“It’s not a fetish, it’s an identity. A community” said Dominic Rodriguez, director of Fursonas documentary.
As it turns out, the furry world goes far beyond their fuzzy costumes or their fursonas. They are a creative community that in fact, has something very important to teach us.
All the single furries
What is a fury anyway?
Perhaps the answer to that question is easier than imagined. Furries are people; doctors, students, musicians, mothers, and artists of all kinds fascinated by the anthropomorphic (human characteristics) of animals.
That said, not all furries go so far into the fursuit. For some, the suit rather represents a right of passage. But basically, a furry can be anyone who plainly identifies or enjoys the fandom.
Still, there are those who find comfort and security underneath their shaggy outfit and prefer to wear them more often than not. Take the case of Boomer the Dog, or Gary, a 48-year-old man, who follows the dog philosophy and embraces it as a lifestyle.
But for many is less about the furry and more about the culture. Being an extraordinary way to create a personal brand, some furries find comfort in the creative process that’s invested. They get to tell unique stories in the most creative of ways.
The community welcomes extremely diverse groups that do not discriminate on gender, color, race, or religion. And people with diverse backgrounds have been able to find an intangible sense of belonging.
So, furries are interesting, creative, and weird. The good type of weird; they are weirdly inclusive.
First impressions are lasting impressions
“Every family has its uncle Frank,” says Uncle Kage, chairman of the Anthrocon, the world’s largest Furry convection.
And for many years there has been an incredible misconception about the Furry Fandom.
Apparently, it all started during 1980 when Mark Merlino and Rod Standfield noticed a growing fury fandom among the science fiction convections. By 1989, what started as an experiment, became the first known furry convention — ConFurence Zero, at a Holiday Inn in Garden Grove, California.
The event was designed for young, diverse people, with “colorful hobbies.” And naturally, it was marketed as such.
Honestly, who can blame them for using sex as a way to attract the youth?
But, however brilliant the idea was, it did not exactly represent the whole environment and for years the community has been fighting to fix this image.
Nevertheless, there is always that “Uncle Frank” explains Conway.
“You know, that uncle you can’t tell him not to come because he is family, but no one actually wants him there.” He is talking about those sex maniacs that, for decades, have managed to depict the community as sexual fetishists wearing furry costumes. And who has become the media’s favorite persona?
In fact, the furry community has been largely annoyed about how they have been portrayed by mainstream media. And convections like Anthrocon have very strict codes of conduct to avoid any sexual behavior.
Sure, sex is part of the culture, the majority of furries are college students in their 20s, but so is Greek life.
Behind the mask
In a world packed with stereotypes and norms, it does not come as a surprise that for many, the furry fandom has become an open space for self-expression and belonging.
Research conducted by furscience.com reported that a lot of furries have been “significantly more bullied that the average person.”
The report showed that 43% reported being bullied from the ages of 4-10. 61% reported being bullied from ages 11-18 and, 15% reported being bullied from ages 19-24. Some numbers are almost twice as likely as the “average person” in some age groups.
As it happens, behind their furry customers and masks, it is really easy to leave stereotypes behind, providing a liberating and creative space for its participants to express themselves and relate with other people.
Yet, there is no proof that the furry culture attracts victims of bullying. But the website explains that many furries have benefited from the interaction with like-minded people in recreational environments. All of which help increase self-esteem and life satisfaction.
So, whether it is a hobby, a business, or even a lifestyle, the furry community is a really good place to be yourself.
There are vibes surrounding the crucial day that is Juneteenth, and we have created a playlist to celebrate Black talent and liberation. Music, in particular, plays a big part in Black culture, and it reminds us of the real power of Black art. And, in many cases, it even goes so far as to teach us what most history books failed to do: the truth about Black history.
On this date, it is important to remember not only where it all started. But most significantly, acknowledge where we are going as a society. And, although Juneteenth marks a stepping stone that recognizes historical injustices, there still much we need to work on towards Black liberation.
With that said, Kulture Hub has curated a playlist for you to enjoy during this remarkable day, and to remind you that, through thick and thin, Black culture will always prevail.
Below is a preview of some of its tracks.
J. Cole – 1 0 0 . m i l ‘ (with Bas)
After three years, J. Cole is back with his new album The Off-season. “Took years to reach this form,” he tweeted. Cole’s album features collaborations with 21 Savage, Lil Baby, and Cam’ron and production from Timbaland, Boi-1da, T-Minus, and more.
A love letter to Black talent could not have come at at better time.
Baby Keem – Durag Activity (with Travis Scott)
Released just 2 months ago, for the first time ever, LA rapper Keem included a guest feature in one of his songs. The song comes with a mob-themed video in which he and Travis Scott join forces to escape a dangerous situation.
Chief Keef – Status
Although at the age of 25 he has done all that he wanted to do, Chief Keef was a 16-year-old on house arrest when he first reached national notoriety. Cops alleged that he aimed a gun at them and ran away. No one really knows what happened.
Thus, perhaps there is no better time to celebrate his talent and achievements.
Dame D.O.L.L.A. – Reign Reign Go Away
And there is no better way to show off black talent than with Damian Lillard. The rapper and NBA superstar released this song about two years ago.
The song is a response to Shaquille O’Neal, another star of all kinds. The song makes reference to one of Shaquille’s old films and mentions Damian’s role in Space Jam 2.
Whether it is for the history and relevance of the date or just to enjoy Black art, Juneteenth marks a significant point in history.
There surely is a lot more to improve, learn and acknowledge, but it is important to recognize the contributions that Black culture has brought to our times. From Jimmy Hendrix’s to Kendrick Lamar, and all the artists before and to come, Black music has brought us joy, through thick and thin.
