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Samuel L. Jackson thinks going vegan will make him live forever


If there's anyone who should know about superhero shit like nigh-invulnerability, it's Nick Fury. So please take note: Samuel L. Jackson's stated goal in adopting a vegan diet is "trying to live forever."

OK, we're going to go out on a limb and say that Jackson doesn't actually think going vegan will make him immortal. Dude is real smart, in case you didn't know; you have to be smart to deliver a line like "I have had it with these monkeyfighting snakes on this Monday to Friday plane" with conviction.

In fact, he was probably mostly poking fun at the fact that he has apparently sold the rest of his life to Marvel:

When asked by a reporter what his secret is, the 65-year-old actor replied, “It’s a new vegan diet.”

“Is it for a particular role?” the reporter inquired.

“No. Just trying to live forever. Trying to finish out my Marvel deal.”

Read more: Food


The Double O bike light is less dirty than it sounds, but still cool

Double O

We’re all about coming and going by bicycle (see: vibrating bike seat), so imagine our disappointment that the Double O bike light will not get you even one O. (Even moreso considering that its creator is our favorite sexily named British designer, Paul Cocksedge.)

The Double O DOES, however, snap easily onto your bike with a magnetic holder -- useful if not as fun as multiple orgasms -- as well as sliding handily onto your U-lock for safe storage. You can plug it into your computer’s USB port to recharge, and its marquee-inspired design, available in red or white, is sure to appease the hipsters.


Exploding trains

Why we can’t seem to stop oil-filled rail cars from going boom

Don't like pipelines? Get ready for rail.

People -- including me -- have written a good amount already about how trains have been exploding lately. In 2008, 9,500 carloads of crude oil were shipped by train in the U.S.; in 2012, that number was 234,000 carloads. The oil is packed into freight cars that date back to the 1960s and that normally carry payloads like corn syrup, then shipped along aging freight infrastructure. When the trains fail, they fail hard, and because freight lines were built to run through cities, rather than around them, they fail around people. Lac-Mégantic, Quebec, the Alabama wetlands, and eastern North Dakota are just …


Grocery cartel

Mexican gangs learn that lime pays (also crime)


“I could just kill for a margarita right now,” you sigh, apparently ignorant of the fact that it is March, and the consumption of an iced beverage is nothing short of an act of insanity. It’s also probably the middle of the workday, so that in itself should be cause for concern in most circles.

You’re also probably unaware that someone may have actually killed -- as in, committed murder -- for the limes that go in your hypothetical margarita. Cartels are invading the Mexican citrus trade, hijacking trucks, and forcibly taking over farms to sell the now-valuable fruit. Another day, another ring of organized criminals making the transition from eight balls to tasty treats!


Happy hour

Join Grist and SXSW ECO for a Big Idea fest (and free drinks!) in Seattle


Hey, Seattle! Grist is teaming up with SXSW ECO to launch its 2014 conference season. The Emerald City is ripe with ideas and solutions for a sustainable future, so we want to give you the opportunity to help shape SXSW ECO’s upcoming programming.

Come hang out with Grist and ECO staff on April 2 at the beautiful Bullitt Center — the greenest commercial building in the world. Brainstorm for the upcoming gathering, mingle with friends, and get a chance to win a badge to the Oct. 6-8 conference.

And did we mention the drinks?

To attend, you’ll need to reserve a spot here. (Space is limited, so we recommend signing up quick.)

Here are the basics:

When: Wednesday, April 2, 2014, 6-8 p.m.
Where: The Bullitt Center
1501 East Madison Street
Seattle, Wash.

Hope to see you there!

Read more: Uncategorized


NYC wants to turn an old train track into a park with ziplines and ping pong


Queens residents are lobbying for 3.5 miles of a former train line to get new life as a tricked-out public park, complete with ziplines, ping-pong tables, and "a giant slide that would wrap around an old railway tower." (The former LIRR Rockaway Beach Branch hasn’t been used since 1962; it’s a mess of litter right now.) Calling themselves Friends of the QueensWay, the group led a community workshop this week to share their vision.

