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.

CATW Revision

Andres Velasquez
Doctor Ximena Gallardo
ENA 099 0708


In "Life imitates art as Truman Syndrome diagnosed" by The Associated Press, we are presented with various cases of “The Truman Syndrome”, a modern disorder that some scientists, researchers and health specialists seem to find as an interesting illustration of the relationship between mental wellness and popular culture. The situations described in the article are cases of people apparently suffering this syndrome and have one thing in common, they are all related to either technology or to popular culture events like the movies The Matrix and The Truman Show. Patients allegedly suffering from “The Truman Syndrome” believe that their lives are part of a show, and that they are the main characters.

There are two ideas that I personally found interesting in the reading. One is, are these people really affected by these movies or they just want to catch people’s attention??. And the second is how  can experts try to scientifically explain the behavior of patients who suffer the “Truman Syndrome" even though they, or us humankind don't have a completely 100% accurate concept of what reality is?.

For the first idea, it would be key to understand what Dr. Joel Gold questions in the article: "Is this just a new twist on an old paranoid or grandiose delusion... Or is there sort of a perfect storm of the culture we're in, in which fame holds such a high value?” I believe he is right when he says that in the culture we are living, it has become so important to be famous.

In today’s superficial world, the media is trying to sell us the idea that famous people are so cool and that we should try to be like them. They are trying to send the message that in order to be completely successful we should be famous, and for this we need to  gain recognition for something, anything, no matter how random or stupid it is.

This could probably be the case of some of the patients described in the article, for example the man who showed up in a federal building asking to be released from a reality show, I think it is possible that he did this with the purpose of calling people’s attention, in other words, to have his fifteen minutes of fame. This reminds me of last year’s incident about a helium balloon who supposedly had a little boy in the inside and was flying out of control all over Colorado. The event quickly attracted worldwide attention, but resulted to be only a premeditated plan to catch the media’s attention. Another example that comes to mind right now is the case of a runaway bride back in 2005, she intentionally disappeared in order to avoid her wedding and invented that she had been kidnapped and sexually assaulted, the story also gained notoriety in the whole nation and even internationally. After a long period of search, authorities finally found her and discovered that she was safe and hiding the whole time, later it was known that she had sold the rights of her story to an editorial company for millions of dollars.

The examples above show how some people are willing to do whatever it takes in order to call the media’s attention, and I believe the patients DIAGNOSED with the so called “Truman Syndrome” might just be regular people trying to do the same thing, maybe what’s behind of their “illness”  is just an intention to make it to the front page of the newspapers.
However, and this is the second thing I found interesting, there might also be some cases in which the patients are truly disturbed, in a state of mental disorder and suffering from DELUSIONS . All this conditions make them be convinced that what they are living is some kind of parallel reality. In this particular cases I would understand and to a certain point even identify with them, given that I am not even sure of what reality is, maybe it is nothing but a collective fantasy that we have all agreed to call "reality". But that would be a philosophical approach to the article, a topic for a whole new essay.

Blog 13: "How to Do One Thing at a Time"

In her article "How to Do One Thing at a Time", Nancy Jones suggests that multitasking is not as efficient as we think, because the human brain works better when executing one task at a time instead of multiple tasks at the same time. Jones uses the results of an experiment on university students and the opinion from experts to support her claim.

I totally agree with the point that makes Nancy Jones, it is a proven fact, when we try to do so many things simultaneously we end up doig a poor job at everything. I could compare this to some electronic devices that are currently on the market, the I-Phone for example, what do I get with a phone that has internet, takes pictures, records video, has GPS etc, if it is not good for making phone calls, which is supposed to be the feature that it was created for?. I believe our brain functions in a way similar to that of a computer, on windows there is a program called task manager where you can monitor all the activities taking place in the computer, in that program we can clearly see how the less tasks, the faster and more efficient the computer gets.

As professor Clifford Nass says, "A tremendous amount of evidence shows that the brain does better when it's performing tasks in sequence rather than all at once", this means that if we really want to do things well done, we should focus on one thing at a time to obtain better results, and not do a million things at the same time and be mediocre at all of them.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Blog 12: How To Eat Healthier

The reading is a fragment of the book "In Defense of Food", the author Michael Pollan gives us some recommendations to eat healthier food. He suggests that we stay away from processed foods, eat more fresh produce, and if possible plant a garden and cook.