It is no secret that the books we were taught have deprived us of Black history and the reality of its human rights violations. So, it is up to us to learn about “humanity’s” most guarded secrets. For that, MagellanTV has curated a Juneteenth playlist of Black documentaries.
This past year has been incredibly challenging in all sorts of ways. Not only did we need to find constant adjustments to all the radical changes that were happening in society, but we had to take some introspective time to unlearn much of the racist manners that we unconsciously inherit.
MagellanTV’s Juneteenth playlist teems with knowledge we can all use to better ourselves.
Monumental Crossroads: Heritage, History, and Hate
Throughout a 6,000 mile road-trip through the former Conference, the documentary explores the legacy of Southern Heritage. It shows a myriad of supporters and opponents along the way. Released in 2018, directed by Tim Van Den Hoff.
Against All Odds: The Fight For a Black Middle Class with Bob Herbert
Using historical footage and personal interviews, journalist Bob Herbet, explores the heroic efforts of black families to pursue the American dream despite the obstacles and setbacks that have emerged from the Jim Crow era through the Great Recession.
Against All Odds is a documentary that drastically portrays the difficulties that the African-American middle class has faced while establishing and maintaining middle-class living standards.
This groundbreaking documentary tells the story of that violent confrontation and its impact on the still relatively new nation.
A Ripple of Hope
Released in 2008 and directed by Donald Boggs, it is a documentary that detailing Robert Kennedy’s famous speech in Indianapolis on the night Martin Luther King was killed.
Kennedy’s speech was a moving and extemporaneous plea for peace and reconciliation. And Boggs does a great job at capturing this extraordinary and often-misunderstood moment in American history.
Jayhawkers: The True Story Of Phog Allen And Wilt Chamberlain
Oscar-winner director, Kevin Willmott, tales a powerful story of a small group of unlikely allies modernized college sports and changed a small Midwestern town. Jayhawkersserve as a parallel to the Civil Rights movement that would later transform the entire history.
Race for Justice
Directed by Shahram Hashemi, Race for Justice tells the story of three remarkable women.
The stories of a high school teacher, an attorney from Chicago, and a grieving daughter whose father was killed by a police officer, unfold as these three remarkable women come together to fight for acceptance and justice amidst a burgeoning national debate over race and police brutality.
Looking back and striving forward
One year has gone by since BLM protests occurred all over the United States. Derek Chauvin and many of the policemen involved in the deaths of Gorge Floyd are now serving their sentences. And, although nothing will ever pay justice for what they did, at least we know that the world now is talking towards a different, perhaps safer, direction.
The government has finally acknowledged all the pain and difficulty that the Black community has suffered by declaring Juneteenth a national holiday, but there still is so much more to learn. And much more to be done. Get started with MagellanTv’s Juneteenth playlist.
Thousands of locals are crowded in the streets of Myanmar protesting against the military coup that started this February. For years the people of Myanmar have been subjected to a military regime that not only has caused conflict but more importantly, the Rohingya people have become victims of a deadly genocide. Migrate Art and its seriesRaising for Myanmar is working to help.
Recently, Aung San Suu Kyi, the nation’s leader, was arrested for carrying walkie-talkies. And, after the protest escalated, the military launched airstrikes in retaliation, killing 6 people and injuring 11.
“An eminent bloodbath” is how The United Nations has described the events taking place in Maynmar.
Unfortunately, little awareness about this ongoing conflict has been raised by the media. However, a group of artists has come together through Migrate Art to raise awareness and funds to help the cause.
Raising for Myanmar
Raising for Myanmar, a timed-edition poster series acting as an emergency fundraiser appeal for the deteriorating situation in Myanmar.
Migrate Art is producing a series of 21 ‘protest posters’ to raise funds for the victims of the violent military coup that struck the country in February 2021.
21 of the most renowned artists, including Tacita Dean, Richard Mosse, Pietro Ruffo, Guerrilla Girls, and Sean Scully, have donated their works to Migrate Art’s initiative.
“The idea to focus on this medium, in particular, relates to the key role posters have played in the Burmese resistance. Raising for Myanmar comes from the genuine urge to support people whose who are facing situations of extreme violence. It has been incredibly uplifting to see such a positive and quick response from all the artists involved”
Simon Butler, Founder of Migrate Art
The project, Raising for Myanmar — as his previous ones — stands as a testament to the power of collectivity and creativity. It demonstrates the art industry’s power to unite, create and alleviate.
Kulture Hub had the opportunity to interview Simon Butler, founder, and curator of Migrates Art.
“Hearing about the increase in violence and seeing first-hand photos from my friend (who lives and works in Yangon) compelled me to curate a project to help. I also visited Myanmar in 2019 and experienced the beauty of the country and its people I knew I had to do something.”
Simon Butler, Founder of Migrate Art
Each poster will be sold for £50 in support of Mutual Aid Myanmar, listed in the collective platform Support, Myanmar Fund. Profits will be put towards the relief of medical staff, striking government workers, and civilians who continue to protest on the streets despite life-threatening conditions.
Founded in 2016 by Simon Butler, Migrate Art is a social enterprise dedicated to raise money for the refugee crisis through contemporary art. The company successfully empowers displaced people by collaborating with the world’s leading creative thinkers and grassroots charities.
This way, they have raised over £600,000, funded projects across the UK, Europe, and the Middle East. Not to mention that they have worked with many of the world’s best artists including Anish Kapoor, Mona Hatoum, Sean Scully, Shepard Fairey, Antony Gormley, and Loie Hollowell.
