Archive for the ‘Clippings’ Category

Don’t forget your mittens.

Friday, January 12th, 2018

Apropos of nothing in particular:

(Subject line hattip.)

Knife porn.

Thursday, January 11th, 2018

Neat profile in the HouChron of Dr. Stephen Pustilnik, who is:

  • a forensic pathologist
  • an amateur chef, and
  • a custom knife maker, who specializes in knives for chefs and forensic pathologists.

As he cooked his way through medical school at Washington University in St. Louis, he realized that his success in both the kitchen and the lab depended on knife quality. His stiff steel chef knives severed animal flesh with ease, but the dull, flexible blades used in the morgue slipped against human organs and made dissections difficult.

Pustilnik, after spending years examining human bodies, speaks easily of the particular mechanics of the hands. He measures his customers’ palms and observes where the metacarpophalangeal joints – the hinges at the knuckles – rest on a knife handle.
The goal, he said, is for the chef to focus solely on the food, not the way the knife feels.
“When the hand and the blade come together in an ergonomic way, it’s seamless,” he said. “It’s just the chef executing his vision.”

Oh my God, it’s a Mirage…

Thursday, October 5th, 2017

Interesting article from Topic: “The Story Behind the Chicago Newspaper That Bought a Bar”, an oral history of the Chicago Sun-Times Mirage investigation.

I know I’ve written about this before, but briefly: in 1977, the paper and the Better Government Association bought a bar and secretly recorded city employees taking bribes to ignore violations.

Zay: The payoff parade began before we opened. The health inspector, when he inspected us— I mean, the basement just had maggots glistening on the floor. Upstairs it was no better. He shook us down for a few bucks and passed the place.
Pam: I think one of the things that amazed us is that these inspectors sold out public safety on the cheap. They were not taking huge amounts. We were told to leave $10 for one inspector, and $25 for another inspector.

The paper published the results in 25 parts starting in January of 1978.

Headline of the day.

Thursday, August 3rd, 2017

Restaurant caught serving steaks ‘unsafe for humans’

Mostly so I can use this:

Reptile cults. Why did it have to be reptile cults?

Monday, July 24th, 2017

Today’s headline of the day:

Police: Woman kills boyfriend after spat with reptilian cult

More:

She said her boyfriend believed the cult’s leader to be a “reptilian” pretending to be a human, a police affidavit said.

And:

Online postings associated with the cult detail a theory that a group of alien reptiles is subverting the human race through mind control.

Sounds like David Icke, but the linked article doesn’t specify. Are there other reptile-based conspiracy theorists out there?

Real estate watch.

Friday, July 14th, 2017

I don’t have $1.25 million. And I don’t want to move to the Dallas area.

But I do kind of like this house, and not just for the associational value.

On the other hand: this one? In Waco? Listed at $950,000? For that? Not so much. (Admittedly, it would be possible for me to care less about “Fixer Upper”, but just barely so.)

Related:

“We have been intimidated and harassed,” she said. “People have complained about their taxes going up because we moved here. Store owners have complained about taxes.”

Random.

Tuesday, July 4th, 2017

Blood for the blood god! Skulls for the skull throne! Milk for the Khorne flakes!

And this one’s for Andrew:

Two thousand years ago, Roman builders constructed vast sea walls and harbor piers. The concrete they used outlasted the empire — and still holds lessons for modern engineers, scientists say.

When guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have…

Tuesday, July 4th, 2017

…baseball bats and machetes.

(Also: “We were looking for ‘knife’ violence. ‘Knife’.”)

(Do I need a “machete” subcategory of “knives”?)

(Well, that guy thinks so.)

I’m sorry. I’m so, so sorry.

Thursday, June 22nd, 2017

I’m sorry that I have to blog this, since:

  • It is a genuine tragedy, and I don’t mean to make light of it.
  • There’s no way that I could not blog this, for obvious reasons.

Fox News reports that Rebecca Burger, who has more than 150,000 followers on Instagram, was killed when a defective whipped cream dispenser exploded and hit her in the chest.

Ms. Burger is described as a “popular French fitness model”. Link goes to the Statesman and not to Fox News because the Fox News story has really obnoxious auto-play video.

