Kiera Butler

Kiera Butler

Senior Editor

Kiera answers your green questions every week in her Econundrums column. She was a hypochondriac even before she started researching germ warfare.

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Kiera has written about the environment, arts and culture, and more for Columbia Journalism Review, Orion, Audubon, OnEarth, Plenty, and the Utne Reader. She lives in Berkeley and recently planted 30 onions in her backyard.

Beijing Spectators Risk Heart Attacks

| Mon Jul. 21, 2008 3:40 PM EDT

beijing200.jpgResearchers at Northwestern University warn that pollution in Beijing is so extreme that it could trigger cardiac arrest and strokes in spectators and athletes.

Advice from the docs:

Stay indoors during traffic rush-hour periods. "Indoor air pollution levels are always much lower than outdoor, so staying inside will limit your exposure," Budinger said. He cautioned that Beijing's definition of mild pollution would be a pollution alert day in the U.S.

So that's all good advice for the millions who will be descending upon Beijing for a few weeks, but what about the people who actually live there?

Oh yeah, them: The 750,000 Chinese people that die prematurely from pollution every year—and that the Chinese government doesn't want you to know about. Are they just supposed to stay inside all day every day?

For a good overview of some of the emergency measures Beijing officials have taken to prepare for the Olympics, go here. Hope they keep it up after the party ends. For everyone's sake.


Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

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New Documentary: American Teen

| Wed Jul. 16, 2008 5:04 PM EDT

On the off chance that you haven't had your fill of this genre, in August you'll have the opportunity to see yet another set of jocks, popular girls, and band geeks prance around the screen in a new documentary called American Teen, directed by Nanette Burstein (The Kid Stays in the Picture).

Three MoJo staffers attended the San Francisco sneak preview on Monday. Read our discussion here.

Lab Equipment Slow Jam

| Fri Jul. 11, 2008 4:40 PM EDT

In case you haven't had your fill of goofy-commercials-turned-Internet-sensations, man, do I have one for you.

So pretend you're a scientist. Which would make you want to buy a piece of lab equipment more? This slogan:


With our new Plug'n'Prep® concept for the epMotion pipetting system, automate virtually any nucleic acid purification kit with protocols from your favorite kit provider—just load the deck and press start!

Or this:

Yeah, I thought so. This excellent slow jam is a real ad created by a lab-tools manufacturer called Eppendorf. The product in question, epMotion, is some kind of automatic pipette system. Or so the lyrics seem to suggest:

Pipetting all those well-plates, baby, sends your thumbs into overdrive And spending long nights in the lab makes it hard for your love to thrive
What you need is automation, girl, something easy as 1 2 3 So put down that pipette, honey, I got something that will set you free

H/T Mental Floss.

Image and video courtesy of Eppendorf.

Raleigh Man Chooses To Retire Instead of Honoring Helms

| Thu Jul. 10, 2008 4:40 PM EDT

A 51-year-old employee of the North Carolina Department of Agriculture chose to retire rather than lower a flag to half mast in honor of the late former senator Jesse Helms, reports the Charlotte Observer.

And it wasn't like L.F. Eason III, a registered Democrat, hadn't lowered other flags during his 29-year tenure at the lab where he worked:

...Eason said he had no problems lowering the flag for former Sen. Terry Sanford or President Ronald Reagan. But he remembers wondering whether he would be able to lower the flag after President Richard Nixon's funeral.

Wonder whether Eason had mulled this protest over beforehand, or if it was a game-time decision. Given the fact that Helms was in the senate even before Eason got his job at the lab, he certainly had time to think about it.

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