Happy Birthday To Me!

A few days ago I marked the 49th anniversary of arriving on this planet.  A milestone!

Why would I say that?  Nothing particularly distinguishes 49.  Fifty is the big half century mark.  Most people make a big deal out of that, but let most of the forties slide so far as importance.

The best way I can describe it is that every birthday is, to me, a huge event.  This is mainly due to the many, many times I was utterly convinced I was about to die, but was wrong.

So every click of the clock is a victory!  Every birthday a parade!  I’m putting my thumb in the eye of the Grim Reaper, and enjoying every second!

In fact, I fully intend to become decrepit and feeble from the weight of years that fall like rain upon my head.

old toothless man laughing

I don’t think I’ll be eating too much corn on the cob by then, though.

Less Guns, More Murders

I’ve been considering the two graphics that can be viewed at this site.  For many countries in the world, low gun ownership seems to correlate with higher murder rates.  North America, South America, and sub-Saharan Africa all strongly support the notion that the fewer people who own firearms, the more people are murdered.

But I find Great Britain to be particularly interesting, as it seems to be an outlier.  Low gun ownership, and yet the people living there also enjoy low homicide rates.

There is, in fact, large swathes of the globe where the same thing can be found.  And that is throughout most of Asia.  It seems to me that a link can be drawn between Confucius and the trend of the people in some Asian countries to avoid murder.

statue of confucius

Although Confucius is generally regarded in the United States to be the source of pithy sayings that find their way into fortune cookies, his teachings were widely and enthusiastically embraced by many cultures.  It could be argued that the man was one of the most influential figures in all of human history, with the philosophy he authored shaping the very destiny of mankind.

The main reason for this, the single most significant factor which ensured that Confucius would be so strongly intertwined with the fate of most of humanity,  is that his writings are full of admonitions to obey authority.  People rise to their social positions due to their inherent quality, those who are above you on the social ladder should be obeyed because they are better than you are, and strict obedience to civil authority is an expression of the highest virtue.

chinese man kowtow

As you can imagine, kings and emperors grabbed at this philosophy with both hands.  The man on the throne was there because he was closer to perfection than anyone below his station, and was deserving to rule.  Revolution, rebellion, or even disagreement with the edicts handed down from on high was not only morally wrong, but extremely foolish as well.  Since the guy in charge was best suited for the job, the next person to fill his shoes would naturally be inferior.

So we can attribute, at least in part, the tendency for most Asian countries to have low homicide rates to a brutal indoctrination program that has lasted for more than two millennium.

This isn’t true of all the places that have low firearm ownership as well as low homicide rates, of course.  For one thing, the teachings of Confucius have not been embraced and incorporated into all of the cultures found in Asia.  But I think the same Pavlovian conditioning to follow the law can be found in many.

So how does that explain Great Britain?  Do the people living in the UK have a greater regard for a strict adherence to the law than those in the US?

These are questions that I cannot answer, as I have never even visited the UK.  But I do think that the map very clearly shows that the culture and society found in the United States are very different than that which is prevalent in the United Kingdom.  This should be considered by those who insist that Americans should adopt the gun control laws which hold sway across the Pond.

The Toughest In The World

This news article from two weeks ago reveals the details of a brutal attempt at rape.

A female US Navy sailor was on 24 hour leave in Dubai, and decided to go shopping.  She boarded an otherwise empty bus to get back to base, but the driver instead parked the vehicle and attempted to rape her at knifepoint.

threatening knife

This was probably the worst mistake he has ever made in his life, as the erstwhile victim disarmed him before beating the accused almost to death!  She snapped the blade of the knife, bit her attacker, and went all out to defend herself.  Sounds like a real knock down, drag out kind of brawl.

What ended the fight?  She got his head in a leg lock. Wouldn’t surprise me if the bus driver blacked out.

head lock scissors lock

Afterwards, the victim walked out of the bus and contacted police.  The accused was arrested at his home, drunk.  Since Dubai law is largely based on Islamic religious teachings, his consumption of alcohol was a crime.  He has admitted to that offense, at least, but has also made it the cornerstone of his defense against the charges of attempted rape and assault.  He says that he was too drunk to remember anything that happened on that fateful afternoon.

This story dovetails nicely with my own observations, as well as research that has been conducted on the subject.  As this report from the National Institute of Justice details, resistance to a rape reduces the chances that the crime will be successful by 80%.  Give in and it will happen, fight back and you have a four-in-five chance the rapist will break off his attack and scurry for the hills.

A quote from the article last linked ….

“A separate study found that even when a rape was completed, women who used some form of resistance had better mental health outcomes than those who did not resist.”

That is also consistent with what I have observed amongst my own students.

In the spirit of full disclosure, there are those who insist that compliance is the only way to avoid injury.  This paper from doctors working at the Centers for Disease Control has been cited since it first gained attention in 1990.  Their conclusions are that the chances of receiving some injury by resisting forcible rape approaches 100%, which is true on the surface.  What is not revealed until you purchase the article and dig down through a whole bunch of obscure jargon is that they are counting any physical injury at all, no matter how minor.

So a person assaulted by a rapist manages to fight off their attacker, but they received a few scratches or a black eye for their trouble?  Good enough for the authors of the study  to include the results in the GOT INJURED category!

paper cut

This isn’t to say that no one is ever seriously hurt when going toe-to-toe with a rapist, particularly if the criminal is armed with a weapon such as a knife or gun.  But I would love to see some sort of leveling scale applied to this.  After all, sexual assault is a crime that screws up the self esteem and mental health of virtually every victim.  I think it is worth a few bruises to keep it from happening.



One of the sources that counsels potential rape victims to simply lie back and submit to the crime is the US Air Force.  Seems that the head of the Air Force’s sexual assault prevention and response branch has been accused of sexually assaulting a woman in a parking lot.

Lucky thing that she didn’t heed such advice, and fought back.  While it seems that at least sexual assault occurred, rape was prevented.

(Hat tip to Glenn.)

Better Than Pepper Spray

The breed of dogs collectively known as pit bulls were once known as America’s nursery dog.  When a child was born, a pit bull puppy was acquired.  The idea was that the kid would have a loving and protective companion until the dog died of old age, usually when the newborn had grown into their teen years.

pit bull enjoying a worm

(Please click on all pictures to see the largest version.)

One thing owners of pit bulls report is that the beasts have an almost supernatural ability to recognize when someone means harm to their owners.  Even when a criminal is trying their best to gain the trust of the intended victim, the pit bull can sometimes see through the facade to recognize the intent for violent attack.

That happened recently, as this news story reveals.  A woman walking her dog approached a bicyclist in obvious distress, only to be shocked when her pet exhibited extremely protective behavior.  She received a further jolt to her preconceptions when the supposedly injured and helpless cyclist reacted to the snarling dog by leaping up from the ground, only to straddle his pedal powered contraption in an effort to escape the jaws of justice.

snarling white pit bull

And escape he did, as the pooch was anchored to the petrified woman via a leash.

The fact that the dog could not pursue the erstwhile criminal is all to the good.  If the cyclist had been bitten, then the news story would be about a crazed and enraged pit bull that had to be destroyed after suddenly going off and attacking a helpless man, instead of a loyal and loving family pet that was going all out to save the innocent.  Makes me wonder if many of the incidents which caused people to conclude that the breed was unstable and prone to violence was due to dogs trying to protect their families.