Chris Uggen's Blog: December 2007

Monday, December 31, 2007

wring out the clothes, wring in the dew

if you encounter tennyson's wild bells this week, you might consider the old poem to be especially appropriate for ringing out 2007.

nah, that's just good poetry. i felt the same thing when i first encountered these words twenty years ago and, no doubt, i'll probably feel the same revisiting them twenty years hence.

but tonight, for some reason, i'm reading "ring out" as "wring out." instead of tennyson's wild bells, i'm seeing a white five-gallon bucket, full of warm soapy water. instead of his valiant man, i'm seeing a good heavy-duty washrag, grey and gritty from hard use. so maybe a good dousing and twisting is what i'm after this season -- to wring out the grey and grit and wring in some fresh clean water.

I. ring out, wild bells from In Memoriam

by Lord Alfred Tennyson (1809-1892)

Ring out, wild bells, to the wild sky,
The flying cloud, the frosty light:
The year is dying in the night;
Ring out, wild bells, and let him die.

Ring out the old, ring in the new,
Ring, happy bells, across the snow:
The year is going, let him go;
Ring out the false, ring in the true.

Ring out the grief that saps the mind
For those that here we see no more;
Ring out the feud of rich and poor,
Ring in redress to all mankind.

Ring out a slowly dying cause,
And ancient forms of party strife;
Ring in the nobler modes of life,
With sweeter manners, purer laws.

Ring out the want, the care, the sin,
The faithless coldness of the times;
Ring out, ring out my mournful rhymes
But ring the fuller minstrel in.

Ring out false pride in place and blood,
The civic slander and the spite;
Ring in the love of truth and right,
Ring in the common love of good.

Ring out old shapes of foul disease;
Ring out the narrowing lust of gold;
Ring out the thousand wars of old,
Ring in the thousand years of peace.

Ring in the valiant man and free,
The larger heart, the kindlier hand;
Ring out the darkness of the land,
Ring in the Christ that is to be.


II. New Year's Day

by Kobayashi Issa (1763-1828)

New Year's Day--
everything is in blossom!
I feel about average.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

a wicked good line

i'm in chicago with esperanza for a father-daughter weekend. we shopped (well, pretty much just looked) on michigan avenue, ate a fine pie at gino's east, and saw wicked tonight.

the show was great, with lots of strong female characters. the dudes were a bit less interesting, aside from the professor/goat at left.

we slept well last night, though my snoring was a topic of some conversation in the morning. esperanza says she's resigned to inheriting it someday, along with my, quote, "lack of rhythm and fear of mayonnaise." the kid's got me sussed...

Friday, December 28, 2007

pb&j: life's too short to listen to ugly music

funny what warms your heart. i got home from work and workout to find my large lad at the computer with peter, bjorn, and john. he was whistling along after a winter's night of snowball fights and malt-shop reverie with his boys and girls.

i'm happy that he's happy, of course, but i'm also heartened that his particular vision of masculinity leaves ample room for melody and romanticism. this ain't necessarily the case with 16-year-old football players. that said, i had no idea he was listening to what i was listening to, though this sort of thing seems to happen a lot around my house.

here are a few peter, bjorn, and john lyrics from the new one:

young folks

and we don't care about our own folks
talkin' 'bout our own stuff
all we care about is talking
talking only me and you

paris, 2004

Monday morning,
We have to fly back home again.
While I'm sleeping,
You paint a ring on my finger with your black marker-pen.


objects of my affection

and the question is, was i more alive
then than i am now?
i happily have to disagree;
i laugh more often now, i cry more often now,
i am more me.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

do we really hate the transportation security administration?

just in time for holiday travel, a new ap/ipsos poll reports on americans' attitudes toward the transportation security administration. all the reporting on the poll implied that the agency is today as unpopular as the internal revenue service with the public. wondering how other agencies are faring, i looked up the topline results and graphed the percentage of americans reporting a very unfavorable or somewhat unfavorable impression of each agency or institution.



though it made for a nice travel story, i couldn't find much evidence to support claims about the transportation security administration's unpopularity. in the figure above, the irs is shown in grey, with 39 percent unfavorable, and the tsa is shown in yellow, with 25 percent unfavorable. the only agencies with lower unfavorables than the transportation security administration were the supreme court, the fbi, and the postal service. and we just love our postal service. the supreme court is always rated highly (at least in occupational prestige scales) and the fbi is typically the most trusted law enforcement agency, but i was surprised to see that homeland security had much higher negatives than the cia.

the figure above doesn't consider non-response, which varied greatly across the agencies. a full 19 percent had either never heard of the tsa (9 percent), couldn't rate it (9 percent), or didn't know how to answer the question (1 percent). folks were also reluctant to answer questions about the cia. in contrast, almost everybody could answer questions about the postal service and the department of education

were i to write a holiday story based on these results, i'd skip the whole we hate the TSA angle. instead, i'd craft a happy piece about our fine postal carriers and the cards and packages they deliver.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

second chance day on the hill february 13 @ minnesota capitol

guy gambill sends word of a big event for minnesota exes:

On February 13, 2008, at 11:00 a.m., in the Capitol Rotunda, over 1000 ex-offenders, their families and supporters of justice reform will come together to highlight the importance of second chances. This effort is being lead by a consortium of non-profit leaders and justice system advocates. On behalf of this consortium, we are asking for support in raising statewide and national attention to increase awareness regarding the barriers facing individuals with criminal records that affect the social, civic and economic stability of families and communities.

