The “Turing” of Tables

Back in September of 2015, the pharmaceutical industry was in complete uproar over the 5,000% price increase of a life saving drug. And just a month ago, the infamous “pharma bro,” Martin Shkreli, who was responsible for this price hike, was arrested. Ironically, his arrest was not on the basis of the unfair price increase; rather, Shkreli was arrested on fraud charges on his previous companies.

Taking a step back, Martin Shkreli, dubbed the “morally bankrupt sociopath,” “a scumbag,” “a garbage monster,” and “everything that is wrong with capitalism,” once was a rap music-loving and hedge fund manager; with one move overnight, he became the ridicule and criticism of people across the Internet and country.

Under Turing Pharmaceuticals, one of the many companies he founded, Shkreli acquired the rights to the drug, Daraprim. Previously only costing $13.50 a dose, this drug is a treatment for the relatively rare parasitic infection toxoplasmosis, and a drug that patients of weakened immune systems, such as AIDS, have come to depend on. What came to be the most controversial move in pharmaceutical history, Shkreli raised the price of this drug to $750 a dose, a 5,000% increase from its original price. Although such actions of raising drug prices for profit are commonplace in the pharmaceutical industry, seldom has any individual company dared to do so so publicly and unapologetically.

Following the public’s response, he later conceded that his only mistake, unapologetically, was not raising the price more. For a person to make a tremendous profit off a critical and devastating life situation evoked backlash from people, both morally and economically. And just overnight, Shkreli was propelled into the criticism and disdain of the public (although not as much as Trump, who knows?) and became the symbol of greed in the industry.

However, despite all this controversy, Martin Shkreli was not arrested on charges of this scandal that had made headlines. He was instead arrested for using money from a biopharmaceutical company, Retrophin, which he started as a hedge fund manager, as his own personal source of funds to pay off investors who lost money at his previous hedge fund. Shkreli’s previous business expenditures were not all that clean, and he had experienced many bankruptcies and failures. With every failure, debt accumulated and his liabilities to the investors of his hedge funds grew significantly.

And his way of paying off this debt? Even more startups.

Shkreli began a vicious cycle of creating new startups to pay off previous debt, but then having that startup fail and add to his existing debt. Using his startups to pay his private debts, his practices were soon found out and he was consequently arrested.

In the end, Shkreli was not caught legally for the crimes we know him best for, but for something we probably would never have known about had we not paid so much attention to his conducts. Martin Shkreli’s decision to drastically raise the price of the drug garnered him lots of attention, and because his action was not legally wrong, there was no way the public could throw him in jail. It’s ironic how Shkreli’s plans for profit only led him to his downfall. It was revealed that previous companies had flagged Shkreli on fraudulent charges, but had no results and conclusive findings. Yet after people paid more attention to him, were prosecutors able to find these fraudulent practices. We can only say, how the tables have turned.

 

Why We Do What We Do

What makes the difference in the quality of people’s lives?  How do you make a change?  What is it that shapes us?

So many people fail to do what they want to do, and they blame it on so many things: financial issues, lack of training, social or family issues, even lack of motivation. It seems like only the super-gifted and talented people become what they want to be; we don’t know why we can’t achieve what we want to achieve, it seems.

People like Tony Robbins are not just here to just motivate people, their job is to find out why people do what they do.

In this TED talk from the legendary man himself, Robbins explains everything he knows about how to help people accomplish their dreams and aspirations.

 

 

 

THE WAY IN WHICH CHEMISTRY PLAYS A MAJOR ROLE IN MOVIES

After reading the title “The Way in which Chemistry Plays a Major Role in Movies”, you all may be contemplating the multifarious relationships evident among characters in movies or perhaps the complex interactions between two people, which can occasionally be referred to as chemistry. However, the term “chemistry” in this particular scenario embodies absolutely no affiliations with any attributes that may be intimating a relationship. Rather, it inhabits its orthodox definition as a branch of science and the study of the composition, structure, and properties of matter as well as the changes matter undergoes. Although it may not appear patent at first, chemistry has numerous, profound roles in the making of all movies. To begin with, simply think about how a movie is made. By a director, right? WRONG! I mean yes, but think deeper! What does a director use to make a movie? A camera. How exactly does a camera capture the moments of life, and later display the moments onto the big screens? The correct answer is that a camera utilizes a vital component that is known as the film. The film, a major constituent of a camera, is a pliable and attenuated strip of plastic with light-sensitive emulsion for exposure in a camera, fundamentally used to produce motion pictures. The primary chemicals (substances that have a definite composition) and compounds, which are made from the atoms of at least two chemically-bonded elements, become involved when actually developing the film. The first layer of a film is a protective coating which protects the emulsion layer that has the gelatin and the silver halide crystals in it. (Higher speeds of film have multiple layers of emulsion.) The next layer is the film base, which is a polymer that is chemically stable and flexible. The last layer is the anti-halation backing, which precludes reflections off the back of the film

