Monday, October 31, 2011

"Something Borrowed"

In “Something Borrowed,” Gladwell describes his own experience in which his work and the work of a psychiatrist are plagiarized in a Broadway play. Bryony Lavery wrote the Broadway play “Frozen,” and directly copied it off the experiences of the psychiatrist Dorothy Lewis. The entire plot of the play was identical to the life and work of Lewis. Coincidently, Lewis had copied some of her work from Gladwell, and so his pieces of his work are copied into the play as well. He also discusses some of the issues of plagiarism in the music industry. Hundreds of songs contain similar beats and patterns of notes, but the way in which they’re copied dictates whether or not its plagiarism. Borrowing something because it gave one inspiration is acceptable, while borrowing because one lacks creativity is wrong; he claims that this is the same for literature.
This piece really made me question exactly what constitutes as “plagiarism.” The thought of owning words seems a bit ridiculous to me, and because of that, I’ve never had a clear definition of what plagiarism really is. I understand the taking someone’s thoughts word for word is wrong, but if someone simply changes one word, does that make it his or her own? Well, technically yes, but its still stealing someone’s idea. This is where I become confused on what really defines plagiarism. 

Monday, October 17, 2011

The Psychopath Test Chapters 6 & 7

In "Night of the Living Dead", Ronson meets with a man named Al Dunlap, who was a former CEO of a large company. Dunlap had previously worked for another company, going around firing employees. He then began working for Sunbeam Toasters, and eventually became CEO. Throughout Ronson’s meeting with him, he begins to take note of the psychopathic characteristics that Dunlap has. He meets a good portion of the criteria that Hare put on the psychopathic checklist.  
I thought these chapters were really interesting. I had been wondering when Ronson would mention the CEO’s that were questionable psychopaths, and I was glad he addressed that. I can see how a majority of CEO’s and people with other powerful positions could be questionable psychopaths, because they share a lot of the same traits as Dunlap. As a CEO, one has to be comfortable with firing people and disciplining them, they have to be aggressive to have their companies succeed, and they have to have a certain lack of empathy because of the competitive nature of their industry. So it could be fairly easy to detect a really powerful and successful CEO as a psychopath. I also found the story of Charlotte very interesting, how she had to find people that were “mad enough” to be on the TV show she worked for. 

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Research Paper Topics

What led to the Russian Revolution of 1917?
I realize this is a very specific and uncommon question, but it’s something I’ve always been interested in. I’m very open to adjusting the question as I research, so it may change a bit as I continue on this paper. I’ve already researched this topic a bit, and read several books about early 1900’s in Russia. I’ve also always been fascinated with the last imperial family that was overthrown in the revolution. It might be a difficult question to answer because I’m probably going to find a lot of things that led to the revolution, or could’ve played a role in it. So I may just have to decide on a few major factors, and focus on those. I know the Tsar was often criticized for being “too gentle”, which in the case of ruling Russia, can be a dangerous characteristic. Also, the son of the Tsar had hemophilia, which took a toll on his abilities to rule such a huge country. Plus, the people never cared for the Empress. Those are some of the factors that could’ve potentially led to the revolution. I’ll also need to consider the fact that maybe it was destined to happen anyways, and it just so happened that the Tsar at the time couldn’t handle it. Or maybe it was his fault.
I may find that it’s very difficult to know exactly what caused the revolution, because there are so many potential factors. However, I can look into some of the more unnoticed reasons, and see if they added to the problems that the Tsar had created. 

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The Psychopath Test

In “The Psychopath Test”, Ronson meets with Bob Hare, a therapist in Wales who did research comparing psychopaths and non-psychopaths. He found that psychopaths have a dysfunctional amygdala, the part of the brain that anticipates unpleasantness. After discovering this, he came up with the “checklist” to determine if one is a psychopath or not. It was named the Hare PCL-R Checklist, and it contains 20 characteristics, that if responded to in a particular way, indicate psychopathy. Near the end of the chapter, Ronson thinks back to Tony in Broadmoor, and wonders if he underwent the PCL-R checklist, maybe he could be released.
I found this chapter really interesting. At first, I didn’t think everything on the PCL-R could realistically apply to every psychopath, but it did. All the different scenarios they described, related back to the checklist. Even in “Toto” Ronson was able to use some elements of the checklist on Toto. However, I would still like to know more about psychopaths in high society positions. Ronson mentioned it several times in the chapter, but never really expanded on the idea of CEO’s and politicians that are psychopaths.