Fed’s attempt to control BTC

According to Forbes, people have been making a comparison between bitcoin and gold. They are saying that based on the grounds of these assets being the “safe-haven” or “disaster hedges” when the economy is in recession. However, bitcoin is neither safe nor will its value maintain as the economy goes awry. Cryptocurrency could lose its value within a matter of seconds with no warning signs. It is unpredictable, and there are very few legal rules and regulations in the market. When was the last time someone rejected gold as a worthwhile asset?

Of course, with more people attempting to make a quick fortune, cryptocurrency has begun to turn more heads. With the global attention on these coins, it is no surprise that the Federal Reserve (Fed) is doing something about them. They have recently announced the increase of the interest rate – as many have long anticipated.

However, some professionals have agreed that this, too will not affect bitcoin significantly.

(Forbes, then, pointed out that increasing the rate would have impacted gold.)

In fact, David Johnson, CEO of Latium, have asserted that, “Bitcoin should move up due to increased clarity from regulators as it moves into a more defined asset class.”

With the predictions from these experts, it seems that Bitcoin continues to be a worthwhile asset. Many are discussing the entities that are bounding and affecting such commodities. The rules that are governing the movement of bitcoin are rather unique as the notion of cryptocurrency is still the first of its kind.

“Bitcoin will move on its idiosyncratic factors,” Arthur Hayes, the CEO and one of the founder of BitMEX, a Seychelles-based cryptocurrency exchange points out – at least for now. Along with Hayes, Mati Greenspan, senior market analyst of eToro has also expressed similar views. “Bitcoin is largely disconnected with any traditional markets and bears absolutely no connection to interest rate outlook at this time.”

Besides, bitcoin was never intended for layman to earn a couple of quick bucks. The cryptocurrency, bitcoin, was initially set to be another currency. In fact, it was intended as the future of currency, a digital version that goes hand in hand with our advancement in science and technology. As we move forward with the process of perfecting Artificial Intelligence (AI) and other capitals that are against the law of nature, cryptocurrency has become the potential substitute of our current medium of exchange. However, many are purchasing bitcoins for a different intention.

“People are buying BTC for all kinds of reasons,” Jeff Bishop, the CEO of Raging Bull stresses. “When you have an asset moving 10%+ in a week on a regular basis, you don’t really consider if the Fed causing 10-year interest rates to over 3% as a major concern,” he explains.

While it may be an easily accessible and flexible option for first-time investors, it is also a risky and ruthless investment. The rules that govern it is not clear or strict, the value could go down without any notice or indication. You could lose your entire investment in a matter of seconds.

In addition, bitcoin wallet has a very strong security. This is because of the existence of many low-profile internet hackers. If you have no knowledge of computer science, how do you defend yourself, or even comprehend the situation? Who would you be going to for assistance?

Conversely, investing in bitcoins could also bring you a lot of benefits. Like the anticipation of the fall, it could also rocket up within seconds. Anyone who invests, regardless of the chosen commodity, should already have the anticipated the possibility of losing their token.

Either way, investing is merely another form of gambling. There is no guarantee.

Featured image via flickr/ fdecomite

Story behind the trend #DeleteFacebook

As a result of last week’s scandal regarding Facebook’s possible leak of our personal information, #DeleteFacebook has become a possible new trend. Rumor has it that Cambridge Analytica LLC, a private British company that utilizes data mining, brokerage and analysis to produce communication strategy for election purposes, was able to acquire personal information of about 50 million Facebook users. Needless to say, users are infuriated about the fact that this was done under wraps without the consent of said users.

Furthermore, it seems that this particular consultation firm has had a business association with President Trump during the presidential campaign two years ago. A simple analysis of the two sentences aforementioned reveals the possible debauchery and corruption that, in turn, leads to this controversy.

On Tuesday, Alexander Nix, the CEO of Cambridge Analytica was let go by the firm after a documentary by Channel 4 went public. In the documentary, Nix was apparently laying claim on their alleged involvement in Trump’s electoral campaign. The consultation company has denied these claims, as expected. Facebook, on the other hand, has placed the entire blame on a “researcher” who supposedly handed the data to Cambridge Analytica while being dishonest to Facebook.

Mark Zuckerberg, Chairman, CEO and co-founder of Facebook and Sheryl Sandberg, the COO have ostensibly been “working around the clock” in response to the problem, as disclosed by Facebook to the media.

“The entire company is outraged we were deceived. We are committed to vigorously enforcing our policies to protect people’s information and will take whatever steps are required to see that this happens,” as stated in the statement issued by Facebook on Tuesday.

Brian Acton is one of the founders of WhatsApp, the messaging application that Facebook had previously procured with $19 billion. He now holds the position of Executive Chairman of Signal Foundation, a non-profit organization in the tech industry. Forbes estimate Acton’s net worth as $5.5 billion. Within the same day the statement was issued, Acton began the trend #deletefacebook through Twitter – openly opposing Facebook. Is there an underlying issue, perhaps private, that goes beyond the surface between Acton and Zuckerberg? Since then, #DeleteFacebook has been trending as users gradually learn about the issue.

Needless to say, all of this has significantly impacted Facebook’s market shares because of the loss of public confidence. Facebook has been criticized repeatedly with regards to the approach they have taken in conjunction with this public relations nightmare. Roger McNamee is a venture-capitalist who is one of the most longstanding investors in Facebook. He has publicly expressed his opinion to CNN in an interview on the same day.

“They haven’t even taken the first step of admitting there’s a problem. If they don’t do something pretty soon, people are going to realize they can’t trust Facebook anymore… and that could threaten them permanently,” he suggests.

He believes that this disaster could potentially “destroy” Facebook and that the firm’s executives are not tackling the issue properly. While he has in his hands, significant Facebook stock, it seems like the top executives in the firm, quoting McNamee, “are not talking to me anymore, so I have to communicate through the press”.

McNamee, who still holds Facebook stock, added that Facebook senior execs “are not talking to me anymore, so I have to communicate through the press.”

On Wednesday, Facebook stock is valued at $164.80 per share. That is a slight decrease of 2 percent. By noon ET, however, there was an overall improvement in the market and Facebook’s stock, too went up by 1.7 percent. Yet again, the stock had hit a huge bump last Friday when the rumor first surfaced. Hence, it is still about 7 percent lower than the initial value overall.

Beginning on Monday, the rating for the Facebook application in the App store has below two out of five stars. However, ninety percent of these reviews have not even remarked on the Cambridge Analytica case as well as the leak of private information, Sensor Tower, mobile-analytics research firm reports. They also indicate that this issue, in addition to the hashtag trend has not affected the number of installs of the application.

The tension between Facebook, in its entirety, with others such as Acton and McNamee is ostensibly high. Why isn’t Facebook handling this situation with a better strategy?

The unaffordable healthcare for Alzheimer’s

Alzheimer’s is one of the diseases that fall under the umbrella term, dementia. The effects are austere. It reduces one’s cognitive responses such that one eventually begins to lose their basic abilities to do even the most fundamental tasks. Out of the blue, it creeps up on you and you slowly begin to question even the most obvious and straightforward things in your life.

First, you find it almost impossible to recall recent events. Then, you start to wonder who the people around you are. Who are these people? The one who keeps calling me dad, what is her name? Are we related to each other? Eventually, that becomes the least of your struggle because you can no longer comprehend anything around you. You no longer know who you are or what your name even is. As time goes on, you lose the most basic human abilities and health care has at that very moment, become your sole reliance. However, what happens when healthcare comes with a price that you just don’t have? (Well, don’t worry because it’s no longer your concern!)

Alzheimer’s disease has been proven to be the most common cause of dementia in the United States. At the moment, there are almost six million Americans who are suffering from that and the statistical data shows that the condition is simply deteriorating. The calculated sum of the healthcare for dementia cases has come to a domineering $277 billion in the United States per year. At first glance, the astronomical figure may seem insanely high but that is not all. The Alzheimer’s Association’s annual report has also taken the liberty to find out the invisible costs. These include the time and effort as well as energy exerted by the patients’ caregivers.

“In 2017, 16 million Americans provided an estimated 18.4 billion hours of unpaid care in the form of physical, emotional and financial support – a contribution to the nation valued at $232.1 billion. The difficulties associated with providing this level of care are estimated to have resulted in $11.4 billion in additional healthcare costs for Alzheimer’s and other dementia caregivers in 2017,” the Alzheimer’s Association reports.

Altogether that makes up about $500 billion, a large portion of the nation’s accumulated wealth. It is no doubt costly to provide for victims of Alzheimer’s disease, or any dementia cases for that matter. On a smaller narrative, each patient requires about $341,000 from the beginning to the end. Of that excessive cost, seventy percent typically come directly out of the families’ pocket. Aside from that, the report has also mentioned that a majority of the people who are providing are women. They are the ones who are looking after their parents, spouses, siblings and even friends who have been taken by dementia.

Women take up two-thirds of the portion that is doing the work whereas one-third of that are the children of the patient. Family, friends and other voluntary members make up 83 percent of the total care provided for these patients. Such arduous work will eventually lead to health problems on those who are providing. Requiring more than twenty hours per week on average, the report takes into consideration the possible heart problems and depression that caregivers often suffer from.

