Review Of “Black Gold” By Mark James Francis & Nick Francis University Essay Example

Black Gold is a documentary released in 2006 that deals with a non-evident but the extremely crucial problem the world faces today. The film is about coffee production with a special focus on the position of farmers in Ethiopia, which is the birthplace of coffee that produces the most high-quality beans. Throughout the whole movie, the audience sees Tadesse Meskela, who is the representative of the Oromia Coffee Farmers Cooperative Union, which unites seventy-four cooperatives in Southern Ethiopia (M. J. Francis & N. Francis, 2006). Mr. Meskela’s stories about Ethiopian farmers help the audience realize that despite great amounts of coffee export, people there live below the poverty line because of the low wages.

The film reveals several interesting facts about coffee. Thus, coffee is the second commodity that is most actively traded since its sales increased more than fifty billion dollars since 1990 (M. J. Francis & N. Francis, 2006). At the same time, workers in Ethiopia get almost no money for harvesting coffee beans. That is why Mr. Meskela tries to look for buyers worldwide to establish a fair price for the coffee beans and help Ethiopian farmers get higher wages. He states that many middlemen establish unreasonably high coffee prices, and that is why it is important to sell it straightly to buyers. Mr. Meskela considers that it is the consumers who will help in establishing fair wages for the farmers who harvest coffee beans (M. J. Francis & N. Francis, 2006). People should understand that the farmers who are the main coffee suppliers get almost no money for their job, and the major revenue comes from the companies that buy the coffee beans. This problem may be solved only after it is commonly acknowledged, and more people are aware of its existence.

Black Gold openly displays the coffee-making process demonstrating every step of it. The authors probably tried to show how tiring this job is for Ethiopian workers and that the great efforts they make are not fairly paid since they get less than fifty cents per day. As a result, the workers are not able to provide themselves and their children with better living conditions such as good food, houses, or education. It is called a vicious circle of poverty, and the state of poor people does not improve. It happens because they “do not have the ability – by themselves – to get out of the mess” (Sachs, 2005, p 6). Sixty-seven percent of Ethiopian export revenues come from coffee, and millions of people depend on the industry. The film constantly switches locations from coffee plantations and people who work there in extreme poverty to high-end coffee exhibitions or barista competitions in developed countries. People who participate in the latter activities often have no idea of what the process of harvesting and sorting coffee beans looks like, how many people depend on them, and how low their wages are.

At the end of the film, the authors demonstrate the WTO conference in Mexico where the ministers of trade of African countries were either excluded from negotiations or forced to agree with unfair measures. As a result, people in Africa faced famine, and many coffee farmers in Ethiopia started to replace their coffee plantations with chad, a narcotic plant, the price of which is higher than the one of coffee. Finally, the authors give statistics that if Africa’s share in the international trade increases by one percent, it gives the continent five times more revenue than it currently receives in humanitarian aid. Thus, the international community should help African people to break this vicious circle of poverty by paying them more for their hard work at coffee fields.

The film displays one of the crucial problems of the modern world, which is the extreme poverty in third world countries. The example of Ethiopian farmers who grow coffee beans is not the only one that exists today. The situation when people in Ethiopia started to substitute coffee fields with chad plantations may be regarded as a prerequisite for a severe economic crisis similar to the one in Nicaragua in 2001. The coffee crisis in Nicaragua was caused by the bankruptcy of the coffee farms that provoked the growth of the unemployment rate. Labor and finance sectors in Nicaragua were “disproportionally dependent upon revenues from coffee”, and that is why the crisis was so destructive for the country’s economy (Jackles et al., 2014, p. 3). The situation with chad in Ethiopia may be considered an attempt to gain more revenue and improve the living conditions of the citizens because it costs more than coffee. However, this measure does not solve the problem of poverty in the country since it is impossible to build a strong economy by selling a narcotic plant that is officially banned in many countries.

It will be better to look at the Fair Trade program, which was several times mentioned by Mr. Meskela when he spoke about coffee prices and raising customers’ awareness about their formation. Fair Trade targets giving the disadvantaged producers a chance “increase their control over their own future, have fair and just return for their work” (Murray et al., 2003, p. 1). Though Fair Trade may be unable to completely solve the problem of poverty in the countries of Africa or Latin America, it gives the poor producers of such goods as coffee or bananas avoid additional margins from the part of the middlemen. As a result, people will get more money for their job, and the level of their economic stability will rise. In that case, they will be able to, at least, give their children proper education. It contributes to “a better distribution of the aggregate national income among different people (Sen, 2003, 55). Thus, the Fair Trade program is a good way for people who live in developing countries to, finally, increase their countries’ share in international trade and improve the domestic economic situation.

