Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Soundtrack of My Life

"Jessica's Theme" - Bruce Rowland - This song doesn't have any lyrics; it comes from the movie The Man from Snowy River which is a classic favorite of mine.  The song is all piano and I just love the flow of the music and the crescendos in between the dramatic parts.  I think one of the reasons really connect with this song is because I played piano for eight years of my life and since have gotten to really appreciate musical talent.  I find the song extremely emotional and beautiful, like it's telling a story but that story can be anything you want it to be.

"I am the Walrus" - The Beatles - I love The Beatles and this song is one of my favorites by them.  I don't know what it is about this particular song but as soon as my dad showed it to me I fell in love.  It's so weird and abstract yet awesome at the same time.  My dad told me that he used to listen to it everyday during lunch when he was a kid, so I find this song a way for us to connect musically.

"Long Hot Summer" - Keith Urban - It reminds me of summer, my favorite time of the year when I get to go boating and be outside enjoying the weather.  It's such a happy song, and who can resist having Keith Urban on the soundtrack to their life!

"Mama's Song" - Carrie Underwood - Carrie Underwood is one of my all time musical idols.  I've been a fan of hers ever since she auditioned on American Idol.  Even  though I can't say I dislike any of her songs, this particular one is very important to me.  I talks about a mother letting her daughter move out and be with the man she loves, and how letting a child go is not the same as saying goodbye.  Especially now that I am off to college, this song makes me really appreciate everything my mom (and my dad) has done for me and how important it is that she's in my life.

"Rapper's Delight" - Sugarhill Gang - My best friend Courtney and I love jamming to this song.

"Keep Me in Mind" - Zac Brown Band - It reminds me of my spring break trip to Mexico, tropical weather, and fun times.

"Bad Kids" - Lady Gaga - This doesn't really say anything about my life but I love Lady Gaga and this song.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Research Practice

"The number of obese young persons in the United States tripled from 1980 to 2000, with similar trends in other countries…Overweight children often become overweight adults. Obesity in adults increases the likelihood of cardiovascular risk factors, including metabolic syndrome" (Spoitta and Luma 2008).
Spiotta, R., & Luma, G. (2008). Evaluating obesity and cardiovascular risk factors in children and adolescents. American Family Physician, 78(9), 1052-8. Retrieved from

This quote comes from an article in which the authors discuss how obesity in children can lead to cardiovascular issues in adulthood. I found this article to be relevant to my research topic on obesity because it shows the problems obesity in childhood can have once they reach adulthood. In my paper, I think I would use this quote to explain the different negative effects of obesity, and also provide information from the article on ways to prevent childhood obesity, which were discussed later in the article. I think this source is very credible because it is a primary source and the author backs up her statements with evidence from research.
"Cristol's study concluded that there was some association between economic status and obesity rates particularly in the Chinese population. Children of affluent Chinese parents were more likely to be obese than were children of parents unable to purchase energy rich foods. In contrast Cristol concluded that obesity in the U.S. was more prevalent among children living in low income families. The author suggested that even poorer children in affluent countries can still afford to overeat and they are either unaware of healthier alternatives or are aware yet choose to ignore the alternatives" (Byington 2009).

Byington, R., Keene, S., & Samples, D. (2009). An Epidemiological Overview Of Pediatric Obesity: A Global Perspective Of A Growing Problem. Internet Journal Of World Health & Societal Politics, 6(2), 4.

I am choosing to use this review in my research paper because it gives possible causes for childhood obesity and reasons behind why children in America as well as other developed countries are becoming obese. I'm a little uncertain if this is classified as a credible source, mostly because it's labeled as a literature review, so it is not a primary source document. I'm wondering if I need to go back and research the actual studies that concluded the findings.  However, I like how in this article the author gives multiple studies and different findings that correlate with obesity, such as low socioeconomic status, family expectations, traditional dietary beliefs, and knowledge about food and disease.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Avoidable Death of Rebecca Riley

