Sunday, November 5, 2017

Bit by Bit

Digital currencies and what they could mean for the world.  
By Ra’Chaun Rogers.

Most Americans are not economists, and when the country’s economy took a nose dive, a majority of citizens decided on a few things one of them being that banks were evil. They control the exchange of money, as well as the livelihood of a lot of people and are not only capable of questionable actions, but in some cases pardoned for it by the government. What if the control and flow of money were put into the hands of people and what if that money increased in value over time? Well nowadays there is something called digital currency which has the potential to change the way we see finance.

In 2009 a man (or group of people) using the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto developed the first digital currency known as “Bitcoin”, which among other things is beholden to no bank or government, but is monitored by a large group of individuals on a network known as “miners”. Most forms of digital currency were linked to the price of precious metal currency, making them fixed, but most have since then changed and now fluctuate.  The great thing about digital currency is that they cannot be controlled by any government, organization or sole person. The security of digital currency is also not a factor as the number of miners is so great that in order to tamper with the network a person would need a computing power higher than that of a large software company. Digital currency is perfect for transportation of currency out of countries that are subject to Capitol Control, since there is no red tape to go through.  The downside of digital currency is that if used on a wide scale certain deflationary digital currencies could lead to people hoarding money with the intention of making purchases at some undisclosed time when it’s worth a lot more than originally stated. Another issue is that people can choose not to accept digital currency for transactions, thus making them useless. The biggest problem with digital currency is that it fluctuates at such an unpredictable rate that it would be hard to use it as a mainstay currency for many transactions.  While it seems to be the emerging currency of choice to those in the Occupy crowd or by people living in countries that can’t transport large sums of money to other countries, its relative newness, and somewhat underground status doesn’t make it a likely candidate for replacing any form of physical currency.

In my opinion, digital currency is an interesting way to put the power back in the hands of people. The miners who operate and maintain the networks are regular people, which in theory is a heartening idea. However, a new problem arises when you switch your mode of exchange from one based on a hard to understand fiat system to one based on an equally hard to understand computer science system. The average person probably knows less about open source code than they do about interest rates. It would also probably require a lot of getting used to and maybe even some specialized instruction for normal citizens to understand. Of course, this is speculating that digital currency becomes a widespread and accepted medium of exchange, until then it will only be a novelty.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Is’nana: The Were-Spider Vol. 1 review

The medium of comics has always been one where new legends are born and old ones gain new life. Some myths like Thor and Hercules have been retold many times, from the classroom to the cinema due to Europe’s influence on the world. Other tales are not as commercially viable, but are still given voice. Take the story of the spider Anansi, sometimes a trickster and other times a lord of knowledge. Sometimes a God (actually most times) and at times a simple family man. All of these aspects coalesce in Is’nana: The Were-Spider Vol. 1 written by Greg Anderson Eyslee, with art by Walter Ostlie and Lee Milewski.

*Spoilers incoming*

Is’nana begins with the Spider God and his son(the eponymous Is’nana) hunting for Osebo the leopard who has possessed the body of famous musician Roger Stein and has cannibalized three people so far. The poor man is not aware if his possession as the leopard spotted rash he has continues to grow. After a clash with Is’nana we learn much about where the two Gods come from and what their being on earth entails. We also see the inkling of a larger multiverse to come, leaving endless possibilities.

I will start by saying that I was very pleasantly surprised by Is’nana.  At it’s heart the story is a mythological family drama. There are interesting parallels between Anansi and Roger Stein, which in turn starkly contrast their point of origin. Stein has success in his world and it is obvious by the plethora of gold record plaques adorning his wall, however his children won’t visit him, let alone answer his calls. Conversely Anansi’s son travels with him to track down the threat from their home world, across realities no less. There is clearly a differing system of values between the two worlds, where those on Earth must sacrifice closeness of family for success, at least to some degree. In the Mother Kingdom however family and success are one in the same. Legacy is not a burden, but an honor it seems. Even criminal acts by denizens of  each world hold different meaning. Osebo’s crimes seem, at least partly, based on the fear of the Mother Kingdom’s extinction. “Don’t let the world forget us.” While the act of violence in the beginning of the story seems random and senseless. There are deeper meanings at play here and It's great to see the level of attention paid to them.

     The art for this book is extremely apt. Ostlie’s pencils and inks give an Africanized characteristic that lends to the telling of the story and it’s authentic feel. Milewski’s colors are the perfect combination in this case, using beautiful earth tones to color the characters and mood of the story. I once learned how lettering could influence a story’s pacing and readability, and let's give credit to Joshua Cozine for giving this the flow of a steady river, as well as making each voice distinct. Lastly, we have to talk about how dope the cover is, Walt Msonza Barna absolutely killed it!

In closing my only issue with this book is that I don’t know when Vol 2 is coming out. But you can help by donating to Vol 2’s kickstarter found here.

Final score