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The homeless may lack places to live, but many do have a way to communicate. Just drop by downtown and you’ll see them on their laptops and cell phones in shelters or coffeehouses or waiting in line at the library to use a computer.

As our Kelly Bennett writes, many homeless “know the locations of electrical outlets for charging cell phones and laptops, which are common at day centers, shelters and on the street. Access to technology helps connect — and reconnect — homeless people with the rest of society.”

Our story looks at how transients obtain technology and use it to survive. “We homeless can keep in touch with not just our friends, doctors, police emergency, but the whole world,” our formerly homeless correspondent Liz Hirsch wrote recently. “Maybe that makes all the homeless people in the world connected into one community like it never was before.”

San Diego’s Brawler in Chief

Mayor Bob Filner recently reflected on his first 100 days in office and came to a surprising conclusion: He was surprised it had been so turbulent. We sure weren’t.

Our Lisa Halverstadt takes stock of the fights that have marked Filner’s short tenure, including #SANDAGcliff, the port tussle and the probably-wrapped TMD standoff.

Unraveling Tourism Spending, Cont.

Picture this: You sell widgets. You buy an ad on Google or Facebook to reach potential widget buyers. Nowadays, you can figure more than just how many people click on your ad. You can actually see how many clicks result in widget sales, letting you know if the ads are actually paying off.

Now picture this: You spend tax money on ads designed to woo tourists to San Diego. Do they work? It’s hard to say. Do they hurt tourism if they don’t air? It’s hard to say. 

Local journalists have been trying to analyze this issue since U-T San Diego published a largely non-skeptical story that linked a supposed decline in people staying in hotels here to a lack of advertising during a flap over spending.

The Reader found reasons to question the numbers. Then we published a skeptical look at the stats via a Fact Check. And now, the U-T itself has joined the there’s-more-here-than-meets-the-eye parade, noting that the science of figuring out the effect of tourism marketing  is “imprecise.”   

Hey, Small Spender!

You’ve probably heard the old joke about the lady who complained about the food at a restaurant: “It’s terrible. And such small portions!”

Padres fans sound a bit like that to those of us who aren’t baseball fanatics. Many folks think the team stinks, including one of our sports bloggers. Yet fans demand to be able to watch games on cable TV and even enlisted the City Council to put the pressure on. (And a paid lobbyist put pressure on the council, but I digress.)

So how are the Padres actually looking this year? Don’t get your hopes up. The AP (via Deadspin) compiled the payrolls of the major-league teams, and the Padres are six spots from the very bottom. It’ll spend $72 million on payroll compared to the Yankees, at No. 1 with $229 million.

And the gang at Baseball Prospectus (via Deadspin) predicts the team will land in fourth place in the NL West.

Our own John Gennaro sizes up the 2013 lineup and how it compares to last year’s team in a new Active Voice post.

Humanitarian Filmmaker Shot to Death

The man who allegedly shot a filmmaker to death in North County tells a TV station that he did so in self-defense during a dispute over tree trimming. (Los Angeles Times)

The filmmaker, Michael Upton, “was a nationally known humanitarian who had worked to rescue Romanian orphans,” NBC 7 San Diego reports. The shooting took place in the Encinitas community of Olivenhain, which is invariably described as “quiet.”

“In recent years, Upton had focused on social problems in the U.S. and people working to correct them, including problems of the aged, the abused and the handicapped,” the L.A. Times reports.

Quick News Hits

• Last week, water officials “broke ground on a huge pipeline in San Marcos … that will carry water from a desalination plant under construction in Carlsbad,” KPBS reports. “The 10-mile-long pipe is part of a $1 billion project to add desalted ocean water to the region’s drinking water system.”

For background, check our recent video explainer.

• UCAN, the troubled consumer advocacy outfit, “plans to refile the nonprofit’s 2009 tax return to correct a series of errors and omissions discovered by independent accountants,’ the U-T reports.

• Do the North Koreans have San Diego in their sights for a missile attack? Maybe, but don’t freak out just yet.

• Remember when the ugly bayside power plant in Chula Vista imploded (on purpose) a few weeks ago? Now, the mayor has commissioned a metal designer to use parts of it to create art, NBC 7 San Diego reports.

The eventual sculpture may actually produce power.

Maybe the artist could do something with the idle San Onofre nuclear plant if it ever gets scrapped? Might be tough. It certainly doesn’t remind anybody of anything

Randy Dotinga is a freelance contributor to Voice of San Diego. Please contact him directly at randydotinga@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter: twitter.com/rdotinga.

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Randy Dotinga

Randy Dotinga is a freelance contributor to Voice of San Diego. Please contact him directly at randydotinga@gmail.com...

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