All posts by Sasha

The Youth of the 1960s


This past Tuesday was the first time I’ve watched the Graduate . Initially I thought it was simply a romantic comedy from the late 1960s, but after thinking about it further there are many themes throughout the movie that make it ground breaking for this particular era.

The main character Benjamin, a young, innocent man freshly out of college, is exploited and betrayed by Mrs. Robinson, who represents a corrupt and immoral older generation. This is the main theme throughout the film and it really captured the times. The ending seems to represent the younger generation escaping the corruption and immorality of the older generation as the couple fights off the crowd in the church. At this time the Vietnam War was occurring and the anarchic mood of America’s youth was mirrored through the actions of Ben, who at first was confused and then seduced by Mrs. Robinson but later learns his lesson.

Despite what seems to be a happy ending, as Elaine and Ben ride off in a bus, away from their worries, I wasn’t pleased with the ending. While I understand Ben was finding himself, he lost the trust of many people because he slept with Mrs. Robinson. In addition, he is taking away Elaine from all the people that love her and know her.

Advertisements

Is Violence ever the answer?


In light of the many deaths of black lives at the hands of police officers and the rise of racially-charged protests throughout the United States, Ta’Nehisi Coates was invited to speak at Bucknell on February 11th about Barack Obama, Ferguson, and the Evidence of Things Unsaid. Not only was he a great speaker, but also he was not afraid to address the controversies surrounding these issues. Since then, there have been even more brutal deaths, violent and non-violent protests, and even Bucknell’s campus has seen expulsions due to racist comments said on its campus radio.

Just in the last month, the brutal death of Freddie Gray sparked violent protests through Baltimore and carried in to other cities throughout the United States. The protests were met with police tear gas and rubber bullets to suppress the violence and the protestors causing it. The violence was condemned by many a people, however as Mr. Coates points out is “what clearly cannot be said is that violence – like nonviolence – sometimes works.” Beyonce posted a video on her Instagram comparing the Freddie Gray protests to those of the civil rights era in 1968, and the similarities are clearly evident.

Although I’m not an advocating for violence, can it be justified if it creates results? Since Michael Brown’s death in Ferguson there have been numerous deaths of black lives at the hands of Police. As Ta-Nehisi Coates puts it in his articles, “the Civil Rights Bill of 1964 is inseparable from the threat of riots. The housing bill of 1968—the most proactive civil-rights legislation on the books—is a direct response to the riots that swept American cities after King was killed. Violence, lingering on the outside, often backed nonviolence during the civil-rights movement.” The alternative for the peaceful people trying to make a change was Malcolm X. No one wanted to face Malcolm X, so they would comply and make changes. At some point, the situation today compared to that of 1968 isn’t that different, in fact it looks terrifyingly the similar. Even more importantly, Mr. Coates also points out “what cannot be said is that the events of Ferguson do not begin with Michael Brown lying dead in the street but with policies set forth by the Government at every level.” It is well known that policy change in a government such as the United States is usually a long process that takes a long time. Will these violent protests force the Government to make policy changes that suppress institutional racism?

Dinner with Edward Snowden


There are many people with whom I’d like to have dinner. My list includes mostly celebrities and a few politicans. But unlike most of those people, Edward Snowden has been in exile from the United States, so he has been almost inaccessible to the U.S. public. Unlike most of those people, Edward Snowden is considered an enemy of the United States. What I’m most interested in, is what possessed him to leak information about the government. Undoubtably he is a brilliant computer genius and could’ve been really successful, instead he is spending his entire life on the run in between Russia and China.

Our dinner would have to be in one of the few countries that give immunity. First I’d ask him about his current life in comparison to the one he used to live in the United Staes? Has he been able to keep in contact with his family? But then I’d ask the real questions that everyone has been wondering, why did he do it? That would be my first question for him. What was the process that lead up to the point where he decided to leak government information? Does he regret it? There must been so much more to the story than the media lets on. Also, he must have felt like it was his duty to the world…otherwise why else would he give up his entire life in order to publicize this top secret government information?

There is a lot of insight that Snowden could give me that I could otherwise not get from the media and newspapers. It seems that there is a lot that we still do not know as citizens, whether it is our best interest to know about things I don’t know. However, many people felt betrayed after Wikileaks. Edward Snowden could potentially clear this negative image he has during this dinner and I would like to give that chance.

Buying Time


The affects on Climate Change are upon us. Weather as we know it, is only becoming more and more extreme. The rise in temperature globally, even though very incremental, creates detrimental affects that including the melting of polar caps, the rise of sea level, and major natural disasters. Scientists believe that what is happening is inevitable, because we have surpassed almost all of the world’s planetary thresholds. So Mr. Musk, what if we invented something that was able to prevent the increased temperature change on Earth?

