Grist List

Solar Power

A solar-powered cell phone charging station inspired by Occupy Wall Street

Tommy Mitchell wasn’t an Occupier, but when he visited Occupy Wall Street, he found out that OWSers were charging their cell phones at a hot dog vendor’s gas-guzzling generator, The New York Times reports. “I was like, ‘Well that’s awful,’” he said. That’s when he began thinking about inventing a device that could harness renewable electricity in a public space without outlets. “It’s so practical that you can see it,” he said. So Mitchell whipped up a solar cellphone charger, then brought it back to Occupy, where everyone loved it and declared him a hero of the people.

Living

Today in astronomical weirdness: This is your last chance to see the transit of Venus

Manhattanhenge is cool, but it happens twice a year. Ditto Supermoons. Solar eclipses are less common, but nothing like today’s astronomical weirdness. This afternoon and evening, Venus will pass in front of the sun, for the last time in your lifetime unless you are a robot or a Time Lord. Here’s why you should try to watch it, and how.

Food

Disney bans junk food ads from kids’ programming

Disney will no longer broadcast or post advertisements that promote unhealthy food. The company is also branching out into food policing, with the "Mickey Check" -- a Disney seal of approval on a packaged food's nutritional value.

Critical List: Northeast cap-and-trade program dropped emissions; World Environment Day

It’s World Environment Day — bring out your green-minded celebrities! In the Northeast, power plants’ carbon emissions fell an average 23 percent during the three years of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative’s cap-and-trade program (compared to the previous three years). By 2050, Latin American and Caribbean countries could be racking up $100 billion in damages from climate change each year.

Pollution

Here’s what Pittsburgh looked like before smoke control

Vintage photos of Pittsburgh, from before it passed a smoke-control ordinance in 1941, are so hazy that some of them look like they've been hit with some kind of artsy-grunge Instagram filter.

Transportation

Flash mob proves conclusively that cars are the most annoying ever

Flash mob factory Improv Everywhere stages weird, transcendent little moments of cooperation, synchronicity, and pantslessness (they’re the ones behind the No-Pants Subway Ride). But their latest effort, the Car Alarm Symphony, doesn’t do much besides prove that parking lots, already a blight on the landscape, could always be worse.

Transportation

The best subway map tattoos

There are people who like public transportation, and then there are people who want to rub public transportation all over their body parts — or at least get it permanently inked on them. Here are some of our favorite transit-map tattoos from the internet. Here’s a nice-looking Chicago El map, done large enough that you can probably use this dude as a reference in a pinch. “Let’s see … so I can get the red line here, and take it all the way to Hilfiger?”

Business & Technology

Four innovations that will make the future less wasteful

The New York Times Magazine has a lovely list of “innovations that will change your tomorrow.” Many of these innovations will give people fabulous new ways to consume more: New coffee! More screens! Underwear that monitors how lazy you are! But a few will also change our tomorrows to help people use less. Naturally, those are our favorites, and here they are:

Animals

Spacecraft could be killing endangered antelope

Add these two factoids to your store of knowledge about Kazakhstan, which, admit it, consists mostly of “It’s on the Risk board?” (it’s not! You’re thinking of Kamchatka) and “Borat is from there.” The central Asian country provides habitat for the endangered saiga antelope, which has a face like a fuzzy alien from Sesame Street. It also sometimes launches rockets into space from the Baikonur Cosmodrome, the best-named launchpad in existence. These items are not as unrelated as you might think. This past year, more than 1,000 saiga antelope have turned up mysteriously dead. And ecologists say that the Cosmodrome …

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