Archive for September, 2017

Obit watch: September 29, 2017.

Friday, September 29th, 2017

Sergeant Gary Christenberry of the Austin Police Department passed away earlier today.

Sergeant Christenberry was severely burned in an off-duty accident at his home two weeks ago: his death was a result of those injuries. He’d been on the force for 24 years.

Lady Lucan, long suffering wife of the late Lord Lucan.

This may ring a bell for some of you, as I’ve touched on the Lucan case before. Briefly: one night in November of 1974, Lord Lucan allegedly beat his children’s nanny to death, having mistaken the nanny for Lady Lucan. When Lady Lucan came downstairs to see what was going on, Lord Lucan tried to beat her to death as well. She disarmed him, he asked for a glass of water, they spoke briefly, he drove off, she ran to a nearby pub for help…

…and Lord Lucan hasn’t been seen since. Everyone seems to assume he’s dead. He’d be 82 if he was still alive, so there’s a possibility…

Obit watch: September 28, 2017.

Thursday, September 28th, 2017

For the record: Hugh Hefner.

I feel like Lawrence pretty much said everything I would say.


Wednesday, September 27th, 2017

I was waiting for this to become official. It is now.

Rick Pitino placed on “unpaid administrative leave” at the University of Louisville. This is being described as an “effective firing”:

Pitino may have been put on administrative leave because, under his contract, if he is fired he must be given 10 days’ prior notice and “an opportunity to be heard.”
The contract says he may be fired for a number of reasons, including “disparaging media publicity of a material nature that damages the good name and reputation of the university… if such publicity is caused by employee’s willful misconduct that could objectively be anticipated to bring Employee into public disrepute or scandal or which tends to greatly offend the public.”

Also out: AD Tom Jurich, but his “administrative leave” is paid. More from ESPN.

As I see it, this is only in part fallout from yesterday’s indictments. (And while the university is involved, Pitino and Jurich have not been charged with any crimes yet.) Pitino’s problem is that this was just the latest in a string of issues while he was coach.

In 2010, the coach testified in a federal extortion trial involving Karen Sypher, who went to prison after trying to get money and gifts from him in exchange for silence. The married Pitino admitted to having sex with the woman in a closed Louisville restaurant in 2003.
In 2015, the NCAA launched an investigation into a sex-for-pay scandal organized by former Louisville assistant coach Andre McGee that could force the Cardinals to vacate their 2013 national title and dozens of victories. For that, Pitino would have been suspended for Louisville’s first five ACC games this season. That all came after the school, hoping to soothe the NCAA and temper the sanctions, self-imposed a 2016 NCAA tournament ban.

Could Louisville men’s basketball be facing the death penalty?

I’m going to say “probably not” just because I don’t think the NCAA has the institutional will to impose the death penalty on a large successful program. But it would be fun if they did: much of the NCAA’s operating budget comes from rights fees, especially fees for the men’s basketball tournament. If the federal investigation blows up college basketball, will the explosion take the NCAA down with it?

(Thanks to Lawrence for the heads-up on this.)

Edited to add:

Pitino said he was shocked to learn of the latest allegation, just as he was shocked to learn that his former staffer, Andre McGee, was running strippers into the campus dorm named after the coach’s late brother-in-law to have sex with players and recruits. “Shocked” was a popular word Tuesday when college basketball assistants from Auburn (former NBA star Chuck Person), Oklahoma State (Lamont Evans), Arizona (Emanuel “Book” Richardson) and Southern California (Tony Bland) were charged with taking cash bribes to steer players to financial advisers and agents. Officials at Auburn and USC used the word in statements. Oklahoma State went with the milder “surprised.” Arizona checked in with the stronger “appalled.”

I have to do this. I’m sorry.

TMQ Watch: September 26, 2017.

Tuesday, September 26th, 2017

When we heard about Sunday’s events, our first thought was: Easterbrook is going to be insufferable this week.

In retrospect, “insufferable” may not have been the right word. Perhaps “long winded” is better.

In that vein, and before the jump, we’d like to point you at David French’s National Review piece, “I Understand Why They Knelt”, which is one of the best pieces we’ve read so far on the subject.

After the jump, about 5,600 words of this week’s TMQ…

Quote (well, actually, tweet) of the day.

