Blogging mostly about mundane stuff like, immigration, Workers' Compensation and other immigrant related activities.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Help Wanted, Will Pay $0.69 Per Hour

About six months ago I had a discussion with my friend Emerson Quevedo a Los Angeles based blogger and podcaster. Emerson who is from Guatemala creates podcasts and writes blog posts on technology in Spanish.

We touched on the digital divide and how both of us derive some level of income from using the internet. We considered how webservices such as Amazon's Mechanical Turk could be harnessed and used in Mexico and Central America as an income generator for unemployed and underemployed citizens.

I had already experimented with Mechanical Turk for about two hours and generated $1.10 for my account. Now the $1.10 hardly meets a living wage standard particularly if you live in Los Angeles, but what if you live in Mexico or Central America where the average daily wage is about $4.00 per day?

Today, I found this post by Aaron Koblin who posted on the We-Make-Money-Not-Art website a story about thousands of workers who participated in drawing "sheep facing to the left". The workers reportedly earned an average hour wage of "$0.69 per hour" for creating the sheep. The 10,000 sheep are now at The Sheep Market where they are now selling for an average $20.00 per sheep.

The fact that workers were paid on average $0.69 per hour for creating "left-facing-sheep" and that those exact sheep are now selling on the Internet for $20.00 US Dollars. The workers were paid 2 cents to draw a sheep facing to the left and spent on average: 105 seconds to draw each sheep.

This reminded me of the documentary The Corporation and the Nike internal documents that showed workers taking 6.6141 minutes to make a shirt, which resulted in 9 shirts per hour.

I got into that investigate mode and I wondered who could possibly want to exploit the thousands of "left-facing-sheep creators"? I set out on a WHOIS domain search and discovered that "thesheepmarket" is actually owned by an enterprising Aaron Koblin himself. That left me wondering how many sheep Koblin has actually sold?

I called the number listed on the WHOIS to see if I could get some answers from Aaron, but the number listed is no longer in service. As of now, I've sent an an email to Aaron seeking comment on the success of his Sheep Market venture.

Update: I received an email response from Aaron. Turns out he is not really some big faceless conglomerate just looking to exploit workers of the world, even if they are only drawing "left-facing-sheep".

Aaron wrote:

"I have not, as of writing this e-mail, generated enough income to cover my expenses, but I expect to. I'm glad to see that you're thinking about these issues. I am also interested in the ramifications of the MTurk system on the global market. Without claiming to have any answers I hope that my project may start people thinking about some of the very issues..."

Aaron Koblin studied Art at the University of California, Santa Cruz with a focus on Electronic Art, and was an Irwin Scholar in 2004. For more information about Aaron visit his website here.

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Infinite Interactive Visual Cycle (IIVC)

Via: Hector Milla: Visual infinito cíclico interactivo

Spanish: Dime si solo puedes hacer unos cuantos clicks?

English: Tell me if you can do only a few clicks?

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Got Bricks!

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While looking at my RSS feeds on "Immigration" today they led me to an National Public Radio on border fences which addressed the issue of whether such fences actually curb illegal immigration. The links then led me to Send A Brick group which claims that thus far some 8487 bricks have been ordered. This led me to wonder how much fence one could you possibly build with 8487 bricks?

Hmm....I'll have to get back to you on that one and would we need undocumented workers to build it, but I digress. Let me get back to the Washingtonian bricks, Florida Senator Mel Martinez pictured above, seems to be well on his way to replacing his wall-to-wall carpet with a brick floor.

Back on April 17th, Conservative blogger Michelle Malkin wrote a post and suggested that if brick were too heavy then perhaps one could send something a "bit lighter" such as Legos.

On May 5, 2006, someone posted a video of founders of Send A Brick, Kirsten Heffron and Chris Brown which made me consider what poor staffer or mailroom person not to mention the poor UPS or Mailman would be tasked with delivering all those bricks to Senators and Congress members.

On May 12, 2005, the Associated Press published a story related on these bricks in which Jim McAuliffe, co-owner of a new Gwinnett-based mailing company claimed that he feared the Senate and House post offices were using a technicality and refusing to deliver nearly 1,200 bricks and another 2,300 that were scheduled to arrive via parcel post. McAuliffe and Senate Postmaster Joe Collins were at odds over additional postage. When Collins was asked to comment he stated that the bricks would be delivered once a "solution" was found.

One "solution" that had not been considered was that congressional staffers were just simply leaving the bricks in the holding areas. This led me to belive that perhaps Senate and Congressional leaders simply directed their staffers to "stop bringing bricks". Linsday Mabry, Spokeswoman for Georgia Senator
Saxby Chambliss confirmed that speculation when she stated, "I don't know if we're ever going to receive the bricks".

