Tag Archives: California

Why the F*** Don’t All Police Officers Have to Wear Front Facing Cameras??

Please excuse my use of profanity in the title, but I’m very upset right now.

I’m upset that an unarmed teenager was gunned down in Ferguson, MO last weekend.

I’m upset that a few ignorant individuals used the tragedy as an excuse to cause mayhem, and even more upset that law enforcement agencies have used these few individuals to justify the implementation of a miniature police state in Ferguson, complete with recently-acquired military equipment.

Ryan J. Reilly of the Huffington Post tweeted this photo yesterday. A few hours late, he was arrested along with a Washington Post journalist as a SWAT team tried to clear out a McDonald’s they were eating at. Click to enlarge

But I’m also upset that, once again, the reaction to this tragedy has been so emotional and reactionary that reason has been largely left to die by the wayside.

My problem is that pretty much this entire issue comes down to whose story you believe: that of Dorian Johnson, the friend who was with Michael Brown when he was gunned down, or that of the officer who shot him (St. Louis police chief Jon Belmar gave the department’s official version of events at a press conference Sunday).

If you want to read each of their stories, you can do so here (they’re at the bottom of the article). However, I only bring this up to make a bigger point:

Why the f*** don’t all police officers have to wear front facing cameras??

If you don’t believe that this would make a huge difference in combatting both police brutality and public distrust of the police (especially amongst people of color), consider this:

Rialto, California is a city of 100,000. Last year, Rialto police chief William Farrar equipped half of his officers with front-facing cameras that also contained microphones so as to capture every police interaction in full detail.

The results (keep in mind that only half of the police force was equipped with the cameras):

In the first 12 months, public complaints against police dropped by a mind-blowing 88%. On top of that, officers’ use of force dropped by 60%.

Rialto police chief William A. Farrar. Click to enlarge (Photo: Micah Escamilla/Correspondent)

Though some police officers initially questioned why “big brother” had to see everything they were doing, Farrar pointed out that most of them quickly realized that the cameras benefited them as well:

“There are many police officers who’ve had a cloud fall over them because of an unfounded accusation of abuse. Now police officers won’t have to worry so much about that kind of thing.”

Obviously, I don’t believe that every police encounter should be public domain for anyone to just watch at their leisure. I also think it would be crucial to have an independent body that stored copies of all the footage to ensure that law enforcement couldn’t tamper with the videos.

But I do believe that implementing this practice would help us to avoid many of the tragic situations that feed the flames of anger and hate towards law enforcement within minority communities. Only then can we start to rebuild trust between law enforcement and the public.

Police monitor a peaceful demonstration in Ferguson this past Tuesday. Click to enlarge (Photo: Mario Anzuoni / Reuters)

Let’s imagine that the officer who shot Michael Brown had been wearing one of these cameras.

There would be no controversy as to what happened. The police department could watch the video, ascertain what happened, and inform the public within hours of the incident.

Think of how much anger and vitriol could have been avoided. If Johnson’s story was proven to be true, the public would have a lot of appreciation for the police department confirming his story as quickly as possible.

If the officer’s story turned out to be true, many of the people who are now angry about the “wrongful killing” of Brown would realize that much of their anger was unfounded.

Protest yell at police after being ordered off the street during a peaceful protest (Photo: Scott Olson / Getty Images)

And here’s the real question to ask yourself: do you think the officer would have shot Brown if he was wearing a live camera that was recording the whole event?

Do you think Dorian Johnson would even consider lying about the incident if he knew that the officer was wearing a live camera?

This is a cheap, easy-to-implement solution that benefits both police and the public. It continues to blow my mind that it isn’t an official policy in every police department across the country.

Koko, the Gorilla Who Uses Sign-Language, Mourns the Death of Her Friend Robin Williams

In 2001, Robin Williams traveled to the headquarters of the Gorilla Foundation in Woodside, California after taking a personal interest in ape conservation.

While there, he met the famous gorilla Koko, who was taught American sign-language at a young age.

The two were made for each other. Koko quickly took a liking to Williams’ kind heart, and almost immediately he was one of the ape’s closest friends.

Koko kisses Williams’ hand during their first meeting. Click to enlarge (Courtesy of the Gorilla Foundation)

When she met Williams, Koko had been going through a bout of depression following the death of another gorilla that had been her good friend.

At the same time, Williams was battling the issues of depression and addiction that plagued him throughout his life.

Williams made Koko laugh for the first time in six months, granting her requests to be tickled and letting her try on his glasses as the two unlikely friends bonded. It was obvious to anyone watching that Williams enjoyed the experience just as much as Koko did.

You can watch some video of the pair becoming friends below:

The meeting changed the lives of both man and ape alike:

“Not only did Robin cheer up Koko, the effect was mutual, and Robin seemed transformed,”

Koko’s caretaker Dr. Penny Patterson said while reflecting on the meeting.

So when staff at the Gorilla Foundation used sign language to tell Koko of Williams’ passing, it was no surprise that she was visibly upset.

She sat hunched over, her bottom lip quivering as she mourned the passing of her friend.

