Space Pic of the Day

Click on photo to enlarge

The Aurora Australis is seen between Antarctica and Australia in this picture taken by Dutch astronaut Andre Kuipers on board the International Space Station.

Let’s please remember there is an aurora associated with both the North and South Poles, eh?

What’s different about this voyeur’s hidden camera recording in the women’s locker room – He’s a police commissioner!

NOT the police commissioner

A police commissioner in Sweden has been convicted of hiding a video camera inside a locker in a police station changing room and filming nude female officers. The commissioner at the Solna police station outside Stockholm has resigned from his position and was fined the equivalent of 50 days’ pay and ordered to pay a woman $1,472 in damages, The Local reported.

A female officer discovered the camera in the changing room Dec. 27 when she bent over after taking a shower and noticed a red flashing light and a camera lens…

The woman reported the camera, and the commissioner confessed to setting it up in the locker, The Local said. A judgment said the commissioner’s video recording “violated his colleague’s sexual privacy.”

The Local did not identify the commissioner.

Hopefully, the word will get out who this voyeur is – and maybe, just maybe, he’ll be pried loose from his position of authority.

Homeless Hotspot at SXSW — stirs debate

Remove signs which offend undergrad sociologists

A charitable marketing program that paid homeless people to carry Wi-Fi signals at South By Southwest has drawn widespread debate at the annual Austin conference and around the country.

BBH Labs, a unit of the global marketing agency BBH, gave 13 people from Austin’s Front Steps Shelter mobile Wi-Fi devices and T-shirts that announced “I am a 4G Hotspot.” The company paid them $20 up front and a minimum of $50 a day for about six hours work, said Emma Cookson, chairwoman of BBH New York.

She called the experiment a modernized version of homeless selling street newspapers. All of the money paid for Wi-Fi – an often difficult thing to find at SXSW – went to the participants, who were selected in partnership with Front Steps. ($2 was the recommended donation for 15 minutes of use.)

But many have called the program exploitive. wrote that it “sounds like something out of a darkly satirical science-fiction dystopia.” Technology blog ReadWriteWeb called it a “blunt display of unselfconscious gall.” The topic became one of the most popular in the country on Twitter by Tuesday…

Please, please, save me from middle-class psychologizers who have never spent a penniless day on the streets of their suburbs.

One of the participants, Dusty White said that the experience of talking with SXSW attendees and earning some cash “made me feel proud.”

“I felt like it was a positive thing,” said White. “They could have done this with anyone.”

Mitchell Gibbs, director of development and communications at Front Steps, said he was initially skeptical after being approached by BBH, but was won over by previous work they’ve done with the homeless. He put the offer to participants in the shelter’s Case Management Program, a step-by-step program to move people out of shelters and off the streets.

“Everybody was educated and aware about the process,” said Gibbs. “Everybody was excited by the opportunity to make some money.”

Gibbs said the shelter’s participants roundly enjoyed the experience.

Pompous, guilt-ridden, middle-class twits who complain about patronizing the poor and homeless — usually succeed at the patronizing while patting themselves on the back over their own criticism.

I used to drive a half-mile out of my way to buy my Sunday newspaper from an occasionally homeless dude whose attitude I liked. He lived part-time at a homeless shelter. But, he saved enough money to buy some tools and combining that with odd jobs – aside from his newspaper sales – he was able to start a handyman service that eventually got him into his own apartment. Since I was working for a subcontractor at the time I was able to steer some business his way – and that felt good, too.

He didn’t want charity. He wanted work. That’s what the hotspot project provided. I have nothing polite to say to the critics.

Oops! Dumb politician of the day

He does have a he-man handshake, though

A Republican congressional candidate says he’s learned to double check his campaign schedule after he mistakenly spoke at a Democratic convention in Iowa.

Dan Dolan told the Quad-City Times he arrived early Saturday at the county courthouse in Albia for a Republican convention. He says his staffer asked the crowd if he could speak, and when he finished, “a guy raises his hand and says, ‘I think you want to talk to the Republicans.'”