A sunken pedestrian path would be flanked with trees, and one entrance would have space for a dog park or community events. Designers also proposed a shopping area, canopy walk, and a kids’ adventure playground. More mundane perks like bike paths would be present too. Friends of the QueensWay says the park would boost local business, improve the quality of life, and connect different cultures. (Presumably, it would connect them with a zipline.)

Not everybody is so jazzed:

Read more: Cities, Living


Congress successfully took the wind out of wind energy’s sails last year

wind energy

America's fossil fuel-smitten Congress helped China blow the U.S. out of the water last year when it came to installing new wind energy farms.

A little more than 16 gigawatts of new wind capacity came online in China in 2013 -- nearly half of the 36 gigawatts installed around the world. Compare that with a little more than 1 gigawatt that was installed in the U.S. -- down alarmingly from 13 gigawatts the year before.

That means American wind installations plummeted in a single year despite the falling price of wind energy, which is becoming lower than the price of electricity produced by burning natural gas in some parts of the country.

Dude, where's our wind? Well, the latest figures were calculated by Navigant Research, and it blamed a "politically divided Congress" in a new paywalled report for the faltering wind growth in the U.S.

Congress allowed wind energy tax credits to blow away at the end of 2013 -- so why would 2013's installation figures be so bleak? According to the report, it was all about uncertainty. Lawmakers "failed to extend tax incentives in time to positively impact the 2013 development and construction cycle."


Ohio lawmakers: All right, folks, we guess it’s OK for you to buy Teslas

Tesla sales center

If you live in Ohio, your lawmakers are poised to allow you to purchase a Tesla from a sales center -- without forcing you to drive outside the borders of the Buckeye State to do your eco-friendly spending.

But legislative efforts to placate the Ohio Automobile Dealers Association will nonetheless cap the number of sales offices Tesla is allowed to operate inside the state at three -- and other auto manufacturers will be barred outright from hawking their wheel-spinning wares direct to buyers. Here's the news, courtesy of NJTV:


These beauty pageant contestants are chickens

Squawk like an Egyptian.
Ernest Goh
Squawk like an Egyptian.

If you think Toddlers and Tiaras is weird, replace Honey Boo-Boo with a chicken and things get even stranger.

Photographer Ernest Goh was in Malaysia for a project when he heard about Ayam Seramas, ornamental chickens bred solely for aesthetics. In Malaysia, the birds are shown off at chicken beauty pageants roughly once a week, Goh says. (Sounds like a blend of cockfight and cat show.) His strange, vibrant photos from the pageants became a book -- called Cocks, of course.

Ernest Goh
Read more: Living


Half of voters have no idea who the Koch brothers are — so here’s a quick and dirty primer

A recent George Washington University battleground poll of 1,000 registered “likely” voters found just over half (52 percent) had never heard of sleazy oil tycoons Charles and David Koch (pronounced “Coke,” guys!). The good news is 1-in-4 voters knew enough to have an “unfavorable” view of the billionaire bros.

And Democrats in particular are wise to the Kochs’ dirty energy-loving 1 percentism, according to Politico:

Among self-identified liberal Democrats, only 43 percent had never heard of the Kochs -- 9 points lower than the general public. And 45 percent had a negative opinion of the two brothers -- 20 points higher than the general public.

Forty-three percent still sounds pretty high at Grist HQ, where we have a framed photo of the Kochs on our Wall of Shame next to Cruella de Vil and The Grinch Who Stole Christmas. So here’s a quick rundown of their vital stats (check out this cool infographic too).

The basics: Charles, 78, lives near Koch HQ in Wichita, Kan.; David, 74, lives in New York. They run America’s second-biggest private company, Koch Industries. They’re worth $40.3 billion. EACH.*

Famous for: Inheriting their dad’s company, which owns oil, gas, and other businesses. Throwing money at the Tea Party. Being evil (see below).

Brands they own (so maybe avoid them): Dixie cups, Brawny and Sparkle paper towels, Quilted Northern and Angel Soft toilet paper (all part of Georgia-Pacific); Lycra fiber, Stainmaster carpet.

Read more: Climate & Energy, Living