The Convenience of Cyber Monday vs. The Terrors of Black Friday

As Thanksgiving approaches, Americans will be going through many different rituals in order to prepare. Tasty videos of pumpkin pies and green bean casseroles will be reaching higher views than normal. Meditation apps will be used greatly in preparation for crazy Aunt Janet and the stress of having the whole family in one room. These are just of the few “on-trend” things that people are going to be using leading up to the big day.

However, in addition to planning for the actual Turkey Day, there is one thought looming in everyone’s minds: Black Friday. This stressful ritual of crazy high discounts and the possibility of being stampeded is the Friday after Thanksgiving. People start lining up for these discounts even in the day on Thursday in order to await the 12 AM door openings. Though this is a day that causes a lot of anxiety for many, (including myself) others feel that it is the Super Bowl of all holiday shopping and they would never dream to miss it.

There has been a steady plateau of in-store sales throughout the last couple years, though, and an increase in the infamous Cyber Monday and online discounts all the way through the weekend. This trend is due to those shoppers who feel that the comfort of their own beds is more intriguing than horribly long lines and cranky individuals. Many of these online shoppers are millennials, as older people have not grown up with this online shopping experience.

Millennials like convenience. Even though it is also found that they want to interact face-to-face with brands and stores while shopping, they are not as inclined to shop in-store on Black Friday due to the long lines and stress that come along with this day. Cyber Monday on the other hand, is filled with deals right at our finger tips, with no waiting and hardly any obstacles—exactly portraying the “I need this right now” mentality that many millennials possess.

I do not see this as a death of Black Friday, though, there are just as many or more people shopping in-store as online. But, I do think the dragged-out weekend—not only having huge sales on the early morning of Black Friday—is a positive thing for all Americans, leading to not as much stress and hopefully fewer stampedes. I do predict that in the coming years the Black Friday shopping weekend will continue to evolve and add more elements than we already have, and I am excited to see what these will entail.

Whatever your thoughts on the day are… Happy Shopping!


The Opioid Crisis: Not Yet on it’s Way to Healing

After a devastating year of over 40,000 deaths due to opioid painkillers in the United States, last week the FDA approved a drug—that is 1000 times more potent than morphine—with a high majority vote. The Food and Drug Administration, whose sole purpose is to protect all Americans from putting harmful substances into their bodies, is single handedly perpetuating the opioid epidemic with this approval.

It is unfathomable that in the midst of such a fatal crisis the FDA would allow the production of this highly dangerous drug. Do they believe that rubbing salt on a wound will heal it?

One major contributor to this crisis is the mass distribution of prescription opioids by uneducated medical professionals. So, instead of spending millions of dollars on the creation of new drugs, there should be a higher importance given to educating doctors on the deadly consequences and minimizing distribution.

Dsuvia, the newly approved synthetic opioid created by AcelRx Pharmaceudicals, is for managing acute pains in adults. It is a single dose tablet that is supposed to stop severe pains almost immediately. Sufentanil, which is the liquid form of Dsuvia, is widely used in epidurals—to demonstrate its intensity. It’s single dose quality is supposed to help manage over-use and patients will also not be able to take it home with them– only permitted to be in medically supervised settings.

To many in the medical field its creation is seen as a great triumph. Dsuvia is directed at those individuals who are unable to swallow a pill or do not have access to a vein for an injection, specifically wounded soldiers on the battlefield.

If this is a true victory, then why do many professionals in the field have such strong worries about this new “breakthrough” drug?

For many, these few precautions that AcelRx Pharmaceudicals has implemented are not enough. The chairman of the FDA, Dr. Raeford Brown—who in fact was not even present during the voting on Dsuvia’s approval—wrote a deeply concerned letter expressing worries about the possible distribution of this drug. He foresees that the drug will lead to further misuse in our society and many deaths within the early months of being released. On top of that, Sidney Wolfe, the founder of Public Citizen’s Health Research Group, believes that Dsuvia will certainly worsen the opioid epidemic.

One would think that the opinions of highly respected individuals who have been attempting to mend this wound would be taken with higher regard, but it seems that this country may not be in a place to be healed.