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Monday, May 22, 2006

Lo Que Tu Quieras Oir + YouTube = 10 Mil Views

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(Via David Bravo de

David Bravo tiene un buen post sobre "Creative Commons" y su poder cuando se utilizan los blogs para distribuir contenido a "boca-oido". Un resultado es que un cortometraje de el Director Guillermo Zapata cual fue puesto en YouTube en Marzo 26, 2006, hoy tiene mas de 10,608 personas que la han visto este buen corto.

Aqui esta el enclace para ver el corto en YouTube. Aqui esta el enlace para el sitio de Gulliermo Zapata y "Lo Que Tu Quieras Oir".

En su blog Guillermo Zapata dice:

Pues sí, hace pocos segundos Youtube acaba de marcar que Lo que tú quieras Oír ha llegado a las 10.000 visitas. 10.000 visitas conseguidas en exclusiva gracias al boca- oído, a las críticas realizadas por distintos bloggers, a los blogs que simplemente lo han referenciado, a los amigos y amigas que lo han enviado por correo, a las distintas plataformas que apoyan el copyleft, en definitiva: A la blogosfera. Nunca me había imaginado que un cortometraje modesto, autoproducido, que no se ha movido por festivales apenas, que se juega sus bazas en una historia pequeña, sin aspabientos, haya llegado a éstas cifras.

Para que ustedes se hagan una idea, si el cortometraje hubiera ido a unos cuarenta festivales y poniendo que cada festival tuviera salas de 200 personas llenas hasta la bandera, lo habrían visto 8.000 personas y en ningún caso se habría movido a la velocidad a la que se está moviendo ahora.

Los últimos espacios de los que tengo constancia y que creo que han sido fundamentales para mover el corto éstos días son.

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Alberto is "Unclear"

Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez told CNN's Wolf Blitzer that he is "unclear" whether his Grandparents legally or illegally entered the United States.

I propose that we promptly begin to torture the "truth " out of him. No, but seriously, if it is determined that the Gonzalez family were in fact "undocumented immigrants", then Congress should expedite a comprehensive immigration reform bill and thus retroactively grant the Attorney General a retro-style immigration amnesty for him and his family.

Once that is done, Bush can at a White House ceremony grant Alberto Gonzalez the first "Guest Worker Visa".

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Border Deaths

Oscar Abraham Garcia, 22, of Tijuana, Mexico, was pronounced dead at the scene.

Two deaths occurred within days of each other which have involved immigrants trying to cross the US and Mexico border.

One death occurred Thursday in the San Diego border region and it involved an alleged smuggler of illegals. The incident resulted in the death of suspected smuggler Oscar Abraham Garcia. A local NBC news channel provides the following story and video footage here.

"The shooting took place Thursday afternoon after U.S. agents surroundeda sport utility vehicle that was under surveillance on suspicion ofimmigrant smuggling, police said. The driver refused to get out,and when agents smashed the vehicle's window with a baton, heaccelerated in the direction of five U.S. agents blocking his path and"nearly pinned an agent standing next to the vehicle," said San Diegopolice Lt. Jeff Sferra."

Another incident involved the death of a 3-year-old boy this past Sunday. The boy died of dehydration after a smuggler reportedly abandoned him and his mother after the boy got sick. The mother survived after wandering through the desert for a day. The mother was picked up by the Border Patrol near Sells, Arizona and later informed authorities about leaving her son in the desert. A search team found the boys body in the Tohono O'odham Reservation.

Dr. Eric Peters Pima County's Deputy Chief Medical Examiner who has the grim task of dealing the bodies of dead migrants made this observation in October 10, 2005.
"It was a nonexistent problem five or six years ago," he said. "Now, it's to the point where we just assume it's part of our daily workload, because we don't really foresee any change in this problem, unless I-don't-know-what is done."

In that same article Prof. Wayne Cornelius, Director of the Center for Comparative Immigration Studies at UC San Diego said:

"We keep ratcheting up the enforcement in areas that were previously safe, and it's pushing the traffic into more dangerous areas all along the border."

As more barriers get erected and entry into the United States becomes more difficult desperate migrants will continue to place their lives in danger with smugglers who are likely to become more brazen and reckless.

The fact that congress is considering a number of measures that can potentially provide a path to legalization for the millions of illegals already in the United States may increase illegal border crossings.

The potential lack of political stability and economic instability from the upcoming July 2006 presidential elections in Mexico is likely to produce a flood of new immigrants desperate to enter this country especially given the violent incidents occuring in San Salvador Atenco, Mexico.

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Friday, May 19, 2006

Stephen Colbert on Immigration

Stephen Colbert
of Comedy Central does a piece on immigration. The piece shows a few members of the Minuteman Project speaking about their efforts in building a fence at the US/Mexico border.

The comments from members of the Minuteman Project on immigration and the fence are always revealing, sometimes shocking and occassionally, I must admit, disturbingly funny.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Dani. My Favorite American Tourist!