There are currently 155,000 Minnesota adults under some form of correctional supervision; 142,000 on probation, 4,200 on some level of supervised release, and 9,100 in prison. And there are at least as many with a criminal record who have satisfied all the requirements of their sentence. This equates to one in every sixteen Minnesotans having the stigma of a conviction they must overcome to qualify for housing, employment and student loans, among other things. Legislatively we have created nearly 200 collateral sanctions over and above the penalties associated with a conviction.

We ask that you and your organization support "Second Chance Day on the Hill" on February 13, 2008 by recruiting individuals to come to the capitol. It is time for us to come together and make the all too often invisible problems facing individuals with criminal records visible.

guy expects a big crowd, with a speaker list that includes ex-felons, state and national legislative leaders, and justice reform advocates.

Friday, December 21, 2007

seeking sociology academic advisor

in my time at the minnversity, we've been blessed with two wonderful undergraduate advisors. we're now seeking a replacement for ann miller, who was recently promoted to department administrator. around here, our advisor is really the primary lead in the undergraduate program, working closely with ann, me, our director of undergraduate studies, and many campus-wide offices.

review of applications starts now. for priority consideration please apply online (requisition #151694) by tuesday, january 22. you can contact ann miller with any questions or details about the position, salary range, or search strategy.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

probation and the not-quite-sacred sunday ritual

at last count, there were 4,237,023 probationers in the united states. on friday, they all found a hero in judge andrew j. kleinfeld of the u.s. court of appeals for the ninth circuit.

the circuit court ruled in united states v. betts (no. 06-50205) that probationers cannot be banned from alcohol use unless their crimes had something to do with drinking. writing for a unanimous panel, judge kleinfeld stepped up strong in defense of certain fundamental and near-sacred rights:

"consumption of alcohol does not rise to the dignity of our sacred liberties, such as freedom of speech, but the freedom to drink a beer while sitting in a recliner and watching a football game is nevertheless a liberty people have, and it is probably exercised by more people than the liberty to publish a political opinion."

the ruling comes just in time for the holidays and the playoffs.

the gift of love

i was stumped when a friend asked me to recommend a versatile electric guitar for a beginner. around the holidays, one can find brand name guitar/amp packages for around $200, but the guitars are pretty much unplayable. if it won't stay in tune (or it will stay in tune just fine until one touches the strings), it isn't much fun to play. especially for beginners.

i hate to recommend expensive gifts, but i wanted to suggest something that would actually be a joy to play: a plain mexican-made fender stratocaster, which can be had for a li'l under $400. i've loved the surftastic pink 60s strat i found for $350 on the used rack a few years ago, but i'm sure that other players can recommend some other fine options.

the idea of a used $350 gift strat brought to mind the gift of the magi-like story of lenny and stevie ray vaughan. via fender.com:

The “Lenny” story is a love story. Love for a woman and love for a guitar. Stevie Ray Vaughan was not yet a star on his 26th birthday, Oct. 3, 1980, when his wife, Lenora “Lenny” Vaughan, gave him a used Stratocaster guitar that had recently caught his eye in an Austin, Texas, pawnshop.

...About a year after they were married, Lenora remembers, “The guys went to a pawnshop and saw this guitar. One guy wanted it, and Stevie said, ‘I want it more.’” It was a 1965 maple-neck Fender Stratocaster with a rosewood fingerboard and the original pickups that, from the look of it, had seen better days. Although it began life as a three-color sunburst model, it had obviously been refinished none too expertly at some point, and now it had a dark natural finish bearing an elaborately arty inlay behind the bridge. Nonetheless, there was something about it that clearly and immediately resonated deeply with Vaughan. That guitar really grabbed him.

Unfortunately it cost $350. Money was tight in those pre-stardom days, and neither Stevie nor Lenora had enough. His birthday was coming up, though, and she devised a way of getting the guitar for him.

“I went out and found seven people with $50, and they all put their money in and we got the guitar, and we gave it to him for his birthday at (Austin nightclub) Steamboat Springs on 6th St.,” she said.

