Truth in Fiction

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We must become the change we wish to see in the world.” – Mahatma Gandhi.
One of the many wise quotes from a distinguished leader of the Indian Independence movement in British-rule India in the 1940s. Gandhi led India to independence and inspired Civil rights movements and freedom across the World.

 

“We can change the world and make it a better place. It is in your hands to make a difference.” – Nelson Mandela. He was the first elected Chief Executive of South Africa, in a fully representative democratic election. With his leadership, his government focused on demolishing the legacy of the system of segregation or discrimination on the grounds of race, through tackling institutionalised racism and fostering racial reconciliation.

 

These are the people who we have looked towards for some form of leadership, in the past, to ignite changes within systems that are flawed. There are many more in the past that have risen to the occasion and have made an impact on our current lives and reality. Yet, there is still a disparity that lies hidden within the unseen cracks of our current economic systems and governments. The leaders we have currently tend to be modest in the changes that are put forth compared to those in our history books. Mostly within the subject of economic and military growth. Below are some known examples of our current leaders’ speeches on growth:

 

1. President Obama elaborating on his budget and inviting people to take action.

2. Prime Minister of the United Kingdom speech on transforming British economy.

3. Speech by the Prime Minister of Singapore, Lee Hsien Leong, at the Economic Society of Singapore Annual Dinner.

4. Vice-Premier Zhang Gaoli delivering a speech at the conference, vowing to push forward with China’s “New Formal” growth model.

 

As you can see, these speeches are mostly about the economy and the country’s growth. So why is economic growth so important to us?

 

Economic growth has been presented to be essential for each and every one of us surviving in this current time. It has been deemed important to acquired more wealth accompanied by the growing consumption everyone has in most countries. This allows businesses and corporations to grow and prosper exponentially. This relates to growth in the output of the economy as a whole. Currently, growth is measured as the difference or change in the gross domestic product of a country over a year. However, good economic growth does not equate to a better standard of living as always intended.

 

I live in Singapore, a small country located in the southernmost region of the continental Asia, which has no natural resources besides its people. Since their independence in 1965 from British rule, Singapore has grown to be a global commerce, financial and transportation hub. In 2014, Singapore was crowned the most expensive city in the world according to the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU). With such luxury like casinos, “low” crime rates, multi-million dollar properties, ever-green parks and a great Business district skyline, many expats and foreigners have resided in this small country which has tremendously impacted and increased the cost of living for the average Singaporean. Despite the high cost of living, I lead a happy, thriving life. I can safely say that with a slightly over-average income, I am able to have a home, water, electricity and some simples vices that makes living here tolerable. However, I cannot say the same for part of the population that work just to survive this increasingly expensive place. Recently, a study has shown that the ‘working poor’ in Singapore are not getting sufficient pay or salary to make ends meet. ‘Working poor’ is defined as a working individual whose income per household member is less than half of the national median per capita household income of Singapore, which stands at SGD $1,920. A survey done on poverty attitudes by the National University of Singapore (NUS) Social Work Department presented that those who need money want to work and that there are jobs available for them. However, it has been reported that there are more than 300,000 Singaporeans and permanent residents who earn less than SGD $1,500 a month (excluding employer CPF contribution) despite working full-time. Read more on this 2013 article here. Here is an article from the Guardian by Warwick Smith on his opinion on economic growth.

 

Simply put, quite a number of people do not prosper while the economy does. It is quite simple. We have been conditioned by our monetary and economic systems, that supports and purports greed rather than growth, to want and yearn more. To have more of something is the societal norm that has encompassed the mind of every individual that has lived in these past years, and will live in the years to come, as these ideas and concepts are built and incorporated into our education system. Competition has been put in place within the structures of growth rather than collaboration or cooperation. We have been made to judge and dream about the redundancies of the materialistic world. We promote greed and jealousy in our advertisement to grow consumption and thus the economy.

 

There are other possibilities of a far better economic and social structures that have been researched and also presented to the world which will abolish war, hunger, poverty, debt and unnecessary human suffering. One of them is called the Venus Project. This was created by an organization that created a feasible plan of action for social change towards a peaceful and sustainable global civilization. It outlines an alternative to strive toward where human rights are no longer a paper proclamations but an actual way of life. They have presented us with many different solutions such as a world economy that is resource based. With this, it utilizes existing resources, rather than money, and provides an equitable method of distributing these resources in the most efficient way, to the entire population. This system requires no use of money, credits, barter or any form of debt or servitude. Other solutions include housing, transportation and energy. The founder, Jacque Fresco, a futurist, inventor and industrial designer, uses the frontier of science, technology and imagination to create an intelligent application of what is available to us. The only limitations are those which we impose upon ourselves.

