Archive for the ‘Amish’ Category

Random notes: March 6, 2015.

Friday, March 6th, 2015

Pigeon King International sold breeding pairs of pigeons to farmers with a guarantee to buy back their offspring at fixed prices for 10 years. Initially, Galbraith told farmers that the birds were high-end racing pigeons and that he planned to sell the offspring to the lucrative markets that support the sport overseas. Later, Galbraith changed his story, telling farmers that the birds were part of his trailblazing plan to elevate pigeon meat, known as squab, from a fringe delicacy in North America into the next ubiquitous chicken. But in the end, “they were neither,” the prosecutor said; Galbraith never sold a single pigeon for sport or meat. He seemed to have merely taken the young birds he bought from Pigeon King International farmers and resold them, as breeding pairs, to other Pigeon King International farmers, shuttling pigeons from one barn to another. And this meant continually recruiting new investors so he would have the cash to buy the pigeons his existing investors produced every month. When Galbraith’s scheme finally fell apart, Pigeon King International had almost a thousand breeders under contract in five Canadian provinces and 20 U.S. states. He’d taken nearly $42 million from farmers and walked away from obligations to buy back $356 million worth of their baby birds, ruining many of those investors. A forensic accountant determined that signing up enough new pigeon breeders to pay off those contracts would have dug him into an even deeper, $1.5 billion hole.

Speaking of fringe delicacies, your yearly slideshow of rodeo food from the HouChron is here. The deep-fried bacon-wrapped Reese’s peanut butter cup sounds interesting, but it looks a little small; I have to wonder what the value proposition is. Deep-fried Nutella also intrigues me, as does deep-fried pecan pie.

Obit watch, continued: Albert Maysles, noted documentary filmmaker. A/V Club.

Confession: I have a fair number of Maysles’ films on Criterion DVDs. I tried to watch “Grey Gardens”: I got about 10 minutes into it and just couldn’t watch any more. I’m not exactly sure why, but there was something about it that just made me extremely uncomfortable…

You could hear the music on the AM radio…

Friday, January 17th, 2014

When was the last time you listened to the radio?

Actually, I still do, mostly when I’m driving around with Mom and Jeff Ward is on. If I’m alone in my own car, though, radio has become to me something like a buggy whip.

But there are some people who still need buggy whips, such as the Amish. And there are some people who still need radios. Like Federal prisoners.

The pocket analog radio, known by the bland model number SRF-39FP, is a Sony “ultralight” model manufactured for prisons. Its clear housing is meant to prevent inmates from using it to smuggle contraband, and, at under thirty dollars, it is the most affordable Sony radio on the prison market.

But what makes this New Yorker piece more interesting to me is…the SRF-39FP is actually a pretty good radio. It uses one AA battery, will run for 40 hours, and:

Others in the online DXing community argue that the SRF-39FP is superior to virtually every other pocket analog radio, praising it for its large tuning thumbwheel, over-all sensitivity and audio quality, and, above all, its reputed indestructibility. Electronics and radio collectors also marvel at features that are normally associated with professional equipment rather than consumer goods: in particular, an exceptional single-integrated-circuit receiver that insures reception in remote locations—or deep within heavy prison walls. In fact, the SRF-39FP was one of the first radios to use the breakthrough CXA1129N integrated-circuit chip, considered by DeBock to be the primary innovation among Sony pocket radios; it helped make the SRF-39FP the smallest and most sophisticated in a line of pocket radios that had launched two decades earlier, in the late nineteen-seventies.

I almost want to pick one up. (I checked; there aren’t any listed on eBay right now.)

(By way of the newsycombinator Twitter feed.)

Pullet surprise.

Tuesday, September 17th, 2013

On certain days, a truck pulls up alongside their quiet, spacious coop on an Amish farm here and delivers a feast that seems tailored to a flock of two-legged aristocrats. Before long, the rust-colored birds are pecking away at vegetable peelings and day-old bread from some of Manhattan’s most elegant restaurants, like Per Se, Daniel, Gramercy Tavern, the Modern and David Burke Townhouse.


Of course, these chickens are not dining on stale loaves from grandmother’s breadbox. On a recent afternoon at the farm, where a few hundred creatures inhabit a peaceful, 15,000-square-foot coop that would dwarf the size of most New York apartments, they clucked and ambled around pans of bread soaked in fresh milk, and white buckets full of leafy trimmings that would make a tremendous tossed salad.
“Some of this is nicer stuff than I have to eat when I get home,” said Mike Charles, a local poultry expert involved in the project.

I could snark on this, but I actually think there’s a lot to be said for chicken that tastes like chicken. (Didn’t Nero Wolfe buy chickens from a farmer who fed them on acrorns? Or was that pigs, and the chickens were fed on something else? I don’t have any of my Wolfe books here at work.)


“We explained the concept,” Ms. Daguin said, “but for him it’s like: ‘What? You’re driving two and a half hours to give me vegetable scraps? I have them right here.’ ”

Yeah, what’s the carbon footprint of these chickens? How sustainable is “driving two and a half hours” to deliver vegetable scraps? Especially since the Amish are likely to have vegetable scraps and day-old bread of their own?

