“Pokemon: Lets Go Eevee!” the good, the bad, and the cute

Alex Cogswell – Anchor Staff

The holiday season is upon us. People, full of Thanksgiving leftovers, are going out to purchase gifts for their loved ones. Some of those loved ones are going to want video games, and if they are anything like me, they are going to want the latest Pokemon game. “Pokemon: Lets Go Eeevee” is the newest game in the Pokemon franchise. It’s only been out for a few weeks and is available for the Nintendo Switch.

The game was created by Game Freak, and I honestly love it. As you can guess by the title of the article, I will be talking about the good, bad, and impossibly adorable aspects of the game.

Firstly, let’s discuss the general plot. The game takes place in the Kanto region and you play as one of two children of  Pallet Town, ready to start their Pokemon journey. You are able to choose your gender and, like in more recent games, skin color. You then get the usual ‘Welcome to the world of Pokemon!’ speech that anyone who has played a Pokemon game will know.

The fun really doesn’t begin until you have to find Professor Oak. Usually, in a Pokemon game, you have to choose your starter Pokemon right before you battle a wild Pokemon, but in “Let’s Go Eeevee” your first opponent is your future best friend and style partner: Eevee!

Let me tell you that Eevee is the cutest little thing I have ever seen. Eevee finally has a voice and is not just 8-bit noises. Instead, they say their name like in the Anime. Also, Eevee rides on your head throughout the entire game and it is adorable. Honestly, that idea alone is what sold me on it, and as I played it over Thanksgiving break, I had a great time with my Eevee. I really enjoy matching clothes with her. I named her Theo and I love her.

Like in “Pokemon Heart Gold” and “Soul Silver,” you can choose a Pokemon to follow behind you in addition to Eevee. Depending on the size and shape of the Pokemon you can even ride it around. I get to fly on the back of my Charizard and that is particularly fun. However, there are some aspects about this game that I don’t really like.

The main mechanic of how this game differs from the usual Pokemon game is the battles with wild Pokemon. Usually in a Pokemon game, when running through wild grass you may encounter a wild Pokemon. You will then have to battle it with your Pokemon until the HP is low enough that you can catch it or it faints.

However, in “Lets Go Eevee!” when you run into a wild Pokemon you don’t battle it, you just catch it. Much like in the mobile game “Pokemon Go,” when you encounter a wild Pokemon you are aiming your Pokeball and flicking your Joy Con. If you have them attached to the Switch, you instead press A. This mechanic actually annoys me, because it is the main way you level up your Pokemon. By catching the same Pokemon over and over again you get combo bonuses that give more XP to help level up Pokemon. The whole process is very time consuming.

I also am not the biggest fan of the fact that Meowth does not talk in the game. If the game is going to have the iconic trio that is Jesse, James, and Meowth from the Pokemon Anime, then Meowth should be talking. That is really just a personal thing that really affect the quality of the game that much, but he should still be able to talk.

Of course, the best part of this game is the bond you get to form with your Eevee (or Pikachu if you bought the other version of the game). You really do get attached to them and with the customization options, it’s really fun and adorable. So if you are looking to buy something for the gamer in your life, look no further than “Pokemon Lets Go Eevee!”

I give it 8/10 talking Meowths.

History is Now at the Haffenreffer Museum of Anthropology

Lucille DiNaro – Business Manager

If you’ve ever visited a museum and felt the vexation of a detached observer, Brown University’s Haffenreffer Museum of Anthropology (HMA) is determined to change your museum experience. Established in 1956, this interactive teaching museum offers the stark reminder that as long as humans walk the Earth, history is very much alive—and making a difference is not far out of your reach.

The HMA stylistically sets itself apart from traditional archaeological museums, favoring an interactive multimedia experience over replicated display boxes filled with ancient cultural artifacts. Current exhibitions include “Drone Warriors: The Art of Surveillance and Resistance at Standing Rock,” and “Sacred is Sacred: The Art of Protecting Bears Ears,” both of which speak to the continuing efforts of indigenous peoples in the battle to protect America’s natural and cultural landscape.

