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LIFESTYLE & CULTURE

3 Most popular activities for boosting digital sociability

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The digital age, despite its wonders, has formed a negative image for causing users to isolate themselves in their favorite virtual worlds. Another truth, however, is that digital technology has given us global connectivity, vast social spaces and diverse ways for users to inhabit them. Technology has brought people and services together, offering someone infinite opportunities to expand their knowledge, experiences and quality of life.

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Here are a few examples of popular social activities the digital world is loved for.

Social Video Games

Gaming has definitely improved in leaps and bounds, increasing its range of genres and platforms. MMORPGs are the pinnacle of video game accomplishments, entire fantastical universes where players can charge into battle or sit in a tavern and chat with their friends, each using an avatar tailored to their personality and tastes. Special social features in massively popular titles like Guild Wars, War of Warcraft and Elder Scrolls Online include the forming of guilds, mentor/student systems for newbies to learn the ropes and even marriage that gives virtual couples unique buffs and abilities depending on the game.

Online Advisers

The internet is full of spaces for people to socialize about their passions and questions. Whether your interest is medical or academic, historical or astrological, there are reliable experts, forums and social media groups holding all the answers. Even online psychic readings are possible with trained practitioners. They don’t need to be in the same room as you to use their abilities of clairvoyance or precognition to pick up on problems and offer insightful solutions of emotional, psychological and professional benefit. The digital world is a network designed to entertain, but also to share information more easily than sifting through library books or waiting hours in line, often just to get a single, vague response.

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Online Causes

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As already mentioned, the limitations of the physical world in terms of response and visibility can be a problem, especially if you have a cause to fight for. That is something digital technology has remedied by giving people the power to express themselves through several mediums – written, visual, audio and more. A particular trend today are petitions. In addition to serious campaigns from LGBQT to ecological importance, you will come across some hilarious ones, such as a 2013 petition signed by over 25,000 people for the US administration to build a Death Star. Changing the endings of Game of Thrones and Avengers: Endgame have also been demanded by disappointed fans. The internet has become a highly creative and interactive avenue for users to share and support causes they care about.

Even though it’s easy to forget to leave the house when having fun online, the virtual world is a social environment in itself. There is no limit to the variety of people you can communicate with or what can be achieved when like-minded users from every corner of the world band together to share knowledge and support a cause. Taking regular breaks from your digital screens is a good idea, but the connective power of the internet should not be underestimated.

Travel

Cry freedom

#Buffalo may (just) be a sleepy city in Upstate #NewYork in the US. But it does have surprises – e.g. The Freedom Wall, which celebrates the nation’s historic and ongoing struggles for political and social equality.

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Chicken lovers may know the story – i.e. that the Buffalo wing was allegedly invented by Teressa Bellissimo in 1964 at Anchor Bar in the sleepy city of Buffalo in the state of New York.

The thing though, is, sans the spiced fried chicken, Buffalo has other surprises – e.g. The Freedom Wall.

Located at the corner of Michigan Avenue and East Ferry Street, The Freedom Wall was built in 2017 by John Baker, Julia Bottoms, Chuck Tingley and Edreys Wajed.

It was commissioned by the Albright-Knox Art Gallery Public Art Initiative, in partnership with the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority (NFTA).

It was developed in collaboration with the Michigan Street African-American Heritage Corridor and neighborhood stakeholders.

From the get-go, the intention was always clear: The Freedom Wall eyes to celebrate the nation’s historic and ongoing struggles for political and social equality.

The large concrete wall surrounding NFTA’s Cold Spring Bus Maintenance Depot now has portraits of 28 civil rights leaders.

Some of the subjects depicted include:
Rosa Parks
Mama Charlene Caver Miller
William Wells Brown
King Peterson
Angela Davis
Bill Gaiter
Malcolm X
W. E. B. Du Bois
Frank Merriweather
Martin Luther King, Jr.
Mary B. Talbert
Thurgood Marshall
Minnie Gillette
Harriet Tubman

Now, The Freedom Wall continues to encourage conversations about the scope of the long journey toward equality and freedom.

And that a lot of effort still needs to be done to bring about a just and equitable world.

READ:  Vienna comes to Manila to celebrate pride, diversity and equality

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LIFESTYLE & CULTURE

Homophobia and transphobia still a problem in sport

One third of those active in sport conceal their sexual orientation or gender identity within the context of their sporting activities. More than a third of those questioned were unable to name a single organization or individual they could contact in the event of a negative experience or incidence.

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The overwhelming majority of people perceive homophobia and transphobia to be a problem in sport; with homophobic and transphobic language remaining widespread, especially in team sports. 

