We have great hopes for Desk Beers, a new London-based startup whose mission is to deliver good, local beer to offices on Fridays. "Why drink something that gets shipped round the world to get to you, when the best is right here?" Desk Beers asks. Good question! Here are some other points in favor of this idea:
"We only bring you proper beers."
"Everyone gets the same beer."
"We will aim to get it to you no later than 5 p.m. No one should have to wait that late for a beer."
Usually popping a squat in the subway station is discouraged, but now Moscow is awarding free subway rides to people who do just that. For every squat Russians do, they get 1/30th the value of a subway ride; do 30 and you ride free.
Andrew David Thaler has always loved the ocean. “I'm that obnoxious kid that wanted to be a marine biologist since I was 3,” he says. “I've wanted to work in the deep sea since before I can remember.”
Thaler now holds a PhD in marine science and conservation from Duke. He lives in the Bay Area working to preserve the species living in and around deep sea vents, particularly as these underwater fissure are explored for possible mineral drilling.
But when not saving deep sea invertebrates, Thaler turns into an evil genius who will help you put Tokyo under 80 meters of water.
The New York Times is reporting that Citi Bike, New York's new bikeshare program, has now been operating for five months without a fatality. On the one hand, this is a little suspicious; yeah, five is a salient number when you're working in base 10, but for months, it's traditional to count in groups of six or 12. It's as if the Times feels antsy about holding off for another whole month before sharing the news that nobody died -- who knows what could happen by then? On the other hand, though, yay, five months fatality-free! Apparently New York City is a little less terrible for cyclists than many of us thought.
Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, who the Texas Tribune describes as "the leading 2014 candidate for Texas governor," sounds like a jerk. There's a terrible, terrible drought going on in Texas. So, the city of Austin decided to limit the amount of water residents can use for quixotic projects like keeping vast, pointless lawns alive in a place where drought has parched the land. But Abbott -- like a handful of other rich people in Austin -- decided that he really, really likes having a green lawn. So he dug a well and used that water on his grass.
Now, this is not illegal, as the Tribune explains. It's just pretty jerky:
"While state legislators have set up nearly 100 entities elsewhere to regulate groundwater, Texas’ capital city goes by the century-old “rule of capture.” According to the rule, Abbott can pump the water under his land as much as he likes, even if a neighbor’s well were to go dry as a result -- as long as he is not intentionally wasteful or malicious."
We will leave it up to you (and, potentially, some judge in Texas) to decide if keeping your stupid lawn green during "the worst drought in recorded history" is "intentionally wasteful or malicious." But whether or not Abbott and his ilk are allowed to use water this way, there's the question of whether it's a smart way to take care of a resource that many, many people depend on. And the answer is: hell no.
Residents of the Gardens, a predominantly African American and Latino neighborhood in Mount Holly, N.J., brought the case against the township's governing officials. Those officials made plans in 2003 to demolish the entire Gardens neighborhood, saying it was too blighted to remain, so that they could build new, expensive housing in its place. They planned this “to save the people from that neighborhood,” as one unnamed former township official told Adam Serwer in his in-depth report on the case for MSNBC. (For a fuller profile of the neighborhood and the dispute, I highly recommend reading his story.)
But while this protracted legal battle started out as a group of residents fighting to save their homes, it has become a referendum on a pivotal legal standard under civil rights law. That legal standard, called “disparate impact,” allows a minority group to sue if it can prove that the effects of plans or policies will result in racial discrimination -- without having to prove that planners or policymakers intentionally set out to discriminate.
China is a country of contradictions borne of its current industrial boom. Walk around Beijing or Shanghai and you see traditional, tightly packed low-rise tenements across the street from gleaming high-rises and massive construction pits. Narrow alleyways feed into wide roadways lined with trees and bike lanes, yet they are often difficult to traverse on foot, thanks to parked cars blocking the sidewalks. China’s cities are crowded, congested, dirty, and the main roads are dangerous to cross, as cars and motorcycles turn without stopping for pedestrians.
Amidst this chaos, one island of cleanliness and order is the trains. Both Beijing and Shanghai have cheap, fast, brand-new subway systems. In contrast to the streets, signage is consistently and clearly provided in the Roman alphabet and often even in English. Walls block anyone from falling off the platform onto the tracks. The subway cars even have televisions playing commercials. And to get from Beijing to Shanghai, you can take a remarkably fast, smooth, high-speed train, which travels at 180 miles per hour.
This might lead you to believe that China is adopting an ecologically friendly, mass transit–oriented approach to urban development. The truth is more complicated. Ride into or out of China’s major cities and you will see mile upon mile of desolate sprawl. It’s especially illogical because it is not as if the reward is a private house with a yard. The development pattern is Le Corbusier’s “towers in a park” model on steroids. All you see is tall, identical residential towers on giant superblocks, far from the nearby city. Typically these housing developments are isolated from services such as shopping, hospitals, and schools. And they're far past the perimeter of the subway system, connected to the main cities only by highway.
Air-quality officials in the oil-refinery-dotted and highway-laced San Francisco Bay Area committed Wednesday to substantially reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the famously progressive region.
Bay Area Air Quality Management District leaders directed agency staff [PDF] to begin the work needed to reduce emissions to 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050. The unanimous vote by the air district's directors was celebrated by environmentalists, including 350.org and the Sierra Club, which described it as "historic."
"This is a little more significant than most climate action plans, in that the air district has real regulatory teeth," 350.org Bay Area spokesperson Rand Wrobel told Grist. "This resolution will mean that the five refineries in the Bay Area could basically not function, as they produce some 40 percent of the stationary source industrial and commercial emissions."
It was a textbook example of a corporation looking to buy an election result. After spending $1 million in a failed attempt to stifle local energy freedom in 2011, Xcel Energy poured over $500,000 of ratepayer money into a ballot measure to hamstring Boulder, Colo.'s exploration of a locally owned alternative to the largely fossil-fueled monopoly utility.
On Tuesday, people power buried Xcel. By a margin of 2-to-1, Boulder voters resoundingly rejected Question 310. As Stephen Fenberg of New Era Colorado said late that night, “Go home, Xcel. Your money is no good here.”
At stake was one community’s multi-year effort to power itself in a fashion that is more friendly to the local economy, to the climate, and to local oversight. It had previously culminated in a tough ballot fight in November 2011, when Xcel used ratepayer money to outspend locals 10-to-1 and still lost, as Boulder citizens narrowly granted the city permission to explore a clean-power-focused, city-owned utility.
Since then, the city and its citizen allies have turned traditional thinking on its head, envisioning a city-owned electric utility that maximizes local benefit rather than shareholder returns, that generates power in town rather than importing it, and that maximizes renewable energy instead of clinging to fossil fuels. They have rigorously studied other city-run utilities (29 others in Colorado alone) to learn best practices for running a local electric system. They have shown that switching to a locally owned utility could nearly triple renewable energy, halve greenhouse gas emissions, and compete on price with their current two-faced corporate overlords.
The Chinese government is trying to keep tabs on its citizens with at least 20 million cameras, installed across the country to watch people's every move. Only problem with that plan: The smog in many Chinese cities is so thick that it's keeping government agents from actually seeing what's going on in front of the cameras' eyes. Quartz reports:
[T]he haze is not simply “fog,” says Yang Aiping, a digital imaging expert … “Our preliminary research shows that the smog particles are quite different from the small water droplets of fog in terms of optical properties.” For example, infrared imaging, which can usually help cameras penetrate fog or even smoke, can’t see through the thicket of particulate matter in Chinese air.
You'd think the government would take this an indication that maybe it should work on cleaning up air pollution.