Unrelated Thoughts

Monday, March 13, 2006

When are you poor?

Two weeks ago I’ve had the opportunity to start reading this excellent blog, View from the Sidewalk, which provides the world with a unique perspective on the homeless problem: that of someone who is currently homeless. And this fired on my brain a question that I cannot answer yet: when are you poor?

I mean, in Spanish we translate poor as “pobre”, and also translate homeless as “pobre” (although a literal translation would be “sin hogar”, but since this is a two-word phrase, we still prefer “pobre” for daily speech). And that makes sense for us, since people who are poor usually don’t own masonry houses, i.e., they’re homeless.

Last time I checked the Peruvian economical info at the CIA World Factbook, I found that 54% of the population live bellow the poverty line, meaning that more than 14 million people is poor, at least according to the World Bank definition. 14 million people living with less than 2 USD a day! 60 USD (6000 yen) a month!

I think I’d feel poor even earning much higher figures than those…

Most of Peruvian poor people live in the Andes. They have a small space they call their land, where they farm potatoes, corn, etc., and they also have some few animals, cows, chickens, pigs, etc., which they milk or otherwise eat. They don’t sell much of their crops because they need them to eat and survive and because when they do they don’t get much money for them (remember: less than 60 USD a month!). They don’t have a TV, they don't know DVD, they don’t go to the doctor, and most of them don’t know how to read. But they’re somehow happy.

I’m not trying to say that since they’re happy we shouldn’t try to reduce poverty. We should keep fighting! But I want to focus on how they’re used to it, know how to live with it and don’t expect much more. And I ask myself if I would be that happy living with just 60 USD a month.

Of course not! I’d be crazy living on just 1000 USD a month!

And that’s why I cannot answer that question: “when are you poor?” Michael Brown, the homeless guy writing the aforementioned blog, is lucky because he has a job (a low wage job, but a job nevertheless), he’s educated, he’s a computer literate, he knows he has rights, and he’s fighting to overcome homelessness. For me, he’s not “pobre”.

I suppose each of us has his and her own poverty line. I mean, maybe I could overcome living even on just 500 USD a month, but I know many other people who couldn’t. They’d feel defenseless and worn out. Maybe being poor is just a state of mind, if you feel that you can survive and that you can overturn your condition, then you’re not poor. If you feel happy, then you’re not poor.

I think that’s the answer. You’re poor when you feel poor.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

I-Pod Pro 2005 XP (Human Ear Professional Edition)

What do you think about the packaging design by Apple? Do you really care about it? I mean, do you keep the box for any reason? Apparently Apple consumers do, so they love the metrosexual packaging that comes with their products.

I actually don't care that much, but I must accept that Apple's visual is by far cleaner and with a greater attention to detail than Microsoft's. And apparently some people at Microsft think the same.

The following video was prepared by some guys at the Microsoft Marketing Department for an internal meeting with their designers. I think they hate their marketing guidelines!