Woman thought to have attempted suicide wakes from coma, denies jumping from boat, may have been pushed

Laura Stuardo of Turin, Italy has been in a coma since July 19 after it was thought that she attempted suicide by jumping off a cruise ship. She's just woken up and insists she didn't jump, leading police to launch an attempted murder investigation. Read the rest

The data of Sherlock Holmes


Illustrators Adam Frost and Jim Kynvin prepared a series of charts examining the data in the Sherlock Holmes canon. Read the rest

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Serial and the uncomfortable sensation of reality radio

This American Life offshoot Serial, where Sarah Koenig is presently digging into the 1999 murder of 18 year-old Hae Min Lee, has become a sensation. Koenig's deep dive into the oddly-patchy evidence and her interviews with key people -- notably Hae's ex boyfriend Adnan Syed, who was convicted of the crime and is still incarcerated -- has turned a nation of listeners and Redditors into amateur sleuths and jurors.

There is something unsettling about The Guardian's recent series of photographs of the case's key locations: it's their bleakness, their small town-ness. Or maybe it's because they serve as a reminder that what's effectively become "reality radio" for listeners concerns a real-life place, a real victim and family.

The Guardian also interviewed Syed's family on what the apparently wholly-unexpected Serial sensation has meant for them. It's certainly interesting to listen to Koening's methodical study of the case, and my household's definitely hooked. Wouldn't it be amazing if her work leads to the truth about a situation where there arguably weren't enough answers?

Watching the murder become property of public opinion—especially with Syed's brother being told by a Reddit moderator that a key witness and former person of interest in the crime might be participating in the threads—leads to complex feelings. Read the rest

Weird gremlin photographed in China

What is this mysterious beast photographed by a tourist in the Huairou District valleys in northern Beiking, China? Read the rest

New McSweeney's: Hitchcock v Bradbury!

Daniel from McSweeney's writes, "At stake in the latest McSweeney's is nothing less than a celestial duel between Alfred Hitchcock and Ray Bradbury. Culled from old anthologies edited by Hitchcock and Bradbury, McSweeney's 45 includes stories by Franz Kafka, Roald Dahl, Josephine W. Johnson, and John Steinbeck, among others. Paired alongside these stories is new work from Brian Evenson, China Mieville, Benjamin Percy, and E. Lily Yu. Also featured is a letter from Boing Boing's own, Cory Doctorow. The result is an unmissable anthology filled with strange, propulsive, and often darkly funny work. "

MCSWEENEY’S ISSUE 45 (Thanks, Daniel!) Read the rest

Mystery of the deep-sea BLOOP solved

Remember the deep-sea "bloop" noise that some people thought might be coming from a giant squid? Turns out it's an icequake. (Here's a WAV of it)

The broad spectrum sounds recorded in the summer of 1997 are consistent with icequakes generated by large icebergs as they crack and fracture. NOAA hydrophones deployed in the Scotia Sea detected numerous icequakes with spectrograms very similar to “Bloop”. The icequakes were used to acoustically track iceberg A53a as it disintegrated near South Georgia Island in early 2008. Icequakes are of sufficient amplitude to be detected on multiple sensors at a range of over 5000 km. Based on the arrival azimuth, the iceberg(s) generating “Bloop” most likely were between Bransfield Straits and the Ross Sea, or possibly at Cape Adare, a well know source of cryogenic signals.

Icequakes (Bloop) [NOAA] (via Hacker News) Read the rest

Missing scientist no longer missing

About a month ago, Mike Martin published a profile in Psychology Today, all about Margie Profet, a controversial evolutionary biologist and McArthur fellow who had been missing since 2004. (I posted a link to his story here.)

Now Martin says that Margie Profet has turned up—alive, if not totally physically well. His story led her to realize people were looking for her and to get back in touch with her family.

At the time we lost track of her, Margie was in severe physical pain. Not wanting to trouble anyone else, she did not disclose the fact to us or to her friends, but moved to a new location in which she thought the pain would soon diminish. Instead, it persisted for many years. Unable to work because of it and subsequent injuries, she had long lived in poverty, sustained largely by the religion she had come to early in the decade.

Margie is finally home now, recovering from her long ordeal and hoping to find work in the near future. She is very happy to be reunited with her family, and we are overjoyed to have her back.

Read the rest of the letter from Margie Profet's mother at Mike Martin's website Read the rest

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Mexico: Interior Minister killed in mysterious chopper crash 3 years after predecessor's death in mysterious plane crash

There's no evidence of foul play in the death today of Mexico's Interior Minister José Francisco Blake, but amid the country's raging drug war, there's plenty of suspicion. The helicopter carrying the country's top domestic security official and seven others crashed in the southern part of Mexico City en route to a meeting of prosecutors in nearby Morelos state. The cause of the crash is unknown.

Blake's death is seen as a symbolic blow to the government's military-directed assault on organized crime. 40,000 Mexicans have died in the drug war over the last five years.

