Obit watch: April 14, 2016.

April 14th, 2016

Two! Two! Two themes in one!

Theme 1: people who had interesting lives and careers.

Anne Jackson, noted actress.

Ms. Jackson, who had endured a difficult life growing up in Brooklyn, carved out an impressive stage career of her own. Critics hailed her range and the subtlety of her characterizations — including all the women, from a middle-aged matron to a grandmother, in David V. Robison’s “Promenade, All!” (1972) — and a housewife verging on hysteria in Alan Ayckbourn’s “Absent Friends” (1977).

She was also married to Eli Wallach from 1948 until he died in 2014. And they were good together:

They both won Obie Awards for their work in Mr. Schisgal’s 1963 Off Broadway double bill, “The Typists” and “The Tiger.” They also starred in his hit 1964 Broadway comedy, “Luv,” directed by Mike Nichols, which ran 901 performances and won three Tony Awards, and in another pair of Schisgal one-acts, “Twice Around the Park,” on Broadway in 1982.

Arthur Anderson. He was perhaps most famous as the voice of the Lucky Charms Leprechaun. But he did a lot of other stuff, including working with Orson Welles:

After acting in “The Mercury Theater on the Air,” Mr. Anderson was cast in 1937 as Lucius, the herald to the 22-year-old Welles’s Brutus, in a Broadway production of “Julius Caesar” set in Fascist Italy. Arthur sang, accompanying himself on a ukulele camouflaged as a lute.
His most memorable moment during the show occurred offstage. After heeding an order to stop hurling light bulbs at a brick wall, he decided to light matches to test the melting point of the sprinkler heads. Besides setting off a fire alarm, he triggered a deluge just as Brutus ascended the pulpit above the body of Caesar on the stage below.

Remember, folks, the sprinkler is not a toy, nor is it a load-bearing device.

Theme 2: the death penalty.

Jack H. Smith passed away a few days ago.

Mr. Smith had convictions for robbery-assault and theft in 1955 and another robbery-assault conviction in 1959 that earned him a life prison term. He also had a prison escape attempt in 1963.
He was paroled from his life sentence on Jan. 8, 1977, after serving 17 years. One day short of a year later, on Jan. 7, 1978, Mr. Smith and an accomplice were arrested in the killing of Roy A. Deputter, who was shot to death while trying to stop a holdup at a Houston convenience store known as Corky’s Corner.

Mr. Smith’s accomplice testified against him and was sentenced to life. Mr. Smith was sentenced to death:

Mr. Smith, a former welder who completed only six years of school, arrived on death row on Oct. 9, 1978, and remained there until his death.

Joe Freeman Britt also passed away a few days ago. He was a prosecutor in North Carolina:

As the district attorney for Robeson and Scotland Counties from 1974 to 1988, Mr. Britt oversaw cases that led to more than 40 death sentences. Only two of the defendants were executed — appeals court rulings led to many altered sentences, and some suspects were later exonerated [Emphasis added: -DB] — but his courtroom record ranked him at one point among the country’s most prolific advocates for capital punishment.

After his time as a prosecutor, he became a judge:

Mr. Britt’s candidacy for the court seat was not without controversy. His opponent, a Native American, died in what the authorities concluded was a domestic dispute. The death essentially guaranteed a victory for Mr. Britt, and it prompted a period of unease and suspicion. Investigators, however, never accused Mr. Britt or his supporters of wrongdoing.

Hear that lonesome howl…

April 12th, 2016

Don Maloney out as general manager of the Arizona Coyotes.

In case you were wondering – I was – the Arizona Coyotes play hockey in the NHL.

This is intended to enrage you. (#7 in a series)

April 11th, 2016

Okay, the title may be somewhat of an exaggeration. I’m guessing the only people enraged by this will be:

But I’m willing to be proven wrong. Feel free to do so in comments.

Anyway. A long time ago – 1987, to be precise – a group of John D. MacDonald fans put up a plaque at what was Slip F602 at the Bahia Mar Marina. Slip 602 was also renamed Slip F18.

