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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?

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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

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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

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Designed for lone commuters, this three-wheeled car gets 84 mpg

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Glancing around at nearly empty cars on the freeway, it’s sadly clear that almost 80 percent of commuters drive to and from work alone. Public transit, biking, and carpooling are both much greener, obvi, but in lieu of those, a tiny, fuel-efficient car for one would be a wee step forward.

With its 84 mpg on the highway (49 mpg in the city) fuel efficiency, The Elio can go 672 freeway miles on a full tank. It’s technically not a car without a fourth wheel, but the mini pod will still get you to the office -- at up to 100 mph if you’re REALLY late. Its price tag is equally bite-size: $6,800.

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If this “tiny, three-wheeled car!!!!” thing sounds familiar, it’s because others have tried but made itty-bitty death traps Americans understandably had no interest in buying. With its professed commitment to safety and more than 13,000 people in line, the Elio sounds promisingly different, but former Grister Tyler Falk is wary:

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This project has rescued more than 800 endangered baby penguins in six months

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Francis Louw/Britson Zoo Gardens & The Wild Place Project

The Chick Bolstering Project sounds like a GoldieBlox-style girl-empowerment trip, but it actually rescues endangered baby penguins -- no Beastie Boys lawsuit necessary!

The project is a partnership with the Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds, the South African government, and others. In the past six months, they’ve rescued more than 800 endangered African penguin chicks from starvation. Does that mean it's time for a cuddle party?!

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Francis Louw/Britson Zoo Gardens & The Wild Place Project

That’s aww-worthy AND a big deal because African penguins are dying off like gangbusters. In the past 80 years, their population has shrunk 97.5 percent, because overfishing has eliminated their food and unusually cold weather puts ’em on ice. (Climate change, you buttface!)

In this most recent case, parent African penguins were abandoning their little ones because the babies were too small or sick. The Chick Bolstering Project hand-rears the chicks, helps them bulk up a little, and releases them three months later. Whether staffers actually chant, “Go! Have wild unprotected sex to further your species!” into the wind is anyone’s guess.

Read more: Living

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Pedestrians used to be America’s sports stars — complete with endorsements and doping scandals

pedestrianism-by-matthew-algeo-competitive-walking-cr.jpgRather than wearing skintight pants and jogging around a silly diamond, athletes in the 1870s would walk hundreds of miles as a nail-biting, bet-placing American public looked on. That’s right: Pedestrians were the original sports heroes.

That’s the subject of the new book Pedestrianism: When Watching People Walk Was America's Favorite Spectator Sport. Author Matthew Algeo dishes about how athletes would walk 500 miles’ worth of loops around what’s now Madison Square Garden, only stopping on Sundays. A cheering crowd would bet on who’d drop out or hit 100 miles first.

Gizmodo’s Alissa Walker has the dirt:

Pedestrianism had celebrity athletes and lucrative sponsorship agreements -- this is where corporate sponsorship began! -- and even doping scandals. Athletes got high on coca leaves and champagne, just like today.

Read more: Living