Mohammad Al-Ubaydli’s blog

A bibliography of violence

Posted in Books, Society by Dr Mohammad Al-Ubaydli on January 21, 2007

In the past I have read about the increasing violence of society and the role that television plays. However, I did not know any of the academic literature on the topic. Page 208 of “The winner-take all society” has a grizzly bibliography.

  1. “In one of the pioneering studies from the 1950s, twelve four-year-olds were shown a Woody Woodpecker cartoon full of violent images (violent by 1950s standards, at any rate), while another twelve four-year-olds were shown ‘The Little Red Hen’, a peaceful cartoon. Afterward, the children who watched Woody Woodpecker were found to be more likely to hit other children, break toys, and engage in a variety of other disruptive behaviors during free play.” See: Bandura, Ross and Ross and Steuer, Applefield and Smith.
  2. “[V]erbal and physical aggression increased among elementary school children when television was introduced into the community, this in contrast to no change in playground behavior in two control communities that had already had television service for many years.” See J Joy, M Kimball and M Zabrack. “Television and Children’s Aggressive Behavior.” In TM Williams, ed. The Impact of Television: A Natural Experiment in Three Communities. Orlando, FL: Academic Press, 1986, pp. 303-60.
  3. [T]he behavior of first- and second-grade children in a town in a mountainous part of western Canada where there had been no television before the introduction of a cable system in 1973. By 1975 […] the incidence of ‘hitting, biting, and shoving’ had increased by 160 percent for students.” Quoted in “Honey I Warped the KidsMother Jones 1993.
  4. “In South Africa, where the Afrikaner regime banned television until 1975. One study found that in the eight years after television was introduced, South Africa’s urder rate shot up dramatically, with the steepest and earliest increases observed in the white community, where television saturation was highest. These findings mirror a similar racial pattern in the sharp increase in murder rates observed in the wake of television’s proliferation in the United States in the 1950s.” Quoted in “Honey I Warped the KidsMother Jones 1993.
  5. “One experiment, for example, divided a group of male college students into four groups: The first, a control group, was shown no movies; the second group was shown “teenage sexual-innuendo” movies; the third group saw nonviolent X-rated movies; and the fourth watched the slasher films Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Friday the 13th Part 2, Maniac, and Toolbox Murders. The subjects were then empaneled as members of a mock jury and asked a series of questions to measure their empathy for a female rape victim. Subjects who had seen the slasher films scored lowest in empathy not only for the specific victim in the experiment but also for rape victims generally.” Quoted in “Honey I Warped the KidsMother Jones 1993.

President Gerald Ford used to be a model

Posted in History, People / organisations by Dr Mohammad Al-Ubaydli on January 15, 2007

I still cannot figure out what kind of a President Ford was, but I keep on reading interesting snippets about his life in entirely unexpected places. For example, page 77 of “The Winner-Takes-All Society” discusses the history of fashion models.

Apparently in the 1920s models posed largely for artists’ sketches. They received little or no public attention. It was not until the 1930s that models were photographed, beginning the rise of the superstar model.

By the early 1930s the John Robert Powers agency had organized an elite cadre of models whose faces and figures graced the covers of national publications. But models first came into their own with the rise to prominence of the Conover modeling Agency, founded in Manhattan in 1938 by Harry Conover (with the help of a loan from former President Gerald Ford, then a Powers model).

Curiouser and curiouser.

Transatlantic telephone calls are ony 50 years old

Posted in History, Technology by Dr Mohammad Al-Ubaydli on January 15, 2007

As revolutions go, 1956 was an important year. Gamal Abdul Nasser, president of Egypt, nationalised the Suez canal. Israel, the UK and France responded with an invasion force. For Hungarians, that was the year they tried to overthrow their Soviet-backed Communist government. They failed, for it was a gloomy year.

However, across the Atlantic, the telecommunications revolution was doing rather better: the first transatlantic telephone cable was laid. It could transmit no more than 36 converstions at one time. By 1966, capacity had only expanded to allow 138 simultaneous conversations between Europe and all or Northern America. Here is a quote from page 7 of Walter Wriston’s “The Twilight of Sovereignty: How the Information Revolution Is Transforming Our World“. Wriston, former Citibank chairman, describes the difficulty his New York headquarters had when trying to make telephone contact with overseas branches in the 1950s and 1960s:

There were so few international lines available that it could take a day or more to get a circuit. Once a connection was made, people in the branch would stay on the phone reading books and newspapers aloud all day just to keep the line open until it was needed.

Branch officers hired sqauds of youths, called “dialers”, who “did nothing but dial phones all day in hope of getting through.”

What a difference 50 years make.