“The sooner the diagnosis occurs, the sooner these costs can be managed, and savings can begin,” Keith Fargo of the Alzheimer’s Association has asserted.

Unfortunately, there is no definite cure for Alzheimer’s disease as of yet. Nonetheless, like any other health issues, the early one is diagnosed, the better it will be overall in terms of time, money and energy. Needless to say, if a patient was diagnosed in early stages, say mild cognitive impairment (MCI) for instance, they could reduce the financial burden. This is because they will be able to better prepare themselves for the impending tragedy. In addition, transforming their lifestyles for the better by working out consistently, being on a healthier diet as well as eliminating unhealthy habits like smoking can aid in the situation.

“While current therapies do not prevent, halt or reverse Alzheimer’s disease, they can temporarily improve and prolong cognitive function in many individuals with Alzheimer’s dementia. An early diagnosis also enables potential safety issues, such as problems with driving or wandering, to be addressed ahead of time. When further testing shows reversible or treatable causes (for example, depression, obstructive sleep apnea or vitamin B12 deficiency) rather than Alzheimer’s disease, early diagnosis can lead to treatment and improvement of cognition and quality of life,” the report concludes.

Featured image via flickr/ Pictures of Money

Amazon continues to flourish

For some time now, Alphabet, the parent company of our beloved Google, has been holding the position of the runner-up, right behind Apple Inc. in the global market. In recent events, Amazon.com has just surpassed Alphabet in acquiring the position of the second most valuable company in the world. This is the first of such occurrence. Apple Inc. has been valued at $889 billion for the past two years. As of now, Amazon’s market capitalization is $7 billion ahead of Alphabet, with $768 billion and $761 billion respectively.

This should not come as a surprise since Jeff Bezos, the founder and CEO of Amazon, has recently been proclaimed by Forbes as the wealthiest man in the world. At a net worth of $130 billion, he holds the label of the first and only centi-billionaire in the United States. Over the past 5 years, Amazon has been experiencing a positive growth in market value. At present, it has acquired a growth of 2.69 percent in its stock price as opposed to Alphabet’s 0.39 percent decrease.

In addition to three of these tech giants, Microsoft is also in the game, placing fourth. The company’s market capitalization is valued at $717 billion as of today.

Due to the comparably small gap between the top three firms, any change in positions between them will not bring about too much of a commotion. Besides, with the obvious and consistent growth that Amazon has seen recently, it is highly possible for it to surpass the rests and safely secure the position as the most valuable company across the world.

Amazon has been venturing towards different industries. They range from shopping to banking as well as healthcare. The Motley Fool has even insinuated at the company’s possible endeavor in being a “major hospital supplier”. With Bezos brisk success in recent years, it would not be surprising if they continue to achieve excellence in any possible plans. To put it briefly, a $5,000 investment in Amazon.com from 21 years ago would have gotten you a million dollars today.

On the other hand, Google is seemingly losing its grip as the firm is already anticipating a further decline, particularly in their share of the country’s advertisement industry. At the moment, Google seems to be directing its effort on the invention and production of hardware like speakers, in order to compete with the other tech giants.

For instance, Apple has found its success in various products, ranging from iPhones to Apple watches. Two years ago, Apple had introduced the AirPods, a pair of wireless earphones. This product was a huge success such that its purchasing demand far surpassed the supply. It is not easy and there are hardly any goods or services, that are not necessities, that can achieve that, especially when it is not the most affordable item. However, Apple has always been able to acquire demand for its product since brand loyalty is one of the most significant element that has led to its top spot in the global market. This is clearly evident from the series of Apple products. For instance, the series of iPhone, up till iPhone X, has consumers queueing up to purchase it. In spite of the passing of the late Steve Jobs, Apple is still coming up with each products’ successor. Take the Apple Watch for instance. From its debut in 2015, the Apple Watch has not lost its popularity within the market. From the first, to Series 2 and the latest Apple Watch Series 3. Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple has revealed that the sales of the newest batch are twice the sale of the second batch.

With Apple’s consistent growth, will Amazon be able to surpass its market value or will Apple be able to hold on to the top spot?

Featured image via flickr/ simone.brunozzi

Steve Jobs’ 1973 application

Steve Jobs mementos have always been highly sought after at auctions. In 2014, a buyer paid $40,000 for a signed contract that was dated back to 1978. Then, a magazine with his mere signature was procured at the remarkable price of over $50,0000 last October. There was an auction that took place in the course of 8th March to 15th March, presented by RR Auction. A newspaper featuring the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference from a decade ago containing his signature was placed at a value of $15,000 easily sold for $26,950, a price that is almost twice of its worth. On top of the newspaper clipping, there was also an autographed technical manual of Mac OS X from 2001. Valued around $25,000, the highest bid was placed at $41,806.

Back in 1973, Steve Jobs, the co-founder of Apple had applied for a job through a handwritten form. In time, it has become a valuable piece of artifact that people are willing to pay an astronomical amount to acquire it. This job application was previously taken off the market through Bonhams, the auctioneers of treasured collectibles and such. It was sold for the price of $18,750 in December 2017, just a few months ago. Following that, the item was, once again, up for bid. It was found on RR Auction at an estimated value of $50,000.

It was eventually auctioned off at an incredible price, triple of the estimated value at $174,757. That is a sum of over two hundred thousand in Australian dollars and about £125,416, as reported by RR Auction. Oddly enough, the highest bid for the job application came from London. The bidder has chosen to remain anonymous and the only thing we know at this point is that he or she does their business online.

Who is this mysterious person who paid thrice the amount of the anticipated price? Bobby Livingston, the Executive Vice President of RR Auction suggests that the people who were after the job application are most likely businesspersons in the line of tech industry who have been observing Steve Jobs and the expansion of Apple as well as those who hold a high regard towards his ideology and capability. So far, this piece of history has turned out to be the priciest possession of Steve Jobs within the auction.

“The document to them resonates emotionally about who Steve Jobs was, … Here he was with nothing, and now he’s one of the most important people in the 20th century,” Livingston coherently articulated.

Aside from these autographed items, a number of his personal possessions, including bathrobes, have also been in the market. Few examples of these are his electric razors and leather jacket. A buyer paid $22,400 for the latter.

“Past generations might have collected The Beatles, but in the last 10 years, we’ve seen a huge growth in our technology auctions. There’s a market developing for Steve Jobs and other late-century icons of technology,” Livingston commented with regards to the collectors of Jobs’ possessions.

In this precious job application, we could see that there was nothing exceptional that would have pointed to Jobs’ future success. The company and job position were not even listed on the sheet.

In spite of what you would think, Jobs was an English lit major. He put “reed college” under the address column. At the time of the application, he had just dropped out of Reed College after having enrolled in the Fall term of 1972. However, he was still living in Portland, Oregon, where his campus was located. He remained there for the following year and a half to audit courses. Funnily enough, these courses were on the subjects of calligraphy, dance and Shakespeare.

Next to Driver’s License, he wrote “yes”, but he proceeded to answer with “possible, but not probable” when questioned about access to transportation. He scribbled “electronics tech or design engineer. digital. – from Bay near Hewitt-Packard” under Special Abilities. It was actually Hewlett-Packard. In addition, he expressed his skills with computers and calculators.

Click here to see the actual image of the job application.

As you can see, the entire form was filled with misspelled words and barely any capitalization as needed. It is certainly interesting to see such an ordinary or even below average application. Who would have thought that this young fellow applicant would one day turn out to be a prominent figure in the tech industry, who was also well-known globally? From a nobody to somebody who had, for the most part, changed the world.

The most extraordinary element of this application is still the fact that it was handwritten. Livingston has expressed his excitement towards the outcome of the auction, but he has pointed out the ultimate irony. The world will be losing out on documents like this – handwritten – since we are living in a digital age. Ironically, this change is attributable to the man whose handwriting this belongs to, Steve Jobs himself.

“There are personality traits in his handwriting that because of him and autocorrect, we’re going to lose,” Livingston continued.

Featured image via Wikimedia

IBM is making a breakthrough

How ironic is it that we want our smartphones to increase in size while computers are desired to be smaller?

Three years ago, the University of Michigan had presented the Michigan Micro Mote (M3), which is the smallest computer up till the impending IBM’s production. M3 was estimated to be at the microscopic size of 2mm x 2mm – which is exactly double that of IBM’s version.

The International Business Machines Corporation (IBM) is introducing new ideas at the IBM Think 2018 conference this week. They are presenting the series “5 in 5” from the IBM Research inventions and technologies. The name “5 in 5” is likely to have generated from the fact that these inventions are expected to make a difference in our lives within the following five years, as mentioned at the conference, “that could change our lives in the next five years”. The conference is centered on matters such as Artificial Intelligence, block chain and quantum computing. Amidst these subjects, Mashable has pointed out the single main selling point.

IBM is coming up with the smallest computer that has yet to exist on earth.

Nonetheless, they have not debuted the actual product as of now. Still, they have provided ample information to keep us interested. Here’s what we know so far. The dimension of said computer will be 1mm x 1mm – this is tinier than a pinch of salt. What’s more, is that the cost of production is presumably less than one dime.

