Chris Uggen's Blog: November 2007

Friday, November 30, 2007

runner's world


as a not-very-fast runner, i gaze in great wonder at the straight-postured, stick-up-the-middle race walkers i see coursing along on my daily routes. the entire sport, if one can call it that, seems born of frustration and denial. don't their bodies ever tell them to just cut loose and run?

fortunately, japanese television (via boingboing.net) is addressing the central question: would world-champion race-walkers run when chased by, say, an anachronistic but nonetheless frightening posse of marauding sword-wielding samurai? it takes a couple minutes to learn the answer, but (in my humble) the answer is quite definitive and well worth the investment.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

globe story on volunteers in prisoner reintegration

long live john augustus! here's a boston globe story on volunteers in reintegration:

Vermonters Help Ease Life on the Outside: Towns Trying to Keep Ex-Cons on Right Path

By Jenna Russell of the Globe Staff / November 24, 2007

BARRE, Vt. - Vermont corrections officials are trying a radical new strategy to reintegrate the state's worst offenders into society: Team them up with groups of students, parents, businesspeople, and retirees in the towns they return to after prison, and let these surrogate families and friends show them how they can fit in again...

signature guitars

blender (via stereogum) offers a fine talker for guitar geeks -- the 28 most recognizable guitars. there are some obvious omissions on the list (below), but here are 10 that come quickly to mind:

10. srv's SRV and dick dale's strat
9. tony iommi's sg
8. paul mccartney's hofner violin bass
7. neil young's too-oft-mentioned 'round here ol' black
6. the ventures' mosrites
5. keef's telecaster and that of the master
4. roger mcguinn's 12-string rickenbacker
3. ernest tubb's thanks
2. the nuge's es-335 (at least they remembered bb king's lucille)
1. woody guthrie's machine

here's blender's list:

28 Buck Owens - Red, White, and Blue acoustic
27 Les Claypool (Primus) - The Rainbow Bass
26 Michael Angelo Batio - The Reverse Double Neck
25 Dave Grohl (Foo Fighters) - Dan Armstrong/Ampeg ARMG-2
24 Michael Anthony (Van Halen) - Jack Daniel's Bass
23 Angus Young (AC/DC) - Gibson SG
22 Ace Frehley (KISS) - Laser Guitar
21 Albert King - Gibson Flying V
20 Zakk Wylde (Ozzy, Black Label Society) - The Grail
19 Jerry Only (The Misfits) - The Devastator
18 Billie Joe Armstrong (Green Day) - Blue
17 Bootsy Collins - Space Bass
16 "Dimebag" Darrell (Pantera) - The Dean From Hell
15 Rick Nielsen (Cheap Trick) - Hamer Five-Neck
14 Kurt Cobain (Nirvana) - Fender Mustang
13 ZZ Top - Dean Spinning Fur Guitar/Bass
12 Gene Simmons (KISS) - Axe Bass
11 Eric Clapton - Blackle
10 B.B. King - Lucille
09 Jack White - 1964 J.B. Hutto Montgomery Airline
08 Bo Diddley - The Big B
07 Willie Nelson - Trigger
06 Prince - Purple Glyph Symbol Guitar
05 Paul McCartney - Hofner Violin Bass
04 Jimmy Page (Led Zeppelin) - Gibson SG Double Neck
03 Elvis Presley - Martin D-28 Acoustic
02 Eddie Van Halen (Van Halen) - Frankenstrat
01 Jimi Hendrix - Fender Stratocaster

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

soros after prison initiative seeks program associate

susan tucker of soros writes that their after prison initiative is seeking a new program associate.

The Program Associate will work closely with the Director and Program Officer in all programmatic and administrative and aspects relating to The After Prison Initiative grantmaking and program development work.

Programmatic Responsibilities:
• Work with staff to develop, write and edit grantmaking strategy, priorities, and guidelines
• Review and assess letters of inquiry and make declination and funding recommendations
• Work with staff to manage the grantmaking process, including inviting, reviewing, and working with applicants to finalize proposals; writing and editing docket materials; and managing grants through site visits and by reviewing narrative and financial reports
• Interact with and disseminate program-related information to grantees and other field professionals; participate in program- and field-related meetings and convenings
• Prepare and maintain grantmaking financial and budget tracking reports
• Participate in the development, planning, and organization of program-related events
• Stay current in criminal justice and reentry issues and related fields
• Perform research and other related writing projects

Administrative Responsibilities:
• Respond to telephone, email, and written inquires and requests for assistance from various constituencies
• Work with grantees, program staff, and OSI’s Office of Grants Management to perform grant opening, payment, monitoring, and close-out procedures
• Act as a liaison between grantees, The After Prison Initiative, and other OSI departments and respond to questions relating to fiscal and administrative issues
• Prepare receipts and payment requests for the Program Director and Program Officer’s corporate cards and reimbursable expenses
• Manage calendar and travel reservations for the Program Director and Program Officer
• Provide general administrative support, including photocopying, telephone coverage, faxing, filing, and database management

