The Madness and Success of HQ Trivia

HQ Trivia on iOS

HQ Trivia is a very simple but at the same time a very incredible app. From the name, it can already be concluded that the app is all about trivia. However, there are two big things which make it a unique app. One, it’s a live show, and two, there is a cash prize if you win. Released in August of 2017 on iOS and on Android in January 2018, HQ Trivia has become one of the biggest apps on the market. How did it become so successful? Will this success prevail or eventually drop into obscurity?

The Birth of HQ Trivia

The successful app was developed in 2017 by Vine creators Rus Yusopov and Colin Kroll. For those who don’t remember, Vine was a successful social media platform which allowed users to make, edit and upload short videos. This platform also put a light on many people who have now become Instagram, YouTube, and film celebrities. Think of Amanda Cerny, King Bach, and sadly the Logan brothers (don’t search for the Logan brothers if you don’t know them, trust me.). Vine was then bought by Twitter and then later shut down. The development of the app and the startup was supported venture capital. Which is pretty much a lifeline for HQ Trivia, more on this further in the story.

HQ Trivia and Vine
HQ Trivia & Vine

Basics of the Game

Everything is rather simple. You download the HQ Trivia app from either the iOS app store or Android’s Google Play store. After this, you will make an account for the app and wait until the next game goes live. There are two daily games. The first one is at 9 p.m. CET (Central European Time) and the second at 3 a.m. CET. From this, we can clearly see the game is targeted to the American market. The live game always starts with the host Scott Rogowsky saying a few words and introducing the game to the newcomers. This man has practically become the face of HQ Trivia.

HQ Trivia Host
HQ Trivia Host – Scott Rogowsky

After the introduction, you will be presented with 12 questions which need to be answered within 10 seconds. Answer all the questions correctly? You win or split the cash prize with other winners. However, if you answer a question incorrectly you will be immediately eliminated. The questions vary a lot in difficulty. You might feel confident in the beginning when you answer an easy question but have your bubble abruptly burst by the following question. This happens a lot in the game. So much that the creators have a name for the questions which eliminates a big amount of users, the “Savage Question”. The money you win (if you win) can be cashed out the app with a PayPal account. The average amount which HQ Trivia gives away each game is 2,500 dollars. However, there are times which this amount is raised to 15,000 dollars. The 15,000 dollar games are usually played on the weekends. The creators of HQ have expressed their idea of trying to increase the amount to up to 1 million dollars. Very ambitious from their part.

Success of HQ Trivia

The creators of Vine have once again hit the bullseye with their newest startup. HQ Trivia has already been downloaded millions of times and there is no doubt this number will grow. The game has also created a very loyal community of players who are playing the game every day and don’t hesitate to share this to their friends and family. Every game has a huge audience. The audience is always between 600K or 1.6 million players. Logically, this number decreases significantly throughout the game since many people will be eliminated before reaching the last question. With the number of people playing and the amount of money being given away every day, one may ask how in the world HQ Trivia makes money.

HQ Trivia Cash Prize

HQ Trivia Revenue?

There is no revenue at HQ Trivia. They don’t make money, which is very crazy. As mentioned earlier the reason they even exist is thanks to an investment by venture capital. That money which they have received is the money which is being used to pay their employees and the cash prizes they give out every day. But this money is bound to run out, and that is exactly what is happening at the moment. The creators of HQ Trivia, Rus, and Colin, are looking to attract more investors to fund HQ. But most importantly they are seeking to get a post-money valuation of at least 100 million dollars. If this becomes a reality, then they will be able to attract even more investors thus, more funding for HQ. However, this is not a very effective and smart plan for the long run. HQ Trivia has to find new ways of funding itself instead of asking for investments somewhere else. Seeing how big HQ has become, it can be a very easy task to get the money themselves.

The Future of HQ Trivia

There is no doubt that HQ will keep growing in a very fast manner. That will have its pro’s and cons. A pro is that the success will be attracting even more venture capitalist to invest in their startup. However, a very big con will be the quality of the game. Remember that this is a live show and it takes a lot to make sure every single person, from the between 600K and 1.6 million players, will be able to see a clear image throughout the whole stream. HQ Trivia has already had problems with their current audience, having to at one point even postpone the game to a later time after their system froze. For this exact reason, HQ will need to make more money to invest in better quality and they have many options to choose from. Since it’s a live show, they can do lots of product placement or have some streams supported by different brands. Another way would be to put a price on lives. Therefore, a player will be able to receive a second chance if they choose to pay for it. The future of HQ Trivia is on HQ’s own hand, they can decide on which they will go. Either disappear like Vine or become 8the next biggest platform.

