William The Coroner’s Forensic Files

Wednesday, 22, April, 2009

The Problem With Watching Corner Gas

Filed under: Food and Drink — williamthecoroner @ 23:56

I’d really like a chili cheese dog right about now.  And Sandy’s is still closed for the season, and the Ruby is too far away.

Earth Day

Filed under: Forensics,History,Natural History,People who need pianos dropped on them — williamthecoroner @ 12:53

Blunt Object inspired this post. I grew up in the 1970’s. I consider myself an environmentalist, and a card-carrying demophobe. I need to get away from people and man-made things for a while, so as not to start biting random strangers on their noses. I don’t care if it’s the metroparks, rural Ohio, or a nice, quiet cemetery, I’m a big fan of the wilds.

Not only is there the selfish reason, articulated crudely as “don’t shit where you eat”, as the dominant species romping and stomping on the planet humans have responsibility to be mindful and be good stewards. I don’t think it is possible or even wise to make the earth look like man never walked upon it. We will have an impact. But it is important to be careful about what that impact is, and be mindful of what you do. As one should be careful about what one eats, in terms of expense, and calories, and health, so one should be careful about how one uses the earth.

It is Earth Day today. I’ve never been one to like the “one day to celebrate a concept that should be year long” thing. It looks a little too much like consciousness raising. I got burned out on that concept in undergrad, where there was a lot of consciousness raising, but precious little translation of that raised consciousness into practical action. It has it’s place, but too much of it makes a lot of people feel good about themselves, but produced nothing of lasting value. At least, it doesn’t destroy your vision, unlike other, similar practices.

Earth Day was the brain child of Ira Einhorn, an environmental activist and friend of Abbie Hoffman. He also had a penchant for beating up his girlfriends, one of whom he killed and locked in a trunk in the closet of his apartment. He fled to France to escape prosecution, claiming that the CIA planted his girlfriend’s body to smear him. He was finally extradited from France in 2002, and is doing LWOP in prison in Pennsylvania. Earth Day is also Lenin’s Birthday, and Einhorn chose that deliberately.

I can think of better days to celebrate and honor the earth than one shared by V.I. Lenin. John Muir, (21 April) John James Audubon, (26 April) Rachel Carson, (May 27) perhaps?

Some People Think MY Job Is Bad

Filed under: Blogania — williamthecoroner @ 12:18

But I don’t have a category of things that I refuse to work with. Unlike this organic chemist, who has quite a list. Go forth and read, a small sample:

The experimental section of the paper enjoins the reader to wear a face shield, leather suit, and ear plugs, to work behind all sorts of blast shields, and to use Teflon and stainless steel apparatus so as to minimize shrapnel. Hmm. Ranking my equipment in terms of its shrapneliferousness is not something that’s ever occurred to me, I have to say.

I also like the word shrapneliferousness. A lot.

As an aside, noting my problems with SCIENCEBLOGS, Corante looks like it is worth exploring. As with any source, I’m sure there is bias, one just needs to identify it.

Tuesday, 21, April, 2009

Falcon Babies!

Filed under: Natural History — williamthecoroner @ 14:51

huge1_38 Three babies, here, from FalconCam, with more juicy shots.

Sunday, 19, April, 2009

From Oleg Volk

Filed under: Boomstick,Politics,Social Commentary — williamthecoroner @ 10:03

revolution1793

Patriot’s Day

Filed under: Politics — williamthecoroner @ 09:50

By the rude bridge that arched the flood,
Their flag to April’s breeze unfurled,
Here once the embattled farmers stood,
And fired the shot heard round the world.

The foe long since in silence slept;
Alike the conqueror silent sleeps;
And Time the ruined bridge has swept
Down the dark stream which seaward creeps.

On this green bank, by this soft stream,
We set to-day a votive stone;
That memory may their deed redeem,
When, like our sires, our sons are gone.

Spirit, that made those heroes dare,
To die, and leave their children free,
Bid Time and Nature gently spare
The shaft we raise to them and thee.

RW Emerson

Saturday, 18, April, 2009

Sappy Cat Blogging

Filed under: Cat Blogging — williamthecoroner @ 14:06

noodle-portrait A close-up of Noodle in the sun.

