William The Coroner’s Forensic Files

Tuesday, 30, June, 2009

Fireflies

Filed under: Natural History — williamthecoroner @ 20:57

firefly_Photuris_lucicrescensYou can tell it is summer, because the fireflies are out. They are sending their coded signals looking for love, or at least a chance to reproduce another generation of beetles and avoid getting put into a jar and shaken by children.

Fireflies are a sign of the onset of summer in Northeast Ohio, along with corn being “knee high by the Fourth of July” In a couple weeks, the cicadas will be active, and in a couple more weeks the katydids will join them.

Monday, 29, June, 2009

Priorities and proportionality

Filed under: People who need pianos dropped on them,Social Commentary — williamthecoroner @ 21:58

Bernard Madoff was sentenced to 150 years in prison. Barring any act of clemency, this pretty much guarantees that Mr. Madoff will die in prison. At the hearing, the judge commented:

“Here, the message must be sent that Mr. Madoff’s crimes were extraordinarily evil and that this kind of irresponsible manipulation of the system is not merely a bloodless financial crime that takes place just on paper, but it is instead … one that takes a staggering human toll,”

I’ve been involved with trials many times in my career. In Ohio, if one individual kills another with malice aforethought, or while in the commission of another crime, that is aggravated murder. One will be able to face the parole board in twenty-three years. It used to be less. I recall one defendant who was facing a second “life” sentence, he’d gotten out of his first “life” sentence after twelve years behind bars.

Now, I do believe the courts and society have gotten stricter since that gentleman was sentenced the first time. Probably a good thing. And I do not wish to argue that Mr. Madoff doesn’t need to suffer some consequences. After all, he made off (as it were) with a lot of people’s money. But he did not do it alone. He was operating for years, and I am sure people turned a blind eye to his machinations, either because they were paid off or people were making too much money to want to derail the gravy train.

The sentencing sends a message, alright.  One of the messages it sends is that money is more important than people.  To be hurt by Bernie Madoff one had to be both incredibly wealthy–the average Joe couldn’t have invested with him directly– and incredibly imprudent.  The rates of return were out of porportion to the risks of the investments.   The wealth of his victims is irrelevant.  The collusion of his victims is relevant.

Dr. Helen asks a very cogent question.  To wit: Why is a swindler, who committed a property crime with no violence receiving a punishment greater than those who rape and take human lives? Madoff is a Dictyostelium, to be sure. There need to be consequences for his actions. I was taught growing up that people were more important than things. As a society, what are our values?

Misplaced Priorities

Filed under: In Memoriam,Social Commentary — williamthecoroner @ 10:55

The advent of mass communications at the turn of the last century lead to the rise of the personality. People who are famous for, well, being famous. The mass media was a driving force behind this, because it gives them something to talk about. I can think of no other reason for the existence of People magazine, for example.
airplane detailingCorsair F-4U
With all the brouhaha about the deaths of Michael Jackson, Farrah Fawcett, and Billy Mays, which are still percolating. There are other folks, who have gone gently into that good night without a murmur. Via Lex, I give you Col. Kenneth L. Reusser. Col. Reusser was a marine flyer, and a veteran of WWII, Korea, and Vietnam. He was the most decorated marine pilot in history, with two Navy Crosses, four Purple Hearts, five Distinguished Flying Crosses, and 19 Air Medals. He was shot down in all three conflicts and was medically retired in 1968.

No elected official was at his funeral service. I hadn’t heard of it until I read Lex’s blog. No disrespect for those who have lost ones close to them, but COL Reusser actually accomplished things, and put himself at risk for America, and for abstractions in which he believed. That’s important.

H/T LEX

Saturday, 27, June, 2009

This Just In

Filed under: History,Japery — williamthecoroner @ 14:52

Hiram College has issued a reward, they want President James Garfield’s head back. In addition to being POTUS, he taught classical languages there, and was college president. It’s been missing from his sandstone statue since May. GarfiledThe full story is HERE.

Gee. MAY. Around graduation time. Using my vast forensic experience, I’ll bet it’s with the class of 09.

Friday, 26, June, 2009

The Affirmative No!

