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Law/Police/Crime
According to an article in the Economist, quoted here by the Washington Monthly blog, a British grocery store chain has been successfully deterring rowdy youths from hanging around their stores by playing classical music. Mozart and Pavarotti appear to be especially potent at warding off juvenile delinquents. The same technique has been working in underground stations. Something about this strikes me as a bit odd. Why would it work? Just because the kids don't like having to listen to classical music? Could it really be that easy? Perhaps it is.
Categories: Entertainment, Law/Police/Crime
Posted by Alex on Tue Jan 11, 2005
Comments (26)
The Anonymous Lawyer blog makes clear that it's the diary of a "fictional hiring partner at a large law firm". However, as this NY Times article notes, many people who had become fans of the blog and its account of the "soulless, billable-hours-obsessed partners, the overworked BlackBerry-dependent associates and the wrecked families that are the dark underside of life at his large firm in Los Angeles" were convinced that it had to be written by a real-life "Big Law insider". As it turns out, it's not. The author of the blog is Jeremy Blachman, a third-year Harvard law student who simply wanted to "post as a hiring partner and be believable."
Categories: Law/Police/Crime, Websites
Posted by Alex on Tue Dec 28, 2004
Comments (4)
image The makers of PhotoBlocker spray claim that their product will make your license plate invisible to photo radar, red light cameras, and infrared and laster cameras. Special crystals in the spray will reflect back the flash (or light source) used by these cameras, making your license look like a bright blur. Would this actually work? Would it be legal if it did? They say that the spray is invisible to the naked eye, which means that it won't be of much use if a cop pulls you over. Personally, I've always thought someone should make a stealth car, made out of the same material as the stealth airplanes. That would be cool. (via Red Ferret)
Categories: Law/Police/Crime, Technology
Posted by Alex on Tue Dec 07, 2004
Comments (222)
The BBC reports that the staff of the Northumbria Safety Camera Partnership have come up with the 10 stupidest excuses drivers have come up with to explain why they were speeding. Number one is: "I passed out after seeing UFOs." Not only stupid, but illogical (unless you passed out and somehow jammed your foot on the accelerator). A few of the other excuses are:

  • A jet over-head, not me, triggered the camera


  • I had a severe bout of diarrhoea


  • A gust of wind pushed me over the limit


  • I had to rush my dying hamster to the vet's.

Categories: Law/Police/Crime
Posted by Alex on Fri Dec 03, 2004
Comments (4)
A couple of stories about writers receiving visits from the Secret Service have been getting a lot of attention in the blogosphere, and a lot of people have been wondering if they're real or fake. The first case involves fanfic writer Annie Sewell-Jennings who posted an entry on her blog in which she satirically prayed that Bush would die. A couple of weeks later, according to her, "the Secret Service showed up on my mother's front door to talk to me about what I said about the President, as what I said could apparently be misconstrued as a threat to his life. After about ten minutes of talking to me and my family, they quickly came to the conclusion that I was not a threat to national security (mostly because we are the least threatening people in the entire world) and told me that they would not recommend that any further action be taken with my case." There's a thread going about this in the Hoax Message Board, and Annie posted a follow-up here.

The second case involves an anonymous romance novelist (who refers to herself as Dilyn) who claims that her house was raised by agents from the FBI simply because she checked out some books from the library about Cambodia and the use of land mines there as part of some research she was doing for a novel. An interview with Dilyn appeared in a recent issue of Romance Writers Report, which isn't online, but the text of the interview has been copied and can be read here (scroll down to find the post).

