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?