Serial Killers Aren’t That Sharp

Oct 31 2014 @ 9:42am

Criminologist Scott Bonn concludes that “the image of the evil genius serial killer is mostly a Hollywood invention”:

Hollywood has established a number of brilliant homicidal maniacs like John Doe in the acclaimed 1995 film Se7en. Doe personifies the berkowitz_arrest201stereotype of the evil genius serial killer who outsmarts law enforcement authorities, avoids justice and succeeds in his diabolical plan. … Real serial killers generally do not possess unique or exceptional intellectual skills. The reality is that most serial killers who have had their IQ tested score between borderline and above average intelligence. This is very consistent with the general population. Contrary to mythology, it is not high intelligence that makes serial killers successful. Instead, it is obsession, meticulous planning and a cold-blooded, often psychopathic personality that enable serial killers to operate over long periods of time without detection.

One famous example of less-than-brilliant planning:

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Over-Salt Of The Earth

Oct 31 2014 @ 9:04am

Brian Merchant flags a study claiming that salt degradation “has caused tens of billions of dollars worth of damage, mars an area of cropland the size of Manhattan every week, and has hit nearly one-fifth of the world’s farmland so far”:

“Salts have damaging effects whether they are in excess amounts in the human body or in agricultural lands,” Manzoor Qadir, the lead author of an eye-opening new study on the subject, published by the United Nations’ Institute for Water, Environment and Health, told me in an email conversation. “If salt degradation goes on unchecked, more and more land will be highly degraded leading to wasteland,” he said. “Restoring such lands will not be economically feasible at all.”

Alison Bruzek provides more details:

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The Trappings Of Mourning

Oct 31 2014 @ 8:14am

Hillary Kelly muses on an exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum:

Mourning clothesalong with other facets of griefwere highly regimented in Victorian England and nineteenth-century America. As the curator’s note explains, “Mourning through sartorial display, a duty chiefly assumed by women, followed a series of stages marked by changes in fabrics and colors.” Exacting codes defined which fabrics and colors were acceptable at particular stages of grief: For the first months after a death, only “lusterless” black dresses were acceptable. As time passedand for a widow one expected to wear mourning clothes for a full two yearsthe strictures slowly loosened, and the severity of the attire deceased.

The loss of such traditions has its drawbacks:

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Sarah Varney covers Mississippi’s experience with Obamacare:

“There are wide swaths of Mississippi where the Affordable Care Act is not a reality,” Conner Reeves, who led Obamacare enrollment at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, told me when we met in the state capital of Jackson. Of the nearly 300,000 people who could have gained coverage in Mississippi in the first year of enrollment, just 61,494—some 20 percent—did so. When all was said and done, Mississippi would be the only state in the union where the percentage of uninsured residents has gone up, not down.

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The Best Of The Dish Today

Oct 30 2014 @ 9:15pm

Today, I compared the current mid-terms to a “primal moan“. A reader differs:

I see it as a long belch prompted by indigestion, with a bile finish. And it will only get worse with the prospect of Hillary vs. the GOP nut jobs looming on the horizon. I’m 49 years old and I’ve always been highly engaged politically, but I am perilously close to saying “fuck it” and not paying attention anymore. I will always vote but I feel my energy is better spent elsewhere.

I feel his pain and blog through it every day.

Meanwhile, the “catcalling” video remained a Rorschach test for Dish readers; as did the question of “sexual assault” while both parties are drunk. In another fascinating round of responses to our book club discussion of Waking Up, Sam Harris’ scientific Buddhism got knocked around a bit today by actual Buddhists. I rather enjoyed the spectacle. Oh, and this helps.

The most popular post of the day was Catching Catcalls On Camera; followed by A Declaration of War On Francis.

