‘Momo Challenge’: Stop spreading the fake news

Please stop sharing without fact-checking.

It’s like spreading chain letters. We may mean well and think it’s better to be safe than sorry, but we unwittingly become part of the problem by making things like the so-called “Momo Challenge” hoax go viral.

Please read this Forbes article. Here’s an excerpt:

“Carmel Glassbrook, manager of Professionals Online Safety Helpline, told me they have received calls on the topic of Momo, from schools and local authorities and police. ‘The main problem’, she said, ‘was not the phenomenon itself but that professionals and parents were sharing Facebook posts about Momo without checking on its validity. It has become a viral topic, founded more on scaremongering headlines than well-researched facts.’”

You can also get more information from Parent Zone.

“The Momo character — the disfigured face attached to a bird’s body — was, in fact, a prop named ‘Mother Bird’ made in Japan three years ago for an art exhibition. Its sinister stretched features make for a disturbing image that could easily upset or worry a younger child. The Momo challenge is allegedly ‘played’ over WhatsApp. The Momo character asks would-be participants to contact ‘her’ and do a series of challenges — the final challenge being suicide. Of course, the evidence for this behaviour happening is limited — there isn’t much evidence of a child actually being harmed and what seems to be happening is that the image is spreading because people are using the image in their profiles.”

YouTube has also issued a statement.

“Many of you have shared your concerns with us over the past few days about the Momo Challenge–we’ve been paying close attention to these reports. After much review, we’ve seen no recent evidence of videos promoting the Momo Challenge on YouTube. Videos encouraging harmful and dangerous challenges are clearly against our policies, the Momo challenge included. Despite press reports of this challenge surfacing, we haven’t had any recent links flagged or shared with us from YouTube that violate our Community Guidelines.”

Save ‘One Day at a Time’

One Day at a Time” is a great show, but unfortunately it’s in danger of not being renewed. Hope you could start watching this show on Netflix so that it can get renewed for a fourth season.

Here’s an excellent Forbes article on why “One Day at a Time” deserves to be saved.

“While the show still revolves around a single mom, they’re now a Cuban-American family living in Los Angeles, and the matriarch is played by Justina Machado (who honestly deserves an Emmy for her portrayal as veteran Penelope ‘Penny’ Alvarez). Penny suffers from depression and anxiety and is back at school to try and better her career. She has a son (Marcel Ruiz) and daughter (Isabella Gomez), and the daughter is out and proud and in a relationship with someone who identifies as non-binary. Their landlord, Schneider (Todd Grinnell) — and still no first name needed — continues to give unwarranted advice, but now he’s a recovering alcoholic and drug addict who’s just trying to stay on the straight and narrow path. If all that’s not enough for you, Penny’s mother is played by legendary Rita Moreno, one of only 15 people on the planet to have EGOT’ed. Moreno is 87-years old, playing a character who’s supposed to be 70 (!!), and she is a force to be reckoned with in every single scene of the show. Moreno as Lydia frequently bursting into the action by throwing open some curtains. It’s so fitting, and so perfect.”

On a personal note, Moreno’s character, Lydia a.k.a. Abuelita, reminds us of my late mother-in-law, Lynda. Which is another reason my wife, daughter and I bond over this show.

Please help save “One Day at a Time”. We need more shows like this.

Join The Correspondent and help unbreak the news

News is broken. As The Correspondent founder Rob Wijnberg puts it, “what fast food is to the body, news is to the mind.”

“It briefly satisfies your appetite for spectacle and diversion, but ultimately leaves you unsatisfied and uninformed. Because the news is mostly empty calories too.

“It promises to tell you ‘what’s going on in the world,’ but actually does the opposite: it constantly shows you sensational exceptions, but leaves you in the dark about the rule. It scares you with overexposed risks, but blinds you to systematic progress. It transfixes you with depressing problems, but almost never offers you any solutions.”

News unfortunately has become the equivalent of junk food, emphasizing the sensational rather than the foundational. That’s why I’ve signed up for The Correspondent, joining a new movement for unbreaking the news.

The Correspondent, which will start publishing on Sept. 30, 2019 after its successful crowdfunding campaign, will be ad-free and will treat readers not as the audience, but as members of the community who will collaborate in changing how news is created and how we pay for it.

Want to become part of this movement? Join now.

Should everyone get a basic income?

The Case for a Basic Income” by Robert Jameson is the 12th book I’ve finished this year.

“The basic income would help to restore our freedoms. It would give us each the negotiating power to drive a fairer bargain with potential employers. It would make us less dependent on employers and give us the freedom to say no to them when we feel they fall short of reasonable standards of decency and respect. And the removal of means-testing would greatly reduce the power of the state to snoop into our personal affairs and interfere in our lives.”

