Charlie Hebdo And The Pressurisation To Conform With Racism

An unutterably heinous attack occurred yesterday in Paris perpetrated by Islamic extremists.
A prominent french satirical publication Charlie Hebdo lost members in the attack, a maintenance worker was killed and two police officers including a Muslim were killed. The assault has been characterised as an affront to freedom of speech with many governments and Muslim groups denouncing the barbarism.

The attack comes in the midst of a proliferation of anti-Muslim in Europe and the implications of it are far-reaching. In 2013 a Muslim woman was brutally attacked and suffered a miscarriage because of her faith. In the last few weeks Germany has seen an alarming number of protestors attending demonstrations which are anti-Muslim.
Muslims have also been subjected to arson attacks on their mosques in Sweden. The chasm between anti-Muslims and liberals will be compounded by this attack; anti-Muslim people will see this as a vindication of their prejudiced views and will be emboldened to increase their toxic rhetoric.

Thankfully there’s vigilance from some after this tragedy, quite cognisant of the perils of the hysteria that will ensue. After 9-11, America exploited the disaster to propagate their aggressive and evil foreign policy – a form of collective punishment – which ended up killing thousands of Muslims in the Middle East. Already we see the MI5 chief attempting to use this attack to justify expansions in power, a French minister advocated a collaboration from government and internet companies to suppress content construed as ‘hateful’ or ‘terrorism apologism’, and British PM, David Cameron insidiously said there should be no means of communication which the government can’t read. Anti-immigrants will too try and capitalise on the mourning by generalising Muslims and claiming they pose a threat to ‘our way of life’ completely oblivious to the fact they’re playing right into the extremists hands. Extremists want an “us vs them” mentality and this rhetoric encourages that. Sadly reports have emerged of reprisal attacks, mosques were attacked and other forms of violence towards Muslims ensued following yesterday’s tragedy, thankfully no one was killed but it lends credence to the idea that sensitivity after such an attack is paramount. What’s irresponsible is seeing some broadcasters providing a platform to a bigot like Anjem Choudary which serves to exacerbate people’s prejudice towards Muslims. There are many peaceful Muslims who could be solicited for their views, many who vehemently disagree with his extremist opinions and who could dispel the misconceptions about Muslims which contribute to the scourge of anti-Muslim prejudice.

After the calamity people understandably wanted to show solidarity with the irreverent Charlie Hebdo by glorifying and celebrating their work but parts of their satirical cartoons were problematic and incendiary. Some of their work contains caricatures of black people, Muslims and other minorities and is overtly racist in parts – being racist under the guise of satire is still racism and no amount of rationalisation will change that – under no context is depicting a black person as a monkey innocuous, which they have done. Being gratuitously provocative is a poor form of satire, effective satire is subversive and punches up not down. Throughout history art has been a force for good but it has also been utilised to peddle insidious ideas, quite often targeting subjugated groups; by dismissing it as “only satire” you insinuate art isn’t influential in constructing views which is manifestly incorrect.
Promoting content which is brimming with prejudice to the disregard of minorities is journalistically irresponsible; an integral part of being a journalist is judiciousness and that means being able to discern what content is problematic and the aforementioned content meets that criteria.
Extolling the virtues of freedom of speech is an admirable act but there are alternative non-problematic ways of doing that, than valorising prejudiced content which is antithetical to peace. What’s more perturbing is how a refusal to embrace this glorification of their work was met with disdain by several participants. Following the attack the sentiment arose that it was moral duty to celebrate and venerate their work and failure to do so is somehow tantamount to disrespecting their memory or a form of cowardice. In someways it’s rather reminiscent of the rhetoric following 9-11 – 5 days after the attack, Andrew Sullivan, a revered intellectual in America said this – “The middle part of the country – the great red zone that voted for Bush – is clearly ready for war. The decadent left in its enclaves on the coasts is not dead -and may well mount a fifth column.” After 9-11 if you didn’t yield to the compulsion to support the ‘patriotic war’ you were a traitor standing with the enemy. Today, it’s if you don’t republish and glorify the work of Charlie Hebdo, you’re disrespecting your nation. Self-evidently the consequences are vastly different but the principle is the same: You’re either with us, or you’re with them. There is no dissonance in abhorring barbaric murder while simultaneously recognising the absurdity of being pressurised into celebrating work you perceive to be racist. Irrespective of whether their work was problematic or not, the assailants and the assailants alone are responsible for this attack, there is no rationalisation of any sort available for this nefarious act . You’d think this would be self-explanatory but journalists espousing the same view as I have are being accused of “victim blaming”

The Guardian’s editorial team encapsulated the fallaciousness of the assumption that to show solidarity to Charlie Hebdo one needs to republish the inflammatory pictures or one is disrespecting the memory of the satirists:

Some, though, are looking for other shows of support. In social media, the call has been loud – and aimed at several British newspapers, including this one – to take a stand by publishing the very images that made Charlie Hebdo a target. For the most vociferous, republishing a sample of the magazine’s usual fare, which the Guardian has already done, is not enough: they insist that true defenders of free speech would reprint Charlie Hebdo’s depictions of the prophet Muhammad, especially the crudest, most scatological examples.

That case is straightforward. Since these are the images the gunmen wanted to stop, the surviving free press is obliged to deny the killers that victory. No other gesture can show that we refuse to be cowed by their crime. By repeating Charlie Hebdo’s action, we would demonstrate our resistance to the edict the terrorists sought to enforce on pain of death. We show that Charlie Hebdo was not alone.

There is an appealing simplicity to that stance, but it rests on faulty logic. The key point is this: support for a magazine’s inalienable right to make its own editorial judgments does not commit you to echo or amplify those judgments. Put another way, defending the right of someone to say whatever they like does not oblige you to repeat their words.

In 2009, a satirist of Charlie Hebdo was fired for a joke perceived to be anti-Semitic and charged with a hate crime.
A true testament to someone’s commitment to freedom of speech is not whether they defend the right to views they deem acceptable but when they vociferously defend the right to views they find repellent. This is why people’s claim that Charlie Hebdo are a paragon of freedom of speech when they have succumbed to pressure to fire someone for lampooning Jews rings rather hollow.
In the summer of 2014 when the people of Gaza were embroiled in a brutal spree of bombing conducted by the IDF the French government banned Pro-Palestine protests, which hardly exemplifies a free society. The erosion of freedom of speech extends to their draconian libel and hate-speech laws. The coverage which has surrounded this disaster belies France’s record on civil liberties, showing support to France during their plight is essential but portraying them as this embodiment of freedom of speech is a mistake when their curtailment of free speech is well documented.

Another sad inevitability of an attack committed by Islamic extremists, is the expectation that Muslims globally should have to denounce or apologise for the attack and failure to so is tacit approval. This thereby implies that Muslims are complicit in extremism which self-evidently is ludicrous – Islam is not a monolith and with 1.6 billion Muslims in the world their faith has diversified. The interpretation of Islam those violent extremists subscribe to is in no way representative of the vast majority of Muslims in the world who are peaceful. This expectation evinces an implicit bias – namely that Muslims should be held to a different standard than the rest of us. When anti-Muslim fascist Anders Brevik perpetrated one of the most deadliest terroisist attacks in Europe, Norwegian Christians weren’t expected to apologise. George Bush and Dick Cheney engaged in a ferocious war against the Iraq people, and the American people weren’t expected to apologise. America continues to this to day to subsidise repressive regimes like Saudi Arabia which inflicts suffering onto the citizens of that country, but Americans aren’t expected to apologise. Israel has occupied Palestine and subjected their people to tyranny for decades, but Jews aren’t expected to apologise. Outrage at terror committed by extremist Muslims while completely overlooking how the West has contributed to extensive suffering to people in the Middle-East underscores the racialisied element of this – the notion that lives in the West are more valuable.

One of the trite retorts to the assertion that anti-Muslim prejudice is racialised is that racism towards Muslim is not possible because Islam is not a race. Some think adopting this line of reasoning is a sign of rationalism but it’s more indicative of a facile understanding of how racism works. No one has actually ever claimed Islam is a race, ergo this is a strawman but regardless, this piece of illogic has to be confronted considering its increased prevalence. Race is something which is mostly socially constructed by people to categorise groups of individuals. Throughout human history it has been a tactic by oppressors to categorise those who they deem inferior into an “other” in a way to rationalise their prejudice, targeting these groups becomes acceptable by convincing people they are simply different to us – more primitive or not as sophisticated. This phenomenon has also occurred with Muslim people, they’ve been socially divided into another group and this been internalised by many; generalisations about 1.6 billion people simply cannot survive without the perpetuation of misconceptions.
Furthermore Muslims are predominately non-white which can expose them to racially motivated bigotry. This explains why non-Muslims are violently targeted because of the perception they’re Muslim, why non-Muslims are racially profiled in airports, and why that when a Mosque is targeted by bigots the slogan inscribed onto the Mosque is “death to Arabs”; western society indisputably thinks of Muslims in racialistic ways. Not all criticism of Islam is racist, but it would be remiss to ignore the racial component of anti-Muslim prejudice, or to suggest as some do that because Islam isn’t a race you can’t be racist in your criticism of it.
In the west, white Christians are the hegemonic group in society wielding the power, this is why criticism of Islam has to be done with more tact and judiciousness because to more of an extent than Christianity the danger lurks that the criticism can be exploited to justify prejudice against Muslims.

This tragedy should be a time for reflection & unity. As we mourn the deaths of the innocent let us resist the temptation to prejudice. Hate only begets hate, instead of demonising law abiding citizens we should remain committed to the virtues we hold dear: Love, freedom, inclusiveness, justice, peace and acceptance.

Update: Another terrorist attack occurred shortly after with a police officer being killed and 4 civilians in east Paris also losing their lives bringing the death toll to 17 victims. 15 hostages were rescued and the culprits were killed.
We express our deepest condolences to the families of the victims.

Essential pieces to read which pertain to the tragedy:

http://www.hoodedutilitarian.com/2015/01/in-the-wake-of-charlie-hebdo-free-speech-does-not-mean-freedom-from-criticism/

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rabbi-michael-lerner/mourning-the-parisian-jou_b_6442550.html

http://feministing.com/2015/01/08/je-ne-suis-pas-charlie-on-the-charlie-hebdo-massacre-and-duelling-extremisms/

http://themarooncolony.com/2015/01/08/jenesuispascharlie/

https://firstlook.org/theintercept/2015/01/09/solidarity-charlie-hebdo-cartoons/

http://kittystryker.com/2015/01/unpopular-opinion-satire-should-punch-up-charlie-hebdo-did-not/

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/jan/08/charlie-hebdo-norway-islamophobia-france-anders-breivik

https://www.jacobinmag.com/2015/01/charlie-hebdo-islamophobia/

http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/politics/2015/01/charlie_hebdo_the_french_satirical_magazine_is_heroic_it_is_also_racist.html?wpsrc=sh_all_mob_tw_top#lf_comment=257140713

http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2015/01/it-going-get-worse-french-muslims-2015187810909683.html

http://www.newyorker.com/culture/cultural-comment/unmournable-bodies

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/jan/08/charlie-hebdo-them-and-us-clash-of-civilisations

http://www.dailydot.com/opinion/free-speech-satire-cruelty/

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/01/09/trolls-and-martyrdom-je-ne-suis-pas-charlie.html


Her Name Was Leelah (Trigger Warning)

On Sunday the 28th of December – Leelah Alcorn – a teenage girl tragically took her own life. Her gender did not correspond with the one assigned to her at birth and despite great efforts to embrace who she was, her parents weren’t willing to afford her that right. The attempted coercion of the male gender onto her precipitated feelings of despondence.

