Posted by: Patrick Allen Foster | July 8, 2013

Notes on the Passing Scene

Happy Tenth Anniversary to the Crooked Timber blog!

Some links for what has been a rather Mondayish Monday:

1. What you can do with cell phone metadata and publicly available information: “Green party politician Malte Spitz sued to have German telecoms giant Deutsche Telekom hand over six months of his phone data that he then made available to ZEIT ONLINE. We combined this geolocation data with information relating to his life as a politician, such as Twitter feeds, blog entries and websites, all of which is all freely available on the internet.” The German publication then created a video that maps Spitz’s movements during that six-month period.

2. Pope Francis advises priests to drive humble cars.

3. Rare bird, last seen in Britain 22 years ago, killed by wind turbine: “There had been only eight recorded sightings of the white-throated needletail in the UK since 1846. So when one popped up again on British shores this week, twitchers were understandably excited. A group of 40 enthusiasts dashed to the Hebrides to catch a glimpse of the brown, black and blue bird, which breeds in Asia and winters in Australasia. But instead of being treated to a wildlife spectacle they were left with a horror show when it flew into a wind turbine and was killed.” (H/T: Althouse.)

4. Via the comments section to this otherwise middling post at Lawyers, Guns & Money (I have a higher opinion of SVU than the OP), here is a post looking at the case outcome in every episode of Law & Order – guilty, not guilty, plea bargain, hung jury, etc. Over the course of the show, the state won through guilty verdicts, plea bargains, or “implied wins” roughly 80% of the time. Not guilty verdicts decreased as a percentage of a season’s episode outcomes in later seasons. The author’s theory:

Viewership peaks in season 12. Then it starts to drop season after season. By season 14, Dick Wolf feels like he has to respond. So what does he do? He cuts down on the Debby Downer Not Guilty episodes while simultaneously reducing the number of plea bargains in favor of clear-cut Guilty verdicts. In the final season, with the show hemorrhaging viewers and facing cancellation, he didn’t dare air a single episode where the bad guy gets away scot free.

There are some interesting graphs at the link.

5. Speaking of giant statues, the Atlantic reports that a 12-foot fiberglass sculpture of Colin Firth is terrorizing London. (No, this is not from the Onion.) (H/T: Anna Mindard.)

Finally, on a programming note, due to a mixture of professional and personal obligations, blogging will be light this week.


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