Monday, October 31, 2011

Something Borrowed!

In Malcolm Gladwell's essay, "Something Borrowed," he discusses plagiarism and considers what is copied and how much is copied to determine the legality of the situation. Gladwell questions when it is wrong to borrow. The main topic that Gladwell focuses on is about a play called "Frozen" written by a Byrony Lavery, who essentially steals the identity of a real person and portrays it in the play. Dorothy Lewis, a psychiatrist that has studied and worked with serial killers for over 25 years, hears of the play from many friends that all essentially tell her that she must see the play. In reading the script, Lewis finds that her "life" was stolen and written in the form of the play "Frozen." Then, Gladwell discusses plagiarism in the music industry. He found that many artists are upset when they hear similar note sequences in other artists' work; however, this isn't really considered plagiarism because the notes are essentially not owned by anyone because many people may copy someone but not realize they are doing it due to limited note choice, etc. Thus, Gladwell uses this music analysis to try and comprehend whether Lavery's play "Frozen" could be considered plagiarism even though she made it into her own story. All in all, Gladwell questions what constitutes plagiarism, and takes into account that words will be used over and over again without any knowledge of them being used before.

In reading this article, I found myself questioning whether I actually understand what Gladwell is trying to say. At one point I thought he was saying that plagiarism isn't necessarily a one note thing, and that there can be many exceptions to the rule, as seen in the music example. Before reading this, I would have argued that any type of copying or borrowing of material would be considered plagiarism unless properly cited; however, I feel like this article contradicts many of the things I thought about plagiarism. Honestly, I just feel confused, and I don't know whether Gladwell says its okay to "plagiarize" or not okay, or what the special cases there are. Just confused.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Chapter 6 and 7!

In chapter 6, "Night of the Living Dead," Ronson visits Shubuta, Mississippi, a dying down due to the closing of the Sunbeam, a local plant, that made toasters. After many thriving years, the plant was drug down by a series of CEO's, most notably however, was Al Dunlap, the last CEO of Sunbeam. Essentially, he was the reason for the plant's failure. He was a ruthless man who fired his employees out of pure enjoyment. A psychopath, you ask? Well, that is exactly what Ronson wonders about the Mr. Al Dunlap. After learning of Dunlap and his tactics as a CEO, Ronson visits his mansion in Florida. When Ronson first arrives at the luxurious mansion, he notices the collection of "predatory animal" statues located throughout the house. These statues and self portraits were the first indicator to Ronson of Dunlap's psychopathic ways, and the Hare Checklist is put to the test once again. Scoring high on the majority of the checklist, Dunlap defended himself by saying that his "psychopathic" traits were being misinterpreted. According to Dunlap, his traits reflect that of a leader, and was so convincing that Ronson was unsure as to whether or not he was actually a psychopath. In confusion, Ronson then visits Bob Hare who clarified to Ronson that one doesn't have to score high on all characteristics of the checklist in order to be a psychopath.

In response to both chapter 6 and 7, I was intrigued by the number of CEOs that were psychopaths, and I found it very interesting yet disturbing how television has been formulated to create "entertainment." I always knew that T.V. was fake, but I can't believe the way that shows like Extreme Makeover treat people. Also, in chapter 6, I found that Al Dunlap's way of portraying himself as a positive and influential leader was very interesting. Like Ronson, I thought he was very convincing, but in the end all signs pointed to him essentially being a psychopath.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Research Question

How has Chinese culture defined women over time?

In high school, I read a book titled Snowflower and the Secret Fan, and it got me really interested in how gender is viewed in China, specifically in women. With some background knowledge on the subject, I knew that there would be many areas to research. Because I'm so interested in the subject, it would be much easier to write 10 pages of information on it than something that has no interest to me. Also, I know some of the ways women were subjected in the past, but I am unfamiliar with what has changed and why.  To start, I would probably talk about the violent history of women in a Chinese culture that preached male preference. I expect to talk about the ways in which Chinese culture surprised women. For example foot binding, arranged marriages, etc. When it comes to what caused the change, (I'm expecting that there has been some sort of change in these beliefs) I'm guessing that modern culture and society has had a big influence, as well and modern ethics and morality. I'm not sure what types of problems may arise, but essentially, I just find this topic extremely intriguing and it's something I genuinely want to learn more about.  

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The Psychopath Test (Blog 2)

In chapter 4 of the Psychopath Test, John Ronson introduces his readers to the idea of how to detect a psychopath and the man behind the detection. Bob Hare created a list known as the PCL-R checklist. This checklist is what psychologist use to determine whether or not someone is a psychopath; the same test used to diagnose Tony at Broadmoor. By performing test like electric shock, Bob Hare could weed out the psychopaths from the non-psychopths. To do so, the individuals who showed no fear or anxiety prior to the shock were labeled psychopaths. By attending one of Hare's costly conferences, Ronson learned about these tests as well as the PCL-R checklist itself. Ronson finds himself very fascinated with the checklist and thinks of himself as an expert psychopath detecter. In chapter 5, we see Ronson putting his skills to the test by using the checklist to determine whether or not Toto is a true psychopath. Ronson also learns that psychopaths are often the people that one would least expect, like those who have a lot of power.

Oddly enough, I was pretty fascinated by these two chapters. Practically the entire time I was reading,  I found myself performing the checklist on myself. Obviously, I don't think I am a psychopath and was reassured by one of the psychologists that if I was questioning myself, then I wasn't a psychopath. The checklist is just so interesting that I think it forces us to question ourselves, much like what Ronson was doing during chapter 4.