Big Ideas and Big Lies

Kickstarter has allowed many great ideas and new entrepreneurs thrive, however it is quickly becoming a place for people to raise money for projects they have little desire or ability to carry out.

I feel this is due to people having unwarranted trust in information presented to them without taking the initiative to consider the risks or seek any additional information. Whether this has always been present in society, or a byproduct of the information age is debatable but it is undeniably visible. 

For example many internet new outlets have begun circulating this video. The issue is the technology required for the phone shown in the video, does not exist in any capacity, as many commenters have pointed out. Another issue raised is whether it is practical considering it would reduce profits for mainstream phone and phone parts manufacturers who would conceivably be the ones making the parts for the phone. Several years ago I did see a similar but more practical phone concept. The idea was that specialized accessories could be purchased to add features such as text and GPS (unfortunately I cannot remember the name nor do I still own the Wired Magazine that I recall seeing it in).

Back to the point, one of the most famous examples of uniformed social media uptake was the Kony campaign, which many agree was manipulative, ineffective and in many cases inaccurate. The video failed to explain that among other things Kony (the infamous Ugandan child abducting rebel leader featured in the video) may have been dead for the last few years. It also supports the Ugandan army (which is known for rape among other things) and many Ugandans were genuinely offended by the video. Much of this information was publicly available at the time of the videos release and then was restated in various responses to the video almost immediately afterwords. Despite this it proliferated greatly across the internet and was subject of national headlines. It has been over a year since the videos release and little good news relating to Kony has been heard since. 

myself have believed and shared information that wasn’t properly substantiated by the authors or cross checked by myself. I now generally use Snopes to double check information of that nature.  In short please do some kind of research before you donate money or share a link (or worse) for some cause or website. 

This is in response to the following video about mass shootings in America. My issue with the video is that it fails to mention that violent crime rates have been dropping dramatically since the 1990’s. While it is sad, it’s not so much an increase in violence as an increase in a very specific and visible form of violence. America has not gotten more violent in the last 6 years. While the video does not explicitly make the connection that America is becoming more violent, I feel as if the tone and information presented implies that it is. As Rachel stated the cause could be anything including the media, a lack of mental health care or current guns laws. The fact is we live in an era where sadness and dismay a form of entertainment and the most frequent thing seen in the news, and this report is a perfect of example of how we fixate on how horrible it is to be living in this era. We shouldn’t be ignorant to the unpleasant things happening in the world, we should however turn our attention to positive ideas and actions. 

The Next Day

I am a big David Bowie but I was fairly disappointed by The Next Day. The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars is one of my favorite albums and many of pre-90’s albums at least produced one or two good songs. He has reinvented himself repeatedly, incorporating jazz, dance and industrial into his repertoire of styles and influences. That being said The Next Day sounds like David Bowie, but lacks the spark his other work has. None of the tracks really stand out and it generally lacks energy. I have tried going back to this album several times to give it another chance and I have not been impressed enough to warrant putting any of it on my iPod. I would almost say that Bowie is writing songs is not writing for young people anymore but for older sensibilities. That being said title track and single from the album, reminds me more of a less than stellar Franz Ferdinand track than a David Bowie song. I think anyone who claims that The Next Day is Bowie’s magnum opus is jumping the gun (he isn’t even dead yet) and is failing to consider how iconic, original, cohesive and polished Ziggy Stardust really was. The only thing that I can really like about The Next Day is that it may prompt Bowie to do one last tour, allowing me to check another thing off of my bucket list (I will wait online for hours to get tickets and take a greyhound to the closest city major city if I have to). Like Ziggy Stardust and the Starman the mere existence of The Next Day is a beacon of hope for dark times, but no one will be asking for a better future, but simply a reminder of a time before now.

Why is this still news?

To add to my post about Miley, the whole Miley being naked in her latest video scandal is also very pointless. Once again Britney Spears and a slew of other pop singers have done the sexual and nude (or very nearly) “I am an sexy adult woman” shtick. Recently Lady Gaga got fully and visibly naked for an art performance video, and no one batted an eyelash (however the video was not sexualized). 

