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            Thursday, June 27, 2013

            I Owe Rachel Jeantel An Apology. Sorta.

            Yesterday, while in the midst of watching the riveting testimony of one Rachel Jeantel, I was so enraptured by her ratchetness that I labelled her the Worst. Witness. Ever. In retrospect, that was unfair, and I owe her a quasi-apology.

            It's clear she wanted no part of this trial. If you read between the lines, it's she is embarrassed that the defense is tagging her as a side piece (Trayvon had a girlfriend) and traumatized that she was the last person Martin ever talked to. She wanted no part of this from the beginning. And yes, she is also clearly agitated by the defense attorneys whom she thinks are hellbent on catching her in a(nother) lie. I completely understand her perspective. She is also still only 19 and probably never had to do any public speaking, let alone addressing millions while under oath. I bristle to think about myself on that same stand, at age 19, telling people I don't know about the events that lead to the death of my friend. I was hard on her yesterday. She isn't on trial and didn't deserve that scrutiny.

            But she also needs to understand her testimony will determine whether a man goes to prison for life or whether a family gets justice for their dead child. You can't wild out in court like you're in the beauty shop and treat cross-examination like a nuisance. She should have been better prepared (who the hell "prepped her"? They had 16 months and this was the best they could do?) and in a sense she has bought all quite a bit of this scrutiny on herself.

            I'll also just pretend her () Twitter account and didn't ever happen. It's better that way.

            While she's the state's best witness, it's not as if her shaky credibility is going to solely determine the outcome here. The burden is also on the defense to prove that their guy didn't instigate the altercation that lead to Martin's death, and Zimmerman has some notable credibility issues of his own. I'm hoping Rachel Jeantel is merely a 15 minute internet meme rather than the determining factor on the higher profile criminal case of this century.

            We shall see.

            Question: Was I unnecessarily harsh on Ms. Jeantel, or did she really need to take her obligation more seriously?

            Can You Out-Cook Paula Deen?!?

            [Editor's Note: If you're a longtime AB.com reader, your eyes do not deceive you. I'm running this post for the 3rd time here. Because I'm lazy, because I can, and because I linked to this during yesterday's Paula Deen story. But mostly because I'm lazy. And because I can. So there.]

            This is gonna sound a bit silly, but since TV really sucks, I now find myself addicted to cooking shows. Don't get me wrong: I'm definitely not a "foodie". I'm one of those "eat to live" guys, not vice versa. I can eat the exact same thing night after night, so long as it's filling and reasonably healthy. I do this all the time when I'm on the road with the Day Job.

            Nonetheless, I consider myself a semi-good cook, and really just like doing it for the sense of accomplishment. I'm a master of all things grilled (ah, the modesty) and can even make a little bit of ethnic food (Indian, Caribbean). Maybe it's the Engineer in me, maybe not. I just enjoy cooking for no particular reason. And in this post-racial Paula Deen America, three shows on The Food Network have proven to be Tivo Season Pass-worthy.

            Down 北京体彩网官方网站 With The Neelys is my favorite. It features a married couple from Memphis who happen to own a chain of BBQ restaurants. The show is entertaining, but I wouldn't eat 75% of the fat and sugar laden meals they prepare. I swear these bamas fried a freakin' garden salad!!! on one episode. That said, I find the couple's on-air banter refreshing. Seriously, how often do you see a black married couple get to carry on like this on TV? Get a room ya'll!



            Big Daddy's House is another good one. Camden, NJ chef Aaron McCargo usually cooks a bit healthier fare than the Neelys, but still manages to keep it a little hood' for good measure.



            Perhaps it's just the superior production quality, but both shows are head and shoulders above TV One's Turn Up The Heat With G. Garvin and Livin' It Up With Patti LaBelle. Or maybe it's just me.

            Everyday Italian is also good for the occasional tip. And since we're on the topic, what's with this show? I've heard of the whole "food as pRon" concept the Food Network uses to make their programming more appealing, but I always find this show a little over the top. All the soft focus lenses, the pulsating smooth jazz, the sensual lighting, the extreme closeups, and of course, Giada's ever-plunging necklines. Is this a cooking show or a SkineMax 2:00am flick?!?



            Question: Can you cook? If so, what's your signature dish? Do you watch The Food Network? Is The Neely's slightly ghetto on-air act refreshing, or cringe-worthy? Is Everyday Italian "food pRon"?

