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Forget cows — people are now going Smart car tipping

smart-car-upside-down-flicker
Fred Scharmen

Youthful San Francisco hooligans don’t exactly have access to a field of snoozing cows. What CAN they tip? Smart cars. And on Monday, four were flipped over in San Francisco neighborhoods. Reports the Associated Press:

[Officer Gordon] Shyy said ... police were looking for multiple suspects wearing black hooded sweatshirts who were in the area at the time of the destruction.

You rebellious teens with your hoodies and raging hormones and pent-up aggression! The prank seems merely silly on the surface, but it could actually point to underlying class-based tension in one of America’s most spendy cities.

Police said they didn't know whether the attacks were a prank or another episode in escalating tensions among some residents who blame the tech industry for rising rents and cost of living.

As Shelley Gallivan, who inherited one of the Smart cars when her 70-year-old dad died, told the AP:

Read more: Cities, Living

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10 places to visit before they’re gone: A bucket list for a warming world

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Shutterstock

Summer is just around the corner and, after a winter like this one, it’s high time to start making those vacation plans. Of course, our buoyant spirits were somewhat dampened by the latest U.N. climate report. Spoiler alert, it wasn’t real good, well, unless you’re into horrific droughts, monster storms, heat waves, mass extinctions, failing crops, dogs and cats living together, mass hysteria, in which case, jackpot!

Ever the troopers, we here at Grist decided to not let the bad news harsh our fantastic inner mellow and instead to look at this as a crisitunity. Usually picking vacation spots is such a challenge, but by focusing on the best places that may not be places much longer in our warming world, we were able to shorten our list to the top ten do-it-now vacation destinations. So get ahold of your travel agent, load up the family truckster, and set a course for fun!

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As if the ozone hole weren’t enough, now there’s a hole in the troposphere

Click to embiggen.
Markus Rex, Alfred-Wegener-Institute
Click to embiggen.

Everyone knows men shouldn’t wear white dress shirts without undershirts, because then you can see their furry chests and tantalizing man-nipples and sensual sweat stains. But the Earth’s been shopping at the Hanes Outlet again, because ITS white v-neck -- a.k.a. the troposphere, the innermost part of the atmosphere -- has a hole.

This hole in the Earth’s first atmospheric layer is letting dangerous, ozone-killing chemicals sneak out like nefarious body odor. Normally the troposphere catches the sweat, if you will, of pollutants and then wrings them out in rainstorms before they can do much harm. But scientists recently discovered a hole over the Western Pacific when weather balloons went poking around.

It’s nine miles up and spans several thousand square miles, according to Wired:

Read more: Climate & Energy, Living

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EVs are getting fake engine sounds, because they’re so quiet it’s dangerous

Tesla sales center
Tesla

Hybrids can be so quiet you can’t tell if they’re on. Which is bad news for cyclists and pedestrians -- especially walkers who are visually impaired. So the European Parliament just decided that EVs and hybrids have to add fake “vroom vroom” noises so drivers quit sneaking up on people, goshdarnit.

Acoustic vehicle alerting systems (AVAS) mimic traditional engine noise, and auto manufacturers have to add them by 2019. (Sorry, European Prius drivers: You’ll have to start meditating somewhere else.)

Gizmodo notes the gravity of the situation:

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Meat of the Matter

Eating road kill: Yuck or yum?

roadkillrabbit
Ian Cummings

Ian Cummings was cycling just outside Cambridge, England, when he noticed the freshly hit rabbit on the side of the road. “I sort of looked at it and looked at it, and then cycled on,” he says. But then, Cummings had a change of heart. He turned his bike around, brought the dead animal home, and cooked it into jugged hare — a traditional British recipe. “And it all kind of started from there.”

Since that first day when Cummings, a travel photographer based in the village of Wilbraham, wound up with a Goodyear-tenderized hare on his plate, he has gone on to become somewhat of a road-kill aficionado. From venison with cranberries and chestnuts to pappardelle con lepre, over the years his town’s roads have served him up some pretty delectable fares. But Cummings isn’t the only one out foraging the highways. There are plenty of road-kill enthusiasts on this side of the pond, too -- enough of them that there has been a trend toward states legalizing the practice, like when Montana made headlines by doing so last year. And now, a push to make road kill easier to take home is on the docket in Michigan.

