SPECIES AND TOWN: A second mass shooting occurs!


Preferred Storyline seem to change: Monday afternoon, in Boulder, a second mass shooting occurred.

This time, ten people were shot and killed. The previous week, in Atlanta, the corresponding death count had been eight.

Why do people engage in such crazy behavior? We can't answer that question. We aren't psychologists, psychiatrists or mental health experts or specialists—and the mainstream press corps shows amazingly little interest in consulting with people like that.

Why do people commit these acts? At this site, we can't say. We did think this:

We thought we might be seeing a "Storyline shift" as the event in Boulder has been reported and discussed. In this morning's Washington Post, the front-page news report starts like this:

SCHNEIDER ET AL (3/24/21): A 21-year-old Colorado man was charged with 10 counts of first-degree murder Tuesday after authorities said he walked into a King Soopers grocery store on a quiet Monday afternoon and gunned down 10 people, including police officer Eric Talley, a father of seven who responded to the rampage.

In a news conference Tuesday, authorities identified the suspect as Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa of Arvada, Colo., who was shot in the leg during the attack and later filmed being taken into custody. He was charged with 10 counts of murder in the first degree and one count of attempted first-degree murder.

The mass shooting—the second in the country in less than a week—has reignited the debate on gun violence, even as investigators struggle to identify a motive for this latest, horrific event.

According to this news report, investigators are "struggl[ing] to identify a motive" for this latest mass shooting. 

It's possible that investigators will come up with a fairly clear-cut type of motive. It's also possible that they won't.

That said, the suspect's name, all by itself, suggests a possible racial / ethnic / cultural Storyline for those who want to rush there. We're sure there are people on social media who have already gone there.

Here's the good news—we didn't see people on cable last night pushing any such instant Storyline. We were struck by the framework Brian Williams built around this new event at the start of last night's broadcast:

WILLIAMS (3/23/21): The suspect, identified as 21-yearold Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa, is charged with ten counts of first-degree murder in connection with the shooting. His profile is familiar by now, according to investigatorsa young man with mental illness and access to lethal weapons.

To his credit, Williams didn't run straight to a racial or ethnic motive for the killings. Instead, he said the suspect is a young man—a young man "with mental illness."

(From there, Williams introduced his first, three-member panel of guests. None of the three was a specialist in mental illness. This is the way the very dull minds of our upper-end press corps reliably tend to work.)

To his credit, Williams didn't start novelizing about a possible racial motive. To his credit, he didn't start novelizing about any particular motive at all.

To his credit, Williams seemed willing to wait for investigators to try to discern a "motive." That may not always be easy to do in crazy events of this type.

In some instances—think Dylann Roof in the Charleston church murders—a type of motive will be fairly easy to find. After a bit of investigation, it became fairly obvious that Roof had been acting, at least in part, out of a tragic and stupid racial hatred.

In other instances, no such obvious motive will come into view. At such times, the floundering sages who people Out Town will frequently turn, often quite quickly, to Our Town's preferred Storylines.

So it was last week in Atlanta. The journalistic tribunes who plague Our Town swept into action immediately, attributing racist and misogynist motives to the confessed killer.

Tomorrow, we'll look at one or two of these instant assessments—at these deliveries of Storyline. For today, we'll only say this:

Quite routinely, our major journalists' lack of analytical skill is truly amazing. They have the stories they long to tell—Al Gore said he invented the Internet!—and absolutely nothing on earth is going to stop them from those appointed rounds.

In Atlanta, our tribunes turned, with remarkable speed, to racial Storyline. Quite often, these tribunes  reasoned in ways which would have made a cow cry.

Such writing offers a type of lesson about the nature of our self-impressed species. In all honesty, we just aren't especially sharp as a group  According to major credentialed experts, we basically aren't "the rational animal," and we never were.

In the case of the Atlanta killings, the Storylines to which we turned emphasized racism and misogyny. In the case of Boulder, we were avoiding such instant judgments. We were talking about mental illness instead—mental illness and access to guns.


