What It’s Like To Graduate Abroad

In just a few short days, I will walk across the stage, shake hands with the dean, be handed a blank diploma holder, and put my tassel on the other side. Yes, I am talking about graduation.

Here in America we have certain traditions where we wear special gowns and move are tassels to the other side to signify a step forward. These milestones might also include a large celebration and even some alcohol. As I gear up to enter the real world, I thought it might be interesting to find out how other countries celebrate graduation. Take a look:

the-venue

Via City University London

UK: According to a commenter on Toytown Germany, graduates also have to wear gowns and they have a ceremony. The parent explains that his/her daughter had a “leaving ceremony where a band played, top pupils received prizes then each school-leaver was handed their certificate.” I would say that sounds very similar to how we celebrate graduation in America.

Norway: There appears to be some interesting traditions at graduations in Norway. In a forum on UniLang, a commenter explained that students take part in a celebration called “russ” that lasts from May 1 to May 17. The interesting thing is that each student wears a different outfit depending on what they have studied. So for instance if you studied only general subjects, you would wear red. However, if you also studied economy your outfit would be blue. This is kind of similar to how we each will have different color tassels depending on what school you’re graduating from here at Mizzou.

Germany: I find it interesting that in Germany, they do not seem to make a big deal out of graduation. In the forum Toytown Germany, another commenter said, “there’s no interest from the Germans to be so grandiose in their educational degreement.” According to this commenter, her husband who graduated from a school in Germany just received his degree, no real fan fare. From what I understand though, Germany takes great pride in its educational system. One would think graduation might be a bigger deal there.

Via Russian World Forums

Via Russian World Forums

Russia: According to blogger for Sparklife, Russian students wear very different attire from what we wear here in America for graduation. Sara Jonsson said girls tend to wear black dresses with aprons. It’s supposed to be “in homage to their Tsarist-era” school uniforms. I honestly might opt for these outfits than the ugly, non-form fitting gown I have to wear on Friday, but I guess that’s neither here nor there. Russian students also line up in front of the whole school, and then leave to party on

Graduation traditions are obviously not just an American way of life. It’s clear many other countries have their own way of celebrating the big day. I am curious what your favorite graduation tradition is?

 

A Film to Make You Stop and Think

Scarlett Johnasson’s most serious film to date is currently running its course in art house cinemas across the country. While some have criticised Under The Skin as being boring or not giving enough answers, I found it kept me on the edge of my seat and caused me to truly think once it was over.

If you already plan on seeing the film, please pause here and continue reading after you’ve seen it, as I do not want to sway your opinion. Also, there is a rape scene in the film, so do consider this your trigger warning. If you don’t plan on seeing it, let me tell you what it’s about, so the next time you’re having coffee with some intellectuals, you can pretend you saw a real horror film. Or maybe you’ll want to see it for yourself. The film is based on the book, by the same title, written by Michael Faber.

In Under The Skin, Johansson plays a strange woman who drives around a Scottish city in a cargo van all day pretending to be lost until she finds a man with few personal relationships, lures him back to her house which her sexuality, and traps him in a black murky pool where he slowly dies, after undressing to have sex with her.

Johansson’s character, who by the way, is unnamed in the film, seems to have an alien perspective of humanity. Throughout the film she is followed by a man on a motor cycle who disposes of evidence that the men Johansson’s character preys on even existed.

One of the men being trapped by Johansson.

One of the men being trapped by Johansson.

The turning point in the film comes when Johansson preys on a disfigured young man who has never even had a girlfriend. After trapping her in the black pool like the other men, a sense of reluctance and reflection overcomes her and she sets him free, only to be killed by the motor cyclist. Johansson, in the meantime, runs away, presumably to avoid being killed by the motor cyclist. Her identity as an alien being is perpetuated to the viewer when she chokes and spits out a bite of chocolate cake at a restaurant. She’s then taken in by a man she meets on a bus, but runs into the forrest after he tries to have sex with her. What follows is an attempted rape of Johansson’s character, who we then discover is not actually human. Or is she?