What was the significance of this? MacDonald’s most famous creation, Travis McGee, docked his houseboat, the “Busted Flush”, at Slip F18. I know it probably sounds kind of silly and trivial to a lot of you, but it always seemed to me to be a nice gesture in honor of a man who has influenced more writers than you could fit into a 1936 Rolls-Royce pickup truck. (Just a few names you may have heard of: Michael Connolly, Randy Wayne White, Lee Child, Carl Hiaasen, David Morrell, and some guy named Stephen King.)

But I ramble. My point now is: the plaque isn’t there any longer. It has been moved to the harbormaster’s office. I can’t really get a sense of how easy or hard it is to find from the photos online. But more to the point:

The relegation seems particularly poignant in 2016, McDonald’s centennial birthday year. Sarasota, where MacDonald lived, will be staging a big celebration in July. But there’s nothing going on in Fort Lauderdale.
“I had tried to contact the Bahia Mar offices to see if anything would be done to celebrate the 100th Birthday of JDM but I received no answer,” Calvin Branche told me via email. Branche, who runs the John D. MacDonald website and will be staging slideshow presentations in Sarasota this summer, suggested that the marina place the plaque somewhere more conspicuous. “But nothing came of it.”

It just seems kind of a lousy way to treat a good man and a great author.

(Hattip: Lawrence, via email.)

You’re going down in flames, you tax-fattened hyena! (#29 in a series)

April 11th, 2016

Okay, maybe not flames, since this is a civil suit. But I run an equal opportunity blog here, and there are also criminal charges involved.

The SEC is suing Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton.

According to the SEC, Paxton recruited investors for Servergy Inc. in 2011 without disclosing that the company was paying him to drum up support and without trying to confirm Servergy’s claims that it had developed a revolutionary new server that was, in reality, based on outdated technology.

The SEC claims that Paxton was paid $100,000 worth of stock, and, when asked about it by the SEC, claimed the stock was a “gift” from William Mapp, who was Servergy’s chairman at the time. Mapp is also accused of fraud, and a third man (“Caleb White, a Tyler businessman”) is also accused of failing to disclose commissions he received. According to the HouChron, “Servergy and White already have settled their cases by paying a combined $260,000 in penalties.”

More from the Chron:

The complaint alleges that Paxton told the SEC that he intended to pay for the shares and even offered to pay $100,000 to Mapp during a meeting at a Dairy Queen in McKinney, Texas.
According to Paxton, Mapp then said, “I can’t take your money. God doesn’t want me to take your money.” So, Paxton took the shares as a gift.

I think the important question here is: what did AG Paxton order at the Dairy Queen? Is he a Blizzard man? Maybe some sort of sundae, or possibly even a banana split? A Peanut Buster Parfait? Or is he just a humble dipped-cone sort of guy? The people demand to know!

(Damn it. I went to the DQ web site to check spellings. Now I want a S’Mores Blizzard, and the nearest DQ is miles away.)

You’re going down in flames, you tax-fattened hyena! (#28 in a series)

April 11th, 2016

I probably should have covered this last week, but it got past me. Work’s been kind of rough. Anyway:

The NYPD reassigned three deputy chiefs and a deputy inspector:

Two of the four officers were placed on modified duty, stripped of their guns and badges and limited to administrative duties, Police Commissioner William J. Bratton said. The other two were transferred from their current assignments to less prestigious positions.

Meanwhile, a prominent NYC restaurateur was arrested and charged with running a Ponzi scheme:

The restaurateur, Hamlet Peralta, who owned the now-closed Hudson River Café in Harlem, misappropriated more than $12 million from investors for use in what he said was a wholesale liquor business, according to the complaint, which was unsealed on Friday in Federal District Court in Manhattan. The business was, in fact, fictitious, prosecutors said.

What do these two things have in common? Glad you asked. They both seem to be tied to a federal investigation involving two of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s fund-raisers:

A federal grand jury in Manhattan has begun hearing evidence in the case, according to several people briefed on the matter. The inquiry has come to focus on the two fund-raisers: Jona Rechnitz, who raised money for Mr. de Blasio’s campaign and was also a donor to both the campaign and to a nonprofit group that supported the mayor’s agenda; and Jeremy Reichberg, who held a fund-raiser for that nonprofit.