To say that this drug will “only be distributed by medical personnel” is an ignorant mindset due to previous issues with distribution by people within hospitals. Doctors continue to over-prescribe medications such as morphine and codeine every day. Healthy people who are prescribed painkillers for post-surgery recovery become reliant on the rapid increase of dopamine in their bodies, which is a chemical that controls the feelings of happiness, reward, and relaxation. Once the brain adapts to having heightened levels of dopamine, it becomes dependent on these drugs to release these feelings, leading to addiction.

If a patient runs out of the pills, they are able to request for a new prescription, and unfortunately many doctors sign off on more than the patient may actually need. Or, they may even resort to the black market where the supply of fentanyl, carfentail, and even heroine is ramped.

If ill-informed professionals are already one of the many reasons for this worsening epidemic, then how can we entrust them with more dangerous drugs?

Addicted individuals who are looking for a more intensified high will go through a lot to find Dsuvia. We can never be certain that medical personnel will not let this drug into the wrong hands. It takes just one slip to greatly deepen the wound known as the opioid epidemic.

Also, since these patients will be treating major injuries and Dsuvia is only recommended to be taken for three days, patients may even ask for less intense painkillers to take home—yet again, perpetuating the crisis.

It has been found that 21 to 29 percent of patients who are prescribed opioids abuse them. This painful statistic only makes me think one thing: when will this madness end?

The many deep routed issues that are associated with the opioid crisis, such as illegal distribution and production, will prevent it from easily being fixed. However, creating a medication that is more aggressive than ever before it is not the answer. Rubbing salt on a wound is only going to intensify the injury and prolong the healing process.

The only way that less people will become plagued by this epidemic is if the amount of opioids distributed is severely reduced. Instead of directing funds towards the production of more harmful drugs, they should be redirected to the education of doctors so that less opioids will be prescribed, and we can finally see a drop in the rate of overdoses due to opioids.

How Far is “Too Far” in Comedy?

The world of comedy is a difficult one to be in. As a comedian, one needs to walk the very thin line of being too apprehensive and being too offensive. These performers fight every day for the attention of their fans; whether that be during a show, over social media, or at any other event. They aren’t just fighting for laughs, they are competing against the many other comedians who are each attempting to leave the most lasting impact on his or her fans and gain a larger following.

Many comedians attempt to turn current and not typically comical issues into jokes in order to make light of something horrible in the world. This is a tactic can lead to a “gray area,” where many people may think it is hilarious, but many people at the same time might be horribly offended. However, in this industry, those who never take chances will fall through the cracks and be forgotten. Recently, mass shootings and rape have been targeted by comedians, as those have unfortunately become a reoccurring theme in the news. Poking fun at Donald Trump has also been done over and over again; allowing Americans to relate to one another and maybe even feel relieved that they are not alone in their thoughts.

One comedian, though, was shunned and reprimanded by Americans for taking a Trump joke too far. In 2017, Kathy Griffith had a photo shoot done of herself holding the decapitated head of our president in her hand. Though many comedians make fun of Trump’s absurd look and questionable actions at times, this act by Griffith was one that’s effect on the community was way worse than her intentions. There were probably many citizens who agreed with Griffith’s stance with this stunt; however, even these people knew that this morbid and gross depiction is many steps over the line of morality.

The incident that caused me to ponder on this topic, is the recent hate that had been directed toward SNL star Pete Davidson after he made fun of the appearances of various congressional candidates. He compared these politicians to penises, cigars, and even went as far to make fun of a former Navy SEAL who lost his eye in combat. Davidson commented on the man’s wearing of an eyepatch by saying voters would be surprised that he was actually a Texas candidate and “not a hitman in a porno movie.”

The backlash on Twitter was unmeasurable; NRCC spokesperson Jack Pandol even mentioned Pete’s recent breakup with his girlfriend—Ariana Grande—by stating, “getting dumped by your pop star girlfriend is no excuse for lashing out at a decorated war hero who lost his eye serving our country.” The fact that Davidson is currently in a fragile state after his not-so-private breakup with his fiancé last month leads many to believe that his intentions were not the best.