Johansson in the woods in Scotland

Johansson in the woods in Scotland

In reflecting on the film, I found a great deal of meaning in it; more than any film I’ve seen in several years (and I see about 100 films per year). On surface it’s a weird, if not horrific film, whose soundtrack and plot are almost on par with Kubrick’s The Shining. But dig deep and the film tells us what it means to be human. The first half of the film illustrates, specifically to men, what it’s like to be raped. The second half then shows how women are treated like objects by men in our society. The end, as well as a handful of moments throughout the film, show us how anyone can be made to feel alien and question their own identity.

If you did see the film and are still confused on the plot, Alex Jones actually explains it pretty well (despite seemingly like a Rush Limbaugh style commentator):

iO9’s Charlie Jane Anders blogged about her interview with director Jonathan Glazer. Apparently the public scenes of the film were really shot in public and secretly so that people wouldn’t notice. While the men Johansson did abduct were actors, there were interactions with men she didn’t abduct, and Glazer said those were surprisingly hard to get:

“Scarlett Johansson pulls up, [and] in you get… some were suspicious. Some were wary. Some were frightened. You see a whole range of complexity of how men do respond to that scenario.”

Anna Beddeley blogging for the UK site The Spectator makes a good point about how certain aspects of the film are hard to follow:

“In the film, Scarlett tricks the men back to her house on the promise of sex, and does a striptease while her victim unknowingly wades into a dark pool. It is very stylised and lovely to watch, but you have no idea what the point of it all is, apart from an excuse to see Scarlett’s bum. There is a fine line between ambiguity and laziness.”

I, however, disagree with Beddeley’s assertion that Glazer is being lazy with the ambiguity. As I stated earlier, I think the film is meant to make you think about the role women play in society. It is not meant to make you think about sexy aliens coming to eat you, which is why Glazer takes that detail out of the film.

UK Steps In As Global Food Fraud Continues To Rise

When I was a child, going to the grocery store with my mother each week was an adventure… now it is a nightmare.

The same excitement that filled my eyes as I raced through the aisles, sneaking snacks into the cart is now replaced with disappointment.

Why the change? Well on top of now being restricted to a few aisles of high-priced organic products, now I have to worry if the food I am buying is actually what the label says it is.

Yes, believe it or not, food fraud, is at all time high.

ore than 1,200 tonnes of fake or substandard food and nearly 430,000 litres of counterfeit drinks have been seized in Operation Opson III an INTERPOL-Europol coordinated operation across 33 countries in the Americas, Asia and Europe. (Interpol)

More than 1,200 tonnes of fake or substandard food and nearly 430,000 litres of counterfeit drinks have been seized in Operation Opson III an INTERPOL-Europol coordinated operation across 33 countries in the Americas, Asia and Europe. (Interpol)

“Most people would be surprised at the everyday foods and drink which are being counterfeited, and the volume of seizures shows that this is a serious global problem,” said Michael Ellis, head of Interpol’s Trafficking in Illicit Goods and Counterfeiting unit.

Last year, media outlets reported on February 25, seven in 10 lamb kabobs sold in British takeout restaurants were bulked up with cheaper meats and on March 14 that pork DNA had been found in a school’s chicken sausages. Another reported that 90 percent of South African kudu (antelope) jerky was actually horse, pork, beef, giraffe, kangaroo—or even endangered mountain zebra (Food Quality & Safety).

Key aims of Operation Opson are the identification of the organized criminal networks behind the trafficking; development of practical cooperation between the involved law enforcement, food and drug agencies and private companies; and to raise awareness of the dangers posed by counterfeit and substandard foods. (Interpol)

Key aims of Operation Opson are the identification of the organized criminal networks behind the trafficking; development of practical cooperation between the involved law enforcement, food and drug agencies and private companies; and to raise awareness of the dangers posed by counterfeit and substandard foods.
(Interpol)

As a conscious consumer, this is quite disheartening. Never would I have imagined that the beef I purchase could actually be horsemeat, or that road salt is being sold as food salt, or those organic eggs I bought last week could actually be battery-caged eggs (EPRS, 2014).

Right now, there is no EU definition of food fraud, but it is best explained as food that is placed on the market to intentionally decieve the consumer.