The accident occurred almost exactly three years to the day after Mexico’s previous interior minister Juan Camilo Mouriño was killed in the crash of a small plane, also near Mexico City.

Another mysterious detail: Blake's last tweet before the crash was a nod to the anniversary of his predecessor's death.

Sources: Christian Science Monitor, Guardian, NYT, WaPo, CNN, AP Video, Global Voices.

Reports circulated early today that Mexican president Felipe Calderon had been scheduled to travel in the very same helicopter that crashed, but the administration later issued a statement denying. (via Andrés Monroy H.)

Related reading: the Wikileaks-leaked State Department cable on Mouriño's death, from November 5, 2008. (via Shannon Young) Read the rest

The mystery of the Lower Haight's Peacock Lounge

Rose Garrett over at The Bold Italic did some crackerjack investigative work on a little lounge nestled between the bars in the Lower Haight of San Francisco. The Peacock Lounge is almost always closed, only very rarely opened for private events. Rose's attempts to reach someone, anyone, associated with the venue go unanswered until its doors serendipitously open again to host a neighborhood meeting:

Nate also shared with me a detail that went a long way toward explaining why Peacock Lounge was such an enigma. He said the space was not, and was never meant to be, a bar or nightlife venue. It was owned and operated by Unity Masonic Hall, located upstairs, and its main use was as a private social hall for the Black Masons.

A The Bold Italic Mystery - Entering the Nest - Thanks, John! Read the rest

Gulf War Syndrome: A lot of questions, few answers

Twenty years ago, the United States sent almost 700,000 soldiers to Kuwait and Iraq as part of Operation Desert Shield and Operation Desert Storm. The war was quick. Bombing began on January 17th and the whole thing was officially over by February 28th. If you started a semester of school just before the first Gulf War began, the conflict would have ended before you even took your midterm exams.

But this short war left a long tail of consequences.

Shortly after the War ended, people who’d served in the Gulf began to turn up in Veterans Hospitals, complaining of a range of symptoms: Fatigue, unexplained pain in their joints and muscles, memory problems and cognitive impairment, malfunctioning digestive systems, and more. There wasn’t a clear pattern—different soldiers reported different clusters of symptoms, some of the people who had symptoms had arrived in the Gulf after the fighting ended, other soldiers had boots on the ground from the beginning but no symptoms. As the years went by, epidemiological studies showed no increase in cancers or other deaths in Gulf War veterans, aside from suicides and accidents. Yet, the symptoms were quite clearly linked to service in the Gulf. The same symptoms occur among other groups of military veterans, but are significantly less common. Today, more than 250,000 U.S. veterans report suffering from one or more unexplained symptoms that have, together, come to be known as Gulf War Syndrome. Scientists are still debating the cause, or even if there is one cause.

In the October 2011 issue of the journal Radiology, Dr. Read the rest

Hardcase crime author Max Allan Collins answers the question: "Who do you read?"

Max Allan Collins wrote the award winning graphic novel Road to Perdition. His new Hard Case Crime novel, The Consummata is out today! Here's an essay Collins wrote for Boing Boing, titled, "Who Do You Read?"


By Max Allan Collins

As a published writer, the question I get even more often that the venerable (and stultifying) "Where do you get your ideas?" is the one posed above.

Readers always want to know who you read, for reasons I've never quite figured out. Of course they mean currently publishing writers, and I suspect there's a kind of wish that their personal list will match mine, and everybody will be able to bask in a glow of vindication for sharing such great taste in literature.

But I read almost nobody who's current. I have a few friends whose work I keep up with, and thank God they are very good - among these are Ed Gorman, John Lutz, and Bob Randisi (there are others) - but mostly I avoid everybody else. Occasionally I serve on a committee for the Mystery Writers of America or the Private Eye Writers of America, and plow through a current stack of novels. Now and then some author gets so popular I have to break down and read a book or two to see what the fuss is about. But that's marketing, not entertainment.

There's a basic "busman's holiday" reasoning behind this. If I'm working on a suspense novel all day, why should I relax by reading...a suspense novel?

Read the rest

Lewis Shiner's new suspense novel DARK TANGOS as a free download; the action-packed, ugly history of Argentina

Lewis Shiner (one of my favorite writers!) sez, "My latest suspense novel, DARK TANGOS, is now available as a free PDF download from my Fiction Liberation Front website. The starred review from BOOKLIST said, 'Delivers its grim story line with artistic mastery....Short and precise, the novel uses the elegance of tango to radiate sensuality throughout. This is an absorbing and surprisingly action-packed tale based in the ugly truths of Argentina's history.'"

The book is also available as an article of commerce, should you be moved to financially support Mr Shiner's outstanding efforts.

Dark Tangos (free PDF)

Dark Tangos (Amazon)

(Thanks, Lewis!)  Lewis Shiner putting his novels online for free – Boing Boing Shiner's Glimpses back in print, free download: brilliant, haunted ... Lewis Shiner's short fiction online for free – Boing Boing A Long Talk With Lewis Shiner - Boing Boing Read the rest