William The Coroner’s Forensic Files

Thursday, 23, July, 2009

Women In Uniform

Filed under: Blogania — williamthecoroner @ 18:33

Anne Bonney’s thoughts HERE.

How Not To Get Killed

Filed under: Forensics — williamthecoroner @ 16:01

So, Dr. G has a book out–How Not To Die.  This strikes me as futile.  We all will die.  I just want to do it all at once.  Not too soon, please, but I’m happy to skip advanced dementia or ALS or all that rot.  I’d like to be shot be a jealous husband when I’m ninety.

Be that as it may, I think about self-defense and survival a lot. There are some common themes to why people become my patients. Drugs, alcohol and stupidity are big themes. I work hard to avoid them, because I hope I can learn from another’s misfortune. I’ve found some resources so that you can, too. Some commenters have mentioned that I “have a lot of fear”. I don’t feel that I feel an excessive amount of fear, I try to rationally perceive risk and act accordingly. The world is not necessarily a benign place. Leopards, for example, are beautiful, but I’m not about to snuggle them.

Firstly, there are the Rate Your Risk quizzes. As with any Internet quiz, they are simplistic, but they are a place to start. They cover your chances of getting killed, robbed, or having your house broken into, considering. And they give you information on how to modify that risk.  It is something to consider.

There is a series of posts by Matthew, entitled Dark Arts for Good Guys on his Straight Forward In A Crooked World Blog.   Matthew’s advice makes very good sense when trouble comes looking for you. Tam mentioned Matthew, and I’m thankful. While I’m on the subject, looking at Gavin De Becker’s The Gift of Fear is also a good idea.

Bad things do exist, and rational people minimize their contact with bad things. I don’t practice my highland fling in the middle of I-90. I don’t learn to juggle and start with running chainsaws. But I don’t cower in my home, either.

Finally Tamara K from her Porch surveys the situation and she has a nice little essay that sums it up well. Don Gwinn agrees with her.
Key graf:

So, there you go: Stay away from people who habitually break laws. Stay away from places where people who are breaking laws tend to congregate. If you want to move on to being an advanced practitioner, we can start talking about alertness color codes and training and carry permits and such, but the above steps should have you well down the road to a safer life

I do have some concerns. There are people who are in prison and my testimony was part of why they are there. They are not overwhelming. Most people get more annoyed with the prosecutors or the detectives than they do with the coroners. But it is increased from baseline.

Wednesday, 22, July, 2009

It Is Now 22/7

Filed under: Food and Drink,Japery — williamthecoroner @ 09:12

Go, thou, and eat round things, yea even unto bagels and muffins and cookies, as it is pi approximation day. [/geekjoke]

Come to think of it, would pie approximation day be a good day to eat a toaster pastry? No. There is no good day to eat a toaster pastry.

I Will Always Have Work

Filed under: Forensics,People who need pianos dropped on them,Social Commentary — williamthecoroner @ 08:18

I’m an Australian police officer, and I have to arrest a disturbed man. He’s covered in gasoline and not obeying commands. What shall I do? OK, I’ll shoot my TASER at him. It only puts out 50,000 volts of electricity. There’s nothing to worry about sparks and gasoline, right? WRONG.

The only bright spot (sorry) in all this nonsense is that the TASER folks will no longer be able to claim that their devices are 100% non lethal. [The victim isn’t dead yet, but being covered with third degree burns is not consistent with a normal life span. Many, many things kill burn victims, from shock and dehydration to infection and hypercoagulable states. Give it time.] They are less than lethal, but folks do die from them. I’ve met forensic pathologists that are afraid of being sued by the company if they certify the cause of death as due to taser-ing. (Taser application, Taser use, being tased? CrankyLitProf, Kem the Merciless Help!)

H/T Marko

Saturday, 18, July, 2009

Gunsmoke and Knitting

Filed under: Blogroll — williamthecoroner @ 18:25

Anne Bonney blogs with a short attention span.  Go HERE all you fiber people.

Mary Jo Kopechne

Filed under: People who need pianos dropped on them,Social Commentary,Uncategorized — williamthecoroner @ 18:00

26-VII-1940, 18-VII-1969.  kopechne-enl A RFK campaign staffer, she made the mistake of leaving a party on Chappaquiddick with Edward Kennedy.   Mr. Kennedy was driving, he drove off the road and into the waters.  Mr. Kennedy got out of the car, leaving it upside down in the water.  Ms. Kopechne drowned.  No autopsy was performed.  Mr. Kennedy went back to his lodgings, and went to bed, calling the police in the morning.

I know times were different.  Cell phones were not ubiquitous.  Teddy had to leave the scene to get help.  I blame him, though, for not getting help right away.  Going to bed and waiting ’till morning?   That behaviour makes me suspicious that he was waiting to metabolize…something.  There are also inconsistencies in Mr. Kennedy’s statements (see here)

And standard forensic practice would dictate an autopsy on Ms. Kopechne.  The case has a strong possibilty of going to both civil court and criminal court.  Ms. Kopechne’s fate would be known, and that, I hope, would quell the worst suspicious speculation.

The sad part, and one I have noticed in the before, is that the dead are so quickly forgotten.  Even in the legal system, this case would be referred to as “The Kennedy Case”, instead of “The Kopechne Case.”   Victims are not around and get forgotten.