For instance, in Italy an organized crime network behind the distribution of fake champagne was discovered. In Bangkok, Royal Thai Police recovered more than 270 bottles of fake whiskey, as well as forged stickers, labels and packaging. Officials in the Philippines seized nearly 150,000 fake stock cubes, and French police identified and shut down an illegal slaughterhouse on the outskirts of Paris. (Europol, 2014)

Wales blogger Sian advises readers to turn to their own pantry, and make their favorites dishes from scratch. But while that may be a healthier alternative, what do you do when even the basic ingredients are counterfeit?

To tackle the age-old problem, a new five-year project, led by the UK’s Food and Environment Research Agency (FERA), will attempt to close gaps in counterfeit food research.

The Food Integrity project is supported by 12 million euros of EU funding, and brings together 38 international partners.

“The UK has some of the highest standards of food safety in the world and is home to some of the best minds in science,” said Defra Minister for Food George Eustice. “I’m immensely proud that we have been chosen to drive world-leading, cutting-edge research that will improve our ability to prevent food fraud.”

For more information, visit www.fera.co.uk/events/foodIntegrity2014.

Chagall

Burn Baby Burn

Let’s say you had some extra cash sitting around and decided to buy a painting that had not been authenticated.  20 years later, you decide to find out if the painting is real or fake. After finding out your painting was in fact a forgery, you then find out it’s going to be burned according to an ancient French law meant to protect the rights of artists. This is what happened to a man named Martin Lang.

“Nude” from 1909-1910 was recently discovered to be a fake Chagall painting on the show “Fake or Fortune”. (Telegraph 2014)

Lang was recently part of the reality show Fake or Fortune, which investigates  “lost masterpieces, forgers and Nazi looted art” (TVO, 2014). They want to discover the story behind works of art. After much research, the only way to have Lang’s Chagall painting authenticated was to send it to France, which is where the problems began.

A committee consisting of two of Chagall’s granddaughters and other authenticators determined that Lang’s painting was a “very bad copy“, which means they have the right (and it is customary in France to use this right) to destroy the painting.

This brings up an interesting point. When it comes to property, who decides what gets to be done with it? The artist (or their descendants) who create the art? Or the people who buy the art? In the UK, the person who buys the property, fake or not, has the final say with what happens to it. Unfortunately for Lang, in France, that is not the case.

In an article written by Philip Mould, one of the hosts of Fake or Fortune, he lists several alternatives to destroying the painting. Instead of destroying it, the painting could be donated to an art museum to help identify other forgeries. He also makes the point that once a painting is burned, it is gone forever. So if future technologies are created that could verify the authenticity of the painting, it would be too late. The descendants of the artists could have destroyed an actual piece created by their relative.

Turner PaintingThis actually happened on Fake or Fortune. Three paintings by J.M.W. Turner that were believed to be forgeries inthe past have recently come to be regarded as originals through investigation. (NYTimes.com,2012) What if they had been burned?

I understand where the law is coming from, but to me it just seems so permanent. The law is meant to protect the rights of artists and discourage people from forging their work. However, it seems to me the people who are being hurt by this law are not the forgers, but the patrons of fine art.

I definitely support the UK standpoint of when you buy a painting, it is yours to do with as you please. Why do descendants of artists, who may or may not have been trained in the artistic style of their relative have the right to decide what happens to the painting? Wouldn’t it be better to label the work of art as a fake, but allow future generations to interpret the work as they will?

What do you think? Do you think a French law should let artists (or their descendants) burn paintings that have been determined as forgeries? Or is it the right of the person who bought the painting to decide what they get to do about it?

Martin Lung Petition

If you disagree with the ruling, there is a petition you can sign here.

Essay Competition for Youth Unemployment Solutions puts Money on the Line

Jobs Vanish

Image featured on the Henry Jackson Initiative website for the national competition in Britain to solve youth unemployment.

As youth unemployment is stretched far and wide across Europe, countries like Greece and Spain are currently taking the hardest hit. Britain has also taken notice to this trend and despite the number of jobs increasing; about 1 in 5 young people in the UK is unemployed.

According to an online article by The Telegraph,

“Globally, an estimated 75m under-25s are looking for work, with Greece and Spain suffering high levels of youth joblessness at above 50pc.”

