Archive for July, 2011

Obit watch: July 31, 2011.

Sunday, July 31st, 2011

Frank Bender, noted forensic sculptor.

Among his other accomplishments, Mr. Bender did the bust of John List for “America’s Most Wanted”; that bust led directly to List’s capture.

It is impossible to gauge precisely Mr. Bender’s career success rate, where “success” means identifying a victim or catching a fugitive. Mr. Bender — who, as associates attest, was a larger-than-life character with no small awareness of his own news value — sometimes put the figure at 85 percent.

The correct figure, his associates say, is probably closer to 40 percent. “Not even he knows, because nobody actually tells him,” Mr. Botha said. “The police departments don’t always come back to him afterwards; that’s one of the kind of bittersweet things about what he does.”

That bugs me. I’d like to think that if I ran a police department and asked Mr. Bender (or someone like him) to do work for me, I’d at least have the courtesy to let them know how it came out, wrong or right, as soon as I knew. Good thing I don’t run a police department, eh?

I haven’t read The Girl with the Crooked Nose: A Tale of Murder, Obsession, and Forensic Artistry, but I did read The Murder Room: The Heirs of Sherlock Holmes Gather to Solve the World’s Most Perplexing Cold Cases: at some point I should probably write up some longer thoughts on that book. For now, I want to say that it was an interesting but flawed book.

Obit watch: July 29, 2011.

Friday, July 29th, 2011

Hideki Irabu.

It is well established that I’m not a baseball fan, and I’m especially not a Yankees fan, but this is just horrible and depressing. I’m sorry for his family and their loss.

Speaking of D-U-M-B, dumb…

Thursday, July 28th, 2011

You know, if you run a restaurant, it only makes sense to buy your food – things like meat – from respected restaurant suppliers, such as Texas Meat Purveyors (not the bluegrass band, the restaurant supply house). I’m not saying you have to purchase your meat from them specifically, but you should at least purchase your meat from someone with a license and reputation, not from sketchy people on the street.

I know, I know, this is obvious, why do I feel compelled to say this? Some folks didn’t get the memo, that’s why.

The APD conducted a sting operation today that resulted in five arrests, warrants for two more arrests, and the closure of three restaurants. (The article says six arrests, but I only count five names on their list. Likewise, it states three people are at large, but names only two. Edited to add 7/29/2011: the Statesman updated the article late last night with the correct numbers.) It appears that a ring of folks were stealing meat from HEB…

Sgt. David Socha said many of the thieves stole the meat by shoving it down their pants and walking out of the stores. They then sold the cuts to employees who, police said, knowingly bought the stolen meat.

The restaurants had their health permits revoked, and

Each establishment must remain closed until it gets its health permit reinstated following an appeal, said Shannon Jones, acting director of the Austin/Travis County’s Health and Human Services Department.

The three restaurants in question are:

  • La Morenita, which I don’t believe we’ve (that is, the SDC) ever been to.
  • Willie’s Bar-B-Que, ditto.
  • and Sam’s Bar-B-Cue. Sam’s is a local legend; supposedly, it was the late Stevie Ray Vaughn’s favorite barbecue joint. I didn’t much care for it the one time we went. But hey, what do I know?

It’s kind of interesting to see that, of the seven people named, three have the first name of “Willie”. Do you have to change your name to “Willie” to work at a barbecue joint in this town? (Only two of them work for Willie’s Bar-B-Que: Willie Joe Showels and Willie Joe Showels III. Yes, I do wonder about Willie Joe Showels II. The third Willie, Willie Don Mays, worked for Sam’s.)

Don’t let the Baddour hit you on the way out.

Thursday, July 28th, 2011

In addition to the Butch Davis firing, UNC has also lost Dick Baddour, who resigned his position as athletic director, but will apparently stay on for the next year to “help with the ongoing NCAA investigation into the football program”.

The single dumbest song ever written.

Thursday, July 28th, 2011

Bruce Cockburn’s “If I Had a Rocket Launcher”, which can best be summarized as “I want peace and justice, and I’m willing to blow people up with a rocket launcher to get it.”

So what brings this to mind?

Liberty County investigators have uncovered a treasure trove of stolen items concealed on a wooded lot off U.S. 59 that also contained a marijuana growing operation, a methamphetamine stash and a rocket launcher.

Here’s a (warning! Slideshow!) “gallery” (warning! Slideshow!) of the seized weapons, which include “numerous firearms, including shotguns, semi-automatic shotguns, rifles, handguns and even a rocket launcher.” Oh, my, shotguns and semi-automatic shotguns!

