A Fascinating Gun Violence Study

001A gun violence study from a European perspective.

This is an excerpt from a study done about gun violence in the Balkans. I found it largely by accident and it was insightful, enjoyable reading. Most academic writing is barely penetrable. This is lively and interesting. An academic dealing with gun issues, in particular criminal justice, will find this interesting reading if only for the summary of Eastern European gun laws in the appendix. It is a very fine example of social science research.

James Pilant

From the Introduction:

This study is based on the premise that culture is not static but is constantly evolving and changing and it is not
just a product of past traditions but develops and is reinterpreted as society changes. This report will focus on
‘culture’ to mean a society’s particular set of values, norms – both social and legal – and meanings that render
an action or thought acceptable and legitimate. Guns are not separable from the cultural environment in which
they are acting and this means that the prevailing norms and values that render certain gun ownership and use
acceptable must be understood within a geographical, political, historical and socio-economic context. ‘Gun
culture’ lacks an established definition and is subject to continued debate, so this report will take ‘gun culture’
to be the cultural acceptance of gun ownership in situations where the principal motivation or justification for
it is not for utilitarian or economic reasons but because their society has a set of values and norms that deem
it acceptable behaviour. A simple example would be when a man carries a gun, primarily not for hunting or for
protection, but because his ‘culture’ interprets his behaviour as a sign of masculinity and status.

From later in the same study:

Notions of anarchy strongly influenced 18th and 19th century folklore. Tales abound about the revolutionary
movements of the Balkan Christians such as, the formation of rebel groups, dangerous trips to remote towns to
buy guns and ammunition, heroes being chased by the enemy or engaged in long battles. The ending usually
either laments the tragic deaths of the heroes or celebrates victory over the Turkish forces. Typically these
heroic epics are exaggerated tales about the beauty, physical strength, honour and courage of the heroes. They
are about men trying to prove their worthiness to be the leader of a haidouk (rebel) group, showing off their
marksmanship, horse riding and sword fighting skills. People glorified haidouks as saviours who could protect
them from attacks by the Turks or bandits. Stories and songs about the haidouk recount how the groups acquired
weapons, the struggles for leadership and the battles they fought. They often describe haidouk everyday life,
making contrasts between their joyful, romantic daily routines and the cold winters when the haidouks hid their
guns and returned to their homes.

Here is the link to the full pdf file, so you can read the study in its entirety – (To my shock, after careful reading I discovered I was writing about two different studies – the one quoted is list first and the other on domestic violence is afterwards. They are both wonderful. JP)




Here is a link to the web site where I found the study, mappinggunculture.


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Is Your Cat Dangerous to Your Health?

How Your Cat Is Making You Crazy – Magazine – The Atlantic

It’s almost impossible to hear about Flegr’s research without wondering whether you’re infected—especially if, like me, you’re a cat owner, favor very rare meat, and identify even a little bit with your Toxo sex stereotype. So before coming to Prague, I’d gotten tested for the parasite, but I didn’t yet know the results. It seemed a good time to see what his intuition would tell me. “Can you guess from observing someone whether they have the parasite—myself, for example?,” I ask.

“No,” he says, “the parasite’s effects on personality are very subtle.” If, as a woman, you were introverted before being infected, he says, the parasite won’t turn you into a raving extrovert. It might just make you a little less introverted. “I’m very typical of Toxoplasma males,” he continues. “But I don’t know whether my personality traits have anything to do with the infection. It’s impossible to say for any one individual. You usually need about 50 people who are infected and 50 who are not, in order to see a statistically significant difference. The vast majority of people will have no idea they’re infected.”

How Your Cat Is Making You Crazy – Magazine – The Atlantic#.TzRDnzPwopE.facebook#.TzRDnzPwopE.facebook#.TzRDnzPwopE.facebook

As a cat owner, I found the article listed above as disturbing. However, the title sounded a little like an “Obama was born in Kenya” article, so I wasn’t too worried. Unfortunately I read the article. The science was good, very good. I was hoping for small samples, unreplicatible studies and maybe a few unguarded statements about cat hatred. There weren’t any of those present.

So read the article. I do hope you note that it is highly likely that it is too late to get rid of you cat, you are already infected. So, please don’t hurt any animals.

James Pilant

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Ten Worst American Cities for Murder – from the Star-Telegram

I have criminal justice students and they tend to believe that the cities like Los Angeles or New York are the leaders in murder. Their television induced wisdom is a problem. It disguises the developing geographic picture of crime, and that picture is of the most violent crimes moving more toward the South and Central United States.

The data, in particular the top cities for murder list below, surprises most people. I was shocked by the ranking of Anchorage. I went and had a look at the overall stats and while murder is bad compared to much of the United States, the rate of forcible rape is much, much worse than the rest of the country.

Here you are presented for your information – the top ten –

No. 1 – Detroit

No. 2 – Memphis

No. 3 – Springfield, Ill.

No. 4 – Flint, Mich.

No. 5 – Anchorage, Ak.

No. 6 – Lubbock

No. 7 – Stockton, Calif.

No. 8 – Tallahassee, Fla.

No. 9 – Las Vegas, Nev.

No. 10 – Rockford, Ill.

Read more: http://blogs.star-telegram.com/crime_time/2011/10/which-texas-city-do-you-suppose-made-the-forbes-list-of-most-dangerous-in-the-us.html#ixzz1aGVKxCO7

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Are Lion Burgers in Poor Taste?

Sometimes something happens that catches your attention. This is it.

I laughed when I first heard this. Why the fuss, I thought, calling a fancy burger, a lion burger is hardly crime. Then I read the article. The burgers are 80% lion meat. I didn’t know you could get it. I can’t figure out why you would want to get it.

So, my second thought was, well maybe, a lion killed his sister and this is revenge. Not a good reason to eat lion, but better than nothing. Nope, no family losses to lions. What does that leave? Is he allergic to cats?

This is just a bad idea. Get a regular burger, call it a lion kill burger, a lion victory over some beefy animal. We have lots of beefy animals and very few lions.

I suppose we should ask at some point – is it ethical to eat lion meat or to sell it? If you believe that meat eating is okay, eating lion is probably okay save from an aesthetic point of view. Currently the lion is not an endangered species although I have confidence that human greed and incompetence will eventually get it there.

James Pilant

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