Click here for a visual comparison of one such computer with a grain of salt to get a sense of its size.

Of course, tech-geniuses are no doubt more concerned over the features that it entails. To begin with, the processor in the IBM’s smallest computers include “several hundred thousand” transistors. They also consist of an SRAM memory and a photovoltaic cell for power. In addition, the communications unit apparently make use of an LED and a photo-detector to connect to the external world. Rumor has it that these IBM computers devise the power of an x86 chip, presumably from the 1990. This amount of power is almost sufficient to process the original DOOM, a gaming application. According to the coding file (README.TXT) for DOOM, a 386 processor and a RAM (random access memory) of 4 megabytes is required as the benchmark to run the system.

The Verge has expressed optimism and hope for IBM to repurpose the chip’s LED as a one-pixel display as well as providing the public with more information on the product’s performance metrics, preferably within the next five years.

Here’s a detailed video of the transistors.

As of now, the IBM has not even disclosed, or perhaps come up, with an actual name for the tiniest computers in the world.

There was a time when computers were so big in size that we had to make room for them, and they were quite expensive, too. Now, with such tiny exterior, they are able to be located conveniently anywhere, ranging from the back of a monitor to simply placing it by an entertainment center. Needless to say, the features and capacity far exceeds the dimensions in terms of importance to users. The low cost of manufacture is undeniably a desirable element, assuming that as a result, the price will also be low. However, that is often not the case, as producers will mark up the costs in order to increase profits.

Conversely, in a relatively free market system like ours, producers are not the only decisive factor of the price of goods and services. Consumers, too, play a large part in the law of demand and supply. However, none of this matters until IBM actually announces and debuts the product, which is why we can only wait and be in awe of this breakthrough.

Why are the cryptocurrencies crashing?

Within the past weekend, Bitcoin has fallen drastically to $7,335.57, at its lowest on Sunday. Fortunately, as CoinDesk conveys, the value of the cryptocurrency gradually recuperated. By Monday afternoon, the value of Bitcoin picked up again returned to an average of $8,585.

Although we can never know for certain the reason underlying such change, many have pointed to the advertising ban of bitcoin throughout the weekend. Sky News has reported the advertising ban for initial coin offerings, token sales and cryptocurrency wallets all across the world that Twitter has supposedly imposed and will be implemented within a fortnight.

Another one of those attempts to reprimand cryptocurrency scams, this move is not unheard of. Several tech giants have already imposed strict rules and regulations on these advertisements early on. In the start of the year, Facebook, runner-up to the world’s biggest online advertisement platform, has announced its plan to impose bans on all cryptocurrencies-related advertisements. Its reason for taking such drastic measures is to avoid circulation of “financial products and services frequently associated with misleading or deceptive promotional practices”. Moreover, just last week, Google has announced its plans to reinforce the financial services policy. Hence, advertisements circling cryptocurrencies, and such will be curbed within three months.

“Facebook was previous, but now Twitter is also rumored. Much of crypto(currency) demand is retail, so this may negatively impact demand,” suggests Joe DiPasquale, the Chief Executive Officer of BitBull Capital.

The former statement remains to be unsubstantiated as Twitter has not disclosed anything.

There was considerable news pointing to the high price of mining as the underlying cause of the fall in bitcoin’s value since last week. That was reiterated by DiPasquale, “Now that it’s dropped below that, there’s less incentive for miners to continue to keep machines on unless they are in a lower-cost energy area or have a way of producing at less than cost”.

The mining of bitcoin includes the utilization of certain software and expensive hardware to solve mathematics equations in order to earn bitcoins. With the current rate, they are now looking at a mere $8,000 for one bitcoin. This, in addition to regulatory issues, have largely impacted the value of bitcoin within the past few weeks.

Initially valued at a fine five figures of $11,000 just a couple of weeks ago, a statement issued by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) expressing its concerns over cryptocurrency exchanges as well as the lack of security and privacy on Binance, a Hong Kong-based cryptocurrency exchange momentarily brought down the value of bitcoin.

According to the grapevine, finance ministers of G-20, as well as governors of central banks, have agreed to consolidate in Buenos Aires, Argentina. A G-20 representative has informed CNBC that these discussions will take place in a private and confidential setting before making its way to the press conference.

The Financial Stability Board (FSB) serves as a regulator for G-20 economies all across the world. They have begun to take actions after receiving a number of calls from various countries regarding the security of cryptocurrencies.

“The FSB’s initial assessment is that crypto-assets do not pose risks to global financial stability at this time,” proclaims Mark Carney, Chair of the Financial Stability Board as well as Governor of the Bank of England.

“Even at their recent peak, their combined global market value was less than 1 percent of global GDP,” Carney continues in an effort to juxtapose the size of cryptocurrency investments with the rest of the global financial system.

“The more speculative coins are being hit particularly hard. Liquidity is among their primary features and many of the holders lack long-term conviction, therefore they’re rotating into larger coins with stronger long-term prospects,” asserted by Spencer Bogart, one of the partners of Blockchain Capital.

He underlines the “potential for a liquidity crunch” as phrased by CNBC. He believes that to be the decisive factor for investors to let go of alternative coins and focus on more prominent cryptocurrencies like bitcoin.

Bitcoin was not the only cryptocurrency that had experienced a fall over the weekend. Ethereum went down by an alarming seventeen percent, reaching a nadir of $460.09, as reported by CoinDesk. That, however, is nothing in comparison to Ripple, which has suffered a decreased of fourteen percent to a meek $0.55. Similarly, the value of bitcoin cash and Litecoin have both deteriorated significantly at about ten percent.

While it may seem like bitcoin may be making a comeback, as people lose confidence in these currencies, the value subsequently decreases, too. Should investors pull out now or continue to await more positive results?

Featured image via flickr/ Zach Copley

United Airlines Attempts to Avoid a PR Mess

United Continental Holdings Inc., the Chicago-based airline has become the airline that has the most controversial issues for some time now. Perhaps you have heard about the David Dao incident. The passenger was physically coerced into leaving the flight because of a mistake made by the airline. They overbooked the flight, leaving no available seat for a customer who had already paid for his seat. That was not the worst part. Dr. David Dao had suffered from a severe concussion in addition to losing a couple of his teeth as well as a broken nose from the violence asserted by the airline employees. Put aside the fact that he was a paying customer like everyone else and deserves to be treated like one. No human being should ever be treated like this, especially a senior citizen.

Truth be told, United Airlines’ awful customer service actually began ten years ago.

There is a song with over 17 million views titled, United Breaks Guitars, by Dave Carroll, a Canadian musician. As the name suggests, Carroll’s guitar was broken by the United Airlines’ baggage handlers. That was not the main problem. It is the fact that they adamantly refused to take responsibility for breaking the singer-songwriter’s $3,500 guitar. Even in the Dr. Dao’s incident, Oscar Munoz, CEO of the United Airlines had criticized the passenger instead of taking responsibility. He did not actually apologize to Dr. Dao until the third statement of apology was issued in response to the controversy.

As a result of this incident, another passenger, Shirley Yamauchi was afraid to stand her ground and became yet another victim of United Airlines. This incident occurred three months after Dr. Dao’s incident. Yamauchi was on a United flight along with her two-year-old toddler. She lawfully purchased two tickets, one for herself and one for her son. However, another passenger showed up with a ticket for her son’s seat, which means that United has once again overbooked the flight. The other passenger proceeded to take his seat, so Yamauchi sought for help from a flight attendant. Like every incident United has had, the employee did not stand by her. In fact, she was told that the flight was full and that there was nothing they could do. In the end, Yamauchi had to place her son on her lap throughout the course of the flight. This was reported by Hawaii News Now.

Within the same month of Dr. Dao’s incident, there were three other unpleasant episodes. First, Lucie Bahetoukilae, a French passenger who had a ticket to fly home, was placed on the wrong plane and sent to San Francisco instead, as reported by WABC. It is understandable for slight miscommunications to occur for the reason that the passenger only spoke French. However, the employee that scanned her boarding pass and the employee who seated her both had the chance to look at her ticket. That was part of their job. What were they doing?

Michael Hohl and Amber Maxwell were two people in love who were flying to Costa Rica to get married. Nonetheless, their day was ruined by the United Airlines, as usual. KHOU reported that when they approached their seats on the plane, they found another passenger who was laid across the seats, fast asleep. Hence, they took a seat in the empty seats nearby. When the flight attendant approached them, the couple openly admitted that they were not in their assigned seats – for a reason – and were willing to pay the additional fee as they were seated at the economy plus spots. Following the instructions of the flight attendant, they returned to their original seats with no problem. Here’s the strange part: a U.S. Marshall came on board and kicked them off the plane. Still, the couple did as they were told with no commotion. On the following Saturday, the airline issued a statement that criticized the couple saying that they “wouldn’t follow crew instructions”. If they did not, would they have gotten off the plane? Wouldn’t they have ended up like Dr. Dao?