This is according to analysis coming out of Europe, where a Europe-wide project was done to develop strategies and training measures in the field of sport in order to counter discrimination and violence related to sexual orientation or gender identity. In the first study, an online survey was used in which more than 5,500 LGBTI from all 28 EU states were asked about their experiences in sport. In the second study, representatives of 15 sports associations, sports federations and umbrella organizations from the five project countries were interviewed about their strategies for combating homo-/transphobic discrimination in sport.

As stated, the overwhelming majority of respondents notes homophobia and transphobia to be a problem in sport. Homophobic and transphobic language was also noted to be widespread, especially in team sports. As a result, one third of those active in sport conceal their sexual orientation or gender identity within the context of their sporting activities. More than a third of those questioned were unable to name a single organization or individual they could contact in the event of a negative experience or incidence.

“Discrimination against LGBTI is a problem facing society as a whole,” says Professor Ilse Hartmann-Tews, Director of Studies at the German Sports University, “which is why each one of us should feel responsible for creating a culture of respect.”

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In the area of organized sport, the study recommends an open and proactive attitude towards questions of sexual and gender diversity on the part of all men and women active at every level of clubs, associations and sports federations. This is because, the ideal is for participation in sport at all levels to be made easier for lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgender persons and intersexual people.

Homophobic and transphobic language was also noted to be widespread, especially in team sports.
PHOTO FROM PEXELS.COM

The collaboration of five European project countries lasted three years and will end on 31 December. Results were presented and discussed at various levels, including the final conference of OUTSPORT held in Budapest, an international conference on the situation of LGBTI in sport in Barcelona, the sports committee of the NRW state parliament in Düsseldorf and the Federal Network Conference of Queer Sports Clubs (BuNT) in Hamburg.

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Technology

4 Best apps and tools that have made our lives easier

If you are here to learn about the best apps and tools that can actually make your daily tasks more manageable, then you have come to the right place.

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Photo by Neil Soni from Unsplash.com

We are always looking for tools and software that will make our daily grind a bit easier. Fortunately, every day, different tools and apps are launched in the market to facilitate our daily tasks. However, with an overwhelming number of applications available out there, sometimes it can become tough to choose a few that are really helpful for you.

But don’t worry, we have got you covered. If you are here to learn about the best apps and tools that can actually make your daily tasks more manageable, then you have come to the right place. Below in this article, we’ve mentioned our tops picks that you need to know about too. So, to learn about these amazing tools and apps, be sure to read this article till the end! 

Grammarly

Whether you are a student, entrepreneur, or a professional writer, you want to make sure that your writing is easy to read and error-free, right? Let’s be real, despite being English our native language sometimes we make silly grammatical and spelling mistakes. An online grammar checker and free Chrome plug-in help you fix punctuation, critical grammar, and spelling errors. With Grammarly’s premium version, you can even check for plagiarism, wordiness, and much more. The premium version costs between $11.66 and $29.95 per month, depending on how you pay. 

Soda PDF

Soda PDF is software that offers users both an online and desktop PDF solution with a range of useful PDF tools. When it comes to the online version of the soda pdf, it enables you to use features on any web browser and device. The desktop version, on the other hand, let you work on your files online by allowing you to download the application. Whether you’re a student or running a business, this application will enable you to convert, create, edit, split, merge, secure, review, and sign your PDFs on any of your devices. 

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Boomerang for Gmail

This email tool was much needed and is very convenient for all who have their Gmail accounts. Before this Gmail update, we always wished to have a tool that allows us to schedule our mails. Well, it seems likes our wish came true. Boomerang for Gmail will enable you to schedule your emails for a future time and date. Plus, it also keeps your inbox more manageable by scheduling an email to disappear and come back later at a scheduled time and date. Amazing! Right? Now you do not have to worry about your email replies anymore because boomerang for Gmail has got you covered. 

Glympse

This fantastic free GPS locator application is helping friends and family all over the world check in with each other. This application goes far beyond static “check-ins” or a simple map showing your location. It allows both Android and iPhone users to update their status quickly so they can let their online friends know about their real-time movements on this dynamic map, but for a set period. Now your spouse can know what time you are expected to get back home from your work. Moreover, you can also request the location of your teenager kid without invading their privacy. 

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Technology

Gay social network Blued highlights U=U in #WAD2019 campaign

Blued has set out to combat stigma and discrimination of people living with HIV by highlighting the advocacy’s most revolutionary message to date: U=U.

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For this year’s World AIDS Day, the world’s leading gay social app Blued has set out to combat stigma and discrimination of people living with HIV by highlighting the advocacy’s most revolutionary message to date: U=U (Undetectable equals Untransmittable).

Presented in 2018 during the 22nd International AIDS Conference, in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, the PARTNER (Partners of People on ART: a New Evaluation of the Risks) 2 study, which tracked 783 gay male couples for 8 years, discovered that “no HIV-positive partner with an undetectable viral load infected his HIV-negative sex mate through 77,000 episodes of anal sex without condoms”.  

