fresh

The Art of Fresh: Fashion and Philanthropy

“Artists are the gatekeepers of truth. We are civilization’s radical voice.” ~ Paul Robeson

According to the late Paul Robeson, artists have the opportunity to use their platforms to make significant changes in society. However, some would argue that artists have no obligation to address certain issues. Although they may have a point, when I think of artists who have become icons in popular culture, I think of those who have used their voices to raise awareness, especially as it pertains to social and political issues. Artists, such as Bob Marley, Nina Simone, John Lennon, Fela Kuti, Michael Jackson, Tupac Shakur, have all taken a stand against the injustices of the world. In retrospect, they have become bigger than their artistry. They have been philanthropists, humanists, revolutionaries, and activists. They have been individuals who have lived their lives beyond just fortune and fame.

Issues, such as poverty, gun violence, police brutality, gangs, and racism continue to persist. But there is a new wave of artists who are carrying the torch. These artists are not only using their music, but also fashion to make social and political statements. For instance, in the 2004 presidential election, P. Diddy (founder of Bad Boy Records), Sean John, and Citizen Change launched a campaign to encourage more young people between the ages of 18 and 30 to vote. This helped change the face of the U.S. political landscape by encouraging the youth to “Vote or Die”, using celebrities as his support system.

The campaign was meant to show that the right to vote is a matter of life or death. This notion may not be too far-fetched, as people have literally fought and died for this freedom. I believe this resonated with young people, not only because of the celebrities involved, but also because of its simple, yet powerful position in politics. This campaign was not only successful in 2004, but also in 2008, when President Barack Obama was elected.

Jay-Z, Hip-Hop artist and co-founder of Rocawear, also attempted to use fashion as a statement. Although it was short-lived, he released a new line of t-shirts, which were meant to support the Occupy Wall Street movement in 2011. This movement served as a protest against social and economic disparities between corporations and the American people. The shirt “tweaks the phrase ‘Occupy Wall Street’ by crossing out the ‘W’ and adding an ‘S’ to make it read ‘Occupy All Streets’.”

Unfortunately, this effort led to a little bit of controversy, primarily because he never intended on sharing his profits to the actual protestors. The Business Insider states, “A Rocawear spokesperson sent us a statement confirming there’s no plan to distribute any of the profits, which will surely pour in from shirt sales, to Occupy Wall Street.” According the spokesperson, “The ‘Occupy All Streets’ T shirt was created in support of the ‘Occupy Wall Street’ movement. Rocawear strongly encourages all forms of constructive expression, whether it be artistic, political or social. ‘Occupy All Streets’ is our way of reminding people that there is change to be made everywhere, not just on Wall Street. At this time we have not made an official commitment to monetarily support the movement.”

This leads to questionable motives of certain artists. There seems to be a thin line between legitimacy and sincerity from the public’s point of view, especially in this day and age where there are many cultural capitalists. In my opinion, there needs to be a clear alignment between the art and actions of the individuals, which leads me to Kendrick Lamar’s recently released, “Ventilators 2” by Reebok.

Throughout his career, Lamar has repeatedly shed light on his upbringing in Compton, California, where gang culture seems to dominate the living conditions of his immediate environment. Having been heavily influenced by this reality, he has always mentioned it in both his music and interviews. With songs, such as: “Little Johnny”, “M.A.A.D. City (featuring MC Eight), and “I”, he continues to provide a voice for his constituents by emphasizing social, political, and economic discrepancies that are woven into the American fabric. His response to these discrepancies and pervasiveness of gang culture are the Ventilators 2. Complex mentions, “These Ventilators, which were previewed by Sneakers.fr, are set against an off-white suede base with alternating blue and red accents on each shoe. The gang references are apparent, and each tongue tag is inscribed with ‘Neutral,’ echoing a sentiment Kendrick has been pushing strongly during his career.”

Other artists, such as Usher and John Legend (pictured below), aren’t necessarily known for making social and political commentary in their music, but they have also been recently seen using fashion to make a statement.

As we continue to face adversities in our lives, it is important to have the opportunity to express ourselves constructively. It may not necessarily be directly based on certain social, economic, or political issues; however, we are undeniably affected by these issues in one way or another. In that regard, we should continue to find creative ways to address these issues for the betterment of mankind.

fresh

The Art of Fresh: Fashion and Philanthropy

“Artists are the gatekeepers of truth. We are civilization’s radical voice.” ~ Paul Robeson

According to the late Paul Robeson, artists have the opportunity to use their platforms to make significant changes in society. However, some would argue that artists have no obligation to address certain issues. Although they may have a point, when I think of artists who have become icons in popular culture, I think of those who have used their voices to raise awareness, especially as it pertains to social and political issues. Artists, such as Bob Marley, Nina Simone, John Lennon, Fela Kuti, Michael Jackson, Tupac Shakur, have all taken a stand against the injustices of the world. In retrospect, they have become bigger than their artistry. They have been philanthropists, humanists, revolutionaries, and activists. They have been individuals who have lived their lives beyond just fortune and fame.

