Category Archives: At Large

Medicine and the Internet

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We all wish that we had free medical care out there somewhere somehow. Bring one person forward who would like to say “Yah, I don’t mind paying for medicine” and I would find that hard to believe.

When President Obama announced his health care bill which would later be deemed “Obamacare”, many people frolicked at the idea that so many unfortunate people who needed healthcare would receive it. However the idea that this would have been a system without flaw is a bit of a fevered dream.

First off the bill was and is incredibly complex, with things such as how they would levee certain taxes, even one where “Indoor tanning salons [would] charge customers a 10 percent tax” (Health-Care Changes to Start Taking Effect This Year (Correct), Shannon Pettypiece & Alex Nussbaum). What is even weirder is that the bill has left about 26 million people without the insurance that the bill originally promised. So even with a bill based around giving everyone an equal chance at healthcare, many are left without it.

This brings me to a one David Price, who after biking in Texas became injured after his bikes gears jammed on his way down a hill. David racked up a hospital bill of about $69,000, and with David being employed as a freelance editor this kind of hospital bill was more than he could he afford. If you want to read the article that has an interview with him click here, (note: includes graphic photos of his face after the crash).

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Enter YouCaring.com, a site that works much like Kickstarter.com, in that it has people ask for money within a certain timeframe and hopes that people can give enough money and reach the goal. The difference between this site and Kickstarter is that the site’s only purpose is to help people fund their medical treatments, whether it is with David and his accident or to help someone with gaining enough money for a life saving procedure.

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So what can this mean? Well much like how Kickstarter showed us that you didn’t need some big investor to get your dream off the ground or perhaps sell yourself to a large company, YouCaring could perhaps change how we pay for medical treatment. In concept it may not be that different than health care. In both cases its large numbers of people paying money so that others have a chance to pay for treatments they otherwise could not afford. The difference being that it cuts off the bureaucracy of the government and makes it so that all the money goes straight to people who need it. No need to pay for a lot of middlemen or employs with training to distribute the money since you distribute the money. So much with how Kickstarter made it so that you could gain financing for a project without needing to go through a big firm, YouCaring may be the start to people being able to pay for medical care through other caring citizens.

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Moving Hollywood Finance

ImageA many a time have I sat down with my little brother and discussed the money that circulates through Hollywood. He finds that since a good amount of the companies spend multi-millions of dollars on movies that will make them multi-millions of dollars this gives him the go ahead to pirate movies. I stand against him acknowledging the amount of money going through Hollywood but I feel that you have to keep in mind that you may encourage others to begin pirating lower budget movies that individual filmmakers have crafted.

Then I came across this Kickstarter that was started by former Scrubs actor Zach Braff to produce his second movie. Now many know Braff as being the charming face of the show with his doctor character J.D. Not so long ago Braff made his own movie called “Garden State“, a movie directed and written by Braff himself. Image This next movie, “Wish I Were Here”, already has reached its goal. As Braff puts it in his video describing why he is asking of the community to contribute to his film, he wrote the film the way he likes it and doesn’t want any company, though willing to finance the film, to have final cut. This means that they would change the characters personalities or make the characters into what they wanted instead of Braff’s vision.

An article by Luke Buckmaster talks about how some criticized not just Braff but also the Kickstarter that inspired him, Veronica Mars, on how rich people should not have to ask for money. This form of finance is opening up a whole new way that people will be able to make movie. In the past the movie making process required many parties and lots of negotiating because of the money required. These new film makers are developing a new form of movie making were the writer and director have more freedom, as long as they have the backing of their fans.

Gun Buyers Become the Gun Makers

 

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Your sitting in your home at night minding your own business when suddenly you hear a crash downstairs, you rush to the top of the stairs to hear strange men rummaging through your things. You know that you are now the victim of a robbery but what are you to do? You rush to your 3D printer and print out the parts to a pistol in order to scare these ruffians away.

Understandably this scenario has some holes in it such as how do you have a 3D printer and wouldn’t the robbers hear it. However the idea of printing out parts for a gun with a 3D printer is not that far fetched.

