WSU researchers find that exposure to toxic chemicals can affect the next three generations of offspring.  From the press release: “While toxicologists generally focus on animals exposed to a compound, [this] work…demonstrates that diseases can also stem from older, ancestral exposures that are then mediated through epigenetic changes in sperm.”  Ick!

A short, readable guide to Tactical Urbanism: how to create mini-parks, greener streetscapes, safe places for kids to play in cities, and more!

Apparently, 2010 was a very good year to be in the 1 percent. Of course, the issue of economic inequality wouldn’t be so crucial if there was lots of economic mobility—that is, if people moved from the bottom to the top of the income ladder all the time.  But as the numbers clearly show, there’s less economic mobility in the US than in many other rich countries; and most studies show that economic mobility is static or perhaps decreasing—though women may now be more upwardly mobile than men.

Thank goodness:  the USDA is allowing school cafeterias to opt out of serving “lean finely textured beef,” also known as “pink slime.”

The low-cost ingredient is made from fatty bits of meat left over from other cuts. The bits are heated to about 100 F and spun to remove most of the fat. The lean mix then is compressed into blocks for use in ground meat. The product…is exposed to “a puff of ammonium hydroxide gas” to kill bacteria, such as E. coli and salmonella.

I have no particular opinion on whether “pink slime” is healthy.  It certainly doesn’t sound appetizing, but I don’t actually know. Regardless, it’s a brilliant example of effective anti-branding: pithy, memorable, disgusting, and (for anyone who remembers school cafeteria lunches) believably evocative.

If you’re a fan of bioregionalism, check out this Kickstarter project to help fund a film about Cascadia. The nature footage is gorgeous, and the message is worth listening to. (Full disclosure – the filmmakers interviewed me, and you can actually hear me stuttering like Elmer Fudd just before minute 6 of the trailer.)


A new type of male birth control?

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    Thanks to Brian P. Beinlich for supporting a sustainable Cascadia.

  • Alan:

    “Who would have thought that clotheslines would make such intriguing and eye-catching art?“ (Well, everyone who reads Sightline.)

    An experiment in which a white reporter and his black friend each mock-steal their own bicycles in New York City to see what passersby and police do. Answer: Not much.

    Giant parking lots at sports stadiums and airports may become a little less necessary if ParkatMyHouse succeeds in building a vibrant online market for parking slots at private homes. Like Airbnb, Getaround, and other collaborative consumption companies, ParkAtMyHouse has one foot in capitalism and one foot in sharing. It’s all about making fuller, and more-profitable, use of existing assets.


    Digging around about the pitfalls of unrestrained capitalism, I recently discovered a new personal hero: Ida Tarbell. Born in 1857, she was a pioneer of muckraking journalism—investigative journalism today. In 1904 she published The History of the Standard Oil Company, an exposé that took on oil tycoon John D. Rockefeller and is credited with hastening the 1911 breakup of Standard Oil.

    The book also inspired many other journalists to write about trusts (and the lack of antitrust laws) and the growing problem of monopolies and corruption. I’m part way into it and can barely put it down. For one, I was fascinated by Tarbell’s account of the dawn of the oil industry in this country, particularly the financial and personal risks that young entrepreneurs were willing to take to make unprecedented fortunes in a new energy economy before it really boomed. America’s smartest and most energetic were throwing all their ingenuity and resources into oil, creating jobs, building infrastructure, and—in many cases—making it big. We’re at the other end of that story now, with oil becoming the old, outdated energy of the past—even while it still defines us. It’s hard not to wish for the same kind of competitive, innovative frenzy today for the fuels—and fortunes—of tomorrow.

    Eric H:

    Kids today eat an average of 322 calories worth of added sugar every day—about 16 percent of their daily intake. The findings go against the “conventional wisdom” that kids are drinking their calories in the form of sugary sodas, and that it’s happening at school where they lack parental oversight. Surprisingly, the majority, 59 percent, comes from food (not beverages), and 63 percent of it is eaten at home—not at school.

    At the same time, we’re spending way less on food than we used to. I wonder if there’s a connection.