All the items in Pollan's advice make sense to me, I particularly agree with his advice about processed food. "Don't eat anything your great-grandmother wouldn't recognize as food" he says, I think this is a perfect advice on how to distinguish real food from processed. I don't even need to go as far as my great- grandmother, there was a period in my life when I used to live with my grandparents, my grandmother used to cook everyday, and I could see the ingredients she used, she would never use any processed things like cans, instant soups, not even packed vegetables, she always used fresh ingredients and criticized those processed foods, saying that it is old food, and that they put a lot of chemicals in it so it lasts longer.

As a teen I grew up eating really healthy homemade food. It wasn't until I arrived in New York and started working that I realized it wouldn't be easy to keep the same eating habits, given how much time work, school and other activites take up. Cooking my own food and eating at home is one of the items in Pollan's advice that I would like to do, in fact I do it once in a while, unfortunately my current lifestyle doesn't leave me enough time to do it more often.

The item in Pollan's list that I believe is the hardest to accomplish, taking into consideration the space limitations that most people in this city have, is planting a garden. This item could be made possible in other places where people have enough land, but in big cities like New York, I don't think is possible.

On the other hand there are a couple of items that are relatively easy to implement, like eating more fruits and vegetables, staying away from the middle aisles of the supermarkets which is where heavily processed foods are  normally found, and stop eating things that are high in preservatives. A lot of teenagers should pay attention to this last item. I see kids eating pre-packaged snacks all the time, maybe they are not aware that aside from lots of sodium, most of this snacks contain a heavy dose of conservants, colorants, aditives and artifficial flavors that are bad to their health.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Blog 11: "Let Them Eat Fat"

In "Let Them Eat Fat", Greg Critser explains how fast food chains have been attacking the poor people market. Critser gives us some interesting facts to support his claim, for example the high proportion oy young black men and workers who consume this kind of food. He also talks about the marketing trick supersizing, and explains that by supersizing the consumer almost doubles the calories in the meal.

After reading this article, I think people should realize that eating fast food is not good at all. The only "good" thing about this food is the price, but in the long run, when people start having health problems because of the consumption of this cheap meals, they will see that it was not worth it to trade thir health in exchange for saving a couple of dollars.

Personally, I stopped eating fast food after watching the documentary "Super Size Me", in which a man decides to eat nothing but McDonald's for a couple of months. The man gets really sick, gains weight like crazy, and starts having heart problems, by seeing what happened to this man, I realized how bad this food is and decided not to eat it again. When we eat in these junk food chains we are basically filling our bodies with fat and sugar, which can both be a serious threat specially to our heart, most young people don't realize this, but when they are older they will.

Another reason why I decided to stop eating fast food was this other article I read a while ago, where they were saying that the meat they use comes mostly from old and sick cows, and also chickens are fed with chemicals that make them develop deformations.

However, from a business point of view, i think fast food chains are not responsible for the health of this people. They are only satisfying an existing need for cheap food, they are not forcing anyone to consume their products, so it is the consumer's decission if they want to eat healthy or not. Unfortunately some people just can't afford to buy healthier food and that's the reason why this fast food chains are so successful speciallly in low-income neighborhoods.

First Evaluation

Goal: The Cyborg Advantage: "The Cyborg Advantage is an article which makes the point that between the power of human mind and that of machines is a force which when p..."

Second Evaluation

The Pretsige: Blog Entry 3.2: " Humans with the assistance of computers by their side are more efficient than only a human or computer by themselves. In this da..."

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Blog 10: Where The Whale Be At?

In the article “Where the Whale be At?: The Place of Race & Racism in the Discussion of Environmentalism”,  Terry J. Cole gives us a few reasons why people of color should care about the environment. Some of his reasons are: the bond that people of color have historically had with nature, the fact that statistically most people of color live and go to school in places where the pollution is high and thus are more likely to suffer diseases associated with this contamination, and also the neighborhoods where they live have very limited access to healthy food and recreation areas.

One idea I found particularly interesting on Cole’s article is how the proximity of a grocery store or  supermarket can directly affect the health of certain communities. Before I read this artice, l had never thought about how important it is for some people to have a good supermarket conviniently located near home. There is a large number of people who are not affected by this situation because they have cars, but for the people who don't, having a grocery within walking distance really makes a difference.