Her passing has ignited a national debate on the maltreatment trans people are subjected to, with many calling for legislative action to protect trans youth. The intrusive and odious conversion therapy – which was imposed on her by her parents, has been denounced – and there has been a social media campaign to have the therapy outlawed. Many have also taken to Twitter to show solidarity to trans people, utilising the hashtag #translivematter to express their care and love; this is just a testament to how indispensable social media is to the socially oppressed.

Her plight which can be attributed to the scourge of transphobia is not anomalous — the suicide rate for trans people especially women of color is harrowingly high – and it’s long overdue society confronts the transphobia which pervades it. There needs to be a concerted effort, both socially and politically to ensure trans people are afforded the same rights and privileges bestowed onto others.
The responsibility lies on the shoulders of cisgendered people to rectify this, since trans people account for a very slim proportion of the population. They must solicit the advice of trans people and defer to their wishes; cis people have to fix this but they must elevate the voices of trans people.

Another component of this tragedy is the glaring issue of parental neglect. Leelah was very explicit in her disdain for her parents due to their callousness and disregard of her gender.
When she revealed her true gender to her parents they were dismissive and insistent that Christian therapy would be the remedy; this inevitably exacerbated the inner agony plaguing Leelah.
It’s incumbent on the APA to call for prosecution for the charlatans who administered dubious unscientific therapy to Leelah; this constitutes gross negligence at the very least.
Leelah found some sanctuary in her friends support and acceptance but eventually her mother sequestered her from them by removing her from school and forbidding social media access; this draconian approach to parenting is conducive to resentment and indignation.
Sadly her friends abandoned her too which compounded her suffering. All she desired was her identify to be acknowledged – when her work colleagues exhibited acceptance and used accurate pronouns it elicited feelings of happiness in Leelah.
Even after she passed her parents continued to misgender her – which further stigmatises her, it’s grievously disrespectful to her and triggering to other trans people. An integral part of parenthood is unconditional love and Leelah’s parents betrayed that requirement when they bludgeoned their daughter into concealment, which engendered despair. I still feel sympathy for her parents, while their actions amounted to abuse, they still have to suffer the desolation of losing a daughter.

While people will correctly lay blame on the parents, this tragedy is emblematic of systemic transphobia. It’s imperative that societal and legal issues are confronted: Legal recognition of their gender, a universal prohibition of conversion therapy, awareness of the harm of misgendering, statutes forbidding workplace discrimination, access to tax-funded hormone replacement therapy, trivialisation of trans issues, ignorance about gender and the like. The bigotry which manifested in her parents, is reinforced by a culture which marginalises and is generally apathetic to the adversity of trans people. Her parents’ support which remained conspicuously absent throughout her ordeal could have conceivably been counteracted by a society that protects the oppressed. But alas that society is still an idyllic concept.

An extremist group notorious for transphobic prejudice known as “Terfs” are cynically exploiting this tragedy to suppress discourse about the transphobia which is prevalent in society.
They are masquerading as concerned individuals, but their agenda is decidedly transparent. They avowedly despise trans people and want to sweep under the rug the blight of transphobia. While it’s true reporting of suicide ought to be done with extreme responsibility, tact and caution – it’s equally true prejudice towards trans people has to be confronted. If we fail to address the prejudice which so patently contributed to this tragedy we are disrespecting the memory of Leelah and the millions of others this odious prejudice adversely affects.

Posthumously her letter instructed us to fix society, her ultimate wish being that trans people be afforded unmitigated equality. A goal that may appear elusive, but we owe it to trans people to heed that wish and to galvanise us into realising that dream. And when that bright beam of equality emerges, amidst the grim cloud of prejudice, Leelah will rest in peace.

A collation of suicide crisis lines for anyone in need of support: Wikipedia.org/SuicideCrisisLines

Movie Review: Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes (Contains Spoilers)

 

Full disclosure: The reviewer of this movie is a member of the human species, so their judgement may be impaired by a bias towards the humans. We can’t ensure full impartiality but we will try strenuously.

The highly anticipated sequel to The Rise Planet Of The Apes was released this year to critical acclaim. With a nuanced narrative, ravishing visuals and excellent characters it fulfilled expectation and left us coveting the continuation of the story.

The movie begins ten years after the global pandemic of a lethal virus. With humanity decimated and with little prospect of a return to prosperity, a small group of survivors in San Francisco, who are immune to the disease are running out of supplies. They need access to a dam but it’s located in a secluded forest, where the apes reside, the small batch of survivors encounter the apes and shoot one of them. The leader Caesar placates his fellow apes but instructs the humans to leave, and they do momentarily.
However after consultation with the rest of the survivors, they determine that they have no option but to return, and eradicating the apes may be their only option. Koba, an ape who harbours great animosity towards the humans for previously conducting testing on him exhorts Caesar to wage war against the humans. Caesar refuses to yield to Koba’s demands and emphasises that war would undermine everything they’ve built and that he aims to defuse the tension. Koba has to defer to Caesar but it’s evident a resentment towards Caesar is festering internally. The apes congregate in the city and Caesar expresses his desire for peace but informs the humans that they are equipped to fight, if they are required to do so. He declares an ultimatum, which forbids the humans from intruding on ape territory.

Malcolm, one of the survivors is a cordial and sensitive chap and musters the courage to persuade his leader Dreyfus to allow him to embark on ape territory to try and cultivate Caesar and allow him access to the dam. The apes apprehend him but Caesar is receptive to his desires and permits access, under the condition that they relinquish their weapons. Caesar’s willingness to allow the humans access infuriates some of the apes, most notably Koba and causes a rift within the camp. One of the survivors disobeyed Caesar by surreptitiously keeping his weapon, this enrages Caesar who feels betrayed by Malcolm. Malcolm assures Caesar that he was unaware and attempts to earn his trust back by helping his sick wife. Koba then challenges Caesar’s authority and Caesar incandescent with rage at this act of insubordination subdues Koba but resists killing him abiding by the maxim “ape not kill ape”. Meanwhile the dam operation is a resounding success, power is restored and the lights of the city illuminate from afar; Caesar gives his stamp of approval to Malcolm. Koba seething with fury enters human territory, kills two men and purloins their weapons and formulates a scheme, reminiscent of a false flag operation. He shoots Caesar, ostensibly killing him and misleads the apes into believing it was the humans. The apes who are reeling from a loss, wage war against the humans and mayhem ensues. The only flaw to Koba’s seemingly shrewd strategy is he failed to ensure Caesar was dead.


Source – Meet the prejudiced rascal, Koba.

Malcolm, his spouse and child find Caesar and dispense care and attention. Caesar apprises them that it was an ape that attempted to kill him. They return him to his childhood house and Malcolm travels to the city, to recover some medical supplies. He encounters Caesar’s son Blue Eyes, who is disillusioned with Koba by his arbitrary use of power and convinces him that Caesar is still alive. When they return home they operate on Caesar and facilitate his recuperation. After reminiscing about old memories, Caesar devises a plan to topple Koba but it is fraught with danger, as they tussle atop a tower rigged with explosives. Malcolm tries to avert the explosion but his plea is to no avail, as Dreyfus detonates the bombs, inadvertently killing himself. Subsequently Koba falls and beseeches Caesar to save him but Caesar declares Koba is no ape and mercilessly lets him fall to his death. Malcolm notifies Caesar that the army has been deployed and that their arrival is imminent. They both express sorrow and regret at the unfortunate turn of events and embrace affectionately, before preparing for the inevitability of war.


Source – The endearing hug

This is a heartfelt story which illustrates the importance of reconciliation, opposed to war. While the humans are languishing in desolation, systematically killing a large portion of apes is morally reprehensible. Conversely, the apes while understandably indignant by the maltreatment they faced at the hands of the humans, exacting collective punishment would be odious and counterproductive. Caesar’s ambivalence is on display throughout the movie, he is grappling with the desire to protect apes while simultaneously trying to ensure humans can live peacefully too, which no doubt stems from his affectionate relationship with Will Rodman, who reared him. Both Caesar and Malcolm embody what’s best about their respective specie: Courage, empathy, self-awareness and an eagerness to live in harmony, contrasted with Koba and Dreyfus who let their lust for control and power blind them to the plight of others.
The futility of war was underscored flawlessly in this movie. Malcolm and Caesar both defied their internal prejudices and while war is set to ensue, the prospect of peace remains a possibility because of their adamance that love exceeds hate.

The Revitalisation Of GTA V

 

A year ago I concluded my review of GTA Online by stating it had laid the groundwork for something remarkable. A year on and that potential is about to be actualised with the remastered version of GTA merely two weeks away. A game which has become plagued by monotony is about to gain a new lease of life.

GTA V was a marvel and pushed Last-Gen consoles to their outer limits, the lighting effects, the realism, the scale and the meticulous attention to detail present throughout the game transfixed many. GTA V offered an expansive map, diverse weaponry & vehicles, intricate missions and nuanced characters. But despite this many were left unsatisfied. The computational limitations of Last-Gen consoles were accentuated by the simultaneous release of the PS4 and Xbox One, which offered considerably superior graphical power, 16x increase in RAM, and an 8 core CPU; it was inevitable Rockstar would want to utilise that power and in June they appeased the wishes of many by announcing both Next-Gen and PC support.

 

 

The improvements to Next-gen both visual and technical will be extensive but the most notable are: 1080P support, Increased draw distance, enhanced lighting effects, sharper textures, improved traffic density, superior weather effects and increased player count in online. The preeminent addition has to be First-Person mode, which is a mode where you experience the perspective of the driver of the vehicle, pilot of an aircraft or stroller on the street. This isn’t just a haphazard incorporation but an elaborate mode which includes features such as a dashboard with functional meters like tachometers, speedometers and fuel gauges, an aircraft panel with instruments like altitude indicators, altimeters & airspeed indicators and  weapon reload and recoil on foot. This is a feature which exemplifies Rockstar’s values. They have provided something which users have yearned for, but they didn’t just arbitrarily implement the feature like many would have. They rigorously considered every aspect of the new feature including realism, suitable animations, the weapon recoil & reload, and the fidelity of the gauges and dashboard. This first person mode is built in a way which avoids undermining your experience, but elevates the immersion, to a level quite profound.

