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October 31 2010


Story Ideas 10.31.10

What would you make of an ad like the following (found on craigslist in wanted section)?

Looking for someone to help me with “History Of The Movies” community college coursework. Project consists of reading, writing, weekly quizzes, and tests. Course is 100% online. I’m 50% finished with it, just got hit with a ton of stuff in life making it near impossible now for me to finish.
- Passionate about the movies, or at least interested in their history
- You can access movies via BitTorrent or Netflix on the spot
- Daily access to a computer and the internet
- 100% committed to finishing project from now till Dec 8th
- Starts immediately and ends Dec 8th
- Coursework is due weekly and will be tracked with online project management tool.
- Course is 50% completed, need someone to help me out with the remaining workload.
- Coursework is 100% online.
- Pay is $100 plus a $50 project bonus for receiving a B- grade (2.75) or higher
- Send short cover letter highlighting our requirements. Candidate will be selected based upon writing quality, interest in the project/movies, Netflix/BitTorrent access, and likeliness to see it through from start to finish (now through Dec).

What I get from it (and others similar) is that someone wants to buy your brain to take an online class for them. I’ve seen (and tagged) others where the “wantee” wants you to take a sit-down class for them (you have to generally match their physical description) or provide answers to tests. The best offer I’ve seen so far was to take an English class with pay ranging from a few hundred for passing to $700 for getting an A.

Story idea: is this happening in your neck of the woods? Are students so strapped for time (and intellect and ethics) that they want to pay someone to take classes/tests for them? What meaning does this have beyond just paying someone for a job (well done)?

Let’s see…would you see a doctor who cheated her way thru school? Or lawyer, or any professional for that matter?

What does this do to folks who do it the old fashioned way – on their own, studying, working hard? Does it devalue their grades?

And what, ultimately, does it do to the “wantee” in the ad? Yes, it shows lack of ethics…but if they need help with bonehead English…how the heck are they going to pass more difficult courses. Skip Algebra I and how are you gonna do in Geometry?

Lots to delve into the ponder on this one.

And along the same line, here’s another idea from Peter Brown. Folks who go for fake are liars and cheaters. Vastly oversimplified, but those who are attracted to ripoffs of reality have trouble with the truth and the reality of life. In one study, see the results:

The women wearing the fake Chloe shades cheated more–considerably more. Fully 70 percent inflated their performance when they thought nobody was checking on them–and in effect stole cash…

Brown’s blog posting is based on a psychological study that seemed to indicate that buying fakes and personal behavior are closely linked.

Story idea: can you replicate some of these experiments done by the researchers in your own area? Are people even aware of the link between what they buy and behavior? Can these behaviors be recognized and possibly even reversed?

Good luck with it…see ya next week.

October 24 2010


Story ideas (from Oz) 10.24.10

I “friended” a random person on facebook recently…and since have been reading his postings with great interest. So this week’s story ideas are courtesy information garnered from him.

Peter Brown is a clinical psychologist in my hometown, Brisbane, Australia.

Today he posted a Courier Mail story on how fear of pedophiles is putting all men in the danger of being accused. This story has been done over here…but some good quotes nonetheless.

But moving on…

I LOVED this one. How long does it take to form a habit?

Story idea – everyone, but everyone, has bad habits they want to lose and good habits they want to start using. Want to loose weight? Stop smoking? Be a nicer person? Quit chewing your fingernails? In order to be successful, you have to get in the HABIT of doing what cha wanna do. And that takes time. How much time? According to Brown’s posting:

Ask Google and you’ll get a figure of somewhere between 21 and 28 days. In fact there’s no solid evidence for this number at all. The 21 day myth may well come from a book published in 1960 by a plastic surgeon. Dr Maxwell Maltz noticed that amputees took, on average, 21 days to adjust to the loss of a limb and he argued that people take 21 days to adjust to any major life changes.

Good facts…interesting too because it explains why so many fail…they just don’t have a winning habit.

Here’s another one. Do you have a blankie? A bear or some over-loved worn-down object from your childhood that you just can’t let go of?

Psychologists call these items “transitional” objects…

objects that people feel a bond with, despite the fact that the relationship is, by definition, one-sided.

And these emotional attachments to objects is intense…the research Brown quotes shows that people become disturbed when they just cut up a photograph of the object they are attached to.

So the story idea here: are there folks in your community who (will admit to) have a “transitional” object they still hold on to. Who are they – why do they still have this lovey, blankie, bear? Do they hide it – are they ashamed of the child-like attachment? (what shape is it in?)

That’s it for now…but if you want to develop your own story ideas, never be afraid to listen to everyone you know. Last summer I was reading a reprint of a story from the LA times in my local paper…the story connected with me…and is now in my sights for shooting in the next month. Last night my husband and I were playing cards with his college roommate from 38 years ago and I found a story in his workplace – he owns a leather factory, making primarily belts but also fashion items with machinery more than a century old. Yes, we newsies are vultures…we eat our own young. But we provide great stories for our audiences!

Oh…and thank you Peter from some food for thought. I really do enjoy your blog and facebook postings.

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