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This amazing-looking electric Porsche was made in 1898

Back in the beginning of car history, carmakers experimented with all sorts of fuel sources, including electricity. And one the very first cars that Ferdinand Porsche -- yes, that Porsche! -- ever created was an electric car modeled on a carriage:

porsche2
Via Engadget

He made this thing in 1898! And it had a 50 mile range! Which, even today is not bad at all.

Porsche held on to this thing -- wouldn't you?

Read more: Living

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Thousands of Californians are about to run out of water

no water
Shutterstock

All Californians are being asked to cut back on their water use to help the state survive its drought emergency. But for members of 17 communities across the state, such reductions might not be voluntary -- they're in danger of running completely dry in the next few months.

Officials in these communities are considering the very real possibility that they'll need to truck in water or even install portable desalination equipment.

The 17 vulnerable water systems serve as many as 11,000 residents apiece, though the tiniest serves just 39 people. Here's the San Jose Mercury News with more:

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Don’t do what this cyclist did to get her stolen ride back

stolen-bike-lock-flickr
Pedro fp

Forbes writer Kashmir Hill is a bad bike owner.

She freely admits this in “I Did Everything Wrong But Still Got My Stolen Bike Back,” a good lesson in what not to do as a cyclist. Hill was lucky, but the rest of us can use this as a checklist for what not to do.

First, she left a borrowed Trek hybrid locked up with a wimpy cable lock (instead of a U-lock) in a neighborhood where 40 percent of San Francisco bikes are stolen. “Locking my Trek there was like leaving a maiden sacrifice tied up for the dragon,” she quips. After popping inside for an interview, she came back and (surprise!) the Trek was gone.

The bike didn’t have a GPS tracker, but Hill scoured Craigslist and found her borrowed bike for sale the next day, 80 miles away in Santa Cruz. But instead of calling the cops or just stealing it back, Hill texted the seller that she thought it was her stolen wheels. Things continue to get worse:

Read more: Living

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Here’s the hippest neighborhood in your city

hipster-girl-flickr
Marco Gomes

When not publishing oddly tantalizing bile (recent headline: ​“Anna Kendrick: Katy Perry Aggressively ‘Finger-Banged My Cleavage’”), Gawker actually does some good reporting! Case in point: a recent crowdsourced list of the hippest neighborhoods in cities around the world.

Spanning 37 states and 14 countries, the list breaks down your city’s Williamsburg (hippest area) and Bushwick (up-and-coming area), so you know where to move to from Williamsburg to beat the hipsters. What are we saying? There’s no way to beat the hipsters. They’re already there, discussing the NEXT next Williamsburg.

Here are a few highlights:

Read more: Cities, Living

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Ask Umbra: How can I be sure my recycling gets … recycled?

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Shutterstock

Send your question to Umbra!

Q. How do I know whether the items I place in my recycling bin are actually recycled (short of attaching a spy camera to a glass bottle or following the collection truck like an investigative journalist)? I try to reduce my consumption so that this question burns less intensely, but I have yet to reach a packaging-free state of being. When it takes so much water to clean the plastic and glass, I wonder if the effort and water are worth it.

Lori H.
Urbana, Ill.

A. Dearest Lori,

Spy camera? Glass bottle? Before I say anything else, I must say this: Please make this movie. I heart innovative documentaries about our municipal waste systems.

But as cool as this project would be, it’s unnecessary for your peace of mind. I can understand how modern single-stream (or commingled) recycling programs -- in which all items go into the bin together -- might seem dubious. I just toss all the paper and glass and plastic together, and it somehow all ends up separated and recycled? Really? Yes, really, for one major reason: Recyclables have value. And where there’s a dollar to be made, we can be confident people will do their best to make it.

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Snow’s melting in Alaska and pelting the South. What’s going on?

snow day georgia tech
Ross Lindsay

Earlier this month, squeals of delight (and/or searing pain) gripped much of the country as we were collectively introduced to the wonders of the polar vortex. But now the novelty’s over, and for the second time this month, an extreme weather pattern is sending Arctic weather toward the Deep South.

An uncommonly sharp kink in the jet stream is partly responsible for plunging more than half of the United States into the freeze. Meanwhile, (and for the same reason), Alaska is toasty warm. But we’ll get to that in a minute.