Issues, such as poverty, gun violence, police brutality, gangs, and racism continue to persist. But there is a new wave of artists who are carrying the torch. These artists are not only using their music, but also fashion to make social and political statements. For instance, in the 2004 presidential election, P. Diddy (founder of Bad Boy Records), Sean John, and Citizen Change launched a campaign to encourage more young people between the ages of 18 and 30 to vote. This helped change the face of the U.S. political landscape by encouraging the youth to “Vote or Die”, using celebrities as his support system.

The campaign was meant to show that the right to vote is a matter of life or death. This notion may not be too far-fetched, as people have literally fought and died for this freedom. I believe this resonated with young people, not only because of the celebrities involved, but also because of its simple, yet powerful position in politics. This campaign was not only successful in 2004, but also in 2008, when President Barack Obama was elected.

Jay-Z, Hip-Hop artist and co-founder of Rocawear, also attempted to use fashion as a statement. Although it was short-lived, he released a new line of t-shirts, which were meant to support the Occupy Wall Street movement in 2011. This movement served as a protest against social and economic disparities between corporations and the American people. The shirt “tweaks the phrase ‘Occupy Wall Street’ by crossing out the ‘W’ and adding an ‘S’ to make it read ‘Occupy All Streets’.”

Unfortunately, this effort led to a little bit of controversy, primarily because he never intended on sharing his profits to the actual protestors. The Business Insider states, “A Rocawear spokesperson sent us a statement confirming there’s no plan to distribute any of the profits, which will surely pour in from shirt sales, to Occupy Wall Street.” According the spokesperson, “The ‘Occupy All Streets’ T shirt was created in support of the ‘Occupy Wall Street’ movement. Rocawear strongly encourages all forms of constructive expression, whether it be artistic, political or social. ‘Occupy All Streets’ is our way of reminding people that there is change to be made everywhere, not just on Wall Street. At this time we have not made an official commitment to monetarily support the movement.”

This leads to questionable motives of certain artists. There seems to be a thin line between legitimacy and sincerity from the public’s point of view, especially in this day and age where there are many cultural capitalists. In my opinion, there needs to be a clear alignment between the art and actions of the individuals, which leads me to Kendrick Lamar’s recently released, “Ventilators 2” by Reebok.

Throughout his career, Lamar has repeatedly shed light on his upbringing in Compton, California, where gang culture seems to dominate the living conditions of his immediate environment. Having been heavily influenced by this reality, he has always mentioned it in both his music and interviews. With songs, such as: “Little Johnny”, “M.A.A.D. City (featuring MC Eight), and “I”, he continues to provide a voice for his constituents by emphasizing social, political, and economic discrepancies that are woven into the American fabric. His response to these discrepancies and pervasiveness of gang culture are the Ventilators 2. Complex mentions, “These Ventilators, which were previewed by Sneakers.fr, are set against an off-white suede base with alternating blue and red accents on each shoe. The gang references are apparent, and each tongue tag is inscribed with ‘Neutral,’ echoing a sentiment Kendrick has been pushing strongly during his career.”

Other artists, such as Usher and John Legend (pictured below), aren’t necessarily known for making social and political commentary in their music, but they have also been recently seen using fashion to make a statement.

As we continue to face adversities in our lives, it is important to have the opportunity to express ourselves constructively. It may not necessarily be directly based on certain social, economic, or political issues; however, we are undeniably affected by these issues in one way or another. In that regard, we should continue to find creative ways to address these issues for the betterment of mankind.

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The Economics of Downloadable Content (DLC) in Video Games

 

The video game Evolve just launched with a $70 base game, $100 premium edition, and $60 of additional downloadable content (DLC) features. That’s right, to get the full version of the game, you have to pay more than twice its base cost. Evolve is not alone.

 

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Batman: Arkham Knight will launch later this year as a $60 game with $140 of DLC, going so far as to make the Batmobile an extra. Even smartphone games have this problem. Clash of Clans costs $5 but has $12,000 of extras. We don’t even want to delve into the money traps that are Plants versus Zombies 2 and Candy Crush Saga. For players, these extras are new and strange. Many people think video game companies are not being reasonable. But are they? Let’s look at the economics of the video game industry.

