Behaviorists have studied rats for years. They put the creatures through various environments to study the effects of environment on both the mental and physical. One of the more solid and oft repeated experiments has been studying rat behavior under normal conditions, then how they behave under overcrowded conditions.
It seems the rats get along just fine when they have a little privacy, can move around freely, and where adequate food supplies are available. However, crowd them and they grow longer fangs, become very aggressive, will savage each other and behave erratically. Researchers have extended the theory of rat behavior to man and find similar results.
One researcher proposes that Americans were more "civilized" fifty years ago because fully half of Americans were still farmers which precluded the crowded urban conditions which exist today. Without getting into a social sciences study, on why urban population exploded, I just want to say that I agree with those lab rat guys. Having grown up in a small town in California that had nearly any crime, I can now see the ugly results of a quintupling of the population of my hometown.
I now live in Phoenix and am frankly fascinated by the truly weird behavior of many who live here now. I hear tales from the old hands who say Phoenix was a wonderful place to live in a few decades ago. Of course, like everywhere else, Phoenix has grown exponentially and suffers from that kind of rapid growth.
Just this week our morning papers brought us stories of a long back up on I-17 because some wacko was hanging from a highway overpass and threatening to jump. Now, while bizarre, this act has been repeated over and over for years now...so much so that many of us would prefer the jumper just go ahead and jump, become a bump in the road for the next car, and spare us the long traffic delays.
Also this week, we had a mom over on the east side who grounded her sixteen year old son for some manner of infraction. This didn't sit well with the kid so he buddied up with his teen friend, came home and beat momma to death with a hammer and frying pan. Again, in these days of bath salts and crystal meth, killing your parents is no longer a novel way to protest parental correction.
We also had a little brougha erupt over a barking dog. It seems one family had a dog that had, more or less, been barking incessantly for about four years. Apparently this dog barking got on the nerves of an otherwise law abiding fellow who snapped, grabbed his Glock 21, went out into the backyard and confronted the neighbors about the dogs. I guess the "over the fence" confrontation wasn't satisfactory, causing the fellow to hop the fence, shoot two in the offending family on the backyard, spun and shot the two dogs, then entered the home and killed two more. The frustrated shooter then went back to his own apartment, plopped down into his recliner, took a deep breath, all the suppressed anger now released, then killed himself.
Lest you think Phoenix is any different that any other major city, let me offer that we have all the other typical crime; rape, robbery, murder, Circle K beer holdups, etc. We do, sadly, experience more than our fair share of home invasions, as Mexican drug cartel thugs average at least once a night invading a home and settling the score with some poor soul who didn't pay for his drugs in a timely manner.
I have lived here nearly a decade now and have been fascinated by drive by shootings of horses, cows, dogs, sheep and other farm animals. Speaking of farm animals, we have had several individuals caught fornicating with a farmers cow or horse, and of course we have our fair share of Craig's Listers posting the need for a good ole human/dog lovemaking session.
I gotta say, the rats are outta control here, folks...long fangs and really wack behavior. Whew!