            Wednesday, June 26, 2013

            You saw it (or are seeing it live right now). It's a total trainwreck, and I can't stop watching it.



            Talk about it here.

            Question: Has Rachel Jeantel singlehandedly set George Zimmerman free?!?

            Does Paula Deen Deserve Another Chance?!? Of Course She Does.

            I didn't have much to say (here) about the whole Paula Deen N*gger-Gate Controversy when it broke last week. Honestly, I just don't have the energy to dedicate to this sorta trivial sh*t, not when my favorite team has the #3 overall pick in tomorrow night's NBA Draft. So yeah, I've been focused on more important sh*t.[1]

            Deen's story wasn't particularly note-worthy for any reason other than it broke in a slow news cycle. If a 60 something white woman from rural Southwest Georgia hadn't used the word nigger at some point in her life, that woulda actually been newsworthy. Deen is a product of her environment, no matter how far she might be (corporately) removed from that environment. Had she done what 99% of people would have otherwise done and lied while being deposed, we wouldn't know anything different about her, nor would we care. She does nothing of relevance to anyone's life. She doesn't pass legislation, teach our children how to read, or fight terrorists. She's just a woman who makes butter sandwiches on basic cable. Nothing more.

            Slavery themed restaurant idea (Seriously, WTH?) aside, what did Deen actually admit to doing wrong here? She used the word nigger in a conversation with her husband in the privacy of their own 北京体彩网官方网站, after having a black man hold a gun to her head while robbing the bank she worked at. I can't think of many other instances where describing someone as a nigger would be totally appropriate, but this just might be one of them. Not saying I agree, but I understand.

            Alas, cultural cues and general rules of political correctness dictate that Deen had to lose something for admitting the using the word n*gger. That's how it is, and I'm frankly glad that's the case. We can't just have people randomly going around spouting out racial epithets with reckless abandon. The world's just a little bit better (for me) when I don't have to deal with that sh*t everyday. So yeah, Paula needs to have a couple of seats and get lost for awhile. And while I gave her props for that hostage apology video she made last week, this shit right here was unacceptable. You aren't a victim. You're making $20M a year. Miss me with that bullshit.



            Fall on the f*ckin' sword and get lost already. Do not pass go, do not collect $200, just go sit down for a few months.

            But this being America and whatnot, she'll get another chance. And why shouldn't she? People have done far worse (ie: having golden shower sex with underaged girls, and taping it!) and rebounded. As long as you can make someone else a dollar, there will always be someone else willing to pay you a dime.

            See you in about 6 months, Mrs. Deen. In the meantime, here's the hoping The Food Network gives more time to The Neelys. #reparations

            Question: What's your read on this whole story? Is it overblown? Does Deen "deserve another chance"? Is she playing the victim role here?

            [1] BTW, I think Otto Porter is gonna be a far better pro than any of the "experts" are projecting. But I digress.

            Monday, June 24, 2013

            The AB.com George Zimmerman Trial Open Mic. #Justice4Trayvon

            today down in the Sunshine State.
            Prosecutors and defense attorneys are set to give their opening statements Monday in the second-degree murder trial of George Zimmerman, --who admitted to shooting 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in 2012 -- after nearly two weeks were spent picking a jury. The prosecution is expected to take up to several hours to make their statement, while Zimmerman's defense team will only speak for an hour or two.

            Circuit Judge Debra Nelson ruled last week prosecutors will be able to use the word "profiled" in their opening statements, as long as their description isn't limited to racial profiling. Prosecutors will be able to describe Zimmerman as a "wannabe cop" and "vigilante" and will be able to say Zimmerman confronted Martin.

            Two police dispatch phone calls will be important evidence for both sides' cases. The first is a call Zimmerman made to a non-emergency police dispatcher as he followed Martin walking through his gated community. At one point, the dispatcher tells Zimmerman he doesn't need to be following Martin.

