William The Coroner’s Forensic Files

Monday, 12, September, 2011

Shocked, Shocked I Am.

Filed under: Haterade,Politics — williamthecoroner @ 15:35

I’ve had my problems with Connie Shultz, the writer for the Plain Dealer for some time now. For a long time I have felt she uses her job to propagandize/work for/support her husband, Sen. Sherrod Brown. The other day she got caught.

Hat tip, Breda

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Wednesday, 31, August, 2011

If You Aren’t Outraged, You Aren’t Paying Attention

Francesca Rice is a veteran. She owns firearms. Lakewood OH police heard about it, came to her condo, got the super to let them in and took them. Ms. Rice was not arrested, she wasn’t home, they just came an took her property. Ms. Rice owns them legally, but the cops will not return the weapons, worth over $15,000 without a court order. So she’s suing them. Story is HERE (Hat tip, Misfit)

If the people who did this weren’t wearing ugly blue polyester uniforms, this would be called “Grand Theft” and “Breaking and Entering”. The Earth-Bound Misfit suggests sending a copy of the United States Constitution to the Lakewood Chief of Police. I concur.

Chief of Police Timothy J. Malley
Lakewood City Hall
12650 Detroit Avenue
Lakewood, Ohio 44107

Also, the cash-strapped city of Cleveland (who is laying off police officers) is spending money and time on a gun registration program that is a. voluntary and b. has no data about efficacy whatsoever.

This might be a radical idea, but if you’re short of money and crime is a problem, you might want to stop hassling the law-abiding, and shift resources to, oh, I don’t know, actually catching criminals.

Wednesday, 11, May, 2011

Glad You Could Join Us.

Filed under: Politics — williamthecoroner @ 09:21

Via Rhet, this news.  Glad you guys could join us.

In general, I try to be a Matt 6:6 sort of a person.   I also think openness and inclusion are more important than other things which get in the way.

Sunday, 1, May, 2011

How Can I Keep From Singing?

Filed under: Boom,People who need pianos dropped on them,Poetry,Politics — williamthecoroner @ 23:44

I do not celebrate, but I do appreciate the news of this day.  All the better that the SEALS are home safely.

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Robert Lowry 1869, Interpreted by Pete Seeger circa 1965

Friday, 14, January, 2011

Hate-Filled Political Rhetoric?

Filed under: Haterade,Politics — williamthecoroner @ 17:57

Yes, let’s tone it down. After you, Gaston.

H/t Hecate. Reference HERE.

Thursday, 6, January, 2011

I Don’t Know What To Think About This One…

Filed under: Medicine,Politics,Social Commentary — williamthecoroner @ 13:37

In 1993 Gladys and Jamie Scott received double life sentences for planning a robbery in Forrest, Mississippi. The robbers weren’t that successful, the total take was low (under $200, and it was split five ways). On 29th December, the womens’ sentences were commuted by the governor of Mississippi on the condition that one donate a kidney to the other, who is on dialysis.

This bothers me on multiple levels. I have heard the original sentence decried as too harsh, because of the lack of criminal history of the Scotts and the low take. I’m not sure that the “one free bite” rule holds for people; but I don’t enough about the case for opine on it. If the crime is heinous enough, is it fair to say, “well, this person did X before, so we shouldn’t punish him too harshly”? I don’t think so. Put in “detonated an atomic device” or “Blew up a building” in for X and you’ll see how silly that is. The sisters were accused of planning a shotgun robbery with violence. That’s pretty bad–but it DOES seem excessive when murders walk free after seven years.

Having said all that. If the original sentence is justified–follow through with it. Being concerned about the costs of dialysis in the prison system is secondary. Prisoners don’t have the ability to make free and uncoerced decisions about when to get up or go to bed, let alone give up a vital organ. If it is unethical for free individuals to profit from selling their organs (which it is in the United States) shouldn’t it be unethical for these women to buy their freedom (by saving the state a lot of medical expenses, that’s exactly what they are doing.)

Researchers go through ethical training every couple of years to work with human subjects. I am working on studies describing how well our tutoring program runs, and I am required to take human subjects training to use the data. I’m not doing anything different with the students, and they would never know. Nevertheless, I am required to learn about the Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment and how children, students, prisoners, and the mentally retarded are protected populations, because they cannot freely consent. This isn’t a bad thing, thought the training is pretty simplistic. Be that as it may, I am just struck by the incongruity. I wonder if the Governor of Mississippi had to go through ethics training before he started playing God with prisoners’ lives and body parts?

Somehow, I don’t think so.

