News in Brief: Pope Francis Lays Hands On Ailing U.S. Infrastructure


News in Brief: Pope Francis Lays Hands On Ailing U.S. Infrastructure
NEW YORK—Treating the frail, long-overlooked structures with an unparalleled display of compassion, Pope Francis reportedly inspired a crowd of onlookers Friday by laying his hands upon the ailing United States infrastructure. “My heart just melted when I watched the pope interrupt his address to walk over and gently embrace this disfigured bridge cross-girder that was covered in unsightly rust,” said New York City resident John Reedy, one of thousands of observers reportedly moved to tears as the pontiff reached out to the weak and crippled metal framework, gingerly kissed the decayed surface, and then closed his eyes while blessing the neglected overpass. “Most people turn the other way when they see such mangled, hopeless infrastructure, but he showed it such tenderness and attention, like he was really willing it to heal. Who knows—maybe God will intervene and save these decrepit structures.” At press time, the Vicar of Christ …

September 25, 2015 at 07:47PM
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Apple iPhone 6s Buyers, Rose Gold Is Bros’ Gold


Apple iPhone 6s Buyers, Rose Gold Is Bros’ Gold
The rose gold version of the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus was clearly catching the eye of prospective smartphone buyers waiting outside Apple’s flagship stores in Los Angeles and San Francisco.

September 25, 2015 at 07:43PM
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The Super Blood Moon Is Coming — Are You Ready?


The Super Blood Moon Is Coming — Are You Ready?
​On Sunday, most of the Americas, Africa and Europe will be treated to a super blood moon, a rare phenomenon that reminds us both that space is awesome and that we shouldn’t mess with space. Here’s how and when to see it and a quick explainer on what’s going on.

September 25, 2015 at 07:42PM
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A Not-So-Fantastical Plan To Save California From Drought With Cacti

A Not-So-Fantastical Plan To Save California From Drought With Cacti

Imagine the Central Valley of California not as a patchwork of drought-vulnerable crops but as a network of farms that use almost no water. Not only that, these farms can also filter existing water while providing acres of food for Californians. Imagine that thirsty alfalfa no longer reigns: Cactus is king.

This is one potential future scenario for California according to a winner of Dry Futures, a competition sponsored by Archinect to unearth design solutions to the state’s drought. There are plenty of intriguing solutions but this one in particular caught my eye as it’s one we’ve talked about here: The power of the prickly pear cactus.

A Not-So-Fantastical Plan To Save California From Drought With Cacti

Grassroots Cactivism” is the name of the concept by Ali Chen, which taps the prickly pear (commonly called nopales when humans are eating the paddles, but you can also eat the bright pink fruit) as a renewable centerpiece of a water purifying system, something it’s been used for informally for centuries:

Locals in Mexico have often dumped the water used to cook cactus into polluted rivers and streams. The ‘mucilage’ or inner cactus pulp has also been tested and used in oil spills. Cactus pulp was found to disperse crude oil efficiently at much lower concentrations than synthetic dispersants.

In this concept, farms of prickly pear cactus would replace traditional “treatment plants,” helping to recycle wastewater without using additional energy, while producing a water-efficient crop that can feed local residents. Assuming the cactus can effectively act as a cleaning agent as described, this seems like a brilliant idea.

A Not-So-Fantastical Plan To Save California From Drought With Cacti

Curiously, this concept won the speculative category but it’s clearly not that far-fetched. We reported earlier this summer on a study by Oxford scientists which highlighted the prickly pear as an important water-efficient source of bioenergy. And of course the part where you can eat both the energy source itself if necessary as well as its highly nutritious fruit as a byproduct is a huge bonus. Can’t say that about coal.

With all this talk about what food makes sense to grow where, and which plants are simply converting tons of water into empty calories, cactus appears to be a clear winner as far as agriculture goes. The fact that it can also clean water makes it seem like a super-crop. Who can help make cactus the next kale?

[Check out Grassroots Cactivism and the rest of the Dry Futures winners]

Follow the author at @awalkerinLA

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‘Nice to MEAT you!’ ;) by Adrian Sommeling

‘Nice to MEAT you!’ 😉 by Adrian Sommeling

No, it’s not about food… it’s about politics and politicians 😉
Models: Marco ter Beek and uhh… Clara the Cow 😉

Adrian Sommeling: Photos

via 500px: http://bit.ly/1MOQOsL