Saving Adolescents Through Drug Testing

Nowadays, middle schoolers are more likely than ever to use drugs recreationaly. To remind you, students in middle school range from 12-14. Yes, you read that correctly. Students as young as 12 are using drugs recreationaly. This is partly because students can access drugs in ways that schools can’t prevent. Drug testing can’t prevent students from buying the drugs, but it can prevent students from using the drugs, at least on a consistent basis. While it won’t solve the problem completely, drug testing is an efficient way for schools to know if their students are using drugs.

Drug testing, also known as toxicology screening, is a way for schools to analyze just how many students are consuming illegal substances. The main substances that schools look for are alcohol, tobacco, and cannabis. According to an article written in 2014 by the National Institute of Drug Abuse,

Alcohol and tobacco are the drugs most commonly abused by adolescents, followed by marijuana.

Adolescents are more likely to use these substances, in part, because they are much easier to find.

The drug tests are relatively simple, consisting of urine samples being exposed to certain substances to see the reaction. For example, when a student has cannabis in their system, to find this out, the testers would add a substance called Duquenois-Levine reagent. This substance will turn the testing solution from white to red. This is because the Duquenois-Levine reagent has a chemical reaction with Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which causes the color of the solution to change. The process is equally simple for tobacco and alcohol as well.

Furthermore, drug testing could exponentially lower the recreational use of drugs by adolescents. In this article, written by Sober Living By the Sea (a drug abuse treatment center), the author refers to cannabis, non-prescription cough medicine, and inhalants. The article states,

About 15 percent of students report having tried these substances.  Other drugs used by smaller percentages of middle school students include Vicodin, OxyContin and other prescription drugs.

There are more than 7.2 million students in middle schools today. This means nearly 1,080,000 middle schoolers in the United States have tried or are currently using illicit substances. Drug tests can lower this number without a doubt. Even if drug tests stop 1 kid from consuming drugs, that’s a whole life that has been curbed from the negative consequences of a young and immature mind consuming mind altering substances. Toxicology screening is a viable and ready solution to adolescent drug abuse.

Some would say drug testing is not the correct path to take for middleschoolers. However, the effectiveness of drug screening has already been laid out. According to an article written in 2018 by the Food and Drug Association,

The at-home testing part of this test is fairly sensitive to the presence of drugs in the urine. This means that if drugs are present, you will usually get a preliminary (or presumptive) positive test result.

The concept of drug testing is not only beneficial to the safety of schools, but the health of students as well. If a student knows they will be drug tested, they will lay off drug use to avoid consequences, which also leads to better health overall. Drug testing has also been proven effective, which is necessary for schools. As one can see, drug tests are what will save middle school students from drug abuse.

Kpop Scandals: Growing Pains of a Growing Industry

From left to right: Seungri, G-Dragon, Taeyang, T.O.P. and Daesung of Big Bang
https://www.keyt.com

Kpop is a musical genre that began in South Korea and has rapidly spread across the world with critical acclaim. In Jan Laurens Hartong’s novel, Musical Terms Worldwide: A Companion for the Musical Explorer, she describes Kpop as being,

a musical style that began in the 1960’s with the blending of Western pop music and Japanese Enka-style music. Today, it is one of the most famous musical genres in the world and incorporates musical styles from every culture.

Maybe you even have a favorite Kpop star. I am personally a huge fan of BTS and Twice, Kpop groups that have been performing for just under a decade. Regardless of if you have heard of Kpop or not, odds are that due to its incredible popularity across the globe, you will soon know all about it, and maybe even have a favorite group of your own.

Seungri

Unfortunately, though Kpop fans (including myself) might not want to admit it, there have been a growing number of scandals in the world of Kpop. The largest and most concerning scandal concerns a Kpop star named Seungri from the internationally famous band, Big Bang. The scandal took place in February of 2018, and involved sexual allegations at a private club.

People have reacted to these scandals in numerous different ways. These reactions range from individuals such as fans in Korea to fellow Korean celebrities. Many have turned away from celebrities such as Seungri and have even started publicly hating on him. Some Korean celebrities have even spoken up and publicly announced their disrespect and disappointment. Many rookies in the Kpop industry have even been heard to avoid Seungri and be careful to not get involved with him too much.

The specific timeline of the Seungri scandal has been broken down as follows:

  • A man named Mr. Kim (keeping this vague to protect identity) was assaulted at a club where Seungri works.
  • The club where Seungri worked denied the claim and actually put the fault on Mr. Kim.
  • Seungri and the club fired the man who allegedly assault Mr. Kim.
  • Texts and chatroom conversations were released showing that Seungri and other individuals may have been involved with other assault scandals and cover ups at the same club.
  • According to police reports, “Seungri reportedly directed the employee to find prostitutes…The Seoul Police Department launched an investigation into the prostitution claims.” Less than 2 months after the investigation began, “Seungri was booked on charges of supplying prostitutes, and he became a suspect in the case. Three to four more members of the chat were booked.”
  • Although the investigation is still ongoing, it does appear that Seungri will likely be serving some type of jail sentence, but this is still unknown.

Sadly, Seungri is only the beginning, as numerous other scandals have been brought to light in the Kpop world. These scandals involve big names, such as Jung Joon Young, Choi Jong Hoon, Roy Kim, Eddy Kim, Yong Jun Hyung, and Lee Jong Hyun.

