Grist List

Cities

Clear Channel chops down tree to improve view of billboard

Looking at a tree relaxes people. Looking at a billboard makes them wish they were looking at anything else — but it makes money for somebody! So it totally makes sense that Cleveland let Clear Channel chop down a 30-year-old linden tree in order to provide clear sight lines to a billboard advertising some local radio station. If by “totally makes sense” you mean “HULK SMASH.” Here’s the city’s defense, for what it’s worth (not much): There are instances in which trees are trimmed due to the lack of visibility of a sign; however, in this particular situation tree trimming …

Biking

Laser-show bike helmet looks awesome, might actually make you safer

If your first thought when looking at this LED-encrusted bike helmet is “I bet that would make an awesome personal light show for when I shred on my guitar in my bedroom,” you’re not alone. The actual goal of the LumaHelm, though, is to make bikers safer through improved signaling. The entire helmet is armored with LEDs that respond to various inputs, including from a built-in accelerometer — which means that your head can turn into a brake light or turn signal with just a waggle of the head. 

Cities

Cities sell ad space on potholes, hydrants, and fire trucks

Well, this is dystopian: Faced with a cash shortage, some cities are opening up ad space on public services like fire hydrants, manhole covers, subway turnstiles, and fire trucks. On the one hand, that revenue means that the cities can continue providing services to advertise on. On the other hand, tell me this photo of the KFC Colonel inaugurating a Fiery Wings hydrant doesn’t send a chill up your spine.

Cities

Bogota’s miniature public libraries will make you want to move to Colombia

Reading fans in Colombia, especially the capital city of Bogota, never need to worry about being without a book on a beautiful day. There are nearly 50 of these perfect little library kiosks scattered around the city’s parks, and 100 across the country. 

Cities

Bookshelf that hides extra furniture is small-apartment genius

Orla Reynolds' furniture emerges "as if from nowhere" -- her bookshelves hide a table and four extra chairs.

Living

Wool balls keep your laundry soft, and maaaaybe save energy

When I was taught to do laundry, I was told that a Bounce dryer sheet went into the dryer with every load of wet clothes. But the green-minded among us have come up with a better solution to keeping your clothes static-free and soft (without involving PVC in the process): wool dryer balls. Get a few of these thingies, and you will not need to buy dryer sheets for years. You can even make your own, with minimum craftiness required. The companies that make balls like these claim that they save energy, too, which would be great if it were …

Cities

New perfume lets you smell like New York City, because THAT sounds great

I don’t know about you folks, but when I think of the “essence and spirit” of New York City “in an olfactory memento” … well, if it’s summer, I mostly think of quickly rotting trash. If we’re talking Queens, I’ll give you the smell of Indian spices in Jackson Heights. Brooklyn smells like the sea in some places, though that may just be the roving gangs of artisanal picklers. But never, never would I think of the scene that Gerald Ghislain and Magali Senequier chose for their Scent of Departure fragrance line: A lovely sunny day in the Big Apple …

Animals

Lonesome George, the last Pinta tortoise, dies at age 100

George was the world’s rarest tortoise and a symbol of the Galapagos.

Animals

These weed-eating goats make more money than you

Staten Island’s Freshkills Park, a former landfill that’s being transformed into a public parkland and “laboratory for green practices,” is engaging in job creation — for goats. Twenty Anglo-Nubian goats are nibbling away at invasive weeds called phragmites, as one step of the wetlands restoration process that will turn Freshkills less killy and more fresh. And what are the goats getting for the privilege of eating tasty weeds, which they would probably do anyway? Oh, only $3,437.50 a week, which would work out to $178,750 a year.

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