William The Coroner’s Forensic Files

Friday, 31, December, 2010

Michael Jackson Autopsy

Filed under: Forensics,Haterade,People who need pianos dropped on them — williamthecoroner @ 16:18

I am all for programs that educate people about forensics and what it is that we as pathologists can and (more importantly) cannot do. I despise people who want to sensationalize or emphasize the creepiness of what it is we do. We provide a valuable service, both for quality control and public health monitoring.

The Discovery channel was going to air a “fictionalized, reenactment” of Michael Jackson’s autopsy, but people complained that it was in bad taste and profiteering from his death. Now, his estate has been flogging that dead horse until the hair has fallen off, so the idea, while disgusting, isn’t totally inconceivable. It’s wrong, but perfectly conceivable.

The other thing is, Jackson died of a drug overdose. I have performed over 1200 autopsies (frankly, I’ve lost count of the exact number) and I have done plenty of drug overdose autopsies. An important part of drug overdose autopsies–there are usually no physical findings. Perhaps there is the smell of alcohol. But mostly, nothing. Times like this we say “The secret’s in the sauce” and send off the sample for toxicology. And wait. Toxicology testing takes time, and even at the best of times takes a couple of days, and I’m more used to six-week lag times.

Could make a very boring TV show, particularly if it was shot in real-time.

Monday, 4, October, 2010

So There I Was…

Filed under: Haterade,Teaching — williamthecoroner @ 14:52

Dealing with e-mails from students, and I get this one:

Dear Dr. Bligh-Glover,
I would want to work as a tutor help for medical students who need additional help. I am a MBA.
Though i do not have much medical knowledge, i can help students with the other studies. Would you be interested in hiring me, or setting up an interview with me so that i can meet you, and see if i am capable of getting this job ?
Please let me know if you would need any more details from my end.

Although the approach was professional, and I admire the initiative, this individual doesn’t know anything about medicine, so I really can’t use him, and no I have no job. I get a lot of letters like this, and I certainly understand the urge, I just wonder why these folks aren’t asking people who could actually help them with a position. This is kind of like me writing to GM asking them to hire an anatomist. They don’t!

And then there was this little number:

Hello Will,

My name is XXX YYY and I’m interested in getting a tutor for anatomy for my group and I (4 people in all).  Do you know if any tutors are available?


To which I replied,

Dear Mr. YYY. Contact these tutors.

In the future, you might want to remember that the way for a student to address a faculty member whom he have not yet met is by “Doctor Bligh-Glover” or “Professor Bligh-Glover.”  Undue familiarity with one’s faculty on the wards will get you bad evaluations in clinical rotations, may irritate your patients and cause you difficulty in obtaining a residency.  Use of appropriate names and titles is an important part of professional socialization, and one that you should be aware of.

Thank you

And I’m waiting for my blood pressure to come down. The school has a stronger emphasis on professionalism than it did when I was a student, but I’m not sure these people are getting the picture.

Thursday, 16, September, 2010

All Linky, no Thinky

Filed under: Haterade,People who need pianos dropped on them — williamthecoroner @ 21:40

Go HERE and read.  And then go HERE and HERE

And if you cannot stand the heat, Mr. Obama, perhaps you should consider a different line of work.

Saturday, 11, September, 2010


Filed under: Circle Game,Haterade,In Memoriam — williamthecoroner @ 12:28

Do not forget.  I am in no mood to forgive, either.

Wednesday, 4, August, 2010

I Really Hate This

Filed under: Forensics,Haterade,People who need pianos dropped on them — williamthecoroner @ 17:27

The unrelated male care giver of an infant struck him so “he would act like a boy and not a little girl” according to news reports. The boy was beaten to death.

