Monday, October 31, 2011

Something Borrowed Summary

In "Something Borrowed," Gladwell questions plagiarism by giving many examples of questionable acts of "borrowing" or taking ideas from others. The main example he gives is about how play writer, Lavery, took ideas and even some phrases directly from both Gladwell's work on a psychiatrist named Lewis and her own book itself. He discusses how he was unsure of whether he should side with Lewis, who was very upset, and help win a lawsuit against Lavery. Then, he felt that it was exactly stealing. He compares this with copying artists in music; he doesn't really think that using someone else's ideas is stealing. He thinks there are many other factors when considering if something is stealing someone's property. In the end, he let Lavery come talk to him about her mistakes and somewhat feels for her and understands that she just made a mistake.

I found this article to be pretty interesting. I agree with your past students, in that keeping track of all of the different people was a little confusing, but I really liked Gladwell's thoughts. I often question how someone can "own" a simple phrase. I agree that its not really fair to make an idea someone's property. I really liked that he showed professor Lawrence Lessig's idea of a comparison between a picnic table and someone's ideas. I agree that words and ideas can't necessarily be considered someone's property. I think Gladwell is a little confused about what he believes is right, and after reading this, I too am still confused on whether I think plagiarism is stealing or not.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Blog Assignment Four

In chapter seven of Jon Ronson's The Psychopath Test, Ronson talks about his encounters with a friend named Adam Curtis and a TV producer named Charlotte Scott. Adam Curtis questioned Ronson's methods of research and journalism, which lead Ronson to begin to question his own sanity. Curtis explained that Ronson's methods were very similar to other journalists' methods, but Ronson wondered if there were other approaches, so he talked to Charlotte Scott. She explained that her job was to talk to people in crisis and decide weather they were "just mad enough" to be put on TV. She explained how she detached herself from the people she talked to, and one time, put a man on a show who later cut his wrists while on the phone with her. After talking to her, Ronson was satisfied in his own research methods.

I found chapter six to be very odd. I don't really get where that came from, or how Ronson decided to go talk to Al Dunlap. Dunlap has lots of power and was known for firing many employees heartlessly, so Ronson was inclined to believe he was a psychopath. While he was giving Dunlap Bob Hare's psychopath checklist, he realized that there were many things that Dunlap got zeros on. I still don't really understand weather Ronson thinks Dunlap is a psychopath or not, and I found it very hard for me to tell either. He definitely had some very odd habits, like his sculptures of predatory animals and no feeling of remorse when he fired his employees, but then again, he had a loving wife with no accusations of adultery and was a well-behaved child. During both this chapter and chapter seven, I began to question Ronson's sanity also. Why is he so obsessed with people who may be psychopaths? I also found Scott's stories about reality TV shows to be quite disturbing, and I wonder how people can have those jobs without feeling remorse? Are they all psychopaths too?

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Blog Assignment 3

How does alcohol affect the brain and therefore, impair driving?

I think this would be an interesting topic, because we often see the effects of alcohol affecting driving in the real world. I thought that if I asked just how alcohol affects the brain, it would be too broad of a topic. I would like to know how it affects the brain specifically relating to how that impairs driving. I would probably look at medical websites, and I think there will probably be a lot out there. I could also then find examples of how it has affected driving to demonstrate those brain effects. I don't know the specifics of what alcohol does to the brain, but I assume I'll find out more details which explain how it impairs driving. 

I might find that alcohol affects other parts of the body, so questions may come up relating to that rather than specifically the brain. I don't know exactly how it affects the brain, so if it only does in one specific way, I might have trouble writing 10 pages about it. On the other hand, if it affects the brain drastically, this could be really easy.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Jon Ronson Blog Assignment 2

In chapter four of The Psychopath Test, Jon Ronson discusses the possibility of psychopaths being the reason for all of the bad in the world. In 1975, he attended a conference to learn abut Bob Hare's psychopath checklist. Bob showed examples of videos of psychopaths explaining having no feeling of remorse and many of the other items on the checklist. He was able to come to the conclusion that psychopaths are likely to re-offend and don't have the same connects between the amygdalae and the central nervous system. Ronson quickly learned that psychopaths are often the people he'd least expect, because they put on acts based on their studying of peoples emotions; they are often very manipulative and charming. Psychopaths are often found in high places with lots of power. They also Ronson learned a lot about studies that have been done on psychopaths, and now has a feeling that he can assess whether a person is a psychopath or not.

I found Ronson's fourth chapter to be very interesting. I think that there are probably a lot more psychopaths in the world than we realize or know of, but I don't think they are the sole cause for all evil things. I don't think it's fair to place people into only two categories, psychopaths and non-hpsychopaths. I believe there are many other types of people and other reasons for bad things that happen. I found Ronson's fifth chapter also to be very interesting. Toto Constant is a good example of how psychopaths can be very manipulative. Originally, Ronson was fooled by Toto, but later, talked to him again and asked questions in a specific way to see if he was a psychopath. I think this chapter shows how difficult it can be to prove someone a psychopath when they are very good at imitation and imitate non-psychopaths. They are so manipulative, it is often hard to tell what is real and what it isn't. Both of these chapters make me wonder how many psychopaths there really are and if Hare's checklist really works. Can we really define people in just these two categories?