What is Snapchat doing with Snapcash?

For all of you Snapchat users, I’m sure you received a snap from the creators of the app informing you about their new direction for the app called Snapcash. This is the exciting new opportunity to send cash to your friends and have it disappear in 10 seconds!! Not actually, but thats what I thought when I heard of it first. Snapchat is teaming up with Square, the company who created the mobile credit/debit payment accessory for Apple devices, to offer a payment option through the Snapchat app. Snapcash will allow users to send payments from their account to their Continue reading

Ebola: Why is it so bad? (Part 7)

This article continues a series of posts examining non-biological factors contributing to the Ebola crisis’s severity. This week’s angle on the outbreak is humanitarian. Beyond social and economic factors that contribute to the disease’s spread, the real reason why Ebola “is so bad” is its terrible human toll. Although empirical, detached analysis is a valuable approach to understanding and addressing social issues, I believe an empathetic approach is equally important. To that end, I am wrapping up this series with two pieces of media that establish a human connection to the crisis.  This NPR article delves into the disease’s human toll, especially Continue reading

Net Neutrality

Over the past couple weeks, the issue of Net Neutrality received a lot of attention due to a clash of opinions between President Obama and FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler. For those of you who don’t know what net neutrality is, simply put, it is the principle that Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and the government should treat all data equally, meaning that no Internet Company can pay money for preferential speeds on the side of the consumers. This concept has been the soul of the Internet since its creation, and it has lead to the booming levels of innovation and easy Continue reading

Your Brain on Economics (Pt. II)

Although I didn’t intend to initially, I wanted to return to my blog post from 2 weeks ago. In that post, I attempted to address some points made by Brian M. Lucey on what happens to students who are taking more economics. His article is fairly concisely summarized by the following photo that he posted on his blog: So the question is: is this accurate? Do students who take economics become greedier and less inclined to cooperation than those who do not, based on the studies outlined in the post above? I think I unfairly smeared his point before, when I Continue reading

Insurance for Insurance Companies

Everyone knows what companies like Geico, Allstate, StateFarm do. They provide life, health, auto, and other forms of insurance coverage for individuals like you and I. We buy insurance for protection from situations like car accidents that might cost too much to pay for ourselves. Insurance is a form of financial protection that smooths costs over a long period of time instead of having no costs for some periods followed by extremely high costs the next. Insurance companies also seek this type of financial stability, and have it in the form reinsurance. They have a massive amount of liability, but generally keep Continue reading

Ebola: Why is it so bad? (Part 6)

This article continues a series of posts examining non-biological factors contributing to the Ebola crisis’s severity. This week’s topic: red tape. Although bureaucratic inertia and hysterical political jockeying are usually mere annoyances, in this crisis they likely cost lives. Consider this disturbing headline from the Huffington Post: Sierra Leone Finally Moves To Use Ebola Aid Sitting Untouched In Port For Nearly 2 Months The article ran October 8th, 2014, days after the New York Times and other news organizations broke a story about how $140,000 of medical supplies were sidelined by missing paperwork and unpaid shipping fees. It appears that the disconnect had been brought Continue reading

Uber Expensive: the Economics of Surge Pricing

Recently, on-demand car service company Uber has received a lot of negative attention from passengers who “unwillingly” spent hundreds of dollars on a car ride during Halloween due to surge pricing (I put “unwillingly” in quotations because the app explicitly tells you if and by how much fares are higher than usual). In fact, a woman named Gabrielle Wathen successfully crowdsourced her $327 Uber bill on Halloween night. She wrote on her GoFund.me page titled “Uber Stole my 26th Birthday”: Last night was Halloween. Great time. Today is my 26th birthday. Not so great time. I feel taken advantage of Continue reading

Putting a Price on LGBT Discrimination in the Workforce

The workforce of America today is covered in trends and policies of marginalization. From women being squeezed out of the computer science field to an identical resume being passed up for one with a more “white” name on it, discrimination in the workforce hurts countless hardworking, Americans including those whom can still be legally fired in some states for sexual orientation and gender expression. What about employers though? Are there economic incentives for practicing discrimination, and if so, how strong are they? In 2012, the Center for American Progress released a study on just that called The Costly Business of Discrimination; Continue reading

Medical Technology in Sports

As you probably know, our ability to track the physical status of the human body is becoming easier with technology like Fitbit etc. The mechanisms for checking things like fatigue have become smaller, and more mobile, to the point that they can be worn while playing sports. Naturally, professional sports teams want to utilize this technology in order to gain a competitive advantage. Using this technology would allow them ensure that their athletes are receiving the correct amount of training, and are not fatigued for games. Alongside the this technology, teams are now starting to use consistent blood testing as Continue reading

Ebola: Why is it so bad? (Part 5)

This article continues a series of posts examining non-biological factors contributing to the Ebola crisis’s severity. This week, we’ll look at poverty. This may seem like a “no, duh” factor, but the effects of poverty on transmission rates extend beyond just lack of access to healthcare or lack of sanitation, two common explanations for outbreaks of disease in conditions of poverty. I found these surprising observations in the PlosOne article The Impact of Economic Crises on Communicable Disease Transmission and Control: A Systematic Review of the Evidence. + Increased cortisol levels from stress and poor nutrition can hamper immunity, worsening Continue reading