 

You should give this game a try. The chances of you becoming rich are very small but the idea that you can win some cash by correctly answering only 12 questions is very appealing.                                                                                    It is entertainment in its most simple form.

Why Dutch People Received Iodine Pills From the Government

Iodine Pills

Throughout many years, we have seen how nuclear reactors can go from being our best friends that create energy, to being our main enemy that can make the most livable cities look like something out of the Walking Dead. This is the reason why there has been growing opposition towards the world’s last remaining nuclear reactions, 449 to be exact. On top of this, 15 more are being constructed as we speak. The Netherlands has three working nuclear reactions and a recent legislation changed made sure more people in the population would receive iodine pills in case there is ever a nuclear disaster.

The Netherlands and its nuclear reactors

The Netherlands is a rather small country when you compare it to other European countries. Only having three nuclear reactors doesn’t seem a lot. However, the Netherlands is the 66th most populated country in the world with over 17 million people. Having so many people in such a small area could increase the possible damage from a nuclear reactor leak or accident. What has to be stated is that these three nuclear reactors each have different tasks. One at Borssele (in the South) generates electricity, one in Petten (in the North) which produces medical isotopes and is used for research, and one in Delft which is only used for educational purposes by some lucky students. In this case, the toxic debate about nuclear reactors (pun intended) doesn’t work that much because it is doing more good than bad for the population of the Netherlands. Nonetheless, accidents can happen but the Netherlands has already found a way to prepare if disaster ever hits.

Borssele Nuclear Reactor
Borssele Nuclear Reactor

Iodine Pills

Iodine happens to be an extremely important chemical element that our bodies need but cannot make. The thyroids in our bodies need iodine to be able to produce hormones. These hormones are also important for our bodies. If the thyroids don’t receive enough iodine from our diet to do the job, it will start to work harder than it is supposed to. Having your thyroids work too much can cause an enlarged thyroid gland, which can be seen from having a swollen neck. Having an enlarged thyroid gland is only one of the many unhealthy side effects of having your thyroids work too much. Too much time would be spent listing them down so click here if you want to know more.

Where do we get our important iodine dose from?

The chemical element comes from our diet. However, don’t start eating only food that contains iodine, because your thyroid could become saturated. Moderation is key. You can find iodine in fish, seaweed, and eggs. Iodine is also added to kitchen salt and baking salt. Thus, this means that you should eat these products or use them in your meal to keep your thyroid happy. Don’t start eating only food that contains iodine because this could in the end also cause the same problem as having an iodine deficiency. People who have an iodine deficiency take special medication for that.

Radioactive Iodine

Whenever there is a nuclear disaster, radioactive chemicals will end up in the air for every living thing in the area to breathe in. One of those chemicals is radioactive iodine. What is the difference between normal iodine and radioactive iodine? Radioactive iodine can cause disastrous effects to your thyroids instead of keeping it healthy. After breathing in radioactive iodine from a nuclear disaster, this will end up in your blood which your thyroids will later receive. Having this bad chemical in your thyroids can cause thyroid cancer. The effects will not be instantaneous, it can take years before you get sick from this radioactive chemical.

Iodine Pills and Nuclear Disasters

You would ask yourself why take more iodine in a nuclear disaster if your body is already taking enough of the radioactive iodine. As mentioned before, if your body is taking in a high dose of iodine, your thyroids will become saturated. If they become saturated, then there will be no space for the radioactive iodine and therefore, this will be rejected. This is the main reason why governments around the world, including the Netherlands, have been giving iodine pills to parts of their population that live in close proximity to one of the three nuclear reactors.

Iodine Pills
Iodine pills given by the Dutch government

Ok, now you have the iodine pills and you know what they are for. The next step is to know how and when to take them. They are only intended to be used after a nuclear disaster, before the 12-hour mark after a disaster to be exact. The pills will still have an effect after 12 hours but the risk will be bigger. How to take them depends on what kind of pill the government gave you. Some pills it is best to dissolve them in water, in other pills you can break them into small pieces and put it on your meal before you eat. It is always best to read the instructions on the package before taking them and always wait for the government to say if you should take the iodine pill or not. To all the Dutchies out there, go check your mail.