QUALIFICATIONS
• College degree plus 3-5 years of relevant work experience
• Excellent written, verbal, analytical, research, and organizational skills required
• Must be highly organized, detail-oriented, self-motivated, dependable, and able to multitask
• Excellent computer skills (Microsoft Word, Excel & PowerPoint) required
• Ability to work independently and also as part of a team, take initiative and prioritize, and work well under pressure
• Strong people skills, ability to work with people from a wide variety of backgrounds
• Flexibility, positive attitude, and willingness to pitch in
• Demonstrated concern for social and criminal justice issues

SALARY: Commensurate with experience; excellent benefits; four weeks vacation
START DATE: Immediately
TO APPLY: Send resume, cover letter and writing sample immediately to humanresources@sorosny.org. Applications accepted through December 17, 2007. Include job code PA/USJF/API in subject line:

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

u.s. accounts for 99 percent of "life without parole" sentences for juveniles

i've written before about life sentences for juvenile offenders. according to a new study by michelle leighton and connie de la vega of the university of san francisco, the u.s. and israel are the only nations in the world that mete out life sentences without the possibility of parole or release to children. an estimated total of 2,381 juvenile lifers reside in the united states, relative to 7 in israel. the report offers a useful, if sobering, state-by-state appendix for those teaching juvenile justice or juvenile delinquency classes.

auditions

it was fun, albeit spooky, to see esperanza on stage with adults last month in a community theater production. now she's taking a shot at some big-time stage and screen auditions.

as a stage father, i'm pretty much useless offering help or advice on the auditions. in fact, i was completely baffled by this announcement:

YOUTH AUDITIONS FOR UPCOMING READING

[theater] seeks non-union young actors who sing well between the ages of 9 and 20 for a reading of a new musical based on “Little House on the Prairie”. Big commitment 26th February thru 3rd March 2008 (students will need to miss some school hours). Audition Wednesday, 28th November. Girls sign in between 5-5:30 PM. Girls be prepared to sing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”. Boys sign in between 7:30-8 PM. Boys be prepared to sing “The Star Spangled Banner”. PLEASE NOTE that those auditioning may not sing the entire song. Bring photo (snapshot ok) and resume. ... Be prepared to stay for a few hours. Modest gratuity offered. EEO/AA Employer. NO CALLS PLEASE!

my girl can sing just fine and i don't mind her missing a li'l school, but am i naive to ask why they want "somewhere over the rainbow" and "the star spangled banner" for a production of little house on the prairie? and what's the non-union thing mean? my knowledge of little house on the prairie is limited to my frequent drives through walnut grove, mn and the old tv show, but i don't recall somewhere over the rainbow being prominently featured in any episode. i suppose the song must provide some sort of standard metric for evaluating young voices. oh well, i'll just recommend that she study up on sarah vaughan's version and let the chips fall where they may.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

impressive times features on exonerees

today's new york times offers an impressive set of articles and multimedia features on 115 former prisoners who were exonerated by dna evidence.

Most of the 137 exonerated inmates researched by The Times entered prison in their teens or 20s, and they stayed there while some of their peers on the outside settled on careers, married, started families, bought homes and began saving for retirement. They emerged many years behind, and it has been difficult to catch up.

in addition to the in-depth interviews, photographs, and video, there's even a decent methods section.

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pat mallinger



i enjoyed a warm november set by pat mallinger at the artists' quarter last night. mr. mallinger is an old school chum who often sneaks into town for a few shows around the holidays. we chatted briefly, mostly about kids, parents, and the fine public school arts education we received from grass jr. high and sibley sr. high schools.

some of my favorite musicians attended those schools, but pat was always the jaw-dropping standout. i never doubted -- not even for a moment -- that he'd make a fine living playing saxophone. that said, i wasn't prepared for the list of collaborators listed on his myspace bio:

... the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Joe Williams, Nancy Wilson, Stevie Wonder, Herbie Hancock, Harry Connick, Ramsey Lewis, Aretha Franklin, Eddie Higgins, Junior Mance, Cedar Walton, Weldon Irving, Gerald Wilson, Lalo Schifrin, Renee Rosness, Kurt Elling, Jack McDuff, Clark Terry, Randy Brecker, Doc Severinsen, Joe Lovano, Joshua Redman, Billy Harper, Jimmy Heath, Johnny Griffin, James Moody, Lee Konitz, Phil Woods, Lee Konitz, Nick Brignola, Franz Jackson, Von Freeman, Buddy Defranco, Slide Hampton, Roy Hargrove, Lester Bowie, Marcus Belgrave, Lonnie Brooks, Big Time Sarah, Melvin Seals, Vince Welnick, Umphrey's McGee, and Dark Star Orchestra. Pat has toured with the Charles Earland Band, Artie Shaw Orchestra, and Woody Herman Orchestra.

dang. if you get to chicago, you can catch mr. mallinger in the funkier sabertooth, wednesdays at andy's and midnight on saturdays at the green mill.

this weekend, the whole quartet was terrific: peter schimke on piano, tom lewis on bass, and kenny horst on drums. aside from a mad sonny rollins cover, i most enjoyed the original compositions inspired by madeline and sauce melba. sweet.

