Environmentalism is Destroying the Planet

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It’s now pretty much irrefutable that our planet is getting hotter. Temperatures are soaring, sea levels are going up, and we’re now comfortably cruising toward an apocalypse of our own making. So it makes sense that you’d want to do something about it. But I’ve got some bad news: Chances are, whatever you’re doing isn’t helping.

Take carbon offsetting. The idea goes that you pay a little extra for your flight, and in return your airline plants a tree or whatever. Sounds good, except for the part where it doesn’t make any sense. In the West, they produce a lot of emissions—so much so that offsetting them all would require the rest of the world to start producing negative carbon. In other words, offsetting is no help at all, just like recycling. Yeah, sorry to burst your bubble, but recycling has become a global market. That means that suppliers of recycled goods follow the money—even if it involves shipping their produce across the world, at ozone-shredding energy costs. And that’s before we get started on the environmental damage caused by mercury mining for energy-efficient light bulbs. So, to sum up: The planet is doomed and trying to help will only make things worse. Great.

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Jousting and Hastilude

Jousting

Jousting wasn’t just something knights did in between wars. In fact, when jousting developed into the sports-like event popular culture depicts it as, there weren’t many wars to fight.

Jousting began as an exercise in medieval combat tactics. However, when the crusades ended and knights had no more wars to fight, jousting quickly became a hastilude, the medieval name for a combat-themed sport. Popular hastilude events included the pas d’armes (passage of arms), in which a knight had to fight his way through a group of challengers, and melee, in which a group of knights were divided into two teams that fought each other on foot.

Surprisingly, jousting was seldom the main event—usually the melee was the center of attention.

Smallest Existing Drone

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Yes, it is technically a drone, but the RoboBee is, well, exactly what the name implies: a very, very small drone that is directly inspired by insect biology. And it has many interesting potential applications beyond just spying.

For instance, it’s easy to imagine swarms of robot bees being very useful in hazardous environment assessments, say, in the aftermath of a nuclear plant accident or a natural disaster, or in search-and-rescue situations. Roboticists at Harvard, where the RoboBee was developed, also see them perhaps being used in weather and traffic monitoring, climate mapping, and other such already-entrenched technologies that the drones could further improve.

For that matter, you may have heard that actual honeybee colonies have been declining, potentially causing a host of problems for the rest of the planet’s creatures. This may not be so worrisome if we are able to deploy vast swarms of artificial bees, programmed to pollinate just like real ones, to compensate—another very realistic task for the RoboBee.

Christofer Porco

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On the morning of November 15, 2004, the blood-soaked body of 52-year-old Peter Porco was found near the front door of his Delmar, New York, home. He had been bludgeoned to death with a fire ax. Peter’s wife, Joan, was found in her bed upstairs. She had also been bludgeoned with an ax but was still alive. Before she was rushed into emergency surgery, an investigatorquestioned Joan. When asked if a family member attacked her, Joan supposedly nodded “yes” after he mentioned the name of her youngest son, Christopher. After spending some time in a coma, Joan survived the attack, but did lose her left eye and a portion of her skull.

At the time, Christopher Porco was a 21-year-old student at Rochester University. His whereabouts could not be accounted for during the time of the murder, and his Jeep Wrangler was spotted in his parents’ driveway that morning. Christopher liked to present the facade of a lavish lifestyle to his fellow students, and he found himself in serious debt after forging his father’s signature to obtain loans and lines of credit. It was theorized that Christopher murdered his parents after they confronted him about this. While Joan Porco would later claim that she had no memory of the attack and supported Christopher, the circumstantial evidence was still strong enough to bring him to trial. In 2006, Christopher Porco was found guilty of both second-degree murder and attempted murder and was sentenced to 25 years to life for each count.

Odd Compulsion to Drink Urine

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Meet Carie, a 53-year-old woman who drinks her own urine. She might as well use it to brush her teeth, take a bath in, and wash her eyes out with, too. In fact, you guessed it, she actually does. Carie drinks around 80 ounces of her own urine a day and even uses it in a neti pot for nasal irrigation. She’s in a fight against cancer and believes that drinking her own urine helps her to cope with the disease.

Chocolate-coated Heroine

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In 2009, agents at John F. Kennedy Airport in New York stopped Edny Barzo, because of a large amount of chocolate bars in his luggage. Upon closer inspection, they realized it was actually a bunch of heroin hidden in realistic-looking chocolate bars. What a passing glance might see as a nice snack was actually $400,000 of drugs. Unfortunately for Barzo, officers in New York are highly trained to identify cases “of deep concealment methods.”

The Burning Mountain

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The underground coal fire that creates what is called “Burning Mountain” (Mount Wingen) near Wingen, New South Wales, Australia was probably started by lightning or spontaneous combustion. At least, that’s the assumption—no one knows for sure because it has been going strong for at least 6,000 years. Acientists believe it may be the oldest known continuously burning coal fire.

The blaze moves at a rate of about 1 meter (3.3 ft) each year due south. That may not sound like much, but given its age, simple math tells us that the coal fire has moved at least 6 kilometers (3.7 mi) since it started. At this rate, the fire should reach the outskirts of Sydney Australia, a distance of about 280 kilometers (173 mi), in another 255,000 years or so.