Tag Archives: Pics

Aghast Over Beijing’s Pollution? Look at Pittsburgh 60 Years Ago


The photographs and measurements coming out of Beijing these days are horrifying. You can see the brown clouds from space, and Chinese media have even been talking up the problem.

I’ve heard from some Americans saying, “Why don’t they do something about this? How can they live like this?” Etcetera. To an early 21st century American, particularly one living in northern California or a relatively pollution-free Washington, DC, it seems crazy to live with such bad air.

But it was not always so.

As America became an industrial power during the 19th century, Pittsburgh emerged as the seat of metalworking, iron and then steel. This was a city powered by coal. Soot and smoke covered the city. There was no blue sky. Travelers from around the world visited Pittsburgh to see the wonder of American capitalism. The stories they tell are like — exactly, like — the ones you hear today about China. (This is a story that I covered in some detail in my book.)

A wry southerner observed, “If a sheet of white paper lie upon your desk for half an hour you may write on it with your finger’s end through the thin stratum of coal dust that has settled upon it during that interval.”

Another traveler recounted, “Every body who has heard of Pittsburgh knows that it is the city of perpetual smoke, and looks as if it were built above the descent to ‘the bottomless pit,'” that is to say, hell. And yet, this dirty power also happened to make a lot of people a lot of money. It was said, “He whose hands are the most sooty handles the most money, and it is reasonable to infer is the richer man.”

Everyone knew that the smoke covering their homes and clothes and trees was bad. But it made a certain group of people a lot of money. And so they fought pollution controls. And those people had friends.

So, while the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (granted, a less august institution back then) declared the health hazards of smoke and wondered aloud whether corporations should be allowed to produce what it called such “evil,” a Pittsburgh doctor maintained that soot and smoke “only go throat-deep” and said that fire and smoke “correct atmospheric impurities.”

The politics of how this works are pretty simple. The smoke and the soot are something we recognize now as an externality. A cost of doing business that the business doesn’t have to pay because they can dump it on society. Chinese citizens and activists and assorted air-breathers will have to get the polluting companies to internalize these costs. The polluting companies don’t want to internalize that cost. Here’s Chicago’s smoke inspector (yes htere was such a title and in this case, he was named F.U. Adams) in 1896 laying out the rhetorical positions of the two camps:

Viewed from the standpoint of the Smoke Inspector, the 1,600,000 people of Chicago are divided into two classes—First, those who create a smoke nuisance; Second, those who are compelled to tolerate a smoke nuisance. One class has radical champions who maintain that smoke is an irrepressible necessity; a concomitant of the commercial and manufacturing supremacy of Chicago; that smoke not only is not unhealthy, but that it is an actual disinfectant, and that the low death rate of the city can be largely attributed to the prevalence of smoke; that the smoke ordinance and its enforcement are aimed at the interests of the Illinois coal operators; that the advocates of smoke abatement are visionary sentimentalists, and in a general way they are emphatically opposed to any agitation on the subject.

The other side has partisans no less radical, and equally emphatic in voicing the story of their wrongs. They declare that the enforcement of the smoke ordinance is a farce; they demand that soft coal be excluded from the city; they insist that its consumption entails an annual damage greater than the difference in cost between soft and hard coal; they declare that the smoke nuisance is a positive menace to the health of citizens, that it has resulted in an alarming increase in throat, lung and eye diseases; they point to ruined carpets, paintings, fabrics, the soot-besmeared facades of buildings and to a smoke-beclouded sky, and demand that the Smoke Inspector do his plain duty under the law.

It is impossible to reconcile the radical partisans of these two classes. It is fortunate that not many of our citizens are so radical on either side of this most important question. There exists a growing contingent, around which is crystallizing a sentiment that it is practical and possible to abate the smoke nuisance without endangering the stupendous interests involved. The most intelligent and active members of this contingent are drawn from the ranks of those formerly largely responsible for the smoke nuisance. They now oppose smoke for the same reason that they once defended it.

