Every January we make new resolutions to get fitter, to eat healthier, to make more money, but then somewhere around the middle of January we start to see cracks in our new amour and then by the end of the month our will power has crumbled and we’re back to the same old routine as before. Why is that? It’s because we focus too much on the big picture. Too much on the outcome instead of the small things that are easy to change but make all the difference. In other words we should be focusing on habits instead of resolutions.
What Are Habits?
The hardest thing for most people, when it comes to building habits, is sticking to it long enough for it to become ingrained.
Habits are the small decisions you make and actions you perform each and every day. When you think about it, your life is essentially the sum of your old habits.
What you repeatedly do – what do you eat for lunch each day, who do you talk to the most, what you spend time thinking about and doing each day – ultimately forms the person you are, the things you believe, and your personality.
Ways to Form Better Habits
So how do you build new habits? Every habit you have — good or bad — follows the same pattern. Reminder which triggers the behavior, then the action you take, and reward. When you understand the patterns of a habit it’s easier to stick to new habit and get rid of the bad ones.
Do not focus on results as you’re forming the habit and make the habit as tiny as possible. Don’t go hard on yourself and whatever you think you should do, cut it in half. Want to work on that novel four times a week? Try two instead. I know that sounds like nothing – and that’s the point. Your habit should be easy to do and maintain. Don’t think of yourself as a failure if you don’t reach some unattainable goal.
As there is yet another disastrous tsunami that killed hundred of people in Indonesia splashed all over the news, it's a good time to look back at another natural disaster that has lingering effects. The Fukushima accident was the first truly epic natural disaster to be recorded and beamed into millions of homes in real time. We were able to watch from the comfort of our own homes as thousands of people were being killed on television. It’s horrible to think about but what is even more horrible is how the authorities tried to downplay the effect of the nuclear radiation and the after effects it had on the Japanese population.
The earthquake and tsunami are estimated to have killed more than 15,000 people along Japan’s east coast and triggered the Fukushima accident, the damaging of the power plant a hundred miles north of Tokyo. The Japanese government did not respond to the crisis very well. They gave out no information about radiation levels and people had no idea if they were going to die. Even doctors were left in the dark as to the magnitude of the problem.
In its Health Risk Assessment of the nuclear disaster, the World Health Organization (WHO) note exposure levels too low to affect human health, with exception to a few communities in closest proximity to the power plant.
In these communities it is those who were infants at the time of exposure who are at greatest risk of cancer. At the two closest communities the incidence of cancer in this demographic is projected to be between 4-7 percent higher than the acceptable baseline cancer rates. However, for the rest of Japan, the WHO has said that it has nothing to worry about.
However, seven years later, many Japanese people don’t believe the nuclear experts and believe the WHO is inept, incompetent, or worse covering up the actual damage to keep people from panicking. So who is in the right? Are the experts correct in their assessment or do the Japanese people have something to worry about?
In most nuclear accidents, the biggest concern is the risk of getting thyroid cancer from the release of radioactive iodine-131. Iodine-131 is terrible. While it has a half-life of only eight days, if breathed in or ingested, for instance, in milk from cows grazing on contaminated pastures, it concentrates in thyroid glands and can cause thyroid cancer that emerges within a few years. Because children are still growing and developing, they are especially at risk. The only prophylactic is to give exposed people tablets of non-radioactive iodine to flood their thyroid glands and prevent uptake of the radioactive version.
There was an epidemic of thyroid cancer after Chernobyl. Radioactive iodine was also released during the Fukushima accident, though only about a tenth as much as at Chernobyl. Doctors tend to agreed that the actual uptake by people near the plant was small. This is because most of the fallout initially headed out to sea, because the authorities quickly removed potentially contaminated foodstuffs from sale and because iodine tablets were issued.
Japanese nuclear authorities have confirmed that active intervention will be required for the next forty years to stabilise the site, there are on-going radioactive releases and water and waste management issues. To be fair the damage from the fallout is hard to project or predict. In 2016, a group called the "International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War" argues that 174,000 people have been unable to return to their homes and malformations have been found in trees, birds, and mammals. Although physiological abnormalities have been reported within the vicinity of the accident zone, the scientific community has largely rejected any such findings of genetic or mutagenic damage caused by radiation, instead showing it can be attributed to other ecological effects. Whatever the case is, the shadow of Fukushima still looms large and there is much to debate as to the real effect of the disaster.
