“When I Walk” commentary

From the film When I Walk, a couple a things stood out to me in particular. First was watching Jason’s disease rapidly progress along the course of the documentary. His debilitation was so fast and overcoming that more and more parts of his daily life became difficult or inaccessible. On such a more minute scale, it made me think of when I tore my hip flexor my senior year of high school. I remember trying to run while it was healing and pulling up after 10 feet, realizing I could barely walk. The emotions I felt upon that realization brought me back to the title, and how above all it is valuable to appreciate the ostensibly insignificant abilities we take for granted on a daily basis. Because of the sheer evolvement of his MS, you could frame his life and the people around him in such a way to see if they changed too. During the film, though I tried my best to put myself in their shoes, it seemed the central people in Jason’s life tried, but didn’t fully succeed, in understanding his condition. This is completely speculation, as he may not have minded how they treated him, or simply appreciated their candor and presence. That being said, his wife at times seemed unintentionally callous regarding his MS, and her need to take a hiking trip by herself seemed confusing. His mother, too, seemed almost too far on this side of the spectrum, giving him the truth too bluntly that it lacked any motherly compassion. Overall, I found it to be a really eye-opening film that gave me a perspective on a disease about which I knew little.

Philips Arena

This past Friday I went to Philips Arena in downtown Atlanta for my first ever Atlanta Hawks game. The arena itself was huge, and the space ostensibly quite inviting. It had high-ceilings and open architecture with various shops lining the main level. In this way the space not only welcomed me to walk through it, but also enticed me. I took an escalator to our section, and then used the stairs to find our row and seats. In terms of my own body, this construct was necessary for me move around the space. Had it not ben there, my own physical capabilities would have been insufficient to get me from point A to point B. This was also the case with the elevators we took, as well as our seats in a certain sense (not as a necessity but rather a support). Sociality significantly influenced how exclusive I found the space for a specific reason: I was a Cavaliers fan amongst Hawks fans. As I made my allegiance known early in my gestures and exclamations, I was welcomed by a few and rejected by most. Some targeted me directly with expletives, and in this way, the people impacted how inviting I found the space. As we left, after an overtime Cavaliers win, my cheers were met with an even greater degree of hostility. These gesticulations however were seen more as part of the game and spectacle, and thus did not mar the experience in any way.

Twins study finds no evidence that marijuana lowers IQ in teens

I remember recently reading this article regarding IQ loss and marijuana use. As this article notes, there was a well-publicized study that indicated how heavy adolescent marijuana use decreased IQ, and it went viral and alarmed a lot of people. This study refutes these original findings, using identical twins to test if pot is a true threat to cognitive ability. I thought the article, written in sciencemag, did a pretty good job at correctly outlining the information in the original piece. The author explains the purpose of the research, and how it was innovative; testing large groups of teenage drug users over time. In the new study, they examined “789 pairs of adolescent twins from two ongoing studies—one from the Los Angeles, California, area and the other from Minnesota—who enrolled between the ages of 9 and 11. Over the course of 10 years, the team administered five intelligence tests and confidential surveys about marijuana use.” They found between those who reported daily marijuana use for six plus months, and those who had smoked thirty times of less didn’t show any IQ difference. It succulently presents and findings, yet also provides its limitations, which is noted in the original study. In this manner I thought it as thorough; giving the basic outline, methods, results, significance and areas for improvement, while noting both the proponents and detractors. As a disclaimer, I do not have strong feelings one way or the other about the content, I just thought it was an interesting piece.
Study of teenage twins finds little evidence that using marijuana lowers IQ.

