Disabled chained captives – thugs steal their social security checks

At first, a Philadelphia landlord said, he thought one of his tenants was attempting to conceal a dog after finding a dog dish in the basement of his apartment building.

But on a return trip to the basement Saturday, Turgut Gozleveli found something much more sinister: four mentally disabled people held captive, including one man chained to a radiator. “It was terrible,” he said Sunday, adding the people were surrounded by human waste. “I don’t know how long they were there.”

Three people have been arrested and accused of holding the people captive and stealing their Social Security checks.

Linda Ann Weston, 51; Thomas Gregory, 47; and Eddie Wright, 49, face charges including criminal conspiracy, aggravated assault, kidnapping, criminal trespass, unlawful restraint, and false imprisonment, Philadelphia police said in a statement…

Gozleveli said he was contacted Thursday by the block captain of a neighborhood group regarding suspicious activity. He checked out the basement that day and found a few things out of place, but no people. On Friday, he found the dog dish. On Saturday, after hearing a dog barking, he went to the building’s sub-basement and found a door chained shut. He found the people after removing the chains…

Authorities believe the four were trapped in the tiny room for up to a week. Lt. Ray Evers said they suffered from bed sores and “injuries that are very, very hard to describe.” The alleged victims appeared to be malnourished and were taken to a hospital…

The four people found in the basement were brought out on stretchers, said Danyell Tisdale, the block captain who notified Gozleveli. She said she was concerned about some of the things she’d seen recently, including people being brought in from the back of an SUV with out-of-state plates.

I hope I did enough,” she said. “I called.”

Bravo, Ms. Tisdale. Sometimes that phone call is a start – and sufficient.

I’ve worked with neighborhood watches in a couple of the places I’ve lived over the years. You can feel just a little silly if a suspicion turns out to be nothing. But, you never stop keeping an eye on your neighbors lives and property when practical. Your own heart grows a little happier when you stop some thugs, save your neighbor from being ripped off.

Where’s the beer?

A Las Cruces woman was jailed after allegedly stabbing her boyfriend for not buying her another 40-ounce bottle of Olde English 800 malt liquor.

Dona Ana sheriff’s deputies were called to a house on the 9500 block of Butterfield Boulevard around 5:30 p.m. Thursday after Alexa Monet Rodriguez, 22, allegedly became enraged at her boyfriend and stabbed him in the arm with a 14-inch stainless steel knife, according to sheriff’s office spokeswoman Kelly Jameson.

Rodriguez also allegedly had thrown a 3-pound weight at her boyfriend so hard it got lodged in the wall, then struck him in the back with a TV tray and a chair, Jameson said. After the alleged stabbing, Rodriguez allegedly threw the knife at the victim and fled.

She was arrested soon after and charged with aggravated battery against a household member with a deadly weapon, aggravated assault against a household member with a deadly weapon and two counts of battery against a household member. Magistrate Judge Richard Silva set Rodriguez’s bond at $15,000 cash.

The victim, a Farmington man who just moved to Las Cruces three months ago, was transported by ambulance to an area hospital to be treated for non-life-threatening injuries.

I don’t know about that last paragraph. Looks to me like she tried like hell to threaten his life!

The Very Large Array invites you to choose a new name


VLA at sunset
Image courtesy of NRAO/AUI

The most famous radio telescope in the world is about to get a new name. The Very Large Array, known around the world, isn’t what it used to be. The iconic radio telescope…is nearing the completion of an amazing transformation. More than a decade of effort has replaced the VLA’s original, 1970s-vintage electronics with modern, state-of-the-art equipment.

“The VLA Expansion Project, begun in 2000, has increased the VLA’s technical capabilities by factors of as much as 8,000, and the new system allows scientists to do things they never could do before,” said Fred K.Y. Lo, Director of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory. “After more than three decades on the frontiers of science, the VLA now is poised for a new era as one of the world’s premier tools for meeting the challenges of 21st-Century astrophysics,” he added.

And so it’s time, the Observatory has decided, to give this transformed scientific facility a new name to reflect its new capabilities.

The Observatory is seeking ideas for a new name from the public and the scientific community. Here’s the online entry form.