Ever since Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou was arrested in Vancouver, Canada has been placed in the middle of a battle between the world’s two largest super powers. What could follow is a trade war between the two countries – Canada’s two largest trading partners.
Wanzhou is at the centre of allegations that Huawei, a Chinese telecom company has used a shell company known as Skycom to do business with Iran, defying U.S. sanctions. Wanzhou and Huawei deny these allegations.
The United States alleges Wanzhou, the daughter of Wanzhou founder, has been avoiding travel to America ever since she learned of investigations into her business dealings. But when Wanzhou landed in Vancouver and tried to pass Canadian customs she was arrested by the RCMP, as the U.S. had filed proceedings for an extradition request with Canada.
Now, a high-stakes game of politics has broken out with allegations of espionage and covert surveillance operations is playing out. A lot of agencies are thought to be monitoring the situation including the C.I.A, the RCMP, and agents of China’s powerful Ministry of State Security, which protects China’s national interests and conducts intelligence operations in foreign lands.
China’s reaction to Wanzhou’s arrest was quick and fierce. The Chinese government detaining two Canadians on national security charges.
Extradition requests from the United States are a standard, daily occurrence usually handled by the Department of Justice Canada, however not many cases have as much political implications as this one.
Canada is currently considering whether to take further action, such as issuing travel advisories for China, a source said. A B.C. trade mission to China has already been cancelled, and on Friday, federal Tourism Minister Melanie Joly reversed her position from Thursday, deciding to postpone a trip to China
President Donald Trump has weighed in on the case saying he would use Wanzhou’s arrest to improve the United State’s negotiation power with China. Not only does this undermine the rule of law but also will likely anger the Chinese government and give them more ammunition.
The United States has two months from the d arrest to provide Canada with its formal extradition request and supporting documents. Canada's Justice Department then has a month to decide whether to give the go-ahead for a hearing in which the request is weighed by a judge. Whatever happens, the process of experdition will likely take months to decide. Wanzhou is back in court February.
NASA’s newest space lander, InSight, touched down on Mars after a six-month voyage. InSight—which stands for Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport— is carrying two main instruments: a dome-shape package containing seismometers and a heat probe that is to burrow about 16 feet down. NASA has spent $814 million on InSight. In addition, France and Germany invested $180 million to build these main instruments.
InSight is the first mission to Mars focused on probing the planet’s interior and discover what mysteries lie beneath. Though the lander won’t move, it will drill five meters deep into the Martian surface, further down than we have ever gone before. We know Mars is colder than Earth, but patterns of heat flow can reveal whether the planet is an efficient thermal conductor or not, and that helps scientists understand its interior composition.
To accomplish this feat, the lander will deploy a small probe which will hammer a hole in half-meter increments until it hits bedrock beneath the rocky outer layer of Mars’ surface. As it descends, the mole will measure the heat emanating from the planet’s interior.
InSight’s primary mission on the surface is to last nearly two years. When the research efforts get underway, it will attempt to answer a variety of questions: How often does the ground shake with “Marsquakes”? (Marsquakes are similar to Earthquakes) Just how big is the molten core within Mars? How thick is the crust? How much heat is flowing up from the decay of radioactive elements at the planet’s core?
Ancient fault lines and asteroid impacts send seismic waves surging through Mars, which InSight can detect and measure. These readings are like indirect snapshots of the Martian interior and contain information about its structure and composition which are valuable to researchers.
In the months ahead, InSight will begin its study of the Martian underworld, with the aim of helping scientists understand how the planet formed, lessons that could help also shed light on Earth’s origins. It will listen for “Marsquakes” and collect data that will be pieced together in a map of the interior of the red planet.
The main scientific part of the mission will not begin for some time. During its first five to six weeks on the ground, InSight’s managers will largely be checking the health of the spacecraft, including its robotic arm to ensure good working order and the success of the mission.
The seismometers, which are designed to measure surface movements less than the width of a hydrogen atom, will produce what are essentially sonograms of the planet’s insides. In particular, scientists are looking to record at least 10 to 12 “Marsquakes” over two years.
Unlike on Earth, tremors on Mars are not caused by plate tectonics. Instead they are generated when the planet’s crust cracks because of its interior’s cooling and shrinking. The seismometers could also detect other seismic vibrations from meteors hitting Mars.
