Sunday, April 27, 2014

Now This is Fun!

If you're into the history of technology, machine-guns, or the AK-47...

And who isn't? The Gun is a fascinating history of the AK-47, the world's most ubiquitous firearm and most popular assault rifle, by Pulitzer Prize winning journalist C.J. Chivers. I picked it up at Peregrine Books while strolling around downtown Prescott yesterday and I've been tearing into it ever since. He starts by discussing the origins of rapid firing guns, such as the Gatling in 1860s, through the development of the first machine-gun by Maxim in the late 19th century, and... I'm still reading.

Years ago I read and reread The AK47 Story: Evolution of the Kalashnikov Weapons, a much 
more technical volume written by Edward Clinton Ezell. In The Gun, Chivers is constructing a captivating historical narrative that benefits from declassification that has occured since the collapse of the USSR. I'll keep you posted.

In the mean time, if anyone knows where I can score a clean Yugo underfolder for a good price please pen me a note.

Hiding in Plain Sight

Never got around to watching this gem until now...

Our kids loved the animated Disney musical (1991) but stills from the 1946 film by Jean Cocteau, The Beauty and the Beast (La Belle et la Bete) always struck me as pretty cheesy. Wrong, again! Apparently many of its clever visual touches were driven by budget limitations in war time France. We're all the better for it. It's great fun to see how much of it served as source material for what has also become a Disney classic. Definitely worth an hour and a half of your time.  I watched it on TCM, but Criterion offers it in several formats.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

The Wall

Is available on Netflix...

You should watch it.  That is, if you're in the mood for a thoughtful, patient, gentle, and sad examination of the nature of solitude.  

An Austrian-German co-production released in 2012 as Die Wand. It's based on a 1963 novel of the same name by Marlen Haushofer.  I missed it altogether in 2012 - didn't even hear of it until now - but it was well-received by film critics.  For all but a few seconds it features only the quietly talented German actress Martina Gedeck.  I did not recognize her, but now recall her performance in the excellent 2006 film, The Lives of Others.  

The nominally science-fiction or fantasy premise - a woman finds herself alone, trapped behind a transparent barrier that encloses an alpine hunting lodge and surrounding meadows, forests, and mountain vistas - is essentially an unresolved prop that sets the what-if elements of the story rolling.  

The pace of this somber and thoughtful film is not for everyone.  The story is at once calming and disturbing, asking the viewer, "What if you had no choice but to live alone at Walden Pond - without human contact - indefinitely?"

Social Construction of Moral Panics

Been bashing this topic around with the professor's next door...

There may be a capstone in this topic if we find the right contrarian.

MORAL PANICS: Culture, Politics, and Social Construction 
The Political Construction of Collective Insecurity: From Moral Panic to Blame Avoidance and Organized Irresponsibility 

These are the only one I've read so far.  No telling when I’ll get to the rest.  I still have several gigs of unread papers collected while researching my Master's...

A Field Guide to Social Construction

Beck's Sociology of Risk: A Critical Assessment

Critical Theory of World Risk Society: A Cosmopolitan Vision

Daring to Fear: Optimizing the Encounter of Danger through Education

Fear of crime: audit of the literature and community programs volume 1

Functional fear and public insecurities about crime 

Introduction: The Moral Panic Concept

Moral Panic and Social Theory: Beyond the Heuristic 

Moral panic versus the risk society: the implications of the changing sites of social anxiety

Place, social relations and the fear of crime: a review

The Biology of Fear

The Edge and the Center: Gated Communities and the Discourse of Urban Fear

The only thing we have to fear is the ‘culture of fear’ itself


An FTP site?!! I didn't know they still had those. Quell retro!

These are just the result of some rudimentary Google-fu. Haven’t even gone into the academic DBs yet.

Our role in moral panics can be unconscious, accidental, or deliberate. The choice is ours.

Sunday, April 20, 2014


Never gets old...

But I do so hate it when my peer professionals use it to forward the security agenda.

In an 11 April 2014 op-ed in The Epoch Times, Vincent J. Bove, CPP, told the American people:

Active shooter tragedies have reached staggering proportions in America and each company, school, facility, house of worship, agency, and community is a potential victim. Law enforcement and private security must exercise leadership, vigilance, and collaboration to protect those entrusted to their care...

If only that leadership took the form of telling and retelling an irrationally frightened U.S. populace some important facts.

