And the nation most tolerant of sex scandals is…

When politician Dominique Strauss-Kahn arrived in France last week, cleared of a New York sex scandal, he returned home smiling despite facing a frosty reception. Maybe he should have gone to Mexico, instead.

Pay attention Anthony Weiner, Tiger Woods, Brett Favre and others caught up in public, sexual indiscretions.

A Reuters/Ipsos poll released on Thursday shows 57 percent of Mexicans would be either very likely or somewhat likely to tolerate the sexual indiscretions of stars and politicians.

They were followed by Belgians at 55 percent. In the United States, the tolerance factor was 48 percent. France, in fact, was way down the list at only 33 percent, while Japan was the least forgiving country at only 28 percent…

In recent months Strauss-Kahn, the former managing director of the International Monetary Fund and a presumed candidate for the French presidency, faced a possible trial in the United States for allegedly attempting to rape a hotel maid.

Last week, New York City prosecutors dropped charges, allowing him to return to France where he faced a mostly chilly public reception and unease among his political allies.

Former U.S. congressman Weiner, golfer Woods and football star Favre faced their own sex scandals in the last two years.

A slight majority of the respondents around the world, 51 percent, said women were just as likely as men to engage in sexual indiscretions but less apt to get caught in the act. Perhaps it’s no surprise, Mexicans agreed, at 51 percent.

I can only supply subjective feelings on the subject – though based on many years of travel and discussion, a worldliness that reflects my attitude about being a citizen of Earth rather than restricted by nationality.

In general human beings are masters of self-deception and hypocrisy. More so men than women. More so True Believers than secular folks who try to deal with material reality.

Nearby supernova attracts scientists and amateurs alike

California astronomers have found the closest, brightest supernova of its kind in 25 years, catching the glimmer of a tiny self-destructing star a mere 21 million light years from Earth and soon visible to amateur skywatchers.

The discovery, announced on Wednesday, was made in what was believed to be the first hours of the rare cosmic explosion using a special telescope at the Palomar Observatory near San Diego and powerful supercomputers at a government laboratory in Berkeley.

The detection so early of a supernova so near has created a worldwide stir among astronomers, who are clamoring to observe it with every telescope at their disposal, including the giant Hubble Space Telescope.

Scientists behind the discovery at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the University of California at Berkeley say the extraordinary phenomenon — labeled by the rather obscure designation PTF 11kly — will likely become the most-studied supernova in history.

“It is an instant cosmic classic,” said Peter Nugent, the senior scientist at UC Berkeley who first spotted it…

It is expected to reach its peak sometime between September 9 and 12, when it will become visible to stargazers using a good pair of binoculars or small telescope.

It will appear, blueish-white, just above and to the left of the last two stars in the Big Dipper handle.

“There are billions of stars in a galaxy. This supernova will outshine them all this weekend,” Nugent told Reuters.

RTFA for details. I’ll be outside tonight trying to catch a peek.

Gumby fails at armed robbery


 
In the world of animated TV, it’s no stretch to say that good-natured Gumby is far down the list of characters that would commit armed robbery.

But a man clad in a full-figured Gumby costume has made a botched attempt to rob a 7-Eleven store in California, and authorities are looking for the suspect…

It happened early on Monday when the man came into the San Diego store dressed as the green claymation figure, accompanied by an ordinarily dressed accomplice, San Diego Police spokesman Detective Gary Hassen said.

The costumed man announced he was robbing the store, but the clerk thought it was a joke, police said.

“Gumby said, ‘You don’t think it’s a robbery? Let me show you my gun,'” Hassen said.

The suspect then tried to reach into his Gumby outfit but experienced a “costume malfunction” and could not fit his hand in a pocket, he said.

Instead of a gun, the costumed suspect pulled out 26 cents in change which he dropped on the floor, police said.

The accomplice, who had left the store and gotten into a minivan, honked at the man dressed as Gumby. He, too, walked out of the store without managing to take any money, police said. Both men left in the minivan.

