Sunday, March 1, 2015

Oscars 2015



Tensions ran high and emotions ran higher at this year’s Oscars which served as a platform for the provocation of a lot of controversial issues, naturally demanding my attention. 

Racism is the first thing that comes to mind as the Oscars have been anointed many choice names from “Whitewashed Oscars” to “Oscarssowhite” and so on due to all of the acting nominees being Caucasian to which the Host Neil Patrick Harris cheekily remarked  “Tonight we honour the best and the whitest…I mean brightest”.


The bias of the Academy probably stems from the capitalistic nature of Hollywood where they tend to stick to tried and tested formulae when producing movies resulting in mainly stereotypical or historical roles for racially diverse actors. 


The situation was aggravated due to prior racial incidents namely the Ferguson shooting making the entire Oscars seem more racist than it actually was due to its lack of diversity. We mustn’t forget that in 2014 12 years a slave won the award for best picture, Lupita Nyong’o won the award for best supporting actress and Alfonso Curano won the award for best director for Gravity.

However this does not excuse the fact that there were incredible performances by actors of other races that weren’t appreciated, one that immediately comes to mind is breakout actor David Oyelowo who portrayed Martin Luther King Jr., and I admonish the Academy for that. I may be biased since Selma resonated strongly with me, but you didn’t need to watch the film to be moved to tears by John Legend and Common’s performance of “Glory” which incidentally won the award for best original song and exploded on the internet for making the audience cry particularly Chris pine.



John Legend’s acceptance speech also pointed out the harsh fact that there were more black people, 1 in 11 according to statistics, under correctional control than there were slaves in the 1850s. Granted that today’s justice system is in no way comparable to the severity of slavery this figure still seems too ludicrous to be true, but sadly it isn’t. 

Later on in the night the situation was further agitated when Sean Penn’s racist retort “who gave this son of a bitch a green card” was aimed at director Alejandro González Iñárritu and caused a major uproar among the public. This reaction was premature since the audience had no clue that Sean and Alejandro were close friends and that this was a running inside joke. I’m certain I speak on behalf of many of you when I say that this is the sort of relationship I share with my friends where our humour can be misconstrued as harsh in any scenario other than amongst us. 

In conclusion Should Sean Penn have said a racist joke on live TV? No. Should we take up arms against it? No.

Fortunately due to intermingling of races, in the future there will be no races and ipso facto no racial disputes.

Gender Equality was also addressed at the Oscars as Reese Witherspoon, Patricia Arquette and Julianne Moore initiated a campaign #askhermore aimed at getting the public to compel the media to ask female celebrities questions beyond their outfits.

Although petty, clothing rivalries and who wore it best competitions are all part and parcel of entertainment media. Celebrities know it, the public knows it. They exploit it, we devour it. Hence all those “controversial”, publicity attracting, see through/bare all outfits. It is a vicious cycle but one which celebrities themselves are partly responsible for peddling. It does accentuate how archaic the media machine that focuses on a woman’s dress rather than her opinions is.

 Arquette later went on to add, in her acceptance speech, that women don’t get paid equal amounts to their male counterparts, which resonated with the crowd and the community. The Gender pay gap is a global issue but at least in the US there is actual legislation that enforces Equal Pay.

The problem is that not enough lawsuits are being filed to make profit seeking companies fear litigation. Why the issue isn’t championed and challenged in court by those affected may be due to numerous reasons like lack of knowledge, personal disinclinations, contracts, difficulties in appraisal, etc.  


Suicide was another issue that was broached, specifically by producer Dana Perry in her acceptance speech for Crisis hotline: Veterans Press 1 as she shared her son’s tragic death from suicide.


This shone a light on the dark reality that suicide is the third leading cause of death for those between the ages of 10 to 24.It’s easy to forget that these are the most impressionable and influential years of our lives ,and the reason why bullying, bad parenting and associations are such critical concerns.