More:

Two of the people briefed on the matter suggested that investigators were trying to determine whether Mr. Rechnitz and Mr. Reichberg benefited from some type of favorable municipal action, or the promise of some action, in exchange for their donations, their fund-raising or some other gesture. But the precise allegations under scrutiny by federal prosecutors in Manhattan and agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation are unclear. The two people, like others interviewed for this article, spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk about the case publicly.

In recent months, agents and prosecutors investigating Mr. Rechnitz and Mr. Reichberg learned that they were both also in close contact with roughly a score of high-ranking police officials, and may have lavished gifts upon them, some of the people said. This tangential discovery led the police commissioner, William J. Bratton, to reassign four senior police officials to desk duty last week. Two were stripped of their guns and badges and two others were transferred to less prestigious posts, a rare public rebuke.

Mr. Rechnitz and Mr. Reichberg were also investors in the Peralta Ponzi scheme.

Like I said, I’ve been kind of behind the 8-ball, so here’s another one I should have blogged before now: Paul Tanaka was convicted of obstruction of justice and conspiracy to obstruct justice last week.

Mr. Tanaka was the undersheriff of Los Angeles County: basically, he was Lee Baca‘s second-in-command.

The criminal charges centered on allegations that in 2011 Tanaka orchestrated a scheme to derail the FBI’s jail investigation by intimidating the lead agent in the case, pressuring deputies not to cooperate and concealing the whereabouts of an inmate who was working as a federal informant.

Dumber than a bag of hair.

The LAT claims that Mr. Tanaka could get “as long as 15 years in prison”: as we all know, such claims should be taken with soy sauce and wasabi.

Random notes: April 11, 2016.

April 11th, 2016

Statesman writer subscribes to LootCrate so he can get a box of pop-culture crap delivered to him every month.
Statesman writer discovers that he really doesn’t like getting a box of pop-culture crap delivered to him every month.
Stateman writer decides, not just to quietly cancel his LootCrate subscription and move on with his life, but to publish a “breakup letter” in his newspaper.

Editors. Where are the editors?

Obit watch: Dr. Charles S. Hirsch, chief medical examiner of New York City from 1989 to 2013.

In 2001, when two jetliners commandeered by terrorists struck the World Trade Center, Dr. Hirsch and six aides rushed downtown to establish a temporary morgue.
When the North Tower collapsed, two aides were severely injured. Dr. Hirsch, thrown to the ground, broke all of his ribs. His cuts sutured by a medical team, he returned to the examiner’s squat brick headquarters at First Avenue and 30th Street, coated in a ghostlike gray soot.

Begun, the “Hamilton” backlash has.

Quote of the day:

“I can recognize a nipple from 600 yards in the background behind a leaf at this point.”

We like the moon (clip)…

April 9th, 2016

I have written before about my Model 25-2, and about moon clips.

You know, I really like that gun.

(As a side note, Mike the Musicologist and I visited the gun shop near my mother’s house last Saturday. They had a very nice 25-5 “Mountain Gun”, I think exactly like this one. I was hot for that gun, but I just couldn’t make the money work. Plus, they had another gun that I was also hot for, and I felt like I could make the money work on that one. More on this in what I hope is the near future.)

I also really like moon clips. I’ve been picking up some every time I run across them at a reasonable price.

But I’ve reached the point where I need some way of organizing them. I’ve been trying to restore my range bag to some semblance of order. As part of that project, I bought one of the Tam endorsed GPS magazine bags: these are kind of nifty, and I recommend them, but they don’t solve the problem of loose moon clips floating around. I have a pretty vivid recollection of Skeeter Skelton‘s friend Dobe Grant having some sort of homemade moon clip holder during his time with the Seabees, but I have neither the tools nor the skills to do woodworking well. And that’s not really what I needed.

Revolver Supply Company and 4Wheelguns.com both sell exactly what I was looking for, and their prices were not unreasonable. However, their shipping was: I have not ordered anything from either company, and this isn’t personal, but I wasn’t going to pay $11 to $15.75 for shipping on a $2.50 to $5 item. Maybe if I order something else in the future, I’ll have them throw in some of those containers. But at that time, I was stuck.