Wednesday, 14, July, 2010

The Last Word About Roman Polanski

Filed under: Haterade,Links to Greatness,People who need pianos dropped on them — williamthecoroner @ 23:45


Tuesday, 22, June, 2010

Capital Punishment

Filed under: Haterade,People who need pianos dropped on them,Politics — williamthecoroner @ 22:52

With the death of Ronnie Lee Gardner in Utah last week, much ink has been spilled on the subject of capital punishment. I am profoundly ambivalent about capital punishment. One the one hand, as a firearms owner, I have no problem with violence recoiling upon the violent. On the other hand, I trust no institution of men to be able to administer justice perfectly. Frankly, with some governments I have lived under I don’t trust them to investigate building violations properly, let alone take someone’s life.

As a forensic pathologist, I have long been interested in the pathology of capital punishment. I keep meaning to write an article about it. I’ve been meaning to write the damn article for the past twelve years. I don’t think it’s gonna happen any time soon. But Robb Allen’s post caught my eye recently, and that stimulated my thinking.

To the best of my knowledge, 36 governments in the United States (34 states, the military, and the federal government) have the death penalty on the books. In Victorian Britain, there are 222 capital offenses, which was reduced to three (murder, treason, arson in the Royal Dockyards–i.e. sabotage of the Navy) by the 1960’s. The United States has held that only murder and treason are worth taking another person’s life in the late XX century. There are five different methods of execution on the books in the United States, shooting, hanging, gassing, electrocution, and lethal injection.

The history of execution methods is interesting. Many doctors have been involved, and many methods have been employed to make the deaths 1. swift, 2. painless, and 3. clean. Unfortunately, the human body is quite tough. And, like the old joke, you can pick any two. The ones that are swift and painless tend to be, well, oogie. Shooting in the head with a shotgun is swift and painless. It splatters, though. Decapitation, swift, painless, and bloody. Hanging, now, that is hit or miss. Too long a drop, and there is a decapitation. To short a drop, and the person lives on the rope for minutes.

All the other, “modern”, “scientific” methods of killing, well are clean, but are neither swift nor painless. Just ask Caryl Chessman or Jesse Joseph Tafero. The more modern methods also give deniability to the people who carry out the execution. No one knows exactly who flips the switch or has the blank charge. This is a separate issue. If you don’t want perform an execution, don’t be the headsman. If one is unwilling to own one’s actions, they probably shouldn’t be done. Certainly if one desires a clean kill, make a clean kill, and mop up the mess.

And if the mess is enough to keep you from performing an execution, then don’t do them. LWOP is a perfectly good deterrent. But then, again, mean what you say. In Europe, Life in Prison means parole eligibility in fifteen years. . For reasons of squeamishness, for concerns about justice, for mercy in general, I can understand the desire to avoid capital punishment. Don’t forget about the victim years later, though.

Monday, 14, June, 2010

Who Works for Whom?

Filed under: Haterade,People who need pianos dropped on them — williamthecoroner @ 18:42

Congressman Bob Etheridge D-NC doesn’t seem to remember. Look here.

His office addresses are:

Washington, DC
1533 Longworth House Office Bldg Washington, D.C. 20515
Phone: (202) 225-4531

Raleigh District Office
333 Fayetteville Street, Suite 505 Raleigh, NC 27601
(919) 829-9122

I think I might let him know what I think. Join me if you wish.

Saturday, 12, June, 2010

Filed under: Boomstick,Haterade — williamthecoroner @ 21:19

A gallery owner was shot in the back during a robbery attempt in Tremont. Tremont, one of the trendy areas of Cleveland, with galleries, and new condos, and a heavy police presence with all the gentrification. He was running away from trouble. Fat lot of good that did him.

As a firearms owner, I live a life dedicated to sobriety, awareness, courtesy and avoidance of trouble. Which is proper. Unfortunately, trouble sometimes comes looking for you. Hat tip, BREDA.

Friday, 5, February, 2010

Now, THIS is a Bad Idea

Filed under: Haterade — williamthecoroner @ 14:54

Malley’s is a Cleveland Tradition, but, this is SERIOUS pancreas abuse.

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