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Culture war: country music edition

Global warming could thaw relations between enviros and those who live closest to ‘the environment’

I wasn't particularly planning to continue on the culture war beat, but then, I wasn't expecting Orion Magazine to publish exactly the type of article of which I'd like to see more. In "One Nation Under Elvis," author and environmentalist Rebecca Solnit uses music -- specifically country music -- as a jumping off point to examine the cultural and class markers that divide a movement from itself. It's become a bit trite to say that climate change isn't (or shouldn't be) a left-right issue. But political coalitions in the U.S. really did once look quite different than they do now. …

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Some Easter trinkets test high for lead in small study

If you're the Easter-trinket-buying type, beware: some pastel gewgaws may have high levels of lead, according to testing done by students at Ohio's Ashland University. Of 45 Easter-themed spinning tops, hair clips, sippy cups, and plastic eggs purchased at the fun-to-say Hobby Lobby, 13 exceeded the federal standards for lead in paint. But that shouldn't mean an end to all your Easter fun -- Peeps are 100 percent lead-free! And while we're talking lead, sportswear giant Reebok has been fined $1 million for importing and distributing Chinese-made charm bracelets with lead levels so high that a four-year-old died after ingesting …

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Release me

Saab commercial features Lolita the killer whale

On the heels of my short mention of the campaign to free Lolita, producer (and campaign spokesperson) Raul Julia-Levy called today to point me to a Saab commercial that features video of Lolita in "her stinky little tank." It's a tear-jerker; break out the hankies:

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Umbra on transporting coffee by bike

Dear Umbra, Now that there are promises that the snow will melt someday, I'm dreaming about biking again -- to work, to the farmers' market, to church, etc. However, my sweet husband loves to make me coffee and send it with me when I leave the house. I have wonderful reusable coffee cups for the car, but how do I transport coffee on a bicycle without ruining it or me? Any bright ideas? Caffeine Appreciator Duluth, Minn. Dearest CA, "Thermos thermos thermos, you keep things hot all day, thermos thermos thermos, you're leak proof and lightweigh ... t." My bright …

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From P-I-M-P to Pimp

Say hello to Lolita's friend Hey Miami Seaquarium: We can do this the easy way, or the hard way. So why don't you just hand over the whale, and we'll make sure you avoid a run-in with 50 Cent's finger gunz, Johnny Depp's crazy-eye, and Harrison Ford's killer smile. Photo: Johnny Nunez / Wireimage Four14een Just when we had successfully rid ourselves of lust, gluttony, avarice, sloth, anger, envy, and pride, the Pope-meister goes and changes the rules on us. Now that polluting is a one-way ticket to hell, we'll be sure to carpool to confession. We love parasols in …

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An interview with the founders of Method green home-care products

After spending a few minutes with Adam Lowry and Eric Ryan, I began to wonder if they weren't part of a modern-day adaptation of The Odd Couple. The 30-something founders of the Method line of home-care products, friends since high school, are about as different as two business partners could be. Eric Ryan and Adam Lowry. Lowry (Method's "chief greens keeper") is tall and lanky, with dark brown hair. The day we met, he was wearing a classic slacks-and-button-down number and a serious look on his face. He's a chemical engineer with an environmental degree and has worked as a …

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Some ‘green’ products test positive for nasty chemical

Nearly half of 100 consumer products claiming to be "natural" or "organic" tested positive for a carcinogenic petrochemical manufacturing byproduct, according to the Organic Consumers Association. The products tainted with scary-sounding 1,4-dioxane came from various well-known brands, including Alba, Jasön, Kiss My Face, Method, Nature's Gate, and Seventh Generation. Some of the companies said they would review their ingredients, while others lamented that eliminating 1,4-dioxane would at this point mean using alternatives that irritate skin or reduce cleaning effectiveness. They continue to work on the issue, says Martin Wolf of Seventh Generation: "We're not there yet. We have more work …

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This guy has it figured out

The SOZEV/train combo commute

Pete has the coolest-looking SOZEV (Single-Occupant Zero-Carbon Emission Vehicle) in Seattle. (Click the photo to the right for a larger view.) It has turned a sweat-inducing, 45-minute slog up a killer hill into a comfortable 10-minute cruise. He rides to the Sounder commuter train station from his house and then from downtown to his office east of Seattle. Surfing the net while commuting by train is a concept that appeals to me. I wonder how well the free wi-fi concept is actually working out ... Pete said he would let me test-ride it, so I jumped at the chance and …

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Drive a stake into winter’s cold heart with a creamy, dreamy noodle dish

Goodbye winter, hello primavera. Photo: iStockphoto I love March. Why? Because I hate winter. I hate shoveling, I hate walking on ice, and I especially hate always having to look at the ground when I'm walking, instead of at all the people and things around me. With the exception of cross-country skiing and being able to do stuff indoors without feeling guilty about not being outdoors (an East Coast phenomenon, I'm told), I truly hate winter. If global warming can deliver us from winter, then I'm all for it (just kidding). Once March arrives, winter loses its edge. The quality …

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