 

Think of all the human suffering that can be eradicated. Think of all the unnecessary famine, war, deaths and destruction that undoubtedly follow in our current plans for economic greed and power. The Venus project alone shows the very possibility of a new way of life. Rather than just to survive, we can thrive and develop a new world where every single individual can live and prosper. However, we need to change our current mindsets and some parts of our beliefs that have been instilled to indoctrinate us to the current structures of society and culture. We need change on an individual level first before the world can change. We need people to explain and lead us forward and inflict creativity and open-mindedness, towards these changes that will have to take place in order for each and every one of us to thrive.

 

Where are these people or leaders?

 

They are available anywhere, but do not look for them in the next political campaigns or in the current government. These ‘leaders’ are nothing but fictional characters that are invented by creative people to address the rising conflict between truth and lies within our reality. With many mainstream media and entertainment industries being owned by corporations, information tends to be exaggerated and sometimes, even fabricated to present the population with only the truth of what these powers want you to believe and not. It seems that politics and mainstream media are more about fiction than facts. We live in the age of technological advancements and with the easy access of information available to the common man, we hold the ability to research on a certain subject. With all these information available in an array of platforms and avenues, the truth is just an accepted perception of the conscious mind. In today’s context, fiction has become a primary point on which the journey towards truth will start. In many books, TV series and movies, truth has been portrayed as a kind of camouflage that can only be detected by the curious mind. Below are some examples of truth in fiction:

 

1. Known by most as “the most honest 3 minutes in television history”, this is an HBO TV series called the ‘Newsroom’ starring Jeff Daniels. The character Daniels plays is Will McAvoy, a news anchor. In this scene, he answered a question asked by a student, “Can you say why America is the greatest country in the world?”. Great answer!

 

2. The Matrix. This movie provides a great representation of exactly what we are to the Elite of the world; batteries. It also shows the possibilities of an individual once they have awakened and escape the matrix. Your mind is the only limit.

 

3. Lord of War is a movie, starring Nicolas Cage, about an arms dealer confronting the morality of his work. It shows the Government’s prominent role in the distribution and sales of weapons and how they cover up the distribution and uses it to promote violence and fear throughout the world.

 

4. Blood Diamond is a movie that sheds light on the hardship and corruption incurred in a certain part of the world to provide trivial luxuries to people in developed countries. It also shows how the truth is being kept and hidden from people who keep the diamond industry intact through value and praise.

 

Well, it may not be hard facts, but there are some truths in them. Do not even get me started on the symbolism that are found in these shows. The best part is, there are many more just waiting for you to search on or stumble upon. Remember to always be wary and keep an open mind on the meanings and hidden messages in these shows. The most important thing you can do is to share these information. Share your opinions and comments with others so we can learn different perspectives that will ultimately lead us to unveil the real truth. Below are some of my favourite finds of great videos that will intrigue, fascinate and motivate you to strive for truth and change.

 

1. George Carlin – The American Dream

 

2. V for Vendetta – The Revolutionary Speech

 

3. My ultimate favourite, The Great Dictator (1940) – The Greatest Speech Ever

 

Written by Fariq Yusoff
Image sourced from Flickr

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How to become a Peaceful Warrior

4268569D-EEEE-466C-9D6D-326E10D0FE2CThere are a variety of different movies that teach us about awareness, consciousness, life and truth. These movies are found to have the power to change perception, beliefs and the level of awareness towards seeking truth.  I recently finished a movie titled “Peaceful Warrior” starring Scott Mechlowiscz and Nick Nolte. One of the movies from that list. This movie was based on a book by Dan Millman, Way of the Peaceful Warrior, which was based on true events. It is an enlightening movie about a college gymnast whose meeting with a stranger changed his life. As I listened vicariously to the teachings and quotes by the characters in the movie, I felt a sense of understanding which has awakened a part of me inside. These words suddenly gave me a new perception of understanding of myself and Life.