Vaughan was thrilled. They took the guitar home and sometime that night, as Lenora slept, her husband wrote a new song on it. In the morning, Lenora remembers, “He was sitting on the edge of the bed with the guitar and said, ‘Listen to this.’” He played her the song he had written that night, “Lenny,” and she cried.

“It was beautiful,” she said. “How can you stop loving anything like that? I’ve never once in my life listened to that song without crying.”

sound unbelievably hoky?

maybe, but listen to this performance of lenny on that same ol' '65 strat -- and just try to tell me you're not feeling the love...

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

we don't go anywhere in the universe without chocolates...

an ol' karaoke buddy took a 7-hour spacewalk today, so i'm following news from the international space station with great interest. that's dan at left, troubleshooting the solar arrays that generate power for the station.

i know that he's a huge (and mischevious) fan of zero gravity, in particular, and space travel more generally. i'd lack the guts and perseverance needed to make it through the space program, but it seems beautiful to be so ... untethered.

a few links from the current mission and the '65-'75 golden era:

holiday greetings [usa today]

mr. spaceman

mr. space toilet

ronno's moonage daydream solo

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

paid internship with national night out in minneapolis

here's a paid internship for an undergrad in minneapolis, passed along by a former student. there might even be some fun thesis/data collection possibilities here as well:

CCP/SAFE Central is looking to hire a student intern to work on the 2008 National Night Out (NNO) campaign. Duties will include coordinating applications for street closure, making and responding to phone calls, counting and collating materials, helping plan aspects of the campaign and much more. This is a great chance to be part of Minneapolis’ award winning NNO campaign. Up to 30 hours per week; $10 per hour for undergrad. Must pass MPD background investigation, be a student more than 18 years old and commit to work steady hours from May to September, 2008. Very helpful to have a vehicle; mileage reimbursed. Office at 4119 Dupont Ave. N. Contact John Baumann, 612-673-3447 or john.baumann@ci.minneapolis.mn.us for more information.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

a li'l merton for your crim final

the more i learn about athletes and steroids, the more i think about merton's classic social structure and anomie. in professional sport, the use of banned substances may well represent merton's "triumph of amoral intelligence over morally prescribed "failure," when the channels of vertical mobility are closed or narrowed in a society which places a high premium on economic affluence and social ascent for all its members."

at the social-structural level, i could imagine differences across nations or leagues (wrestling, bicycle racing, football...) in the rates of deviation -- and the extent to which cultural success goals are prized over the legitimized means to attaining them. at the individual level, i could imagine that pro baseball players might provide one of the few (only?) research settings in which a simple discrepancy score -- aspirations minus expectations -- would predict innovation in the form of performance-enhancing drug use.

i'm guessing there's a more complicated network story here, too, but the basic test of merton might make for a nice thesis. more immediately, however, it might offer a nice final exam question on your crim theory final. consider yesterday's lavelle e. neal strib profile of dan naulty. in my view, it provides fodder for an essay on merton and banned substances. here's the lead:

Dan Naulty was a user of performance-enhancing drugs, stopping at nothing to reach the major leagues. He later became intoxicated by the lifestyle big-time baseball offered. He chased after the benefits, didn't think about the means and certainly paid little attention to the consequences.
...He wasn't the star player looking for the edge to become a superstar. He wasn't the player barely holding on and looking for any edge. He was the one trying to make his break.

..."I was so young and dumb I didn't think about anything except the light at the end of the tunnel,'' Naulty said, "and that light was the fame that baseball was going to provide me.''

cultural success goals? check. goals/means disjuncture? check. you get the idea. there's even a nice redemption script in this case:

Now the consequences mean more to Naulty, a former Twins pitcher who spent 1996-99 in the majors. The mental snapshot that pops up the most: the sight of Mike Trombley packing his bags in 1996 after being a late spring training cut. Naulty cheated his way onto the team while the popular and hard-working Trombley was misty-eyed over barely missing the cut. "I stole people's jobs," said Naulty...

today mr. naulty is pursuing his doctorate in theology, where the strains and success goals presumably differ from those of major league baseball. while professor merton might predict conformity under such circumstances, other schools of thought would suggest a different outcome. criminologists of the life-course-persistent ilk, for example, might identify mr. naulty as the seminarian most likely to be caught cheating on the ethics final.

though i remain optimistic about mr. naulty's chance for redemption, i suspect that mike trombley would be less forgiving.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

recognizing talent

i've been hacking away on a manuscript all day, but periodically checking results from the rochester christmas tournament.

it turned out to be a long day for our mounds view lads, with only captains piersak and balzer bringing home any medals. still, they should all feel good about lining up against the fearsome tournament competition. fine wrestlers from virginia, iowa, and the dakotas all squared off against the best of our minnesota teams.