Google Pixel 2 vs Pixel 2 XL, Yay or Nay?

Google Pixel 2 vs Pixel 2 XL

Whether you notice it or not Google is everywhere these days. From your web browser, cars, mobile phones, speakers, etc. Last year Google thought it is not enough to be in your phones but to become your phone (mind is blown). They did so by announcing and releasing the Google Pixel, a Google smartphone. Obviously, people were very excited for this but it did leave many people wanting a bit more out of the phone. If you ask me, this is just us as people really having high expectations about electronics but in the end, I do understand because these phones are getting more expensive year by year. (I want to blame Apple but don’t want to trigger the Apple sheeps). As was expected a new version of the Google Pixel was announced this year and lucky for us we got two phones to talk about. So let’s talk about the Google Pixel 2 vs Pixel 2 XL.

Google Pixel 2 vs Pixel 2 XL

You can guess very easily from the names of these phones that one is bigger than the other. In other words, it’s the Apple tactic of releasing a small one for the poorish folks and a big one for the rich peeps. However, a big difference that has to be noted is that the two phones have the same specs. They are literally the same phone, just that one is bigger than the other one. It should be noted that the price difference is significant between the two phones. The Google Pixel 2 64GB version costs €800 and the Pixel 2 XL 64GB version costs €940. What we can also see is that it is reaching the Apple iPhone level of €1000 euros and as a broke ass student, this gets me really sad. If you want the Pixel XL 2 128GB version you will have to pay €1,050! By the way, these prices are coming from the German market where the prices are a bit higher. My mind is just thinking is it really worth it to spend so much money on a smartphone? What is so special and different about this phone compared to the other cheaper phones in the market? We can see the specs and I’ll let you decide on your own, I don’t have any hidden agenda here people.

Google Pixel 2 vs Google Pixel 2 XL
Google Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL

 

What are you getting for the amount of money you are giving away?

Let’s start with the technical stuff that most people like to look over. As I mentioned in the beginning, both phones are practically the same. They both have an octa-core 2.35 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 735 mobile platform (what a mouthful), an Adreno 430 GPU, and 4GB of RAM. Google is also following the trend of having a phone without a micro SD slot. This is done to give the phone a more clean look, no bumps or removable back. However, to compensate this they put more onboard storage to hopefully give you enough memory space to work with (I’m very skeptical in this area). Both phones have a 64GB and a 128GB version.

Cute exclusive features Google Pixel 2 and Pixel XL 2

You get a Pixel-exclusive google assistant (it might come to other Android devices so it’s only exclusive for the moment). The cool thing about google assistant is that it is constantly learning. The more you use it the better the assistant will be. You can at one point ask the assistant what your favorite color is and it will most probably get the right answer. By saying “Good Morning Google”, you will be shown what your day will look like. From your appointments and how long it takes you to get there, the weather and any news you are interested in will be included in your daily briefing.  In the end, it really depends on the person if they want their phone to know a lot about you or not. In my honest opinion, it could get a little creepy that a virtual assistant could have the possibility to know more about you than you do.

Another interesting feature is the Always-On Display. The Always-On option will let your phone listen to everything in your surroundings (only if you choose for this to happen). Let’s hope that the phones don’t also have the same glitch as the Google Home, listening to everything even though it was not supposed to. Why would you want to use the Always-On Display? The most useful thing that comes with this is that it will listen to songs that are playing around you and immediately search up information about it (song name, artist, release date etc.). This is great for the people, including me, that struggle to open their Shazam app on time.

The weirdest feature for me so far is that the phone is squeezable. Yup, you read that right. You can squeeze the phone. Why? It is kind of a “shortcut” to start google assistant. Just a very light squeeze and you can get to work with your assistant. Here is a video showing you what other gestures can be used on the phone instead of me giving you a list. Or in other words, I don’t feel like writing it and honestly, I think you prefer a video more than words.

Best Camera in the smartphone market?

