Monthly Archives: March 2017

Animal Rights are Human Creations

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Animal Rights? A simple understanding about the fair treatment and preservation of animals. Decided by looking at the livelihood of current day animals much like chickens and pigs and justifying that the way they live is no condition for what they deserve. That word, ‘deserve’, defined by Oxford as “Do something or have or show qualities worthy of”. Does every animal deserve the fair treatment of comfort? What are the standards in which animal farms need to be in line with in order for people to feel that animal rights are fulfilled? Are animals that are bred for the sole purpose of food worthy of being taken care or in a human manner.

Everywhere there are people, there are animals to serve a purpose. In our households, we have dogs, cats, birds and reptiles (among a few) as pets. Humans affinity for animals is both a simple and tricky thing. With the animals, we have as pets we see them as a part of the family, a companion, someone who we keep in high regard, this emotional attachment that we have to our pets is the result of a connection we have created with them. The same connection (to some degree) we would make for other people – family, friends and colleagues. This relation is placing human like characteristics and abilities on our animals. Described as Anthropomorphism – the attribution of human characteristics or behaviour to a god, animal, or object. For dogs, they react to our emotions, as do ours to them. We sympathize with what our pets go through because to us they are only a part of our life but we are the entirety of theirs. Our choice is to look after them, so we do.

Unlike the relationship of having a pet there are animals that we use for food. We breed them on farms so that we can keep up to the demand of consumption – chickens for eggs and meat for example. Long has there been videos showing that the condition where chickens have been raised for both laying eggs and for their meat are in horrible/uncomfortable conditions. Which can be seen in the video below.

By what standard should we give chickens the freedom to live a healthy life. While we describe human characteristics for our pets we change the emotional connection to one of well-being and disgust. The connection we have for animals is the driving force behind the fight for animal rights. Though, that is conflicted when it comes to human survival as there is an obvious hierarchy of who needs to be looked after first. People have to eat, people eat chicken, there is a large demand for chicken so farmers need to increase demand. Chicken farms need to increase their supplies to meet those demands. Prices for the meat fluctuates based on that supply. Does that money go back into the farms to care for the chickens or does it go back into the farmers pockets for other purposes? Their livelihood is their farm, which is their chickens so it can be perceived it would be beneficial that it would go back into the farm.

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Fight for Animal Rights. Source

When we give animals the voice of humanity you turn the intention of what the animal represents. A dog is no longer just a pet; a pig is no longer just bacon and a chicken is no longer just an egg laying machine. Giving the voiceless a voice, determining that there are specifics in the way these animals needs to be treated and cared for needs to be understood. We look at the problems that are around us, such as the overcrowded breeding farms and say “this is wrong”, but our solutions are not a guaranteed fix nor are the implementations of those solutions continually looks after. Much like the standard for free range eggs, there are standards that need to be followed to meet the “free range” label though many farms are not adhering to those rules.

Suffering in the Media; Flint City

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Suffering in the media is about the representation of people who are less fortunate than the rest of us. Those that live in low socioeconomic areas that are run down, have high crime rates and high rates of teen pregnancy among many other problems. These issues are presented through social media to show everyone else how they live and to get a sense of what these people have gone through. How they got where they are and how they are dealing with their day to day life. This portrayal of people who are not ‘like the rest of us’, becomes a commodity and something to view on our television screens. In hope to where we can relate and show empathy for their situation and do something.

The American City of Flint; population around 98,000 has been without clean water for years. Among the issues of lead pipes, corrosive rivers and fecal contamination among the city the unsanitary water issue hit a peak on social media around the world, much like this article from Australia talking about the issue. With only a short resolve of buying water from nearby Detroit the impact of getting clean water back into Flint has been a slow-paced solution. Online campaigns have been created to give people the chance to donate money to help the cause. The suffering is throughout the entire town, where the access to clean drinking water was once a basic need for human life. Kids who were drinking and bathing in the water have run the risk of lead poisoning which could come back with horrible effects later in life.

