Why It Is Better To Give More


We are all encouraged to share our blessings. If people give more and tend to be less hateful, there would be less violence and more acceptance (not just tolerance) of other people’s differences and flaws. The world will certainly be a better and much brighter place to live in. While it is encouraged, it certainly isn’t forced on others. Charity is often a voluntary act of compassion towards other people and not something you do forcibly. With the billions of people on the planet today and the unequal distribution of wealth too, it is not uncommon to find millions of people suffering from hunger, poverty, violence, and all sorts of crimes. But we can make a difference in their lives if we learn to share what we have no matter how little it is.

We often think that charity often involves money. Well, most of the time it does but not necessarily true. You can give your time and effort in helping others and are just as valuable as your hard-earned cash. Most of the time, though, charities often prefer to receive monetary donations since they can use it to fund programs and other charitable events. If you have more than what you need, it helps if you give some to the less unfortunate and help foster a culture of giving and compassion rather than that of hate and prejudice.

You do not need to be rich in order to give to charity. In fact, you don’t even need money at all!

You can donate old stuff that you have no use for but could help a family in need. You can donate your time and help tutor a neighbourhood kid or volunteer at the soup kitchen. Your skills can be valuable to the charity itself, be it manning the reception a few hours a week, helping with accounting or building a website for them to gain more exposure.

You can also organize fundraisers and get your family and friends involved to help your cause, or ask them to donate money to charity in your name for your birthday or for Christmas.

Donating your time can be a one off endeavour or a regular commitment all over the year. Again, do what you can without spreading yourself too thin.

(Via: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/making-the-most-of-charitable-giving_us_5962a894e4b08f5c97d06ad6)

Not only rich people can give. Even if you are just an ordinary individual, you are still better off than the homeless person out in the streets. We may not know their circumstances and we often pass judgment easily about them not working harder but it should not be an excuse for you to avoid your moral responsibility of extending help to those in need. After all, there are tax breaks for charitable individuals and businesses, so it’s not entirely a lose-lose situation for you.

Celebrity-charity strategic alliances benefit both parties in multiple ways. Very importantly, they provide established as well as fast-tracking entertainers and athletes meaningful opportunities to leverage their current and growing stature to drive support to philanthropic causes they feel deeply about. For non-profits, the benefits of aligning with celebrities can be tremendous. Aside from having the services of people who care about their causes, the charities get spokespeople who can champion their positions and are regularly instrumental in helping to fundraise.

In a study of 165 talent agents and managers, more than four out of five of them have addressed the matter of charitable giving and personal involvement with their more successful entertainment clients. Many times the agents and managers are involved with helping them identify and work with charities that are synergistic.

(Via: https://www.forbes.com/sites/russalanprince/2017/07/17/the-rise-and-rise-of-celebrity-philanthropy/#ad751d916eb1)

Even celebrities are more inclined to be charitable and in a way that also encourages their fans to share their blessings rather than just watching on the sidelines. It is increasingly becoming harder for many to thrive in the crowded world we live in because resources are fast depleting and becoming more expensive than ever while many compete for these products and services. Hence, it is no wonder that many live in poverty or even out in the streets. By giving more, you make a big difference in the life of another person and you can sleep soundly at night knowing your small contribution uplifted the lives of others in need.

The blog article Why It Is Better To Give More Read more on: https://www.podblaze.com

From https://www.podblaze.com/why-it-is-better-to-give-more/

Retro Gadgets Are Making A Comeback


We always have a fondness for memorable objects in our youth. Many times we hold on to senseless stuff because of sentimental value. Whenever we see that item, it brings back a flash of memories that reminds us of happier and simpler times. Nothing is more nostalgic than a piece of tech gadget from yesteryears. It will remind you of what it was like to use that item then and the joy it brought you once you hold it in your hand.

For instance, there’s the walkman. You were a cool kid if you own one eon ago. You can get lost in your own world while listening to music from your cassette that was soon replaced by CDs. It was the in-thing of the 80s and 90s. If you had one back then, you’d surely feel nostalgic upon seeing one today and remember how you carried it with you as if it were just yesterday. It is no big surprise then that retro tech gadgets are growing in demand right now. The world is so full of clutter that some are longing for the simplicity of their youth and the awesome yet now outdated gadgets they used to own.

The first mobile phones weighed roughly the same as a small child. Early black-and-white TVs had a tuning knob that you turned to change channel. Looking back on them now, it’s almost laughable how low-tech they were when compared to the flagship smartphones and 4K OLED TVs that appear on this site every week. But we owe these devices respect, not just for the technological achievement they represented back then, but for enabling the high-tech world we live in today. Without the PlayStation, you couldn’t have the PlayStation 4. Without the indestructible old Nokia 3310, you couldn’t have… the new Nokia 3310. To explore that legacy, we’re embarking on a journey into the world of retro gadgets.

