Body Language That Gives You Control

When you’re in an interview, a conversation, or any type of communication,  both verbal and body language are used. Though it may not seem so, both are equally as important. The verbal languages is perceived by the cerebral cortex, which is the most highly developed part of the brain. Perhaps this explains why some people stress verbal skills more so than physical stature. Body language, however, is perceived by the limbic system. The limbic system is the part of the brain that processes emotions, mood, pain, and pleasure – the “more primitive set of structures” according to Nancy Szokan of the Washington Post. Szokan quotes Maeve McDermott of National Geographic who believes that “this information bypasses your conscious processing center, giving you an innate understanding of whether a person is weaker or more powerful than you with them without saying a work.”

McDermott demonstrates few simply body moves that convey dominance and power, accompanied by videos from NatGeo’s Brain Games.

The most surprising finding was that your thumbs are power points. McDermott says that “the thumb is your dominant finger, strongest in motor function.” Now think back to all those figures you look up too, political, business, or otherwise. They all have a specific way that they sit and focus on a conversation. Just look at the cast of Shark Tank.

What Mr. Wonderful is doing in the photo above is making a sort of tepee with his fingers, gently touching his fingertips, and having his hands pointed up. This stance is quite popular among world leaders and surely does imply dominance and power. 

Leaders around the world, business entrepreneurs, and even actors recognize and use these gestures to enforce their authority and inspire awe. The question is, will you?





Reconsider Contemporary Music

Contemporary sophisticated individuals simply dismiss any modern song as rubbish and garbage for the most part.  I, certainly, am one of those individuals; whenever, I hear a song from Lil Wayne, or Drake on the radio, I swiftly scorn at the absurdity of the lyrics.

Given that human nature tends to find patterns in order to establish an instinctual reaction to a certain event, individuals quickly dismiss any new song on a radio channel such as 100.3 as unsophisticated, and rather nonsensical. However, if an individual actually took a few minutes to truly understand what a few of those artists are trying to convey through their work, that scorn turns into awe.


Keep in mind, I said a few artists, and not all the artists. I had this subtle realization a few days ago, while I was listening to Kanye West’s album Graduation. I was enjoying his album mostly because the songs had a catchy tune to them, and were pleasant to hear. However, I searched one of his songs on Google, clicked on the Rap Genius link and attempted to comprehend one of his songs. The result was unbelievable.

Consider the first song in Kanye’s album “808’s and Heartbreak”, Say You Will. In this song he is talking about how his female partner, who recently broke off relations with him, contacts him out of the blue and makes him happy, however, it only turns out to be a fallacy. Then he conveys that she should only pursue him if she is serious about. Keep in mind his ex-fiance for six years, Alexis Phifer, had been seeing another man while they were dating. Furthermore, his mother Donda West passed away in 2007. Therefore, it was an extremely gloomy time for Kanye.

Now the most meaningful part of the song is when he states, “I wish this song would really come true, I admit I still fantasize about you”. In the most heartfelt, and emotional part of the song, Kanye is saying that he knows that there are no chances of going back with his ex, however, he still hopes for it and still imagines a life wit her.

In just a few lines, Kanye conveyed his deepest and most ambivalent thoughts. It is quite hard for me to evoke the feelings that one experiences through the song. However, once one has the context and an understanding of the song, the entire song turns into a masterpiece through which the artist reveals his most intimate feelings.



This power is what really blew and stunned me. How could I be so ignorant of such a deep message. Even in Kanye’s other songs, he reveals his feelings and life lessons, and some of they are truly profound.

So next time you are listening to a hip-hop song from an artist like Kanye, do not, by default, judge the artist by the genre of music he/she produces. Take a moment to truly understand what the artist is saying, and you may truly surprise yourself.

FYI- If you ever decide to do so, use Rap Genius, it’s an incredible tool.

Ebola- The Deadly Disease With No Cure

Currently in Africa, hospitals are being swarmed with a newer, deadlier disease than they have ever seen before, Ebola. As soon as the first patients were infected by this disease in February, The World Health Organization reported that this virus has appeared in West Africa and raised an alarm in the neighboring countries. The world has become aware of this disease which is being classified as an epidemic in Africa. The first appearances of the virus were in Sierra Lione, Liberia, and Guinea which border Nigeria, the continent’s most populous country. In order to isolate the virus and kill it, all patients have been quarantined in their respective hospitals. The World Health Organization is trying it’s best to isolate the virus and to stop it from spreading to Africa’s most populous regions.

What is Ebola?