There is a peaceful warrior inside each and every one of us. As explained by Dam Millman, all of us living on Planet earth are in training to be a peaceful warrior. We all strive to have peace and happiness for ourselves. However, life just seems to have the upper hand on affecting us to a point of confusion and hopelessness. There are times when all you wish you had was a warrior inside you to do what you think you cannot. I have been there. I have felt lost and overwhelmed by the happenings around me that have left me depressed. It felt that I was not heading anywhere in my life and how my life just cannot kick-off to what I perceive it should be like. Have you ever felt this way? To feel that you are lost in place, and everything just seems to not make any sense at all. A feeling that you were meant to do something with purpose but yet, it is still not happening as what you intended.

“If you don’t get what you want, you suffer; if you get what you don’t want, you suffer; even when you get exactly what you want, you still suffer because you can’t hold on to it forever.”

“The birth of the mind is the death of the senses”

“everyone tells you what’s good for you. they don’t want you to find your own answers. they want you to believe theirs.”

“The secret of happiness, you see, is not found in seeking more, but in developing the capacity to enjoy less.”

“I had lost my mind and fallen into my heart.”

Do not despair. The harder it gets, the wiser you will be. It all comes down to perception and awareness of your life. It took me years to understand this concept but I managed to be, as I am now.
Initially, my perception was changed in a very pivotal moment of my life, of what I see and how I felt about my past, through a kind of workshop called Asiaworks Basic and Advance Training. Asiaworks Training is an organisation that addresses the personal growth and self-awareness, organisational commitment, leadership, teamwork and effectiveness of the attendees. Read more about them here. This is where I came to make peace with my past and understanding the beliefs that I have attained on certain things like my parents, family and fate. “I, like god do not play with dice” – V from vendetta. It was an eye-opening moment that suddenly had me seeing my life’s journey to be of purpose. I stood there in that room filled with emotions that I have never felt before, and that made me feel more human than I have ever been for the past 18 years. It made me feel that I was in the right place, at the right time. That my life’s road was and is on course no matter the difficulty and obstacles I had faced. I came out with an affirmation that I am an honest, kind and loving person. Somehow, it created a higher level of awareness towards myself and my surroundings. It opened up many opportunities that had me feeling that life will never be the same.

“It is better for you to take responsibility for your life as it is, instead of blaming others, or circumstances, for your predicament. As your eyes open, you’ll see that your state of health, happiness, and every circumstance of your life has been, in large part, arranged by you – consciously or unconsciously.”

“. . . Action always happens in the present, because it is an expression of the body, which can only exist in the here and now. But the mind is like a phantom that lives only in the past or future. Its only power over you is to draw your attention out of the present.”

“Enlightenment is not an attainment, it is a realization. And when you wake up, everything changes and nothing changes.”

“A warrior doesn’t seek pain, but if pain comes, he uses it.”

“The earth isn’t solid. It is made of molecules and atoms, tiny universes filled with space. It is a place of mystery, light, and magic if you only open your eyes.”

Years have passed from that moment but memories tend to fade and practice, forgotten. This harsh reality had made me trapped within the cages of my mind. Fear and uncertainty envelop me with the ever-changing cycles of forced responsibilities and greed. Insecurity has made me doubt and question my every action to the preference of others. It made me sway off course a few times but it was never difficult to reflect and understand. It just took time. It was difficult to be aware of yourself when this reality has put forth a yearning for more. Yearning to earn and seek more. When circumstances changed, we tend to change as well. It only depends on the actions you put forth with or for that change. Fast forward to the second pivotal change of my life, it was of deciding to my wife. We had been in a relationship for almost 10 years but it seems that it was not working out for both of us then. No matter, I felt a deep sense of loss when we decided to walk away from each other. I could not find the words for it but I knew deep within that my life could never be, without her in it. This is the moment I realised that there is no past that has the power to keep me and there is no future that can be depended on to be exactly what I wish it would be. There is only now. And now means doing.

“There are no ordinary moments.”

“The journey is what brings us happiness not the destination.”

“A warrior does not give up what he loves, he finds the love in what he does”

“The warrior is Here, Now.”

“Everything you’ll ever need to know is within you; the secrets of the universe are imprinted on the cells of your body.”

I found that to be a peaceful warrior, it takes hardship and grief. It takes difficulty and sometimes impossibility, as these moments will only define who we are as a person. Look at the choices that you have made before and reflect if that was out of fear or living. Now is the only important moment in Life. It will take time for you to have the highest level of awareness in your life to the point you understand that every circumstance does not define you. The choice does. The only way to ascend towards being a peaceful warrior is to practice it frequently. Practice humiliation, reflection and kindness. Start by letting go and cleaning the mess that is hindering you to live. Clear the doubt, insecurity and uncertainty. Love! Life is full of circumstances and it is you who will need to decide who and what will be your teachers. Do it monthly, daily, in moments and soon enough you will realise that a peaceful warrior is never the destination, but the journey of which you have taken part in.