In an effort to generate some creative and innovative ideas to decrease youth unemployment the Henry Jackson Initiative has joined forces with The Telegraph Media Group Limited to form a national competition in Britain, which is being sponsored by Sir Alec Reed, founder of Reed Specialist Recruitment.

What better way to spark a little friendly competition than to throw in a prize? £10,000 pounds to be exact, which equals out to be about $16,000 US dollars! That is certainly a lot of money at stake to complete an essay which is similar to a basic college assignment. There is also the possibility to gain some publicity by being published by The Daily/Sunday Telegraph and online at telegraph.co.uk.

If I was eligible to participate and interested in writing an essay (no more than 1,000 words) to help my country and win money I would say, sign me up! It’s like a civil duty not only to Britain, but to everyone affected by the Eurozone crisis and youth unemployment. Think about a serious issue, create an opinion and offer some solutions.

The general Terms and conditions are as follows according to HJI website:

 “This competition is open to residents of the UK, Channel Islands, Isle of Man and Republic of Ireland aged 18 years or over, except for employees of Telegraph Media Group Limited and the Henry Jackson Initiative, their agents or anyone else professionally associated with the competition.”

Submissions are due by midnight on Friday, December 14, 2012 and the winner is to be notified by January 25, 2013. For more terms and conditions visit the Henry Jackson Initiative website.

Leading up to the announcement of the competition the Henry Jackson Initiative posted great links to their Facebook page about overall youth unemployment awareness. (Click the images to check out their Facebook Page.)

The Telegraph Facebook Post

The Telegraph Facebook Post

The Telegraph Facebook Post

The Telegraph Facebook Post

It would be great to see this competition successfully executed in Britain and for countries like Greece and Spain to take notice. It might not be possible to offer the same kind of incentive, but it would be great for other people to also take part in generating ideas to better their home countries.

 

And for now I leave you with this…

“The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination.” – Albert Einstein

Across Borders: A Parkour Generation

MontrealPK-Oct02-2005033

Human motion need not be delimited by carefully-set sidewalks nor inhibited by obstacles. Leap over walls, swing from the rafters to get to your next destination via le method naturelle. The spectacle often leaves average pedestrians awestruck in the dust. Parkour enthusiasts, called traceurs, draw unique lines of approach to this sport of urban free-running and develop their philosophies from the spirit of it. The movements evoke practitioners’ primitive sides while the discipline places them vis-à-vis with moments of fear and truth about the psychological and physical limits. The conceptualization of parkour breaks down ideas of spatial and social confinement, which have restricted our harmony with our environment. As one enthusiast put it, “The idea that the only way to get to the second floor is from the inside of a building is preposterous.”

Nicola

The community’s consensus is that this adrenaline-pumped martial art was born in Lisses, France, where modern legends-in-the-making like Sébastien Foucan and Jérôme Ben Aoues expressed their free-flow style by jumping, flipping, scaling, leaping along their own paths with exceptionally acrobatic, and distinctly defiant, French flair since the 1990s. Here, skateboarding was not allowed and public playgrounds had rules against this type of play. They developed a sport that complemented surrounding architecture in creating alternate, and often impressive, routes of transit for the nonconformist traveler. The style quickly spread throughout the United Kingdom, Europe, and the Americas. Parkour Generations America started in 2005 with a runabout rendezvous – here is their showreel: http://youtu.be/lD3_Fn0erPw

 

The most spectacular stunts are done among rooftops, but fundamentals should be learned at ground level. Today, online organizations like ParkourGenerations.com and Monkeyspirit.org seek to inspire young French traceurs by providing tips, tricks, and testimonials from those who have become proficient in the art of creative movement. The masters teach use of fundamental and natural motions, mental rehearsal, and hard work to become fluid in the art of manipulating your horizon, because after all, “the art of moving is about hard training.” Exercise regimes challenge cardiovascular systems, build core strength and improve muscular endurance. The essence is in the footwork, the hand placement, the unique flow of the individual in their route and how they assess obstacles. Uncontested sensei Sébastien Foucan explains that, in his experience, “practice is best done alone…to be focused in yourself. When you are alone you’re a little bit afraid and you need to find why and the solution.” And Monkeyspirit.org urges hopefuls in its introduction not to put the cart before the horse. “The flow comes from years of hard work. Even apes and monkeys practice all the day long during their childhood learning from their parents.”
IMG_9454