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Saturday, November 24, 2007

cars, age, and inconspicuous consumption


according to the 2004 survey of consumer finances, the wealthiest americans do not appear to be flaunting their wealth with expensive vehicles. the median market value of vehicles held by households in the top 10 percent of the u.s. wealth distribution was about $30,600 and the median value for the bottom 25 percent was about $5,600. there is a bit of selectivity into car ownership of course, with about 93 percent of the wealthiest decile owning one or more vehicles relative to about 65 percent of the least wealthy group. still, the difference in median values seems small to me, given the enormous discrepancies in total assets (about $1.6 million for the top 10 percent, relative to about $7,700 for the bottom 25 percent).

having just perused the special luxury vehicles section of my thanksgiving-day strib, i figured that the typical top-decile garage must contain, say, a two-year-old black bimmer for him and a new lexus for her (perhaps with a bow on top). but such vehicles would cost at least double the $30,600 in total household vehicle holdings.

to get a look and feel for the cars available at each level of wealth, i searched carsoup.com at $100 plus or minus the medians and stuck the corresponding pictures on the chart above. to standardize a bit, i began with 2006 models (working back to 2005 when no cars were available at the price) and only assumed one car per family. these are the first passenger cars to come up within 25 miles of my zip code:

_0% to 24.9% $____7,700 assets: $_5,600 2005 nissan altima
25% to 49.9% $___84,500 assets: $11,900 2006 chevy cobalt
50% to 74.9% $__257,300 assets: $17,400 2006 kia amante
75% to 89.9% $__600,200 assets: $22,600 2006 nissan altima
90% to 100 % $1,572,600 assets: $30,600 2006 cadillac sts

the caddy is nice, i suppose, but it ain't no bentley. and i'd have to squint pretty hard to find any sort of hierarchy among the vehicles in the other wealth classes. plus, many middle-class and wealthier families have two or more vehicles.

does the relative equality in vehicle values constitute evidence against veblen's theory of the leisure class? given the centrality of cars in american culture, i would expect vehicle purchases to signify conspicuous consumption, with RVs, i suppose, to indicate conspicuous leisure.

here are three candidate explanations for the pattern:

1. a threshold problem. perhaps the top 10 percent isn't all that meaningful and the big jump might come for the top 1 percent or 1/10 of 1 percent.

2. a measurement flaw. hmm. no obvious problems that i can spot.*

3. the life course. ah! i bet that's it. age is closely related to wealth accumulation, so it might be the case that cars are a poor (ahem) vehicle for signalling status among older americans. moreover, households with retirees likely own fewer cars and replace their cars less frequently than households with workers in the full-time labor force. to the extent that the NADA blue book value is low for ten-year-old lincoln town cars and mercedes e-classes, it might bring down the median value of vehicle holdings for the top wealth group. finally, there's likely a cultural explanation as well, as car culture is perhaps more salient to youth and young adults than for folks my age or older.

so, i'll opt for an age-graded life-course theory of vehicle consumption until i see some evidence to the contrary. if i ever find myself selling luxury cars, however, i've got a good target demographic in mind.

*survey respondents were asked to provide the year, make, and model of each of their cars, vans, sport-utility vehicles, and trucks. this information was then used to obtain market prices from data collected by the national automobile dealers association and other sources.

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Friday, November 23, 2007

leaving the mat?

as they walk off the mat for the very last time, great wrestlers such as rulon gardner (left) have often left their shoes or headgear behind. when a wrestler finally steps away from the blood, sweat, and tears of training and competition, it is a ritual of high emotion.

with far less ceremony but similarly high emotion, it looks as though my lad's wrestling career may be coming to an end. despite his top-5 state preseason ranking, tor seems to be walking away from the sport.

i'm baffled but supportive, which has pretty much been my official parenting position since the kids became teenagers. i'm proud of my son's accomplishments, of course, but realize that he's 16 now and this is his call rather than mine.

when i think about why i'm hoping he'll continue, about half of the reasons are noble (e.g., his continued social, mental, and emotional development) and about half of the reasons are completely selfish (e.g., my joy in watching his matches and the closeness i feel in sharing them with him). personally? there's nowhere i'd rather be on a cold january night than watching the big man close out a dual meet before a raucous crowd at mounds view high.

of course, that's easy for me to say. for a dad, it is all gain and no pain. he's the one getting up at 5 am for morning practices, putting his body through the most intense daily workouts of any sport, and walking out in a singlet to go toe-to-toe with some of the toughest young men in the state. all i have to do is show up, cheer on the lads, and bask in the reflected glory. the irony was not lost on me as i was out celebrating victories last year with other parents, while our boys were already asleep back home, exhausted.

so, regardless of whether he ever laces up those wrestling shoes again, tor knows he can count on my full support. i learned at his age that one should never feel compelled to pursue activities just because one happens to do well at them. i also learned, way back then, that we honor our parents with our character and our decency rather than our activities or accomplishments.

moreover, there's nothing stopping me from showing up to cheer on the good guys from mounds view this winter. i might even relax and enjoy the matches more if i'm no longer keeping an eye on tor's opponent the whole time (dang, he's big ... no way that kid's 18 ... who'd he beat? ... no way ... isn't that, like, a prison tattoo?).

thanks to photographer pat finn, i've also managed to squirrel away hundreds of fine pictures that will help tor remember his epic triple-overtime battles and the quieter moments of camaraderie between matches.

thanks to you, my man, for sharing all this with me. i can't wait to see what you'll do next...