it probably wasn't until last year's rochester tournament that i realized that tor was a waaaay better athlete than his dad. he wasn't expected to do much, but the big sophomore was undefeated on day 1 and held his own against some tough late-round competition. it was thrilling for me, as i knew that i would've flopped over like a fish against the competition he was facing. as soon as i got used to the whole wrestling-dad thing, of course, he decided it was time to try something new.

i was looking forward to rochester this year, but the lad has had enough. tor still got some play in this year's tournament profiles, but i think he's officially retired. judging from the way he works me over, though, i think he would have done really well. we went at it pretty good tonight, mostly at my instigation. i'm trying to figure out whether my brittle ol' ribs are broken or just bruised.

he's a tough kid, but he's got some nurturing qualities. i bugged him for not cleaning up the dirty sweats in his room this morning, saying "jeez, tor, it smells like something died in there." he paused before responding, "yeah dad, i think puff is dead."
oh.

so, let me get this straight. his pet and constant companion of eight years actually died and i was joking about smelling football sweats that had been stuffed in a locker since summer two-a-days. perfect. i'm guessing this action makes me an immediate finalist for the insensitive parent of the year award.

now that i think about it, puff the bearded dragon couldn't have asked for a better dad than tor. he fed her many generations of crickets over the years, cleaned her glass cage, and gave her just the right amount of food, light, heat, and attention. she passed away last night after a long and, one hopes, happy life.

so, when the lad ran off to a sadie hawkins dance tonight, i tried to clean up and take care of puff. last year, tor showed me that he could take care of some pretty tough wrestlers. this year he showed me that he could take good care of a pretty fragile living thing. down the road, both capacities should serve him well.

to be old, gifted, and fast...

dr. bill andberg, the gray ghost of anoka, passed away on thursday.

according to the strib obit, mr. andberg ran a 4:59 mile at age 65 to set a masters' world record. dang. at one time or another, he held u.s. or world age-group records for the 880, half mile, 1500, 10k, 20k, 25k, 30k and half marathon. that's why the marathon handbook declared mr. andberg “the world’s fastest 60-year-old man" back in 1971.

according to an abc newspapers story, the longtime veterinarian even died fast:

Eventually, though, Andberg fulfilled his own personal philosophy of “Living long and dying fast,” when he passed away quietly at Abbott Northwestern Hospital in Minneapolis at the age of 96.

with apologies to nina simone:

When you feel really low,
Yeah, there's a great truth you should know.
When you're old, gifted, and fast,
Your soul's intact.

Friday, December 14, 2007

contexts editorial meeting

for some reason, my pictures with doug e. fresh usually come off as the sort of low-budget wedding announcement photo you might find in the local shopper. i'd like to think that our happy couple commitment ceremony vibe is a product of long friendship and productive collaboration. for some bizarre reason, there's no simmering resentment or sibling rivalry between us. and that's a good thing in a collaborative relationship.contexts managing editor amy conner induced our grad student board to write captions for some recent photographs, including some jowly shots that i'd just as soon forget and/or destroy. nevertheless, i promised to post the winning entries from our beery caption contest tonight.
congrats to wes and jon, who took home fabulous prizes this evening, and the other fine entrants. i'm not sure how the love vibe translates in the blogosphere, but our li'l editorial meetings are a good time -- intellectual exchange, good humor, and an evangelistic and unshakeable faith in the transformative power of good sociology.


Thursday, December 13, 2007

operation lucky bag

the times and daily news are reporting on a subway sting operation by the new york police department. in my opinion, operation lucky bag reeks of entrapment -- law enforcement practices that induce citizens to commit crimes they would otherwise have had no intent to commit. judge for yourself:

The NYPD revealed Wednesday its Operation Lucky Bag stings have snared nearly 300 people - many of whom had no rap sheet before they fell for the ruse. Since the start of the year, there have been 100 arrests as a result of the decoy operations, in which an undercover officer "drops" a wallet, iPod or cell phone in a subway station and cops pounce after it's picked up. Police said 58 of those busted had rap sheets, while 42 had clean records. There was a similar breakdown in 2006, when 188 were arrested. The NYPD said 101 had prior arrests while 87 did not.

worse still, good samaritans appear to be caught up in the sweep. isn't there enough actual crime on the trains? if predatory robbery (or even pickpocketing or pursesnatching) is a big problem in this setting, i could reasonably imagine, say, a decoy operation in which officers pose as attractive targets. but dropping a bag and arresting the rider who picks it up? that's just crimemaking.

-via boingboing

seashells and balloons

i've written terse posts lately, so friends have begun to make inquiries. thankfully, i can report good news on all fronts. as the great al mcguire once said, everything is seashells and balloons. why?

1. thanks to the crazyhard work of great friends and colleagues, the minnversity sociology department's self-study and external review turned out to be a big honkin' success.