Tuesday, September 26th, 2017

I’m a sucker for a good classical reference.

Holy crap!

Tuesday, September 26th, 2017

This is a developing story.

Earlier today, the United States attorney for the Southern District of New York announced indictments against 10 people on assorted bribery, fraud, and corruption charges.

The twist? Four of those people are college basketball assistant coaches, and at least one is a high-ranking executive at a shoe company.

The investigation has revealed “numerous instances” of bribes paid by athlete advisers, and others, to assistant coaches and sometimes directly to student-athletes at N.C.A.A. Division I universities, the complaint said. The bribes were designed to get commitments from college stars to work with specific agents and companies after they turned professional, or to convince coveted high schoolers to attend specific universities.


One of the three indictments charges five people with wire fraud and money laundering in a scheme to pay high school athletes to attend particular universities…
The indictment says about $100,000 was to be paid to the family of “Player-10,” a heavily recruited high school all-American, to steer him to a particular college. It says contemporary news accounts described his college decision, announced this past June, as a surprise. Payments were arranged for other players’ families as well, the indictment says, including one who had not yet begun his junior year of high school.

I’m leaving out the names, even though they are in the linked NYT article, because innocent until proven guilty. Plus, this is the Southern District, which sometimes (in my opinion) pulls some questionable stunts.

But I kind of doubt they would have indicted this many people, especially assistant coaches, without some sort of evidence.

The indictments did not implicate any head coaches, perhaps for reasons explained by one of the defendants in an audio recording of a secret meeting. According to a transcript of comments by the prospective agent, Christian Dawkins, the path to securing commitments from college athletes was through assistant coaches, because head coaches “ain’t willing to [take bribes], cause they’re making too much money. And it’s too risky.”

Edited to add: “What you need to know about the FBI’s NCAA basketball investigation” from the Entertainment and Sports Programming Network’s website.

I love that little sting at the end.

Obit watch: September 25, 2017.

Monday, September 25th, 2017

Edgar H. Smith Jr. descended into Hell on March 20th of this year. He did so in obscurity, as his death was not noticed until Sunday.

On the night of March 4, 1957, a 15-year old girl named Victoria Zielinski disappeared near her home in Ramsey, New Jersey. Her body was found the next day in a sand pit.

She had been bludgeoned with a rock and a baseball bat, resulting in “a total crushing of the skull,” as an autopsy report put it. Her clothes were in disarray, though she had not been raped.

Mr. Smith came under suspicion. The authorities found bloodstains in his car and on his pants and shoes.

Taken into custody and questioned for hours without a lawyer present, Mr. Smith confessed. This was nine years before the Supreme Court’s Miranda ruling requiring that the police warn suspects of their right to remain silent and to have a lawyer present during questioning.
At his trial, he testified that his confession had resulted from coercion and exhaustion. He said he had picked up the girl and driven her to the sand pit, where they began to argue, and that he struck her, drawing blood. But he insisted that he had left her alive, with a friend who had driven up a few minutes later.

Mr. Smith was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to death. While awaiting his sentence, he taught himself law and began filing appeals. He also wrote a book, “Brief Against Death”, which was published in 1968.

His case also came to the attention of William F. Buckley Jr. Buckley came to believe the prosecution’s case had “damning weaknesses” and started promoting Mr. Smith’s innocence.

In 1968, the United States Supreme Court ordered the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit to reconsider its decision to deny Mr. Smith a hearing on the validity of his confession. Finally, on May 14, 1971, a Third Circuit judge ruled after a hearing that the confession had indeed been coerced, and that the prisoner must be freed if prosecutors did not retry him.

The state felt their case was even weaker without the confession, so they made a deal with Mr. Smith:

On Dec. 6, 1971, Mr. Smith was allowed to plead no contest to a reduced charge of second-degree murder and was sentenced to the time he had already served. During the court proceeding he said he had killed Victoria Zielinski, but after leaving the courthouse he declared that he had uttered the words only to put his long ordeal behind him. (He had been on death row longer than any other United States prisoner up to that time.)

After he got out of prison, Mr. Smith moved to California.