Does anyone think that the 21-year-old man in Atlanta wasn't afflicted with some sort of mental health issues? In our view, you'd have to be crazy yourself to doubt that possibility. But the heart is said to want what it wants, and journalistic hearts in Our Town preferred a different Storyline in last week's instant assessments.

Were these young men both "mentally ill" in some manner or way? We would assume that the answer is yes. Why else would young people engage in such lunatic, dead-end crimes?

More to the point, we'd like to see carefully-selected mental health specialists interviewed about such questions. But, for whatever reason, that isn't the game Our Town plays.

Last week, reading about Atlanta, we were amazed by the way our tribunes rushed to construct the stories they liked. We were struck by the very few comments about mental illness.

As they pasted their novels together, we were struck by their vast determination. They're determined  to have it their way!

When it came to the Atlanta killer, they wanted to go straight to race. When it came to his Boulder counterpart, such novelization will be avoided here in the streets of Our Town.

Elsewhere, on social media, deeply unimpressive people will push that Storyline. This will prove how racist they are, we'll quickly say in Our Town.

Major anthropological scholars have explained this matter this way:

Here in the west, we humans have been quick to praise our own brilliant mental abilities. We've heard that we're "the rational animal." Beyond that, we've even heard that our journalists are "well educated." 

One star was even sold to us as Our Own Rhodes Scholar! Her work last night was a shocking disgrace, as we'll note later today.

Last night, Williams avoided instant ascription of motive. We have one word for that: Good!

In truth, the work of our upper-end journalists is routinely impossibly bad. Despite the claims you've always heard, The Dumbness runs deep in Our Town. 

To appearances, our unimpressive corporate journalists love the freedom that dumbness provides:

They get to tell the stories they like. We're inclined to repeat what we've heard.

Tomorrow: "Baffling," the columnist said

Full disclosure: These are the assessments of major professors and experts with whom we often consult.


  1. "To his credit, Williams didn't start novelizing about a possible racial motive."

    Heh. Thanks for the laughs, dear Bob.

    We are fairly certain, however, that you should be able to find, here and there, dembots blaming WHITE SUPREMACY for this one as well...

    1. Don't be distracted.
      Biden is shoving it* down the throat of the Right, and it is glorious.

      *benefits to the working class through government spending.
      $1.9 Trillion on the COVID Relief Act, now $3 Trillion more on infrastructure, schools and families.

    2. I am FRED and i want quickly recommend DR NCUBE for a Job well done by
      curing me from the genital herpes disease that have be giving me sleepless night. if you want to contact him, Simply do that via email drncube03@gmail.com or
      call/whatsapp +2348155227532
      he also have #herbs for
      He does all types of spell casting including love spell, marriage spell, promotion spell and fortune telling.

    3. LOTTO, lottery,jackpot.
      Hello all my viewers, I am very happy for sharing this great testimonies,The best thing that has ever happened in my life is how I win the lottery euro million mega jackpot. I am a Woman who believe that one day I will win the lottery. finally my dreams came through when I email believelovespelltemple@gmail.com and tell him I need the lottery numbers. I have spend so much money on ticket just to make sure I win. But I never know that winning was so easy until the day I meant the spell caster online which so many people has talked about that he is very great in casting lottery spell, . so I decide to give it a try.I contacted this great Dr Believe and he did a spell and he gave me the winning lottery numbers. But believe me when the draws were out I was among winners. I win 30,000 million Dollar. Dr Believe truly you are the best, all thanks to you forever

      LOTTO, lottery,jackpot.
      Hello all my viewers, I am very happy for sharing this great testimonies,The best thing that has ever happened in my life is how I win the lottery euro million mega jackpot. I am a Woman who believe that one day I will win the lottery. finally my dreams came through when I email believelovespelltemple@gmail.com and tell him I need the lottery numbers. I have spend so much money on ticket just to make sure I win. But I never know that winning was so easy until the day I meant the spell caster online which so many people has talked about that he is very great in casting lottery spell, . so I decide to give it a try.I contacted this great Dr Believe and he did a spell and he gave me the winning lottery numbers. But believe me when the draws were out I was among winners. I win 30,000 million Dollar. Dr Believe truly you are the best, all thanks to you forever

  2. "To his credit, Williams didn't start novelizing about a possible racial motive. To his credit, he didn't start novelizing about any particular motive at all."

