3D Modeling and Conjoined Twins

This 3D model helped surgeons at Texas Children's Hospital map out the procedure that successfully separated 10-month-old twin girls
This 3D model helped surgeons at Texas Children’s Hospital map out the procedure that successfully separated 10-month-old twin girls

The Matas’ model included the twins’ heart, lungs, stomach and kidneys. The detachable, transparent liver is so realistic you can see the blood vessels inside.

Via newsandtribune.com.

A Time for Jokes


Not long ago, Slate ran a wonderful article on 8 awful uses of humor in Courts of Law. However, the failed to include one bot mot from Justice Scalia, reportedly the funniest sitting justice. Here now, a summary of their punchlines:

The Robert Zimmerman trial


Who’s there?


Zimmerman who?

OK, you’re good for the jury.

(Note this routine was delivered entirely by Zimmerman’s defense attorney, Donald West.)

Roe v. Wade

It’s an old joke, but when a man argues against two beautiful ladies like this, they are going to have the last word.

Haluck v. Ricoh Electronics, Inc.

MR. CALLAHAN: Have you ever heard of The Twilight Zone?

WITNESS: Yes sir.

MR. CALLAHAN: Goes kind of like this, do do, do do. . . . You’re traveling through another dimension, a dimension not only of sight and sound, but of mind, a journey into a wondrous land, whose boundaries are that of imagination; that’s a sign post up ahead, your next stop, The Twilight Zone.  “Do do, do do. Do do, do do.” (sung aloud and repeatedly)

Glickman v. Wileman Brothers & Elliot

Attorney Thomas Campagne’s oral argument leading to a losing 5-4 loss in front of the Supreme Court and a lawsuit for malpractice which included such gems as:

Urging Justice Antonin Scalia not to buy green plums because “you don’t want to give your wife diarrhea.”

Announcing that, “We’re not going to advertise to people and change our message that we want you to eat worms.”

People v. Davis

Using the bathroom during a courtroom break, one defendant noticed a juror at the urinal and jokingly announced, “Vote for me!” The juror reported the joke to the judge, leading to additional criminal charges, and an eventual conviction for attempting to influence a juror.

People v. Monterroso

In one California death penalty case, the judge joked that any jurors caught discussing the case inappropriately would be shot. The defendant claimed on appeal that this joke diminished the seriousness of the death penalty in the juror’s minds.

People v. Melton

One defense attorney was attempting to describe a hypothetical scenario in which he shot another defense attorney:

DEFENSE ATTORNEY: …if I were now to harm, shoot someone, Mr. Strople here, if I shot him right now—

COURT: Permission granted.

DEFENSE ATTORNEY: That might be justified—

COURT: Mr. Strople is a public defender, for the record.

On appeal, the death row inmate claimed that this joke revealed the judge was biased against defense attorneys (because it is “justified” to shoot them). The appellate court agreed that the jokes were “unfortunate,” but rejected a new trial, calling the jokes “relatively brief and mild,” and noting that the defense attorneys themselves participated.

Hennepin County Judge Stephen Aldrich during a domestic violence hearing

I’ve been married 45 years. We’ve never considered divorce, a few times murder maybe.

Former Baltimore County Judge Bruce Lamdin

“What’s the big rush to get back to Pennsylvania? It’s an ugly state.”

When a landlord testified that her tenant’s child had called her a bitch, the judge retorted, “I’m sure that wasn’t the first time someone called you a bitch.”

Responding to a mother with a crying baby, he declared: “If she only knew how much I hate kids, she would not have brought that kid in here today.”

Lamdin then mused to his courtroom that “we [already] confiscate cell phones and we put the cell phones in plastic bags and send them down to Annapolis. I suggested maybe we ought to do the same with children except poke holes in the bag. . . . We ordered some plastic bags about five feet tall but they haven’t been – they haven’t come in yet.”

When a man with the last name Crook pled guilty to driving without a license and possessing drug paraphernalia, the judge demanded, “Why did you drive so poorly? Smoke a little weed before you got behind the wheel?  . . . Smoke a little crack before you got behind the wheel?  . . . Well, you’ve got the appropriate last name…  All right crack head, Crook.”

In a court hearing on prostitution, Lamdin performed an imitation of ghetto-talk. (The transcript reads much like when The Office’s Michael Scott got in trouble for reenacting a racially-charged Chris Rock routine.) “Who put up your bond money for you, your pimp? . . . If I were to release you, you’d be scratching that itch tonight. . . . Ma’am, you can’t bullshit a bullshitter.”

Via Salon.

British Barrister Wigs

British Barrister wigs became popular in the mid-1600’s in France and England, thanks supposedly to Louis XIII, and as principal accoutrements for courtroom attorneys. But the tradition can be traced much further back to medieval times when monks acting in a legal role would wear linen coifs to cover their bald spots. This led to the wearing of skulls caps over the coifs until cornered hats worn over the skulls caps became de rigueur. Solicitors, attorneys who prepare legal documents but rarely appear in court, traditionally did not wear wigs. Barrister wigs come in different styles based on rank: full_wig

The full-bottomed or “Spaniel” wig

Worn by: Queen’s Counsel, Leading Counsel, Judges, Members of the House of Lords Features: The Spaniel wig is the largest wig, lending  us the phrase “big wig.” This wig features thick curls that cover the ears and drop down to the shoulders.


