Sunday, June 10, 2012


So you've certainly noticed by now that I haven't posted anything in nearly a year. That's probably because I've completely forgotten about these blogs.

I should have posted a note like this earlier, but I kept putting it off. I'm no longer updating the blogs. I won't be even in the foreseeable future.

I will however leave the blogs as they are. The links all still work and the navigation bar on the right side still links between the blogs. It'll be open for however long Blogger keeps it up, and available for you all to read.

I may come back to it. I may not. I did enjoy doing it for a while, but then it started to feel like a second job and drained the fun out of it.

Enjoy yourselves and thanks for reading.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

August 28, 2011 : Elizabeth Bathory

Countess Elizabeth Báthory de Ecsed (
Báthory Erzsébet in Hungarian, Alžbeta Bátoriová in Slovak; 7 August 1560 – 21 August 1614) was a countess from the renowned Báthory family of Hungarian nobility. Although in modern times she has been labelled the most prolific female serial killer in history, her guilt is debated. She is nevertheless remembered as the "Blood Countess" or "Blood Queen."

She and four collaborators were accused of torturing and killing hundreds of girls, with one witness attributing to them over 650 victims, though the number for which they were convicted was 80. Elizabeth herself was neither tried nor convicted. In 1610, however, she was imprisoned in the Csejte Castle, now in Slovakia and known as Čachtice, where she remained bricked in a set of rooms until her death four years later.

Later writings about the case have led to legendary accounts of the Countess bathing in the blood of virgins in order to retain her youth and subsequently also to comparisons with Vlad III the Impaler of Wallachia, on whom the fictional Count Dracula is partly based, and to modern nicknames of the Blood Countess and Countess Dracula.

The case of Elizabeth Báthory inspired numerous stories during the 18th and 19th centuries. The most common motif of these works was that of the countess bathing in her victims' blood in order to retain beauty or youth.

This legend appeared in print for the first time in 1729, in the Jesuit scholar László Turóczi’s Tragica Historia, the first written account of the Báthory case. At the beginning of the 19th century, this certainty was questioned, and sadistic pleasure was considered a far more plausible motive for Elizabeth Báthory's crimes. In 1817, the witness accounts (which had surfaced in 1765) were published for the first time, suggesting that the bloodbaths were legend.

The legend nonetheless persisted in the popular imagination. Some versions of the story were told with the purpose of denouncing female vanity, while other versions aimed to entertain or thrill their audience. The ethnic divisions in Eastern Europe and financial incentives for tourism contribute to the problems with historical accuracy in understanding Elizabeth Báthory. During the twentieth and 21st centuries, Elizabeth Báthory has continued to appear as a character in music, film, plays, books, games and toys and to serve as an inspiration for similar characters.


Sunday, August 21, 2011

August 21, 2011 : Marvin Heemeyer and the Killdozer

Marvin John Heemeyer (October 28, 1951 – June 4, 2004) was a welder and an automobile muffler repair shop owner. Outraged over the outcome of a zoning dispute, he armored a Komatsu D355A bulldozer with layers of steel and concrete and used it on June 4, 2004, to demolish the town hall, a former judge's home, and other buildings in Granby, Colorado. The rampage ended when the bulldozer became stuck. After a standoff with law enforcement agencies, Heemeyer killed himself with a handgun.

Heemeyer had been feuding with Granby officials, particularly over fines for violating city ordinances and a zoning dispute regarding a concrete factory constructed opposite to his muffler shop that he believed had caused his business to fail.

Heemeyer took about a year and a half to prepare for his rampage. In notes found by investigators after the incident, Heemeyer wrote: "It's interesting how I never got caught. This was a part-time project over a 1½ year time period." Heemeyer was surprised that several men who had visited the shed late the previous year did not discover the modified bulldozer, "especially with the 2,000 lb. lift fully exposed". "Somehow their vision was clouded", he wrote.

The machine used in the incident was a Komatsu D355A bulldozer fitted with makeshift armor plating covering the cabin, engine and parts of the tracks. In places, the vehicle's armor was over one foot thick, consisting of concrete sandwiched between sheets of steel to make ad-hoc composite armor. This made the machine impervious to small arms fire and resistant to explosives; three external explosions and over 200 rounds of firearm ammunition fired at the bulldozer had no effect on it. National Guard units were placed on standby orders by Governor Bill Owens for possible anti-armor support.

