The Sideshow
  • The Paradoxurus, aka, the world's most exclusive barista (Wikicommons)

    Coffee snobs can now take it to a whole new level. The world’s most expensive—and extremely rare—cup of java, made from beans extracted from the excrement of a small animal, is ready to reach a broader audience.

    The Kopi Luwak coffee originates on the Indonesian island of Sumatra and is famously "produced" by the Paradoxurus, a relative of three breeds of civet, a slinky mammal that looks like a cross between a cat and a mongoose. When the Paradoxurus eats coffee cherries, the beans leave the digestive system more or less intact. The beans are then gathered, cleaned and roasted.

    Amazingly, a cup of Kopi Luwak typically costs about $90. Or you can pick up a pound of the beans for around $1,000. To get a cup typically requires an appointment with one of the small number of establishments that carry the exotic blend.

    Is it the unusual and labor-intensive process that drives up the price? Or is there something truly, well, unique about the taste of this coffee, which was once referenced

    Read More »from $90 for a cup of coffee: World’s most expensive java is defecated from an animal
  • Click map to enlarge (John Nelson/IDV Solutions)

    A series of stunning heat maps—created by a man who's probably a little better with Excel than you are—shows the places in America most prone to natural disasters.

    John Nelson, a mapping manager for IDV Solutions, created U.S. maps of tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes and wildfires using publicly available data and Excel—a process he describes as "the kitchen-sink school of thematic mapping."

    Nelson's map of wildfires tracks hot spots since 2001, while his tornado travel map tracks the direction tornadoes have traveled in the U.S. over the past 63 years. An updated version of that map includes the deadly EF-5 tornado that killed 22 people in Moore, Okla., last month, while a new version of a map tracking hurricanes and tropical storms since 1951 includes Superstorm Sandy.

    The earthquake map, using data culled from the U.S. Geological Survey and the University of California, Berkeley, shows the location of all major seismic activity since 1898.

    Other maps posted on the company's

    Read More »from Stunning maps show world’s most dangerous weather hot spots
  • Bear climbs tree, says howdy to hunter

    Not all bears are out to maul you. Some just want to say hello.

    A hunter learned that firsthand while sitting high up in a tree in the forest. A bear approached the tree, apparently spotted the hunter and then began to climb.

    We're not experts, but we'd wager that most of the time when a bear meets an armed hunter in the woods, somebody's going to get hurt.

    Not so this time. The bear climbed the tree, stuck its nose into the hunter's perch, and then turned around and, we presume, trotted off to find another (unoccupied) tree in which to chill out.

    The charming encounter reminded us of another unexpected meet-and-greet from earlier this month, when a baby sea lion hopped aboard a fishing boat and snuggled up to fisherman J.R. Gilkinson.

    Read More »from Bear climbs tree, says howdy to hunter

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