(Via: https://www.engadget.com/2017/05/22/tech-hunters-retro-gadgets-launch-trailer/)

These obsolete tech gadgets actually paved the way to the mind-boggling technologies we have now. If we didn’t have them back then, we won’t have all these awesome smart gadgets and 3D, 4D technologies that we now enjoy using. These retro technologies may appear low-tech but they were the top of the line back in the days and everyone can’t wait to get their hands on them. They were mighty expensive too and mostly reserved to those who can afford to pay the hefty price tag.

Brands are now getting savvy when it comes nostalgia and are coming up with creative ways of using this emotion as a tool to engage their loyal fan base, as well as attracting new audiences. 

Enter old school tech. Today, Nokia is relaunching one of the best selling mobiles of all time – the Nokia 3310. Seventeen years on from the initial release, the brand continues to drive headlines as they revamp this classic model. Looking back at retro gadgets that defined decades it a topic that AOL’s global consumer tech news site Engadget UK focuses on with its new original series Tech Hunters. It shows just how influential these gadgets have been on the technology and culture we consume today.

Not only does it validate how I spent most of my early years, but it made me think how can we, as advertisers and publishers, capitalise on this resurgence.

(Via: http://www.campaignlive.co.uk/article/retro-reinvigorated-old-tech-enjoying-new-lease-life/1434373)

Capitalizing on people’s emotions can be a two-edged sword. It can work to your advantage and bring in big bucks but it can also be a major flop and people start comparing the new one with the original. Nonetheless, there is no denying that there is a growing market for these low-tech gadgets that once ruled our past. They symbolize a moment in time and remind us acutely of life back then. If you are suddenly longing for a retro gadget yourself, nothing compares to buying a good old Mac computer. This device is the forefather of the modern smart technology we now use in our day-to-day and people can’t help but feel nostalgic when they see one.

The blog article Retro Gadgets Are Making A Comeback was initially published on PB

From https://www.podblaze.com/retro-gadgets-are-making-a-comeback/

The Two Sides Of Online Shopping


Living the fast life in this digital world can be exhausting at times. There is so much going on that we feel tired already just thinking about it. You are not alone in this realization. We may only see the glamorous life of others on social media but there is actually a dark side to it. No matter how hard you try to ignore it, it’s quite obvious that these popular influencers on social media would go to great lengths to make others believe they are leading a perfect life.

That double standard is what you need to remember when using the Internet or browsing through the various social media platforms. People will deceive you for monetary gain. If there is one aspect of this digital life that is the perfect example of such two-sided realities, it is online shopping. Many online shoppers are left in tears either because of online purchases that didn’t arrive or are way below their expectations.

The Internet is being widely used these days for online shopping. But it is like watching a movie where everything you see on screen is not always as it might seem. From a girl whose motto is ‘Netflix and chill’ all day to the grandfather who is unable to walk, this no pollution platform suits ones daily needs at any hour of the day. Many online sellers take advantage of this by employing a range of online tricks and fake promises to lure people to conduct fraudulent transactions, present fraudulent solicitations to prospective victims or to transmit the proceeds of fraud to financial institutions or to others connected with the scheme. Millennial’s are often considered tech-savvy and Internet-literate. We assume we know all the ins and outs of the digital world. And yet, plenty of us fall for the simplest of online scams. 

Online frauds are radically different from ones typically used by brick-and-mortar businesses. Here is a checklist to help you avoid losses in a situation where you cannot see the other party to the deal and identifying authentic sellers is all important. 

  • Consumers must check the URL of the seller. 

  • Understand difference between a domain name and URL.

  • International or local brands, which partner with online shopping sites to sell their products should have a scrutiny system to verify that only the partnered sites are selling their products and not anyone else.

  • Try purchasing from sites (e.g. Jabong) which have a one product one-brand policy.

  • One should shop wisely and not fall prey to attractive discounts and offers.

  • When buying a high-end brand, video tutorials on YouTube should be checked to distinguish the authentic from the fake or duplicate.

  • Customer reviews are a great tool to check the authenticity of the product.

(Via: http://www.moneylife.in/article/online-shopping-beware-of-counterfeit-products/50604.html)

Those are just some of the tips an online buyer like you should remember when making digital purchases. Remember to be extra careful considering you have no idea where the seller’s physical store or location is and you can’t just easily return the item or get refunded like when you buy something from a legit store. Online scammers are everywhere and you don’t want to fall prey to their modus. Regardless of the item you are buying or the total amount due, you should check everything with an eye of a hawk to make sure you are buying from a legitimate and honest-to-goodness online seller from whatever part of the globe they may be from.

The rise and continuing growth of online shopping has not just changed the way consumers buy products it has revolutionized the way retailers do business. Every company can sell an unlimited range of products directly on their website, whether they are offering essential baby gear or niche film memorabilia. Distance and borders no longer pose any barrier between you and your customers. No matter what you are trying to sell, you will be able to reach across the globe and find a target market for it somewhere.

