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The tiny house documentary is finally (almost) here! Peek inside the result


Christopher Smith had never built anything before, so he figured documenting the process of building a tiny house would be interesting at the very least. The resulting film, TINY, was supposed to come out two years ago, and now it’s finally almost here. You can bring TINY to a local indie theater or wait til early summer to snag a DVD -- OR you could peek inside the house right now! [Claps eagerly like a deranged seal]

Apartment Therapy recently ran a house tour of the 127-foot space, which Smith and his partner Merete Mueller built without a plan (GUTSY!). They used recycled materials from thrift stores and junkyards, as well as supplies from hardware stores and IKEA.

Ashley Poskin
Read more: Living


Pasture blazed: How more wildfires could result in less grass-fed meat

Darla Hueske

“We saw the smoke,” says Richard Yturriondobeitia, describing his first glimpse of Long Draw, Oregon’s biggest blaze in nearly 150 years. The fire started July 8, a hot, dry day like many before. Lightning struck, and seven days later, more than 550,000 acres across the southeast corner of the state were scorched. Much of that territory is divvied up as livestock allotments under Bureau of Land Management (BLM) control. The fire came racing toward Yturriondobeitia’s grazing lands. He, his family, and friends tried to herd their cattle, to little avail. Forty-mile-an-hour winds knocked them back. “We got the hell out of there.” They saved themselves, he says. “Couldn’t save the animals.” He rattles off numbers as though from a scorecard of a favorite team’s losses: “112 cows, 46 calves, three bulls.”

The United States has seen nearly a fourfold increase in large wildfires in recent decades. The National Interagency Fire Center keeps tally: As of Nov. 23, over 54,000 fires have burned nearly 9.1 million acres this year; about 1.7 million acres above the 10-year average. When megafires roar, forests tend to get the limelight. But wildfire isn't all about Smokey Bear’s home in the woods. It’s also about the meat on our menu and the ranches where it's raised.

Read more: Climate & Energy, Food


Sandy could result in kinder, gentler subway rats

Devon Buchanan

Advanced-level animal lovers can even manage to care about gross vermin, so if you're part of that elite group you might be wondering what happened to New York City's subway rats. If the subway tunnels flooded, what became of all the creepy-tailed rodents who made their nests down there?

New York magazine spoke to some rat experts about the question, and the short answer is: Some of them died. But others would have been able to climb or swim out of flooded tunnels, because rats are spooky-smart and also very tenacious and street-wise (and good swimmers in calm water, though maybe not in rushing floods). Here's the interesting part, though: Because alpha rats would have tended to be further down into the subway tunnels, the survivors might be disproportionately submissive. Which could mean a gentler subway rat population overall.

Science writer Bora Zivkovic explained on Twitter:

Read more: Uncategorized


China’s brand-new baby panda is the result of actual panda sex

Stop talking about my parents having sex!! (Photo by Huang Zhiling.)

Fans of (slightly weird) adorableness are having a good week, as a panda named Yuan Yuan at Chengdu Giant Panda Breeding and Research Base in southwest China gave birth to her fourth cub.

Read more: Uncategorized


Temperature increases result in economic decreases

A reliable indicator of economic turmoil. (Photo by Joe Chung.)

An increase in temperature has a measurable impact on national economic health. Imagine how terrible it would be if we were expecting temperatures to rise significantly over huge swaths of the world!

Even temporary rises in local temperatures significantly damage long-term economic growth in the world’s developing nations, according to a new study co-authored by an MIT economist.

Looking at weather data over the last half-century, the study finds that every 1-degree-Celsius increase in a poor country, over the course of a given year, reduces its economic growth by about 1.3 percentage points. …

One consequence of this, borne out in the data, is that the higher temperatures in a given year affect not only a country’s economic activity at the time, but its growth prospects far into the future; by the numbers, growth lagged following hot years.

Read more: Climate & Energy


Election recap: Much ado (and cash) results in nothing

Photo by Sue PeacockPhoto by Sue Peacock.

There was an election yesterday. Perhaps you heard?

In Wisconsin, Gov. Scott Walker survived a recall attempt spurred by an approach to dealing with his opposition that William T. Sherman would have appreciated. Organized labor, a key target of Walker, invested a lot of time and energy in his defeat but, with all of the votes in, Walker defeated Tom Barrett for the second time in two years -- this time, by a wider margin.

It was a triumphant victory for the way things already are. Not like we could use any world-changing or anything.

Read more: Politics


Will the Butterball raid yield any real results?

The Butterball facility in North Carolina that was raided on Thursday. (Photo by Mercy for Animals.) If turkey were beer, Butterball would have the brand power of Budweiser, Miller, and Coors combined. From six plants, the company produces 1 billion pounds of turkey each year and exports the meat to over 50 countries. Given this dominance, the Butterball brand has been a priceless asset to the company -- until Thursday morning. At about 9:00 a.m., officers from the local sheriff's office raided a Butterball semen collection facility in Shannon, N.C. (Industrially bred Broad-Breasted White turkeys must be artificially inseminated to reproduce.) …


Climate deniers refuse to accept skeptical scientists’ results

So you know how we kind of use "climate change deniers" and "climate change skeptics" interchangeably, because news stories get super boring if you don't mix it up? We're not wild about doing that, because skepticism is in fact a great scientific value that people should embrace, whereas denialism is just sticking your fingers in your ears and going "la la la." And nothing has made that clearer than the skeptical scientists who, despite their Koch funding, found evidence of global warming -- and the dogmatic deniers who refused to accept their results. Richard Muller and his team at Berkeley …


Chilean sea bass test yields fishy results

Mmm. That's great bass. But is it sustainable?Photo: Norm EvangelistaThe international seafood labeling organization, Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) got some boat-rocking news last week, when researchers discovered that a significant portion of what had been labeled MSC-certified Chilean sea bass was in fact something else. Chilean sea bass, also known as Patagonian toothfish, became enormously popular in the last decade because of its flaky texture and light, buttery taste. But pressure on the slow-growing species made it especially vulnerable to overfishing. Today, the fish tops the red "avoid" category on the Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch list. But, as is …

Read more: Food


The little program that could

A small venture that could generate big results

Imagine a program that turns a relatively small initial investment into billions of dollars of U.S. economic growth, thousands of new Americans jobs, and groundbreaking technologies that change the way we use energy in this country and around the world. It would be a darling of innovators, the private sector, and policymakers. Sounds impossible for such a little program to generate such big results? Just like the little engine in the children's story that pulled the train over the mountain, the U.S. has a small venture that could generate big results. It's called the Advanced Research Projects Agency - Energy, …