SNL is known for pushing the boundaries of comedy and this is something that many people love about it. It’s controversial and brings on actors/comedians who will offend, but in a tasteful and mindful way. Two of Davidson’s co-stars on the show have expressed that this was not the best representation of their show. Michael Che during the live show said “oh, come on, man,” hinting that this may not be the best thing to say, and Keenan Thompson said the joke “missed the mark” in an interview. Thompson even recognizes that comedians need to make controversial statements at times in order to stay relevant; however, he does not condone the actions of his friend/co-star.

Even though most people are able to see that Pete Davidson was not attempting to hurt anyone with this, his joke is now deemed “too far” by the masses; but how far is TOO far? There is no real way to measure this. One controversial joke could ruin a comedian’s career, or it could just as easily push them into stardom.

California Regulation Causes a Positive Shift in Entertainment

Even though the gender pay gap has persisted to plague our society, California this year passed a law that prohibited employers from asking potential workers their previous salaries. This has been positive in so many ways: forcing employers to not judge minorities and women for the past wages they were given—because they may have been decided based on the wrong reasons—and allowing them to focus on the actual value that an individual may bring.

Though this regulation will greatly affect every field, the entertainment industry has been particularly impacted due to the systemic changes that are needing to be recalculated. Since the beginning of film, actors’ salaries have been based off of their previous quotes and essentially nothing else. This quote system is very outdated and has forced women and those of races that are not white to be at the bottom of the totem pole solely due to their insufficient opportunities in TV and film.

The issue of pay inequality in entertainment is not one that goes unnoticed. Just last year, Mark Wahlberg—who is the most paid actor in the world—was allotted $1.5 million for reshooting certain shots in All the Money in the World, whereas Michelle Williams—his very equal counterpart in the movie—was given a mere $1,000. Women of color have also historically been paid less than most other actors, but that has been steadily increasing over this year. Hence, having this regulation be placed on California, which is the home to the entertainment capital, may be a very positive step for pay equality.

However, it has come with some difficulties for the industry as this precedent has been set for so long. Instead of solely looking at an actor’s last project, producers and casting directors are challenged to weigh the value of each character in a film. Studios have had to drive up their producing budgets due to this—as those stars who have formerly been paid at one price will not settle for much less, so the entirety of the casting cost will are needing to increase. Others, though, believe that production costs are continuing to drastically increase due to more competition and better-quality features being produced, not just this new law.

In contrast to film, television has shown greater pay equality throughout time. Actors and actresses on average have been making almost the same amount, whereas women in film make a whopping fourth of what the males are receiving. To add to that, the highest grossing actor in TV is the beautiful, Latina Sofia Vergara, which is a win for many in this situation.

Due to the rise of streaming services such as Netflix and Hulu, people of minorities have been provided with many more opportunities in television and are able to receive numerous roles in a shorter amount of time. This boom in the entertainment industry combined with the new regulation in California has already shown to make positive impacts on wages of actors. Now that such a widely known and greatly talked about industry is changing in a positive direction, it can hopefully have a significant impact on many other fields and possibly lead to a narrowing of the gender pay gap as a whole.

The Horrific Truths About Smartphones

Roughly 50% of teens that use smart devices 5+ hours a day have contemplated or attempted suicide, compared to 28% of teens that use smart devices less than 1 hour a day. This correlation is so shocking and terrifying that it seems fictitious and irrational doesn’t it?

Well, it isn’t. The existing research and a simple look around make it obvious just how detrimental phones have been to the social skills, confidence, and wellbeing of teens and how important it is for us to start looking up, observing our behavior, and confronting our scandalously intimate affairs with our cell phones.

Our present relationship with computers and smartphones is so new and volatile that there has not been time to study their long-term psychological impacts. However, the data we do have tells that Americans in general, but especially teens and young adults, are struggling with depression and anxiety now more than ever.

Teens and young adults are already a notoriously hormonal, self-conscious bunch, but when they are shown that the norm is a six-foot, size 00 Australian model or a 22-year old millionaire with the jaw of Hercules and the hair of Thor, their struggles are amplified. They become disheartened by the disparity between themselves and the figures they constantly compare themselves to.