Ebola is a virus known as the Ebola Virus Disease or the Ebola Hemorrhagic Fever. This virus is contracted from monkeys, pigs, and fruit bats who have been infected yet, not all the animals show symptoms of infection. In February, Patient Zero, the first patient to be infected with this virus in this outbreak, had probably come in contact with one of these animals where the patient was in contact with the blood or bodily fluids of the animals to be infected. The first time this virus was ever encountered was around 1976 where it affected a small number of people and disappeared until this year. In February 2014, the largest Ebola outbreak began. This disease has a death rate of 50% to 90% and can only be treated by IV fluids or oral rehydration therapy as there is no vaccine or cure discovered to stop the virus.

How is Ebola diagnosed?

After the patient is infected, the patient will show flu-like symptoms characterized with a fever with chills, sore throat, severe headache, joint pain, muscle pain, and chest pain. The doctors who diagnose the virus must quarantine themselves after coming in contact with the patient and must use hygiene skills like washing their hands, wearing protective clothing, and having a mindset of extreme caution when being in contact with the patient. The disposal of the fluids from the patient is critical as the virus may spread if another unprotected person comes in contact with it.

What can we do?

In the early stages of this outbreak, the United States and other countries must be extremely cautious of this disease and must make sure that this virus will not affect more people and take more lives. Over 1,200 people have been infected where it claimed 621 lives to date and the toll is rising. Recently, a foreign official for Liberia was infected and died in Lagos, Nigeria, potentially beginning the spread of the virus into the most populous country of Africa. To prevent this disease from spreading, pigs, fruit bats, and monkeys must be tested in order to stop contact to humans and to stop the disease from spreading even more.

This virus seems to be the next H1N1 and might take a toll on lives around the world.


“Ebola Virus.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 29 July 2014. <;.

“Fears of Ebola spread in West Africa as 2nd American infected with virus.” Fox News. FOX News Network, 29 July 2014. Web. 29 July 2014. <;.
“Nigeria Quarantines Hospital as Ebola Spreads to Most Populous City.” Time. Time, n.d. Web. 29 July 2014. <;.

Cold Once Again

Even in death, the Soviet Union continues to increase tensions with the United States, in the form of Russia. The U.S. concluded that Russia violated an arms-control treaty by testing a cruise missile; this infringement could not have come at a worse time. As you all probably know, the situation between Ukraine and Russia continues to escalate, with the Kremlin’s support for Ukrainian separatists and the decision to grant asylum to Edward J. Snowden.

The treaty has its origins back to 1987, when former President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev sealed the fate of the Cold War by banning the use of ground-launched ballistic or cruise missiles capable of flying 300 to 3,400 miles. See? APUSH is important!

It turns out that Russia has been testing missiles ever since 2008, and the Obama administration is not happy. Recently, American officials informed the NATO allies that Russia violated the treaty, which raises even more concerns. President Obama sent a letter to Russian President Mr. Putin, which states Obama’s interests in keeping the 1987 treaty intact, and thus preventing the second coming of the Cold War. Some say that if Russia doesn’t resolve this infringement, U.S. action must be taken. This could be translated into conflicts with Russia, a nation already occupied with the situation in Ukraine.

What will the Obama administration do? If nothing is done quickly to resolve the problem, tensions with Russia, as well as the situation in Gaza and Ukraine, may create global conflict.

Electricity’s Flowin’

In the past year, there has been a drastic increase in the production of electric cars by countless car companies due to state emission regulations, and the inherent success of electric cars like the Volt and Model S. For some reason though, despite its greater expense, the Model S became more popular than previous EVs like the Volt and Leaf. Why?

The primary reason is range. When your average car can get around 200-400 miles on a single tank of gasoline, how would a 30-60mile range EV even compare to suiting your needs? It would only satiate your inner morals of keeping the planet clean, not suit your everyday practical activities. That’s why the Tesla’s 300 mile range and its luxury became so popular. Unfortunately, it’s been the only EV that has been able to break the 200 mile range mark and become popular…until now.

At the Geneva Auto show, among the many amazing supercars and hyper cars stood one lone, gigantic, 5100 hundred pound 912 hp AWD, 2.8 second 0-60 time EV. The nano FLOWCELL QUANT e-limousine. The whopper? A 372 mile range.


Although currently still a concept, the secret to the long range of the Quant is the different battery technology. Whereas Tesla uses a large number of Lithium Ions, Quant’s Flowcell technology, originally developed by NASA in the 1970s, “combines aspects of an electrochemical accumulator cell with those of a fuel cell.” Liquid electrolytes circulate through separate chambers and produce electrical power for the drive train through oxidation and reduction reactions. 


