Things I did not know until now.

May 30th, 2016

Robert “Simply Irresistible” Palmer’s favorite author was Jack Vance, at least if Wikipedia is to be believed.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that: I just have a little bit of trouble reconciling a fondness for Jack Vance with Mister “Addicted to Love”. But people are a funny old lot; they’ll surprise you sometimes…

Firings watch.

May 30th, 2016

University of Texas baseball coach Augie Garrido has been “reassigned to a role as special assistant to the athletic director”. Which basically seems to me like a nice way to fire him without actually firing him.

During his 48-year coaching tenure, he led his teams to the College World Series 15 times, made 33 NCAA Regional appearances, won 16 NCAA Regional Tournament titles and 25 Conference Championships, while being named National Coach of the Year six times (1975, 1979, 1984, 1995, 2002, 2005).

At UT, his teams won two national championships (in 2002 and 2005) and went to the College World Series eight times.

Obit watch: May 27, 2016.

May 29th, 2016

Angela Paton, character actress who played Mrs. Lancaster (the innkeepr) in “Groundhog Day”.

Obit watch: May 27, 2016.

May 28th, 2016

Angela Paton, character actress who played Mrs. Lancaster (the innkeepr) in “Groundhog Day”.

Obit watch: May 27, 2016.

May 27th, 2016

Angela Paton, character actress who played Mrs. Lancaster (the innkeepr) in “Groundhog Day”.

You know what Germany needs?

May 27th, 2016

Strict anti-tank rocket launcher control.

I hate to be all WP all the time, but I did want to make note of this too, if for no other reason than: the Baader-Meinhof Gang is back, baby!

Hey hey hey, it’s Fat…Leonard?

May 27th, 2016

Leonard Glenn Francis ran Glenn Defense Marine Asia. His company specialized in providing services to US Navy warships (things like fuel, food, water, and sewage disposal) and was quite successful at it.

How did he do this?

In perhaps the worst national-security breach of its kind to hit the Navy since the end of the Cold War, Francis doled out sex and money to a shocking number of people in uniform who fed him classified material about U.S. warship and submarine movements. Some also leaked him confidential contracting information and even files about active law enforcement investigations into his company.

The company forged invoices, falsified quotes and ran kickback schemes. It created ghost subcontractors and fake port authorities to fool the Navy into paying for services it never received.

So far, four Navy officers, an enlisted sailor and a senior agent with the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) have pleaded guilty to federal crimes and are already behind bars or are facing prison time. So have Francis and two other Glenn Defense executives.

There are claims that over 200 other people are “subjects” of the ongoing investigation.

In December, Adm. John Richardson, the chief of naval operations, summoned about 200 admirals to a special gathering in Washington.
Without naming names, he revealed that about 30 of them were under criminal investigation by the Justice Department or ethical scrutiny by the Navy for their connections to Francis, according to two senior Navy officials with direct knowledge of the meeting.

Select sailors would be invited to an extravagant banquet, featuring cognac and whiskey, Cohiba cigars from Cuba, and platters of Spanish suckling pig and Kobe beef. Francis would sometimes fly in a band of pole dancers, which he called his Elite Thai SEAL Team, for X-rated shows, court records show.

Strippers. Always with the strippers. The only thing missing from this story is blow:

“Can u set up some clean, disease free wome[n]when I am there?” Simpkins emailed. A few days later, he added: “Whats the plan to meet up and maybe do some honeys?”
“Honeys and bunnys,” Francis replied, confirming the date.

There’s even a rogue NCIS agent.

“The man who seduced the 7th Fleet” from the WP.

Random thought.

May 27th, 2016

Is there a use case for a shot timer app for an Apple Watch?

I’m aware of existing ones for the iPhone; I’m just wondering if having the same information, or a subset, available on your wrist – probably linked to your phone – is something that people would find useful?

On the dropping of shoes.