Furthermore, when teens and young adults watch friends’ Snapchat stories and see their Instagram pictures they often contrast their own current state. Their lives almost always fall flat because they do not acknowledge that they are seeing friends’ highlight reels instead of accurate representations of their lives. They see the wild night out and the romantic anniversary but miss the brutal hangover and the ensuing heartbreak. Teens and young adults often grow to think their lives are inadequate despite the similarities of everyone’s realities away from the cellphone screen.

The life of today’s American teen/young adult is a perfect breeding ground for the social anxiety, low self-esteem, and unhappiness at the root of America’s anxiety and depression epidemic. Now, nobody is naïve enough to think cellphones will disappear. Instead, we need to grow wary of our relationships with them and how they hinder our social interactions. We must prioritize the present rather than spreading ourselves thin over ten different irrelevant chats.

We as a collective society need to change the way that these devises are used. They need to help facilitate communication and keep people safe, not put teens in danger. Only then will we see an improvement in the mental health and life experience of America’s teens and young adults.

The Not-So-Restricting US-Mexican Border

Just last week, it came out that there was a tunnel found by authorities that stretched from Mexico into the United States. Found on 19thof September, the tunnel is 627 feet long and 336 of those are on US soil. US and Mexican border patrol were lucky that they found this tunnel before it broke ground in the US; they discovered it while searching a home in Baja California that was just blocks from the border.

This discovery is only one of around 75 others that have been found within the last decade. Tunnels of these sorts have been widely used by the drug cartel as a smart way to smuggle drugs into the United States. Though this tactic is an old one, that does not mean that these tunnels have not progressed. In the past years, and this past instance in particular, authorities have found that the tunnels have become much more high-tech. This tunnel was completely equipped with a system of solar panels that powered lights, ventilation systems, pumps to drain water, and a rail track. Though it is possible that tunnels of these sorts could be used for transporting“illegal immigrants, arms dealers, and drug smugglers,”it makes the most sense that one of this caliber would be funded by the filthy rich—and highly savvy—drug cartel.

The border officers have said that tunnels of these sorts are “often filled after authorities complete their investigation,” however it does not seem that there are many other protocols after this sort of incident. The fact that it is only probable that they may fill the tunnel is just one of many vague statements that I have read while researching about this case. One border patrol agent also told the San Diego Tribune that he was “not sure whether Mexican officials have made arrests in the case.” The fact that there has been a great increase in these cases within the last couple years leads me to believe that there has been much success with this strategy. Many of these tunnels have had openings into the US—through normally Arizona or California—and there have been very few repercussions as these tunnels are very hard to trace to specific people. Also, seeing the progress that these tunnels have made is scary for the future as they will just become more and more sophisticated.

I believe, that drug smuggling is one of our smaller issues. If it is true that the cartel is the one running and funding the creation of these tunnels, I believe we are in better shape than if it were terrorists bringing deadly arms onto US soil. It is very probable that most of these tunnels are due to the drug cartel as this technique was spearheaded and glorified by the leader of the Sinaloa cartel, Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman. This iconic leader even used this strategy to sneak out of a maximum security prison back in 2015.

Due to this expanding issue along the US-Mexico border, there are now more than 20,000 border patrol officers that protect the United States. Though this precaution is a necessary and greatly helpful one– officers confiscated over 2 million pounds of drugs in 2012– these tunnels are making their jobs drastically more difficult and there are barely any solutions in place.

The Many Complexities of the Gender Pay Gap

Women and men have historically been treated differently in the workplace. Women receive lower wages, less respect, and differing positions within companies or are rejected from jobs that they are perfectly qualified for. Each of these factors have contributed to the highly debated gender pay gap. Though the signing of the Equal Pay Act in 1963 was supposed to prevent males from receiving better treatment in the workforce, the wage gap still holds true more than fifty years later. Since the middle of the 20th century, women have fought for their rights and have succeeded in may regards: receiving the right to vote, exercising the right to equal education, and participating in the labor force. However, women still face obstacles every day that men are—for the most part—exempt from. The most baffling part about this never-ending division is that just one underlying source will never be uncovered. There are many elements, such as the nature of motherhood, the psychological differences between women and men, and discrimination, that are largely unmeasurable and subjective. Of those factors, it is even difficult to pin-point which is most prevalent at any given time; yet, the continuous conversation has led to many important improvements and necessary realizations about society as a whole.