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Thursday, November 22, 2007

free rice vocabulator

if you know or wish to learn the meaning of words such as depredate and poniard, you might enjoy spending a li'l freetime at freerice.com.

for each word that you guess correctly in a little online vocabulary game, the organization donates 10 grains of rice through the united nations world food program. each time you submit an answer, a pop-up advertisement from a firm such as fujitsu or time/life appears in the lower portion of the screen. with each click, these sponsors contribute funds to the united nations to distribute the rice.

of course, such games cannot single-handedly build vocabularies and feed the world. nevertheless, freerice.com seems like a clever and creative attempt to harness webpower for good purposes.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

unlocking america report released

a new report on reducing america's prison population came out this week, co-authored by some of my favorite criminologists: james austin, todd clear, troy duster, david greenberg, john irwin, candace mccoy, alan mobley, barbara owen, and joshua page.

Unlocking America: Why and How to Reduce America’s Prison Population documents the rise in incarceration and makes some concrete recommendations for stemming the tide (e.g., reducing the length of prison stays and eliminating prison time for technical parole violations).

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harold, chris, and kumar go to white castle


note: originally published last year, 'round this time...

i picked up the nickname mo' gravy at some point in my youth, so thanksgiving is a very big day for me. and 2006 was the year i finally attempted the famous white castle stuffing recipe. dee-licious.

you can find instructions to produce a very solid baseline version here, but how 'bout we take it up a notch? imagine combining in a single dressing the formidable powers of both jimmy dean pork sausage and white castle slyders. well, rookie's recipe has it all:

Ingredients
* Seasoned Stuffing - 1 large bag croutons or a loaf bread cut in cubes
* 1 package of mild Pork Sausage
*1 lb hamburger
*1 onion chopped
*5 stalks celery chopped
*4 cups Chicken Broth
*Four White Castle Hamburgers (crumbled, I prefer no pickle).

Directions
Brown the meat.
Mix ingredients and meat.
Sage to taste.

Bake

covered at 325 degrees about 45 minutes.

mmm, mmm, mmm! if yer not serving (my) kids, you can toss a li'l frozen spinach n' garlic in there as well. in light of my long experience with white castles, i'm guessing that you won't be thanking me in the morning. still, can you imagine how great this will taste once you pour a little gravy on it? dang.

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Monday, November 19, 2007

american society of criminology v. city crime rankings

criminologists have grumbled for years about the "city crime rankings" released each year by morgan quitno and cq press. these rankings are based on the fbi's uniform crime reports data, which are a fine source of information for many purposes. when used to compile a crude annual ordering of dangerousness, however, the fbi cautions that they can be extremely misleading.

cities vary a great deal in reporting practices and many other characteristics that affect such rankings, but the most fundamental problem is one of simple geography. criminologists working in the field refer to this issue as the denominator problem: sprawled-out cities such as phoenix tend to fare much better than geographically-constrained cities such as st. louis. this is because the former cities include lower-crime suburb-like areas within their borders.

at tuesday's meeting of the american society of criminology executive board, we passed a resolution to oppose the use of UCR data to rank American cities as “dangerous’ or “safe” without proper consideration of the limitations of these data. today, the associated press reported this year's rankings, but have also added some responsible language about the professional objections and harm they cause:

DETROIT - In another blow to the Motor City's tarnished image, Detroit pushed past St. Louis to become the nation's most dangerous city, according to a private research group's controversial analysis, released Sunday, of annual FBI crime statistics.

The study drew harsh criticism even before it came out. The American Society of Criminology launched a pre-emptive strike Friday, issuing a statement attacking it as "an irresponsible misuse" of crime data.

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Sunday, November 18, 2007

15 years, 10 months, and 11 days


the passing of baseball's joe nuxhall brings to mind some glen elder-style observations on careers and the life course. i was probably 10 years old when i first encountered the friendly visage of a gray-haired mr. nuxhall on a mid-sixties baseball card.

as a kid, i could only form three questions when i turned the card over: (1) what's the deal with the loooong gap between mr. nuxhall's major league debut in 1944 and his next appearance in 1952? and, (2) he wasn't really sixteen in that debut, was he? (in truth, mr. nuxhall first toed the rubber at 15 years, 10 months, and 11 days old); and, (3) how does one get an e.r.a. of 45.00?

well, the last question was easily answered, i suppose. the poor kid got shelled. he pitched one inning, gave up five runs on five walks and no strikeouts, and lived eight years of his life with a major league earned run average of 45.00 hanging over his head.

the lefthander had a solid if unspectacular pitching career, putting up numbers similar to those of contemporary players such as woodie williams or matt morris before stepping into the booth as a much-beloved redlegs broadcaster from 1967-2004.


but what accounts for the bizarre early career trajectory? my initial hypothesis was that mr. nuxhall's appearance was simply a cheap marketing gimmick, but the story is more league of their own than eddie gaedel. by the end of world war II, major league baseball was desperate for players. from the times:

On the afternoon of Saturday, June 10, 1944, four days after the D-Day invasion, the Reds and the St. Louis Cardinals were playing at Cincinnati’s Crosley Field as World War II baseball carried on with players who were rejected for military service or were too young or too old for the draft. The Cardinals, en route to a third consecutive pennant, were leading the Reds, 13-0, in the eighth inning when Cincinnati Manager Bill McKechnie beckoned to a young man seated in the dugout.