Whether you’re endeavouring to evade the cops or exploring the vast depths underneath the ocean, rest assured that you will discern noticeable graphical differences; the degree of gratification and visual stimulation yielded will be through the roof. Indulgence like never before.

 

Source of pics

 

Source of pics

 

While the graphical enhancements are superb, the infusion of new content is a necessity if Rockstar want to maintain the vitality of GTA Online. GTA has been especially mundane lately because of the repetitive missions, lack of items to purchase, and the increased familiarity of the map. Co-operative heists (delayed), Cops & Robbers mode, Military DLC and Casino DLC are all rumoured to be coming to GTA Online but the possibilities extend beyond to things such as colossal mansions, aquatic additions, accessible helipads in apartments, and a significant increase in the number of interiors accessible in the game; for instance: Airport, hotels, shopping malls, prison (guarded with inmates). The most coveted DLC unsurprisingly would be an extensive expansion to the map. While the scope of the current map is impressive, one city feels inadequate; Rockstar could bring San Fierro & Las Venturas into the HD era and incorporate them into the game. It would make an already big world prodigious.

 

 

The excitement which permeates GTAForums is palpable and understandably so, with Next-gen hardware coupled with Rockstar’s ingenuity, the next few years will provide immeasurable satisfaction for fans of the franchise. Without the impediment of archaic hardware, Rockstar have the latitude to produce and implement features gamers have only dreamed about; the materialisation of those dreams is inevitable.  Rockstar understand nuance and intricacy in a way no one else in the industry does. It’s this fastidious attention to detail, aversion of facileness, and embracement of complexity that sets Rockstar apart from the rest. GTA V Next-gen won’t be a fundamental overhaul of the GTA series, but it will be radical refinement which opens up a whole new world of opportunities including a proliferation of content. You get the sense we’ve only just scratched the surface of what’s possible.

Source of gifs

 

Emma Watson’s Speech On Feminism

A powerful, eloquent speech by Emma Watson. Her poise and grace was exemplary.
Her speech encapsulated the necessity of feminism, and she expressed an interesting point: Patriarchy can affect men too.
Feminism gained a negative connotation not because there is anything inherently wrong with the movement but because some men have a vested interest in discrediting it.
There’s no coordinated conspiracy or anything far-fetched like that but something more simple, a cultural motivated reason: Preserving their power.
For centuries the power has been asymmetrical in society, men wield the power while women are expected to be deferential and subordinate and obey the man’s wishes at his behest.
Overcoming these deeply entrenched convictions is not easy, so it’s not a surprise that some men are repulsed by the idea of gender equality, because it’s instinctually antithetical to years and years of socially constructed beliefs.

I was also pleased to see her acknowledge her privilege in society which may indicate she could subscribe to the branch of feminism known as intersectional feminism, a branch which focuses on the intersections of oppressions and how they manifest themselves. She also recognised that gender is not rigid but a spectrum; gender is diverse and the daily reinforcement of the gender binary erases and ignores the people who don’t conform with those conventional norms. The rigidity of the gender binary hurts a lot of people and while women are the primary beneficiaries of dismantling the parochial thinking regarding gender, it also helps some men who don’t want to fulfil the roles society expects of them.
Lastly, some people claim some feminists are too extreme, but one cannot be too extreme in the pursuit of equality. We should not succumb to this false compromise nonsense because the opponents’ views are contrary to equality.
Being radical about something is often regarded as a negative, but being radical about something that is right is something we owe humanity.
Imagine someone claiming Martin Luther King Jr. was too radical – we’d scoff.

Ireland’s Anachronism (Trigger warning)

An account has emerged this week of a woman being subjected to egregious misconduct by the HSE. Ireland which is notorious for its archaic abortion laws has only reinforced what many already know: They oppress women, trans men & some genderqueer people with impunity. This latest incident just underscores the necessity of reform to the 8th amendment at the very least.

A woman who was impregnated by rape was denied access to abortion by the state despite being suicidal. The ‘Protection Of Life During Pregnancy Act Of 2013‘ which was introduced following the negligence of staff at a Galway hospital which subsequently led to the death of Savita Halappanavar permits an abortion under the circumstances that a woman’s life is in danger, including suicide. However a provision in the bill states that the abortion is contingent on the agreement of all three physicians; there is also no barrier in the act precluding the delivery of the baby when it is capable to do so. In this case, two psychiatrists determined she was in fact suicidal and should be offered access to abortion, but an obstetrician disagreed on the grounds that the baby could be delivered pursuant to the act. The woman however sought an abortion when she was 8 weeks pregnant, but the state forced her to remain pregnant for 17 weeks. The woman then went on a hunger and fluid strike but the state intruded going to the high court to get a order preventing her from starving herself. The baby was then delivered between 23 & 25 weeks by caesarian section.

This constitutes a gross violation of human rights and highlights the prevalent maltreatment Irish women, genderqueer people and trans men face at the hands of the state and the inherent flaws present within the ‘Protection Of Life During Pregnancy Act Of 2013′.
Because of the provisions in this law, it is ripe for abuse, as this horrific example testifies to. When you have an obstetrician who is not qualified to assess someone’s mental health overruling the verdict of two psychiatrists, you have a major problem. It is clear that in Ireland when a woman or trans man becomes pregnant they relinquish their rights and become subordinate to the foetus in the eyes of the state.
This is compounded if 1. You’re impoverished, as the cost of travelling abroad to access abortion is not affordable & 2. You’re an asylum seeker, as you must be granted permission by the government to travel abroad. In both cases subservience to the state is increased.
Denying women, gender queer people and trans men reproductive freedom and autonomy over their personal body is deplorable enough, but coercing a suicidal woman to go ahead with the pregnancy is bordering on moral turpitude.
How many more indictments of this callous law do we need before the government wake up? Inaction is tantamount to complicity.

A United Nations panel has concluded that Ireland’s laws on abortion are restrictive, stringent and oppressive. They exhorted the government to provide legislation to decriminalise abortion.
Currently a woman, genderqueer person or trans man who unlawfully has an abortion can face up to 14 years in prison. Unlawful abortion includes cases of rape, incest, fatal foetal abnormality and serious risks to the health of the mother.
The government are abdicating their responsibility to protect Irish women, genderqueer people and trans men; they are fundamentally imperilling Irish women, genderqueer people and trans men by perpetuating this odious law.
It is incumbent on them to provide a referendum to repeal the 8th amendment – anything less than that is inexcusable.

This debacle is a stain on the great country of Ireland – it should sicken us all to the core. We cannot purport to be a humane country and deny one half of the population its rights.
It’s long overdue that we repeal the 8th Amendment and join other European countries in treating women, genderqueer people and trans men with dignity and respect.
They’re not radical concepts after all.

World Cup & Inequality

(Credit: Reuters/Ricardo Moraes/Vadim Georgiev via Shutterstock/Salon)

(Credit: Reuters/Ricardo Moraes/Vadim Georgiev via Shutterstock/Salon)

The most prestigious tournament in the world gets underway today in Brazil with many football fans eager to watch the most renowned players in the world come head to head.
But behind the veil of luxurious stadiums and ebullient football fans are citizens who have been subjected to much pain and anguish at the hands of Fifa and the Brazilian government.
Contrary to Fifa’s mantra, this World Cup is not for the people.

Protestors have been out fulminating in the streets of Brazil expressing their disapproval towards the Brazillian government and the complicit Fifa.
Their indignation stems from the obscene amounts money this has cost in taxpayers money, the multitude of evictions, the deaths of workers and the corruption.
11 billion is what the cost amounts to; 3.6 billion is the astronomical figure it has cost the taxpayer despite the initial promise that it would be privately financed.
Unsurprisingly Brazilian public approval of hosting the World Cup has plummeted from 79% in 2008, to just 48% currently.

Fifa’s banal rhetoric that the World Cup has considerable economical benefits to Brazil and will be advantageous to citizens is nothing more than unsubstantiated bilge.
Despite their persistence in peddling this untenable myth it is contrary to the evidence at our disposal.
In a rigorous assessment of the economic impact of major sporting events Holy Cross professor Victor Matheson found the positive ramifications associated with hosting a big sporting event are often exaggerated and starkly overstated. The pretence of major economic advantage is used to justify the colossal sum these mega-events cost, which is to the detriment of impoverished citizens who could greatly benefit from anti-poverty programs.

Public expenditures on sports infrastructure and event operations necessarily entail reductions in other government services, an expansion of government borrowing, or an increase in taxation, all of which produce a drag on the local economy. At best public expenditures on sports-related construction or operation have zero net impact on the economy as the employment benefits of the project are matched by employment losses associated with higher taxes or spending cuts elsewhere in the system.

In terms of income inequality Brazil is one of the worst in the world, and the third worst out of the 32 nations competing at the World Cup.
This act of profligacy from Brazil is an affront to the citizens; the benefits generated from the world cup will predominately benefit already rich people, while exacerbating poverty. A country where the scourge of malnutrition is prevalent simply cannot afford such an extortionate, superficial luxury. The government ought to be prioritising education, anti-poverty programs & healthcare, not a much too expensive football tournament. And yet the Brazilian government have the temerity to publicly chastise the protestors fearing they’re going to mar the event. They beseeched their citizens to be deferential & amicable during the tournament, but under what circumstances does such reckless, irresponsible spending warrant deference?

One of the most egregious incidents is an insidious law passed at Fifa’s behest by Brazilian congress; a law that gives Fifa and its sponsors exclusive commercial control over zones surrounding the stadium. It also exempts sponsors of the tournaments, multinational corporations like McDonald’s and Budweiser from income, industrial and import taxes until the end of 2015.
Fifa were embroiled in another scandal when just last week it was uncovered they were taking bribes for the 2022 World Cup planned to take place in Qatar. Fifa are rife with greed, corruption and arrogance, held in low regard by the public and the prospect of any change occurring is remote, since they answer to no one.
Fifa are sorely out of touch with the public, oblivious to the irreparable damage their decisions are having on people.
It’s morally obligatory that powerful organisations have the discernment to foresee how their decisions may affect others; Fifa have fallen way below that obligation.

This salient example just underscores the omnipresent problem of income inequality, where priorities are misplaced, where the immoral prevail.
Fifa are reaping the rewards of their depravity while innocent citizens are the casualties.
A tournament for the people? More like a tournament for the aristocrats.

