Vanity Unfair

Ask Umbra on license plates

Q. Dear Umbra, Today I obtained a Wisconsin driver’s license and plates, after nearly a year of denying my residency in America’s Dairyland due to my pride in my home state (which has produced gems such as Rod Blagojevich, and his hair). But instead of accepting my olive branch, the DMV issued me license plates reading “365-PVC,” or “three hundred sixty-five days a year, polyvinyl chloride.” Great Odin’s raven–it’s an environmentalist’s nightmare! I suspect that via some elaborate government conspiracy they learned of my treehuggery research (which, ironically, being out of the reach of public transportation, requires me to drive …

A fine bromance

Snap, son! Baseballer Ryan Howard gets White House garden tour

Here’s some good stuff, via Obama Foodorama: While a camera rolls, White House chef/gardener Sam Kass shows baseball star Ryan Howard around the White House garden. They have some great dialogue, climaxing with Howard’s reaction to the garden beehive: “Oh snap, son!” Kass hips Howard to the genius of composting–food scraps go from the White House kitchen to the compost pile to garden beds, from whence more food and more scraps. “You can’t keep taking away without giving back,” Kass lectures, a gloss on the “law of return” propounded another great Howard, organic founder Sir Albert. For his part, Ryan …

It Could Be Verse

Climate-news poem: plagiarism edition!

Each time I set out to pen one of my climate-news poems, I try really hard not to make it bouncy and rhyming. But terrible bouncy rhymes seem to flow in my veins. It’s a curse, to write such verse! So this week I promised myself I’d experiment with blank verse — and hey, why not dabble in a little friendly plagiarism while I’m at it. Without the knowledge or permission of fellow climate-news summarizer Eric Roston, I’ve repurposed the quite lovely introduction to his most recent column. Because he’s a poet and he don’t … uh … recognize it. …

Seedy business

Beyond the compost heap: what to do with fruit and veggie seeds?

So many seeds … so many uses? In Checkout Line, Lou Bendrick cooks up answers to reader questions about how to green their food choices and other diet-related quandaries. Lettuce know what food worries keep you up at night. Dear Lou,At Halloween we look forward to the pumpkin seeds as much as anything, but lots of other fruits–watermelons, squash, avocados–are full of beautiful seeds and it seems a shame to throw them away. Are they edible, and can anything be done with them?Debbie from Ohio Dear Debbie, Not only do seeds symbolize hope, opportunity and potential, but, as embryonic plants, …

Mercury (Legislation) Rising

Mercury bill clears major hurdle

Great news – we’re one giant step closer to ending needless mercury pollution from chlorine plants in the United States. On Wednesday, the Mercury Pollution Reduction Act (HR 2190) passed a subcommittee vote that allows it to now be considered by the U.S. House of Representatives’ Energy and Commerce committee. The majority of bills die, unsung, in subcommittees. Now the act, which would phase out mercury pollution from chlorine plants within two years of its passage, has a very good fighting chance at becoming law. In the process, two amendments that would have seriously crippled this important bill were defeated. …

Pizza party!

How to turn your backyard into the best pizzeria in town

Photo: Whitney BrownWhat is it about the flicker of a flame, the crackle of burning wood, and the wafting clouds of wood smoke that enchant us so? Combine an outdoor fire with a spring breeze dancing on one’s skin and the sound of leaves rustling in the trees, and merriment abounds. The effect is liberating; the appeal is elemental. Add delicious, smoke-kissed food, and you have a wholly sensory experience. All of my favorite food experiences take place outdoor over a hardwood fire: oyster roasts, hickory-smoked barbecue, and wood-fired pizza. I have come to believe that my happiness and well-being …

Are you for real?

Eat real. Eat local. Eat … Hellmann’s Mayo?

The website is abysmal, full of Flash-animated chaos and tabs that bring up one-line slogans. The message is … twisted. For some reason, Hellmann’s Mayonnaise, a U.S.-based subsidiary of European processed-food behemoth Unilever, has seen fit to subject Canada (Canada?) to an eat-local campaign. Analyzing this bizarre development transcends my gifts as a social critic. To properly parse what’s going on here, you’d have to revive Marshall McLuhan, and genetically modify his brain with DNA from Orwell, Machiavelli, and maybe even propaganda king Goebbels. But I can tell you this: our neighbors to the north don’t need lectures on local …

The Grist List: From Koala to Cap

Lingerie model nudie by nature, and more

Nudie by natureLingerie model Miranda Kerr says she “decided to go au naturel to raise awareness of the environment, specifically koalas.” Well, we’re not sure what her Aussie Stone cover is doing for the koalas, but it’s sure raising a whole lot of something.   (Click below to see the next item in this week’s Grist List—or view them all on a single page.)          

Same Batshit Channel

The digital TV conversion is here — are you e-ready?

We interrupt your life to bring you this reminder: By June 12, all television signals in the U.S. will be digital. Seriously. So here’s an e-guide to ease your mind. Wait, WTF is happening again? The signals from all TV stations, which were analog for decades, will now be digital. This transition actually began in 1996, when Congress gave each station an extra channel for digital transmission. There are three official reasons for the full transition: first and foremost, it frees up analog airspace for public-safety purposes; second, it frees up some space for wireless companies; and third, it will …

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