 

Groups like UrbanFreeFlow and Freemouv display skill at international competitions, most recently this July in the French Alps and in August in Wisconsin, USA. Their talents have also been displayed in such recent films as 007 James Bond: Casino Royale and Jump Britain. Foucan recently helped K-Swiss develop the Ariake, the first freerunning and parkour shoe. Nikon and GoPro have contests to sponsor amateurs in creating parkour videos for the web.

To date, the writer has personally adopted many movements of Animal Planet in conquest of free-running basics. Visualize me at 25, meditating at dawn and practicing throughout Missouri’s karst landscape during my frequent hiking trips. I still get the urge to climb to the top of the playground tower and every other imposing structure I come across. As a novice, I hurt my ankle while leaping between platforms last month and haven’t been as spry since. I should have been wary of encouraging instructions that included the phrase, “various opportunities to jump off the roof.”

 

Ultimately, parkour is for hard-chargers, fast runners, young kung fu masters, trapeze artists, and those kids who grew up having the most fun on the school playground. It continues to be rapidly embraced by a generation of unprecedented physicality and philosophy: a parkour generation.

parkour9.JPG

Changing Politics-European Drug Laws and You.

There have been many events in the recent past where there has been cause for questioning our ideologies on what rules to impose on information, but now we are looking at censorship not on a media level, but on a chemical informational level. For example, why is it illegal to imbibe a safe and even health promoting amount of the therapeutic drug MDMA, but it is not illegal for people to be put through a rape scene in a movie?  Furthermore, why are people allowed to put limitations on what people metabolize in their bodies?

Questions need to be answered and in order to set the scene for these questions and answers here is a slight bit of information regarding recent UK troubles in this area…A British Professor (David Nutt) and neuropsychopharmacologist dedicated to the study of Pharmacokinetics and Pharmacodynamics was recently fired from his lofty position of adviser on a UK Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs for what this writer will consider a strange reason. He was fired for essentially publishing a pamphlet where he espoused ideas that the UK’s drug laws, are from a moral standpoint, wrong. The kicker must have been his suggestion that the drugs class system (the levels of scheduled drugs) be changed to reflect the dangers of drugs as opposed to political motivations. For more information on the position of the ex-professor Nutt kindly click this interview link. EX-NUTTSPEAKS!

These advisories function as the epitome-consider-er of substances which are being misused and  appears to be capable of having harmful effects sufficient to cause a social problem.  As such, there are a couple primary factors pushing the consideration to change present drug laws. For the UK, there is a vested interest in the relationship between drug and alcohol abuse. Reformers are calling for this consideration due to the fact that they know drugs and alcohol abuse stem from the root of something. Why are people taking drugs, what kind of lives push the use and abuse of drugs, and does prohibition actually help this political and economic equation are the kinds of questions being asked at the moment.

Some Current Drug prohibition thoughts-

“Drug prohibition is a blessing for organized crime”, said Dennis de Jong, Dutch Member of the European Parliament. “My own government unfortunately is now moving towards more repression on the coffee shops. Instead of the more reasonable approach towards regulation, the authorities now want to ban foreign visitors by installing membership cards, which will only increase the illegal market”– Via 420 Magazine

In the recent events involving an essential recreating of drug laws there is a clear focus on …

…the harms of prohibition and the law reform debate – obviously directly reinforced by a number of the other questions.” –Via Transform-Drugs.blogspot.com

UK drug laws

Another important idea to consider is the actual comparative harm of legal and illegal drugs and the cost of them. To help set the scene here are some current working definitions of drug prohibition law. For example, in the US a schedule 1 drug is considered a drug with no medical value and high potential for abuse. On the list of Schedule 1 drugs is marijuana. This writer is struck by the idea that the working definition for scheduled drugs has to do with medical and abuse potential and in fact, marijuana has high medical value and low abuse potential. This combined with the fact that Methamphetamine, a highly toxic and abusive drug, is only listed as schedule 2…making it politically less harmful than marijuana. There is a certain strangeness to the idea that the government doesn’t want more harmful things to be illegal while less harmful things, or even things with a perceivable medical value would be at the top of an illegal list.