"Studies show that when there is a supermarket in the neighborhood, there's a 32 percent increase in vegetable and fruit consumption", I was really surprised by this fact when I read it in the article, but now that I think about it, it totally makes sense. If we have fresh produce easily available the chances of having a healthier diet would obviously increase. Recently they put a fruit stand right next to my subway stop, and now since it is so convenient I sometimes stop there to grab an apple or a banana.
It is amazing how something so little can help change one's eating habits....


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Blog 9: Summary of The Meatrix.


The Meatrix is an animated parody that takes elements from the film the Matrix to tell us what is behind of massively produced animal products like eggs, milk and meat. The animals in the factory farms where these goods are produced, live under horrible conditions, are given drugs to enhance their productivity and to keep them from getting diseases, and some are mutilated to prevent them from attacking each other. This model of massive production also generates social problems like extensive contamination and devastation of the communities that live near this factories.


Revolting continues telling us the practices used by the factory farms to increase their profit and expands on the conditions that the animals live. They give cows excessive amounts of  antibiotics and artificial growth hormones so that they produce more milk and meat, and as soon as they are born, they separate calves from their mothers and instead of milk they feed them with a substance that among other ingredients, contains cow blood. This cannibalistic practice could spread mad cow disease. At the end of this part Mr Ham-derson tells us that we could help stop these dairy factories by supporting the few small family farms that still remain.


In "The Meatrix II 1/2" we see an emphasis on the dangerous conditions in the meat packing factories.  Because of the industry's demand for speed, workers are forced to often work faster, which in turn causes many of them to have accidents. Aside from being in danger because of the machinery, the workers often are too busy to prevent manure from contaminating the meat. Consuming contaminated meat can cause many deiseases such as E-coli.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Monica's Blog: Lab # 4: " A COOPERTOP'S LIFE ARTIFACTS " Part I

I like Monica's post because she talks about strategy video games, which I find really interesting.

Monica's Blog: Lab # 4: " A COOPERTOP'S LIFE ARTIFACTS " Part I: " The SIMS ONLINE OR PC GAMES - ..."

Chris: Redoing a Coppertop's Life Artifacts, Typing in CA...

I liked Chris' post because I learned about MSG, also the picture is very funny.

Chris: Redoing a Coppertop's Life Artifacts, Typing in CA...: " Add caption MSG stands for Monosodium glutamate which a flavor enhancer usually added to Chinese food, canned vegetables, soups a..."

Blog 8:

In "Life imitates art as Truman Syndrome" by The Associated Press, we are presented various cases of what some scientists, researchers and health specialists seem to find as an "interesting example of the connection between culture and mental health"

All the cases are related to either technology; The Internet fro example, or to events in popular culture; T.V shows, realities and movies. Being the 1998 film The Truman Show, the most recurrent allusion. Patients believe that their lives are part of a show, and that they are the main characters.

In my opinion, it would be key to understand what Dr. Joel Gold questions in the article: "Is this just a new twist on an old paranoid or grandiose delusion... Or is there sort of a perfect storm of the culture we're in, in which fame holds such a high value?" I believe when he says that in the culture we are living, it has become so important to be famous he is right. As a matter of fact, I think some of the patients described in the article, like the one who showed up in a federal building asking to be released, might have done such things just to have his fifteen minutes of fame.

However, I am sure there are also some cases in which the patients are really trastorned, and are convinced that what they are living is some kind of parallel reality. In this cases I wouldn't blame them, given that I am not even sure of what reality is, maybe it is nothing but a colective fantasy that we have all agreed to call "reality", so that we don't get confused anymore and end up all in the mental health department of some hospital.

In my opinion, and from what we have been able to learn from history, most of the time it is the people who dare to question things, and think different than the masses, the ones that during their times people called crazy, are the ones who years later were proven to be not only right but also way ahead of their times.

In conclusion, I think we shouldn't judge people who think different, those who in our eyes might look "crazy" because in many subjects we don't really know who holds the truth.