I guess this is another one of those “tomorrow is guaranteed to nobody” stories. At any moment you could be hit by a bus, gored by a bull, hit by a falling beam, or even killed in a “freak whipped cream accident”.

Be careful out there.

Recommended reading: May 7, 2017.

Sunday, May 7th, 2017

I’ve stumbled across two articles in the past couple of days that I commend to your attention. At least, if you’re as fascinated with this kind of thing as I am.

1) If you own a Patek Philippe Caliber 89 watch (I know many of my readers do: if you happen to be one of the unfortunate ones who does not, Sotheby’s is auctioning one soon), you’re going to have to get it serviced.

Why? The Caliber 89 has a unique feature (or, as high-end watch folks call it, “complication”): it will tell you what day Easter falls on each year.

It turns out that computing the date Easter falls on is simultaneously two things:

a) Relatively hard to do.

Easter is one of the “moveable feasts” of the Christian calendar; it falls on a different date every year. The reason is this: the basic rule for Easter is that it falls on the first Sunday after the first full moon of Spring (that is, the first full moon after the Spring Equinox) and because both astronomical events are variable, the Easter date changes every year. (As with any calendrical irregularity, there have been various proposals over the centuries to just pick a single date, but so far nothing has stuck). For this reason, Easter can fall anywhere between March 22 and April 25.

b) Relatively easy to do for a digital computer. I think you could probably fit a program to do this in 4K of BASIC, or even run it on a good programmable calculator.

But the Caliber 89 is a totally mechanical watch. How does it calculate the date of Easter? There’s the problem:

A method for calculating the Easter date is called a computus; is it possible to make a true mechanical computus, rather than relying on a program disk? The answer is, “sort of.” The first true mechanical computus appears to have been made not long after Gauss came up with his algorithm, and it currently resides in a place more horological enthusiasts should know about: the great astronomical clock in the cathedral at Strasbourg, in Alsace, France. There have actually been three successive astronomical clocks there since about 1354, but the most recent was completed in 1843. Designed by Jean-Baptiste Schwilgué, it has a true mechanical computus – probably the first ever constructed. It’s not the only mechanical computus, but I haven’t been able to find anything in English on other computus devices (although a reprint of a review of a book on the Strasbourg computus mentions at least two other “similar” mechanisms).

Even if you are not a high-end watch person, there’s still a lot in this article that I think is interesting: mostly the discussion of how Easter calculations work, and of the Strasbourg clock (which I’d really like to see one of these days).

(Hattip: The YCombinator Twitter.)

2) I’m a fan of Stephen Hunter’s work, and one who wishes he had time to write more non-fiction. I enjoy his novels, but I also think he’s an outstanding non-fiction essayist and writer. (Mr. Hunter, if you’re out there: I’d buy a hardback collection of your shorter works.)

The most recent American Rifleman has a Hunter article that pushes several of my buttons at once: “A Battle At Barrington: The Men & The Guns”.

You may have heard of the “Battle of Barrington”, though not under that name. It is also covered in Bryan Burrough’s Public Enemies, a book both Hunter and I like a lot. This was the famous shootout between agents of what became the FBI and Lester Gillis, aka “Baby Face” Nelson. Gillis, his wife, and his partner John Chase were being pursued by (and shooting it out with) FBI agents when their vehicle was disabled: they were cornered by agents Samuel Cowley and Herman Hollis. In the ensuing shootout, Gillis killed Cowley and Hollis, and fled in their car: however, Gillis himself was mortally wounded by the agent’s gunfire and bled to death. (Chase and Mrs. Gillis were captured later: Chase spent 33 years in prison, and Mrs. Gillis served one year.)

The nice thing about Hunter’s article is that he addresses the firearms and tactics used by both sides. This sort of analysis is not a strong point of Burrough’s book: Hunter and his researcher actually went back to the old FBI files and turned up some new information.

