‘Law & Order’ vs. real life

The TV show Law & Order captivated viewers for 20 years, and continues to do so in reruns. It particularly bewitched Matthew Belinkie and Josh Kyu Saiewitz, who took two and a half years to compile a list of how each episode ended. The fruits of that effort were revealed last week on the website overthinkingit.com.

Belinkie displays his findings in a series of graphs that illustrate frequency of outcomes on the show, from straight-up “guilty” and “not guilty” to “plea bargain,” “mistrial” and “implied win.” He supplies some reality checks as well: There were more guilty verdicts than plea bargains on the show, whereas in actual life, “about 95% of all felony convictions are pleas.”

There are also graphs that compare episode outcomes to audience gain or loss. Belinkie theorizes that the sudden spike in satisfactory outcomes for Jack McCoy and Co. was a reaction to the shrinking audience, and one that didn’t work. “The 95% Success Rate,” Belinkie concludes, “was the Law & Order equivalent of Fonzie jumping the shark.” — Richard Binder

Heads he wins

A commission seat in Jefferson County, Ky., went to Lenny Miles after a quarter landed on heads. Candidate Anita Williams had filed before Miles and so got to call it on November 16 as Sheriff John Aubrey flipped the quarter, but she chose tails. — Associated Press

Ooooh that smell

Byron Muck of Marysville says there is something rotten in the state of Washington, and it’s coming from a nearby composting facility. For two years, residents of Marysville say they’ve been fighting with Cedar Grove Composting over what they say is the stink coming from its facility. Cedar Grove denies that it is the source of the smell, pointing instead to a nearby sewage-treatment plant as the culprit. Muck and his wife, Kim, told the Seattle Times that the smell enveloping their town is one of decomposing food.

The ongoing battle will likely result in three lawsuits. There’s the one residents are planning to file over the offensive odor. Then there’s the Seattle attorney who is collecting signatures for a possible class action. And finally, Cedar Grove filed against Marysville this past August, for alleged withholding of public records. — Richard Binder

Quitman calls it quits

Northwest Missouri officials have pulled the plug on a tiny town after nobody stepped forward to serve in local government and the town’s tax levy expired. Quitman is the birthplace of former Missouri governor Forrest Donnell and was home to one of the largest Midwest cattle operations in the late 1800s. It had only 45 residents in the 2010 census. — AP