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A child from Flint holding a sign “I’ve been poisoned by policy” Source

Through the many social media platforms people gave their money, their hope and their opinion on wanting to solve the Flint water crisis. This emerged the trend “Us” and “Them” – the have and the have not. Research done by Lund University, found here, identify that Poverty Porn is a haven for monetary gain as it provides a resource to be consumed, exploited and contained. Where there are groups of people who are in the group of “Poverty”, highlighted as “Having less than an objectively deadline, adsolute minimum”, “Having less than others in society” or “Feeling you do not have enough to get along”. Every poverty-stricken group plays a part in being the objective “outsider” for everyone else, as they are not something people want to be but something people want to not have to deal with. In both behavioural habits and financial struggle.

The people of Flint did not put themselves into the problem that they have, poor decisions made from their government changed the source for Flint’s water and poor investigation was conducted to make sure the water from Flint’s River was sanitary enough for human use. The slow decline into unsanitary water placed the entirety of Flint into Poverty where every local was at the hands of someone else to cater to the need of fresh drinking water.

There are articles written about Poverty Porn, much like in The Conversation’s Steven Threadgold’s article “Struggle Street is poverty porn with an extra dose of class racism” and The Guardian’s Gay Alcorn’s article “Struggle Street is only poverty porn if we enjoy watching, then turn away” that determine there is an issue in how this topic is presented and the ongoing action that takes place afterwards. The way information is presented to us and what we do with that information justifies what we can do and see. When there is a problem that society needs to take care of it benefits to give everyone the information about the topic. While the medium for which that information may be subjected to criticism there are only so many mediums that can have a huge audience or be academically unbiased on the topic. The choice to inform millions of people comes down to the platform chosen and in a manner, that appeals to a mass audience. When wanting to have an unbiased representation such as in an academic journal there is no information to everyone else outside of the academic sector. So, would it be best to give a mass audience some perspective on an issue that is affecting a lot of people that will generate some form of response or leave it for academics to decide what information is to be presented and how. When looking at the websites created to aide in the Flint disaster relief, the people are not academics but people from the general populace. When the goal is awareness then “Poverty Porn” works.

When an animal gets a leg up

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Cyberculture represents the presence of computers and networks in all aspects of contemporary life such as our social life, education and labour. With each area being represented by the combination of human capability, its effect on technology and the return relationship that technology has on humans. However, there is another group that can’t control technology as easily as humans but is affected by it. That group of course being animals.

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A Monkey and his phone. Source

Animals are everywhere and we use them for everything. We have farms where cows and sheep roam for textile and food production, we breed cats and dogs to have them as pets and we even group a bunch of animals together in an area and call it a zoo so we can look and admire the exotic-ness of them all in one place. Society has used animals for many reasons and as humans have evolved and developed new things animals have been alongside to be a part of that change. With this post, I will be going over a variety of areas where animals have been popularized and helped from the development of cybercultures.

First hearing the word ‘cyberculture’ and then the meaning my immediate thought was the internet and its obsession with animals. There is no doubt that animals have been made a staple of browsing the internet and with what the internet can do, animals will be staying on it for quite some time. On YouTube for example from the repeatable ‘catchy’ beat of Nyan Cat from 2011 to the ever so grumpy cat conveniently named ‘Grumpy Cat‘ from 2012. Cats have become a popularized source for entertainment and enjoyment. The popularity of these videos created a viral hit that utilized digital tools to create something so popular. The creation of popularizing real animals for general aesthetic looks to behavioural attributes. While this is the use of cyberculture to create animals as a source of entertainment for people there are multiple layers of technology engagement with animals.