They have made the discovery that it is cheaper to abate a smoke nuisance than to maintain one. And by reason of this discovery the smoke nuisance in Chicago will be a relic of the past before the close of the present century.

Ah, you beautiful visionary sentimentalists! My asthma thanks you. But man, F.U. Adams was optimistic. Change takes a long time. Pittsburgh, for its part, did not enact smoke controls until 1946! Yes, 1946! And they didn’t really get a handle on the smoke problem until well into the 1950s. That’s, oh, 120 years after all those travelers decried the place as hell with the lid off. I mean, this is what Pittsburgh looked like at noon, the lights all on because so little sunlight could penetrate the pollution:

This is what passed for fresh air.

Until finally, one day, after a century of agitation, activists got smoke control measures passed. The sky started to clear.

The fundamental struggle of any kind of pollution control is trying to get the polluters to internalize the costs of their pollution. Because if they don’t, the rest of us have to pay more. We — i.e. all of society — subsidize their businesses through increased health care costs, declining values of certain kinds of housing, toxic land or water or air. And the only reason they get away with it is that tracing the line of causality back to them — even when the air looks as disgusting as it does in these photographs — is just that difficult. They hide their roles in the complexity of the system.

So, next time you see one of the photos of Beijing’s pollution and say, “Geez! The Chinese should do something about this!” Just know that it took American activists over a century to win the precise same battle, and that they’re losing a similar one over climate change right this minute.

Image courtesy of NASA

This article originally published at The Atlantic

Read more: http://mashable.com/2013/01/16/beijing-pollution-pittsburgh/

The Internet, Chairs Pose for Eastwooding Photos


Eastwooding has taken over the interwebz — and there are pictures to prove it.

Fans of the meme posted photos of empty chairs alongside the hashtag #eastwooding, which was inspired by actor Clint Eastwood’s ten-minute chat with a chair at the Republican National Convention. The chair, an “invisible Obama” was meant to be a stand-in for the president.

While some photos simply feature fingers pointing to empty chairs, others get a bit more creative.

One pic, tweeted by @RunBoris, shows a man sitting at a dinner table, his arm presumably around the invisible shoulders of invisible Obama next to him.

Another photo, tweeted by @Neckelhead, shows a young toddler sitting on an empty chair — or rather, on the president’s lap.

What do you think of these #eastwooding photos? Have you taken any? Tell us in the comments below.

Photo wall courtesy of Slidechute

Woof! Meow! 25 Animals Dressed Like Other Animals


19 Kids Imagine What the iPhone 6 Might Look Like

Jony Ive, your stark Apple aesthetic could use a kid’s imagination.

Minimalism, curvy and sleek? Borrrring. We asked 19 talented kids — and future Apple designers — to show us what they think the iPhone 6 will look like. A few even offered insights on features we should expect from the revamped gadget.

So when are we getting our Cat iPhone, Apple?

UPDATE, Sept. 9, 3 p.m. ET: Sadly, there are three new iPhones, none shaped like cats or monsters.

17 Cats That Just Can’t Deal With This Week

You may think the life of a cat is easy, but you’d be dead wrong.

Though they’re much cuter about it, these cats still feel the harrowing reality of the return from a long weekend just as much as any human. Some take out their frustration on a roll of paper towels and some prefer to hide in a brick wall’s crevice.

Let these cats take you to the end of the workday. If they can do it, so can you.

Top 10 GIFs of the Week


Arr! The Complete Guide to Celebrating Talk Like a Pirate Day


In honor of the scurviest day of the year — Talk Like a Pirate Day — we’ve spiked the Watercooler with grog. Just kidding, but we do have the complete guide to celebrating that will shiver yer timbers.

This year marks the spot of the 10th anniversary of Talk Like a Pirate Day, according to the official website.