Best Screenplay award winner for the Imitation game ,Graham Moore, also revealed his troubled childhood, where he attempted suicide, offered this heartening statement “that kid out there who feels like she’s weird or she’s different or she doesn’t fit in anywhere. Yes, you do. You do. Stay weird, stay different”. 
 

  

Advocacy of such nature forces acceptance and a change in mentality engendering the message that it is alright to have such tendencies but it isn’t alright to hide them.

Seek help and Seek health because recovery is more than possible.           

The Oscars are generally considered to be superficial but this year the limelight was taken up by real issues. I applaud celebrities for their use of such a globally viewed stage to address such sensitive and serious subjects.

Congratulations.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Digging Up Diamonds: The 3rd Rock from the Sun



Dear Readers 

Welcome to the to the first ever installment of Digging up Diamonds. 

I didn’t have to dig deep to find today’s gem of a TV show pertinently and poetically phrased 3rd Rock from the sun.  Now I know you might say that this is quite a popular serial but sadly it is unheard of amongst our current generation and that is an injustice I must seek to right.

3rd rock from the sun tv show best sit com comedy scifi aliens


 3rd rock,as it is lazily referred to as, is a sitcom about a group of alien explorers that have come to earth (the 3rd rock from the sun) and disguised themselves to blend in amongst us and observe humanity.

3rd rock from the sun tv show best sit com comedy scifi aliens John lithgow joseph gordon levitt kristen johnston french stewart



Their short assignment becomes extended as they soon find themselves not only liking their own meat suits but the ones around them as well.  

 Now that the premise is set let me tell you what the show actually is.
It is an amalgam of science fiction and comedic genius with an anthropological overtone that makes us stop and think about how silly we all really are.
It is a coming of age story relatable to all ages; Encompassing topics such as sexuality, stereotypes,gender equality, self-identity, fitting in, addiction, family and life itself.
It is the quintessence of romance as by the ill timed end of the show you will have fallen in love with every character that you meet on their journey.
Strap yourselves in for a maelstrom of emotions where you’ll be shedding tears, laughing out loud, screaming at the screen with frustration and anger or just dancing because you’re  happy.

The novel ingenuity of the directors coupled with a demiurgic script and the passion, the talent and the chemistry the cast bring to their roles make this the perfect polygamous marriage between director, actor and author. The show won countless awards, beating out the infamous “Friends” series on many an occasion.

If you haven’t watched 3rd rock I suggest you do so immediately. I mean it. Right now. Go. Stop whatever it is that you are doing; blow off study or just quit work. Give your stereotypically autocratic boss the bird or perhaps even ask him to join you in watching the TV show because it is way more life changing than your jobs ever were. Go on Netflix or YouTube, what have you, and correct this colossal flaw of yours. 


Trust me when I say that it will be an out of this world experience for you, with an introspective twist.

That I can guarantee.  



Disclaimer: Although the article above is irresistibly persuasive, I advise you not to forego real life responsibilities just for the sake of watching a TV show. Follow a proper code of conduct, stay in school and don’t do drugs. But it is your life after all and the decisions you make are yours alone. I am not the king of you nor do I claim to be.  

Post Scriptum:  Apologies are in order. I’m sorry that my schedule’s been off to say the least what with work, my social life and a lot of unexpected deaths (as is their disposition) in the family. 

I apologise on behalf of humanity, its nature and norms.   


                                                                              

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Techs-Tiles: From the Titilating to the Terrifying to the not very well Thought out

Dear Readers

Since its inception in 30,000 BC Clothing has been one of the defining pinnacles of human civilization. The evolution of the utility of clothing started from humble Paleolithic beginnings as protection against the elements and transformed to encompass uniformity, self expression, culture, religion and many other facets.   

We are now reaching a milestone of great proportion as we seek to further add to its utility a wide range of functions by meshing clothing with circuitry.

The age of wearable technology is at hand. 


I’m sure by now you’ve all seen the Intel Edison powered ,3D printed spider dress, indefinitely one of the highlights of CES 2015.