2. when i called the federal district court to postpone my civic duty to participate in some chair-should-definitely-be-there personnel meetings, i learned that the case was settled. i needn't show up for jury selection on monday morning.

3. monday's town hall meeting with u.s. rep. keith ellison was fun and exciting. he's introduced legislation on felon voting rights, which may necessitate a happy dee cee trip for testimony. my sense is that the nation's first muslim congressman is becoming an important figure on the world stage and a strong new voice on american criminal justice reform. even if he does call me "Ugguns."

4. esperanza didn't get the guthrie part, but she's still angling for the coen brothers' new movie. tor has yet to return to wrestling, though he's still rated among the state's top heavyweights.

5. i was going to write some rock-crit complicated thing about ike turner's passing, but i'm feeling especially self-indulgent tonight. so, here's a li'l triumphal supernaut, plus a very early pool/garage bit from the vagrants, featuring one of my favorite guitarists not named iommi.

*"Seashells and balloons is bare feet and wet grass," he once said. "It means a light breeze...It's sweater weather. A malted, you know. A shake. The gentleness of it. The wholesomeness of it. It's tender. That type of thing." - al mcguire in SI.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

external review and site visit

i actually dusted my office this weekend, sprucing up for our department's external review visit. somehow, our graduate school managed to bring a veritable supergroup of sociology luminaries to minnesota to conduct a four-day review of the minnversity's sociology department.

most academic departments periodically engage in some sort of internal and external review process. in some cases, such reviews are precipitated by major crises. thankfully, we seem to be rolling along rather well. our last review occurred in 1995, just before my arrival in the minnversity. we were a fine department then, but by most measures we're even stronger today.

i don't think we have any major skeletons in our (collective) closet, but i'll confess that i've been nervous the past few days. a chair is responsible, directly or indirectly, for everything said by our grad students, our undergrads, our staff, and our junior and senior faculty. not to mention, of course, the dang dust.

still, we were fortunate to obtain a really good external review committee and i'm looking forward to hearing their recommendations tomorrow. here's a li'l reminder from george herbert about the virtues of rigorous self-examination:

Summe up at night what thou hast done by day;
And in the morning what thou hast to do.
Dresse and undresse thy soul; mark the decay
And growth of it; if, with thy watch, that too
Be down then winde up both; since we shall be
Most surely judg'd, make thy accounts agree.


* i view my office as self-dusting, as the rapid paper flow creates powerful cleansing air currents.

Monday, December 10, 2007

speaking tonight at voting rights forum with keith ellison

When: Monday, Dec 10, 6pm - 8pm

Where: Augsburg College Chapel, SW Corner of 23rd Ave S and Riverside Ave S, Minneapolis, MN 55454

Description: Congressman Keith Ellison Presents a Voting Rights Forum Learn about current legislation that affects your right to vote. Joining Congressman Ellison will be a panel of experts and Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie Voting Rights Legislation Congressman Ellison has introduced: H.R. 2457: To amend the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 to require states to permit individuals to register to vote in an election for Federal Office on the date of the election. H.R. 4026 To prohibit election officials from requiring a photo ID as a condition for voting in a Federal election. This is a great opportunity to share information and begin a dialogue about solutions to protect the voting rights of American citizens as well as ways to expand democracy.

agenda:

Keith Ellison: Introduction
Overview of Bills introduced in Congress
1. HR 2457 - Same Day Registration
2. HR 4026 – Banning the use of Photo IDS to vote
3. 2nd Chance Act Felons Right to Vote

Mark Ritchie – voting rights as it pertains to Minnesota and the Secretary of State’s office.

David Schultz, Professor at the U of M- voter fraud.

Mark Halverson –Citizens for Election Integrity of Minnesota - Voting Machines and the importance of audits

Jonathan Maurer Jones (TakeAction Minnesota and Voting Rights Coalition Chair)-Caging and Voter Intimidation.

Christopher Uggen – Re-entry and voting. Ex felons rights and the importance of voting rights for ex-felons.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

strong globe series on prison suicide

the boston globe is running a chilling three-part series on prison suicide. though jail and prison suicide rates have declined since the 1980s, those working in or around correctional facilities will tell you that self-harm remains an all-too-common occurrence.

notes such as this one, left by russ dagenais, raise as many questions as they answer. i discuss suicide notes as a data source in my sociology of deviance course, but the work i've seen generally approaches them from a psychological or psychiatric perspective. in my view, sociologists are best positioned to examine them from a structural or institutional perspective.

suicide notes contain personal cries for help or compassion, but some of these voices are also crying out for better health care, access to prescription drugs, or more humane living conditions. these latter concerns point to matters of social choice and public policy rather than (or in addition to) individualized problems, troubles, or pathologies. i don't know for certain whether such a study would make for a good dissertation, but a solid historical or comparative analysis would contribute greatly to knowledge. by giving voice to those who left such notes behind, a sensitive study might also help do some good for current inmates.

simply put, those who write such notes are trying to tell us something important. here are two more examples from the globe series:

#1. Consider my life sentence paid in full, I have continued to complain to HSU about my headaches adn how I was reaching my tolerance but no one would listen, including psy services.