Online shopping has become a juggernaut that is simply too big to ignore. Last year, a major milestone was reached, with a survey by analytics firm comScore revealing that American consumers now buy more products online than they do in physical stores. The 2016 survey showed 51 percent of purchases are now made online, a significant increase on the 48 percent of purchases in 2015 and 47 percent in 2014.

(Via: http://www.techtree.com/content/features/12838/online-shopping-opened-world-products.html)

Our modern lifestyle prefers comfort and convenience above everything else. We love fastfood because we don’t suffer from hunger yet don’t have to go the extra mile of cooking every day after a long day’s work. The same benefit is offered by online shopping. On top of that, there is a wide variety of choices you don’t usually have when shopping from one physical store to the other. It’s because an online shop like Amazon, for example, carries different brands on virtually everything under the sun. Best of all, shipping is often waived when you shop a minimum amount of order. Shopping online isn’t always a bed of roses but it has its perks. It’s the reason why you keep coming back for more.

The following article The Two Sides Of Online Shopping is republished from OnlineCloudBackupServices.com

From https://www.podblaze.com/the-two-sides-of-online-shopping/

Animal Life Is Precious Too


As the more superior species, us humans often think and feel highly of ourselves and live a life full of drama. We whine over the smallest of things and make a big fuss out of it. In our self-absorbed world, we forget about other species on this planet that also deserve to live. Animals can’t speak to voice out their sentiments but they are also suffering from all the changes happening around us just like the rest of us.

With their natural habitat slowly disappearing and being constantly hunted by people, their life is not at all easy. Animals are at the mercy of humans. Unfortunately, we humans couldn’t care enough for our feathered and furry friends. We take over their lands and convert it into agricultural or residential developments not at all thinking that these animals lose their homes forever to civilization. All our bad practices hasten global warming and climate change that likewise worsen natural calamities. Unlike humans with their manmade shelters to protect them, animals in the wild are at the mercy of the elements and of the people.

The Endangered Species Act, passed in 1973, created a framework for protecting and recovering species in peril and the ecosystems on which they depend. Critics in Congress are pressing to rewrite the law, which they argue limits development and has failed to help many species recover.

For Endangered Species Day, we provide perspectives from biologists and social scientists on the challenges of protecting some of the rarest living things on Earth.

There are two central arguments for protecting endangered species: First, human activities are pushing many species to the brink of extinction; and second, protecting biodiversity provides us with numerous benefits.

(Via: http://www.alternet.org/environment/protecting-endangered-species-6-essential-reads)

Lots of animal species have disappeared from the face of the planet. However, protecting the wildlife and making sure they do not go extinct is easier said than done. There are various obstacles that need to be overcome aside from the monetary expense. Moreover, not all humans support this cause as many still continue poaching for wild animals even though it is strongly prohibited.

Pangolins are commercially poached because their scales can be used in traditional medicine, as fashion accessories and eaten as a high-end cuisine.

“The threat is significant and escalating,” said Flocken, who also is a member of the IUCN Pangolin Specialist Group. 

It’s impossible to know how many pangolins exist, environmentalists have said, but “due to the high demand for consumption, they are disappearing,” Flocken said. 

Pangolins most likely have vanished in China and are fast disappearing from Vietnam, Thailand and other parts of Southeast Asia, wildlife experts said. In Africa, illegal trafficking is rapidly depleting their population.

(Via: http://www.latimes.com/world/global-development/la-fg-global-pangolins-vanishing-snap-story.html)

The biggest problem the wildlife faces is that many rich people equate the acquisition of these exotic and often endangered animal species as a sign of wealth and power. Many of these animals are even served as exotic delicacies that are sold at such outrageous prices.

Elephant poachers have killed two wildlife rangers in a shootout in Garamba National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo, reports African Parks, a conservation group that manages 10 protected areas across Africa in partnership with governments and local communities.

While out patrolling on April 11, Ranger Joël Meriko Ari and Sergeant Gerome Bolimola Afokao of the DRC Armed Forces heard gunshots, African Parks reported. The patrol unit followed signs and tracks until they discovered a group of six poachers who were chopping up a freshly slaughtered elephant carcass.

A shootout followed, in which both Ari and Afokao were fatally shot. There were also casualties among the poachers, but details were not disclosed.

(Via: http://www.alternet.org/environment/africas-wildlife-rangers-risk-death-protecting-animals-poachers)

It seems that not all is lost yet. There are still people who genuinely care for the lives of these animals although their support comes at a cost too. It just goes to show up to what extreme these poachers are willing to do in the name of their poaching business, even killing another human being. There is still a lot of work that needs to be done and more support from humanity to uphold the lives of animals in the wild. They also deserve a chance to live long in this planet and not have their entire species wiped out because of our neglect and abuse.

