Gattaca reflection

Recently, the class watched Gattaca. The film is set in a future where nearly everything revolves around eugenics. From job availability to insurance coverage, genetically engineered people had the upper hand. Those who were born naturally were discriminated against for being “inferior”.  The “in-valids”, or those who were not genetically engineered, were determined to be not as smart, disease-prone, and less attractive by their genetically engineered peers.

The main character of the movie, Vincent Freeman, is a naturally born person who aspired to go to space since his youth. Even with the disadvantage of being naturally born, he was not expected to live past thirty. He had been diagnosed with a heart condition right after birth; he had his genome sequenced to find any possible genetic diseases or conditions. Vincent found life to be more challenging due to his two different disadvantages.

As he became old enough to work, he was only able to get low income and socially low jobs. For the majority of his career, he had to work as a janitor. For his last janitorial assignment, he cleaned Gattaca. Gattaca was the space program that Vincent had always yearned for. Even though he had a job at the place he wanted, the job was not exactly what he wanted. He wished to be in the rocket, not to clean the areas that hold the rockets and command modules. Unfortunately, due to illegal genetic discrimination, or “genoism”, Vincent would not be able to achieve his goal as he stood. Even though he had equal, if not better, education on the subject as his peers and an extremely high work ethic, he was not given the opportunity to succeed in the field he wished to be in. Vincent was considered a liability and financial risk for such a prestigious career. The perception that hiring genetically engineered workers is understandable, as human imperfections were considered to be erased and the edited individuals to be at their best potentials. Although, this does not mean that they are the best suited for the job. Genetic engineering does not affect determination, mind-set, work ethic, or individual backgrounds. Vincent was in peak physical condition, for having a heart condition, and had the mental capability to excel at the trade. Yet, under normal circumstances, he would not be considered for the role in the slightest. Without the intervention of genoism, Vincent had the capability to be the best of his peers. Even with all the benefits of genetic profiling, Gattaca would miss out on a valuable employee just because he is “in-valid”. Since Vincent is one of the best suited for the job, not hiring him would cost the company more because he would have better efficiency than the other option.

Luckily, Vincent was able to find himself an identity lender. Jerome Morrow was a genetically engineered individual, who was extremely smart and physically fit. Before Morrow sold his identity to Vincent, he was an extraordinary swimmer. Unfortunately, Morrow had been hit by a car, paralyzing him from the waist down. Although reluctant at first, Jerome decided to sell his identity, dead skin, urine, and blood to Vincent, in return for assistance at home and money. This gave Vincent the opportunity to get the job he had dreamed of. Once he was accepted into the space program, he shined. He had to be extremely careful not to give up his identity. Vincent could have been arrested for fraud. He had many close calls, but did not give up his position and was able to go into space.

Being “in-valid” and having a heart condition were not the only challenges Vincent faced as he grew up. Vincent had a younger brother, Anton. Anton was a genetically engineered individual. From the start, everything between the two was a competition. Almost everything leaned in Anton’s direction: the parents favor, physical advantages, and their favorite competition, swimming as far out from shore as possible. Anton consistently would outpace and swim farther than Vincent. Since Anton was bigger, stronger, and faster than Vincent, keeping up was challenging for Vincent. Although, Vincent had more perseverance and continued to race Anton. Eventually, Vincent kept pushing and beat Anton. He even had to save Anton from drowning.

When Anton was first thought of, their parents decided to have him sequenced and genetically engineered. The parents wanted a natural child, but wanted the best for their child more. They had experienced the troubles of “in-valid” first hand already with Vincent, and did not want their next child to have the same difficulties. During the engineering and embryo choosing process, the parents wanted to leave some things to chance instead having the “perfect” child. They wanted the child to be as natural as they could while keeping the genetically engineered title. When they approached the doctor about this, the doctor said, “You want to give your child the best possible start. Believe me, we have enough imperfection built-in already. Your child doesn’t need any additional burdens.” Against their judgement, the parents were influenced and chose to follow the doctor’s advice.

Choosing to go against the doctor would have gave the impression that the parents were irresponsible. Personally, I do not believe that they would be irresponsible for choosing to leave things to chance. It is understandable that they would want to leave some things to chance. Not only does keep the suspense of wondering what the child would be like, the child would still not have any genetic disease. The child would still be very healthy, he would just not be, what society deems as, “perfect”. His athleticism, intelligence, and character would be up to chance. The parents would still be responsible since they avoid all diseases.

Anton carried a grudge on Vincent ever since he was beaten. Anton was one of the cops who was on the case of Vincent. Due to his longing to beat Vincent, he wanted to expose him. When the two approached each other, they decided to have another swimming contest after a heated argument. Vincent ended up beating and saving Anton from drowning again. Accepting defeat Anton let Vincent’s case go. Not only did Vincent become one of the best in the group going up space, he had beaten his brother multiple times. Vincent, as an “in-valid”, did everything the world refused to let him do.