I have two suggestions, both of which will either prevent the increase in global temperature change or slow it down. The first is a world wide cooling system that could be created in way that it uses only renewable energy.  In addition, it would strategically be placed so that the wind can carry the cooler air and spread across the globe. Tests would have to be done in order to create a product that is actually successful and doesn’t have adverse side affects.

The second is synthetic molecules that replicate molecules that create the ozone layer, in order to repair the holes in o-zone layer. This would stop the sun’s rays from warming up the global temperature. The combination of these two products could potentially give human more time to create more solutions that can decrease Climate Change. Because we are truly running out of time to find a solution.

This idea isn’t intended to solve the problem of climate change and the many issues surrounding it, but its to buy us time to change our practices in to something more sustainable. It’ll give us time to make the transition from oil and natural gas to electric.

The Commodification of Love


“I fear the day that technology will surpass our human interaction. The world will have a generation of idiots.” Albert Einstein
In a past blog, one writer highlighted the issues of modern relationships in Japan and the U.S.  In Japan they have created cuddle cafes and have prostitution rings to replace what used to be normal relationships. This essentially has commoditized love and the affection that comes along with it. In the United States, we have also drifted towards a similar trend that is based on convenience. The author goes so far to compare online relationships (hook-ups included) to the convenience of fast food.
In many ways, I agree with the author. More developed societies, such as in  Japan and the United States, have placed love and relationships on a lower level of importance and replaced it with using electronics and time spent furthering one’s career. However I don’ think the root of the problem stems from just the extended use of electronics (similar to the quote above) or convenience, rather its a deeper rooted problem
This problem is linked to the competitiveness of capital and allocating your time optimally so that one is most efficient. I think its the idea that people rather work over time to further themselves in their career, then come home to eat dinner with their family. We are taught to be ambitious, learn to make sacrifices, and eventually become successful, but time is a limited commodity. So people have to find a balance between those two. Somewhere in the equation I think the want to go through relationships, the process of getting to know each other, go on dates, and either become successful relationship or break up (it’s only on or the other if you look at it) is lost. It’s too much of an emotional and time commitment, that people forego it all together because they can’t justify the costs. So the creation of online dating is created because people do not time to meet the “good old fashion way,” since they are stuck at their jobs on a Friday night, or they are working too many jobs.
Lastly, I think disagree with the title “Money apparently can buy you happiness” because happiness isn’t what one would feel after leaving a prostitution ring or a cuddle cafe. So money still can’t buy happiness.

3-D Printer Prints 3-D Printer


 

Last Monday, a student at the University of Arizona, St. Louis used a 3-D Printer to print the same 3-D printer. The student, Eric Choe, is a young undergraduate student who spends his Friday Nights at the Architect building. “I didn’t even know you could do this, all I did was put the input from the user manual of the original printer and ta-da. It worked,” said Eric when asked about the event. His mentor, Professor Bobstein, said, “I wasn’t really surprised by this Eric’s discovery, he is a really innovative kid. He is always doing things we wouldn’t think of.”

Since then,, departments at other schools have been trying to use their 3-D printers to print a 3-D printer. Most have been unsuccessful. The conclusion behind the failures is that they don’t have the same brand of 3-D printer as the 3-D printer, Sony’s Print-well Model 743, at UA, St. Louis. So all these departments have returned their printers and purchase Sony’s Print-well Model 743. Sales have gone up from 15 every month, to 200 just this week! Sony is delighted by the attention this event has brought to its product.

The next step is running tests on the new 3-D printed printer and seeing if it can work and print properly. This will involve extensive testing and trials. The final test will be to see if the 3-D printed printer can print a 3-D printer. However the problem lies in whether or not the average initial cost of a 3-D printer is over $50,000, so this could potentially cut the costs into five percent of the price. This may be the future of 3-D printer. It may even drive Sony’s sales to the ground now that everyone may have access to the production of 3-D printers. Only the future will tell!

Stop Feeding Us Lies


As many of you may know, the food products on the shelves of giant supermarkets (Walmart, Target, Weis) are owned by a very small number of companies. General Mills (GM) owns many of our favorite brands: Haagen Dazs, Yoplait, and Cheerios. Since it is well-known brand that we see and eat so often, we are more likely to trust it and associate the name with quality. However this isn’t always the case.