The post Animal Life Is Precious Too was initially seen on PB

From https://www.podblaze.com/animal-life-is-precious-too/

Hidden Danger In The Film’s Subtitle


We all know that danger lurks in every corner of the web. You don’t even have to go as deep as the dark web to come across scammers and criminals. Now, don’t get me started on the malware that has spread so quickly and crippled businesses and government organizations – the WannaCry ransomware. All these cyber crimes can make anyone worry about their activities on the web.

How mistaken are we to think that we know it all. The web holds so many mysteries that we won’t be able to unravel them all in our lifetime. Not only malware poses danger these days but viruses can also be found on film or video subtitles. The world is rapidly growing smaller and other cultures tend to be of interest to us. For instance, KPop and Kdrama are gaining a huge overseas fan-base and subtitles are crucial for the foreign audience to understand what the movie/show/song is all about.

Hackers can hide computer viruses in online video subtitles and use them to take control of computers, security experts have warned.

The attacks are embedded within the subtitle files that accompany many illegally downloaded films, and easily bypass security software and antivirus programs designed to keep computers safe.

Check Point, the security group that discovered the flaw, said millions of people who use video software including to stream or play films and TV shows on computers could be at risk. 

They warned that the attack lets hackers take “complete control” over any type of device using the software, including smart TVs. It identified four programs – VLC, Kodi, Popcorn Time and Stremio – but said there could be more.

(Via: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/2017/05/25/hackers-hiding-computer-viruses-film-subtitles-experts-warn/)

If you want to steer free of these potentially damaging and costly mistakes, don’t just stream or download videos from shady websites. Only visit trusted sites. Remember that your PC’s existing antivirus software can not detect it, so it can likely wreak havoc on your device by the time you find out about it. You don’t want to lose data nor pay the ransom money in bitcoin but you are torn because you so desperately want your data back.

“We estimate there are approximately 200 million video players and streamers that currently run the vulnerable software, making this one of the most widespread, easily accessed and zero-resistance vulnerability reported in recent years,” the Check Point Research Team says.

The vulnerability’s reach is exacerbated by how users get most of their subtitles. Most of these files are hosted on subtitle repositories where anyone can upload a malicious file.

These portals rank subtitles based on popularity algorithms that an attacker can manipulate. By falsely improving the popularity of a malicious subtitle file, attackers can ensure that users download their file more often, or that streaming services such as Strem.io or PopcornTime pull the malicious subtitle before legitimate files.

Users are advised to use one of the updated video players, or not load any subtitles until they’re sure they’ve updated to a safe version of their favorite player.

(Via: https://www.bleepingcomputer.com/news/security/malicious-movie-subtitles-can-give-hackers-full-control-over-your-pc/)

Cyber criminals are becoming more creative by the minute. Whatever security measures companies implement, they always find a way to get through it. Cyber criminals have probably been studying human behavior and trends on the web because the attacks they do affect thousands of people in one go. It is so unfortunate, though, considering that many people prefer streaming videos online – from music videos, tv shows, movies, and all sorts of videos found on the web.

Like with this subtitle thing, there are at least 25 subtitle formats that can be exploited by these hackers. Add to that the limited security they implement, its vulnerability is the perfect formula for the next cyber heist. Similar to most cybercrimes, the solution often lies to downloading the latest player version since media player companies already issued a fix for it. Let’s wait and see then what the next online scam will be.

The following post Hidden Danger In The Film’s Subtitle is courtesy of https://www.podblaze.com/

From https://www.podblaze.com/hidden-danger-in-the-films-subtitle/

Keeping Your Health And Sanity Intact In These Changing Times


There is just too much going on around us nowadays that we often lose our perspective and get confused over what’s a priority or not. From a world that is rapidly modernizing where technology is closely tied to our everyday lives, the conflict of relationships and health woes make living extra difficult for some. The question not only boils down to coping but whether how prepared you are to face these changing times?

Americans have witnessed their fair share of changes over the decades. And the most surprising of all these changes happened fairly recently when Donald Trump won the U.S. presidency. Not only is that he never had any political background but his very personality is something many do not think is a good fit as the leader of a great nation.

The nation also has a lot to lose in many of the policies President Trump is pushing forward in Congress.

The country is up in arms over how many people will lose healthcare under the Trump administration’s new healthcare plan. On Monday the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) published a report estimating that the number of uninsured Americans would increase by an additional 24 million people to total 52 million by 2026. (“In 2026, an estimated 52 million people would be uninsured, compared with 28 million who would lack insurance that year under current law,” the authors of the report write.) By next year at this time they estimate that number to jump by 14 million.

This would reverse the current trend in the United States of reducing its number of uninsured inhabitants to the lowest rates in over 50 years. Under the Affordable Care Act (aka the “ACA” or “Obamacare”) the rate of uninsured Americans plunged from 15.7% in 2010 to 8.6% in September of 2016.

