Archive for September, 2006

Is Starbucks globalization?

For the sake of argument I’ve decided to make a post in response to Brian’s post on how Starbucks is not globalization. First of all I agree with many of the points made by Brian so this is not taking the completely opposite view but maybe more of a middle ground.

The first point Brian makes is the comparison between Starbucks and McDonalds by saying that although there was coffee and coffeehouses before Starbucks, McDonalds was a revolutionary in its field with food production and service. Although this is very true of McDonalds, Starbucks is not just another coffeshop. What makes Starbucks stand above other cafes? Starbucks in the spirit of competitiveness raised their game; the staff training, the standard of cleanliness, and product freshness has prompted other cafes to raise their standards. As mentioned in the article in First Post, Starbucks was also in innovator in “comfy armchairs, mood music, heat sleeves on paper cups, frappucinos”. Now I don’t know for sure what cafes were like 20 years ago so its hard to know how much Starbucks has really revolutionized the cafe but if any of the articles I’ve read are an indication they have changed it a lot.

The success of Starbucks is sort of based on globalizations ideas. In 1982, Howard Schultz joined the company and after a trip to Milan, he suggested that the company sell coffee and espresso drinks as well as beans. Starbucks started out strictly as a place that sold coffee beans but because of the idea of one man who went on a trip to Milan we now have Starbucks restuarants. The reason why we have all those crazy sounding that come in tall, grande, and venti is because one person took the ideas from Italian cafes and implemented them in America.

Starbucks itself also engages in fair trade coffee which is helping developing countries and in effect spreading globalization. Don’t forget either about the Starbucks that have made their way into bookstores and even the more recent creation of Starbucks Entertainment, yes folks Starbucks is involved in the film industry. So even though Starbucks has had a much greater effect on American culture than anywhere else in the world perhaps we need to give it more time and in the future Starbucks will fit the definition of globalization better.

Brian has made many good points and I do agree that McDonalds is driving the “globalization bus” but we need to give Starbucks its credit. Its representation of globalization may be vastly over blown but that is mainly because of ignorance or misinformation. The anti-globalization community sees Starbucks as a greedy corporation seeking to spread American culture and dominance in the world and monopolize the coffeehouse market in the US. So until people are actually well informed, Starbucks will be the big representation of globalization despite the fact that it is really just “sitting on the globalization bus”.


The Globalization Gods Must Be Laughing (Part 2)

You might notice a distinct difference between this post and the last, the fact that I can use upper case and exclamation points!!! is really nice. No my computer woes haven’t been solved, I’ve just come up with a temporary fix by using an external keyboard.

So picking up from where I left off yesterday…I went to bed and had crazy dreams about the vietnam war/revolutionary war/competing against Conan O’Brien in a game on his show, but that isn’t really the point of this post…

This morning I went to the TAC where they fiddled around with my computer but had no luck fixing it. They recommended that I call Toshiba to find a authorized dealer who could fix the hardware. I spent most of the rest of my morning (in between classes) trying to figure out exactly what to do. I called the Toshiba helpline and with my serial number and reference number in hand I was connected to a representative. We discussed the numerous ways (thankfully covered under my warranty) that I could have my laptop fixed. She first recommended the closest authorized dealership, which was located all the way in Fairfax, and see how long that they would take to fix it. Secondly she recommended taking it to a UPS store and it would be fixed in 7-10 days. “7-10 days” I thought, I definitely cannot be without a computer that long. Lastly she recommended taking it back to the store where I purchased it, sadly though NJ is just a little too far away at the moment.