“A fool is ‘happy’ when his cravings are satisfied. A warrior is happy without reason. That’s what makes happiness the ultimate discipline”

All quotes in italics are obtained from the following site.

Origination: Book titled ‘Way of the Peaceful Warrior’ by Dan Millman

Links http://www.collective-evolution.com/2012/01/05/ce-list-movies-with-truth-or-consciousness/
Links http://www.peacefulwarrior.com/faq/becoming-a-pw

 

Photograph taken by Yoji Amashiro

Written by Fariq Yusoff

Politics or ‘Clout’?

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[Photograph taken by Yoji Amashiro]

 

Definition
Hegemony is a word derived from the Greek language, which roughly translates, to ‘dominant influence or authority over others’. It also could stand for influence held by a dominant group – socially, culturally, ideologically and economically.
To identify whether hegemony is present in a modern day’s society, culture and lifestyle requires much information and research about the governmental body and the population.
Media and the news
All in the world is not as you have been told. There is this saying that goes by “truth is stranger than fiction” and it could very well be accurate, for we have been deceived on such huge way that most people would have difficulty comprehending to the fullest. The behind the scenes machinations of big money and politics are almost as good as non-existent to the rest of the population people had access to the answers, there would be no qualms to cause a revolution. Many a ton of people are not willing to believe an entire nation is deceived in such a manner, although it is not that unbelievable when you decipher the reality and hierarchy of a revered media where we blindly place trust. The truth is only as you know it. They are told that most politicians are not truthful but have no hint of knowing that the news media deceives us just as much, if not more. Our media to such an extent has deceived us, mostly because people are too trusting of our news system. They very naively believe that broadcasters and journalists would never lie to them. This trust has clearly worked against the things we thought of with devastating consequences, which are unknown to most. To understand this, we first need to learn about how our news organization was hi-jacked in this manner. Once we learn this historical fact, it is far easier to understand that life is not as we know it.
The media does not only serve as the news spreader, the media serves to sell itself and sell advertising within itself. The media, therefore, does not always report the truth, but rather reports the reality that the audience wants to hear, often times in a fashion that departs from the truth considerably. In my experience in reading and observing the news, I have noticed it to become harder and harder to find an unbiased and well-rounded report on anything. Very little to no news article or reports present information from both sides and it has been getting worse over the years. Since most articles lack integrity, or contain bias, it is very difficult to trust the media.