    In Atlanta, the shooter deliberately sought out Asian massage parlors, visiting three geographically distant places.

    In this case, the shooter drove a considerable distance, 20 minutes from Arvada to Table Mesa (near Boulder) to shoot people. He did not spray bullets but picked out his targets. For example, he shot the woman who was first in line at the covid-shot clinic (within the store) but didn't shoot the man who was third in line.

    Out of the 10 people who were killed (including the officer), 7 were women. But Somerby not only doesn't notice that, he thinks it is a virtue to ignore it.

    Does Somerby think that the people who fall into specific groups, such as Asian Americans, or women, or members of the police force (in other shootings) fail to notice when their group is targeted? Does he think that these acts of domestic terrorism fail to terrorize the groups targeted?

    All that is accomplished by "keeping an open mind" is that these groups feel unprotected, unvalued, alone. It has been made clear on many occasions that Somerby neither likes nor values women. Apparently he feels the same when those women are also Asian. He goes out of his way to disparage the women who express their fears.

    This is not an appropriate reaction to such a shooting. Not that Somerby knows how to express the feelings appropriate to this situation. And we will apparently never hear Somerby call for banning of assault weapons, restrictions on their acquisition by the mentally ill, enforcement of waiting periods, or any other gun legislation.

    It is hard to believe that Somerby cares about any of this, other than as an excuse to bash the press.

  3. What does Somerby think mental health experts are going to be able to say about this young man, without having examined him? They cannot even concur that he is mentally ill without an interview with him.

    Mental health experts are not sought for TV shows because they have professional ethics that prevent them from speculating, so bookers know not to seek them out as panelists.

    If they were to speculate, they might compromise the prosecution of the shooter or put themselves or others in jeopardy.

    Somerby should know better than to keep repeating this impossible demand.

  4. Somerby thinks it is wrong for journalists to rush to judgment, but OK for mental health professionals to do so and calls for them to be interviewed! It seems to me that Somerby is rushing to judgment about whether the shooter is mentally ill or not, but that seems fine to him because he thinks he is right whereas he thinks the other motives proposed are wrong (no women were targeted, no Asians, no Asian women).

    There is nothing about this situation (other than the word of a relative) that suggests mental illness, nor does simply labeling someone explain any motive. Somerby believes that simply calling someone crazy absolves everyone of the need to search for a motive beyond that. It is the equivalent of a shrug. Why did this killing happen, who knows? He was crazy. That is not acceptable because it provides no clues about how to prevent future such killings. And if we cannot head people off by anticipating and addressing their motives, then the only solution is to ban all guns for everyone. If the right doesn't want to see that happen, they need to stop just labeling all shooters as mentally ill and try to figure out what this happens. Somerby and conservatives cannot have this both ways.

  5. According to NPR, 3 out 5 Americans are lonely.

    Recently in the journal Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, they studied the connection between loneliness and feelings of power:

    "In some studies, for instance, we randomly assigned subjects to a “boss” role, giving them a few dollars and telling them they could allocate as much or as little of this windfall as they’d like to a “subordinate” participant. In another, we asked subjects to ruminate either on the ways they have power in their lives or on the ways they lack it.

    People in the high-power conditions consistently reported less loneliness than those in low-power or neutral conditions — but it’s possible that experiencing a fleeting sense of power boosts social connection, whereas occupying a high-power role for a sustained period generates feelings of isolation. This distinction warrants further examination."

    It's possible that Americans have constant mass shootings because their fantasies of violent power give them temporary respite from the overwhelming loneliness they feel. Only some are able to sublimate it into hating the opposing sports team or Texans or Iran like a normal person.

    1. https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2020/01/23/798676465/most-americans-are-lonely-and-our-workplace-culture-may-not-be-helping

    2. https://hbr.org/2016/04/the-strange-relationship-between-power-and-loneliness

    1. This gunman sought out a shopping center in Boulder, driving there from Arvada.

      Boulder had enacted an assault weapon ban after the Parkhurst shooting last year. This was overturned by the court 10 days before this shooting.