Taking into account everything mentioned above, it is possible to conclude that the film Black Gold by Mark James Francis and Nick Francis is more than just a documentary about the process of coffee harvesting. It presents a well-described portrait of the coffee industry with all the steps from fields in Ethiopia to the barista competitions in the West countries. The film displays the inequality of the modern world where people who do the major part of the job, such as collecting and sorting coffee beans, get less money than those who distribute the final product. Black Gold also evokes sympathy towards Ethiopian workers since it shows the parts of their daily lives, and people see that they face famine, poor living conditions, and a great amount of hard work. The film helps in raising public awareness of the fact that though the developing countries depend on humanitarian aid from other countries, it is far better if their share in the international trade grows.

References

Francis, M. J. & Francis, N. (2006). Black Gold. [Film]. Speakit Films.

Jackles, S. C., Jackles, C. F., Vallejos, C. & Marsolek, M. (2014). Coffee for justice. Fordham Scholarship Online. Web.

Murray, D., Raynolds, L. T. & Taylor, P. L. (2003). One cup at a time: poverty alleviation and fair trade coffee in Latin America. Colorado State University. Web.

Sachs, J. D. (2005). The end of poverty. Economic possibilities for our time. The Penguin Press.

Sen, A. (2003). Development as capability expansion. Harvard University. Web.

Nissan’s Cogent: The Co-Development Regeneration Tool

Cross-Functional Teams

Cross-Functional Teams are characterized by diversity in participants’ functions, complex and efficient reporting systems, and more efficient time management. These teams are built of members that specialize in different disciplines and, regarding their specialization, provide different functions in the team, yet the actions of every specialist are dedicated to reaching one common goal. Important to mention that there is an issue that it causes – it is difficult to build a unified management for these teams. It is rare to see a leader in them. Yet, there is a solution – some organizations attach such teams to multiple managers within an organization, depending on the specializations adopted by the members of a team.

Cross-Functional Teams are especially beneficial in terms of working on projects. The diversity that is present in such teams allows them to gather all the resources needed to complete a project in one place, making them communicate and work with each other, which eventually gives better performance. CFTs are able to analyze a wider range of information to be considered when planning a project, which helps them consider more factors and make better decisions. Not only the information gained by such teams is wider, but it is also deeper and more precise.

Strategy Alignment

Strategy Alignment is a set of methods and mechanisms that allows an organization better understand the correlation between its different parts, processes, and strategies. Understanding this helps an organization build a better infrastructure with efficient relationships between different parts of it.

Strategy Alignment helps an organization reach a common goal. The management, the employees, the stakeholders – all get aligned to the common purpose of the organization. This means that whatever tasks they are completing in the organization, they always have to consider the general purpose of their job.

For Nissan, this method would be very useful as they were trying to reach similar goals with Cogent. Strategy Alignment also helps to organize and optimize the relationships between different parts of the company, or as in the case with Nissan, different parties from different organizations.

Key Learning Points

Using Cogent results in better time and finance management as issues are easier to be resolved in the pre-development stage.

Cogent helps to make communication between parties that affect the development of a product improve, which gives a lot of benefits.

When suppliers are aligned with the processes of other parties, it helps reduce the number of changes needed to implement, increases the quality, and the development becomes cheaper.

Helps evaluate suppliers in terms of what they are capable of (QCDDM). Evaluating suppliers helps to provide the suppliers with the support they need and helps them understand if they are not capable of meeting the requirements.

Advantages of building Cross-Functional Teams in terms of economy of resources and time.

Advantages of Strategy And Process Alignment in terms of optimization of the infrastructure of companies or cooperating parties.

Future Recommendations

Cogent should be modified based on the new conditions, and also, it could be much more detailed in terms of work with suppliers, getting more engaged in their internal processes.

Different strategies should be adopted as one could be used in a specific situation and could be unusable in the other one; therefore, having various methods in the arsenal is the key to performance.

Technological guidance and assistance between parties would enhance the processes of developing and manufacturing products. If suppliers had a better understanding of the manufacturing processes at Nissan, they would be able to provide supplies of higher quality, considering the technological aspects.

References

Anon. (1999) Nissan’s cogent: the co-development regeneration tool. [DVD]

Simsarian Webber, S. (2002). Leadership and trust facilitating cross‐functional team success. Journal of Management Development, 21(3), 201–214.

Morrison, E.D., Ghose, A.K., Dam, H.K., Hinge, K.G., Hoesch-Klohe, K. (2012). Strategic Alignment of Business Processes. In: , et al. Service-Oriented Computing – ICSOC 2011 Workshops. ICSOC 2011. Lecture Notes in Computer Science, vol 7221. Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg.

Hyperthymesia In Borges’ “Funes The Memorious”

Introduction

Highly Superior Autobiographical Memory (HSAM) or Hyperthymesia is a syndrome in which a person remembers a high amount of information about their own life with amazing accuracy. With this personality syndrome, it is common to focus on constant reflections on one’s past and recall detailed descriptions of any moment of one’s life (LePort et al., 2017). As of 2014, LePort et al. (2017) identified about 50 people with hyperthymesia by examining hundreds of referrals (LePort et al., 2017). Highly Superior Autobiographical Memory is an object of interest for doctors, psychologists, and scientists and attracts writers and writers. Such cases are often used in popular culture, as they describe an unusual phenomenon for human memory and consciousness. One of the most famous works in the literature on this subject is the short story “Funes the Memorious” by Jorge Luis Borges, which has both authentic and fictional elements of the clinical picture of hyperthymesia.

