Monday, December 13, 2010

Blog 19: Sleep Dealer

Sleep Dealer by filmmaker Alex Rivera is a movie that tells us the story of Memo, a young man from a small village in Mexico, who after his Father's death has to leave his town to go work in a bigger city so that he can support his family. The story takes place in a near future, where the advances in technology allow people to connect to a global network through implants called nodos. By connecting to a machine people are able to interact with robotic technologies and operate robots located in the U.S. This technology, developed for outsourcing jobs is a big advantage for the United States given that they still get the labor force they need without having foreigners in their soil.

Just like it happens nowadays, immigrants are still being exploited, the difference is that now to relief of the industrialized nations, workers can be enslaved within the boundaries of their own countries.

Some of the things I found interesting in this film is that it is a critic of society in the sense that technology can be very useful but on the other hand  it can also alienate human beings so much to the point that some day people would need to buy someone else's memories and pay to watch "real life experiences" lived by unknown people. Also  the approach on current immigration policies like the wall between Mexico and the U.S and how even though they are trying really hard to keep immigrants out of the country they still want the benefits of cheap labor.

I believe the reality portrayed in the movie is in many ways already happening in the present. The best example that comes to mind is the call center people who offer technical support to U.S customers when they are located thousands of miles away in India or Malaysia, another example would be the maquilas in Latin American countries or the sweatshops in China, where workers get paid really low wages to manufacture the products of American companies which will later charge the final costumer twenty times more than what it costs to make.

Recently there was a scandal in which Apple Computer was involved in worker's suicides. Foxconn the company that manufactures the IPods and IPhones was allegedly behind the strange deaths of some of their workers. Besides extremely low wages, the work loads, stress levels and constant pressure in which these people have to work is so much that some just can't take it and commit suicide. I think we could ask ourselves the same question that the author of "The $2 dollar Camisole" talks about; how much should some products be worth?. I believe the death of a human being is a price too high to pay for any product no matter what it is.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Blog 18: Too Much Stuff

In “The $2 camisole: How cheap is ruining our lives”, Mary Elizabeth Williams suggests that some products should cost more because the cost of low prices is paid in part by the workers who manufacture these products, the environment and ultimately the own consumer because low price goods are most of the time of not so good quality. Williams uses her personal experience with inexpensive products from brands like H&M and Ikea to support her claim.

She also says that because of the bad quality of some of these goods, they don’t last long and so she has to be throwing stuff away all the time.

I disagree with Williams’ suggestion.

She is basically saying that prices should be higher so we can get better quality products. But she should now better than expecting good quality goods for low prices. You get what you pay for

From the experiences I’ve had with inexpensive products I can tell that most of the time they don’t last long, but i believe that should be expected. Even though most products in the market are overpriced there are also some things that are pricey for a reason, the materials used to make a good product obviously cost more.

Low prices should stay so that products can be acquirable to more people

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Extra Practice

In "Modern Society and the Quest for Human Happiness" the Dalai Lama suggests that people who live in developed countries in certain aspects tend to be less happy, less content and suffer more than those living in the least developed nations. He also claims that even though the poor seem to be most affected by physical pain they are not as anxious or emotionally affected as the rich, this might be due to the rich people trying to accumulate more and more wealth which turns them into unhappy and disturbed individuals.
I agree with the point the Dalai lama makes in his essay. I believe people who live in the "First World Countries" sometimes focuses too much on money that they forget that  money is only a means to an end not an end in  itself. The ultimate goal in life I believe is to obtain happiness but having lots of money doesn't necessarily guarantees  happiness, on the contrary I think many times the most material things you own the more preoccupied you become and the more afraid of losing them. 

I believe a lot of wealthy people don't have the freedom to do many things because they have to be taking care of their money all the time and forget that there are more important things, like the Dalai Lama says:" They are so caught up with the idea of acquiring still more that they make no room for anything else in their lives". Personally I value my freedom too much as to trade it for material things. Being a millionaire means nothing to me if I am going to have to be unhappy, working lots of hours a week in something that I don't like, being stressed and thinking about money all the time; here in the U.S for example i have met people who on the surface seem to be successful and relatively happy but in reality they hate their jobs they only do it because they make decent money, but yet some are just stuck in debt struggling so they can keep up with their payments for their latest model cars, their mortgages, their flat screen TV's a bunch of material stuff that have turned them into slaves of their own possessions, a lot of things that in most cases they don't even need but let themselves be tricked fall by the "First World" consumerist mentality. Now they are like hamsters in a treadmill trying to keep up with their lifestyle, trying to cover their unhappiness with material things.

