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Grist List: Look what we found.


Hamster held overnight after drunk driving arrest

Dan Derrett

Getting a DUI after going out on a Monday night is pretty serious business already, and to do so with a hamster on your lap -- well, say what you want about Oregon resident Nicole Huey, 27, but she's clearly committed to the DUI lifestyle.

Officers pulled Huey over at around 12:30 a.m. Tuesday, and immediately saw the hamster. It then took three of them to get it out of the car. Mike Rowe, a spokesperson for the Beaverton, Ore., police department, wrote on the department's Facebook page that "It appeared that the hamster wanted to stay in the vehicle." With all due respect, Mr. Rowe, a) it weighs like three ounces and b) do you really think that hamsters "want" things? We're going to just assume you were trying to be funny. Like this video.

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Sting refuses to play at tree-killing concert venue

Rita Molnár
This is a song about how I bloody love trees.

I used to go to the same yoga place as Sting. And I have to say he was a very nice guy, always with a genial hello, as if he was just a dude, and not in fact a really talented musician who used to be in the greatest band ever until he went solo and started opening himself up to occasionally deserved derision. At any rate, Sting did seem nice! So it was most gratifying to discover that he just refused to play Pasay's SM Mall of Asia arena in the Philippines, upon discovering that plans for an expansion of the (already rather disgustingly enormous) property called for the destruction of 182 trees.

A group called Save 182 has been fighting this expansion, and apparently Sting got some letters from them, and was like, "Yeah, those people cutting down the trees are bad -- let's say I don't help make them any more money and cancel my concert here!"

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The air in Italian cities has a lot of drugs in it

That's 100 percent crack smoke, my friends.

So if you're in Italy any time soon and you find yourself feeling a little high, it's not just the wine and the proximity to great art. It's because there are drugs in the air. Yes, like the kind of exciting drugs people do to get loaded -- cocaine, marijuana -- and also slightly more everyday stuff like caffeine and nicotine.

The levels of these substances found in the air are not actually going to get you wasted. They are trace amounts.

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Your pants can now suck pollution right out of the air


We all know people whose jeans could be qualified as air pollutants. They usually sit next to you on the bus. But a laundry additive called Catclo, developed by chemist Tony Ryan and designer Helen Storey, could let you counteract that dude's ripe Levi's by turning your jeans into air-purifying superclothes.

Clothing that's been treated with Catclo neutralizes nitrogen oxide, an air pollutant that causes asthma and other ill effects. Catclo coats clothing fibers with titanium nanoparticles, which get excited and react with oxygen in the air when exposed to light. Oxygen molecules are made of two oxygen atoms, but the reaction with Catclo splits those atoms apart, leaving oxygen atoms free to link up with water molecules and produce peroxide. That does the same thing to air pollution that it does to your hair -- it bleaches it. And that, say Catclo's creators, neutralizes pollution's potential harm.


New York is rehabilitating criminals using bees

Sebastian Criado

People who work rehabilitating and training criminals have all kinds of great ideas about how to make people into productive members of society post-incarceration -- everything from college to license plate repair to chain gangs. And now, there's a new one: bees and beekeeping. Through an organization called the Osbourne Association, a nonprofit working on vocational and educational alternatives to longer prison times, a group of New York City prisoners got a lesson in beekeeping last week.

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Is this beluga really trying to talk like people?

Stan Shebs
This beluga is about to give you a piece of its mind.

I've spent my whole life assuming that the biggest threat to human dominion over animals would come from monkeys who can move robotic arms with their minds -- but it appears that the far more dangerous Beluga Rebellion may already be underway. They can already talk like us. Soon they will move onto land, depose us, and rule the Earth in our stead.

Or, perhaps more accurately, they can make a weird noise that may be an attempt to talk like us, and in the last 30 or so years, it doesn't seem to have gotten them anywhere.

Here's the story. In 1984, staff at San Diego's National Marine Mammal Foundation started hearing weird ghost conversations just slightly too quiet to understand. This is probably a relatively common occurrence when your head is frequently under the water, but it happened often enough to be odd. The strangest incident occurred when a diver who was training near the whale enclosure heard someone tell him to get out of the water -- but nobody had issued such a command. At least, no person had.

As it turned out, a beluga named NOC, who had lived at NMMF since 1977, had started making sounds that were more like human speech than like whale noises -- although, to be honest, more like a demented kazoo than human speech. He didn't make the sounds to other whales, only to his human handlers. 

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These chairs are eco-friendly but they look like crystallized barf


These chairs, from two London designers, are a great object lesson in why conscientiousness alone is not enough to change people’s habits. They’re made from wood shavings and bioresin, so they’re eco-friendly. But they’re also butt-ugly, so why would you choose them over a chair that doesn’t look like crystallized barf?

The designers are making use of raw materials that could otherwise go to waste, so that's positive. Inhabitat calls the material "foam-like,” which sounds comfortable. But come on. Especially in that greeny-brown color, is this really an appealing design element?

Read more: Living


Despite student protests, college plans to serve beloved oxen as dinner

Vermont Public Radio

Lou and Bill lived a good life at Green Mountain College, one of the more green-minded campuses in America. As a team, the two oxen worked at the college's sustainable Cerridwen Farm for 10 years. At age 11, Lou and Bill aren't particularly old for oxen, which can live about two decades, but after Lou stepped in a gopher hole earlier this year and injured his leg, the college retired the team.

Now, as part of its "circle-of-life" philosophy of sustainability, Green Mountain College is thinking of turning Lou and Bill into "more than a month's worth of hamburger" meat.

The idea is not going over well, not just on campus but in the community beyond. More than 30,000 people signed a petition on Facebook to save Lou and Bill, Vermont Public Radio reports, and an animal sanctuary has offered to adopt them.

But the college so far is still planning on serving the oxen for dinner.

Read more: Food


Giant wind turbine on wheels can be set up anywhere you want

Uprise Energy

Uprise Energy, a company based in San Diego, is working on making a portable wind turbine that could provide clean energy wherever it was needed -- basically anywhere that might be using portable generators right now.

The Portable Power Center, Treehugger says, "can fit inside a standard shipping container and be pulled to the remote job site with no specialized equipment." It's sort of like a Transformer wind turbine: It can fold up to fit into a shipping container, and when it comes out, it looks like a box with wheels.


This teen built his own tiny home so he could move out of his parents’ house

Last August, we introduced you to Austin Hay, who was building his very own 130-square-foot home in his parents' backyard. Hay, who is now 17 and a senior in high school, planned to live in his tiny house after college to avoid getting a mortgage.

Now, Hay is done with his house, and it looks beautiful and well-made and very, very tiny. He's been living in the house instead of in his childhood bedroom, and he has it registered as a trailer, so he can drive it to college if he has somewhere to park it. This video combines two tours -- an early one before the project was done, and a recent open house showing the finished home and its features.

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