July 17, 2007

Nickel and Dimed

While I was reading this text, one question never left from my head, “Is this a real poverty that Americans think of?? Maybe this question reflects that I misunderstand the intention of the writer because her adventure was focused on whether or not she “could match income to expenses? rather than poverty itself. As I have not read whole text, it might be too early to conclude something from this text. But I believe life in poverty was the one she assumed when she began her journey. Poverty itself is also the theme of my research paper. The only difference between mine and hers is the place where poverty occurs. But this gives rise to very contrasting results. In one place, people are willing to work for less than $200 per month. In other place, people hesitate to work for more than $200 for a week. Of course, if we consider the price of commodities in two places, this direct comparison may not be appropriate. But to me, the latter life looks much better than the former one because at least, in the latter life, one can have some time to hang out to find a job fitting to his or her taste and don’t need to really appreciate for that. As I mentioned before, I admit that this point is somewhat beyond what the writer tried to say. I know she was curious just about whether or not she “could match income to expenses?. If I read her intention correctly, I would like to say this text is too long for readers to get to the point. Just give me the answer like “it is possible? or “not?. But I already know the answer; it’s possible but not easy (depending on one’s life standard). I can imagine by myself without her help what the life would be like or how I feel from my experience. Even I can make the list of what I should give up under that kind of circumstance (actually the list won’t be long). So, to me, her long description seems to be lavish and appropriate only for her personal diary. If her long description about her journey came from her another intention to raise sympathy about poor “American? people from readers or just to give some information about poor living, I recommend her to get rid of the hypocritical attitude as a scholar even though she denied it in many places in her text by clear sentences and to be faithful to her intention. Anyway it’s quite ironic that the life regarded as poverty by someone can be the dream worthy to risk one’s life to someone who is crossing the border in the desert of Arizona.

July 10, 2007

China’s Big Mac Attack….

This text is quite impressive to me because this may be the portrait of my generation. I remember when I went the Mac Donald for the first time, in my case, not with my parents but with my friends. At that time, I guess I was quite nervous in front of the staff (she was a girl) because not only I had not met with the “fast food culture? before but also I was a teenage boy who just began to know the meaning of the word “girl?. Since then, it has passed more than fifteen years and I become a man who is neither nervous nor timid any more. From this point, the author is right. Mc Donald assimilates into our culture very successfully because I can’t find a boy like whom I was. But I don’t agree with the idea that we made our own “Golden Arches?. Rather than that, I would like to say the success of Mc Donald reflects the inferiority complex we Asians still have toward the Western culture and the pathetic efforts to pursue it. It’s very sad to say that as an Asian but I should admit it. Someone may dispute my argument like this: “Hey! Loser…how do you explain the young generation who take it for granted? Can you say they go to Mc Donald for that?? Then my answer is “Of course not. But they go to another ‘Mc Donald’ for same reason. To them, Mc Donald is too old to satisfy their vanity, too trite to boast their backgrounds, too typical to make them look different from others. Fortunately to them, there has been always something new coming up to quench their thirst toward the ‘Western thing’ such as Star Bucks, Out Back, Louis Vuitton and fancy European cars?. Oops…I’m wrong, Mr. Watson you are right. Mc Donald has “localized? very well, but at the expense of the special something which gave them success in last few decades. From the place where people would show off their social or economic status and satisfy with themselves, they are degraded to the place where poor retiree are killing their time or the place to sell some cheap junk food. If you are brave enough to ignore jeer from other parents, throw your children’s birthday party in Mc Donald. Even if you want, you can’t find the party place any more in Mc Donald. This is what our own “Golden Arches? become. To me, globalization is not that much subtle thing as the author described. It just portrays our vanity and greed to eager ceaselessly for something we don’t have.

June 28, 2007

So what?

“….the reason why the American society is homophobic and gives an inferior and negative reputation is because of traditional gender role…..? I just partly agree with this idea. I believe there is more fundamental thing behind this issue. In my opinion, the major part of the issue is based on the problem of discrimination between major and minor. The standards of separating us from them can be everything. It can be a color of skin, culture, ethnicity, age, job, social class, sexual orientation (as we’ve seen in this text) and so on. If something can work as a criterion which differentiates minor from major, it can be another “homosexuality?. I have seen this kind of arguments many times. Whenever I meet with them, I find some sort of formula. The formula always includes some stereotypes or prejudices social major group have about minor one and media which reinforce and reeducate those stereotypes to public. In addition, there always exists a positive feedback relationship between them. They strengthen each other. Also, in many cases, arguments end in similar conclusion like this. All the problems come from our poor magnanimity or tolerance for something different from us, even though the origins of the poor tolerance are various (in this text the writer pinpoints the cause in traditional gender role). Then I would like to ask this question ‘So what if I don’t want to change my attitude? So what if I don’t like that people and I don’t find any problem in my attitude?’ When I read the title of this text first time, I was able to recall whole formula in an instant. Everything the words “media?, “homophobia? “traditional gender role? fit into my formula perfectly. Then as always I hope I would find some answers and as always I can’t find it.

June 14, 2007

Reflection of the introduction

This text relieved my anxiety about this course. I expected this course would mainly focus on the formal aspects of writing like structure, grammar and so on. As I’m not a native speaker, those things quite burdened me with a fear of ignorance that I’ve never felt. Of course, I can’t deny that those structural parts play an important role but this text gave me a hope for understanding the more fundamental and essential element of writing. That is “Reading the world as a text?. This shifted my paradigm completely. As a scientist, I have known, experienced, even practiced this sort of thing so much but I was not aware that what I did was reading and writing actually. The only difference between what I regarded as writing and science is the fact that I used just different signifiers like numbers, mathematical symbols. Another thing I overlooked is that writing is the process of shaping and refining our interpretations about the world. That’s the thing I realized exactly and so clearly by studying science. Occasionally, I meet with a new concept in a science class which seems to be apprehensible at once and then I feel like I understand it thoroughly. But soon I become to know that it is just a daydream when I try to solve some problems about the concept or to explain it to someone after class. Solving problems is no more than writing if I read the author’s intention correctly. With no exception, I don’t perceive clearly what I misunderstand or what questions I have until I solve problems or explain the unfamiliar concept to someone. Conventional writing also follows same process. While we are writing, our interpretations of the world become to be more organized, shaped, reasonable and logically explained not only to ourselves but also to publics. I don’t expect my poor even pathetic English will improve dramatically through this course, that’s my lifetime task, but I really hope by the end of this course I will be able to have my own framework or way of “reading the world? as the author promised.