William The Coroner’s Forensic Files

Saturday, 26, March, 2011

World’s Oldest Joke 1900 BC

Filed under: History,Japery — williamthecoroner @ 15:42

It’s a Sumerian fart joke. Oh, those whacky Sumerians. What can I tell you. You can read it, and a dirty Anglo-Saxon joke, HERE.

Thursday, 17, March, 2011

The World Is Run By C Students

Filed under: Haterade,History,People who need pianos dropped on them — williamthecoroner @ 22:56

If that. THIS ARTICLE is about “the newest secret weapon in Russia’s arsenal”. Inflatable decoy tanks and other military equipment. To these people, this was new.

But the U.S. Army did it in 1944. Not only were they C students, they majored in Communications.


Saturday, 5, March, 2011

Boston Massacre

Filed under: History,In Memoriam — williamthecoroner @ 19:33

241 years ago today, the first five casualties of the Revolutionary War occurred in Boston. Hat tip, JayG for reminding me.

Sunday, 16, January, 2011

Treasures of Heaven

Filed under: Cleveland,History — williamthecoroner @ 13:17

I went to see Treasures of Heaven at the Cleveland Museum of Art yesterday, I had to move quickly, as the exhibit is closing today. It was very well done-and my minor in undergrad was Medieval and Roman History, so it was a pleasure to re-visit the stuff.

When I go to an exhibit such as this one, I play the Bryson game. As Bill Bryson put it in his Notes from a Small Island:

I play a game…it helps me focus. The for being such a splendid fellow, the authorities will allow me to take one thing from an exhibit for my very own. The only catch is I must select it on the basis of esthetics, and not mere value.

For me, I selected this ninth-century ivory pyxis with the carvings of St. Menas. It was obviously made from an elephant tusk, and I really liked the carvings. I also just happen to like carved ivory, there is something about it, perhaps the grain, but it has a much finer character than wood. I like it.

I also liked the head of one of the companions of St. Ursula, there was some spectacular specimens of rock crystal. Two things struck me. One was the little display of pilgrimage badges, that reminded me strongly of the little souvenir teaspoons or shot glasses that you see in tourist traps and in turnpike service plaza shops. But instead of Philadelphia (or Flint Ridge) they were of a saint or shrine. People really haven’t changed much in a thousand years.

The other thing that struck me as strange was the enshrinement and exhibit of. well, the bits of saints and martyrs. There was a tooth of Mary Magdalene (supposedly) in a piece of rock crystal. Arm bones of saints and parts of the true cross. This is where my XXI century logic and knowledge trip me up. I know that the gospels were written decades after the events they describe. That no one at the time would think of saving a bit of the true cross, or would even been allowed to. The tooth of Mary Magdalene was a human tooth, sure. But more likely than not it was a tooth the artists had lying around. The objects and artistry were gorgeous, but I found myself unable to fully suspend my disbelief.

Tuesday, 21, December, 2010

The Longest Night of the Year

Filed under: Circle Game,History,Poetry — williamthecoroner @ 12:43

Alan and Mongo have photos of the eclipse, for those of us who were under cloud cover last night.

And, from Mary-Chapin Carpenter, The Longest Night of the Year

They say that spring will come again–
No one knows exactly when.
Still the sun’s a long lost friend
On the longest night of the year.

We stare into the firelight
While December beats outside
Where the darkest hearts reside
On the longest night of the year

So keep me safe and hold me tight
Let the candle burn all night
Tomorrow welcome back the night
It was longest night of the year

I used to think the world was small
Bright and shining like a ball
Seems I don’t know much at all
On the longest night of the year

We press our faces to the glass
And see our little lives go past
Wave to shadows that we cast
On the longest night of the year

So keep me safe and hold me tight,
Let the candle burn all night,
Tomorrow welcome back the light.
‘Twas the longest night of the year

Make a vow when Solstice comes:
To find the Light in everyone
Keep the faith and bang the drum
On the longest night of the year

So keep me safe and hold me tight,
Let the candle burn all night,
Tomorrow welcome back the light.
‘Twas the longest night of the year

So keep me safe and hold me tight,
Let the candle burn all night,
Tomorrow welcome back the light.
After the longest night of the year

Thursday, 25, November, 2010


Filed under: History — williamthecoroner @ 01:07

Today is the day of Thanksgiving in the United States. I recently ran into someone who was a Jehovah’s Witness, who declined to celebrate Thanksgiving, for reasons that he could not articulate. He said it was an ancient pagan ceremony. I said that I did not realize Abraham Lincoln was pagan, and I didn’t think 1863 was all that ancient, in the grand scheme of things. I got a funny look for that statement.

But the fact remains, in 1863, after the Union victories of Gettysburg and Vicksburg marked the high-water mark of the Confederacy. Though the war would drag onwards for another eighteen months or so, in late 1863 the tide had turned, and in honour of which, Abraham Lincoln made a presidential proclamation of thanksgiving–which follows:

By the President of the United States of America.

A Proclamation.

The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consiousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom. No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.

In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the City of Washington, this Third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the Unites States the Eighty-eighth.

By the President: Abraham Lincoln

William H. Seward,
Secretary of State

It is certainly fitting to be grateful for the gifts that we have been given. My grandfather always told me “Never say, ‘How bad can it get?’ It can always get worse.” I am lucky for all that I have, lucky for antibiotics and modern medicine, with useful work that I do that makes a difference, and good people to be around.

Today, I will have the traditional Chinese take-away, with the ritual wonton soup, the egg rolls, the spare ribs and the mu shu. I’ll get that while the pie is baking. I hope you all enjoy your families.

Wednesday, 24, November, 2010

All Linky, No Thinky

Filed under: History,Links to Greatness — williamthecoroner @ 18:24

In view of the artillery duel in Korea, I liked the thoughts of I Want A New Left.

I’ve thought that it was very easy to be an “alternative” journalist (columnist, commentator, what have you) for all one has to do is second-guess and criticise what the administration/power structure/mayor, fill in the blank was doing. It’s really easy to sit back and nit pick. actually doing something constructive, now, that’s a whole other matter.

But I think it is a valid question, is one anti-war or just anti-going-to-war-yourself? Non-violent protest is all well and good, if you are dealing with an adversary with a conscience. If your adversary just doesn’t care, one needs must look to one’s weapons.

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.


Thursday, 11, November, 2010

The Guns Fall Silent

Filed under: History,In Memoriam — williamthecoroner @ 10:02

Friday, 5, November, 2010

Penny For the Guy

Filed under: History,In Memoriam — williamthecoroner @ 18:03

Remember, remember, the fifth of November,
Gunpowder Treason and Plot!
I see no reason why gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot.

So you don’t forget, have a toffee apple and go here.

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