The confessions of a Craigslist seller

Wednesday, 29 June, 2016

Telling his story through Craigslist Confessional, a former security guard talks about selling disused, sometimes broken, office equipment, taken from his old workplace, so as to supplement his family’s income.

At 5:45 exactly, after I’d completed my last round and made sure that everyone was gone, I used my key card to swipe into the office. I looked at the stacks of old office machinery that lined the back wall, and thought to myself that there was no way anyone would notice one crummy broken printer was missing. So I grabbed it, put it in a recyclable grocery bag, and went home.

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Vitals, an inspiring and hopeful short film by Jake Oleson

Wednesday, 20 January, 2016

Hananel David worked as a truck driver until he was stabbed in an unprovoked attack, while making a delivery. He was lucky to survive the ordeal, and after recovering decided to become a paramedic. Vitals, is a short film made by Jake Oleson, that recounts David’s inspiring story.

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A formula for cracking Agatha Christie’s whodunnits?

Tuesday, 11 August, 2015

Here’s what might be a handy deductive tool for readers of late British crime novelist Agatha Christie’s whodunnits, who wish to identify the murderer in a story before its conclusion.

Researchers studying her works, picked out patterns that pointed to the culprit, and then developed a mathematical formula that can be used to unmask the guilty party in each book.

Many of the results concerned the gender of the killer. For example, they found that if the victim was strangled, the killer was more likely to be male (or male with a female accomplice), whereas if the setting was a country house – not uncommon for a Christie novel – there was a 75% chance the killer would be female. Female culprits were usually discovered thanks to a domestic item, while males were normally found out through information or logic.

All good fun, I’m sure, but this might be something best to the mathematicians, rather than fans of whodunnit novels.

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Crowdsourcing the solutions to unsolved mysteries and crimes

Thursday, 30 July, 2015

Members of Metafilter, a community weblog where every topic under the Sun, and beyond, is discussed, are compiling a list of crimes, mysteries, cases of fraud, missing persons, and the like, where a resolution of some sort came about through the efforts of online communities, bloggers, or other individuals and groups.

In just about all instances, use was made of information and resources located on the internet, in bringing about a determination.

The case of Kaycee Nicole, a US teenager who apparently died of cancer in 2001, would be one of the better known examples of crowdsourced sleuthing, and it was then members of Metafilter who exposed the story as an elaborate hoax.

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Our reporter always dresses the part get the scoop

Tuesday, 21 July, 2015

There’s no limit to the lengths that Anas Aremeyaw Anas, a crime reporter based in Ghana, will go to in his efforts to file a story.

By way of numerous disguises, where he has variously masqueraded as an assembly line worker, a parent with a (fake) baby, a sheikh, a vagrant, a woman, and, best of all perhaps, a rock, Anas has succeeded in digging up the dirt on all manner of criminals, undertakings that have often resulted in their arrests.

Of Anas’s many faces, there’s one in which he doesn’t have a face at all – just two small eyeholes cut into what looks like an enormous, crinkled paper bag. Silly? Maybe. But his impression of a giant rock is also effective: In 2010, Anas used the disguise near a border post at the Ghana-Côte d’Ivoire crossing to spy on trucks from the roadside. As it turned out, the trucks were smuggling cocoa beans across the border. Anas’s report helped the police build a rock-solid case.

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The life and work of Sherlock Holmes illustrated

Thursday, 9 July, 2015

Mr. Holmes, a film set decades into the retirement of renown sleuth Sherlock Holmes, and starring Ian McKellen in the lead role, is one I’ve been looking forward to for months. Well, not long to wait now.

In the meantime, take the chance to swot up on the Victorian age detective’s life and work, by way of these charts by the Guardian. As it happens, there’s quite a bit I don’t know.

For instance, Professor Moriarty only features in three of the sixty “Sherlock Holmes” titles written by Arthur Conan Doyle. It somehow seems like more, though Moriarty does appear quite frequently in Holmes novels penned by other authors.

And then there’s the well known line “Elementary, my dear Watson”, which didn’t actually feature in Doyle’s writings at all. A little like “Beam me up, Scotty”, though I’ve known that a long time.

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Might Somerton Man’s death have been a crime of passion?

Tuesday, 16 June, 2015

I’m a fan of mysteries, I even have one or two of my own that I’m trying to unravel right now. The “Mystery of the Somerton Man” however, has intrigued many Australians, since the discovery of the body of a middle aged man on Somerton beach, in Adelaide, the capital of South Australia, in December 1948.

No one seemed to know him. He carried no identification, and to compound matters, even the labels of the clothes he was wearing had been removed. A scrap of paper, bearing the words “Taman Shud”, led some too believe the deceased was possibly a Soviet, or US, spy.

A lengthy police investigation failed to turn up any clues as to who the man was, why he was in Adelaide, and how he wound up on Somerton beach. Derek Abbott, an engineer at the University of Adelaide, has been conducting his own research recently into the mystery, and thinks he may have found an explanation.

He speculates that the unknown man might have been having an affair with a married Adelaide nurse, who has long been linked to him, and they may have even had a child, Robin, together. Could it be that someone felt compelled to take Somerton Man out of the picture, as it were, on account of this relationship?

Abbott cautiously tested this theory by writing a letter to Roma Egan, a dancer in the Australian Ballet who was married to Robin Thomson from 1968 to 1974. Abbott enclosed a picture of the Somerton Man and asked if she knew any dancers who looked like him. Roma wrote back saying that the corpse resembled her ex-husband. She also told Abbott, darkly, that her ex-mother-in-law had been a woman with secrets, and that Jo – like the young Abbott – had an obsession with pharmacology.

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Trauma cleaning, this type of cleaning is not for everyone…

Monday, 25 May, 2015

And you thought your job was rough… try working as a trauma cleaner, or those charged with the task of clearing up the sites of murders, suicides, illegal drug laboratories, and anything else others won’t go near, as husband and wife team Steve and Lorinda Penn do.

Nothing squeamish, or potentially NSFW here, in case you were wondering.

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For a better neighbourhood, demand two way, not one way, streets

Wednesday, 29 April, 2015

I’ve always found one way streets, especially as a pedestrian, somewhat disorienting. For instance I still look, out of habit I guess, both ways for traffic, as I cross one. It seems one way street systems do far worse than just confuse but a single person on foot though.

Crime rates rise, as do motor vehicle accidents, while property values, and the revenue of businesses situated along one way streets decrease, at least this is what was noted in Louisville, a city in the US state of Kentucky.

In 2011, Louisville converted two one-way streets near downtown, each a little more than a mile long, back to two-way traffic. In data that they gathered over the following three years, Gilderbloom and William Riggs found that traffic collisions dropped steeply – by 36 percent on one street and 60 percent on the other – after the conversion, even as the number of cars traveling these roads increased. Crime dropped too, by about a quarter, as crime in the rest of the city was rising. Property values rose, as did business revenue and pedestrian traffic, relative to before the change and to a pair of nearby comparison streets.

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Pickpocket warnings alert pickpockets to the location of your wallet

Tuesday, 21 April, 2015

James Freedman, who describes himself as the only honest pickpocket you’ll ever meet, has a few tips for evading what police call stealth theft, (login required to read article) and they’re the sorts of things most people may not think of.

For instance, when a lot of people see a sign advising them that pickpockets may be active in the vicinity, they tend to tap their pocket to check their wallet is still there. All that serves to do though is alert any lurking stealth thief to the location of said item.

Also, drivers licences should be kept separate from credit cards. That’s like a double whammy, not only does a pickpocket stand to score credit cards, but also all manner of personal information that your licence bears.

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