Tag Archives: creativity

growing up just the right amount

In a New York Times article about him, Shane Smith, CEO and co-founder of Vice Media, was quoted, saying he wanted to be just like Tom Freston, “Tom Just flies around everywhere, gets to make movies, gets to start TV shows, hang out with cool people and do whatever he wants.” Tom Freston was a top executive at Viacom and was instrumental in the success of MTV and is now an advisor to Vice. Just like Shane Smith, I want to be just like Tom, and since Shane Smith is now just like Tom, I want to be just like Shane Smith for the same reasons he wants to be just like Tom.

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Use Your Body as a Energy Conductor…

The human body, at any given moment, produces energy equivalent to a 100 watt light bulb. -Sebastian Anthony

The discovery of electricity led to the finding of lighting, changed the way our society functioned and thrived. The introduction of this new technology helped change the way we operate at night and later finding how much more productive our society can actually be. Lighting has become so integrated into our lives that we are not trying to find new sources of producing this light at a cheaper cost. In the US and other developed countries, we take lighting for granted and we do not realize how many benefits they are actually provide us. Individuals who live in third world countries or rural communities they do not have the technology, money, and/or infrastructure to actually receive light. Continue reading Use Your Body as a Energy Conductor…

3-D Food Printers: A Delicious Solution

“Imports by airplane have a substantial impact on global warming pollution. In 2005, the import of fruits, nuts, and vegetables into California by airplane released more than 70,000 tons of CO2, which is equivalent to more than 12,000 cars on the road.” according to Food Hub. Rather than reducing the impacts of food transportation, with 3-D printing we could eliminate them.

“Imagine being able to essentially ‘grow’, ‘cook’ or prepare foods without the negative industrial impact – everything from fertilizers to saute pans and even packaging,” says Homaro Cantu, chef and owner of the Moto Restaurant in Chicago, Illinois, who has printed sushi using an ink jet printer. “You can imagine a 3D printer making homemade apple pie without the need for farming the apples, fertilizing, transporting, refrigerating, packaging, fabricating, cooking, serving and the need for all of the materials in these processes like cars, trucks, pans, coolers, etc,” he adds.

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It’s HBO. So Original.

As graduation looms ever closer, I have been searching through various networks, production companies, and cable providers in an attempt to remedy my currently unemployed status. HBO has most definitely been one such network. Over the years, I’ve known high school acquaintances who have gone on to intern at HBO and enjoyed the experience immensely (as noted by never ending Facebook updates and tweets). Even looking further into employee reviews of working a HBO, the company seems to be a fun and creative work place with a level of prestige in the entertainment world.

As of 2011, Business Insider  ranked HBO as the seventh best media company to work for citing that “HBO presents new and exciting challenges for its employees to complete.” More recently, HBO received the seventh place honor for The Most Innovative Company of 2015, according to  Fast Company One of the reasons they have received such recognition is their current project titled HBO NOW, which allows consumers to pay to stream HBO content without having a traditional cable package. The move to reach the enlarging streaming consumer base, makes HBO one of the first television companies to keep up with the digital Jones’s, Netflix and Amazon.

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Whole Foods Investing For The Long Run

Whole Foods is a company that makes social responsibility as big a part of its mission as returns for shareholders. Whole Foods’ mission is “Whole Foods, Whole People, Whole Planet”. The full mission is “Whole Foods – We obtain our products locally and from all over the world, often from small, uniquely dedicated food artisans. Whole people – we recruit the best people we can to become part of our team. We empower them to make their own decisions, creating a respectful workplace where people are treated fairly and are highly motivated to succeed. Whole Planet – we recognize the connection between our lives, our communities and the environment.”

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Transparent: Not Just a Trans Parent

Transparent is the critically acclaimed television show from Amazon about a family whose seventy-year-old father (Jeffrey Tambor) reveals to world that he wants to be a woman. The show perfectly captures the Pfefferman family as the patriarch Mort/Maura transitions into a woman full-time. The eldest daughter Sarah is married with two small children and learns to be truthful with herself as she watches her father do the same. The middle child Josh is a record producer who works at understanding himself and attempts to take life more seriously. The youngest daughter Ali is an incredibly smart woman who can’t seem to figure her life out. The Pfefferman family as well as their respective loved ones and new friends work through everyone’s changes and make the effort to band together through their father’s transition. Having recently binged watched the television show, I can say that Transparent is an important show to watch.

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Lessons in Business from South Park

South Park is a well-known comedy program on Comedy Central intended for mature audiences. The creators of South Park, Matt Stone and Trey Parker, use dark humor, crude language, and a wide-variety of satire in their show which is based off of the adventures of four fourth grade boys who live in a small Colorado town called South Park.