“At the very core of Migrate Art’s ethos is the theme of empowerment. I would say this is the greatest inspiration behind creating it. Through working with our charity partners, we are able to empower displaced and homeless people to rebuild their lives. This comes in the form of food, shelter, education, and job opportunities, as we feel everyone in the world should have the opportunity to live the life they want to.”
Simon Butler, Founder of Migrate Art
But, they also manage to empower the artist they work with and the people that engage with their projects. “There are a lot of people out there that want to help society in some way but don’t know-how. Migrate Art provides a platform for people to experience art, but also help the wider world” he told us.
Other projects to know
Thus, the first of his projects was Multicolour. A project focused on creating unique art pieces using pencil Butler found “in the wreckage of the Calais Jungle Refugee Camp” after it was demolished in 2016. The artist that collaborated with the works included Richard Deacon, Anish Kapoor, and Rachel Whiteread.
This happened after he learned about his brother’s experience at the Calais Jungle. Hearing the stories his brother told Butler was inspired to visit the place himself. He quickly realized that reading about the world events in the newspaper was not enough.
“I had been reading a lot of derogatory articles in the media about ‘swarms’ of migrants. But, the real-life experience was the opposite – they were kind, caring human beings just trying to survive in any way they could. This changed something in me, and I have been finding ways to use art to help ever since.”
Simon Butler, Founder of Migrate Art
Not only was the lack of information concerning, has the lack of information he found most problematic. That is how this organization started.
After going to auction at Phillips London in April 2019, Multicolour raised £121,000 in support of those affected by the global refugee crisis.
“I would say my work is currently focused on the intersection between humanitarianism and art. This can probably be traced back to 2016 when I visited the Calais Jungle refugee camp in France. This experience is what inspired me to create Migrate Art.”
Simon Butler, Founder of Migrate Art
Simon is a trained designer, but an artist at heart. He studied graphic design but, after assisting the artist D*Face, he quickly realized he was more interested in Contemporary Art. Thus, he refocused his energy and built a career of working in galleries for 8 years.
Finally, in 2016, Butler created Migrate Art, “and haven’t looked back.”
“I had been working in the contemporary art world for several years and saw a stark contrast between thousands of people living in refugee camps and the huge amount of wealth in the art industry. Visiting Calais and other parts of the world impacted by migration opened my eyes to the world outside my own ‘bubble’. To meet people that had nothing and be greeted in such a kind, open and friendly manner, I knew I had to find a way to help.”
Simon Butler, Founder of Migrate Art
Close to his heart and perhaps his favorite of all projects is the Scorched Earth. It started while he was visiting refugee camps in the Kurdistan region of northern Iraq. While there, ISIS was burning crop fields to show they still had a presence in the region.
“I had the idea to smuggle some of the ash back to London in my luggage and make paint After disguising it as a tea to get it through customs, we successfully made paint, and 15 of the world’s best artists made work with this paint. The project was a big success and raised over £350,000, and I’m really proud of this one in particular.”
Simon Butler, Founder of Migrate Art
Migrate Art being the catalyst for change
When looking through history, Simon Butler finds art to be “the catalyst of change.” After all, art has proofed to be an extremely powerful tool. Not does it inspires to make a difference but connects thousands of people around the world through a single experience.
Thus, for him, art is a tool to talk about wider issues. But most importantly, to share ideas with people that might not know about the causes we support. “
“We understand that art is an emotive experience, and it often connects with people on a deeper level than reading an article in the news.”
Simon Butler, Founder of Migrate Art
Slowly, Migrate Art is becoming a global organization. It is taking a unique approach to projects all over the world and bringing a series of distinguished artists together in the name of change.
“Global migration is only growing, and will continue to grow due to climate change and conflict, so we need to be able to continue growing to meet this increase in people that need help.”
Simon Butler, Founder of Migrate Art
Following a digital launch on Migrate Art’s website, Raising for Myanmar’s posters will be exhibited in Mayfair from May 24th, and will be available to purchase through QR codes assigned to each piece. Posters will be on sale from May 10th to June 27th.
After months of unprecedented struggles, June is finally bringing some normalities back. The weather is getting warmer, places are opening to their full capacity, panic has ceased, and it feels like the perfect time to celebrate with pride. As Pride Month rolls in, MagellanTV has come up with a list of docs to keep you inspired.
Although there’s still a lot of work to do, celebrate those big steps that humanity has taken over the years. Perhaps it is time to remember where we were and how far we have come as a society.
For that reason, MagellanTV — a premium streaming video service dedicated to showing high-quality documentaries to a global audience – curated this playlist of must-watch documentaries to celebrate Pride Month.
Survival of the Fabulous
Survival of the Fabulous is an award-winning documentary that explores how gay men have thrived even in the face of being social outcasts. Director Bryce Sage explores the biology and evolution of male homosexuality, including whether or not people can be born gay.
How We Got Gay
Directed by Marc de Guerre, How We Got Gay, is a top documentary film from 2017. It shares the incredible story of how gay men and women went from being the ultimate outsiders to occupying the halls of power. The documentary has a profound influence on our cultural, political, and social lives.
The mini-series, “Sex Revolutions,” follows both a colorful and controversial chapter of modern American History. From the 1950s to the 2000s, the documentary follows individuals and events that coalesced to challenge the moral orthodoxy surrounding sex and sexual behavior. It is a journey around the world to discover the sexual revolution.
Pregnant Man: The Story of Thomas Beatie
Director Luke Campbell tells the story of Thomas Beattie and his family. The documentary follows him telling tales of his sad childhood, transgender issues as a teenager, and how he became the first man in the world to give birth.