The fact that there is a noticeable difference between female and male wages in the workforce, does not mean that females are not as qualified or deserving. In the 1950s it made more sense that females’ average salary was lower than males, as they only made up about one third of the workforce as a whole. But now, labor is evenly divided between men and women in America, with 57.2 percent of the women being employed. Despite holding just as many jobs as men, women have drastically increased their participation in education as well. The education gap that once was very prominent, has not only been closed, yet surpassed by women. Previously, women’s duties consisted of taking care of the family and the home, while men were expected to receive educations, find careers, and financially provide for their families. When the feminist movement started gaining traction in the US, in the 1960s, women desired independence which led to postponing marriage, higher divorce rates, a want for self-sufficiency, and in turn an increased need for education. Higher schooling allowed women to not depend on a spouse and create their own career and wealth. This trend expanded from white females at the start, to any and all races and now women have, on average, higher levels of education than men and are more likely to get an advanced degree.

Since women expect to be staying in the workforce longer and desire to be more committed to it, they are willing to invest more time and money into their degrees. The types of educations that females receive have majorly shifted toward career-oriented majors; however, they continue to have less representation in STEM fields and particularly mathematic fields. The fact that women are underrepresented in these degrees that are seen as more prestigious and difficult is one reason for them being placed in jobs that are seen as traditionally female, such as lower school teaching or nursing. These positions typically get paid less than other professional jobs; however, participation by women in these more masculine jobs have increased since they are associated with higher education, which many women have, and higher pay. It has even been tested that when companies employ large numbers of women, they “outperform their competitors.”

Though these facts of higher qualifications and better performance should be enough to eliminate a salary gap between genders, employers still have hesitations when hiring women and even initially pay them less. Research has been found that men receive 5.4 percent more on average than women at the same starting positions, proving that, for the most part, females are not as highly valued to employers. At its root, this discrimination is attributable to the many untrue stereotypes about women’s abilities, which can lead to segregation of occupations and fewer leadership roles. Nevertheless, there has been much evidence to prove that women may not be as committed to their careers as men are. Research has shown women are “more likely to quit their jobs for family-related reasons,” while men are “more likely to quit for job-related reasons.” This illustrates their placing a greater priority on family than work and is a very valid reason for employers to hesitate while hiring females and may be a great contributing factor in the gender pay gap.

The fact that women are known to be more attached to family obligations may come down to the nature of the female role in child birth. Maternal instincts and the fact that women physically carry their own children are the key reasons that women’s priorities shift from career-focused to family-focused. The birth of children noticeably and drastically affects the pay of females, while those who forgo this opportunity end up receiving salaries that are more similar to males. Also, before childbirth the pay gap is much smaller between men and women, showing a direct correlation with having children and salaries. This negative relationship is commonly known as the motherhood wage penalty. Birthing a child, especially the first, may bring a woman to feel that she is incapable to take on an overly demanding job; therefore, many either “withdraw from the labor force entirely or switch to a more ‘child-friendly’ job.” Since jobs take much investment for both the employee and the employer, women of childbearing age may appear less attractive in the eyes of companies. Also, even if women stay in the work force, many limitations such as busier schedules and the fear of receiving more obligations may lead to women devoting less effort to their careers.

Over time, there have been many actions taken to reduce this doubtfulness in both mother’s and employer’s minds. The first being the invention of birth control in the 1960s; this was revolutionary in making it possible for women to choose when or if they wanted to have children. Though “the pill” allowed more women to get professional jobs directly after their educations, it wasn’t until policies were put in place at companies that females felt that it was acceptable to have babies while working. Policies such as paid maternity leave, subsidized day care, and part-time work options allowed women to successfully manage childbirth and work. These alone will not shrink the pay gap; it will take understanding employers who are confident that females will make the motherhood/career balance work and also a change in the behavior of fathers. The mindset adjustment of men is one factor that is very important to reducing the gap. If men do not share in the repercussions of childbirth, they will continue to have an upper hand in the workforce and receive higher pay. Research shows that when men take more of a role in childcare in the first couple weeks, they are likely to be more involved for the duration of parenting. This alone could reduce the load of the woman in a parenting relationship and possibly lead to an evening of wages.