Sunday, 19, December, 2010

About Time

Filed under: Politics — williamthecoroner @ 12:17

The United States Senate repealed Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. This was the proper result, by the proper process. The law was changed by the legislative branch, and not by the executive branch nor the legislative branch doing an end around. As a (small l) libertarian, and indeed a civil libertarian, I applaud this move.

Many complaints about the repeal of DADT involve living arrangements. I have lived in co-ed housing many times, and I have lived with men who slept with men. I have also dealt with the existence of co-ed bathroom facilities. This does not lead to a hotbed (and I use the term deliberately) of sexual activity. Too much exposure really decreases temptations. It is hard to feel romantic about someone who has just thrown up on your wingtips because she drank too much (Again, I speak from experience).

Thursday, 5, August, 2010

Thoughts on Proposition 8

Filed under: Links to Greatness,Politics,Social Commentary — williamthecoroner @ 17:08

Coming as I do from a very low church tradition, I find the kerfuffle over same sex marriage mildly…odd. I have always admired the traditions of the Society of Friends. When they marry, the two people involved get up in front of their family and friends and announce that they wish to be married. The emphasis is not on the magic words done by an individual with extra-ordinary powers to intercede between the divine and man. They just say it and go about their business.

(As a digression, I recall a mixed Friends/Catholic wedding from college. The Catholic side was very, very frightened that the “real” ceremony (the Mass) be performed first.) I wonder why there is such a strong interest in having the .gov or some other authority put the stamp of approval on marriage. It strikes me as not being the business of government at all, and an atavistic throwback to the days when people were concerned about miscegenation.

Personally, I think the take from The League of Ordinary Gentlemen: was spot on.

Key Grafs
I find the government grant of social status a very unfortunate aspect of civil marriage and one I would do without if I could. I would prefer for my family and friends to think of me as married, or not, rather than to have “married” stamped on my forehead by the government. I know not everyone thinks this way, and I get a bit queasy when I think that many people seem to prefer the government stamp to the personal approval of family and friends. … Wherever possible, and as a general rule, the government should not be in the business of conferring social distinction or granting social status. But if it must do so — if it has no other choice, or if political realities force the issue — status must be granted on an egalitarian basis, without regard to race, gender, religion, or even sexual orientation.

Right. Denying same sex marriages hurts and demeans living people. The arguments against it are abstractions, pointing to “societal breakdown” or “rubbing faces in it.” That abstraction isn’t enough IMHO.

Wednesday, 28, July, 2010

Dog in the Fight.

Filed under: Forensics,Politics — williamthecoroner @ 20:49

In 1956, Alan Mortiz wrote a paper mentioning several classical mistakes made by forensic pathologists. The text is here. But THIS paper reminded me of the Moritz article. The authors reviewed articles over the past 50 years, and counted the number of authoritan statments in them, such as “Science reveals we must…” Key graf.

If science wants to redeem itself and regain its place with the public’s affection, scientists need to come out every time some politician says, “The science says we must…” and reply, “Science only tells us what is. It does not, and can never tell us what we should or must do.” If they say that often enough, and loudly enough, they might be able to reclaim the mantle of objectivity that they’ve given up over the last 40 years by letting themselves become the regulatory state’s ultimate appeal to authority

Now, the grammar nazi in me wants the authors to use the word scientists instead of science. Science does nothing by itself.

This is very similar to Mortiz’ mistaking the objective with the subjective portions of the autopsy protocol. One thing that was drilled into me in training as a forensic pathologist was that the pathologist “does not have a dog in the fight.” I don’t care what the result of a trial is. My job is to testify and present my information as clearly as possible. It is my job to explain my interpretation of that information. What the jury does with the information is up to them. I AM NOT AN ADVOCATE.

The jury may interpret my findings differently. That’s their job. If an objective scientist becomes an advocate, he is not objective–he is a partisan. By definition a partisan is not an objective witness, and his audience must judge his statements in light of his bias. Once experts start arguing for one side or another because of bias, they lose credibility and authority.

Give it a read.

Sunday, 18, July, 2010

Further Thoughts on Limited Government

Filed under: Links to Greatness,Politics — williamthecoroner @ 22:11

Geek with a .45 said it much better than I did. When asked why not have laws that are the expression of the democratic will of the people? Why not?

The refutation of this point is a simple question: “Is there any process of democracy that will justly allow you to rape another against their will?”

If the answer is no, then there are limits to what the democratic will of the people can justly enable, and the remainder of the argument is about where those limits are, and by what process/axiom/principle they are discovered or established.

If the answer is yes, I don’t want to know you, it’d be best for you never to encounter me.

RTWT

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