The man with swollen belly sparked an ethical debate about transgender right across the world.
Ladyboys is a 1992 documentary that shows the struggles of two teenage kathoeys, Thai transgender persons. In this documentary, Jeremy Marre follows two countryside boys on their path to becoming famous performers in the glamorous cabarets of Pattaya.
Codebreaker: Alan Turing – Persecution Of A Genius
This 2011 documentary by Claire Beavan and Nick Stacey follows Alan Turning, a famous mathematician and computer science pioneer, whose lifetime achievements went unrecognized. Instead, he was disgraced for being a gay man in a time when homosexual acts were illegal.
MagellanTV and its dedication to telling essential stories for Pride Month
MagellanTV is a global streaming service founded by filmmakers who believe in the power of telling real stories that have defined the human experience and point the way to the future.
The service not only offers more than a thousand unique tittles but one of the deepest collections of documentaries and factual content available.
They have an expertly curated selection of movies and series in the genres of History, Biography, Science & Tech, Space, Nature, War, Crime & Mystery, and Culture.
These delicately hand-picked docs for Pride Month show MagellanTV is dedicated to telling essential stories. Start a free trial today.
Many of these visual artworks can be a great example to study and destigmatize different mental health problems.
The following photographers scrutinize and communicate different aspects of mental health. They explore depression, anxiety, and different mental disorders. But, most importantly, their depictions expose and challenge the taboos over the matter.
Edward Honaker was diagnosed with chronic depression when he was only 19-years-old. Thus, the photographer documents his experience with it through a series of black and white self-portraits. Honaker successfully captures the isolating fear that depression brings.
“Your mind is who you are, and when it doesn’t work properly, it’s scary,” he told The Huffington Post. Ironically, it was only after his diagnosis that he saw a light at the end of the tunnel.
Sometimes, when your mind is off, it’s important to name the problem. Not only does this give you a kind of explanation, but it’s the first step toward finding a solution. That way, Honaker used his camera to turn these emotions into a tangible expressions.
Katie Joy Crawford
At only 11-years-old, Crawford had her first panic attack. When she was 13-years-old, she was diagnosed with anxiety and depression.
In her series, My Anxious Heart, Katie Joy Crawford represents her physical experiences with anxiety and depression. The series not only aims to capture her internal struggles, but to bring them to light.
The photo series explores the emotional and physical journey that her diagnosis gave her life experience. She depicts her own experience as both draining and suffocating. Yet, aims to explain the weight that these bears in our society, thus challenging social taboos.
Heather Agyepong, on the other hand, brings awareness to the difficulties in dealing with racism and oppression. This British-Ghanian artist sheds light on ‘Black trauma’ through a series of staged self-portraits. Mixing historical figures and her own experiences, she combats all the negative feelings of inequality and racism.
Her goal is to open up conversations about how these issues affect the Black community politically, socially, and most importantly, mentally. Thus, acknowledging the severity of the problem.
Through a deeply personal series ‘Its Hardly noticeable,’ photographer John William Keedy, illustrates his struggle with anxiety disorder.
After seven or eight years of being diagnosed with anxiety, Keedy was ready to create an artwork that not only represented him, but something that could help some audiences to relate. Through his series, he creates the ‘character,’ a person who intends to portray the different struggles that anxiety presents for different people.
He told NPR magazine, “if only to help a couple of people who are going through the same thing in some way feel that they’re not alone in this.”
From the Plateau State conflicts to Boko Haram’s insurgency, Nigerian people have had their fair share of suffering. That leaves its scars.
Etinosa Yvonne Osayine uses her camera as a powerful tool to depict trauma and use it as evidence of such atrocities. Her series, ‘It’s all in my Head,’ aims to help people open up about their experience and help them deal with trauma.
“When I wake up in the morning and just before I go to bed, I think of all that happened. I went through hell and I can’t get it out of my head. Boko Haram is the worst thing that happened to me.”
At the age of seven, Yospie Cardoso was diagnosed with schizophrenia. Through a series of self-portraits, he depicts the life of a man living with schizophrenia. Not only does he hope to incentivize awareness, but also to eliminate the stigmas around it.
“It’s been a chance to show people my experiences. When you tell people you have schizophrenia, they automatically think you’re crazy. I want people to understand and stop looking at the stigma of it.”
The importance of photographers specializing in mental health
Art can be both golden or gummy, but it is always real. Whether it is the subconscious mind communicating something beyond the realms of rationality, or a practical depiction of existence.
What these artists communicate, for that matter, depends on the eyes of those viewing. At the end of the day, the beholder would always see what the beholder wants to see. So, whatever it is, just let it sink.
Have you heard about gadolinium toxicity? If you are lucky, probably not. Because gadolinium toxicity is something that has been hidden away from the general public. Why? Because like many faults in other systems, this is a very lucrative problem for a very big industry — big pharma.
And, perhaps this realization could not have come at a worse time. Now, more than ever, people need to trust medicine, doctors, and that with which we are being injected. But, we are not going to be complicit with its silence.
Gadolinium toxicity is a very serious condition affecting thousands of people in the US and all over the world. It is the main metal used for the contrast, a chemical that is injected on people for MRIs’ “visibility.”
“But, gadolinium is one of the most pernicious rare earth metal, it should never be injected into the body.”
Dan Root, Occupational Medicine Specialist 2021
After learning about this condition, Kulture Hub interviewed several people suffering from it, as well as experts, to learn exactly what is going on.
What is gadolinium toxicity?
Gadolinium is a silvery-white metal. Naturally, like mercury or any other metal, these have fatal effects on the body if not administered correctly. However, for years, gadolinium has been used in contrast to MRIs.