Though the motherly instincts of women lead to a lot of truthful concerns, there is also an unwarranted amount of discrimination given to mothers that enter the labor force. Many people have been trained to believe that mothers “should work part-time or not at all when they have children at home.” Another hurtful stereotype, brought up by Francine D. Blau and Lawrence M. Kahn, is that mothers are perceived as “less competent and less committed to paid work” than women without children. Whereas, men with children are applauded for being more committed than those without. This mindset is very backwards and illustrates the favorability of men in the workplace. Females who have professional, career-focused mothers are more likely to have careers themselves; however, with these unfair perceptions of mothers still being prevalent in society, many opt to not enter the work force. This is a vicious cycle that continues to place women under men and leaves little room for females to alter these misconceptions.

Though men and women should be treated with the same respect in the workplace, they do have evident differences in genetic and psychological characteristics that need to be considered when discussing the gender pay gap. One distinction is that men are more competitively inclined than females. The two genders’ differing attitudes towards competition could potentially lead to more opportunities for males or even propel women to avoid certain occupations/work environments.The fact that males are more inclined to place themselves in competitive situations at work has a negative association with the gender ay gap. Women have also been found to be more risk adverse, which could contribute to their lower salaries. Due to this, many females avoid taking risky jobs or ones that are not very secure. Genetically, the female hormonal driver, estrogen, discourages partaking in risk taking or conflict, while encouraging bonding and connecting with others. Opposingly, males have copious amounts of testosterone—in comparison to women—which promotes competitivity and risk taking. When one takes a risk and succeeds, testosterone levels increase, rewarding that action; so, the hormonal buildup of men essentially urges them to take more risks. Though estrogen leads women to have better interpersonal skills than men, which makes them valued, compassionate team players, that skill does not advance women as much as competitivity and risk-taking do for men.

One of the most notable yet puzzling differences between men and women in the workplace is that males possess an aura of confidence that many females seem to lack. Many recognize this as the confidence gap. This gap may be due to some of the characteristics above: Katty Kay and Claire Shipman speak on the idea that “many psychologists now believe that risk taking, failure, and perseverance are essential to confidence-building.” However, confidence is not a genetic attribute; more men than women have been taught to believe in themselves and their abilities, especially in a work environment. Even the most qualified and successful women doubt themselves in the workplace, saying that they were not deserving of their promotion or the big project that they landed. Women are also known to blame their successes on things like luck or their appearance/other qualities instead of their natural intelligence or skills. Instead of crediting themselves with their successes, females tend to give credit to circumstances, while men tend to do the opposite. On the other hand, women are inclined to assign fault to their own abilities when things go wrong; whereas men normally blame the specific situation, which shows a “healthy sign of resilience.” While women have a tendency to underestimate their potential, men overestimate both their abilities and performance, pushing them to excel at work. Though women may be performing at the same or better quality, men compensate for that and excel just by emanating self-assurance, which makes others believe they know what they are doing. This self-doubt that plagues many women is detrimental to their success and the future of their careers and is a key component to the fact that men continue to get promoted faster and receive higher paychecks.

One measurable cause of the gender wage gap is the underrepresentation of females in higher management roles. As stated before, females qualify for these positions just as well or more than males, so holding back in work settings and not being self-assured can be a major factor of this. Confidence is such an important part of the business world—solely doing the work well does not always equate to success. Being prosperous in anything “correlates just as closely with confidence as it does with competence.” One example of this is being assertive with negotiating salaries, asking for raises, or actively seeking out promotions. The author of a book called Women Don’t Ask, Linda Babcock, has discovered that “men initiate salary negotiations for times as often as women do.” This may be due to women doubting their abilities in comparison to men. Also, men more often than not apply for jobs that they are not entirely qualified for; however, women tend to not apply for roles until they feel that they meet all the qualifications. This perfectionism that is predominately a female problem holds women back from pursuing many opportunities, while damaging their confidence. Though this gap of self-assurance is one that has highly affected the way employers view women, if women begin to ask for what they want and believe in themselves and their abilities, they eventually will be able to gain the respect of their superiors. Luckily, unlike many of these other factors that have led to the gender pay gap, this is one that can be taught to females.