Filed under: Social Commentary — williamthecoroner @ 09:28

In Rome, one of the biggest deals one could get was to have a triumph. You got a to wear a purple toga (fancier than the ones the Senators wore) a wreath of laurel leaves in your hair. Most folks who got triumphs obtained them for military victories, so the vanquished were paraded through the streets–and thence to be sold off, you really, really didn’t want to lose to the Romans. After a sacrifice to Jupiter, there was a public feast.

On the golden chairot, though, there was a slave, whose job was to stand next to the victor and say to him once in a while “Remember that thou art mortal.”

The observation that power (wealth) corrupts is old, older even than the cliche, that’s why it is a cliche. It is not good for people to have it for too long. George HW Bush learned that lesson when he found he didn’t recognize a grocery checkout in the 1990s. Not surprising, I’m sure he hadn’t set foot in a grocery store for years. But it looked bad for the public, and really brought home to Mr. Bush how out of touch he was.

Wealth, of course, is power. Wealth changes things. I was reading recently about Bernie Kosar’s problems. He was quite wealthy, now he’s got severe financial problems, and he has difficulty with activities of daily living. Evidently, he was making sandwiches for his kids, and the only thing he had with which to cut the bread was a handsaw. CrankyLitProf thinks about the recent death of Michael Jackson, wealth, and the power of No.

The Greeks had a word for it–Hubris. People who have power get used to it. Then they get used for it, and sometimes go down the primrose path. It is particularly dangerous when people start enjoying telling people what to do. Power is fleeting, and if you no longer control resources, one’s power dries up. Diocletian was able to retire to tend his cabbages, but he was in the minority. Napoleon’s fate is more likely.

Update:
Jonah does it better than I.

Tuesday, 23, June, 2009

R.I.P. Eric the Red

Filed under: Uncategorized — williamthecoroner @ 21:58

608px-Vizsla-profile
Eric was Art’s Vizla, and had lymphoma at age 12.

If love would die with death, then this life wouldnt’ be so hard.z

Oh Dear

Filed under: Japery — williamthecoroner @ 14:19

Steven Fry AND Bill Bailey on a BBC panel show. And then it goes downhill. Hat tip, Regan.

Monday, 22, June, 2009

Heh

Filed under: Books — williamthecoroner @ 16:23

Moby creamcheese is on Loganberry Books’ homepage.

Sunday, 21, June, 2009

Take It From Day to Day

Filed under: Poetry — williamthecoroner @ 22:48

Well, it’s not the hours of watch-on-watch,
And it’s not the work that I mind so much,
Or the long cold miles from my lover’s touch,
‘Though for sure she’s far away.
No stranger, I, to the touch of steel,
Or the honest fear any man can feel,
But I long for dust under my heels
And a pocket full of pay.
So I’ll take it from day to day.

The pack-ice ’round us cracks and groans;
The old St. Roch, she creaks and moans.
The icy fog is in my bones,
And the ache won’t go away.
Outside I bet it’s warm and fair.
I could have her fingers in my hair,
But it’s long, cold miles to her out there
So I guess I’ll have to stay
And just take it from day to day!

We’re as far North as I want to come,
But Larsen’s got us under his thumb,
And I signed up for the whole damned run,
I can’t get off half way.
But when I get back onto the shore,
I’m going South where it stays warm,
And there’ll be someone on my arm
To help me spend my pay,
So I’ll take it from day to day. (Repeat of verse)

No stranger, I, to the touch of steel
And the honest fear any man can feel,
But I long for dust under my heels
And a pocket full of pay,
So I’ll take it from day to day.

Stan Rogers

I Still Don’t Have a Television

Filed under: Life, the universe, & everything.,Social Commentary — williamthecoroner @ 17:52

And I still don’t miss it.

I know that a conservative is a man “standing athwart history, shouting STOP!”(Thanks, Bill) but standards have slipped in the past decades. Not so long ago, a person who made a joke like David Letterman did would have been fired. Now, it appears to be an opportunity for publicity.

Now, if I could only get New Tricks in a format that would play on my DVD player (along with some of the other old BBC shows) I would not NEED a converter box. Hmm.

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