One of the things I found more interesting on " The Truman Syndrome" is, how experts try to scientifically explain the behavior of patients who suffer the syndrome". when I believe they, or us humankind don't have a completely 100% accurate concept of what reality is.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Artifact 1

Smartphones, and specially the Blackberry and I-phone have made our lives so artificial, with all their countless applications and functions. Although I find this video to be a very good example of how "artificiality" can be used in a very creative way.
These guys are using an application that lets you play virtual instruments in real time with awesome sound quality, some music purists may argue that they are not really playing but only using a software. Well I think it still takes talent and have some sort of music structure knowledge to be able to play in such a synchronized way...

Artifact 2

Computers are, in my opinion the artifacts that have made our lives more artifficial than any other thing, the number of tasks that we used to do in real life, and now we do by using computers is increasing every day.

Nowadays more and more activities are done by using computers: shopping, sending messages, writing, reading, listening to music, watching TV or movies are only a few examples of things we used to do without the need of a computer. But the most curious example in my opinion, is social networking , this invention has made our lives extremely artifficial, to the point that people no longer call or meet with their friends to know what's going on in their lives.

They just go to their profiles and that's apparently enough to find out how they are doing. I believe social networking is a great tool to help people who are in distant locations keep in touch, but for people or friends who live really close to each other, let's say in the same city, it creates the opposite effect they don't call each other anymore, sometimes they don't hang out as often, they have almost become "virtual friends". 

Artifact 3

Some of the artificial products under the Foods Category are "energy drinks", and Red Bull I think is the most popular. It is said that its ingredients give you more energy, help you stay alert and focus, it "gives you wings" they say. Most of the ingredients Red Bull contains can be found in more natural drinks, like Coffee. It also contains others substances that are being naturally produced by our bodies like Taurine.

Taurine is an amino-acid produced in small amounts by our bodies, and also found in foods like, meat, seafood, fish and eggs. Although Taurine is a benefficial substance, consuming it in excesive amounts could cause serious health complications like, high blood pressure, stroke and seizures.

 Energy drinks are also becoming very popular in bars and clubs, as there are many cocktails that combine them with alcohol . A practice that is not advisable since mixing alcohol with energy drinks, can cause dehydratation and even heart attacks, given that energy drinks act as stimulants, whereas  alcohol is a depressant, so the combination could be dangerous.

I chose it because I believe we shouldn't consume this kind of artificial products, when we could get the same stimulant ingredients in other natural and healthier foods. 

Friday, October 15, 2010

Our "Reality" might only be happening in someone else's mind, maybe we only exist in somebody's thoughts...

In the Simpsons, everytime the show starts when the family sits on the couch, something different happens in every episode. In this particular one, they suggest that the whole universe is inside of homer's head.

I find this theory really interesting, what if we were only real in the thoughts of somebody else? what if the "creator" of the universe is only someone who is dreaming that all of this is happening? I know this might sound a little crazy, but there are some strategy video games tht let you be kind of a "God" where you can control people's lives, send natural disasters.... TO BE CONTINUED

Friday, October 8, 2010

Blog 7: "I Am a Cyborg"

In his article, Clive Thompson gives the word  "cyborg" a different meaning than what I consider a cyborg to be. When I hear the word, I instantly think of  a hybrid between a human being and a robot, but in terms of their physical appearance, a character similar to the ones that we see in Hollywood movies, Robocop for instance. Thompson's definition gives it a completely different connotation, to him a cyborg would be someone who incorporates technology tools into his activities in order to get better results.

The difference between his definition and mine lies on the physical aspect of the word. This being said, I believe I am definitely the kind of "cyborg" that Thompson defines. Although I don't think I take advantage of technology to its full potential.

In the past two decades, scientific and technological inventions have advanced so much that  they have started to transform the world. The way we used to do so many things have changed. Years back we would have to go to a library if we needed to do research for a homework, there was no such a thing as a worldwide network where you could find virtually any information that you could think of from the comfort of home. If we wanted to go somewhere and needed directions we had to get a map, now a GPS can take you anywhere.

Who could have imagined years ago, that today it would be possible to see and talk to a person simultaneously while on the phone, watch a full length movie on the palm of our hands ,or use a blogging website to post our homework? I am a regular user of some of these tools and strongly believe that we should try to learn and adapt to this new devices and technologies which for the majority have made our daily tasks simpler, and more practical.

