Grist List

Ladies, here’s your new tough biker chick mascot

Have you been looking for a new role model for mixing biker-chick toughness with button-boots style? If you have, comics genius Kate Beaton has you covered, and if you haven't, now you know why you should have been. This badass velocipedestrienne (no, seriously, velocipedestrienne) is based on a 19th-century cartoon about "The Awful Effects of Velocipeding," and apparently the awful effects of velocipeding are that it turns you into an AWESOME TRASH-TALKING BICYCLE SPEED DEMON. At least, according to Beaton, whose version of history I always subscribe to.

Take off your pants and hop on transit

D.C. is having its annual No Pants Metro Ride this Sunday, to raise awareness of … public transit? Indecency laws? People's bottoms? (Actually, according to the Facebook page, they're just trying to raise awareness of how funny it is when 400 people are not wearing pants, but let's go with "public transit.") This will easily be the most fun day of the year to take public transportation in D.C., so if you're in the area, this is the weekend to try ditching your car for a few days. 

Tsunami disaster site rehabilitated as robot farm

The Japanese government is reclaiming land flooded by the March 2011 tsunami and turning it into what Wired calls a "robot-run super farm." The Ministry of Agriculture has claimed a 600-acre site, part of thousands of acres of farmland destroyed by the tsunami and its aftereffects, for its "Dream Project" — a farm tilled by unmanned tractors and harvested by robots. The government isn't looking to let robots push farmers out of a job. In fact, they're hoping the project will spur financial investment in farming, creating a new network of corporation-sponsored farms that will let beleaguered farmers stay solvent. …

Mmm, vegan beefcake

There are vegan bodybuilders. Yes, this is going to blow the minds of people who look at vegetarians blankly and ask, "But how do you get enough protein?" A New York Times trend piece (it's in the Sports section! That makes it more real than a trend piece in the Style section) features a few, plus reports that while "there is little official data on competitive bodybuilders who are vegan," a website called veganbodybuilding.com "has more than 5,000 registered users."  

St. Louis Zoo builds love hotel for salamanders

Ozark hellbenders, aka "snot otters" and "lasagna sides," are among the world's largest and least cute salamanders. Looking at them, it’s probably not a big surprise that they’re having a hard time breeding -- although inexplicably, scientists think it’s NOT because of their pancake heads or beady little eyes, but some problem in the natural environment. Now that there are fewer than 600 hellbenders left in Ozark rivers, scientists at the Saint Louis Zoo decided to step in and create a place for the salamanders to get it on. The salamanders' love nest is a simulated river built to bring out amorous feelings in hideous beasties: The zoo has built a kind of honeymoon resort for salamanders, assembling a mini water treatment plant and carefully tweaking water chemistry to recreate their cold, fast-flowing Ozark streams — minus any distracting predators or pollution. ...

Critical List: Toxic chemicals on the rise; baby seals in trouble

The EPA may retest water in Dimock, Pa., where residents have linked polluted water to fracking operations. In its first round of testing the town's water, the EPA declared it safe. GM is fixing up the Volt in order to avoid in real-life battery fires like the ones that started during testing. As winter sea ice disappears in the Arctic, fewer baby harp seals are making it. The amount of toxic chemicals shunted into the environment went up 16 percent between 2009 and 2010, according a new EPA report.