I did the only thing I felt I could do to stop my headaches. I have plan this for almost a month, there was no one I could ask for help without being put in worse conditions than I am in already. I can not continue to live each day with these headaches, I got tired of walking on egg shells just so I would not bring on a headache.

It really sucks that death is a better choice than living under the present prison conditions. I hope for the prisoners left behind things get better if not I fear I will be seeing a lot more of you. I have sent a copy of this out, so whoever reads this, make sure it is turned in, don't lose your job over this. If I am dead, and I hope I am, I did this after the second round after 11:00 p.m.
-Glen Bourgeois.

#2. To: Internal Affair I can't breath in this room -- I just had surgery recently the Capt. on the First shift threaten to four point restrain me with a move team. I paralyzed I can't fight any longer I'll loose my mind if I'm beat again. I going crazy just being in here this long Don't let this happen to nobody again.
-Anthony Garafolo

Saturday, December 08, 2007

saturday night lennon tribute at first ave.

one of my all-time favorite voices is singing john lennon tonight at first avenue. a boozy impromptu tribute 28 years ago has become a heartfelt tradition. curtiss a., one of the real good guys from the formative days of minneapolis punk (and a benevolont elder in my own misspent youth), still reigns supreme as the dean of scream. the man flat puts out live -- sort of a mix between james brown, howlin' wolf, and an overcaffeinated mccartney. and, blasphemous as it may seem to beatles diehards, neither lennon nor harrison played guitar like steve brantseg. the show starts at 6 on saturday and tickets are twelve bucks: 701 1st ave. n. in minneapolis (612.332.1775).

still don't think its worth venturing out on a cold minnesota night? just imagine this voice doing strawberry fields, cold turkey, and instant karma with love. 'nuff said.

here's the '05 set list:

1. (Just Like) Starting Over
2. Revolution
3. Free As A Bird
4. And Your Bird Can Sing
5. Real Love
6. The Word
7. Across the Universe
8. Instant Karma! (All Shine On)
9. She Said, She Said
10. Tomorrow Never Knows
11. A Day In The Life --> We Can Work It Out --> A Day In The Life
12. Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds
13. Strawberry Fields
14. I Am The Walrus
15. Glass Onion
16. Sexy Sadie
17. Dear Prudence
18. The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill
19. Happiness is a Warm Gun
20. Hey Bulldog
21. Everybody’s Got Something to Hide Except Me and My Monkey
22. Come Together
23. I Want You (She’s So Heavy)
-set break-
24. Give Peace a Chance
25. Power to the People
26. Isolation --> Maybe I’m Amazed
27. Cold Turkey
28. Many Rivers to Cross
29. I’ll Cry Instead
30. I’m a Loser
31. You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away
32. It’s Only Love
33. Ticket to Ride
34. Help!
35. Nowhere Man
36. Rain
37. All My Life
38. Hard Day’s Night
39. No Reply
40. I’ll Be Back
41. Anytime at All
42. You Can’t Do That
43. Tell Me Why
44. It Won’t Be Long
45. All I’ve Got to Do
46. This Boy
47. I Want to Hold Your Hand
48. She Loves You
49. From Me to You
50. Please Please Me
51. You Really Got a Hold on Me
52. Please Mr. Postman
53. Money (That’s What I Want)
54. Twist And Shout

-encore-
55. Imagine
56. Ain’t She Sweet
57. I Saw Her Standing There
58. Slow Down
59. Bad Boy
60. Rock ‘n’ Roll Music
61. My Bonnie

Friday, December 07, 2007

abusive priests and the institutional response to deviant behavior

heather hlavka sends word of Being Friends, Being Safe, Being Catholic, a new comic book by the new york archdiocese of the roman catholic church.

two reactions:

1. the comic book seems like a bizarre but straightforward and well-intentioned effort to address real problems, including the sexual abuse of children by church officials.

