Wings clipped.

July 3rd, 2015

The St. Louis Cardinals fired director of scouting Chris Correa yesterday.’

Why do I bring this up? Granted, it is sportsfirings.com, but I don’t cover every minor executive firing.

But this is special. Correa is apparently the team’s first sacrifice in the great hacking scandal.

St. Louis attorney Jim Martin, a former federal prosecutor who is conducting the Cardinals’ internal investigation, declined to say if Correa’s dismissal was linked to the FBI case.
However, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that Correa acknowledged breaking into the database to determine whether the Astros had stolen proprietary data from the Cardinals.

If he actually did admit “breaking into the database”, I think being fired is probably the least of his problems…

Quotes of the day.

July 3rd, 2015
  1. “This isn’t the Grateful Dead,” Mr. Mande said of the current arrangement. “It’s just a huge, pathetic money grab.”
  2. The band’s universe “was never as clean and sweet, high-minded or hippie-dippy as it was thought to be,” he said. “It’s always been way more complicated and materialistic than that.”

(Obligatory.)

You’re going down in flames, you tax-fattened hyena! (#21 in a series)

July 1st, 2015

“…Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!”
He chortled in his joy.”

Yes, I am chortling.

Indicted former California Democratic State Senator Leland “Uncle” Yee will soon be convicted former California Democratic State Senator Leland “Uncle” Yee.

Former California state Sen. Leland Yee pleaded guilty to one count of racketeering in federal court Wednesday, admitting that he “knowingly and intentionally agreed with another person” to take part in a criminal enterprise and commit at least two offenses and affect state commerce.

More from the SFChron:

In return for the payments, which totaled $34,600, Yee said in his plea agreement that he promised to vote for legislation his donors favored, recommend a software company for a state contract, arrange a meeting with another state senator over legislation, and illegally import firearms, including automatic weapons, from the Philippines. He said the transactions covered a period between October 2012 and March 2014, when he was planning his campaign for California secretary of state.

You may recall that Yee was a gun control advocate, and was honored by the Brady bunch.

Also pleading guilty to racketeering were Keith Jackson, a former San Francisco school board president who served as a consultant and fundraiser for Yee, Jackson’s son, Brandon, and sports agent Marlon Sullivan.

Guilty! Guilty! Guilty!

The racketeering charge is punishable by up to 20 years in prison and a fine of $250,000.

This appears to be the Federal statutory maximum sentence. As we all should know by now, this figure is misleading. But:

Yee’s plea agreement, as described in court, did not include a recommended sentence. But the agreement for Keith Jackson, who admitted the same charge, specified that prosecutors could seek a maximum of 10 years in prison, and the defense could request a minimum of six years.

And the judge can ignore those requests and recommendations.

The important question: what of Raymond “Shrimp Boy” Chow? Still awaiting trial, but the judge “asked prosecutors to include Chow, who is still in custody, in the next group scheduled for trial.”

Related question that you may have been wondering about: does the plea deal mean that Yee is going to roll on Chow? I can’t deny it: I love using the phrase “Yee is going to roll on Chow”. But:

The plea agreements do not require any of the four defendants to testify or cooperate with the prosecution, said Brandon Jackson’s lawyer, Tony Tamburello. Both Brandon Jackson and Sullivan pleaded guilty to a racketeering conspiracy involving the Ghee Kung Tong.

The Ghee Kung Tong was Raymond “Shrimp Boy” Chow’s organization, which is described as “…as a racketeering enterprise that trafficked in drugs, weapons and stolen goods” in the Federal charges against Chow.

Edited to add: Thanks to Ken at Popehat for linking to convicted former California Democratic State Senator Leland “Uncle” Yee’s plea agreement. I apparently can’t copy or paste stuff from the plea agreement PDF, so I’ll just note that Yee specifically admits to the gun running charges in his plea.

Have you ever said to yourself…

June 29th, 2015

…”Self, I wonder what it’s like to take photos with a three foot long, 36 pound, $180,000, 1,200mm camera lens?”

Don’t even think about taking a selfie. It will not focus on anything closer than about 46 feet.

I wish this had been a better article. It really doesn’t talk as much about the actual process of shooting with the lens as I’d like, and I’m not all that impressed with two out of three of the photos. But I still think it’s worth linking, even if it doesn’t push all of my photo geek buttons.

(Also, this is a used lens. For the record, and because I’m a Nikon guy, here’s their “equivalent” lens.)

Obit watch: June 29, 2015.

June 29th, 2015

Chris Squire, bass player for Yes. A/V Club.

Walter Shawn Browne, noted chess grandmaster.

Mr. Browne’s competitiveness extended beyond chess. “I can beat 97 out of 100 experts in Scrabble, 98 of 100 in backgammon and 99.9 of 100 in poker,” he told Sports Illustrated in 1976. “At hi-lo, table-limit poker, I’m the best in the world.”

Finally, Red Mascara. Mr. Mascara wrote a song, “I’m From New Jersey” in 1960 and spent the next 55 years on a quixotic quest to have it made the official state song.

He came closest to his goal in 1972, when the Legislature passed a bill recognizing “I’m From New Jersey” as the official state song. Mr. Mascara had hired a band to play it from the gallery of the Assembly chamber. But Gov. William Cahill vetoed it, telling reporters that the only thing worse than that song was hearing Mr. Mascara sing it.

After action report: Spokane, WA.

June 27th, 2015

The Smith and Wesson Collector’s Association annual symposium was in Spokane this year.

Read the rest of this entry »

Quick random thoughts.