Moreover, the origins of photographic processes date back to the 1800s and yet were still astonishingly dependent on chemistry. The beginnings of photographic processes were devised by William Talbot during the 1830s. Talbot’s procedure consisted of continuously rinsing paper in baths of saltwater and silver nitrate (AgNO3) solution, hence depositing silver chloride (AgCl) in the fibers of the paper. Afterwards, this wet piece of paper was exposed in a camera till a dark, silvery image appeared in the light-struck regions, and the remaining silver chloride (AgCl) was removed by washing it with a concentrated salt solution. By waxing or oiling the negative sheet, Talbot made the paper translucent, and then by making an exposure of diffuse light through the negative onto another sensitized sheet, he produced a positive image. Therefore, an interminable number of copies of a photograph could have been generated from any one negative. In other words, behind the multiplex concept of filmmaking and photography lies a simple (or not so simple) answer: science, and specifically, chemicals and compounds, which are all ultimately a part of chemistry. In the following centuries, as photographic processes advanced, mechanisms of processing undeniably altered to later on, produce color and digital photography.

All in all, behind a movie is a director, behind a director is a camera, behind a camera is a film, and behind a film is the work of chemistry. As technology continues to expeditiously evolve, along will come the emergence of further advanced photography, and along, in the years to follow, will come the institution of an augmented role played by chemistry throughout the film industry via the concept of photography.

A Slow Clap for Equality

A quick scroll through CNN’s homepage or a flip through the morning’s New York Times is almost guaranteed to communicate some type of headline on the issue of equality—whether it be of the minority, women, or LGBT. The fact is, conversation in America, ever since its breakaway from Great Britain, has been constantly involving the issue of equality. Even the sheer mention of this country is able to evoke images of fairness and freedom for all.

Yet, in this highly modern and growing society of today, meanings have changed and views have shifted. What equality and the push for this concept once were no longer hold constant. The oversensitivity and impulse to grab onto any type of advancement, and to be satisfied with a superficial legislation has taken over our reason.

For the first time ever, Saudi Arabian women were granted the right to vote. Headlines on multiple major news sources donned prosperous and feel-good stories of this progress. However, they fail to account for the entire picture and the restraints the nature of Saudi Arabian government place on this achievement. In this notoriously misogynist country, this reform appears as an obvious milestone. Still, this milestone falls short.

The catch is that Saudi Arabia is not a democracy. Unlike America, Saudi Arabia provides no meaningful medium of expression: no free press, no personal authority, and no legal authority. Politics revolve around the King, rather than the voices of the population. If any change is to be made, it is more likely to be accomplished through connections with the prince than running for office with an egalitarian driven candidacy. Amid this patronage network for the royals, the ability and value of voting are crowded out and have little to no influence at all.

Despite being able to vote, the women of Saudi Arabia are still discriminated against, and laws that exclude women are still in relevance. Women, without the accompaniment of their male relative or spouse, can neither drive nor travel. Even with the power to vote, what can Saudi Arabian women do? In respect to Saudi Arabia’s highly oppressive political system, we can only see this as an advance on paper only.

All in all, we should still commend the women of Saudi Arabia, and other minorities alike who are discriminated against, for making it so far, and accomplishing such feats. Although we cannot respond to this event with celebration and applause, a slow clap will do.

The Art of Stillness

Sometimes we are all so caught up in our own business; sometimes we feel like we are so ‘busy’, like we have so many things to do. Sometimes we simply feel like we have no time to do what we really want to do. Indeed, I sometimes experience this same predicament. ‘If only I had more time.’ I keep telling myself. Hours and even days go by and I wish I had them back, feeling like my seconds are ticking away. We all want to do great things, like traveling the world, or writing a novel, or becoming famous, or changing lives. This world puts a lot of expectations on our backs. But, ironically, the place that travel writer Pico Iyer would want to go to is… nowhere.

Pico Iyer is the author of the book The Art of Stillness, and he talks about his story in TED talks, like this one below.

http://www.ted.com/talks/pico_iyer_the_art_of_stillness

In a world where everything is happening and people want to do everything, I take some time to just do nothing but think. It’s a cathartic experience; taking a break from the world helps you come back to your senses and set your mind back on track. Spending just 5-15 minutes just being separate from EVERYTHING, is a very powerful act. It’s not very easy to explain here, so I recommend you try it for yourself. Pico Iyer is a much better speaker than I am, so take his word for it.

