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Grist List: Look what we found.


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San Diego set off all its fireworks at once, and HOLY CRAP IT LOOKED AMAZING

San Diego accidentally set off 20 minutes' worth of fireworks simultaneously last night, with results that were probably a) more powerful than strictly safe for an urban area, b) really irritating/disappointing for people who expected a full fireworks show, and c) HOLY BALLS AMAZING.

Read more: Cities

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Ultimate green car drops your carbon footprint to zero, by killing you

As usual, leave it to the Onion to tell us about the really innovative green breakthroughs, the ones so-called "real" news sites won't report on simply because they are fake and also morally reprehensible.

Read more: Green Cars

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List of presidents’ favorite foods is surprisingly fascinating

I would not expect a list of favorite White House breakfasts, lunches, and dinners to be all that interesting, but Sarah Marshall has posted one on The Awl and it's actually endlessly entertaining. Here's some of what we learned:

  • Some presidents favored exactly the food you'd expect (George W. Bush: "grilled cheese sandwiches made with Kraft singles and white bread").
  • Others were more surprising (Richard Nixon: wheat germ).
  • Presidents from the 1980s and 1990s were not big on vegetables.
  • Presidents seem to enjoy foods that sound like fetishes. Eisenhower liked "prune whip." Andrew Jackson ate "leather pants." James Buchanan wanted "calf's head dressed as terrapin," which is kinky.
Read more: Food

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Artist turns abandoned home into human-sized dollhouse

Photos by Heather Benning.

Abandoned buildings tend to make a community feel sketchy, whether it's an urban area or the town of Sinclair, Manitoba, Canada. So when artist Heather Benning found this dilapidated farmhouse in 2005, she set to work turning it into a 1 to 1 scale dollhouse.

Read more: Cities

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Radiohead, Jude Law, and Greenpeace make a sad, sad polar bear video

Here are so many things that we like, all in one place. Greenpeace. Jude Law. Polar bears. RADIOHEAD.

Together, these forces for good made a video about a sad, sad polar bear who can no longer live in the Arctic.

Here it is:

Okay, now we are going to cry. Or at least sit around for the rest of the day and contemplate the meaninglessness of existence.

Read more: Animals, Climate Change, Oil

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Tablet apps teach apes to write emails

Sometimes, when sitting with an iPad and raptly poking Uzu with your finger, you probably feel a little like an ape, admit it. That’s because a) you are basically just a smart ape and b) of course smart apes like touch screen tablets (heck, even lizards like them). And just like humans, the apes are using the technology to slowly peck out messages that express their thoughts and desires.

Here’s Teco, a 2-year-old bonobo:

Sitting with his Motorola Xoom tablet, he’s rapt, his dark eyes fixed on the images, fingers pecking away at the touch screen. He can’t speak, but with the aid of the tablet app I created for him, he’s building a vocabulary that will likely total several thousand words. What’s more, he’ll be able to string those words together into simple sentences and ask questions, tell jokes, and carry on conversations.

The bonobos communicate in short “sentences” made of lexigrams, a set of graphical symbols that the apes have been trained to understand and combine into phrases. Apps designed for the apes offer 600 or so lexigrams on a touch-screen keyboard, and allow researchers to easily design and implement new lexigrams as needed.

Read more: Animals

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Scientists create world’s healthiest airline meal

Oh, those scientists -- they’re always trying to ruin hackish comedians’ most reliable material. You plan a whole routine about how airline food is shitty, and they go and make it good. In the United Kingdom, a team of scientists have made an airline meal that meets all 222 possible E.U.-endorsed health claims. (Making prepackaged, super-nutritional meals -- so hot in Europe right now.) That means it's made of foods that boost digestive systems, promote heart health, support normal blood cholesterol, and generally make up healthwise for the fact that you’re hurtling through radiation rays at 30,000 feet.

What's in this mile-high supermeal? According to Take Part, healthy passengers should be eating:

A fresh and smoked salmon terrine, a mixed salad with extra virgin olive oil dressing, a high-fiber multigrain roll and a chicken lentil casserole. Dehydrated from your long flight? They’ve got you covered with water or a tasty-sounding cranberry, raspberry and elderflower drink. Sadly, there’s no chocolate cake for desert [sic]. No pie, either. Instead, you’ll be served a live yogurt blancmange (think custard).

Read more: Food

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It’s official: There is no such thing as mermaids

But I'm looking at one right now. (Photo by Mehgan Heaney-Grier.)

You might have thought the federal government wouldn't have to weigh in on an issue mainly popularized by Disney and 4-year-olds, but apparently you would be wrong. NOAA has made an update to its "Ocean Facts" site stating that mermaids do not exist, and "[n]o evidence of aquatic humanoids has ever been found." Well, that's a relief! Finally I can go swimming again without worrying that I'll stumble into an underwater calypso party.

Read more: Animals

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Stunning map shows 100 years of earthquake data

Click to embiggen.

This image is the work of data visualizer Josh Nelson, and it represents over 100 years of earthquake data, from 1898 to 2003 -- 203,186 quakes that rated 4 or higher on the Richter scale. 

Read more: Climate & Energy

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Mickey Mouse pushes fossil fuels in this 1985 comic book

Matt Novak of Paleofuture has been posting photos of a 1985 Disney comic touting the benefits of oil pipelines and coal. What's really striking is how much it genuinely sounds like Republican talking points. I guess Goofy is the American public, Mickey is the GOP, and whoever does Mickey's voice is the Koch brothers.

Read more: Fossil Fuels, Oil