+
Heroes

The bright side of Beijing's pollution? You can make actual bricks out of smog and clay.

Beijing is in dire need of some fresh air.

True
League of Conservation Voters

In a symbolic gesture to show just how dirty Beijing's skies have become, one man decided to make the problem a bit more ... tangible.

Wang Renzheng, whose artistic name is Jianguo Xiongdi, or "Nut Brother," walked around Beijing with a vacuum cleaner a few hours every day literally sucking the smog out of the city's air.

His goal? To make a brick out of his collection.


And he succeeded.

There it is. The brick. Photo by Dong Dalu/CFP, used in a video by Wochit News/YouTube.

On Nov. 30, 2015, after 100 days of collecting smog, the 34-year-old took the gunk that built up in his vacuum, mixed it with some clay, and baked it into a brick, The Huffington Post reported.

"I want to show this absurdity to more people," Renzheng explained, according to The Guardian. And while it's not clear exactly how much clay coagulant went into the final product, we do know that the air around Beijing contains 20 to 40 times more pollutants than the recommended "safe" amount of carbon, dust, and gunk — so take that as you will.

GIF via Wochit News/YouTube.

Renzheng's work certainly isn't the first time Beijing's pollution problem has been thrown into the spotlight.

Just this past September, the Internet's jaw dropped after seeing before-and-afters like this one.


The city had banned cars for two weeks ahead of a big celebratory parade, and the results were seriously incredible.

Or, take the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, when American athletes were spotted arriving at the capital's airport wearing face masks in preparation for the city's poor air quality. The story blew up and China was certainly embarrassed.

Keeping the Earth green and the skies blue has been a tricky feat in China.

Economic growth has meant more and more cars on the road, which, coupled with an over-dependence on coal and lax environmental laws, has routinely buried Beijing's skyline (and iconic monuments) in a haze of gray.


It's safe to say the Chinese capital has a major smog problem ... especially lately.

In recent days — coincidentally, right as leaders from around the world (including China) have convened in Paris to strategize a global approach to fight climate change — air pollution levels in the city are the worst they've been since February 2014.


That's why Renzheng's brick-gone-viral is gaining traction at the perfect time — and you can add to the discussion, too.

With the UN climate talks happening in Paris right now, Renzheng's successful callout of Beijing's smog crisis is the perfect symbol of the dire need to slash global carbon emissions — now.

One way you can help? Sign this petition from the League of Conservation Voters to support America's Clean Power Plan — the "first-ever common sense limits on the amount of carbon pollution power plants can spew into our air."

Bold legislation like the Clean Power Plan can make a (literal) world of difference.

Don't believe it? Check out Renzheng's story here:

Finally, someone explains why we all need subtitles

It seems everyone needs subtitles nowadays in order to "hear" the television. This is something that has become more common over the past decade and it's caused people to question if their hearing is going bad or if perhaps actors have gotten lazy with enunciation.

So if you've been wondering if it's just you who needs subtitles in order to watch the latest marathon-worthy show, worry no more. Vox video producer Edward Vega interviewed dialogue editor Austin Olivia Kendrick to get to the bottom of why we can't seem to make out what the actors are saying anymore. It turns out it's technology's fault, and to get to how we got here, Vega and Kendrick took us back in time.

They first explained that way back when movies were first moving from silent film to spoken dialogue, actors had to enunciate and project loudly while speaking directly into a large microphone. If they spoke and moved like actors do today, it would sound almost as if someone were giving a drive-by soliloquy while circling the block. You'd only hear every other sentence or two.

Keep ReadingShow less

Bengals wide receiver Chad Johnson in 2006.

A startling number of professional athletes face financial hardships after they retire. The big reason is that even though they make a lot of money, the average sports career is relatively short: 3.3 years in the NFL; 4.6 years in the NBA; and 5.6 years in MLB. During that time, athletes often dole out money to friends and family members who helped them along the way and can fall victim to living lavish, unsustainable lifestyles.

After the athlete retires they are likely to earn a lot less money, and if they don’t adjust their spending, they’re in for some serious trouble.

In a candid interview with NFL Hall of Famer and TV personality Shannon Sharpe, Chad Ochocinco (legally Chad Johnson) revealed that he saved 80 to 83% of the $48 million he made in the NFL by faking his lavish lifestyle because it made no sense to him.

Keep ReadingShow less
Nature

Pennsylvania home is the entrance to a cave that’s been closed for 70 years

You can only access the cave from the basement of the home and it’s open for business.

This Pennsylvania home is the entrance to a cave.

Have you ever seen something in a movie or online and thought, "That's totally fake," only to find out it's absolutely a real thing? That's sort of how this house in Pennsylvania comes across. It just seems too fantastical to be real, and yet somehow it actually exists.

The home sits between Greencastle and Mercersburg, Pennsylvania, and houses a pretty unique public secret. There's a cave in the basement. Not a man cave or a basement that makes you feel like you're in a cave, but an actual cave that you can't get to unless you go through the house.

Turns out the cave was discovered in the 1830s on the land of John Coffey, according to Uncovering PA, but the story of how it was found is unclear. People would climb down into the cave to explore occasionally until the land was leased about 100 years later and a small structure was built over the cave opening.

Keep ReadingShow less
Family

American mom living in Germany lists postpartum support and women are gobsmacked

“Every video you make gets me closer to actually moving to Germany.”

U.S. mom living in Germany shares postpartum support she received.

Having a baby is not an easy feat no matter which way they come out. The pregnant person is either laboring for hours and then pushing for what feels like even more hours, or they're getting cut from hip to hip to bring about their bundle of joy. (Unless you're one of those lucky—or rather not-so-lucky—folks who get to labor for hours only to still end up in surgery.)

Giving birth is hard and healing afterward can feel dang near impossible, especially given that most states in the U.S. only offer six weeks of maternity leave and it's typically unpaid. But did you know that not everyone has that experience?

A mom who had her first child in the U.S. before meeting her current husband and relocating to Germany is shedding light on postpartum care in her new country. The stark contrast is beyond shocking to women living in the U.S. and she's got a few considering crossing the ocean for a better quality of life.

Keep ReadingShow less

Meghan Elinor chimes in on the Starbucks tipping debate.

Tipping culture is rapidly changing in America, so understandably a lot of people aren’t sure what to do when they buy a coffee and the debit card reader asks for a tip. It used to be that people only tipped bartenders, drivers, servers and hairdressers.

Now people are being asked to tip just about any time they encounter a point-of-sale system. There is a big difference between tipping a server who lugged around hot plates of food for an hour-long meal and someone who simply handed you an ice cream cone.

"We're living in an era of inflation, but on top of that, we've got tipping everywhere—tipflation. I take it a step further and call it a tipping invasion. Because that's really what I think it is," etiquette expert Thomas Farley (aka Mister Manners) told CBS 8.

Keep ReadingShow less
Pop Culture

One moment in history shot Tracy Chapman to music stardom. Watch it now.

She captivated millions with nothing but her guitar and an iconic voice.

Imagine being in the crowd and hearing "Fast Car" for the first time

While a catchy hook might make a song go viral, very few songs create such a unifying impact that they achieve timeless resonance. Tracy Chapman’s “Fast Car” is one of those songs.

So much courage and raw honesty is packed into the lyrics, only to be elevated by Chapman’s signature androgynous and soulful voice. Imagine being in the crowd and seeing her as a relatively unknown talent and hearing that song for the first time. Would you instantly recognize that you were witnessing a pivotal moment in musical history?

For concert goers at Wembley Stadium in the late 80s, this was the scenario.

Keep ReadingShow less