Stone and Parker take pride in their fearlessness to poke fun at any sort of popular topic whether it is a person, place, organization, religion, etc. They have invited disapproval and sometimes courses of legal action from countless entities including the Church of Scientology, the NCAA, the Roman Catholic Church, Canada, Tom Cruise, Martha Stewart, PETA, and the list goes on.

Episode 09 of season 08 is titled “Something Wall Mart This Way Comes.” The “target” of this episode is not surprisingly the multinational retail giant, Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. Stone and Parker have done multiple episodes about corporate America including taking the pro-corporation stance in Season 02, which is controversial considering their studio is located in the overwhelmingly anti-corporation area of Hollywood, California. This episode, however, shows the giant retailer in a more negative light.

The episode begins with excited anticipation from South Park’s citizens as their new Wall Mart is about to open for business. One character says, “It’s like we’re a real town now.” I find this to be one of the most truthful lines of the episode. I have personally measured a town’s “relativity” by how far away they are from the nearest Wal-Mart. I spent my summer playing baseball in a very small town in upstate New York. The town is literally called Boonville. Their nearest Wal-Mart was about 40 miles away which is the first example I would use when trying to convey the middle-of-nowhere-ness to other people.

Continuing with the episode, the people of South Park cannot stop shopping at Wall Mart because of its incredible bargains. One character boasts about having, “Enough bulk Ramen to last 1,000 winters.” One of the boys, Stan Marsh, asks his father, Randy, how Wall Mart is able to sell things for much less than South Park’s local stores. Randy replies, “It’s simple economics son, I don’t understand it at all.” This symbolizes how the average American consumer really does not understand the ins and outs of the corporations at which they shop every day.

Eventually the main street in South Park becomes a ghost-town. All of the local businesses have been forced to close because they cannot compete with the low prices of Wall Mart. The people of South Park, although hopelessly addicted to shopping at the Wall Mart which is now being portrayed with dark, ominous clouds and flashes of lightning combined with typical evil-sounding music, realize that the store needs to be stopped. They have a town meeting and agree to discontinue shopping at Wall Mart; however they cannot resist the calling of wondrous bargains from the Wall Mart which has seemed to develop its own eerie persona. Follow the link to view the clip from the episode to see how the people of South Park just cannot resist shopping at Wall Mart (could not embed video).

“Well where else was I supposed to get a napkin dispenser at 9:30 at night?” This line perfectly sums up how people think of Wal-Mart as well as how Wal-Mart wants to be thought of by people. After the town burns down the Wall Mart, another one is rebuilt and opened the very next day. The boys are determined to stop the powerful retailer and embark on an adventure to Wall Mart’s headquarters in Arkansas. Meanwhile, Randy quit his job as a geologist to become a store clerk at Wall Mart in order to receive the 10% employee discount.

The boys learn from a disheveled and regretful Wall Mart President that only way the Wall Mart can be stopped is to destroy its heart. Many have attempted this feat but no one has ever been able to restrain themselves from the amazing deals long enough to accomplish the task. Determined more than ever, the boys set out to destroy the Wall Mart in South Park. In their journey to find the heart of Wall Mart, they are ambushed with slashed prices and unbelievable deals. Miraculously, the boys find the location of the heart which is just past a huge sale for plasma screen TVs. In a dramatic unveiling process, it is revealed that the heart of the Wall Mart is simply a mirror. The true heart of the Wall Mart is the consumer. It is desire. The Wall Mart can take many forms, whether it be Target, K-mart, or even Amazon, but it is the consumer who ultimately breaths life into the giant retailer.

The message(s) in this episode could not be clearer. Many people do not support large corporations like Wal-Mart because they force smaller local shops out of business. But Wal-Mart could not have become the super power that it is without the average consumer. If they have grown from one store to become the largest retailer in the world, and people continue to flood the store, then they must be doing something right. After all, the true heart of Wal-Mart is the consumer. Their goal is not to bankrupt small businesses across the country. They simply give the consumer what they want which is an opportunity to consume while also being able to stretch their income. At the end of the episode, Randy says, “The Wall Mart is us. If we like our small-town charm more than the big corporate bullies, we all have to be willing to pay a little bit more.” This is essentially a play on Adam Smith’s Invisible Hand as the town is not suggesting government intervention; rather they suggest letting the free market system work and guide itself.

If you are like me and enjoy comedic satire then I strongly suggest watching this episode of South Park if you have not already. For another take on American capitalism, I suggest “Gnomes” which is season 02 episode 17. In this episode, Stone and Parker defend capitalism when a large coffee chain called Harbucks enters the town and threatens to put the local Tweak Bros. coffee shop out of business. For more on the actual application of South Park lessons, visit this link which is an article written by Paul A. Cantor, an English professor at the University of Virginia, who uses South Park in his lectures.