Although it is not 100 percent necessary, gadolinium contrast medium jets injected into the patient’s body to improve the quality of the MRI images.
And, even if physicians claim it is “generally very safe,” more than 8,000 people have been affected by it. The symptoms of intoxication include, but are not limited to, brain fogginess, muscle pain, dizziness, balance/coordination issues, and more.
“In fact, I want to use the correct term for this, we’re talking about xenobiotics. And these are heavy metals and synthetic chemicals that are foreign to the body; they should not be in the body.”
Daniel Root, 2021
Daniel Root, an occupational medicine expert, explained that these are chemicals that are not naturally produced nor expected to be in a person’s body. “These toxins are lipophilic,” he said.
And what that means is that livers and kidneys can’t run their normal detoxification process. Thus, these heavy metals wind up becoming sequestered in your fat. “That is when the problem starts.”
When the gadolinium contrast is injected into your body, your blood carries it all over. So, your brain, your muscles, and even your bones are affected by it.
“Oh, gadolinium. Totally medical malpractice. You hear of people dying. They can get something called NSF. It stands for Nephrogenic Systemic Fibrosis. This means that your organs turn into wood, basically, you die from the inside out. So that’s, that’s a common side effect of gadolinium.”
Erin Shackelfrod, Gad patient 2021
A huge ship to turn
The problem is that despite the vast amount of evidence that gadolinium contrast is affecting many people. Doctors, nurses, and, to no one’s surprise, big pharma industries have not only ignored the issue but invalidated its facts claiming that “the benefits outweigh the loss.”
Taking into consideration that an MRI with contrast costs significantly more than an MRI without contrast, it is not impossible to understand where such claims come from.
Hundreds of people joined Root’s Facebook group; Sauna Detoxication using Niacin, on a weekly basis. A group that largely focuses on providing detoxification programs for gad patients.
Thus, as the cases of gadolinium Toxicity significantly keep increasing, there is more information from outside sources floating around.
“There’s enough literature out there that they should know. The problem is, the medical industry is like a huge ship, that in order to get it to turn, it can take a long time. So, I don’t think most of the radiologists or technicians and nurses have not yet fully realized the damage they’re causing.”
Daniel Root, 2021
People suffering from gadolinium toxicity
In 2017, Gena O’Kelley (Norris), Chuck Norris’ wife, filed a lawsuit against Bracco Imaging, an Italian company that specializes in the Diagnostic Imaging Business. “Norris described a burning sensation, tissue thickening and a foggy mind persisting for years after a series of MRIs.”
After testing her for cancer, the doctors were unable to reach any explanations. She transferred to alternative medicine clinics in China and Reno, Nevada. For 5 months she laid in a bed at the clinic with IV’S. Her treatment revealed high levels of gadolinium remained in her body years after her last MRI.
So, you know shit gets real when it even affects Chuck Norris’ wife.
And, unfortunately, she is not the only one suffering the life-lasting effects of gadolinium toxicity. Catherine Laurent, was a member of the Kulture Hub team when all of a sudden she could not even move.
“3 days before the MRI I took a physical and everything came [back] perfect. I was at my best, I used to be anemic and the physical even showed I was cured of that and in one minute, my whole life change”
Catherine Laurent, 2021.
Just hours after her first MRI she knew something was not right. It started with a simple headache that then quickly escalated into brain fogginess, dizziness, and muscle pain.
As the symptoms persisted, and her blood and MRI work showed nothing uncommon, she contacted the medical facility again. After a dance of referrals, from neurologists to physicians, Cat did some research herself.
Finding out about gad poisoning, she contacted the doctor that referred her to the MRI with contrast inquiring about the possibility of having it. To no one’s surprise, “she denied the possibility of being gadolinium toxicity and wanted it to be everything else,” Cat said.
“I feel like my body is rotting. You feel toxic. It starts feeling like the normal flu. But then, your body literally feels like it’s rotting inside.”
Cat Laurent, 2021
And, although she could not help us with video editing due to her condition, she was a substantial lead for this story.
Awareness of the issue
“I would say what has happened is that we’ve had several of our gadolinium group members, the Galilean poisoned group members say that they requested not to get injected and they were talked into it. Most of them have said that they were never shown any of the, you know, the inserts that would have all of the warnings and occlusions. And for the most part, a large group of them had no idea gadolinium was a problem. And so they were never told it was a problem. Which, you know, again, I think it goes to a lack of training on the newest information that’s available.”
Daniel Root, 2021
Like plenty of our issues, this one starts with a lack of awareness. We are not suggesting that doctors and nurses should stop using contrast (although maybe they should), but at least validate the problem by advising their patients about the severity of the possible side effects.
“Nobody ever told me about what side effects could be associated with the MRI. I’ve got all the paperwork that I’ve ever signed anywhere. And nobody ever said, you know, hey, this could happen to you. The neurologist never told me. The imaging place didn’t tell me.”
Erin Shackelfrod, Gad patient 2021
Like many others, Erin went to the ER with an entirely different condition. One that, without a contrasted MRI would have gone unnoticed or without many complications. “I have learned that I have a connective tissue disorder that was pretty much activated because of the MRI,” Erin told us later on.
Coverage of gadolinium toxicity
In the efforts to cover the severity of the problem, many doctors argue that the gadolinium contrast medium only affects those with pre-existing conditions. But, that is not exactly the case.
Like Cat, many healthy patients are affected by the poisoning. One of Daniel’s patients had an MRI with contrast 32 times. Before having them, she enjoyed a healthy life. But now, she has several brain surgeries to recover from.
