We all need a pair…

March 25, 2011 § Leave a comment

Alec Baldwin's pair of brass balls

Watching Glengarry Glen Ross, I’m struck by the moments of between the characters when they commit unethical acts or when they are actually getting along. Fighting I get, the angry shouting is honest and unfiltered. The system is designed to have them at each other’s throats competing for their livelihood.

The characters have their own culture and their own understanding of how they operate. I like the moment between Shelley and Ricky when the Mentor and the Student long after he’s passed up the Mentor can trade a new war story. It was a great man to man moment. In any profession or any company, there is this need for that relationship with your coworkers. No matter how cut-throat the environment, you want to be able to share that experience with someone else. It was funny to see them improvise together once they saw the Lingk client come in. It was great to see their energy together.

I’m struck by how much of success comes down to confidence. There is a lesson in how much these salesmen use their confidence to win over clients to fork over their cash. They do or say anything to gain the confidence of their customers. Those skills could be used for good…or at least less ethically ambiguous causes. ABC Always Be Closing.


Under the Influence of Realism Origins

March 25, 2011 § Leave a comment

Robinson's Photomontage "Fading Away"

Looking through images and influences of realism, I have forgotten that art movements build on each other. It’s as if it’s this continuum, an evolution of influences. Art didn’t always reflect the bleakness of its time. It often represented an ideology and hope of the time in which it was created. It often escaped the contemporary world, it was filled with angels and religious themes or classical mythology. Realism and the movements strongest influences came along after the industrial revolution, after a time of much social and economic upheaval to the previous order.

The picture above reflects a very calculated posed piece of photo montage to represent something very real, much like “Cathy Come Home” was a very real representation of the existence of families in the Western world. People that fall between the cracks despite trying to keep their lives together.

Books influence music, music influence paintings, all reflections of their time. We discussed it briefly in the media ethics class, the Louis Vuitton lawsuit against Danish artist Nadia Plesner. A Louis Vuitton bag is a global cultural icon, a reflection of our time.

Would You Push the Big Guy?

March 19, 2011 § Leave a comment

I ask myself if I would push the big guy after my willingness to pull a lever in the trolley dilemma. Pushing a man to his death feels far more morally difficult than just pulling a lever no matter if the outcome may be the same.

I’m reminded of the Milgram experiment at Yale University in which obedience of authority was tested. Inspired by the atrocities committed during WW II by the Nazis, Stanley Milgram asked if people would be willing to commit acts that they felt were morally wrong if ordered to by an authority. Milgram didn’t test in war-time conditions he performed these experiments in a lab.

Can just being told by an authority in a lab coat to harm another person enough for someone to harm another person? Miligram designed an experiment in which test subjects were told that they were involved in a learning experiment. They were told that they would be the teacher to administer electrical shocks to learners that didn’t remember. The teachers were told that they were administering electric shocks via a dials labelled with increasing voltages up to “Danger:Severe Shock” and “XXX” Over the course of the experiment the learners were to receive increasing voltages of shocks with each mistake. Of course, the learners would continue to make mistakes. The learners would continue to scream in pain with each shock until they eventually went silent. If they hesitated or asked to stop, the authority would tell them they must continue. The test subjects didn’t know that the learners were just actors and that they weren’t really administering electrical shocks. How far would you go with the electric shocks? In the first set of experiments, 65% of subjects continued until they gave the maximum shock level, what they believed to be 450 volts.  Results varied when the experiment was replicated with different groups and in different locations.

As individuals, we don’t know how we would react when put in those situations, but we know what we believe to be right and wrong. We may have these ideals and absolutes that we would never commit or think we would never commit. We may even judge each other based on actions committed in situations. But when put in those situations we would react like most of our peers.

Ska Punk Band P.O. BOX’s song “So Milgram Knew It”


Sonny’s Ethics

March 17, 2011 § Leave a comment

After the young boy “C” witnesses Sonny shoot a man in the street in broad daylight, I can’t imagine what Lorenzo, his dad, was feeling for his son. He seemed so conflicted between what was right: to tell the detectives what had happened and risk being labeled a rat by their community. He didn’t press his son to do anything and really I think it was because he couldn’t decide himself. C looked to his father for help with a look but C could see in his father’s ambivalence that it was up to him.

Whether or not C did what was right is debatable. He was old enough and street smart enough to know the consequences of his decision. He did what was right under the circumstances. I can’t imagine myself as an adult and making that decision. His ties to the community were important to him. He didn’t want to be labeled a rat and he didn’t want his family to be shamed as well.

Later, you find that Sonny becomes a mentor to C. He guides him and gives him advice without C telling his father just how close he becomes to him. There is some racial tension after he begins dating an African American girl.