Three things that are “uniquely human”

The first trait I believe that is uniquely human is our brain capacity. Though I do not know this for sure, I am making an inference based on our present-day role and historical knowledge. It has an exceedingly complex neural structure and a larger cerebral cortex, relative to the rest of our brain, than any other animal. This allows for certain traits or aspects of being a human that no other animals (I believe) posses, such as languages and the capacity for moral judgment. It also allows us to understand complex emotions and abstract thoughts, which are useful in communication as well as in reflection. A second trait that is unique to Homo sapiens is cooking. In a documentary I recently watched called Cooked, Michael Pollan explains how human beings are the only organisms that cook their food. This, some will argue, had a tremendous effect on us evolutionarily because we could extract vital nutrients that allowed our bodies to function differently. Additionally, we could spend less time, and more importantly less energy, on processes like chewing, which Pollan argues contributed to the change in jaw structure of humans. Third I believe in the ability to cooperate. This may be a product of our consciousness and connections, but we have the foresight to make decisions that benefit either one or both groups. Within this, we also can trade ostensibly disparate things, like goods for services. While animals don’t seem to engage in these long-term relationships, we create agreements for both iteration and linkage in unrelated areas.


Jack’s Case Study Analysis

The case presented to us of Jack seems to show a capable young man with some concerning behavioral issues. A situation like his, in which various factors are at play (some more than others) and some are unknown, is a testament to the usefulness of the BPS model. His risk factors are his aggressive and impulsive behavior, at noted by Grandma, to a certain extent the genetic uncertainty from the father, and that his mother is from a low socioeconomic background raising four other children while substance abusing. His protective factors are that his toxicology screening at birth was clean, his success in school and thus far academic competence, and that Grandma is in fact present to help take care of him. Using the biopsychosocial framework, we can assess his positive and negative qualities and their roots. In terms of his aggression biologically, this is something that we do not know and thus are unsure of potential predispositions. If at all possible, it would be advantageous to get basic medical information from the father. If you analyze his home life, his attempts to lash out seem like they could come from a lack of attention. That being said, SES risk factors usually indicate a poor trajectory educationally, and he has thus far defied this odd. Nevertheless, it can create a tense environment, especially as he becomes older and more conscious of the stress associated with poverty. These factors are certainly intertwining to emphasize and de-emphasize certain characteristics. From what we have learned, an effective technique in treating aggressive and disruptive behavior management issues is through Parent Management Training (PMT). Just like the Super Nanny, you simply ignore negative behavior and reinforce good or even non-negative behavior with praise. I feel MST wouldn’t be necessary at this juncture just based on Jack’s age and that despite his behavior he hasn’t been violent.


Pros and Cons of BPS Framework

Overall, I think the biopsychosocial framework for evaluating disease and illness, and especially the principles it underscores, is important when approaching something like psychopathy. It essentially emphasizes a biological, psychological, and environmental view on addressing healthcare as well as treatment. In the same manner that this framework solves problems, it also presents new problems, as any viable solution does. Defining personal health through this model has several positive effects. Not only does it seem to alter what we perceive to be as the norm or status quo of health, making it less a concrete state and more so fluid and ever shifting, but also promotes better personal psychological well-being and a more stable social life as those are personal steps one can take to improve health how they feel. That being said there are a couple of limitations it presents. In claiming that this is how all healthcare-related issues should be addressed, it makes it seem implicit that each issue actually has relevant components to all three disciplines, which may or may not be true. While I think it is better to assume all three factors are possible and investigate each thoroughly, rather than not assume and miss something critical, I also believe sometimes this could confound potentially simpler diagnoses. While people may argue they don’t know to which extent or degree they should include each factor, I think this is the point of the BPS model: that each could be present, each case is circumstantial and thus should be unique in how you approach it.


Psychopathy to me

Psychopathy to me, as a product of what I was taught in high school, results from a lack of empathy. From this trait much of the other characteristics I generally associate with psychopathy seem to emerge, though they could be off base. It is not so much that they are antisocial, but rather they can’t form genuine relationships and use a sort of craftiness and charm to create this illusion. In this regard their intellect is severed from their ability to share in the feelings of another. I think psychopaths can often be educated, sophisticated, and ostensibly agreeable, yet this occurs because they understand how to copy behavior. Again, they are smart enough to mimic these actions, enough so that they often go unnoticed in society, but don’t believe what they are saying and doing and don’t feel the repercussions emotionally. Just breaking the word down, as it relates to sociopathy for example, it would seem that psychopathy has to with your actual neural composition as opposed to your upbringing or environmental factors.