Ronson's main focus of this chapter is on the DSM and how many people are misdiagnosed because of the checklists created in this booklet. He also tries to show how the DSM can cause great harm to people who are diagnosed with a mental disorder they do not have. It starts off with Ronson attending a Scientology banquet in which everyone there is making fun of the DSM for all of its outrageous disorders.  Robert Spitzer, the man who edited the first DSM, tells of the process of coming up with a new mental disorder. Basically, a group of psychiatrists would gather in a conference room and shout out ideas they have for a type of new mental disorder with a checklist that accompanied and if Spitzer agreed it would be added to the list. Later in the chapter, stories of how people are wrongly accused of mental disorders, especially child bipolar disorder, is addressed.  The story of Rebecca Riley, in how she was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and then drugged to death by her parents plays a main role in Ronson's point of misdiagnoses. The chapter ends with an interview with Rebecca's mother by Katie Couric, who asks if she knew what was wrong with her child.  Her mother replies, "I don't know. Maybe she was just hyper for her age."

Overall I really enjoyed reading this book. I found that it was one of the more interesting english readings I've had to read over the years.  I think the way Ronson wrote it, by keeping mystery throughout the entire plot, keeps you enticed to find out more about the world of psychopaths and to eventually decide on your own terms what it means to be a psychopath.  I was slightly confused at the end, however, because I didn't understand the message of "good luck" sent by Petter. Was this for Ronson to try to figure out another mystery, or was it making a point that Petter was able to control the researchers like in the beginning by doing something completely random?

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Aiming a Bit High

In this chapter, Ronson tells the story of a once renowned criminal profiler named Paul Britton.  Britton became popular for his ability to interpret a crime and create an image of the type of suspect police should be looking for.  His career was extremely successful up until a case in which a man was wrongfully accused of the murder of a twenty-three-year-old woman, Rachel Nickell.  In this case, Britton created the profile for the type of suspect police should be looking for, and then helped initiate a trap in which the primary suspect was lured and hired impersonators were used to try to get a confession out of him.  In the end the suspect, Clin Stagg, was arrested for the murder of Rachel Nickell and later released when the actual murderer was arrested.  After this case, Britton's career essentially ended and he was no longer used as a criminal profiler.

Although I found both chapters interesting in that they gave two different stories of psychopathic incidents, I find chapter 8 especially confusing.  I feel that Ronson jumps around a lot in telling the story of David Shayler and it was difficult for me to connect the different aspects.  One thing I took away from that particular chapter was how Ronson shows how society only appreciates the right sort of madness.  Shayler's popularity dramatically decreased once he started to claim he was the Messiah because people thought this was "too mad". However, when he told news stations of his theory about 9/11, he was a large success.  I find these types of situations occur in the media as well.  Journalists will look for just the right sort of madness to portray, and society finds it extremely interesting.  But just when the story becomes too extreme, their popularity decreases.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Something Borrowed

In his piece "Somthing Borrowed", Malcolm Gladwell shows the complexity of intellectual property and how plagiarism in this sense can ruin a person's life. Gladwell uses his own experience to support his claim that plagiarism is wrong but difficult to define.  In the play "Frozen", writer Bryony Lavery takes the life story of psychiatrist Dorothy Lewis and parts of an article by Malcolm Gladwell to write the script for the story.  Lewis feels violated because essentially her life's work was taken without her permission to be used as in Lavery's play.  Gladwell also discusses the music industry and how artists work around the idea of plagiarism by being influenced by previous works of other artists and creating new ideas that are "similar" to the old ones.

I really liked this piece and found it enjoyable to read.  I think Gladwell brings up an issue that has been around for years and yet is still not resolved.  It shows how people can steal others ideas all the time in creative ways, like using a few notes of one song in your own original piece.  I really liked how he used a personal experience to show how serious plagiarism is and its effect on people who are the victims.  Overall, copyright laws are complex because they only last for so long because ideas are constantly being reused and reinvented into better ones.

Monday, October 17, 2011

The Right Sort of Madness

The chapter starts off with Ronson talking with his friend Adam Curtis, who criticizes his ways of journalism. Adam says Ronson travels to many places and puts his story together based on fragments from each of his interviewees, which may not be the best way of proving what he thinks.  This leads Ronson to think of journalists' other ways of finding interesting stories, such as looking for people with mental disorders instead of coming across them after the fact.  This leads to the introduction of Charlotte Scott, a tv booker for various shows such as Jerry Springer, Trisha and Jeremy Kyle. Charlotte's job is to find people who are "mad enough" to make the shows interesting.  Her own method of finding these sorts of people is learning what types of medication they are on, and if it is the right type (such as Prozac) they fulfill the criteria of madness to be put on the show.

