Random Thoughts #1

Rip out my heart, let my soul seep out and catapult my essence to the edge of the unknown. Allow me to see the other side and finally ask god what it means to be truly alive. Then bring me back to life a second before I die.

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Whitewashing

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In recent weeks, you needn’t have switched on the news or picked up the papers, to have heard about Ed Skerin turning down a role in the upcoming Hell Boy, such was the buzz and constant debate surrounding it. Of course, an actor turning down a role isn’t all that new, in fact, it happens all the time. However, what made this one so significant was Ed Skerin’s reason behind doing so – whitewashing or in his words, “It is clear that representing this character in a culturally accurate way holds significance for people and to neglect this responsibility would continue a worrying tendency to obscure ethnic minority stories and voices in the arts.” And, also let’s not forget, no White actor has publicly refused a role because of racial sensitivity before, essentially meaning Ed Skerin has been ground breaking in his actions.

Whitewashing occurs when a white actor, usually equipped with prosthetics and vulgar stereotypes, portrays the role of a person of colour. Originally, this took the shape of Minstrel Shows, in which white performers ‘blacked up’ in order to entertain white audiences with over-exaggerated imitations of black people. Eventually, as society changed and the offensive nature of Minstrels were fully realised, their form of entertainment lost popularity and favour, but the trend of white performers imitating other people of colour continued. While imitating Black people was soon considered a no go, whitewashing Asian roles on the other hand, became a Hollywood trend that persists even today. From Scarlet Johansson in Ghost in a Shell to Tilda Swinton in Dr Strange, you seemingly can’t turn on the TV without being faced with yet another White actor playing Asian.

Sure, some individuals may speak about colour blind casting or creative freedom, which is to say that anyone should be able to play anyone else, regardless of race or gender. And I would agree if the film industry was completely inclusive and non-bias, but as we’ve learned from #Oscarsowhite a couple years back, clearly, this is not the reality. Look at it this way, how many top Asian actors can you name that aren’t Jackie Chan? Umm, head scratcher, right? The reality is, directors and writers aren’t creating stories with Asian people in mind – White, yes, Black, maybe – Asian, very unlikely. And this is all the more problematic when they take the culture, profit from it and yet, deny the creators any credit or equal opportunity from it. Think of African-American music and Japanese traditions.

Representation matters, seeing people who looks like you or share a similar back to you in the media, makes you feel appreciated and shows that you belong to that society. The truth is, instead of lived experiences and authenticity, when White actors are playing Asian roles, most of the time they’re basing their portrayals on borrowed information at the best of the times, and stereotypes at the worst of the times. I mean, you just have to look at Mickey Rooney’s appalling portrayal of Japanese character, Mr Yunioshi in Breakfast at Tiffany’s to see how painful stereotypes are. In the future, people playing other races shouldn’t matter, but until then, when Asian characters are so rarely seen on our screens, we’re not quite ready for that yet.

Gene Editing: The next step in human evolution

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Close your eyes and Imagine the world happier, smarter and finally, imagine our world completely free of disease and the suffering it causes. Now open your eyes and realise that wasn’t a dream, rather, a reality only mere finger tips away from our grasp. As we speak, somewhere in this world, under the sharp lights of laboratories and thanks to the bright minds of scientists, impressive leaps in not only knowledge but mankind are occurring… The first was the discovery of DNA, the next was its mapping and now we find ourselves at the logical conclusion – learning how to edit it. Gene editing is more than just revolutionary, it is effectively the thing that will allow our species to out-smart the tide of evolution and the mercy of mother nature, and finally, take on full control of our destiny. Sure, there are those who consider gene editing to be the first few steps down a slippery slope, however, I and hopefully, many others see it as humanities saving grace and quite possibly man’s greatest invention.