Destiny, currently the most expensive game ever made, had a budget higher than $500 million.

 

The industry takes in over $46 billion a year, about twice as much as Hollywood. However, that number represents revenue, not profit. Profit is the money left over after all expenses have been paid. These expenses are called overheads. Although revenues are increasing, so are overheads. Around the year 2000, when The Sims and Deus Ex hit the market, most major games cost about $1-4 million to produce. In 2014, smaller games cost around $20 million, major titles cost a lot more. Destiny, currently the most expensive game ever made, had a budget higher than $500 million. It’s not only development costs that are increasing. Video games are also getting more expensive per unit, due to the costs of supporting multiplayer. This cost per unit is called a marginal cost. So, the overheads for game studios have increased between 400% and 49,900% in just 15 years. A product could cost up to 500 times as much to make.

 

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When overheads increase, profits decrease. Many businesses try to increase prices to keep profits up. For example, a Ferrari costs a lot more to make than a Chevrolet Spark, so it is priced much higher. Strangely, the same is not true for video games. A $1 million project like Super Smash Brothers sold 18 years ago for $60, and the $500 million Destiny juggernaut hit the stores for $55. Why do game prices always stay the same?

For this, we have to look at something called “elasticity.” Elasticity means the amount that demand is affected by price. Elastic demand means that small changes in price affect sales. Inelastic demand means that most changes in price don’t affect sales. For example, nobody needs to buy Destiny. If Destiny’s creators increased the price to $200, then everyone would just buy Wild Star or Borderlands 2 or the zillion other multiplayer sci-fi action RPGs. This means that Destiny’s demand is elastic. By contrast, the tap water you drink while playing Destiny so you do not die from dehydration after a 15 hour raid is inelastic. Houses need a lot of tap water and have no alternatives. The price of tap water could double, and it would not really affect sales. So, what do you do if your overheads are increasing, but you cannot raise prices because demand is too elastic? You find money wherever you can.

 

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The result, video game companies break up their products into several pieces to turn a profit. Although elasticity controls the price, it does not control the features of the game. By removing features from the game and selling them as DLC, game producers have a way to generate more money for the same product. It is annoying to be sold a product with some features deliberately removed. But is there a solution that works for both consumers and producers?

fresh

The Art of Fresh: Fashion and Philanthropy

“Artists are the gatekeepers of truth. We are civilization’s radical voice.” ~ Paul Robeson

According to the late Paul Robeson, artists have the opportunity to use their platforms to make significant changes in society. However, some would argue that artists have no obligation to address certain issues. Although they may have a point, when I think of artists who have become icons in popular culture, I think of those who have used their voices to raise awareness, especially as it pertains to social and political issues. Artists, such as Bob Marley, Nina Simone, John Lennon, Fela Kuti, Michael Jackson, Tupac Shakur, have all taken a stand against the injustices of the world. In retrospect, they have become bigger than their artistry. They have been philanthropists, humanists, revolutionaries, and activists. They have been individuals who have lived their lives beyond just fortune and fame.

Issues, such as poverty, gun violence, police brutality, gangs, and racism continue to persist. But there is a new wave of artists who are carrying the torch. These artists are not only using their music, but also fashion to make social and political statements. For instance, in the 2004 presidential election, P. Diddy (founder of Bad Boy Records), Sean John, and Citizen Change launched a campaign to encourage more young people between the ages of 18 and 30 to vote. This helped change the face of the U.S. political landscape by encouraging the youth to “Vote or Die”, using celebrities as his support system.

The campaign was meant to show that the right to vote is a matter of life or death. This notion may not be too far-fetched, as people have literally fought and died for this freedom. I believe this resonated with young people, not only because of the celebrities involved, but also because of its simple, yet powerful position in politics. This campaign was not only successful in 2004, but also in 2008, when President Barack Obama was elected.

Jay-Z, Hip-Hop artist and co-founder of Rocawear, also attempted to use fashion as a statement. Although it was short-lived, he released a new line of t-shirts, which were meant to support the Occupy Wall Street movement in 2011. This movement served as a protest against social and economic disparities between corporations and the American people. The shirt “tweaks the phrase ‘Occupy Wall Street’ by crossing out the ‘W’ and adding an ‘S’ to make it read ‘Occupy All Streets’.”

Unfortunately, this effort led to a little bit of controversy, primarily because he never intended on sharing his profits to the actual protestors. The Business Insider states, “A Rocawear spokesperson sent us a statement confirming there’s no plan to distribute any of the profits, which will surely pour in from shirt sales, to Occupy Wall Street.” According the spokesperson, “The ‘Occupy All Streets’ T shirt was created in support of the ‘Occupy Wall Street’ movement. Rocawear strongly encourages all forms of constructive expression, whether it be artistic, political or social. ‘Occupy All Streets’ is our way of reminding people that there is change to be made everywhere, not just on Wall Street. At this time we have not made an official commitment to monetarily support the movement.”

