Research Odds and Ends

A 1996 study found that four-fifths of American millionaire earned their fortunes within their own lifetime. So did an 1892 study. (from The Millionaire Next Door: The Surprising Secrets of America's Wealthy)

People are more likely to use "please" and "thank you" to get what they want in South Carolina, North Carolina, Maryland, Louisiana and Georgia. Texas was also named one of the most courteous in this category. (

Luminol, that spray that we're all so familiar with from crime shows, glows blue when exposed to hemoglobin (blood). But it also glows when exposed to cleaning agents, bleach, human waste, urine stains, and rust. (from Waiting to be Heard by Amanda Knox)

Probably only interesting to me (because I'm an economics junkie), but for twelve years, the CEO of Caesars in Las Vegas was an economist.

If you're looking for an embezzler, check to see who doesn't take vacations. (Because they're afraid someone else will trip over their paper trail.) (from When to Rob a Bank by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner)

I love a good spy story. Especially the true ones. It occurs to me that it might be useful to remember that during WWII, the Germans had a decentralized spy network where the individual spy master's career became dependent on how well their spies performed, particularly if they had a "star protege." More than once, this led to the spy master covering up for flaws and failing to report suspicions that their spy had been turned (which happened over and over because England knew who all the German spies were and turned the ones who were amiable into double agents and put the ones who weren't out of commission.)

It takes ten or twelve seconds to lose conscious from blood loss (and consequent oxygen deprivation to the brain). In spite of this, people who are shot often drop as soon as they're hit. There's no consensus on why. (Stiff by Mary Roach)

A male heart is slightly different from a female heart. A heart surgeon can tell one form the other by looking at an ECG, because the intervals are slightly different. When a female heart is transplanted into a man, it will continue to beat like a female heart. And visa versa. (Stiff by Mary Roach)

Just an aside. When I first started this blog, I did a few posts called Careers for Characters, which were interviews with people who had what I thought were interesting jobs. I did this partly because there are so many jobs out there that it seems like a shame that we see characters in the same old occupations over and over again. I didn't keep it up mostly because it was really time consuming to put the interviews together (although the one I did on sonographers [very popular with students in training] is easily the most popular of all my posts.) In any case, I still keep an eye open for interesting jobs, and it occurred to me that Mary Roach's book Stiff would be great source material for someone looking at certain careers. In particular, I can envision a character using the tools available to him as a crash test engineer to solve crimes. If I wrote that sort of story, I'd be very excited to discover the chapter in Roach's book that looks at how the research is done. Just saying...


  1. The German spy connection reminds me of a documentary about a spy codennamed Garbo- because he was such an good actor and liar. The Germans thought he was working for them during the War, but he was a double agent working for the Brits, who were working with him and totally earning the trust of the German network- much to their ultimate failure.

    1. Yes, I'm familiar with Garbo. I've read his book. Tricycle and Zigzag, too, have books. Fascinating reading.