The third incident involves Simon, the son of the world’s largest rabbit. Simon was three-foot-long and was anticipated to grow even bigger. According to PEOPLE magazine, a group in Iowa had purchased the enormous continental rabbit for fundraising purposes. Needless to say, the darling creature was found dead when the United flight landed. Guy R. Cook is the attorney who represented the group in Iowa in this proceeding. Based on Cook’s letter to PEOPLE magazine, the airline proceeded to cremate the rabbit’s carcass without permission or instructions from Simon’s owner.

Earlier in that year, Kathleen Considine, the owner of Jacob the golden retriever voiced her complaint about United Airlines through Facebook. After being in United PetSafe program, Jacob was returned to Considine in a distressed condition and subsequently passed away soon after. In a report by WDIV, the airline reiterated the safety and comfort of pets in their PetSafe program – so was Simon the rabbit.

On Monday night, Kokito, a ten-month-old French Pitbull that was placed in a pet carrier passed away after being in the overhead compartment for a three and a half hours long flight. Initially placed under the seats, a flight attendant persistently told the passenger to stow it in the overhead bins. Then, the spokeswoman of the airline came out to justify their mistake by saying that the flight attendant was not aware of the presence of Kokito. Several passengers on board have contradicted this statement as they mentioned that the sound of the dog barking was a clear indication.

Earlier this week, United Airlines has, once again, made a mistake.

Irgo the German Shepherd was scheduled to fly back to Kansas City on a United flight while a Great Dane in the United’s care was bound for Tokyo. However, there was a mix-up within the airline and the two dogs were sent to the wrong locations. Irgo arrived at Tokyo while the Great Dane was sent to Missouri.

Learning from previous mistakes, the United Airlines immediately transported Irgo back to Kansas City, Missouri with a private jet.

UPDATE: Irgo should be arriving about 7:30pm CT at the Wichita airport. He is being flown by private charter, and being treated like the king he is!!! I will update you all when I get my baby back!!

Posted by Kara Swindle on Thursday, March 15, 2018

While we are glad that Irgo is receiving the proper care and treatment, the conscientious approach taken by the airline is ostensible. “It is pennies to try to stop that news,” says Henry Harteveldt, founder of Atmosphere Research Group. He insinuated that though the cost of chartering a private jet may be high, it was a trifling price to pay in order to avoid further controversy, especially because the most recent case of Kokito was less than a week ago.

United Airlines time and time again raised commotions because of their own mistakes and more often than not, they have refused to take responsibility for it. Now, they are taking extreme measures just for the sake of maintaining their reputation. They see these problems and treat them from the standpoint of public relations. The truth is that these are matters concerning life and death.

A statement from the letter written by Cook, the attorney in Simon the rabbit incident, to PEOPLE magazine rightfully concluded the problem with United Continental Holdings Inc.:

“The importance of Simon’s death goes beyond the life of a single rabbit, it reflects an attitude of United Airlines that lacks basic decency and respect for the people and the property it is hired to serve.”

A detailed examination of all of the cases mentioned above reveals the one thing they all have in common. All of these incidents have resulted from a gross negligence and the lack of effort on the airline’s part. All of the incidents could have been prevented if the employees involved had just shown a little more respect and care towards the customers, their pets and their belongings. In fact, it could have been turned around if they had taken the proper responsibility and owned up to their mistakes as soon as these things happen.

More than five incidents have happened within this airline, to customer’s possessions and the people and their pets. Two of them happened under the PetSafe program that they insisted was safe (notice the name of the program) for the pets. They repeatedly overbook their flights and cause inconvenience to the passengers. The chief executive officer himself has shown disrespect by refusing to apologize to Dr. Dao while saying that their employee had taken the correct approach – which is ridiculous.

Why are people still opting for United Airlines’ services? Have they not done enough harm to their customers and to animals? Why aren’t the board members of United Continental Holdings Inc. taking disciplinary actions towards said employees? Is it because the shares were only 0.6 percent lower after everything? Will they not be concerned unless it affects them drastically in terms of money?

On a larger narrative, this is just another side effect of our money-oriented society. There isn’t another reason for overbooking flight besides profit motives. Refusing to take responsibility is just the refusal to pay compensation costs.

When all’s said and done, there is nothing we can do unless the society is willing to act collectively. Unfortunately, the United Airlines essentially acts as a metonymy for the callousness and money-oriented society that we live in. It is the “if it does not concern me, I don’t care” mentality that is perishing the world.

Featured image via flickr/ Ikarasawa

United Airlines responsible for another loss

United Airlines have, once again, evoked strong negative emotions in their passengers. Just last year, there was news of a passenger, coerced into leaving a plane because they made a mistake and overbooked the flight. As of Monday night, they are now responsible for the death of somebody’s beloved pet. On Flight 1284 from Houston to LaGuardia airport in New York – a three and a half hour long flight – one of the cabin crews had requested for a passenger to stow their bag in the overhead compartment.

Little did she know that it was not just a bag, instead it was a pet carrier with a dog inside of it, or so they claim. In spite of the claims made by a representative of the airline denying the prior knowledge of the puppy in the bag, there is little to no supporting evidence. Every passenger on board including the family in question asserted the fact that the sound of the dog barking should have been enough to tip them off.

Needless to say, this resulted in the suffocation of the poor pup. People all over the world especially animal rights activists are deeply infuriated by this incident because it involves the life of a truly precious being.

United Continental Holdings Inc., the Chicago-based airline have recently announced the implementation of their new plan in response to the incident. Bright colored tags will be issued starting next month, to passengers who are traveling with a pet in order to avoid the recurrence of such “tragic accident”, as phrased by the airline company. In conjunction with this matter, United Airlines have issued an official statement of apology as follows:

“This was a tragic accident that should never have occurred, as pets should never be placed in the overhead bin. We assume full responsibility for this tragedy and express our deepest condolences to the family and are committed to supporting them. We are thoroughly investigating what occurred to prevent this from ever happening again.”

Clearly, no justification or follow-up actions will be adequate to make up for this loss, particularly towards the affected individuals. The cabin crew in the discussion has insisted on the fact that she was not aware of the presence of Kokito, the pup. This strongly contradicts the claims made by the other passengers on board. Maggie Gremminger, one of the passengers who was seated near the pet owner, has vocally criticized the airlines on Twitter. She persistently asserted the fact that there was obviously a dog in the bag, but the United flight attendant was adamant about placing it in the overhead compartment. The passengers were not aware of the rules and regulations regarding pets on board, for that reason they did not take actions. Despite of the odd instruction, some presumed that the planes had air ventilation in the compartments.

This incident has subsequently sparked controversy towards United Airlines such that Senator John Kennedy has acknowledged this issue on Twitter.

The public has expressed concerns towards matter regarding animals on board. The district attorney’s office of the Harris County in Texas is now joining forces with the animal cruelty task force of the county to further investigate the incident. United Airlines have not informed the public of the punishment towards said cabin crew.

To make matters worse, this is not the first time that United Airlines have taken away the life of a pitiful dog. There was another case that happened a year ago on a domestic flight. A dog that was under the care of United’s PetSafe program passed away after flying in a crate in the plane’s hold due to its larger size.

How can travelers ever trust the airline with their pets again?

In the book Animal Liberation by Peter Singer, the principle of equality between human and animals are defined by equal consideration. Consideration, not treatment. In the fight for animal rights, counterarguments have been brought up with the assertion that these beings are not able to reason or communicate. However, Jeremy Bentham, a well-known philosopher has once said that the ability to experience pain and agony is the element that gives a being “the right to equal treatment”. Human beings, from a biological standpoint, is also categorized as an animal.

We are all just living beings co-existing on the earth. The only distinction is our ability to do math, our ability to logical thinking as well as reasoning. With that said, people are only asked to provide equal consideration not treatment. It seems that the lack of consideration towards pet is just another evil attribute of mankind. Why is it so difficult for men to treat other beings how they would like to be treated? A little kindness goes a long way.

“When it comes to pain, love, joy, loneliness, and fear, a rat is a pig is a dog is a boy. Each one values his or her life and fights the knife,” quoting Ingrid Newkirk, and animal rights activist and the founder of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) organization.

In memoriam Kokito, the precious ten-months-old French bulldog.

Featured image via flickr/ Tomás Del Coro

Mining Cryptocurrency: The Beginner Course

Hello there! We would like to welcome again to our feature on bitcoin and cryptocurrency in general! In our previous installment, we went over the humble beginnings of Bitcoin and cryptocurrency as it ballooned into the pop culture curiosity it has become. In today’s feature, we will be going over the basics of mining cryptocurrency, one of our most requested topics! And what better time than now, cryptocurrency is all the rage, once again!

Screenshot of the Bitcoin client, using crypto...
Screenshot of the Bitcoin client, using cryptocurrency. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Much like any other form of currency, you can acquire cryptocurrency via accepting them for a transaction, but there are two much more popular ways to acquire them: purchasing the cryptocurrency through an exchange (paying a different form of currency for the cryptocurrency, usually in the hopes that the prices will rise after the transaction, similar to buying stock), and mining them, which began in 2009.