Considering prohibition also brings up the dual opposite notion of decriminalization of drug use. People used to follow the ideology that less lenient drug laws would provide for a more drug abusing culture. Currently, countries such as the Netherlands and Portugal have shown that decriminalization does NOT lead to increased use, but in fact provides….

…safer conditions for drug consumers, and more efficient approaches in law enforcement. The same goes for Spain: “In the Basque country, the Cannabis Social Club model, a form of collective cultivation of cannabis for personal use, has been recognized by authorities and proves to be a very successful approach that is not questioned”, explained Martín Barriuso.

To see who is leading the way in drug policy—>Netherlands drug policy

So I leave you with these kernels of information.  It is your duty as a citizen of this world to safeguard your freedoms and to be the amalgamation of all the information you come in contact with.  I hope that this information is used and dispersed, and it has been a joy to share with all of you.

-new announcement regarding new UK drug laws and the factors involved…..>>>>>….click here….

Anon & Iran Mixing With Tor vs. the Panopticon:: Interesting Implications

18th century England,  through its social theorist Jeremy Bentham , manifested the European notion of the Panopticon.

The concept of the design is to allow an observer to observe (-opticon) all (pan-) inmates of an institution without them being able to tell whether or not they are being watched. The design comprises a circular structure with an “inspection house” at its centre, from which the managers or staff of the institution are able to watch the inmates, who are stationed around the perimeter.”

–comment from Wikipedia’s Panopticon Article

Now take a jump from the 18th century to current times.  If we were to take a look at current European censorship laws would find that there is a long history dealing with the idea of limited information and now-a-days we find that the UK itself is counted amoung the strictest censorship laws (being centered upon the ideas of censorship of motion pictures, video games and Internet sites).

The hope is that you the readers, will help to insist that strong safeguards for the privacy of the individual are implemented, especially in these times of increased alert over possible terrorist or criminal activity. If the systems which should help to protect us can be easily abused to suppress our freedoms, then the terrorists will have won.”

–Courtesy of the UK based SpyBlog

It was once written that…

Any fair-minded person with journalistic experience will admit that during this war official censorship has not been particularly irksome. We have not been subjected to the kind of totalitarian ‘co-ordination’ that it might have been reasonable to expect. The press has some justified grievances, but on the whole the Government has behaved well and has been surprisingly tolerant of minority opinions. The sinister fact about literary censorship in England is that it is largely voluntary.”

-– George Orwell

This notion of the panopticon has steadily taken effect and is being realized as we speak through the use of the internet, credit cards, and other such ventures.  With sites such as Facebook monitoring all our likes and dislikes, what we do and who we do it with are being cataloged by programs trying to discern patterns out of human lives. We are essentially facing the idea of a virtual prison where we must always assume we are being watched.  This is not something we should condition ourselves with, and programs like Tor are helping stem the pan-optical growth, but without a mass of individuals fighting against this injustice cohesively freedom and privacy  will eventually be filtered out of the human experience.  There is a global understanding that people in this society are feeling powerless and trapped within the developing internet panopticon and a call is being made for the need of the…

“assistance of external, detailed, informed, public scrutiny to help them to resist deliberate or unthinking policies, which erode our freedoms and liberties.”

–(comment courtesy of spyblog.org.uk)

Coupling this notion with the example of political instability of Iran, there should be no question that the government or other governing systems rule the media.  For example, in a country such as Iran the media can only report what their superiors let them report. With this in mind, here is some information on the Inform Iran movement and the projects that they are pursuing along with some insights pertaining to new character archetypes developing in this global world such as that of the new archetypal figure of “Anon.”