P & P Respect for Persons Reflection

               “When I express my disagreement, do I do so explicitly and respectfully?” The question poses a powerful and needed reflection. Self-honesty is a necessity to answer the question; which can provide its own problems to certain people. Being inquisitive and questioning yourself is also very important. When asking myself this question, I plan on doing all of those.  

               As hard as I try, I do not always express my disagreement respectfully. I am typically always explicit with my disagreements. When explicit clashes with disrespect, it can cause an aggressive argument that ends with no settlement. This is where self-honesty comes into play. When I was a young child, I had an issue dealing with disagreement. I could become very angry over the topic at hand, which would turn into a belligerent lash-out. Luckily, this most typically would happen with my siblings. The situation could be navigated via my parents. Although, the second most occurring area in which I would let my anger get the best of me is in sports. At the first instance of frustration, I would become very angry with myself. This would lead to altercations with teammates, coaches, and opposing players. Even though it did not happen as much as I make it out to be, it happened enough to become an issue. Luckily, I was blessed with parents that care and are very active in my life. They did their best to help me with the issue. My dad would explain how he dealt with the same problem when he was younger, and how he managed to overcome it. It was nice to have a relatable figure that I look up to helping me. It did not happen overnight, but I slowly became able to face my disagreements with an open mind and with less frustration. It started out as a suppression of anger, but evolved into an absence of anger. With the help of my parents, I have become much better at respectfully facing disagreements.

               Although I have become much better at facing disagreements, I am sure that I am not perfect. I have to constantly ask myself how to handle situations. For example, a common frustration I face is the constant topic of race being discussed. I personally believe that a large reason race has placed itself as issue is because it gets spoken of so often. Although, many people do not share the same belief. When I want to argue that, I usually get scared that my frustration will get the best of me. In order to not be disrespectful, I typically stay quiet. That is something I could improve on. Instead of avoiding disagreement, I need to confront it in a respectful manner that gets my point across.

Implicit Bias Tests

               I have recently taken three implicit bias tests. I took tests over thin/fat people preference, old/young people preference, and associations between weapons/harmless objects and white/black people. The results were: a moderate preference for thin people over fat people, a slight preference for young people over older people, and a moderate association of weapons and black people versus white people and harmless objects.

               I personally do not like these tests. I believe that they do not provide significant or accurate results. The tests are based off speed. How are the tests supposed to be conclusive? The user is forced to choose between complete accuracy or speed. There are going to be errors regardless of a person’s bias. To find a median between the factors, speed and accuracy are sacrificed. Based off that, results cannot be trusted to be the absolute truth.

               Not only that, the tests require information on your background; such as area code, religion, political beliefs, current employment status, etc.. I do not see the point in taking those into consideration. I personally think it is bias to consider that for an individual. Everybody is different, yet the website still takes regional, political, and religion in consideration when judging an individual’s bias. That is not exactly fair or justifiable. I believe there should be better ways to determine a person’s bias.

               Although, once I got past all of my discomforts on the tests, I took a look at the results. I was surprised by some of the results. I understand that I do have biases, but the results that I received were not what I expected. I would have guessed that I would have a preference for skinnier people, but I expected a slight preference, not a moderate. I expected I would be bias, mostly due to the fact that I have been a part of sports my whole life. I have been exposed to more athletic body types. I figured this would play a part in my bias. Even though I have gotten used to a more athletic body type, I did not expect the website to determine my preference as moderate. I have no problem with heavier people, nor have I ever. Through my life, I have never experienced a negative encounter from a heavier person that would impact my preference to such a degree.

               Another result that I received was an association of black people with weapons and white people with harmless objects. I did not understand this outcome at all. I have many friends that appreciate weapons and many that do not, regardless of race. I do not associate myself as a racist person, and it honestly bothers me that race is such an issue in today’s society. I believe this outcome was determined by the unnecessary factors that I described earlier.

               For the results of the age test, I was not surprised. I am surrounded by people my age every day, and have been for years. I expected the slight preference for younger people due to that.

Self-Assessment

Ryan Hartmann
Emi Smith
The Perfect Human
September 20, 2017

Taking college courses can cause a heavy workload that may, at times, feel unbearable. It is important for a student to create checkpoints for self-evaluation throughout a semester. This will ensure that the student is on track to succeed and advance in the class. In a society that is very competitive, all possible ways to maintain an above average grade are necessary. For myself, the college school year is roughly a month in; meaning a self-evaluation is well due.
My first assessment will over my seminar, The Perfect Human. The class covers eugenics, genetic engineering, and the process of modifying the human genome. This course introduces topics that are relatively new to me. On top of that, the workload is heavier than the workload I faced in high school most definitely. In order to properly assess myself, I will answer previously prepared questions.