I found both of these chapters in a way sort of comical. I loved Al Dunlap and his obsession with predators as well as himself.  I thought the entire interview Ronson has with him shows how egocentric Dunlap in how he is only concerned with himself and controlling others.  Other than the chapters being entertaining, I thought the story about Deleese was quite sad. I didn't expect the outcome of her story to end with her unsuccessful makeover (in that she never got one) and the horrible things her family said about her.  To me this is a great example of how the media can really make a large impact on someone's life all for the entertainment of the audience.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Research Topic

What is the impact of the fast food industry on America? Has obesity increased over the past ten years, and what are the factors contributing to this?

Although I'm not quite sure what my specific question will be, I know I want to center my topic around the fast food industry and obesity in America.  I think this is a rising problem in our country and I'm interested to find out more about it. I feel like there will be a lot of research journals about my topic and I would also like to find a personal story (perhaps something that was on the news) about it as well.  I think my research will find that obesity definately has affected America and the fast food industry has been a large contributer to this growing problem.

I might have trouble finding multiple evidence to back up my question.  For example, since if I decide to go with my question about just the fast food industry, I do not know how much academic information I will be able to find.  However, I am excited to look into this topic and hopefully find some interesting answers.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The Psychopath Test

Jon Ronson centers this chapter around the psychopath test and two different methods for determining psychopathic behavior.  Ronson spends three days with a psychologist named Bob Hare, who created a psychopath checklist of behaviors unique to psychopaths.  Bob was intrigued by psychopathic behaviors from when he worked as a prison psychologist, and this influenced him to come up with tests to determine unique psychopathic behaviors. One of his early tests involved shocking patients in prisons to study their reaction; he found that people seen as psychopaths didn't respond to the shock the same why as nonpsychopaths.  The Psychopath Test shows how these people have no concept of emotions, but rather absorb information from other people and mimick these behaviors.  Ronson is also introduced to a neuroscience reseacher named Adam Perkins.  Adam studies the central nervous system and looks for differences in the brain between psychopahts and nonpsychopaths.  He found that the amygdala in a psychopathic persons brain is different and that is why they cannot feel emotion.  Ronson concludes psychopaths can be a dangerous asset to society, especially if they are people like CEOs and politicians who are ranked high in social standing.

I found that both of these chapters fit well together to help explain the traits of psychopaths and how they can be spotted in the real world.  I found chapter four interesting mainly because Ronson concludes his conversation with Bob Hare discussing how society is run by a bunch of psychopaths.  This made me wonder how likely it is that society is somewhat powered by manipulative and emotionless people.  In chapter five I liked the story of Toto and his journey from Haiti to the United States, and how Ronson finally cracks him into exposing his psychopathic side.  One part I didn't quite understand was on page 131 when Ronson includes the part about the guard who scares the visitors.  I'm not sure if this is included because Toto finds the guard intimidating and powerful (kind of like how he was in Haiti) or for some other reason.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Psychopaths Dream in Black and White

As Jon Ronson continues his journey into the madness industry, he looks at a mental institution named Oak Ridge and describes the interesting events that had occurred in this building. Ronson includes stories of patients who were sent free after the therapy sessions and tells how these sessions were run and the outcomes of such programs. The story of a psychiatrist by the name of Elliott Barker who worked at Oak Ridge and attempted to cure psychopaths by giving them LSD for therapy is included. We later learn these therapy sessions run by Barker actually made the psychopaths condition worsen and the program was eventually cancelled.

I find this chapter a bit obscure because the stories of the different people and places tend to jump around a lot. I think the story about Elliott Barker is absolutely insane; I would have never thought an institution would give patients hallucinogens in order to 'cure' them. Barker himself seems a bit of a nut, since he casually watched behind a one way mirror as patients ran around a room crazily. The result of this program didn't surprise me at all (it seems fitting that psychopaths would only learn to be even more devious through these therapy sessions). In all honesty I don't really understand the story about Mary Barnes or how it fits into the rest of the chapter. To me it seems a little detached from the overall point of the chapter itself.

Thursday, September 15, 2011