BTS at the 32nd Golden Disk Awards
뉴스인스 (NewsInStar)

An interesting point to note is that many of these scandals center around specific Kpop labels. This could be due to different label policies or a general affinity by some labels toward more risky celebrities. Many entertainment managers train their trainees differently and some of their celebrities in their entertainment  have more scandals than other entertainment industries. For example, YG trains his trainees and his idols strictly, but he gives them too much freedom, so they act recklessly, which leads them to many scandals. This specific company has the group Big Bang in it, the band which started the whole Burning Sun scandal involving Seungri.

Although these scandals give a bad name to Kpop, fortunately, the vast majority of Kpop stars are scandal-free and do a great deal of good for their community.

(www.korea.net) Jeon Han

This also has to do with each Kpop label and how they train and educate their stars. For example, as seen on the Korean survival show, Stray Kids, JYP and Big Hit train their idols strictly based on their skills, such as vocal, rap and dancing, but they also have to have to have a good personality. They have to be respectful not only to their elders and group members, but also their fans. JYP and Big Hit owners were personally good friends back in the day, and they even grew the entertainment JYP together, so this could be why they have many similar training styles. This could very well be why they are some of the most scandal-free agencies to date.

In the Burning Sun scandal, there are many companies whose idols are involved in it, but there are companies who trained their trainees well, so they aren’t involved. Hopefully proper training practices will continue so that the world of Kpop will be scandal-free and spread across the globe with ease. I can’t wait for the day when everyone has their own favorite Kpop star…as long as it isn’t Seungri.

Quantum Cryptography: The Locks and Keys of the Future

Companies around the world are always searching for new and better ways to protect their data. For this reason, encrypting code is very crucial for business to be successful. They must encrypt their data and source code in such a way so that no unauthorized person is able to access their data. Today, it is easier than ever for hackers to acquire valuable data since most of the companies around the world store their data in the cloud. While the cloud makes it cheaper and easier for companies to store their data, it also makes it easier for that information to end up in the wrong hands. To avoid this vulnerability, companies use a “key” which can decode the encryption protecting their code. Although encryption is safe, when put up against truly experienced or keen hackers, this key can be stolen or eventually deduced. One very innovative way to protect code and get around the current vulnerabilities involved with regular encryption is by using quantum cryptography. 

Quantum cryptography, also known as quantum encryption, is a new way to send keys for encryption at a quantum level. The more specific type of quantum cryptography we are talking about is quantum key distribution. Quantum key distribution works by having the quantum key encode and send the information needed to decode a message via light particles. Sending a message through light particles makes it virtually impossible for hackers to attain the encrypted data or the decryption key.

Sending information using light particles isn’t an easy task, but allow me to explain how it works. Let us say, for example, a key is being sent between two people using quantum cryptography. This key can be transferred using a stream of photons in one direction. Each of these photon particles can be represented as a number for data, either a 0 or a 1. While on their journey, these photons are vibrating in a certain matter which can be in any 360 degree direction, but to simplify quantum cryptography, we use four states: UP/DOWN, LEFT/RIGHT, UPLEFT/RIGHTDOWN and UPRIGHT/LEFTDOWN. The angle at which the particle vibrates is known as the polarization of the light particle. We then use a polarizer to send messages with these photons. A polarizer is basically a filter that permits certain photons to pass through it with the same vibration as before and lets others pass through in a changed state of the vibration. With this polarizer, a person can assign each photon a particular direction using numbers for the data. The photons containing the information then get sent out to the other person receiving the message. The receiver then uses a special type of decryption machine to figure out each direction of each photon. This will allow the person to then access the data and information without anyone else obtaining it since the photons are sent directly from person to person at the speed of light.

If quantum cryptography becomes a commercial product for business, it can transform the concept of security to a whole new level. Before explaining how quantum cryptography can work for other businesses, we have to understand how businesses currently protect their information. Historically, most companies used to set up warehouses where all their data would be stored in servers, which is a term called “in-house.” However, now, most start up businesses use the cloud to store their information as it is much cheaper and easier to manage. The bigger companies use a hybrid system as they store some information in the cloud and store some information in-house. This is more beneficial as it isn’t too costly, and the secure information gets protected in the warehouse. The problem with the cloud is that it is easier for that information to be stolen. With quantum cryptography, that is no longer a problem.

Quantum cryptography can be used to protect valuable information in the cloud at a vastly new level of security and dependability. The same message using light particles can be used to send information through the cloud or to protect a company’s source code. The message will be broken down into photons of light and delivered between two parties, so no one else is able to view it. This message can take the form of information for customers, employees, or whoever else the company wants to send it to. Information kept in the cloud is managed by third party companies like AWS, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud Platform, to name a few. This quantum cryptography solution can be used by these companies to make their clouds safer for other businesses to use.

This quantum cryptography solution to modern encryption vulnerability isn’t just a myth; there have already been tests and experiments on the idea of quantum cryptography. The first quantum transaction took place in 2004, when researchers in Vienna used entangled photons to transfer a 3,000-Euro deposit into their bank account. Quantum cryptography has already been experimented with, but it hasn’t been used to send data through the cloud yet.  According to quantum cryptographer Artur Ekert, a professor at the University of Oxford and director of the Centre for Quantum Technologies at the National University of Singapore,

There is still a way to go before it becomes a standard commercial proposition, but we are getting there faster than I expected.

It is very possible for this technology to become a commercial product to be used by all companies, but there’s still a significant amount of research and work to do before this becomes a widespread reality. 