The first Pixel phones had a great camera. As we can see competitors these days are working hard to bring a better phone camera each year. The best phone cameras in the market were the iPhone 8 and the Samsung Galaxy 8 with a DxOMark Mobile score of 94. DxOMark is a company that tests cameras and gives them a score on how well they performed. They tested the Google Pixel 2 cameras and gave them DxOMark score of 98, the highest score ever given to a mobile phone camera. The Pixel 2 has a 1/2.6-inch 12.2MP sensor and a f/1.8 aperture.

R.I.P Headphone Jack

It started out as a rumor but it has become a sick reality. There are no headphone jacks in the new Pixel phones. This sucks because I’m very sure other companies are going to follow which means that at one point in our world’s history the headphone jack will cease to exist in phones (oh dear God if you are out there please let me be dead by then). How will you listen to music? By using a USB Type C wired headphone or by using Bluetooth headphones. Another option is buying an adapter dongle which was priced at €20 euros but is now at €9 euros after many people were like “wtf Google”. The most expensive option out there is to buy the new Bluetooth Google buds, the Google Pixel Buds which will cost around €180 euros. The really cool reason why these headphones are so expensive is that they can do real-time translation. Holy mother of God! Let me write that again. REAL-TIME TRANSLATION! It can do this with 40 languages. The peeps at Google had a live testing when they were announcing all the products and it was just very cool to watch. So if you have the money and you know you need this then go ahead and buy it because you can’t really find this anywhere else.

Google Buds
Google Pixel Buds

Google Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL are not available worldwide

Now before you go get super excited (or not) about this new phone you should check if you can even buy it in the country you are in. Just as the first Google Pixel, they will not be available worldwide. The smartphone is only offered in a few countries. Those being the U.S., (it would be very stupid if they didn’t sell it there), the U.K., and Germany. This makes it stressful for anyone that will want to buy the phone and doesn’t live in the country that it is being offered in. If this person really wants this phone then they will have to pay extra to get it to their country or just a ask a friend living in those countries to buy you one.

The Google Pixel 2 and Pixel XL, in my opinion, are really cool smartphones but there are two things that stop me from buying it and feel like Google could improve on. First, lower the price. I’m sorry Google but I will like you less if you become like Apple and overprice everything you sell. Not everyone can afford to pay so much money for a smartphone and I feel like I’m not being offered a lot for the price tag that you put. Second, make this phone available in more countries. Not only is this phone already expensive but you are also forcing people that live outside the U.S., the U.K., and Germany to pay even more money to get your phone. I know it’s your first years in the smartphone market but you can do better.

To watch the full unveiling of the Google Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL and other products click on this link:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0YGoxbeSzLc 

What do you think? Will you get the Google Pixel or will you pass and wait for another smartphone to gain your attention? Or will you look at the reviews first and see if that is enough to convince you.

 

 

Who is the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize 2017?

Nobel Peace Prize 2017

It is that time of the year again. No, I’m not talking about Halloween or pumpkin spiced lattes. It is the time where we find out which people and organizations will win the most prestigious prize that can be awarded, The Nobel Prize. Let’s focus on the Nobel Peace Prize. Educational content coming up!

What is the Nobel Peace Prize?

The Nobel Prize came from the will of Swedish inventor Alfred Nobel. Nobel wrote his will that he would give the largest share of his fortune to a series of prizes in physics, chemistry and physiology or medicine, literature and peace. According to Nobel’s will, the Peace Prize should be awarded to the person who “shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses”.

Nobel, who died in 1896, never said why he chose peace as a category, but it is believed he was trying to compensate for his arms manufacture past. You know since he is the one who invented dynamite.

The Nobel Prize winners or more commonly named as the Nobel laureates receive a diploma, a medal, and small amount of 1.5 million dollars. No biggie.

Nobel Peace Prize 2017
Nobel Prize Medal

How is the Nobel Peace Prize chosen?

The Norwegian committee that chooses the winner sorted through more than 300 nominations for this year’s award. The committee gives the award by recognising the accomplishment and intentions of people or organisations.

What is interesting about this award is that the nominations are never released to the public. Ministers, former laureates (Nobel Prize winners) and university lecturers are among the special people who can suggest candidates for the prestigious prize.

This year, there were 215 individuals and 103 organisations nominated and only one came out as the winner of this years Nobel Peace Prize. The winner, announced today, is ICAN! Never heard of ICAN before?

