Vodka 'saved' elephants in freeze

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Two elephants have been saved from the deadly Siberian cold by drinking vodka, Russian officials say.

They say the animals had to be taken out into the bitter cold after the wooden trailer they were travelling in caught fire in the Novosibirsk region.

The elephants, aged 45 and 48, suffered frostbite to the tips of their ears amid temperatures of -40C (-40F)

But they were warmed up by two cases of vodka mixed with warm water, one official was quoted as saying.

"They started roaring like if they were in the jungle! Perhaps, they were happy," the official told Russia's Ria Novosti news agency.

 

Gorging on anti-corporate baloney

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Rather than endless calls for regulations, bans and taxes - whose efficacy is doubtful but whose effect on personal autonomy would be substantial - it would be far better to recognise that any diet with some modicum of balance will be fine for most people, who will live to a greater age than their parents or grandparents, on average, no matter how much disapproved food they consume. Claims that any particular food is some dietary panacea should be treated with a large, metaphorical pinch of salt, whoever makes them, whether they are an evil mega corporation or the bloke behind the counter at the health-food shop.

Above all, a similarly healthy scepticism should be applied to crusading medics who want to scare us with the idea that Big Food is out to kill us and who encourage politicians to regulate what we eat.

 

Some BBQ

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The entire governing body of a poorly performing school that blew £6,000 of its budget on a headteacher's leaving party has resigned over 'financial irregularity'.

Parents and politicians condemned the decision to use money from the ailing budget at Sherwood Park Community Primary School in Tunbridge Wells, Kent, on the summer send-off for Keith Marden.

The school had been given a highly critical Ofsted report and placed in special measures just a month before Mr Marden retired in July.

The surprise celebration, held to mark the end of Mr Marden's 25-year tenure as head, took place at the school and is thought to have included a barbecue and a band, as well as, according to one senior councillor, 'quite a lot of drink'.

Belly button wonderland of fluffy fauna

If you were told you had an ecosystem living in your belly button, it might come as a bit of shock. Well, you probably do. These are just a few of the samples that Belly Button Biodiversity (BBB), a group of scientists from North Carolina University in Raleigh and the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, have taken from themselves as well as students, science bloggers and others.

They look like old photos, but...

My drawings are not always solely produced using graphite; quite a few are produced using airbrushed paint as well. I am constantly experimenting with other mediums and surfaces. I have drawn with pencil since primary school. I feel comfortable using this medium and enjoy the control pencil affords me. I also like the fact that complex images can be produced using such a rudimentary medium.

Hyper-realistic artwork by Scottish artist Paul Chiappe

Transient

Just make it up...

Planned Parenthood Claim: It ‘Was Not Intended To Be A Factual Statement’

Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ) defended Republicans’ willingness to shut down the government over funding for Planned Parenthood by falsely claiming that abortion is “well over 90 percent of what Planned Parenthood does.” In reality, just three percent of its work is related to abortion.

The response from Kyl's office?

His remark was not intended to be a factual statement, but rather to illustrate that Planned Parenthood, a organization that receives millions of dollars in taxpayer funding, does subsidize abortions

So there.

Nice!

The security guy at Bratislava airport looked at my passport. "New". he said to his colleague. Then spent five minutes examining it in minute detail with two magnifying devices before handing it back. "Is there a problem?', I said. "No, no" he said. "Very nice passsport". What the fuck? Perhaps he hadn't seen one of the fairly new microchipped passports or maybe he was just taking the piss?

Shhh, loose lips....

Maybe Britain needs a First Amendment, too

What is going on? How did we arrive at a situation where giving offence is automatically sackable or worse? Surely the freedom to disagree with a comment or to ignore it is enough. When it is suggested that certain points of view or ways of expressing them might be or should be illegal – or that intolerance should not be tolerated, to purloin the common malapropism – a notion that should chill anyone who holds the principles of liberal democracy dear is given life: the notion of thought crime. Freedom of speech was hard-won in the West; the freedom only to speak inoffensively is no freedom at all...
Furthermore, the giving of offence need not be intentional, nor the words (or cartoons) themselves possessed of the propensity to give it in order for it to be taken. Never mind the freedom to speak offensively: people have been invited to believe there is such a thing as the right not to be offended. Never mind that ‘incitement to hatred’ is a grey, disputable thing, and a different thing to incitement to violence, which was already a criminal offence. Never mind that most ideas are capable of giving offence, and that Socrates, Galileo and Darwin were all considered beyond the pale in their time. And never mind that in the marketplace of ideas, ‘hate speech’ can be challenged, debated or ignored. What we now have is moderated free speech at best.