Koko was visibly upset by the news of Williams' passing. Click to enlarge (Courtesy of the Gorilla Foundation)
Koko was visibly upset by the news of Williams’ passing. Click to enlarge (Courtesy of the Gorilla Foundation)

Koko’s bond with Williams and her grief at his passing serve as a powerful reminder that a truly kind heart can transcend all differences. Even the differences between man and animal.

Read the original story from the Daily Mail here.

NASA’s Opportunity Rover Just Set the Off-World Driving Distance Record

NASA’s Opportunity rover landed on the surface of Mars in January of 2004. As of Sunday (July 26), the Opportunity rover had driven a total distance of 25 miles (40 kilometers).

Opportunity took the top spot in total off-world distance traveled by surpassing Russia’s Lunokhod 2 lunar rover, which traveled a total distance of 39 kilometers across the surface of the moon between January and May of 1973.

The Russian rover helped to bring about a golden age of space exploration in the 70s. As a sign of respect, the Opportunity rover’s operators decided to commemorate the Russian rover by naming one of the first craters they encountered after it.

Tracing the path that Opportunity has taken since it landed on Mars in 2004. On the left rim of the large Endeavor Crater, you can see the Lunokhod 2 crater. Click to enlarge (Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS/NMMNHS)

The craziest part of this record is that the Opportunity rover was only expected to travel a short distance when it was first sent to Mars in 2004. Here’s John Callas, who manages the Mars Exploration Project at NASA’s Jet-Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in California:

“This is so remarkable considering Opportunity was intended to drive about one kilometer and was never designed for distance. But what is really important is not how many miles the rover has racked up, but how much exploration and discovery we have accomplished over that distance.”

The Opportunity rover is collecting data on Mars as part of a long-term plan for a manned mission to the planet around the year 2030.

The infographic below compares the distances driven by different rovers throughout the years. Click to enlarge (courtesy of NASA/JPL-Caltech):

Read the original story from NASA here.

Californians Prepare to Vote On A Plan to Split the Golden State Into 6 New States

The idea is the brainchild of Timothy C. Draper.

Draper is the son and grandson of successful venture capitalists. His father founded the Draper & Johnson Investment Company in 1962 and served as both chairman and president of the U.S. Export-Import Bank.

His grandfather founded Draper, Gaither and Anderson, one of the U.S.’s first venture capital firms in 1958.

Timothy Draper has a vision of six separate Californian states

Timothy attended Stanford University, where he earned an electrical engineering degree before going on to get his MBA from Harvard Business School.

After spending a year at Alex, Brown & Sons (the oldest investment bank in the U.S., founded in 1800), Draper left to start his own venture capital firm with Jon Fisher and Steve Jurvetson.

Draper and Jurvetson are credited with coming up with the idea of advertising at the bottom of Hotmail messages, and the firm, DJF, owned 10% of Skype when it sold to eBay for $4.1 billion in 2005.

Early this year, Draper proposed an initiative to divide California into 6 separate states.

Click to enlarge

In support of his plan, he argues that the state is too big to be representative of its citizens or to be competitive economically:

“With six, you do get a good sense that you can drive 45 minutes in any direction and maybe be part of a different state and it keeps those states on their toes,”

he said while speaking at the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco. If his plan is approved, each of the six states would have its own government, with it’s own elected officials and Congressional representatives.

Draper recently used Twitter to announce that he had submitted a petition with 1.3 million signatures to put his 6-state initiative up to a popular vote.

The plan definitely has its opponents though. Steve Maviglio is the spokesman for the OneCalifornia committee:

“This is a colossal and divisive waste of time, energy, and money that will hurt the California brand, our ability to attract business and jobs, and move our state forward together,”

he told the San Jose Mercury News. Many opponents also point out that even if Californians vote in favor of the plan, carrying it out would require an act by Congress.

Steven Maviglio is one of the plan’s biggest opponents

Draper also has plans to expand the use of digital currencies. On June 27th, he won an auction to buy 30,000 bitcoins (worth an estimated $19 million) that were confiscated from the dark web’s illicit marketplace Silk Road by U.S. Marshalls.

He plans to use the bitcoins to help start-up bitcoin exchange Varuum increase the use of dgital currency:

“With the help of Vaurum and this newly purchased Bitcoin, we expect to be able to create new services that can provide liquidity and confidence to markets that have been hamstrung by weak currencies,”

Draper said through a statement from Varuum.

As for the six state initiative, the signatures on the petition are currently being verified before an official date for the vote is announced.

Rad more from CBS News here.

Why It Took 32 Days and 126 Separate Photos to Capture This 3,200 Year Old Sequoia In One Image

“The President” is one of the world’s largest, oldest and most famous trees.

This giant sequoia is located in the only place giant sequoias are found: on the western slopes of the Sierra Nevada Mountains in California.

The President is surrounded by smaller trees, which are referred to as the “House” and “Senate” to stick with the political theme. It is approximately 3,200 years old and measures 247 feet high, 27 feet in diameter, and 45,000 cubic meters in volume.