Every second, thousands of people across the globe, often in the poorest of countries, die at the hands of diseases science isn’t quite ready to cure yet. One of the most formidable and most terrifying of them all is cancer, a disease so cruel it turns your own body into your worst enemy. Effectively is causes you to destroy yourself. Yet, with gene editing, we stand a far greater chance of reducing, if not eliminating our chances of getting certain cancers. If we have the opportunity of saving millions of lives, should we not take it up? It is also worth considering that gene editing doesn’t have necessarily to begin and end with humans. In fact, we can utilise it to reshape the animal kingdom to further protect mankind, namely altering the genetic makeup of mosquitoes. Malaria, Dengue and West Nile disease, it’s almost unfathomable how such a small creature could be responsible for the so much human strife and the near on decimation of an entire continent. I’m not talking about complete eradication of a species – that would be morally wrong, considering only the females bite. However, if we were to edit the genetic sequence of mosquitoes in a way that prevents them from carrying deadly viruses, millions of lives could be saved as an outcome. After all, eliminating such viruses will also elevate the debilitating costs of fighting them, from the shoulders of the world’s poorest nations – money that could be funneled elsewhere.

Einstein, Newton…Mozart, surely the world can only be benefited by an increase of the super intelligence pool. Just imagine, with the collective endeavor of an entire planet full of geniuses, the greatest problems of all our time; global warming, income disparity or world hunger could be finally relegated to the past! Also, a smarter world will feature less war and hostility because collectively we’ll become more open minded and thus better at seeing things from other people’s perspective – and surely that’s a good thing?

Now it’s time to look at gene editing long term – very, very long term… I don’t know about you, but the crowning joy of my childhood was the blissful evenings spent marveling at the heroics of Captain Pickard and his crew on the Starship Enterprise. To say I was a Star Trek nerd would be a huge understatement (my floor length poster of Spock would be a testament to that!). However, while traveling across time and space was a matter of adventure and curiosity in Star Trek, back here on Earth: among rising sea levels and the mounting treat of global warming, humanity must soon wake up to the fact that our safe and sound existence on Earth isn’t guaranteed forever. At some point in the future, although a very distant future, we might need to venture out in search of new worlds in order of safe guarding our species from extinction. Sadly, it isn’t a simple case of jumping onto a spaceship and aiming for the stars, due to space’s infinite size, a journey even to our next closest galaxy would take millions of years. Thus, feeding and keeping alive countless generations of humans along that trip could prove logistically impossible. The solution? Cryogenic freezing over millenniums. But as science will tell you, freezing leads to ice crystals forming inside of blood vessels, leading to destruction or long term impairment. However, lucky for us, gene editing could counter act that pesky little problem… Re-editing genes to allow for blood to have a lower freezing point means that in the future humans can be frozen without complications. Such a breakthrough could also pay dividend in the short term, meaning we could all join Walt Disney in a giant freezer and wake up in a brand-new future world.

Whilst gene editing does offer a wealth of good, at the same time it isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. Such is its potency, is there is plenty of room for abuse, ignoring such a fact would be both naïve and dangerous. For instance, nose jobs, liposuction, tanning, breast implants and Botox, cosmetic surgery has gone completely mainstream, shows that when faced with the tools for change and the mounting pressure to look perfect, thanks to social media, society no longer seems so be accepting of flaws. Whilst gene editing won’t do much for the selfie obsessed, it does afford the opportunity for beauty conscious parents to ensure that their babies come out looking like miniature Brads and Beyoncé. Here lays a potential risk to gene editing; the blurred lines between making changes based necessity and changes out of superficiality. In the long term, no doubt cosmetic changes will become the norm, but in the immediate future, the industry should be tightly regulated and kept as the reserve of disease prevention. Subsequently, once gene editing becomes an exact science, then, only then can we allow ourselves to expand on its uses. However, it is important to be clear that above all else the punishment for misusing gene editing should be unanimous and severe; you shudder to think how it would have been employed during the slave trade or Hitler’s years in power.

From accusation of playing god to creating a breeding ground for superficiality and in the darkest of scenarios – racial cleansing, it will be naïve to ignore the potential pitfalls of gene editing. Sure, it could bring out the worst in mankind, but more importantly, and likely, it could also bring out the very best in mankind. From conquering the universe, saving lives and creating a smarter world, there is no doubt in my mind that the potential for gene editing is just far too great to ignore.