Are these cases real? Well, in each case you only have the word of a single person to go on, and since I've never heard of these people before (and 'Dilyn' is even choosing to remain anonymous) I wouldn't place absolute blind faith in what they say. However, what they're saying doesn't seem that outlandish to me either. I know that cases like this have happened before and have been investigated and verified by the media. So I'd vote that the cases are real. But like I said, there's not much evidence here besides their word and your own gut instinct.
Categories: Hate Crimes/Terror, Law/Police/Crime
Posted by Alex on Mon Nov 01, 2004
Comments (11)
If there was an award for stupid excuses, this guy would get one. William Dahlby threw a live electrical wire into his wife's bath, and when she tried to jump out, he pushed her back in. But he says that he's innocent of trying to kill her because he only did it to "save the marriage." He was hoping the near-death experience would jump-start their flagging relationship, so to speak. Apparently William didn't realize that the old saying about the quickest way to a woman's heart being with a knife is just a joke... and incidentally, I've heard that joke applied to both women and men. But really, did this guy seriously think that such a pathetic excuse would swing a jury in his favor?
Categories: Law/Police/Crime
Posted by Alex on Fri Oct 29, 2004
Comments (6)
If you're searching for unusual thrills, why not try getting kidnapped? Extreme Kidnapping promises that it will allow you to "customize your own kidnapping!" Yup. For the right price, women in fishnet stockings will show up unannounced at your door, whisk you away, and keep you bound and gagged in their basement for a few days. As weird as this sounds, I actually think it's real, mainly because I've heard of this before. Back in 2002 a guy called Brock Enright was in the news for staging 'Designer Kidnappings'. Enright commented that even though all his abductions occurred in broad daylight, in front of witnesses, no one had ever intervened to help the faux victim. Everyone figured the abductions were fake because of the guy with a tv camera filming them (the faux victims like to have a video of their faux abduction). Which demonstrates the way to pull off a perfect crime in our society: just bring along a camera and no one will call the cops because they'll think you're filming a tv show.
Categories: Law/Police/Crime, Sports
Posted by Alex on Wed Oct 20, 2004
Comments (12)
Fake Maoists are running amok in Nepal, robbing people and extorting money from shopkeepers and businessmen. What's next? Fake Marxists holding up banks? Phony Socialists looting liquor stores? Meanwhile, the Real Maoists are fighting back against the Fake Maoists who, so they claim, are trying to ruin their reputation. For some reason this reminds me of the fake eunuchs at large in India.
Categories: Identity/Imposters, Law/Police/Crime
Posted by Alex on Thu Oct 07, 2004
Comments (0)
If you're a wanted criminal you may want to think twice about showing up to appear on a TV game show. British police created a fake game show, Great Big Giveaway Show, to which they invited twenty people on their wanted list. Seventeen of them were arrested. I guess no one can resist a chance to be on TV. (Thanks to Andrew Nixon for the link)
Categories: Entertainment, Law/Police/Crime
Posted by Alex on Tue Oct 05, 2004
Comments (4)
How not to run a counterfeit money scam. a) Buy merchandise at Wal-Mart with fake money. b) Return merchandise a few days later and ask for your money back. c) get your fake money handed back to you.
Categories: Con Artists, Law/Police/Crime
Posted by Alex on Tue Oct 05, 2004
Comments (3)
Normally I ignore things like bomb hoaxes, but this one was too good to pass up. Security officials at Mackay Airport went on high alert and evacuated the terminal when a "rubbish bin started humming furiously." Upon inspection, they discovered a vibrating sex toy "emitting a lively buzzing sound" inside the trash can. A sheepish 26-year-old man stepped forward and admitted the device was his. He had thrown it away before boarding because he didn't want to go through security with it. "But instead of remaining discreetly discarded, it somehow managed to turn itself on."
Categories: Law/Police/Crime, Sex/Romance
Posted by Alex on Mon Oct 04, 2004
Comments (5)
The British government recently put up a website, preparingforemergencies.gov.uk, filled with advice (most of it fairly obvious) on what to do in case of an emergency. In response York University student Thomas Scott put up this website, preparingforemergencies.co.uk, that looks almost identical but instead offers advice on what to do in situations such as being attacked by a zombie (destroy their brain), or alien invasion (negotiate using sign language). Anyone can see that Scott's site is a spoof... anyone, that is, except the British government, which promptly ordered him to take it down. Scott called their bluff and refused, and it looks like Scott is going to win. The government recently announced that it is "unlikely to take any further action." They must have realized they were making themselves look sillier than Scott's spoof possibly could. (Thanks to Andrew Nixon and Paul in Prague for the links)
Categories: Law/Police/Crime, Websites
Posted by Alex on Fri Jul 30, 2004
Comments (0)
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