2. sadly, this effort is unlikely to prevent any abuse. while a comic makes for a good sunday school conversation starter, it is absolutely no bulwark against a calculated power-play by an adult in a position of authority. worse, such efforts seem to imply that children are responsible for their own vulnerability -- and that it is their responsibility to become more vigilant in protecting themselves. i hope that the archdiocese is informing priests of this "no-closed-door" policy and taking reasonable steps to enforce it.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

year-end 2006 prison, probation, and parole numbers

the department of justice just issued its 2006 year-end numbers for u.s. prison, jail, probation, and parole populations:

WASHINGTON – The U.S. adult correctional population — incarcerated or in the community — reached 7.2 million men and women, an increase of 159,500 during the year, the Justice Department’s Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) announced today in a new report. About 3.2 percent of the U.S. adult population, or 1 in every 31 adults, was in the nation’s prisons or jails or on probation or parole at the end of 2006.

i haven't standardized by population yet, but the increases are non-trivial.

prison: 1,492,973, up 3.1% over year-end 2005
jail: 766,010, up 2.5%,
parole: 798,202, up 2.3%
probation: 4,237,023, up 1.7%
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total: 7,211,400, up 2.3% from 7,051,900 at year-end 2005

click for 1980-2006 trend data.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

special instructions to players

i hesitate to give additional attention to the subject of 1890s indecency, as two posts might imply a fascination (i'm assuming it would probably take three to constitute a full-blown fetish). still, as a student of deviance and societal reaction, i just can't resist the telling historical document at left. it appears to be some sort of memo written for players by national league officials, detailing the problem of obscenity at the ballpark. before you click, however, i should warn you that the language is rough and unsanitized.

robert e. evans auctions discovered Special Instructions to Players amongst the memorabilia in the estate of baseball historian al kermisch:

...A few additional interesting odds and ends were found for us to look at for potential auction. Among the items was the 1898 document pictured above, entitled “Special Instructions To Players,” regarding the use of obscene language by players at the ballpark, to intimidate umpires and opposing players, and to verbally battle with unfriendly fans...

... it is so over the top that at first we thought it was some type of a joke. But as we examined the paper, found that this language did exist in the 1890s, considered that general rowdiness and the use of obscene language by players were big issues in baseball in this era, and noted that the accompanying items were all from the same era, we soon realized that that this was not a joke at all. This was actually a fascinating and historically significant baseball document, distributed to National League players, that captures an aspect of professional baseball from the rough-and-tumble single-League 1890s era that is not well documented. Granted, in terms of language, it is also the most offensive official Major League baseball document that we have ever seen.


next time you hear someone criticize the crudeness and vulgarity of the modern ballplayer, you might refer them to this document. after 110 years, many of the phrases are still drawing fines and reprimands from the commisioner's office and the fcc.

resources for those starting reentry programs?

after years of fits and starts, prisoner reentry programs are now blooming like tulips in springtime. i'm regularly getting calls and emails such as the one i've anonymized below, but i rarely have good advice to offer.

Mr. Uggen,
My name is ___, and we are presently in contact with the director of Chaplain Services for [name] Penitentiary about starting a program to assist ex-offenders realize the potential that is within them and help them to develop that potential. This is something that is new to me, so I am not very knowledgeable about this matter, but my passion to assist in this matter will enable me to be able to help some. Then I want to talk with local Pastors to get more involved as well.
The reason that I am contacting you is because of the write up that you did with Mr. Manza on "The President Is Right: Ex-Felons Need Aid." I was hoping that you could give me some insight that I may use to help in the re-entry of our fellow brothers and sisters in this to be successful in their efforts to re-enter society... If you have anything that you feel that will help us to be more effective, we will truly appreciate any kind of assistance you may be able to provide.
Thank you very much ...


in response to such queries, i usually mention a few research studies and ex-prisoners' needs for work and family support, but i rarely have any concrete program or funding suggestions. here are a few sites that might offer that sort of guidance:

1. the department of justice now offers a helpful reentry site with a clickable map to access state and local resources.
2. reentry.net, a clearinghouse of materials for attorneys, social service providers, and policy reform advocates on reentry and the consequences of criminal proceedings.
3. john jay's prisoner reentry institute reports on new research and offers resource lists.
4. the national governors association prisoner reentry policy academy.
5. the urban institute's justice impressive reentry research and roundtable discussions.

perhaps others might offer additional sites or ideas for starting reentry projects.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

felony murder

adam liptak contributes another fine criminal justice piece to today's times, this time on the felony murder doctrine. felony murder rules treat any death occurring during the course of a felony as a first degree murder, with all participants in said felony subject to murder charges.

the story details the case of ryan holle, who is serving a life sentence without possibility of parole. mr. holle lent his car to a friend who killed a young woman while attempting to steal a safe. mr. liptak's article touches on several themes that might make for a productive discussion in a crim course: u.s. legal exceptionalism, life sentences for young people, the culpability of accomplices, general v. specific deterrence...

the man from hope



i didn't quite believe the latest iowa polls, until political maven and native iowan matt boyle assured me that sen. obama and gov. huckabee would indeed make a strong showing. i figured that tommy thompson might be able to make a li'l iowa run, but mike huckabee would seem to offer similar virtues. the (other) man from hope, arkansas is a baptist minister and a bass player, who famously pardoned keith richards on a reckless driving charge from the 1970s: "here's the deal: If you can play guitar like Keith Richards, I'd do it for you."