So there I was with a computer dilemma but with no clear solution. Could I get one of my friends to drive me to Fairfax? No, that would be mean. Or should I use the awesomeness that is globalization and take it to an UPS store? Of course for research purposes I decided on the latter. Let me break it down for you, after calling Toshiba for the third time and repeating that same stuff for the third time (someone needs to work on work flow there) I was finally connected to the person I needed to talk to. Of course I was curious just exactly how this process worked and if Friedman really made it is as simple as it sounded. So after describing my predicament to the Toshiba support representative he created a case number for me (the 4th one I have had since calling Toshiba) and an order number to use at the UPS store. Take note that before going to any UPS store you need to have an order number directly from Toshiba and make sure the UPS store you are taking it to works in conjunction with Toshiba because not any old UPS store will do. Again I asked how many days it will take for it to be repaired and again 7-10 business days was the answer I recieved, a little to my dissapointment. The best thing to come out of this though is that I don’t actually need to go back to the store to pick it up, they will mail it to me here at Mary Wash. In addition I can track the progress of the package online using the number given to me, so now I can closely monitor the exact location of my package (a feature that I have utilized while waiting for packages to arrive) which keeps me happy.

I have everything I need to take it to the UPS store and now its just a matter of when I should I do it and how I will get there. I think my best bet is taking it in right before fall break so that I will not be stranded without a computer when class is in session. Stay tuned for a part 3 in the adventure of “Getting my Toshiba fixed via Globalization”! …And honestly, I should get extra credit for sacrificing my laptop in the name of globalization but thats just my opinion.

the globalization gods must be laughing

so if you are wondering already why everything is in lower case, its because my shift keys don’t work, neither of them. i could take the time to stop and use the CAPS LOCK everytime i needed to but right now i don’t have the patience.

in a sort of a weird irony my toshiba laptop has decided not to work and it actually started in todays class. do you think its possible that my computer has it out for me[insert question mark] so in my adventure to fix my laptop i’ve been through every process known to man to try and fix it even entering parts of my computer i didn’t even know existed. admitting defeat i called the TAC to help me with my problem, after a few simple questions the girl said she probably needed to look at it. so i walked down to the TAC and after a few minutes the girl admitted to defeat also, saying it was one of the weirdest things she had seen. she asked me to come back tommorrow when more qualified people would be in, i thanked her for her help and sulked all the way back to my room. how can i function without a shift key…see i can’t even add question marks…or add exclamation points for that matter, so really you don’t even know how angry i am.

of course i can not wait until tommorrow so i called the toshiba helpline myself and after a few minutes waiting for a representative to help me i was sure she would have the answer to my problem. sadly though she could not help me [we tried 2 things, the first did nothing and the other thing, well i had already tried that] and said that it could be a virus or something wrong with the actual keys, so here i am.

tommorrow i plan to take it back to the TAC and see if they can do anything, if not it looks like i might have to send it out for repairs. and if you remember from class discussion today toshiba uses UPS to actually cut out the middle man, so in a curious twist of fate that same exact thing i mentioned in class today could be happening to me tommorrow.

its hard to escape globalization

Globalization meets History

Globalization meets History

Originally uploaded by deer_smacker.

It was hard finding a picture to depict globalization because globalization entails so much. But I chose this picture because it blends the old and the new. This photo was taken in Vienna a city often associated with its old world style and beauty. In the foreground we see a statue that represents this old world Vienna and in the background we see Starbucks Coffee shop. Globalization right now is trying to blend the old with the new (atleast culturally) so I think the photo does a good job of representing that.

The Diabetes Express

In the September 13th edition of the New York Times there was an article on the diabetes epidemic that is effecting the world, mainly developing countries. India was the main focus of the piece entitled, “Modern Ways Open India’s Doors to Diabetes”(by N.R. Kleinfeld), and it is clear that globalization is one of the lead causes of this increase in diabetes throughout developing countries

Often called the disease of development, diabetes(mainly type 2) is spreading rapidly throughout nations that are industrializing and taking on western eating habits. The reason why India is so affected by diabetes is “…Indians have such a pronounced genetic vulnerability to the disease, they ten to contract it 10 years earlier than people in developed countries. It is because India is so youthful – half the population is under 25 – that the future of diabetes is so chilling.” It is a scary truth considering that we are now becoming so dependent on India for a lot of jobs that if major parts of the population are being struck by this disease it could have an effect on us. Considering that most of the jobs outsourced to India are jobs that require a person to sit at a computer all day and in a market where competition is high for those jobs Indians are going to work hard to keep their job, putting in even more time sitting in front of a computer. So if all the excercise is they are getting during the day is moving their fingers over a keyboard its no wonder why obesity is on the rise which of course directly links to diabetes.