What is the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN)?

ICAN is an international organisation whose main focus is to have a world without any nuclear weapons. Launched in 2007, they already have 468 partner companies in more than 100 countries. ICAN began in Australia and was officially launched in Vienna.

ICAN Nobel Peace Prize

Instead of campaigning on how much destruction nuclear weapons can cause, ICAN decided to instead focus on the catastrophic environmental and health consequences that come with the use of these nuclear weapons. In other words, ICAN shifted the campaign from the initial destruction that nuclear weapons can have on a country to the devastating consequences that come after the use of nuclear weapons.

ICAN’s founders were influenced to start their organisation after the success of a similar organisation, the International Campaign to Band Landmines. This organisation helped negotiate the mine ban treat in 1997.

ICAN’s is supported by many influencers in different fields. Michael Douglas, that old actor that is married to the young beautiful Catherine Zeta-Jones (search it), Desmond Tutu, the famous social rights activist in Africa, the Dalai Lama, the religious leader who is enemy number one of the Chinese government, and Yoko Ono, you know, John Lennon’s wife before he got killed.

In July of this year, 122 nations adopted a UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. ICAN’s goal is not that far away but they now have to handle the hardest part which is convincing the big nuclear-armed countries that nuclear weapons are a thing of the past. These countries are the United States and Russia (of course), Britain, France and North Korea (a.k.a rocket man country)

Why did ICAN win the Nobel Peace Prize?

The Nobel Prize committee made a formal announcement naming the winner of the Peace Prize and also the reason why. They mentioned that the decision to give ICAN the prestigious prize came at a time when “the risk of nuclear weapons being used is greater than it has been for a long time”. In other words, the United States and North Korea’s back and forth discussions and show of power has been very worrisome for the international community.

Donald Trump and Kim Jun Un
MURICA Man and Rocket Man

Furthermore, they mentioned how some states were modernising their nuclear arsenals and that there is a real threat that more countries will try to get more nuclear weapons because of the rising tensions between rocket man and MURICA. In other words, countries are trying to prepare for the worst-case scenario.

This is where ICAN comes into the picture. With their campaigns, they’ve gained support from many nations to pledge to cooperate with different partners to help stigmatise and in the end prohibit and destroy any nuclear weapons that are still around to this day.

Another reason why ICAN was chosen as the winner was that in this way, the Nobel Prize committee can send a message to the world and the nuclear-armed countries to push for negotiations to slowly get rid of the almost 15,000 nuclear weapons that still exist in this world (yes there are that many nuclear weapons). Why slowly and not all at once? Because not only is it a huge bomb that can cause mass destruction but it also releases tons of radioactive stuff that can quickly kill us and make our lives on this earth much more miserable. Thus, we will destroy them slowly.

From all this that the Nobel Prize committee has said we can see why ICAN has won the Peace Prize. It is because they are the one organisation who has stood out amongst others in their determined goal of keeping our earth nuclear weapon free.

Congratulations to ICAN for being this year’s Nobel Peace Prize winners. You deserve it and you better put those 1.5 million dollars to good use.

If you want to see the whole list of all the Nobel Prize winners click here:

https://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/lists/year/?year=2017

 

Why Is Spotify Losing Money?

Spotify

Something that never seems to stop evolving is music and the way we hear it. Look one hundred years back and you’ll see that a lot has changed. Depending on who you ask, some people feel that it’s changed for the better and some for the worse. Regardless of people’s taste in music, we can all be happy with the fact that there are so many ways to be able to listen to your favorite songs and artists. Thanks to Spotify, Pandora, Apple Music, Deezer, etc. we have access to a humongous music database. Thanks to these music streaming services there is no need to make sure you have enough space to be able to hold all your songs. However, let’s focus on Spotify, one of the fastest growing music business to date.

How does Spotify work?

Spotify was founded more than ten years ago, the application was officially launched in 2008 and is now making more than two billion dollars of revenue every year. Spotify works under a very known business model called freemium. Freemium is a model where the service or application you are using is free, however, you can get additional features if you pay a subscription fee. Spotify does this by offering their paying customers an advertisement free service and increases songs bitrates to 320 kbit/s. In other words, they offer better song quality.