      It may be that the repeal of that ban gave this shooter the idea to take an AR-15 to Boulder to shoot people. The repeal of the ban was in the recent news and this shooter was able to obtain a weapon despite having mental health issues.

      The mental health issues may have enabled this shooting, but the repeal of the gun law may have been the proximal cause.

      Further, 7 of the 10 people killed (including the officer) were female. That is statistically greater than chance. Witnesses state that he was not shooting bursts and spraying fire but appeared to be picking his targets.

      I think it is glib to suggest that loneliness may be causing shootings because there are a great many lonely people but a small number of shooters. Something additional needs to be precipitating these shootings. It makes more sense to say that "only some" are NOT able to cope with not only loneliness but other stresses in their lives.

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

    3. All you have to do to test it is send people into the community. And it works. This is from New York data:

      37% to 50% reduction in gun injuries in two communities
      63% reduction in shootings in one community
      18% reduction in killings across 13 Cure Violence sites, while matched controls had a 69% increase (2004-2013)


    4. And you can achieve the same results (or better) through gun legislation.

      None of those studies listed on the cure violence webpage are published. Further, the types of violence being measured are different than the one we are discussing here -- mass shootings. I have no doubt that community interventions would help reduce crime, gang violence and domestic violence. I am less sure about reaching these alienated youths, since there is no combination of characteristics that permits them to be identified before they shoot anyone. This kid was bullied, but so are many kids who do not shoot anyone. He liked MMA, but so do many young men.

      Further, it is unclear whether this approach to loneliness is resulting in the decreases or whether any intervention would have a similarly positive effect. Nor is there any info about whether the effect continues after the intervention stops. If you take away the guns, the decrease in violence continues as long as you continue to ban guns.

      If we want to address loneliness long term, it makes more sense to address the impacts of social media. The decrease in participation in face-to-face clubs and activities is across-the-board for all types of organizations from churches to bowling leagues to Rotary and it is attributable to social media. So you can put a band-aid on loneliness or do something to address its causes.

    5. >>> None of those studies listed on the cure violence webpage are published.


      Evaluating Cure Violence in Trinidad and Tobago
      By Edward R. Maguire, Megan T. Oakley, Nicholas Corsaro

      Cure Violence: A Public Health Model to Reduce Gun Violence
      Annual Review of Public Health

      Vol. 36:39-53 (Volume publication date March 2015)
      First published online as a Review in Advance on January 7, 2015
      Envisioning Criminology pp 43-56|

      Cure Violence: Treating Violence As a Contagious Disease

    6. Books and book chapters are not peer reviewed.

    7. @3:05 PM

      The Annual Review of Public Health is a peer-reviewed academic journal that publishes review articles about public health, including epidemiology, biostatistics, occupational safety and health, environmental health, and health policy. In its 40-year history, it has had three editors: Lester Breslow, Gilbert S. Omenn, and Jonathan E. Fielding.

    8. @3:05 PM

      What this strategy does well is reduce crime without locking everyone up in prison and ruining families. Maybe that's not a New Democrat priority but it's definitely one that the communities themselves respect.

    9. Certainly in favor of that, but does it scale? These are small project run in narrowly defined areas. How much would it cost and would it be effective across a whole city, for example? How many people would be needed to staff this? Otherwise, you have to figure out how to target this toward those who need it, and that isn't easy.

      If you could figure out which young men are troubled and give them support before they become shooters, school districts and parents would do that, but adolescence is a difficult time for many young men and nearly all will not become shooters. So how do you figure out which to approach?

      That's why you would get more mileage from limiting guns than trying to identify and prevent potential shooters from "having a bad day."


    10. Mayor de Blasio Expands Crisis Management System and Invests in Community-Based Solutions to Prevent Gun Violence

    11. Yes, he is spending $10 million to address 20 precincts with the highest crime rates.

      Again, this is not aimed at this type of shooting but at other forms of gun violence. I agree that it is a good idea. But I disagree that it works for this kind of shooting. This wasn't a gang or crime-related shooting of the type that this Cure Violence program addresses. Community policing isn't the answer to white supremacism, incel or other domestic terrorism.