This leads to questionable motives of certain artists. There seems to be a thin line between legitimacy and sincerity from the public’s point of view, especially in this day and age where there are many cultural capitalists. In my opinion, there needs to be a clear alignment between the art and actions of the individuals, which leads me to Kendrick Lamar’s recently released, “Ventilators 2” by Reebok.

Throughout his career, Lamar has repeatedly shed light on his upbringing in Compton, California, where gang culture seems to dominate the living conditions of his immediate environment. Having been heavily influenced by this reality, he has always mentioned it in both his music and interviews. With songs, such as: “Little Johnny”, “M.A.A.D. City (featuring MC Eight), and “I”, he continues to provide a voice for his constituents by emphasizing social, political, and economic discrepancies that are woven into the American fabric. His response to these discrepancies and pervasiveness of gang culture are the Ventilators 2. Complex mentions, “These Ventilators, which were previewed by Sneakers.fr, are set against an off-white suede base with alternating blue and red accents on each shoe. The gang references are apparent, and each tongue tag is inscribed with ‘Neutral,’ echoing a sentiment Kendrick has been pushing strongly during his career.”

Other artists, such as Usher and John Legend (pictured below), aren’t necessarily known for making social and political commentary in their music, but they have also been recently seen using fashion to make a statement.

As we continue to face adversities in our lives, it is important to have the opportunity to express ourselves constructively. It may not necessarily be directly based on certain social, economic, or political issues; however, we are undeniably affected by these issues in one way or another. In that regard, we should continue to find creative ways to address these issues for the betterment of mankind.

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Hero on a Budget: Learn Money Management from the World of Warcraft

 

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Even in the fantasy world, there are no shortcuts to success, everyone in the WoW starts off at the bottom and works their way up.

What better way to practice going broke, or testing out financial decisions than through the virtual world of Draenor?  World of Warcraft is a massive multiplayer online role-playing game developed by Blizzard Entertainment.  It is an online game where millions of players from around the world assume the roles of heroic fantasy characters and explore a world full of magic and mystery. You start out as a newcomer, and must learn and practice your skills to survive.  Earning and spending money is a key aspect of the success of your character. At the beginning, you are given a small satchel to carry your belongings as well as some basic gear.  You earn everything you need from this point onward.  You explore and collect items, earning money and objects through quests.  You first earn copper pieces, then silver, then gold.  Much like the real world, you have to prove your abilities with less lucrative jobs, before you can advance to better ones. Even in the fantasy world, there are no shortcuts to success, everyone in the WoW starts off at the bottom and works their way up.  There’s no silver spoon handed to you from the start.

 

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WoW can actually be a pretty useful tool in learning personal financial literacy or the ability to manage and understand your financial conditions.  This includes the ability to make financial choices, talk about money and financial issues with others, plan for the future, and respond competently to life events that affect everyday financial decisions, including events in the general economy.  Luckily in the WoW there are no economic reasons to ever worry about anything but yourself.  So it puts your financial planning in a bit of a bubble, but thats ok for practice purposes. Here are some tips on how to manage your wealth as an Elf…

 

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1. Pawning for Power: In the game you must manage your budget.  The games’ creators have carefully balanced objects’ values based on your location and your likelihood of affording certain items you might need – like a better set of armor or better weapons.  Through quests, and selling back items you find (like pawning in the real world) you can build up a small amount to be able to buy things for yourself.

2. Auction House Hustle: When you have amassed a large quantity of items, either through farming, looting, or crafting, you can sell these items in bulk, directly to other players through the auction house. Real players may need something very specific that they wouldn’t be able to find anywhere else.  Much like the real world, supply and demand dictate the prices in the auction house.  You can compare the current going rate for certain items, and then undercut your selling price to try and win some sales first.  This is the best way to earn a LOT of money all at once.

3. Stash your Cash: Your coin purse is similar to a basic checking account.  You see your balance after making a purchase.  There are bank vaults where you can store more items or money that you won’t be able to spend immediately without retrieving – like a savings account.  This is a smart solution to curb the desire to spend all of your money in one place or to squander your money without planning for the future – like buying that super expensive flying mount.

