Making Unique Observations in a Very Cluttered World

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Lead-footed Calgary cops under investigation after alleged race to Tim Hortons - in marked cruisers -

Lead-footed Calgary cops under investigation after alleged race to Tim Hortons - in marked cruisers - 

The city's top cop says its hard to judge if the two officers videotaped appearing to be racing to a doughnut shop did anything wrong but the matter is now under investigation.

Chief Rick Hanson said he had one look at the video that surfaced on YouTube, showing two marked city cop cars and an unmarked vehicle at a red light.

When the traffic light turned green, the driver of one of the police cars accelerated to pull into a Tim Hortons.

"I've noticed that the speeds for two of the police vehicles, I don't think made it to 50 km/h," said Hanson.

He said investigators are looking closely at one of the police cars and its driver.

"I know that we're looking at what he was doing and what his intentions were at that point in time," he said.

Hanson said it's "hard to say if the officers did anything wrong" until the probe is done.

"The bottom line is we talk about safety all the time and when somebody films what may appear to be an impropriety, we are obligated to have a look at it."

Hanson said he doesn't think the one who filmed the video did anything wrong.

"It certainly appears that this is a video unit that was hooked into the vehicle, hard wired, hooked into some type of device to measure speeds. It was a sophisticated camera that did this because most in-car cameras don't have that level of sophistication to actually monitor the speed of the vehicle that you're filming."

Hanson said the Calgary Police Service holds its officers to a high level of accountability and they operate knowing there are cameras filming their every move.

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Cheese fire causes traffic meltdown in Norway tunnel - 27 tonnes of flaming brown cheese for the last SIX days.... -

Cheese fire causes traffic meltdown in Norway tunnel - 27 tonnes of flaming brown cheese for the last SIX days.... - 

A truckload of burning cheese has closed a road tunnel in Arctic Norway for the last six days.

Some 27 tonnes of flaming brown cheese (brunost), a Norwegian delicacy, blocked off a three-km tunnel near the northern coastal town of Narvik when it caught fire last Thursday. The fire was finally put out on Monday.

“This high concentration of fat and sugar is almost like petrol if it gets hot enough,” said Viggo Berg, a policeman.

Brown cheese is made from whey, contains up to 30 percent fat and has a caramel taste.

“I didn’t know that brown cheese burns so well,” said Kjell Bjoern Vinje at the Norwegian Public Roads Administration.

He added that in his 15 years in the administration, this was the first time cheese had caught fire on Norwegian roads.

Berg said that no one was injured in the fire, only one other vehicle was in the area at the time and that the accident had luckily happened close to one of the tunnel’s exits.

The tunnel will closed for repairs for at least a week.


Is Facebook envy making you miserable? -

Is Facebook envy making you miserable? -

Witnessing friends' vacations, love lives and work successes on Facebook can cause envy and trigger feelings of misery and loneliness, according to German researchers.

A study conducted jointly by two German universities found rampant envy on Facebook, the world's largest social network that now has more than one billion users and has produced an unprecedented platform for social comparison.

The researchers found that one in three people felt worse after visiting the site and more dissatisfied with their lives, while people who browsed without contributing were affected the most.

“We were surprised by how many people have a negative experience from Facebook with envy leaving them feeling lonely, frustrated or angry,” researcher Hanna Krasnova from the Institute of Information Systems at Berlin's Humboldt University told Reuters.

“From our observations some of these people will then leave Facebook or at least reduce their use of the site,” said Krasnova, adding to speculation that Facebook could be reaching saturation point in some markets.

Researchers from Humboldt University and from Darmstadt's Technical University found vacation photos were the biggest cause of resentment with more than half of envy incidents triggered by holiday snaps on Facebook.

Social interaction was the second most common cause of envy as users could compare how many birthday greetings they received to those of their Facebook friends and how many “likes” or comments were made on photos and postings.

“Passive following triggers invidious emotions, with users mainly envying happiness of others, the way others spend their vacations and socialize,” the researchers said in the report “Envy on Facebook: A Hidden Threat to Users' Life Satisfaction?” released on Tuesday.

“The spread and ubiquitous presence of envy on Social Networking Sites is shown to undermine users' life satisfaction.”

They found people aged in their mid-30s were most likely to envy family happiness while women were more likely to envy physical attractiveness.

These feelings of envy were found to prompt some users to boast more about their achievements on the site run by Facebook Inc. to portray themselves in a better light.

Men were shown to post more self-promotional content on Facebook to let people know about their accomplishments while women stressed their good looks and social lives.


