character and perspective bias, spring morning wallpaper, human organs and the free market

Character and Its Discontents

What is character? Ordinarily, we envision character as a set of stable and unified dispositions: we expect the timid employee to be shy on a regular basis, not just on some days, and we picture him as a mellow father, not as a tyrant at home. Since we suppose that characters are unified in these ways, we are almost invariably surprised when it turns out that the different aspects of someone’s personality stand in tension with one another. It is news to us that Tolstoy’s attitude toward his own illegitimate son was worse than aloof, notwithstanding the humanism and sensitivity of Tolstoy’s writings, or that Richard Nixon was rather a good father and husband despite his mendacity in other contexts.

When people act ‘out of character,’ they may just be revealing their deeper tendencies.

If we see others through one set of impressions or experiences than they must be that person. My daughter has never used profanity around me thus the teacher must be wrong about what he thinks he overheard. Or George salutes the flag, he says he loves his country, he goes to church, he has never murdered anyone or robbed a liquor store. So he would never engage in cynical manipulative  behavior or push blatant falsehoods on the public. He would never cause harm to thousands of others. His public behavior must match his personal behavior. Based on our interactions with our children or parents, or nice strangers that we have come to know through TV we have a “privileged perspective” bias. Despite other witnesses we remain in denial about the possibility that family or friends might have two sides. Having put so much faith in people like George, there is no way he would be so unscrupulous. If George has done wrong it was accidental or he was misinformed and thus cannot be held responsible for his actions. I remember a news story from some years ago in which there was some road rage, followed by a young man shooting the driver who had cut him off in traffic. A news crew went and interviewed his mother. Surprise, her son was the sweetest person in the world, if he did shoot someone it must have been because he had no choice. It is very possible that the only side she ever saw of her son was relatively sweet – parents tend to brush away the various family upheavals when making public statements. Obviously there was another side. One with a short fuse who kept an illegal gun under his car seat. I agree with the NYT writer/philosopher that there is probably not much to be done about this phenomenon. Though one can be aware that it does take place and pause, allow a little more information to get into the synapses. Very few people are immune to the well they were always nice to me so they must be innocent or had good reason – privileged perspective bias. One aspect of it that she doesn’t get into is that friends of friends, extended family and co-workers several times removed from the actual circumstances can have perspective bias via feelings of empathy for those who are closer.

*Do to some issues with misappropriation of my content this wallpaper has been removed.

spring morning wallpaper

If pure markets, markets where the unhindered rights of buyers and sellers are the only true measure of morality than you have this, How do you buy organs on the black market?

Some people don’t trust their lives to what they read on the internet, for some reason. And if nothing online looks promising, a sprawling family or network of friends can do the job for you. The trade is so firmly international that anyone whose acquaintances touch enough countries can get a line on organs. Countries with a very rich class, a very poor class — and even better, both — tend to be the first places to look. South Africa endorsed the WHO guidelines but is one of the few countries that harvest organs locally, due to an extremely poor segment of the population. Yemen, one of the poorest countries in the Middle East, has a brisk trade. Indian women are sometimes forced to sell their kidneys by their husbands. One researcher found actual newspapers advertising for donors and for takers in Africa, Brazil, and Moldova.

India has a very rich class and a very poor class, as does Brazil. They also, like a few other countries do not have a lot of law enforcement resources to deal with the illegal trade in organs. So the combination of great wealth, great poverty and  overwhelmed underfunded policing provides fertile territory for the organ trade. I had the unfortunate experience of reading through a conservative libertarian argument in favor of almost anything goes organ sells – Its my kidney and I should be able to sell it if I want to. If you’re very poor you’re selling that kidney under duress. The absence of free will should cause an ethical person to rethink the morality of allowing the poor to sell their organs. Poverty frequently goes hand in hand with ignorance. Is the seller making a truly informed decision. If you’re down to one kidney in some place with sanitation problems you might have just committed suicide. In cultures that are dominated by patriarchs, obviously women forced to sell their kidneys or bone marrow or whatever , are not doing so of their own free will. They might have developed a personal identity such that they do not even see themselves as an autonomous person that should be able to have dominion over their body.

Nancy Scheper-Hughes, a researcher putting out fake feelers in America, was contacted by people from Brooklyn and Kentucky, looking to sell parts of their liver or their kidney to get money for their own, unrelated, hospital bills.

A titanic battle is about to begin, a Darwinian struggle between competing psychopathies. Everything is on sale now—even the human soul has a barcode. from Millennium People by J.G.Ballard

The Forbidden City (Release date October 6, 1918) movie poster.

The Forbidden City is a film released in 1918 starring Norma Talmadge and Thomas Meighan and directed by Sidney Franklin. The plot centers around an inter-racial romance between a Chinese princess (Talmage) and an American (Meighan). When palace officials discover she has become pregnant she is sentenced to death. In the latter part of the film Talmadge plays the now adult daughter of the affair, seeking her father in Uzbekistan.

The Morally Corrupt GOP – Republicans Are Causing a Moral Crisis in America. I would have titled it conservatism continues its death spiral of immorality. Kudos to them on that agenda. To convince millions of people immorality is the new morality. That takes a lot of work. Though no prizes for originality, its been dome plenty of times before.

The legal case for the constitutionality of health care reform law is not doing as badly as some say – The justices asked some harsh questions this morning. But when it comes time to make a decision, most of the issues they raised won’t matter. Justice Ginsburg has expressed the legal path the majority of the court will likely take. That is unless this court wants to open the gate to repeal of Medicare.

I have been blogging too long. I did a post about this abused girl in 2008 when it first became news – The Girl in the Window Revisited

For the first seven years of her life, Dani never saw the sun, felt the wind or tasted solid food. She was kept in a closet in a house in Plant City, Fla., where she was cloistered in darkness, left in a dirty diaper and fed with only a bottle.

“She was a feral child,” said Carolyn Eastman of the Heart Gallery of Tampa Bay, a children’s advocacy organization in Tampa, Fla. “We’d never seen a case like that.”

Dani was adopted by Bernie and Diane Lierow, a couple from Fort Myers, Fla., who have since moved to a 26-acre farm outside of Lebanon, Tenn. The St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times first published Dani’s story, “The Girl in the Window,” in August 2008. Now, three years later, writer Lane DeGregory and I revisited the Lierows to find out what’s changed, and perhaps, more importantly, what hasn’t.

Tony Joe White – Elements and Things

Hey Carl The Muse, I would appreciate it if you would not take my graphic content. And any text you take from me or any other blogger should include a link. Thanks.