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Society

Morality, Empathy and Altruism

Morality

  1. What qualities does a high-minded person have?
  2. Do we need religion to be people of good morals? Are we obliged to religion for the existence of morality?
  3. The vision of morality is different in various cultures. Why?
  4. Is it necessary to create universal moral values? If so, what should they be like?

Respect and Tolerance

Respect

  1. Who do you respect most of all? Why?
  2. What qualities should person have to earn your respect?
  3. Have you been in a situation when you didn’t respect a person, but he/she did something that made you change your attitude to him/her? What did he/she do?
  4. Have you been in a situation when you weren’t respected by someone, but afterwards earned his/her respect? What had changed?

Are men and women treated equally in this country?

Questions for discussion:

  1. Do you believe that you are supposed to act in certain ways and do certain things depending on who you are, a man or a woman?
  2. How has the attitude to women's role in the society changed in the past century? Has it ever changed at all for that matter?
  3. What patterns of behavior are considered to be appropriate for men but inappropriate for women?
  4. Do parents have different expectations for their sons and daughters in their families?

Live-in Relationship VS Marriage

A man is opposite to a woman only on the physiological level. In no other way are they opposite. But we have made such a big issue of it. It is a simple difference nature has made for the perpetuation of the race but because this need is there within you, and because you have a few more sensibilities and stronger emotions compared to an animal, we institutionalized our sexuality. That is what marriage is. And because we have to nurture our children and bring them up, unless there is a committed atmosphere, it is not going to happen properly. So we created this institution of marriage so that your sexuality and caring for progeny is also handled, and children grow up in more stable atmospheres.

Doctor, make me feel good!

​Questions for discussion:

  1. Are you interested in the way our body works?
  2. Have you ever wanted to become a doctor or a nurse?
  3. Why do some people choose a profession of a nurse, not a doctor?
  4. How do you think what is the hardest thing in working as a doctor? As a nurse?
  5. What is a good and a bad doctor? How do you find out that a doctor is good?

The Recipe for a Happy Marriage

The English expression, “Falling in love,” is significant because you don’t rise in love, you don’t fly in love, you don’t walk in love, you don’t stand in love. You fall in love, because something of who you are has to go. It essentially means someone else has become far more important than yourself. Only if you don’t think too much of yourself, you can be in love. When what you consider as “me” falls, a deep experience of love can happen within you. If your marriage is just a bundle of expectations about how to extract happiness out of someone who should make heaven for you, you will be disappointed. They say marriages are made in heaven. They say that because most people created a hell out of their marriage! If your relationship is about extracting something out of someone, it does not matter how much you manage, there will be constant trouble. But if your relationship was an offering to the other person, then everything would be fantastic.

Work-life Balance (revised)

Loving your job is BAD for your career as you work too hard in the evenings and are outperformed by colleagues who come in refreshed

  • People who feel their job is integral to their life may find it hard to be productive
  • These people are less able to successfully disengage from work in the evenings 
  • This limits their energy levels the following morning and their ability to focus

Teenagers: Why do they rebel? (revised)

Teenagers say what REALLY annoys them about their mothers

Singing in the car, trying to be one of the gang and Facebook friend requests: Teenagers give their (toe-curling) views on what REALLY annoys them about their mothers

  • Joe Lawrence, 17, from London, is sick of his mother Julia singing in the car
  • Olivia Becci, 17, from London, wants her mother Anna-Maria to stop trying to be one of the girl gang when her friends come over to her house 
  • Seth Daker, 18, from Ripponden, West Yorkshire, wants his mother Nicky to stop sending him friend requests on social media including Facebook and Twitter

Is Empathy Overrated?

Reading: While it may result in tremendous good, empathy can also be narrow, biased and surprisingly insensitive, argues psychology professor Paul Bloom.

Does empathy make the world a better place? It certainly looks like it. After all, empathy drives people to treat others’ suffering as if it were their own, which then motivates action to make the suffering go away. I see the bullied teenager and might be tempted initially to join in with his tormentors, out of sadism or boredom or a desire to dominate or be popular, but then I empathize — I feel his pain, I feel what it’s like to be bullied — so I don’t add to his suffering. Maybe I even rise to his defense. Empathy is like a spotlight directing attention and aid to where it’s needed.

Copyright and Internet Piracy

2317 New Editions from Amazon by Decades

Our Lost Culture: What We Lose From Having Killed The Public Domain

Yesterday, for Copyright Week, we wrote about transparency (and the lack of it in making copyright law). Today's issue is the public domain. While we just wrote about the lack of new works going into the public domain this year (as happens every year in the US), I've seen some copyright maximalists asking why this is a big deal, since all the works listed are readily available to purchase. This is uninformed in the extreme. In the past I've suggested that everyone interested in these issues owes it to themselves to read James Boyle's excellent book, The Public Domain, and I'll reiterate that recommendation now. Not surprisingly, the book is available online for free, though you can also purchase a copy, which is a worthwhile investment. 