Universal Basic Income

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With a multi-trillion pound economy, Britain weighs in heavily as one of the wealthiest countries in the world. Yet, as we speak, across our glorious nation fingers are being worked to the bone and backs broken, day in and day out in the tireless pursuit of barely surviving financially. I don’t know about you, but such harsh realities leave me with a nasty taste in my mouth and leaves me wondering… how can we take pride in being called the United Kingdom of Great Britain when there is such economic disparity in our country? It’s no exaggeration to say that even within our own capital, individuals separated by few short miles geographically, could economically be galaxies apart. In London, while some merely contend with the agonising question, “where shall I sail my super-yacht next?” Others have the less glamourous decision of either putting on the heating or paying for food the next day. If we are to still truly consider ourselves both Great and United or continue our role as a pioneering country, isn’t it time we introduce a universal basic income that will guarantee much needed stability and comfort to all Britain’s citizens? After all, as the birth place of the industrial revolution and home to the NHS, Britain has a history of taking important leaps forward, so why can’t universal basic income be the next one?

What should the UBI be? Simple… £30, 000, a reasonable sum that could vastly change and improve millions of lives every where. Wait, did you hear that? That is the sound of Tories everywhere feinting to the ground. True, a UBI at £30,000 a year would run up to the early trillions, however fear not… a UBI wouldn’t be the economical suicide naysayers might proclaim and in fact, there are plenty of ways to fund it. Let’s begin with Brexit…I know, I know – groan, who wants to hear more about Brexit, right? Well, as dark and gloomy as the approach of Brexit may appear on the horizon, the thin ray of light it does offer is the prospect of money saved from no longer contributing to the EU budget. Do you know what’s better than lining the pockets of EU bureaucrats and fat cats in Brussels? Giving that money to the most needy and vulnerable in our society…

Much in the way mechanised textiles and steam power reshaped and revolutionised the labour market of the 1800s, modern day computer chips and robotics are equally creating seismic shifts today. Such is the pervasiveness of modern computer technology, it has effectively permeated itself into every facet of our working lives. And as the future continues to present itself, this trend doesn’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon, on the contrary it will be accelerating. As society continues to shift from the third and into the fourth Industrial revolution, automation will inevitably gut and drain all industries of remedial work. Thus, it only makes sense to accept automation wholeheartedly and use it to help make UBI a reality. With no salaries, bonuses or maternity leave, businesses are set to make a killing over automation, so why not tax companies on the profits they make from not paying employees? Walla, money trees do exist!

Some might say utopia is not what society would be become with a UBI, and they will make the point that people’s ambition and work ethic might dwindle in the knowledge that income is guaranteed, while other individuals might use the money to fuel drug habits or fund criminal activity. But to this, my thoughts a clear and deeply believed, the majority of society’s ills can greatly be attributed to income inequality and a rigid class system that makes social mobility difficult. In terms of criminality, a UBI will decrease instead of increase crime because the large majority of wrong doers are driven by desperation and the survival instinct. So, by eliminating the need to make ends met by any means necessary, such individuals will be afforded more opportunities rather than be forced into a life of crime. While in terms of drive and ambition, clearly suspected naysayers haven’t head of the like of Richard Branson or Elon Musk, such individuals drowning in unlimited fortunes yet are still compelled to take risks and continue reaching higher. Ambition is a matter of personality traits and not circumstance. For people with drive and determination, a UBI will only make them want to work harder and achieve more.

However, let’s focus on the positives, after all that’s the sole reason for UBI, right? First and foremost, such money wouldn’t sit and rote away in the bank as every member of society would be inclined to spend it, ultimately meaning that the money would be constantly moving, flowing and never stagnating, ensuring the economy remains constantly stimulated and Britain continues to grow and expand. Also, you only need to switch the channel over to Dragon Den to see that Britain is an absolute hotbed for entrepreneurial talent. So, imagine if all these budding James Dysons and Richard Branson’s had the luxury of £30,000 seed money, effectively a UBI will turn London into the new San Francisco. But of course, the greatest benefit the UBI would bring to society is the improvements to people’s lives. One of the reason Britain voted to leave the EU was the overwhelming sense of loss of control and the fear they’re drowning in the rising tide of globalization. With a UBI people will always feel as if they were architects of their own destiny because no matter what they will know they have something to fall back on when times are tough. At the end of the day, a UBI is all about improving lives and bringing back comfort and stability into communities and society in general. The last thing we want for Britain is for it to become a nation of haves and have nots, so let’s be both Great and United and have ourselves a Universal Basic Income!