Tori Duhaime, Photos courtesy of Hannah Astillero

The exhibits describe the rise to conflict between oil opportunists and both the Water Protectors of North Dakota and the indigenous peoples in Bear’s Ears Utah, illustrating through carefully curated art, the great lengths to which Americans will go to demand what is rightfully theirs. Museum visitors are able to follow a comprehensive timeline of both political and cultural events and are prompted to think critically and respond to serious questions regarding identity and culture.

Museum visitor Hannah Astillero marks a place on this Earth worth saving.

The Haffenreffer Museum of Anthropology can be found on the first floor of Manning Hall at 21 Prospect Street in Providence, located on the Brown University Main Green. The museum is free and open to the public Tuesday through Sunday, between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.

Artist Spotlight: Gustavo Bravo

Samantha Malley – Art Director

Born in Barranquilla, Colombia, Gustavo Bravo moved to the U.S. when he was just 11 months old. Having to start from scratch, his father always pushed him to never give up, to try his best and to be a leader. He taught Gustavo the ways of running an independent business, which led to Gustavo’s current clothing line.

“Being aware that I now live in a place that isn’t my home, I am constantly searching for identity in my work,” Gustavo tells me.

Inspired by Kanye West and A$AP Rocky, Gustavo started studying Fashion Design back in middle school. He would find himself going out to purchase name brand items and then realizing that they weren’t fitting like they should. He taught himself how to sew and manipulate fabric to get the style and fit he originally envisioned. With the help of an Amazon bought sewing machine and thrifted clothes, his passion flourished.

Columbia and Italy distressed into jeans, Photos courtesy of Gustavo Bravo

In his first year at RIC, he is enrolled in a few foundation art classes as well as some business classes. However, he hopes to transfer to another art school later on and strictly study Fashion Design. For now, he enjoys pulling inspirations from his design and drawing courses and being able to connect those to his clothing line.

Included in his line are shirts, sweatshirts, jeans and jackets. He said, “In reference to distressing denim as a medium, I understood that denim originally distresses naturally but then became fashionable so it was industrialized and mass produced. Understanding that and understanding how artificial it had become, I wanted to take that process of destruction and control it. Destruction as a means of creation.”

His final goal or look is a product that is decayed on purpose yet at the same time stays frozen in that moment of time. With that being said, Gustavo is constantly working outside of school to add pieces to his clothing line.

To see more of Gustavo Bravo’s clothing line, follow him on Instagram @whenisgustavo or check out his website Gustavobravo.us!

If you are a student who is part of the Art Department at Rhode Island College and would like to be featured in The Anchor Newspaper, email Samantha at ArtDirector@anchorweb.org to schedule an interview!

Clusterfackt

Mike Dwyer – Anchor Staff

Nowadays, facts come at you fast. News cycles and timelines are on overdrive. Fake news is common place. Clusterfackt is an ongoing series that asks readers to question everything. Think of it as an exercise in critical thinking. Each week readers will be given a giant clusterfackt of scientific findings meant to replicate the dizzying news loops that dominate our lives. However, there’s a catch. One statement within the clusterfackt is entirely false. Identify the falsehood and win a prize by emailing editorinchief@anchorweb.org and don’t repeat anything you read here without doing your research!

Since this is the last issue of Clusterfackt, there will be no lie lurking between the following lines of light-hearted research — just cold, unforgiving science.

Last week, we discussed the newest revelations and fall-out from Facebook, that Google no longer tells their employees “Don’t Be Evil,” that a long term study conducted by MIT determined that Twitter diffuses false news significantly farther, faster, deeper and more broadly than the truth in all categories” and that “contrary to conventional wisdom, robots accelerated the spread of true and false news at the same rate, implying that humans, not robots, are more likely responsible for the dramatic spread of fake news.”  We ended last week’s clusterfackt with a promise to spend this final issue analyzing the specific ways that Facebook, Twitter, Google, YouTube and others have hijacked the human brain and compromised our free will.