It looks to me like the cops seized a slightly beat up Browning A-5, and I can’t tell for sure what all else. It looks like there’s at least one older double gun in there as well, and maybe one or two revolvers on that pistol rug. (These are, frankly, really crappy photos. Thanks, Chron.)

The photo of the “rocket launcher'” isn’t half-bad, though. Several of the Chron commenters speculate that the “rocket launcher” in question is actually a spent or demilled LAWS launcher, of the sort you can easily find on the surplus market. I don’t have enough experience to be sure about that; if any of my readers know for sure, please leave me a comment or drop me a line.

(Feel free to comment or drop me a line as well if you dispute my “dumbest song ever” statement, but please be prepared to discuss your own personal choice for “dumbest song ever”.)

For what it may be worth.

Thursday, July 28th, 2011

I’m not sure that this qualifies as a “sports firing”, but Bob Bradley is out as head coach of the U.S. men’s soccer team.

Time for a Spinal Tap reference.

Thursday, July 28th, 2011

Of course, it is always time for a Spinal Tap reference, but this one is particularly appropriate.

From the This is Spinal Tap: Official Companion book’s entry on Intravenus De Milo:

It is said to be the only album to have achieved gold status in sales and then platinum status in returns.

You’re probably asking yourself, “Why is this in particular an appropriate reference?” No reason, no reason at all, really, except this one:

After a dismal Q1 in which the company lost $29.6m and “very modest sales” of the Revue were exceeded by returns of the product…

(Hat tip: the Grubes.)


Quote of the day.

Thursday, July 28th, 2011

“How do you say ‘United 93, m———er!’ in Norwegian?”


Then it fell over, burned, and sank into the swamp.

Thursday, July 28th, 2011

Back in November of last year, we made note of the grand opening of the Ohr-O’Keefe Museum of Art in Biloxi, Mississippi.

So how’s the museum doing? The NYT tells us: not so great. As in “almost out of cash” not so great. Major problems:

Two Years Before the Blog.

Thursday, July 28th, 2011

Today is the second anniversary of Whipped Cream Difficulties.

You would think that, by now, I would have worked out the whipped cream issues. Sadly, no. The problem is more complex than you might think.

Seriously, though, I’d like to thank everyone who’s made this web log the small success it is. The last time I tried to list everyone, I failed miserably. This time, I’m not even going to try; you guys know who you are, and I’ve thanked many of you privately.

Here’s to another few years of blogging before the heat death of the universe, and here’s to whipped cream and other delights.

(Richard Henry Dana, call your office, please.)

Nice going there, Butch.

Thursday, July 28th, 2011

UNC-Chapel Hill football coach Butch Davis out in the wake of a NCAA investigation.

Davis, 59, had an overall record of 28-23 with three bowl appearances in four seasons, but he steered UNC into what he said earlier this week was the most serious issue the school has faced in decades. A school with a strong track record of rules compliance saw 14 players miss at least one game and seven sit out the entire 2010 season in connection with the NCAA investigation into impermissible benefits given to players and into academic misconduct.

Today in journalism fraud.

Wednesday, July 27th, 2011

I missed this last week: the Seattle Weekly published a story by freelance writer Rick Swart, alleging that crime writer Ann Rule misrepresented facts in her book Heart Full of Lies: A True Story of Desire and Death. This is the kind of thing I would have paid a lot of attention to if it came across my radar; my mother is a big Ann Rule fan, and I’ve read a few of Rule’s books by way of her. I like Rule’s writing enough to be distressed at the thought.

Yeah. Well, I’m glad that story didn’t come to my attention until today, because it turns out things are more complicated than that. To start with, Rick Swart is engaged to Liysa Northon, the woman at the center of the case. (Ms. Northon was convicted of killing her husband, Chris Northon. Ms. Northon pled guilty to first-degree manslaughter, and received a 12-year sentence.)

Not only did Mr. Swart not divulge this relationship to the editors of the Seattle Weekly, he argues that he wasn’t under any obligation to.

“It’s a freelance piece first of all. I’m selling you a product. So it’s not like you’re my boss and you need to know my personal life.”

What makes this particularly offensive is that Mr. Swart is an experienced journalist; you would expect both that he would know better, and that he wouldn’t have this kind of arrogant attitude. Apparently not.

(Hat tip on this to The Rap Sheet.)