I also do not understand how people are able to integrate responsibility for tragedy into their personalities.   I’ve known police officers who have killed in the line of duty.  Righteous shootings of people who were putting the public at risk.   Train drivers who have hit people on the tracks, as well as truck drivers.  People to whom no blame can be attached.  These folks are not the same afterwords.  It may make them introspective, it may make them unhappy.

I have met others who have killed from carelessness, and I perceive no bad feelings on their part.  I’m not sure what causes this.  It seems to be useful in some professions.

Friday, 17, July, 2009

Sappy Red Dwarf Cat Blogging

Filed under: Cat Blogging — williamthecoroner @ 23:53

It’s Friday, so it’s time for Sappy Cat Blogging!  2catsDanny John-Jules and his ancestors.  Cat cat Merlin Wilson, up top, and unknown kitty below

Wednesday, 15, July, 2009

A New Record!

Filed under: Teaching — williamthecoroner @ 15:46

The shortest time between the start of classes and a student’s decompensation:   68 HOURS!  Yes, indeedy!  Classes started Monday, and today I had a student in my office, in tears, asking for tutoring help because it is all “Just too much,” and this individual is “Filled with despair.”

I asked what the student’s latest exam scores were, and what subject was causing trouble.  Ah.  This is a FIRST YEAR.  ORIENTATION is causing trouble.  The first examination is nine weeks away.

As I get older, I’m very, very thankful for the mental filter that I find really useful.  I suppressed all my anti-social tendencies and gently suggested that this student would be better served in talking to the Society Dean.  The tutoring program is not really designed to help a student who is having anxiety.  Everyone feels thrown in the deep end, but part of medical education is learning to manage being thrown in the deep end, and not being able to carry it all in your head.

I hope this student pulls together.  Or beats feet early.  Some aren’t cut out for the pressures of the job.

And I’m so glad I didn’t say anything stupid.  I rarely regret what I didn’t say, and I need to keep working on that.

Sunday, 12, July, 2009

Sauce For The Goose

Filed under: Medicine,Politics,Social Commentary — williamthecoroner @ 18:30

I stole this, almost verbatim from CrankyLitProf.

Representative John Fleming (R – LA) has introduced a House resolution that I can get behind: HR 615 states that: “…that Members who vote in favor of the establishment of a public, federal government run health insurance option are urged to forgo their right to participate in the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHBP) and agree to enroll under that public option.”

On his personal site, Representative Fleming opines: “Under the current draft of the Democrat health care legislation, members of Congress are curiously exempt from the government-run health care option, keeping their existing health plans and services on Capitol Hill. If Members of Congress believe so strongly that government-run health care is the best solution for hard working American families, I think it only fitting that Americans see them lead the way. Public servants should always be accountable and responsible for what they are advocating, and I challenge the American people to demand this from their representatives.”

Preach it Cranky! You’re gonna dictate what kind of health insurance I get, you gotta have some skin in the game. Recall, please that one iteration of the Clinton health plan would have forbidden going outside the system, even if one had the money to pay for it. I want to repeat that for emphasis.

Previously, when the US Government attempted health care reform, one iteration of that plan would have prevented people from spending their own money on health care, going around the government system*

If our legislators have a dog in the fight, we might have a chance of something that won’t be a total goat-rope! I will point out that there is a word for people who insist on other people doing [being satisfied] with one thing but not being subject to it themselves. Hypocrites.

Rep. Fleming has a form letter you can print out and mail to your own reps. I know I’m going to, first thing on Monday morning.

*Michael Hurd, Baltimore Sun, 20 June 1994.

Saturday, 11, July, 2009

So, Here’s a Thought Experiment…

Filed under: Boomstick — williamthecoroner @ 13:57

I’ve a friend who is very interested in entertainment law and collecting.  She’s particularly interested in Vincent D’Nofrio.  But that got me to thinking, that and the previous post, what would it take to collect the firearms used in the Maltese Falcon.  Not the actual movie props.  I don’t think those would be available, and I would need rock-solid evidence to prove the provenance.

So, what was used?  In order of appearance:

  1. Brigid’s Webley-Fosbery Automatic Revolver in .455,
  2. Miles Archer’s revolver (I’ll call it a S&W Model 10, .38 Special),
  3. Joel Cairo’s Baby Browning in .25.
  4. Wilmer’s two Colt .45 1911A1s, and
  5. Kasper Gutman’s M1903 Colt Hammerless.

The movie was filmed in 1941, so, what would the prices of these weapons manufactured on or before 1941 be?  I have no idea.  Obviously it depends on condition, papers, box (though if you could find a box from 1941 I’d  be surprised).  All of the list are common, except for the Webley, which was made in the UK between 1904 and 1918, with a production run of less than 5,000 is rare, and because of the mention in the Maltese Falcon, even harder to find because other folks have had this same bright idea.  I suppose you could substitute a Webley Mk IV in .455, and have a realistic chance of completing the project.  Come to think of it, looking at the film, it looks like that’s similar to what the prop department used (6.00 to 6.20 in this clip).  That would make sense, economically, and it doesn’t look like the action of a real Webley-Fosbery.  (Ain’t the internet grand?)

I don’t know how much this project would cost.  I’ll have to do some research.  If any reader has any information that would help this thought experiment I’d be interested to hear.

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