Entries will be accepted until December 1, 2011, and the new name will be announced at NRAO’s Town Hall at the American Astronomical Society’s meeting in Austin, Texas, in January…

RTFA for details and history of the facility. I can tell you from experience it is a wonderful place to visit. You feel like you’re being watched from outer space every minute you spend wandering the site – watched in a friendly sort of way. 🙂

Critters I haven’t managed to photograph – yet

95% of the time I take for walks about Lot 4 and the bosque of the Santa Fe River, I have my pocket camera with me. So, of course, two of the most unusual residents of the neighborhood I’ve seen this year – I’ve encountered when I’ve forgotten to put the camera in my pocket. They are:


Velvet Ant

Velvet ants are striking wasps covered with red and black or orange and black “hairs”. Females are wingless; males have two pairs of black wings. The female have very long stingers, the potency of the punch is reflected in the common name “cow killer wasps”. I have read that you will remember if you step on one barefoot.


Solitary Miner Bee

The few I’ve seen are striking black-and-white. I had one sitting on my knee the other day – and no camera to take a photo. And I haven’t found a decent photo of one in New Mexico though there are a hundred varieties of solitary miner bees in the state. I think few are black-and-white. Mine was 3 large bands, white-black-white.

Autumn is rolling right along; so, it may take me till next year to get a picture of either one.

Saving energy by improving the physics of display cases

What goes inside is important, too

Shoppers don’t usually give a second thought as they reach into a cooler to grab milk, cheese or prepackaged lunches. Open-front refrigerated display cases, which make up roughly 60 percent of the refrigerated cases in grocery stores and supermarkets, provide quick access to chilled products such as dairy, meat, fish and produce. While they are popular with shoppers and grocery stores, they’re less popular with electric utilities and others concerned with energy efficiency.

Designing grocery display cases is not rocket science, but it has a lot in common with aeronautical engineering. Refrigerated display cases shoot jets of air across their front openings, creating an invisible shield that aims to keep cold air in and warm air out. Current technology does this with limited success…

Combining experimental results and mathematical models, the team developed a tool that lets manufacturers optimize their particular design. Researchers collaborated with a leading display-case manufacturer to retrofit a proof-of-concept case. Tests showed the retrofit was a cost-effective way to get a 10 percent reduction in infiltration of warm air. Calculations for other display designs show potential savings of up to 15 percent.

Homayun Navaz’s team has now established a company in Flint, Michigan, that provides technical tools and training to help display-case manufacturers improve their products’ energy efficiency. “There’s definitely room for improvement in these display cases,” Dabiri said. “We’ve shown that we can get 10 to 15 percent improvement, which is definitely a tangible impact. In this whole push for energy efficiency, anything you can do is a help.”

An industry-wide implementation of the findings across the U.S. would save roughly $100 million in electricity costs each year.

I can recall a period in American culture when saving money through efficiencies like this was considered desirable and positive. Some time before the election of Ronald Reagan.

Archaeologists discover world’s oldest paint shop

A group of Home sapiens came across a picturesque cave on the coast of South Africa around 100,000 years ago. They unloaded their gear and set to work, grinding iron-rich dirt and mixing it gently with heated bone in abalone shells to create a red, paint-like mixture. Then they dipped a thin bone into the mixture to transfer it somewhere before leaving the cave — and their toolkits — behind…

Researchers now have uncovered those paint-making kits, sitting in the cave in a layer of dune sand, just where they had been left 100,000 years ago. The find is the oldest-known example of a human-made compound mixture, said study researcher Christopher Henshilwood, an archaeologist at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg. It’s also the first known example of the use of a container anywhere in the world, 40,000 years older than the next example, Henshilwood told LiveScience.

Along with the toolkits, Henshilwood said, the archaeology team found pieces of ocher, or colored clay, etched with abstract designs…

This cave, now known as Blombos Cave, has been under excavation since 1992. The cave clearly was used as a shelter for tens of thousands of years of human history, with younger rock layers yielding evidence of cooking fires and food remains.

Lyn Wadley, an archaeologist at the University of the Witwatersrand, told LiveScience in an email: “Since ocher-rich compounds have several potential applications, it is necessary to conduct experiments to test the effectiveness of the ancient recipe as paint, adhesive or another product…”

The combination of ingredients may not tell researchers how the ancient mixture was used, but other items reveal how it was made. Along with the shells and ocher were assorted bone fragments, including the scapula of a seal, and a number of quartzite stones that had been used to grind the ocher down…

RTFA. Archaeologists keep learning of hominid achievements earlier than we used to think possible. And that includes upgrading the complexity and sophistication of those achievements.

I have nothing but pride in learning of our antecedents. Folks who fear evolution and crap their drawers over African origins? Well, they can stick with ignorance and superstition.