Read more: Food, Living

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Fancy new sustainable cement is made of old busted toilets

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wonderal

What happens when your crapper becomes a piece of crap? If you're lucky, it gets turned into sustainable cement. According to Inhabitat, researchers from England, Spain, and Brazil have repurposed broken bathtubs, toilets, and sinks as a cement mixture that’s much greener than normal concrete. And when red bricks are used, the result is even stronger.

Here’s the nitty gritty:

To create the cement, scientists first grind up old ceramics and mix them with water and an activator solution, which currently uses sodium hydroxide or sodium silicate. This solution is then poured into a mold and exposed to extreme heat, resulting in a solidified mixture.

If the activator solution can be replaced with rice husk ash, it would take yet another material out of the waste stream, provide a way for suppliers generate additional income, and create cement made purely from recycled materials.

Read more: Climate & Energy, Living

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This beautiful tiny house looks like an orange and was built for less than $9,000

To be affordable, tiny houses are often all angles, with sharp, modern design. For those of us tired of spare, impersonal homes in drab brown-black, this mango-like dome is a juicy slice of bliss:

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© Steve Areen via Designboom

Steve Areen built the orange dome on a Thai mango farm -- clearly inspired by the fruit -- using blocks of compressed dirt. Treehugger quotes the musician and photographer:

The cost for the basic structure was under $6,000. It took a few more weeks to add the details, such as doors, screens, pond, upstairs structure, stonework and landscaping. All this, including furnishings, was under $3,000 ... Bringing my total cost to about $9,000. Please keep in mind this is in cost-friendly Thailand.

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Blades of gory: Teaching kids to slice and dice

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Shutterstock

Play out this scenario in your head: A writer publishes a cookbook for children, and as part of the book promotion, pens an op-ed in which she advocates handing your kid a gleaming chef’s knife so they can begin working on their high-speed lopping skills.

As you might expect, when this actually happened, a lot of people got worked up. For a moment there, Sarah Elton, the writer in question, was trending on Twitter in Toronto, where her op-ed ran.

But here’s what’s surprising about the whole episode: Rather than condemning Elton as a bad mother, practically everyone agreed with her.

Read more: Food, Living

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We might get a sequel to An Inconvenient Truth

al-gore-an-inconvenient-truth-flickr
Juampe López

Considering Fast and the Furious 18 is now in theaters, it’s almost weird there hasn’t been a sequel to An Inconvenient Truth, the first gobsmackingly successful movie about a slideshow. (Moviegoers around the world gladly parted with almost $50 million to get bummed about climate change!)

So hearing that the doc’s producer is in talks to make a sequel to the 2006 film elicits a big “FINALLY!” From the Hollywood Reporter:

"We have had conversations," producer Lawrence Bender tells THR. "We've met; we've discussed. If we are going to make a movie, we want it to have an impact."...

Environmental activist Laurie David also believes a sequel should be on the agenda. "God, do we need one," she says. "Everything in that movie has come to pass. At the time we did the movie, there was Hurricane Katrina; now we have extreme weather events every other week. The update has to be incredible and shocking."

Read more: Climate & Energy, Living

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Director Werner Herzog hates chickens but loves KFC

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Soubhagya S Behera

Do chickens scare you? Does staring into their beady eyes smack of your own mortality? If so, congrats: You’ve just scored “Werner Herzog” in Buzzfeed’s “Which German director of Grizzly Man are YOU?!” quiz!

As Modern Farmer recently noted, the filmmaker is bizarrely vocal about his bilious fear of chickens -- unless they’re between his teeth. He intones in a 2012 video (which is AMAZING):

The enormity of their flat brain, the enormity of their stupidity is just overwhelming ... It’s very easy to hypnotize a chicken. They're very prone to hypnosis, and in one or two films, I’ve actually shown that.

It’s true -- the befuddling ending of Herzog’s 1977 film Stroszek includes hypnotized chickens dancing and playing the piano (more or less humane than factory farming? Discuss):

Read more: Food, Living