Trigger Warnings Are Not Superfluous

The NYTimes wrote a piece pertaining to ‘Trigger Warnings’ last weekend and it has ignited a much needed discussion on Trigger Warnings and what they entail.
Trigger Warnings are designed to prevent people from encountering an extremely damaging emotional response to an evocative piece of content.
Examples include but are not limited to rape victims, victims of violence, victims of depression, victims of self-harm & PTSD victims.

Trigger Warnings are regarded by some as necessary warnings on emotive content, but have been derided and sneered at by others.
Proponents of Trigger Warnings suggest it’s a simple, tactful endeavour to add a piece of text notifying the reader of some emotive piece of content.
Opponents claim fervent emotion is an integral part of education, and that we should not seek to deter people from experiencing it, others claim it’s just a few steps away from censorship, and others claim it’s narcissism, masquerading as concern.

There’s nothing laborious about adding a few keystrokes of text to obviate the triggering of someone; journalistically speaking judiciousness is a necessity, it’s incumbent on one to have the sensitivity and foresight to discern what constitutes a triggering piece of material. No one is suggesting we neglect emotive topics, or even sanitise them but the reader should have the forewarning if they’re about to encounter an extremely evocative piece of information. Emotion will invariably be an integral part of education but this is not an attempt to stifle or discourage that; conflating everyday emotion we experience to crippling, mentally debilitating emotion which victims of aforementioned things endure is disingenuous and problematic; a form of trivialisation. In relation to the claims about censorship, the slippery slope fallacy rears its ugly head again, censorship is not an inevitable result and is completely extraneous to “Trigger Warnings’, a lazy piece of hysteria designed to fear-monger. The most absurd assertion and allegation against many journalists is their tactfulness is a mere facade used to draw attention to themselves; decidedly ludicrous.

The premise that people should be impervious to triggering and if they aren’t, they’re mentally fragile, is a tenuous one.
If you’re fortunate enough to be insusceptible to triggering, that’s great but unabashedly ridiculing and scoffing at those who aren’t is ableist and unquestionably tactless.
Responding emotionally to something traumatic that’s happened in your life is not a form of mental fragility, but a form of humanness.
The individual should have the autonomy on whether they want to encounter an emotive piece of content and facilitating that choice is the morally obligatory thing to do.

Others claim “Trigger Warnings” are doomed because it’s impossible to foretell what may or may not induce an extreme emotional response, and either way some people are going to be triggered anyway. But this is a fallacious piece of reasoning, while emotions are a highly subjective thing, there are obvious topics which are inherently emotive, and having the judgement to determine which are, is intrinsic to adept journalism. Furthermore warnings are not supposed to completely remove distress but to significantly reduce it.
There are many people across social media who can attest to the efficacy of Trigger Warnings and their effect in preventing an ordeal.

These problematic notions about “trigger warnings” just reinforce and perpetuate insidious beliefs which further stigmatise people with mental illness, victims of rape and victims of violence.
The fact that such an important topic has been met with immediate levity and facetiousness should alarm us and is symptomatic of pernicious beliefs about mental illness which pervade the media. It’s time for more sensitivity, and less callousness.

Movies And Allegories (Contains Some Spoilers)

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Disney’s new movie Frozen has opened to rave reviews from prominent movie critics and has broken a number of records in animation but not everyone is amused.
Not for the first time, Christian conservatives are chastising Disney for their ostensible promotion of a “liberal agenda” and in their eyes an indoctrination of pliable children.
However, this grouch just further illuminates their sheer hypocrisy and how out of touch they are with an increasingly liberal society.

Their argument is premised on the notion Disney is advancing a gay agenda, by wilfully creating a metaphorical storyline which pertains to the societal acceptance of homosexuality. Is there any credence to their belief that the subtext contains overtones suggestive of homsexuality? Absolutely, but the subtext isn’t exclusive to homosexuality but encompasses all who fall under the category of LGBTQ. But because of Christians’ eerie preoccupation with homosexuality they think it’s solely evocative of the plight of homosexuals.

Of course one could interpret Elsa’s magical power as a metaphor for homosexuality considering the context: It’s explicitly specified she was born this way, not cursed. She is ostracised by her peers, not too dissimilar to society’s demonisation of homosexuals. Her parents exhort her to conceal it; their mantra becomes “conceal, don’t feel”, and this repression of her inherent character leads to feelings of inferiority and despondency. Elsa eventually defies the forces repressing her, vanquishing her feelings of inferiority, and fully embraces who she is in the ballad “let it go”. It conveys that Elsa isn’t the problem, but societal oppression of her is. Clearly one could make the interpretation that this is an allegory for LGBTQ acceptance. It unsurprisingly resonates with LGBTQ people.

What’s inevitable is Conservatives’ reactionary drivel to anything they regard as contrary to their cherished values. Conservatives don’t display any fury or hysteria when movies or shows brazenly propagate and perpetuate their ideals like military fetishism, Christian values, patriotic obsession or the romanticisation of guns. But God forbid Disney have the audacity to subtly encourage tolerance and love towards those oppressed; tolerance and acceptance aren’t exactly nefarious notions after all.

There is nothing sinister about using an art form like film to impart virtues such as tolerance and love onto children, most of the population tends to have an affinity to film, so it will always present an opportunity to bestow qualities onto the public. Movies will remain an effective and potent allegorical method; conservatives do not have exclusivity to it.

If anything their whinge is indicative of the paradigm shift in society over the last decade, as their credibility continues to wane their bigotry will only intensify, unwittingly alienating themselves to the vast majority;
Meanwhile, equality will be busy flourishing.

Always Speak Out Against Hate

A few weeks ago on a late night talk show in Ireland Rory O’Neill was interviewed and with assertiveness and eloquence lambasted the Iona institute and their members for their Anti Gay rhetoric accurately labelling them homophobic. Subsequently Iona and its members pursued litigation against RTE on the grounds of defamation of character and depressingly RTE capitulated, paying a sum of 80K to settle the libel claims, and submitted an apology.

Inevitably this precipitated an uproar, with many civil rights activists and politicians reprimanding RTE for their capitulation. This has instigated a public discussion throughout Ireland with many aggrieved at RTE for censoring O’Neill’s polemic against Iona.
Unfortunately for Iona members they’ve incurred a cost, the public are now aware of what a bunch of cowardly, prejudiced, homophobes they are.
By attempting to suppress O’Neill’s comments, it led to the dissemination of O’Neill’s comments across the web with many who were completely oblivious of Iona’s existence now being totally attuned to the insidious rhetoric their members spew on a daily basis.

Iona espouse a view that is inherently untenable; an archaic view that marriage should be restricted to heterosexuals only.
By definition that is a form of homophobia, by removing the right of marriage and the consequences that entails they are affording heterosexual couples preferential treatment based on their sexual orientation: That is glaring discrimination.

Their whole argument is predicated on the premise marriage exists solely for procreation; an antiquated view given that many married couples elect not have children, and children are often born outside of wedlock. Iona maintain their intentions are in the public’s best interest. They allege children do better when raised with opposite sex couples and rely on dubious scientific data to perpetuate this falsehood. All credible scientific data states the contrary, that children of homosexual couples do just as well as evidenced by the largest world study conducted on gay parenthood. Adoption and surrogacy are onerous, expensive, and at times result in devastation; because of that it requires a profound level of commitment. Despite this Iona will continue to parade their ignorance and fear-monger no matter how many studies falsify their misguided theories.
Iona and other Anti-Gay groups are attempting to exploit people’s most vulnerable feeling: Protection of children. They’re misusing science in an attempt to persuade people that gay parenting is detrimental to children, and hoping the public will assent to their wishes. But on the contrary, most people see right through their inanity, and a recent poll on gay marriage approval testifies to that.
Really, the concern over the well-being of children is just a pretence to obfuscate their real feelings: Disdain of homosexuals.

Judith Stacey, of New York University, stated: “Rarely is there as much consensus in any area of social science as in the case of gay parenting, which is why the American Academy of Pediatrics and all of the major professional organizations with expertise in child welfare have issued reports and resolutions in support of gay and lesbian parental rights”.

In 2006, Gregory M. Herek stated in American Psychologist: “If gay, lesbian, or bisexual parents were inherently less capable than otherwise comparable heterosexual parents, their children would evidence problems regardless of the type of sample. This pattern clearly has not been observed. Given the consistent failures in this research literature to disprove the null hypothesis, the burden of empirical proof is on those who argue that the children of sexual minority parents fare worse than the children of heterosexual parents.”

Iona intellectualise their prejudice; their hate veiled in sophisticated language giving the impression it’s more reasonable than homophobic slurs.
But when you decipher it, you soon realise it’s just a more decorated form of homophobia, and one which is arguably more pernicious.
Homophobes have a right to spew their vitriol, and drivel but shame on prominent newspapers like “The Irish Independent” for facilitating the promulgation of homophobic rhetoric.

So yes, well done to Rory O’Neill for going on national television and confronting hate. It’s about time.


Demonisation Of The Poor

On Monday evening Channel 4 aired a problematic documentary “Benefits Street
The documentary depicts a group of people living off benefits. It dehumanises the people and it’s predicated on gross caricatures and misrepresentations to instigate an outrage.
Suffice to say it’s achieved its objective as testified by the vitriol spewed by some on Twitter
It’s not first of its kind and it won’t be last; unfortunately exploitation of the poor is a very lucrative business as evidenced by the notorious “Jeremy Kyle” show

Inevitably this documentary has stirred up furore from people of all political divides.
The right are infuriated by the purported parasites, and the left are incensed by the portrayal of the poor, alarmed it may exacerbate problematic notions about the poor which already pervade society.
Of course the latter are right; society already has some fallacious beliefs on welfare claimants and shows like this serve to bolster and reinforce these pernicious beliefs.

The British Government run by conservatives like obfuscating the facts and they brazenly perpetuate harmful misconceptions about the poor, and amenable voters obediently accept the propaganda. Some would like you to believe welfare fraud is at epidemic levels but on the contrary, as evidenced by the statistics below.
The discrepancy between the actual figures and public belief strain credulity and it’s shows like the aforementioned ones and the shameful propaganda that precipitate this kind of insidious thinking.

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People also make the assertion tax avoidance is completely extraneous from welfare fraud, but they’re inextricably linked.
The public and government tend to be more apathetic towards tax avoidance opposed to welfare fraud despite the fact welfare fraud is strikingly disproportionate to tax avoidance and therefore less harmful. Google, Starbucks, Amazon, companies who have engaged in tax avoidance schemes despite being monstrously profitable companies yet the outrage directed at these corporations is markedly less than that at people who engage in welfare fraud.

It’s time people lay off the poor, and direct their anger at someone more worthy of it: The corporations

Owen Jones succinctly conveys the anger of many at this deplorable show

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


There Are Consequences For Being A Bigot

Earlier this week prominent star of hit TV Show Duck Dynasty was suspended for coarse and odious remarks about homosexual people.
This has precipitated an outcry from Conservatives claiming “Christians are under attack” and that “freedom of speech is dead”.