When you hear “mining” the first thing that often pops into the forefront of your mind is an image of a prospector during the gold rush, journeying west in hopes of discovering gold in the untapped ground. That often leads to organizations buying swaths of land where only they are allowed to mine there, no outside forces can mine there. That actually has quite a few parallels to cryptocurrency, instead of companies buying land to make money off their mining, companies are introducing their own forms of cryptocurrency. And much like gold, cryptocurrency is in a finite quantity, but that is by design of the company, for instance, bitcoin is limited to 21 million total, and we are over half way through that amount.

Also similar to gold miners using tools to mine, cryptocurrency miners use their computers raw power to have the chance to “discover” their loot. In order to acquire the cryptocurrency, miners (or malware software mining on computers without the user’s knowledge) perform algorithms in the hopes of finding an available cryptocurrency. The more power, the better, the more computers, the better.

The software for mining is actually very easy to use, while also being open source, meaning quite literally anyone can download and run it. But what most people do not realize is that miners also require security from outside attacks. Like an outside force sneaking into a gold mining camp under the cover of night, stealing the hard-earned earned gold mined out of the ground, there are those out there who specialize in breaking into the “wallets” of cryptocurrency miners, stealing their prized cryptocurrency. A suitably secure online bank account to house your cryptocurrency is a necessity.

Now, you may be asking, “how can I hope to make any money by myself with so many people out there mining for cryptocurrency such as bitcoin?” and that is a very good question, as acting as a single entity can make it extremely difficult to find cryptocurrency on your own. The way some people get around this is by joining a mining pool, where a group of users pool their computer resources together and share a percentage of the cryptocurrency mined. You may receive less money in the long run, but your chances of success are much higher.

Another popular way to “outsource” the mining of cryptocurrency is to use a Cloud mining service, where you basically rent mining hardware from another location that does the mining for you. There is no guarantee that you will see a return on your investment, but there is no wear and tear on your own hardware through this process.

There are several things to keep in mind if you do decide to mine on your own, such as electricity. While the software and algorithms don’t cause much in the way of damage to your computer, it will, however, take constant electricity to keep your system running, thereby increasing your electricity costs.

Mining cryptocurrency certainly isn’t for everyone, and most people don’t make the kind of crazy money the media likes to attribute to cryptocurrency. Much like other businesses, there are those who are making money hand over fist, and those who make it possible for those big businesses to make money. If you do decide to go at it on your own, there are many different specialized pieces of hardware you can buy to make the process easier, and that will be the focus of our next cryptocurrency feature! Check back in next time where we will go over computer parts, their purposes, their price, and the difference they make!

Apple is dominating the tech industry

Back in 2010, there was a virtual magazine subscription called Next Issue, but was rebranded as Texture by Next Issue Media in 2015. Now, Texture has over two hundred magazines available electronically on most systems including Windows, Amazon, Android and iOS. All it requires users to do is to pay a fixed monthly charge and access to articles from all of the magazines will be available in its entirety.

Initially, the application was created by several large magazine issuers collectively and supported by the financial assistance of external investors at a total sum of $50 million. The main idea was to become the dominant platform for tablet (i.e. iPad etc.) users to subscribe to magazines. Since people have been going onto the internet to do so, Google has been that platform for them.

In an era where smart devices and gadgets have become a necessity, it was assumed that magazines too, like other entities, will be highly sought after in electronic form. However, this plan took a hit when The Daily, a highly popular digital magazine by News Corporation went under. Even so, Texture apparently has had couple hundred thousand of clients by 2016 as disclosed by John Loughlin, the CEO of Texture, initially recounted by The New York Post. If that is the case, why did Next Issue Media let go of Texture?

In recent news, Apple, the iOS devices’ company has announced its official acquisition of Texture. Fortunately for those who are not in possession of an iOS device, Apple has confirmed that Android devices will still be able to get a hold on the application. It seems that Texture employees too, are secured in their current post as Apple has procured the staff in addition to the firm. This leads us to the next question. If Next Issue Media is willing to let Texture go, presumably because of its low demand in the market, why is Apple rushing to acquire it and at what cost?

Moreover, Apple, on its own, already offers digital magazine subscription services online. Hence, for what reason could it be for Apple to bid for another magazine service? Eddy Cue, the Senior Vice President of Apple issued a statement as presented below:

“We’re excited Texture will join Apple, along with an impressive catalog of magazines from many of the world’s leading publishers. We are committed to quality journalism from trusted sources and allowing magazines to keep producing beautifully designed and engaging stories for users.”

Likewise, CEO of Texture has also issued a statement to express their contentment:

“I’m thrilled that Next Issue Media and its award-winning Texture app are being acquired by Apple. The Texture team and its current owners, Condé Nast, Hearst, Meredith, Rogers Media, and KKR, could not be more pleased or excited with this development. We could not imagine a better home or future for the service.”

In 2014, Apple has taken over Beats, the brand of quality speakers and headphones. In addition to the gadgets and products, Apple had also taken over their music streaming service. With that, they turned it into the current Apple Music, which is as high in demand as Spotify. Within the same year, Apple once again recruited another brand, BookLamp. This application highly resembles Texture such that books are to BookLamp as magazines are to Texture. None of these is new because Apple has always been on the look to expand its empire. Another case in point is Apple’s recent acquisition of Shazam, another music streaming application.

Though we remain to be in the dark regarding Apple’s possible vision for Texture, an article by Ars Technica have made a suggestion. Even though nothing conclusive was disclosed in the statement issued by Apple’s Senior Vice President, arstechnica shed light on the phrase “trusted sources” and suggests that there’s a hidden meaning behind it. The article refers to the present as a time when reporters and publishers have voiced their opinions about large tech companies like Facebook and Google that are believed to have contributed to the biases in media as they are the one who controls the spread of news. Such actions have become noticeable that many heads have been turned and it has become public knowledge to take the content found on these platforms with a grain of salt.

Nonetheless, that is still just an assumption and we can only wait for Apple to announce their plans for Texture, if any, in the future.

On a different note, however, these multinational tech companies have surpassed mere dominance on the web. Just a couple of weeks ago, Jeff Bezos, the co-founder of Amazon has been proclaimed as the richest man in America. With that said, Amazon and Google, as well as Facebook, have provided digital magazine subscription services at one point or another. One way or another, they are further expanding their empires by dominating the market. At the moment, they are still attempting to grab every opportunity available in their industry. What happens when they have completely monopolized the industry? Will they dive into other industries and in turn dominate the world?

These companies are the perfect example of how the capitalist system is helping the rich get richer while the poor continue to suffer. Shouldn’t we be examining this news through a more economic and political aspect?

Featured image via flickr/ Luke Wroblewski

Twitter is following in the footsteps of Snapchat

In a generation where smartphones are no longer categorized as a luxury item but a necessity, everyone is on some form of social media. As such, the companies behind these social media platforms are competing to get ahead of one another. For one, Instagram began as a mere photo sharing application, but it has since then, added the live recording, boomerang effects and videos etc. Facebook too, offers these things and so much more.

There was a time when each platform has their own key purposes; the one element they are most associated with. Like words are to Twitter as pictures are to Instagram. None of these social media platforms run like that anymore. Now, whatever Snapchat offers, so does Instagram as well as Facebook.

There are always murmurs about possible updates in Snapchat and so on. Just a few months ago, there were talks around CNBC that suggest a potential camera-centric feature in Twitter.

Based on the analytics, Twitter has observed a substantial increase in posts and usage involving video contents throughout the course of 2017. People have been checking out local news as well as sports-related matter in the form of videos. This is so that users will have higher convenience and accessibility to post and to share videos through its platform. An article by Engadget, a technology media outlet has made juxtaposition of this prospective feature with “the location-based snap collections” curated and distributed by Snapchat on its Discover tab. CNBC outlet further explains that there will be a new element, the Twitter Moments. Twitter will then gather these location-based pictures and recordings and subsequently assemble them through Twitter Moments. In this way, a wide range of stories about things going on in the area will conveniently be within reach.

A while ago, Snapchat had disappointed all of its users by introducing advertisements all over their Stories and Discover content. Similarly, Twitter will become the next platform for businesses to place their advertisements on. All in all, this feature will no doubt increase the firm’s revenue through advertising profits.

Nonetheless, nothing has been confirmed at this moment. No information has been revealed about its possible release date as well as whether it will actually present itself at all. Inside sources from CNBC reveals the fact that this notion is somewhat fresh off the boat. It is still way too early to expect its release anytime now.

Still, it seems as though every social media platform is now coming up with distinct features to match what the others offer. Stories, Moments, Live are all features that Facebook and Instagram have implemented following Snapchat. Be that as it may, with Snapchat constantly adding and changing its ways, users are beginning to realize the number of alternative social media platforms there are. They all offer the same features as well as the same conditions. Lots of buzz has surrounded Snapchat since it places advertisements in a strategic spot such that it constantly catches users off-guard, forcing them to watch it. Their recent change in design in order to accommodate more advertisement have caused it to lose their supporters. Many are now deleting their Snapchat altogether since Instagram is slowly becoming the better option.

Conversely, we cannot blame the firms for such actions. Put yourselves in the shoes of the company. What is the main concern and aim of a business if not profit? Profit maximization remains to be the first and foremost priority for suppliers in the market.