Quantum cryptography could serve as a wonder for all businesses using the cloud. It protects their data in such a way which makes it almost impossible for someone to steal information they are not authorized to access.. Those who don’t own a business may not care about protecting businesses’ data, but most people work as employees for companies, which means that their job security also depends on the expansion of this technology.  Quantum cryptography/encryption benefits the businesses most, but it also benefits the employees working for these companies by ensuring that their jobs are not lost due to negligence with valuable information. 

It may only be a short time before companies start storing information on light particles, but for the time being, the cloud is our best option. I’m excited for a new day and age when even our clouds can be locked and protected!

My Beautiful Western Face: The Rise in De-racialisation Surgery

 

The pressure to look beautiful has become increasingly present in today’s society. With TV shows, movies and magazines flaunting some of the best looking people in the world, it’s no wonder most of us feel like we don’t hit the mark.

The longing to appear more attractive has always existed for men and women alike, but the very definition of what is attractive and what is beautiful has changed drastically over the years. The Victorians depicted the epitome of beauty in their paintings as curvaceous, busty women, whilst long ago the Japanese celebrated the elegance and perfection of the Geisha. However, an increasing number of the population are feeling the burden of a new, modern-day beauty ideal: having a Western look. In a desperate attempt to fit into this image, some are choosing to go under the knife to achieve this new ‘look’.

This growing trend is already the norm in places like Seoul, South Korea, where one in five women have had some type of  surgery to help them look more Western.  In fact, there are now a multitude of procedures one can undergo with the aim to “westernise” non-Caucasian features. It has become so popular that these procedures now have a name: de-racialisation surgery.

Plastic surgery is sweeping across Asian countries in particular. With over 4,000 clinics across the country, South Korea takes the prize for plastic surgery capital of the world. Here the most popular cosmetic surgery is double eyelid surgery; making the eyes appear bigger and rounder. In close second is refining the nose using rhinoplasty to make the tip of the nose more prominent. Following that, jaw bone surgery to make the jaw appear softer.

An Australian SBS Documentary called ‘Change My Race’ highlighted some of these extreme procedures such as facial contouring, skin whitening, calf reduction and double eyelid surgery. In the documentary, Chinese-Australian presenter Anna Choy explores the hidden truth behind our obsession with looking Western and reveals her own inner battles with accepting her Chinese origins.

But why are so many young women in particular ashamed of their inherited ethnic features? Is it really worth erasing your identity to fit into a predominantly white society?

 

The Power of White

As much as we all think this is a new phenomenon, the truth is that this racial divide has been around for hundreds of years, and still some reminiscence remains. We may have moved on from slave labour and the Nazi revolution, but in turn we have moved into a new era filled with incredible technology and far reaching media influence. There is power in the colour white, and with power comes beauty and respect.

Magazines are becoming culprits in ‘lightening’ their models and even adverts are being slated for not casting a variety of races other than Caucasian. Even such music legends as Beyonce and Michael Jackson have been accused of “Westernising” themselves. Adorned with a blonde wig and using clever studio lighting, in a recent picture to promote her new album Beyonce looked much lighter than her natural skin tone.

Let’s not forget Michael Jackson’s radical transformation over the years. Could his rise to stardom have affected the way he viewed himself? His bodily changes were shrouded in secrecy and the reasons as to how and why his skin turned white became a controversial subject for years.

These celebrities may have outraged many by “betraying” their Ethnic heritage, but sadly, for a rising number of young people, this depiction of a “white, western global beauty ideal” has been accepted as a valid reason to go under the knife.

 

Outnumbered and Out-casted

Australia is an ever-growing multicultural society and houses a large number of citizens of many ethnic origins. According to Arthur Kemp in The Immigration Invasion,

In mid-2006 there were 4,956,863 residents who were born outside Australia, representing 24% of the total population. The Australian-resident population consists of people who were born in these countries:

China (Excluding Hong Kong, Taiwan and Macau), 279,447; Vietnam, 180,352; India, 153,579; Philippines, 135,619; Malaysia, 103,947; Lebanon, 86,599; Sri Lanka, 70,908; Indonesia, 67,952; Fiji, 58,815; Pakistan, 19,768; and Bangladesh, 13,751.

Although these people make up a good quarter of the population they remain a minority for now. Discrimination against colour and race is still very much prominent in Western society. Children go to school with their Australian peers and are teased for looking different, despite being born and raised there.

But it’s not just their peers who make them feel like they do not fit in. In the SBS documentary they follow a 16 year old girl called Kathy. Kathy was born and raised in Australia by her Vietnamese parents. She is a sweet girl who seems carefree and content with the way she looks. However her parents feel adamant that if she were to look more Western she would have better success in her life and future career.

Her parents felt so strongly that they pressured Kathy into having cosmetic surgery to change her face. To please her parents she had fillers injected in her nose, eyelid surgery and a chin reduction procedure. Whilst her parents gushed over her new look, Kathy seemed emotionless.

At the young age of 16, having just undergone drastic surgery that could change her life forever, her only apparent feeling seemed that of relief. Maybe she hoped that the surgery would make her parents happy and get them off her back as any teenager would feel. But, is such an extreme measure worth it? I can only wonder how this girl might feel in 20 years time.

 

The Asian Culture

In Korean culture women are judged more on their looks than any other women in the world. As stated on seoultouchup.com,

Generally in Asia, good looks and having a good face are like stepping stones- for they do open up doors to many of life’s advantages.