The bob wig

Worn by: Judges

Features: frizzed sides with a looped tail hanging down the back.


The tie wig

Worn by: Barristers

Features: Covers half the head, rows of curls on side and back, and a looped tail.

In 2007, the Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales announced money-saving changes to court dress for judges and lawyers. Such was the outrage over the proposal, the sartorial shift was delayed for six months. Since late 2008, the wearing of wigs in civil and family court has been completely abolished, reserving wigs entirely for criminal court. Barrister wigs, now made from white horse hair, are worn by both male and female attorneys.

From an excerpt of The Judge Who Hated Red Nail Polish… via Nolo.

Buy your own from Ede & Ravenscroft.

Drunk driver outed by pet parrot

Hey parrot, why you snitchin’?

“Police in Mexico City said a drunken driving suspect stopped at an alcohol checkpoint was betrayed by his pet parrot, which told police “he’s drunk.”

Had this occurred in the U.S., odds are a competent criminal defense attorney could successfully challenge the sobriety test. As for the parrot’s remarks, it’s all hearsay and would never make it to the jury unless a D.A. could convince the court that such remarks were more like a tape recorder playing back words spoken by the Defendant (“estoy borracho”) and less like a sentient creature capable of speech (“está borracho”).

Via Gawker.

With a Rebel Yell

Confederate veterans sounding the rebel yell (circa 1930).

As today marks the 150 anniversary of Lincoln’s delivery of the Gettysburg address, here now a novel bit of American Civil War minutiae. The battle cry of Confederate soldiers was known as the rebel yell, a name more recently associated with Billy Idol’s single of the same name, released November 1983 (in fact the song title references a rot-gut spirit). Union soldiers would describe the call as a “rabbit’s scream,” a cross between an “Indian whoop and wolf-howl,” and “a foxhunt yip mixed up with sort of a banshee squall.”

The Confederate yell was intended to help control fear. As one soldier explained: “I always said if I ever went into a charge, I wouldn’t holler! But the very first time I fired off my gun I hollered as loud as I could and I hollered every breath till we stopped.” Jubal Early once told some troops who hesitated to charge because they were out of ammunition: “Damn it, holler them across.”  –Historian Grady McWhiney (1965)

As no audio recordings of the rebel yell exist from the Civil War, historians have used various onomatopoeiae to describe its sound including:

  • Yee-haw/yee-ha
  • Wa-woo-woohoo, wa-woo woohoo
  • Yay-hoo
  • Woh-who-ey! who-ey! who-ey! Woh-who-ey! who-ey!

Via Ken Burns’ The Civil War.

Jesús Malverde, Patron Saint of Drug Dealers


Depending on who you ask, Jesús Malverde was either a hero or a menace to the people of Sinaloa. Though details are murky, Malverde, “The King of Sinaloa,”  was killed by authorities who regarded him as a bandit. On the other hand, the people regarded him as a Robin Hood-type character who gave what he stole and fought against oppression. While the church refuses to recognize Malverde as a saint, since his death in 1909, he has been praised as a folk-hero and canonized as the narco-saint.

Malverde’s legacy is captured on several films, each one containing a long interlude of a narcocorrido (a type of Mexican music and song tradition which evolved out of the norteño folk corrido tradition, often depicting drug smuggling, murder, and extortion). In one episode of AMC’s Breaking Bad, DEA Agent Hank Schrader is shown with a bust of Malverde on his desk.

As a bonus, here now the narcocorrido from the second season of Breaking Bad, “Negro Y Azul:”

Via the Upcoming Breaking Bad Auction.

“Made in Heaven”


Hot on the heels of the announcement of Conjoined, the girl-on-girl blockbuster of the year, comes the announcement of a production of Made in Heaven, a theatrical piece also examining the sex lives of conjoined twins. While Conjoined director B. Skow likes to take stories that interest him and “leave in the sex,” Made in Heaven takes a look at the logistics of how conjoined twins have sex, without the hardcore sex of Conjoined. As the Huffington Post recently reported, Conjoined examines female conjoined twins’ sex lives when one is gay while the other is straight.

Similarly, Made in Heaven’s conjoined twins, Ben and Max, share various organs, including that most important male organ, but one is straight while the other is gay. And it’s not until they propose to leading-lady Jessica that they find they must confront their differences.

It appears fascination with conjoined twins having sex is at an all time high with back-to-back productions on their way. Both directors have picked up on a long-overlooked nuance: the only thing more interesting than straight conjoined twins’ sex lives (a la Stuck on You and Chained for Life) is opposite-oriented conjoined twins. And why not: these stories looks at issues of sex, gender, how to have sex while your sibling’s in the room, and a never-ending game of Twister.

Catch Made in Heaven during Dallas’ Uptown Players’ Pride Performing Arts Festival this month.

See Conjoined this fall on DVD.

North Korean for Beer


The Taedonggang, named after Pyongyang’s river, is one of the city’s most notable nightlife stops, producing seven types of beer. Although these are named with typical Soviet flair — Beer Number 1, Beer Number 2, Beer Number 3 and so forth…

In Soviet Russia, Zhigulevskoye was virtually the only beer available, a much catchier name than Beer Number 1.

Via The Atlantic.