Archive for May, 2017

Antique Collection Is Good For The Soul

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We all can’t help but admire people with extensive antique collections. Their dedication to their passion is anything but outstanding. But aside from collecting valuable antique and heirloom pieces that are such eye candies, collecting these rare items itself is a stress reliever for antique collectors and also a great way to pass time without ever getting bored.

You do not need to spend a lot of money to start an antique collection. Although most of the hard-to-find items are quite expensive, you can still find some interesting pieces when you visit flea markets or yard sales. After all, there are different types of antique pieces. If the bigger ones are quite out of your reach, you can always begin with the smaller items – stamps or paper currencies may be a good start.

Paper money has always been collected for the breath of its beauty and various printing methods, but mainly for its great value. Age is a major factor, but other factors also come into play, such as condition, demand and the lower the grade, the lower the value. Paper money, unlike coins, should always be kept in sealed holders and one should never think of washing paper money with soap and water. When keeping the bills safe, always store world currency in low humidity and away from sunlight.

Collecting old money has always been an interesting hobby enjoyed by many numismatic enthusiasts. Many of these collectors during the beginning stages focus on assembling a worthy and impressive collection, trying to unearth a bargain along the way. Searching for paper money gives one the chance to learn history during research into the origins. Also, the artful printing bearing many symbols and portraits of presidents and monarchs excites many first-time collectors. 

Some collectors, interestingly enough, use certain “nickname notes” to refer to certain series of currency. Buying a new “bison,” for instance, actually refers to a handful of notes from the buffalo series of 1901, $10 legal tender. Another example is “Chief,” since it is the only Native American found on an 1899 $5 silver certificate. There’s also the “Black Eagle” Series of 1899, $1 silver showing an image of a black winged eagle certificate, and “Martha” for Martha Washington, who appears on the front of a $1 silver certificate series 1886. Last but not least, there’s “Battleship,” which exhibits a battleship on the reverse of a 1918 $2 Federal Reserve Bank Note. It is almost like a secret code among series and dedicated collectors who learned the techniques about collecting notes over a long period of time.    


Antique collections, although mostly done as a hobby, is also collected for its value. But it is also worth noting that the antique industry is driven by fashion.

Collectable is a broad term and I’ve spent many a year at auctions, antique fairs and private sales both here in the UK and over the water buying interesting artefacts to make money on.

Sometimes it’s heartbreaking to see a lifelong collection sell for nothing at a saleroom: The time and effort that’s gone into bringing a collection to life for it to result in a poor return can be pretty devastating.

As a seller, this is awful, but this gives a buyer an opportunity. Is this the time to buy?

The antique industry is fashion led. I’m sure that you will have heard the terms shabby chic, industrial, kitsch. These are all terminologies used to describe particular styles.

Designers may start out with ideas and concepts which then start to shape the antique/vintage/retro market.

The first places you usually see the new trends is at the international antique and home fairs, followed by auctions, and then finally retail outlets.


But if you are an avid antique collector and the item’s value is not an issue with you, by all means, pursue your passion. Nothing can be as rewarding as seeing your entire collection that you’ve accumulated over the years as well as reminisce the stories that go alongside each item. What’s even better is they become more vintage as the years go by. You can pass it on to your loved ones and share the art and passion of art collecting to them without them having to start from scratch. And who knows, it might sell off for a fortune sometime in the future, we can never tell.

Do Black Lives Still Matter?

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It is a difficult time in the United States nowadays. The nation has never been as divided regardless of the absence of civil unrest. While terrorist threats abound and are just disasters waiting to happen, tension among Americans themselves is at a boiling point because of political disagreements. It is not uncommon for family or friends to unfriend and block each other on social media because of their disagreements when it comes to politics and current events.

Among the most prominent critics of the new admiration is the Black Lives Matter movement. Society claims that racism is already a thing of the past but the truth is that it’s actually far from over. If you just scour social media, you can see why the black lives matter came to be and how they’ve been protesting all over the country until now. But the question is, do they really still matter today?

Even in the splintered and often fractious world of social justice movements, Black Lives Matter doesn’t fit easily into existing categories. Few grassroots uprisings have done as much, in such a short period of time, to focus attention on long-neglected issues of racial justice, gender, and economic inequality. Yet so far, BLM has not followed up on its initial victories by building the kind of lasting, hierarchical organizations that grew out of the civil rights movement; nor has it dedicated itself to a single, easily identifiable goal, like enacting the Voting Rights Act. How are we to make sense of organizers who themselves remain so loosely organized? And if Black Lives Matter isn’t devoting itself primarily to bringing about substantive legal and legislative change, then how can it hope to transform its resistance into lasting and meaningful gains in human rights?

Not just your typical protest group, they have tapped into all corners of the country, fighting for causes that are more defined. Black Lives Matter conquered social media and took advantage of this powerful tool to spread their message and what they are fighting for. While the nation remains divided, they aim to unite the nation by fighting for better reforms, equality and social justice.