As if we needed more evidence of people’s gross misunderstanding of freedom of speech.
No one is impeding this man’s freedom of speech; as an individual he can spout whatever drivel he likes without fear of government intervention.
But freedom of speech does not mean freedom from retribution; so as he has the freedom to utter drivel, his employers who don’t want to be seen condoning such behaviour have the freedom to reprimand or expunge him from their organisation.

Are Christians under attack? No, however they do not live in a time of unmitigated privilege anymore. A belief in God is generally innocuous but when religious beliefs escalate to archaic views like believing “homosexuals are sinners” and “abortion is murder” it warrants admonishment as views like these are insidious and demonstrably harm people.

Lastly, it is incumbent on anyone with such clout to be judicious with their public speech, as this kind of hateful bile could influence an impressionable kid to do bad, or even inflict even more suffering on the 13 year old homosexual child who is victimised by bullying in school.
And if they do state something as repulsive as this, it’s the moral obligation of the public or media to denounce them, as failure to do so just perpetuates and enables this deplorable behaviour.


This Isn’t The Change We Hoped For

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Hope and Change: Those were the two qualities Barack Obama embodied in the 2008 election, he was America’s liberator, the antithesis of Bush.
But as we near Obama’s 5th year in office, his presidency is descending into a cesspool of disarray and his believers are becoming disillusioned.
His administration is fraught with incompetence & irresponsibility, his approval rating is approaching an all time low, and his apathy towards Chelsea Manning & victims of drones attacks is bordering on moral turpitude.

One of Obama’s prime promises in 2008 was a transparent administration, he vowed to defy convention and commit to an unwavering frankness.
Shortly after he was elected president The Whitehouse declared his administration would become the “most open and transparent in history”
Obama pledged “a new era” and “an unprecedented level of of openness”
Suffice to say it hasn’t transpired, on the contrary, many prominent critics have lamented Obama and his administration for their failure to uphold their promise.
And upsettingly Obama is not yielding, the salient NSA leaks have not chastened but emboldened him to add more layers of secrecy over the administration.
Some political insiders have claimed the Obama administration is markedly worse than the Bush administration when it comes to transparency.

The Affordable Care Act also dubbed “ObamaCare” was intended to be one of the hallmarks of Obama’s presidency but it has had a disastrous launch with the site plagued with errors and malfunctions, with a deluge of users having a difficult time enrolling in health insurance. By Obama’s own admission the site has not launched as expected “I am the first to acknowledge that the website that was supposed to do this all in a seamless way has had way more glitches than I think are acceptable” The buck stops with the president, he should have the shrewdness to hire adept personnel but what’s even more concerning is the lack of belief in accountability. When something of this significance is a colossal failure there has to be ramifications, and the people responsible have to be held accountable. News this week that ObamaCare enrollment figures have soared will give solace to the president but they’re still falling short of expectations and that can be ascribed to the negligent launch.

Unsurprisingly Obama’s approval rating has plummeted to 41%, to give some perspective his rating was 54% at the start of January so there’s a huge disparity.
Drones, NSA leaks, indifference towards Chelsea Manning, ObamaCare launch, IRS scandal have all been contributing factors to this deplorable rating.
Some will be dismissive claiming approval rating is meaningless but that couldn’t be further from the truth.
It’s true the incumbent’s approval rating matters less when he isn’t running for re-election but with the mid-term elections approaching in 2014 and the democrats yearning for a majority in the house, a loss could have disastrous implications for Obama’s presidency and legacy, and it would greatly reduce the opportunity of second term accomplishments from Obama. One important mitigating factor however is the Republican party are in complete disarray and their approval rating is at an all time low primarily because of their perfidious tactics which resulted in a government shutdown.

Chelsea Manning courageously revealed some sinister war crimes from the American military. In a fair world you’d expect the culprits to be reprimanded and her to be commended. Sadly however the opposite occurred; Manning was demonised by American politicians, and the culprits were exonerated. Subsequently she was incarcerated. Manning requested a presidential pardon from Obama but to no avail, Obama also is on record as saying Manning “broke the law”
The whole Manning fiasco has exposed the egregious treatment the US Government engage in when faced with a whistleblower, completely merciless and callous.
To make matters worse Obama has reinforced America’s policy on drones, with extrajudicial killings being committed at an alarming rate.
Obama has claimed drones are surgical and done with precision but this is evidently false, and while drones have been used to some eradicate some high level terrorists the sheer scale of innocent civilians slaughtered to death is unforgivable and ghastly.

In another pre-election promise that would strain credulity Obama vowed to protect Whistleblowers and elevated them as “the best source of information about waste, fraud and abuse in government” and saying that “such acts of courage and patriotism should be encouraged rather than stifled” as always, actions speak louder than words and Obama has shown no leniency with regard to Manning or Snowden and has been unprecedented in his use of the espionage act, downright abusing it in fact and has persecuted whistleblowers despite his claim to the contrary. Obama is attempting to suppress the act of virtuous people exposing egregious violations within the American government, and this is a direct contradiction of the noble, benevolent, receptive man of 2008.

Attending Mandela’s memorial Obama said with fervour: “And so we, too, must act on behalf of justice. We, too, must act on behalf of peace. There are too many people who happily embrace Madiba’s legacy of racial reconciliation, but passionately resist even modest reforms that would challenge chronic poverty and growing inequality. There are too many leaders who claim solidarity with Madiba’s struggle for freedom, but do not tolerate dissent from their own people. (Applause.) And there are too many of us on the sidelines, comfortable in complacency or cynicism when our voices must be heard. Around the world today, men and women are still imprisoned for their political beliefs, and are still persecuted for what they look like, and how they worship, and who they love. That is happening today.”

What better time then now for Obama to embrace introspection, heed his own advice and embark on a journey that sees him return to that scrupulous, admirable man of 2008.

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An Auspicious Start For The PS4

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Console Gaming is dead! That was the myopic proclamation from some analysts not too long ago.
But inevitably their drivel has been falsified.
In news that would strain credulity the PS4 has launched to staggering sales, 1 Million in the first day to be exact.
This is unprecedented in the history of gaming and may have profound implications within the market.
Just to give you some perspective and the disparity, here is a graph of sales of other console launches relative to the PS4.

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The reason this news is salient is because of the impact it will have on console games.
Investors will be a lot more amenable upon seeing such resounding figures, and this combined with the unparalleled GTA V sales just solidifies the premise that console gaming still plays an integral part in the recreational life of many.
Both will incentivise developers to allocate copious amounts of resources to development because if they get it right they will reap the colossal rewards as evidenced by GTA V; A game that was in development for at least 5 years, but that considerable amount of time was vindicated by the tremendous income they accumulated.

Gaming for a long time was considered this niche market, but now its customer base is markedly more diverse.
Expect to see a proliferation of console games in the next year or two; it’s never been a better time to be an avid gamer


GTA Online redefines online gaming

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Mesmerising, unfathomable, extraordinary, profound, those are just a few superlatives to describe the dynamic open world of GTA Online. From death matches, to diverse races, to enthralling missions, to parachuting, there’s a vast array of entertainment and it provides an abundance of fun.
Unlike GTA single player, you’ll rarely find yourself bored by monotony, while the map is monotonous the experiences are not.
One of my criticisms of GTA single player was the lack of diversity on the map, but in GTA online it’s just not as glaringly obvious due to the innumerable activities you can partake in.
Cash and Ranking takes on an integral role in GTA Online, with many enjoyable items being unlocked as you rank up but it can be laborious and addictive so proceed with caution.

GTA Online begins a few months before the events that unfold in GTA single player. First you choose your character using the character creation mechanism.
Many have voiced their complaints about the tediousness of it, and I’m inclined to agree, instead of the conventional way of choosing skin type, facial features, and body shape etc you’re confined to only choosing by heritage. These values include your Mom’s Mother, Mom’s Father, Dad’s Mother, Dad’s Father, and how much you resemble each.
While it may sound more sophisticated it’s really not, it feels like a constraint and it’s abjectly cumbersome.
One of the major criticisms of GTA single player was its omission of a female protagonist but there’s no such issue in Online.

 

 

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Apartments & Garages: Purchasable apartments were sorely missed in GTA single player, but GTA Online has no such issues.
There is a various amount of apartments ranging from austere to lavish but while the views are breathtaking unfortunately the interiors are humdrum.
In saying that though the lavish apartments are contemporary and elegant so I’d be willing to forgive Rockstar for the lack of variety.
Garages also come with your apartment and range from confined to colossally spacious.
The maximum amount of cars you can store in the most expensive ones is 10 which for me is more than enough, but it would be advisable for Rockstar to allow users to purchase more garages in the future, because there are some sublime cars in this game.

DeathMatches: Probably the most enjoyable feature in the game for me is Death Matches, (which may be disconcerting depending on who you ask)
Deathmatches allow GTA 5 players to pit their weaponry skills and reactions against one another in scored combat and they’re much more elaborate than GTA IV.
Your chance of victory increases exponentially if you have a high rank because you can avail of weapons that are more destructive and hold more ammunition.
Other players will be unable to see you on the map if you tread quietly, and if you’re too noisy you leave yourself exposed to your opponents as they will be able to creep up on you.
The enjoyment of the death match is highly contingent on the location of it, which the host can specify, of course.
Ranking points are also rationed based on your performance in the death match, with kills to death ratio being paramount.

 

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Racing: Racing is definitely the quickest way of accumulating ranking points, and it’s a lot of fun too.
The races are highly customisable with a multitude of options including race type which can be Standard, rally mode (in which your partner has to direct you to the checkpoints) and GTA (which enables weapons and rockets). Similar to death matches the enjoyment of races is dependent on the location and journey.
One annoyance though is users who are out of the race early due to negligence often have a propensity to drive in the other direction and obstruct the leaders of the race which spoils it. Hopefully rockstar implement a feature where we can report these people for their insolent behaviour.

Missions: Missions are a joy, especially when you’re forced to collaborate with the other players. For instance in one mission I had to land a plane but the runway had a deluge of enemies occupying it, so my partner parachuted out and eradicated them so I could then land on the runway. This mission would have been near impossible to complete without team play because the enemies would have just obliterated the plane. I can’t emphasise this enough: The collaboration is just so gratifying, and it makes completing the mission all the more enjoyable.
Despite this, missions can get a bit mundane, and hopefully in the coming months we’ll see much more intricate missions introduced.

 

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Free Roam: In Single Player free roam got boring fast, but that isn’t the case in Online.
You could spend hours in free roam with other users conjuring up something fun.
It’s unfettered, so that opens up a bunch of theoretical possibilities and a quick glance at Youtube will boggle your mind.
Gallivanting has never been so fun, and for me it’s inconceivable that I’ll be left bored in a session when maximum number of users are present.
While unfettered in possibilities, sadly it’s not in number of users. 32 was the supposed number for months, but sadly it was limited to sixteen.
Thirty-Two would augment the quality of the experience markedly.