            The second 911 call captures screams from the confrontation between Zimmerman and Martin. Martin's parents said the screams are from their son while Zimmerman's father contends they belong to his son. Nelson ruled last weekend that audio experts for the prosecution won't be able to testify that the screams belong to Martin, saying the methods the experts used were unreliable.
            For amateur legal analysts like me, this case will be intriguing. The judge's decision to not allow audio experts to discuss the aforementioned 911 call was a pretty serious blow to the prosecution. If they'd proven the voice on the tape was Martin pleading for his life, it's unlikely Zimmerman would have had any chance to walk free. Now the burden is on the state to prove that Zimmerman intentionally stalked Martin by showing a history of bias against black teens. I just don't think they'll be able to prove that.

            I've asserted all along that the best the state could do in this case is find Zimmerman guilty of involuntary manslaughter. Now, I think it's within the realm of possibility that he walks altogether.

            We'll see. If you wanna follow the proceedings online while at your Day Job, .

            Question: What do you think is going to happen in this case? Leave your comments here.

            The Latest Diamond Heists

            Diamonds are one of the most valuable items in the world, and because of this, it is not uncommon for heists to happen often. Diamond heists have happened all throughout history. It is also rare for the thieves to get caught after the deed is done. Many of these heists are intricately constructed; they are usually highly organized professionals that start weaving their ideas months or even years before they decide to strike. Those that are successful manage to rake in jewels that are worth thousands and even millions of dollars.

            Let’s take a look at some of the most recent diamond heists:
            NYC Diamond Heist at Tiffany’s. A well dressed man was entering the biggest Tiffany store on Fifth Avenue where he proceeded to call a salesperson. He then exited the with more than $100,000 on his hands by robbing two expensive necklaces. The New York City Police Department has a strong lead on the case thanks to a surveillance camera that recorded the whole incident. Interestingly enough, the suspect did not use any means of violence to achieve his goals: he simply engaged an employee in conversation and quickly exited the store after the salesman turned away for a moment. The incident happened on June 7.

            The Graff Diamonds robbery. This millionaire heist occurred in New Bond Street, London when two men posing as customers entered the Graff Diamonds store. The robbers assaulted the salesman at gunpoint and managed to steal a total of $US 65 million in items. The thieves were recorded on surveillance camera and they were arrested after the event. However, none of the jewels have been recovered yet.

            The Damiani Showroom Heist in Milan. This elaborated heist has been mentioned many times as one of the most elaborated thefts of all time. In Milan, Italy, a woman that lived close to the famous Damiani jewelry boutique had complained to the authorities about drilling sounds that annoyed her every morning. The police weren’t wise when they decided to ignore the woman’s complaints since the actual sounds she heard were a professional team of jewel thieves drilling a tunnel to a basement where the goods were stored. The thieves decided to strike a few days later after the woman heard the disturbing sounds. They are yet to be caught and the police don’t have any solid leads to this day.

            Wednesday, June 19, 2013

            The Best NBA Finals, Ever?!?

            Just gonna throw this out there: this might be the best playoffs ever, let alone the best NBA playoffs ever.

            Just when you thought Miami was dead in the Biscayne, Lebron hits a 3, Ray Allen hits another, and suddenly the most awesome thing in all sports, a Game 7 to decide it all, is on tap for Thursday night. You guys can probably surmise that I'm cheering for the Spurs. Not because I actually like the Spurs[1], but because I really dislike the Miami Heat.

            I have nothing against Lebron James as a person (seems like an awesome family guy) or a player (arguably the best athlete on the planet right now), I simply don't like the SuperTeam concept that Miami assembled to essentially purchase a title. If the SuperTeam prevails, it's essentially a death knell for smaller market (ie: The New Orleans Pelicans) or traditionally undesirable (ie: my Washington Wizards) franchises. Good players will have all the leverage and and strongarm their way to a handful of destinations like New York, Miami, and LA. Fans in the rest of the NBA cities will basically be relegated to second tier status unless they somehow managed to draft and retain a once in a generation talent (ie: OKC).

            Which is why I love teams like San Antonio, Memphis, and Indiana, the three non-Miami teams that made the conference Finals. Each team drafted core players, made strategic trades, and managed the salary cap to remain competitive in their perspective small markets. The Spurs winning would strike a (final?) blow to the "buy a title" blueprint the Heat, Lakers, and Knicks have deployed for years. So yeah, go Spurs.

            I don't bet on sports, but if I did, my money would be on Miami's (admittedly tepid) 北京体彩网官方网站court advantage pushing them over the top tomorrow night. Although the odds are probably too close to call. It's maybe a better idea playing for a better chance of winning. Many casinos offer sports themed slots games too so try finding a basketball game.