This leads to the following questions. Profit motivations aside, is it a good idea for all social platforms to be the same? Will people eventually stick to one particular platform and which one would that be? Are these changes better or worse and for who?

Only time will tell.

Featured image via flickr/ Esther Vargas

Flights are cancelled as a direct result of global warming

With the deterioration in global warming, it is no wonder we have been experiencing such extreme weathers in 2018. Owing to the phrase ‘global warming’, many have been questioning the validity because of the extreme cold that we have experienced – and are still experiencing – this year. While the change in climate has not been in compliance with the presumed direction, there is a simple reasoning behind it.

Why are we so concerned about the North Pole melting (aside from the worries over polar bears)? This is because as it melts, more evaporating water will subsist which consequently leads to a higher precipitation rate. The precipitation then exists as rain, snow and hail as we know it. This has been proven by the 2006 Lake Erie occurrence. Lake Erie is one of the Great Lakes in North America that normally freezes during winter. However, the warm weather, from global warming, prevented the lake from being frozen during winter for the first time ever. Subsequently, the rate of snowfalls was greater than before.

The east coast seems to be suffering the most from the extreme cold this year. Back in January, plenty of flights to and fro the New York area were cancelled due to the sudden snowstorm. However, as we step into the spring season with summer fast approaching, the relentless cold storms are becoming somewhat of an odd occurrence.

FlightAware, the flight-tracking site have enclosed that over seven hundred flights to and fro Boston that was scheduled for Tuesday have been canceled because of the storm. This time, meteorologists have revealed that the intense snowstorm will leave behind at least a foot of snow. Of that seven hundred, more than half were flights that were departing from Boston whereas the rest are incoming flights. Delta Airline has called off a majority of its Tuesday shuttle service between Boston and LaGuardia in New York while American Airlines have completely shut down the hourly shuttle service between the two locations. In addition, American Airlines have also called off all of the Tuesday Boston flights and may be shutting down more flights around the Northeast region. Ross Feinstein, the spokesperson of the airline said that they initially had a total of a hundred and seventy-eight Boston flights scheduled for Tuesday.

Even though customers will not be charged for the flight change, it seems as though Southwest Airlines are expecting travelers to pay for the surcharge because the flights on some dates are more expensive than others. This is rather unreasonable since the customers do not have a say in the matter. Yet again, who is to blame but ourselves? JetBlue, Delta and American Airlines will not be charging their passengers for any changes due to the storm. While it is certainly a nuisance for travelers, it must not be easy for the airlines and all of their employers as well. Announcing the cancelation of flights in advance may be a way to avoid wasting everyone’s time but the process to call everyone back in order to resume their duties will indubitably be troublesome since it is almost impossible to predict what happens next.

Just last week, a snowstorm from the northeast region has affected over two thousand flights.

This should be a wakeup call to everyone out there who has been denying the reality of climate change and global warming. Aside from that, a frequently mentioned argument questions the cold weather as opposed to global warming. To further clarify this, it should be understood that climate and weather are not the same thing. The National Atmospheric and Oceanographic Administration (NOAA) describes climate as the average of weather throughout the course of three decades, at least. What we experience within a short period of time can have a very different outcome on a larger narrative.

The United States have been the largest contributor to this issue for the past fifteen decades. At present, US is slightly behind China, who produces twenty-eight percent of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions. What are you doing to counter global warming/climate change at this instant? Are you even aware of the severity of the situation?

Featured image via flickr/jseliger2

Racial prejudice or just bad customer service?

It is certainly upsetting to receive news that the International House of Pancakes (IHOP), our all-time favorite pancake place has shown discrimination against a group of people. An incident that happened at one of the IHOP branches in the city of Auburn in Maine has sparked controversy in recent news. On Sunday, several African American youths who were about to dine at IHOP was requested by the waitress, who was on duty, to pay the check before getting their orders.

At first glance, this may seem like a case of bigotry – as presumed by the general public as well as the IHOP president himself. Darren Rebelez, the President of IHOP came out to address the issue after someone posted the story on Facebook. On Tuesday, Rebelez made an announcement to clear the IHOP chains of being accused of racial prejudice.

“IHOP and its franchises have zero tolerance for actions that are or allude to discrimination of any type,” he says.

He went on to justify what happened in Auburn as an “isolated incident” and informed the public that they will, of course, take responsibility for it. IHOP is now offering an official apology to the youths and he claims that the waitress will be given the proper disciplinary actions. Subsequently, that particular chain will be shut down on Thursday for further training to prevent this sort of incidents from ever happening again. The corporation issued a statement to the public the day after the incident as follows.

“IHOP and our franchisees strive to create a warm and hospitable dining experience for all guests, and this isolated incident is not reflective of that commitment nor tolerated. The franchisee of this location is in the process of reaching out directly to the affected guests to apologize for an individual team member’s misguided actions as well as using this as an opportunity to underscore the values we uphold as a brand with his entire team.”

Mankind has been said to be evil by nature as portrayed by the Adam and Eve story. While greed and terrorism are no doubt few of the most appalling elements, there is no doubt that racism is by far the worst. Why are people discriminated because of the color of their skin? Each and every individual are of the same species; If you can have enough love and affection as well as compassion towards another species like puppies and ponies, is it so difficult to direct that same compassion towards someone of the same species?

The concept of race, or the variation in the color of our skin is merely a result of our predominant geographic region. Melanin is the pigment in our genes that makes us tanner as it protects us against the harmful UV rays from the extreme sunlight. As such, the population that lived in locations that have more extreme sun exposure, have adapted to their environment by producing more melanin in their bodies after many generations. Those who are darker merely means that they have more melanin in their genes, which protects them from getting sunburned as easily.

The point is that race is merely a social construct, a human invention created to justify inequality. However, people who have an innate racial prejudice is awfully despicable and there is not a single word in the English language that is good enough to justify these actions.

With that in mind, we should aspire to be a better person in every way possible. Hence, despite of what it may seem like, perhaps the waitress at IHOP deserves the benefit of the doubt. This is highly plausible as explained by Melvin Escobar, the local manager. The incident is not a racial-based prejudice, instead it is because there have been cases whereby teens have skipped out on the check after dining. Needless to say, the approach taken by the server remains to be disrespectful and ill-mannered. Escobar promises that “this is the first time it happened, and that will be the last time.”

Featured Image via flickr/Mike Mozart

Talia Chetrit, a notable artist in the Armory Show 2018

Talia Chetrit is an inspirational contemporary art photographer from the United States. She was born in Washington D.C. in the year of 1982. She pursued her tertiary education in Fine Arts at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and was given the Fred J. Foster Fellowship Award. Following that, she received a Graduate Fellowship from the Rhode Island School of Design, where she completed the graduate program and attained her Master’s in Fine Arts. Since then, Chetrit has shifted location and is now working and living in New York.

Her first exhibition in New York was under the gallery, Plane Space for her piece entitled Items May Have Shifted in 2005. In 2008, her work was featured in “31 Under 31: Young Women in Art Photography”, curated by Lumi Tan and Jon Feinstein in 3rd Ward Brooklyn. Internationally, she has also been featured in many countries, as a group show as well as solo shows. In 2004, she was part of the 4th annual International Photography Exhibition curated by Barbara Degenevieve in the town of Pingyao in China. In addition, she presented solo at the Kaufmann Repetto gallery in Milan, Italy in 2011. A year later, one of her piece called Bodies in Trouble was featured in the Sies + Höke gallery in Düsseldorf, Germany.    

Overall, it is apparent that Chetrit has had more solo shows than collaborations, perhaps due to her unconventional approaches in the construction of her pieces.

A number of Chetrit’s works were exhibited at the Armory Show of 2018 under the Sies + Höke, a Germany-based contemporary art gallery. Two of the most remarkable pieces were both inkjet prints entitled Self-portrait (all fours), 2017 and Red Eyes, 1994/2017. The original photos that these prints were developed from are photographs that were captured by Chetrit herself, along with several of her friends back in the 1990s when she was still a mere teenage girl. These photos mark the commencement of her feminist exploration into image-making, self-representation and so forth. More often than not, there exists a personal narrative with regards to mental and emotional causes that lies beneath the surface of her projects. In another collection, Chetrit once again salvaged her old photos. This time, she uses the very first rolls of film that she had used to capture photos of her own family in the 1990s. Nonetheless, most of her pieces make passing references on the subject of sexuality and the human body.

Talia Chetrit focuses her projects on the search for deeply-veiled elements behind the structure and utilization of a photography. As a rule, she exploits the matter of obscuration, separation and distortion in a way that the person in the print is no longer identifiable. In this way, her work is conceptualized and abstracted. Aside from that, Chetrit often utilizes a monochromatic color scheme, in addition to the reversal of orientations in terms of horizontal and vertical. On top of that, she also transposes the negative and positive space in order to form more unorthodox pieces. With her nonconformist feminist mentality and methods, she has been praised by many and time and time again juxtaposed with prominent contemporary artists like Francesca Woodman and Cindy Sherman.