Although I was born in Mexico, I've lived in the US since turning 8 years old and consider myself an American. I've always held my birth country and heritage close at heart and fortunately my work has provided me an opportunity to visit some 28 states in the Republic of Mexico, as well as all of Central America.

Aside from the wonderful friendships and memories that these trips have provided me, I was always pleasantly surprised to encounter tourists like Dani Rotstein during my visits and work in Mexico and Central America.

For me Dani embodies the spirit of adeventure and good nature that I so admired in Americans. My first contact with Americans was in Mexico. As a child, I lived in Baja California and would often encounter American tourists who would travel into our remote region in their recreational vehicles. These Americans were often following the Baja 1000 races and as a child I'd often awaken to see these large recreational vehicles down the road from our home.

The sight of these Americans would set into motion the adventurous spirit of a 6-7 year old and I would then enlist my friend Memo and together we would drum up the courage to approach them, which would often yield us a bounty of candy, chocolates, small toys and once a boxed Disney puzzle.

One time an American man gave us a box of thick rubber bands. He looked at Memo and I and said in his broken Spanish that he would pay us 1 US Dollar for every Horned Toads we could bring him. Memo and I, quickly set out and promptly brought back a bag filled with some 6 lizards from which my take was treasured 3 US Dollars.

Once home I told my parents about our adventure and that American and his lizards. My folks were a bit perplexed at the fact that some American would actually pay good money for a few lizards, thus my story took a bit of retelling to be believed, but nevertheless they were quite pleased with their entrepreneurial son.

Somehow Dani's video and his American spirit brought out those memories. For that I say, "Muchas Gracias, Dani!"

Song: "Para No Verte Mas" by
La Mosca Tse Tse

Monday, May 08, 2006

Hurt My Hand, I Can't Play Baseball!

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My work as a Workers Compensation Consultant in California has me working with workers who are injured performing some of the most labor intensive and back breaking type of occupations.

Trust me when I say that none of my injured workers want to be off of work, where the maximum benefits they can receive while on disability is $336 per week. Once they are medically released the can receive $246 per week. Therefore, the Jeff Bagwell disability claim caught my attention because of the astronomical (no pun intended) disability benefits associated with the claim.

Mr. Bagwell plays for the Houston Astros and his stats page on Major League Baseball has him on a 15-day DL as of Mar 25, 2006 (Bone spurs/arthritis, right shoulder).

The sport of baseball has routinely obtained disability coverage for their players and the Astros paid $2,409,343 in premiums for such coverage on Bagwell. Jeff Bagwell made about $18 million last year.

$86K a day!

The disabilty coverage for Bagwell means that the Houston Astros are to receive $85,748 for each regular season day that Mr. Bagwell misses due to his total disability.

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Modified Duty?

Under normal circumstances in any Workers Compensation claim the employer is required to explore Modified or Alternate work assignments, this is called "reasonable accomodation". The worker is often provided assignments that fall within their current physical restrictions.

The offer of Modified or Alaternate work can be permanent or temporary and it is designed to provide the injured worker the ability to continue working and therefore minimize their loss of earnings, since they can not be paid less than 15% of their pre-injury wages. A worker who returns to modified or alternate employement who is not at home on disability also contributes to the employers bottom line thus making it a win-win situation.

Unfortunately for the insurance carrier, the Huston Astros play in the National League, where there is no provision for a "designated hitter". In looking into Bagwell's disability his physical restrictions would likely prevent him from throwing a baseball, but he could potentially be offered a modified or alternate position which would allow him only to bat.

However, the "designated hitter" option is only available in the American League and thus such "reasonable accommodation" can't be made for Mr. Bagwell.

I wonder how much an actuary would rate premiums for my star programmer who just injured his hand playing bass guitar in his rock band?

(via: WorkCompInsider)

Sunday, May 07, 2006

De La Hoya and Swiss Banker look to KO Arum and King

De La Hoya unleashed a barrage of shots to knock out Ricardo Mayorga at 1:25 ofthe sixth round Saturday night and capture the WBC super welterweight title.

De La Hoya will now look to towards one last fight before finally retiring from boxing. He looks to face Floyd Mayweather, Jr.,the top pound-for-poundfighter whose father trains De La Hoya. Mayweather, the welterweight champion (147 lbs.) would most likely have come up in weight at 154-pounds to face De La Hoya in what would be arguably one of the biggest paydays for both fighters.

Win or lose De La Hoya will exit boxing as one of its most charismatic and entertaining boxer in the sport. Whatever the outcome don't be surprised if De La Hoya ends up signing Mayweather tos his increasing stable of boxers at Golden Boy Promotions which now numbers over 40 fighters including Bernard Hopkins, Marco Antonio Barrera and Sugar Shane Mosley.