“Her health went downhill after the first one. And then the gadolinium. A lot of people will get lesions on their brains because the gadolinium will actually settle in their brains. And she had two or three brain surgeries because they told her she had cancer of the brain. And it was Gad the whole time.”
Erin Shackelfrod, Gad patient 2021
O’Kelley’s case leaves a huge precedent and a strong impediment for the issue to be solved. Thus, Root confessed that without a change in standards of care, the issue would probably get worse. Nonetheless, he has hope.
“Because I’m seeing too many people suffering from these injections. They’re finding out about our protocol and contacting me, and I give them hope, you know, and the thing is, is that the program is helping, but I don’t think anybody’s ever going to fully get the gadolinium out of their system.”
Daniel Root, 2021
The program, Get Detoxinated, originally started as a technique used in the clinical environment for 30 years. It was meant to help patients with any heavy metal exposure. In fact, the program treated over 200 responders of 9/11, who inhaled all the smoke and dust during the cleanup of ground zero. Not to mention radiation and Drug Addiction Rehab.
The light at the end of the tunnel
Thus, since gadolinium is a heavy metal, it is something the program helps to pull out. However, since gadolinium toxic material is in the body, you’re never going to be able to get it out 100 percent. Yet, Root promises that the quality of life and health does improve when doing the program more than once.
“The thing about gadolinium is is that and with any toxic material in the body is you’re never going to be able to get it out 100% and any amount of gadolinium in the body is not safe. So it has the ability to cause further problems”
Daniel Root, 2021
Detoxication is a 30-day program, where your body basically sweats all the toxins out. It uses Niacin, a B3 vitamin that induces two actions in the body. First, it opens capillaries, allowing more blood to flow.
But, most importantly, it rebounds lipolysis. Thus, it results in very large liberations of fat-stored toxins to be mobilized and put back into the blood, so that then you can then take that out through the sweat.
“I would say that we’ve got studies that show 30% to 65% of the body burden of certain chemicals and heavy metals can be reduced in a 30-day program. But with gadolinium, my best guess is that we’re only seeing 12% to 15% coming out 30-day program. So, I would recommend doing it more than once.”
Daniel Root, 2021
So how do we trust our institutions but still have good judgement on our own?
What else have we learned this year besides not trusting many, if not most, of our institutions?
The truth is, as revealing as Covid was about the social and racial injustices in most systems, we are far from disintegrating all that big institutions hold away from us, and the medical world is no exception. Turns out that for years, intoxicating people with a metal called gadolinium, something that is injected into your body when you get MRIs.
“I can’t tell you that there’s a large population of patients that have been injected with gadolinium, who are greatly suffering from it. And that is a travesty of science. And I think they need to actually reconsider whether or not it’s actually worth injecting a heavy metal into the body in order for them to be able to read the information. Whereas in most cases, it’s my understanding that the gadolinium is not needed. But it’s usually requested to make the job easier for them to read. I think that no, the gain is not worth the end result.”
The pace by which the world is changing is unprecedented. How to deal with all the uncertainty that is being brought? Perhaps our change has to come from within. In his book, 21 Lessons for the 21st Century, Yuval Noah Harari offers a broad scope of the challenges we are presented with today.
While he explores the significance of storytelling explaining our achievement as a civilization, he also offers its threats and limitations. But more importantly, he argues that humans’ biggest achievement is yet to happen.
“We humans are have learned to control the world outside of us, but we have very little control of the world inside of us.”
Yuval Noah Harari, Pg 7.
The liberal story for Yuval Noah Harari
If you are familiar with Harari’s work, you are probably familiar with his concept that humans understand the world through storytelling. “Humans think in stories rather than in facts, numbers or equations.” he writes. “The simpler the story, the better.”
He argues that after the catastrophes of the Second World War, humanity was left with a single story to look after; liberalism. A story promising the liberation from oppressive systems that, for years, deprived societies, economies and people, of their own humanity.
“The liberal story celebrates the value of power and liberty and acknowledges that not all is good in the world and there is still so much to overcome.”
Yuval Noah Harari, Pg. 4
Yet, how are we using this story to fit the new, unprecedented, technological advances? How will the liberal story prevent an era of unconscious subordination?
“The liberal political system was shaped during the industrial era to manage steam engines, oil refineries, and television sets. It has difficulty dealing with the ongoing revolutions of information technology and biotechnology.”
Yuval Noah Harari, Pg.6
Infotech and biotech revolutions
The truth is that we (and politicians) are barely able to understand such technologies, let alone are able to “regulate their explosive potential.” And, the problem is not only that infotech and biotech revolutions are restructuring economies and societies, but our own bodies and minds.
There is enough talk on how machines are taking over human jobs. The threat of becoming irrelevant in the future is not only real but close.
Harari argues that eventually, people will not only have to constantly reinvent their-selfs but their purposes. Our days of specialization are far behind and if we want to stay relevant, we need to keep re-defying our purposes and learnings.
What will equality mean in a digital era? How will communities look like? And how will the liberal promise adjust to these changes?
Most importantly, as machine learning takes advantage of the new digital ecosystems such as Facebook, Amazon, Netflix, etc. they begin to understand our minds — what we like and don’t like — much better than what we do.
As of today, my Netflix recommendations are trash, but as I keep binge-watching series and movies, it slowly understands what type of movies I like best. Eventually, it would be far easier for Netflix to know my movie taste, than to know it myself.
Science-fiction vs. fiction in Yuval Noah Harari’s mind
Harari poses an interesting perspective on how science fiction has become perhaps the most important artist genre. And, if you are anything like me, The Matrix, Her, Westworld, and Black Mirror have shaped my predicaments for the future.
