The six inch turtle crossed the road

Driving home one recent evening on a narrow country road, the Old Man rounded a curve to see a turtle about 6 inches across (or was it a tortoise?) in the middle of the lane, heading for the other side. With no time to stop, and no room to pass on either side, the only alternative was to head straight for it, straddling it so it might survive between the wheels. The rear view mirror showed an intact but bewildered turtle motionless in the road.

Why did I estimate 6 inches and not 15 centimeters? Because this is a US website. We are world leaders, leading from behind. We lead the world in capital punishment, in citizens in prisons, in foreigners imprisoned without trial—but I digress. Continue reading

Coroners and Medical Examiners

After the body of Vincent Viafore was recovered from the Hudson River last May, the Orange County medical examiner (as told by Forensic News, among many others) reported that his death was a homicide caused by a “kayak drain plug intentionally removed by other.” The attorney for a suspect in his death claimed that the medical examiner’s office had overstepped its bounds with that determination, saying it was based on police speculation, not an examination of Mr. Viafore’s body.

Some legal experts agreed that the medical examiner went too far. The Orange County executive office, on the other hand, replied that “If medical examiners were limited to basing their conclusions solely on a physical examination of the body there would be no coroner inquests. The coroners and medical examiners have been doing this for over 100 years.”

I wish lawyers would look in a dictionary before making foolish statements. I might even wish that lawyers fulminating about the duties of medical examiners would look in a Medical Examiners’ and Coroners’ Handbook before making foolish statements, but that would be asking too much. Continue reading