But BLM has moved beyond many of the blind spots and shortcomings of its predecessors, embracing the full complexity of black identity and forging a movement that is far more inclusive and democratic than either the Panthers or civil rights activists ever envisioned. Many of its most active leaders are queer women and feminists. Its decentralized structure fosters participation and power sharing. It makes direct links between the struggles of black Americans and the marginalization and oppression of women, those in LGBTQ communities, and other people of color. It has made full use of the power and potential of social media, but it has also organized local chapters and articulated a broader political agenda.

Last summer, following critiques that they had failed to put forth specific demands, BLM activists and affiliated organizations published “The Movement for Black Lives,” a detailed and ambitious agenda. Divided into six parts, it includes a host of interconnected demands: a shift of public resources away from policing and prisons and into jobs and health care, a progressive overhaul of the tax code to “ensure a radical and sustainable redistribution of wealth,” expanded rights to clean air and fair housing and union organizing, and greater community control over police and schools. More detailed than the ten-point program issued by the Black Panthers, the BLM policy agenda offers a remarkably pragmatic yet potentially revolutionary blueprint—one that it aims to implement through the concerted use of both protest and politics.


While we all advocate for equal opportunities and treatment to everyone whether you are an American citizen or an immigrant, there would always be some form of racism that is ingrained in every society.

Black Lives Matter says recent incidents involving police and Syracuse residents show there is still progress to be made with equality in the justice system. The group protested alleged police brutality today outside the city’s federal building. They’re calling for justice for last year’s Father’s Day shooting and an alleged rape by a police officer.


We can only dream of a time when world peace can be achieved for real. It is unfortunate for us to still witness cases of discrimination and racism still being prevalent in our modern times when technology even allowed mankind to conquer space and the depths of the ocean. Why is it so hard for us to accept one another without prejudice and learn to live in harmony for all the days of our lives?

As long as there is inequality in society, activists like the Black Lives Movement will continue to fight for their rights and initiate protests so their voices can be heard by those in power. While it is hard to tell which side is right or wrong, what we need to remember is that we should still see the good and others and help those in need that regardless of the political climate, our personal opinions, and any issues we may face in society. Only in complete acceptance can we achieve the peace that remains to be out of our reach.

Sustainable Energy: The Solution To Climate Change

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The world is changing and I’m not just talking about the technological advancements that dominate the world today. We also can’t deny the fact that too much technology is damaging our environment. Climate change is no longer just a threat but a reality that we all face. If you are observant enough, you’d notice how natural calamities have intensified over the years. Storms have gotten stronger and droughts longer. But whose fault is it anyway?

However, enough with the finger pointing. We are all responsible for the gradual destruction of our planet. While the damage has been done and we can’t undo our past mistakes, we can still change now and salvage as much as we can on what is left. Every good deed we do can go a long way in protecting and preserving Mother Nature. Using sustainable energy is the best, easiest and most cost-effective recourse we now have, so why not start at home?

The global community has been trying to achieve sustainable development for the past 25 years, but the world is faring poorly against most environmental indicators. What’s causing this failure? Griffith University’s Michael Howes investigates.

In 1992, more than 170 countries came together at the Rio Earth Summit and agreed to pursue sustainable development, protect biological diversity, prevent dangerous interference with climate systems, and conserve forests. But, 25 years later, the natural systems on which humanity relies continue to be degraded. 

So why hasn’t the world become much more environmentally sustainable despite decades of international agreements, national policies, state laws and local plans? 

These are the probable culprits why we can’t still move forward with our sustainability initiatives:

So what’s going wrong with sustainability initiatives? We found that three types of failure kept recurring: economic, political and communication.

The economic failures stem from the basic problem that environmentally damaging activities are financially rewarded. A forest is usually worth more money after it’s cut down – which is a particular problem for countries transitioning to a market-based economy.

Political failures happen when governments can’t or won’t implement effective policies. This is often because large extractive industries, like mining, are dominant players in an economy and see themselves as having the most to lose. This occurs in developed and developing countries, but the latter can face extra difficulties enforcing policies once they’re put in place.

Communication failures centre on poor consultation or community involvement in the policy process. Opposition then flourishes, sometimes based on a misunderstanding of the severity of the issue. It can also be fed by mistrust when communities see their concerns being overlooked.


Despite the odds, there are still efforts to embrace this sustainable living wherever in the world you may be. There is still hope to save the planet and everyone else living in it.

A new United Nations-backed report has revealed overwhelming consensus that renewable power will dominate in the future, with many experts saying that even large international corporations are increasingly choosing renewable energy products either from utilities or through direct investment in their own generating capacity.

“[The report] is meant to spur discussion and debate about both the opportunities and challenges of achieving a 100 per cent renewable energy future by mid-century,” said Christine Lins, the Executive Secretary of Renewable Energy Policy Network for the 21st Century (REN21) – a global renewable energy policy multi-stakeholder network hosted by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP).