Har.

Suspected arsonists sought as wildfires rage in Texas


Dropping water one bucket at a time

One of the dozens of massive blazes that have torched rain-starved Texas was set by arsonists, police say.

Cops in Leander are hunting for two teenage girls and two teenage boys suspected of starting a fire Monday night that gutted around a dozen houses and forced hundreds of people to evacuated their homes…

The teens were spotted running through a wooded area where the fire started, police said. The city was offering up to $2,000 to anyone with information leading to the arrest of the arsonists.

Local reports said the blaze ripped through at least 300 acres, destroyed 11 homes and damaged at least eight homes around Leander, about 22 miles northwest of Austin…

Investigators say one of girl suspects was wearing a pink shirt and blue jeans, and she had black hair that may have been dyed. The other girl was described as having dirty blond hair in a white T-shirt and jeans. Both boys had dark, shaggy hair and were dressed in jeans, police said. All four teens are white, cops said.

More than 150 different wildfires have ravaged hundreds of thousands of acres and destroyed more than 1,000 homes in Texas this week.

One fire, in Bastrop, southeast of Austin, was described as the most devastating wildfire in more than a decade. That fire raged for a fourth-consecutive day on Wednesday, consuming 45 square miles and forcing 7,000 to evacuate the area. More than 600 homes were said to have been destroyed, and four people have been killed.

Murder is murder is murder. If they catch these kids and they are proven to have started fires – throw away the key.

In a related story – a DC10 air tanker ain’t flying and dropping water on fires because the state of Texas in their infinite wisdom [which means Rick Perry] was too cheap to hire a backup pilot. The only one they hired has exceeded maximum consecutive hours for a pilot to be allowed to fly.

Yes, there are safety reasons for that – the maximum flying hours, not the cheapskate part.

A little S&M works in aid of the Hungarian census


 
Hungary has produced a provocative video advertisement to encourage more people to fill out its national census online next month.

In a video posted on social networking sites Wednesday, a topless young woman in red underwear, lacy black stockings and holding a whip opens the door to a census taker, who, realizing he has arrived at an inopportune moment — offers her the option of completing the census online.

We want to reach the younger generation as well, and the internet is more for this generation, it uses their language,” Imre Dobossy, a top communications official at the Central Statistics Office (KSH) told Reuters.

The last time Hungarians were counted was 10 years ago, and this will be first time they will be able to fill out the questionnaire online.

Sometimes you shouldn’t answer the door.

Lady judge throws out juror who is breastfeeding her infant – WTF?

A Denver mom says she was singled out by a judge when she brought her six-month-old daughter with her to report for jury duty. Christine Kalata says she had no choice. She is breast feeding her child and breast-feeding mothers are not exempt from jury duty.

“I felt embarrassed. I remember looking down and thinking everyone’s going to be mad at me because I want to be excused,” says Kalata.

She says she was humiliated in front of other potential jurors in Denver court when the judge was not happy to see a baby in court.

“When I stated that this was my job she did not let me say anything else after that she just said to the jurors, ‘how many of you left a job? Please raise your hand,'” Kalata says.

She says Judge Claudia Jordan told the clerk to put her name back in the pool and then sent her home.

“After I left I cried all the way down the elevator. As I drove home I actually started to get angry,” Kalata says. “That’s when I started to think this is ridiculous.”

Then she got fired up and is now working on changing the law in Denver so breast-feeding moms can fulfill their civic duty while taking care of their children.

Kalata says she had asked for a deferment but the clerk told her no.

Contradictory crap like this has no reason to happen. Either the judge hasn’t a clue what the regulations say about jury duty – or the clerk advising Christine Kalata doesn’t know what their job is all about. I don’t know who has it wrong.

But, it gets worse in these tired old eyes when it turns out to be a lady judge. Whether you have children or not, you would expect a women judge to be somewhat sympatico to a nursing mother.