The “Moche Animal Effigies” exhibit utilized material curation to underscore the animal food chain and it’s correlation in shamanic trances. The accompanying text alludes to a more fluid relationship between existing as a human and as an animal, especially when in a trance. Not only do you often assume a certain animal role when in a trance, but also this seems to transform or progress as you expand your spiritual awareness. For example, carnivorous birds are associated with warriors, which are seen as the highest ranking in Moche culture. The physical arrangement is meant to mirror how these trance manifestations are classified in terms of status. Furthermore, it is also meant to depict the area of the ecosystem that each animal occupies. This is also why the birds are the most elevated, followed by the monkey, and then different cats. Within the cats, pumas are usually associated with the highlands, which explains their raised portrayal within the land animals. Knowledge is produced primarily for me through the text, but also from the presentation, meant to manipulate our implicit thoughts regarding the animal kingdom, hierarchy, and how it pertains to spiritual ranking in the Moche. The role of social media, at least as far as I could see, was that visitors could take pictures of the exhibits. From there, they have the freedom to do share it as they please. It takes away the privilege that accompanies museums and art, and takes a piece previously only viewable in Atlanta, GA and makes it open online. Though I didn’t see it specifically in the Carlos Museum, I know many others use social media as a means to create a more immersive and relatable experience as you travel through time.


Questioning Authenticity in Exit Through the Gift Shop

Throughout the film, there are various indicators that call into question the authenticity of Exit Through the Gift Shop and its protagonist, filmmaker turned street artist Thierry Guetta. Primary for me was Guetta’s personality, specifically when he can’t clearly delineate his love of art and motivations behind what he is doing (while Banksy provides a much more descriptive account). Furthermore, his broken English, and aloof, happy-go-lucky demeanor put him in stark contrast to the comportment of Banksy and most other artists shown. Next, as the film progressed, it became harder and harder for me to ascribe a thesis or main theme. Initially, it seems to be this rare perspective on a form of art and artist that, by nature, is usually quit reserved. Yet as it continued, Guetta’s obsession turned into a veritable career, and so then Banksy began documenting Theirry. Third, Guetta’s rise to success in the art world was meteoric. He had little formal training, yet broke into a realm that seems somewhat secluded. Additionally, doing so as a copycat artist that was rapidly able to put together a warehouse sized art show seems far-fetched. Lastly, the street artists like Shepard Fairley with whom he spent significant time, and from the documentary seemed to even befriend, were so different. While they seemed mild-mannered and intent on remaining confidential, he is often annoying, blissfully ignorant, and always filming you. Due to these aforementioned hints, Banksy’s livelihood as an experimental artist aimed at social critiques, and to me, just the general oddness of Thierry Guetta as he aligns with the topic, we question the authenticity of the film perhaps more than we would others. The more important question to me is does this make it any less real, and the commentary and critique any less poignant?

independent spirit awards press room-1300103900_v2.grid-4x2


The only time you look in your neighbor’s bowl is to make sure they have enough to eat. You join hands, bow your heads, and murmur your thanks because you don’t know if tomorrow you won’t have a meal. My parents grew up poor in loving, large Italian Catholic families in Cleveland and Brooklyn. They worked hard, but never expected to be as successful as they have been. It is naïve to feel ashamed for your situation; instead, you put your nose down, work hard, and help others always. You are only as good as the relationships you cherish, the passions you explore, the life you live. Never assume. Ever. You never know the day someone is going through, the tribulations they have suffered, or the sadness they may harbor. Treat others they way you want to be treated. “If you ever lay your hand on a woman, so help me God, I will wash your mouth out with soap”. Read instead of watching TV. Go outside instead of watching TV. Don’t watch TV. Be your biggest fan and harshest critic. Failures are mistakes you foolishly believe you can’t learn from. Hard work precedes success. Always.