Archive for April 2007

Crime Data

April 29, 2007

I was looking around the intertubes for some data on race and crime statistics when I stumbled into the Department of Justice statistics website. Although I don’t completely discredit the idea that genetics has some impact on crime, it is clear that factors like poverty and education magnify whatever innate difference there is to an incredible degree. I disagree vehemently with those who think genetics has greater influence on the causation of crime than these social factors.

For the statistics from 2005 I found these interesting tidbits:

For single offender crimes, 12% are committed by relatives, 40% by friends and acquaintances, and the rest by strangers.

Crimes committed by strangers are more than twice as likely to involve a firearm.

Females are 50% less likely to be the victims of violent crime by strangers compared to males. Females are 50% more likely to be at least casually acquainted with their attacker than males.

Urban dwellers are about 50% more likely to be the victims of violent crime compared to suburban dwellers.

Crimes of violence against married people are less than half the number against people who are divorced or separated.

After living in an area for 5+ years, the chance of being the victim of violent crime falls by a third compared to 1-4 year residency. Living in an area less than six months, on the other hand, doubles the chance compared to 1-4 year residency.

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Dual Fronts

April 26, 2007

I was in a cordial if strange argument with a libertarian who had created his own distinct version of corporate hegemony that he labeled formalism. Basically, it would mean the dissolution of the nation and a return to city-states, each owned by a corporate monarch. The supposed reason to do this was to give incentives for people not to commit violence. I still don’t understand how privatization of every piece of material would stop violence, but he gave a spirited defense of it in the comment thread. Of course, everyone thought it was completely and utterly impractical.

What really stuck in my craw was his dismissal of democracy as being conducive to violence and conflict. As if symbolic violence, in terms of assembling the “troops” to vote for issue X, was in some way comparable to the actual potential for violent tyranny by corporate overlords. Robber barons must never have existed in his revisionist history of the world.

American-style democracy is not perfect, nobody claims that. What I do claim is that it is superior to other forms of governance. Not only does it allow the voice of the citizen to be heard, thus making it more informed and accountable than other types of government, it also allows for flexibility and reform within the governing institution itself.

Between the libertarians and the dominionists, it is a wonder that democracy is still alive and kicking, based as it is on trust and sense of community with one’s own society.  Libertarian “I got mine,” philosophy appeals to the worst in us, and although the dominionists want to save us from…something, their dogma has no faith in the wisdom of man and places myth above reality.

Thoughts on VA Tech

April 25, 2007

What a terrible tragedy. Despite multiple attempts at guidance and help, some guy succumbs to his insanity and rage and starts a killing spree.

Like we should expect, the valiant courage of Derbyshire and the calm, reasoned response by Debbie Schlussel and her fellow travelers set new standards in improving public discourse. I mean, really. Could Derbyshire possibly have any more contempt for the victims? Could Debbie possibly show a greater degree of Islamophobia?

I don’t think so. For Derbyshire, the fact that kids could not outrun bullets being fired by a crazy person just shows how weak and pathetic students are these days. In his day, no doubt, they would subdue the killer with a stinging quip and a cup of tea. For Debbie, words just about fail me. Inflaming that sort of paranoia is on par, in my opinion, to the way Hitler treated made a scapegoat of the Jews.

Easter Wishes

April 7, 2007

I want to take this time to wish all three readers (okay, I exaggerate) a happy Easter holiday. Not that I personally believe in organized religion, beyond a vague type of Deism. Still, if it gives you something to hope for, I am for it. If, on the other hand, your faith gives you a reason to feel superior to everyone else and to abandon humility as you proclaim yourself the bearer of the absolute Truth, it may be time to reflect upon that mighty perch you are sitting on.