The clip from the episode can be found here

The featured image can be found here

Here is an actual embedded clip (Jordi)


Painting A Picture: Art, Journalism, & Truth

Listening to the retraction from This American Life, I was annoyed as I listened to Mike Daisy squirm under the questions of Rob Schmitz and Ira Glass. It was as if a child was caught stealing from a cookie jar and was trying to justify why he still deserved the cookie, or why his work should still be deemed credible. He was clearly uncomfortable during both interviews and rightfully so in my opinion. Daisy’s believes his lies are the truth and that it’s okay because his show was about making people care. This irritated me. Lies are lies and they should not be displayed to others as the truth. Continue reading Painting A Picture: Art, Journalism, & Truth

There is More to Life than Apple

Before addressing the literal problem that Mike Daisey poses in This American Life’s show “Mr. Daisey and Apple”, I want to draw attention to and applaud the method that he used to present his findings: storytelling. If a person were to sit in front of a computer screen and listen to an hour-long recording about labor issues in foreign countries, I don’t think that person would be able to pay attention for the full hour or be able to recount much of the information that person heard. By presenting his findings in the form of a dramatic story, Mike Daisy holds the listener’s attention, helps the listener remember some key details of his findings and even “tricks” the listener into caring about the actors in the story and therefore the larger problem at hand. This piece of media demonstrates the power of storytelling in our society as a mode of communication.

Since listening to this show, I have read on This American Life’s website that they retracted this episode because a number of parts had been fabricated by Daisey. Some of these false claims included some characters that he claimed to have spoken with in or outside factories. On the site, they quote Daisey saying, “I’m not going to say that I didn’t take a few shortcuts in my passion to be heard. My mistake, the mistake I truly regret, is that I had it on your show as journalism, and it’s not journalism. It’s theater.” I think Daisey made a good point in this quote he gave to This American Life. He meant to develop this story and highlight the problems at hand as a work of art. Indeed, it should not have been presented as a work of journalism, but instead as a piece of entertainment meant to highlight an important issue in our globalized work. If Daisey’s intentions were clear to the listener at the outset of the piece, I think it would have been fine to air as is.

Moving to the substance of the show, I want to start with Ira Glass establishing the main question at hand by asking, “Should we feel weird about the computers and phones we use, all the clothes that we wear, that are made in faraway factories in Asia, under harsh working conditions? Leaving Mike Daisey aside for a second, that’s the question that all this raises, right?” I don’t know the answer to this question and I will not pretend like I know the answer to this question. The only way I hope to answer this question is to ask more questions: Do we care? Do we care enough to do something? What can we do? What effects and implications does taking action have? Will prices rise for consumers? Will this stimulate the Chinese Economy as well as other economies?

I understand why Mike Daisey chose Apple as a case study for the larger problem of largely unchecked labor in foreign countries. As he explains, he has long been a super fan of everything Apple. One strategy may be to attack one of the biggest and most relevant companies in the world in order to make an example out of them. However, perhaps another angle could be to go after the thousands of other smaller companies who create similar problems with labor in foreign countries. Instead of going after a company like Apple that has the best lawyers and lobbyists money can buy, why not go after smaller players? I assume Apple would chip in to help these companies, but this could be an additional strategy. If this is a problem that people actually care about then different strategies should be explored.

BedZED Logic

After reviewing past blogs, I discovered the post in regards to a “Pledge for Better Public Transportation.” The reason this article resonated with me was because recently, in my sustainable building design course, the topics of transportation, pollution, and ethics have been frequently discussed amongst peers in my environmental connections class. The “Pledge for Better Public Transportation” blog brought up the point that “we opt to waste our own time and gas rather than to save energy and time”. After discussing this issue, my sustainable design class was tasked to research sustainable options for reducing pollution; one of the main ways to reduce pollution and transportation issues is to better support and improve public transport, such as buses and subways. Furthermore, supporting healthier means of transport such as walking or biking is an additional way to help improve our current pollution problem.

So, how can we design communities to promote transportation and living styles that positively impact our environment? One of the most unique ways to address our negative impacts on the environment is by developing eco-communities that are close to reaching a net zero impact. The United Kingdom built an ideal sustainable community called BedZed in 2002. This BedZed community is well known for their innovative design in regards to sustainable and affordable car use as well as promoting healthier transport. The community reduces the need to commute by providing residents with the opportunity to live and work on site. Additionally, the community promotes alternative methods of transport like walking, bicycling, and public transport. For those residents who wish to still have their own car, BedZed encourages the use of electric cars, a car pool system, and reduce the amount of parking spaces available on the site.

Our society needs to work on our footprint in order to help create a better world for future generations. Sustainable design can help create better public transport and living styles to help reduce our impact on the environment. I determined that if every person were to live like me, then we would need 6.6 planets to provide enough resources. What’s your ecological footprint? To find out, click here.