Kurt Hoelting has a thoughtful discussion of the “intensity gap” between climate science deniers and climate hawks. Kurt, who lives on Whidbey Island, is author of the wonderful 2010 book The Circumference of Home, about the challenge of living responsibly in place in Cascadia, and he’s launched a blog on the same theme.
Take a car-sharing company, add electric bikes. A marriage made in heaven? Could be.
A Street View for Rivers: “We want to start crowd sourcing a library of America’s rivers.”
106 really awesome street art photos.
Plant sentience has been a pseudoscience standby for a long time, but especially since Peter Tompkins and Christopher Bird’s 1973 book, The Secret Life of Plants. Well, researchers at Exeter University are finding that plants do indeed warn each other of danger.
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Hands down, my top recommendation this week is Timothy Egan’s NYT piece on Washington’s approval of gay marriage. The accompanying video—of conservative Republican Maureen Walsh’s heartfelt statement in support of the law—must rank among one of the great moments in Washington’s legislature.
My other “recommendation,” if you can call it that, comes courtesy of Sightline’s own Migee Han: she completely freaked me out with this recent Atlantic article, “How Your Cat is Making You Crazy.” The headline isn’t hyperbolic. It details the emerging scientific research about the strange little parasite that causes toxoplasmosis, and that may be subtly altering human behavior.
Fear of the parasite, which comes from cat feces, leads some to counsel pregnant women to avoid cleaning their cats’ litter boxes. I’ve scoffed at that advice, loudly and often, on the grounds that toxoplasmosis infection rates are exceedingly high—over 50 percent in some European countries and maybe a quarter of the North American population—but there are virtually no documented cases of illness or death from the parasite. In other words, being infected by toxoplasmosis appears to be about as dangerous as eating an egg. Less so, actually. That’s true enough in terms of direct mortality, but if a Czech researcher is right, toxoplasmosis may be manipulating us in subtle but alarming ways. Enough, perhaps, to account for hundreds of thousands of deaths annually.
If that seems hard to believe, consider that the natural world is replete with well-documented examples of micro-parasites altering their hosts’ behavior in astonishing ways, even making them suicidal in certain cases. Freaked out yet? Go read it.
The incandescent light bulb has taken on symbolism recently that would undoubtedly surprise Thomas Edison. Since the rise of the Tea Party, saving the old-fashioned 100-watt bulb has become, for some, a matter of personal liberty. For the rest of us, including George W. Bush who in 2007 signed legislation to phase out the incandescent bulb in favor of its energy-saving counterpart, fluorescents are symbols of efficiency, cost savings, waste-cutting, and taking action to stabilize our human-altered climate. Emily Redman at Fiat Lux takes a closer look at how Edison actually “mobilized the government to put his product on the proverbial shelves in a manner that uncomfortably parallels today’s federally sponsored [efficient] bulbs.” In fact marketing and making the right political alliances may have been Edison’s true genius.
This Mother Jones profile of biologist Tyrone Hayes reads like a movie script. That’s because after he discovered that a top-selling herbicide messes with sex hormones (scary stuff like making female frogs into males), the manufacturer went into full battle mode—against Tyrone Hayes. And Hayes, a flamboyant, outspoken, and defiant character, is fighting back.
This is the most sobering and extensive account I’ve read to date of just how royally messed up our political system really is. Money is power, everything else be damned.
“We can pickle that!” is something of a new catch phrase, thanks to Portlandia. But the New York Times gives reason not to mock the artisanal pickle maker.
It’s lengthy, but this New York Times Magazine article on the information companies collect on you—and how they use it—is fascinating. Can Target know you’re pregnant before you do?
And, lastly, I found this video of solar tornadoes on the surface of the sun oddly cathartic.