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I was going to say something about the Polanski thing, but [ profile] silk_noir pretty much said what I was going to. I'll just add that I'm appalled by how many people whose work I respect are willing to go on record as saying rape is acceptable. (Many of the names in her post come from this petition; others have made some other public declaration of support for Polanski.) I don't care if you respect Polanski's work, you still have to acknowledge that he committed a heinous crime. People ought to think twice before putting their name to a document which endorses that.
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Keepers at the Ayutthaya-Elephant Kraal in Thailand gave their elephants a paint job to draw attention from the national frenzy over a newborn panda cub.

India's Forest Department has proposed building the first State-run Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre for captive elephants at Tiruchi. "The centre would have experienced mahouts, veterinary facility, elephant shelter, feeding area, treatment shed, ramp, dung pits, elephant walking path, fodder plot, circular ponds, water facility and a kitchen."

Investigators are using DNA evidence to trace the sources of illegal ivory. "DNA fingerprinting helped investigators three years ago to make the largest seizure of illegal ivory since the global trade ban went into effect in 1989 - 10 tons of ivory contained in two separate shipments. All of the ivory was traced to a small area near the border of Tanzania and Mozambique."
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The Philadelphia Zoo's two remaining elephants, Kallie and Bette, are being moved to the Pittsburgh Zoo's 724-acre International Conservation Center. Despite the protests, this seems like a good move, or at least a step in the right direction.

Follow-up to the reports of poisoned Sumatran elephants in my last update: the Sumatran government estimates that fifteen elephants have died of cyanide-laced fruit in the past year.

CITES (The International Convention on Trade in Endangered Species) has authorized an increase in the number of elephants Mozambique is allowed to kill annually.

Paleontologist Emmanuel Gheerbrant has discovered a 4-5kg (about the size of a rabbit) elephant ancestor, called Eritherium azzouzorum. It's one of the oldest ungulates (i.e. hoofed mammals) related to elephants. Eritherium lacked a trunk, but it had an enlarged front incisor which presaged the tusks of its modern descendants.
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I'm going to try to be regular about this again. Of course, I'm about to head out traveling for two weeks, so "regular" may be a relative term for a bit.

It appears that Indonesian villagers poisoned four rare Sumatran elephants, probably to protect their palm oil plantations. Last month two male elephants were poisoned with cyanide-laced pineapples in the same area.

Kenya--which is still in the midst of a drought--has seen a wave of elephant killings by poachers, who are also killing other wildlife for food. Also in Kenya, work to excavate a rock quarry in Amboseli Park may cut off wildlife migration corridors for elephants and other animals.

Lastly, some good news from Kenya: a pilot study has found that fences made from wire, wood, and beehives can be an effective deterrent against elephant raids on farms. Seems the elephants recognize the shape and smell of the beehives and steer clear: "The bees aren't likely to be able to sting though an elephant's thick hide. But they can and do sting elephants around the eyes and inside the trunk. It seems that this only has to happen once for an elephant never to forget the experience."
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This video is a couple of days old, but it's a great encapsulation of what has been happening for years now.

And another video on the current state of abortion services--remember, this is a legal procedure (and as Dr. Wicklund notes in the video, one of the most commonly done)--across the country. (This video is rather crappy, sorry; I can't seem to embed the MSNBC code.)

As Rachel says, what's most maddening about the intimidation and violence is that it seems to be working.
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A 64-year-old woman has reported to doctors at Geneva University Hospital the presence of a pale, milky-white and translucent third arm.

Sure, that happens. But then there's this:

The upshot is that the woman can use the apparitional extremity to relieve very real itches on the cheek. It cannot penetrate solid objects.

You know that's what she's pissed about. She was hoping to take up doin' crimes.

(Via [ profile] porphyre.)
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Did any of y'all see the movie Elf? Even if you don't like Will Ferrell (and I do, at least sometimes), Zooey Deschanel did a smoky rendition of "Baby, It's Cold Outside" (while in the shower, no less) that blew me away. Now she's got an album coming out from Merge Records, made with M. Ward, and it's streaming over at the Merge Records site. I nearly quit listening during the first track, but the second ("Why Do You Let Me Stay Here?", which I know I've heard somewhere--I'm thinking it was a soundtrack, since I never listen to the radio) is wonderful, and the rest is likable if a bit uneven. (This link especially for [ profile] mrdankelly.)

