Monday, August 15, 2005

Forensics and Fancy: Mystic Tiki Crime Lab

Click pic to enlarge and here for Vampirahna's other boards.

I love the sweet sciences both natural and supernatural, so I won't make you choose either. Have it all today in variety and abundance!

1) Here's a link to the Crime Lab Project, that wants your phone calls or e-mails to support the cause.

The Coverdell National Forensic Sciences Act was named in memory of Senator Paul Coverdell, who fought tirelessly for better support for forensic science labs. In the 106th Congress in 2000, both House and Senate unanimously passed the Coverdell Act, which was then signed into law by the president. In effect, however, the law only created the bank account for crime lab funding, without actually depositing anything into it -- each year, only a small fraction of needed federal funds have been spent on Coverdell.

Federal funding requires both authorization and appropriation. Of the $135 million authorized for the Coverdell Act, only $15 million has been appropriated. Divided between public crime labs and medical examiners offices in all 50 states, this amount barely begins to address the needs of labs. Currently, some members of Congress are focusing only on DNA backlog funding. While DNA funding is important, labs must have Coverdell funding to meet their overall needs -- even to process DNA.

The American Society of Crime Lab Directors conducted a survey in 2003 of state and local forensic laboratories, which pointed out some of the critical needs of our nation's forensic community. These included:
- 9000 more forensic scientists needed
- $1.3 billion needed for facility modernization and construction
- 26% of forensic laboratories do not have basic computer systems to track evidence
- $285 million needed in equipment by laboratories.

As a crime writer, I care, just like the other author-types who support this project. But also as a person who cares about justice, I give a darn. I think this, unlike some other boondoggles, is a worthy use of our public funds. And students, get your science education buffed up, we have jobs for you to do!

2) From the realm of Fancy, here's a link to the clear-headed and comprehensive Museum of Talking Boards. (hat tip: Semiskimmed whose post has links to other great eclectic collections like wrestlers and tornadoes)

At the MofTB site, there are wacky graphics, but also ample history, competing theories, and lots of pictures from different styles and eras, even movie reviews from films containing Ouija themes. The lustrous inked and lacquered all-wood version above combines things both occult and Tiki! Do I smell phantasmic banana fritters from beyond? I like it like it like it.

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