Luckily, WoW is still a fantasy realm and you don’t have to face the greatest monster of them all, DEBT. But there are still valuable money management lessons you can learn along your quest to rule the kingdom.

fresh

The Art of Fresh: Fashion and Philanthropy

“Artists are the gatekeepers of truth. We are civilization’s radical voice.” ~ Paul Robeson

According to the late Paul Robeson, artists have the opportunity to use their platforms to make significant changes in society. However, some would argue that artists have no obligation to address certain issues. Although they may have a point, when I think of artists who have become icons in popular culture, I think of those who have used their voices to raise awareness, especially as it pertains to social and political issues. Artists, such as Bob Marley, Nina Simone, John Lennon, Fela Kuti, Michael Jackson, Tupac Shakur, have all taken a stand against the injustices of the world. In retrospect, they have become bigger than their artistry. They have been philanthropists, humanists, revolutionaries, and activists. They have been individuals who have lived their lives beyond just fortune and fame.

Issues, such as poverty, gun violence, police brutality, gangs, and racism continue to persist. But there is a new wave of artists who are carrying the torch. These artists are not only using their music, but also fashion to make social and political statements. For instance, in the 2004 presidential election, P. Diddy (founder of Bad Boy Records), Sean John, and Citizen Change launched a campaign to encourage more young people between the ages of 18 and 30 to vote. This helped change the face of the U.S. political landscape by encouraging the youth to “Vote or Die”, using celebrities as his support system.

The campaign was meant to show that the right to vote is a matter of life or death. This notion may not be too far-fetched, as people have literally fought and died for this freedom. I believe this resonated with young people, not only because of the celebrities involved, but also because of its simple, yet powerful position in politics. This campaign was not only successful in 2004, but also in 2008, when President Barack Obama was elected.

Jay-Z, Hip-Hop artist and co-founder of Rocawear, also attempted to use fashion as a statement. Although it was short-lived, he released a new line of t-shirts, which were meant to support the Occupy Wall Street movement in 2011. This movement served as a protest against social and economic disparities between corporations and the American people. The shirt “tweaks the phrase ‘Occupy Wall Street’ by crossing out the ‘W’ and adding an ‘S’ to make it read ‘Occupy All Streets’.”

Unfortunately, this effort led to a little bit of controversy, primarily because he never intended on sharing his profits to the actual protestors. The Business Insider states, “A Rocawear spokesperson sent us a statement confirming there’s no plan to distribute any of the profits, which will surely pour in from shirt sales, to Occupy Wall Street.” According the spokesperson, “The ‘Occupy All Streets’ T shirt was created in support of the ‘Occupy Wall Street’ movement. Rocawear strongly encourages all forms of constructive expression, whether it be artistic, political or social. ‘Occupy All Streets’ is our way of reminding people that there is change to be made everywhere, not just on Wall Street. At this time we have not made an official commitment to monetarily support the movement.”

This leads to questionable motives of certain artists. There seems to be a thin line between legitimacy and sincerity from the public’s point of view, especially in this day and age where there are many cultural capitalists. In my opinion, there needs to be a clear alignment between the art and actions of the individuals, which leads me to Kendrick Lamar’s recently released, “Ventilators 2” by Reebok.

Throughout his career, Lamar has repeatedly shed light on his upbringing in Compton, California, where gang culture seems to dominate the living conditions of his immediate environment. Having been heavily influenced by this reality, he has always mentioned it in both his music and interviews. With songs, such as: “Little Johnny”, “M.A.A.D. City (featuring MC Eight), and “I”, he continues to provide a voice for his constituents by emphasizing social, political, and economic discrepancies that are woven into the American fabric. His response to these discrepancies and pervasiveness of gang culture are the Ventilators 2. Complex mentions, “These Ventilators, which were previewed by Sneakers.fr, are set against an off-white suede base with alternating blue and red accents on each shoe. The gang references are apparent, and each tongue tag is inscribed with ‘Neutral,’ echoing a sentiment Kendrick has been pushing strongly during his career.”

Other artists, such as Usher and John Legend (pictured below), aren’t necessarily known for making social and political commentary in their music, but they have also been recently seen using fashion to make a statement.

As we continue to face adversities in our lives, it is important to have the opportunity to express ourselves constructively. It may not necessarily be directly based on certain social, economic, or political issues; however, we are undeniably affected by these issues in one way or another. In that regard, we should continue to find creative ways to address these issues for the betterment of mankind.

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The Legendary Black Card Explained

It is important to note that no matter what color credit card you sign up for, in order to keep your finances and your credit rating out of the red, you must spend wisely.

If you know what a credit card is and you listen to rap, follow celebrity gossip, or have dreams of becoming massively wealthy one day, chances are you know what the Visa Black Card is. Even the mention of this exclusive card is enough to make you wonder just how rich you have to be to get your hands on one. After all, there’s all this hype about the card that contributes to its mystique. Read further to unpack just how exclusive the card really is. Is it really that hard to get? What real perks does it offer?