For one thing, Iranian people and their supporters are using a computer program dubbed the Tor Project. This is essentially how they have been communicating and connecting to rally those who are unhappy with the current regime of government. Imagine if you would, a secondary layer of internet that is secure and can go past sites that have censors on them. With a simple installation of Tor, your computer becomes part of a greater internet consciousness allowing this new layer more bandwidth by sharing your own. This project is a node of connection that allows more and more information to flow in and out of different revolutionary groups. All you have to do is essentially set the program up and keep it on or in hibernate mode and you will be doing your part in helping such political reactionary groups or simply being anonymous in your own internet dealings. So if you have ever felt the need to have privacy on the internet, downloading programs such as Tor or freegate this is step one.

An interesting implication to the idea of a Tor network is that it works based of creating different connected nodes which spread the overall network out in a free and without corporate sponsorship, internet connection. Why might people not want such a thing? For starters it would take money away from the corporations selling internet as a resource. We must ask ourselves in such unique times, why is free information being sold, and why haven’t we been just doing this ourselves? With a constant bridge between each computer that is on, we could have global internet for free.

Another funny idea that comes along with the advent of a global, free internet is the idea of the anonymous character archetype. The virtual bully, the villain without a form to attack. We see such identities on websites that have been censored such as 4chan with their /b (or random channel) which is made of individual beings that come together to form the idea of Anon. The anonymous god of the internet, blessing those it chooses to with information, while at the time time tearing down religious groups such as Scientology.

–image via Flickr

With these thoughts in mind we must ask ourselves how we feel about the fact that there are anonymous presences on the internet, actively working in real life to overthrow governments, or simply just to have privacy.  In a day and age where privacy has succumbed to the vast machine’s virtual panopticon (the grid), shall we do our part to ensure ourselves privacy?  OR is all information simply there to be filtered through by programs and people alike, searching for your patterns and your essential identity?

Just things to think about.

Wales to Bump Booze out of Media?

liquor

"liquor-table" courtesy of octal on Flickr

Alcohol companies in Wales spend 800 million Euros annually for marketing, and some groups in Wales are concerned about the message that this sends to youth, and how it could influence rates of binge drinking. To address the issue, Alcohol Concern Cymru is recommending regulated alcohol price increases, that producers be prohibited from sponsoring sports teams, and that their advertisements be banned from television and radio where the proportion of under-18 viewers or listeners is at least 10% of the audience.

And Health Minister Lesley Griffith agrees that the government should enact heavy restrictions, saying, “We would like to see the introduction of a minimum price for alcohol, and we also believe the advertising of alcohol should be much more restricted, with consideration given to a complete ban.”

In Wales it is illegal for anyone under the age of 18 consume alcohol, the exception being that someone over 18 can order a beer or a glass of wine at a restaurant for someone who is at least 16. (Click here for more information about alcohol laws in the UK.)

Countries throughout Europe have banned certain aspects of alcohol marketing, but Alcohol Concern Cymru seems to be steering Wales into the footsteps of France, which has some of the strictest regulations in Europe. There you won’t find a single alcohol ad on television or the internet, and alcohol producers are forbidden from sponsoring sports teams.  In Sweden, advertising is only allowed for class 1 drinks, which mostly just includes light beer.

The United States seems to be less concerned about alcohol marketing, which is not regulated by government, although television advertising of tobacco products is prohibited by law. The reason for the lack of government regulation is perhaps due to careful self-regulation by the industry. As a standard, alcohol ads are not placed in media where more than 30% of the audience is below the legal drinking age, which is 21 years old.

Not everyone agrees that stricter regulations are necessary—certainly not the alcohol industry. The Portman Group, an association of some of the largest alcohol producers in the UK, thinks that alcohol marketing regulations are sufficient and sufficiently enforced, and believes that targeting advertising is misguided. “We have to get past this myth once and for all that exposure to alcohol marketing causes children to drink,” a Portman Group spokesperson said, adding that youth alcohol consumption in Wales is no higher than it’s been in the past. In fact, she claimed that official figures have shown “levels of alcohol consumption and misuse have been in decline in Wales for at least five years and this has been achieved without any intervention on price or availability.”

The Portman Group has launched several responsible drinking campaigns in the past, including providing 5 million Euros annually to the independent charity Drink Aware. Links to the Drink Aware website are included on all advertisements published by members of the association.

Co-written by Olivia Marsh.

Printers Printing Printers ….. The Printers the limit baby!