Clearly this is the foundation for the reason that has lead to a high rate of cosmetic surgery in Asia. Its rise in popularity has made plastic surgery all the more affordable and accessible for the average person, and with the opportunity there to become more beautiful and successful, more and more young people are choosing the ‘easy’ path of surgery.

What was once seen as an extreme step in a bid for perfection is now seen as an everyday normality in countries like Korea.  You could almost go as far as to say it is expected of women in such a society. If they do not conform to this ideal, they may be out-casted from what was once a network of friends. Non-conformity could even bring shame to their family.

The question still remains: what is perfection and beauty in their eyes? Are they just aspiring to a model of beauty that is completely unrealistic?

 

There’s Still Hope for the Future

We can only hope that in the coming years the world will open up and accept all races for what they are. After all, diversity is real beauty. I believe that having heritage is part of one’s identity. Your birth origin and ethnic background is an important part of who you are. All cultures should be celebrated and each of us should be proud of what is in our blood, not reject or suppress it.

If the victims of de-racialisation surgery keep growing we are at risk of losing not only our personal identities, but the world’s. The decisions, views, values and choices that we make today will shape the future of our offspring. Let’s strive to make the right ones.

 

Sources:

http://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/2013/12/03/cosmetic-surgery-change-race-rise

http://www.seoultouchup.com/plastic-surgery-in-korea/

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/04/world/asia/in-south-korea-plastic-surgery-comes-out-of-the-closet.html?pagewanted=all

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-2087388/Beyonc-white-skin-row-Controversial-photo-shows-singer-looking-shades-lighter-usual-tone.html

The Immigration Invasion

 

Testosterone Therapy: Is It Worth The Risk?

We have all seen the ads. The commercials that come on in between your favorite Breaking Bad episodes, your adrenaline rushing and bravado showing. How about during your online browsing sessions, where your side banners tell you that you are not man enough but there is hope through testosterone treatments. I know for certain that when you step foot into your gym at least a couple of TVs are advertising “low testosterone” remedies. It has even been advertised as a catalyst for treating erectile dysfunction. With all this hype, you better believe that the number of testosterone treatments and participants have been increasing over the years.

Related Article: Quit Cumming, Save Mankind

But why do men experience a loss of testosterone? Why does a man seek therapy to boost testosterone? According to WebMD:

As a man ages, the amount of testosterone in his body gradually declines. This natural decline starts after age 30 and continues throughout life

Of course it makes sense then that a man aged 40 and up would look for a means of staying young by increasing testosterone, even if it may be detrimental to his health in other ways. A study on testosterone therapy focusing precisely on those health risks has been creating quite the buzz in the news recently. The study found that with testosterone treatments you are also increasing your risk of a heart attack. With that in mind, different testosterone treatments have been getting backlash from both media and activists alike, as it has been disputed whether the risks outweigh the supposed benefits of the treatments. 

Androgel is one such product currently dealing with lawsuits from 4 plaintiffs who claim their cardiovascular injuries came from the use of the gel product. The product was originally approved by the FDA to be used by those experiencing hypogonadism, where the patient’s body doesn’t produce enough testosterone to continue masculine functions such as muscle growth or sperm production. Now, however, Androgel is more commercially advertised as a means to boosting performance and testosterone levels in middle aged (40+) and older men (65+). It does have its benefits, but unfortunately Androgel does not yet acknowledge the risk of cardiovascular health, nor does it label it in its safety information.

Due to the curiosity and miracles that testosterone therapies are proclaiming, groups like the Endocrine Society are rallying their cry to label testosterone therapies and treatments with proper warnings. The Endocrine Society is also calling for a larger scale study in order to properly examine how risky testosterone therapies can be. Even the FDA is currently investigating the link between increased heart risk and testosterone therapy. Like other miracle drug claims, one would do well to practice caution and research before using anything that claims to improve your health in any way. 

Related Article: Power Posing Can Change Your World

I can't even achieve this at the age of 26! Makes me sad... http://laweekly.blogs.com/.a/6a00d83451afa369e20134877262f7970c-popup

I can’t even achieve THIS at the age of 26! Makes me sad…
http://laweekly.blogs.com/.a/6a00d83451afa369e20134877262f7970c-popup

What can a man do then? Is there no solution? Of course the obvious answer is to consult your doctor, because although some testosterone therapies are posing a threat to one’s health, others may be causing more promise than problems. Either that, or force yourself to go to the gym, not to necessarily get your testosterone back, but rather your confidence and energy! Or disregard everything and jump on the Cenegenics train and look like Dr. Life (on the right) in your 70s… Cheers to immortality!

 

Research:

PLOS One: Increased Risk of Non-Fatal Myocardial Infraction Following Testosterone Therapy Prescription in Men

WebMD: Testosterone Replacement Therapy

Endocrine Society Statement on Testosterone

Endocrine Society Calls for Large Scale Studies to Evaluate Testosterone Therapy Risks

Mayo Clinic – Male Hypogonadism

 AndroGel

FDA evaluating risks associated with FDA-approved testosterone products

 

Wondergressive: Quit Cumming, Save Mankind: The Detrimental Effects of Porn

Wondergressive: Power Posing Can Change Your World

Your First Real Heartbreak, Can it be Fatal?

heartbreak heart break

Heartbreak: my ache-y, brake-y, heart…
mobavatar.com

Heartbreak, happens, all the time. We have all been there before. We have all bled our hearts out, hurt until we couldn’t bear it anymore, and cried ourselves to sleep over lost love. Some of us even restort to alcohal, using it to battle against the emotional surge that accompanies heartbreak. As we binge we try to forget that person that hurt us…

No matter how bad your heart is broken, the world doesn’t stop for your grief” – Faraaz Kazi.