    12. @5:23 PM

      Not only does it work on white supremacists but it's one of the few things that does.


      This will be my last post because I can't keep up with you moving the goal posts.

      "Oh it's a nice idea but it's not published. Okay it's published but it's not peer reviewed. Okay it's peer reviewed but its not scalable. But it doesn't work on white people."

      I think you are used to being the smartest person in the room all the time and it is getting in the way of your taking in new information.

    13. Sorry to be so judgemental. It's just your learning style I guess to be very very skeptical until you have overwhelming evidence. But be aware it comes off as dismissiveness.

  6. I read some of DR padman testimonies about how he helped many people bring back their lovers in 3 days with a love spell. I was having problem with my boyfriend so I decided to contact him because I love my boyfriend so much. he left home and said he is not interested in the relationship anymore for no reason, i was in shock. I contacted DR Padman and he told me that my boyfriend would come back to me in the next 3 days, DR padman made a love spell and this made my boyfriend eye open to see how much we love each other and he came back home. As I write this testimony, I am the happiest girl on earth. my boyfriend and I are living a happy life and our love is now stronger than it was before we broke up. All thanks to DR padman for the excessive work he did for me, helping me get back with my boyfriend. if you are facing any relationship problem and want a quick solution contact DR Padman on Email: padmanlovespell@yahoo.com

  7. "More to the point, we'd like to see carefully-selected mental health specialists interviewed about such questions. "

    It is odd that Somerby asks for the mental health specialists to be "carefully selected". He doesn't say how they should be selected or why some would be unacceptable.

    It would be weird if he said he wanted to hear from carefully selected economists or polling experts or any other specialty, since that implies that they would be selected based on what they might say, not for their expertise (credentials, prior involvement with the topic).

    It is almost as if Somerby only wants to hear from mental health specialists who will confirm his opinions, not those who might explain why professional evaluation is needed to reach a conclusion about the mental health of someone who shoots people.

  8. "Major anthropological scholars have explained this matter this way:"

    This is phony. Everything that follows is Somerby's sole opinion. No anthropologists said it or would agree to any of it.

    If Somerby wants to lend weight to his opinions by citing others, he needs to use names and sources.

    When Somerby borrows academic credibility, he is diminishing the authority of experts, attacking the idea of professionalism, trying to undermine academic hegemony over specialized knowledge (since most anthropologists work for universities). This isn't an innocent rhetorical device or an attempt at humor. It is his way of disparaging the weight given to actual anthropology experts when they say things.

    This is what right-wing anti-intellectualism looks like. If you do away with the concept of expertise then you can more easily foist disinformation on the public and gain support for anything you want -- even the violent overthrow of the government when it doesn't put your guy into office.

  9. "A second mass shooting occurs!"

    I realize that Somerby is talking about another shooting after the one last week, but there have actually been 107 mass shootings this year and this is only March.


  10. From Palmer Report:

    "As if to place an obscene “amen” after her pretence of a prayer offering, NRA lackey Boebert promptly sent out a brazen fundraising email to her supporters urging them to send in their funds to help her defeat any gun control measures in Washington DC. Fellow GOP NRA toady Sen. Ted Cruz refused to defend his sham prayer offering for the victims while calling any legislative measures to control the gun carnage “ridiculous theatre.”

    You have to wonder whether these shootings are not tolerated because they are so good for NRA's business, good for the politicians who fund-raise off of them.

    When you are looking for motive, you ask "who benefits" (cui bono)? In this case, the right appears to be making hay.

    Meanwhile, Somerby avoids talking about issues relevant to this crime, instead trying to steer discussion away from likely explanations and toward global causes that cannot be addressed in any meaningful way, away from the causes that the left wishes to explore (racism, sexism, availability of guns, lack of mental health care, toxic masculinity and tolerance of violence in our culture). At least the left is suggesting things that can be done. Putting more guns into people's hands (now including Asian American people who fear being victims of hate) is surely not any kind of answer, but that is what seems to happen after each of these shootings.