(Via: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-truth-about-exercise-addiction/201703/how-would-trumpcare-affect-mental-health-care)

The sectors that will be hit first and hard are the education, healthcare and the country’s economy among others. The new president is adamant to reverse “Obamacare” of the former administration and deny millions of Americans important basic services unable to access one when in need.

The American Health Care Act — aka Trumpcare or the AHCA — is the GOP’s effort to “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare). You’d think with a proponent like Trump behind it, it would offer the gold standard of healthcare. You know, like the free healthcare that Congress gives itself.

Instead, the proposed law is a fairly half-hearted attempt to remake the Affordable Care Act into something that Republicans can better stomach. Let’s take a look at the current proposal, which is getting pushback from all sides.

President Trump has repeatedly referred to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), passed more than seven years ago, as “the disaster known as Obamacare.” Now he has his own disaster-in-the-making to defend, proclaiming in late February, “Nobody knew healthcare could be so complicated.” (Actually, anyone who’s worked in healthcare or been in a hospital in the past 10 years knows exactly how complicated it is.)

(Via: https://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2017/03/09/how-trumpcare-will-affect-mental-health/)

Trump’s has a different means in mind in order for him to achieve his dream of Making America Great Again and he will proceed with his plans even at the expense of the people – the very ones who made it possible for him to secure his shot at the presidency.

But another major concern to Americans is not just on the government’s capacity to provide basic health care services but in President Trump’s ability to perform his functions well. His family has a strong history of dementia and he himself acts strangely at times too.

But, a consistent conversation among anti-Trump supporters continually points fingers to Trump’s mental stability as a reason for his unpresidential mannerisms, calling into question why psychiatric as well as medical information on the president have not been released to the public.

The American people have reason to know the health, whether mental or physical, of those holding such a positions of power, but the diagnosis is wary.

(Via: http://depauliaonline.com/2017/02/27/trumps-actions-lead-questions-surrounding-health/)

The American people got a lot on their plates right now but it is still too early to tell how the Trump leadership will turn out. With major changes expected to come their way, the only way the nation and the people can survive is when they stick together and do their part in realizing the dream of a better America and not just wish for it to happen.

The blog post Keeping Your Health And Sanity Intact In These Changing Times is available on podblaze.com

From https://www.podblaze.com/keeping-your-health-and-sanity-intact-in-these-changing-times/

Art Through The Years


Artworks tell a lot about our history. These pieces often tell stories and trends of a certain period in time. You can also tell what technology is available in those times based on the materials used. Primitive men used sharp rocks to carve out figures on the walls of prehistoric caves. As the years go by and man evolves to become more superior in intellect, the tools they use to express their artistic side also improved.

If you look at popular and well-preserved artworks in most museums today, you can learn a lot not only about the artist but about that period in history. The art also connected people regardless of race, religion or personal differences. Appreciation for the arts is universal. So, find out now how the arts shaped and connected the world through the years.

The Malta Stock Exchange is sponsoring an art exhibition, curated by artist Adrian Scicluna, within the Exchange building at the Garrison Chapel at Castille Place in Valletta.

The exhibition investigates notions of connectivity, with participating artists presenting works that explore the theme not merely from an interest in instruments and infrastructures, but by acknowledging the phenomena of what connectivity says about us.

The exhibition features works by artists, Matthew Attard, Noel Attard, Vince Briffa, Clint Calleja, Glen Calleja and Sandro Spina, Giola Cassar, Valerio Schembri, Adrian Sciculna, Sarah Maria Scicluna and Darren Tanti.

“Clint and Valerio link religion with mo­dern communication technology. Through the use of metaphor Valerio investigates inclusion and exclusion in society; while Clint references the Tower of Babel from the Bible, sending a cautious message that we must be wary of today’s communication technology,” Scicluna explains.

He continues how Darren Tanti’s painting connects two realities, exploring how Eastern and Western contemporary and historical culture influence each other and subsequently merge.

(Via: http://www.timesofmalta.com/articles/view/20170402/arts-entertainment/connectivity-through-art.644236)

We learn a lot about our past by looking at old artworks and it gives us a glimpse of what the future also holds for us.

The world is built on binaries: good and evil, war and peace and life and death. The work of Sherin Guirguis, an artist, associate professor and vice dean of faculty at the Roski School of Art and Design, challenges notions of the informal and formal, the structured and chaotic, the arts and the politics.

Even one artist can make a big impact in this world.

Her work focuses on connecting opposites together, both in art and in life.

Her most recent work “One I Call,” which is currently on display at the Desert X exhibit in Palm Springs, is an interactive complex based on the pigeon towers of Egyptian villages. Often used to serve as beacons of the outskirts of civilizations or the ancient mail systems of rural communities, these pigeon towers were central places for communities. “One I Call” aims to do the same by incorporating the natural landscape of the Whitewater Reserve of the Coachella Valley into a beautiful complex with which visitors can interact.