June 26th, 2015

1.

Bob Willett, a Malone resident, also called 911 Friday afternoon when he found an opened bottle of grape-flavored gin on the kitchen table at his cabin, his cousin, Mitch Johnson, told CNN.

For me, the most amazing part of this breaking story is: grape-flavored gin exists? Because that just sounds god-awful, and I say that as someone who likes regular gin.

2. Apropos of nothing in particular (no, really), I’m thinking I’d like to own a Spiro Agnew watch. But it would have to be one that works: I’m not going to wear a broken wristwatch.

Random notes: June 26, 2015.

June 26th, 2015

Obit watches: Patrick Macnee. A/V Club. LAT.

Phil “Nick Danger” Austin, founding member of the Firesign Theater, passed away on the 18th, but the paper of record just got around to running his obit.

Shepard Fairey has been charged with two counts of “malicious destruction of property” for tagging buildings in Detroit.

The police say he tagged as many as 14 buildings with his signature images, which include the face of Andre the Giant. Nine of the building or business owners were interested in pressing charges.

Two things from the WP that kind of tickled my fancy:

1. How much water do California pot growers use? The answer is: well, that’s hard to quantify, for obvious reasons. But a group of researchers have made an attempt to come up with a number, and their estimate is that pot growing uses about the same amount of water as almond growing.

2. Don’t let your pet goldfish loose in the nearest pond, because they will become gianormous and screw up the ecosystem.

(Do I need a “Fish” category?)

And speaking of things that delight me…

June 24th, 2015

…I am absurdly happy to learn, by way of a comment in an article at the A/V Club, that Shout! Factory is issuing DVDs of both “The Bold Ones: The SenatorandThe Bold Ones: The Protectors“.

I’m sure I’ve written about this before (and some of you may remember it first hand) but: “The Bold Ones” was one of those wheel shows. (The other parts were “The Lawyers” and “The New Doctors”.) When RTN was an over-the-air network in Austin, they used to run “The Bold Ones” episodes on weekends; I recorded all that I could, but they kept running the same ones over and over, and then the hard drive died, and then RTN went cable-only in Austin…

Anyway, Hal Holbrook was “The Senator”, trying to navigate Washington politics and advance his agenda. I’m excited about this one because the DVDs include the two part “A Continual Roar of Musketry”; I’ve never seen that episode, but Harlan Ellison praised this episode highly in one of the “Glass Teat” books, and I look forward to finally watching it.

“The Protectors” starred Leslie Neilsen as a conservative white chief of police in an unnamed midsized California town, and Hari Rhodes as the liberal black district attorney. Honestly, you can see a lot of where “Police Squad” came from in Neilsen’s performance. But there’s also some good stuff there: “Memo from the Class of ’76”, while it has a few unfortunate cliches, is also a surprisingly successful attempt to ask hard questions about the War on Drugs before that war was even declared.

Now, if we could just get “The New Doctors” and “The Lawyers” as well, I’d be a happy man.

Quote of the day.

June 24th, 2015

I was proud of that first Sharps of mine…At first it used a 320-grain bullet, but I experimented with one a hundred grains heavier, and thereafter used the 420-grain projectile. It killed quicker. In making this change I didn’t sacrifice anything in velocity, because by then I had begun to use the English powder…and it added 10 to 30 percent efficiency to my shooting. After a year or two, having plenty of buffalo dollars in my jeans, I talked myself into believing I needed an extra rifle in reserve–so I bought two. [Emphasis added – DB] One was a .40-70-320–a light little gun for deer and antelope but too impotent for buff. The other was another .40-90-420. Both used bottle-necked cartridges; don’t ask me how I fell for that sort of thing after vowing I was off bottle-necks for life.

—buffalo hunter Frank Mayer, quoted in David Dary’s The Buffalo Book.

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Seriously, it just tickles me to see the “well, I had some money, and I thought I needed a second one” justification being used as far back as the 1870s. Also, I love that throwaway line, “So I bought two,” and the “don’t ask me how I fell for that sort of thing”. I’m pretty sure anyone and everyone who’s a serious gun person and been around for a while is familiar with all of those.

(Heck, you’re welcome to name your favorite “don’t ask me how I fell for that”, “so I bought two”, or “well, I had some money…” justification in the comments.)

Incidentally, I was curious about the reference to “the English powder”. A quick Google search turned up what looks like an interesting ebook, though I haven’t had time to go through all of it yet: “A memoir on gunpowder” by John Braddock, published in 1832. This looks to be one of the earliest extant books on methods for making and testing gunpowder, and falls squarely into “quaint and curious volumes of forgotten lore” territory.

Obit watch: June 24, 2015.

June 24th, 2015

For the record: Don Featherstone.

Frances Kroll Ring has died at the age of 99. The significance of this is that she was F. Scott Fitzgerald’s personal secretary at the end of his life, while he was working on “The Last Tycoon”.

Obit watch: June 23, 2015.

June 23rd, 2015

This has been semi-well reported elsewhere (except, oddly, in the paper of record); James Horner. (Edited to add 2: NYT obit. In fairness, it appears that they were waiting for official confirmation from Horner’s people that he was actually flying the plane; other sources seemed to be basing their reports on “well, it was his plane, and he hasn’t called anybody since it went down to say ‘I’m alive!’, so…”)

Dick Van Patten: LAT. A/V Club. (Edited to add: NYT.)

(He was in “Soylent Green”? I need to watch that movie “again”, as I’ve only ever seen parts of it in the “edited for television” version.)