Grist List

Cities

Florida missed out on $41 million a year by turning down high-speed rail

When Florida Gov. Rick Scott turned down $2 billion in federal money to build a high speed rail line between Tampa and Orlando, one of his arguments was that it would be a burden on the state. But documents obtained by the Tampa Tribune indicate that independent consultants found the system would be turning a profit of $35 to $41 million a year by its 10th year of operation.

Transportation

House transit bill so bad even Republicans don’t like it

The transportation bill currently making its way through the House of Representatives sure does suck. It strips funds from safe streets projects and public transit, and dumps that money on highways instead. Which is all more or less what we’ve come to expect of GOP-sponsored bills — except this one’s so bad it’s even alienating Republicans.

Business & Technology

NASA is developing green rocket fuel

Hydrazine propellant is super toxic and dangerously unstable, so NASA is going to spend up to $50 million apiece to test alternatives.

Scary Food

Bacon milkshake contains no actual bacon

In a marketing decision that was clearly made by stoners for stoners, Jack in the Box is debuting a bacon-flavored milkshake. At 1,081 calories for 24 ounces, this seems like a great way to get most of a full day’s worth of energy, protein, and dairy without having to do any chewing, assuming you are the nutritional equivalent of a sociopath. Except this “bacon milkshake” has barely even looked at bacon (and has only a passing acquaintance with milk). It’s basically a thousand-calorie food golem made of chemicals.

Cities

America has 40 million McMansions that no one wants

Americans want a car-free existence, which means that around 40 million large-lot exurban McMansions might never find occupants.

Business & Technology

The Facebook of ride-sharing has arrived

Got a road trip coming up? Why not use Ridejoy to save yourself the gas money and maybe make a new friend in the process?

Animals

Whales get stressed out by noise from shipping

Where I live in New York, we’re constantly holding community meetings where neighbors complain that noise from local bars is stressing them out and keeping them awake. Whales don’t get to protest when their home jet streams get turned into noisy shipping alleys, but it’s otherwise basically the same. Just like late-night drunken clamor stresses out East Villagers, shipping noise stresses out whales. Researchers found a clear link between whales’ stress levels and shipping noise almost by accident: two whale experiments were going on during the stretch after September 11th when shipping ground to a halt for security reasons.

Living

Eco-friendly LEGOs made of sawdust and coffee

Earth Blocks are basically LEGOs, but made out of coffee grounds, tree bark, sawdust, or tea chaff mixed with a plasticlike binder material. Finally, a way to teach children that being eco-friendly means playing with monochrome toys made out of dirt!

Critical List: Approval coming for two nuclear plants; warrant issued for Nasheed’s arrest

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission will give its blessing to two new nuclear power plants in Georgia today. There’s a warrant out for the arrest of Mohamed Nasheed, the Maldivian president and environmental crusader forced to resign at gunpoint. The new president, who deposed him, says the warrant will be used only to ensure Nasheed’s safety. Nasheed was also injured in a protest yesterday. The Lorax (the movie) has commercial sponsors. They’re “green” commercial sponsors (like, um, DoubleTree? It does have “tree” in its name …) But still.

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