CES 2015 Intel Edison powered Spider dress Anouk Wipprecht 3D printed wearable technology fashion inventions and smart Clothing

With its proximity sensor and collar of robotic claws ,which stab anyone invading the personal space of the wearer, Designer Anouk Wipprecht takes the concept of “playing hard to get” to a whole new level. Jokes aside, there is no arguing that this work of art is as mesmerizing as the creature of nature after which it is modeled. 

Some of her other notable work include:


  • A smoke dress which ,as advertised, creates a smoke screen if the wearer feels threatened. If the idea was to stealth however I have to say that a running smoking person would grab quite alot of attention.Other than that my main concerns would be smoke alarms,choking hazards and no smoking areas.  

 Smoke Dress Anouk Wipprecht Wearable Tech weird wired wondrous Fashion technology inventions and smart Clothing

  • A biometric dress called  Synapse which monitors moods and also has a proximity sensor ,similar to the spider dress but instead of claws has lights which flicker and increase in intensity depending on stress levels and invasion of privacy
video

  •  And the last,and frankly the least in the sense of body coverage, is a fantastical article of clothing dubbed Intimacy composed of smart e-foils that ,depending on heart rate and certain sensual social interactions, turn from opaque to transparent. 

Intimacy Smart Transparency clothing Anouk Wipprecht Wearable techWearable Tech weird wired wondrous Fashion technology inventions and smart Clothing

I’m all for the integration of wearable technology but having your clothes in essence reveal your inner thoughts and moods will indefinitely lead to conflict sooner or later and in a dynamic world with many external factors that affect your body and your mood this seems like  another avenue for misinterpretation. 
   
Speaking of which, the people of Japan have been the subject of constant misinterpretation; although they can’t really fault anyone but themselves. 
From their eerie tentacle featuring manga and anime to their bizarrely sexualized commercials it isn’t a wonder that they are considered, a little odd. However it is especially Japanese fashion and technology that go above and beyond the boundaries of norm to bring us creations that are magnificently and wondrously weird.  

One such creation is the Necomimi.

Necomimis are strap-on animatronic ears which claim to move in different ways by using brainwave sensor technology and translating your brain activity in order to determine your current mood, be it ear flopping calm or ear perking focus.

video

 
Necomimis come with interchangeable animal ear pieces and are utterly pointless.  


But wait! If you thought those silly accessories were a meow and a half then this next contraption is just purrfect for you.

Introducing Tailly for those of you who were just dying to get the complete outfit and just didn’t think you looked asinine enough. Tailly is a wearable belt that has sensors that measure your heart rate and as it increases the attached tail starts moving. So if by chance you see a person on the ground with a Tailly furiously wagging behind him, he or she is probably having a heart attack which leaves you with the following options. To take a selfie next to this unusual occurrence , to leave the weird sod to die there, or perhaps even to ease its passing.

video

I would recommend buying this if you are Japanese, a furry fetishist, making a glorified cat costume for Halloween or if you are Hugh Hefner (I know you are an avid reader buddy and I would love to see these on some playboy bunnies, live long and prosper!). 

Liz Katz playboy bunny Necomimi animatronic ears Emoki  Wearable Tech weird wired wondrous Fashion technology inventions smart clothing
But it is simply a ridiculous thought that anyone would wear this on a regular basis as their creators intended.


Fabrican Spray-on clothing Manuel Torres Wearable Tech weird wired wondrous Fashion technology inventions smart clothing
In Fashion the greater the reward the higher the risqué. In 2010 Manuel Torres proved just that as he revealed to the world a whole new form of fashion, spray-on clothing.


His invention the Fabrican used a customizable polymer based liquid fabric which could be sprayed via an aerosol can or a spray gun onto a surface to create an overlapping non woven cloth.
 