The report further discusses:

“The analysis involved 783 gay couples at 55 clinics in 14 European countries; 89% of initially HIV-negative men were white. When they entered the study, HIV-negative men had a median age of 38 years and had practiced condomless sex for a median of 1 year. During 1.6 years of follow-up, these men had a median of 43 condomless sex acts per year and an estimated total 76,940 sexual encounters without condoms. Initially HIV-positive men had a median baseline age of 40 years, had taken ART for a median of 4 years, and 98% reported at least 90% antiretroviral adherence. Only 2% of HIV-positive men said they missed ART for more than four consecutive days.”

This message continues to be relevant in the Philippines, with new infections exploding by 208% from 2010 to 2018, versus the global decline by 18%. The most vulnerable demographic are men who have sex with men, aged between 15-34. 

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With a lack of access to HIV resources and testing facilities, coupled with miseducation and stigma, the numbers to continue to rise among this segment of the population.

Blued is the world’s largest gay social network with more than 40 million users around the globe and over one million users in the Philippines. Blued positions itself as a social media mobile application that allows the LGBTQI community to discover and share geo-localized content (friends, events, news, talent shows, et cetera). Blued eyes to improve the quality of life of the community around the world through its strength in mobile technologies. 

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LIFESTYLE & CULTURE

Possible medical technology to trend in Asia

There are various obstacles and challenges the med-tech companies in Asia must overcome to meet the region’s healthcare demands. Some of these would include limited financial resources, underdeveloped healthcare infrastructure that continues to affect tech adoption, and intense competition from developing countries.

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So, what factors constitute demand? Is it population growth? A rise in GDP? Supply? Well, it is safe to say that  there isn’t a definitive answer to this as there are so many other factors that can contribute to product and service demand. With this in mind, half of the world’s population lives in the Asia Pacific region. This means that the demand for healthcare will continue to rise exponentially. But there are various obstacles and challenges the med-tech companies in Asia must overcome to meet the region’s healthcare demands. Some of these would include limited financial resources, underdeveloped healthcare infrastructure that continues to affect tech adoption, and intense competition from developing countries. As you can see, a lot has to be done to mitigate the impact of med-tech in Asia.

Nonetheless, it’s expected that by 2020, Asia will surpass the expectations of healthcare consumers. But this will depend on the political stability in most of the Asia Pacific countries, economic development, research, and a better understanding of disease profiles. This will help in the development of market-appropriate healthcare technology by first overcoming the structural barriers that have for the longest time hindered technology adoption.

That being a snippet of what this article is about, let’s take a look at the possible technology to trend in Asia.

Wearable patches

As opposed to injections and pills, wearable patches are increasingly becoming popular around the world (in Asia included) as an alternative means of drug delivery. Today, they’re also being used in disease diagnosis, monitoring, and therapy. For instance, nicotine transdermal patches, which are used in nicotine replacement therapy have been around for quite a while. What’s more, patches are heavily gaining popularity in the supplement market. Today, you will find patches for vitamins, minerals, anti-oxidants, anti-viral, PMS, and even hangover patches.

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Dr. Earl Hayley, PatchMD.com CEO, points out that the best thing about topical patches is that they are easy to use and the active ingredients are easily absorbed through the skin and since the active substance doesn’t pass through the gut, they have a higher bioavailability. This makes them a more effective alternative than their pill counterparts, more convenient, and less invasive compared to injections. And considering how Asia is popular for Ayurveda medicine as well as nutritional supplements, there’s a big chance the wearable patch market will be explosive over the next few years as research studies on their various uses finalize.

Robotics

Soon, the Asian med-tech industry will shift its efforts towards surgical robotics. This will help to reach patients living in the most desolate areas in providing them with better treatment options. Medical robots will also help in transporting and delivering medical supplies, helping with prosthetics and prosthetics trials, and disinfecting hospitals, including microbots that will target specific areas, especially during cancer treatment. But then again, more needs to be done in raising awareness and sensitizing the masses about the benefits of robotics and what these engineered beings could bring to the table as far as the healthcare industry is concerned.

Artificial Intelligence (AI)

As most sectors of the Asian economy continue to adopt AI, the healthcare industry is also expecting to develop artificial intelligence devices that will help in information processing, diagnosis, and treatment. These AI machines will be expected to make split decisions using information from patient history, test results, and imaging analysis, etc. AI technology is expected to help improve the speed and accuracy of diagnosis. The use of AI will also help in the early detection of diseases, thus helping treat diseases before they even emerge. The Asian healthcare industry is also looking to incorporate AI in most online-based healthcare platforms. This will help to provide relevant answers to online healthcare consumers.

