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Demian Tretyakov
Demian Tretyakov

The Conversation

Surveillance expert Harry Caul runs a private company in San Francisco offering wiretapping services. In the opening scene, Caul, his colleague Stan, and some freelance associates are bugging the conversation of a couple as they walk through crowded Union Square. Against a cacophony of background noise, the couple discusses their fear that they are being watched and mention a discreet meeting at a hotel in a few days. Later, Caul filters and merges the three tapes recorded from different points by his operatives; the result is a clear recording whose meaning is ambiguous.

The Conversation

Caul is obsessed with his own privacy: his apartment is almost bare behind its triple-locked door and burglar alarm, he uses pay phones to make calls, and his office is enclosed in a chain-link cage in a corner of a much larger warehouse. He has no friends, his girlfriend Amy knows nothing about him, and his sole hobby is playing along to jazz records on a tenor saxophone alone in his apartment. He insists that he is not responsible for the content of the conversations he records or the use to which his clients put his surveillance, but he is wracked with guilt about a past job that was followed by the murders of three people. His sense of guilt is amplified by his devout Catholicism.

Surveillance expert Harry Caul is hired by a mysterious client's brusque aide to tail a young couple. Tracking the pair through San Francisco's Union Square, Caul and his associate Stan manage to record a cryptic conversation between them. Tormented by memories of a previous case that ended badly, Caul becomes obsessed with the resulting tape, trying to determine if the couple are in danger.

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The DocumentsEnd of life and healthcare planning require filling out appropriate advance care documents, but conversation about these documents is key. Those chosen to carry out your wishes must know what you want. Documenting your healthcare wishes and telling others is a gift.

It works like this: An organization applies to host a community conversation from our catalog and receives resources from Oregon Humanities to support each stage of the event. An Oregon Humanities facilitator leads a ninety-minute conversation that invites participants to engage with a particular topic and talk about it together. By creating intentional spaces for conversation, people and groups explore why they think what they do, share stories with one another that build trust, and make stronger connections and commitments to the issues that affect their communities.

We are partnering with organizations that are interested in hosting virtual and in-person community conversations. All conversations are available virtually, and our Conversation Project catalog indicates which conversations are available in person and what conditions, if any, facilitators require for those programs.

Once you receive an approval email from us, contact the Conversation Project leader to schedule a date and time for the community conversation, then get back in touch with us to let us know the details.

Someone from your organization is required to attend the conversation. We hope this person welcomes participants, instructs them how to sign in, or makes note of which registered participants show up, and talks about Oregon Humanities and the Conversation Project. If your conversation is virtual, we ask that someone from your organization support the Conversation Project leader with technical needs such as breakout rooms and screen sharing.

Community conversations are best for groups of between seven and twenty-five. If you are opening the conversation to the general public (rather than convening a group of people where you know that date works for most), you can probably allow upward of fifty people to register, knowing that you can count on closer to twenty-five to actually attend the conversation.

We asked that all facilitators commit to facilitating their conversations virtually, and we left it up to them to let us know if and when they wanted to facilitate an in-person conversation. Please contact Juliana Posada at if you want to discuss a customized conversation.

Note: If you remove an instant message that you sent, it's removed for everyone in a chat, and nobody will see it in that chat. You can only remove an instant message that you've sent, you can't remove an instant message someone else has sent in a chat. Also, system messages cannot be deleted, like the one sent to a conversation when it is renamed.

Note: Leaving a conversation clears your copy of messages in a conversation and removes the conversation from your chat list. If you rejoin the conversation, you will be able to view conversation history from the moment you left or from the moment you re-joined it depending on the chat history setting.

The conversation (work item) transitions from Active to Closed, Open, Waiting, or Wrap-up under the following scenarios.

This is an intermediate state after you end the conversation, when you can do post-conversation activities such as taking notes and update the customer information, before moving the conversation to the Closed state. In the Wrap-up state, your (agent) capacity is blocked according to the duration that your administrator has selected in the Block capacity for wrap up field in the workstream. If your administrator has selected Always block, your capacity is blocked as long as the conversation is in the Wrap-up state. If the Don't block setting is selected, your capacity is released as soon as conversation moves from Active to Wrap-up state. Your administrator might also select a duration ranging from 1 to 60 minutes. More information: Configure work distribution

When a live chat conversation gets disconnected, Omnichannel for Customer Service will automatically move Active conversations to the Wrap-up state. More information: Understand disconnected chats

A conversation in waiting doesn't block your capacity. The conversation gets transitioned to waiting when you (agent) close the session without ending the conversation (that is, without selecting the End button on the communication panel) or when the customer closes the browser window without closing the chat widget. For example, you're waiting for some information from customer and don't want to end the conversation or the customer's browser closes unexpectedly.

