to the grocery store, the wasp doesn't have a lot in common with its namesake, except for the fact that some people are just pissed off about its existence.

You know how some people just hate Lady Gaga, and are so mad that she's famous and think she represents everything wrong with the world? Well, that's the deal with this wasp too.

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Study: Men recognize cars, women recognize birds

Yup, this is definitely a car. I will have to ask my wife if there are any birds around.

You ever see a couple together and the guy keeps pointing at the street and saying things like, "Buick, Jetta, Jeep Wrangler, Chrysler LeBaron," while the woman points at the sky and says things like, "wild Canadian goose, finch, snowy egret"? Well, there is now a scientific explanation for this common occurrence. Researchers at Vanderbuilt University have discovered that men are better at recognizing cars, and women are better at recognizing birds. In other words, when it comes to efforts to increase pedestrianism and preserve wildlife, we know who we should be recruiting.

The researchers were looking to uncover the role that expertise plays in object recognition, using a test that includes many different categories. The categories: leaves, owls, butterflies, wading birds, mushrooms, cars, planes, and motorcycles. The discovery that men are better at recognizing cars and women at recognizing birds was not something they were looking at specifically, which is good since it is hard to imagine who might find this discovery at all useful.

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This New Zealand river is officially a person

Now that's I'm a person, do you think I could maybe get a beer? (Photo by 25kim.)

Rivers are so cool. You can boat on them, swim in them, jump into them from rope swings while stoned and wearing jorts. But haven't you always wanted to grab a drink with a river? Introduce it to your girlfriend, see if it wants to come with you to see Merle Haggard? Well, New Zealand's Whanganui River is officially a person now, so go ahead.

To be fair, the river might still have a hard time drinking a beer. But it does get some legal benefits for being a person, such as official custodians -- New Zealand's government and the indigenous Whanganui iwi -- and status as "an integrated, living whole," i.e. don't treat it like a toilet for fertilizer. We assume it will also be able to influence American elections, since that's what happened last time a non-person got legal personhood status.

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Chicago plans to eliminate pedestrian deaths

Since when are people in Chicago blue and two-dimensional? (Photo courtesy of the city of Chicago.)

Everyone knows walking is good. It's good for your body,  it's good for your mind, and it's good for your soul. In fact, walking really only has two problems: One, you're a lazy ass, and two, cars. Cars can be a bit of an enemy to walkers. They can do annoying stuff like honk, their drivers can yell at you, and then of course there's the thing where they run into you and cause you to be broken or dead. The city of Chicago is aware of all of this, and it is taking action with pedestrian-friendly laws. The city plans to sharply reduce pedestrian injuries and eliminate fatalities within 10 years.

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Dumpster gardens make your block look prettier because trees, and uglier because dumpsters

I am the most beautiful dumpster garden in the whole kingdom of Dumbo! (Photo by Michael Bernstein.)

So, it should not come as a great shock to anyone that a person in Brooklyn wishes to combine the urban and the pastoral in a way that is Not Only Beautiful But Makes People Think (TM). Michael Bernstein (we linked him so maybe you can figure out what the fuck he does, because we have no idea) developed the idea for his rubbish-bin gardens when he found himself living in industrial Dumbo, and was surprised that it wasn't very green. Then maybe someone tapped him on the shoulder and said, "Hey, you live in a city, dumbass," and he was like, "Oh, maybe that's why."

Anyway , he got the idea of planting these sort of "miniforests" in dumpsters, and he'd like to see them all around the city, though he's not really sure who is going to move them, because they're really big.

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New eBay for recyclable oils makes it way easier to power your biodiesel car

Recyclable oils are abundant -- they naturally occur anywhere there are French fries, for example, or used motor oil, two things which, strangely enough, often exist side-by-side. The challenge is not that we are an economy with a dearth of disgusting grease; the problem is getting said disgusting grease from people who would otherwise throw it out to people who would like to put it into their old Mercedes diesels and drive around listening to the Decemberists.

Now, a Florida company is hoping to solve this problem (and make money in the process since that's how capitalism is supposed to work, theoretically at least) with a website that lets sellers list the location of their leftover oil on an online auction platform, to be bid on by a network of buyers. It's kind of like eBay but without cute shoes. This ad does a pretty good job explaining how it works:

Read more: Climate & Energy

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Northern Virginia seems to have a rabid beaver problem

Photo by Brett Abbott.

Rabid beavers are on the attack in Northern Virginia. A rabid beaver bit an 83-year-old woman swimming in Lake Barcroft on Sept. 3, and on Sept. 8, another rabid beaver lunged at a group of children on a nature trip at Hidden Pond Nature Center in Springfield. It was not the same beaver, as the one who bit the old woman was beaten with a piece of wood, trapped under a fishing net, and then euthanized. The beaver who attacked the kids did not actually succeed in biting anyone, and it was euthanized before he could realize the dream all rabid beavers share, which is sinking their disgusting teeth into a terrified and screaming human being.

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