Monday, December 03, 2007

selectivity bias and CDC report on juvenile transfers

the washington post and other media have publicized a new CDC panel report published in morbidity and mortality weekly. after comparing recidivism rates in six strong studies of youth transferred to the adult system with those of youth who stayed in the juvenile system, the authors conclude the following:

Review of the effects of transfer laws on subsequent violence indicates that the experience of transfer to the adult criminal justice system is associated with subsequent violence among juvenile participants when compared with violence among juveniles retained in the juvenile justice system. In addition, little evidence supports the idea that transfer laws deter juveniles in the general population from violent crime... use of transfer laws and strengthened transfer policies is counterproductive to reducing juvenile violence and enhancing public safety.


hmm. though i'm sympathetic to the authors' viewpoint and i really liked each of the studies cited in the report, i'm not completely convinced that they have cracked the problem of sample selection. this is a very difficult thing to do in this research setting, since kids are (literally) selected for transfer on the basis of their perceived dangerousness and likelihood of recidivism. here is the relevant passage on selectivity:

All of the included studies attempted to control for possible selection bias by restricting the cases under consideration to serious ones that would be eligible for transfer and by comparing the outcomes of cases transferred with those of cases retained in the juvenile system. In addition, they attempted to reduce selection bias by one of three methods: 1) by using statistical methods to control for factors that might affect transfer decisions (23–25); 2) by matching transferred and retained juveniles on background characteristics (26,27); or 3) by comparing the outcomes of juveniles matched on background demographics, economics, and crime characteristics, but in jurisdictions with difference transfer laws (28).

well, that's a good start, i suppose. what were the results? of the six studies of transfer to the adult system, one found a deterrent effect, one found no effect, and four found widely varying estimates of increased violence or general crime. the cdc report did not discuss the suspected mechanisms for the deleterious effects of adult transfer, though i believe that the literature typically offers some variant of a brutalization hypothesis.

my sense is that transfer to the adult system probably does indeed increase recidivism and compromise public safety. that said, the specific selection criterion to get into the treatment group in these studies (predicted dangerousness) is uncomfortably close to the substantive outcome measure used to assess their effectiveness (violent recidivism). that's why i'm not sure that the evidence is strong enough here to warrant definitive causal claims. perhaps it is safer to state the conclusion in the negative: after examining the best available studies on the subject, there is almost no evidence suggesting that adult transfer provisions reduce subsequent crime.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

running of the santas to benefit legal aid

we were blessed with perfect minnesota weather for saturday's running of the santas. via the pi press:

For the second year, a pack of Santas went for a run on Nicollet Mall in Minneapolis as part of the Santa Run to Benefit Legal Aid. You didn't need connections to Mr. Claus to participate - a $10 registration fee and a minimum $100 sponsorship got Santa wannabes entered in the 1¼-mile run and a Santa suit, hat and white beard; kids just got Santa hats.

"They got two paths cleared down the mall in time for the Santas to run back and forth," said Bruce Adelsman, who photographed the event for skinnyski.com. "It's fun to see the reaction of people who are downtown shopping and don't know the event is going on - at first they see one or two Santas, followed by a wave of Santas, and they stop and stare."

mid-minnesota legal assistance is a terrific cause, worthy of year-round non-santa-specific support:

Mid-Minnesota Legal Assistance (MMLA) is the primary provider of general civil legal services to low-income and elderly people in 20 central Minnesota counties. It also provides legal services to elderly persons in two additional counties. MMLA provides these services through its three member corporations: the Legal Aid Society of Minneapolis (LASM), St. Cloud Area Legal Services, and Western Minnesota Legal Services. This structure allows MMLA to staff three offices in Minneapolis, as well as offices in St. Cloud, Cambridge and Willmar. The oldest corporate component of MMLA —the Legal Aid Society of Minneapolis— was founded in 1913. LASM is also the state-designated Protection and Advocacy agency for persons in Minnesota with developmental disabilities, mental illness and other disabilities. And it is the state Client Assistance Program that protects the rights of those seeking services from the vocational rehabilitation system.

apart from the year-round needs, a seasonal nicollet mall santa run seems like a really cool way to raise both cash and consciousness. here's a li'l video from last year's (snowless) event.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

thus spake knievel

millions are hitting youtube today, searching for a touch of evel. they'll find grisly videos, celebratory videos, and pure, sweet, nostalgic videos.

dead or alive, mr. knievel will reign supreme as great american macho badass lord eternal. though i cannot say that i admired the man, i keep the following pearl of evel wisdom on my quote page:

If a guy hasn't got any gamble in him, he isn't worth a crap.
-Evel Knievel, 1938-2007