On Wednesday, William Van Poyck was executed by the state of Florida for murdering a prison guard during a botched 1987 attempt to free an imprisoned friend. Poyck spent 25 years in solitary confinement on death row, during which time he wrote to his sister about his life in prison. Since 2005 she has published those letters to a blog called Death Row Diary. 'Poyck used to write about everything from the novels and history books he was reading and shows he watched on PBS to the state of the world and his own philosophy of life – punctuated by news of the deaths of those around him, from illness, suicide, and execution.' Excerpts. His final letter.
Ephemeral New York 'chronicles an ever-changing, constantly reinvented city through photos, newspaper archives, and other scraps and artifacts that have been edged into New York’s collective remainder bin.' [more inside]
Bobby Dunbar was a four year-old boy that vanished in 1912, while on a fishing trip with his family in a Louisiana swamp. For weeks, searchers combed the area looking for him. The lake where he went missing was dynamited. Alligators were captured and had their bellies slit open to see if the body was inside. Nothing was found except a set of child's footprints leading to an old railroad trestle. Eight months later, the police found Bobby in the company of a drifter with a horse-drawn cart. He protested his innocence but was arrested and charged with kidnapping. Another woman came forward and claimed Bobby was, in fact, her son. But she was an unmarried fieldworker, and her claims were dismissed. The crime became a nationwide media event and the boy was returned to his parents, and their hometown held a parade in his honor. Bobby returned to his life. Ninety-one years later, Bobby Dunbar's granddaughter uncovered the truth.
Everything I Want to Do Is Illegal by Joel Salatin. This Saturday will mark this article's four year anniversary. Frankly, I was mildly surprised not to have found it mentioned before in MeFi. It's a good read about a sad state of affairs; how our government is turning its own people into outlaws, because freedom has been traded in for an illusion of security. ...but then we already knew that. Don't we?
Economist Steven Levitt, author of Freakonomics, has long posited a controversial thesis that legalized abortion help reduced crime, by reducing unwanted children, prone to crime. However, a new paper argues that Levitt (& Donohue) made serious errors in their research. Properly analysed, abortion has no significant effect on crime. Levitt disagrees, of course.