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April 22nd, 2008

Today it's a special Earth Day edition of your Cup o' Links! Let's start with I Love the World. Warning: earworm.
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Ten sites to help you celebrate the best Earth Day ever. From government information to environmental organizations to kids' activities, you'll find something you didn't know about the environment.
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5 Habits for Greener Computing. Yes, even people who never go outside can do their part.
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Green Funerals. Funeral directors in Britain are leading the way in ways to leave less of a footprint when you take your final steps.
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The Color of Plants on Other Worlds. Light of any color could power photosynthesis, so yellow mountains' majesty or purple waves of grain would be possible.
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A Human Stop-Motion Snake. This guy has quite a following, so to speak.
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Why don't we use more solar power? Our ability to harness the sun is not yet efficient enough for our needs, but it's a start.
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The US Leads the World in Growth of Wind Power Use. Germany is still #1, but we could outstrip them in two years.
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The things we can do as individuals to help the environment seem like a drop in the bucket. Even though we don't admit it out loud, the question we confront is: Why Bother?
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The moving rocks of Death Valley. Rocks up to 700 pounds move so slowly that no one can see it happen, or figure out how they do it.

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History
The Secret World War II History Hidden in London's Fences

In South London, the remains of the UK’s World War II history are visible in an unlikely place—one that you might pass by regularly and never take a second look at. In a significant number of housing estates, the fences around the perimeter are actually upcycled medical stretchers from the war, as the design podcast 99% Invisible reports.

During the Blitz of 1940 and 1941, the UK’s Air Raid Precautions department worked to protect civilians from the bombings. The organization built 60,000 steel stretchers to carry injured people during attacks. The metal structures were designed to be easy to disinfect in case of a gas attack, but that design ended up making them perfect for reuse after the war.

Many London housing developments at the time had to remove their fences so that the metal could be used in the war effort, and once the war was over, they were looking to replace them. The London County Council came up with a solution that would benefit everyone: They repurposed the excess stretchers that the city no longer needed into residential railings.

You can tell a stretcher railing from a regular fence because of the curves in the poles at the top and bottom of the fence. They’re hand-holds, designed to make it easier to carry it.

Unfortunately, decades of being exposed to the elements have left some of these historic artifacts in poor shape, and some housing estates have removed them due to high levels of degradation. The Stretcher Railing Society is currently working to preserve these heritage pieces of London infrastructure.

As of right now, though, there are plenty of stretchers you can still find on the streets. If you're in the London area, this handy Google map shows where you can find the historic fencing.

[h/t 99% Invisible]

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holidays
Custom-Design the Ugly Christmas Sweater of Your Dreams (or Nightmares)
iStock
iStock

For those of you aspiring to be the worst dressed person at your family's holiday dinner, UglyChristmasSweater.com sells—you guessed it—ugly Christmas sweaters to seasonal revelers possessing a sense of irony. But the Michigan-based online retailer has elevated kitsch to new heights by offering a create-your-own-sweater tool on its website.

Simply visit the site's homepage, and click on the Sweater Customizer link. There, you'll be provided with a basic sweater template, which you can decorate with festive snowflakes, reindeer, and other designs in five different colors. If you're feeling really creative, you can even upload photos, logos, hand-drawn pictures, and/or text. After you approve and purchase a mock-up of the final design, you can purchase the final result (prices start at under $70). But you'd better act quickly: due to high demand, orders will take about two weeks plus shipping time to arrive.

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