William The Coroner’s Forensic Files

Friday, 19, November, 2010

Holiday Cat

Filed under: Cat Blogging — williamthecoroner @ 06:01

Thursday, 18, November, 2010

Gnawed Pumpkin

Filed under: Garden — williamthecoroner @ 22:39

Wednesday, 17, November, 2010


Filed under: Food and Drink,Forensics — williamthecoroner @ 16:56

Rice Krispie Treats. At the anatomy potluck.

Tuesday, 16, November, 2010


It is funny, I have become much more aware of freedoms, as I get more and more interested in second amendment issues and other civil rights. Human rights, not to put too fine a point on it. As I have become more aware, I have become more sensitive to the glee in which humans like to tell other humans what to do. I find it very grating now, and it shows up in unexpected places.

I was listening to Lynne Rosetto Kasper’s Splendid Table the other day. Now, I like food, and I like to eat food, and I like learning about food. I’ve gotten some very good ideas from Lynne. But she casually mentioned San Francisco’s ban on McDonald’s Happy Meals, and that some people thought this was an infringement on the people’s right to choose. (Not to mention doesn’t the City Council have better things to do with it’s time than being a nanny to the people of San Francisco?). But Ms. Kasper mentioned that a lot of these McDonald’s restaurants were in poor areas, and didn’t the poor have a right to be protected?

Protected? The implication that the poor were stupid, and dumb, and needed wiser heads to help them make better choices was just glaring. I’m a college professor and a supposedly educated man, yet I know I do plenty of bone-headed things over the course of a day. But I would take great umbrage at being told I have a right to be protected. Children and the feeble-minded have the right to be protected. Adults have the responsibility to make their own choices, for good or for ill.

In that one sentence, Ms. Kasper, showed her education, her elitism, and her scorn, and that has left a bad taste in my mouth. It is true that there are some hobbies that are more typical of the upper classes than the working classes. Usually the distinguishing factors are money and time. Polo is different from stock car racing. No doubt about that. To say that one is morally superior than the other, well, that is snobbery.

The thing is, Ms. Kasper seems like a lot of fun. I’ll be she’s a nice person and fun to be around. It’s much more disturbing to see unconscious meanness, because it makes you wonder about yourself.

Monday, 15, November, 2010

Graduate School 27# Fatal Child Abuse

Filed under: Forensics,Teaching — williamthecoroner @ 17:17

No slideshow today. We went over the many ways in which children can be abused or neglected, physically, emotionally, educationally, keeping them from medical care, etc. The three ages where children are most likely to be abused, and finished up with the controversy over shaken impact syndrome.

Casket Company

Filed under: Forensics,Japery,WTF? — williamthecoroner @ 16:57

Every year, I go to the local Mortician’s Hop. The annual embalmer’s society clambake and dinner dance. You don’t know how difficult it is to get a date until you’ve asked someone to go to the mortician’s ball with you. I get lots of laughter. Then folks get real quiet when they realize I am serious.

There are always raffles and door prizes. I won a headstone once, which I turned in for cash. But there are other prizes, from embalmer’s polo shirts (shrank) to the airline tickets (got me to Boston).

An Italian casket company, confanifunebri, is using provocatively-clad models to sell their handmade and carved wooden caskets. They’re going for the goth look, trying to make death sexy. Some folks, including those at the Vatican, dislike it. I’m not sure exactly why, perhaps they make death look too appealing.

But I liked this one.They have other material, including T-shirts. I should tell the guys who run the clambake. The casket site reminded me strongly of the LA County Coroner’s Gift Shop.

Sunday, 14, November, 2010

But What Should We Know???

Filed under: Teaching,WTF? — williamthecoroner @ 22:38

One of the best ways to irritate a professor is to ask the question “Do we need to know this?” or, worse, “Will you only post the slides that are important?” Like everything else I’m doing is unimportant, and your question is bringing that home to me loud and clear.

And then you get e-mails like this:

Some of us in the class were concerned about your questions for the exam. How detailed will they be? Is knowing just the stuff on the slides sufficient or should we also know material that you mentioned during lecture. Also you mentioned treatments for a lot of the diseases that weren’t on the slides do we have to know treatments? Do we have to know symptoms of diseases? We understand you said to focus on things you repeated but we’re still a little nervous because material was covered so fast and we didn’t always have the slides during the presentations. Thanks so much for taking out the time to answer our questions.

After taking several deep breaths, I also smothered the temptation to say “everything on the slides is fair game”–because to be fair, there was some material more appropos for medical students than dental students. But about a dozen people in the class of seventy-five or so have asked me to limit the amount of material that will be on the exam. This is not a good way to get on your professor’s good side. I have said the material I repeated was important. Now, when I was told that as a student, I counted the number of slides/pages devoted to a topic and was able to weight its importance that way. (I know, I know, they don’t want to work, they want spoon-feeding.)

My response started out by asking where they want to go, do they wish to be lazy and just get by or do they wish to be a competent health care provider. The strategies are different. I then gave them this:

There are three ways to get information, from the book, from the slides, and from the verbal material in the lecture. The lecture slides cover the bare bones, my exposition was to add depth and information, and a competent medical professional reads the literature on a regular basis throughout that person’s career. One way to determine relative importance is by determining how much time (or how many slides were devoted to each disease. For the lung lectures, for example, more time was devoted to TB and lung cancers than was to pulmonary effusions and atelectasis. That information should guide your studies. If the material was seen on multiple slides, that is obviously more important than stuff that was only mentioned once. If it was mentioned in the book often and on the slides often, well, that is also a clue. I will have the slides in front of me when I write the questions

.It’s really amazing how many people will ask in hopes that I will quote questions, or tell them just what they need to know, and no more. I’m happy to tell them what they need to know, but the “don’t teach us too much”. really does annoy me.

Saturday, 13, November, 2010

Graduate School #27

Filed under: Cleveland,Forensics,History,Teaching — williamthecoroner @ 16:39

The Sam Sheppard case. AKA I undressed Marylin Sheppard. After over 50 years, two things are true.

1. Clevelanders still use tragedies as landmarks
2. People are still talking about this case.


So There I Was

Filed under: Natural History — williamthecoroner @ 16:18

Driving along Green Road, and a very large hornet’s nest in the leafless tree catches my eye. It’s big, and awfully brown. And then it flapped twice, and I realized it wasn’t a hornet’s nest, but a red-tail hawk, who was eating a fox squirrel. There was a very brave other squirrel lower down on the trunk, giving the bird the…well…the bird. Brave, but stupid.

Wasn’t expecting to see that in the middle of the city.

Adventures in Body Modification–Canid Edition

Filed under: WTF? — williamthecoroner @ 15:31

Now, not only can you get a corset, you can get a matching corset for your dog. You will notice, however, they do not make a corset for cats. Silly hats, yes. Wigs, a crime against nature, but no cat corsets. Knowing that cats have six ends and five of them are pointy, I’m not surprised.

Frankly, the more I look at the canine model, I think there is taxidermy involved.

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