In America
The U.S. press, like the U.S. government, is an almost corrupt and troubled institution. Corrupt not so much in the sense that it accepts bribes but in a systematic sense. It fails to do what it claims to do, what it is supposed to do, and what society wants it to do. The news media and the government are intertwined in a vicious circle of mutual manipulation, false truth, and self-interest. Journalists need crises to dramatize news, and it requires government officials to respond to it. Too often, the crises are not really crises but an untrue idea of the truth as it has been altered. The two institutions have become wounded in a web of lies that the news media are not truthful and the government is unable to govern effectively.
Media Bias
Humans crave information, which is why we always turn to the television, radio or newspaper. Without the media, we would still be getting used to newspaper pigeons we are often used in the past, leaving the rest of the world clueless as to what is going on, around them. The problem with news and media today that there is a notable success rate for it to be bias, certain media networks have a particular tendency or inclination towards someone or something. Certain networks have been claimed by others to be more biased than others, leaving the news consumer to decide what they would prefer to watch. Often times, the media is accused of being the most unfair especially when it comes to news associated with politics, especially during presidential elections.
People often wonder why the bias in media exist and why it is inevitable. Different news outlets or media networks seek different information. For example, a famous athlete is accused of failing a drug test. A news reporter may want to find out the facts, and a sports reporter might be trying to find out how the team is impacted. Each reporter is known for doing their job, but because they are telling the story to wide range of audiences, they attempt to make their reports look appealing to those audiences. Another main reason why bias tends to exist in the media is due to editorials. Editorials are known to be ‘sections’ of the newspaper that have been crafted entirely out of biased opinions. The opinions of the general public are allowed to be submitted to the newspapers.
Efforts in keeping the media unbiased
Many news networks are blamed of being biased, not every station has a bad reputation. There are some networks that try their best to keep news as neutral as possible.
More often than not, there number of so called ‘biased’ media networks outweigh and outnumber more than un-biased networks. One of the well known ones is ‘Fox News’ and is a prime example of a biased broadcasting station. This network has been notably accused of being biased towards more democratic and more conservative causes and politicians. The Democratic National Committee chairman called Fox a “beast similar to that of Godzilla when it comes to giving false news.” As we all know, the guy Mitt Romney is a conservative republican, people accused Fox of siding for him throughout the election. This is all happening while, MSNBC is a station that has been blamed for being biased towards the liberals and the democrats. Rupert Murdoch is one of the world’s most influential people, he is the owner of Fox News Corporation. Biasness is clearly found in daily or big news and information because the reporters were taught to develop their own opinions and sharing it with the rest of the world online. Social media is a great way to send out information and one of them is through sites such as Facebook and Skype, but it is risky to do so because it can create a very biased atmosphere. The public associates certain reporters with certain stations, and when that reporter makes a biased remark on a social media site, citizens may accuse the news station as being biased as well.
There are many different types of media bias and it is important to learn how to identify them.
TYPES OF MEDIA BIAS
Bias by omission
By leaving out important aspects of an article, or series of paragraph, over a span of time; ignoring certain facts which disproves several liberal or conservative claims, or that support liberal or conservative beliefs; ‘bias by omission’ happens usually within a story, or over the long term as a particular news outlet reports one set of events, but not another. To find instances of bias by omission, be aware of the conservative and liberal perspectives on current issues. See if both the parties’ perspectives are included in stories on a particular event or policy.
Bias by selection of sources
It includes more sources that support one view over another. This bias is selectively targeted when a reporter uses such phrases as “experts believe,” “observers say,” or “most people believe.” In courtroom trials, experts in news stories are like expert witnesses. If you know whether the defense or the prosecution called a particular expert witness to the stand, you know which way the witness will testify. It is obvious when there comes a news story, which only presents a monotonous angle of the story, and then it is the information that the reporter supports and agrees. To find bias via expert advice or with credible sources, remain vigilant to the affiliations and political perspective of those who are dubbed as experts or authorities in news stories. Not all stories will include such experts, but within those stories, make sure the number of conservatives and liberals quoted, are numbered equally. If a particular story quotes non-experts, such as those portrayed as average citizens, make sure by checking for an equal number coming from both sides of the issue in question.
Bias by story selection
If able to notice a pattern of highlighting news stories that coincide with the agenda of supporting views, while stories that coincide with the opposing view are rightfully ignored; printing a story or study released by a liberal or conservative group but ignoring research on the same or similar topics released by the opposing parties. To identify bias by story selection, one has to be able to seek and understand both sides of the story. See how much coverage certain issues get compared to other issues or the amount of liberals compared to conservatives. For example, if a liberal group puts out a study proving a liberal point, look at how much coverage it received when compared with a more conservative study that was published earlier, or vice versa.
Bias by placement
Story placement can be noted by how important the editor considers the story. Several studies have shown that, in the case of the average newspaper reader and the average news story, most people read only the headline. Bias by placement usually takes place on a website, newspaper or in an article a story or event is printed; it is a pattern of placing news stories so as to throw off information supportive of either views. To locate such cases of bias by placement, you must watch where and how the media broadcasts their political stories. Or when there is a story to be read, look how each viewpoint of the story unveils itself. In a more balanced environment, the reporter would quoting or summarizing both, liberal and conservative views in the same places of the story.
Bias by labeling
Bias by labeling can appear in dual forms. Firstly, the act of tagging such conservative politicians and groups with extreme labels while leaving liberal politicians and groups untouched or un-judged, or vice versa. The second kind of bias by labeling can happen when a reporter not does not identify a liberal as such or a conservative as one, but instead, decides to describe the person or group with positive labels, for e.g “independent consumer labels”. In such a case, this results in the reporter not recognizing the professionalism of the party. In the case where the “expert” is properly called a “conservative” or a “liberal” the news consumer is able to keep that ideological view into account when re-evaluating assertiveness. When looking for bias by labeling, it is wise to recall that not all labeling is wrong. Bias by labeling is present when the story labels one party but the other, when the story resorts to extreme sounding labels for the conservative than the modern day liberal and conservative. Many of these known conservative official or group are simply experts that are linked to a news radar or independent watchdog organization.
Bias by spin
Bias by spin occurs when the story has only one interpretation of an event or policy, also known as ‘spinning a story’ or ‘a story that has been spun’. It usually involves a reporter’s comments regarding facts; makes one side’s ideological perspective seem outwardly better. To check if it’s spin, try observing and checking which interpretation of an event a news story matches – the liberal or conservative. Many news stories do not reflect a particular spin. Usually people tend to summarize the story. But if a story reflects one to the exemption of the other, then it could possible be bias by spin.
Manipulation of media
I learnt how easy it is to manipulate the media, for it runs like most organizations, in a hierarchy that ends with the wealthy ownership. It is a tragic mistake for those who errantly claim that media is not controlled. In print, stories are scrutinized by an editor before publishing. A radio broadcaster is subjected to direction from the Program Director, consultant or station manager. A talking head in TV news gets their stories scripted and fed via teleprompter, all of which is once again subject to editing to meet company policy. On a daily basis, our media is very much controlled and deceives.
The vast majority of all news media in the United States is controlled by approximately 50 corporations back in 1983. Today however, it has been reduced to six but incredibly powerful media corporations . What people watch, hear and read every single day are controlled by them. Most people do not wonder and question who is providing them with the endless hours of news and entertainment that they take in. They do not give a thought for the citizens. However, it is a fact that the messages they often are constantly portraying and delivering to us, much impacts us deeply. Time Warner, Walt Disney, Viacom, Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp., CBS Corporation and NBC Universal are the six corporations that collectively control U.S. media today. Together, they are making use and taking majorly influencing the news and media in the United States.
However, people must realize that the media does not necessarily lie. They often use sub-lingual language to mask the true origin of the text. The words used in media offer a high chance to omit socio-cultural connotations associated with them – these similarities in the drive of hunger can easily set the difference between a man seen in a positive light or a negative light.
Conclusion
In my opinion, it is evident that the media is very biased. Although some networks have the ability to be truthful, all but the remainder of all media networks are almost completely the opposite when they report news. Either way, it is clear that our society produces news that is often unfair and biased.
In conclusion, media is simply the bestest of ways to convey and receive important and truthful information on. Corporations own media outlets and they use the media as a form or method to make money. The media are known to have a tendency to exaggarate their stories and changes them to be interesting and to get more viewers, it is bias information to get the viewer to brainwash and perhaps empathize the audience to think a certain way.