What about the heartbreak we experience after the loss of a loved one? Is it possible to get so stressed and emotionally disheveled that our lives are at risk?

New research has surfaced showing that the grief of losing a loved one doubles heart attack risks within 30 days of the loved one’s passing. Contrary to popular belief, our physical health is in fact at risk right after heartbreak or loss.

Dr. Sunil Shah, co-author of study, says

We think it is important that doctors, friends and family are aware of this increase risk of heart attacks and strokes so they can ensure care and support is as good as possible at a time of increased vulnerability before and after loss of a loved one.

The study concerns mostly individuals aged 60 to 89, but what if there is some underlying increase in health problems after each heartbreak starting from a young age? What if those three long term relationships that ended in heartbreak will lead to a string of health problems in the future? More importantly, what about everyone else going through relationship problems and experiencing anxiety over a heartbreak?

“Ever has it been that love knows not its own depth until the hour of separation” – Kahlil Gibran.

Of course, there is a way to help your situation even before heartbreak occurs.

Related ArticleNo Heart? No Pulse? No Problem!

Researchers at the University of Rochester found that having a romantic movie date night could be more helpful then attending couples therapy! Are you dating someone who is not emotionally open to you? Watch the funny comedy Date Night, have some laughs, and talk about the movie afterwords. Or watch something more serious like Gone With The Wind, where one of you is bound to cry and pour out all of your emotions.  This could potentially be the key to avoiding future heartbreak.

The idea is that the time spent together and the discussions that ensue after watching a movie about a relationship will likely lead to healing and mending in your own relationship. If not, hopefully it leads to some romantic time together. (Giggity)

A movie is a nonthreatening way to get the conversation started,

says Ronald D. Rogge, associate professor of psychology at the University of Rochester.

It’s really exciting because it makes it so much easier to reach out to couples and help them strengthen their relationships on a wide scale.

The University of Rochester website provides interactive tools for couples as well as surveys and studies to participate in to help with their heartbreak woes!

If all else fails maybe it is time to move on….

“Never allow someone to be your priority while allowing yourself to be their option” – Mark Twain.  

Cheers to heartbreak!

 

 

Research:

JAMA Network: Increased Risk of Acute Cardiovascular Events After Partner Bereavement

University of Rochester

Good Reads: Kahlil Gibran

Good Reads: Faraaz Kazi

Good Reads: Mark Twain

University of Rochester: Divorce Rate Cut in Half for Couples Who Discussed Relationship Movies

University of Rochester: Couples Research

IMDB: Gone with the Wind (1939)

IMDB: Date Night

University of Rochester Faculty: Ronald D. Rogge

University of London: Dr. Sunil Shah

Youtube: Giggity Giggity, Giggity Goo

 

Wondergressive: No Heart? No Pulse? No Problem!

Internet Trolls: Why They Prosper From Your Grief

Internet trolls are a force to be reckoned with.

Have you ever played an online video game? Entered a chat room? Posted a topic? Wrote a blog? Of course you have. And maybe you have even been trolled in the process… but what is trolling and how have you been affected?

The internet troll is a unique individual, at times making quick appearances, other times invading our cyber lives in overwhelming fashion. They are best described as individuals who regularly exhibit the three characteristics of the Dark Triad:

  • Narcissism – pride and egotism with a lack of empathy.
  • Machiavellianism – deceiving and using others for self gain; immoral individuals.
  • Psychopathy – exhibiting remorselessness and again a lack of empathy.

Related ArticleA Note on the Top 1%: Psychopaths or Superhumans?

Internet trolls are not only described by those characteristics, but also proven to share a correlation with them! In a new study, titled “Trolls Just Want to Have Fun” (genius), it was found that:

trolling correlated positively with sadism, psychopathy, and Machiavellianism, using both enjoyment ratings and identity scores.

But why would anyone troll your blog about cute animals doing cute things? Your blog is silly and I hate you and your cute things are disgusting that’s why! Sorry about that, my inner troll popped up unexpectedly.

But seriously, they thrive off of personal work and emotion. Something you put a great deal of work and time into is the ideal target.

Even in a chat room where a serious debate has ensued, a troll will inevitably charge in to divert the focus of the debate or simply mock any and every intellectual point made. Their actions and words spark an emotional connection and provoke a passionate, heartfelt response. This is precisely the point when a troll reigns victorious.

Related ArticleNOT Another 9-11 Article (rolls eyes*)

Did you just achieve a new rank in a game? Did someone follow up that achievement with a statement to anger you? You read:  “Newb.” or “LOL props scrub,” and with that all your hard work and sense of achievement wanes into a form of senseless rage. But why would someone want to anger you? Why is it that someone is getting pleasure out of your misery?

The answer lies in the conclusion of the study:

[Internet] trolling appears to be an Internet manifestation of everyday sadism.

Sadists. All of them. This result bolsters the idea that a their behavior is actually representative of an even greater evil, the Dark Tetrad. This malevolent nexus of annoying includes the Dark Triad with the addition of sadism – gaining pleasure from others’ misery.

Interestingly enough, you may have trolled someone yourself, out of boredom if not for any other reason. Maybe you’ve said someone’s profile picture is ugly or created a fake story, telling others the story is the gospel truth… does “spreading gossip” ring any bells? Does that make everyone a little sadistic, narcissistic, psychopathic, and Machiavellian? Is the world just an endless stream of Rick Rolls? Are we all internet trolls at heart?