May 26th, 2016

I have avoided writing about this for the past few days because there were a lot of rumors and “unconfirmed reports” floating around that claimed to be true, but were denied by the university.

Now I feel like I can write about this, because we finally have an official statement from Baylor University:

Art Briles out as football coach.

Ken Starr out as university president:

Starr remains the Louise L. Morrison Chair of Constitutional Law in Baylor’s Law School and has agreed in principle to serve as Chancellor on terms that are still being discussed.

Both ESPN and the Statesman report that while Starr is staying on, he will have “no operational duties at the university”.

All of this is fallout from a major scandal: basically, several people, including one Baylor athlete, stated they were sexually assaulted by other athletes (mostly football players, though “a former tennis player is the lone suspect in a sexual assault case that has been active for more than eight months”), and that the university responded badly:

Other former Baylor students have spoken to the Tribune-Herald about how the university mishandled their complaints, including one who claimed a Baylor police officer blamed her for being raped.

More: Statesman. ESPN. Timeline of events, also from ESPN.

Obit watch: May 26, 2016.

May 26th, 2016

Mell Lazarus, noted cartoonist. (“Momma”, “Miss Peach”)

Edited to add: really good tribute to Lazarus in the WP‘s “Comic Riffs” blog.

Not strictly an obit, but there’s a good article in the NYT explaining the circumstances surrounding their obit of Donald W. Duncan, previously noted in this space.

Obit watch: May 25, 2016.

May 25th, 2016

Beth Howland passed away December 31st of last year, but her death was not announced until yesterday, in keeping with the wishes of her family.

She played Amy in the original Broadway production of Sondheim’s “Company”, and had a slew of other roles. Ms. Howland was perhaps most famous as Vera on “Alice”.

Unlike many actors, Ms. Howland had never worked as a waitress. “But I just kept sitting around coffee shops and watching how it’s done, and now I can carry four dinners,” she told Knight Newspapers.

I kind of wonder if she was typecast after “Alice”: the obit says she worked “sporadically”.

She had small guest roles on “Eight Is Enough,” “Little House on the Prairie,” “Murder, She Wrote,” “Sabrina, the Teenage Witch” and “The Tick.”


She and the actress Jennifer Warren were the executive producers of the documentary “You Don’t Have to Die,” about a 6-year-old boy’s successful battle against cancer. It won an Academy Award in 1989 for best short-subject documentary.

(Wouldn’t “After Alice” be a great idea for a new TV series? Linda Lavin is still alive: she could have taken over the diner from Mel. Polly Holliday is still alive, too: she could be working the counter, and then you cast someone to play Vera’s daughter, who works as a waitress…Hollywood types, you know where to reach me.)

The AV Club is reporting the passing of Burt Kwouk, who sounds like a very cool and interesting guy. He was in three Bond films, but is perhaps best known as Cato in the Peter Sellers “Pink Panther” movies. (Edited to add: NYT obit.)

“They were always a lot of fun because after a while I got to know Cato quite well and I liked Cato because he never argued with me and he never borrowed money from me. I liked playing Cato quite a lot,” he said of the role in a 2011 interview with the BBC.

Not exactly obits, but worth noting in my opnion: both Bubba Smith and Dave Mirra have been diagnosed with chronic traumatic encephalopathy.

Inverted Jenny watch.

May 24th, 2016

Missed this over the weekend, but Mom caught it: thanks, Mom!

Inverted Jenny #76 may appear at the World Stamp Show 2016, which starts next Saturday.

Or it may not.

#76 is significant because it was part of a block of four Inverted Jennies that were stolen from a stamp show in 1955. It appears that the block was split up: one of the stamps was found in 1958, a second one in 1982, and #76 showed up recently at an auction house. The American Philatelic Research Library wants to display it at the show (they claim ownership) but since the stamp is stolen property, there’s complicated legal wrangling involved.

In case you are interested, there’s another Inverted Jenny (#58) coming up for auction May 31st.

The estimates for No. 58 range from $525,000 to $1.6 million.