He was 6 feet 3 inches and weighed about 190 pounds, a left-handed pitcher who threw a fastball 85 miles an hour. He had spent the spring in junior high school.

A year earlier, the Reds scouted a right-handed pitcher named Orville Nuxhall, who was playing in a Hamilton, Ohio, Sunday baseball league. They also noticed his son, Joe, barely in his teens, who was also pitching in the league.

Joe Nuxhall signed with Cincinnati in February 1944, and when his ninth-grade classes in Hamilton let out, he would occasionally get into uniform at the Reds’ home games.

sweet. mr. nuxhall's story shows how a ballplayer's life is embedded in and shaped by historical conditions, such as the war and resulting tight labor market. born around the time of the berkeley guidance study cohort studied by glen elder, mr. nuxhall also exemplifies processes of resiliency and agency, as he overcame some awful timing to carve out a beautiful seven-decade career in major league baseball.

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Saturday, November 17, 2007

fuzz, fjords, and farfisa

if yer like me, you prefer yer garage punk with a li'l farfisa organ and a norsk accent. hence, you might be interested in the launderettes new fluff n' fold compilation.

youtube is criminally devoid of launderettes videos, but there's plenty on myspace. i'd recommend what would joan jett do? and no good. can't wait for the u.s. tour...

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asc highlights: jimmy carter

we were treated to a fine address by president jimmy carter at this year's american society of criminology meetings in atlanta.

the former governor described a friendly yet today-mind-blowingly-incomprehensible competition in the 1970s among the governors of georgia, alabama, florida, and other states: who could reduce prison populations by the largest margin?

times have changed, eh?

the talk was a love fest that put a li'l tear in this public criminologist's eye. in particular, the ex-president rather forcefully urged the asc membership to take a more active role in documenting and describing human rights abuses in criminal justice.

there were lighter moments as well, of course. being an ex-president is a pretty good gig, as this ol' ice-breaking anecdote makes clear:

I remembered going through China and Japan in 1981, soon after I left the White House. At that time I was asked to make a speech at a small college near Osaka. When I got to this little college, everybody was so nervous, it made me nervous. So, I got up to make a speech, and I thought I would put the Japanese at ease-the students and professors and their parents-by telling a joke. It takes so long to translate English into Japanese that I didn't choose my funniest joke--I just chose my shortest joke. So I told my joke, and then the interpreter gave it and the audience collapsed in laughter. It was the best response I have ever had to a joke in my life.

I couldn't wait for the speech to be over to get to the green room and ask the interpreter, 'How did you tell my joke?' He was very evasive. But I persisted, and finally he ducked his head and said, "I told the audience, 'President Carter told a funny story. Everyone must laugh.' " So there are some advantages in having been president...

a few of my jokes have been translated at international meetings and, without exception, they've fallen flat. i've been tempted to insert a [THIS IS SUPPOSED TO BE FUNNY] note for the translator, but president carter's approach seems far more effective.

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long time, no blog

i'm just back from the crim meetings in atlanta -- more on that later. while there, however, many old and new friends inquired about the lad's state football tournament run. alas, his mounds view 'stangs lost a tough contest to a somewhat freakishly similar (wing-t/tough-d) eastview team. it was a fine run, however, and #71 is gearing up for another state tourney run in wrestling.

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Monday, November 12, 2007

mailer

i'm wondering whether and how norman mailer's passing will be noted at the american society of criminology meetings this week.

i learned much from the executioner's song, mr. mailer's biography and life history of gary gilmore. the pugnacious writer also introduced me to jack henry abbott, offering an important cautionary tale about the dangers of conflating talent and dangerousness.

i'm not a great admirer of the naked and the dead or mr. mailer's other novels. as a longtime fan of his old rival, gore vidal, however, i'll repeat the story of their scuffle on the dick cavett show in 1970:

Mailer was notorious for tussling with critics. Backstage at "The Dick Cavett Show" in the early 1970s, he head-butted Gore Vidal, who had written that Mailer's violent streak put him in the same league as mass murderer Charles Manson. (After the head-butting, Vidal quipped, "Words fail Norman Mailer yet again.")

ouch. that one hit him where it hurts. i sought some sort of youtube memory of mr. vidal and mr. mailer, but the best i could come up with is the latter's messy '68 brawl with rip torn. it was likely a set-up, but the video confirms my point: norman mailer knew a good deal about both violence and fraud, and he left behind work of great value to criminologists.

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Saturday, November 10, 2007

missouri expungement

any advice for christina? i know of expungement clinics in the twin cities area, but could find little online that would be helpful. after a decade of law-abiding behavior, it is sad to think that a juvenile conviction for auto theft still impedes her job search.

Christina has left a new comment on your post "ex-felon employment and expungement":

Hello, I am 30 years old and was convicted 12 years ago when I was 17 as a adult in the state of Missouri. I have 2 class c felonies for stealing of an automobile. I am looking for any way to get an expungment as looking for a job has become exausting, frustrating and degrading. I am a married mom of 2 boys and have not been in any other trouble since then. I was released in 1998 and its now 2007 and people still look at me like I am going to steal from them. How do I do something to help myself when noone else will help me? Please someone have an answer. - Christina W. no1lefthere@cox.net

there but for the grace of god...