Many of the highest paid techies working for Google and Facebook have studied in undergraduate and graduate programs that combine the science of technology with the science of persuasion. Leading the pack is Professor BJ Fogg, founder of Stanford’s Behavior Design Lab, who has coined a term for this hybrid field of study- captology. He has created a behavior model which asserts that a behavior occurs when three factors converge at once – ability, motivation and triggers – leading to his motto “place hot triggers in front of motivated people.” According to his website, Fogg “teaches innovators how to use his models and methods in Behavior Design. The purpose of his research and teaching is to help millions of people improve their lives.”

And what is the result of this education? Using behavior change, students learn how to make social media users addicted to the platform — in a very literal sense of the word “addicted.” Without question, addiction is the behavior that they are provoking. Apps, social media platforms and devices are designed to hold our attention, which is how the company makes money. The more time and attention a user devotes to their product, the more money the company makes. The way tech companies do this is not always ethical. One such example is their peppering of intermittent variable rewards into the code of their products – the same design that can be found in slot machines and other forms of video gambling – which can ultimately lead to legitimate addiction.

For example, when you first log on to Facebook or Twitter there is a brief pause before your notifications appear. This pause causes anticipation in the user, resulting in a surge of dopamine. According to the current director of the US Institute on Drug Addiction Nora Volkow, it is not the reward itself which gets users addicted, but the anticipation of the reward. According to her research, users often report feeling a decreased pleasure in the reward over time and yet cannot stop themselves from seeking out that reward.

Through positron emission tomography, Volkow discovered that the surge in dopamine upon receiving the reward decreased over time whereas the surge that coincides with the phase of anticipation increases. It is that surge of dopamine when the user is anticipating the reward that gets them addicted and explains why addicts report less pleasure and satisfaction with the reward yet cannot stop themselves from seeking it out.

So, are social media and technology users similarly chasing the dragon? Every time your phone dings or beeps or buzzes, you get a little surge of dopamine as you anticipate the reward: a message from a potential love interest, an event invite, a like or thumbs up, a catchy news story that excites your emotions. You may stay logged on because of a notification, but then something in your news feed caught your attention and long after receiving the reward you’re still engaged with the product. Why were you brought to the news feed first? That’s the choice they gave you and once they have you- the motivated user- they will continue to place hot triggers in front of you to keep you logged on.

Additionally, the tech giants exploit universal social anxieties. Each time someone interacts with you there is a feeling that the gesture must be reciprocated. Facebook and others exploit this need for social decorum by including such features as informing others when you’ve read their message and telling them when you’re online. Your profile pic? According to BJ Fogg it’s your brand and the most important thing on your profile page. Comments, hyperlinks, autoplay, suggestions, tags- all of these hot triggers are a product of captological study.

These are just a few of the techniques being used right now but there are hundreds, if not thousands, of books, labs and programs that teach techniques like this to a very small and homogenous group of individuals who will go on to affect the behavior of more than two billion people globally. That’s more than any single government, religion or ideology, and it should concern us enough to put down our phones, even if for just a moment to look up, notice our surroundings and see we are not alone.

For more information on this subject and possible opportunities to volunteer and advocate for a more humane design to technology, please refer to the non-profit organization Time Well Spent, founded by Tristan Harris, a former tech insider turned cyber crusader.

At home genetic testing: Is it worth the cost?

Samantha Scetta – Editor-In-Chief

Now that the gift giving season is practically in full force, I know what you’re thinking– What better gift to give than the gift of knowing where your roots stem from? Who doesn’t want to find out that they’re six percent German and have a genetic predisposition to cystic fibrosis? Tis’ the season for ancestry kits and genetic testing.

Well, maybe not for everyone. At-home genetic testing kits have evolved massively from the days of ancestry.com, which was founded on the basis of creating a family tree and potentially meeting some long lost cousins.

Nowadays, you can do much more than simply discover you have a cousin Jimmy from California and great aunt from Swahili. You can actually send in a sample of your DNA to get tested to find out exactly which countries your own DNA is matched to, and to find out if you have a predisposition to certain genetic diseases.