 

Spotify statistics

They’ve managed to get 60 million people to pay the subscription fee. An impressive number which becomes insignificant when you find out that there is a total of 140 million Spotify users. This means that not even half of their users are actually paying for their services. On top of this Spotify pays millions of dollars in royalties to the different artists that have their content on their platform. The money per stream is the same for all artists on the platform. It doesn’t matter if you are a small or big artist, the rate will stay the same. Only the contract the artist has with their record company will change how much money each streamed song will go to their pockets.

If we add all of this together we will see that Spotify is losing a lot of money. The core of their business, of their idea, is actually ruining them. We listeners are listening too much and therefore costing them too much. This isn’t only a problem with Spotify but also with other freemium music streaming applications.

What about making Spotify like Apple Music? 

Apple Music vs Spotify

This will not happen. Why? It completely negates Spotify’s initial idea of being able to offer music to people for free. To give small artists the platform to reach people from all over the world. Streaming is the future of music and if they start charging, people will just go to the next free streaming company. The difference between Spotify and Apple Music is that Apple wants to make money. Apple doesn’t believe in free music which I respect but at the same time, this makes their services very exclusive. This is also why Apple Music still hasn’t surpassed Spotify on the amount of users. However, how can we know if Apple Music will still be profitable in the coming years? We’ve even seen Tidal, another pay only music streaming company, post huge losses recently. The way people see it, music streaming companies will always be doomed from the start.

What now? 

Spotify’s next plan is to expand into other content. They are making deals with different artists to release exclusive albums, music documentaries, videos, etc. Furthermore, they have acquired different companies that help them track their users’ playtime on their platform to, therefore, create personalized content for them. Showing you concerts near your area and redirecting you to a ticket seller, artist merchandise and music related videos are other tactics they are using. However, the biggest move would be going public at the New York Stock Exchange. It’s been rumored for quite some time that this will happen. It’s a risky move that could either save them or completely ruin them. Only time will tell if this plan will be enough to take Spotify out of the profitless world they are living in.

New York Stock Exchange

 

Johh Fassold Teaches You How to Write Songs Like Famous Artists

How to Write - John Fassold

The internet is both a scary and wonderful place. The amazing content we can find is just beautiful but spend enough time using the internet and you’ll end up stumbling upon some weird stuff. Today I shine the light on John Fassold. He has his own YouTube channel and has recently been uploading videos called “How EVERY “insert artist name” song is written”. He teaches us how to write songs like our famous artists. The videos don’t have a lot of production value and are straight to the point and honestly, this guy is really good at it.

We’ve seen videos like this appear on the internet before. Two years ago a video was uploaded on YouTube under the name “how to write and Alt-J song”. This video was uploaded by Fleece Music and contained two guys who in just a bit more than 3 minutes made a song that very much resembles the music that the band Alt-J writes.

How to Write an Alt-J song

What is different from the video uploaded by Fleece Music is that John explains the step by step process of writing a generic song from the artist he’s covering. He shows us how he makes the rhythm of the song to the lyrics. What makes it more entertaining is that this guy laughs at himself when he’s singing the absurd lyrics.

These videos obviously might outrage some diehard fans of any targeted artists. People that are too blind to see that this is meant as a joke, a parody. Go check John Fassold’s YouTube channel, he also takes requests on which artists to do in his next video. Below you’ll find my personal favorite video that John Fassold has uploaded. Enjoy!

UPDATE: John Fassold has deleted his YouTube channel. He explained that he prefers not to be in the spotlight.

 

The Fidget Spinner: Origin and Increasing Popularity

Blue Fidget Spinner

A fidget spinner is a toy made from metal or plastic with a bearing in the middle with usually three prongs that spin around it. The fidget spinner has become very increasingly popular amongst both children and adults. However, this toy first debuted in 1993.

The creator of the fidget spinner, Catherine Hettinger, made this toy after she heard that some children were throwing rocks at police while she was visiting her sister in Israel. Therefore, she started brainstorming to find a way to distract children from doing any mischevious act, such as throwing rocks at police and instead give them a soothing toy they can play with.