            My heart, of course, in at the Alamo. We'll see.

            Question: Who do you think will win Game Seven?!? Who are you actually cheering for?

            [1] I don't like them. Other than Danny Green (a former Tarheel) I have no rooting interest in San Antonio. I can, however, appreciate the quality with which their franchise is run. It's a model organization, not just in the world of sports, but business in general.

            Tuesday, June 18, 2013

            22 Kids By 14 Baby Mothers. #HappyBelatedFathersDay

            Personally, I loved how this guy referred to his kids as his "siblings". And that tells you all you need to know about Orlando Shaw, AB.com's Father Of The Year.



            "Don't nothin' come to a dreamer but just.... {Rick Perry Moment™} ...a dream."

            Ashy Or Classy?!? - A Really Awful Music Video.

            Yeah, I'm only about two years late with this. Whatever. It's new to me, and it's funny as hell.



            If your life isn't complete without seeing this guy perform live at what appears to be a halfway house, consider this your lucky day.



            Question: Ashy Or Classy?!? Is the "positive message" of this video enough to overcome the complete and utter f*ckery of this guy's "dance steps"?!?

            Friday, June 14, 2013

            What Racial Profiling Looks Like In Real Life.

            The whole Trayvon/Zimmerman trial and some people's insistence that racial profiling is obviously a figment of Negro imagination (and something else we can blame on Obama. Definitely Obama.) made me think of this old segment on ABC News. If you haven't seen it, take a moment to watch this peculiar social experiment.



            For the record, I don't think the white people in this clip are racist. Because reality is, I'd probably see the aformentioned thieves and jump the the same illogical conclusion.[1] That may sound sad to most of you, but reality is as Americans we are all conditioned to see crime through the prism of race.

            Question: What did you think of that clip?!?

            [1] I will, however, note that unlike most of the people in this video, I wouldn't have stopped to confront (or for that matter asssist) the "thief". I prolly woulda just kept it pushin'. Just being honest here.

            Thursday, June 13, 2013

            AB.com Open Mic Thursday.

            I'm sorta busy this week, so ya'll have at it. Some stuff of note...
            George Zimmerman Jury Selection Underway

            Heat Trail Spurs 1-2 in NBA Final. Lebron Couldn't Locate The Paint If He Worked For Sherwin Williams.

            Edward Snowden: Traitor or Patriot?

            Apple To Introduce Both Larger and Cheaper i北京体彩网官方网站Phone Models
            Question: What's on your mind today? Drop some links, start a convo.

            Monday, June 10, 2013

            The George Zimmerman Trial Begins. #JusticeForTrayvon

            (quietly) today with jury selection.
            Potential jurors met George Zimmerman on Monday before filling out questionnaires for the lawyers picking a panel that will decide if he’s guilty of second-degree murder in the death of Trayvon Martin.

            Prosecutors and defense attorneys are looking for six jurors and some alternates, a process expected to take roughly two weeks. Five hundred people have received summonses for the high-profile trial, and 100 of them reported on Monday.

            Zimmerman’s brother, Robert Zimmerman, told reporters he’s worried about the ability to find a jury that will give the former neighborhood watch volunteer a fair shake, especially since the judge decided against a private selection process.

            Lawyers on both sides of George Zimmerman's Florida trial expect picking a jury could take two weeks or longer, as 500 potential jurors have been summoned to court. He said it has not been decided if his brother – who has pleaded not guilty and contends he shot Martin in self-defense on Feb. 26, 2012 – will testify in his own defense.
            Wait a damn minute! You're telling me 500 people were summoned and only 1/5th of them actually showed up? Seriously? If you're from Sanford and have been screamin' all that "Justice For Trayvon" sh*t for the past year, you need your a$$ kicked if you stayed 北京体彩网官方网站 today.

            I suspect we'll see some very ugly elements of American society rear their ugly heads in the coming weeks. Reality is, this story is so polarizing, you're bound to hear a bunch of idiots saying idiotic things. You know, like this "expert" on Fox News who suggested that Martin posed a threat to Zimmerman, because, after all, he could have killed Zimmerman with that pack of Skittles. No, really, this happened.



            I quit you, America. Officially.

