Grist List

Cities

City officials are waging a war on gardens

We've heard one too many stories in which people decide to use their yards to grow some fresh vegetables, only to have city officials come down hard on them, forcing them to tear out their food or bulldozing the gardens themselves.

Sustainable Farming

Farmer spends $100,000 on waterbeds for cows

Even on a small, family-owned dairy farm, life as a milk cow looks not so great. I mean, you do spend a lot of time standing around in a stall with devices attached to your nipples. That’s cool if it’s your thing, and if there are enough of you who feel that way, I should maybe try to market my manuscript 50 Shades of Hay. But most of us look at that scenario and think “jeez, you could at least get them some fancy furniture, maybe a massage now and then.” Which may be why the Van Loon Dairy just …

Green Cars

How to make a tiny car: Just cut a regular car in half

Look, it still totally works!

Living

Map shows where the biggest couch potatoes live (and it’s NOT the U.S.!)

A group of researchers looked at health surveys covering 89 percent of the world’s population and came to a surprising conclusion — Americans are not the least active people on the planet. Six in 10 of us get “30 minutes of moderate exercise five days a week,” “20 minutes of vigorous exercise three days a week,” or a combination of the two, the Economist reports. The most physically inactive people are the Maltese, 72 percent of whom do not get enough exercise. The second and third least-exercising countries are Swaziland and Saudi Arabia.

Animals

Tiny squid may be killing themselves by having too much sex

Marathon three-hour sex sessions may SOUND like a good idea, but if you’re a 2.8-inch long southern dumpling squid, it may tire you out so much that you can’t feed or protect yourself, says a new study.

Cities

19th-century London had a train line just for dead people

Back in mid-19th century England, public transportation was popular enough that even dead people had their own railway. P. D. Smith writes: The London Necropolis Railway station was constructed by the London Necropolis & National Mausoleum Company, specifically to serve their Brookwood Cemetery, 25 miles away in Woking, Surrey. The Company’s logo was, somewhat ghoulishly, a skull and crossbones. The railway transported the deceased, in their coffins, to the cemetery, as well as some living people — the mourners headed to the cemetery for the funeral. In the late 19th century, the train ran every day, a “daily funeral express.” …

Business & Technology

Travel to the South Pole via Google Street View

There may not strictly be streets in Antarctica, but that hasn’t stopped Google from trekking its Street View cameras through some of the continent’s most impressive landmarks. Now you can visit penguin rookeries, the South Pole Telescope, and the actual (ceremonial) South Pole without leaving your desk.

Climate Change

The highest low temperature ever recorded: 107 degrees

Not that I was under any illusions that Death Valley, Calif., is a temperate place to live, but this is nuts: The overnight LOW on July 11-12 was 107 degrees F. That ties for highest-recorded daily minimum. (The previous 107-degree night was last year, in Oman.)

Climate & Energy

Watch the formation of an iceberg twice the size of Manhattan

These images from NASA’s Earth Observatory show Greenland’s Petermann Glacier calving an iceberg — watch the lower right quadrant of the image to see the split go from a hairline crack to a visible break. The resulting iceberg is twice as big as Manhattan.

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