Charity and Wasted Productivity

So recently I’ve started playing Cookie Clicker (warning very addicting) and I thought back on an old idea that I had.

Up until the last few months I have been using the World Community Grid on my computer. This simple program runs in the background of your computer (when you aren’t using your computer if you wish) and uses your computers processing power to do scientific calculations for charity. There is a wide variety of charity projects you can select to help, from AIDS research to fresh water technology.

About two years since loading this program I came across another computer program the intrigued me, the Bitcoin. The Bitcoin is a virtual currency generated by your computers processor. The calculations that are done help encode and authenticate Bitcoin transactions. The Bitcoin is accepted by many online and IRL retailers and can be traded on currency exchanges for government issued currencies. The issue however is that the exchange rate for Bitcoins has rapidly risen and become unstable. This is do to an increase in users seeking to obtain Bitcoins as well as the currencies generation curve which reduces the generation rate of Bitcoins as time passes and more are generated. Further more only energy efficient computers could produce enough coins to pay for the electricity spent generating them. Those who initially generated Bitcoins did so easily and accumulated large amounts, while new comers struggled to generate their own. 

Keeping both of these programs in mind, I envisioned a way to help charities using unused computing power while also creating a more stable and accessible virtual currency. In essence your computer would do calculations for charity that would produce a virtual currency. The currency generated could be accepted by companies that wish to support charities, traded between individuals or even given to other charities so they could trade them for services and goods. Some form of currency sink would have to be created to reduce inflation and instability, possibly official sponsors that would dispose of some of the currency they receive or a transaction tax on some transactions. 

Getting back to the subject of Cookie Clicker, the productivity I wasted on clicking a virtual cookie, managing a virtual baking operation and letting the webpage in the background could also be used to help others. Websites such as FreeRice.com allow you to turn simple questions and clicking into food for people in need. Fold It turns biochemistry research into accessible puzzles that the general public can try to solve. So far it has helped create breakthroughs in AIDS research. For those looking for personal gain I have heard of websites that offer rewards for doing menial work such as surveys or entering giveaways/draws. Even the CAPTCHA’s we fill out to log into websites make use of wasted productivity by helping digitize and preserve books. 

I myself have used some of my free time on simple but beneficial tasks online. I have been using Code Academy (which teaches simple programming) and Lumosity (which offers simple games to improve your brain) intermittently for the last few months and it feels good to know that at least some of my online leisure time has actually been used to better myself. 

In conclusion make use of wasted time and productivity, it’s easier than you think and you never know who it could help.

Miley and Twerking

This has most likely already been said, but the whole Miley twerking thing shouldn’t be such a big deal especially considering it was at the VMA’s. Anyone remember Lil Kim and her weird revealing outfit? Or the time Marilyn Manson’s date went practically naked? How about when Madonna, Brittney Spears and Christina Aguilera kissed? Hell Britney Speers literally had people dancing on stripper poles one year. 

As a side note Adam Lambert had his same sex kiss at the AMA’s censored but Madonna’s wasn’t. As a result of this I question the judgement of those who make censorship and broadcasting decisions for primetime television.

Miley’s performance is not offensive compared to most music videos and the horrific images from Syria shown on news channels every hour. I’d rather see the attention be put on genuinely newsworthy subjects. Finally I do understand that the performance was lewd, but keep in mind that Blurred Lines is a pretty dirty song and Miley has been known to eat phallic shaped cake. Her own father even regrets the way he raised her, but it still doesn’t mean her actions are deplorable or worth so much media attention. She’s a young adult making bad decisions, which certainly shouldn’t be a surprise or a scandal. 

The Locusts and The Crows

Rehtaeh Parsons died on April 7th 2013 after being taken off of life support. The last two years of her life were consumed with feelings of hopelessness, isolation and injustice. Feeling as if she had nothing else to live for, Rehtaeh attempted to take her life, which consequently led to her hospitalization and eventual death.

