William The Coroner’s Forensic Files

Tuesday, 21, June, 2011

Booty Call Ninjas

Filed under: Links to Greatness,Oddness,WTF? — williamthecoroner @ 10:37

I am not sure if this is a rule of crime or a rule of life; but one should be careful in dealing with ex-lovers.  Particularly ex-lovers who are…peeved.  It seems a man in the peri-Chicago area called his ex-girlfriend and asked her to come over for sex (1).  She agreed, (2) but when he went to go to her car, he was assaulted by a masked figure with nunchuks and throwing stars (3).  He was found in a bloody heap, but identified his ex-girlfriend as one of his assailants (4).  The story is here, H/T Gormogons.

1.  He actually thought this would work?

2. She’s a much better actor than me.

3. Nunchucks and shuriken?  Really?  They went out of their way to get martial-arts weapons?  You can get dimensional lumber and lead pipe at the hardware store, fer crying out loud.  You’ve just given the DA premeditiation.  OK, you get style points for the nunchuks, but those are outweighed by the doofus points.

4. If you’re gonna attack the guy, cover your face TOO.  A smarter idea would be to give it a pass yourself, and have the assailant snatch your purse or something, making you look like a victim, not a perpetrator.

Sunday, 15, May, 2011

Door-To-Door Doctoring

Filed under: Forensics,Social Commentary,WTF? — williamthecoroner @ 15:22

According to this story, people in Turkey are dressing up as doctors and doing door-to-door hypertension screenings.  They discover high blood pressure, give the people pills to treat the high blood pressure, but they are powerful sedatives and the criminals ransack the house while their victims are passed out.  The police replicated the experiment with placebos, and 86% of the people took the pills.

The moral of the story is, don’t take candy from strangers, and don’t take drugs from doctors going door to door.  Do you really need to be told this?

Monday, 15, November, 2010

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

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.

Saturday, 30, October, 2010

Well, That Was Weird.

Filed under: WTF? — williamthecoroner @ 15:37

Knock, Knock, Knock.

Scruffy guy at the door: “Are you William the Coroner?”

Me: “Yes, what can I do for you?”

SGATD: “I’m here for the Malibu.”

Me: “What Malibu?”

SGATE: “The one you haven’t made payments on.”

Looks and sees the tow truck in the driveway.

Me: “I don’t OWN a Malibu.”

SGATD: “The one Roberta J bought for you?”

Me: “Who?”

SGATD: “I think she gave the bank the wrong address.”

Me: “I think so. You’re welcome to all the Malibus you can find. I like Fords.”

Shuts door


I checked. My car is still in the drive. And no, it’s not a Malibu.

Wednesday, 8, September, 2010


Filed under: modification,Social Commentary,WTF? — williamthecoroner @ 09:47

Thursday, 5, August, 2010

Now THIS is Just Disturbing.

Filed under: WTF? — williamthecoroner @ 14:58

Is this an occupational therapy project from prison? Make your own balaclava? I’ve heard of cunning hats, but these aren’t cunning, they’re disturbing.

Monday, 12, July, 2010

De Minimis, People, De Minimis.

Filed under: Blogania,Social Commentary,WTF? — williamthecoroner @ 13:58

De minimis non curat praetor</em>. The praetor (Roman Magistrate) is not concerned with trifles. As I get older, possibly wiser, or at least have more stuff to do in my life, this Latin maxim (translated into modern vernacular as “Don’t sweat the small stuff” is more and more apt.

Yes, it is a wonderful fantasy to get on the phone and jack with telemarkers. If enough people did it, it would raise the costs of telemarketing, that annoyance would become unprofitable, and those people would have to go into more socially acceptable lines of work, like prositution or used care sales. But, when you think about it, my time is valuable. It is the only thing, really I have to sell. It behooves me to spend it wisely. Fun as hassling someone who wastes one’s time on the phone might be, acting like a grown-up is really the way to go here.

This was brought home today in several little ways. I tried to call CrankyProf. I misdialed the phone, and got a crabby guy. Who, of course, called me back, and told me to be more careful. He was really quite exercised about it. My feeling, though, if this is your biggest problem, you’re lucky. Perhaps he just wanted to talk more, he might be lonely.

I advertise my consulting practice on LinkedIn. I think it’s a whole lot less sleazy than the other expert witness lists online. The thing that is annoying–if you’re not careful, you can invite your whole damn address book to contact you on LinkedIn. Great. You too can spam all your friends. I agree, that social networking sites can be a time-sink. I certainly don’t get bent out of shape if folks don’t take me up on any invitation–particularly if that invitation is not appropriate for the relationship. (Hey, if you’re in the market for a consulting forensic pathologist, I’m happy to talk to you. If you’re not, you’re lucky.) Most folks delete and ignore. A couple of folks strenuously object to the time-sink nature of these websites. And they’re happy to tell you about it at length. Which makes me wonder–how much time did you waste complaining about wasting time?

Friday, 7, May, 2010

In Which I Get E-mail

Filed under: Medicine,Oddness,WTF? — williamthecoroner @ 12:48

One thing about being a doctor is getting questions.  Sometimes they are interesting, sometimes they are intrusive.  Usually, people don’t press the issue when they learn that I’m a coroner, and my usual response if they don’t get it is that I’d be happy to do an autopsy on them and give them the report in three weeks.  Funny, but if you offer to eviscerate someone at a party they tend to go away.

My inherent smart-alec tendencies keeping most folks away, the questions I do get are interesting.  Someone asked me yesterday about the “Graston Technique” which a physical therapist recommended to treat her spinal canal stenosis and chronic migranes.  I had not heard of this technique, so I looked into it.

Evidently, it is some sort of massage technique where the someone rubs the patient with these stainless steel…things.  The things are supposed to “untangle muscle fibers”  and “break up scar tissue”.  Now.  I’ve looked at a lot of muscles.  I’ve never seen any of them tangle like they show in the slide show.  I’ve broken up scar tissue.  With a scalpel.

Now, rubbing contracted, sore muscles will make them feel better, and you can massage trigger points and make the muscle relax.  The fibers aren’t untwisting, however.  This looks like deep tissue massage with oddly shaped stainless steel things.  Chronic inflammation, though doesn’t get better if you rub it.  After all, your Mom told you that if you pick at it it won’t get better.  STEROIDS treat chronic inflammation.  I also noticed in their list of clinicians: “athletic trainers, chiropractors, physical therapists, occupational therapists” does not include doctors.

The Graston technique might make someone feel good.  Or it might hurt like the dickens.  Deep tissue massage tends to hurt, I’m not sure I want someone rubbing me hard with a steel thing when I hurt.  Hands would appear to be safer in my opinion.  The other part of the technique involves warm up, stretching, and strengthening the affected muscles.  I think the last two are what’s working in most of these cases.

EDITED TO ADD:  Science-Based Medicine has some information about it HERE.  It’s quackery.  The scientific basis arises from two mouse studies, one of which suggests it doesn’t work.  Also, the patient pays $500 for the treatments, the “instruments” cost $2700, and it is a way to get a placebo effect from paying someone to hurt you.

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