De La Hoya hired Richard Schaefer, a banker, Swiss born and Swiss reared and former managing director and deputy executive officer of UBS, the global financial services company based in Zurich. The New York Times published an article on Shaefer here.

As dominant boxing promoters Bob Arum and Don King face retirement, both are in their 70's, an opportunity opens for a more corporate entity to enter the fray. De La Hoya looks to bring a more transparency and accountabilty to the sport of boxing. Those moves are likely to attract more corporate sponsorship and distance the sport from its seedy side that is often associated with Don King.

In 2003 Golden Boy Promotions brought in revenue of 5 Million and that figure is now an estimated 100 million.

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Saturday, May 06, 2006

Fat Tax

The man pictured is Irwin Leba. If this man could have his way, every year the cigar-chompin-big-as-they-get-Texan millionaire would have you step into a government sponsored weigh station and submit to a BMI (Body Mass Index). According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) your "BMIprovides a reliable indicator of body fatness for most people and is used to screen for weight categories that may lead to health problems."

Mr. Leba proposes that Americans would weigh in on a yearly basis between January 1st and April 15th and the results would determine if they are subject to a "Fat Tax".

From Esquire Magazine:

"In 1970, around the same time he had his "first powwow with Jesus Christ,"he poured the lion's share of his hot-dog earnings into the stock ofhis favorite restaurant, McDonald's. At the time, it must have seemed like a chancy way to invest one's life savings. In retrospect, of course, it was pure genius. His $200,000 investment is now worth about $25 million.
"Indirectly, through my stock holdings, I figure I've contributed tothe deaths of many thousands of people—and not just Americans," he wrote. "If you want to get all psychoanalytical, you might say that the fat tax is my way of making amends." (Full Article)

Fast food loving Americans can thank, The Center for Consumer Freedom for stepping in and defending their right to fast food. The organization promotes personal responsibility and consumer choice. That means you have every right to eat that Triple Bacon Whopper or smoke your two-packs a day.

It reminds me of the days when bikers fought for their right to ride without helmets. We can go back further to the days when people fought measures calling for state mandated seat-belt laws.

From The Center for Consumer Freedom article on a Fat Tax:

"The World Health Organization, whose mission involves tackling thescourges of AIDS and Malaria, now spends its valuable time and resources fretting that people like to eat steak and drink soda pop. Late last week, WHO released its "draft global strategy on diet, physical activity and health." (Read Full Article)

As Americans become increasingly rotund will a "Fat Tax" have a fat chance? Could a looming Fat Tax contribute to Americans changing their eating habits and encourage them to seek healthier alternatives to the fast food they love?

Cincinnati Beacon + YouTube = 1 May Day Protest Video

The Cincinnati Beacon posted a video on YouTube that provides footage of the May 1st immigration protest that took place in Cincinnati, Ohio and accross the country. As Andrew Warner posted the video footage is both "telling and touching" and sheds further light on how some on the anti-immigrantion front are simply out of touch. One anti-immigrant protester states he is still waiting for a response from John McCain so he can "go pick lettuce in Arizona".

(via: Andrew Warner)

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Friday, May 05, 2006

Day Laborers -vs- Minutemen - The Battle continues.

Day Laborers

California is the national battleground on the issue of immigration and anti-immigrant groups seem to crop up on a weekly basis to battle it out with pro-immigrant groups. Suddenly there are the Mothers against illegals who collaborate with the Watchdog. In the meantime the Minutemen set out on a caravan to DC and set out battle cry to "Build a Fence"!

Day Laborers recently won a legal battle in the City of Redondo Beach. The city is prohibited from arresting workers who look for jobs on publicside walks. The legal victory stems from a suit filed on behalf of Day Laborers who in a 2004 crackdown by city officials led to the arrest of 60 workers. The workers were arrested under an ordinance aimed at controlling traffic. The judge ruled that the ordinance was unconstitutional because it was too broad and might also apply to "people hailing taxis or even girl scouts selling cookies on the street".

Nevertheless the fact that Congress has failed to resolve the issue of illegal immigration has contributed to local governments and anti-illegal immigration foes to take matter into their own hands. An anti-illegal immigration activist Joseph Turner of San Bernardino secured the minimum 2,216 signatures to place a ballot measure on the upcoming elections and thus set the stage for a law that would prohibit landlords from renting toillegal immigrants and force day laborers to present proof of legal residency.

In the meantime self-proclaimed pro-immigration advocate Nativo Lopez of the Mexican American Political Association (MAPA) finds himself on the hot seat by a Spanish language newspaper HOY for collecting donations during the May 1st protest march held in Los Angeles. Nativo Lopez defended his actions saying "the Catholic church also collects donations" and demonstrated little concern about the suspicions his actions have raised within other Latino community organizations.

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Monday, May 01, 2006

Gran Marcha II - May 1, 2006

These immigrants just want to be Americans.
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