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The sun.

Photo by NASA/Flickr.

Bringer of day. Giver of life. Causer of that squinty face you're making in your Christmas card photo.

Just TAKE THE PICTURE! Photo via iStock.


And now, perhaps, also the unlikely savior of our climate and planet.

Thanks largely to a major decline in the cost of equipment, solar power has become the cheapest new energy source on the market.

"Unsubsidized solar is beginning to outcompete coal and natural gas on a larger scale, and notably, new solar projects in emerging markets are costing less to build than wind projects," Bloomberg's Tom Randall reports, summarizing a series of new data released by Bloomberg New Energy Finance, which surveyed 58 emerging economies in Africa, Asia, the Middle East, and South America.

The fact that this is taking place in the developing world is a big deal, as it could potentially allow some countries to skip dirty, costly fossil fuels altogether — or at least mostly.

A gigantic solar farm in Morocco. Photo by Fadel Senna/Getty Images.

Back in the '90s, much of Africa couldn't reliably talk to each other on the phone. Even in 2015, only 2% of African households had landline connections. But the advent of mobile phones allowed many countries to rapidly build communication infrastructure without having to install costly, resource-and-labor-intensive telephone lines. Today, nearly 90% of Nigerian and South African adults own mobile phones — about the same as the United States.

Similarly, falling costs could allow many of these countries to install cheap solar farms without having to first build big expensive coal and natural gas plants, giving them an edge over countries like the United States, which have to weigh the cost of building new, clean energy plants with the cost of tearing down old ones and deal with heavy resistance from the industries that operate them.

Of course, there are still some roadblocks to a full-on, balls-to-the-wall solar building bonanza.

Despite falling costs, installing solar panels across dozens of countries on multiple continents is time consuming.

Also, in areas that are less reliably sunny, fossil fuel sources can still be cheaper and more effective.

Nonetheless, it's an encouraging sign — and not just for those hoping to slow or reverse climate change.

"For populations still relying on expensive kerosene generators," Randall wrote, "or who have no electricity at all, and for those living in the dangerous smog of thickly populated cities, the shift to renewables and increasingly to solar can’t come soon enough."

When that day comes, we Earthlings could owe the sun big time.

Photo by NASA.

At least until it swallows us all whole in a few billion years.

A breastfeeding mother's experience at Vienna's Schoenbrunn Zoo is touching people's hearts—but not without a fair amount of controversy.

Gemma Copeland shared her story on Facebook, which was then picked up by the Facebook page Boobie Babies. Photos show the mom breastfeeding her baby next to the window of the zoo's orangutan habitat, with a female orangutan sitting close to the glass, gazing at them.

"Today I got feeding support from the most unlikely of places, the most surreal moment of my life that had me in tears," Copeland wrote.

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Democracy

The Onion filed a Supreme Court brief. It's both hilariously serious and seriously hilarious.

Who else could call the judiciary 'total Latin dorks' while making a legitimate point?

The Onion's Supreme Court brief uses parody to defend parody.

Political satire and parody have been around for at least 2,400 years, as ancient Greek playwright Aristophanes satirized the way Athenian leaders conducted the Peloponnesian War and parodied the dramatic styles of his contemporaries, Aeschylus and Euripides.

Satire and parody are used to poke fun and highlight issues, using mimicry and sarcasm to create comedic biting commentary. No modern outlet has been more prolific on this front than The Onion, and the popular satirical news site is defending parody as a vital free speech issue in a legal filing with the U.S. Supreme Court.

The filing is, as one might expect from The Onion, as brilliantly hilarious as it is serious, using the same satirical style it's defending in the crafting of the brief itself.

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She's enjoying the big benefits of some simple life hacks.

James Clear’s landmark book “Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones” has sold more than 9 million copies worldwide. The book is incredibly popular because it has a simple message that can help everyone. We can develop habits that increase our productivity and success by making small changes to our daily routines.

"It is so easy to overestimate the importance of one defining moment and underestimate the value of making small improvements on a daily basis,” James Clear writes. “It is only when looking back 2 or 5 or 10 years later that the value of good habits and the cost of bad ones becomes strikingly apparent.”

His work proves that we don’t need to move mountains to improve ourselves, just get 1% better every day.

Most of us are reluctant to change because breaking old habits and starting new ones can be hard. However, there are a lot of incredibly easy habits we can develop that can add up to monumental changes.

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