Omnichannel for Customer Service has a default time set for the conversation to close automatically. That is, if a conversation in a certain stage remains in the stage for more than the default time, then the conversation is moved to the closed state. Conversations achieve a closure, and agents can focus on important conversation, which ultimately enhances the productivity.

The Omnichannel for Customer Service scheduler checks conversations every 5 minutes to identify those conversations that don't transition for more than the default configured time. Such conversations become eligible for automatic closure, so the next time the scheduler runs, the conversations are moved from the existing state to the Closed state.

All channels have different default configured time after which conversations can be moved to the Closed state. However, the exact time at which the scheduler runs is dependent on the Omnichannel for Customer Service deployment time in your region. For more information, contact Microsoft support.

A conversation in Waiting is moved to the Closed state when the conversation is inactive for a specified time. The inactive time can be set in the workstream for the Auto-close after inactivity option, based on which the conversation will be moved to the closed state after the criteria is met.

For example, when you set Auto-close after inactivity to 5 minutes, the conversation is moved to the Closed state if it has been in Waiting for more than 5 minutes.

Alessandra Seiter: The effects of systemic racism permeate nearly every facet of American life, from housing and health care, to criminal justice and education. In 2019, the median household wealth for white families was $188,200. For Black families, it was $24,100 according to the Brookings Institution. Black people made up about 13% of the US population and 32% of the incarcerated population in state and federal prisons. Only four companies in the Fortune 500 have a Black CEO according to Fortune Magazine.Yet, despite these and countless other statistics illustrating the issue, a large segment of the white population still doubts or rejects the notion that racial discrimination against Black people is widespread. According to a study by Michael Norton at Harvard University and Professor Samuel Sommers of Tufts University, white people perceived a reduction in discrimination against Black people going back to the 1950s and an increase in discrimination against white people.What explains this disconnect? And how do activists, policymakers, leaders, and concerned citizens move the needle on this intractable problem? These questions are at the center of The Conversation: How Seeking and Speaking the Truth About Racism Can Radically Transform Individuals and Organizations, a new book by Robert Livingston, lecturer in public policy at Harvard Kennedy School. On this episode of Behind the Book, we'll look at how Dr. Livingston uses the latest research in psychology and behavioral science to explain the origins of systemic racism, how it effects us all, and what we can do to confront it.As indicated by the book's title, The Conversation is intended to spur discussion about the problem of systemic racism and possible solutions. The discussion itself is an important part of this process. As Dr. Livingston notes in the introduction, "Conversation is one of the most powerful ways to build knowledge, awareness, and empathy, and ultimately to affect change. Conversation is also a primal way for people to form bonds, build trust, and create community."Dr. Livingston cites a study published in 1952 by German-American psychologist Kurt Lewin. In the 1940s and '50s, the United States experienced shortages of standard cuts of meat, but Americans weren't in the habit of eating the lungs, throat glands, and other kinds of organ meats, despite the wider availability and nutrition that such cuts offered. Lewin's experiment involved two groups of Red Cross volunteers.One group was given information about the nutritional benefits of eating organ meat. A second group was given the same information, but was also given the opportunity to discuss what they had learned with other participants. The end results were striking-- only 3% of subjects in the first group began serving organ meat, while 32% of the second group did so. In other words, the very act of conversation inspired people to change their habits in a way that simply knowing the information did not.Robert Livingston: I wish we were computers, where you can just enter data and say, here's the information, process this, but we're not. There are all these social complications that we have as social animals that can increase the likelihood that we'll listen. And so, I think that the formula that's most effective, I've found, has been education, conversation, and action, in that order.Seiter: Dr. Livingston intends for The Conversation to be a tool for those seeking solution to these problems. The book even includes sections called forums, where he suggests discussion topics and questions that readers can use to spark their own conversations.Livingston: I noticed there weren't many tools out there among the books on race that have been written. But what's missing from everything that's out there is that they don't actually tell you what to do to make profound and sustainable change toward greater racial equity.Seiter: In addition to his teaching and research at the Kennedy School, Dr. Livingston advises businesses and organizations on how they can address racial inequity and promote diversity. He brings that wealth of knowledge to readers in The Conversation using a framework called PRESS, which stands for Problem awareness, Root cause analysis, Empathy, Strategies for addressing the problem, and Sacrifice. The first section of the book is titled "Condition," and it's in these pages that Dr. Livingston explores the first two stages.Livingston: The very first section of the book, on condition, starts off with this whole question of problem awareness, and I actually present data that shows that not everyone knows there's a problem. And in fact, a big chunk of the white population would say that anti-Black