“What once was a goofy idea celebrated by a handful of friends has turned into an international phenomenon that shows no sign of letting up,” the site writes.

To celebrate, we’ve gathered 10 swashbucklingly fun ways to celebrate like a true pirate. We’re not only showing you how to talk like a pirate — by the end of this guide, you’ll also look and act the part. Whether it’s updating your profile picture, emailing co-workers or DIY tattoos, this guide is the treasure chest you were looking for.

Special thanks to Captain Annie Colbert of the U.S.S. Watercooler for assisting with this post.

1. Talk the Pirate Talk

Obviously, Talk Like a Pirate Day is all about the lingo, mateys. The website gives a good rundown of pirate terms, from the basics to advanced — there are even pickup lines.

Here are a few terms to know:

  • Ahoy!: “Hello!”

  • Avast! : A sense of surprise — stop what you’re doing and give it attention. “Wow!” or “Check it out!”

  • Arrr!: Never argh, which is a sound of disgruntlement. There are a few things which translate as “arr,” such as “yes,” or “I agree.” It can also be used as a term of contentment, or recognizing another pirate’s cleverness.

  • Lad/Lass: A younger boy or girl.

  • Matey: A companion or friend.

  • Savvy: A sense of understanding. “Once ye read ’tis guide, ye’ll be scurvy pirate savvy.

  • Smartly: Do something quickly. “Instagram me treasure smartly — and put a toaster filter, me matey!

  • Speaking of smartly, if you don’t have time to brush up on your pirate jargon, Post Like a Pirate will do it for you. It will even tweet your translations straight to Twittarrr.

    2. Look the Pirate Part

    Sad because your company won’t allow you to wear a three-cornered hat and eye patch to work? Don’t be! That’s what Photoshop is for. And if you’re going to talk like a pirate, you should look like one too.

    We’ve included a few pirate pieces to jazz up your avatar or profile picture. Add a hook, a sword, a hat or go all out.

    Be sure to share your creation with us by using the hashtag #MashMateys on Twitter, Instagram or Google+.

    3. Update Your Facebook

    The most hardcore of pirates are probably already using this feature, but you can change your language on Facebook to pirate. Go to your general settings and select “English (Pirate)” to join in on the fun.

    Bonus points for anyone who updates their cover photo too.

    4. Email Your Coworkers

    Now that you have the pirate lingo down — or have at least made good use of the translator — it’s time to let your colleagues know that you’re serious.

    Pirates have to yell over choppy waters, sails blowing in the wind and other rowdy pirates on the deck. You can’t yell in an email, but you can take advantage of the caps lock key.

    5. Pillage Your Office Kitchen for Snacks

    By now, you’ve surely worked up an appetite.

    Go ahead and raid the office kitchen for nourishment. Or just take a quick GIF break.

    6. Pirate Art

    Want to impress your pirate friends without using the lingo? Add some ascii art at the end of an email where your signature would normally be.

    Images courtesy of ASCII Art and Chris

    7. Pirate Tattoos

    No need to spend money and hours fighting back tears at the tattoo parlor — you can make them all yourselves!

    Jon Barnes shows you tips and techniques for drawing your own tattoos, using markers and imagination.

    8. Parrots

    Pirates considered parrots to be souvenirs of the sea. They were exotic, brightly colored and could be trained to speak.

    It’s less common for most of us to have a spare parrot lying around. Unless you already have one as a pet, consider improvising, like these guys.

    Images courtesy of Reddit, c9silver, Sharpwriter, oniaberry

    9. Pirate Grog

    Every pirate should celebrate the end of the day with a bottle of rum — but, we’re not really pirates, so let’s drink responsibly.

    Pirates actually drank grog, which was a special concoction of alcoholic brews. It was like a weak beer with rum in it. To improve the taste, modern versions of the drink are often made with hot water, and sometimes lemon juice, lime juice, cinnamon or sugar.

    If you’d rather not try grog, there are tons of other great beverage recipes — both alcoholic and nonalcoholic. Cheers, mateys!