There are many treatments for diabetes that can help people live normal lives but in developing countries like India they are often uneducated about diabetes. In addition “Few in India have health insurance, and among those who do, policies generally do not cover diabetes. Middle-class diabetics often exhaust a quarter or more of their income on medications and care.” Out of the 1.1 billion people living in India 35 million people in India have diabetes and that number is expected to grow to about 75 million in 20 years. This epidemic is not only confined to India but many other developing nations where fried and processed food has made its way into the diets of the people. People also remain very uneducated about this disease and often buy into folklore and other witchcraft that does nothing to cure the disease.

It will be hard to break the trend especially considering cultural influences of India and many other developing countries. For a long time being overweight was considered a sign of prosperity because it meant you had enough money to feed yourself but now with that more unhealthy(but really good tasting) options are available to these countries it is no wonder why the world is gaining too much weight. In addition “sweets are obligatory at social occasions – birthdays, office parties, mourning observances for the dead – and during any visit to someon’s home, a signal of how welcome the visitors are and that God is present.” These cultural influences are only accelerating the problem even further. Since I am on the topic of culture and social influences there are also social consequences of diabetes. Marriage by itself is already hard enough (or so I am told) but when you add in a chronic disease and often financial problems that comes with diabetes India has seen an increase in divorce. Woman are being stigmatized by this disease often having to marry into a lower caste and men are an experiencing an increase in impotence.

Developing nations are now a land of stark contrast where people are either suffering from AIDS or malaria that leaves the victims in an unspeakably weak and diminished state or they are suffering from diabetes because of obesity. And according the United Nations, there are more people are overweight than undernourished in the world. Its almost unbelieveable to think that this statement is true, is this where progress is really leading us?

Our obesity epidemic in America has started to spill over into other countries, of course this is not completely our fault but it is true that many countries are trying to be like us. But developing nations have the misfortune of not being us (not that we are doing much better at curving diabetes or obesity) because they don’t have the resources or the money to deal with the diabetes epidemic. Add to that the fact that they already have a genetic prediposition of getting diabetes and you have a powder keg(full of sugar) that has exploded in these developing nations.

So anyway you look at it you can’t ignore the health problems that globalization has caused, now if we could just get Richard Simmons to go over to these developing countries I think the world would be a better place. 🙂

Being stalked from India

A few weeks ago while sitting at home I had an encounter with globalization.

The phone rang and I picked it up, the first thing I noticed was the fuzzy line connection.

A man with a distinctive Indian accent (who insisted on calling me ma’m) was trying to convince me to subscribe DirectTV. He launched into a description of why I should get DirectTV and the benefits. I finally said that my mom was not home and there was silence. “Well how old are you?”, he asked. “18”, I replied and obviously that was the green light to keep talking to me. I stupidly gave him my first name and he continued to ask me questions like what I liked to watch and at some point we got into an akward conversation about the Playboy Channel which I quickly tried to steer him away from. He then told me how old he was (20) and that I had a really nice voice and I wondered how many people he had told that, today.

We finally reached the end of our conversation (which lasted about 15-20 minutes) and he said I should pass this information on to my mother and he left his number and he said he would call back later when my mom was home…and oh ya his name? John Smith. I hung up the phone and started to laugh, ya sure…John Smith.

I thought that was the end of my conrversation with John Smith but he called back again and again and again. I was being stalked by a man from India. I started making my brother answer the phone, fearing my stalker from India was calling again. A few days later the phone calls finally stopped when my mom said no she was not interested. I breathed a sign of relief and no longer had to worry when the phone rang that it might be my Indian stalker.

I have learned a lesson from this, globalization has made stalking even from India possible and that is a scary thing.

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