My favorite scene, one that I’ve remembered on dates since is a test that Sonny suggests to C on girl’s character

Sonny: Alright, listen to me. You pull up right where she lives, right? Before you get outta the car, you lock both doors. Then, get outta the car, you walk over to her. You bring her over to the car. Dig out the key, put it in the lock and open the door for her. Then you let her get in. Then you close the door. Then you walk around the back of the car and look through the rear window. If she doesn’t reach over and lift up that button so that you can get in: dump her.
C: Just like that?
Sonny: Listen to me, kid. If she doesn’t reach over and lift up that button so that you can get in, that means she’s a selfish broad and all you’re seeing is the tip of the iceberg. You dump her and you dump her fast.

It’s a Free World…

March 17, 2011 § Leave a comment

After seeing Ken Loach’s “It’s a Free World…” I, like Laura, feel viscerally angry with Angie. At first I was convinced of her justification for her starting the business. Her entrepreneurial spirit after feeling like she has nothing to lose and the interest in helping out immigrants that just want to make an honest living and support their families were very honest and noble motivations. Even if she wanted to stick it to her previous employer and beat them at their business, she still seemed justified after how she was treated.

It seems when we have nothing to lose, that we are more likely to take risks. Angie had nothing to lose after losing yet another dead end job. Sure she was motivated by competing with her previous employer after using her skills to their advantage, fed up she was now going to work for herself. It seemed no coincidence that she was fired after the incident in the bar where she was sexually harassed by a male coworker. She said as much when she was fired. In retrospect, she seemed to make a bigger deal of the incident at the time just to make an excuse to leave and join Karol. The coworker seemed very confident that he would be able to touch her. Such a brazen act of sexual harassment in front of coworkers seemed to be part of the culture and understanding they had. Either way I didn’t blame her for wanting to leave and feel a sense of justification for beating the sexists at their own business.

Once she gave Mahmoud, the Iranian Asylum seeker a chance and met his family, she seemed sympathetic enough after she seemed empathetic. In retrospect she seemed to just see the potential market, how she could make a buck. Once there was a face on the families, she felt more for them. Who wouldn’t feel empathy for these little girls in hiding considering she had a son the same age as one of the girls.

The conversation she had with her father toward the end of the film was the most revealing. She said she didn’t want to end up working an honest job her whole life to end up poor just like her dad. Her father felt empathy for the undocumented immigrant laborers, he understood how little they made and how much they were used and abused by Angie and her business associates. When she said “Next I’m going to be blamed for climate change!” She understood what the big problem was but seemed to justify it by saying that the problems were bigger than her and that she isn’t to blame. She knows that if it wasn’t her making money off of them someone else will.

The turning point was in the bar with Rose, when they called two of the men to meet them at their apartment. Angie had such a visceral reaction when the male coworker touched her in the bar in the beginning of the movie. At this point you see that she saw these men as just objects. She before they were just workers laborers off whom she made her living. Now they were there for her pleasure as well.

I was beyond fed up at the point when Rose was fed up. Angie acted without a sense of consequences for the families or for herself. How could she not see the potential danger to herself? Angie wasn’t without a heart, when she did see the danger in which she was putting Sheeva and Shada, the Iranian Asylum seeking family, she did try to help them.

France on Sino-African Relations

March 5, 2011 § Leave a comment

French Interests

First rule of Psych Society…

March 1, 2011 § Leave a comment

Fight Club isn't Psych Society!

First rule of Psych Society: talk about Psych Society!

Psychological Society’s last meeting only drew 4 members and myself. We started late hoping to draw a few more late members. It’s easy to get discouraged. We still carried on with the meeting. The members in attendance mentioned that there were members that would have made the meeting if they were not in class.

Scheduling a regular meeting in my own schedule is a problem! Scheduling a time that 10 or more people can meet seems nearly impossible. The head of the department suggested doodle; she uses the online scheduling tool for meetings with colleagues. It’s a great website that allows you to create a poll with times that will work for you and allows invitees to vote on blocks of time when they can make the meeting. Invitees can see the table with the responses of other invitees.  Of course it is dependent on members responding and following through.

Sending out meeting minutes after the meeting to all members, or people that at anytime expressed interest, lets the membership know what goes on at the meetings. They may see upcoming events or topics that interest them and follow up to attend the next meeting. Also sending out the agenda of the meeting in advance lets your membership know what can be anticipated at the next meeting and allows them to add agenda items to be discussed at the meeting.

Networking and asking individuals that you think may be interested in the individual events or discussions may encourage more people to attend. Encourage members to spread the word!

Also don’t forget the loyal members! Three of the members that attended had an idea for an event. They already had a plan and ideas about how to execute the plan. The event turned out to be a huge success that attracted more people to the group.

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