Because the batteries use liquid, the car has two 50 gallon tanks of the different liquids which can be emptied and refilled if a quicker refueling method is needed. Of course, as with many concept cars, we don’t know much about anything else on the car currently. Right now, it might seem like a “tesla killer” as Motortrend referred to it in their July edition, but it might just end up like a fad that will fade away like the Fisker Karma. We simply don’t know yet, but I hope we give it a chance. Elon Musk always said that his motive for the success of the Tesla Model S was not to dominate the EV market, but encourage countless other car companies to create EVs that can be up to par or better than the Model S, thus steering us away from conventional gasoline and diesel vehicles. 

New iPhone 6 Leak Reveals Much More

With shipments of the new iPhone 6 reported to begin later in September of this year, new leaks have revealed a much bigger screen than the iPhone 5s.  After comparing the logic boards of the two phones, there is a  longer board for the iPhone 6 which would further prove that the phone will be larger.


A source also mentioned that the phone could come with Near Field Communication Support (NFC), which would allow you to share content by tapping the back of the iPhone on another surface. The addition of  NFC however seems unlikely, since Apple has been claiming to add it for years now but has failed to do so.

Furthermore, Apple’s new major phone could possibly come with a new processor along with increased battery life, and several other additions to its performance. The camera of the iPhone 6 may also provide optical image stabilization which would make it easier to take photos or videos while you are moving.

When it comes to launching a larger smartphone, Apple has always been behind. However,  with a larger iPhone 6, consumer demand could take a considerable rise, since people would see Apple trying to catch up to its competitors. As the launch of the iPhone 6 looms ahead, there is a significant amount of positive sentiment for the phone. It is expected that this launch will be one of the most important for Apple, since it could possibly drive their success in the future.

Conflict In Ukraine Thwarts Investigators

Experts from primarily the Netherlands and Australia, tried to find their way to the crash site of Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 but were halted by reports of heavy explosions and fighting taking place. This was the second day where the fighting caused the investigators to turn back.

The entire team planned on retrieving any remains from the site of the wreckage. This retreat took place because of an attempt by the Ukrainian government to regain control of the area from the rebels. The Malaysian government previously attempted to place police officers for security after striking a deal with the rebels. But after the fighting broke out, this was no longer an option.

As the conflict rages on, Russia’s role seems to still be unclear even though it was presumed that it was a Russian missile that brought MH-17 down. The pro-Russian rebels have denied the accusations and are determined to prove that Ukraine was solely responsible for the tragedy that took place.

However, the United States eager to prove their point released satellite images showing supplies of Russian missiles near the crash site and provided evidence that they had been used. The U.S. continues to gather images and proof to support their position while clearly stating that they can no longer trust what Russia has to say.

Russian companies and banks have been included in the U.S. sanctions while the European Union has decided to strengthen their sanctions as well. Although Europe is dependent on a considerable number of Russian imports they have chosen to go along with the plan despite the risk of hurting their economy even more.

What Was Wrong

It was believed and witnessed that 16 Palestinians were killed by Israeli forces on Thursday; those victims and hundreds more sought shelter in the courtyard of a United Nations school. It was believed that many lives were extinguished by the Israelis, who sought revenge for the deaths of their own. Israel and Hamas continue to attempt a negotiation on a cease-fire in the fighting in the Gaza Strip.

Plot twist: Israel claims that they are not responsible for the 16 Palestinian deaths. Not even the United Nations can confirm the fact that Israel DID kill them, even though they reported the attack.

Still, the fighting rages on: Israel continues to bomb sites, and Gaza continues to fire rockets. Authorities continue to investigate whether Israel’s statement was true, but casualties continue to pile up. In fact, more than 1,000 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza, most of them civilians.

The plans for a cease-fire have failed miserably, and the war will probably not be a short one. If you haven’t been paying attention to the action, now is an opportune time. This battle might rage to enormous proportions, and if the U.S. decides to intervene, the entire world might get involved. What’s going to happen?

PlayStation Vita: A Prime Example of Irony?

(In case you didn’t know, “vita” means “life” in Italian)

Launching in December of 2011, the PlayStation Vita had a job to fulfill: be the successor to the PlayStation Portable (PSP) owned by over 80 million people. With a 5 inch OLED touchscreen, six-axis motion sensor, a rear touch pad, and a laundry list of other additions, the PS Vita was bound to succeed… right? Wrong. In fact, the Vita did much worse than anyone anticipated. Here’s the harsh reality:

  • The Vita sold less in one year than the PSP in 1 month.
  • As of right now, the Vita is at around 8.6 million units sold. Its competitor, the Nintendo 3DS, is at around 44.1 million units sold- a near 5:1 ratio.
  • Companies are unwilling to develop games for the Vita due to the fact that their time and resources could be spent on another console to ensure greater sales. The Vita can’t sell because companies aren’t making games for it. This results in a deadly cycle.