Though confidence and negotiation skills are things that women can learn and perfect, these skills may be ones that in and of themselves bring up issues for women due to generalization and stereotyping. This general discrimination towards women is something that has been decreasing for some time, but there are still cultural and institutional barriers to female success. Strong, assertive women in the workplace are not as admired as men with the exact same qualities. They are often seen as unapproachable and mean when they are outspoken in work settings, which leads to them becoming unlikeable. Women “pay a heavier social and even professional penalty” for the same actions that men are rewarded and praised for. This mistreatment is just one of the many disadvantages that women have to face in the workforce for no reason other than their genetic build-up.

Though women have made tremendous progress towards closing the wage gap, many obstacles prevent them from completely catching up to males within the workforce. There has even been a stagnation in the increase of men’s wages over females, but this narrowing has unfortunately almost plateaued over the past decade. The research on this topic is almost endless, creating an ongoing conversation and a desire to find the true cause and hopefully a solution. The complications to this, though, are that there is not solely one cause and there will not be one solution. Women and men alike need to continuously strive toward equality despite the restrictive nature of society. The gap may never—or at least not in the near future—close, but as long as both employees and employers are educated on the issues and make conscious efforts, women will continue to gain value in the eyes of others.

LA 2028 Olympics Forecasted Success: Noticeable Boost for US Soft Power

One of Los Angeles’ main goal for the upcoming decade is to increase US soft power through cultural diplomacy as it organizes and gets ready to orchestrate one of the most powerful Olympic and Paralympic games yet, in 2028. As Nicholas J. Cull, director of the Master’s in Public Diplomacy program at the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism at the University of Southern California, states: the goal of cultural diplomacy is to allow international actors manage the international environment by making their cultural resources and achievements known abroad and/or facilitating transmission abroad. In many instances, cultural initiatives, such as hosting the Olympic and Paralympic games, have acted as important drivers in increasing a country’s soft power and changing and/or maintaining the global perception of a nation state vis-a-vis the international community.

Los Angeles has the chance to be the paradigm shifter and show the world the profitable and sustainable way to host the Olympics. The city of LA is forecasted to have a significant surplus in funds and at the same time manage to install a world-class transportation system to Los Angeles. This will only be possible because Los Angeles will be using all existing infrastructures such as the USC and UCLA campus and stadiums, The LA Stadium, home of the Rams starting in 2020, The Los Angeles Convention Center, The Staples Center, The Rose Bowl, LA Football Club Stadium, and more. Additionally, as the city hosted the 1984 Olympic and Paralympic games and demonstrated a significant surplus of $225 million, there is an expectation for the city to perform better and smarter for the one to come. This time Los Angeles will prove the US to be a comfortable efficient and adaptable location for the Olympic and Paralympic games in 2028; in turn, this will grant the US brownie points towards their soft power.

Central to making a notable impression on the spectators will be the Crenshaw/LAX Line, Automated people mover, Downtown regional connector, and Bus rapid Transit on Vermont Avenue. These new transits will allow for easy access from LAX to downtown and all areas of the city and potential catastrophic traffic during the three weeks of the Olympic games will most likely be mitigated. The future of LA’s transportation system will be entirely changed for the better. Most importantly, for the purpose of the games it will offer the Olympic audience an express commute to all Olympic venues. Fans will be able to watch water events at the South Bay Sports Park in the morning, then quickly commute to the San Fernando Valley Sports Park to watch an equestrian performance, and get back in time to the main Olympic hub in downtown LA to watch a track race in the innovated USC Coliseum venue . The area of downtown will be the most populated at all time as it will be hosting the largest amount of sports games,13 Olympic and 13 Paralympic games in the state-of-the-art stadiums and venues near the USC area. For this reason, there will be a special emphasis on the rebuild, innovation, and betterment of downtown are in LA for the 2028 games. Spectators will be able to watch swimming races at USC’s Dedeaux baseball field, that will be transformed into an open-air swimming pool, and at night catch a drink on the highest open-air bar in the Western Hemisphere, Spire73, to experience the LA social and music scene. The accessibility, efficiency, and comfort of the projected Olympics be what catches inevitably push US soft power to the highest echelons, beating France on having the most popular city in the world.