Continue reading Stop Feeding Us Lies

The Art of Storytelling, Like Painting a Picture


Although Daisey wasn’t initially a journalist, he became one once he decide to investigate what happens at Foxconn. He went to a foreign country, interviewed people, and then reported back a story to the public. That is journalism. And Investigative journalism is a daunting task. For one, the journalist must dig really far, including traveling into foreign countries, to find the truth. He or she must then take the ‘factual’ information they found and transform it into something that people will find interesting and want to listen to. These are the sort of pressure Mike Daisey was facing when he decided to twist the truth in This American Life podcast.
Even though This American Life retracted the story about Apple, doesn’t mean that there weren’t facts that went into the story. As is with every sort of published piece of writing, film, or theatre, there is always going to be some subjectivity to it. There is anything that is truly objective. So for anyone to believe that initially about the podcast really needs to reconsider how much they trust everything and see in the media, in magazines, and books. So similar to everything else, Mike Daisey colored this story with his own subjectivity. He really wanted the viewers to grasp what was happening in China and make an impression on them. And as I wrote about in my last blog post, he really was the first person to make an impression on me about Apple and human rights issues. And that was his end goal.
Despite believing that it is okay he twisted reality quite a bit, I do think that this retraction immediately takes his creditability away from his viewers. The average person is going to dismiss everything that was said in that podcast, despite some of it being true. So in the end, he probably made the problem worse by fabricating parts of the story. Did you dismiss everything you heard in the podcast once you heard the retraction? Do you still think that major human rights abuses occur in Foxconn’s facilities?

Whole Foods, Whole Planet, but Half Hearts?


The goal for an employee is to work at a great place, where they are respected and can grow their career. On another level, many people want to work for a company that contributes to society in a positive way. But do those two circumstances happen together? And is a company that respects their employees and builds their community always ethical? There isn’t an exact formula to this question, because it’s complex and circumstantial.

Whole Foods Market has been a highly respected since its start. It prizes itself on being focused on a healthy diet and lifestyle. All employees are benefited with 20% off store purchases, and 30%, if they enroll in a healthy lifestyles program. In addition, employees are given memberships to a gym! They hire a range of employees, with 44% being minorities. In addition, Whole Foods was #55 on Forbes’ List of ‘100 Companies to Work for.” Not only do its employees enjoy working at World Foods, many environmentalists praise it for selling mostly local, sustainable, and humane food. On the whole, most people would agree that Whole Foods respects its employees and also betters the community.

Recently however, it was discovered that Whole Food’s Tilapia is prison –raised in Colorado Correctional Industry’s fish farm. The ethical problem surrounding the prison workers is the lack of labor rights and they are paid a meager $1.50 an hour. the question raised by many stakeholders is this socially responsible of Whole Foods? Also, does this one act make it unethical? In my opinion, Whole Foods is still socially responsible. But this incident definitely shows the true colors of Whole Foods, if they can earn more profit (the tilapia is cheaper to buy) then they will, even if it means they are cutting some ethical corners.

But the real question is how many times can a company cut ethical corners, until it is unethical? Whole Foods never openly stated where the tilapia was from because of loose federal regulation on prison farm products. So the company figured that customers would never hear of the true origins of their tilapia. In addition the company responded to the tilapia issue by stating, “no other national grocery store or fish market has standards like these.” Therefore justifying their actions by showing that although there practices aren’t ethical, they are more ethical than all the other markets. This is similar to Apple stating that although they had labor rights issues, they are better than most other technology companies. Just because one company is ethically better than rest in it’s industry, does that automatically make it an ethical company?

Deception


My father has bought almost every single Apple product since 1982, when he bought the Apple II Series. My very first interactions with technology was all Apple based. I played dozens and dozens of educational games designed for the Apple machines at home. When I had to start writing essays in the 6th grade, I would always end up with an essay full of weird programer language because when I tried to print on Windows Machines at school, they weren’t compatible with the Word I had at home. So indeed, my family has long been part of the Apple cult before Apple was even popular.
So for many years, I didn’t really understand or acknowledge any of the problems associated with Apple and their manufacturing plants. The worst I had heard was in the environmental studies class about how the raw materials in iPhone were very unsustainable. It was until I listened to this podcast did I really become aware of the problems associated with my beautifully sleek, white and gold iPhone that I carry religiously everywhere I go. And even bigger than that, my iPod, my iPad, and my Macbook Pro. It seems that all these electronics I use everyday are tainted with these issues.
Foxconn treats its workers not as people, as means of production. They over work them with long shifts that can reach up to 34 hours. Foxconn also has cafeterias and dormitories. These workers are force to live and breathe Apple (well and other companies). Mike Daisey reported that many workers suffer from major problem brought on by chemical exposure. Some of the workers are very young. In addition, the facility has had an “epidemic” of suicides. That is how miserable the working conditions are. They are physically and mentally taxing. And all of these problems are associated to my laptop, my phone, my tablet, and even the computer I’m writing this on.
Daisey acknowledges that Apple does put some effort into their human rights issues in these plants. They pressure Foxconn to follow a set of ideals and audits them to make sure they are in compliance, which they are always. However it doesn’t seem that ending their relationship with Foxconn is a option. So as a consumer how can I make a difference? Giving up electronics made by Foxconn would also include HP, Samsung, Sony, Lenovo, Dell, Nokia, and Panasonic products. So how can I make a difference without giving electronics entirely?