Related ArticleYou Might be a Psychopath; Psychological Catch 22

Being trolled? Just breathe… they want you to respond in a heated manner. Ignore the comment, delete it, or simply move on to a different topic. To reply to them is to fuel them! LOL… here’s a graph depicting the reality of the dark tetrad around the world.

Cheers!

internet troll personality

Mean Personality Score.
http://www.motherjones.com

 

 

Research:

Science Direct: They just want to have fun

Science Direct: Dark Triad

Wikipedia: Dark Tetrad

Popular Science: Why We’re Shutting Off Our Comments

15 Infuriatingly Hilarious Quotes

 

Wondergressive: You Might be a Psychopath; Psychological Catch 22

Wondergressive: A Note on the Top 1%: Psychopaths or Superhumans?

Wondergressive: NOT Another 9-11 Article (rolls eyes*)

Electronic Cigarette Controversy: Safe to Inhale?

The electronic cigarette. A godsend for some, a tragedy for others. Most recently invented by Hon Lik in 2003, (supposedly invented first in 1963 but it was lost to the world since the idea never took flight) the electronic cigarette has risen in both popularity and use over the years as a great alternative for daily smokers.

The electronic cigarette is a battery operated product that creates a water vapor resulting from heating nicotine, bypassing the harmful smoke we get from regular cigarettes.  However, what do we actually know about electronic cigarettes? Especially with all of the recent activity on banning the use of electronic cigarettes by minors, it makes one wonder: what is it about electronic cigarettes that creates such a controversy?

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One side claims they are a healthy alternative to smoking and easing out of regular cigarette smoking. The other side claims that electronic cigarettes are associated with worse poisons and an impressive list of harmful chemicals. But what are the arguments and do they make sense?

The most important thing to know about the electronic cigarette is that it is not yet regulated by the FDA. It is a product that is in its trial period per-say, and not enough concrete studies have been conducted for the FDA to regulate the electronic cigarette. With this in mind, there are constant studies being conducted for and against the use of the electronic cigarette. Some with less of a bias than the others of course, but most point to clear findings supporting or bashing electronic cigarettes. Let us explore the different sides of the controversy.

 

The Good

For all of you that like to inhale your liquor quicker instead of enjoying it, zing! http://www.pennlive.com/midstate/index.ssf/2014/02/electronic_cigarettes_e-cigare.html

For all of you that like to inhale your liquor quicker instead of enjoying it, zing!
http://www.pennlive.com/midstate/index.ssf/2014/02/electronic_cigarettes_e-cigare.html

Supporters rejoice, for there are many, many, many different types of flavored vapors for the electronic cigarette, which is already a huge step up from the same old cigarette smoke smell. You can now inhale anything from a banana cream pie vapor to a Jack Daniels and coke vapor. What’s more, the are numerous varieties of styles and trends electronic cigarettes take on! I have seen electronic cigarettes that look like their basic predecessor, while others have very unique looks. There is even an electronic cigarette that looks identical to a USB drive. Imagine being that trend setter, having access to a whole new world of trendy e-cigs, and using a neon glowing electronic cigarette. Cool.

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From the scientific perspective, numerous studies shed a positive light on the electronic cigarette. A study found that the amount of nicotine inhaled through a electronic cigarette is lower compared with conventional cigarette smoking. With nicotine addiction in mind, this is a breakthrough and hopefully leads to less abuse of cigarettes. On that note, a study conducted in New Zealand found that the electronic cigarette can help smokers quit regular cigarette habits while another found that secondhand exposure to the vapor from electronic cigarettes exposes people to nicotine and not any harmful tobacco specific combustion products. Another leg up on the competition, cigarettes eat your heart out. 

 

The Bad 

While most studies focus on comparisons between tobacco smoke and vapor smoke, not many focus on the electronic cigarette itself. Glamour aside, you are still inhaling nicotine, you are still mimicking the habit of smoking a real cigarette, and you are still inhaling and exhaling a hot vapor which could itself be harmful. Apart from the idea that the electronic cigarette can help ease people off regular cigarettes, there are still a lot of arguments against their use.

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At the University of California Riverside researchers found that cartridges leak at times exposing user to dangerously high levels of nicotine. A pre-existing nicotine addiction could thrive with such a hazard present. Another study found that there is an increase in airway resistance when using an electronic cigarette, possibly causing damage to the lungs in the future. Heart risk is also being explored as far as the nicotine levels go, with a study linking the increase in heart disease to the level of exposure to nicotine from electronic cigarettes. All of this doesn’t even take into account the long term harm caused by a hot vapor containing  various metals, propylene glycol, and glycerin.

I would love to say one side is clearly in the right, but there is unfortunately still a great deal of inconclusive data with regards to electronic cigarettes and the health risks they may pose.

 

My Ugly

There is a lot of information on the inter-web to sort through these days, mostly because of our constant yearn for knowledge, but when taking into consideration all the studies that were conducted on the electronic cigarette, it would be best to just avoid the use of electronic cigarettes all together. It is an unregulated product, and like most products that have yet to yield concrete long term side effects, it should be approached with caution. Not to mention a lot of the studies that have found results are all based on short term effects, there is yet unknown data to be observed and analysed before we can claim the electronic cigarette to be completely safe for daily use.