Through preparedness, transportation innovation, assorted geography and culturally diversity, the City of Angels will be the runner up to host one of the most successful and profitable Olympic and Paralympic games in the year 2028. Furthermore, his event will improve the usable transportation and infrastructure in LA itself and the correct step through cultural diplomacy towards making an impressionable appearance to the international environment. Los Angeles holds a huge advantage to have gained the bid for the 2028 Olympics as is home of incredible landscaping, terrain, venues, cultures and two top tier university campuses that have agreed to lodge both the Olympic crew at the USC Village with the as well as the world class Olympians in the UCLA Olympic Village. In all, cultural diplomacy such as the hosting of an Olympic even appears to have influence on a countries soft power and consequently on foreign policy outcomes. Therefore, the Los Angeles winning the bid for the 2028 Olympic and Paralympic games will be instrumental to the positioning of the US hegemony in the decades to come.

The First Commercial Lunar Mission: The Best Promotion for Space Tourism Ever


Yusaku Maezawa is a Japanese billionaire, entrepreneur, and now the only person on Earth with a ticket to travel into the depths of outer space. On Monday, September 17th, SpaceX’s Elon Musk announced that the businessman had purchased all spots on the BFR (Big Falcon Rocket) lunar mission that is projected to take place in 2023. Maezawa—the owner of Japan’s largest online fashion retailer, Zozotown—will be inviting world-renowned artists in disciplines such as fashion, film, architecture, photography, and music to accompany him on this remarkable journey in order to inspire them to create works based on their findings. This project, which Maezawa has named #dearMoon, is supposed to “inspire the dreamer within all of us” and “make people excited about the future.”

The idea of a commercial flight is not new to SpaceX, as Musk’s original goal has been to travel to and colonize Mars; however, many are confused about the recent prioritization on a trip to the moon. In previous years, the company has said that it was “a way to demonstrate the capabilities of [their] 27 Falcon Heavy booster,” but the development of their newest, most powerful rocket has pushed back the mission a couple years and altered their reasoning for the trip. Musk in the past has even voiced his concerns with lunar missions by saying that they may not be of much importance to drive SpaceX to reach their ultimate goals. So, this brings us back to the question, why a passenger trip to the moon?

Elon Musk’s announcement yesterday was given with high energy and great optimism, but it was also—almost under his breath—revealed that they have not yet found a funding method for this project. As the BFR is only in the beginning stages of production and the only funds that they have so far are from Maezawa’s purchasing of the tickets, SpaceX is in great need of funding. However, to Musk’s favor, there has been a lot of Venture Capital firms that have shown great enthusiasm towards the commercialization of space in form of money and funding. It has been known that these firms pay more attention to startups that are focusing efforts towards space travel. A Tech Crunch article in 2016 described this by saying:

“A surge in interest in outer space by sources of private capital presents the opportunity of rapid growth and commercialization that should, through the laws of supply and demand, drive down costs associated with cosmic ventures in the long run. This reality will make the space economy as accessible as any other on Earth several decades down the road.”

This quote in and of itself provides a reason for Musk’s push towards this lunar passenger trip: to generate a sense of excitement and anticipation amongst all Earthlings, especially those of the VC industry. This revolutionary and thought-provoking trip to the moon with some of the most influential figures on the planet is, in my mind, one of the greatest marketing campaigns ever executed. Space travel is something that has been out of reach and a dream to many, but finally the announcement of this project has made it feel feasible and closer than ever before. As if space travel wasn’t enough of a draw, Yusaku Maezawa has transformed this lunar trip into a worldwide phenomenon with his #dearMoon project.

With all this publicity and excitement created about space tourism and SpaceX in particular, the funding for the BLR’slunar mission will be found in no time and most people on Earth will be fighting for tickets to the next cosmic passenger trip. SpaceX has become prominent in the space industry due to their bold and controversial acts, but this is one project that I believe will finally put SpaceX on a platform of their own.


Watch the #dearMoon Project announcement video here!

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