References
McQuail, D. McQuail’s Mass Communication Theory (4th edn Sage, London 2000).
Nobles, Richard and Schiff, David. Understanding Miscarriages of Justice: Law, the Media and the Inevitability of Crisis (Oxford University Press, Oxford 2000).
Sherwin, R.K. When Law Goes Pop: The Vanishing Lines Between Law and Popular Culture (University of Chicago Press, Chicago 2000).
Street, J. Mass Media, Politics and Democracy (Palgrave McMillan, Basingstoke 2001).

Written Yoji Amashiro
Photograph by Yoji Amashiro

Gaming is a Lifestyle

Playing video games has evolved from being “just a game”, to not only an online social platform, but also to make money. However, for most people, it remains an idle hobby. It is a time-consuming and expensive habit. Gamers develop niche expertise; games influence their “real” lives, and has become an encompassing lifestyle for generations to come.

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[Photograph of Cousins playing CS: GO]

 

In the past decade, video games have almost dominated the mainstream society, and its infiltration is growing. Graphics are better, stories are more engaging, playing experiences have also become more interactive. This has drawn more and more people towards the gaming arena. Additionally, the popularity of handheld consoles like Nintendo Switch and PlayStation Portable, which allows people to play video games on the go, allows the young and old alike to gather and interact more naturally, bringing even more people into the world of gaming.

What’s popular now is Mobile Gaming.
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This has completely revolutionized the gaming industry. Groups of people can be seen crowding in an estate or local shopping mall to play PokemonGo!. For hardcore and next-generation gamers, MOBA (Multiplayer Online Battle Arena) has become a trend on handheld devices, cell phones to be specific. The power and reach of the gamer life continues to infect our society. A word of caution, however: computer-hosted MMORPGs are seriously addictive and it has the influence to turn any person into a stay-home geek. Graphics and user interface is ever advancing beyond typical games; featuring full length movies, exciting storylines, engaging characters, and mind-blowing cinematography. You can play and explore forever: there are entire alien worlds to discover, risky missions to accomplish, mystical treasures to unlock, and worldly records to beat.