New Zealand launches campaign to ban cats as pets -

New Zealand launches campaign to ban cats as pets - 

WELLINGTON, New Zealand –  Gareth Morgan has a simple dream: a New Zealand free of pet cats that threaten native birds. But the environmental advocate has triggered a claws-out backlash with his new anti-feline campaign.
Morgan called on his countrymen Tuesday to make their current cat their last in order to save the nation's unique bird species. He set up a website, called Cats To Go, depicting a tiny kitten with red devil's horns. The opening line: "That little ball of fluff you own is a natural born killer."
He doesn't recommended people euthanize their current cats -- "Not necessarily but that is an option" are the site's exact words -- but rather neuter them and not replace them when they die. Morgan, an economist and well-known businessman, also suggests people keep cats indoors and that local governments make registration mandatory.
Morgan's campaign is not sitting well in a country that boasts one of the highest cat ownership rates in the world.
"I say to Gareth Morgan, butt out of our lives," Bob Kerridge, the president of the Royal New Zealand Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, told the current affairs television show Campbell Live. "Don't deprive us of the beautiful companionship that a cat can provide individually and as a family."
For thousands of years, New Zealand's native birds had no predators and flourished. Some species, like the kiwi, became flightless. But the arrival of mankind and its introduction of predators like cats, dogs and rodents has wiped out some native bird species altogether and endangered many others.
"Imagine a New Zealand teeming with native wildlife, penguins on the beach, kiwis roaming about in your garden," Morgan writes on his website. "Imagine hearing birdsong in our cities."
But many New Zealanders are against the campaign. Even on Morgan's website, 70 percent on Tuesday were voting against making their current cat their last.
Morgan could not be reached on Tuesday.

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Asteroid-Mining Company To Launch Fleet of Prospecting Spacecraft... -

Asteroid-Mining Company To Launch Fleet of Prospecting Spacecraft... - 

A new asteroid-mining company launches Tuesday with the goal of helping humanity expand across the solar system by tapping the vast riches of space rocks.

The new firm, called Deep Space Industries, Inc., announced today (Jan. 22) that it plans to launch a fleet of prospecting spacecraft in 2015, then begin harvesting metals and water from near-Earth asteroids within a decade or so. Such work could make it possible to build and refuel spacecraft far above our planet's surface, thus helping our species get a foothold in the final frontier.

"Using resources harvested in space is the only way to afford permanent space development," Deep Space CEO David Gump said in a statement. Deep Space Industries will hold a press conference today in Santa Monica, Calif., at 10 a.m. PST (1 p.m. EST/1800 GMT) to unveil more details of its bold mission plan; you can watch the webcast live at SPACE.com. 

"More than 900 new asteroids that pass near Earth are discovered every year," Gump explained. "They can be like the Iron Range of Minnesota was for the Detroit car industry last century — a key resource located near where it was needed. In this case, metals and fuel from asteroids can expand the in-space industries of this century. That is our strategy." [How Asteroid Mining Could Work (Infographic)]

Deep Space is the second company to jump into the asteroid-mining business. The first, the billionaire-backed firm Planetary Resources, had its own unveiling last April.

Deep Space will inspect potential mining targets with 55-pound (25 kilograms) spacecraft it calls FireFlies, the first of which are targeted for launch in 2015.

FireFlies will conduct asteroid reconnaissance on the cheap. They'll be made from low-cost "cubesat" components and will hitch a ride to space aboard rockets that also carry large communications satellites, Deep Space officials said.

"We can make amazing machines smaller, cheaper and faster than ever before," Deep Space chairman Rick Tumlinson said in a statement. "Imagine a production line of FireFlies, cocked and loaded and ready to fly out to examine any object that gets near the Earth."

The FireFlies' work will pave the way for 70-pound (32 kg) spacecraft called DragonFlies, which will blast off beginning in 2016. DragonFlies will bring asteroid samples back to Earth during missions that last two to four years. Some samples will help the company determine mining targets, while others will probably be sold to researchers and collectors, officials said.

The public will get to fly along with both probes, whose activities will likely be funded in some measure by corporate sponsorship, Deep Space officials said.

"The public will participate in FireFly and DragonFly missions via live feeds from Mission Control, online courses in asteroid mining sponsored by corporate marketers and other innovative ways to open the doors wide," Gump said. "The Google Lunar X Prize, Unilever and Red Bull each are spending tens of millions of dollars on space sponsorships, so the opportunity to sponsor a FireFly expedition into deep space will be enticing."


Aspirin 'triples chance of leading cause of blindness' -

Aspirin 'triples chance of leading cause of blindness' - 

Regular use of aspirin can almost triple the chance of developing a condition that causes more older people in Britain to lose their sight than any other, researchers are warning.

Scientists have found those who take aspirin on a regular basis are much more likely to develop ‘wet’ age-related macular degeneration (‘wet AMD’) than those who do not.
The disease, in which one’s central vision becomes progressively more blurred, affects a quarter of a million mainly elderly people in Britain.
Now scientists have found the strongest evidence yet that aspirin - taken by millions to ward off heart attacks, strokes and cancer - appears to greatly increase the chance of developing wet AMD, which is irreversible.
Australian academics drew their conclusions after following almost 2,400 middle-aged and elderly people for 15 years.
Of the participants, who were all at least 49 years old at the start of the study, 257 were deemed “regular” users of aspirin, who took it at least once a week. The rest only took it occasionally.

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