The final piece is a
beehive-esque tower, in which gold leaf circles and sticks align in geometric patterns that collect sunlight in a dazzling way. The landscape of the exhibit — tall mountains where sheep graze, and birds burrow in the boulders — complements the small tower nested in a beautiful desert. When visitors come, they truly are able to interact and experience the history behind the pigeon tower, the
Coachella Valley and the civilizations before it.

“We came to a place, we made a work about that place and then we had people from that place engaged,” Guirguis said. “That felt good.”

(Via: http://dailytrojan.com/2017/03/08/roski-professor-speaks-power-art/)

If you go to the Horror section of your local bookstore today, you won’t find books by Stephen King, Mary Shelley or HP Lovecraft; instead, you’ll find a stack of newspapers from the past couple of years.

Okay, that’s not quite true—let’s just call it an alternative fact—but it may as well be. Because with Trump, Brexit, the refugee crisis, and the rising tides of rightwing populism, nationalism, racism, sexism, homophobia and xenophobia, the real world has become so nightmarish that no amount of snarky online commentary can make a difference. Even this article.

But there may be something that can: art.

We’ve seen millions of protesters standing up for what they believe in, fighting back against the seemingly inevitable fascism and fake tan-tinged future, and now artists are bringing their progressive messages to as wide an audience as they possibly can.

As Paul Gauguin said at the turn of the last century, “Art is either a plagiarist or a revolutionary.” Leo Tolstoy called art “a method of communication between humans about the conditions of life itself.” And as Sam Lewis-Hargreave recently put it, “Don’t worry, I’ll stop quoting old artists and get to the point.”

Historically, art has been about resistance. It’s a tradition that goes further back than Picasso, but let’s start with him anyway. Described with uncertainty on the artist’s own website as “probably Picasso’s most famous work,” the 1937 painting Guernica used Cubism in a way that finally made sense: to portray the tragic, distorting, and downright confusing nature of the suffering of war.

(Via: http://www.thelondoneconomic.com/entertainment/arts/art-last-hope-liberal-future/23/03/)

History teaches us that art played a big role on how we shaped our society today. Artworks have been instrumental in pushing for reforms and changes that were desperately needed by the people of yesteryears. Until now, artists hide messages in their art pieces that let the public know about their stand on certain issues that plague the world today. And it is inspiring to realize that these beautiful and timeless pieces serve a dual purpose that not only pleases the eye but also works for the common good.

The post Art Through The Years See more on: PB

From https://www.podblaze.com/__trashed/

Traveling As Backpackers


Traveling is so liberating. It gives you a new perspective on life and a chance to experience many new things for the first time. You also get to learn new cultures and meet new people whose lives are entirely different from yours. But since money is a big factor when it comes to traveling, most people consider it as a luxury. Hence, only a handful gets to travel as often as they want.

However, it is time to change this misconception. You can travel even though your budget is limited. If you haven’t heard of the term “backpacking” yet, it’s high time you include it in your vocabulary and probably even your life. With some preparation and lots of guts, you can travel to your dream destination with nothing but your backpack on.

Every person should at least try backpacking even if it’s just a one-time thing. You’ll be surprised that the world has so much to offer so why not get out of your comfort zone. But before that, here are a few tips that beginners should take note of.

Pack Light

Backpacking can be considered as a vacation, but it’s totally different. Basically, you just live off on a few basic things as you travel. When backpacking, always pack light by bringing the things that you really need and you can replace. Don’t take sentimental and expensive stuff with you because they’re just going to cost you overweight luggage fees.

(Via: http://www.travelerstoday.com/articles/43401/20170321/beginners-guide-start-backpacking-adventure.htm)

And you’d be surprised at the many success stories of backpackers who already traveled the world while we are still here daydreaming about it.

Johnny Ward is living the dream.

The travel blog he started as a broke backpacker called OneStep4Ward developed into anonline marketing firm that he can manage from anywhere in the world. He built himself a career that granted him the flexibility to travel for 10 years (and counting), and visit every country on Earth. Not to mention the $1.5 million he’s earned along the way.

Ward spoke to INSIDER via email about how he made it all happen, one step at a time.

Johnny Ward didn’t come from money growing up in Ireland.

He grew up on welfare in a single-parent household with his mother and sister. He moved to England to study International Economics, then decided to travel the world after graduating.

He funded his travels by teaching English in Thailand, and spent two years backpacking around Southeast Asia on a budget of about $10 to $15 a day.

(Via: http://www.independent.co.uk/travel/news-and-advice/this-33-year-old-travelled-to-every-country-in-the-world-and-made-15-million-a7663126.html)

See, traveling through backpacking is a great way to see the world if you are short on money but have a lot of time in your hands. This is also a great way to imbibe a new culture as you really interact with the locals and even hold a job for a certain period of time. If you want to hit the road and commune with nature as much as you can, there is no need to spend lots of money on gears you’ll seldom use because you can just simply rent them out.