Fidget Spinner Creator
Catherine Hettinger, fidget spinner creator

Catherine presented her creation to different toy sellers such as Hasbro but she didn’t succeed. She ended up selling the toys herself. Catherine’s patent ended in 2005 thus anyone is allowed to produce and sell the fidget spinner independently from her. Catherine hasn’t shown any signs of remorse, however. She is just happy to see that her invention is being used by so many people.

Why is the fidget spinner so popular now?

The fidget spinner is marketed as a device that helps with anxiety or even ADHD. The world 20 years ago is very much different than the world we live in today. We didn’t have to worry too much about our future and we were beginning to enjoy all the new electronics devices that were entering the average household.

It’s a different story now. Now, we are more nervous about pretty much anything in life and that is why having a small object that can momentarily take us away from this life is so useful. Even Catherine, the creator, said that she would use the fidget spinner to calm herself before going to a big meeting to present her device to toy sellers.

Go to Amazon now and you’ll find that these fidget spinners are taking over their toys sections of their website. Prices vary from a few dollars to hundreds of dollars (don’t know what is special in those fidget spinners). Pretty much it’s a rather inexpensive toy to pass the time with that can also function as a stress or anxiety reliever. It has to be said, however, that the stress or anxiety reliever function of this device hasn’t been properly researched yet.

The fidget spinner is already being banned at schools

Fidget Spinner

This is a no-brainer because, in the end, this remains a toy. When a kid is in class, the fidget spinner will become the same distraction as a phone. Therefore, it makes sense why some school have already banned this. Some parents are even going as far as not letting their children even use this toy because it will cause them to lose focus on other daily tasks. If you don’t want your child to be distracted then you should also remove their cell phones, if they have one, the television, video games etc.

We are living in a word where we are bombarded by things that distract us. It’s difficult to escape that aspect of life, especially for people living in or near a metropolitan area. Maybe having something on our hands that temporarily takes clears our minds away from all of it isn’t that bad after all.

Will it ever get better in Venezuela?

Venezuela Protest 2017

Most countries that are interested in this Venezuela and Latin American in general are interested because of a number of resources that come from there. There is so much oil, high-quality meat, fruits and vegetables, coals and other minerals we rely on.

In the past, other countries would practically abuse of Latin America which used to be colonies of different countries, mostly Spain. It’s ironic to see how the US supported the independence of so many of these countries to later be the ones to hold political and economic control in these newly independent countries. This made it very difficult for Latin America to properly develop their democracies and this made the majority of their populations suffer.

There seems to be that almost all Latin American countries had to go through a dictatorship before getting a working democratic system. These dictatorships left a scar in the lives of many and it led people to be critical of their politicians and politic system. This a healthy behavior for any democracy. But just like anything that has happened in the past, people seem to forget about it.

At the moment there is a lot of political and economic tension in some of the biggest Latin American countries. Venezuela and Brazil are two countries that have received a lot of attention in the international media. Brazil recently impeached their president after it was found she was involved in a massive corruption case in connection with Petrobras. Venezuela is stuck in a horrendous economic and political state. At the moment it has one of the highest inflation rates in the world and its president is pretty much useless. Let’s focus on Venezuela.

Venezuelan Mass Protest 2017

At the moment Venezuela is under the control of a social “democratic” party called United Socialist Party of Venezuela. This party has been in power ever since the former leader, deceased Hugo Chavez took office back in 1999. After Chavez’s death, his Vice President Nicolas Maduro became the president of Venezuela. Things really started to go downhill ever since he took office. It’s been a worsening economy, food scarcity, high level of violence, incarceration of political opponents and so much more.

Last year, we saw a light of hope when the majority of the congress was won by the opposition. This showed a sign that the majority of the population are angry and tired of what the current government is doing to the country. The opposition has been doing what the legislative power let them do but not much has changed. Therefore, they and many other people decided to call for new presidential elections. To do this they campaigned throughout the whole country to get enough signatures from the population to present this to the electoral organization (CNE). They reached the millions of signatures they needed and do you know what happened, absolutely nothing. No elections, no progress.

Venezuelan Lady Protest 2017

However, it gets worst. This month the President of Venezuela decided it was a good idea to rip the legislative power from the legislative branch of government. On top of that, he also decided that it was a good idea to prevent one of the most important opposition leaders, Henrique Capriles to run for office for the next 15 years. Of course, people got angry at this and this is why there have been so many protests in Venezuela daily since last week.