Read more: Climate & Energy

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Hawaii lawmakers move to block local bans on GMOs, pesticides

Pineapple farms on Hawaii
Shutterstock

Late last year, the Kauai and Hawaii County councils passed laws restricting the use of pesticides and experimental GMOs on their slices of Hawaiian paradise. But those laws could soon be sunk by state lawmakers.

Hawaii County's rules ban biotech giants from the island and prohibit the new planting of GMO crops (farmers who already grow GMO crops may continue doing so). Kauai's rules require disclosures from anyone growing GMOs or spraying agricultural pesticides and the creation of pesticide-free buffer zones near schools, parks, hospitals, and homes.

Enter House Bill 2506. Hawaii has long been a haven for scientists conducting trials for Monsanto, Syngenta, and other agricultural giants -- and the bill aims to keep it that way. If passed and signed, it would block local governments from enacting their own agricultural rules.

"No law, ordinance, or resolution of any unit of local government shall be enacted that abridges the right of farmers and ranchers to employ agricultural technology, modern livestock production, and ranching practices not prohibited by federal or state law, rules, or regulations," the bill states.

If you were to glance at the legislation, you could be forgiven for thinking it was designed to help Farmer Bob continue tilling his land despite opposition from NIMBY new neighbors. From the bill:

The legislature finds that during the last several decades, population growth and migration to Hawaii has resulted in urban encroachment into rural areas traditionally reserved for agricultural activity. This intrusion brings inevitable conflict when new neighbors face dust, pesticide use, noise, and other activity typical of farming operations.

The purpose of this Act is to protect the farmer's freedom to farm and promote lawful and proven agricultural activities by bona fide farmers that are consistent with long-standing state and federal laws, rules, and regulations.

Read more: Food, Politics

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U.S. transportation policy throws minorities under the bus. Will Obama fix it?

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Pete Souza / White House

It was somewhat reassuring to hear President Obama urge Congress to pass a new transportation bill in his State of the Union address last night. Transportation, after all, is the vital link to opportunity, especially for people of color and low-income. Sadly, it only got short mention.

Noting that “first-class jobs gravitate to first-class infrastructure,” Obama said, “We’ll need Congress to protect more than 3 million jobs by finishing transportation and waterways bills this summer.” He offered no specific priorities, though, which would have been nice, given that historically a disproportionate amount of federal funds have been dropped on highways compared to public transit. That means more money for people with wheels, and less for those who need a bus pass.

"It's encouraging that the president understands the role that transportation has in creating shared prosperity,” Wade Henderson, president of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights told me in response to the president’s speech. “But Congress needs to step up to ensure that federal transportation policy doesn’t leave most Americans behind.”

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This vegetable vending machine is our kind of fast food

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Farmers Fridge

Sure, we all want to eat reasonably priced bowls of vegetables, whole grains, beans, and whatnot, but what if you’re just trying to grab a quick snack at a rest stop or a train station or in between classes? More likely you end up with stale peanut butter crackers from the vending machine. But, Modern Farmer reports, a fellow named Luke Saunders is working to close the gap between health and convenience: He's making the vending machine work for fresh food.

Saunders' "veggie machine" is called the Farmer's Fridge, and the concept is simple, Modern Farmer says:

[Saunders] figured the only two things preventing distributing healthy food was a high upfront cost and convenience.

A vending machine neatly solves both problems, he explains. It’s cheap to maintain -- electricity costs about $10 a month -- quick and easy to use. ...

[T]he machine dispenses the salad or snack in a clear plastic jar which can be brought back to the kiosk for the reuse. Saunders eventually hopes to offer recycling incentives to frequent customers.

Read more: Food, Living

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White roofs are better than green roofs, and everything’s better than black

white roof
Walmart

We're all on board with the idea that black roofs are so out. But scientists are still establishing what the best alternative is. The most popular alternatives to black are white and green, i.e. painting the roof white to reflect heat or growing plants on it. You’d think a green roof would be best -- imagine growing vegetables in your very own sky garden! -- but in reality they’re not so great. Gardening’s hard enough when you don’t have to climb out on top of the house to do it, and a new study shows that white roofs are better for the environment anyway.

Popular Science describes new research from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory:

White roofs reflect sunlight and heat so well, they help counter global warming, the team found. Green roofs don't reflect as well. However, both kinds of roofs keep their own buildings cool on hot days.

Read more: Climate & Energy, Living