Rockstar promises: Rockstar have announced they’re going to release new DLC content to GTA users starting next week, with a beach bum pack which included new vehicles, weapons, and attire. Heists are also expected to be released in the near future, and I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say it may just be the most enjoyable aspect of the game.

We’ve only seen a glimpse of what this game can do, and I can’t convey enough how excited I am to see where this game is in a year from now.
The possibilities are limitless and we’re on the precipice of something unfathomable.
GTA Online isn’t immaculate, but it’s laid the foundation for something remarkable.
You have a feeling Rockstar are just getting started.


Transphobia in GTA V

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Source: BadTransJokes

People will claim this is innocuous satire, but they’re categorically incorrect. Effective satire exposes, lampoons and subverts intolerance and oppressive convictions.
This is the antithesis of legitimate satire and does the exact opposite; it demonises trans people & exacerbates current difficulties they face.
These false depictions of trans people perpetuate pernicious views of them and Rockstar are worthy of admonishment for brazenly targeting a marginalised group of people.


Grand Theft Auto V Review (contains spoilers)

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GTA V has been hailed as the game of the century. Last week it was released and received rave reviews from numerous gaming publications, most notably IGN.
But has the game lived up the incalculable anticipation and hype? Does the game warrant a 10/10 score?
On the contrary; the game has a multitude of flaws, and is far from perfect.
But first we’ll walkthrough the strengths of the game.

The game is a depiction of Los Angeles

Protagonists: Rockstar have outdone themselves here; unlike GTA IV where most characters were insipid and unimaginative, the characters in GTA V are exceptional. There’s Michael who grew up in an penurious background, and lacked good exemplars and subsequently turned to organised crime.
He later met Trevor Phillips who is a perpetual sociopathic, irreverent, demented, reprobate. In his infancy Trevor had a history of rage issues, and violent impulses.
The two joined forces and became inseparable, accumulating wealth from multiple heists.
Trevor and Michael’s alliance remained successful, until they embarked on a fateful heist, along with an old accomplice of theirs named Brad.
As a result of the failed heist both Trevor and Michael erroneously believed the other to be deceased.
Trevor mangaged to evade police while Micheal made a deal with an agent in the FIB; it resulted in Michael Townley to be pronounced dead and for Michael to be renamed “Michael De Santa”. Back to the present and Trevor has a new business while Mike lives a lavish lifestyle albeit a turbulent one with his wife and two kids.
The last protagonist Franklin was born in a South Los Santos and lived in a dilapidated neighbourhood and he never had a family, money or an education to rely on. At some point in his young life his mother became addicted to crack cocaine, this addiction led to her subsequent death. Franklin is an ambitious and determined man with a desire to move beyond gratuitous crime and rise higher in the criminal underworld. After being acquainted with Michael and completing a job with him, both men grew a father-son relationship for one another which is one endearing part of the storyline. Trevor and Franklin’s first meeting was nowhere near perfect, as he was cautious of the new recruit and even insulted him and Michael for their father-son like relationship. He was eventually able to put his trust into Michael’s judgement of Franklin and the two were finally able to get along.
All characters have their own strengths and weaknesses, own set of personal relationships and own set of houses and vehicles.
Rockstar excelled here and produced captivating characters and implemented the character switching mechanism impeccably; changing between characters is fun, the camera zooms out on the current character, and slowly zooms in on the selected character.

Missions: Another commendable part of the game. While there may only be 69 missions, it’s rare you’ll fine a mission where you haven’t been mesmerised.
Whether it’s commandeering a train, flying directly into a cargo plane, or stealing information from an FBI building GTA V is sure to provide you with enthralling missions.
There is a lot of variety, and the heists in this iteration are significantly more intricate. You as the character have a lot more discretion and can choose your crew, your course of action and your getaway vehicle. Some may berate Rockstar for not having more, but I’d rather have fewer missions while being totally entranced opposed to an inordinate amount of missions while being left feeling neglected. You also have the ability to replay any mission throughout the game which is a nice addition.

Aircraft and vehicles: There is an abundance and a diverse range of vehicles in this game, so whether you’re an ardent sports car fan, an SUV fan, or a retro fan there’s something for you. Vehicles can be customised and you’re given an array of options to choose from so when you’ve accumulated great wealth be sure to give your local LS Customs a visit. One of the major disappointments of GTA IV was lack of aircraft. There were no planes, and while understandable due to the constraint of limited scope it was still a major shortcoming of the game. Rockstar have made amends however in GTA V: Jets, Cargo planes, military planes, fighter jets, and most notably 747 passenger jet which will make a lot of wannabe pilots very happy are all present within the game, and you also have a selection of choppers to choose from too.

Underwater: Underwater swimming makes a welcome return in GTA V, and what a return it is. The scope is inarticulable and there are many sights to behold.
You also have to be vigilant underwater; sharks are lurking and if you don’t proceed with due caution you may find yourself crunched to death by a shark, although they won’t devour you if that’s any consolation. There are packages to be found underwater too including money and weaponry.
Probably the most gratifying thing is the ability to buy a submarine and embark on a journey throughout the world down under.

Weaponry: They’ve provided an excessive amount of weapons and ability for customisations. The new weapon mechanism is more intuitive and makes switching between them seamless. It has everything a fervent gun fan could want, and you can really appreciate just how meticulous Rockstar have been with regard to weaponry.

GTA V is one of the finest games of the millennium, but there are flaws in the game, and depressingly many of these flaws are conspicuous:

Map: Initially I thought I may be the only one who had reservations with the diversity of the map, but I’ve seen a multitude of people reinforce my belief.
Many were apprehensive about the map upon first reveal, and sadly their fears have not been vanquished.
The majority of the map consists of mundane mountains, and monotonous fields.
There is one major city in the game, and that just isn’t sufficient; it just feels like there’s something missing.
A new city would of course enhance the game, and that’s why Rockstar should feel compelled to add at least another city on DLC.

Airports & airtraffic: While Rockstar delivered with planes and jets they’ve failed to deliver with regard to airports and airtraffic. There’s one international airport in the game and when you consider piloting planes is supposed to be an integral part of this game, that’s inexcusable. When I fly a 747 I don’t want to have to land it on a field or have to do a 180 and fly all the way back the airport it took off on, that’s tedious and attenuates the satisfaction of commandeering a jet. I want it to be resemble real life, and 1 airport doesn’t suffice. Airtraffic is poor; it’s basically non-existent. We get a 747 taking off and landing at the airport, but apart from that there’s hardly any aircraft in the air throughout the map. I want an emulation of real life, where you have dynamic air-traffic and you have to fly at a specific altitude to evade other passenger jets and avoid a calamitous mid-air collision.

Lack of interiors and purchasable items: These are the most surprising negatives. I feel deprived of interiors; no shopping malls, no airports, no casinos, no train stations, no car shops etc Secondly there’s nowhere near enough purchasable items. You can accumulate a lot of wealth in this game due to stock markets and lucrative heists, but you’re left dismayed at the lack of purchasable items; I want to purchase opulent mansions, colossal garages to store my cars, and underground car-parks. Lack of excitement after completion of game can be attributed to this. Again it’s a possibility DLC may rectify this problem but I’m pessimistic about that.

No drivable trains: There’s one instance in the game where you’re capable of commandeering a train, but apart from that mission, that’s it.
In GTA San Andreas one of the most enjoyable aspects of the game was hijacking a train and then derailing it.
There are many avid train fans out there who would have loved a metro apparatus in the game.

Graphics: Rockstar aren’t really culpable here, but due to technical limitations of the PS3 the graphics feel antiquated.
All year gamers have been introduced to 1080p, exhilarating graphics on the PS4 and they’re breathtaking.
The defects in graphics are very conspicuous if you’re a pixel junkie.
Hopefully Rockstar appeases the demands of people and releases this game for both PC and Next Gen console.
They hardly need the cash after the monstrous launch, but their fans are imploring them to do so.
I infer they will release this game on both PC and Next Gen consoles in 2014, and code has already been uncovered that indicates PC Support.

So that concludes my critique of GTA V. An unparalleled game, which will certainly gratify you, but simultaneously will leave you feeling unfulfilled.

It’s imperative to note that GTA Online is released 3 days after this review, so this is just a review of GTA V single player.
Once we’ve had time to fully absorb GTA Online, you can expect another appraisal.
My inkling is that will appease my unfulfilled desires.


Sex Shaming And Misogyny Prevalent In Ireland.

 

Over the weekend pictures of a teenage girl engaging in an innocuous sexual act disseminated around the web. Subsequently many inevitably started to deride and chastise this girl for engaging in a consensual sexual act. One just had to look at the #slanegirl hashtag on Twitter to see how pervasive misogyny has become in Ireland. Many feminists publicly lambasted the hashtag and cowardly men spouted misogynistic slurs at them.

 The perturbing thing is many people seem to think this contemptible behaviour is justifiable. Why is that a man is commended and treated as heroic when he engages in promiscuity, but a woman is vilified and demonised? This pernicious problem isn’t new of course but social media just magnifies its prevalence within society.  The people who uploaded these pictures are the ones who are culpable, they wilfully posted these pictures online and surely had some understanding of the abuse they may instigate. This insidious abuse that some dismiss as “harmless banter” can be very detrimental to someone. The emotional effects it can have are substantial and could easily induce depression. Anyone who thinks there is a rational justification for this vitriol is misguided.

 Many are incensed at this girl for her ostensible perverseness but that is negligible compared to the abuse she’s been inundated with. Where is the outrage for the people who uploaded these pictures? Where is the outrage for the adult men ridiculing her? Where is the outrage for the conspicuous hypocrisy? Where is the outrage for people claiming she warrants this vitriol?

 This whole incident serves as an indictment of Irish society. It’s exposed the lack of empathy in many and our problematic attitudes regarding sexuality. It’s time people stop abusing the victims, and start admonishing the culprits.

 

 


Musings on an Apple Television

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“I finally cracked it” Those were the words of the late Steve Jobs when conversing with Walter Isaacson in regard to the Apple TV.

Here’s the full quote from Steve Jobs which pertains to the Apple TV:

‘I’d like to create an integrated television set that is completely easy to use,’ he told me. ‘It would be seamlessly synced with all of your devices and with iCloud.’ No longer would users have to fiddle with complex remotes for DVD players and cable channels. ‘It will have the simplest user interface you could imagine. I finally cracked it”

 

In fact, up until that revelation many within the industry were ambivalent about Apple’s interest within the television market.
Some surmised conquering the television market would be an insurmountable task for Apple and thus inferring that Apple’s devotion of resources and employees to such a project would be futile.