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In order to fully understand the Black Card and the celebrity status it promotes, you should understand the basic fundamentals of credit cards. Credit is an equation and it has two sides — the lender and the borrower. Having the ability to borrow money when you need it gives you flexibility and peace of mind. Still, and all too often, individuals borrow more than what they actually need and fail to pay it off. If you understand that you are being charged money to actually use this credit, many people might think twice before pulling out their plastic. If you understand how credit works, use it only when you need it (to stand in for cash you already have in the bank) and avoid having too much debt, you can call yourself financially responsible.   Many young people don’t realize that responsible use of credit can actually help a person reach their goals.

Basic terms you should be familiar with: Creditors and Debt. Those who lend you money are called lenders or creditors; the money you owe is called debt.

Back in the 1980’s, in the era when Gordon Gekko famously said in the movie “Wall Street” that “greed is good,” rumors were that there was a credit card issued by American Express that was capable of purchasing anything anywhere. An urban legend, the card was nearly impossible to get and was all black. In other words, it had no credit limit. Just to give a reference point, most credit cards range between $500.00 and $4,500.00 depending on your credit rating to start. Some banks won’t issue a credit card to a potential borrower with poor or no credit, for fear they will not be able to pay back the debt.

 

Black Card members have an average of around $16.3 million in assets and a household income of $1.3 million. But just because you meet those criteria, you still are not guaranteed an invitation. Your credit rating and spending habits will also be carefully studied to see if you are the right candidate for the card.

Instead of letting fantasy live in the minds of would be big spenders, in 1999, American Express decided to bring that dream to life. They took the elements of a powerful credit card and made a card that reflected all these from the color to the exclusivity. They called it the Centurion Card, but it more popularly known as the Black Card. Other creditors followed suite and issued exclusive Black Cards bearing their insignia.

So where do these celebrity flaunted cards with infinite spending power come from? What are the Black Card’s features? Who gets these cards? The fact is that not everyone can get the Black Card. The card is issued out by invitation only. You not only have to be affluent to be invited, but you have to be extremely rich. You’re not just in the who’s who social circle, you have to be part of the social elite.

A quick figure to help you understand: Black Card members have an average of around $16.3 million in assets and a household income of $1.3 million. OK, but just because you meet those criteria, you still are not guaranteed an invitation. Your credit rating (how responsible you are with your money) and spending habits will also be carefully studied to see if you are the right candidate for the card.

Once you are vetted, one of these creditors MIGHT send you an invitation to own a card. You might jump at the chance, thinking that it is just like other credit cards that offer incentives like free membership and zero fees. But in realty, the Black Card will charge you with massive dues and in some cases an initiation fee for those who wish to sign on with the card (in the United States, the fee is $7,500). In many cases there’s also an annual fee of $2,500.

Since the vast majority of us will not actually handle one of these cards, it’s fun to imagine what exclusivity feels like. For starters, the card is black and made of anodized titanium. Your information and numbers are imprinted in carbon fibre. The hard texture of the card actually makes it “clink” when one places it on the counter.

Lil_Wayne_Black_Card_Boy

The proliferation of the Black Card’s mention in pop culture, brings to the surface the power trip associated with such cards, namely the Visa Black Card. One of the big draws for the card it it’s concierge service.  Imagine going on a spur of the moment vacation in  a private jet, with drivers lined up to take you from the airport to a local hotspot for some early partying before whisking you, and any new friends, to a world class dining experience.  Nice, huh?

It’s a good thing to use credit wisely and to not spend beyond your means. An overlooked fact is that credit card companies want your business, because they make a profit when you borrow. Although purchasing something, anything, with a credit card is easy, it is a practice that can come back and bite you in the end. It is important to note that no matter what color credit card you sign up for, in order to keep your finances and your credit rating out of the red, you must spend wisely.

fresh

The Art of Fresh: Fashion and Philanthropy

“Artists are the gatekeepers of truth. We are civilization’s radical voice.” ~ Paul Robeson

According to the late Paul Robeson, artists have the opportunity to use their platforms to make significant changes in society. However, some would argue that artists have no obligation to address certain issues. Although they may have a point, when I think of artists who have become icons in popular culture, I think of those who have used their voices to raise awareness, especially as it pertains to social and political issues. Artists, such as Bob Marley, Nina Simone, John Lennon, Fela Kuti, Michael Jackson, Tupac Shakur, have all taken a stand against the injustices of the world. In retrospect, they have become bigger than their artistry. They have been philanthropists, humanists, revolutionaries, and activists. They have been individuals who have lived their lives beyond just fortune and fame.