One step further from just filming an animal with a camera or using digital software to create an animal is to use technology as a part of the animal’s life to better it. Current trends of 3D printing has allowed for people to create pieces of the body or prosthetic limbs. Much like an arm or a leg. The evolving of 3D printing has allowed for animals to have their limbs (beaks, legs, hoofs) recreated and attached to give them a longer and more capable way of living. This meaning that the technology used to aide in the creation of these limbs allows animals to not have their injury an issue to live a normal life. Buttercup the duck who was born with a deformed foot was lucky enough to have a 3D printed foot made for him. Below is a video showing glimpses of the process and the result.

There is the understanding that technology has both a positive and negative aspect when it comes to development and implementation. When future technology is being theorized then there needs to be some way in which technology can be tested and confirmed for human use. There is no shortcut on what can be seen as an advancement in technology but the researches who put information into practice need to test what they want to create. This is where animals come into play. There are ethical reasons as to why researches do not test on other people, as much as there are ethical reasons also for animals there is the understanding that the vision of having a success in the lab; testing on animals is justified when it saves millions (even potentially billions) of people’s lives. Animals bare the grunt of what goes into these advancements and are not acknowledged for what they go through to turn research into a success. Where the end justifies the means.

Groups such as P.E.T.A (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) justify that no animal should be used for testing and that there are numerous ways in which testing can be done but without animals. Such as the technology called “Human on a Chip“, where human donor cells are used on a microchip that can simulate real human/animal tissue and in turn natural responses.

As long as there have been humans there have been animals alongside them. When technology evolves to benefit humans, animals are considered in that involvement. The entire life of an animal can be encompassed in the world of technology and the change technology has created. Looking at future posts and interests within this topic. I will be exploring the life cycle of a cow and how they have been impacted by technology from cameras being installed in the birthing barns to make sure they survive, to the change in location technology to monitor the herd, to the change of the milking machine for efficiency in gathering milk.

Connect 4 – Fear my Vertical play!

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Connect 4

My own picture of Connect 4 (No line of 4 can be seen. Don’t want to give away the ending)

Oh, how I spent many hours upon hours playing Connect 4. Not the analogue copy you see in the picture above but a digital one in the MMORPG RuneScape, at the Burthorpe Games Room which was members only access. So, I was paying a $14 (landline phone) monthly subscription at the time to play RuneScape, all so I could play Connect 4 (they called it Runelink) with some buddies around the world. There was a ranked mode within the Games Room so you could attain a higher and higher rank by defeating your foes and be a huge competitor for everyone to see. Your name would travel far and wide within RuneScape and you would have a target on your back!

Connect 4 is a simple and straight forward game that utilizes the vertical plane where 2-players, one at a time place a disc into any of the columns in-turn to line-up 4 of their own colour. The player that connects 4 of their colour is the winner. Easy as that!

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Designed by Howard Wexler and released under the brand of Milton Bradley (now Hasbro) in 1974. Connect 4 has had many brand variations and different names but still maintains popularity; as I was just able to pick it up from Kmart for $25. Other names include Captain’s Mistress, Four Up, Plot Four, Find Four and Four in a Line. Below is an interview with Howard Wexler about how he came up with the game with the use of dropping spheres into pipes.

Numerous websites claim that the origins of the connect 4 style of game is ambiguous, though there are rumors of Captain Cook being obsessed with the game – claiming he would always play Captain’s Mistress to relax with his fellow officers which gave it its name. Captain’s Mistress is the predecessor to Connect 4.

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Captain’s Mistress. Source

Robert Charles Bell who is an author of books on Board Games and related material provided an image in one of his books (the exact book does not seem to be known) that shows the first use of a connect 4 style of game play from the Edwardian Period. The Edwardian Era relates to the reign of King Edward VII (1901 – 1910) which was a time prosperous for trade and manufacturing. The game used wooden balls to fall into the open slits on the lid of the box.

The materials for Connect 4 are the Grid (6×7), two legs (which aide the grid for vertical play), 21 red and 21 yellow chips. These bits are made from plastic which fit together smoothly and securely with each other and are easy to hold. As you play the game with dropping the discs into the columns they make a lot of noise so you can’t get away with playing this game late at night while trying to write about it and not wake people up (sorry). With ease assembling and disassembling the lid only fits on when the legs are off.