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Printers printing printers. A concept that my friends and I have long toyed with. So in saying that….Welcome to the future where the creation reigns and your only limit to what you can construct would be your printer and your materials. Instead of going out and buying your friend, child, or whoever some present, people all over the world are being offered the opportunity to simply create again.
The prototype 3D printer under development by Artur Tchoukanov and Joris Peels allows people to design figurines and shapes on a computer (possibly the future YOUR PHONE!), and then print them (IN PLASTIC) and out to play with. We must ask ourselves what kind of worldwide implications are at hand when your children can start to make their own toys and adults can start to be more self sufficient in the printing of nails or other tools, maybe even houses.. Instead let us stand up in and chant HUZZAH in the idea that you don’t have to buy things for your children any more (other than a printer which of course could print other printing printers) As Arthur Tchoukanov would say….
Let them make their own!
Origo’s concept video is very basic, but it gives you a good idea of what Tchoukanov and Peels hope to accomplish. A computerized interface allows whoever to digitally construct and design a shape, and then the printer creates it in an hour (+). A machine that takes your thoughts and transfigures them into material objects to be understood by those who only operate in the 5 sense realm..fun for the entire family?
As heard from singularityhub….
“Origo is still in the prototype phase, but its creators have openly discussed some of the ultimate specs on their Twitter feed and Facebook page, as well as on their main site. We should expect the 3D printer to have a USB port, wireless connectivity, a price around $800, and it will use 3Dtin as its design software.
Word on the internet street is that the printer will be able to print out objects between the size of a medium or large jar, which is about the size of its interior space. Of course larger or complex objects will take longer to print than smaller or simpler designs. One of the more difficult things to get around with this wonderful object is its material costs which were quoted at…
$40 to $400 a kilo for plastic!
However it seems as though with time the company will try to find a lower price, however presently they aren’t able to say exactly how.
Probably one of the most exciting aspects of this printer (other than the fact that you are creating and designing things from the ground up…) would be its recyclable nature. The “recycling pod” Origo is coming up with would be able to break down old objects and of course be used in the printing of new objects.
Look for yours soon, because I know that I will be printing printers to print more printers printing printers and have the last one print out nanobots that repair all my other printing printers really, really soon. In fact on the UK side of things To orient ourselves towards the direction of global context we should also examine the UK side of things Dr. Adrian Bowyer, from the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Bath has actually created a 3d printer that will print other 3d printers all for the price of less than £500. Below is an image of the ReRap (Bowyer’s product).
Capable of Printing out other 3d printers

Rerap 3d Printer

The idea is that 3d printing works like the current printers we use however, instead of dispensing ink to a page it layers different materials such as plastic alloy which in time will become a solid object.
The raw material for the printer is a cheap plastic, typically from recycled material. Dr. Bowyer said a 1Kg drum cost about £30.
This idea is one that will have a holistic effect worldwide. Wherever these exist a creative outlet exists. The modern consciousness worldwide is one of disease due to seeing people as simply resoureces and a loss of creativity on our basic level. Let’s hope that this allows us to begin again creating and sharing as people were meant to.

DJ’s Mortal Remains in Vinyl

RIV - need copyrightRob Perkins, a disc jockey from Munich, Germany since 1991, is best known for his performances in radio and television. While most of his work as a DJ is in Germany, he also works at private parties worldwide. This German DJ has a funky idea of the perfect resting place after death.

The online British company andvinyly.com makes it possible for anyone to RIV (rest in vinyl.) This literally means you can have your cremated remains pressed into a vinyl record. These Vinyl records can be further customized by adding artwork and recorded music or a personal recorded message from the deceased.  The price for this service ranges from  $4600 – $7700 dollars.

The final resting place of the deceased varies depending on the culture. To the British culture, which is known for an ironic and dark sense of humour, the RIV solution may be completely appropriate, if not humorous. But the Germans are stereotypically thought to lack a sense of humor, especially from the viewpoint of the British. Additionally in Germany, the post-death tradition is: get rid of it as cheaply as possible.  So it’s no wonder if you are surprised that a German has decided to RIV.

Would you want to be remembered this way? How does RIV spin in your culture?