On the surface, NASA currently has the Curiosity and Opportunity rovers, although solar-powered Opportunity has been quiet since the summer when a global dust storm prevented it from generating enough power to operate. NASA is hoping that Opportunity will revive now the skies have cleared.
And the year 2020 could get busier, when NASA is planning to launch another rover, similar to Curiosity but with a different set of instruments that will search for the building blocks of life. In addition to these missions, China, Japan, the United Arab Emirates and India also intend to launch a spacecraft to Mars in 2020. When we’ll get humans on Mars is anyone’s guess.
The story of Queen begins in 1970 with Freddie Mercury (Rami Malek), an awkward, flamboyant young man meets with the band name Smile, a half-baked rock band that would later become Queen through the power of Mercury’s charisma and one-of-a-kind singing talent.
The story revolves around two subject matters. One is Freddie Mercury who is a deeply fascinating and moving character. The other is the road of Queen to becoming one of the largest rock bands in history. The script unfortunately struggles to balance the two stories in any meaningful way. The problem is that Queen’s rise progressed smoothly from student gigs to sold-out stadiums in just a few years. There was very little real-life drama between the band, while Freddie Mercury’s life in incredibly fascinating and intriguing.
The film shows the transformation of shy buck-toothed Farrokh Bulsara, the closeted son of African-born Parsis parents who moved to England, into the strutting swaggering Freddie Mercury.
Freddie Mercury approaches a band he likes backstage at a club in London who just lost their lead singer, and Mercury has written a song he wants to show them. The film flashforwards to them performing on stage with Mercury as lead singer. Freddie and his flamboyant movements goes over really well and next thing you know, they're Queen, and they're touring the world. For the rest of the film, the story flips between Mercury’s personal life and Queen creating some of their biggest hits—"Bohemian Rhapsody," "Another One Bites the Dust," "We Will Rock You" with the obligatory scenes of them fighting with the record label.
For those who enjoy Queen’s music and want to know more about the band then this is the perfect film for you. At times it feels more like a musical or a documentary than a biopic. You learn a little about the inspiration behind Queen’s songs as they write them. Although “Bohemian Rhapsody” is a bonafide classic now, when it was released it was just a very weird, unconventional song that didn’t fit the two-minute-radio slot.
The Opening and closing with Queen's triumphant performance at Live Aid in 1985, is 20 minutes of pure rock entertainment. Rami Malek strides around the stage, interacts with the audience and embodies Mercury in almost every way.
From a plot perspective, the film should be more about Mercury’s own struggles with fame and his sexuality and less about Queen’s relatively easy rise to success. Bohemian Rhapsody is a safe, competent, decidedly non-scandalous biopic. It treats the life of Freddie Mercury with cautious affection, happy to play within the rules when depicting a man who did anything but. Unfortunately, Mercury’s sex life and HIV diagnosis are dealt with only briefly, watched in quiet montage, telling audiences no more than they already know. You can sense the concerned involvement of the surviving members of Queen in the film’s politeness. It often has the gentle innuendo of an obituary rather than the inquisitiveness of a biography, rather than any raw edginess that Mercury embodied.
The film's reluctance to deal with Mercury's sexuality is catastrophic because his sexuality is so connected to the art of Queen that the two cannot be separated out. Refusing to acknowledge Mercury’s bisexuality is a deep disservice to Mercury, to Queen, and to Queen fans.
It’s been 106 years since the Titanic set out on its ill-fated voyage from Southampton to New York. In 2022, a Titanic replicate of the original ship is scheduled to retrace the route of the original ship, sailing first from Dubai to Southampton, then onward to New York.
After a several-year delay due to a financial dispute, Blue Star Line, an Australian shipping company, recently resumed construction on the new ship. The vessel will cost about $500 million to build, which is considerably more than the original Titanic cost in 1912. The ship cost $7.5 million to build, or about $190 million adjusted for inflation – put you can’t put a price tag on safety, right?
Every detail will be painstakingly recreated, from all of the dining rooms to the grand staircase at the center of the ship. There will even be different classes given the passengers the option to choose between First, Second, or Third Class. How modern travelers will take to the class system is yet to be seen, but it’s expected since the boat is a replica that some leeway will be allowed. Just like the original, the ship will be capable of carrying 2,400 passengers 900 crew members. Fortunately, Titanic II will have also have a few key differences, like modern navigation and safety technology – hopefully enough lifeboats for everyone. Titanic II is the brainchild of Australian billionaire Clive Palmer, a former politician who made his money in the mining business.