Many of today’s posts were updated with your emails – read them all here. You can always leave your unfiltered comments at our Facebook page and @sullydish. 22 more readers became subscribers today. You can join them here – and get access to all the readons and Deep Dish – for a little as $1.99 month. Gift subscriptions are available here. Dish t-shirts are for sale here, including the new “Know Dope” shirts, which are detailed here.

See you in the morning.

Cool Ad Watch

Oct 30 2014 @ 8:39pm

Bonus points for the bipod:

SHAKE PUPPIES by Carli Davidson from Carli Davidson on Vimeo.

Prescriptive Measures

Oct 30 2014 @ 8:04pm

Virginia Hughes investigates the purpose of drug warning labels:

Does anyone actually read them?

There doesn’t seem to be a lot of research on that question, though the data that does exist suggests that some patients are more conscientious than I am. One report I stumbled on, surveying 1,500 patients from a community pharmacy in Germany in 2001, found that 80 percent always read the inserts. A 2007 study looked at 200 patients in Israel who were prescribed antibiotics, analgesics or antihypertensives. It found that just over half of participants read the inserts. And a 2009 study in Denmark found that 79 percent of patients “always or often” read them. On the other hand, a 2006 report of American consumers reported that just 23 percent looked at this info.

Even if patients are interested in reading those materials, they might not understand the information.

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Is $3-A-Gallon Gas Good News?

Oct 30 2014 @ 7:39pm

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Mataconis argues that overall, the ongoing decline in oil prices is a boon to the US and other advanced industrial nations:

Falling prices for oil will eventually filter through to the prices of the products derived from oil itself, including not only gasoline but also home heating oil and jet fuel. In the short and medium term, this would provide some relief for consumers and for companies that depend on transportation such as Wal-Mart, Amazon, airlines, and shippers such as UPS and Fed-Ex. If prices continue to fall, those benefits will become more apparent and could help to boost economic growth at least slightly, which would be good news for the jobs market and even tax revenues and the Federal Budget Deficit. Other nations that are oil dependent would likely experience similar benefits, which would be good news for areas like Europe where the economy seems to be slowing down a bit and for the world as a whole, which in turn would be good news for nations that are dependent on international trade, which is pretty much every major industrialized nation at this point.

Derek Thompson, who believes prices might fall even further, points out that some industries and regions will be hurt even as consumers celebrate:

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What The Midterms Won’t Teach Us

Oct 30 2014 @ 7:13pm

Sabato’s Crystal Ball spells it out:

The 2014 midterm, no matter the outcome, does not hold real predictive value for 2016. We’ve often compared this year with 1986, where Democrats bounced back to capture the Senate on a highly favorable map in President Reagan’s “sixth-year itch” second midterm. Of course, two years later, the country elected a Republican president for the third straight time. Could the current GOP meet with a similar fate? The results next Tuesday certainly won’t tell us.

Alternately, 2014 might prove to be like 2006, a great Democratic year that foreshadowed another great Democratic year. For all the legitimate talk of the Democrats’ growing demographic edge in presidential elections, the advantage could be blunted by an unpopular President Obama, who like then-President George W. Bush could drag down his party in consecutive elections. Obama’s approval rating is very important in the outcome of the next presidential election: If his approval rating continues to stagnate or sinks even lower, his standing will once again imperil Democrats, just as it did in 2010 and 2014. Democrats in and out of Congress will need to find ways to help Obama leave office on a high note, because their fortunes — and that of the Democratic nominee picked to succeed him — will still be linked to his.

Faces Of The Day

Oct 30 2014 @ 6:45pm


Protesters pose with a police shield outside the parliament in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso as cars and documents burn outside on October 30, 2014. Hundreds of angry demonstrators stormed parliament before setting it on fire in protest at plans to change the constitution to allow President Blaise Compaore to extend his 27-year rule. Police had fired tear gas on protesters to try to prevent them from moving in on the National Assembly building ahead of a vote on the controversial legislation, but about 1,500 people managed to break through the security cordon and were ransacking parliament. By Issouf Sanogo/AFP/Getty Images.