Almost as good as the post – Tea Party Patron Saint Ayn Rand Applied for Social Security, Medicare Benefits – are the clowns holding the signs. Libertarianism is in dire straights if these are the John Galts of Rand’s fantasies. If one thinks of Atlas Shrugged as an old graphic comic book sans illustrations, it is somewhat entertaining. Libetertaians stole its only worthwhile tenets from liberalism and the rest can be found in some degree or another in the writings of late 19th and early 20th century anarchists and communists. Just as conservatives tout themselves as the financially responsible movement even though they have never balanced a budget, libertarians have never produced a working example of a libertarian community. They remind me of some die hard Marxists who claim that communism has never worked because everyone that has tried misinterpreted Marx. Libertarians and Marxists seem to share the same gene for denial and rationalization. I’m happy to tolerate those faults on a personal level, but the misery they produce are gross immoralities when used as a straight jacket for a nation.
Lots of people link to Spiegel on-line, but it is not exactly a bastion of great journalism. That said Spiegel does a nice, if a little sensational, account of Alexandre Lacassagne, How a French Doctor Helped Create Forensic Science
At about the same time, Arthur Conan Doyle’s famous fictional character, the brilliant detective Sherlock Holmes, was busy solving impossible cases. “Fascinating technique,” Lacassagne concluded, “But why does he never perform an autopsy?” Criminologists considered Lacassagne to be far more capable than Holmes. Unlike the fictional London detective, the real-life criminologist from Lyon revolutionized his field. “He was one of the first to recognize that everything doesn’t end with death, but that instead the existence of the body enters a new phase,” says author Starr.
By tracing the movement of insects on a corpse, Lacassagne could determine with some certainty how long the process of decay had been underway in the body. He used traces of blood on the skin of a dead person to determine how the body had been moved. Using the arm and thigh bones of a dead body, he could precisely determine its height. Lacassagne also discovered that different types of rifles and pistols left different markings on the ammunition.
Lacassagne did not solve and find the famous French serial killer Joseph Vacher, but he did figure out Vacher’s motivations. Vachers would be today what we would consider to be a psychopath – possessing no real concept of remorse or empathy. Vacher at one point claimed he was sent by God to make people understand the virtue of faith. While Lacassagne made great strides in promoting forensics methods in solving crimes, the science of forensics surpassed him in his own lifetime. He had rejected the than popular of idea of the “born criminal”, but he held onto a belief in phrenology. The quasi-scientific belief that one could tell a person’s personality and anti-social tendencies through patterns, depressions or bumps on the human skull.