“Wishful thinking won’t get us there; only by fully understanding the challenges and engaging in informed debate about how to overcome them, can governments adopt the right policies and financial incentives to accelerate the pace of deployment,” she added.

At a press conference at UN Headquarters today, Ms. Lins said that 2016 was the third year in a row where the global economy continued to grow, by three per cent, but emissions related to the energy sector decreased. And that was mainly due to renewable energy and efficiency investment in China and in the United States.


We need a collective effort to help realize this dream. Let us all remember that we are not doing this for a monetary gain but to save the very planet where we live in. If we continue abusing the environment and not find a way to reduce our carbon footprint (with airlines as well), what will be the Earth like ten to twenty years from now? Will it still be livable? Back in the days, we did not have to buy water or air, but now, purified water is the only form of safe drinking water in many countries and air conditioning units are a must in many households once the summer heat strikes.

Let us take accountability for our actions. One of the best ways we can protect Mother Nature and prevent further environmental degradation is through the use of sustainable energy. Fossil fuel will not last us forever. Just how many dead dinosaurs can we get power from? There’s the sun. Each day its shining rays can fuel homes and cities. Wherever the wind blows, there is also energy. Even water can be exhausted in a way that generates power. The government should look into all these things but we also have a personal obligation to keep. By simply reducing our energy use and recycling our trash we already contribute a lot to saving the planet.

The Influence Of Ballet To Society

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Ballet is an art. Nobody will argue with that. Not everyone is gifted with the grace and class of a ballerina. It takes years of hard work, discipline. and dedication to perfect the craft and perform as a world-class ballerina.

Unlike sports that appeal to many because of the limitless options, ballet is for those who have a refined taste. Ballet classes are also expensive and only a handful can get into prestigious ballet companies. Most successful ballerinas also started early in life, with most of their adult life consumed by their passion – to dance and perform in front of people.

As an African-American soloist with the United Kingdom’s Royal Ballet, Eric Underwood says he is often asked why the ballet world isn’t very diverse.

It’s complicated, Underwood says. Race, income, social hierarchies and other factors often conspire to create a situation that excludes people of color from serious pursuit of dance.

“I feel that because you have to start training as a youngster, it’s the responsibility of the parents or society’s responsibility to introduce children to it,” Underwood says. “A five-year-old child would find it very difficult to come and say, ‘Mom, I’d like to dance.’”


Not only that ballet is a career for some and a recreation for many but it also creates jobs and revenues that propel the country’s economy forward.

Yesterday, Lincoln Center — the world’s largest performing arts center, which famously hosts the New York Philharmonic, the Metropolitan Opera, the New York City Ballet, the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, Juilliard, and much more — published an open letter defending the National Endowment for the Arts against Donald Trump’s threats to defund it, despite the minuscule amount of money it takes to keep it running. The letter first draws on the personal — and thereby social — import of the arts:

A child’s early introduction to ballet teaches strength and discipline. A veteran’s exposure to art therapy brings healing and hope. A student’s participation in music class improves math scores and critical thinking skills. Art shapes achievement, with profound and practical effects.

But it doesn’t only speak in compelling human terms; it plunges, rather, into pragmatic, monetary terms that, say, a real estate tycoon-turned-politician might perhaps understand:

Still more, art anchors communities. In American cities and towns, arts institutions and districts are breathing life into neighborhoods—attracting investment, spurring development, fueling innovation, and creating jobs. Arts and culture help power the U.S. economy at the astounding level of $704.2 billion each year.


But ballet is now threatened by budget cuts from the new administration along with other areas of the culture and the arts.

Leaders of local cultural institutions are anxiously awaiting a decision on cuts to federal arts funding as reports claim the Trump administration is considering defunding or eliminating the National Endowment for the Arts and National Endowment for Humanities.

Federal funding supports a diverse swath of local arts programs, from Aspen Film’s Shortsfest to Aspen Santa Fe Ballet’s tours, from artist residencies at the Aspen Art Museum and Anderson Ranch Arts Center to high-profile events at the Aspen Music Festival and School and military veterans’ wilderness therapy excursions through the nonprofit Huts for Vets.

Grants from the feds help arts organizations educate, create and share art with the community and the world. But the money, leaders said, is less important than the statement that America values the arts and humanities.

“It impacts every community in some way, even if it’s a little, and the symbolism that our leaders have their finger on the pulse of the arts nationally is hugely important,” said Aspen Music Festival and School President and CEO Alan Fletcher. “And thus, the symbolism of saying ‘We don’t care about it’ is hugely important. It should be maintained.”


The art sector will greatly suffer from such a drastic and unprecedented move from the new president. The industry relies heavily on government funding to continue their passion in sharing their love for the arts. It will also result in an increase of ticket prices of ballet shows or other artistic presentations so that all costs are covered.

In the end, it will not only affect those who are directly involved in the arts but the state as well. This budget cut is also in violation of the law that says the citizens of the state should have access not only to a good education but to the arts and humanities too.