The most popular of these testing kits are ancestryDNA and 23andMe, which analyzes your DNA by looking at genetic variants in your genome that distinguish you from another person, and can issue a “Genetic Health Report” letting you know which genetic diseases you are most likely to be diagnosed with, and which diseases you are a carrier of.

The way DNA analysis works is not magical, it is based on an algorithm. In simplest terms, the algorithm reads each chunk of your genome, compares that to a reference data set of DNA, and gives a probability based on which genes yours are most closely related to.

So if your test says that you are 40 percent Vietnamese, 40 percent of your DNA pieces match similar DNA to what the ancestryDNA or 23andMe gene library has labeled as “Vietnamese.”

Although these techniques are revolutionary, and the libraries of genomes are kept rather secretly, they are not completely perfect and accurate. The more people with known ancestry submit DNA samples, the larger their library will become, and the more closely people’s results will be to what country they originate from.

There is also always the issue of privacy and rights to your own DNA. Before submitting a sample to any genetic testing company, doing extensive research into each company’s privacy policy is recommended. Each company has different measures of security, and for some you may have to go deeply into your account settings to ensure that your DNA is tossed after being tested, and not shared with any of the company’s partners.

For example, more than 80 percent of 23andMe users agreed to have their DNA results shared with research partners…I would ask you to ponder how many of that percentage is actually aware of this sharing?

Checking your state policy of genetic information sharing is also advised, as these laws vary from state to state. There has also been much talk and investigation of life insurers having access to your “Genetic Health Report” from 23andMe, which could cause an increase in the amount of money you pay for life insurance depending on your genetic predisposition.

Although “genetic discrimination” from life insurance companies is still just purely theoretical, it raises an interesting thought about who has access to your genetic information– certainly one to consider before sending off your spit to a genetic testing facility.

Graphic courtesy of Financial Time

Your health in the hands of the FDA

Jessica Gauthier – Managing Editor

Most people take food precautions, such as washing their produce or cooking their foods thoroughly. But what happens when that’s not enough?

With the recent outbreaks of E. coli, how can we be sure that our food is safe? While taking precautions might be necessary, there needs to be a conversation about mass-food production. Everything you see in your grocery store is mass-produced—from your processed foods, to your meat, to your produce.

Not only does mass-producing food create social and environmental concerns, but it also creates a health concern.

According to economics journalist Larry Elliott, with the population steadily increasing, food demand is projected to increase up to 50% by 2030. Mass-production is already being pushed to its limits and with no doubt, consumers will be running into more foodborne illnesses. The answers to safer food sourcing is not as much in the hands of the consumers as it is in the hands of both growers and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Currently, the FDA’s regulations don’t require growers to test their water supply past the sprouting stage of their produce. According to the Food Safety Modernization Act’s produce safety standards, “the FDA does not intend to enforce the agricultural water requirements for covered produce other than sprouts,” which can cause a slew of health issues including the spread of viral, bacterial, or parasitic organisms. This poses a problem with growers who mass-produce their crop, which is then shipped to different parts of the country.

While consumers can take precautions to prevent foodborne illness, we should be asking how the FDA can prevent foodborne illness. This would require stricter regulations by the FDA as well as cooperation and compliance from growers.

According to an FDA analysis, however, growers would save $12 million per year without water regulations but would cost consumers $108 million per year in medical expenses. Many growers are averse to strict water regulations, such as water testing, since it would result in more money out of their pockets. The FDA’s deputy commissioner for foods and veterinary medicine, Steven Ostroff, reassured attendees at a meeting in February that they will create, “requirements that are less burdensome while protecting public health,” to benefit both farmers and consumers.

Stricter regulations are not something that can happen overnight, nor does it guarantee to eliminate foodborne illness completely. With a growing population and a higher demand for food, mass-production shows no signs of stopping.

In the meantime, you can support local growers. With faster farm-to-table harvesting, there’s less chance of your food being contaminated and is a great way to support your local economy.