“Perhaps the worst present-day science fiction is that it tends to confuse intelligence with consciousness. As a result, it is overly concerned about a potential war between robots and humans, when in fact we need to fear a conflict between a small superhuman elite empowered by algorithms and a vast underclass of disempowered Homo sapiens. In thinking about the future of AI, Karl Marx is still a better guide than Steven Spielberg.”
Yuval Noah Harari, Pg 253
Surprisingly, he argues, that perhaps the more realistic depiction of the human condition comes from Disney itself. In 2015, Pixar released Inside Out, a movie that beyond telling the story of Riley, shows how complex humans are. And thus, brings the concept of the Matrix outside the screen and into our heads instead.
Ironically, Harari argues that humankind is far more complex than a simple story that we have been telling ourselves for years. But that is not entirely our fault, for centuries we have been using fiction to give meaning to our lives.
Humans get married to their jobs, to their partners, to their beliefs. We get married to stories. To fiction. But truth is, Humans are not stories.
And the problem of believing that is that data is using our stories to their advantage to manipulate ourselves. Soon Coca-Cola, Amazon, and even Apple will know what we are looking for to give meaning to our lives. Harari hence fears, an era of digital dictatorship, where we don’t even realize the subordination we are subduing to.
Finding meaning through education
Be it religion, nationalism, or a simple romance, people tend to identify with a story to give meaning to their lives. And the problem is not that their stories are not valid but that, in the fast-changing world that we live in, those stories are no longer reliable to give us meaning.
“Once our personal identities and entire social systems are built on top of a story, it becomes unthinkable to doubt it, not because of the evidence supporting it, but because its collapse will trigger a personal and social cataclysm. In history, the roof is sometimes more important than the foundation.”
Yuval Noah Harari, Pg. 289
Thus, the question is, do we have the tools we need to adapt to change? With an already overflow of information, would our education system still work? More important than learning, Harari argues, it is important to make sense of it.
“Most important of all will be the ability to deal with change, learn new things and preserve your mental balance in unfamiliar situations. In order to keep up with the world of 2050, you will need merely to invent new ideas and products, but above all reinvent yourself again and again.”
Yuval Noah Harari, Pg. 268
It is important to understand that things are not working as they did for centuries. For the first time in history, they are changing so fast that we can no longer rely on adults to understand how to deal with it. And our production-line theory of education and social development is coming to its expiration date.
And so, in the 21st century, the most urgent and complicated question to answer is “who am I?”
Stories are ultimately human inventions
But, who should we trust to answer such questions? In the digital world that we live in humans have become easier to manipulate.
“Just like Riley Andersen from Inside Out, most people barely know themselves and when they try to “listen to themselves,” they easily become prey of external manipulation.”
We, humans, seek for meaning to understand ourselves and the role we play in our communities. But while a good story must give us a role, it is not necessarily true.
To the best of our scientific understanding, none of the stories that different cultures, religions, and tribes have invented are true. They are human inventions.”
Yuval Noah Harari, 287
We are neither the religion we follow, the school we graduated from, the job we have, the person we date, nor the role our culture has given us. We are not stories.
And if we really want to understand, we need to stop identifying with our Instagram account. More than that, with the inner story we have told ourselves.
What should we do then?
Just stop, do nothing. Try to meditate and learn more about yourself. Stop swiping your phone to see how you want your next vacation to look like.
Stop relying on Netflix to tell you what to watch. Meditate. Go to therapy. Do art or play sports. Whatever it helps you understand your own mind, and understand how to deal with your inner fears, biases, and complexities.
See what the world really looks like.
We are now on a time where we have to make a choice.
“If we make an effort we can still investigate who we really are. But if we want to make use of this opportunity, we had better do it now”
The big buzz on NFTs is crashing the internet. And although many of us still don’t even understand what cryptocurrency really is, plenty of us are rushing to get into this promising world. However, when it comes to the future of NFTs, it is sad to say that artists might be a little too late.
Kulture Hub had the opportunity to talk with Shidan Gouran, co-founder and president of Global Blockchains Technology Corp. What follows is an incredible insight into what creatives can expect of NFTs in the future.
From a Twitter handle, digital NBA cards, to a digital work of art. And, according to Shidan Gouran, that is exactly the problem with it.
“NFTs can represent a contract, but they can also represent something completely meaningless. You are not actually buying the rights to anything. It’s just kind of hype nonsense.”
Shidan Gouran, 2021
However, the reasons behind all the hype are actually good and meaningful. People have realized the tremendous value of uncentralized networks and the beneficial use they give to their creations.
For the digital artists, in particular, it actually makes a lot of sense. In theory, this could potentially solve the problem of authentification making it easier to manage copyright material. Not to mention, this method allows transactions to be much more profitable, as artists would be able to profit every time the work is re-sold, faster, and safer.
Take the case of Beeple, the Instagram sensation that sold his first NFT through Christie’s at almost 70 million dollars.
“I think you are going to see a major crash in this space when people spend their money there and realize they are buying nonsense really.”
Shidan Gouran, 2021
The theory is awesome. But the internet is not there yet. Not to mention, it takes an excessive amount of energy and it is not sustainable. To put it on a scale, every bitcoin transaction costs a trip from one side of the states to another and right.
However, this fantasy world where grassroots artists are able to profit from their art creates problems where promises are hard to keep. According to Gouran, the future of NFTs is different than what we expect.
Like in any market, its saturation makes it inefficient. So, artists hear stories like Beeple and expect to have his same success. But according to Gouran, the market would simply not hold to that amount of artist getting an NFT.