Turns out, Democrats were meeting in the same place two hours before the Republican event was to start.

Dolan, of Muscatine, Iowa, says everyone was nice about the mix-up, but he now asks “Is this the Republican convention?” before he starts talking.

Dolan is running for the GOP nomination for Iowa’s 2nd Congressional District seat.


I really like the part where the Dems let him spend the time practicing his speech and waited till the question-period to point out his mistake. 🙂

Filled with fear — Cheney cancels Toronto speech

Former U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney has canceled an April speaking engagement in Toronto, fearing for his safety, organizers announced Tuesday.

The arch-conservative Republican who served under President George W. Bush was scheduled to speak at the Metro Convention Center April 24…

Last September when Cheney was booked to speak in Vancouver, protesters marched and booed as he and guests arrived and police kept him in a hotel lockdown until crowds were dispersed.

…Both liberal and conservative Canadian media mocked Cheney’s decision to avoid speaking in Toronto.

The rightist National Post was scathing in an editorial: “Who knows what else might happen: He could be surrounded by socialist doctors and forced to undergo indoctrination on public healthcare,” the Post said. “Gay couples, who are allowed to marry under Canada’s perverse wedding laws, might block his way and kiss where he could see them.”

The liberal Toronto Star also pulled no punches: “Has Dick Cheney been reading about how all the mean ‘pinkos’ up in Toronto treat their right-wing politicians? Or is he just scared of Canadians in general?” the Star asked.

Like all of the owners of today’s Republican Party, Cheney is a coward and a liar. He fears nothing more than the voice of an outraged population. Democracy is anathema, a foreign plot – and anyone who dares ask for facts to justify government decisions must be a dangerous agent of change.

Texas vulture study updates forensics

For more than five weeks, a woman’s body lay undisturbed in a secluded Texas field. Then a frenzied flock of vultures descended on the corpse and reduced it to a skeleton within hours. But this was not a crime scene lost to nature. It was an important scientific experiment into the way human bodies decompose, and the findings are upending assumptions about decay that have been the basis of homicide cases for decades.

Experienced investigators would normally have interpreted the absence of flesh and the condition of the bones as evidence that the woman had been dead for six months, possibly even a year or more. Now a study of vultures at Texas State University is calling into question many of the benchmarks detectives have long relied on…

The vulture study, conducted on 26 acres near the south-central Texas campus, stemmed from previous studies that used dead pigs, which decompose much like humans. Scientists set up a motion-sensing camera that captured the vultures jumping up and down on the woman’s body, breaking some of her ribs, which investigators could also misinterpret as trauma suffered during a beating…

The forensic center opened in 2008, as did a similar facility at Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, making Texas home to two of the nation’s five “body farms.”

At the farms, forensic pathologists observe the decomposition process in natural surroundings to see how corpses react to sun and shade, whether they decay differently on the surface or below ground and what sort of creatures — from large to microscopic — are involved.

Only in recent years has academic literature tried to establish formulas for death time based on stages of decomposition and environmental factors such as temperature conditions where the body was found.

The vulture research has drawn interest from homicide investigators, including Pam McInnis, president of the Southwestern Association of Forensic Scientists and director of the Pasadena Police Crime Lab in suburban Houston. She said the ability to account for vultures would “significantly” help investigators who already use insects and their life cycles to estimate time of death…

Sgt. Jim Huggins, a recently retired Texas Department of Public Safety criminal investigator who now teaches forensic science at Baylor University, said vultures were always something of a mystery for investigators…

Previous research on scavenged remains focused on carnivores such as coyotes or rodents.

“This is, as far as I’m concerned, it’s cutting edge,” he said. “No one has ever sat down and put a pencil down and attempted this before. … This is going to, I think, change some minds about scavengers.”

RTFA for more detail abut folks who donated their bodies for these studies, details about what’s being learned, the thoughtfulness of folks who wanted to contribute just a bit more to society.

Vultures are the best sign of spring in our little community along the Santa Fe River bosque.