Gaming tournaments and Comic Conventions are ever growing in popularity, not only influencing the entire realm of the gaming lifestyle, but tourism as well. The top competitors from all over the world, travel to the major tournaments and compete against one another for huge cash prizes. These players devote their lives to honing their skills on a select few games; encompassing their skillsets and it’s their craft, their job, and their passion. At the trade shows, the major & minor gaming companies tempt their fans with the latest technologies, attracting the media and fans on a global scale. It’s an extremely lucrative business.

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YouTube and Twitch.tv are the leading online streaming platforms. G4(United States) television network, also covers major tournaments and E3(Electronic Entertainment Expo), including line-ups entirely filled up with programs devoted to gaming: review and preview shows, technology shows, walk-through shows, and more.

With all this media attention: TV stations, tradeshows, tournaments, games with broad demographic appeal, sophisticated systems which turn into home entertainment centres, it’s a culture shock that enabled gaming to spread across the globe and continue to influence the lifestyles of future generations.

 

 

Written by Yoji Amashiro
Photograph by Yoji Amashiro

The Beauty of Cryptocurrency

I just had read a few chapters on a book called, ‘Silk Road: The Shocking True Story of The World’s Most Notorious Online Drug Market’
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Coincidentally, I’ve actually been toying with the idea of writing an actual post about it. As usual, I had no clue on where to begin. So here’s a brief introduction to crypto.

Crypto- ; is a prefix – which means concealed, secret.
The word crypto is derived from the Greek word, ‘kruptos’ which translates to ‘hidden‘.

It is unsure who actually coined the term ‘cryptocurrency’, but the term actually represents a digital or virtual currency that uses cryptography for security. A cryptocurrency is almost impossible to counterfeit due to its security features.
As of today, there are over 900 cryptocurrencies available throughout the virtual globe.

      Here are a list of some examples, including my favorite altcoins – ;

  • Ethereum
  • Litecoin
  • Ripple
  • Bitcoin Cash
  • Dash
  • Dogecoin
  • Ethereum Classic
  • Auroracoin
  • Bitcoin

Informatively, I wanted to write about the birth of Bitcoin and how it became implemented in the infamously known marketplace called ‘Silk Road‘ and it’s steady growth.

On November 1st, 2008, a man known by the alias of Satoshi Nakamoto, appeared on a cryptography mailing list who cited, “I’ve been working on a new electronic cash system that’s fully peer-to-peer, with no trusted third party.”

Satoshi Nakamoto officially released Bitcoin in February 2009 via an online post, stating how he humbly developed a new open source P2P e-cash system called ‘Bitcoin’, asking users to “give it a try”. He also provided a long-winded explanation about how technological advancements today have mad encryption of information available to the average computer user, in layman terms – “Users could secure their own data in a way that was physcially impossible for others to access.”
With that being said, Bitcoin is a decentralized cryptocurrency that is available for trading & investment purposes and purchasing things online, as opposed to fiat currency.
Now, I’m not going to state how much is Bitcoin currently worth at the moment, because – like all currencies, the value of Bitcoin is always fluctuating, however not so much to the point that it’s ‘volatile’ though.
These transactions occur between a transfer of value in Bitcoin wallets that gets included in the block chain. Bitcoin wallets keep a secret piece of data called a private key or seed, which is used to sign transactions, providing a mathematical proof that they have come from the owner of the wallet.

On a side note, if you are interested in trading Bitcoin, you can do so here at https://www.localbitcoin.com and view a (pip chart) chart here http://www.coinbase.com/charts

Now let’s dive back into the devil of the details.
Nakamoto later revealed to public that he started the design and coding of the currency back in 2007.
And I feel it would be natural to share some of his thoughts that he, himself had shared,
“The root problem with conventional currency is all the trust that’s required to make it work. The central bank must be trusted not to debase the currency, but the history of fiat currencies is full of breaches of that trust. Banks must be trustesd to hold our money and transfer it electronically, but they lend it out in waves of credit bubbles with barely a fraction in reserve. We have to trust them with our privacy, trust them not to let identity thieves drain our accounts. Their massive overhead costs make micropayments impossible.”
However, the big question is, how in the world did Satoshi Nakamoto made this imaginably possible? His invention only provided for a finite number of bitcoins to be ‘mined’. Of course, as more of them are mined, they grow in value and become more difficult to obtain. This resulted in a massive race for mining.

