Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Hat Tippin

Today I read an interesting article from the New York Times about plagiarism. Basically the youth of our society (the new generation of college students) doesn't see anything wrong with plagiarism anymore. Most internet media is perceived to be fair game. The removal of books in our lives has convinced the youth of today that ideas don't really belong to anybody, but rather our a collective property of society.

One thing I often consider is the way I share information on Facebook. All the time I am posting articles or videos that interest me or make me laugh. And of course I notice plenty of my friends repost things I've posted. Can I always say with absolute certainty they got it from me? No, certainly not. But it's rare to see a "hat tip" given out even though there is a chain of information passing. I realize these hat tips are small gestures to somebody who doesn't even own the idea, but there's something in the discovery and giving credit for that discovery.

In the article they quote a Ms. Wilensky for her ideas on what is creativity. She states, “You’re not coming up with new ideas if you’re grabbing and mixing and matching... It may be increasingly accepted, but there are still plenty of creative people — authors and artists and scholars — who are doing original work. It’s kind of an insult that that ideal is gone, and now we’re left only to make collages of the work of previous generations."

I think Ms. Wilensky has a jaded definition of what new ideas are. Everything we draw upon to create is based upon previous experience. Even when we develop the new or original it is because of past lessons learned. Now, I don't think this is necessarily the same as what she describes as "grabbing and mixing and matching." I think mashups are a good example of that. Something mildly creative, but not really taking ideas to a new level. However, as a student of political science, I often wrote papers that I'm sure were not completely new or groundbreaking ideas. However, their was an originality to it because of my route of discovery that lead to it. My experiences helped to unfold these ideas in a different light than many who came before me. And in turn I presented it to the world anew.

This communal property idea of knowledge and ideas destroys a lot of individuality. It decreases the incentive to produce and create more. I think the real problem with this plagiarism and communal knowledge comes from the desire to simply use it for personal gain rather than help return it to something greater for society. The availability of knowledge is a wonderful gift, but if we simply steal it, claim it as our own, and return nothing for it we are simple thieves. However, if we grow from these tidbits of knowledge and find a way to return something greater to society we will see immense progression from society.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The Ever Classy Large Benjamin

To say that Ben Roethlisberger has been in the news a bit lately is a bit of an understatement. Frankly, I don't even want to get into all of the garbage he's been accused of lately. If you want to know anything about that, read his Wikipedia entry. But if you've heard anything about the guy I think it's quickly become apparent that he is not a classy guy.

Well, Roethlisberger decided to give the media another doozie recently. A couple of the Pittsburgh area TV stations interviewed him and he decided to make some statements to his fans about his recent behavior. When I saw the headline on ESPN, I figured that was a smart PR move and something long overdue. However, when I actually read what they had to say I was even more appalled.

The lede from ESPN:
A contrite Ben Roethlisberger said he got caught up in being a caricature called Big Ben, not the grounded player and person he once was, leading to his off-field problems and affecting his play as the Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback.
Now referring to Ben as contrite is only appropriate. He took an opportunity to apologize, which in some cases can be laudable; in his case I would say it was necessary. However, when I think of contrition I think of deep sorrow and remorse for actions and I don't think that's what came from Mr. Roethlisberger. The whole idea of getting caught up in the "caricature" of "Big Ben" seems to be him looking for an opportunity to escape his guilt. This man is hardly at all removed from his terrible behaviors and it seems like more of his foolish "caricature" is popping up all the time. To simply write off these mistakes so simply does not seem like the heart of a changed man. To me, it seems like Ben isn't willing to own up to his mistakes.

As you read in the article further, you see more and more it was this awful "Big Ben" person that caused all the problems, but really Ben Roethlisberger is a good guy. I say that's a bunch of baloney. Big Ben and Ben Roethlisberger are one in the same. Own up to your actions and accept the stupid decisions you made and apologize for them. I don't want to see some straw man strung up that is an alter ego of yourself. Who do you think you are? Bruce Wayne?

Another sign that clearly he's still going about things wrong is his admission that he "wanted to apologize to them for so many things." With what he says of it, it's clear that his "desire to apologize" has been something that he chose to wait on. That doesn't sound like contrition to me. Why wait to make these statements until now? Ben, I'm glad you've decided to change but I really hope it's for real.

For how much Roethlisberger gets discussed in the sporting news, I'm surprised this one flew under the radar so much. Maybe others were more convinced of his turning a new leaf. I'm not so optimistic. I think he understands a lot of things need to change if he's going to keep playing football, but I don't feel like he's going to mystically become a good guy. He has a long way to go and I hope a lot of other sports figures learn from his dumb mistake so we see fewer people making these kinds of mistakes.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

By the Power of Greyskull

So I went to my roommates' basketball game this evening and it was a blowout. I came back to go on a run. As I started to get ready, I went out in the front room to chat with my roommates Matty Cakes and Squints. I started putting on my socks and lacing up my sneakers as Nancy Drew opened the front door. He was standing there with his girlfriend and I said "Hi" to them both. Of course she sat there with an absolutely terrified look on her face because I hadn't put on my shirt quite yet.

She acted like she was about ready to run away and really did not want to come into the apartment. I just kept going, I wasn't going to let it phase me. It wasn't the end of the world. Besides I make a pretty good living on the weekend like this guy.

Nancy Drew made the comment it was just like I was going swimming so it wasn't that big of a deal, but she wasn't biting. She came inside with incredible hesitancy and continued to ignore me even after I put a shirt on.

I'm kind of surprised about it, she went hot tubbing the other night with Nancy Drew and so she clearly saw him with his shirt off. Nancy Drew kind of looks like this without a shirt on:

And I, without a shirt on, look a lot like this:

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Domino's Finally Decides to Make Pizza

I really wish I had a lot to say about this, but I'll let Mr. Colbert speak for me instead:

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Alpha Dog of the Week - Domino's Pizza
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorEconomy

I remember seeing the ad for the new pizza and being like "Huh, maybe I should check that out." It didn't even cross my mind that they basically were suggesting that they've been giving people the most worthless garbage possible for who knows how long. Good for the Domino's CEO to admit, "The weakness in our value chain with the customer was really in our core product." Interesting that he made that quote on the same day he bailed to be the new AD for Michigan.

This whole thing is crazy enough to make you say Ay Caramba!