“I think at some point this would become a market of musical chairs, where the market won’t want what the supply is. I think right now the disadvantage is that all artists saw this and rushed into it, even the ones that were dismissive of this space and they are just not going to see those results.”
Shidan Gouran, 2021
So, if it’s not already, it would soon become too late for these grassroots artists.
The future of NFTs, contrary to art, is bright for gaming
However, Gouran insists that NFTs still have a bright future many years away. For businesses like the NBA or any sports trading cars, the future seems more promising.
“I think other businesses like baseball cards, or basketball cards are going to become NFTs and are going to be traded in a completely de-centralized fashion using a regular database. But they are going to have the option to move it outside the platform just like any exchange, and take it somewhere else and bring it in as an NFTs. So that is where I think you are going to see the scalability of it and the real use for the near future.”
Shidan Gouran, 2021
And, of course, games.
“So, imagine buying a game inside of roadblocks and moving it to a completely different game.”
Shidan Gouran, 2021
According to Gouran, in games assets, NFTs make perfect sense. They are successfully creating an online economy where these assets become more valuable.
Not to mention that they are also taking care of DRMs so they know that no one can cheat their systems. Plus, it is cheaper for them. They can move it from one game to another and that is really a big deal.
Currently, all the major publishers of games and platforms are looking to create a consortium that could do these types of things. Something that could potentially move one asset from one company to another, and they are looking to use NFTs for that purpose.
“Actually, I think that when gaming companies come on board, and they are all working on this now, the DRM solution would be baked in and that is really their benefit for doing this.”
What else is there to expect?
Shidan concluded that in the next two years, we can expect the hype with grassroots artists to die out. Not only because of market saturation but the fact that this type of situation is not scalable to start with.
But, we can expect exponential growth in sporting and gaming consortiums that support this kind of collectibles as assets.
However, limiting NFTs to the digital world overlooks the possible opportunities they could have in the physical world too. The physical world already trades this collectible, (people collect cards, jewelry, etc).
There is a possibility of using NFTs in these as a transaction receipt or potentially a warehouse receipt where people won’t actually have to redeem the goods.
And also certification for other goods like art or even jewelry. With NFTs associated with any of these goods, the authentification and certification process would be much easier. Because once you have this online, it is not a company that has to take care of it, but a decentralized system.
This is an amazing and more effective way to make things more efficient.
Women’s History Month has officially ended. But we didn’t want to see it go without talking about Yelda Ali and her responsibility as a creative. A creator of all sorts and now a writer too, Yelda published her new book, Outlet, a space that covers human experiences in a unique way.
But, perhaps most powerful, it’s their ability to create shared human experiences. Thus, Outlet bridges the gap between cultures by depicting what it means to be human in the 21st century.
The book is dedicated to “to those who believed, those who didn’t. To those who survived, and those who didn’t.” Thus, it touches matters of mental health and reminds us of values of community, empathy, and compassion. Yet, most importantly, it reminds us that human struggle is real, is painful, and it is shared.
Now more than ever, conversations about mental health are happening. And, although depression, anxiety, and stress are far away from losing their prejudices, at least they are being taken seriously.
Still, there is much work to do in the mental health awareness department, and perhaps Outlet is a great place to start. Yelda Ali has brought to light all these struggles, yet this time from various different perspectives.
“Everyone talks about depression. Yet, the conversation is often drawn from the perspectives of a white person or scientific studies. But, have you ever wonder what does depression means to an Arab woman in the middle east? Or a Black person in America?”
Yelda Ali, 2021
Our problems are deeper than the names they are given. More than that, they are valid.
“My father would always say, ‘these are the stories that stay behind the curtains and do not make it to the centerstage.’ And indeed, this is the shadow no one wants to talk about.
Yelda Ali, 2021
Yet, these are the stories that make the world real. And now that we are on a collective process of understanding and healing, it is important that we make the collective effort to create spaces to listen non -judgementally. It is essential that as creatives, we understand our responsibilities.
To talk of some uncomfortable realities that are very relatable for women and men, black or white, Christian or Muslim.
Outlet blurs away the lines of identity to connect its readers through a single human experience. When stripping away the identities, or any given context, the reader is able to naturally connect with the story, without any bias or stereotype. Judging just by their feelings.
About the Author, Yelda Ali
Borned to Afghan parents, Yelda always felt connected with her cultures. She was born in Germany and grew up in Canada, yet her parents had instill her about all Afghan traditions and rituals since a young age. Thus, she was raised in as a child of the world but sedimented with Afghan values.
“Traditions are all about coming together. In my family, we ate together, we heard music together, there was this huge sense of connection, not only to the culture but between each other.”
But, what inspired Yelda Ali the most was storytelling. “Storytelling runs deep in the family,” she told us. Particularly, they valued stories about change in the world. She confessed that instead of Britney Spears posters, she had Martin Luther King hanged on her wall.
And, after countless hours of re-watching MLK speeches, she acknowledged that using your voice helps. Since child Yelda had realized an essential tool for creative people; storytelling and the power it bears.
Yelda Ali grew up to do exactly that; use her voice to help others. Thus, creating different spaces for people to do the same. She is the founder of Camel Assembly, an international women-only collective of creative leaders. A community focused on using voices to create deep connections.
“It is almost like a ritual, everyone gets the chance to speak and share their stories. And with that, I have discovered not only that people are willing to listen, but also to form deeper connections. They come together based on who they really are, and not because of their titles or accomplishments”
Yelda Ali, 2021
Through it, she not only realized two important lessons that would change the world. One, vulnerability is contagious. Two, when people have an outlet, they let out.