Laslo Zsolnai is a professor of business administration, runs a center for business ethics, and cofounded a conference for transatlantic business conference. He called himself a businessman several times during the process of the lecture, yet he promotes a business model that seems unmarketable. He spoke at length about the failures of business leadership in terms of ecology. However his methods for being ethical seemed to make competition and free-market systems negatives. While not all people in the world are huge fans of a competitive free-market, I think most Americans tend to be.
Zsolnai stated that business are so engaged in self enhancement that they are opened up to justifying destruction and poor practices. He said that businesses must pass the test of ecology, being favorable for future generations, up to 200 years, so that they can live a better life than previous generations, and it needs to positively influence the social community. He even cited three businesses that have employed these methods and have operated successful business. However, I doubt that these three would be successful should they operate in a market where every business uses the same practices.
These businesses can operate like this because they can charge more and market sustainability. They operate in their own market and cater to people who will make the concessions for a “friendlier product” by ecological standards. However, if every business uses these options and drives the price down through competition how will any company be profitable while giving the future generations a better style of life. If prices have to go up across the board, what does that say for the lower class? If business close, what does that do for jobs?
Businesses must promote sustainability and good practices however I can’t see looking 200 years into the future and making decisions off of lofty predictions to be a good idea. If Henry Ford had to determine if he would build the Mustang and F-150 based on global warming, millions of cars may have never rolled off the assembly lines. I think Zsolnai has good intentions and favorable ideas. However I don’t see his encouraged ideas being sustainable in a competitive market.
The last lecture I wrote on was for Václav Klaus in which he spoke about his experience as the past President of the Czech Republic and his comments on Friedrich Hayek. He spoke about many of the challenges that he faced as a leader during the rise and fall of communism. He was inspired by Friedrich Hayek because of his brilliance in how he thought about and wrote against socialism. My favorite part of his lecture, and honestly, the part I followed most clearly, (Klaus spoke English but it was noticeably difficult to follow his lecture), was when he spoke about the student protests and how his own son was involved in one of them and turned to his dad, the President, and said something along the lines of: “we’ve done what we can, now its your turn to make this happen.” It was very interesting to hear about how his son and the other students and young adults motivated him and others in the government to fight for change. Eventually the economy did improve and social issues became less and less of a problem, but it was a difficult time for those living through that experience because it was dangerous and volatile. Many of the questions he was asked afterwards were about the current economy situations in Europe and the United States and the strength of the Euro. From what I understood, he is not a fan of the Euro but he believes if they can work together to figure out a just way to bail out the failing countries, the currency can still be strong.
The Second lecture I went to was actually by a representative from Cornell University who spoke at Dr. Goethal’s LDST 300 class. This gentleman works with Greek Life on campus. He is not an employee of the university, rather, he helps to run the Greek Life system, almost as a middle man between the members of Greek Life and the administration. He talked about difficulties colleges face with Greek Life and maintaining a healthy and safe balance of fun on college campuses all around the country. One of Cornell’s fraternity chapters had an incident recently in which one of the brothers died as a result of reverse hazing in which the pledge’s haze the older members of the fraternity. His talk highlighted the difficulties of working with Greek Life, especially the challenges that administrations and Greek Life liaisons face with parents, alumni, and Greek alumni. In addition, he spoke about how university trustee’s look at Greek Life and how it is on the bottom of their priority list. It is a challenge to keep up with the changing times, increasing drug culture, and the hook up culture that has become so elevated on college campuses. His talk was an interesting way to look at the challenges of communication and leadership and how compromise is not always easy and that difficult choices, whether they make people mad or not, must be made.
The first lecture I attended was Zach Wahls’ when he spoke about marriage equality. Zach comes from a “unconventional” American family in that he has two mothers. It was interesting hearing someone our own age with such a personal story talk about the importance of marriage equality. Zach actually became a “famous”, if you will, through youtube when the video of him speaking for marriage equality in front of his state’s legislature went viral. Being so young, his story became inspirational because it highlighted the fact that our generation understands what love is and does not disrespect others because of their sexuality. He used many personal stories about his mothers to bring his point to life. He spoke about how they are actually a typical family who love each other, fight, support one another, and learn from each other. His point: there’s really no difference between you and me…just because I have two moms doesn’t make me any less of a man. Zach’s talk showed how leadership can come from any person regardless of their age, and that personal experiences have huge impacts on the way people lead and encourage and inspire others to follow in their footsteps.
I just saw that I must have not caught on about the blog posts for the first one so here is a post about fallacious reasoning at the end of the semester built on it.
The fallacious reasoning chapters we read at the beginning of the semester are what our entire course was based off of. How manipulation works and how fallacies are everywhere, we just didn’t know what they were called until now. It is easy to see how fallacies can be used for you or against you, especially when you are trying to win an argument. Effectively, fallacies are how we build an argument. Without them we would live in a world without basic human nature to make someone else look worse so you look better. Because of this they have been around since humans started disagreeing with one another, they are present in children trying to stay up for an extra hour at night, they are used in politics (A LOT), they are even used in the classroom. We are surrounded by fallacies and now it is our task to recognize and analyze them.