Jealousy, Prejudice and Discrimination

Reading: Jealousy, Prejudice, and Short People

Short people tend to be more prone to feelings of inferiority and jealousy, a recent study concluded. The researchers polled more than 500 Dutch and Spanish of both sexes in an effort to determine which characteristics made people uneasy with romantic competitors. They discovered a number of universalities, realizing that men and women viewed money, strength, looks, and charm as threatening. However, feelings of unease and nervousness diminished the taller a person's stature. Jealousy was exacerbated in short people.

Downshifting: a new way to get happier?

Reading:

Originally the term "downshifting" referred to changing down a gear, in a manual geared car, to slow the car in addition to using the brakes.
 
In recent usage, the term is used to mean the gradual process of changing your life so it is simpler, quieter, balanced, and much less stressful.  
 
What is a downshifter?  
 
Downshifters are people who adopt long-term voluntary simplicity in their life. They accept less money through fewer hours worked in order to have time for the important things in life. Downshifters also place emphasis on consuming less in order to reduce their ecological footprint.  

Junk Food Ban

Talking Points

Speaking multiple languages can give you multiple personalities

Reading: 

The idea that language affects the way we look at the world is hardly new. But could your personality actually change depending on which language you're speaking? That's the idea put forward by a new psychological study.

Tests and Exams

Questions for discussion:

  1. Do you have standardized exams for students in your country?
  2. Have you taken a standardized exam? Why did you take it? Were you happy with the results?
  3. Do you think they are useful? Do you think they are fair?
  4. Do you think they are a good assessment for how well a student is learning? Should there be exams or tests at all?

Tests and Exams

Questions for discussion:

Privacy

Questions for discussion:

  1. What is privacy?
  2. How do you maintain your privacy at home? At school?On the Internet? When using Facebook? When you travel? When talking on the phone?
  3. What are the reasons why privacy is important for you?
  4. To what extent do public officials have a right to privacy?

New Year Season

Questions for discussion: 

  1. This is the season of gift giving. Do you have trouble picking out gifts for family members and friends? Do you prefer to buy gifts or do you give gifts that you've made yourself? Do you think consumerism has replaced the real spirit of the holidays? 
  2. Russia has among the longest federal holiday seasons. Do you think the holidays should be made shorter or stay the way they are? What are good and bad things about being on vacation for so long? Would you rather have federal holidays some other time of year? 

Imports versus Domestic

Questions for discussion:

  1. Have the sanctions affected you? If so, in what way ? 
  2. Have you seen the impact of of food import bans? 
  3. Why do you think people prefer Western products (food/cars/electronics)?
  4. Do you think sanctions were reasonably imposed by the west?

  5. Do you think sanctions are here to stay? 
  6. Do you prefer to holiday abroad? If so why or why not? 

Crisis

Questions for discussion:

Crisis

Questions for discussion:

Euthanasia

Questions for discussion:

  1. What is the difference between euthanasia and suicide?
  2. Is there a difference between euthanasia and murder?
  3. Does a family member or a doctor have the right to turn off a life support machine?
  4. How long should doctors keep someone alive who is brain dead?

The problem of choice

Reading:

Should Governments Nudge Us to Make Good Choices?

Our decisions are constantly shaped by subtle changes in our environment. Even choices that feel deliberate and conscious can be swayed by cues that we may not even notice, such as social norms or the setting of a default option. Behavioral scientists use the phrase “choice architecture” to describe the ways in which the environment influences how we decide.

Alcohol

Questions for discussion:

  1. Is it possible to balance alcohol consumption and a healthy lifestyle?
  2. What is your favorite alcoholic beverage?
  3. Should parents be able to determine drinking age for their children before the age of 18 (as opposed to the government controlling this)?
  4. Drink driving: in some countries it’s ok to drink a little before driving. Is it possible to have similar law in Russia? Why or why not?

Stereotypes about Russians

List of stereotypes:

  1. All wealthy Russians are gangsters or had made their money illegally
  2. All Russian politicians are corrupt. 
  3. Russian women are the most beautiful.
  4. Russian men are alcoholics.
  5. Russians are unfriendly and never smile. 

Should gay marriages be legalized?

Reading:

Gay marriage declared legal across the US in historic supreme court ruling

Same-sex marriages are now legal across the entirety of the United States after a historic supreme court ruling that declared attempts by conservative states to ban them unconstitutional.

In what may prove the most important civil rights case in a generation, five of the nine court justices determined that the right to marriage equality was enshrined under the equal protection clause of the 14th amendment.

Should cannabis be legalised?

Reading: 

The National Cancer Institute Says Cannabis Kills Cancer

The National Cancer Institute (NCI) updated its website to include various studies revealing how cannabis may inhibit tumor growth by killing cells, blocking cell growth, and blocking the development of blood vessels needed by tumors to grow. The institute also said that cannabis does this while protecting healthy cells.

NCI released the following statement after updating its website:

Immigration/ Neighbors

Questions for discussion:

  1. What do you think it feels like to be an immigrant? Do you know any immigrants and do you know their stories?
  2. Who immigrates to Russia and why do you think they choose this country?
  3. Do you think immigrants benefit country’s economy?

Cloning

Questions for discussion:

  1. What is cloning?
  2. What are the advantages of cloning?
  3. What are the disadvantages of cloning?
  4. Do you think animals should be cloned?
  5. Do you think vegetables should be modified?

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