Sideswipe: May 24: For super lazy mandarin likers

Sweet, sweet lobbying

In 1979 James Mack, a confectionery manufacturer representative, told US government officials that banning candy sales from schools could lead to “injury, drug abuse and drinking”. His reasoning was that candy provided children with an “island of pleasure”, and if denied this they might seek out worse things such as drugs. They might even “leave the school premises [to seek out candy] and encounter traffic hazards”.

Puppy protection

To you, the puppy above is cute and pattable. To the bald eagle, it’s a snack. That’s a problem because bald eagle populations have surged thanks to conservation efforts. To improve their dogs’ chances of staying safe from hungry bald eagles, some owners dress their dogs in armoured vests, such as the CoyoteVest pictured above. The Wall Street Journal reports: “Eagles are strong enough to carry a 12-pound salmon, so a four-pound dog is nothing,” says Mark Robokoff, owner of AK Bark pet shop in Anchorage. His shop sells CoyoteVest, a protective jacket covered in Kevlar and spikes, intended to protect small pets from coyotes. Robokoff immediately recognised its potential in a state with an estimated 30,000 bald eagles. The vest is topped with bright red nylon whiskers that he says scare off the birds from above.

The mis-gendering of a professor in 1959

In a letter to the editor of the Guardian, a professor from Charing Cross hospital medical school wrote: “Sir – in your issue of 16 October, you reported fairly accurately part of a lecture that I had given the previous day to midwives and nurses. Only one small detail causes me some dismay; although I needed a haircut at the time, nevertheless there were other characteristics which clearly defined my sex!” The letter continued in good-natured vein and was footnoted with acknowledgment from the editor that Professor Norman Morris had indeed been “unfortunately described” as Norma. “We much regret the error.”

The hole truth about a sea cucumber

“To peer into the soul of a sea cucumber, don’t look to its face; it doesn’t have one. Gently turn that blobby body around, and gaze deep into its marvellous, multifunctional anus,” writes science writer Katherine J. Wu in the Atlantic. “The sea cucumber’s posterior is so much more than an exit hole for digestive waste. It is also a makeshift mouth that gobbles up bits of algae; a faux lung, latticed with tubes that exchange gas with the surrounding water; and a weapon that, in the presence of danger, can launch a sticky, stringy web of internal organs to entangle predators. It can even, on occasion, be a home for shimmering pearlfish, which wriggle inside the bum when it billows open to breathe. It would not be inaccurate to describe a sea cucumber as an extraordinary anus that just so happens to have a body around it.” Read more here.

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