For visibility, the bulldozer was fitted with several video cameras linked to two monitorslife support were present in the almost airtight cabin. Heemeyer had no intention of leaving the cabin once he entered; the hatch was permanently sealed. Authorities speculated Heemeyer may have used a homemade crane found in his garage to lower the armor hull over the dozer and himself. "Once he tipped that lid shut, he knew he wasn't getting out", Daly said. Investigators searched the garage where they believe Heemeyer built the vehicle and found cement, armor and steel. mounted on the vehicle's dashboard. The cameras were protected on the outside by 3-inch shields of bullet-resistant plastic. Onboard fans and an air conditioner were used to keep Heemeyer cool while driving and compressed air nozzles were fitted to blow dust away from the video cameras. Food, water and

On June 4, 2004, Heemeyer drove his armored bulldozer through the wall of his former business, the concrete plant, the Town Hall, the office of the local newspaper that editorialized against him, the home of a former judge's widow, and a hardware store owned by another man Heemeyer named in a lawsuit, as well as others. Owners of all the buildings that were damaged had some connection to Heemeyer's disputes.

Heemeyer's rampage resulted in 13 buildings destroyed, resulting in total damages estimated at more than $7 million. The bulldozer also knocked out natural gas service to City Hall and the cement plant, and damaged a truck and part of a utility service center. Despite the great damage to property, no one besides Heemeyer was killed.


Sunday, August 14, 2011

August 14, 2011 : Susan Burns, D.C. Art Attacker

According to police, Susan Burns, 53, last Friday afternoon entered the National Gallery and walked over to “The Plumed Hat,” a Matisse oil painting “valued at 2.5 million dollars.” She then “grabbed both sides of the frame holding said painting,” which measures 18 ¾" x 15".

In full view of a museum surveillance camera, Burns then “slammed the painting against the wall three times, damaging the antique original frame of the painting,” according to an arrest affidavit sworn by police Lieutenant Dexter Moten. “No damage to the painting itself was immediately apparent,” Moten reported.

Court records do not disclose why Burns attacked the Matisse, which is seen above. She was charged with contempt, unlawful entry, destroying property, and attempted theft.

The contempt count stems from a prior D.C. Superior Court order barring her from entering the National Gallery after she was arrested for an April 2 assault on the Gauguin painting “Two Tahitian Women.”

Burns sought to tear the painting off a gallery wall (and also punched the work) because she believed the French artist was “evil” and that his artwork “has nudity and is bad for the children,” according to a misdemeanor criminal complaint. She also told investigators that the 1899 painting--which features two topless women--was “very homosexual. I was trying to remove it. I think it should be burned.”


Sunday, August 7, 2011

August 7, 2011 : Liebeck v. McDonald's Restaurants (Hot Coffee Lawsuit)

Liebeck v. McDonald's Restaurants (Hot Coffee Lawsuit)

On February 27, 1992, Stella Liebeck, a 79-year-old woman from Albuquerque, New Mexico, ordered a 49-cent cup of coffee from the drive-through window of a local McDonald's restaurant. Liebeck was in the passenger's seat of her Ford Probe, and her nephew Chris parked the car so that Liebeck could add cream and sugar to her coffee. Liebeck placed the coffee cup between her knees and pulled the far side of the lid toward her to remove it. In the process, she spilled the entire cup of coffee on her lap. Liebeck was wearing cotton sweatpants; they absorbed the coffee and held it against her skin, scalding her thighs, buttocks, and groin. Liebeck was taken to the hospital, where it was determined that she had suffered third-degree burns on six percent of her skin and lesser burns over sixteen percent. She remained in the hospital for eight days while she underwent skin grafting. During this period, Liebeck lost 20 pounds (9 kg, nearly 20% of her body weight), reducing her down to 83 pounds (38 kg). Two years of medical treatment followed.

A twelve-person jury reached its verdict on August 18, 1994. Applying the principles of comparative negligence, the jury found that McDonald's was 80% responsible for the incident and Liebeck was 20% at fault. Though there was a warning on the coffee cup, the jury decided that the warning was neither large enough nor sufficient. They awarded Liebeck US$200,000 in compensatory damages, which was then reduced by 20% to $160,000. In addition, they awarded her $2.7 million in punitive damages. The jurors apparently arrived at this figure from Morgan's suggestion to penalize McDonald's for one or two days' worth of coffee revenues, which were about $1.35 million per day. The judge reduced punitive damages to $480,000, three times the compensatory amount, for a total of $640,000. The decision was appealed by both McDonald's and Liebeck in December 1994, but the parties settled out of court for an undisclosed amount less than $600,000.