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However, if you are intrigued but on the fence about switching over to the electronic cigarette, consider the financial aspect. If you currently smoke a pack of cigarettes each day, you could be paying roughly 600$ a year vs. the over 1000$ a year it costs for you to smoke regular cigarettes. Plus, electronic cigarettes are styling and trendy! Just look at those cool cats pictured above!

Cheers!

 

Research:

FDA: Electronic Cigarettes

Mayor Bloomberg signs indoor e-cigarette ban

Top 9 ABC: Despite Opposition, House Approves E-Cigarette Ban

Wikipedia: Electronic Cigarette

ABC News: 5 Facts about E-Cigarettes

Oxford Journals: Nicotine Levels in Electronic Cigarettes

Oxford Journals: Secondhand Exposure to Vapors from Electronic Cigarettes

The Lancet: Electronic Cigarettes for Smoking Cessation: A Randomized Controlled Trial

My Freedom Smokes: MFS Custom Liquids

The different Types of E-Cigarettes

Aliexpress: USB e-cigarette

UCR Newsroom: Electronic Cigarettes are Unsafe and Pose Health Risks

Medical News Today: Electronic Cigarettes Can Harm the Lungs

NYU to e-cigarette users: Cigarettes are Healthier

News Channel 5: E-cigarettes pose serious health risks, new study links usage and heart disease

Public Health: Peering through the mist

 

IMDB: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly 

 

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Wondergressive: Cannabis Cures Cancer and More: A Thorough History and Review of the Evidence

Wondergressive: Smoking: A Pre-Existing Condition Under ObamaCare

Wondergressive: Smoking Pot Without Getting High: But Why?

Is Religion Good For Your Brain?

When you think of religion does your body get invigorated? Do you feel your soul flutter? Does your brain reach a higher state of functioning? In answer to the last question, Jeffrey Anderson, assistant professor of nueroradiology at the University of Utah states that,

We think we have the tools now to do a study of brain activity during the really profound and deep types of emotional and social interactions associated with religion, and we’re really excited to try and understand more.

religion science god

Religion constantly falls under the close scrutiny of science.

Anderson and other researchers are launching a new study that will examine exactly how religion and spiritual rituals impact the human brain. The study will consist of participants between the age of 20 and 30 who are currently active in their faith. An MRI scan will be performed while the participants are surrounded by faith oriented activities, such as listening to spiritual music, listening to proclamations from their religion, and acting out religious rituals associated with their particular faith. Very interesting indeed, but it will take some time before the results of the study are posted. If you believe your self to be a prime candidate for the study, and of course as long as you are in the immediate area of the University of Utah, you can apply to be a participant on the Religious Brain Project website.

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The study does beg another set of questions however: can religion and belief be measured by science? Or rather, should science be used to gauge religion? Is it morally correct to accept religion over science, or vice versa? Essentially we arrive at a very pertinent question: should religion be completely replaced by science within the school system as a more viable teaching strategy?

Bill Nye (yes, the science guy) and Ken Ham (Answers in Genesis, supporting the side of religion and creationism) squared off in a debate last night about religion which addressed these issues directly. The overarching question of the debate was : Is creation a viable model of human origins in today’s modern scientific era? Both sides had their own opinions as well as evidence to back up their claims.

religion creation science

Which Religion is right? Which book do your prefer? sciencebasedlife.wordpress.com

In the debate, Ken Ham defends religion by stating that science should be split into two separate categories. The first would pertain to observational science (a science based on models). This category involves what we experience now and how the world works today. The second category involves historical science (a type of theoretical science of origin) which is used to define our origins and makes sense of the world around us from a historical perspective. He stresses the importance of separating the two to help with the confusion that children are being exposed to. He gives the example that by only teaching evolution, which to most starts with a random beginning for no reason other than “it happened,” we limit children to thinking that science is just as random. This randomness can crate incredible confusion when making conclusions about existential quandaries children are trying to work through. Ken Ham asserts that instead, children should be taught religion and to embrace the idea of God because it empowers them to think they are indeed special, as they are made in the image of God.

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Bill Nye on the other hand focuses on accepted scientific evidence to disprove Ham’s assertions regarding religious truth. For example, he refers to the different layers in stone and snow that have been compressed to form ice which would take far longer than the amount of time Creationism allows for. He talks about the allotted four thousand years since the Great Flood and the improbability of the amount of species we see today to exist with the limited time that Creationists claim elapsed since then. He stresses the idea that we need to depend on natural law and orders, not religious or divine laws, to predict practical and accurate future theories and laws. He asserts that the basis of scientific education must be information derived through the scientific process, such as evolution, in order for children and future scientists to make reasonable scientific predictions in the future. In essence, he is claiming that one must understand and accept theories like evolution which have been supported with scientific evidence in order to understand why a fish can come to walk on land, why there are over 8.7 million different species on Earth, why layers in rocks and trees and ice exist, and so on.  He stresses that by allowing religion and Creationism to thrive in academic settings we are impeding the scientific literacy of future generations and essentially stifling the United States in future scientific breakthroughs.

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The debate finished with questions and rebuttals, but the underlying theme of the debate, I fear, was lost. Instead of trying to prove why one or the other is wrong in the school system, it turned into a contest of ego and the denouncing of each others ideals.

religion science stats

Some surprising statistics about religion and science. blog.faithlife.com

I wonder, why not accept both ideas? Why not teach every child in every classroom the idea of science, and then, on your own time, teach your children your worship, your religion, and your belief. Allow for both religion and science to be taught in their own settings (in schools and at home/place of worship respectively) and allow for the child to then choose which idea they support and believe. What is with this unyielding hatred between the two schools of thought? What ever happened to being free and allowing for choice? Most importantly though: can’t we all just get along?