You may be asking yourself: What went wrong? Some argue that the proprietary memory cards (used as a defense for piracy) repelled potential consumers from purchasing Vitas. In an age where digital games are becoming more apparent than their physical counterparts, memory cards are necessary. The problem with the Vita is that it can only use Vita-specific memory cards, which are costly, and they aren’t even included when buying the system. A 32 GB card will cost $100, 16 GB – $60,  8 GB – $30, and 4 GB – $20. While these prices would be slightly reduced during Gamescom 2013, it may have been too late as the damage was already done (as described in the disappointing sales above).


Another possible answer is marketing, or lack thereof. Marketing is pivotal to achieving successes. It’s why names like “Wii” and “Xbox” are terms most people know (including people who never play video games). Ask someone on the street who is a casual gamer what a Vita is and they’ll probably think it’s a type of bread. When watching T.V., I noticed that there were far more 3DS commercials than Vita ones. In fact, I don’t even recall seeing a single Vita commercial. How will the public buy Vitas if they don’t know it exists?

The Vita’s marketing problems don’t lie only in advertising itself. Sony has constantly changed the purpose of the Vita. First it was marketed to be a “console on the go”. The problem? Triple-A games by major developers were rarely made. The few games that were AAA weren’t console quality (Example: Borderlands 2, which was originally on PS3 and Xbox 360, suffered from dropping frame rates, awkward controls, and an overall unenjoyable experience). Now, it’s marketed to be a peripheral to the much more successful PS4. While this may be the only option to get Vitas in the hands of the public, it raises many red flags. The Vita being contingent to the PS4 shows that the Vita can’t survive on its own and that Sony’s solution to its lack of games is to share the PS4’s growing library of games to the Vita.


Last but not least, it’s possible that the handheld market is dying. People would rather spend $0.99 on an iPhone game than $39.99 on a Vita game, especially because the iPhone serves more purposes than just playing games. With the introduction of in app purchases, developers are making much more money than they ever could’ve fathomed if their game was released on the Vita (Example: Candy Crush, Angry Birds).

However, not all is dire for the Vita.

The very few people who do own Vitas purchase lots of games. The attach rate (meaning how many games are bought per Vita) is about 10. This is excellent, considering most consoles have an attach rate of about 2-3. Chris McQuinn of Drinkbox Studio stated, “People rag on the Vita so much, and I think people who rag on the Vita don’t understand, at least from a business perspective, the purchasing power of Vita owners. Vita owners are serious purchasers of games. It’s an amazing system”. He also added, “”If people don’t see the Vita doing the same number of sales as the 3DS, then it’s automatically a failure. But I think what people fail to understand is the purchasers of Vitas are very, very engaged game consumers. For them, the attach rate with games is very high. There might not be a lot of Vitas out there, but the people who do own Vitas are very serious consumers; they buy a lot of games.


In addition, the Vita is performing superbly in Japan. This is because people commute to work more frequently than in the U.S. In fact, “A majority of 53% of students and 48% of company workers indicated to commute to school/work by train or subway”. These minutes can be spent playing on the Vita, and combined with the plentiful amount of role-playing games (very popular in Japan), it’s no wonder why sales there are outstanding. During the week of July 19th 2014, 44,969 Vitas were sold; 29,322 of which were sold in Japan. Considering only 2,560 Vitas were sold in North America that week, it’s apparent that the Vita is performing terrifically in Japan.

Considering all this information, can the Vita be saved?

Yes, but not to the point where it can surpass the 3DS in hardware sales. Saving the Vita will require many sacrifices on Sony’s part and will likely cost them a lot of money. In my opinion, Sony should:

  • Reduce the price of memory cards even further. A 32 GB should cost 50-60 dollars at most. In addition, an 8 GB memory card should be included in every system, removing any hidden costs.
  • Produce more Vitas with different colors. It may sound bizarre, but having a wide variety of colors will appeal to many audiences in North America. “Limited Edition” colors will give potential buyers an incentive to buy a Vita, instead of the standard black color.
  • Advertise the Vita. Make commercials for the Vita that appear on children’s networks such as Nickelodeon. Make banners and billboards in highly populated cities such as NYC to gain public attention.