racism or anti-people of color racism is not a real thing. Part of the question then is, if that's the case, then how can we begin to address the problem if there are people who don't even know that there is a problem, or to the extent that there is, the problem is the opposite?Seiter: Dr. Livingston dives into the psychology and behavioral science research canon to explain the phenomenon of racism, its origins in the human psyche and history, and why so many people deny the very existence of the problem. He illustrates the myriad ways in which people of color are subject to inequity and oppression, and he discusses how humans seek to construct and maintain social hierarchies.The second section of the book, "Concern," discusses how readers can inspire empathy in others, so that they are compelled to do something about it. He divides people into three groups, each requiring a different mechanism for feeling empathy, and in his talks, Dr. Livingston uses analogies from the animal kingdom to illustrate these groups. The first are individualists, who aren't concerned about anyone else, and simply want to stick their heads in the sand, like ostriches.Livingston: They just want what's best for them. They don't want someone to be oppressed, and they don't really want someone to not be oppressed. They're indifferent to what happens to other people, their focus is what happens to me, and they will do what's in their own best interest.Seiter: The second group are competitors, who aspire to stay at the top of a stratified system, like sharks.Livingston: So, unlike the individualist, who's indifferent to other people, the competitor's actually focused on other people and keeping them down, because to them, you can't be Mount Everest unless there's a valley.Seiter: The third group are prosocials, and, like dolphins, they thrive only when they are a part of a pod of equal individuals.Livingston: Who are people who want sort of an equitable distribution and everyone to have enough. So, that's the first thing to realize, is that there are stable individual differences in this. I talk about it, and I talk about the different ways to approach those three different types.Seiter: For each of these groups, the strategy for getting them invested in the fight for racial justice differs. For individualists, one might need to make a practical case for dealing with racism. In public policy terms, they'll need carrots, such as the numerous studies that show diversity improves performance and outcomes for teams. Competitors may require strong disincentives, or sticks, to change their behavior. And to reach prosocials, one would need to appeal to their sense of moral obligation.After establishing concern, Dr. Livingston moves on to the final stages of the PRESS framework-- Strategies for addressing the problem, and Sacrifice. This final section of the book, titled "Correction," focuses on what readers can do once they have understood the problem and become invested in solving it. Although racial injustice is a vast problem to solve, Dr. Livingston distills corrective action into two camps-- what individuals can do, and what organizations and leaders can do. For individuals, a key point is that while people cannot control their thoughts, they can control their actions and behavior.Livingston: Let's imagine a taxi driver in New York City who has strong bias against Muslims, and sees a Muslim person hailing a cab. Well, they have a choice. They can either pull over and say, good afternoon, ma'am or sir, where can I take you? Or they can keep driving, because they say, I don't like Muslims. That's the difference between prejudice and discrimination. Prejudice is more about their feelings, discrimination is more about their behaviors.So, if they say, because of my values, I should treat everyone the same, and they pull over, then that's no discrimination in the presence of prejudice. So, despite the fact that they have these negative feelings, they didn't have negative behaviors. Well, here's the beauty of that. If they do that enough, and they have enough contact with Muslims, and they talk about the weather, or their kids going to school, or brother-in-laws' weddings, or whatever people talk about in a taxi, that will gradually recondition their attitudes.Seiter: Dr. Livingston cites research showing that establishing and vocalizing clear goals is important in trying to hold oneself accountable for changing behavior. He also points to a number of actions that individuals can take, such as engaging in civic activism, supporting businesses that embrace diversity, and mentoring younger colleagues of color who could benefit from professional insights and connections. When it comes to institutions, Dr. Livingston provides several cases of major organizations and companies embarking on diversity and inclusion initiatives with positive results.These include Massachusetts Port Authority, which reformed its process for awarding contracts so that developers were required to incorporate diversity initiatives into the bidding process for projects. Subsequent Massport projects became more inclusive, with Black and women owned companies having a greater stake in new development in Boston's seaport. He also cites the example of Harvey Mudd College in Claremont, California, which embarked on several initiatives to boost the diversity of its computer science program and succeeded.Livingston: And I would say those are the most optimistic chapters, because as I was doing the research, I would get more and more energized, because there's so much that has been done, and so much that we can do, and so many examples of best practices and things that I had to narrow it down.Seiter: The Conversation lays out, in often stark terms, what is at stake in the struggle for racial progress in America. But Dr. Livingston stresses that it's important to maintain a sense of cautious optimism.Livingston: I do want to make an important distinction between optimism and naiveté. What I say in my book is that racism is a solvable problem, and in many ways, that's not just my opinion, that's a fact. Part o


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