K-Beauty wave takes America by storm: skincare can be both stylish and sustainable

Lucille DiNaro – Business Manager

If you’ve walked by the K-Beauty aisle in Sephora and laughed at products containing snail oil and donkey milk, you may want to think again. South Korea is currently the eighth largest cosmetics market in the world, with a market size of nearly $8.5 billion. South Korean Skincare, more widely known as K-Beauty, refers to beauty products originating from and manufactured in Korea. These products are often branded with a focus on high quality ingredients, and unilaterally leverage comprehensive skin care above all else.

Similar to many other items exported from Korea, K-Beauty is easily identifiable due to its novelty packaging and unique product offerings. Whether it be the mildly grotesque crying baby rubber mask from Dr. Jart+ or the effortlessly cute watermelon set offered by Glow Recipe, it can be difficult as a skincare novice to determine whether these items are more than just a trend.

Graphic courtesy of Sephora

K-Beauty retailers provide a stark contrast against American retailers in that they place a significant emphasis on quality ingredients. Dr. Jart+’s Cicapair line, despite its vibrant, comic book packaging, is amazingly simple and comprehensible. The hallmark ingredient of this line, centella asiatica, has served as an essential ingredient in Eastern skincare for centuries due to its nutrient rich properties. Packed with amino acids, beta-carotene, fatty acids and phytochemicals, the Cicapair line will effectively firm, repair, and soothe skin.

Another industry leader, Glow Recipe, utilizes fermented botanicals in their face masks to aid in more efficient absorption of moisture. These fermented botanicals release enzymes that break down molecules into raw material, allowing for the creation of newer, more beneficial substances for your skin. These are just some of many obscure ingredients that South Korean cosmetics companies have pursued towards the development of more natural and effective skincare.  

The growing need for safe and healthy cosmetics may have resulted from several high profile toxicology scandals that have occurred over the past decade, such as the talc settlements made by Johnson & Johnson or the hair fallout caused by WEN Cleansing Conditioners. Celebrities such as Gwyneth Paltrow have been chided in the past for their attention to detail when it comes to safe and effective cosmetics, but a heightened sense of awareness of what comprises beauty products has contributed to the value of K-Beauty.

American cosmetic companies currently operate under regulations set by the Food and Drug Administration that were last updated in 1938. Kourtney Kardashian notably met with Congress last month to discuss the Personal Care Products Safety Act, which aims to tighten the power of review that the FDA has over cosmetics companies with regards to ingredients, facilities management and product labeling. Products labeled as ‘organic’ by cosmetics companies are not certifiably organic, as there is no governing body in the makeup industry with the capacity to grant ‘organic’ status.

K-Beauty is rooted in centuries of tradition, transparency and hands on skincare, and as such has caught the consumer eye. In a country where the cosmetics industry regulates itself, it is understandable that the average American is able to find worth in a product that is backed by attention to detail. Next time you enter Sephora, make sure to give K-Beauty a second look.

From the archives

Catherine Enos – Opinions editor

This archived article is from the October 18, 1983 issue of The Anchor.

Most people probably don’t know that Rhode Island was the subject of national attention in 1983. The issue that brought the attention was a nativity scene put up by the City of Pawtucket. Not only did the New York Times cover the story, it was also the subject of a U. S. Supreme Court case: Lynch v. Donnelly.

Exactly a week after the U.S. Supreme Court heard the case, the director of the American Civil Liberties Union (A.C.L.U.), Steve Brown (who is still the director of the A.C.L.U.) visited RIC’s Political Science Club to discuss the controversy.

Though the article does not talk about the decision of the case (since it was decided months after the article was published), a quick look into the case reveals that the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the City of Pawtucket. In a 5-4 decision, the majority opinion of the court stated that the depictions of the origin of the holiday were not advocating for religion, that the display was for “legitimate secular purposes,” and that the case, therefore, did not violate the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment (which prohibits the government’s involvement “respecting an establishment of religion”) (oyez.org).

What’s interesting about this story is the legacy and precedence it has left for the entire country. When looking into the case, it pops up not only in academic reviews, but it’s also mentioned in a collection of newspaper discussions about the separation of church and state in recent years.