Issues, such as poverty, gun violence, police brutality, gangs, and racism continue to persist. But there is a new wave of artists who are carrying the torch. These artists are not only using their music, but also fashion to make social and political statements. For instance, in the 2004 presidential election, P. Diddy (founder of Bad Boy Records), Sean John, and Citizen Change launched a campaign to encourage more young people between the ages of 18 and 30 to vote. This helped change the face of the U.S. political landscape by encouraging the youth to “Vote or Die”, using celebrities as his support system.

The campaign was meant to show that the right to vote is a matter of life or death. This notion may not be too far-fetched, as people have literally fought and died for this freedom. I believe this resonated with young people, not only because of the celebrities involved, but also because of its simple, yet powerful position in politics. This campaign was not only successful in 2004, but also in 2008, when President Barack Obama was elected.

Jay-Z, Hip-Hop artist and co-founder of Rocawear, also attempted to use fashion as a statement. Although it was short-lived, he released a new line of t-shirts, which were meant to support the Occupy Wall Street movement in 2011. This movement served as a protest against social and economic disparities between corporations and the American people. The shirt “tweaks the phrase ‘Occupy Wall Street’ by crossing out the ‘W’ and adding an ‘S’ to make it read ‘Occupy All Streets’.”

Unfortunately, this effort led to a little bit of controversy, primarily because he never intended on sharing his profits to the actual protestors. The Business Insider states, “A Rocawear spokesperson sent us a statement confirming there’s no plan to distribute any of the profits, which will surely pour in from shirt sales, to Occupy Wall Street.” According the spokesperson, “The ‘Occupy All Streets’ T shirt was created in support of the ‘Occupy Wall Street’ movement. Rocawear strongly encourages all forms of constructive expression, whether it be artistic, political or social. ‘Occupy All Streets’ is our way of reminding people that there is change to be made everywhere, not just on Wall Street. At this time we have not made an official commitment to monetarily support the movement.”

This leads to questionable motives of certain artists. There seems to be a thin line between legitimacy and sincerity from the public’s point of view, especially in this day and age where there are many cultural capitalists. In my opinion, there needs to be a clear alignment between the art and actions of the individuals, which leads me to Kendrick Lamar’s recently released, “Ventilators 2” by Reebok.

Throughout his career, Lamar has repeatedly shed light on his upbringing in Compton, California, where gang culture seems to dominate the living conditions of his immediate environment. Having been heavily influenced by this reality, he has always mentioned it in both his music and interviews. With songs, such as: “Little Johnny”, “M.A.A.D. City (featuring MC Eight), and “I”, he continues to provide a voice for his constituents by emphasizing social, political, and economic discrepancies that are woven into the American fabric. His response to these discrepancies and pervasiveness of gang culture are the Ventilators 2. Complex mentions, “These Ventilators, which were previewed by Sneakers.fr, are set against an off-white suede base with alternating blue and red accents on each shoe. The gang references are apparent, and each tongue tag is inscribed with ‘Neutral,’ echoing a sentiment Kendrick has been pushing strongly during his career.”

Other artists, such as Usher and John Legend (pictured below), aren’t necessarily known for making social and political commentary in their music, but they have also been recently seen using fashion to make a statement.

As we continue to face adversities in our lives, it is important to have the opportunity to express ourselves constructively. It may not necessarily be directly based on certain social, economic, or political issues; however, we are undeniably affected by these issues in one way or another. In that regard, we should continue to find creative ways to address these issues for the betterment of mankind.

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Bitcoin: The History of Money and the Future of Digital Currency

MONEY! Is it the root of all evil? If you have more money, do you have more problems? Who created money? Why was it created?

 

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The Internet has a history of people being skeptical about spending their hard earned real world cash in a virtual space. Many people were afraid of Internet scams when ebay was first launched in the late 1990s, and with good reason. There were fears of using Paypal to make online payments and never receiving your product. Over time, online spending has become commonplace. With Amazon.com, iTunes, and the google Play store (to name a few) it’s becoming less common to do your shopping in the physical world. Buying music, books, clothes and even groceries online is viewed as safe and normal in our current society.

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With all of our digital spending, there is now a growing trend in developing a digital currency. There have been attempts at this since 1990 (see the failed Whoopie Goldburg endorsed “Flooz”) but in the past few years there has been a stronger acceptance of digital currency and there is a possibility that Bitcoin could become a new common form of money. It would be money without government regulation, recognized across the world, completely revolutionizing the way our global economy functions.