The biggest barrier between most people and a backpacking trip isn’t the physical exertion, the time off, or a fear or bears: it’s the cost and difficult of obtaining the necessary gear. If you don’t already own a backpack, tent, sleeping bag, etc, purchasing all of that isn’t just expensive, it can also be colossally overwhelming.

Now, a new startup wants to make renting all the necessary stuff easy, and it’s offering to ship the equipment anywhere with an address. 

For just $68 per day, CampCrate will mail you a box containing a backpack, sleeping bag and pad, tent, headlamp, water filter, and JetBoil stove. Couples can rent gear for two, for $120 a day. When you’re finished, just drop it off at a post office—CampCrate covers the shipping and provides a pre-printed label. The only other things you’ll need are clothing, food, and a map. 

“There’s other gear rental services,” acknowledges the company’s founder, Chad Lawver, “But I think we’re the first to make it this easy.” 

(Via: https://www.outsideonline.com/2167706/want-go-backpacking-now-its-easy-anyone-rent-gear)

If you have a passion, go for it. There will always be challenges and limitations but you can always work your way around if you are passionate enough. Nothing compares to the feeling of being in a place you’ve only seen in books or on the web before. Indulge yourself in these little luxuries and discover more of what you are capable of along the way. Go out and travel as much as you can and have wonderful stories to tell to your grandkids someday.

The following article Traveling As Backpackers Find more on: The PodBlaze.com Blog

From https://www.podblaze.com/traveling-as-backpackers/

Wildlife in Danger


When we talk about critical issues involving Mother Nature and environmental conservation, we only think of their effects on humans (especially climate change and global warming). However, we fail to include our non-human friends because as usual, we are too preoccupied with ourselves.

The wildlife is the first to suffer in the case of a natural/ man-made calamity or disaster. They are not as ingenious as us in getting ourselves out of trouble. So as the more superior species than that of our furry and flighty friends, it is but our responsibility to think of their welfare and well-being because obviously, they can’t think for themselves and these environmental issues are our fault in the first place.

Efforts to save some of England’s rarest species, including the shrill carder bee and the chequered skipper butterfly, from extinction are being backed by £4.6m in lottery funding.

Little-known and exotically named insects such as the bearded false darkling beetle and the royal splinter cranefly, as well as plants including the prostrate perennial knawel and interrupted brome are among the 20 endangered species being targeted for action.

A further 200 threatened species will also be helped by the funding from the National Lottery, including pine martens, large garden bumblebees, lesser butterfly orchids and hedgehogs.

The money will support the “Back from the Brink” initiative to bring together leading charities and conservation bodies in the first countrywide coordinated effort to safeguard species from extinction and deliver conservation measures across England.

The scheme aims to boost conservation efforts in 150 key habitats and landscapes, and recruit and teach more than 5,500 volunteers the skills they need to study, identify and look after threatened species.

(Via: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/mar/31/funding-boost-to-help-save-englands-rarest-species-from-extinction)

The threat of climate change hurts the wildlife more than it does to us. Droughts leave them thirsty and dying. Floods can kill them too. They have no urban jungle to shelter them from the elements or a supermarket to provide food when they are hungry. When the trees stop bearing fruits and the crops start growing, the animals will soon die too.

For long, Nigeria has rested on an erroneous notion that our wild animals were plentiful and not under any threat of extinction, however, following the recent publication of the IUCN red list of globally threatened species which revealed that 148 animal and 146 plant species found in Nigeria were threatened at various degrees including some species near extinction, we hope it is not too late to right the wrongs. Out of the very large landmass that Nigeria boasts of, we are not assured of the functionality of our seven National Parks, we are not sure they really are a refuge for what we have left of our wildlife population, we are yet to see wisdom in prioritising our wildlife heritage, we have chosen not to take a cue from smaller countries like Gabon with 13 well-managed national parks, Egypt with 25 national parks and Kenya with 23 national parks only aside game reserves, wildlife sanctuary and other forms of protected areas in countries like Botswana, South Africa, Tanzania and Madagascar are clear examples for Nigeria to follow.

“100 Cross River gorillas remain in Nigeria”, “There are approximately 450 savanna elephants in Nigeria”, “Fewer than 50 lion remain in Nigeria”,”Value of illegal wildlife trade is 50 – 150 billion USD per year”, “Over 56 billion farmed animals are killed by humans every year”, “Half of world’s wildlife was lost in last 40 years”, “100,000 African elephants were killed in last three years for their ivory”, “Less than 7,100 cheetahs remain in the wild”, “Population of birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish has declined by 52 per cent globally between 1970 – 2010” waking to read these and many more anti-wildlife true statistics tell that the time for urgent action is now.