But that fallacious argument is ignoring an integral component of Apple’s DNA: They thrive on accomplishing the seemingly impossible; they derive satisfaction from falsifying the doubts. And while it’s true, innovating in the television market presents many challenges, Apple are just the company to provide an innovative solution; with the adeptness of their software teams, and the ingenuity of their engineers they can make the same impact on television as they did for music, phones and tablets. The market is ripe for a revolutionary device and Apple will be the ones to provide it.

Intricacies of such a device:

So what’s the most auspicious approach for Apple?

Hardware: Suffice to say how competent Apple are regarding aesthetics of a device. One just has to look at their MacBooks, iPhones, iPads, & iMacs to see the meticulousness and the scrupulousness. So I think it’s self-explanatory that their television set will look stunning. FaceTime camera? Possible, but I think that’s superfluous. 4K? Just isn’t viable in the next few years due to the extortionate price of 4K technology so I think it’s unrealistic to expect a higher resolution than 1080P. Siri? Yes, I think Siri will be an integral part of the experience. Affordability will be another huge aspect of the set, and I’d expect Apple to have different sizes. 40″ will be somewhere around the $800 dollar mark and the 50″ will be approximately $1000. But what about consumers who already have an adequate television set and want the software to enhance their experience? Well Apple will offer a solution for them too; it will be reminiscent of the current box, very unobtrusive and very affordable. Under the $150 mark.

Movie and Television content: In my opinion this is the most important prerequisite for launching this device. Apple currently offer both Movie and television shows on their iTunes stores, but their selling mechanism is antiquated. In my opinion there is immense credence to the premise that streaming services are the more appealing solution opposed to buying episodes of television shows for 2.99 per episode. Apple will need to be rectify this problem before the release of the set. Subscription services have demonstrably been successful as is evidenced by services like Netflix and Spotify; unfortunately for Netflix they don’t have exclusive rights to a lot of appealing newly released content. We’re all aware of the abundance of cash Apple has in the bank and this is where it’s going to pay dividends; in fact this is probably the nuisance postponing the launch of the device opposed to technical limitations. But Apple have so much cash at their disposal they will eventually obtain rights to this coveted content. My inkling is the service will be probably the most seductive thing about the device. For $15 a month you will be able to avail of all the newly released television shows from Fox, ABC etc a day after they air and you will also be able to enjoy all the newly released movies. If Apple can provide an aforementioned service that will be very conducive to success.

Live Sport: Another complication for Apple, in fact this is probably one of the salient reasons many are still availing of cable television. There just isn’t a viable alternative to watching live sport. A month ago ESPN launched an App for the Apple TV (box) which allows users to watch live sports, but there is one caveat. You have to have a cable subscription to ESPN which kind of nullifies the purpose of this app. But one has to assume it’s inevitable that ESPN will permit users to watch live sport without the stipulation of a subscription to cable television. And if ESPN do and it’s successful expect other networks to follow suit.

App Store & integration: At WWDC Apple released an API for developers that will allow them to utilise gaming controllers with their games, this move will incentivise game manufactures to design a copious amount of gaming controllers. This shrewd move gives more incentive for game developers to incorporate airplay support into their games, so users can then play them on the big screen and also solves the problem of a tactile controller. And since all the processing power can be done on the iOS device it won’t require any considerable processing power on the Apple tv. That’s a prelude to my next point: What if Apple came to the realisation that an App Store for the Apple TV may already be dispensable. There is an inordinate amount of iOS devices around the world, and these devices all already have the capability to perform arduous tasks. So what if Apple decided that iOS devices would be used to power 3rd party applications on the television? So let me expound on this theory: Apple would make it a requirement for every app to have an Apple TV variation, the app would be more sophisticated than its iOS counterpart and would be redesigned completely for the bigger screen. One notable positive to this proposition is that the Apple TV could be reduced significantly in cost because it wouldn’t be as reliant on considerable processing power. Of course there are drawbacks to this theory too: 1. iOS device becomes a requirement to derive full gratification out of Apple TV. 2. Broadband limitations could pose a problem. I think it’s an interesting theory, but despite that I still envisage that Apple will launch a standalone App Store for the TV, and that seems to be the general consensus too and If that is their intention it may be imminent.

Apple are primed to deliver another innovative product and completely redefine another category of device. Many users are yearning for a seamless experience with regard to television and I have an inkling Apple will captivate them once again!


The Tiger bites back

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Three years ago Tiger Woods hit rock bottom in his career. One of his most egregious performances in his history: He posted his worst week as pro and to compound his misery it came at one of his happy hunting grounds Firestone and into an abyss he went. He had to endure much derision and contemptuous remarks. The media sensed a fragile player and they went for the kill and the Tiger languished in despondency.
The jokes, the mockery continued for another half a year. Tiger was the butt of every joke, and couldn’t go a minute without the media reminding him of his failings as a husband and as a golfer. Indeed, many of the media considered Tiger defeated & mere mortals would have considered such mental torment insuperable.

But not Tiger Woods: Even though many of his vociferous critics warned him the hole was too deep, he refused to succumb to their derision and slowly began arduously digging himself up from a seemingly impossible predicament. He trusted his intuition and hired Sean Foley a fairly unknown and eccentric character, and they have received a copious amount of admonishment over the last two years especially from Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee who was notable for his remark that Tiger should sack Foley and hire Butch Harmon (this in May 2012). But they remained resolute and continued to persevere. They had a visceral belief that their methods were conducive to success, and that Tiger just needed the extra reps. Many dimissed this notion and claimed Tiger’s dominant days were over including Nick Faldo. It wasn’t just his game they were questioning, no. Faldo had the nerve to claim Tiger had become a mentally weak golfer, and proclaimed that the “Tiger era was over”
Then when Rory Mcilroy had an impressive spell last September the media involuntarily anointed Rory as the new king of golf. We got asinine remarks from Greg Norman claiming Rory was intimidating Tiger. The media claimed Rory was dominating like the Tiger of 2000 etc

But in astonishing fashion Tiger has falsified those inane theories: He’s accumulated 5 victories in 2013, including a momentous win at a course where many of these analysts claimed his game wasn’t suited to. He’s once again the indisputable best golfer in the world, and he continues to separate himself from the pack in the world rankings.
And it’s just not on the course where he is excelling, he’s found genuine happiness off the course with Lindsey Vonn and their relationship has probably been very beneficial to his game.
Now sure you can tell me he hasn’t won a major, but I think it’s very conspicuous just how much he’s progressing, and at the rate he’s progressing any rational person would infer the major is imminent. And when that elusive 15th does arrive, don’t be surprised if 16 & 17 follow soon after.

The deplorable media attempted to slay the Tiger, but they forgot Tigers aren’t exactly mentally weak creatures and this Tiger is biting back in ferocious style!


Murray earns legendary status at SW19

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A year ago Andy Murray had a heart-wrenching defeat at Wimbledon, many were apprehensive about his future prospects, many assumed this loss would be too difficult to overcome, but on the contrary. The defeat invigorated Murray, and a year on he is an Olympic champion, and a two time grand slam winner.
Even his most fervent fans couldn’t have envisioned that, but Murray isn’t just an exceptional tennis player; his mental toughness is what makes him an outstanding champion.
Indeed most would have succumbed to the negativity after last season; most would have thrown in the towel but not Murray. He knew that although Federer defeated him, he could compete with the big three. Despite the devastating loss it emboldened him.

I’ve been watching Murray since 2007. I always knew he had the temperament and mental fortitude to accomplish this. That’s why I find it so vexatious when people claim he is a bottler. He’s not, but for years he just didn’t have the adequate fitness to compete with the big three. He’s put a lot of emphasis on his fitness in the last two years and hired a coach Ivan Lendl which has been instrumental to his ameliorated self-belief and it’s paid dividends. He’s now earned legendary status in the game, and boy is it warranted.

There are two types of men in the world: Some which adversity causes them to break; others which adversity causes them to break records. Murray is clearly the latter and after his achievements in the last year, that is incontrovertible.


Just like Old Times

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People said Tiger’s dominant days were over but with his win on Sunday at TPC Sawgrass he emphatically debunked their fallacious theories.

Tiger started the round in an auspicious manner, hitting his first 5 greens and birdying three of the first 7, his distance control was impeccable, and
he was putting superbly. Trouble arose for Tiger at the Par 4 14th a hole which hasn’t been favourable to him over the years. He hooked his tee shot into the lake and went onto make a disconcerting double bogey. But astonishingly he appeared unperturbed to the predicament. He responded splendidly holing a clutch 8ft par putt on the 15th (“To go double bogey-bogey would have been huge,” Woods said. “But to save a putt there and get some momentum going to the next three holes was big.”)
and then he played a superb bunker shot on the par 16th to a few feet to take the outright lead.
Onto the perilous 17th where the water looms large, he played a mediocre shot to the middle of the green and then two putted, exceptionally.
In the group behind Sergio Garcia who was tied for the lead unravelled and hit two balls into the water, and some may have considered it poetic justice for his antics the previous day.
Tiger now with the lead, appearing impervious to the pressure hit a wonderful draw into the fairway at 18 with the conspicuous water on the left. He then proceeded to hit the green and two putt for victory. The only man who could prevent Tiger was the rookie David Lingmerth but he failed to birdie the difficult 18th and Tiger’s 4th victory of the season was official. Tiger clearly elated embraced his caddy and lauded him for assisting him to a momentous win.

Unprecedented: For the first time in his career Tiger has obtained 4 wins before May 28th in a calendar year. Not even in his most triumphant season 2000 did he attain this feat. This unparalleled start to the season is ominous for everyone else on tour. In 2000 Tiger won his 4th tournament of the year at the Memorial in his 10th appearance of the season which incidentally was the season he began his pursuit of winning all 4 majors in a row. This year he’s won 4 times in 7 starts. And no one can dispute that he’s resuming his dominance once again.

Unlike his previous two wins Tiger didn’t hole as many putts, in fact in two rounds he took more than 30 putts, but this week will be remembered for his exceptional ball striking and peerless course management. And with the US Open impending that bodes very well for him. Both ball striking & solid course management are paramount at that tournament.

This victory is arguably his most impressive since his return; Tiger isn’t renowned for his record at TPC Sawgrass. In fact, he’s only won the Players championship once. And since that win in 2001 he’s only achieved 1 top 10 until now. Many critics surmised he is only capable of winning on courses that suit his eye, but Tiger falsified those inane speculations this week.

He’s also extended his lead to a substantial margin in the World Golf Rankings to a full 3 points over Rory Mcilroy. Not many analysts envisioned that at the dawn of the season. What’s daunting for other players on tour is he’s still capable of amelioration and with the US Open looming would anyone dare bet against him?