New Year, New Views

Many of us have probably heard of the intelligent young teenager, Ahmed Mohamed, who built a clock and was arrested because his teacher thought it was a bomb. How ironic, that this 14 year old wanted to impress his teacher, and was instead incarcerated for his exceptional abilities. Of course, Ahmed is now meeting influential figures like Obama, and his life has been changed for the better. But is this incident a unique example of religious discrimination, or is it just one of many discriminatory incidents? Let’s take a look.

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The US population, especially in recent months, is all too aware of Donald Trump’s views on immigration and religion. He recently declared that he wanted to forbid the entry of all Muslim people into the country, because he believes it will lower the chances of terrorist acts. Beverly Swanburg, a Trump sympathetic, stated “We should not let any more in, any more immigrants from Mexico or Muslim.” Is it fair to ban all Muslims from entering the country, when there are only a select few who commit terrorist acts? Even those who practice the Islamic religion are scared of those who engage in terrorist activity.

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Real estate tycoon Donald Trump speaks during the prime time Republican presidential debate on August 6, 2015 at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. AFP PHOTO/MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)

Moreover, there is also racial discrimination present in the US. The idea of affirmative action that is used in college admissions is just one example. Although the purpose of affirmative action is to ensure a diverse population within the student body, it is harder for Asian students to get into a college than Hispanic students with the same test scores or accomplishments. This means that Asian students have to work much harder in order to get into top schools than other minorities or Caucasian applicants. In order to prevent selection based on ethnicity and gear them towards intellect and accomplishments, admissions should be race blind.

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There are obviously more incidents of discrimination that occur world wide. However, listing all of them would take far too long. A change to a more inclusive society is possible if people learn to be more accepting of other religions and races, rather than just tolerant. It’s now 2016, and a new year may be just what we all need to change our attitudes towards others’ differences.

Chipotle’s Stock Crisis

A recent outbreak in October 2015 has captivated everyone’s attention as hundreds of news reports dominate in about every news network. Chipotle, a franchise known for having the healthiest organic ingredients, has depreciated its stock price after several cases of E-coli were disclosed in numerous consumers. Reports reveal information about fifty-three customers who were infected with E-coli in nine states including Oregon, Washington, California, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Illinois, Marchipotle-2yland, and Pennsylvania. As a result, forty-three Chipotle restaurants closed for cautionary purposes. Although the commotion has ended with the solution of officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention investigating the issue and intensifying food safety procedures, Chipotle is still suffering through an immense decline in sales.
Customers discontinued the consumption of meals from Chipotle in fear that they would become infected with the virus. As seen in the image, profits plunged throughout the last four quarters. The chipotle.jpgpublic has lost faith in the quality of the food produced by Chipotle, causing them to abominate the restaurant for putting them at the risk of severe disease. The stock price has plunged to a disappointing $480 when it was originally $730 before the E.coli chaos. Investors have also lost faith in the company so they have sold stocks that they have invested earlier in the year. For this reason, the market value of the company has plummeted leaving the company at a loss. Merrill Lynch and CRT Capital, credit rating agencies, both downgraded Chipotle and five analysts cut their price targets for the company. As you can see, there are several factors that contribute to the slump of Chipotle’s wealth. While Chipotle is in a crisis to recover their sales, rivals celebrate as the previous Chipotle fans revert their preference to alternatives.

Data proves that Chipotle’s rivals are benefiting through Chipotle’s struggles. Many rivals had growth in sales as customers turned to alternative fast foods/restaurants. Some of these businesses include Taco Bell, Moe’s Southwest Grill, and Qdoba, all of which had a growth ranging from 4%-8%. Taking advantage of what has happened, sales increased with no extra marketing necessary because they have similar choices as the poorly repudiated, Chipotle. In addition, Chipotle lost market share to Qdoba, being its biggest rival and Meditteranean restaurant, Zoe’s Kitchen. Although Chipotle and Panera are said to be the two leading fast food chains for their healthy food choices, Panera may be taking the lead because of the E.coli outbreak.chipte stock.jpg

Not only is their reputation damaged, but profit margin may also be affected. The chain of restaurants may need to reduce their prices in the future so people start to buy their food once again. On top of low sales, the business will have a lower margin which may barely exceed their costs. The entire corporation is put at risk as it is possible for it be at default in the near future. Although these are only possibilities, Chipotle must take action to acquit their name. All in all, the erupted conflict resulted in improved cautionary procedures by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention which is one of the few beneficial impacts of the event that occurred. Going forward, other companies and Chipotle itself will be attentive so such action does not occur again.