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A tasting of seven organic beers

Can't get enough of that frothy stuff. Photo: iStockphoto Why is beer so good? The question has perplexed humanity since the dawn of agricultural civilization 10,000 years ago. Archeological records show that beer-making evolved with bread-making: both are ways of using fermentation to preserve grain, the first cultivated crop. To make beer, you let grain seeds germinate, mash them, hit them with some hot water, and let the resulting liquid ferment. Around 1100 A.D., likely in Belgium, an anonymous genius experimented with seasoning the resulting tipple by steeping it with a bitter flower called hops. Let's just say it worked. …

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Digging into the relationships between business and environmentalism

Admittedly, this is more of a link dump than a true blog post, but sometimes the green goodness is too good to pass up ... As Sarah and David have mentioned, the May edition of Vanity Fair is their third annual green issue. Featuring, ironically, the material girl on the cover, it's crammed with features that will enlighten, illuminate, and ... disturb. Pulitzer prize-winning journalists Donald L. Barlett and James B. Steele investigate Monsanto. ("We've never written about a company where some of its own customers are scared of it," they said.) Donald Trump and Michael Forbes duke it out …

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Umbra on library furniture

Dear Umbra, I work in an academic library that has just received funding to purchase new furniture for the first time in over 20 years. As such, the committee examining this is very interested in purchasing stuff that will last a long time and be attractive and comfortable well into the future. We are purchasing a combination of comfy couches and chairs along with more austere study tables and chairs. Other libraries in the area that we've visited have frequently gone with vinyl. I want to steer clear of that, but I'm at a loss as to what will be …

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Industrial agrofuels: enemy of the entire planet

Apologies for the terrible photo, but it was pouring (and snowing) when I took it. That's Duff Badgley again, the dirty hippie, protesting at a Safeway store. You can see the marquee advertising the price of B-5 (5 percent) biodiesel at $4.20 a gallon. Biofuel proponents are not going to like having their fuel compared to coal, but think about it. Most of the CO2 in the United States comes from liquid fossil fuels. Replace them with today's biofuels, and you would have an unmitigated ecological disaster of planet-killing proportions. In other words, the more we use, the worse it …

Read more: Climate & Energy, Living

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NYT says blogging can be deadly

There's a story in The New York Times in which a journalist uses the recent death of two bloggers from heart attacks to cobble together a fairy tale that links blogging to myocardial infarction. Ah, the lay press ... entertainment for the masses -- or better yet, the art of turning nothing into advertising revenue.

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Day two at The Dream Reborn conference

When I left the Dream Reborn conference on Friday, I had a few questions: Exactly what are green jobs? How do we create them? And why has it suddenly become so important to talk about them? Yesterday, I got some answers. And it's a good thing, too, since the conference wraps up today. Here's a quick rundown of some of the answers I found. (We'll have more in-depth coverage of the conference in a few days.) Pay close attention, because I'm gonna go through this stuff quickly -- and in reverse order. First up: Why green jobs now? Here's Van …

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The Dream Reborn conference hits Memphis this weekend

Yesterday in Memphis, a crowd stood outside the Lorraine Motel to quietly honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at the place where he died 40 years ago. All day long, it rained. A couple blocks away, another sort of commemoration was going on. There was chanting. A man played a drum and a choir sang. There was lots and lots and lots of clapping. Several hundred people had gathered in a conference room to kick off The Dream Reborn, a weekend-long event designed to ignite discussion and collaboration among leaders of the green jobs movement. Green jobs have gotten a …

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Friday music blogging: Thao Nguyen

Thao NguyenThao Nguyen is a San Francisco singer-songwriter who sometimes tours with her band as Thao with the Get Down Sit Down. That's about all I know about her. I love this song from her new album We Brave Bee Stings and All.   Download: swimming_pools.mp3

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From Battle to Bourdain

Talk about a motley crew Dr. Feelgood and hip-hopper Ludacris want to stand up (when they move, you move -- just like that) and fight for Battleground Earth, an eco-reality competition that will pit the musicians against each other. Luda to Lee: "Move bitch, get out the way!" Photo: John Shearer/WireImage.com Wheel of footin' Can't decide whether to hoof it or hit the handlebars? Do both! Photo: Thomas Brown Discarded Ken not included When Barbie cleans out her closet -- the swift and saucy buccaneer look is so last year, and nobody is Irish step-dancing anymore -- the old fabric …

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‘State Farm can get you back behind the wheel’

Witness the humiliation as this distinguished professional is forced to ... my God, I can barely say it ... ride a bike to work. Do something, State Farm! Anything! "You know that place where you're swapping four wheels for two? Oh, man, I'm there." Says Streetsblog: "Yeah, I know that place. It's called a city." UPDATE: State Farm has pulled the ad.

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