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Unlike human intelligence, AI has the capability to take in large volumes of data and the best part is that unless interfered with, this data can be preserved for a long time. In addition to this, it will help to eliminate human errors in healthcare services. The Asian healthcare industry is looking to use AI technology in the following areas:

  • Diagnosis – As earlier mentioned, AI holds the keys to transforming how medical diagnosis has for the longest time been carried out. This will see improved speed and accuracy in diagnosis as well as in data analysis. Data collected from diagnostic testing done electronically, electronic medical records, and imaging will help to better understand a patient’s health status.  
  • Development of better healthcare products – Development of healthcare products is a process that takes a lot of time and in addition to this, it’s an expensive process altogether. AI can analyze large volumes of data within a short duration of time. Investing in AI technology will be expensive, but in the long run, it will help to cut the expenses associated with the development of healthcare products.
  • Improving workflow – Asia is looking to incorporate AI technology in the hospital service delivery. This will help to improve service delivery, improve efficiency in the most repetitive tasks such as data entry, scheduling, reimbursement coding, and other burdensome administrative tasks. This will allow healthcare providers to be more focused on providing quality healthcare services.
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Telemedicine

The increasing Asian population is now challenging the healthcare industry because, for starters, most hospitals are short-staffed. Access to healthcare providers is now limited, a challenge that could be solved by telemedicine. Patients in underserved communities will now access Medicare through the internet. This will help to save time and resources while providing access to better diagnosis and treatment. With the advent of mobile technology, it will be easy to send electronic medical history records to specialists for better analysis, diagnosis, and treatment.

3D Printing

Most developed countries have already incorporated 3D printing into their healthcare services and are now experiencing the benefits of such innovations. Asia is will soon include 3D printing in the healthcare industry as an innovative step that will help to improve medical research and product testing. In addition to this, it will also help to improve transplant services and prosthetics. Rather than use humans or animals in product testing, bio-printed objects could become the new guinea pigs.

As the world of healthcare technology keeps evolving, the expectations for better patient experience will continue to increase and Asia is no exception. The above medical technology trends in Asia will help to improve the quality of care and improve workflow efficiency in hospitals. But this will not be possible if the existing adoption challenges are not dealt with. 

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LIFESTYLE & CULTURE

The perils of chemsex

For many, the heightened sensations that it can foster can be addictive. For others, drugs are used during sex to lessen the stigma they may feel about their sexual orientation, to increase confidence and to try and combat mental health issues such as depression or anxiety. This, in itself, makes the concept of chemsex problematic.

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Gay and bisexual men are 1.6 times more likely to use drugs during sex than their hetrosexual peers. These drugs tend to be chosen with an aim to increase pleasure and to free individuals of inhibitions. This makes sexual experiences more intense.

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon from Pexels.com

The advent of chemsex in the 1990s was related to drugs already on the underground market such as cocaine, meth and speed. However, as the demand for safer drugs has surged, so has the manufacture of drugs tailored specifically for the chemsex market. But as with any drug you put into your body, the immediate pleasure that it can create is often counterbalanced with a whole lot of pain.

Being Unsafe

The drugs of choice for many proponents of chemsex are GBL and mephedrone. The former is a sedative, a thick liquid that is often mixed with a drink and swallowed. This drug is easy to ingest, and the effects are pretty instant. People can feel euphoric, invincible and often this is accompanied by a drowsiness. This can be dangerous if you take GBL in an unfamiliar situation. The pleasurable sensation of euphoria can lead to poor decision making, leading to unsafe sex. Your risk of HIV or other STIs may be increased leading to worry and stress. Your safety is paramount – chemsex or not.

Side Effects

While you might be tempted to try mephedrone for its stimulating effects, you may find yourself having an adverse reaction. This can lead to panic, anxiety and paranoia. These sensations are difficult to deal with, especially if those around you are also under the effect of the drug. People sometimes choose to smoke this drug using trippy pipes or they snort it. It is highly addictive, and can be detrimental to your health.

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Should You Try It?

Chemsex is common amongst gay men for a variety of reasons. For many, the heightened sensations that it can foster can be addictive. For others, drugs are used during sex to lessen the stigma they may feel about their sexual orientation, to increase confidence and to try and combat mental health issues such as depression or anxiety. This, in itself, makes the concept of chemsex problematic.

It is risky. Those men who choose to engage with chemsex are five times more likely to contract HIV than those who do not in the UK. This is because of a sense of shame associated with taking drugs in any capacity. More men with HIV are engaging in the practise and often do not tell those individuals that are HIV negative of their status. As with any drug use, after the addictive high comes the chronic and depressing lows. It is this period that can have a detrimental impact on work life, relationships with friends and family and an individual’s self esteem. 

There should be no need for drugs if sexual experiences are positive in the first place. Engaging in chemsex is often a result of a toxic masculinity stigma and abstinence is always the end goal.

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