“Funes the Memorious” is an example of a Highly Superior Autobiographical Memory

In the short story “Funes the Memorious,” Borges describes meeting Ireneo Funnes, an Uruguay teenager with exceptional cognitive abilities. He remembers with precision almost every day of his life; in a few days, he masters Latin perfectly, memorizes many scientific facts, and also entertains himself with strange mental projects (Borges). The author talks to the main character about his projects, marveling at how a brilliant teenager is doomed to waste his intellectual abilities.

In the story, Borges describes the case of HSAM, especially vividly presented when Funes describes his autobiographical memories. He talks about the experience of falling from a horse, describing the minor details of the incident – the shape of the clouds, the horse’s mane, and all the physical sensations of the moment in great detail (Borges). This is consistent with the clinical picture of HSAM, as the people studied accurately described every day of their lives and spoke out the range of physical senses and emotions they experienced (Mazzoni et al., 2019). People with hyperthymesia are characterized by an increased concentration on their physical and psychological experiences.

“Funes the Memorious”: Implausible Aspects

“Funes the Memorious” also has unreliable aspects in the description of HSAM, primarily in the fact that Borges mixes episodic and semantic memory. People with HSAM are characterized by the activation of episodic memory, which is responsible for remembering episodes from life, dates, events, and relationships (Rubin, 2022). However, Funes demonstrates photographic semantic memory, which is responsible for language use and other mental abilities (Rubin, 2022). The existence of highly superior semantic memory needs to be scientifically proven (Rubin, 2022). Moreover, such manifestations are not associated with HSAM but with other mental disorders on the autism spectrum, such as savant syndrome. Thus, Borges attributed symptoms to HSAM that are not characteristic of this condition, mixing two types of memory that work on different principles.

The Benefits of Forgetting

The idea of having a perfect memory, higher cognitive abilities, and memorization skills is considered attractive to many people in today’s culture. There are various mnemonic techniques and courses that teach people to memorize more effectively. However, the ability to forget is normal for the human brain and essential (Murphy & Castel, 2021). Forgetting was previously considered in medicine to be a passive process that does not bring any benefit to the person and is even a sign of the gradual development of cognitive diseases (Murphy & Castel, 2021). However, research in recent decades has found that routine, non-pathological forgetting is an active process that brings many benefits to the human brain.

Research points to a number of advantages of forgetting, a process that is especially necessary in today’s information world. First, forgetting allows people to use their brains more efficiently by discarding useless data and making it easier to access the information they need (Baddeley et al., 2020). This allows for prioritizing and focusing on essential goals, activates the creativity of the brain, and reduces the symptoms of attention deficit disorder (ADHD), which are beginning to show in more people in the modern world (Mazzoni et al., 2019). Second, specific conditions such as hyperthymesia correlate with various psychological illnesses, including anxiety, depression, post-traumatic, and obsessive-compulsive disorders (Mazzoni et al., 2019). This is not surprising, given that people with HSAM constantly relive difficult and negative memories as if they happened yesterday.

Conclusion

Highly Superior Autobiographical Memory or Hyperthymesia is a syndrome rarely encountered in medicine, characterized by hypertrophied episodic memory abilities. A person with HSAM can accurately and in detail remember each day’s events, including their own physical and emotional experiences. This syndrome does not affect semantic memory in any way and does not usually help to acquire cognitive skills faster than others. Borges’ short story “Funes the Memorious” describes a protagonist with a condition similar to or overlapping with HSAM. However, his description does not fully correlate with hyperthymesia since the author gives the hero increased abilities in the field of semantic memory, which does not happen with HSAM.

References

Baddeley, A., Eyenck, M. W. & Anderson, M. C. (2020). Memory. Routledge.

Borges, J. L. (n.d.). Funes the Memorious.

LePort, A. K., Stark, S. M., McGaugh, J. L., & Stark, C. E. (2017). A cognitive assessment of highly superior autobiographical memory. Memory, 25(2), 276–288.

Mazzoni, G., Clark, A., De Bartolo, A., Guerrini, C., Nahouli, Z., Duzzi, D., Marco, M. D., McGeown, W. & Venneri, A. (2019). Brain activation in highly superior autobiographical memory: The role of the precuneus in the autobiographical memory retrieval network. Cortex, 120, 588-602.

Murphy, D. H., & Castel, A. D. (2021). Responsible for remembering and forgetting as contributors to memory for important information. Memory & Cognition, 49(5), 895-911.

Rubin, D. C. (2022). A conceptual space for episodic and semantic memory. Memory & Cognition, 50(3), 464–477.

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