            Question: Just how ugly is this case going to get?!?

            iOS7 Is Actually Pretty Cool.

            Fanboys rejoice. There's no need to abandon Apple (yet). Turns out the newest version of their mobile operating system is pretty impressive.



            Question: What do you think? Assuming you're an Apple user, is this enough to stop you from abandoning the platform for Android?

            Thursday, June 6, 2013

            AB.com Open Mic Thursday.

            I've written enough new posts this week, so ya'll have at it.

            Stuff of note...
            Trayvon Martin Case Begins Monday

            Susan Rice Is Baaaack

            NSA Forces Verizon To Hand Over ALL Call Data

            Philly Building Collapses

            NBA Finals Begin Tonight

            Stock Market Slumps

            Corey Booker Poised To Win US Senate Seat

            Apple To Introduce iOS7 Monday
            Question: What's on your mind today? Drop some links, start a convo.

            Tuesday, June 4, 2013

            Domino's Pizza, Now Delivered By Drones!?!

            Face reality, drones are gonna be a part of everyday life very soon. It's inevitable. They're (fairly) cheap and don't take days off/require benefits.

            They can kill men, monitor traffic patterns, oversee crops, and help predict the weather. And soon, they may be .
            Domino’s Pizza hired a creative agency called T + Biscuits to test the feasibility of octocopter drones that deliver a hot, delicious pizza to your doorstep.

            Heavily branded as the DomiCopter, the current prototype can deliver two, large pizzas in about ten minutes within a four mile radius of the store. While future versions could hypothetically use GPS coordinates to deliver the pie, the existing model is piloted from the ground by someone experienced in drone flight.

            The DomiCopter has eight spinning blades and includes the standard thermal insulation bag that’s carried around by Domino’s Pizza delivery drivers. Developed by a company called Aerosight, this type of drone is primarily used for capturing broadcast quality video with cameras like the Red Epic , Canon C300 or Sony PMW F3.

            No flying permits are needed to operate the drone up to 126 meters off the ground, as detailed by NBC News recently; only permission of the landowner is required. Other tools that can be used with the drone include on-board GPS, air pressure sensors and an electronic compass.
            Here's the video. It's sorta cool.



            I'm not 100% sure how to feel about all this. Having a flying robot show up on your front lawn with breadsticks is less intrusive than having some stranger show up on your doorstep (and possibly less dangerous in some ways), but is this overreaching? What if the drone crashes ()? How does the company prevent this thing from getting jacked (much like real life pizza men)? Aren't some things best left to actual human beings? Ionno.

            Question: What do you think of the DomiCopter?!? Is this a feasible idea for consumer application?

            Monday, June 3, 2013

            IRS Employees Do "The Cupid Shuffle On Taxpayer's Dime". #BlameObama

            .
            In the latest black eye for the Internal Revenue Service, the agency provided Congress on Friday with another video featuring its employees, this one showing about a dozen of them line dancing on a stage.

            The video of the IRS workers practicing their dance moves, which lasts just under three minutes, comes weeks after it was revealed that agency workers produced two other videos parodying the “Star Trek” and “Gilligan’s Island” TV shows.

            The latest recording cost about $1,600 and was produced to be shown at the end of a 2010 training and leadership conference held in Anaheim, Calif., said IRS spokeswoman Michelle Eldridge. At a time when most government agencies are coping with across-the-board spending cuts by furloughing workers and finding other savings, that conference has become the target of a report a Treasury inspector general plans to release next week.

            The report, called “Collected and Wasted: The IRS Spending Culture and Conference Abuses,” will be the subject of a hearing Thursday by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, that panel said Friday.

            In a written statement, the IRS said the video was “unacceptable and an inappropriate use of government funds.” It said the agency has new policies in place “to ensure that taxpayer funds are being used appropriately.”

            Eldridge said the dance video was recorded at IRS offices in New Carrollton, Md., outside Washington, D.C.

            In the video, various workers comment as colleagues practice their dancing in the background to music that sounds like “Cupid Shuffle,” a 2007 hit by the performer Cupid. In the version obtained by The Associated Press, IRS employees’ names have been erased.
            Here's the video. It's sorta hilarious, for obvious reasons.



            This video cost $1,600? Why? Did Stephen Spielberg direct it or something? Anyone with an i北京体彩网官方网站Phone and iMovie coulda pulled this off for about $5. I'm outraged!