On Oct. 1, 1976, he abducted a 33-year-old San Diego woman and stabbed her as she struggled to escape his car. Bystanders noted the license plate number, leading the police to Mr. Smith’s apartment. By that time, he had fled to the East. But he decided to turn himself in and flew to Las Vegas, where he was arrested by F.B.I. agents. Mr. Buckley helped arrange the surrender and later expressed regret at having championed Mr. Smith’s cause.
In a nonjury trial, Mr. Smith was convicted of attempted murder and other crimes and sentenced to life in prison.

But wait, there’s more:

During the trial, he admitted that he had, in fact, killed Victoria Zielinski. He said he had struck her in the car after she resisted his advances, chased her when she ran away and hit her with the bat. Then, he said, “I picked up a very large rock and hit her on the head with it.”

I swear that I’ve read a long essay by Mr. Buckley about the Smith case, his involvement in it, and his regrets over what happened. But I don’t remember where that essay was…

Your loser update: week 3, 2017.

Sunday, September 24th, 2017

NFL teams that still have a chance to go 0-16:

New York Football Giants
San Francisco

Apologies to friend of the blog Infidel de Manhatta. Honestly, I remember the predictions before the start of the season: people (well, ESPN) were saying the Jets had a good shot at going 0-16. Tossed that away, did they not?

But hey, Cleveland’s still on track. Not that I really want to see Cleveland lose, for family reasons, but I think I’ve mentioned my theory of compensatory suck before, right? The better the baseball team is, the worse the football team, and vice versa?

Tiger, tiger, burning bright…

Friday, September 22nd, 2017

The Detroit Tigers did not fire general manager Brad Ausmus.

They just decided not to renew his contract.

Also out: Nebraska athletic director Shawn Eichorst.

Nebraska’s football team is currently 1-2.


Thursday, September 21st, 2017

Court paperwork filed Tuesday said an armed good Samaritan stopped an attack on a runner on a popular trail near Rainey Street last week.

Another jogger who was carrying a flashlight and a handgun heard the victim scream and ran over to help.
The affidavit said the jogger told police he shined his light in the direction of the screams and saw the victim on her back and the attacker on his left side on top of the victim.
The jogger pointed his gun at the suspect and demanded he get off the victim. The attacker stood up and was naked from the waist down, the affidavit said.

Obit watch: September 21, 2017.

Thursday, September 21st, 2017

Lillian Ross, one of the old-time New Yorker writers. She was 99.

I didn’t grow up reading her work, but I was passingly familiar with her from her book Picture. Ms. Ross followed John Huston while he was making “The Red Badge of Courage” and wrote about the production. Which, oddly enough, turned out to be deeply troubled.

Julie Salamon cites Picture as a major influence for her own classic book, The Devil’s Candy: The Anatomy Of A Hollywood Fiasco. It’s kind of interesting to contemplate these two books. Neither Ms. Ross (as far as I know) or Ms. Salamon (who explicitly states this in her forward) intended to write books about troubled movies. Both of them just simply wanted to document the process of making a Hollywood film: what was it like to do this in the 1950s, and what was it like in the 1980s? It’s odd that both movies turned out the way they did. And it’s interesting that nobody else has tried doing this in the last 25 years.

Bernie Casey, NFL wide receiver (for the San Francisco 49ers and the LA Rams) turned actor (“I’m Gonna Git You Sucka”).

For Mr. Casey, who also published books of poetry, the arts always came first. He considered football a steppingstone, but many viewed him as an athlete.
“It was just a gig,” he told The Washington Post in 1977 about football. “But it limits the way people perceive you. That can be frustrating. People have tremendous combinations of talents. A man can be a deep-sea diver and also make china.”

TMQ Watch: September 19, 2017.

Wednesday, September 20th, 2017

TMQ Watch has our tropes, too. One of those is referring to the team by their full legal name, “The New York Football Giants”.

What are some of our other tropes? The only other two we can think of are:

  1. “autonomous 1911 and heroin-vending robots”, which in turn is derived from TJIC (though the original was “autonomous Glock and heroin-vending robots”, but only heathens use Glocks.)
  2. Pointing out that Easterbrook is wrong, wrong, wrongity wrong about the 1972 Dolphins.

Are we forgetting any recurring tropes, all of you huddled wretched masses yearning to breathe free? Please let us know in comments.

After the jump, this week’s TMQ…