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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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The Age of Asparagus dawned in Roman times, but the time to eat it is now

Asparagus may be associated with spring, but there's nothing new about it. It's been gracing tables -- to the joy of some diners and the horror of others -- for at least two thousand years. In the earliest known cookbook, De Re Culinaria (circa A.D. 100), proto-foodie Marcus Apicius recommends pounding asparagus tips with black pepper, lovage, coriander, savory, onion, wine, oil (presumably from olives), eggs, and a kind of fermented, fish-flavored sauce -- all then to be baked, then seasoned with more pepper. Look who's stalking. Photo: Kurt Friese Sounds like a sort of dip, ancient Rome's answer to …

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New Mattel line lets you wear Barbie’s discards

We are not making this up: Mattel is planning a new line of accessories made from "excess fabric and trimmings from other Barbie doll fashions and products which would otherwise be discarded." The "playful and on-trend" Barbie BCause collection -- including handbags, hats, pillows, and diaries "each featuring its own unique variations and kitschy patchwork details" -- will be sold exclusively at Toys"R"Us. Says a Mattel marketing person, "Barbie BCause is for eco-conscious girls who believe that being environmentally friendly is the right thing to do, and we are thrilled to give extra meaning and extra style to what was …

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Seattle gets five more blocks of bike lanes

In this post, I talked about Seattle's efforts to improve bicycle safety. I mentioned that the busiest part of a key road was not striped, thanks to pressure from a local real estate baron who didn't want business disrupted. This created a dangerous gauntlet to run as bikers left the bike lane to start their long, hard slog uphill. I'm happy to report that the city has since reconsidered, and it has made a world of difference for safety. Which gives me the opportunity to tell the story of how I got hit by a car. A young man was …

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Umbra on long, hot showers

Dear Umbra, The biggest waster of energy in our house right now is our 15-year-old daughter, whose never-ending daily showers must surely be responsible for warming the planet another half-degree. No matter how loudly we bang on the bathroom door and scream for her to stop, she showers on -- 20, 30 minutes at a time. And yes, we have a low-flow showerhead and our water heater is set to 120 degrees. Is there any kind of device -- one that isn't too dear and doesn't require a plumber -- that can curb the wasteful shower habits of a teenage …

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Maya Lin’s latest memorial will pay tribute to the planet

Maya Lin, an artist best known for designing the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., is making plans for a tribute to what has passed from the earth -- literally. Her planned memorial will list the names of animals, birds, and plants that have gone extinct. "The top 10 songbirds we grew up with are in a 40 percent to 70 percent decline. Our oceans are being devastated by overfishing. The landscape we grew up with has been significantly diminished," she says. "I just want to bring attention to it and give people the idea that you can do something …

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Rapper, rocker compete in eco-reality show

Rapper Ludacris and rocker Tommy Lee will be teaming up for a new eco-reality series called Battleground Earth. Together, the motley crew (!) will compete in various challenges aimed at highlighting green issues -- though the show is actually "designed to emphasize entertainment over eco-preaching." Hmm ... ya think?

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E.O. Wilson calls for kids to be set free outside, scripted activities be damned

Renowned biologist and naturalist E.O. Wilson regaled the crowd at last week's Aspen Environment Forum with his wit and wisdom during an on-stage interview. A choice segment: The worst thing you can do to a child, in my opinion, is take them on a hike through a botanical garden where there are the names of the trees on the side. Rachel Carson once said, so true, take the child to the seashore, turn her loose with a pail, and tell her to go explore the tidepools. Don't tell her the names of any of these things. Let her find them, …

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