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cash advance

little town

esperanza returned home with a celebratory bouquet of lillies last night, as her little town of christmas opened to fine reviews in maplewood. opening nights can be pretty intense around here, but this one went off without a hitch.

i understand that, from time to time, there has also been some passable live theater in the broadway district of new york city. given the strike by the stagehands' union, i figure that the new epicenter of american theatre is now maplewood, minnesota.

news reports estimate that fewer than 500 stagehands are working on broadway at any given time, but their strike will have an enormous cultural and economic impact: of 36 shows listed on playbill.com, 28 are shut down this weekend.

the eight broadway shows that will be running:
Cymbeline at the Vivian Beaumont Theater
Mary Poppins at the New Amsterdam Theatre
Mauritius at the Biltmore Theatre
Pygmalion at the American Airlines Theatre
The Ritz at Studio 54
The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee at Circle in the Square
Xanadu at the Helen Hayes Theatre
Young Frankenstein at the Hilton Theatre

the 28 broadway shows that will be dark until further notice:
August: Osage County at the Imperial Theatre
Avenue Q at the Golden Theatre
A Bronx Tale at the Walter Kerr Theatre
Chicago at the Ambassador Theatre
A Chorus Line at the Schoenfeld Theatre
The Color Purple at the Broadway Theatre
Curtains at the Al Hirschfeld Theatre
Cyrano de Bergerac at the Richard Rodgers Theatre
Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas at the St. James Theatre
The Drowsy Chaperone at the Marquis Theatre
Duran Duran at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre
The Farnsworth Invention at the Music Box Theatre
Grease at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre
Hairspray at the Neil Simon Theatre
Is He Dead? at the Lyceum Theatre
Jersey Boys at the August Wilson Theatre
Legally Blonde at the Palace Theatre
Les Misérables at the Broadhurst Theatre
The Lion King at the Minskoff Theatre
The Little Mermaid at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre
Mamma Mia! at the Winter Garden Theatre
Monty Python's Spamalot at the Shubert Theatre
The Phantom of the Opera at the Majestic Theatre
Rent at the Nederlander Theatre
Rock 'n' Roll at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre
The Seafarer at the Booth Theatre
Spring Awakening at the Eugene O'Neill Theatre
Wicked at the Gershwin Theatre

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Friday, November 09, 2007

after a long chairday, there's nothing like a good concert. tonight, neil young brought a li'l truth and beauty to the minnversity's stately northrup auditorium.

the first set was soft n' acoustic. love is a rose was a particularly sweet surprise, as it reminded me of esperanza. we've shouted this one out on the backyard deck for years, in a joyous dad-kid duet. after the intermission, the band plugged in and mr. young stomped around making beautiful dinosaur noises. as is his custom, he ran old black (pictured) through an overdriven li'l fender deluxe. cinnamon was good, everybody knows was great, and like a hurricane was, well, transcendant.

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Thursday, November 08, 2007

npr's li'l creativity exercise

gimmicky? sure, but still kind of cool.

npr set stephen merritt of the magnetic fields down in a studio, gave him a few words and images, and asked that he create and record a song about them. in 48 hours. while being filmed.

mr. merritt chose the word "1974" and the phil toledano image at left. he then went to work creating the man of a million faces. the video of the songwriting process is fun and revealing. as those familiar with mr. merritt's work might expect, the resulting song is a creepy n' clever portrait of a shape-shifting master criminal. representative lyric:

quite the psychiatric case is
the man of a million faces
wielder of flails and maces,
veteran of high-speed chases ...

in my line of work, this would be equivalent to flashing newspaper headlines and youtube clips at social scientists, setting them down at computer terminals, and giving them 48 hours to produce articles. the resulting video would be boooooring, of course, but i bet they'd write some good stuff. i can imagine a really creative/sadistic graduate methods instructor assigning such a task as a final course project...

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student-eye view

via michelle and mark edwards:

i can't vouch for their statistics, but michael wesch's k-state cultural anthropology project certainly offers a beautiful student-eye view of college learning. things aren't like this at the minnversity, of course. our students are $27,000 in debt when they walk across the stage to receive their diplomas.

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Wednesday, November 07, 2007

nij is hiring social science research analysts

the national institute of justice is hiring:

Five Social Science Analysts. These positions direct and manage research portfolios in one or more of the following areas: crime prevention; policing, gangs, violence against women and other family members, prisons and jails, community corrections, and courts.

Within NIJ's organizational structure, the vacancies reside in the Crime Control and Prevention Research Division, the Violence and Victimization Research Division, the Justice Systems Research Division, and the International Center.

NIJ is looking for people with:
* Strong organizational skills
* Ability to multi-task
* Ability to put the team first
* Excellent writing skills
* Knowledge of criminal justice systems

Application Deadline: November 30, 2007

View the job announcement.