People who are not willing to learn how to use these tools will not only have a more difficult time than the ones that actually embrace it, but might also be missing out on what I find to be a very interesting period in human history. I read somewhere that technology has advanced more in the last thirty years than in the previous two thousand, this might be a little of an exaggeration but also has a lot of truth in it. We are witnessing some of the greatest technological advances ever created, and should take advantage of it.

However,  technology could also be detrimental if used in an ineffective way. To name just one example, many young people, including myself, spend an excessive amount of time on social networks, a time that could be used more productively by taking advantage of all the information that is at our fingertips.

When I think of how much knowledge we could obtain from all the information that is so easily accessible nowadays, I can't help but think about how less fortunate past generations were in terms of information availability, but still with such limited resources how smart some of them managed to be. Imagine if those people in the past had the opportunity of using today's technological devices and tools.  The things they would have created, Imagine if Einstein or Da Vinci would have been able to live in today's world, would they be "facebooking" every day? I don't think so...

It is likely that in the future, our generation will be seen as a really innovative in terms of technology, and who knows maybe even one that started a whole new technology era. Let's just hope that we put these technological tools to good use and learn to use them in a productive manner.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Brainstorming About Technology

1. Tool: An implement, such as a pair of pliers, screwdriver, hammer, or saw, used to make or repair things
2. Technology: Science and theoretical engineering used in practical applications.
3. Cyborg: A cybernetic organism , a being with both biological and artificial parts.

Robots, Machines

What technologies define your daily life?

Google: To research about things that i need or find interesting. I use it I think everyday
Wikipedia: For historical references of events or characters. A couple of times a week
Netflix: To watch movies. Maybe once a week
Facebook: To "Keep in touch with the people in my life" A.K.A waste my time. A couple of times a week
Cell Phone: Don't use it much, but obviusly to make calls and for texting. Everyday
Credit/Debit Card: Shopping. Quite often
Metrocard: To Commute. Everyday

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Blog 4 Revision

In Plato's "Allegory of the Cave", Socrates discusses with his disciple Glaucon how most people spend their lives in the cave of ignorance, and explains what happens when someone manages to get out of it to see the light of wisdom. Initially it will be really painful for him getting used to seeing this light but, eventually he will realize that it is so much better than living in the darkness seeing nothing but shadows, and would feel the need to go back to the cave to share his experiences with the people that remain there, unfortunately he is misunderstood . The other prisoners say that he came back down without his eyes because he is not able to measure the shadows anymore (even though he doesn't care about this kind of  frivolous honors because he has seen better things) they think that it's not even worth it to think about ascending, and decide that if someone else tries to free another prisoner to lead him up to the light, they will catch and kill him.

Socrates also shows us how the experiences lived in the outside world, by the man who saw the light, made him change the way he thinks and sees his new reality. Now that he has seen the truth, despite the prize he had to pay in order to see it, the last thing he wants is to go back to his old state. He is decided to do whatever it takes, no matter how hard it is, as long as he doesn’t become a prisoner again.


When I try to picture myself in Socrates' scenario, I believe I am just starting to break off the first links of the chain, only at the beginning of a process which will eventually increase its difficulty levels. By describing how painful it was for the man to get accustomed to the light, Socrates is using an analogy  to show us that acquiring knowledge can be a long and frightening process, one that requires a lot of effort and dedication, and is divided in various stages or steps. Right now I am in the early stages of the process, and the first step I am taking  is precisely this that I am doing right now: to be going to college.

If I really want to see the light, which in my case would be getting at least a master's degree, I must realize that, it is not something that can be achieved from one day to the other without trying hard enough and putting in the commitment that is required. I have to understand what getting out of my "comfort zone" means, and that it  is like the word says,  if I am not in a comfort zone, I am going to be somewhere where it is not as comfortable. However, in spite of this I need to keep on trying hard in order to achieve my goals.

