Grapevine: Should people be conserving helium?

And now some fresh pickings from the Political Grapevine...

Hell's Bells

There are folks who think that in nine days when the Mayan calendar ends the world will end as well.

The Associated Press reports -- quote -- "Some believe a rogue planet called Nibiru will emerge from its hiding place behind the sun and smash into the Earth. At least two men in China are predicting a world-ending flood. They are both building arks."

But the Vatican's top astronomer reassures us the world will still be here in two weeks.

Note to Self

A teacher in France has been suspended for asking his class of 13-year-olds to write suicide notes.

The Telegraph explains the assignment -- quote -- "You've just turned 18 and have decided to end your life...As a final effort, you decide to explain the reasons for your act."

Many parents were -- understandably -- horrified.

But others defended the French teacher, saying the project was instructive and no worse than what kids talk about on the playground.

Full of Hot Air?

Finally, The Daily Caller website reports -- a University of Cambridge chemist wants to ban party balloons from this year's Royal Institution Christmas Lectures in Great Britain.

The scientist says -- quote -- "The scarcity of helium is a really serious issue. I can imagine that in 50 years time our children will be saying, 'I can't believe they used such a precious material to fill balloons.'"

A spokesman says the scientist is not being a party pooper. Helium is used in hospitals. And scientists have not yet found a sustainable way to make the gas artificially.