(Via: http://allafrica.com/stories/201703300629.html)

It is high time we acknowledge the connection between environmental deterioration and wildlife extinction. Even though we may never see the extent of damage our abuse and neglect is causing to the wild, it does not mean that the problem is not real.

If we don’t act now, it may be too late for some of the endangered animals nearing extinction. We’ve seen it over the years. More and more animals disappear from the face of the planet forever. The most recent are the African Black Rhino. We somehow managed to wipe out every single one of them and it is a depressing thought as any. Let us get our act together and save the planet along with everyone else living in it.

Wildlife in Danger is courtesy of The Pod Blaze Blog

From https://www.podblaze.com/wildlife-in-danger/

The Media: The 4th Estate


The media is the voice of the people. They show the public what is happening in their surroundings and tackle all issues that affect society – big or small. From politics to entertainment, the media gives everyone a glimpse of what’s happening behind-the-scenes in every event and keeps us up to date on the past and current issues.

Traditional media dominated the world in yesteryears. But as the world evolves and our technology improves, other media outlets have sprouted that have even a wider reach than that of conventional. Nowadays, the media makes use of social media and the Internet in reaching out to more people and they can be accessed 24/7, which is unheard of in the past.

Facebook and Mozilla are among the companies and organizations launching a US$14 million fund to promote news literacy and increase trust in journalism.
The nonprofit, called the News Integrity Initiative, will be based at the
City University of New York. It will run as an independent project of the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism.
Others contributing to the fund include Craigslist founder Craig Newmark and the Ford Foundation.
Recent polls show the public’s trust in the news industry at a low.
False news and misinformation, often masquerading as trustworthy news and spreading on social media, has gained a lot of attention since the 2016
U.S. presidential election. Companies like Facebook are trying to address the issue.

(Via: http://www.thestandard.com.hk/breaking-news.php?id=87023)

Media not only tackles local issues but even global ones too. The world keeps getting smaller because the web bridges the distance among people. The issues get interconnected as well and may even unite nations against a common enemy: terrorists, for instance.

U.S. media outlets say terrorist groups have been testing explosive devices that can be hidden in a laptop and that can evade some commonly used airport security screening methods.

CNN and CBS said Friday that U.S. intelligence officials had told them militants with al-Qaida and Islamic State have been developing innovative ways to plant explosives in electronic devices.

The news organizations said the new intelligence suggested that the terror groups have obtained sophisticated airport security equipment to test how to conceal the explosives in order to board a plane.

They said the intelligence played a significant role in the Trump administration’s recent decision to prohibit travelers flying out of 10 airports in eight countries in the Middle East and Africa from carrying laptops and other electronic equipment onboard in the cabin area.

(Via: http://www.voanews.com/a/terrorist-groups-testing-laptop-bombs/3791946.html)

Without the media, the public will be lost on issues of national and global interest. They give us context on the moves and decision of the state. And if you want some entertainment, they got that covered too. But when it comes to U.S. news these days, it’s hard to decipher which one is legit and which one is for leisure as Donald Trump as president has definitely changed things a lot.

Before most people are out of bed, Donald Trump is watching cable news.

With Twitter app at the ready, the man who condemns the media as “the enemy of the people” may be the most voracious consumer of news in modern presidential history.

Trump usually rises before 6 a.m. and first watches TV in the residence before later moving to a small dining room in the West Wing. A short time later, he’s given a stack of newspapers — including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Financial Times, The Washington Post and, long his favorite, The New York Post — as well as pile of printed articles from other sources including conservative online outlets like Breitbart News.

The TVs stay on all day. The president often checks in at lunch and again in the evening, when he retires to the residence, cellphone in hand.

It is a central paradox of the Trump presidency. Despite his fervent media criticism, Trump is a faithful newspaper reader who enjoys jousting with reporters, an avid cable TV news viewer who frequently live-tweets what he’s watching, and a reader of websites that have been illuminated by his presidential spotlight, showcasing the at-times conspiratorial corners of the internet.

No recent president has been so public about his interest in his media coverage, nor seemed so willing to mobilize the powers of the federal government based on a media report that he has just read, heard or watched.

In fact, the power of Trump’s media diet is so potent that White House staffers have, to varying degrees of success, tried to limit his television watching and control some of what he reads.

(Via: https://www.usnews.com/news/entertainment/articles/2017-03-10/media-the-enemy-trump-sure-is-an-insatiable-consumer)

It is true indeed that the media is still a powerful and influential entity in the world today. World leaders seek the media’s attention when they run for office and still make use of them when reaching out to the people when in office. Even though at times many complain that the media may be biased but still they show the people the different sides to a story, so we have an idea what’s happening to the world at large.

The Media: The 4th Estate See more on: podblaze.com

From https://www.podblaze.com/the-media-the-4th-estate/