The Titanic II has something of a fraught history. First announced in 2012 — just days after the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the original Titanic — the replica ship’s maiden voyage was initially intended to take place in 2016. In 2015, however, two sizable roadblocks occurred.
First, the launch date was pushed back to 2018; then, construction was actually suspended altogether due to a financial dispute. Radio silence ensued for several years. In September of 2018, however, Blue Star Line announced that work had resumed. That's about six years later than the original date and a full decade following the announcement of the project. Is this a foreshadow of what is to come? Is the Titanic name cursed? Only time will tell.
The original Titanic commanded by Captain Edward Smith, famously hit an iceberg four days into its voyage and sank. Of the estimated 2,224 passengers and crew on board, more than 1,500 lost their lives in the tragedy. The Titanic was trying to set a world record for the fastest voyage across the Atlantic. At the time, Titanic was the largest ship afloat, and the death toll made it one of the deadliest commercial peacetime maritime disasters in modern history. The Titanic carried some of the wealthiest people in Europe.
Thanks to the 1997 blockbuster film “Titanic,” directed by James Cameron generations of people became interested in this major historical event. At $200 million, the film was the most expensive film ever made at the time and was a huge gamble for the studio. However, it grossed more than a billion dollars and even more than 20 years later film goers still consider Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio romance one of their all-time favorites.
Venezuela is striking back at U.S. sanctions by purging the U.S currency from the South American economy and instead switching to the Euro for international transactions.
Venezuela is in its fifth year of recession, prompting the region’s largest-ever migration crisis that has overwhelmed its neighbours as Venezuelans scramble to move anywhere they can for jobs and a better lifestyle.
The Economy Vice President has pledged to see the opening of bank accounts in Europe and Asia to counteract the American financial sanctions, while adding that the country would sell around €2 million from oil revenues.
President Nicolas Maduro frequently accuses the US of seeking to sabotage his administration by sparking an economic crisis. The Venezuelan dollar hovers around 0.015 cents per American Dollar.
The United States administration and many of their Latin American allies, however, blame Venezuela’s economic meltdown on government mismanagement, reckless money printing, and poor management.
In an attempt to slow crippling hyperinflation, the Venezuelan government slashed five zeros from the Venezuelan bolivar earlier this year. But the move did little to ease economic unrest, with the International Monetary Fund forecasting inflation at 1.4 million percent this year and 10 million percent next year. In fact, Venezuela’s annual inflation hit a whopping 488,865 percent in September.
The US hit back by imposing sanctions on four key members of Venezuela’s government – First Lady Cilia Flores, Vice President Delcy Rodriguez, Communications Minister Jorge Rodriguez and Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino.
With the Venezuelan government now trading in Euros, what can you get if you have a spare 10,000 Euros, to invest?
You could buy a mansion from a Venezuelan general. Or you can buy a used car (there are no new ones) You could put it in a bank and get Sovereign Bolivar.42.000 interest monthly (Minimum wage is a little over Sovereign Bolivar..7.200 a month) which sounds like a lot of money. However, due to an inflation rate of 175% per year, your money would be worthless very quickly.
Last week, Sputnik News reported that China sold off $3 billion in US dollar bonds. In recent months, Russia, China, Japan, Turkey, Iran and Iraq have all ditched the dollar in bilateral trade with each other. Meanwhile, the European Union scrapped its use of the dollar when trading with Iran in order to circumvent US sanctions.
While Venezuela's move won't have a "massive impact on the economy," Dobson said, it is part of a larger trend of countries dropping the dollar in response to US President Donald Trump's hawkish economic policies.
A once-wealthy oil nation, Venezuela is gripped by a historic crisis deeper than the Great Depression in the United States. Many Venezuelans struggle to afford scarce food and medicine, and earn for a government that will listen to their complaints and act in their best interest.
Europe is celebrated as a modern hub of society, government, and progress companies. However, we still lack large firms in areas like social media, e-commerce and cloud computing comparable in scale to America’s Google and Microsoft, or China’s Alibaba.
Of the world’s largest digital companies, all are American or Chinese. Of the top 200, only eight are European. Why is this? Why is Europe failing to innovate? Most people just assume that the US and China are more powerful economies and therefore should be ahead of Europe. But it goes deeper than that. For starters Europe has an older, more established economy. They have companies like BMW, Volkswagen, British Petroleum, Royal Dutch Shell, UBS, and HSBC.