I know that there will be situations in which i might feel disappointed for not getting the results I expect. For instance, I am currently taking this math class in which even though I am trying to improve, my grade is still not good enough. However, I still have to face this challenge if I want to get ahead. I believe one of the main reasons why we don't achieve things is because we give up too easily, when we are faced with obstacles. It’s like when people are going on a path towards a goal and then suddenly something, let’s say a rock gets into the way blocking the path, they have two options: A, to face the challenge or B, to give up the goal. Given that it is B the option that requires the least amount of effort and thus the easy way out, most of us would normally pick B.
Another thing that I think hold people back from obtaining our objectives is the fear of failure.
I think there are many good people out there that have a great potential to do things, but we just don’t take the first step towards obtaining them, we just keep waiting for “the right moment”. It seems to be an issue related to self-confidence. Some people think they are not good enough to do certain things, or are too afraid that they are going to be unsuccessful, this reminds me of “Before the Law” by Kafka, a story in which a character has to go trough a door, but is told that if he tries to pass through it, he will only find more and and tougher obstacles to defeat, so he is too scared of trying and spends his entire life thinking if he should or shouldn’t try. When he is really old and about to die, he asks the guardian of the door, how come no one else has ever tried to pass through that door, and the guardian responds that no one else ever tried because that door because it was specifically made for him, and that it is now time to close it.
I wouldn’t want to be this man who never did anything because he thought it was going to be too difficult, I would rather give a try at things without worrying too much because I might fail. Maybe it is not as difficult as it seems, and if it is, well at least I tried. Now this doesn’t mean that I don’t care about failing, but I would rather try and fail than never try anything at all. When a little boy learns to walk he falls many times before actually learning to do it right, likewise if I fail I must have the strength needed to get back up on my feet and keep trying to get better. I shouldn’t be too afraid of failure. As the saying that goes “Success is going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm”.

In order to achieve the goal that I have set for myself, I have to be aware of the difficulties that I may find on my path, and also be willing to overcome them even knowing that it is not going to be easy, like the man who came out from the cave in Plato’s allegory, getting used to seeing the light was really painful for him, but later, when he was able to see how different it was to be in a world of light, he never wanted to go back to darkness. The same applies to me, when I finish my studies and get my degree, I will surely realize that all the effort was worth it.

Blog 6

The relation between Plato's "Allegory of the Cave" and "The Truman Show" is in my opinion quite evident. Both characters struggle to escape from fictitious realities that have been imposed to them. Although I find Truman's case to be much more cruel, considering that his situation is product of  the idea of a completely heartless producer and director. To take someone else's entire life and turn it into an endless reality show for the whole world to consume with monetary porpuses I believe is gruesome... TO BE CONTINUED

Your entry should have a clear beginning (main point or the question you will try to answer), middle (or discussion paragraphs) and end (conclusion or answer to your question).

Friday, October 1, 2010

Blog 5: Reader Response

One thing I did not understand when i read Terrence's blog "The Cave and I" was, how in his first post he had a completely opposite point of view compared to what he wrote in the revised post.

The first time he was writing that he would want to live inside the cave because if he came out society would look at him as someone who doesn't know anything, and he wouldn't like to be rejected by people. The revised post on the other hand talks about how people nowadays live ignoring the truth and they don't want to get out of their comforting illusion, and he says that he would rather face the truth because he wants to know what's out there.

Apparently he changed his mind?

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Blog 4: The Allegory of the Cave

In Plato's "Allegory of the Cave", Socrates discusses with his disciple Glaucon how most people spend their lives in the cave of ignorance, and explains what happens when someone manages to get out of it to see the light of wisdom; at first it will be really painful for him getting used to seeing this light but, eventually he will realize that it is so much better than living in the darkness seeing nothing but shadows, and would feel the need to go back to the cave to share his experiences with the people that remain there, unfortunately he is misunderstood . The other prisoners say that he came back down without his eyes because he is not able to measure the shadows anymore (even though he doesn't care about this kind of  frivolous honors because he has seen better things) they think that it's not even worth it to think about ascending, and decide that if someone else tries to free another prisoner to lead him up to the light, they will catch and kill the "offender". 

Socrates also cites Homer in order to demonstrate how the experiences lived in the outside world, by the man who saw the light made him change the way he thinks:"Better to be the poor servant of a poor master, and to endure anything, rather than think as they do and live after their manner" meaning that he would rather suffer anything than entertain false nations and live such a miserable life.