Paul Revere’s Ride

Filed under: Politics — williamthecoroner @ 09:31

revolutionary-war-007

Listen my children and you shall hear
Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere,
On the eighteenth of April, in Seventy-five;
Hardly a man is now alive
Who remembers that famous day and year.

He said to his friend, “If the British march
By land or sea from the town to-night,
Hang a lantern aloft in the belfry arch
Of the North Church tower as a signal light,–
One if by land, and two if by sea;
And I on the opposite shore will be,
Ready to ride and spread the alarm
Through every Middlesex village and farm,
For the country folk to be up and to arm.”

Then he said “Good-night!” and with muffled oar
Silently rowed to the Charlestown shore,
Just as the moon rose over the bay,
Where swinging wide at her moorings lay
The Somerset, British man-of-war;
A phantom ship, with each mast and spar
Across the moon like a prison bar,
And a huge black hulk, that was magnified
By its own reflection in the tide.

Meanwhile, his friend through alley and street
Wanders and watches, with eager ears,
Till in the silence around him he hears
The muster of men at the barrack door,
The sound of arms, and the tramp of feet,
And the measured tread of the grenadiers,
Marching down to their boats on the shore.

Then he climbed the tower of the Old North Church,
By the wooden stairs, with stealthy tread,
To the belfry chamber overhead,
And startled the pigeons from their perch
On the sombre rafters, that round him made
Masses and moving shapes of shade,–
By the trembling ladder, steep and tall,
To the highest window in the wall,
Where he paused to listen and look down
A moment on the roofs of the town
And the moonlight flowing over all.

Beneath, in the churchyard, lay the dead,
In their night encampment on the hill,
Wrapped in silence so deep and still
That he could hear, like a sentinel’s tread,
The watchful night-wind, as it went
Creeping along from tent to tent,
And seeming to whisper, “All is well!”
A moment only he feels the spell
Of the place and the hour, and the secret dread
Of the lonely belfry and the dead;
For suddenly all his thoughts are bent
On a shadowy something far away,
Where the river widens to meet the bay,–
A line of black that bends and floats
On the rising tide like a bridge of boats.

Meanwhile, impatient to mount and ride,
Booted and spurred, with a heavy stride
On the opposite shore walked Paul Revere.
Now he patted his horse’s side,
Now he gazed at the landscape far and near,
Then, impetuous, stamped the earth,
And turned and tightened his saddle girth;
But mostly he watched with eager search
The belfry tower of the Old North Church,
As it rose above the graves on the hill,
Lonely and spectral and sombre and still.
And lo! as he looks, on the belfry’s height
A glimmer, and then a gleam of light!
He springs to the saddle, the bridle he turns,
But lingers and gazes, till full on his sight
A second lamp in the belfry burns.

A hurry of hoofs in a village street,
A shape in the moonlight, a bulk in the dark,
And beneath, from the pebbles, in passing, a spark
Struck out by a steed flying fearless and fleet;
That was all! And yet, through the gloom and the light,
The fate of a nation was riding that night;
And the spark struck out by that steed, in his flight,
Kindled the land into flame with its heat.
He has left the village and mounted the steep,
And beneath him, tranquil and broad and deep,
Is the Mystic, meeting the ocean tides;
And under the alders that skirt its edge,
Now soft on the sand, now loud on the ledge,
Is heard the tramp of his steed as he rides.

It was twelve by the village clock
When he crossed the bridge into Medford town.
He heard the crowing of the cock,
And the barking of the farmer’s dog,
And felt the damp of the river fog,
That rises after the sun goes down.

It was one by the village clock,
When he galloped into Lexington.
He saw the gilded weathercock
Swim in the moonlight as he passed,
And the meeting-house windows, black and bare,
Gaze at him with a spectral glare,
As if they already stood aghast
At the bloody work they would look upon.

It was two by the village clock,
When he came to the bridge in Concord town.
He heard the bleating of the flock,
And the twitter of birds among the trees,
And felt the breath of the morning breeze
Blowing over the meadow brown.
And one was safe and asleep in his bed
Who at the bridge would be first to fall,
Who that day would be lying dead,
Pierced by a British musket ball.

You know the rest. In the books you have read
How the British Regulars fired and fled,—
How the farmers gave them ball for ball,
>From behind each fence and farmyard wall,
Chasing the redcoats down the lane,
Then crossing the fields to emerge again
Under the trees at the turn of the road,
And only pausing to fire and load.

