Fewer nudists, numbers dwindle in Germany’s population

Much to the chagrin of Free Body Culture (FKK) enthusiasts who have been stripping off their clothing on beaches and parks since the early 1900s, a cold wind has been blowing across Germany for nudists and their numbers are steadily dwindling.

“German society is changing and it’s not easy to be a naturist anymore,” said Kurt Fischer, president of the German FKK association (DFK). There are some 500,000 registered nudists and a total of seven million Germans sunbathe naked regularly…

The main problem is the shrinking population, Fischer said.

The number of Germans fell by more than 3.2 million over the last three decades even though the country’s total population has managed to remain more or less steady at about 82 million thanks to immigration — often from countries in Eastern Europe and the Balkans as well as Turkey and Arabic countries.

“Our problems are demographic changes and the fact that immigrants aren’t interested in social nudity,” said Fischer, 70, whose association has such honored standing in Germany that it is even part of the Olympic Sport Federation (DOSB).

“Germany is relying more and more on immigrants to keep the population steady. But many come from countries with strong religious beliefs. They just aren’t into FKK.” Immigrants who arrive from cultures where headscarves are common will not usually be interested in becoming naturists in Germany, he said…

Nude sunbathing has a long tradition in Germany. The Free Body Culture (FKK) movement was founded in the early 20th century and succeeded in taking much of the smut and embarrassment out of nudity.

Even Germany’s top model Heidi Klum was quoted in the German media recently extolling the virtues of topless sunbathing and describing difficulties she has pursuing it in places such as the United States and Italy where it’s frowned upon or illegal…

In Germany, public nudity on beaches and lakes is by and large tolerated and practitioners face no legal consequences, although some courts have fined some caught hiking nude on public trails or riding bikes or horses while naked…

There are other reasons contributing to decline of the unique German cultural tradition. As a 70-year-old eastern woman named Brigitte pointed out, growing prosperity has led to growing waist sizes…

“But with the rise in prosperity a lot of people have come apart at the seams and they can’t show their bodies in public anymore. We’ve become a lot chubbier with all this prosperity. It’s not really very aesthetic anymore.”

I grew up with a flavor of naturism over my summers at my grandparents’ farm. Though Italian, their view of nature and the human body was influenced by German and Austrian groups like the FKK who spent a significant part of their outdoor time in northern Italy. I still have truly embarrassing photos hidden away somewhere of family frolics under an artificial rain shower from a hose on hot summer days.

I even managed some mountain biking au naturel here in New Mexico when I moved here a quarter-century ago. Not now, though. Aside from upsetting neighbors in this rather staid workingclass [predominantly Catholic] community, Rally would probably bark at me for being out of shape.

HOAX testing firm says dumb people use Internet Explorer

According to a new report, dumb people are more likely to use Internet Explorer than smart people. It’s a finding so apparently defamatory that the company responsible for the statement is allegedly being threatened with a lawsuit by inflamed Internet Explorer aficionados.

Online psychometric testing company AptiQuant, based out of Canada, turned its analytical skills to a group of more than 100,000 individuals in an effort to determine the IQ scores associated with various Web browser users. Over a period of around four weeks, the company gave a Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale (WAIS) to users looking for free online IQ assessment tests, then recorded the results and browsers used for all participants above the age of 16.

Across the board, the average IQ scores presented for users of Internet Explorer versions 6 through 9 were all lower than the IQ scores recorded for Firefox, Chrome, Safari, Camino, and Opera users.

Humorously enough, those using Internet Explorer with the Chrome frame built-in actually ranked third in IQ scores among this browser list. Opera users reported the highest average IQ score – hovering around the 120 to 130 range, which is a bit higher than the WAIS test’s population mean of 100 (and standard deviation of 15).

AptiQuant’s report notes that the only statistically significant difference in IQ scores occurred between Internet Explorer users and their counterparts. There was not a significant difference in IQ scores between non-IE browser users, even though these users, in aggregate, reported a higher average IQ score than IE users…

“I just want to make it clear that the report released by my company did not suggest that if you use IE that means you have a low IQ, but what it really says is that if you have a low IQ then there are high chances that you use Internet Explorer,” said CEO Leonard Howard.

Uh, OK.

UPDATE: This turned out to be a hoax.

Harassed by bill collectors, woman wins lawsuit for $1.26 million


New Mexico State Court

A Santa Fe federal court jury has awarded a woman $1.26 million in damages from a debt-collection law firm that pursued her for three years in a case of mistaken identity.

Denver-based Farrell & Sandlin twice filed to garnish the wages of Lucinda Yazzie of Farmington — the second time despite assurances from her employer that the collectors had the wrong person — and didn’t back off until Yazzie filed her federal court lawsuit, said Rob Treinen of Albuquerque, Yazzie’s attorney.

“They had been on notice that they had been pursuing the wrong person for three years,” Treinen said. “They just would not stop coming after her.”

Treinen said the jury awarded Yazzie $161,000 in actual damages for emotional distress and $1.1 million in punitive damages.

The Target credit card debt that the firm was trying to recover — the responsibility of another person named Lucinda Yazzie, with a different Social Security number, address and other identifiers — was about $5,000, Treinen said…

But Farrell & Sandlin filed a complaint in state court for money due against the wrong Lucinda Yazzie in April 2007 and obtained a garnishment of wages writ against her employer, a Farmington energy company. Yazzie couldn’t solve the problem with calls to Farrell & Sandlin, but the garnishment was dropped when Yazzie’s boss filed an answer saying she was the wrong person…

U.S. District Judge Bruce Black, in a pretrial order in the case, wrote that Farrell & Sandlin admitted that the Social Security number of the actual debtor “was changed in the Law Firm’s records by an unauthorized act of a former employee” and as a result the firm went after the wrong Lucinda Yazzie.