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a globalization of public shaming?

in crime, shame, and reintegration (1989), john braithwaite contrasted the stigmatizing punishments typical of nations such as the united states, with the reintegrative shaming practiced in nations such as japan. in particular, he cited the public displays of repentance shown by corporate representatives in the east.

the l.a. times reports an incident of such public shaming in the u.s. congress:

WASHINGTON -- They sat just two feet apart, the mother of a journalist confined to a Chinese prison and the wealthy head of the giant U.S. company that helped put him behind bars.

But before Yahoo Inc. Chief Executive Jerry Yang took his seat to testify on Capitol Hill Tuesday, he bowed deeply before the woman.

The hearing by the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Yahoo's conduct in China was a rare public shaming of the Internet leader, whose actions led to the imprisonment of journalist Shi Tao.

this is just one incident, of course, but i would not be surprised to see more american politicians and executives bowing long and low in the halls of congress. beyond capitol hill, my sense is that public shaming is occurring with far more regularity in the american criminal justice system of 2007 than it had twenty years earlier. in my view, this is partly a globalization effect and partly a braithwaite effect, as professor braithwaite offered a practical and flexible conceptual framework for restorative justice programs and reintegrative initiatives.

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some useful instructions from april ossmann's new book

Instructions for When You Feel That Your Head Is About to Explode

1) Rub two "Number 2" pencils together
until you've worn a sort of saddle in each,
exposing the graphite center.


2) Glue the saddle sides together carefully, forming
a crucifix.


3) Glue the crucifix to a blank page
of paper and hang it above your desk.


4) Think about it--all day if you wish.

5) Peel an entire head of cabbage, carefully,
so as not to tear any of the leaves.


6) Sew the leaves together at the bottom ends
in a circular fashion, forming a "cabbage rose."


7) Think, briefly, about the difference
between this "rose" and a "real" cabbage rose.

8) Think, all day if you wish, about why
we make such distinctions.


9) Peel an entire cabbage rose, carefully,
so as not to tear any of the petals.


10) Glue the petals together, forming
a faux head of cabbage.


11) Think about why we say
"a head" of cabbage.


12) Think, very briefly, about how close you are
to having a head of cabbage.


13) Think, at length, about why we say
that something or someone is "ahead of me."


14) Tear the crucifix from the blank page
above your desk. The page should now
have a hole in the center where some
of the paper remained glued to the pencils.


15) Place the injured page on your desk, and, using
the crucifix, begin to write about any
or all of this.


16) Take as long as you wish.

-April Ossmann from anxious music. via fishouse poets.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

leaving prison

for some reason, i've been distracted all day by the sound of train whistles and prison gates slamming shut. while tempting to attribute this condition to the full slate of meetings on my calendar this week, it is more likely the result of reading a merle haggard interview just before bed.

like many former prisoners, mr. haggard can still call to mind details of his release decades later. via esquire:

I got out something like nine that morning. February 3, 1960. There's a big metal security device at the main door coming out of San Quentin. When they open that door, it comes up and you have to step over it. Just as I was stepping over that device, a Hank Snow record came on. "The Last Ride." My foot just stopped in midair. The song was coming from a radio near this guard who was standing there with his gun. He said, "What, did you change your mind?" I said, "No, that's a really great song." I stayed there and listened to the rest of the song.
[words n' music]

dang. wouldn't that just be the coolest scene in the movie? a good song always stops a good songwriter dead in his tracks. the second coolest scene would show the young mr. haggard in the front row at the man in black's first san quentin show in '58. from rolling stone:

I met Johnny in 1963 in a restroom in Chicago. I was taking a leak, and he walked up beside me with a flask of wine underneath his coat and said, "Haggard, you want a drink of this wine?" Those were the first words he ever said to me, but I had been in awe of him since I saw him play on New Year's Day in 1958, at San Quentin Prison, where I was an inmate. He'd lost his voice the night before over in Frisco and wasn't able to sing very good; I thought he'd had it, but he won over the prisoners. He had the right attitude: He chewed gum, looked arrogant and flipped the bird to the guards -- he did everything the prisoners wanted to do. He was a mean mother from the South who was there because he loved us. When he walked away, everyone in that place had become a Johnny Cash fan. There were 5,000 inmates in San Quentin and about thirty guitar players; I was among the top five guitarists in there. The day after Johnny's show, man, every guitar player in San Quentin was after me to teach them how to play like him. It was like how, the day after a Muhammad Ali fight, everybody would be down in the yard shadowboxing; that day, everyone was trying to learn "Folsom Prison Blues."

Then when my career caught fire, he asked me to be a guest on his variety show on ABC. He, June and I were discussing what I should do on the show, and he said, "Haggard, let me tell the people you've been to prison. It'll be the biggest thing that will happen to you in your life, and the tabloids will never be able to hurt you. It's called telling the truth: If you start off telling the truth, your fans never forget it." I told him, "Being an ex-convict is the most shameful thing. It's against the grain to talk about it." But he was right -- it set a fire under me that hadn't been there before.

on most issues, i'm probably walking on the fightin' side of merle, but he gets a 10 out of 10 for authenticity in my book. one more quote from the esquire piece:

I'll tell you why it's different when somebody else is singing "Mama Tried": They're reading the words. I'm telling the story. [don and phil sure sang it pretty, though]
[words n' music]

amen. here's a whole collection of mr. haggard's prison songs.