Misuse of the term "active shooter" has become problematic. In most cities across America violent (as well as property) crime has been falling since the 1990s. Workplace homicide is at its lowest since tracking began in 1992. The rate of mass murder has not changed in decades. Less than 2% of all homicides of children ages 5-18 occur in school. Our children are safer at school than they are at home.

Mr. Bove is not alone in shaping the message to suit his narrative. His op-ed also told us:

Addressing police chiefs in Philadelphia on Oct. 21, 2013, Attorney General Eric Holder said the United States saw an average of five active shooting incidents a year between 2000 and 2008. “Alarmingly, since 2009, this annual average has tripled. We’ve seen at least 12 active shooter situations so far in 2013,” Holder said.

The crisis we face is one of perception, perceptions fed by a 24 hour news cycle that frantically grasps at our eyeballs with lurid crime coverage, perceptions encouraged in the craven pursuit of political and institutional agendas. Too often thought leaders choose to contribute to the moral panic of the day rather than engaging in a productive public discussion of the facts.

We can do better, if only we summon the will to examine the facts and tell the truth.

Until that day, pay very careful attention to politicians, talking heads, and other persons described as experts. Remember: Workplace Violence ≠ Targeted School Shooting ≠ Mass Murder ≠ Active Shooter ≠ Mass Shooting. Anyone who does not care about the differences is selling something. What is it they want to do? What is it they want you to do?

Photo credit:

Monday, April 7, 2014

Also Been Reading Some Science Fiction

To cleanse the palate between courses...

Perdido Street Station by China Mieville Steam-punk, science-fiction, mytho-poetic, horror-fantasy novels aren't my usual thing but Mieville is so viciously skilled a writer he makes it work even for me.

The Engines of God by Jack McDevitt A well-paced read. Priscilla Hutchins is an interesting enough character I may come back for more.

3001: The Final Odyssey by Arthur C. Clarke

Otherwise, I'm still chewing on the serious stuff; The Radicalism of the American Revolution by Gordon S. Wood (almost done), the Bible (Exodus 23:19...), and From Babylon to Bethlehem: The Jewish People from the Exile to the Messiah by H.L. Ellison (just started).

Been Reading...

...more that I care to on targeted school shootings at institutions of higher education.

I suppose it's a good thing such exotic violence is so rare. If early detection, intervention, and treatment fail, the policy, training, and equipment needed for mitigation are daunting. Here's the bibliography for a report we've been working on:

Aveni, T. (2003) Officer-Involved Shootings: What We Didn’t Know Has Hurt Us. The Police Policy Studies Council, August 2003.   
Blair, J. and Martaindale, M. (2013) United States Active Shooter Events from 2000 to 2010: Training and Equipment Applications.  Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training, Texas State University, 2013  
Counterterrorism Bureau of the New York City Police Department. (2012) Active Shooter Recommendations and Analysis for Risk Mitigation. NYPD Printing Section, 2012
Drysdale, D., Modzeleski, W., and Simons, A. (2010). Campus Attacks: Targeted Violence Affecting Institutions of Higher Education. U.S. Secret Service, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools, U.S. Department of Education, and Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Department of Justice. Washington, D.C., 2010.
Farren, K. (2013) Justifying Weapon Mounted Lights. IALEFI, Control 13-11
Good. J. (2014) The Deployment of Illumination Tools: Law Enforcement Primer. Night Reaper Systems, 2014.
IACP National Law Enforcement Policy Center Board. (2007) The Patrol Rifle: Considerations for Adoption and Use. The Police Chief, February 2007.
List of School Shootings in the United States. (n.d.)  In Wikipedia.  Accessed April 10, 2014. 
Paparazzo, J., Eith C., and Tocco, J. (2013) Strategic Approaches to Preventing Multiple Casualty Violence: Report on the National Summit on Multiple Casualty Shootings. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, 2013..
Schweit, K. (2013) Addressing the Problem of the Active Shooter. FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin, May 2013.
Smith, L and Supiano, B. (2008) Major Shootings on American College Campuses. Chronicle of Higher Education. Februay 18, 2008.
Timeline of Worldwide School and Mass Shootings: Gun-related tragedies in the U.S. and around the world. (n.d.) Information Please Database, Pearson Education, Inc. Accessed April 10, 2014.
United States Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation.  (2013).  Crime in the United States, September 2013.  Retrieved April 10, 2014, from  
Vossekuil, B., Fein, R., Reddy, M., Borum, R., and Modzeleski, W. (2002) The Final Report and Findings of the Safe School Initiative: Implications for the Prevention of School Attacks in the United States. United States Secret Service and United States Department of Education, May 2002.

Photo credit: