October 17th, 2015
How To Get Away With (The Perfect) Murder tells a fascinating story, one that we're probably never going to get to the bottom of:
The driver was a British engineer born in Iraq who worked on satellite systems in Surrey, and maybe that's why he was dead and all the others were, too. On a Wednesday afternoon in September 2012, Saad al-Hilli drove his maroon BMW from a campground on the shore of Lake Annecy, in the French Alps, and into a tiny community called Chevaline, at the far edge of which the pavement slips into the trees. The path rising out of Chevaline is steep and pocked and hyphenated by tight bridges crossing a noisy froth of water. For three kilometers, there is nowhere to turn around and nowhere to go but up, and then there is nowhere to go at all. The public road ends at a small parking area, where Saad nosed his BMW to the tree line.
September 5 was a spectacular day, sunlight drizzling through foliage that twitched with the breeze. Saad, who was 50, stood with his elder daughter, 7-year-old Zainab, maybe talking to a local cyclist who'd pedaled up the mountain or maybe just absorbed in the scenery. It is impossible to say for sure.
Almost certainly, though, he didn't see the shooter in the trees before he heard the ?rst shots. […]
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May 12th, 2014
The Roast in the Fridge:
"Don't scream. Don't make any noise, lady, and you won't get hurt."
I had been asleep in bed next to my mother with Sasha, the Persian cat we jokingly referred to as our "watch cat", curled up at the foot.
I was 3 years old.
That night, a strange man came in through the bedroom window of our Los Angeles ranch house and placed his hand (described later to police as "heavily calloused") over my unconscious mother's mouth. […]
I can assure you that Erika Hall's story from her childhood isn't going where you think it is. Well Worth a Read.
[Via Extenuating Circumstances]
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July 27th, 2013
Islam's Medieval Underworld:
The year is – let us say – 1170, and you are the leader of a city watch in medieval Persia. Patrolling the dangerous alleyways in the small hours of the morning, you and your men chance upon two or three shady-looking characters loitering outside the home of a wealthy merchant. Suspecting that you have stumbled across a gang of housebreakers, you order them searched. From various hidden pockets in the suspects' robes, your men produce a candle, a crowbar, stale bread, an iron spike, a drill, a bag of sand – and a live tortoise.
The reptile is, of course, the clincher. There are a hundred and one reasons why an honest man might be carrying a crowbar and a drill at three in the morning, but only a gang of experienced burglars would be abroad at such an hour equipped with a tortoise. […]
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January 25th, 2013
The BBC, courtesy of figures produced by More or Less, provides the hard statistics to demonstrate that Jessica Fletcher was the world's greatest serial killer:
|Midsomer County (assuming its population equivalent to Oxfordshire, where it's filmed)
||32 per million (average of 2.6 murders an episode, eight episodes a year – so 21 people murdered each year). So Midsomer's crime rate equivalent to Chile or Turkey)
||10 per million
|Honduras (world's highest murder rate)
||910 per million
|Cabot Cove (setting for CBS's Murder, She Wrote – pop: 3,500)
||1,490 per million
Granted she always managed to find some poor devil to take the fall, but you don't end up in the vicinity of so many murders by coincidence.
Seriously, the article makes some good points about how little murder as depicted on TV resembles the crime in real life.
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July 8th, 2012
The world's biggest corporate fines, visualised in proportion to each company's annual income.
Really puts the Barclays LIBOR-fixing fine into perspective.
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October 11th, 2011
Adam Butcher's Internet Story:
A series of shocking events unfolds when a young man creates a public treasure hunt for his own amusement and a video blogger decides to pursue the riddles across country.
It's only nine minutes long, but well worth a look.
[Via Waxy.org Links/]
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December 12th, 2010
Sledgehammer and Whore:
[…] This is a story of a Procedural. Specifically, mine.
Last Sunday night the wife and I were sound asleep at 1145pm after a night of Entourage, True Blood and Schadenfreude. Because I have the iPhone4 and thus cannot use it as a phone, I had forwarded my cell phone to our home phone. At approximately 11:47:52, the phone rings and my wife answers it. Here is the call as has been best reconstructed:
WIFE: Hello…Who is this?
WOMAN: I need to speak to Josh.
WIFE: What? Why? Who is this?
WOMAN: Let me speak to Josh. He owes me money.
WIFE: Money? Call back in the morning.
WOMAN: I need to talk to him now. I'm in his office. He owes me money.
WIFE: (to me, handing over the phone) It's for you.
WOMAN: Josh? I need my money. I'm in your office.
ME: I don't know what the fuck you are talking about. What office?
WOMAN: Your office. In Larchmont. I'm there.
ME: You're in my office? At midnight. On Sunday? Describe my office.
At which point the woman gives me a very detailed description of my writing office–a second floor one room/one bathroom space that I rent because as much as I love my family…well, The Shining.
ME: Okay, fine, you're in my office. Why? And again, who are you?
WOMAN: You know why I'm in your office, Josh. You've been here with me for the last three or four hours.
[Via Longform.org's Best of 2010: The 10 Most Ridiculously Entertaining Reads of 2010, which is well worth a few minutes of your time.]
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July 28th, 2010
A cry for funding if ever I heard one:
[…] Writing in IEEE Computer, Professor Noel Sharkey, from the University of Sheffield's Department of Computer Science, along with former Crimewatch presenter Nick Ross and Senior Interpol Advisor, Marc Goodman, warn of a coming robot crime wave in which military and police robots could be open to abuse from criminals.
Professor Sharkey urges fellow scientists and engineers working in robotics to be mindful of crime prevention and build in components in the software to assist with forensic analysis. He and his co-authors call for the police to consider building information databases that could track and trace robot crime, similar to our current fingerprint database system.
Professor Sharkey said: "Robots could assist a vast range of crime from drugs vending to assault and murder to voyeurism and burglary. Robots can't even be detected by the passive IR alarm systems in most of our houses. More pressing though, is the danger that criminals or terrorists will hack into armed military or police robots and pose a threat to life."
"The new crime wave might be 10 or 20 years away, but we should have no doubt it is coming. Robots will be used for crimes because they offer two elements that have always promoted crime: temptation and opportunity. We must act quickly and decisively to head off a pandemic of robot crime."
[Via Kevan Davis]
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July 17th, 2010
Charlie Brooker on last week's news scrum in Rothbury:
The hunt for Raoul Moat got the news so flustered, it shrieked its reports at a pitch several hundred octaves above satire. Beneath a photograph of Britain's Most Wanted Man as an infant, The Sun ran the caption "Cute baby … but two-month-old Moat clenches his fists". On the front page, his estranged mother apparently wished him dead.
Moat was so enraged by this kind of coverage, he threatened to kill a member of the public for each inaccurate report he came across, like an extremist wing of the Press Complaints Commission. The police requested a news blackout on stories relating to Moat's private life. Soon the rolling news networks were reduced to filling hours of airtime with speculation about what kind of campsite he might have built. To make this seem exciting, they'd yabber that "the net" was "closing", or read out exhaustive lists of how many the guns the police had.
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July 8th, 2010
How can you resist a news story that includes this comment from the German police?
"What motivated him to throw a puppy at the Hell's Angels is currently unclear," a police spokesman said.
[Via The Law West of Ealing Broadway]
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