  11. This is how some in Colorado feel about this shooting:


    Note that midway down the article, it discusses assigning blame. They say that not only is the shooter to blame, but also those who enabled it:

    "Also familiar is society’s failure to properly assign blame. The shooter owns the most immediate and grave blame. But if we want to end the decades-long slaughter of our family members and friends, we have to call out the people who are indirectly culpable, and we can’t let up once the initial motivating shock of a massacre has subsided."

    The article goes on to name Boebert and Buck specifically, and other local gun supporters:

    "Rep. Ken Buck is no better. On the day before Hartman issued his ruling in Boulder, Buck was in Washington, D.C., voting against H.R. 8, which would prohibit a firearm sale between private parties unless a licensed authority first conducted a background check, and H.R. 1446, which would increase the minimum number of days from three to 10 that a gun dealer must wait to receive a completed background check. Buck stands proudly as a gun-wielding menace against reasonable safety measures. In a stunt last year, he brandished an AR-15 and challenged then-candidate Joe Biden to try and take it, the implication being that he was prepared to shoot the future president dead. Buck once was photographed at a campaign event wearing a “Kill ‘Em All” shirt."

    And the article describes other legislative remedies, including repeal of the 2nd Amendment. I believe this is where we are heading if the right refuses to take responsibility for their part in instigating these tragedies.

  12. Meanwhile, over on the right:

    "For those of us who have vivid memories of the War on Terror era, it's odd to see right-wing commentators choosing not to emphasize the shooter's ethnicity in their hot takes on the massacre. Instead, they're attacking liberals for jumping to the conclusion that he was white."

    Steve M., No More Mister Nice Blog includes many examples from right wing sites where they are upset because this shooter is being called white, when he is Syrian.

    Somerby apparently didn't get that memo. He is busy lauding cable news for assuming this shooter is white instead of some sort of terrorist, when that is exactly what the right has been doing -- suggesting that this 21 year old kid is actually a 35-year old man with a fake passport, and similar nonsense. But liberals are to blame.

  13. From Rawstory:

    On Wednesday, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that a man was arrested after entering a Publix grocery store in the Atlantic Station neighborhood of Atlanta with five guns and body armor.

    "Police were called to the grocery store just after 1:30 p.m. and met with a manager who told them a man came in with a rifle and headed straight toward a bathroom, Atlanta police spokesman Officer Anthony Grant said," reported Shaddi Abusaid and Henri Hollis. "Officers at the scene spotted the man leaving the bathroom and quickly took him into custody. According to police, his weapons included two long guns and three pistols, all of which were concealed on his person. Police identified the man as 22-year-old Rico Marley and said he has been charged with reckless conduct."

  14. It is a very hard situation when playing the lottery and never won, or keep winning low fund not up to 100 bucks, i have been a victim of such a tough life, the biggest fund i have ever won was 100 bucks, and i have been playing lottery for almost 12 years now, things suddenly change the moment i came across a secret online, a testimony of a spell caster called DR EMU, who help people in any type of lottery numbers, i was not easily convinced, but i decided to give try, now i am a proud lottery winner with the help of DR EMU, i won $1,000.0000.00 and i am making this known to every one out there who have been trying all day to win the lottery, believe me this is the only way to win the lottery. contact him via email: Emutemple@gmail.com call or whats app +2347012841542 Website: http://emutemple.website2.me/

  15. Five weeks ago my boyfriend broke up with me. It all started when i went to summer camp i was trying to contact him but it was not going through. So when I came back from camp I saw him with a young lady kissing in his bed room, I was frustrated and it gave me a sleepless night. I thought he will come back to apologies but he didn't come for almost three week i was really hurt but i thank Dr.Azuka for all he did i met Dr.Azuka during my search at the internet i decided to contact him on his email dr.azukasolutionhome@gmail.com he brought my boyfriend back to me just within 48 hours i am really happy. What’s app contact : +44 7520 636249‬