The Colorado shootings (5×8 – 7/20/12)


This website, as well as the rest of the world of course, are covering the shootings in Colorado last night in which a man apparently tossed a smoke bomb into a crowded movie theater and then started shooting.

We will, of course, be learning more about what happened over the next few hours, but the why of it is possibly going to be a more complex discussion.

It’s the type of thing that would happen in the Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy. The movie that was playing in the theater? Batman: The Dark Knight Rises. It’s a movie about the very essence of evil. Is there a connection that led someone from art to an evil reality? Does the possibility require additional security in the theaters across the country this weekend?

Here’s live coverage from Denver (mouse over the embed to get the “play” button)…

Meanwhile, Twitter is allowing us to have a heartbreaking connection to the tragedy. Jessica Redfield recently moved to the area to pursue a career in sports journalism…


She, apparently, was one of those killed.

She had recently escaped the Eaton Center mall shooting in Toronto, and wrote about it.

I say all the time that every moment we have to live our life is a blessing. So often I have found myself taking it for granted. Every hug from a family member. Every laugh we share with friends. Even the times of solitude are all blessings. Every second of every day is a gift. After Saturday evening, I know I truly understand how blessed I am for each second I am given.

I feel like I am overreacting about what I experienced. But I can’t help but be thankful for whatever caused me to make the choices that I made that day. My mind keeps replaying what I saw over in my head. I hope the victims make a full recovery. I wish I could shake this odd feeling from my chest. The feeling that’s reminding me how blessed I am. The same feeling that made me leave the Eaton Center. The feeling that may have potentially saved my life.

Related: A history of mass shootings in the U.S.


Tom Davis has died. Long before he became a U.S. senator, you couldn’t say the words Al Franken without also saying Tom Davis. Throat cancer did him in — “deanimated him” as he told the New York Times.

Davis was the funnier one.Franken’s daughter is named Thomasin Davis Franken but the senator wrote in a forward to Davis’ book that it was “Tom’s drug and alcohol use broke us up as a team.”


In the latter days of the Scott Walker recall election, the local TVs were filled with Walker ads using footage from TV stations carrying stories about Milwaukee budget woes under his competitor. Does that constitute an endorsement by reporters? No. Is there anything they can do about the perception that it does? No.

Related media: How fake news gets made into real news. It’s not pretty. (h/t: @panndder)


The crew of the Hjemkomst is having its 30th reunion in Moorhead this weekend a testament to the determined dreamer, Bob Asp, who accomplished in a few years what 100 Vikings needed a full year to accomplish. He built the ship in an old potato warehouse in Hawley and found out in the middle of his dream that he had leukemia and had only a few years to live. He kept building. And when he died, others picked up his dream.


A blast from the past: A sweet profile of a disease from the Pioneer Press’ Chris Polydoroff..

For Airstreams Only from Christopher Polydoroff on Vimeo.

Bonus I: Anderson Cooper observed last night, “Michele Bachmann is denying doing exactly what she’s doing.” But when news organizations ask Rep. Keith Ellison whether he is connected to the Muslim Brotherhood, do they become willing participants in the strategy?

Bonus II: This is the last 5×8 for the next 10 days or so. I’m off to Oshkosh for the annual airshow and gathering of aviation enthusiasts. I’ll be doing a daily talk show about homebuilt airplanes and the people who built them each day from 12 to 1 on EAA Radio, which you can listen to online. It’s an independent operation created by radio volunteers, mostly students and former students at St. Cloud State.


FEMA has been inspecting flood-damaged homes in Duluth and other parts of northeast Minnesota. Homeowners are hoping that President Obama will declare the region a disaster area and open the way to federal assistance in rebuilding. Today’s Question: Does the public have a responsibility to help people rebuild flood-damaged homes?


Daily Circuit (9-12 p.m.) – First hour: Weekly roundtable on the Olympic experience.

Second hour: The top 10 Olympic moments of all time.

Third hour: Marlene Zuk, professor in the department of Ecology, Evolution and Behavior at the University of Minnesota. She is the author of several books, the most recent of which is “Sex on Six Legs.”