The president decided to give the legislative power back but it’s way too late. They first peacefully marched to protest the president decisions then they kept on marching because they are tired of being trampled on by their government. Now, it’s sad to say that they are also marching for the more than two dozen people that were killed since the protests started last week. The footage coming from these protests are absolutely incredible.

Venezuela Protest 2017

This is an issue that has been developing for some years now and it feels like it’s reaching its climax. As someone who’s grown up around a family that comes from this country, it really is sad to see and hear what many people have to go through to be able to make it day by day. It’s disgusting to see how the government is treating their own people and it’s just disappointing to see such an incompetent person being president of such a rich country. You think Trump is crazy? Think again, President Nicolas Maduro will tell you how the deceased Hugo Chavez spoke to him in the form of a bird.

All there is left is hope. Hope that this time the protests will actually bring change to the country. Hope that the people who have died in these protests did not do so in vain. Hope that the people who are corrupted and have abused the system serve time behind bars. Let us try to be positive in these pessimistic times.

China and The Use Panda Diplomacy

Panda Diplomacy

Panda Diplomacy - FedeX panda plane
Pandas are very rare species which was announced last year to not be endangered anymore. Not everyone in the world will live to see one of these beautiful creatures. At the moment, there are less than 2,000 pandas in the wild west Central China bamboo forests. Instead of going to China to go visit these pandas you might just want to go online and search for the nearest zoo that has pandas. However, there aren’t many in the world and the pandas in these zoos will not stay there forever, why? Panda Diplomacy.

All the pandas in the world, even the ones in maybe your local zoo, belong to the Republic of China. The pandas who are not in China are actually on loan. These are ten-year loans of around 1 million dollars per year, per panda. On top of this, cubs born outside of China will cost the zoos a $400,000 panda cub tax per cub. Additionally, China is allowed to take the panda cubs back whenever they feel like it and they’ve certainly done this before. Now the question is why do they do this?

It’s what people call panda diplomacy. This started all the way back in 1957 when China would gift panda to countries they had a strong and healthy bond with. These countries were the former USSR, North Korea, in later years the UK, US, France and much more. It was a good publicity stunt and it showed how China was becoming an economic super power and how they were creating relationships with other powerful countries. These pandas were gifts, not loans. However, this all changed when pandas became an endangered species. It made the Chinese government look bad. Just imagine if some African countries started sending rhinos to different countries as gifts. Because of this, China decided to start loaning the pandas instead of gifting them.

China doesn’t loan their pandas to any country that can afford them. Remember countries are not only nice to each other because they want to. As mentioned before, China can take panda cubs whenever they feel like it and they’ve done this before. In 2009, China made it known to the Smithsonian Zoo that it wanted to take the panda cub, Tai Shan, back. The zoo asked China to allow Tai Shan to stay one more year but China denied. Experts started analyzing this and speculated that China’s decision was influenced by two things the US government did back then. One, president Obama and the Dalai Lama had met. Someone that the Chinese government isn’t too fond of. Two, the US had announced an arms sale to Taiwan which was aimed to send Beijing a message. Weeks after this Tai Shan was boarding a plane to go to China. Of course, this isn’t very dramatic but it’s the way that the Chinese government works. It is important to mention that panda cubs born outside of China will be sent there anyway to go to a breeding program to make sure that pandas don’t become an endangered species again.

Panda Diplomacy
Baby Tai Shan

Researchers at the University of Oxford decided to investigate this subject. What they found was a correlation between panda loans and China’s international trade deals. A great example of this happened in 2010 when China needed more market capacity to buy more salmon. Normally they would turn to Norway for this. However, that year the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to a Chinese dissident which of course the Chinese government didn’t approve of. What they did was to approach Scotland who also produced salmon. The deal was made between China and Scotland and the Edinburgh Zoo received a panda.

It’s interesting to see how China uses pandas for diplomacy and it makes you wonder whether in the political climate that we are living in the moment might have pandas going back to China. Either way, China uses these pandas as a symbolic way to show a strong and healthy bond between countries and they’ll keep doing this. This week the Netherlands received two pandas from China to showcase how important the relationship between the Netherlands is to them.

I highly suggest you watch the Vox video that does a good job to explain this topic.

[embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZR2GpiDE4FI[/embedyt]