So through the night rode Paul Revere;
And so through the night went his cry of alarm
To every Middlesex village and farm,—
A cry of defiance, and not of fear,
A voice in the darkness, a knock at the door,
And a word that shall echo for evermore!
For, borne on the night-wind of the Past,
Through all our history, to the last,
In the hour of darkness and peril and need,
The people will waken and listen to hear
The hurrying hoof-beats of that steed,
And the midnight message of Paul Revere.

Longfellow.  Actual footage.

Thursday, 16, April, 2009

Science Blogs

Filed under: Blogania,Social Commentary — williamthecoroner @ 22:48

I have mentioned before my discomfort with ScienceBlogs.  Though Orac inspired me to begin blogging (and we did our residencies in the same hospital) I have been increasingly uncomfortable with the anti-religious tone there.  More than an anti-religious tone, there seems to be an active disrespect and ridicule of people’s beliefs.

Personally, I’m a big believer in Matthew VI 5-8.  My religious feelings are my own, and they are private.  You don’t have to believe in them, but you do have to be polite.  They are not a matter for idle, disrespectful, inquiry or debate.  I’m willing to discuss my beliefs in a respectful manner with people whom I trust.  Very few people will reach that level of intimacy with me, and it will take a great deal of time to establish that trust.

#1 Dinosaur shares my discomfort with some of the posters on Scienceblogs.  He also articulates it better than I could.

Wednesday, 15, April, 2009

Further Thoughts on Tax Day

Filed under: Social Commentary — williamthecoroner @ 22:08

Having read these essays, I was thinking more thoughts about tax day.  I enjoy living in an industrialized society. I like having libraries, and roads, and mail delivery. I like having public health, and FAA inspectors, and food inspectors, and all of that. I think that the United States is too big, and to wealthy, to put up with people dying in the streets.

I’m willing to pay for that. I’m willing to pay decent money for those things. I do want, however some things in return for my money.

  • I’d like the people in government to act like public servants. Entirely too many people in politics get too used to having people’s tongues (metaphorically) stuck up their behinds.
  • I’d like government to act efficiently and carefully.
  • I’d like government to stick to it’s brief, and either get constitutional justification for their actions or stay out of it. (You want a National Endowment for the Arts? Peachy. Pass a constitutional amendment and do it the right way)
  • My county government has been hit by many scandals in the past few months.  I know that there is a whole public corruption task force at the F.B.I. office in town, and they’ve had to pull in agents from out of town to deal with the mess and graft.  I want to see severe penalties for this.
  • I’d like people to either get serious about the rule of law, and enforce them, or get rid of the laws.
  • Finally, I’d like to see being a member of Federal or State government to be a part-time job.  I’ve pursued an anti-incumbent voting policy for years, and I think Crankyprof has the right idea.

Ultimately, though, it is the small businessperson, the professional, the tradesperson who ultimately does stuff.  I appreciate the FAA inspector keeping my airplane from falling out of the sky (or on my house)  AND I appreciate the pilot who gets me there in time and in one piece as well.  Government does a lot of important stuff, and it is wise to pool and centralize some resources.  I can’t hire an individual inspector to make sure the planes are safe, for example.  If there were no airlines, that inspector would be on line to get on the Golgafrinchian B ark.  But government doesn’t make stuff, it doesn’t make wealth, and it doesn’t build the economy.  We shouldn’t treat the people who do as a cash cow to milk.

In addtion,  everything, EVERYTHING, spent by the government is paid for by consumers at some point.  Ford buys a stamping press?  The cost of that goes into the cost of your car.  Higher taxes on business–that’ll get passed along too.

I used to have a computer game called Sim City.  It was pretty crude, this being 1989 and all, but you were a city administrator, collecting money in taxes and providing city services.  If you didn’t provide the important services, people left.  If you made taxes too high, people left too.  It was a crude example, but people do look at value in their lives.  I live in a suburb, and pay a significant tax burden.  The city services are pretty darn good.  If I lived in the City of Cleveland, I’d pay significantly less.  I’d also get lousy schools, indifferent garbage pick-up, spotty police protection, and my street would not get plowed in the winter.

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