All Eyes on Me

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Ambition is not the sole domain of men. I refuse to remain in the demure and thankful role imprisoning women, while my male peers like Kanye West and Charlie Sheen are willed to boast about their achievements and self-proclaim themselves The Second Coming. So, fuck that! That stops now. I’m a woman who’s not afraid to tell the entire world what she wants and how much she wants it.

Simply put, I want to be famous – real fucking famous. And I’m not talking about reality TV or Youtube shit famous, I’m talking about Madonna and Bono famous, so famous I don’t even need a fucking last name. And I want to be every little girl’s hero and constantly have millions… actually, fuck it – billions screaming my name whenever I’m around. And I want to be on the cover of Forbes, Vogue and Time Magazine all at the same time. And I want at least 100 million followers on every social media and have my face plastered on billboards all over London, Paris and New York. And I want to be able to walk into any room and have all heads swivel in my direction and each heart explode in excitement.

Pretty much I want the whole world in the palm of my hands – get it? After all, Tony Montana said it, “The world is yours.” And I promise you, I will do what ever it takes to make sure it will be.

Forbidden Love in Paradise

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Jamaica is paradise for all, except us…

Still drunk from sex, our naked bodies intertwine tightly under a palm tree as a gentle breeze caresses our bare skin. Every kiss we lay on each other’s lips is done so with deep passion and the agonising knowing that it could soon be our last. The bitter truth is, our type of love is a matter of life and death.

For only when we are in each other’s arms can we finally feel truly alive or believe heaven could possibly be a place on earth. But in Jamaica love between two men is considered worse than any sin, and in the wrong place at the wrong time it could lead to death.

Stolen kisses in midnight hours, holding hands when backs are turned and whispering sweet nothings when no one is around to hear. Living a life of secrecy can be tiring, but it’s the only way we know how to survive.

However, in the end the dangers don’t deter us one bit, instead they make us hold each other tighter and look into each other’s eyes deeper when we say ‘I love you’. For our love is the only reason either of us can even exist. Without it, both of us would simply crumble like the sand beneath our bodies and disappear into nothingness…

Music to Watch Boys to

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Some may spend hours plucking away at guitar strings, others even immersing themselves in decades old foreign films…we on the other hand do none of that, in truth we don’t have any actual hobbies. Well, there is one… the center of our teenage universe…the sole reason Clarissa and I gravitate towards the park every Sunday afternoon.

The height of summer, we certainly aren’t the only ones there. However, while others are perfectly happy to idle the day, wrapped up in the warm blanket of a July sun or the chitter-chatter of friends and family, Clarissa and I have our attentions firmly embedded elsewhere, boys playing football. Muscles, taunt and rippling under skin shimmering bronze from sweat, handsome features furrowed with concentration, eyes ignited by the midday sun. Looking at them is like looking at an oasis of beauty, that so easily leaves us powerless… forever transfixed and hypnotised, we simply can’t turn away – they’re Adonises to fall in love with.

Honestly, who the hell needs hobbies, when you can spend an afternoon watching gorgeous boys and listening to beautiful music? Oh, but not just any music…there is an exact science to providing the perfect soundtrack to our fantasies. Soaring melodies, haunting vocals and lyrics that pierce your heart – Lana Del Rey is our second greatest pleasure. To us, almost nothing in life is as satisfying as clicking play and surrendering to her sweet embrace. Once sufficiently enchanted by Hollywood Sadcore, we can finally turn back to our most important of tasks, watching boys…

Desperate for them to notice or more importantly, like, love what they see…we embody, everything, we ever learned about being beautiful from movies. So we pout, hair flick and arch our backs until we look like the most glamorous of screen sirens. But of course, we never let on to boys, just how much we crave their acknowledgement or how easily our worlds revolve around them. No, we’re far too cool and indifferent for that…