Anyway, MtM and I went down to the big Saxet Show in San Antonio last weekend. There’s a nice guy who makes the local gun show circuit with a bunch of Glock accessories: he also had .45 ACP moon clips at a good price, so I picked up a package. While I was there, I took the opportunity to talk to the nice woman (who I think was his wife) who assisted me with the transaction, and I asked her if she had any recommendations for moon clip storage.

Her suggestion, which I had not thought of: try Hobby Lobby. They sell plastic containers for things like artist’s paints and small parts and stuff like that.

So this morning we went over to Hobby Lobby (see previous blog entry). I eventually found the plastic containers for paints and stuff, but didn’t find anything that I thought was the right size.

Before that, however, I was wandering through the coin/stamp collecting supplies, and found the dollar coin storage tubes. The exact brand Hobby Lobby had was H.E Harris/Whitman. It looks like Amazon has what I think is the same tubes in packages of 10 rather than 4.

Anyway, I think these are going to work out just fine. The large dollar size is big enough to hold moon clips securely, and it is relatively easy to get them in and out. But there’s not so much slop that they rattle around a whole bunch.

(“Did you try prescription bottles?” I did. The largest one I have on hand is big enough for .45 ACP moon clips, but there’s a lot of extra space around them. It feels like they’ll rattle more and just be generally annoying. The dollar size tubes are a tighter, but not too tight, fit. Then again, you might be able to find a smaller prescription bottle than I have around the house.)

tl,dr: Large dollar coin tubes are a perfect size for moon clips. At least the .45 ACP ones; I haven’t tried with 9mm or .357/.38 clips yet. And I didn’t have to pay 100% of the purchase cost for shipping.

New toy! New project!

April 9th, 2016

I was out and about earlier today with my mom and my nephew: we stopped by Hobby Lobby because I was looking for something. I’ll be posting about that something later on, but while we were there, I found one of these and ended up getting a screaming deal on it with the 40% off coupon.

Which is great, but that looks like a manual control box, right? How do you control it with a PC? Lots of soldering and a custom circuit board?

Ah. Nope. They have a USB device interface for the OWI-535. Isn’t that nifty?

But wait! The included software only runs on a PC! How do you control it with a Mac, or a LINUX system?

Surprise! People have reverse-engineered the control protocol! For example, this guy! (I love that blog title, by the way.) It looks like most of the other control examples I’ve found all loop back to Vadim Zaliva’s work documenting the protocol for the OWI-535. (He’s also documented the control protocol for the OWI-007 here.)

And look! Here’s control code in Python. running on a Raspberry Pi! Isn’t that a clever cleaver!

We’ll see if I can get the arm together and working without breaking it. Bad news: I don’t have that much mechanical aptitude. Good news: they claim all you need is needle-nosed pliers, diagonal cutters, and a Phillips screwdriver. No soldering required, which is good. I could probably solder my way out of a paper bag if someone held a gun to my head, but I’ve never been what you could call “good”, or even “competent” at it…

(As a side note, I’ve been trying to get back to “Talkin’ GPS Blues“. Unfortunately, I also decided to upgrade Project e to Ubuntu 15.10…and Bluetooth apparently doesn’t work well on 15.10, at least as of when I completed the upgrade. So once I get Bluetooth working again, and have some more time, I intend to revisit GPS, this time with some skanky Perl, Python, and possibly even Java code. We’ll see.)

Obit watch: April 8, 2016.

April 8th, 2016

E.M. Nathanson.

Nathanson was perhaps most famous as the author of The Dirty Dozen, based on a story told to him by Russ Meyer (!) and adapted into a movie that I’ve never actually seen. I wonder if Lawrence has a copy…

Take the money. Leave the box.

April 8th, 2016

Apropos of nothing in particular, a short musical interlude:

Obit watch: April 7, 2016.

April 7th, 2016

The Merle Haggard round-up: NYT. LAT. WP. A/V Club. South Texas Pistolero.

I feel like a musical interlude.

Read the rest of this entry »

Obit watch: April 6, 2016.

April 6th, 2016

Merle Haggard has died.

Expect a longer roundup tomorrow.