The demonstrations showed the fabric being spurted onto models framing every crevice, cleft and curvature of their body to create clothing that acted like second skin. But for those of us who are not yet comfortable in our own skin let alone a second layer molding it for the world to see, Fear not. The material can be pulled and tugged into less form fitting shape to save us our modesty.  The apparel is washable and ultimately re-usable and it can be recycled by dissolving the material and using it to create new clothing.

video

But Fabrican’s utility goes far beyond fashion. Manuel envisions his invention being used in the fields of medicine, from casts and medicine laced bandages to spray on trans-dermal drug delivery systems; Hygiene, from creating waterproof mattress coverings for use in hospitals to sponges to towels, etc; and Design as this can be sprayed onto any frame or surface from walls and floors to the interior of cars and many more, even giving 3d printing a little jog for its money.

However there are a few apparent issues with Fabrican.The First would be customization, which is key to Fabrican’s success. Unless there is a customizable refill system aerosol cans only offer so much customization, hence you will have to buy a spray gun.  Secondly; although the notion that you could create your own clothing with Fabrican is exciting unless you are a contortionist this seems like a two person operation .Creating your own clothing will indefinitely require a different process (possibly with frames) than is shown in the video demonstration. Finally the big question is: Would the whole process be more cost and time efficient than going out and buying retail clothes?

Fabrican’s Commercial launch is yet to be announced  

Wearable Solar is a prospect that utterly excites and enthralls me. Project Leader Christian Holland not only shared my passion; it would appear that we both approached the concept with the same vision.

Woodstock and Coachella.

Whether it is to know what band is playing when, to find out where you are, to call up your friends and let them know your location or to take those all important photographs which basically double as  bragging rights, a Smartphone becomes quite important at these festivals. Ergo Battery life becomes very crucial and charging becomes an issue, but not anymore.

Wearable Solar powered clothing Pauline Van Dongen Wearable Tech weird wired wondrous Fashion technology inventions smart clothing Pauline Van Dongen with the aid of physicist Dr. Gert-Jan Jorgerden, who specializes in Solar cell engineering, designed clothes that have solar panels integrated into them and can essentially power small gadgets. They claim that their dresses can restore a dead phone battery up to 50%, with only an hour of soaking up the sun.
Wearable Solar powered clothing Pauline Van Dongen Wearable Tech weird wired wondrous Fashion technology inventions smart clothing The main objective of all wearable technology is to find the perfect equilibrium between fashion and functionality. The Wearable Solar project is no different. Seamlessly fitting flexible solar cells into clothing to make them fashionable was quite the challenge but with flexibility came a price. The energy output requirements couldn’t be met by the thin flexible solar cells that were installed and thus the clothes had to be mounted with rigid solar cells (meant to be stationary) which left the designs looking too peculiar and conspicuous to go mainstream.

 A fabric comprising solely of advanced power generating solar cells would be ideal for making clothes but this only exists in the lab and is extremely expensive to fabricate let alone commercialize. The solar powered clothing of today is a tradeoff between flexibility, power production and cost. However, as with all technology, the outlay will go down and the future of wearable solar looks bright.


But if you are like me, impatient that is and think the future should be now, then perhaps you’ll be intrigued by this. A collaborative effort of Mobile Phone Company Orange and Got wind (a group of experts on renewable energy), Orange power Wellies are thermo electric Wellington boots which have a ceramic sandwiched thermocouple system that uses the heat from your feet to generate electricity.


video


However this is far more inefficient when compared to solar wear as you need 12 hours of loitering under your boots to have enough power to charge your Smartphone for an hour. But bear in mind that the hotter your feet get the more energy you produce. So to increase efficiency the creators of Orange Power Wellies encourage you, to get jiggy with it.

Sadly though, Power Wellies are still unavailable to the public.

Arduino Lilypad Leah Buechley inventions smart clothing Wearable Tech weird wired wondrous Fashion technology

The Arduino Lilypad created by Leah Buechley at MIT, is one of the first commercially launched wearable microprocessors.



Its ability to easily link with sensors and actuators and its low cost spurned an array of innovative, homespun and factory made creations.