Feelings of uncertainty, aimlessness and isolation are fairly common place for today’s youth. Suicide is the 2nd most common cause of death for young adults. For a brief moment in time bullying and self esteem issues had been brought to the forefront of our collective conscious. While not completely forgotten, our attention has shifted to a larger tragedy that we also never saw coming.  

With the recent Boston Marathon Bombings, a lot of media coverage has descended upon two young men. Various pundits, experts and members of the intelligence community have all tried to determine the convictions of the two accused, and the mentality the two men would have had when they committed their heinous acts. Several experts have blamed it on their feelings of isolation and exclusion in society. Many say that these men were radicalized because they were looking to fit in and find a purpose in life. It has been suggested that similar factors may have compelled two young Canadian men, Ali Medlej and Xris Katsiroubas, to become involved with militants in Algeria.

While on completely different scales, the underlying causes of these tragedies are very much the same. All of these young people were isolated and failing to find meaning in their lives. In the right situation Rehtaeh could have been easily taken the same path that Ali, Xris, Dzhokhar and Tamerlan had taken. By the same side of the coin these young men could have chosen to kill themselves. I do not want to imply that violence was within her nature as I do not personally know her nor want to disrespect her memory, but at the same time I do believe that people in situations similar to hers could have been brought to violence if the situation was agitated (in this case by someone looking to radicalize youth).

While generally men are more attracted to such violent measures, women are arguably faced with more self esteem and conformity issues than men are. Groups looking to radicalize youth for acts of violence may soon start targeting young women. These groups are taking advantage of the conflict between our marginalized youth and our overall society. As quoted from Barack Obama’s Dreams from My Father “When two locusts fight, it is always the crow who feasts”.

While we seek justice and become tangled in the politics of these tragedies, we fail to consider how our culture caused these young people to these horrible things that have touched so many of us. What I’m trying to say is be more accepting of the marginalized and berated. Prejudice and ignorance have always been our greatest enemies, and unfortunately these are the consequences. On a more proactive note, I believe that shift in our thinking and society is needed.

As a society we need to proactively address these issues. If we can meaningfully address these issues in the hallways of our schools, then we can avoid or at least deter these tragedies. For example Tamerlan was quoted as saying “I don’t have a single American friend”. In the case Rehtaeh, people were quick to judge and isolate her, and then failed to do the right thing when they knew what had happened. If both our youth and general population stopped spreading rumors, started socializing with the “odd kid” and stopped dismissing issues that would normally be alarming in adults as “teen angst” then we wouldn’t be seeing youth throwing their lives away as often as we have in the last few months.

fuqbitchesgetmonet asked:

are there any white fish sushis? since you seem to be an expert

What do you mean by white fish? I have had barbecued eel and spicy tuna so I guess those count. California roles have crab in them for reference (though it can be imitation crab which is from a fish). Try googling some local sushi places for menus. I think you can even get sushi at costco (no raw fish). I have a friend who is really into sushi and Japanese culture who frequently uses tumblr if you want to talk to someone else more experienced. 

Is Youtube in the right or in the wrong?

As you may have heard recently many riots have been happening all over the world due to an anti-islamic film produced in the US. Tragically do to the riots many people have died or suffered injuries. Some Muslims want the maker of the film to be persecuted criminally despite it being protected speech (the US has no hate speech laws). The maker of the film though may face charges as the making of the film may have violated his probation. The film is most widely available on Youtube which refuses to block or remove the clip in many countries. In response several countries including Pakistan have blocked Youtube altogether. Youtubes community guidelines state that “We encourage free speech and defend everyone’s right to express unpopular points of view. But we don’t permit hate speech (speech which attacks or demeans a group based on race or ethnic origin, religion”. The video does state an unpopular point of view but it could as be considered hate speech as it demeans Islam (it apparently portrays Mohammed as a pedophile). Youtube (and its parent company Google) are currently the only group besides the videos producers in a position to remove or censor the video. Youtube could block the video resulting in less violence and outrage over this obviously offensive video. Youtube could just as easily continue to refuse to block the video in support of free speech. Doing either might be irrelevant at this point considering how infamous it has become. What do you think should it be taken down, blocked in some locations or left as unrestricted access? 

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