I would rather work in something that I really like even if I don't make much money as long as I feel satisfied, happy and have enough time to enjoy with the people I care about, I don't care about having the latest phone with a thousand functions and owning a luxury car that I don't need. I prefer to go on a two month vacation to South America and have a good time with my loved ones knowing that I don't owe a dollar to any bank and that when I am back I won't find a bunch of bills from the credit card companies. Some might it is a conformist mentality but in my case those simple things are worth more than any material thing, as the saying goes " wealth is not measured by what you have but by what you share". 

Friday, November 19, 2010

Blog 17: Reflection on Blogging

After checking all my blog entries since the beggining of the semester, I could say my writing has improved but, there are still many things that I need to work on like learning more vocabulary, connecting my ideas better, using punctuation better, learning how to use the adequate transition between ideas, in my responses don't forget to REFER BACK TO THE READINGS, and especially improve my timing, I think I waste too much time summarizing and thinking about how should I start my responses and when I am in the middle of the response developing the ideas the time is up and I have to hurry up and try to finish without making good conclusions.

On the other hand I have learned many important things in this class, summarizing for example, is one of the things I never used to do when asked to write a paper, as a matter of  fact I believe that was the reason why I was failing this kind of tests, I would always start with my point of view and expand with personal experiences but never summarized. Another very important thing I learned is that I need to have a clear thesis and state it early in the response.

I still have a couple of blog entries to finish, I will do it this weekend. I would've liked to have more time to spend practicing writing because I think is the only way that I am going to learn to do it properly.

Yes, I would sometimes check some of my classmates Blogs but not the ones from "Living In The Matrix".

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Blog 16: The New Industrial Migrants


In the first segment of the reading, Eric Schlosser talks about the jobs in the meatpacking industry. He tells us that once upon a time the wages in this industry were enough to mantain a middle-class lifestyle, but not anymore. A plant in Colorado pays today more than a third less than what they used to pay forty years ago --taking into consideration the inflation rates of course--. The wages in the industry are currently only a little higher than poverty levels and this is the reason why only immigrants, mostly from Mexico, Central America and Southeast Asia would take the jobs they offer.

Schlosser also claims that benefits like health insurance and vacations are almost non existant in this industry, given that the majority of the workers don't stay in their jobs the time required in order to receive this benefits, which translate in more profit for the meatpacking companies by not having to pay benefits. Also another advantage for the companies is that by having a constantly changing workforce, is almost impossible for the workers to organize a union and therefore they are easier to control.


In the second excerpt Schlosser tells us abot the strategies used by the meatpacking companies to recruit the workers they need in order to renew their workforce. He also shows us how the meatpacking companies claim to be against hiring undocumented workers, but yet most of their workforce is composed by them. The main target of this meatpacking corporations are the poor communities, the people who are in serious need and are willing to take any job, and work for really low salaries.

 Schlosser also tells an incredible story in which one of this corporations sent a recruiter near to the mexican border to convince some workers to work for them, their plan was to take them to Minnesotta and bribe the people in charge of a homeless shelter to provide them housing. Fortunately the shelter didn't agree and also the workers refused to live there.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Blog 15: About Farmer's Markets

Grow NYC is a Non for Profit organization whose mission is to promote a healthier and more environmentally conscious lifestyle for New Yorkers. One of the programs they run is called Greenmarkets,  which was created with the purpose of providing fresh locally grown produce to NYC's residents, while at the same time helping small family farms sell their products directly to customers without any intermediaries.

After visiting Grow NYC's website, I found out that finding healthy organic food is easier than I thought. Also that their Greenmarkets are very well planned and organized, given that it is a program run by a serious organization. One thing I found surprising when I was checking their financial reports was the amounts of money that some people or foundations donate.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Blog 14: Ideas for Improving my performance in the CATW


- Write side notes
- Number The main ideas
- Make a T- Chart to organize better the ideas

Transitions that would help me organize the CATW better:

- Besides,
- Finally,
- Furthermore,
- However,
- Again,
- First,....Second,....,etc.

After reading and evaluating my classmates responses, I realized I need to:

1) Make sure to understand the reading
2) Get better at annotating
3) Make sure to choose a SIGNIFICANT idea from the reading so that I can develop my response based   on it
4) Make sure that the things I talk about in my response are relevant to the reading
5) Develop the examples better
7) Reread the response to check for grammar and spelling errors

Shaka's Evaluation:
To support my point I need to use at least two examples not only one.