As a proud owner of a Vita, Sony does have the ability to change the Vita’s fate. It’s an excellent console with a wide variety of games made by independent studios. Some believe the Vita’s disappointing outcome is a sign that handheld gaming is coming to an end and succumbing to mobile games. What do you think? Can the Vita be saved? Is handheld gaming dead? Comment below and share your thoughts!


Apple heading back to $700 days

In September 2012, Apple was hailed as Wall Street’s darling due to the stock’s impressive climb from about mid-$500’s to low-$700’s. However, after that speculation regarding Apple’s innovation drove the stock back to the $500-range.

As of Friday (July 25th), AAPL traded for $97.67, therefore when that number is multiplied by 7, the result is a price of $683.69. For those who have been aloof on Apple, the company announced a 7-for-1 stock split earlier this year,  and that is why I multiplied the stock price by 7.

Irrespective of that, there a few key factors that are allowing Apple’s stock to hit new all-time highs. Of course, positive investor sentiment, coupled with the recent quarterly earnings (which Apple beat) and a strong product-pipeline have propelled the stock to new highs. However, there a two, relatively unknown, factors that guarantee Apple’s journey to a $100+ stock.

R&D Spending

Apple has escalated its R&D spending drastically over the past seven years.

This is a solid argument against the bears who argue that Apple is not innovative anymore. Furthermore, expecting a company to release “ground-breaking” and “game-changing” products periodically is rather ridiculous.

Regardless, in the last quarter, Apple spent $1.6 billion in R&D spending, which represented about 4.3% of Apple’s Q3 revenues.  This is the most Apple has ever spent on Research and Development, and is a positive indicator that Apple has been investing to bring new innovations to their products. Furthermore, it may also indicate that Apple is planning on releasing another new product-line.

See for yourself:

Source: SEC Filings, Motley Fool


Source: SEC Filings, Motley Fool

Apple’s Buyback Program

Apple has allotted $130 billion for their capital return program, out of which $90 billion is allotted for buying back shares.

However, $51 billion dollars of those $90 billion have already been purchased. Apple has been extremely aggressive in purchasing shares, and it does not seem like they will stop.

Furthermore, in the past June quarter Apple  purchased $5 billion worth of additional stock. They bought about 58,661 shares at an average price of $85.23 thorough the Accelerated Share Repurchase program.

When Apple began the share repurchase program in early 2013, the stock was dropping and hitting new lows. However, the company kept on buying shares and at, relatively, cheap prices ($55 was the lowest price the stock hit, accounting for the split). Therefore, when the shareholders were selling the stock, Apple was the buyer willing to buy them all.

Apple through the ASR program, and open market purchases, has spent a great deal of cash on buying back stock, and currently has $5.989 billion in outstanding shares.

Although, this may seem impressive, individuals may be wondering how can Apple sustain such costly operations.  Well, keep in mind, that Apple has an extremely lucrative business model. The company’s cash holding was $121 billion when the program was announced, and has then increased to $164 billion this June.

Furthermore, Apple nets about $48.1 billion in free cash flow. Free cash flow is, essentially, the money that remains after expenses and all other operating costs are accounted for. Now, since Apple has a dividend program which amounts to about $12 billion, Apple still has a whopping $36 billion dollars left in free cash flow. Also, given current projectiles, those reserves are not expected to reduce anytime soon.

This buy back program, and how aggressive Apple has been in doing so, displays that the company is extremely confident in the future of the company. Also keep in mind, the company has invested $51 billion, which is a huge amount.

Best of both worlds 

Therefore, the company’s current dividend payout coupled with the buyback program alone make the stock extremely attractive.

Moreover, given the elevated levels of R&D spending, and the numerous firms Apple has been purchasing to recruit talent, shows that the company will also strive to bring innovation to their products.

Eddy Cue, SVP of Internet Software and Services, has also announced that the current pipeline of products is the best it has been in 25 years. In addition, Apple has also asked for massive orders of 4.7″ and 5.5″ iPhones to suppliers; the company is seeking between 70 to 80 million units, combined, of both the iPhones.

Lastly, analysts from all walks have also upgraded outlooks for Apple. Analysts at Susquehanna have raised the prices from $104.00 to $115, Citigroup has raised the price to $110.00 with a “buy” rating; Goldman Sachs has raised the price target to $107.00. To see more analysts upgrades, click here.

Therefore, with all these factors considered buying Apple might be a wise idea, and the stock may be headed back to its $700 days.

I currently have a “BUY” rating on Apple with a $109.75 price target.

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