The game play is around 10-15 minutes long. That time can change when going against someone who is looking to always win and has a strategy in play. When rating is on the line you must make sure you always play the best move possible. However, since the release of the game a computer has solved the game. As to mean that there is such a thing as a “Perfect Game”, where the player that starts first is capable of always winning when they play correctly. Below is YouTube channel Numberphile explaining the computer process and the perfect game play.

“Perfect Game” is easy to execute when you have learned the moves that it requires. This knowledge takes away from the challenge and credibility of the game when playing it competitively. If the competition is one-game-win and elimination, then the player that goes second automatically loses. The game could already be decided by the first couple moves as the players would be knowledgeable enough to know how the game will end. Unlike Checkers or ever to some extent Chess which have a larger variance of first play moves. There are the occasional Connect 4 tournaments around that have prizes so if you are dedicated enough, go for it. Do with this information what you will.

Overall I enjoy Connect 4. It is easy to learn and understand. I would always be up for a game [if I go first], especially if a cash incentive was involved. The replay-ability was more prevalent when I was a child. Though there are added incentives that are popping up in bars today when having an old-school games-night with cash and vouchers. Suggests that I dust off my skills and try and win. Nowadays though Connect 4 is more just to pass some time or revisit some nostalgia. Connect 4 is a good basic abstract strategy game to get kids involved with strategy gaming.

It’s just another day with nude Kim K

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Social media plays an important role in identifying oneself for everyone else to see. The pictures we post, the comments we make and the information we provide on social media platforms create a basis for who we are as an individual. With all the information, we present on social media the ability to communicate back and forth presents a time where what we post can be judged by everyone else. When we post a Tweet on Twitter people can respond with in the means for which Twitter allows, when we post a video a YouTube people can comment, up-vote and down-vote to show how they feel as a response to the content posted. This ability for immediate feedback allows for a strong connection between content creators and having an audience. In turn creating a loop between content creation, responses about how effective the content is to the audience, by having them react and then the potential to create a bigger audience.

The Selfie for instance, defined simply by Oxford Dictionary “A photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically one taken with a smartphone or webcam and shared via social media” is enough to warrant this back and forth of communication. An individual posts a selfie on their social media and then their followers react to it. Instagram being a photo sharing application caters to the selfie culture quite well. Anyone with a mobile phone can access this service and start posting away. Where the audience will present responses in the form of likes and comments of the selfie taken. For everyday people and celebrities this is a good way to show a glimpse into a life that they would not ever see and create a way in which people can communicate effectively with their fan base. While there are benefits with being a celebrity on social media there are negatives that can affect how the person is represented also. Celebrity Kim Kardashian for instance creates a persona of her [fabulous] lifestyle on Instagram for all her 94.7 million followers to see. With such a large following, what Kim does and how she presents herself is scrutinized publicly for everyone to see. For example, Kim’s nude Instagram selfie below:

Posted with the comment from Kim K “When you’re like I have nothing to wear LOL“, there are many aspects of this image that an audience can take. Shown in some of the comments presented with the picture people are saying Kim is a body positive role model as having the confidence to post a picture, let alone a nude picture showing off her curves gives people the personal empowerment for their own body confidence, though this confidence may not create anything else of its own except that personal uplifting feeling to the individual. Other audience members condemn the nudity justifying that Kim made her money from being nude, presenting that young girls should not have to get naked to be in the situation that Kim is in – that of a celebrity. For what people take away from the image being present is up to the interpretation of the individual viewing it. When there are no specifics as to the full intention of why something like this is being posted, it gives the audience the freedom to choose whatever they want and to ridicule or be empowered whichever way they want, though that is the freedom of social media and a result of using it. People will always have different interpretations because everyone sees things differently. So, post what you want, just be the things you enjoy.