The Null Device
Posts matching tags 'violence'
A new study has shown that violent video games decrease crime rates. While they do increase aggression in the players, the incapacitation effect of the players being drawn into sitting in front of a computer or console for extended periods of time, and thus unlikely to attack anything larger than a plate of nachos in reality, outweighs this.
Much has been said about the alleged epidemic of random alcohol-fuelled violence outside Melbourne's night spots and its possible causes. Now, The Age's Fiona Scott-Norman suggests that it might be due to the boom in venues playing house music, once confined to Chapel Street, but now part of every venue aiming for the cashed-up-bogan dollar; in particular, to house music being poorly suited for facilitating social interaction:
And then there's house music. It's pretty much the ultimate "anti-romance" music. It's played loud, it's repetitive, it's not fun, it's unremarkable and unmemorable — even if you can make yourself heard over the top, it gives you nothing to talk about, and appears to be the first music ever created by humankind that bypasses the emotions. Again, fine if your aim is to dance like a maniac until 6am, or whenever you start coming down, but truly terrible if you're not on chemicals.
So the clubs are chock-full of young folk who can't talk to each other, can't touch each other, have zero opportunity for intimacy, and can only dance in their own little world and hope someone's looking at their booty. The only tools in their seriously denuded seduction kit are alcohol and shouting. So yet another night ends, they're disconnected and frustrated, back on the streets, and totally hammered. Gee, I wonder why there's so much violence.
Playing almost any other kind of music would reduce street violence. Doesn't matter if it's disco, funk, yacht rock, indie pop, Mongolian throat-singing, gypsy punk, neo-lounge or Latin, so long as it's not joyless, thumping background music.
A high school in Texas has a novel way of dealing with troubled youths: putting them in a steel cage and letting them fight it out with their bare fists:
One employee overheard Mr. Moten tell a security guard to take two students who had been at each other for days and “put ’em in the cage and let them duke it out,” the report states, and the practice was so embedded in the school’s culture that one student remarked to a teacher that he was “gonna be in the cage.”Meanwhile in Sydney, rival motorcycle gangs went on a rampage at the airport, and one man was bludgeoned to death with a
A new study has revealed a correlation between the number of bumper stickers on a car and the aggressiveness of the driver's behaviour, presumably as bumper stickers indicate a territorial mindset on the part of the driver. Interestingly enough, there was no correlation between the content of the bumper stickers and the driver's behaviour, so a "Visualise World Peace" sticker would be as much of a danger sign as a "Don't Mess With Texas" one.
New research from Cardiff University has found a correlation between violence and the price of beer; namely, the cheaper beer is, the more violence there is:
The researchers examined admissions to 58 hospital accident and emergency departments over a five year period and found that as the price of beer increased, violence-related injuries decreased.The study also looked at other factors, finding that increases in poverty, youth unemployment, diversity of ethnic population, major sporting events and it being summer also independently predicted an increase in violence.
I wonder how much of the study (which was carried out in England and Wales) is specific to Anglo-Saxon or British cultural factors, and how much of it would translate to other societies.
Recently, an article in the press quoted a British doctor who was proposing raising the drinking age in Britain from 18 to 21. His rationale seemed to be that Blairite attempts at introducing a "Continental drinking culture" were doomed to fail because Anglo-Saxons were incapable of handling alcohol as responsibly as the French and Italians, and hence Britain should learn from that other great Anglo-Saxon state across the Atlantic. This was duly lambasted by commentators aghast at yet another proposal to import more crude American ideas whilst ignoring the more sophisticated and humane ones across the Channel.
(via Mind Hacks)
While it may seem that we live in an age of unprecedented violence and atrocity, according to Steven Pinker, violence has been steadily declining over the past few centuries, and we are now living at the most peaceful time in the history of humanity so far.
The decline of violence, he tells us, is a fractal phenomenon - we see it over the centuries, the decades and the years. That said, we see a tipping point in the 16th century - the age of reason - particularly in England and Holland.
One on one death has plummeted through the middle ages, with an "elbow" of the curve in the 16th century. Despite a slight uptick in the 1960s - "perhaps those who thought that rock and roll would lead to a decline in moral values had it right" we've seen two orders of magnitude fall in one on one violence from the middle ages to today. State sponsored violence has also fallen sharply - we've seen a 90% reduction in genocide since the end of the cold war. State on state conflicts are dropping every decade.Pinker then calls bullshit on the Rousseauvian "noble savage" myth that, in some state of long-lost primordial innocence, our distant ancestors lived in blessed harmony with one another, and that ills such as warfare and violence are the result of the noxious effects of language/capitalism/agriculture/urbanisation.
Until 10,000 years ago, all humans were hunter gatherers. This is the group that some believe lived in primordial harmony - there's no evidence of this. Studying current hunter-gatherer tribes, the percent of male adults who die in violence is extraordinary - from 20 to 60% of all males. Even during the violent 20th century, with two world wars, less than 2% of males worldwide died in warfare.