Am so far spending my vacation struggling with a story that I started back in January. It's at 8700 words and I can't see the end yet. AGH. Despite my frustration at the slooow progress, I'm liking where it's going. Recently my short stories have mostly been very contained, almost entirely thought out beforehand. It's like I've known the dimensions of the story-box even if I wasn't certain of the contents--I think they're good stories, but they're also complete thoughts, or nearly so. This story has tentacles, and it keeps on moving between states, so there's really no point in trying to assemble the box. Every time I think I know what it's about, it changes. And I'm thinking that maybe that's what I need right now, because I've been feeling a little constricted by outlines and word counts and marketability and those sorts of things that I have never been very comfortable with. I'm going to try not to worry about where the hell I'm going to sell something like this once it's finished.

In other news, I can't stand the news anymore. Whether it's random talking heads informing me that prostitution is a victimless crime or once-sensible people claiming that people who think they are racist are SEKRITLY racists themselves, I am officially tired of everyone. Shut up shut up shut up.
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I got my first LJ comment spam last night! It turns out, this guy? His wife left him for another guy? And there's video now on the Internet of her doing this stuff with the other guy? That she would never do with the first guy? So this guy wanted me to see the video of his wife and this other guy? . . . Yeah, it doesn't make sense to me either. BUT, I figure this is some sort of rite of passage, and I fully expect to have chanting and nude bonfire leaping later.

I am experiencing the fatigue and heartburn that usually presage a cold. (Does anyone else get heartburn pre-cold? I hardly ever get it, so if it happens two nights in a row I can be pretty sure I'm getting sick. I've never heard of this as a cold symptom, but there it is.) I suspect that by tonight, or possibly tomorrow morning, I'll be miserably stuffed up. So I have that to look forward to, which is nice. (Maybe I should pass on the nude bonfire activities.)

It occurs to me that the whole Astronaut weirdness really just signals a new acceptance of the Astronaut people into our culture. Now they really are just like us! Just because they come from space doesn't mean they don't occasionally decide to murder each other. Man, I can't wait until the first Senator plots someone's murder. What? Why are you laughing?

I wonder if Pynchon already knew that the Vikings used crystals to navigate when he wrote Against the Day? (Which is AWESOME, BTW. It has airships and anarchists and journeys through the center of the earth and that's just in the first hundred pages. I'm still reading, though, so please don't spoil me for anything!) (I must say that the linked article is some pretty bad journalism: "Vikings were a seafaring race from Scandinavia who used their longboats to explore and conquer parts of Europe, Greenland, Iceland and Russia." WTF? The Vikings were a separate race? Did they came from space as well?)

Look! Smart people talking!

The fashion must-have for WisCon 50. (Via Warren Ellis.)

Excuse me a second. (What? Really? . . . huh. I, uh--are you sure?!? Well, I just thought . . . OK, fine.) Sorry, folks. Turns out Astronauts don't actually come from space. Turns out they are HUMAN BEINGS. (Vikings too?) Vikings, too.

Now I've got a wiggins.
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Archaeology! Ancient City Found in Mexico! Village Discovered Near Stonehenge! Police to Reunite! (At the f*&%ing Grammys. Now I have to watch the Grammys. Someone kill me.)

Warren Ellis subjects us all to shares an excerpt from Jeff Lint Steve Aylett's surreal parody comic "The Caterer." SMOOTHING THE CHEEK OF REALITY HAS ITS DANGERS!

Hannah links to the poem "Library" by Albert Goldbarth, which turns out to be awesome.

I have discovered that, along with those annoying ads along the side, I have been given the power of polls. Bwah-hah-hah-hah!

Here's the thing. I am, by most objective measures, a fairly geeky person. But I find that many things which are considered more or less core geek loves drive me up the wall. Perhaps you are also somewhat geeky, and encounter this same phenomenenonon. This poll is for you!

[Poll #917082]


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