MPR News Presents (12-1 pm): The TED radio hour: Building a better classroom.

Talk of the Nation (1-2 p.m.) – How Olympic athletes are using technology.

All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) – Cable news outlets give shows to journalists and political celebrities all the time. MSNBC has given one to a political scientist who has written widely on race, gender and religion. NPR profiles Melissa Harris-Perry and a cable news experiment.

  • A friend of mine, in comic and SF circles, lives in Aurora.

    I don’t *think* he went to The Dark Knight last night (he is unemployed and is trying to save money) but I don’t know–and I haven’t heard from him yet.

  • Bob Moffitt

    1) I try not to second-guess the thinking of mass murderers, but I’m guessing he was simplly looking for the most concentrated number of potential victims in one spot. The movie could have been “The Sound of Music” instead of Batman. Another awfull mass shooting. What is wrong with us?

    2) RIP, Tom Davis.

  • BenCh

    I just read a post this morning that talked about the changes police have done for shootings like this. The old way was that the first person on the scene would set up a perimeter and wait for the area to be contained before moving in. Now they are trained to go in and chase, wound, or incapacitate the gunman. I haven’t heard what police did in this case, but the use of tear-gas is something I haven’t heard of being used in a shooting before.

  • Jim Shapiro

    I would love to here arguments today from members of the NRA as to how the founding fathers gave us the right to own large capacity magazines.

  • bsimon

    Enjoy Oshkosh. I think I’m going to swing by anoka this weekend with my 3 year old to see what’s going on. Maybe the boy will catch a bug.

  • Josh

    Enjoy EAA Bob. I grew up near Oshkosh, and this was always one of my favorite weeks of the summer.

  • Bob Collins

    It’d be OK with me if we waited a bit to have yet another political discussion about a tragic event — a discussion that will — for now — yield no new insight or change any minds.

    I raised a question above that we might consider.

  • Jim Shapiro

    Re A History of Mass Shootings in the US – of the 28 incidents of murders of numerous innocent victims listed, only one mentioned that the killer was “mentally ill.”

    So the other shooters were the picture of sanity?!?

    Re the woman who escaped the random shooting in Toronto only to die in the random shooting in Colorado-

    Please explain to me again how there’s no such thing as fate?

  • Jim Shapiro

    Bob – mourning a preventable tragedy without questioning how we might prevent a similar tragedy in the future,

    while perhaps temporarily less emotionally stressful, only guarantees similar preventable tragedies in the future.

    Or maybe I’m just not a “mourning” person.

  • Frank

    Shooting in a dark theater:

    As I listen to the radio, the headline news is described as a “shooting spree” in Colorado; twelve killed. It makes me think that with six billion people in the world that the “spree” type “moral/ethical failure rate of the human being” is really quite low, …… as opposed to mankind’s’ activity regarding what can be done in silence; such as political crimes, money handling crimes, or war making. Read: onerous laws, Wall St. crimes, middle eastern wars, etc.

    Incidentally, I know that the failure rate of anything I own is far more probable than a one-in-six billion chance. If it wasn’t for choice, God’s failure rate would likely be zero…………… maybe?

    Whether it be a twin tower spree, or the “rampage” above, it has or will hit the national/international news. I ask, is it evident that, of the 6B+ population, the shooter apparently does not have to compete for the top news spot? He got the top spot!

    How should one define crime? As overt or covert crime? Noisy crime, or silent crime, or secret crime? What type does more damage? White collar, or blue collar crime? …………. And then, we have the soft insidious crime that steals the spirit of the victim: the man-made economic debacle. The unemployed pay the price…………

    How about crime that defines murder as a daylight phenomena? I ask, is it not defined as murder only if the child has passed to the daylight side of the birth canal? Daylight apparently defines life! [ maybe today’s batman theatre shooter can use the “darkness defense?” ] Let’s put unwanted old folks in a dark room and gas them! Seems to be consistent logic, and it solves the “entitlement” problem.