The other day I went to a speaker in downtown Richmond who explained his beliefs on why marijuana should be legalized. He mainly focused on what he thought to be the pressing reason to legalize and regulate marijuana: the potential for adulteration of black-market cannabis and the substitution of even more dangerous copy cat compounds. Much like Prohibition-era fatalities from bad moonshine, harmful synthetic marijuana substitutes are proliferating, with street names like K2 and Spice. The Drug Enforcement Administration struggles to combat these compounds by outlawing them, but he explained that he sees no decrease in their popularity among his patients. Natural marijuana poses much less danger than synthetic cannabinoids. His stance was “legal or otherwise.”
A few weeks ago, I went to a talk by former Ambassador John Negroponte, who served as Ambassador to four different countries–Honduras, Mexico, the Philippines, and Iraq–as well as to the U.N. I was actually required to attend his lecture for another one of my classes, but I also had the pleasure of hearing him speak specifically to my class, as he happened to be close friends with my International Studies professor. In terms of his general talk about U.S. foreign affairs and national security, I was certainly interested in what he had to say and appreciated his perspective; I don’t think it would be a stretch to call him an expert on the subject of United States foreign relations. I must admit that the talk left me feeling a little overwhelmed and somewhat uninformed. But I definitely got the most out of his visit to our class, as this was more of a conversation/discussion-style talk, where Ambassador Negroponte freely answered our questions on any subject we were interested in discussing.
For my part, as a French minor studying in Paris in the fall, I asked the Ambassador about his experiences with the various languages that he has had to learn and interpret, and the challenges he faced in this aspect of his career. He actually had grown up as a student of French, which was really convenient, but he also talked about language in general and emphasized the significance of a country or nation’s language on understanding their culture as a whole and the way they think and express themselves–it was an almost anthropological perspective, and just again realizing the unique experience and knowledge this man had was really cool.
The other question Ambassador Negroponte answered that I found particularly interesting was about the preparation it takes to become the Ambassador to a foreign country. In looking back, it makes sense that taking on such a role would require a lot of preparation, but it was something I had never thought about before. He said that obviously what he did depended on the country he was working for and their current relationship with the U.S. at the time, but that in general preparing required months of language and cultural classes, as well as several trips to and from the country before being announced as their ambassador, to establish relationships and ensure that where he was going was where he would work and negotiate well. In answering this question, the Ambassador talked a little bit about diplomacy in general and forming relationships and connections with people of other nations; this was perhaps the most interesting thing he spoke on. He discussed how to read people and almost how to manipulate them to like you and cooperate with you based on their personality–obviously he didn’t use those words and made the whole thing sound much more professional, but in a sense that’s what he was saying. It was one of those cool “OMG that relates to what I’ve been studying in leadership class” moments.
So as the semester winds down I have been interested to see how everything has come together. After the review game I was thinking about how The Last Days of Hitler could be related to the either-or fallacy. The Last Days of Hitler can be summed up by an either-or fallacy because there was not a way that Hitler could have made it out alive while being happy. Either Hitler was going to die or his ideal Aryan race would become a reality. Although there are many other things that could have happened. The world would be a very different place if Hitler adapted to his changing surroundings and his Aryan race became a reality. But his narrow minded ways were both his strength and his weakness. Strength because it allowed him to gather a following that helped him begin to realize his ‘dream’. But it was weakness because it stopped him from adapting and truly realizing his Aryan race dream.
This afternoon was a brilliantly beautiful one and I spent an hour of it strolling around the sculpture garden at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. I went to a free how to talk on landscaping given by VMFA’s head horticulturalist and it was both informative and enriching! Again, my friends and I were probably the only ones in the group under 60, but I didn’t really mind considering the weather and scenery. The man giving the talk spoke on the underlying structure in the sculpture garden and the drainage system that is important because a significant portion of the garden lies above the parking garage. Additionally, he pointed out a variety of holly found in the garden that had the convenient property of being less flammable than most. For that reason, they use the shrubs a lot in California and places where fires are more prone to happen.
The horticulturist then showed us some trees that they had to plant differently than where they were initially because they were planted too deep. Apparently, one should plant a tree so that the tree roots start to branch out right where the soil meets the trunk. If soil comes up much higher, the tree can actually suffocate. We ended the talk at the chapel where there was a beautiful flowerbed with some varieties of tulips in it and the plants all were of the “sorbet” variety. Each flower had a different “flavor” like blueberry, lemon, etc. It was a very interesting talk and I learned a good bit about both gardening and the sculpture garden!
I went to the brown bag lunch to hear about ”Interpreting the Beach Boys: Sun, Surf, and the Quest for Fulfillment,” a talk given by Dr. Dagger. Dr. Dagger is a political science professor and the topic of his talk was his interpretation of the Beach Boys as Christian missionaries. He started his talk by explaining that people who are interested in politics need to also pay attention to those that are apolitical like the Beach Boys. He compared them to Diogenes who carried a lamp around in broad daylight during the time of Plato to find an honest person. Diogenes and the Beach Boys believed that other people lived a phony life with pretentious ideals and they needed to return to nature. The Beach Boys emphasis on on the universal reflects their sense of their Christian mission. Dagger argued that they were pioneers of Christian rock and the quest for fulfillment was understood and they sought full communion with God. The ocean mentioned in the Beach Boys songs is a metaphor for God and the sun is a homonym for Son (Jesus). The most shocking argument he made was the the song Good Vibrations is about the Holy Spirit.
Overall Daggers talk was interesting but highly unconvincing. I heard rumors after the talk that the lecture was meant to be a joke, but I have a hard time believing that an academic event sponsored by the university would be a joke. He also failed to support his argument with characteristics of the actual Beach Boys that would support the notion that their music is missionary work.