How well do I think I am doing in this course?
– For a topic that is basically new to me and in depth, I feel as if I am doing alright. There are highs and lows that come along with the course, as expected. The foreign subjects and ideas are initially hard, but are grasped. Luckily, I came into this class with a basic idea of genetics. Although it was only high school biology, the topic was still briefed.

Am I spending enough time on this course to do quality work?
– In all honesty, I probably do not spend enough time on the course. I spend enough time on the course to get by with a decent grade. I could make an excuse and blame it on my busy schedule, but the truth is I just do not devote enough of my free time to schoolwork.

Do I ask questions when I need help?
– While in class, I tend to ask questions. If I do not completely understand a topic, I will ask for clarification. Although, I have not taken the opportunity to email my professor with questions about class.

Am I using available resources wisely?
– Unfortunately, I have not used the resources provided to my advantage. I have yet to use the writing center, and I have only used Grammarly on a few occasions. I need to use those resources more to improve my writing; which is an area I do not do well in.

Do I review and re-review my work for possible errors?
– Typically, I have only reviewed my work for larger papers. Smaller papers I tend to delay until last minute to do, giving me little time to look over my work for any errors. On the other hand, when I receive graded papers back, I look at my errors (especially reoccurring errors) to see what I can improve on in future writings and then refer to it when I am writing my next paper.

Am I proud of my performance and work in this course so far?
– Although there are some negatives to my work, I would have to say I am proud. Procrastination was a big issue I faced in high school, so maintaining a higher work load with less procrastinating (even though I procrastinate too much still) is something I can be proud of.

I have areas to improve on, most definitely. Areas that I might not have noticed if it weren’t for a self-evaluation. Self-evaluations are important for a student looking to improve. More importantly is how a student reacts to their assessment. I intend on fixing the negatives and improve my work.

X-Men Reflection

Ryan Hartmann
Emi Smith
The Perfect Human
September 11, 2017
Problems can be handled in multiple ways. Depending on the situation, how the situation is addressed directly affects the outcome. This is for most of all problems; with very few exceptions. Perspective, mindset, and background are typically strong indicators of how an individual may approach their dilemma. On top of those, the person who is facing the trouble usually has an ideal outcome. The direction in which they go to face the problem changes varying on the intended result.
The multiple approaches of dealing with a common issue are easily seen in X2: X-Men United. Characters in the movie deal with the obstacle at hand with different perspectives, mindsets, backgrounds, and goals. The main characters are trying to manage segregation within the country. The segregation is between mutants and “non-evolved” humans.
From my viewpoint, segregation between the two groups stems from the humans fearing the unknown. The discovery of mutants is still a rather fresh topic. Although there is a basic understanding that the mutants are different, humans do not know mutants to the degree of accepting them. The mutants have developed powers (which differ between individuals) through mutation. These powers come off as scary upon first associations with the mutants. Without an extensive amount of research on the mutants, the humans stay extremely cautious. This cautiousness leads to persecution of mutants upon their first hiccup.
A mutant who can teleport, Nightcrawler, is forced by a human (who happens to hate mutants) to make an assassination attempt on the president of the United States. This triggers a chain of events that works against all mutants. Instead of searching for Nightcrawler, an order to persecute all mutants is placed. The president chooses General William Stryker to lead this mutant assault. All along, General Stryker was the person who set up Nightcrawler. He did this in order to have a reason to detain all mutants. His previous background with mutants led to a hatred of the mutants; his son is a mutant who killed his mother. His ultimate goal being to execute all mutants in the world. The mutant-hating general places an assault on a mutant high school, Professor Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters. The assault of the school immediately sparked a retribution effort by the mutants. This is where the problem-solving actions differed.
Magneto, a mutant who can control all metal near him, wished to retaliate immediately. Magneto assembled a team of mutants, some who escaped the assault of the school. He then leads the team to Stryker’s base of operations. After infiltration and some cheesy fight scenes, the mutants find Stryker. They chase General Stryker to a helicopter pad where he intended on escaping. Instead of killing him, Wolverine, a mutant with claws between his knuckles and a regeneration factor, ties him to the wheel of the helicopter. This leaves Stryker abandoned with an impending doom.
They then search for Professor Xavier within the complex. Professor Xavier is a mutant with the power of telepathy. General Stryker planned on having the professor use his power to kill all mutants. Stryker was using his son, capable of manipulating thoughts to control people, to force the professor. One of Magneto’s shapeshifting peers changed into Stryker in order to control the brainwasher. Magneto wanted to turn the tables and kill all humans.
Some of the other mutants in the group find Xavier as well and break him from the Stryker’s son’s reigns. The mutants who saved Professor Xavier, along with the professor himself, immediately go to the president’s office. They reveal General Stryker’s plot to eliminate mutants to the president. Professor Xavier then exclaims to the president that mutants and humans need to work together to obtain peace. Afterwards the school is quickly reestablished.
Magneto, out of spite, responded with aggressive actions. From his perspective, all humans were out to harm mutants. His thoughts consisted of eliminating all humans to avoid having the same problem in the future. If there are no humans, then there are no unjustified persecutions of mutants. On the other hand, Professor Xavier wished to work alongside humans to combat the issue. Compromise and negotiations could solve the problem. Two very different ways of approaching the same issue. All due to differing perspectives, mindsets, and backgrounds.
With advances in technology and genetic modification, a similar situation could arise. Genetic engineering could be used to make intentional mutations within the genome. These alterations could very well alter the phenotype of the people involved. A noticeable difference in looks, physical ability, or intelligence has the opportunity to split the nation. Multiple groups with different stances on the situation. There would be groups for the genetically altered, groups against, and groups for equality between the normal and the modified.
Similar to the movie, the different groups could take action in different ways. Some could take a Magneto-like approach and lash out in downward spiral of rage and aggression. On the alternative, a Professor Xavier approach could also happen. A hope exists for a coexisting and harmonized society between the genetically modified and humans.
Even though it was not with genetically modified people, a comparable situation has occurred in U.S. history. Segregation was a massive issue within the United States, especially in the southern states. Between the 1940s and 1960s, people of race began to revolt against segregation from white people. Just like the movie, there were differing viewpoints on the subject matter. Some took to violence while others took to peaceful methods. There are even comparable movie characters to historical figures. Magneto reminds me of Malcolm X. The two both led an angry group that based their actions with the eye for eye philosophy. They combatted the social injustice with brutality. The more peaceful and Professor Xavier-like approach came from a group led by Martin Luther King Jr.. They wished to unify and love everyone. Peaceful protests and negotiations took place.
Even though the two groups, in both situations, had different responses to their injustices and segregation, a common goal was in sight. Ultimately, the peaceful side rose to become the best way to achieve the desegregation. Yet, the actions were all based on perspective, mindset, and background on the situation.