Of course, with a brand new form of currency, there are a few concerns. Many digital currencies have failed because they have been used for money laundering. With anonymous identities, digital currencies have been used to buy and sell drugs and make other illegal transactions over Dark Web marketplaces like the Silk Road.

So, what does the future look like for digital currencies? Are you ready to join the Bitcoin revolution? Is it a safe investment or a waste of money? In this lesson, take a look at the history of money and where it’s heading in order to make a choice on where you stand.

 

History-of-Money

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The Art of Fresh: Fashion and Philanthropy

“Artists are the gatekeepers of truth. We are civilization’s radical voice.” ~ Paul Robeson

According to the late Paul Robeson, artists have the opportunity to use their platforms to make significant changes in society. However, some would argue that artists have no obligation to address certain issues. Although they may have a point, when I think of artists who have become icons in popular culture, I think of those who have used their voices to raise awareness, especially as it pertains to social and political issues. Artists, such as Bob Marley, Nina Simone, John Lennon, Fela Kuti, Michael Jackson, Tupac Shakur, have all taken a stand against the injustices of the world. In retrospect, they have become bigger than their artistry. They have been philanthropists, humanists, revolutionaries, and activists. They have been individuals who have lived their lives beyond just fortune and fame.

Issues, such as poverty, gun violence, police brutality, gangs, and racism continue to persist. But there is a new wave of artists who are carrying the torch. These artists are not only using their music, but also fashion to make social and political statements. For instance, in the 2004 presidential election, P. Diddy (founder of Bad Boy Records), Sean John, and Citizen Change launched a campaign to encourage more young people between the ages of 18 and 30 to vote. This helped change the face of the U.S. political landscape by encouraging the youth to “Vote or Die”, using celebrities as his support system.

The campaign was meant to show that the right to vote is a matter of life or death. This notion may not be too far-fetched, as people have literally fought and died for this freedom. I believe this resonated with young people, not only because of the celebrities involved, but also because of its simple, yet powerful position in politics. This campaign was not only successful in 2004, but also in 2008, when President Barack Obama was elected.

Jay-Z, Hip-Hop artist and co-founder of Rocawear, also attempted to use fashion as a statement. Although it was short-lived, he released a new line of t-shirts, which were meant to support the Occupy Wall Street movement in 2011. This movement served as a protest against social and economic disparities between corporations and the American people. The shirt “tweaks the phrase ‘Occupy Wall Street’ by crossing out the ‘W’ and adding an ‘S’ to make it read ‘Occupy All Streets’.”

Unfortunately, this effort led to a little bit of controversy, primarily because he never intended on sharing his profits to the actual protestors. The Business Insider states, “A Rocawear spokesperson sent us a statement confirming there’s no plan to distribute any of the profits, which will surely pour in from shirt sales, to Occupy Wall Street.” According the spokesperson, “The ‘Occupy All Streets’ T shirt was created in support of the ‘Occupy Wall Street’ movement. Rocawear strongly encourages all forms of constructive expression, whether it be artistic, political or social. ‘Occupy All Streets’ is our way of reminding people that there is change to be made everywhere, not just on Wall Street. At this time we have not made an official commitment to monetarily support the movement.”

This leads to questionable motives of certain artists. There seems to be a thin line between legitimacy and sincerity from the public’s point of view, especially in this day and age where there are many cultural capitalists. In my opinion, there needs to be a clear alignment between the art and actions of the individuals, which leads me to Kendrick Lamar’s recently released, “Ventilators 2” by Reebok.

Throughout his career, Lamar has repeatedly shed light on his upbringing in Compton, California, where gang culture seems to dominate the living conditions of his immediate environment. Having been heavily influenced by this reality, he has always mentioned it in both his music and interviews. With songs, such as: “Little Johnny”, “M.A.A.D. City (featuring MC Eight), and “I”, he continues to provide a voice for his constituents by emphasizing social, political, and economic discrepancies that are woven into the American fabric. His response to these discrepancies and pervasiveness of gang culture are the Ventilators 2. Complex mentions, “These Ventilators, which were previewed by Sneakers.fr, are set against an off-white suede base with alternating blue and red accents on each shoe. The gang references are apparent, and each tongue tag is inscribed with ‘Neutral,’ echoing a sentiment Kendrick has been pushing strongly during his career.”

Other artists, such as Usher and John Legend (pictured below), aren’t necessarily known for making social and political commentary in their music, but they have also been recently seen using fashion to make a statement.

As we continue to face adversities in our lives, it is important to have the opportunity to express ourselves constructively. It may not necessarily be directly based on certain social, economic, or political issues; however, we are undeniably affected by these issues in one way or another. In that regard, we should continue to find creative ways to address these issues for the betterment of mankind.