Rutger Bregman, Winnie Byanyima slam billionaires at World Economic Forum in Davos

“I mean, it feels like I’m at a firefighters conference and no one’s allowed to speak about water, right?”

Dutch historian and writer Rutger Bregman, author of one of my favorite books, “Utopia for Realists”, and Winnie Byanyima, executive director of Oxfam, spoke truth to power at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

Here’s a video clip from NowThis News.

It’s true: billionaires don’t want to talk about tax avoidance. Philanthropy is not the answer to solving inequality. It’s time for the rich to pay their fair share of taxes.

Oh, and that arrogant rich guy in the audience who angrily reacted is Ken Goldman, the former CFO of Yahoo!

Stop buying into consumerism

As an aspiring minimalist, I have definitely become less materialistic over the years, though I still have a long way to go.

Here’s a great blog post from Becoming Minimalist on how to get rid of the consumerist mindset.

“Becoming Minimalist was founded on and has remained true to one simple message: Owning less is better than pursuing more. Possessions do not equal joy—even worse, they often distract us from it.

“But to live this out on a daily basis, we must be mentally prepared to counter the pull and influence of consumerism.”

‘The Umbrella Academy’: No raining on this parade

“Life is short, and if you wanna do something, you just gotta go for it.” Funny enough, this quote is from Hazel, a temporal assassin.

Yup, that’s “The Umbrella Academy” for you.

I just finished all 10 episodes of “The Umbrella Academy”, which is based on the Dark Horse comic book series by Gerard Way. And I absolutely love this Netflix Original Series.

Here’s a The Verge review that I feel captures what makes this series so great. It’s not every show that can make you care about all the characters — even bad guys like Hazel the temporal assassin.

“Tonally, Umbrella Academy lands somewhere between Legion and The Tick in its mix of drama, action, and absurdity. The Umbrella Academy keeps some aspects of its surreal source comic, like the children being primarily raised by a robot mother (who gave them their names) and a sentient chimpanzee, and Number Five being hunted by a pair of time-traveling assassins wearing cartoon-character masks. Where the comics move at a breakneck pace, Blackman slows things down to skillfully flesh the story out.”

Estonia and the digital society

Here’s an awesome article by Kersti Kaljulaid, the president of Estonia. She is Estonia’s first female head of state.

“For some weird and unexplainable reason, people normally expect better services from private companies than from their own governments. This is not the case for our citizens in Estonia. They expect a lot from their government and are constantly demanding us to improve and innovate. Estonians expect that if the private sector is constantly innovating, the government should be, too.”

Under my umbrella, ella, ella, eh, eh, eh

That’s not my LSS, though I can’t help but think of Rihanna’s song when I hear the title “The Umbrella Academy

Nope, my current LSS is actually They Might Be Giants’ cover of “Istanbul (Not Constantinople)” thanks to Episode 1 of this awesome Netflix Original Series.

“The Umbrella Academy” is based on Gerard Way’s Eisner Award-winning comic book series. Way is more popularly known as the former lead vocalist of My Chemical Romance. Here’s a great interview published by The New York Times, where Way talks about how he ended up writing the comic book series.

“My initial inspiration was a few different things. I had been such a fan of the Marvel Silver Age, and I grew up reading Chris Claremont’s X-Men. Marvel characters had a lot of issues and problems, but I wanted to give them deeper, more complex problems. I was also reading Hellboy by Mike Mignola, and to me that was a postmodern horror comic. There was nothing like that for superheroes. I usually try to make things that I wish existed that I would want to listen to or read.”

Super. Dysfunctional. Family. Yup, that’s “The Umbrella Academy”.

The future according to Chinese science fiction

I’m halfway through “The Three-Body Problem” — the first book in Cixin Liu’s Remembrance of Earth’s Past science fiction trilogy — and it really lives up to the hype.

Looking forward to finishing it and exploring the works of other Chinese science fiction writers.

Here’s an excellent article on the new wave of Chinese science fiction.

“‘Some people have this sense that technology is something non-human or even inhuman. Something totally alien from us,’ Xia Jia said in an interview from Xi’an.

“Her work questions this idea. A company may have invented a robot nanny, yet the grandpa in her story bends the machine to his will — to care for his family.

“Neither entirely optimistic or pessimistic about technology, like many of her peers, Xia Jia captures its effect on Chinese society in transition and the traces of adaptation in everyday life — ‘the ideas and practices created by ordinary persons’.”