The FBI’s records are full of fascinating facts about the event. For one thing: these guys weren’t just loaded for bear, they were loaded for bears, a lot of them. Found in the abandoned Model A: three bulletproof vests, five empty magazines for .38 Super automatics; two filled machine gun magazines (presumably Thompson 20 rounders); 200 rounds of loose .45 ammunition, three empty .351 magazines, three boxes of .30-’06 Sprg. soft-nose ammunition; one box of Springfield boattailed ammunition, five boxes, .45 Colt automatic ammunition, two boxes of Springfield bronze-pointed ammunition. One tan briefcase containing one loaded 100-round drum for the Thompson submachine gun; 10 boxes .22 Long Rifle; one Colt Ace .22 Long Rifle pistol and magazine. The last is a revelation: Chase had bought the M1911 variant with a lightweight .22 slide and barrel. Perhaps he and Les used it for low-cost practice on their various travels.

And, as you know, Bob, I love me some Thompsons. My one complaint about Hunter’s article, though, is that he consistently places the Miami Dade FBI shootout in 1987: it actually took place April 11, 1986.

This quote is for Karl (wink wink nudge nudge):

[Hollis] should have used his Super .38, firing prone, two handed, as that round’s velocity and straight-line trajectory could have gotten the job done, ending up center mass in Les. But he hadn’t been trained to two-handed prone shooting. In fact he hadn’t been trained to anything! The soon-to-be Bureau’s firearm training program didn’t begin until 1935!

Silly season.

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2017

A few random items, some more silly than others.

  1. “I like pineapples, just not on pizza. I do not have the power to make laws which forbid people to put pineapples on their pizza. I am glad that I do not hold such power. Presidents should not have unlimited power. I would not want to hold this position if I could pass laws forbidding that which I don’t like. I would not want to live in such a country. For pizzas, I recommend seafood.”
    (I don’t have strong feelings about pineapple on pizza, but I like this guy.)
  2. Wayne Shaw is a backup goalkeeper for the Sutton United soccer team. “His own team referred to him as the Roly Poly Goalie. He is 46 years old, 6-foot-2 and somewhere around 322 pounds, or 23 stone as the British papers usually put it.” During their game against Arsenal on Monday, Mr. Shaw ate a meat pie on the sidelines. There was a spot bet that he’d do this, which paid off at 8-1.
    Problem: Mr. Shaw admitted that he was aware of the spot bet; and, while he didn’t bet personally, he was aware of other people who had. This could be considered “spot fixing”.

    On Tuesday, Shaw was forced to resign from the club after the Football Association’s gambling commission said it would investigate if consumption of the pie was a breach of betting regulations.

    (For the record, it was a “meat and potato” pie. The paper of record does not report the pussy content of the meat pie. Also, note that this silly article already has two corrections appended.)

  3. I haven’t been following this story closely (the Atlanta newspapers aren’t part of my nutritious media breakfast) but the NYT has a rundown of the Atlanta city contracting scandal, which includes bricks through windows and dead rodents left on doorsteps.

The lead isn’t the only thing that was buried.

Friday, February 3rd, 2017

I’m kidding. Mostly.

But there’s a story in the NYT about the archaeological excavation of what turns out to be a 19th century brewery, that makes me go “Hmmmmmm.”

Not so much for the excavation itself, but for some of the surrounding details. Either this guy was really unlucky, or the past really was a different country. Or maybe both.

Once a servant in Schnaderbeck’s house mistook arsenic for baking soda. The pudding she made poisoned Schnaderbeck’s family.

Damn. I hate it when I confuse the arsenic and the baking soda.

Another time, a man who had been staying in Schnaderbeck’s house died in bed. The Brooklyn Daily Eagle said the coroner attributed the death to natural causes until a packet of strychnine was found “in the bed he had lain on.” The cause of death was changed to suicide.
“Apparently, Schnaderbeck had known about the packet,” Dr. Bergoffen wrote in one of her archaeological assessments, “but ‘kept mum’ as he said, ‘It was bad enough to have the old scoundrel die in my bed without having any more bother about him.’”

I know it sounds mean, but really, killing yourself in someone else’s bed and home is kind of inconsiderate, don’t you think? Schnaderbeck probably had to get all new sheets and bedding, and probably a new mattress as well. And this was the 19th century: it isn’t like he could just have ordered a new mattress from one of those Internet mattress sellers that I won’t give free advertising to here.

(Seriously, I feel a rant coming up in the not so distant future about the internet mattress/prepackaged meal delivery/website hosting based economy of podcasting. But that’s another subject for another day, after I finish updating some lists.)