Sideswipe: August 6: Really Happy Meal

Getting away with murder

The FBI now says that serial killers account for fewer than 1 per cent of killings in the US. According to The Atlantic, the reasons are longer prison sentences, better forensic science, less hitchhiking, more helicopter parents and around 60 million security cameras across the nation. But here’s a curious fact: As the number of serial killings has supposedly fallen, so too has the rate of murder cases solved, or “cleared” in detective lingo. In 1965, the US homicide clearance rate was 91 per cent. By 2017, it had dropped to 61.6 per cent. In other words, about 40 per cent of the time, murderers get away with murder. Some experts believe that serial killers are responsible for a significant number of these unsolved murders. Michael Arntfield, a retired police detective and author, believes that the FBI’s projections are way off. In his book Murder in Plain English, Arntfield says serial killers have benefited from the falling clearance rate, which he in turn attributes to increased expertise (killers have studied other murderers’ mistakes and know how to fool cops, for example by planting false evidence), growing social isolation (which can make potential victims more vulnerable), and greater geographic mobility (which can make dots harder to connect). He says the problem isn’t so much the people who fill the job, but the job itself. “The petrol station attendant has no opportunity. The long-haul trucker has lots of opportunity,” he says.

Threatening Packaging

Typos … or not?

Carol Ross tells the Guardian: “In the late 1960s, I remember a letter arriving at Middlesex hospital’s pioneering sexual disease clinic, James Pringle House, addressed to “Sir Vical Smears” … Peter Constable responds: “As a CEO in the 1990s, I received a letter addressed to the “thief executive”. Long discussions followed as to whether it was a typo or not.

Olympic tweets

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