A 12-Year-Old’s Mission to Drive Across Australia

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On Friday, a 12-year-old boy departed Kendall, on Australia’s eastern coast, for Perth, on the western coast—around 2,700 miles away. The boy was driving his family’s car, and was about 800 miles into his solo trip when police officers in Broken Hill, a mining town in western New South Wales, noticed that the bumper on his car was dragging on the road.

The boy was subsequently pulled over Saturday morning and arrested, but was lauded for his efforts on social media, according to 9News. “Clearly he’s a top driver,” one Australian wrote.

A police officer told the station that the evidence suggests otherwise. “It appears [the boy] did have an accident while driving,” the officer said, though it seems no one was hurt.

The adolescent … Read the rest

Bipartisan Support of Public Goods Made America Great

All Americans are lucky to live in a country brimming with public resources that everyone can share. The Conversation

Many are provided by government and funded with our tax dollars, such as the highways that crisscross the country, the 84 million acres of national parks and the roughly 100,000 public schools that give all children access to education.

Others come from nature, like mountains, lakes and rivers, which also depend on a reliable government and meaningful regulations to preserve and protect them.

While the collective value of these “public goods” is probably incalculable, the economic impact of schools, clean air, and vast highways has been significant. In fact, I would argue that public goods are what have made America great.

Unfortunately, our stock of public goods … Read the rest

Wax Worms Have a Voracious Appetite—for Plastic Bags

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Plastic is pretty much forever. That polyethylene plastic bag you used to bring your groceries home can last for centuries in a landfill or the ocean. Scientists have tried using bacteria and fungus to break down plastics, but a team of researchers in the England and Spain have shown that a humble larva might be a much better fit for the job.

Frederica Bertocchini, a biologist at the Institute of Biomedicine and Biotechnology in Spain, noticed some wax worms had managed to eat their way through the plastic bags they were being kept in. While other organisms can take weeks or months to break down even the smallest amount of plastic, the wax worm can get through more—in a far shorter period of time. The researchers … Read the rest

Bangkok’s Street Vendors Are Not the Enemies of Public Space

For a moment, it seemed like Bangkok was going to lose the very street food culture that’s defined the city for decades. Local newspaper The Nation reported last Tuesday that the city was planning to ban food stalls in all 50 of its districts as part of an effort to “clean up” the streets and “return the pavements to the pedestrians.” All would disappear by end of this year—the sweet and sticky aroma of coconut (a staple Thai ingredient), the sizzle of noodles hitting the wok as vendors fire up an order of pad thai, and the chaotic charm that draws some 20 to 30 million international tourists to the city each year.

After a public outcry, garnering media attention across the globe, Thailand’s chief of … Read the rest

Prohibition, Moonshine, and an Underground Secret

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Dutch Schultz, whose given name wasn’t Dutch Schultz, had a lot of secrets.

Fatally shot in 1935 while urinating at the Palace Chop House and Tavern in Newark, Schultz was a noted gangster in a time of noted gangsters, when men such as Charles “Lucky” Luciano and Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel walked the Earth. And, like many of his peers, Schultz had a lot of business interests, one of which was bootlegging, an activity which made a lot of criminals rich. Schultz was also, authorities later found out, running an underground distillery in Pine Plains, New York, that was largely forgotten until recently.

Today, that distillery is operating again under the name Dutch’s Spirits, and its CEO, Lydia Higginson, says that the new—completely legit, this time—operation … Read the rest

The Long Death of New Jersey’s 600-Year-Old Oak

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Basking Ridge, New Jersey, is saying goodbye to one of its oldest and most famous residents: a 600-year old oak tree.

Predating the town that currently surrounds it, the massive white oak tree is thought to be the oldest of its kind in North America. And, as CBS New York notes, the tree would have been standing at the time of Columbus. These days, it’s located next to a Presbyterian church, its roots tied up in a Revolutionary War cemetery at its feet.

But despite six centuries of staying power, the tree was declared dead last year, the apparent victim, the New York Times has said, of old age and some volatile weather. Now it’s being cut down completely, to protect the church and cemetery … Read the rest

Touring the Abandoned Atlantic City Sites That Inspired the Monopoly Board

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Boardwalk. St. Charles Place. Atlantic Avenue. If you grew up playing Monopoly, you’ll be familiar with these place names. While they may sound like they’re from a generic U.S. city, dreamt up by the game’s inventor, they exist in real life—in Atlantic City, New Jersey. But they are no longer what they once were.

Today Atlantic City has a reputation as a destination for coach-loads of seniors looking to spend a day at the slots. But when Parker Brothers first produced Monopoly in 1935 it was one of the most luxurious and famous resorts in America. Grand hotels, saloons, dance halls and theaters stretched along the Atlantic Ocean for seven miles. The casinos were still 40 years away, but cocktails flowed for over half-a-million pleasure-seekers every … Read the rest

Grizzly Bears Have a Human Problem

In 2015, a woman named Barbara Paschke was attacked and killed by a black bear inside her home in northwest Montana. Paschke, who was 85 and suffered from Alzheimer’s, had been feeding bears regularly on her property, a practice that is illegal and, as her death showed, potentially fatal. Bears can quickly get used to foraging for easily accessible food sources close to human habitation, but they remain wild animals, imperiling both humans and themselves.

Nobody knows this reality better than the farmers, ranchers, and other humans living in areas with high bear populations. Unlike Barbara Paschke, most have no desire to feed the bears, but they often end up doing it unwittingly. “Nuisance bears,” as chronic offenders are described by wildlife biologists, invade trash cans, … Read the rest

How to Disappear

Even in the middle of major city, it’s possible to go off the grid. Last year, the Atlantic profiled a family in Washington, D.C., that harvests their entire household energy from a single, 1-kilowatt solar panel on a patch of cement in their backyard. Insulated, light-blocking blinds keep upstairs bedrooms cool at the peak of summer; in winter, the family gets by with low-tech solutions, like curling up with hot water bottles. “It’s a bit like camping,” one family member said.

If extricating yourself from the electrical grid is, to some degree, a test of moxie and patience, extracting yourself from the web of urban surveillance technology strains the limits of both. If you live in a dense urban … Read the rest