The turn signal bike jacket is one such invention. Designed by Leah Buechley herself the jacket has LED lights attached to it which allows bikers to signal if they are turning left, right, going straight or at night just alerting traffic to their presence. Buttons are mounted onto the right and left sleeves of the jacket which when pressed; activate the LEDs on the back of the jacket. Biking can be quite dangerous especially in the later hours of the day and creations like this make it safer for all involved.

video

Among such useful and helpful items such as a bag that senses if your valuables are within its confines or if you didn’t pack them, etc, there are several Tech fashion Faux pas that are just wonderfully confounding. 

Design company Diffus has its own line of fashion technology. Using Arduino Lilypad microprocessors to power their fabrications they’ve come up with quite a few novel clothing items. The acclaimed Climate Dress is their most prized product. It responds to carbon dioxide levels in the air around the wearer using a sensor and lights up LEDs woven into the outfit. If you are aiming to be the Harbinger of a “carbon fuelled end of the world” scenario or you are just curious about your carbon footprint or those of others, I simply couldn’t recommend this enough.

Arduino Lilypad Climate Dress Diffus inventions smart clothing Wearable Tech weird wired wondrous Fashion technology

Another of their creative designs is the UV Dress. As the name would suggest it measures light intensities and responds by closing and opening apertures inserted into the dress itself. Again if you are a vampire or you have a horrid skin disease (in which case I’m truly sympathetic) I still wouldn’t recommend buying this. 

Other less known but more bizarre inventions are a matching pair of his and her underwear which vibrate when the wearers are around each other and a sound projecting strap article which is designed to keep the dancing wearer out, I repeat, OUT of synch with the music. 

Although these clothes seem silly, we mustn’t forget that novelty usually precedes norm, and the initiative these designers have, deserve appreciation.
      
There are countless other fascinating smart clothing products that I would’ve included from an electrocuting anti-rape bra to a sad hug-simulation vest to life saving heart rate monitoring cardigans for the elderly and diseased to smug smart socks and so many more, but alas time being the stern mistress that she is simply would not allow it. 

But there is no doubt that the amalgamation of circuitry and couture edges us towards the science fiction fantasy that we all dream the future to be like.

Heiwa

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Phraseology: "Calling Shotgun"



Dear readers

Welcome to first installment of

Phraseology Logo

It is in human nature to take for granted the things we use, the people we associate, and the phrases we say. Too long have we tossed around words like “sorry”, “love” and “mazletov” without giving a single thought to the weight the carry. 
But it is one particular phrase, impenitently caterwauled by every dense jock, dumb blonde and dim frat boy, which we have chosen to enlighten the populace about this day. 

That notorious phrase is “Calling Shotgun”

Phraseology Sawed off Shotgun 12 10 gauge art call riding

It infuriates me when I see the dull gleam in some ignoramus’ eye, froth forming around its mouth as it enthusiastically blabbers out these words with glee, utterly oblivious to the severity of the charge it has undertaken. 

Before my rage envelopes me and I start to introduce these dullards to my little friend (and I don’t mean my genitalia), let us delve into the origins of this infamous phrase.

Traversing the perilous routes of the Wild Dusty Old West was a testing task for any traveler stricken with wanderlust. Dangers lurked at every turn in the form of the elements, disease, beasts and especially man himself.

Bandits Chasing stage coach carraige call shotgun phraseology riding Bandits stalked the roads preying, on merchants, traders and carriages of all sort, at gunpoint. Protection became a desperate necessity for all voyages. The only solution present to the common folk was to fight fire with fire, or in this case buckshot with buckshot. By the late 19th century every station wagon carrying precious cargo had a guard, armed with a 12 gauge shotgun. Thus was coined the expression “Shotgun messenger”. The responsibilities and risk that comes with assuming this highly hazardous position next to the driver will make most of us think twice before squabbling over it again. 

