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The Crockpot: A Weekly Digest 05.19.11

Utne Reader Red LogoDoes it sometimes feel like your shower curtain is out to get you? The folks at Mental Floss explain the science behind the “shower curtain effect.” 

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Gliese 581d, the newly discovered planet that is capable of sustaining life, is about to get an earful.  Two years ago, an Australian magazine collected messages from the people of planet Earth for their new galactic neighbors and began transmitting them. Erik K. Velan wants the aliens to know: “Apologies in advance for most of these messages. They are an example of our primitive humor.”

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Are you in the market for a new car? Check out the classic Italian concept cars being auctioned off near the shores of Lake Como this month.

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Richard Dawkins, atheist provocateur, has written a children’s book.

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Who was the hippest cat in Montana? The Unabomber, of course.

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Everyone—especially the atheists—is getting pumped for the apocalypse on Saturday.

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Why aren’t we building “emotionally connected” cities?

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This week’s jaw-dropper from Atlantic Wire: “Shell, ExxonMobil, ConocoPhillips, BP America and Chevron Corp—the “Big Five” oil companies—reported a cumulative total earning of $36 billion in the first quarter of this year. As Huffington Post writer Erich Pica points out that's “more than $200,000 every minute.”

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The New Republic: “The international community has never rushed to denounce repression, wherever it has taken place.”

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Drivers and bus riders inhale lots of pollution during their commutes. Bikers huff even more—but they suffer fewer ill effects.

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Do farms, golf courses and swimming pools belong in the desert?