Today’s legal update.

February 10th, 2015

I’ve written a bunch about the case of Robert Middleton: start here for more details.

Don Collins, the person who set Middleton on fire and started the chain of events that resulted in his death, has been sentenced to 40 years in prison for his actions.

Collins faced a maximum sentence of up to 40 years imprisonment because Collins was 13 at the time of assault. The law in 1998 did not allow juveniles younger than 14 to be prosecuted as an adult, although the age was subsequently lowered to 10. Prosecutors agreed to the 40-year maximum to have him certified to be tried as an adult without the extra protections afforded a juvenile defendant.

In Birmingham they love the football (woo woo woo)…

February 9th, 2015

Previously on WCD: the University of Alabama-Birmingham shut down their football program.

Now:

In the turbulent weeks since the University of Alabama at Birmingham announced that it would shutter its Division I football program, rallies and protests have erupted on campus, powerful donors have threatened to withhold their support, and the faculty senate approved a resolution of no confidence in President Ray L. Watts’s ability to lead the university.

The university has appointed a task force to review both the finances of the athletic department and the consulting firm’s report that led to the decision.

And in other news:

Kent State recently paid $35,000 to an outside consultant to review the fiscal viability of its $26 million athletic department and its football program, which has had only one winning season since 2006.

Obit watch: special Hellcats Over the Pacific edition.

February 9th, 2015

Alex Vraciu passed away on January 29th, though his death does not seem to have been widely reported until this weekend.

Mr. Vraciu shot down 19 Japanese planes in eight months, and destroyed another 21 planes on the ground.

Mr. Vraciu (which rhymes with cashew) accomplished his most spectacular feat in the South Pacific when he shot down six dive bombers within eight minutes in what became known as the “Great Marianas Turkey Shoot” in the Philippine Sea. He called it “a once-in-a-lifetime fighter pilot’s dream.”

More:

Mr. Vraciu achieved his pace-setting six kills under harrowing conditions on June 19, 1944, as Japanese planes attacked a task force of American carriers and battleships. His plane’s folding wings were mistakenly unlocked, and a malfunctioning engine was spewing oil on his windshield and preventing him from climbing above 20,000 feet. Still, he downed the dive bombers firing only 360 of the 2,400 bullets in his arsenal.

TMQ Watch: February 2, 2015.

February 5th, 2015

The ultimate TMQ! (At least, for this season.) Plus, we almost, but not quite, apologize to Gregg Easterbrook. After the jump, this week’s TMQ

Read the rest of this entry »

Random notes: February 4, 2015.

February 4th, 2015

Mrs. Summer said that she received a copy of the diary anonymously in the mail last week, that as a journalist she is not bound by the court order, and that the entries shed light on a vital question in the estate dispute: Was Tommie Rae Hynie Brown legally married to James Brown?

Related.

I like this. I like this a lot.

In the mean time, all I can really do is focus on my God. Not by proselytizing, not by preaching, and certainly not by telling you What Jesus Would Do. Because my God is just that – all mine, and nothing to do with you.

(Hattip: Popehat on the Twitter.)

Random notes: February 2, 2015.

February 2nd, 2015

I feel an obligation to say something about the Super Bowl. Here it is:

I was burned out on the game and the commercials by Sunday of last week. I had no intent to watch any of it; I was just so tired and frustrated and fed up with the whole thing.

I ended up catching a few minutes of it when I went out for dinner. What I caught was the less exciting part, but I did see a couple of commercials that puzzled me:

I’ve been sort of following the Brooklyn warehouse fire story, and I got to wondering. Seven alarms is a lot. But what’s the largest alarm response ever in the history of the NYFD? And how many alarms was September 11th?

I haven’t found a good answer to either of those questions. According to this Slate article, there has been at least one ten alarm fire. (I defend my decision to link to Slate by noting that this is a very old article.)

As for the second question, that’s also not easy to answer, but for different reasons. According to New York magazine:

In a standard single-alarm fire, a total of six units—three engines, two ladders, and a battalion chief—respond. A five-alarm fire brings 44 units. September 11 was on the order of five five-alarm responses, involving more than 214 FDNY units—112 engines, 58 ladder trucks, five rescue companies, seven squad companies, four marine units, dozens of chiefs, and numerous command, communication, and support units.