Imagine it’s the late 18 hundreds and our leading man, the proverbial moronic man-child, is giddy at his claimed station. A shotgun in his hand and stupid smile plastered to his face. His head bobs gaily along to the rhythm of the cart now making its way along a dirt path. Its consignment, a strongbox full of gold. He gazes naively at a cloud of dust rapidly approaching the carriage. He’s too daft and it’s too late when he realizes that it’s a posse of outlaws that bears down at them. Soiling his breeches he fumbles at the shotgun. Too daft, too late. A volley of bullets rains down upon them and his body is soon as hollowed out as his head was. Such was life in the merciless plains of untamed America. 

Keen instinct, marksmanship, navigation, general combat readiness and balls of steel are all vital skills that a man assuming the position of shotgun should possess, something that our protagonist sadly didn’t.
Fortuitously in this day and age, uttering the phrase equates to good seating and a better view but what you may not know is that even today this role comes with certain duties. To clarify I shall now read to you some excerpts from the “manual of riding shotgun”.

Manual of Riding Shotgun call Phraseology header


~ The responsibility of morale falls into your lap (figuratively, you need not give them any sexual gratification. If they badger you about your new found position,you may retort with phrases such as  “you snooze you lose”and“stop whining you mummy’s boy” )  


~ You are in charge of the entertainment of the vehicle, be it selecting the appropriate genre of music, changing the radio channel, or the song, etc (Only an executive decision by the owner of the car or the driver may overrule your decision.Other passengers can go to hell if they don’t like “I would walk 500 miles” by the Proclaimers). 


~ Aiding the driver in the navigation of the vehicle is another task you must undertake (Within limits of course. A rush of contradicting information may disorient the driver. Worst case scenario you are arguing with Siri, the Car’s GPS and the self-appointed backseat drivers. The driver is so overwhelmed that he decides to turn the car around and go back home….no one’s eating Nando’s tonight) 


~ One must also alert the driver of his surroundings in the case of danger. (Worst case scenario everyone in the car is engrossed in a controversial debate, the topic in argument “boxers or briefs”; whilst you are all nodding your heads to the rhythm of “what is love, baby don’t hurt me”. Before you can say “Bob’s your uncle who has a venereal fungal…disease” the vehicle runs over a cute puppy…you and the driver are officially the most hated people in the entire world)


~ Hatred and loathing are left outside the vehicle door. Once assuming position, you and the driver are the best of friends. (You are the Samwise Gamgee to the driver’s Frodo Baggins. You are the C3PO to the driver’s R2D2. The Spock to the Driver’s Kirk. The Watson to the driver’s Sherlock. The Sancho Panza to the driver’s Don Quixote. The Chandler to the driver’s Joey. The Tina Fey to the driver’s Amy Poehler. The Seth Rogen to the driver’s James Franco).

Footer Manual of Riding Shotgun call Phraseology


Those were only a few lines off the book “the manual of riding shotgun” which is available on the person of every dicey looking stranger, in every dark and dank corner, near you.
Please feel free to share this article with those annoying acquaintances who at every opportunity take it upon themselves to call shotgun.

I hope we all learnt something from the opening episode of phraseology. I learnt that trivial phrases such as “calling shotgun” really aren’t worth getting irked by.

But tune in next time where, in a complete shift in direction and tone, we’ll be answering the most serious question ever to be conceptualized. 

“What is life?”    

Cheers

Disclaimer:
May contain graphic and violent imaginary cues.
Venturing into dark dank corners maybe hazardous to your health and mortality.
I neither approve nor condone stereotyping. Stereotypes bad. Equality good. Don’t believe me,click me! 
  






Image sources:
http://www.gettyimages.com/detail/news-photo/initial-letter-p-illustration-from-dresses-and-decorations-news-photo/463951365
http://www.howdesign.com/design-competition-galleries/logo-design-awards/4th-annual-logo-design-award-winners/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Riding_shotgun#mediaviewer/File:Indians_Attacking_a_Stage-Coach_BAH-p243.png
http://starsunflowerstudio.blogspot.com/2014/03/gorgeous-free-vintage-frame-borders-and.html
http://www.sitachairs.com/