The Middle Ages were filled with mutilation and torture as routine punishments for trangressions we'd punish with fines today. This was merely another charming feature of a time that featured pastimes like "cat burning", dropping cats into a fire for entertainment purposes. Some of the most creative inventions of the Middle Ages were fantastically cruel forms of corporal punishment.Pinker offers several reasons for the illusion that violence is increasing and the past was more idyllic: improved communications (we have more awareness of acts of violence, petty and enormous, than people had in earlier centuries), the cognitive illusion that makes memorable events (which include acts of spectacular brutality) seem more common, and the fact that popular standards of what's acceptable are changing faster than behaviour actually is. He also offers four explanations for why violence is becoming less common: the Hobbesian hypothesis (that states with monopolies on violence reduce it), a decline in the belief that life is cheap, the rise of more non-zero-sum games such as international trade, which make potential rivals more valuable alive than dead, and the hypothesis of the "expanding circle":
By default, we empathize with a small group of people, our friends and family. Everyone else is subhuman. But over time, we've seen this circle expand, from village to clan to tribe to nation to other races, both sexes and eventually other species. As we learn to expand our circles wider and wider, perhaps violence becomes increasingly unacceptable.
After the recent wave of school shootings in the US, a candidate for Oklahoma State School Superintendent has a solution: bulletproof school textbooks, possibly with Kevlar covers.
According to a Harvard University report on video games, Pac-Man is "64% violent". Furthermore, a clear majority of games reward players for "injuring other characters"; one example of this is Mario Brothers, with the thing about jumping on turtles.
Given that Pac-Man involves a flat yellow disc consuming white dots and chasing stylised, monochromatic "ghosts", I wonder how abstract one could make a game (or an animation) for it to remain violent. If one had a primitive video game featuring, for example, two coloured squares on a black background, with one obviously "attacking" the other which (exhibiting what the human brain instinctively perceives as fear) moves away increasingly frantically, would this qualify as a violent video game? This sounds like a challenge: how much violence, aggression, brutality and other antisocial and harmful behaviour could one depict in an entirely abstract fashion, without using recognisable real-world objects or cartoon approximations?
The opposite of this would be something like a Brothers Quay animation, which includes things that look like real world objects, but whose parts move around in an entirely random and pointless fashion, not unlike a malfunctioning computer graphics program.
Interracial violence erupts on a Sydney beach, as a standoff between Lebanese "gangstas" and Anglo-Australian surfers escalates, with the Anglos joined by Waltzing Matilda-singing neo-Nazis, who in turn end up beating up anybody non-Anglo-looking. Apparently the trouble had been brewing for a long time, and escalated when some Lebanese gang members went on a rampage at Cronulla, the surfer gang called for "patriots" to reinforce them, by when the bampots took charge. It turns out that far-right racial-nationalist groups modelled on the British National Party took an active role in organising the riots, and while the Prime Minister has condemned the violence, one of his media allies, right-wing talk radio host Alan Jones boasts of having led the charge, by reading out text messages calling "Aussies" to "support the Leb and wog bashing day". And, of course, Australia's answer to Little Green Footballs is providing another rallying point for the "Aussie" nationalists.
And yes, that did say text messages. Apparently both sides called in the cavalry through a tree of text messages. Sydney's ultra-violent Lebanese gangs (who, it must be said, are not representative of the mainstream of the Lebanese community) are said to mobilise quickly through mobile phones (actually, weren't some of the notorious Sydney gang rapes from a few years ago, also said to be committed by the gang members, organised spontaneously by mobile phone?).
And it would be folly to airbrush away the reality that what started the Cronulla tensions was yet another provocation by the aggressive, repugnant Lebanese gangsta culture - itself an alien subculture within the Lebanese community - which has given Sydney dozens of shootings and murders, a spate of gang rapes, hundreds of sexual assaults, and thousands of deliberate racist provocations at Darling Harbour, the eastern and southern beaches and some of the big clubs in western Sydney, along with Canterbury Bulldogs rugby league matches.
At its worst, this culture had overtones of civil war, as the Kanaan gang sprayed the Lakemba police station with gunfire. One of those who took part in this attack was Saleh Jamal, now in jail in Lebanon on weapons charges. He has turned to Islamic fundamentalism and wanted to explode a terrorist bomb in Sydney before he fled the country.Now, the surfers and right-wing bovver boys seem to have also adopted this tactic, and used it as an excuse to beat up anyone they see as "un-Australian". So now we are seeing an age of flash mob rule. We live in interesting times.
There are more reports of the violence here:
I saw a group of three well-dressed 40-ish women drinking Breezers standing atop a retaining wall chanting at the police. I saw a group of four teenage girls (typical tanned 'Northies' Shire-girls -- long hair, short skirts and massive sunglasses) being interviewed by ABC radio with 'Multiculturalism Doesn't Work' stickers on their backs. I saw a fifty-year-old man wearing an 'Osama Don't Surf' t-shirt. I've never seen that many people in Cronulla before.
