Living

survival of the knittest

Happy birthday, Darwin! Have a giant recycled squid

Sometimes, despite your best intentions, you end up with plastic bags. This is why nature invented the giant squid, humans invented knitting needles, and Deadly Knitshade invented Plarchie. He’s knitted out of 162 plastic bags, and is shown here cuddling with Charles Darwin, who celebrated his 202nd birthday on Saturday. If you want to celebrate the mysteries of the deep, support natural selection, get rid of waste plastic, or just do something with your hands while watching Parks and Rec, Deadly Knitshade has some making-of photos on her Flickr, along with more snaps of Plarchie chilling with The Other Chuck …

the other side of the fence

Who’s got the greenest house on the planet?

It’s pretty easy to determine the biggest pie, or longest fingernails, or fattest twins. But what about the greenest house? AOL’s consumer finance site, of all places (they’re into journalism now!) has a nice roundup of what, exactly, it means to have a green home. There are a number of buildings that have claimed or been awarded the “greenest home” tiara: A 2006 article called an eco-friendly Californa prefab the “greenest home on the planet” for being the first American home to get a “platinum” LEED rating. [F]or Glenn, the point is to live in a home that causes the …

If, ands, & butts?

Ask Umbra: Is there such a thing as an environmentally friendly cigarette?

Send your question to Umbra! Q. Dear Umbra, I’m a smoker. So, is it better to smoke organic tobacco? Will I put less of a strain on the planet by smoking e-cigarettes? Or can you make a case from a sustainability standpoint for why I should quit? Thanks,GregPotomac, MD Where there’s smoke, there’s fire.Photo: SuperFantasticA. Dearest Greg, Your letter comes at an interesting time in the history of the cigarette. A pack now costs around $13 in New York City, where the City Council last week voted to ban smoking outdoors. City parks, beaches, and plazas, including the pedestrian area …

WHAT TO EXPECT WHEN YOU’RE INSECTING

Beware, moms-to-be: Insecticides could make your kids dumber

No raid for you.Photo: Dhini van HeerenStop huffing the Raid, moms: In other “sh*t that makes kids dumber” news, toddlers’ brains developed more slowly if their mothers inhaled a lot of a common insecticide ingredient while pregnant, according to a new study published in the journal Pediatrics. Reuters explains: On average, women breathing the highest amounts of piperonyl butoxide, or PBO, had babies who scored 3.9 points lower on a mental development test at age three (85 points and above is considered normal). These changes are about the same as those seen in kids with low-level lead exposure, according to …

A walk in the ark

Use your smartphone to become a ‘citizen scientist’ with Project Noah

We all know people who seem to spend more time gazing into their smartphones than they do looking at the reality in front of them. But one app is trying to reverse the trend, and make your iPhone (or Android) into a tool that encourages you to dial into the biodiversity around you. It’s called Project Noah (the “NOAH” stands for “Networked Organisms and Habitats”), and its creator is a guy named Yasser Ansari, a self-described bio-geek-turned-telecom nerd. The app allows you to take a picture of a flower, animal, or other living creature, helps you identify it, and tells …

CITY OF GREEN ROSES

Tell Grist: What’s your favorite green hot spot in Portland?

You know you love it.Photo: megaulYo Portlandia! We’re compiling a guide to the perfect green Portland weekend and we need your help! So you have an out-of-town visitor — where do you take ‘em for great local food or beer? What’s the can’t-miss farmers market, bike shop, or organic cupcakery — or is the octopus exhibit at the local aquarium to die for? If you’re not a local, what’s the green must-see spot you frequent when you’re in town? Let us know your green Portland hot spots in your favorite flavor of the internet: Tell us in the comments below …

The parent trap

Care about population? About women? Then you should care that GOP is taking aim at family planning

Deficit-peacock Republicans in the House don’t want to make any cuts at all to the budgets of the Pentagon or the Department of Homeland Security, but they’re delighted to completely eliminate funding for a family-planning program that serves low-income Americans. No matter that the move would actually increase long-term costs to taxpayers. The House Appropriations Committee on Wednesday unveiled a list of proposed spending cuts for the remaining seven months of the fiscal year, including zeroing out $327 million in funding for the Title X family-planning program. As Politico explains, “Started in 1970 by President Richard Nixon, Title X is …

feed me a stray cat

Are flesh-eating robots the future of green tech?

Sure, you can get power from the sun and the wind and other things you could paint on the wall of a child’s bedroom — if you don’t mind being a hippy. But aren’t there any forms of alternative energy that are more, you know, metal? Enter James Auger and Jimmy Loizeau, British designers who have developed appliances that run on bugs and vermin: The appliances are powered by microbial fuel cells, which take in organic matter (flies, mice) and convert it into electrical energy. Auger says the gadgets aren’t really intended for mass production, and that’s probably for the …

SHOW ME YOUR TEETH

Lady Gaga’s boyfriend writes binge-drinking health book ‘The Drunk Diet’

You and me could write a bad fromage.Photo: Drunk Diet Beer for breakfast! Lord Gaga (real name: Lüc Carl) lost 40 pounds by binge-drinking — and his sound weight-loss tips will be featured in forthcoming book The Drunk Diet, reports The New York Observer. His blog has some great previews of health tips: On life choices: “You must choose between the abs and the ice cream, and choose which un-happiness [sic] works best for you.” On grocery shopping: “Make sure you’re sober when you go to the grocery store or you’ll get f*cked in the *ss.” On Four Loko: “It …