P & P Reflection

Joy comes to a person’s life in many ways. For almost everybody, little things can bring joy. Although, most typically, little things only bring a surface joy. Surface joy can temporarily change a mood, but can it actually affect somebody positively for an extended period of time? As it may self-describe, surface joy can only go so deep. People drive to be continuously happy about their situation in life.  The possible ways differ, and solutions for some people may not work others. There is no guaranteed answer for joy.

Every person has something that brings them true, heart-warming happiness. For some, it could be an object, a concept, and/or position of power. The variety of possibilities come in multitudes. For each individual differs and makes their own opinions. Joy can be a vary broad, yet narrow subject. Typically, based off the individual.

For myself, I can achieve a deep satisfaction from family, friends, and music. No matter the mood I am in, each of them can typically brighten me up in such a way that I almost forget what caused my sorrows, if I don’t completely forget at all. The connection that I have made between the three is irreplaceable. Not only that, I know that I will almost always have at least one of the three within reach. If I somehow manage to go into a dark place, I can rely on the three to reach into the depths of who I am, and give me a helping hand. With the slim possibility of them being unable to directly help, I know that family and friends will have a guaranteed indirect help. The indirect help comes from the appreciation that I have for them trying. I will always be thankful for their willingness to be there and make their greatest attempt.

Although, the family and friend portion is not a one way street. In order to maintain the connection, I must play my part. To maintain their grace and helpfulness, it becomes my responsibility to return the favor. Creating time to spend with family and friends becomes a necessity. Dropping selfish ways and devoting a portion of myself towards others may seem initially difficult at times, but the outcome is well worth it.

When it comes to the important people in my life, I can create my own joy and sense of self-satisfaction. In its own slightly twisted way, being unselfish can turn into a positive, selfish act. Sacrificing my own time to be a part of their lives becomes a feeling of fulfillment in my life. I find joy in helping, laughing with, and just spending time with family and friends. Altogether, being with family and friends brings joy into my life and happiness for extended periods of time.

Now music plays a different part. There is a genre for any mood. If I am in a good mood, music can amplify it into a great mood. Then a bad mood into a good mood. Music even makes essays somewhat enjoyable! Generally, music takes me into my own nirvana.

Some of the most simple things in life can bring the most joy. It does not take a lot to make moments enjoyable. Family, friends, and music are eternal for me.