It wasn't too long before a rumour started spreading that a train full of Lebs was on its way to Cronulla (it was like an insane game of Chinese Whispers, there were stories going through the crowd that Tom Ugly's and Captain Cook Bridge had been closed, that the Bra Boys had arrived and that the kiosk at North Cronulla was under siege because it was owned by Wogs), so everyone was off to the station, via Cronulla Mall.
But many locals were involved, and for the most part loving every minute of it. There were plenty of units and apartments decked out in Aussie flags with parties overflowing into the streets, proud to be a part of what was just a disgusting day. How so many people could be getting pleasure from this was just impossible to comprehend. It was part machismo bullsh*t and part mob-mentality but it was mainly just ugly racism. It no longer had anything at all to do with two lifeguards getting beaten up last weekend, it was all just hatred towards a group of people who weren't even there.A family-friendly festival of nationalism and hatred. Perhaps next time they can book Prussian Blue to play on a stage?
A new study has shown that, far from being essential to a healthy society, widespread religious belief is socially corrosive, and correlates strongly with a range of social ills, from violent crime to sexually-transmitted diseases:
Published in the Journal of Religion and Society, a US academic journal, it says: "Many Americans agree that their churchgoing nation is an exceptional, God-blessed, shining city on the hill that stands as an impressive example for an increasingly sceptical world.
"In general, higher rates of belief in and worship of a creator correlate with higher rates of homicide, juvenile and early adult mortality, STD infection rates, teen pregnancy and abortion in the prosperous democracies. The United States is almost always the most dysfunctional of the developing democracies, sometimes spectacularly so."In contrast, the relatively secular UK has fewer social ills, and Scandinavia (which has national churches which most people see the insides of about twice in their lives), Japan and the Godless cheese-eating surrender monkeys have been the most successful in reducing murder and early mortality rates, sexually-transmitted diseases and abortion.
The report seems to be mainly about religiosity in the US, where evolution is seen as a litmus test of theological correctness, which causes it to read somewhat strangely elsewhere. (The phrase "pro-evolution democracy" sounds a bit like "heliocentric-astronomy democracy" or something.)
"The non-religious, pro-evolution democracies contradict the dictum that a society cannot enjoy good conditions unless most citizens ardently believe in a moral creator," he says.Advocates of strong religious values are unlikely to be convinced by this report, especially if they reject the scientific method as Godless.
Today, a pregnant teenager was slashed with a meat cleaver by her boyfriend when a spontaneous axe fight broke out at Mile End tube station.
Now that is so London.
The latest in extreme sports out of Las Vegas: hunting naked women with paintball guns:
Men pay anywhere from $5000 to $10,000 for the chance to come to the middle of the desert to shoot what they call "Bambi's" with a paint ball gun. Burdick says men have come from as far away as Germany. The men get a video tape of their hunt to take home and show their friends. Burdick says safety is a concern, but the women are not allowed to wear protective gear -- only tennis shoes. Today while the Eyewitness News cameras were rolling, one woman chose to wear bikini bottoms but normally all they wear is their birthday suits.
The paint balls that come out of the guns travel at about 200 miles per hour. Getting hit with one stings even with clothes on, and when they hit bare flesh, they are powerful enough to draw blood. Evanthes shot one of the women and says, "I got the one with the biggest rack."
Creepy link of the day: The White Supremacist guide to dating, or how to be the psychopath women can't resist and win over the Eva Braun of your dreams (attributed to one "Elizabeth Bennett", who I think is named after a Jane Austen character; go figure):
Many people have pondered and scratched their heads, wondering what the connection is between sex and violence. The answer is, sex IS violence and women want to have sex with a violent man... The fact is, women experience sex as a delicious form of violence. What is more violent than losing control of your body for nine months, swelling up like a tick? I know it's hard for you to understand (because you aren't a faggot who wants to be dominated) but if you don't understand how women feel about sex -- the mixture of pleasure and pain, fear and excitement, melting in a haze of pleasure and degradation -- then you can't be a good lover.
(You know, parts of this read like a neo-Nazi version of Ayn Rand, or perhaps Houseplants of Gor...) (via NtK, bOING bOING)
A Dutch computer game company has come under fire for creating a football hooligan game. In Hooligans, players are in charge of a football gang on the rampage across Europe, brawling with police and rival gangs to prove themselves as the most violent and antisocial gang.
"Baile funk", the ultra-violent musical gang warfare scene from the slums of Brazil, is now headed for the US, with funk band Bonde do Tigrao embarking on their Stateside tour.
"I'm going to show you that I'm a tiger/I'm going to put on the pressure/And then hammer, hammer, hammer," Bonde do Tigrao chant on their most popular song, a mixture of rap and pop.
You know, that sounds, like a Prodigy lyric...
(I wonder whether Dr. Dre or someone from Interscope is taking notes; once the mook thing runs out of steam, Brazilian-style funk may be the Next Big Thing.) (via Robot Wisdom)
Australia's censors have given gruesome serial-killer movie Hannibal an MA rating, rather than a R. I suspect that the fact that it's full of violence and not sex may have had something to do with it. Though I wonder whether the Australian version hasn't had scenes silently removed, as has happened with a number of other films released here.