ImageNot that long ago a crypto – anarchist by the name of Cody Wilson wanted to make a statement about gun control with the recent developments of federal gun control from the US government after the Sandy Hook shootings. He did this by printing out a plastic version of the lower receiver to an AR-15 semi-automatic assault rifle using a 3D printer. Now a 3D printer is a device that when given a design from a 3D program, can make nearly anything out of plastic. For example, if you went on your computer and had 3D rendering software, you could make a three dimensional cube of an inch by an inch by an inch. You then could input the design into the printer and lone and behold you would have a three dimensional solid cube in your hands.

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Now apply this same process of designing an object on a computer and printing out a gun part. This is exactly what Wilson is doing and is then taking the code and allowing anyone to use the code free of charge.

So what does this mean? It creates a whole new dimension to the gun debate. The lower receiver is the only gun part of the AR-15 that needs a license for someone to own and use, all other parts can be bought online or in stores without a license. So if people can now make this part at home, they no longer need a license to obtain the part, only to legally use it. What’s more, Wilson has made high capacity magazines, which is a normal gun magazine that would hold more bullets than average. The issue with this was that this was one of the primary issues covered in the new gun laws passed by the government.

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What a possibility of this new found method of obtaining weapons is that it makes the gun user the gun developer now. Much like how the internet made the consumer the designer of media with the rise of sites of Youtube which thrives off of user made videos, gun users and owners can now not just print out the parts they need, but with this technology and the coming of stronger and more durable plastics, the gun owner could design his own personal weapon suited to his own tastes and body type. Even if you are able to hinder the distribution of gun designs for 3D programs online which would be a feat in itself, a gun owner who is competent enough with a 3D program could simply design his own weapon as long as he could gain access to a 3D printer.

We face an era now that faces the dilemma where the distribution of the internet does not just mean the distribution of knowledge, but also guns. If history has been indication, 3D printers will be around for a while with their success and will be come more sophisticated and easier to obtain. Thus we will see a future where if you are alone at nigh when your house is broken into, you may very be able to print out a Glock for your own protection.

For more information, here is a small thirty minute video that include interviews with Cody Wilson about his 3D guns parts.

 

VICE and Modern News

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I’m sitting in my room with a friend of mine, we have just watched a short fifteen minute piece on the relations of Pakistan and India. We sit there shocked by the scale of the conflict, something that we knew little about, afterwards discussing what could and will happen for at least an hour. Each week we see a new edition of this series and each week we end up much the same, talking about these shocking topics that we were introduced to by VICE

When people think of modern news they associate with major newspapers and broadcasting stations such as The New York Times or the Boston Globe. However, recently I have been visiting a site that I discovered because of a new series I have been watching called VICE. Now the series VICE is on HBO so not everyone will have access to it, but their website is more than accessible to any and everyone. The site caught my attention with its interesting stories but also with its colorful and captivating pictures that dot the site when you first enter in the internet address. This is a site that prides itself on being different than other news outlets.French Military in Mali

The website itself covers a wide range of topics of both domestic and international. From war torn Mali and the French liberation and military operations to the recent Boston Bombing and Reddit’s involvement with catching the bombers. The site also explores music and pop culture, and even has a NSFW (not safe for work) section that lives up to its name.

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So how is VICE different than other outlets? The first reason is that it is very honest, but that is a statement that any news outlet can make. The reason I add the very in there is because the website has addressed very graphic and very controversial topics while getting interviews with people involved with the topic. For example, when watching the HBO VICE, the show covered how the Taliban had been using and manipulating children into carrying bombs for them. After interviewing some of these children who had turned themselves in the group went and gained a rare interview with a high ranking Taliban leader to get the Taliban’s perspective on suicide bombings.

Another reason this group is different is that it is a mix of a newspaper and something else. The stories on the main page of the website are up to date with new stories everyday. Yet with its very up to date format, and though the site comes from a magazine, the site much like newspapers gain their profits from advertisement. VICE is a group that concentrates on Immersion Journalism, or in other words a sort of journalism that concentrates on individual experiences concerning an event, creating a much more personal view of events.

VICE, though similar in some ways to other forms of journalism, has strived to stay away from typical large corporation based media and moves to become more invested with serious topics that do not come up with large more well known news groups.