In the 18th century, Europe’s lack of standardisation made it the cradle of the industrial revolution. This lack of standardisation created competition which propelled companies forward. Today, however, Europe’s patchwork is a disadvantage. New technologies require big pools of data, skilled labour and capital.
Europe’s market is supposed to act like a single cohesive unit – that was why the European Union was created – but the reality is something actually very different. Language, regulations, and backgrounds often get in the way of financing, and company goals. Vast, speculative long-term capital investments that make firms like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter possible are too rarely available on European national markets.
However, there is progress. European universities are working more closely together, and the EU adopted a new digital strategy that has simplified tax rules, ended roaming charges and removed barriers to cross-border online content sales. But about half of its measures—like smoother flows of data—remain mere proposals.
The collective experience of two world wars, and communism makes many Europeans naturally protective of their data. Germans, for example, are surprisingly still behind many other nations in embracing technology.
America’s technological superiority is built on its ability to attract talented, success-hungry people from all across the world. One look at Silicon Valley and you’ll see people from India, Germany, Japan, and Brazil. Of the 98 high-tech firms in the Fortune 500, 45 were founded by immigrants or their children. America is a young country. While China lacks immigration, it sends many of its young abroad to study, and then repatriates their skills. European countries are very protective and most aren’t friendly to immigration and as a result no knew ideas or new talent are injected into the economy.
If it wanted to, Europe could improve. Its governments and the EU could create a genuine digital single market, do more to promote enterprise and institutional innovation and make the most of its strengths in, for example, biomedicine and transport. Better integration of capital markets would help as well. Europeans may even eventually come to view immigration as an opportunity. But all of this perhaps demands a greater awareness of history itself, of the diverging technological pasts and possible futures hovering over the continent.
It is time for Europe to change and not cling onto its Old World ways. By embracing a faster-paced economy with less protectionism, we might see the next billion idea come from the continent.
The Cold War was a new term defining the animosity between the United States and the Soviet Union after World War II. Under Joseph McCarthy, in October 1947, the nation’s fear of Communism spread to Hollywood, as the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) held a series of hearings intended to probe subversive communism in the film industry.
The hearings resulted in contempt of Congress charges against the Hollywood Ten, a group of filmmakers who refused to cooperate with the committee and were ultimately jailed and banned from working for all of the major studios.
The Hollywood Ten believed their interment violated their First Amendment rights of freedom of speech. However, all ten were convicted of obstructing the investigation. Hollywood then started a blacklist policy, banning the work of about 325 screenwriters, directors and actors who the committee thought were either communists or had communist affiliations. Some people were able to keep working, whether it was through pseudonyms or crediting their friends
In 1960, thirteen years after the witch hunt had begun, Kirk Douglas was widely credited for helping lift the stigmatism surrounded The Hollywood Ten. His production company which was making Spartacus employed writer Dalton Trumbo under the pseudonym of Sam Jackson who was considered one of the ring leaders of the Hollywood Ten.
Douglas was sickened by the hypocrisy Hollywood showed. Everyone in Hollywood knew that pseudonyms were being used by those blacklisted including all the big studio heads. They just turned a blind eye to the practice, using a “don’t’ ask, don’t tell” policy.
Douglas wanted to make Spartacus so badly that he formed his own production company named Bryna, after his mother. He was also one of the first Hollywood stars to follow in the footsteps of Charlie Chaplin to become an independent producer.
It wasn’t until the 1960s that the ban began to lift, and finally, in 1997, the Writers’ Guild of America unanimously voted to change the writing credits of 23 films made during the blacklist period.
Today, some are making comparisons to the actors backlisted today and the MeToo movement, the actors and the producers who are accused of rape and sexual harassment. However, that’s a fundamental difference and the two time periods.
At the same time, Hollywood seems to be caught again in a rush-to-judgment atmosphere where a single accusation can deep-six a career and render a performer persona non grata in the time it takes to hit the retweet button. This type of mob behaviour can be destructive, whether we see it in Hollywood or other places.
One of the lessons of 1947 is that, especially in times of extreme political passions, you’ve got to maintain a respect for rational dialogue and due process. Read and absorb information with healthy skepticism.
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