Though many of us Rhode Islanders may have forgotten about Lynch v. Donnelly (especially those of us who weren’t alive yet), it is perhaps one of the few times that Little Rhody has left a lasting impression in an important area of national debate.

Federal government releases climate change report

Aaron Isaac – Staff Writer

Don’t get ready for the end of the semester yet, a substantial climate change report has been released by the federal government. The Fourth National Climate Assessment was released this week and it’s a very complicated document.

The U.S. Global Change Research Program must deliver a report to congress every four years. A first volume of the perceived causes of climate change came out last year. Like The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the U.S. report points the finger for warming temperatures on greenhouse gas emissions, the largest contributor to warming being carbon dioxide. While they also say natural factors such as the sun and short term climate cycles affect the climate, these factors would not be enough to cause warming. In fact, if the natural factors were the only contributors, there would have been “a slight cooling effect on global climate over the last 50 years,” the report states.  

This new report is the second volume of a report on the impacts and causes of climate change on the United States. The report first spells out the already observed effects of climate change: water has been affected by the climate. First, research indicated that the warming planet has meant increasing droughts as the demand for water increases for agriculture and an increasing population. There has also been an increase of floods and hurricanes which has not only hit vulnerable water system infrastructure, but has cost billions of dollars in damage.  

The report also pointed to air quality saying “More than 100 million people in the United States live in communities where air pollution exceeds health-based air quality standards.” Increasing wildfires has also meant increased costs of fighting these fires (2017 was the most expensive year starting from 1985). More rain could expand the niche of ticks and mosquitos, thereby affecting public health.

The report also made predictions on the future costs. They separated their predictions into different scenarios where the US takes action to mitigate change and a scenario where carbon continues to rise and less technological innovation is made. For example, the incidence of heavy precipitation (rain, snow and hail) is predicted to increase by “two to three times the historical average in every region” under the less optimistic assumptions. The more optimistic assumptions say that heavy precipitation will only increase anywhere from 50 to 100 percent.

When questioned about the report, President Donald Trump said he didn’t believe the report’s assessments. Though he did not look to anything specifically in the report, he pointed to the country’s water and air saying it was at a “record clean” and tweeted that the US had the cleanest air “by far.” One way to measure air cleanliness is exposure to particulate matter (particles, like dust, in the air). According to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, the US ranked eighth in exposure, good, but not the best “by far.”

Still, many states and towns are taking steps towards cleaner air and water. It is possible to keep temperatures down, but action will have to be taken to ensure emissions are reduced.

Sex and drugs in the dark

Erica Clark – Asst. News Editor

Sex and drugs are two topics that are constantly on the minds of college people. Rhode Island College (RIC) student Sissy Rosso hosted an event titled “Sex and drugs in the dark” in Willard Hall Wednesday night.

Graphic courtesy of RSA

Sex in the Dark is a national program that is hosted on multiple college campuses. This event was sponsored by Co-Exist, Residential Life and Housing as well as RICovery. This was RIC’s third time conducting the event on campus.  

The idea of sex and drugs in the dark is pulled from common human experience: people are more comfortable talking about these topics in a low-light setting.

Sissy Rosso explained the point of this event is to have “a very casual, fluid conversation around sex and drugs.  When it comes to sex and drugs, people already have these predisposed ideas.”

Rosso talked about how much having these conversations elevates the stigma around sex and drug use, as well as people being educated on the topics correctly.  

Anthony Maselli, who is a member of a peer group involved in HIV and STD education, was also a speaker on the panel along with Haley Mckee and Lisa Hoopis. The panel explained, “We added the drug component to ours because of the addiction epidemic in this state. We wanted to expand it, so people could be able to ask questions about sex and also drug use.”

Rosso said that by attending these events, “people are gaining knowledge on different concepts on sex and drugs.  It really is meant so people don’t feel weird about having different kinks, or learning more about it.”

As the topic of the recent Opioid crisis was brought up significantly during the event, Rosso made it clear these types of events bring better understanding to addiction and substance abuse which occur today.