            I'm also outraged that every assemblage and 2 or more black people in the year 2013 still has to eventually be followed by The Cupid Shuffle or the Electric Slide. Seriously, we can do better, my people.

            Jokes aside, this was just some co-workers trying to liven up a dreary conference. And the IRS's annual operating budget is about $40 billion. This is the definition of "no big f*ckin' deal". But of course the optics are terrible, and on the heels of the IRS' recent bad news regarding the Tea Party, it all adds to the impression that the feds are a fiefdom run amok. You can bet that those on the right are gonna dig up a grainy cell phone video of Michelle Obama doing the Cupid Shuffle (or The Wobble, ) and play it side-by-side with this IRS clip. There will be a Congressional inquiry into whether or not President Obama told those IRS employees to do The Cupid Shuffle, and when he found out/covered it up. The President will be accused of being biased against the "to the right to the right to the right to the right" part in the song.

            Yeah, that's pretty much the state of politricks in America right now.

            Question: Is this an actual "controversy" or merely indicative of the current state of American politics?

            New Jersey Cops Shoot (Comical) Gangsta Rap Video. Should They Be Fired Or Is This Free Speech?!?

            I'm sure ya'll think I have two cents on the whole Roy Hibbert "no homo" story. Honestly, I got nothing. Grown men shouldn't use teenage slang when in mixed company. Whether saying "no homo" is any worse than saying "pause" or "that's what she said" is a fair debate. But I think we can all agree this incident was overblown. Again, when in doubt, act your age.

            Speaking of acting your age, witness .
            The music video for the song "Temper Like An Alcoholic," performed by Irvington hip-hop artist "Gat The Great," embodies all the bad stereotypes of a 1990s "gangsta rap" video. In the video, posted on YouTube, three other men flank Gat as the broad-shouldered emcee with the booming voice spits out various homophobic slurs and promise violence against his rivals. One man swings a medieval mace, and a handgun can be seen on "Gat’s" hip.

            In another video, Gat is decked out in a gaudy fur coat and raps from the driver’s seat of an expensive car. He calls himself a "felon for life" and warns other rappers they may have to "meet (his) Smith & Wesson," while pretending to fire a gun at the camera. The lyrics might be tame for a hard-nosed rapper, but Gat and his posse are only part-time musicians.

            Gat is better known as Officer Maurice Gattison, president of Irvington’s police union, and the other three men are decorated township officers. All four are now the subject of an internal investigation because of the video, which has reignited a debate about what police officers can and can’t say. Does the right of free speech trump department rules and regulations when the cops are off-duty?

            Township attorney Marvin Braker said he was troubled by some of Gattison’s lyrics, but the song could be considered protected free speech. Gattison, a veteran cop whom Santiago described as a talented and productive detective, doesn’t understand the controversy. He said he has been rapping since he was a teenager and the insults weren’t aimed at anyone or meant as threats.

            "I’m not doing nothing to nobody," he said. "I could see if I was targeting somebody, but it’s just lyrical exercise."
            And without further adieu, here's the movin' pictures.



            Uhhh, okay then. Could someone tell me what 北京体彩网官方网站boy with the sphinx on his shirt has in his hands? What exactly do you call that?[1] I'd google it, but I'm sure I could get back some unsavory results. Either way, he looks like a damn fool. Then again, these are cops who shot a hardcore rap video in which they flashed their badges and batons. Not really dealin' with a full deck here.

            Still, if you step back and really think about it, should these guys really be in trouble for this? Yes, it's stupid, but does anyone really think this moron would "bang em' wit' the hammer"? Rap is 99% fiction, and when you already have an ex-corrections office atop the rap music charts (#bawse) isn't it pretty much understood this is little more than performance art? Sure, it's behavior unbecoming an officer, but isn't that about the extent of the offense? How is this any different than doing community theater? Not bein' funny here, just askin'.

            If I was a citizen of Irvington, I might be more offended at the fake fur and stolen beats (seriously?) than anything else. But that's just me.

            Question: Should this guy be fired, or do cops also have the right to free speech/expression when off the clock? Should your employer be able to restrict your free speech when off the clock? Any thoughts on the Roy Hibbert "no homo" story?

            [1] "Medieval mace"?!?