Target National Bank, the financial arm of Target stores, had provided the firm with correct information, the judge’s order says.

Aside from the egregious incompetence of the debt collection firm – Farrell & Sandlin – there is nothing that matches the sheer stupidity of the bureaucratic hacks working in the state court system who also had access to the fact that wrong information was being used to harass Ms. Yazzie.

And still they issued an order to garnish her wages – twice! They should all be fired and forced to find an honest job.

Beehive fences stop elephant raids on farmers’ crops in Kenya

Innovative beehive fences have helped a community in Kenya to successfully protect crops from elephants, according to research. Scientists found the hives to be a very effective barrier; elephants turned away from them in 97% of their attempted raids. The hives’ honey also produced additional profits for farmers.

Over the past 20 years, elephant numbers in Kenya have grown to around 7,500 and the population boost is widely heralded as a conservation success story. However, conflict between elephants and humans, especially farmers, is an ongoing problem.

Elephants frequently “raid” farms searching for food such as ripe tomatoes, potatoes and maize. To protect their livelihoods, some farmers have resorted to extreme measures including poisoning and shooting elephants…

Previous research into natural deterrents showed that elephants avoided African honey bees

“Finding a way to use live beehives was the next logical step in finding a socially and ecologically sensitive way of taking advantage of elephants’ natural avoidance behaviour to bees to protect farmers’ crops,” said Dr Lucy King, the University of Oxford biologist who led the study…

Bees cannot sting through elephant hide, but they can and do sting around elephants’ eyes and inside trunks…

In 32 attempted raids over three crop seasons, only one bull elephant managed to penetrate the novel defences…

The team created a boundaries for 17 farms, incorporating 170 beehives into 1,700m of fencing.

The conservationists who devised and tested the scheme now hope to roll similar systems throughout Kenya. I hate the silly-ass phrase; but, it really is a win-win situation for the farmers and the elephants.

Where else might you find a babe who crashes her Bentley into a Mercedes, Porsche, Ferrari and Aston Martin?

When in Monte Carlo, everything is done in style. And that includes crashing your car.

This was the moment when a woman driver caused a £700,000 five-car pile-up as her Bentley collided with a Mercedes, Ferrari, Porsche and Aston Martin.

Disaster struck as the hapless blonde negotiated the traffic around the Place du Casino in her £250,000 Bentley Azure. The driver of a white Mercedes S Class worth £75,000 was the first victim as the 2.7-ton Bentley scraped down the side of it before ploughing into a £143,000 black Ferrari F430.

Hope you’re insured, madam: A policeman tries to sort out the chaos beside Monte Carlo’s Place du Casino
An Aston Martin Rapide worth £150,000 and an £80,000 Porsche 911 also came a cropper. The driver and her two passengers then suffered the embarrassment of being surrounded by tourists as they were unable to open the doors of the convertible.

It is estimated the crash will cost more than £40,000 with the Ferrari, Porsche and Aston Martin requiring new front wings and bumpers. The Bentley will need the same repairs, plus a new door.

Chaos: A staggering £685,000 worth of supercars were involved in the inpromptu game of demolition derby
Ruud Poot, editor of European motoring website Autogespot, said: ‘You probably couldn’t find a worse place in the world to crash your car than outside Monaco’s Place du Casino in the middle of the summer.’

Maybe she thought she was practicing for next year’s Formula One race – everyone was supposed to get out of her way.

Thanks, Ursarodinia

LNG platform will be worlds biggest ship – anchored off Oz

Shell has unveiled plans to build the world’s first floating liquefied natural gas (FLNG) platform. The 600,000-tonne behemoth – the world’s biggest “ship” – will be sited off the coast of Australia. But how will it work?

Deep beneath the world’s oceans are huge reservoirs of natural gas. Some are hundreds or thousands of miles from land, or from the nearest pipeline.

Tapping into these “stranded gas” resources has been impossible – until now.

At Samsung Heavy Industries’ shipyard on Geoje Island in South Korea, work is about to start on a “ship” that, when finished and fully loaded, will weigh 600,000 tonnes. That is six times as much as the biggest US aircraft carrier.

By 2017 the vessel should be anchored off the north coast of Australia, where it will be used to harvest natural gas from Shell’s Prelude field.

Once the gas is on board, it will be cooled until it liquefies and stored in vast tanks at -161C.

Every six or seven days a huge tanker will dock beside the platform and load up enough fuel to heat a city the size of London for a week.

The tankers will then sail to Japan, China, Korea or Thailand to offload their cargo…

Johan Hedstrom, an energy analyst in Australia with Southern Cross Equities, told the BBC: “The FLNG concept is an elegant solution because you don’t need so much fixed infrastructure

Mr Gilmour said Shell had to overcome a “raft of technical challenges”, ensuring for example that the vast amount of equipment on board would work in choppy seas.

The Prelude field is in the middle of what is known as “cyclone alley”, an area prone to extremely stormy weather. But Mr Gilmour said the vessel had been built to withstand category-five cyclones and even a “one-in-10,000-years’ storm” producing 300km/h (185mph) gusts and 20m-high (65ft) waves.

The double-hulled vessel is designed to last 50 years.

When the Prelude field is exhausted, in 25 years’ time, it will be completely refurbished and packed off to start work on another field off the coast of Australia, Angola, Venezuela or wherever.

RTFA for the details of this amazing floating factory. Hopefully, Discovery of one of their peers will produce a documentary on the construction and early days.

Looking forward to following the adventure. As much as I support alternatives to fossil fuel, natural gas is still an essential natural resource for native and export use for many nations.