    10. Playlist

    Finally, every pirate needs a source of entertainment while spending hours on the sea.

    Plug in your headphones, and enjoy Mashable’s sea-worthy picks for Talk Like a Pirate Day.

    Image courtesy of Nick Humphries

Read more: http://mashable.com/2012/09/19/talk-like-a-pirate-day-guide/

19 Brain-Popping Costume Ideas Involving Balloons

Don’t be fooled by the astronomically high prices of Halloween costumes — there is a better way.

Armed with only a package of balloons, a balloon pump and a little (OK, a lot) of patience, you’ll have all you need to make a one-of-a-kind costume.

For a costume that will truly pop your pals’ brains, take in a little inspiration from these buoyant costume creations.

Mashable Weekend Recap: 60 Stories You Might Have Missed


You might think mid-summer is kind of quiet here at Mashable HQ, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. This weekend was rip-roaring, rollicking and all those other “R” words — full of news, views, ballyhoo and woo woo, and we gathered all of it together right here, just for you.

So start your week right, check out all of our posts we did over the weekend here on the Weekend Recap, and then go out there and make it your best week yet.

Editor’s Picks

Sneak Peek: iPad 7? Features Unicorn Horns, Levitation [SUNDAY COMICS]

Advertisers Need to Pay Attention to Connected TV [INFOGRAPHIC]

Next iPhone Will Debut in Fall, Japanese Blog Reports [VIDEO]

Richard Branson Announces Satellite-Carrying ‘LauncherOne’

Top 10 Pinterest Pins This Week

6 Apps You Don’t Want To Miss

Top 10 Tech This Week [PICS]

News & Opinion

Nokia Knocks Lumia 900 Price Down to $50

How to Watch ‘Breaking Bad’ Premiere Live Online

770,000 Users Demand YouTube-to-MP3 Conversion

Top 6 Comments on Mashable This Week

Watch the Soyuz Lift Off for the International Space Station [VIDEO]

Cutest Thing You’ll See All Day: Man Proposes To Anchor Girlfriend On-Air [VIDEO]

HTC Working on ‘Unique’ New Tablet [REPORT]

NASA Releases Awesome Images of Massive Solar Flare Heading Toward Earth [VIDEO]

Mysterious Photos of a Super Slim Playstation 3 Leaked [VIDEO]

The Real iPod: Elon Musk’s Wild Idea for a ‘Jetson Tunnel’ from SF to LA

Non-Profits to Reap $10 Million From Facebook Settlement [REPORT]

RIM Loses $147,200,000 in Patent Verdict

LEGO Version of ‘Portal’ May Be Coming to a Store Near You

Solar Flare Heading Toward Earth, Could Result in Beautiful Sky Show [VIDEO]

The Chosen One: Meet the Man Who Sparked the Reddit Mystery [VIDEO]

Golden Google Doodle Honors Austrian Painter Gustav Klimt

Fast Food Loves Facebook: Restaurant Chains on Social Media [INFOGRAPHIC]

Amazon Game Network Launch Hints at Kindle Smartphone

Woman Goes to Extremes to Sell $35 Million Mansion

Are FBI’s Android Data-Sharing Apps Hacker-Proof?

Mobile Users Are Checking In as They Check Out of Town [INFOGRAPHIC]

Amy Poehler Gives Fantastic Makeup Advice [VIDEO]

Windows 8 Gets Unboxed

Bieber Hits 25 Million Followers, Twitter Employees Dance [VIDEO]

Are You Afraid of Mobile Phone Separation? [INFOGRAPHIC]

Weekend Leisure

How to Watch ‘Breaking Bad’ Premiere Live Online

Watch the Gruesome Trailer for The Walking Dead’s New Season

5 Fascinating Things We Learned From Reddit This Week

Kickstarter Project: Bring Ancient Artillery into Your Office [VIDEO]

The 10 Most Awesome Breaking Bad Finds on Pinterest

Watch London Cops Pull the Plug on Springsteen and McCartney [VIDEO]

‘Call Me Maybe’ Meets Star Wars: Forced Parody? [VIDEO]

Pack The Perfect Pinterest Picnic

Workout Gadgets Will Soon Be Battery-Free and Powered by You

Top 10 GIFs of the Week

Screen Time: How Much is Too Much for Your Kids?