Talia Chetrit has had solo art exhibitions as well as collaborations with other artists under different galleries all across the world. Several more of her exhibition highlights include the Art Basel in Miami Beach last year, under Sies + Höke, the same gallery as in the Armory Show as well as the Art Düsseldorf 2017. Her pieces have been part of the Armory Show since 2014. An ongoing show that began on 16th February and will end on 25th March is located at the Kölnischer Kunstverein, an art museum in Cologne, Germany. Chetrit’s upcoming solo shows will be taking place in MAXXI, Museo delle Arti del XXI secolo, Rome. It is a national museum that consists of contemporary art and architecture.

Featured Image via flickr/ Todd Carpenter

Coca-cola introduces a healthy alternative

In an era dominated by the millennials, the demand for certain goods and services have dropped as millennials are known to have a more distinct preference compared to previous generations. As a result, suppliers are attempting to come up with new products that are in compliance with the effective demand. Surveys have found that 42 percent of the respondents seek after health and nutrition in their consumption of food and beverages. Hence, PepsiCo, the main company of several brands such as Pepsi, Tropicana and Gatorade, to name a few, has introduced their new beverage. Bubly, the brand of the new sparkling water, was debuted just last month as the company wishes to exploit the $1.2 billion industry behind sparkling water.

Another one of the most recent companies to undertake this change is Coca-Cola, the long-term consumers’ choice of soda. The negative effects of the consumption of Coca-Cola have become public knowledge for some time now. For this reason, they are pleased to announce the debut of their new beverage, which is a healthier alternative to their original soda. Zico is the name of the new coconut water introduced by the Coca-Cola company. This beverage is the complete opposite of Coca-Cola in terms of the sugar content.

“Coconut water is – and is perceived to be – a better-for-you product,” says Tom Larsen, the general manager of Zico in an interview with Business Insider.

As consumers, we are well aware of the hesitation that comes along with trying new things. This is evidently another problem with Zico, as Meghan Seidner, the Vice President of Zico’s marketing department admits, “The taste can be a bit polarizing for some.” Seidner proceeds to divulge the fact that their statistics have shown that six to seven coconut water have to be consumed before consumers can take a liking to it. This is clearly a hindrance because more often than not, consumers are not willing to spend their money on items that they dislike after the first try – how many people would purchase something they barely like more than three times?

Technavio, a top-rank market-research firm believes that the market for coconut water worldwide will rise from an estimate of $2 billion to over $7 billion within five years. It is believed that in the United States alone, the market for coconut water will reach a sum of $1.5 billion in the next two years. Nonetheless, there is a tremendous number of companies supplying these beverages, which means that the competition is fierce. As a new product, it is no doubt challenging to compete against other brands that have already established a brand loyalty.

Zico have concentrated their efforts in the invention of new flavors recently since the company has, so far, decided that the best approach to counter the aforementioned problem is by allowing consumers to have more options and in turn, hope that they get captivated by one. Aside from the conventional chocolate flavor, Zico also offers jalapeño-mango and watermelon-raspberry flavored coconut water. As of last Friday, Zico debuted their latest addition to the health-conscious beverage series. This selling point of this new coconut water lies behind its concoction of an organic juice and is given the name ZICOCocoLixir.

ZICOCocoLixir was produced because market-researchers have categorized coconut water and cold-press juices as the two beverages with a fast-expanding market. They offer a variety of vegetable-based juices with funny labels using wordplay such as Unbe-leaf-able and Turn Up the Beet.

All things considered, nevertheless, Larsen and Seidner have both stood out to suggest that the endorsement of Coca-Cola as the parent company to these beverages will serve to distinguish them from minor brands.

“We’re going to be a total beverage company across the globe,” the company’s plan for the future reiterated by Larsen, after James Quincy, the CEO of Coca-Cola.

Featured Image via flickr/ Mike Mozart

Unexpected Rewards for Evoni William’s Good Deed

An extraordinary act of kindness that has occurred recently has reassured our faith in humanity, once again. A recent high school graduate who has been working at the Texas Waffle House is the perfect illustration of the fact that you will be rewarded for the good deeds that you have done when you least expect it. 18-years-old Evoni Williams from the city of La Marque in Texas has taken the job straight out of high school in order to earn enough money for college tuition. Adrian Charpentier is an elderly customer who was at the restaurant during William’s shift. He had just been released from the hospital after his recent surgery and was still recovering. As such, he was not able to utilize the cutleries properly which was captured by the surveillance video.

“I had no coordination or strength in my hands,” Charpentier proclaimed.

Following that, he requested for help from Williams. Amidst the crowded restaurant, Williams was seen to provide assistance without further hesitation.

“I was never raised to bash people. I was raised to help and try to give blessings. It just came from the heart,” Williams spoke modestly.

She further mentioned that Charpentier is a regular customer at Texas Waffle House and it was clear to her that he really needed assistance. This seemingly trivial deed consequently turned out to be so much more, though Williams certainly did not see it coming. A photo of the undertaking was posted on social media platforms and within a short period of time, went viral. This, in turn, turned many heads, including Bobby Hocking’s, the mayor of her town who then honored her. In addition, countless of people have openly complimented Williams for her action – an act of kindness without expectations. However, none of these compares to the biggest reward that she was offered by the Texas Southern University. Williams is now the recipient of a scholarship worth $16,000. This means that she will be able to begin her tertiary education with $4000 per semester for four semesters.

As we proceed into the later stages of the capitalist system, it seems that the notion of profit maximization has far exceeded the system itself. Money is slowly becoming the object of worship in the society, despite the fact that it is nothing but a piece of paper. A piece of paper which value was decided by the beliefs of people. This, in a way, destroys humanity because people have gone to extreme lengths to acquire wealth. Evident by the history, people are capable of sins like murder and such if they were obstructing their paths to gain money and power. Hence, it is heartening to find those who are willing to go out of their way to help others in need without incentives whatsoever.

While seeing the act of kindness itself is more than inspiring, we are certainly glad that Evoni Williams is getting the appreciation and rewards that she deserves. Her compassion and helpfulness towards the elderly are entities that every person should have. The society has always been cruel and deceitful because people are selfish by nature. With the growing capitalistic mentality, it should come as no surprise that a majority of the people are increasingly self-concerned, which subsequently means that they are less concerned with the well-being of others. Finally, this leads to the question wondering if our assumed ‘progress’ is for and against the sake of humanity. We have come so far from living in caves to being surrounded by skyscrapers. We have learned to build and go along with various economic and political systems that allow a nation to function properly.

Yet again, are we destroying mankind or improving it? Perhaps because of the tangibility of one as opposed to the abstractness of the concept of humanity. It seems as it has for a long time now, that the tangible things are overpowering our moralities. With Evoni Williams’ act of kindness, however, we can safely say that our system has not killed our humanity.

Featured Image via Flickr/Ethan Prater

Julian Charrière, the Conceptual Artist

“Charrière focuses on investigations of the natural world, revealing the profound force exerted by humans and the environment on one another and highlighting how ecological systems can exhibit traces of human energy,” as phrased by Artsy, the online source for fine art.

Originally from the district of Morges in Switzerland, Charrière was born in the year of 1987 and is of Swiss-French descent. He began his tertiary education in pursuance of art at the École cantonale d’art du Valais in Switzerland. However, he later transferred to the Berlin University of Arts in Germany where he eventually completed his studies under Olafur Eliasson’s Institut für Raumexperimente (Institute of Spatial Experiments) in 2013.

Julian Charrière is a Berlin-based artist who presents his work in the form of sculpture, photography and performance by way of conceptualism. The changing cultural knowledge of the natural world and its processes are key mechanisms that are explicitly present in his projects. Charrière frequently travels to remote locations such as Kazakhstan and the Southern Cone in pursuit of inspiration and knowledge of the natural sciences, in addition to the attainment of earth materials which he uses to create his artwork. He often explores distant spots that are hazardous due to their exposure to natural disasters such as volcanoes and icefields.

“I use some scientific methods, but I would describe it more as an archeologist or geologist. I go into the field and get inspired by what I see, then I bring things back to the studio and do work,” he explains.

One of Julian Charrière’s most alluring project is the on-site performance titled Some Pigeons Are More Equal Than Others in which he collaborated with Julius von Bismarck, another renowned artist, for La Biennale di Venezia (the Venice Biennial), the 13th International Architecture Exhibition that happened in 2012. Since then, Charrière and Bismarck have worked together recurrently, notably in 2016, to produce Objects in mirror might be closer than they appear, Desert Now and so forth. Charrière has had his projects featured by Das Numen, the Berlin-based art collective, in addition to his solo art expositions. He has had his work exhibited all across the world ranging from Europe to Asia. Several of his most recent expositions were located in Parasol Unit Foundation for Art in London, Galerie Bugada & Cargnel in Paris, Dittrich and Schlechtriem in Berlin, Steve Turner Gallery in Los Angeles, Musée cantonal des Beaux-Arts de Lausanne, the Kochi-Muziris Biennale in India and so on.