When I try to picture myself in Socrates' scenario, I believe I am just starting to break off the first links of the chain. When Socrates describes how painful it was for the man to get accustomed to the light, he is using an analogy  to show us that acquiring knowledge can be a long and frightening process, one that requires a lot of effort and dedication, and is divided in various stages or steps. Right now I am only in the early stages of the process, the first step I am taking  is precisely this that I am doing right now: to be going to college. 

If I really want to see the light, which in my case would be getting at least a master's degree, I have to realize that, it is not something that can be achieved from one day to the other without trying hard enough and putting in the commitment that is required, I have to understand what getting out of my "comfort zone" means, and that is like the word says it if I am not in a comfort zone, I am going be somewhere where is not as comfortable but I need to keep on trying hard in order to achieve my goals, because I am sure that at the end of the day when i get there I will see that it was worth it.

Although if I wanted to look at it from a skeptical perspective I would say that there are too many chains in life, the fact that  someone gets out of the cave of ignorance and is now able to see a little, or a lot of the knowledge light, does not necessarily mean that they are going to be completely free, it only means that they are not chained by ignorance anymore but they are now in other "prison-houses". We are part of this pre-established system that will always have some sort of chains that are trying to control us. Being money I believe the one that makes us all slaves, but that would be a different story... 

Blog 3: " Things I Need to Remember When I Write Summaries."

- Read the passage carefully and make sure to understand every idea and how they connect to each other.
- Keep in mind that sometimes I will find a single sentence that could be taken out word by word and used as a summary.
- Include only the most important ideas, no details.
- I shouldn't add any of my thoughts or opinions.

Monday, September 20, 2010

What I need to do to pass the CATW.

In order for me to pass the CATW test i need to:

-Improve my timing (Reading: 20 minutes, Pre-Writing: 10, Writing: 50, Revising: 10).
-Make sure that the essay has a clear thesis. 
-Write in an organized way (Intro, Body, Conclusion). 
-Summarize the passage (Without a summary you will fail).
-Make reference to the author's ideas by using quotations or paraphrasing.
-Expand on the ideas by using details and examples. 
-Learn to use the appropriate transitions to connect ideas. 
-Improve my punctuation.
-Know that there are only 15 kinds of sentences in English and only use those.
-Read a lot so I can enrich my ESL vocabulary and use the correct words in my response.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Blog 1: "Visual Pollution"

             Advertising is definitely  growing out of proportion nowadays, everywhere we look there is an ad for something, not only in the streets or other public spaces but anywhere you can possibly imagine. I can totally identify with the author of "Hype" when he states: "No longer are ads confined to the usual places: buses, billboards, stadiums. Anywhere your eyes can possibly come to rest is now a place that, in corporate America's view, can and ought to be filled with a logo or product message".

            With the intention of selling more of their products, advertising firms try to trick us with their disturbing messages in places that you would have never thought of: "You fill your car with gas, and there's an ad on the nozzle", "A company called VideoCarte installs interactive screens on supermarket carts so that you can see ads while you shop", and here I add the example of NYC yellow cabs, as if it wasn't enough with the ads that they carry on top, now the passenger has to stand a screen showing ads inside of the car too!. It gets really annoying having to deal with all these companies that desperately try to sell  their products and services, and the worst is, that sometimes you can't even try to ignore them because they literally place them right in front of your face. As the author claims: "There is nowhere to run".

            Personally I am tired of marketing companies treeating us like zombies, and trying to convince us that their products are the best in the world. Furthermore I think the majority of today's marketing agencies suffer from a complete lack of creativity; "America's Favorite Pen", "America's Most Trusted Insurance Company", America's Best (Enter any product). Please, can't they come up with something better?, seriously some of these phrases are really old and repetitive.

            I don't mind reading or watching ads that are creative or funny, as a matter of fact I really like some, last week for example, I ran into this really creative ad on YouTube, it is an ad for a brand of correction fluid, in the video a bear tries to attack a hunter and when the hunter tries to defend himself and shoot the bear, the video pauses and they give you different interactive options and ask you what the hunter should do and from there you have the option of deciding what is going to happen next. Those kinds of advertisements I think are not only very creative but could prove to be much more effective, That is the direction I believe marketing companies should follow, they have to realize that the world has changed  and so should change their strategies. It is time to reconsider their strategies and move on to more creative and efficient campaigns instead of keeping on contaminating every single space in our lives with their visual pollution.