So, how does mining work?
Bitcoins were designed to be mined by computers performing and solving a series of complex mathematical equations. This means that the ‘miners’ are racing to see who can solve the most number of mathematical equations in a short period of time. The winner is of course rewarded with Bitcoin! Now this task was able to be accomplished with a home PC in the past, but right now as the equations evolve into more complex ones, it requires a vast amount of electricity and hi-tech hardware to complete the arduous task.
Sounds like this Satoshi guy is a freaking genius right?
Yep, he pretty much is. But the mysteriously weird thing is, nobody knows who the face behind the alias, ‘Satoshi Nakamoto’ really is. His ‘age’ 38, sex ‘Male’ and origin ‘Japan’ is truthfully unknown to be recognized as fact despite numerous attempts being made to find out who he really is! Satoshi Nakamoto is truly an underground wizard.

What is blockchain?
A blockchain is a decentralized digital ledger that facilitates secure online transactions. A blockchain is also used to record transactions that happens between computers all across the global network. In retrospect, the record cannot be altered without the collusion of the network, including altering all subsequent blocks.

There has been alot of controversy revolving around cryptocurrency due to it’s seedy nature. As a result, many smart investments are being withheld. In 2014, I met this lady called Summer Radtke, she had a pleasant personality and was outgoing. She also happened to be a CEO of a bitcoin exchange firm. She was later found dead in her own apartment after the Japan-based Mt.Gox exchange collapsed, resulting in a loss of $400 milion.
Personally, I have shared a similar experience in 2014, resulting in my thousands of dollars that was invested in Alphabay Marketplace to disappear mysteriously after the owner ‘exit scammed’ the users and vendors, getting away with over $40 milion USD worth of bitcoin. Despite the fallbacks, we remain a closed-knitted community and continue to keep our faith in Bitcoin.

Today, Bitcoin alone is worth USD$5,595/BTC.
I can safely say that cryptocurrency is making a comeback it will definitively shape more human lives in the future. Do look out for ICOs (Inital Coin Offerings) for Ethereum as we continue to revolutionize the digital age.

A little more information on what’s happening right now:

Don’t forget to stay in the circle!

Written by Yoji Amashiro
Photography taken by Yoji Amashiro

Coping with Anxiety & Stress

Keeping your Brain Sharp & Fit

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Earlier on today, despite having a day off of work and enjoying the afternoon to myself, watching animes and eating junk food, I experienced a very unhappy moment. Let me introduce a scenario; You are washing the dishes and suddenly the kitchen pipes burst. The drain water starts to leak from below the sink and the floors you’re standing on immediately get wet and becomes flooded. You then angrily proceed to claim the title of ‘King of The Kitchen’ and begin mopping the kitchen tiles. The boiling water that was planned to be used to prepare a cuppa coffee is done cooking and you get a tad bit overly excited, spilling the slimy contents of the bucket.. in which your good ol’ mop is in. ALL HELL BREAKS LOOSE.

So, how does one keep their brain sharp and fit? External and internal stimuli.
Find/Do things that can give your brain a type of stimulation. Preparing coffee/tea is one action that provides a feeling of calm and satisfaction. To be honest here, nothing beats having a zen moment and practicing meditation. Not your cup of tea? Read a book!

When you realize that you are very angry and this is not going to help in the upcoming discussion with your partner,  decide to take a few deep breaths (emotional self regulation).
When you weigh the pros and cons of staying at your current positions versus applying for a new job in a new city(decision making).
When you decide to refrain from eating that chocolate bar because this would be against your diet rules (inhibition).

  • Decision making: the ability to make decision based on problem solving, incomplete information and on emotions(both ours & others).
  • Working memory: the capacity to hold in mind and manipulate information in real time.
  • Emotional self regulation: the ability to identify and manage one’s own emotions.
  • Sequencing: the ability to break down complex action into manageable units and prioritize in the right order.
  • Inhibition: the ability to withstand distractions and internal urges.

Discipline is key, boys and girls. Remember that!
Stay away from drugs, negative influences and situations. Although I would like to state that seeing a psych or a counsellor is nothing to be ashamed of. Also, don’t EVER hesitate to seek prescription drugs if you feel the need and are unable to cope with the anxieties and stresses of life.

 

Written by Yoji Amashiro
Artwork by JungleEye