But:

Off-duty firefighters and entire companies “self-dispatched” to the site without orders. So did numerous ambulances and police officers. The area around the Trade Center quickly became a “parking lot,” in the words of one police radio report, making it impossible for many units to report to the alarm boxes and staging areas they were assigned to. Of the 214 or so units dispatched, only 117 of them activated a “10-84” status signal that let dispatchers know they’d arrived. The details of what many companies did at the scene remain hazy; the operations of twenty companies that were wiped out are simply unknown.

Obit watch: January 30, 2015.

January 30th, 2015

Colleen McCullough, author (“The Thorn Birds”). A/V Club.

Rod McKuen, poet. A/V Club.

TMQ Watch: January 27, 2015.

January 29th, 2015

So. It has come to this.

(Actually, we just like saying “So. It has come to this.” We’re also fond of “As foretold in the prophecy” and “so let it be written, so let it be done”.)

This week’s TMQ, after the jump…

Read the rest of this entry »

There once was a man from Nantucket.

January 27th, 2015

The storm may not have lived up to its billing in New York City, but it more than delivered in New England. It cut off Nantucket, where almost all 12,000 year-round residents lost power and telephone service, and it flooded the Atlantic coastal town of Scituate, where a car floated downtown.

My phone tells me it is currently 81 degrees here. I may have to turn on the AC when I get home.

Obit watch: January 26, 2015.

January 26th, 2015

Alice K. Turner, fiction editor of Playboy.

I know the joke: “I just read it for the articles”. But as fiction editor, Ms. Turner was hugely influential:

Ms. Turner helped keep literary short fiction on life support in the late 20th century, when few other publishers would or could. And writers like Terry Bisson, Ursula K. Le Guin, Joyce Carol Oates, Bob Shacochis, Robert Silverberg, Dan Simmons, John Updike and David Foster Wallace were not shy about having their words abut illustrations of naked women.

I was tied up most of the weekend, so for the record:

Joe Franklin
.

Edgar Froese, founding member of Tangerine Dream. How about a little musical interlude?

And Ernie Banks. Related.

You know, I have a good feeling about the Cubs this year. I think they’re going to do the memory of Mr. Banks proud. As a matter of fact, I think there’s a good chance they will win the World Series this year.

Yo, dawg.

January 23rd, 2015

The bankruptcy of SkyMall and their parent company, Xhibit, has been well covered in many places.

But I wanted to link, again, to this Priceonomics article from 2013 about SkyMall, Xhibit, and their questionable dealings, just in case folks forgot about it.

Skymall is by all accounts a reasonably successful company with $130 million in annual revenue, a differentiated offering, a well known brand, and at least some happy customers. Xhibit on the other hand, appears to be a company with dubious sources of revenue, a very thin competitive advantage, and more hype than substance.

God and man don’t believe in modern farmer.

January 23rd, 2015

A while back, I briefly touched on the “Modern Farmer” situation. Briefly, “Modern Farmer” was a promising and National Magazine Award winning magazine:

From its start in an airy office above a Swedish cosmetics store in Hudson, N.Y., the magazine was both admired and skewered. Intended as a media and lifestyle brand for what Ms. Gardner, a former Manhattan magazine editor, liked to refer to as people who want a little more back story to their food, its initial Spring 2013 edition had a stylish rooster on the cover, an alarming feature on the problems of wild pigs and a column called Ask an Ag Minister.

I never actually read it – I’m not sure I ever saw a copy for sale, and it sounded a little pretentious – but I was interested in what was happening with the magazine, especially after the editor resigned.

Well, the other goat has fainted:

Modern Farmer, the 100,000-circulation quarterly and website that tried to link effete urban farmers’ market culture with the practicalities of actual farming, became a magazine without an editorial staff on Friday, when its remaining paid editors walked out its doors. The future of what remains of the Modern Farmer brand is uncertain.

More:

By Friday, when the remaining two paid editorial staff members departed, the sales manager had already left after having told advertisers like Dodge and the Detroit watchmaker Shinola that they weren’t going to publish a spring issue. Reached at her home in Hudson, Ms. Gardner said she could not speak about the matter and feared legal action. She remained unsure about her next move in the media world.

I’d actually never heard of Shinola, the watchmaker. I guess this goes to show how effective advertising in “Modern Farmer” was.

(Hattip: Jimbo.)