Charrière was presented with the Kiefer Hablitzel Swiss Art Awards first in 2013, then again in 2015. The prize-winning exhibition in 2013 is named after a quote by Buckminster Fuller – We Are All Astronauts on A Little Spaceship Called Earth. This project deals with current issues centering around the concept of occurrences that alters the relationship between space and time as well as their conditions with respect to the growth on a worldwide scale. Not long after, his piece was featured in a curated section at the Lyon Biennial of Palais de Tokyo. A year later, in 2016, Charrière was granted the Kaiserring Scholarship for Young Art. He was subsequently announced as one of the three artists who were nominated for the BMW Art Journey 2017 during Art Basel in Hong Kong. Within the same year, Charrière’s art piece was showcased in Viva Arte Viva, the 57th international Art Exhibition curated by Christine Macel for La Biennale di Venezia.

For the Armory Show that took place over the past few days, a number of Julian Charrière’s pieces were featured under the Dittrich and Schlechtriem gallery. Two of the most exclusive sets were the Future Fossil Spaces – materials used include salt from the Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia and acrylic containers filled with lithium-brine. It is an installation comprising of three hexagonal towers constructed by salt and plaster. The other piece is titled Bokbata II – Terminal Beach, 2016 and is presented in the form of a sizeable monochromatic photograph.

“To date, his works has explored post-romantic constructions of ‘nature’, and staged tensions between deep or geological timescales and those relating to mankind. Charrière’s approach further reflects upon the mythos of the quest and its objects in a globalized age. Deploying seemingly perennial imagery to contemporary ends, his interventions at the borderline of mysticism and the material encapsulate our fraught relations with place today,” concluded by Julian Charrière’s online platform.

Featured Image via Dage – Looking For Europe

International Women’s Day as well as Women’s History Month

International Women’s Day, as defined on their website, “is a global day that celebrates the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. This day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity.”

A number of multinational corporations have made an effort to acknowledge the significance of March 8th, otherwise known as the International Women’s Day. For instance, the KFC divisions in Malaysia have replaced Colonel Sanders with his wife, Claudia as the face of the company for the day. This is an illustration of the appreciation towards hardworking women as Claudia played an integral role in the success of the fast food chain. In addition, the company behind Brawny paper towels have been leading a #StrengthHasNoGender campaign. They have recently announced their decision to switch their famous red flannel-wearing male representative for a female figure in celebration of Women’s History month.

Mentioned in this month’s issue of the New Yorker magazine, Johnnie Walker Black Label, the well-known whisky brand has introduced a new and limited (only available during Women’s History month) edition. Johnnie Walker Black Label the Jane Walker Edition has a unique selling point. Their marketing strategy involves the donation of $1 to a non-profit organization that supports women’s progress initiatives, such as Monumental Women, for every bottle of the Jane Walker Edition sold. The donation could reach a sum of $250,000, depending on the sales.

“Important conversations about gender continue to be at the forefront of culture, and we strongly believe there is no better time than now to introduce our Jane Walker icon and contribute to pioneering organizations that share our mission. We are proud to toast the many achievements of women and everyone on the journey towards progress in gender equality.” – Stephanie Jacoby, the Vice President of Johnnie Walker.

These companies are not the only ones who have made some changes to their iconic elements for the course of Women’s History month to advocate for feminism.

It seems that McDonald’s has just joined the party following recent events. A source from Business Insider reveals the approach taken by the international fast food chain.

“The golden “M” will be flipped into a golden “W” in celebration of women everywhere… We have a long history of supporting women in the workplace, giving them the opportunity to grow and succeed. In the U.S. we take pride in our diversity and we are proud to share that today; six out of ten restaurant managers are women,” communicated by Lauren Altmin, a McDonald’s representative in an exchange with CNBC Make It media outlet.

When the change was first implemented in the Lynwood, California branch, many have assumed that it was an unintentional shift; Some thought it was a prank. However, Patricia Williams, the owner of that particular branch, along with other representatives have stood out to clarify the movement.

“For the first time in our brand history, we flipped our iconic arches for International Women’s Day in honor of the extraordinary accomplishments of women everywhere and especially in our restaurants. From restaurant crew and management to our C-suite of senior leadership, women play invaluable roles at all levels and together with our independent franchise owners we’re committed to their success,” quote Wendy Lewis, McDonald’s Chief Diversity Officer.

McDonald’s is extending their effort by producing the new golden “W” on “packaging, crew shirts, hats and bag stuffers” in addition to the replacement of the former logo on their social media pages. The special edition packaging and products will only be present at exactly one hundred McDonald’s branches.

It is always heart-warming to see our favorite brands advocate for gender equality as well as women’s rights. While many corporations are making a change, it is obvious that some are extending more efforts than others.

Let us come together and celebrate the month of March, Women’s History month in honor of all the women out there.

Featured Image via Flickr/Mike Mozart

The Mysterious Case of Amelia Earhart

The disappearance of Amelia Earhart, the first female who flew across the Atlantic Ocean on her own, have baffled millions of people since 1937. Back then, hers was a name that was widely recognized due to her achievements in air travel. Consequent to the incident, she has come to be the subject of many public discussions – and the name Amelia Earhart has become even more prominent since. 2nd July 1937 was the day that she vanished into thin air, along with Fred Noonan, her navigator at the time. It happened over the course of her journey to Howland Island – in the Pacific – from Papua New Guinea. It was part of her expedition to fly around the world.

This mystery has lasted over eight decades and is fast approaching one whole century. In conjunction with this matter, many have come up with their own theories to explain the incident. The most unsettling question continues to be the same. Where are her remains?

With the advancement in forensic science, recent discoveries have revealed, or rather, overturned previous findings. Three years after her disappearance, back in 1940, about thirteen human bones were discovered on Gardner Island. Gardner Island, also referred to as Nikumaroro, was a secluded land amidst the Pacific that lies 1,200 miles away from the Marshall Islands. This led to a theory that suggests that Earhart did not die in a plane crash. In fact, Gardner Island is presumed to be the island where she had landed her plane on after some mishaps. This theory believes that she was stranded on the remote island and was never rescued until she eventually passed away. This theory has been brought up due to the statement made by Richard Jantz, a former anthropology Professor at the University of Tennessee, who allegedly claims that the bones belonged to Earhart.

The forensic analysis done in 1941 had eliminated this possibility because of the result that suggests it was the remains of a man, as opposed to Earhart. This examination was carried out by Dr. David Hoodless, the principal of the Central Medical School in Fiji, an island in the South Pacific Ocean. Three aspects were taken into consideration in his analysis. According to the New York Post, they are:

  • the ratio of the femur’s circumference to length
  • the angle of the femur and pelvis
  • the subpubic angle (the angle formed between two pelvis bones)

The gender can be determined by evaluating the subpubic angle. A notably narrower subpubic angle points to a male structure and vice versa.

The examination concludes that the bones were likely to have belonged to, says Jantz and quote, “short, stocky muscular European”. The height of said male is estimated to be around 5 feet and 5.5 inches. This, aside from the presumed gender, negates any hints of it being Earhart. Her flying license and driving license indicate that her height is around 5 feet 8 inches and 5 feet 7 inches respectively, which is in compliance with the estimation from her pictures. Both of these numbers far exceed the estimated height of whom the bones had belonged to. Noonan the navigator was eliminated from the possibilities because he was towering at the height of 6 feet and a quarter inch.

Nonetheless, Professor Jantz has pointed out the inaccuracy of the 19th century forensic science methods. The outdated approach may have, by a high percentage in the margin of error, miscalculated the actual height. This means that the height, in actuality, matches that of Amelia Earhart’s. With the utilization of up-to-date methods of analysis, Professor Jantz has reached a different conclusion in terms of sexual characteristics.

“When Hoodless conducted his analysis, forensic osteology was not yet a well-developed discipline. Evaluating his methods with reference to modern data and methods suggests that they were inadequate to his task; this is particularly the case with his sexing method. Therefore, his sex assessment of the Nikumaroro bones cannot be assumed to be correct,” quoting an official statement made by Richard Jantz in a paper that has been published in the Forensic Anthropology journal.

The only criteria that Jantz have shown approval of – in Dr. Hoodless’ report – is the measure of the subpubic angle. Even so, he has made a remark saying that it should be open “to considerable variation, much of which was little understood in 1941.”

Through research of his own, Jantz has allegedly proved his theory. He collected statistical figures from a sum of 2,776 individuals and made a juxtaposition of it with the numbers from Dr. Hoodless’ investigation from 1941. In addition, Jantz made approximations through the observation and close study of Earhart’s pictures and the sizing of her apparels.

“This analysis reveals that Earhart is more similar to the Nikumaroro bones than 99 percent of individuals in a large reference sample. This strongly supports the conclusion that the Nikumaroro bones belonged to Amelia Earhart,” concludes Professor Jantz.

All in all, this remains to be yet another theory. While Professor Jantz’s analysis and justification were implemented on the grounds of the new and improved analysis methods, other scholars of our generation have expressed their support and are still in agreement with Dr. David Hoodless’ findings that took place 77 years ago. There are also those who believe that her life ended in the Marshall Islands instead of Gardner Island.

Like any other controversial issue, the debates do not seem to be settling down anytime soon. In fact, another “alleged” evidence, in this case, was brought up just last year. That is most definitely not the first and will not be the last of it.

Featured Image via Flickr/IMLS Digital Collections and Content