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.