Crime watch.

Friday, February 18th, 2011

Eric Delacruz and his buddy Fernando Romero were convicted of the murder of Sonia Rios Risken yesterday. Why is this noteworthy? Well, when the LAT article begins

The prosecutor and defense attorneys agreed on at least one thing: Sonia Rios Risken was a loathsome person.

That kind of makes you take notice. At the time of her death, Risken was being investigated by the FBI in the death of her second husband, who was killed while visiting Risken’s relatives in the Philippines.

Her first husband, a retired Marine, was shot to death 19 years earlier under suspiciously similar circumstances.

And then Risken herself was capped; Delacruz was her grandnephew, and apparently expected to inherit Risken’s estate.

It turned out Risken had no will, so much of her money went to her closest living relative — her son.

By way of Balko, we learn that Charles Stobaugh has been convicted in the murder of his wife, Kathy Stobaugh. Ms. Stobaugh disappeared the day before her divorce became final in 2004. I can’t work up the indignation of Balko over this: “despite no body, no physical evidence of a crime, and no proof the alleged victim is actually dead.” All of these things are true, but a murder conviction without a body is not unheard of (see Anne Marie Fahey). In addition:

Witnesses testified that Kathy Stobaugh disappeared Dec. 29, 2004, after meeting Charles Stobaugh at his farm northwest of Sanger to discuss their pending divorce.

If she had a plan to leave that night, [prosecutor Cary] Piel said, her plan had to have started with a phone call. The farm is secluded and Kathy Stobaugh couldn’t have walked. She was 12 hours away from a default divorce, yet she would have had no money, no credit cards and no vehicle.


Cary Piel reminded the jury of all the testimony that showed she had not accessed her bank account, credit cards and cellphone, and had not tried to contact anybody since that night.

Yeah, the evidence is circumstantial. But, to quote Thoreau, “Some circumstantial evidence is very strong, as when you find a trout in the milk.”

In other news, the LAPD apparently has a lead in the 2002 murder of two men in Studio City.

As they delved into the case, detectives uncovered an intriguing back story that included a Playboy cover model, a $40-million Wall Street investment ponzi scheme and an ill-fated bid by Tardio to sell as much as $700,000 worth of jewelry purchased with ill-gotten proceeds.

If the $75,000 reward being proposed in this case isn’t enough, surely the chance to see it dramatized on Law and Order: Los Angeles is an additional incentive.

Speaking of Ponzi schemes, we neglected to note the alleged Amish Ponzi scheme yesterday, so let’s fix that now. (This also gives us a chance to tell our favorite Amish joke: “What sounds like this: Clip clop clip clop clip clop clip clop BANG! Clip clop clip clop clip clop clip clop…” “An Amish drive-by.”)

And, finally, it was anarchists who burned down the Texas Governor’s Mansion in 2008. At least, that’s what the Texas DPS is saying now. Hey, at least it wasn’t nihilists. We would post a Crimestoppers!, but the DPS claims to know who at least three out of four of the anarchists are.  So we’ll ask some questions instead:

Quotes of the day.

Friday, July 9th, 2010

It would be possible for me to care less about LeBron James in general, and last night’s fiasco in particular. But I would have to work really, really hard at caring less than I do now.

However, some of the quotes in Richard Deitsch’s SI article made me giggle:

“I’m keeping my 2 yr old up to watch the LeBron James Special. I want her to see the exact moment our society hit rock bottom.”

Watching the LeBron James reality show on Thursday night, I gained a new respect for TV’s Amish in the City and Temptation Island.

Timeless. Changeless.

Wednesday, June 9th, 2010

In my family, there’s a running joke: you know it is a slow news day when the local paper runs a story about the timeless, changeless ways of the Amish.

The NYT covers the sudden Federal interest in changing Amish farming practices. Specifically, cattle runoff from the Amish and Old Order Mennonite farmers around Chesapeake Bay is destroying the bay’s ecosystem; the Feds are trying to persuade the farmers to implement practices that would reduce runoff, and even offering government grants to farmers. Of course…

Persuading plain-sect farmers to install fences and buffers underwritten by federal grants has been challenging because of their tendency to shy from government programs, including subsidies. Members neither pay Social Security nor receive its benefits, for example.

In other news, William Grimes (author of Straight Up or On the Rocks and no slouch on the cocktail front himself) covers the reissue of Bernard DeVoto’s The Hour: A Cocktail Manifesto.

(That reminds me: has anyone out there read Chasing the White Dog yet?)

Instead, because Congress allowed the tax to lapse for one year and gave all estates a free pass in 2010, Mr. Duncan’s four children and four grandchildren stand to collect billions that in any other year would have gone to the Treasury.

Yes. I am sure Mr. Duncan arranged his death with the favorable tax consequences to his children in mind.

Oh, guess what? David Lee Powell has filed a new appeal!

Houston attorney Richard Burr said in a 53-page application for a writ of habeas corpus that Powell has been a model inmate, that he poses no threat to society and that to execute him would violate his constitutional rights prohibiting cruel and unusual punishment.