From the : GolfChannel

• The victory is the fourth of the 2013 season for Woods, the 12th such year in which he has recorded at least four victories. Both Sam Snead and Jack Nicklaus accomplished four-plus win seasons just nine times each in their respective careers.

• This marks the earliest Woods has ever won four events in a single year. In both 2000 and 2001, he notched his fourth win of the year at the Memorial.

• Woods’ 78th victory comes at age 37 years, 4 months and 12 days in his 300th career overall start. He has 286 career professional starts.

• Woods has now carded 22 of 24 stroke-play rounds on the PGA Tour at par or better. His lone over par rounds thus far this season came in the fourth round of the Honda Classic and second round at the Masters.

• Woods remains first in the 2013 FedEx Cup points standings and increases his lead in the Official World Golf Rankings over world No. 2 Rory McIlroy to more than three points.

• Woods has won seven of his last 22 starts on the PGA Tour, which is a 31.8 percent conversion rate. His career winning percentage is 27 percent (78 wins out of 286 starts).

• Woods is now 52-4 in victories when holding at least a share of the 54-hole lead.

• Woods becomes the sixth individual with multiple Players victories, and just the fifth to win more than once at the Stadium Course. He also captured the 1994 U.S. Amateur at TPC Sawgrass.

• The victory is his 16th in the state of Florida, the most of any state. He has also won 14 times in California.


Tiger’s return to dominance

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12 months ago when a fragile Tiger limped off Doral, few would have envisioned 12 months later he would have accumulated 5 victories in 19 starts on the PGATour. But that’s exactly what has occurred. On Sunday Tiger eased to victory with a certain nonchalance, and won his 1st World Golf Championship since Bridgestone in 2009.

His biggest victory since 2009 appeared effortless; even though formidable opponents were chasing him down.
Mickelson, Mcdowell and Stricker all made early birdies on Sunday, but to no avail.
Even though Tiger started inauspiciously on the Par 5 1st, missing a green in regulation he quickly assuaged any pressure that was on him by birdying the par 4 2nd and difficult par 3 4th. From that moment onwards, victory was inexorable.

On the back of last weeks woeful showing at the Honda Classic where he carded a final round 74 and made 4 double bogeys all week, Tiger bounced back in superb fashion and his game was proficient all week long.
His excellence was conspicuous: He putted exceptionally all week, and broke a personal record. He only needed 100 putts all week beating his previous record of 101 at the 2009 Arnold Palmer Invitational. In the final three round he didn’t miss a putt from within 9 feet; reminiscent of the Tiger of old. If he can sustain this level of consistency with the putter, it will be conducive to success and ominous for his opponents.
The other part of his game that was laudable was his wedge play, a part of his game which has been mediocre over the previous 12 months and has received a lot of condemnation. But this week it was impeccable, and because of it his proximity to the hole was a lot lower which resulted in more birdies.

He’s now won twice in 2013, and it’s quite probable he’ll make it a third in two weeks time at Bay Hill where he’s one 7 times, including a 5 shot victory last year. The last time he won twice before Augusta, was in 2008 which also happens to be the last time he won a major championship. Certainly provides encouragement for his ardent fans. He’s also won 5 of his last 19 starts on the PGA Tour, which is a 26 percent win rate. His winning percentage through 297 starts is also 26%. To put that in perspective: Snead was 23%, Nicklaus was 20%, Palmer was 15% and Mickelson was 8%.

And now what many considered inconceivable at the beginning of the year due to the sizeable lead Mcilroy had established in the rankings, has become quite feasible. Tiger can retain his number 1 ranking before Augusta with a victory at Bay Hill and with his terrific record there, who would bet against him?

The comeback is almost complete.


Apple Reinvents the toilet with iToilet

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Apple today introduced the long rumoured iToilet, combining two products, a revolutionary toilet, and an internet communications device.
Tim Cook showcased the device today in San Francisco, and the attending audience were transfixed as Tim demonstrated the magnificence of the iToliet live. Tim even pooped live on stage, trying to emphasise to the engrossed audience just how innovative this device is.

Apple have long had a yearning to bring a certain amount of excitement to excretion, and they may finally have developed the immaculate device.
Sophistication of this magnitude has never been seen in a toilet before; Apple are hoping this is their next breakthrough product.
Apple have said the iToilet is invented to enhance our experience of pooping. Apple believe current toilets are cumbersome, and inelegant and consequently make pooping a detestable experience.
They’re intending to make pooping a gratifying, enjoyable experience and believe this is just the device to make that possible.

The iToliet exemplifies everything Apple are about: Making a device you currently are repelled by, and turning it into something that you are enchanted with.
Some people again will accuse Apple of imitation but never before have we seen a toilet with such elegance, comfort and sophistication.
As usual Apple have one again created a frenzy with a product introduction, and many people have expressed their enthusiasm for this device.

Pat Baker enthused about the device: “This is everything I’ve ever wanted, I’ve kind of been embarrassed to suggest to companies to invent such a product, but I’ve been repelled by current toilets for years. They make the experience of pooping such a predicament.”

John Adams expressed his delight at the introduction: “The toilet industry was ripe for an innovation like this, most toilets today are mundane and lack excitement. Apple have made toilets enticing and I look forward to excreting in the iToilet immensely.”

After the event we spoke to Apple’s head of design Jonathan Ive, he shared some intriguing insight with us:

Jony Ive senior industrial designer said: “You can imagine the tremendous difficulty designing a device like this, we had to closely inspect, have an obsessiveness to every detail, and make sure the comfortableness of the device was impeccable.”

“A big part of the experience of a physical object has to do with the materials, we of course wanted the toilet to be extremely intuitive, but we also wanted an elegance and make the device approachable. So when you look at the toilet you’re totally mesmerised by it and just have a strong desire to poop. We believe we’ve accomplished this.”

“We were very diligent when it came to the intrusion of the poop into the toilet. We thought extensively about this and we came up with an innovative process. When the poop enters the toilet it transforms into an innocuous material, one that won’t disgust you. We then came up with an intelligent way of expunging that horrible smell from the waste, when the poop enters the toilet, the odours are automatically eradicated by a process we call “operation transformation” We then transform this intolerable odour into a fragrant substance.It’s magical and revolutionary.”

“Probably the most innovative thing in the device is its iPoop camera. Every time you defecate, iToilet automatically snaps a photo of your waste and sends it off to a research facility. This will have profound effect on the research of poop.Our device also has an intelligent sensor that analyses the size, shape and texture of your poop. If your poop is healthy a green light will flash on your armrest. If it’s unhealthy a red light will flash, and will automatically provide you with suggestions on how to ameliorate your poop.iToilets built-in proximity sensor detects when you poop into the toilet and immediately prompts a sheet of glass to slide out to prevent annoying splashes from occurring.This once again shows our care, our obsessive attention to detail.We vehemently believe this device will change toilets forever, and this is just the beginning.”

 

The iToilet is set to go on sale in early April, and Apple expect a high demand for this device. They’ve said they expect this device to surpass the iPhone as their best selling device.Apple’s stock also rose at an exponential rate this evening shortly after the news. Stock Analyst Mark Badam said: “This is the really the first breakthrough device Apple have announced since Steve’s passing. Evidently the announcement has encouraged investors, and they believe this cements Apple’s position as the most innovative company in the world. Apple have dispelled the pessimism surrounding their future with this new product and subsequently their Stock has ascended.”

That concludes our coverage of this announcement, it will be interesting to see just how successful this device is. One thing is for certain: Apple have changed toilets forever.


What Does The Future Hold For Apple?

A question that will always arouse intense interest and generate a lot of discussion. It’s now been more than three years since Apple introduced a new category, with the iPad in January 2010. Perhaps inequitably many have questioned Apple’s ability to innovate; some have even had the audacity to surmise they’ve become devoid of creative ideas.

Let’s take a look back a look back at Apple’s history and the new category of products they’ve introduced:

  • In 2001 Apple introduced the iPod, and it subsequently became the most popular MP3 device ever sold. iPod wasn’t only a financial success, but also a cultural one too. It became ingrained into society, and revolutionised the way people listened to music. 12 years on iPod remains a very profitable device. Apple sold 12.7 Million iPod in the last quarter.
  • In 2007 Apple introduced the highly anticipated iPhone. This undoubtedly has been Apple’s most successful device. The introduction had a profound effect on how Smartphones operate, with most manufactures introducing touchscreen phones of their own. 6 years on Apple’s most prominent competitor in this market is Android, and have surpassed Apple in global sales. Apple still though sell the most phones out of any manufacturer worldwide. Last quarter they sold a staggering 47.8 million iPhones.
  • In 2010 Apple introduced the long rumoured iPad. Initially it was met with derision. Many mocked, and ridiculed the device with many predicting the device would flop. On the contrary, Apple sold a Million iPads 28 days after the launch of the device, and the device quickly became the number one fastest-selling non-phone electronic device. Of course the success of a new category is also measured on its longevity. 3 years after the announcement the iPad continues to thrive, and Apple recently announced they sold 22.9 Million iPads last quarter. No other competitor has even come close to competing with the iPad. So unquestionably the device has been a monumental success.

 

But what’s next?

Legitimate sources WSJ and the NY Times simultaneously reported Apple are developing an iWatch and have begun experimenting with designs of a watch like device , and have allegedly devoted 100 employees to the project. While these reports may have startled a few; the watch presents a great opportunity for Apple to bring innovation to another field. Rumours have suggested they will use curved glass, and we know Ive’s obsession with aluminium so don’t be surprised if it’s present on the device. According to Bloomberg’s sources; Apple are “beyond the experimentation phase in its development” pointing to the possibility of an impending launch.

Then there’s the television: In 2011 Steve Jobs revealed to Walter Isaacson he “cracked it” when referring to the television. This led to endless speculation of Apple introducing a television set. The current Apple TV, which is a small set top box is a great complement to your iOS device. With features like Airplay and Mirroring it makes it a great enhancement to your existing iPhone or iPad. The box also is capable of purchasing movies & TV Shows, and also streams Netflix, Youtube and Vimeo videos. But the noticeable blemish is the absence of an App Store – Currently there is no way for developers to make 3rd party applications for the platform. The inclusion of 3rd party Apps on the platform is inevitable but when Apple decides to incorporate a store into the OS is anyone’s guess. But one things for certain: With the considerable funds Apple possess; they can play an substantial role in changing the way we think of television. The TV market is ripe for innovation, and Apple are assured to deliver an innovative solution.

 

To summarise: It’s a bit premature and frankly myopic to be worried about the future of Apple. Their stock has recently plummeted due to various reasons most notably the Maps fiasco but to question their creativity after one mistake is asinine. If however in two years, they haven’t provided any spectacular products or any ingenious software, it may be warranted.

 

Steve Jobs primed Apple to survive without him; in the coming year we’ll find out just how capable they are without him at the helm. I have an inkling they’ll transfix us once again.