In the end, much of the issue is largely based on opinion, some opinions stemming from facts, others stemming from observed information. One thing is for certain, all this debate and speculation on religion is definitely causing your brain to function at an elevated level. Maybe you’ve been unintentionally participating in Anderson’s experiment this whole time!

To feed your own opinions further, or for the sake of debate itself, check out the Bill Nye and Ken Ham debate on Creationism vs. science in the video below!

Cheers!


Sources:

Religious Brain Project

Deseret News: What’s the effect of religion on the brain? U. launches new study

University of Utah

Youtube: Bill Nye Debates Ken Ham

Youtube: Bill Nye: Creationism Is Not Appropriate for Children

Youtube: Ken Ham Responds to Bill Nye “the Humanist Guy”

Answers in Genesis – Creationism

Wikipedia: Genesis flood narrative

Backreaction: Models and Theories

Models, Theories, and Laws

How many species on Earth? 8.7 million

 

Wondergressive: Watching Evolution Occur

Wondergessive: Morals or More Rails (to guide us)

Wondergressive: In 1610 God Was a Binary, Fractal, Self-Replicating Algorithm

Will Facebook Face the Same Doomed Fate as Myspace?

myspace facebook popularity

Forget Facebook! Don’t you miss getting blasted with your friend’s music as you browse their site?
http://www.digitaltrends.com/social-media/three-reasons-why-myspace-is-doomed/

Have you ever considered what might be the next trend to die? Which aspect of your daily social life will just fade away? Just as disco, AIMplanking (which seems to have slowed down in popularity), and Myspace.com have all but dissipated, now Facebook is likely doomed to face a similar fate. As the new age of internet-goers show a disinterest in Facebook-ing, it is becoming apparent that other trends and newer social media tools will take its place in the near future. What am I even talking about you say?

Related: Facebook: Glorifying and Depressing

A recent report on Facebook popularity from Istrategylabs has yielded some interesting results. It is clear from the graph below that young people simply aren’t interested in Facebook staling anymore.

But what can we attribute to the decline in young Facebook users? Actually, a couple different events have occurred over the years that may lead us to an answer. In fact, as you scan over the chart to your left, you may realize what exactly has happened: Facebook has become completely accessible to everyone.

Originally, Facebook was meant to be a hub for college people to keep in touch, to find someone during or after college in hopes of changing their relationship status, to include yourself and others in events, to help keep up with best friends’ lives even after they left the safe confines of the dorm room. All this slowly morphed into much, much more: people now rely on Facebook for chatting, for daily inspiration, or for simply killing time. The age groups grew, the visitors and participants became younger/older, and everyone that knew how to use a computer slowly became a Facebook-er.

So what? Is everyone not entitled to freedom of speech and entertainment? That’s just it though. When you or someone you know joined Facebook they were probably still in college or had just finished college. Now they may be a parent of a child, and that child finds them (unfortunately) very uncool. They don’t get their parents’ lame humor and wish to be alone and unbothered when they are online. In comes the (still cool regardless what the child thinks) parent: ensuring their child is OK by befriending them on Facebook. They comment on life updates and statuses posted by their child, and restrict usage when their child gets out of line. And why not? That is what parents do. Their child is their responsibility and they will do anything to protect their child. As always though, children try to combat this by looking to other forms of entertainment, something the parents do not use, something that is only beginning to trend and takes time to adapt to. And so with younger generations Facebook is slowly becoming uncool because of its accessibility and ease of use.

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If you notice, even the media is to blame for Facebook’s decrease in popularity. You would be hard pressed not to find a twitter link nowadays that you can send your opinion to during news broadcasts. Not to mention the recent IPO (initial public offering) of Twitter, which was a huge success and to date has already surpassed the Facebook stock by 4 points. This shows that there is currently more of a vested interest in Twitter and its rising popularity, even in the stock market. With results like that, investors are all but begging for SnapChat to become a new stock on the stock market, which, like Twitter, is experiencing a rise in popularity and future potential among younger media users.

Did I mention Facebook owns Instagram? At least if Facebook dies, Instagram can be the next wave of income for Mark Zuckerberg. It’s almost as if he is trying to let us know what to trend next…

What should you take from all this? Will the king of social media be knocked off his horse? Or is this just another example of too many things at once distracting us from giving our full attention to any single entertainment vessel? If you consider all that the internet allows access to, all the different forms of entertainment that is readily available today: Wondergressive (of course), Twitter, Pintrest, Vine, Snapchat, Tumblr, Stumbleupon, Reddit, etc.; Facebook simply gets lost in the long list of ways to occupy ourselves on the internet. So many, many, many distractions, and I will leave you with just one more! Below is a graph from investment banker Piper Jaffray depicting the popularity of social media sites among teens. Cheers!

facebook graph

Facebook down, Twitter down a little, Instagram up! Other… Wondergressive!
http://www.piperjaffray.com/2col.aspx?id=287&releaseid=1863548

 

 

Research:

Wikipedia: AOL Instant Messenger

The 65 Best Planking Pictures From Around The World

MYspace.com

Istrategylabs.com

CNN Money: Twitter IPO Soars!

Google Finance: Stock

Google Finance: Twitter Stock

The Next IPO after Twitter?

NY TIMES: Buys Instagram for $1 Billion

Piper Jaffray

IMDB: The Social Network

 

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