    And, maybe we all like to hear the news of a “spree type crime” … because it makes the rest of us, that commit other types of crime, feel more normal. The shock type, overt crime hits the news and is acted upon. Oh, we all can feel so good about ourselves…………. We need more “sprees!” Great diversions………..

    Avoid darkness, it fosters crime!

  • Ed

    Enjoy Airventure this year and try to keep cool! Will you be flying your RV? I’m hoping to make it out for a day trip this year. I will listen for you on the radio.

  • Loretta

    Bonus 1. My answer is yes, when news organizations ask Rep. Keith Ellison whether he is connected to the Muslim Brotherhood, they do become willing participants in the strategy. Is the Muslim Brotherhood bad?

  • Jim Shapiro

    Loretta – “Is the Muslim Brotherhood bad?” Good question. The answer depends on how you feel about a Theocratic form of government, with Sharia the law of the land.

    The Muslim Brotherhood won the election in Egypt as a rejection of the despotic military government.

    A pretty nice example of the evil of two lessers, if you ask me.

  • Bob Collins

    Jim, the fact that another possible element of the story — the storyline of Dark Knight and the role of popular culture fiction in real terms — is one that no one wants to discuss in favor of repeating an argument that’s everyone has heard time and time again, suggests more opportunism than insight.

  • Jim Shapiro

    Bob – Touche’, and thanks for making me think further about an issue that frightens me more than absurd rights to own absurd weapons.

    Discussion about the 2nd Amendment is the low hanging fruit here.

    But I think it’s a more workable issue than whether we should or can place limits on “free expression”, and whether or not said free expression sometimes can and does lead to tragedy.

    I would argue that if there is any truth to “we are what we eat”, ( and lots of evidence, both scientific and empirical)

    the predominance of violence in psychologically powerful media such as film, tv and video games

    probably doesn’t help us to be LESS violent as individuals or a society.

    Blame “Hollywood?” I don’t know. There’s a lot of good work being done.

    Blame individuals and corporations who produce and sell fantasy violence without considering the larger implications because that’s where the money is?


    (I used to love the work of Quentin Tarantino until I had kids. Now I mourn the tragedy of his popularity.)

  • Bob Collins

    The word “blame” in these things always becomes a red herring, as if there’s a single why for events like this. You know, a simple answer.

    I would argue that it is what I said it is, a complex answer not given to bumper sticker politics nor 140 character tweets…. that it is, in fact, a combination of every day truths in our lives.

    I think that fact scares the hell out of people, which is possibly why so many people race to the political agendas — that doesn’t scare people much because they’re so used to it.

  • Jim Shapiro

    Bob- Well said. And agreed.

    THAT said, intelligent (hopefully) discourse and taking action (hopefully) to affect positive change (hopefully) is more productive (and fulfilling) than simply mourning an admittedly complex issue.

    But again, admittedly, I’m not a “mourning” person.


  • I have to admit – much like you noted above, Bob – when I first heard of the tragedy via a friend’s Facebook status update, after skimming it early this morning while half asleep on the bus, I thought it was simply a cheeky allusion to something that happened in the movie itself. A masked gunman bursts into a dark theater, silhouetted behind a cloud of gas? His apartment is booby-trapped? It sounds so much like something from a superhero/super-villain movie. Then I realized in horror that it was real.

    Wasn’t the primary villain in this latest Batman film a guy with a mask? It really makes you wonder if this is an incredibly misguided individual who was bored and wanted to reenact something like what he’s seen in movies (or read in earlier Batman comic books). I’m interested to hear more about his background and history, but that might not even begin to explain his motives behind such a senseless act.

  • Jim Shapiro

    Noelle – is “incredibly misguided individual” the same as “psychopathic brutal mass murderer”?

  • Jim – in this case? Yes.

  • Jim Shapiro

    Noelle – Thanks for the civil response to my potentially misinterpreted comment. It’s a pleasure to participate in Bob’s fabulous forum with so many intelligent individuals who can articulate their thoughts so clearly, as well as read between the lines of the expressed thoughts of others when necessary.