The base of The President’s trunk dwarfs nearby trees and makes the man standing next to it look like an action figure. Click to enlarge

Because of its massive size, the tree had never been captured in a single image. That is, until a group of National Geographic scientists and photographers got together to study and photograph the iconic tree back in 2012.

The team battled cold temperatures while putting together intricate pulley and lever systems to scale the tree. It took a total of 32 days and 126 individual frames to stitch together a full, single image of the tree. It is the first full image of The President ever:

The first single image of The President. Click to enlarge
The first single image of The President. Click to enlarge

The video below includes footage from those 32 days and shows how the image above came together:

Check out some more images of The President below:

(h/t Distractify)

Check Out This Rare Baby Albino “Cyclops” Shark (Photo Gallery)

I’ll address all skeptics immediately, this is a real dusky shark fetus that was caught inside its mother in 2011 along with nine other normal baby sharks. Unfortunately the mother died when it was caught so none of the babies survived.

In 2011,Tracy Ehrenberg, general manager of Pisces Sportfishing in Cabo San Lucas, interviewed the fisherman who made the catch in the Sea of Cortez, southeast of La Paz, Mexico.

With so many shark species struggling to survive because of the shark finning industry, it’s unfortunate to lose a mother shark with ten offspring. However, Ehrenberg points out,

“It’s kind of sad to see a female with pups inside killed but this was taken by a commercial fishing skiff and this is how this fisherman makes his living. All parts of the shark are used, including the skin. The meat is salted and sent to mainland Mexico, where it is usually sold as bacalo or ‘cod.'”

Shark with Litter
Shark with Litter

When pictures of the shark first emerged online, the images went viral and skeptics all over declined the possibility of this being a real catch. Even the fisherman who made the catch was amazed, and to this day keeps the fish in preservation and refuses to sell it.

The story became more believable after Felipe Galvan, a prominent Mexican scientist, acknowledged that he had inspected the shark and wrote a paper describing the fish’s strange appearance as the result of,

“a rare congenital malformation, resulting from the division of the embryonic brain that leads to fusion of the eyes to form a single, central eye.”

This fish is certainly one of the strangest creatures I have ever seen. Check out more pictures below. Click an image to enlarge:

Elon Musk Just Opened All of Tesla’s Patents to Anyone Who Wants to Use Them

Elon Musk is no stranger to innovation. The South African entrepreneur made his first fortune by helping to found PayPal. He also founded and is the Chief Executive and Chief Technology Officer of SpaceX, the world’s largest private space transportation company.

Musk is also the founder and Chief Product Architect for Tesla Motors, the increasingly popular all-electric car company.

Recently, Musk hinted that Tesla would be opening up some of its technologies to other electric car makers, specifically the patent surrounding their Supercharger vehicle charging stations.

A Tesla Supercharger station

Many critics accused Tesla of just trying to gain leverage in the electric car industry, saying that the move would essentially force other manufacturers to use Tesla charging stations, as well as having to make sure that their vehicles are compatible with the Tesla chargers.

However, Musk argued to the contrary when speaking with a journalist who asked about the issue recently:

“The intent of the Supercharger network is not to create a walled garden. Any other manufacturer that’s interested in using them, we’d be happy to accommodate. It’s just that they need to be able to accept the power level of the Superchargers, which is currently 135kW and rising, so any car needs to meet the Supercharger standard. And they’d also need to agree with the business model, which is we don’t charge people on a per-charge basis. They’d need to contribute to the capital costs proportional to their fleet’s usage of the network. So we think that’s pretty fair.”

Tesla’s current Supercharger network. Click to enlarge
Tesla's expected 2015 Supercharger network. Click to enlarge
Tesla’s expected 2015 Supercharger network. Click to enlarge

Despite these reassurances, most critics were skeptical that Tesla would actually release any real intellectual property. But earlier today, Tesla surprised everyone by releasing all of their patents to the public.

Elon Musk wrote an open letter earlier today announcing the decision. It started like this:

“Yesterday, there was a wall of Tesla patents in the lobby of our Palo Alto headquarters. That is no longer the case. They have been removed, in the spirit of the open source movement, for the advancement of electric vehicle technology.”

In the letter, Musk explains that when he started Tesla, he felt that patents were necessary to defend against the established car companies, who could copy the technology and use their, “massive manufacturing, sales and marketing power” to overwhelm smaller companies.

However, Musk goes on to explain that,

“The unfortunate reality is the opposite: electric car programs (or programs for any vehicle that doesn’t burn hydrocarbons) at the major manufacturers are small to non-existent, constituting an average of far less than 1% of their total vehicle sales.”

Musk continues by saying that Tesla’s true competition isn’t the few other small companies producing fully electric vehicles, but the massive volume of gas-burning vehicles being manufactured by the big car companies. He finishes the letter like this:

“We believe that Tesla, other companies making electric cars, and the world would all benefit from a common, rapidly-evolving technology platform.

Technology leadership is not defined by patents, which history has repeatedly shown to be small protection indeed against a determined competitor, but rather by the ability of a company to attract and motivate the world’s most talented engineers. We believe that applying the open source philosophy to our patents will strengthen rather than diminish Tesla’s position in this regard.”

You can read the full press release on Tesla’s website here.