Category Archives: Psychology

Gang Holds Top RPG Gamer at Gunpoint

Folha Online reports that using Orkut, Google’s online social network, an armed gang of four 19-27 year old- kidnapped the world-leading Role-Playing Gamer of the game GunBound (boy plays violent video game; others become The image “http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/f/fb/Gbwclg.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.violent; psychologists, have at it). One of the gang members’ girlfriends lured the gamer onto a fake date at a shopping mall via the network. The gamer showed for the date but the girl didn’t. Her boyfriend appeared in her place (“Wha! Your voice didn’t sound so low on the phone…”), the gamer was kidnapped and held in Sao Paulo, with a gun held to his head for five hours.

The gang’s goal? To obtain the gamer’s password, which the gang planned to sell for $8,000. The game, however, didn’t give up the information. The gang, naturally, then let the victim go.

And go he did, straight to the police–Brazilian police saved the rest of the day, picking up the four Continue reading

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Filed under Criminal Law, Gaming, Humor, International, Psychology

Terrorism and the Effectiveness Thereof

The last terrorist attack in the United States occurred on 11 September 2001. Thus, we are approaching six years without an attack. The dearth of attacks on civilians in the United States may be the result of al-Qaida embracing the results of a recent study by Max Abrahms, wherein he concludes that groups that primarily attack civilian targets fail.

“This suggests not only that terrorism is an ineffective instrument of coercion, but that its poor success rate is inherent to the tactic of terrorism itself.”

Mr. Abrahms suggests that the effects of correspondent-inference theory explain why nations are so loath to acquiesce to the demands of terrorist. Correspondent-inference theory seeks to explain the cognitive process used by an observer to infer the motives of an actor. For example, it we see a person act in a rude manner we conclude that she is an unpleasant person, not that she acted in a rude manner but is otherwise a good person.

When terrorist groups attack civilians, nations infer that the goal of the terrorist is annihilation of the nation, its citizens, and way of life. This is illustrated in the study by looking at Russia’s response to the 1999 apartment bombings, the reaction of the United States to 9/11, and Israel’s response to the first intifada. In sum, these nations ignored the stated goals of the terrorist and inferred that the groups intended to destroy them. With this inferred intent, nations are highly unlikely to accede to any demands made by terrorists. Thus the success rate of terrorist hovering at a paltry 7%.

It may be overly optimistic to assume that al-Qaida has forsaken terrorists attacks against civilian targets in order to further its goals. The attacks in the United Kingdom suggest that al-Qaida still views attacking civilian targets as a useful tool. Yet, the United States has not been attacked.

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Keeping “rape” out of the courtroom.

In yesterday’s Slate, Dahlia Lithwick reports on a Nebraska judge’s decision to ban the words “rape,” “sexual assault,” “victim,” and “assailant” among others from, well, a sexual assault case. The decision was made because, supposedly, the use of the terms was biased against the defendant. A retaliatory prosecutorial motion to ban the words “sex” and “intercourse” was denied. So those are the only words available to describe the allegedly criminal act, which one can imagine would lead to probing questions such as “did you have ‘sex’ with this woman or did you have ‘sex’ with her?” Ms. Lithwick points out that if calling an act “rape” is prejudicial against the defendant, calling it “sex” is probably prejudicial against the prosecution. In this vein, I propose that the words “plaintiff” and “defendant” be stricken from the courtroom, as they connote aggression and passivity. Instead, the two parties should be referred to as “Party 1″ and “Party 2,” with the numbers determined randomly beforehand to prevent bias, or, if that be objectionable, “Tweedledum” and “Tweedledee.”

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Filed under Appellate Law, Criminal Law, Law, Psychology

Ordnance Review: Fabulous

This past Friday, June 8th, 2007, the Pentagon finally fessed up: indeed, reports were true that it had considered developing a “Gay-Bomb.” Records obtained by the group Berkeley’s Sunshine Project, confirmed that the Air Force had considered developing, but ultimately rejected pursuing, a non-lethal weapon that contained a strong aphrodisiac, which would cause enemy soldiers to become more interested in each other than fighting the enemy.

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Filed under Humor, Psychology, Science

Roleplaying (Video?) Games Lead America’s Children Directly to Satan

Or so people used to say back in the day… dating myself here, but that means the ’70s and ’80s. Well, Cyber Moon Studios has a hilarious animated recreation of exactly what it was like for young roleplayers in the day. I was the GM in almost all of these sessions, and let me just say, this might even be taken from secret recordings from our own sessions–hits too close to home. (But now we’re all grown up. Riiiiiight.)

If it’s not spot-on accurate and in your case Satan actually appeared in your gatherings, well, perhaps I just missed out on the fun. Here’s the link.

On a more serious note, I think there’s a similar movement (to the wacko anti-D&D movement that sent some parents into a foaming-at-the-mouth frenzy) going on currently in New York, where both the Senate and Assembly have passed bills that make it a Class E felony (3-4 years in prison) to sell or distribute “violent and indecent video games to minors.” The law is not yet Continue reading

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Filed under Appellate Law, Culture, Gaming, Humor, Law, Personal, Psychology, Xbox 360

The Music Man

Last week Gene Weingarten of the Washington Post, one of my favorite columnists, wrote about a little experiment he conducted in D.C. He managed to convince Joshua Bell, one of the most celebrated American violinists, to play for quarters in the D.C. Metro. For 45 minutes, dressed in jeans and a ballcap, Bell played some of the greatest Classical music of all time.

Weingarten wanted to see what the reaction of commuters was. He had no preconceived notions. In the end, almost nobody stopped to hear Bell play. Out of thousands, only eight took even a moment of their time to stop and listen to his music.

Weingarten did not intend this to be an indictment of Washingtonians, although he felt the result said something sorrowful about the human condition. Mail poured in. Many were defensive, others replied that they had had a strong emotional response to the piece. I fall into the latter category, and I felt I should write a little about it.

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Filed under Culture, Environment, Personal, Psychology

IslamTube: Snipers and Destruction

Now this is interesting. Everybody knows YouTube, but who knows IslamTube?

Allow me to take a step back to our own majority religion. Yes, there’s also GodTube (catchphrase: “Broadcast Him.”). Looks like the top videos include titles such as “Lyrical,” “Heart for the Lost,” “Baby Got Bible,” and “Creation Short Film.” I nearly forgot “Easter Bunny vs. Pastor Al: Is Easter a Holy Day or a Holiday? You Decide.”

Right, but IslamTube is something completely different. Check out the top-viewed videos and… well, you’ve got, among the top five, “Sheikh Osama ibn Laden” (you can guess the topic,” and “Iraqi Sniper” (ditto). There’s a video mocking President Bush, and a few farther down, “Jihad in Iraq: Destruction.”

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Filed under Culture, Islam, Personal, Psychology, Religion