Friday, January 23, 2009

Serial Killer Shows on Biography

If you are intestested in learning more about serial killers, The Biography Channel is running a series of shows starting this week. I appear as one of the experts on four of the shows.

The first of those, on serial killer Jerome Brudos, airs tonight, Friday (Jan. 23rd) at 8 pm ET and runs again on Saturday (Jan.24th) at midnight. Here is a description of the show:

His mother had wanted a girl, an innocent enough disappointment. However, in Jerome Brudos' case, it somehow spiraled out of control first into a fetish and then into murder. As a teenager, he would assault women, stealing their shoes. By the time he was a married adult living in suburban Portland, his criminal activities had advanced. Over a fifteen month period Brudos killed four times, starting with a woman who had come to his house selling door-to-door. When he was captured he was found hiding under blankets while his wife drove the family car. Searches of the Brudos' home turned up women's clothing and shoes in Jerome's sizes. He died in prison in 2006 where he had continued to receive women's shoe catalogs.

Check the shows out if you have an interest in crime, serial killers, or documentaries in general.

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Ace has some interesting thoughts and discussion going on over at his place on men, sex and marriage.
Amy Alkon has thoughts on Secretary of Labor Robert Reich's reverse racism.

Update: Thanks to my readers for pointing out my mistake in using the word reverse.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Video games do not lead to violence according to researcher

A researcher finds no evidence of a link between school shootings and video games:

A researcher at Texas A&M International University has concluded that there is "no significant relationship" between school shootings and playing violent video games.

Writing for the Journal of Investigative Psychology and Offender Profiling, Prof. Christopher Ferguson criticizes the methodology used in earlier research linking games to violence and aggression. He also points out that no evidence of violent game play was found in recent high-profile incidents such as the Virginia Tech massacre, the Utah Trolley Stop mall shooting and the February, 2008 shooting on the campus of Northern Illinois University.

I never thought much of the theory that video games caused violence. The New York Times did a study of rampage killers and found that very few of them even played video games. They looked at 102 rampage killers and found "in only 6 of the 100 cases did the killers have a known interest in violent video games. Seven other killers showed an interest in violent movies." School shootings are complex, to blame them on video games is naive. I am glad a researcher is making that point more clear.

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Amy Alkon on sex, dating and hooking up

I interviewed advice columnist Amy Alkon on PJTV about sex, hooking up, and if women should put out for their husbands. Other topics of discussion include: are the techniques in The Pick-up Artist really the best way to get a date--and why don't women like porn?

You can watch the show here.


Wednesday, January 21, 2009

A few observations on female crime in Chicago

I came across a gallery of photos at the Chicago Tribune entitled "Mugs in the news" which featured a collection of Chicago area arrest photos. There were a total of 66 photos and I took a look at the first 13 and noticed that eight out of the first thirteen were women--although there were only 12 women out of the total 66 mugshots from what I counted.

The women were (allegedly) involved in crimes ranging from making up fraudulent documents to first degree murder. Another thing worth noting is that some women acted alone or with other women. For example, two women (image 10 and 11) were arrested for robbing a couple and shooting the man after taking his wallet:

Desiree Hollis and Bobbie Griffin, both 20 years old, were accused of demanding money from a couple walking on the Near West Side on Dec. 11, 2008, then shooting the man before fleeing, police said. Hollis, of the 100 block of North Leamington Avenue, and Griffin, of the 5800 block of West Walton Street, were tracked down shortly after the couple flagged a police car.

Patricia Pearson, in her book, When She Was Bad...: Violent Women and the Myth of Innocence says that women may increasingly work in pairs or alone. Joyce Carol Oates once said that "Most often, [women] are merely the distaff half of a murderous couple whose brain-power is supplied by the man." I don't think this holds true anymore, if it ever did.


Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The Great College Hoax

Kathy Kristof in Forbes: "It's too late to save the country from the housing finance bubble. But the college bubble is not quite as far along."
Andrew Breitbart: "Good luck, President Obama. The rest of you can go to hell."

Monday, January 19, 2009

“It was like one big family on that wing..."

Neo-Neocon has an interesting post up on the calmness of the passengers of flight 1549:

One cannot help but be impressed not only by the mere logistics of their survival as well as its improbability, but by the near-unanimity of the passengers’ stories of calm and mutual assistance.

One survivor, David Carlos, made the following observation:

“It was like one big family on that wing, everyone’s holding each other, this guy’s got that guy and this lady’s got that guy and no one wants to fall off,” Carlos said. “It was amazing, the human spirit, when it comes down to that everyone just got together, and was able to overcome and stay together, and everyone made it.”

Carlos's statements about the calm and assistance reminded me of what I had recently read in Amanda Ripley's book, The Unthinkable: Who Survives When Disaster Strikes - and Why.

Ripley has a chapter on panic and notes that panic occurs if, and only if three conditions are present. First, people must feel they are trapped. Second, there is a sense of great helplessness, and the final prerequisite is a sense of profound isolation. Ripley points out that all of these conditions are hard to define or measure. But the point here is, whatever took place on flight 1549, none of these conditions was present. Human behavior on that plane was at its best. Ripley points out that this is common:

The truth is, in almost every disaster I have studied, people treat each other with kindness and respect. Violence and panic are extremely rare. An instant camraderie springs up between strangers--on a sinking ship or a bombed-out subway car. That is the rule, not the exception.

Maybe so, but crowds and people do panic in disasters. So, the million dollar question is "why in this circumstance were people cooperative and calm and in other situations they are not?" And how do you use the information gleaned from this particular crash to provide better psychological preparation for other disasters in the future?