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..."