It's worse than you think

The Labour party's most senior figures, in defiance of their education and intelligence, keep claiming that Osborne's actions are "driven by ideology, rather than necessity". This is absurd. Anyone who argues that rapidly addressing the fiscal catastrophe Labour left behind is anything other than absolutely crucial either knows nothing about global bond markets, or is so blindly ambitious, so determined to close their eyes to the facts, as to be unfit for public office...The UK's fiscal crisis is of monumental historic importance...What is in the balance...is the prosperity of the British people for at least the next few decades and our status as a top-ranking nation.
Over the last 12 months, then, this country's "on-balance-sheet" liabilities have risen by £147bn. That's roughly what we spent on the NHS and defence combined in 2010 – and that was merely, during this last year of "austerity", the incremental increase in what Britain has put "on tick"....What matters to the finances of any household is the size of the outstanding mortgage, the on-going costs of financing that mortgage, and the prospects of paying it off. Only an economically illiterate fool would claim the family finances will soon be "under-control" because sacrifices will be made and lifestyles reined-in to such an extent that, hopefully, if everything goes to plan, having re-mortgaged every year between now and 2015, that family will then enjoy a single year in which it won't need to re-mortgage.

I won't be around "in decades" so I can't afford to wait until things improve. Leaving the UK looks like a more attractive prospect every day.

Botox bollox

Like other eight-year-old girls, Britney Campbell loves dancing to Lady GaGa, is fond of fashion and enjoys putting on make-up But Britney's beauty regime goes way beyond playing with Mummy's lippy. Once every three months, Britney climbs on a beautician's table and watches as mum Kerry prepares needles of Botox and fillers to be injected into her face.

Beautician Kerry, 34, from Birmingham, buys the substances online and injects them into her daughter's forehead, lips and around her eyes.The beauty-pageant obsessed single mum also takes her to have her body waxed, in a bizarre bid to stop her growing hair when she eventually hits puberty.

Kerry says these shocking and potentially dangerous treatments will guarantee Britney becomes famous as a teenager.
Famous as a teenager?

Maybe. But for what?


Make that a double, old bean

We don’t need to be saved from the ‘demon drink’
Ours is not the first age when the public has been constantly urged to cut back on the demon drink. But never before has the campaign for public abstinence taken such an elitist and morally vacuous form...

Current responsible-drinking policy is not concerned with self-control, but with official control of people’s behaviour. Public-health officials seem to recognise no limits to their interventions, and indeed I have heard discussions at alcohol-policy conferences about how they might close down drinks-related Facebook groups or prevent parents from leaving their beer in the garage.

Don't panic! Oh, go on then.

The globalisation of German angst
As Japan struggles with damaged nuclear reactors, the German government has announced that some nuclear power plants in Germany will be taken offline. In her policy speech last week, Chancellor Angela Merkel reiterated that the German nuclear power plants were among the world's safest. However, events in Japan had created a new situation in which the seemingly impossible had become possible. It was now necessary, Merkel said, to suspend for three months a previously announced policy to extend the life of some of these power stations.
Yep. Earthquake and tsunami in a country sitting on the worlds greatest fault line leads to a land-locked, earthquake free country in central Europe reconsidering its nuclear policy.  Nuts.



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I prefer consensual M&Ms

Judge in Craigslist 'sex-slave master' John Hopkins' case says consensual S&M can be criminal
S&M can be criminal even if it’s consensual, a Brooklyn judge said today during the arraignment of a self-described Craigslist sex-slave master.
Erm, no, that's not what the judge said. He said that just because someone agreed to indulge in sado-masochistic activities doesn't mean that nothing that follows can be considered criminal. It's no different from the law regarding "normal" sexual activity. It can start off consensual but become criminal.

Not waving, but drowning

Japan tsunami and earthquake: Nuclear power plants are dangerous
Yes, nuclear power plants are dangerous. But for Britain, the alternative is to start hoarding candles
It would be easy to just accept that this is just more twaddle from that great Daily Mail tit, Max Hastings but let's just stop and ask ourselves how the fuck that headline got written. As someone pointed out in the comments section of this appallingy piss-poor piece in the Guardian today:
     More people died at Chappaquiddick than at 3 Mile Island.


Dangerous? In the UK alone there have been around 165,000 recorded deaths in the coal mining industry and this is a) an admitted underestimate and b) excludes deaths of miners from lung disease and, more importantly, deaths in the general population by smoke pollution caused by burning coal.  The truth is that so far, as a result of this recent quake,  nobody has died from nuclear radiation in Japan but at least 10,000 are likely to have been killed by, erm, wave power.

Tsunami? Table for two?

I've stopped watching coverage of the Japan earthquake and tsunami.  Endless reruns of images of destruction interspersed with ignorant, ill-informed and factually incorrect nonsense about nuclear "meltdown". But I have decided to keep an eye out for the first day the disaster fails to be the number one story in the papers and then for the day it fails to feature at all.

Remember the 2004 Indonesian tsunami? The one that killed over a quarter of a million people? Try Googling it. Apart from two Wikipedia entries you'll find that a restaurant in Clapham, south London, named "Tsunami", gets a higher rank than any mention of the 2004 disaster.

And the next big story please.