10 Epic Trick Shot Stunts on YouTube

Who is the Superhero of the Social Web? [INFOGRAPHIC]

Half-Time at Comic-Con: Thursday and Friday’s Featured Films

7 Cosplayers to Follow on Social Media

7 Classic Harrison Ford Movie Quotes as Memes

Who Should Replace Departing ‘American Idol’ Judges?

This Robot Can Express Frighteningly Human Emotions [VIDEO]

Modern Day Heat Wave Problems [COMIC]

Helpful Resources

Reserve These 5 Web Properties for Your Kids Now

Why Analytics Matter to Small Businesses

3 Online Tools for Finding the Perfect Job Candidate

50 Digital Media Resources You May Have Missed

Can We Stop Bullying in the Gaming Community?

This Website Uses Social Media to Find Your Dream Job

A Flash Sales Site for Modest Fashion

How to Tell if Your Ad Is Terrible

12 Jaw-Dropping Booths From Comic-Con

Read more: http://mashable.com/2012/07/16/weekend-recap-62/

Historic Mars Discovery: 14 Things It Could Totally Be


The Curiosity rover has reportedly made a groundbreaking discovery on Mars. The problem is that we will have to wait a few weeks to find out what it is.

Curiosity made the finding onboard its mobile chemistry lab, Sample Analysis at Mars Instrument (SAM for short). While NASA has so far been mum on the discovery, Curiosity Chief Scientist John Grotzinger told NPR that it will be “one for the history books.” In fact, the data is so revolutionary that the team has to double-check to make sure that it is actually correct.

Based on Curiosity’s detailed reports, we do know what the rover has been up to since her August landing. Besides snapping selfies and checking into Foursquare, Curiosity has also found an ancient streambed where water once flowed, zapped a Martian rock with a laser and began an especially long dirt-digging mission in the Gale Crater.

Oh, the mystery! If you can’t wait for the official NASA report, we have some highly scientific, plausible predictions of what the discovery could be. And of course, space nerds, we want to know what you think it is — it’s your moment to shine. So let your weird out in the comments below.

A Living Microbe

Bacteria? It could be a great thing on Mars!

Lewis Lab at Northeastern University. Created by Anthony D’Onofrio, William H. Fowle, Eric J. Stewart and Kim Lewis

Another Part From Clumsy Curiosity

Remember when she found something shiny in the dirt? That ended up just being one of her parts.


It’s not boring when you put a weird guy in it.

Rubén Chase

Underground Tunnels

We can also assume that these will lead to mole people.


A Reliable 6G Network

The U.S. has finally figured out a way to monetize Mars.

Ancient Text of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

Curiosity, don’t panic.


Crop Circle-Making Machine

That would explain everything.

daz smith

Inverted Pyramids

Earth’s pyramids are just a sad alien’s re-creation of the real thing.

Aliens That Wear Tin Foil Hats

They need to protect their brains from humans, after all.


The Source of Martian Methane

NASA is currently translating the sign into English.


The Guy Who Invented the Sloppy Swish

Oh, so that’s the really strange guy who invented that really weird dance.


A Conceited Walrus

Frau Inga

Alien That Has Human Hands at First Glance, But Then on Second Look, They Aren’t Human at All


Dan Zen

Misunderstood Crab Mutant

He looks really mean, but he’s actually very hospitable.


Featured image courtesy of Flickr, x-ray delta one

Read more: http://mashable.com/2012/11/20/mars-discovery-predictions/