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Monday, November 05, 2007

if the university of minnesota can have 200 students in a classroom, why can’t your high school?

i'd like to think that i'd champion public schools even if i had pursued a different career path. i've been a public school kid from garlough elementary, to grass junior high, to sibley high school, to the universities of minnesota and wisconsin. i've personally reaped the benefits of a public school education, while the writings of jefferson and others on the subject have made me a true believer.

with dozens of closely-contested school bonding referenda looming on the election calendar, however, i sometimes wonder about the opposing viewpoint -- that public schools are taking too much of our resources or that they have outlived their usefulness altogether. well, here's a nice example of the sort of ideal-typical arguments made by those who vote no on such referenda.



the speaker, mr. phil krinkie, once represented my district in the state legislature -- a fact that nearly enraged/inspired me to seek political office myself. today, mr. krinkie is president of the taxpayers league of minnesota. via mn2020.org and lori sturdevant's piece today in the strib, i got word of the following excerpts and video clip taken from his september 14 speech at a schools for equity in education meeting in st. paul. a few highlights:

On public school parents: “If a child goes to a private school, you have a significant investment on the line, and therefore you want performance from both the school and your son or daughter. Public school — what’s your investment? For most parents, cash out of pocket? Little or nothing. But yet, they can continue to make demands on the system. They don’t have any ‘skin in the game.’ But they come to the third grade teacher and say, ‘Why can’t my son read?’ This is what I call the ‘all you can eat buffet.’ They get to come in, they don’t pay for the up-front cash invested in the system, yet they get to consume all they want, and if they are not satisfied, in other words, ‘I need more roast beef, I want another piece of apple pie,’ then it’s up to the system to try to provide it. The parent can continue to demand whatever they want even though they have invested little or nothing in terms of money.”

On class size: “If the University of Minnesota can have 200 students in a classroom, why can’t your high school?”

On special education students: “Stop spending millions and millions of dollars where there is no true possibility of academic improvement or academic success. There are hundreds, thousands of children in our public schools today that we are babysitting, we are warehousing them. When we pay a para to be in a classroom to take care of the child’s feeding tube, there is literally no way that individual is going to gain anything from being in that school building.”

On emotionally disturbed students: “The same thing is true of our emotionally disturbed children who disrupt the entire classroom, the entire building. The one that I think is the easiest to remove from the classroom is the aggressive or violent student in the school building that needs to be taken out. The way we get them out is to give them a voucher and say good-bye.”


yeesh. i find such comments demoralizing but instructive, as they are the most unminnesotan utterances i've ever heard by a former officeholder in my home state.

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Saturday, November 03, 2007

closed circuit football post: 'stangs to state

the mounds view mustangs defeated white bear lake 21-14 in last night's section championship, placing our 'stangs among the elite eight invited to the state tournament.

coach jim galvin and his staff deserve applause for extracting a 9-2 record from this not-exactly-superstar-laden team, but i was struck last night by the fine leadership of the senior captains. linebacker jack got a sack and returned a blocked punt for a touchdown; quarterback mitch kept everything cool and gutted out some tough yards; center joe blew open big holes; and, guard harry (#59 above) fired up the lads all season and led the way tonight on a key touchdown run.

as some sort of motivational show of o-line solidarity, joe and harry have been sporting mohawks (and not those half-baked fauxhawks, either) throughout the playoffs. my long-haired lad has thus far resisted the pressure. a couple hours ago, however, a crew of four 'hawk-coiffed linemen pulled up in the driveway. they fanned out around the house to secure the perimeter and politely requested tor's presence. i'm not sure they'll successfully shear him today, but they did manage to get the large lad into the vehicle. unless they've got a lot more guys, however, i'm betting he'll return with locks intact. since his preschool days, at least, it has usually taken more than four linemen to accomplish a haircut.

next game is friday the ninth versus eastview at griffin stadium in st. paul. winner goes to the metrodome.

Lakeville North (8-3) v. Cretin-Derham Hall (11-0), 7 pm Thurs at Griffin Stadium
Wayzata (10-1) v. St. Cloud Tech/Brainerd, 8 pm Friday at St. Cloud State
Mounds View (9-2) v. Eastview (10-1), 7 pm Friday at Griffin Stadium
Eden Prairie (11-0) v. Andover (8-3), 6 pm Sat. at Griffin Stadium

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Thursday, November 01, 2007

the jail notebooks

via boing:

a volunteer in the dane county, wisconsin jails has archived 77 scans of notes and sketches found in jail reading materials.

working with the jail library group in madison, jumbled pile found these items "abandoned in books or stuffed on the jail's book cart." i'm intrigued by the notes, receipts, and sketches, but also by the jail library group itself. which subjects are most requested by dane county jail inmates? poetry tops the list.

* Poetry, especially love poems
* Religion, especially Islam
* Physical and mental health
* Psychology and self-help
* Job manuals and career advice
* Hobbies and games: chess, card games, Scrabble, drawing
* Crime, gangs and prison life
* AODA and recovery materials
* African-American nonfiction topics: Black history, slavery, Black nationalism


if you are inspired by the scans or the project, you might consider donating a book from their amazon wish list.

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