Pharmaceuticals gone wild

By Larry M. Burge II

Recently, a new public outrage has hit the scene with the announcement from Heather Bresch, CEO of Mylan Pharmaceuticals, daughter of Senator Joe Mancin (D-VA), that the price for the life-saving emergency anti-allergen EpiPen would increase from $57 to close to $700 for a two shot package. That follows a trend of massive drug price increases in the last decade, and especially the last four years, of life-saving drugs costs controlled by relatively few pharmaceutical corporations located (at least physically) in the United States.

Drugs like Daraprim, a 62-year-old drug that fights cancer and parasitic diseases and saw its price go from $13.50 to $750 overnight. Solvaldi, a drug that cures Hepatitis C and costs $1000 per pill. Insulin prices for diabetics has tripled in the last decade, Cycloserine, which combats tuberculosis, saw its costs go from $16 to $360.

Mylan CEO Bresch blames the increase on The Affordable Care Act (Obama care), despite the reporting of her salary going from 2.3 million to 15 million dollars per year, and the continuing criticism of her decision to move the corporate headquarters to the Netherlands, many claim a move to avoid US taxes. Breach’s father has decried the move publicly. Interestingly, Mylan was able to recently squash an attempt by an Israeli company to introduce a low cost version of the EpiPen with the help of the US Food and Drug Administration, which is staffed with numerous attorneys and consultants that were formerly on the payroll of major US pharmaceutical corporations.

Unfortunately, BHC no longer has a nurse on site that could administer to any student in need a dose of Epinephrine, the medication in the EpiPen, should a student find themselves in need and unable to get an EpiPen for whatever reason. Fortunately, 9-year Moline Fire Department veteran paramedic Eric Becker reports that the standard response time for the MFD to reach BHC in the event of an emergency is 3-5 minutes, and they are prepared to give any patient in need a dose of Epinephrine. Mr. Becker states that during his employment with the MFD, he has had to administer the drug 10-15 times. He also states that since the MFD does not use EpiPens, they are not affected by the massive price increase. However, he adds, the emergency services of smaller communities rely on the EpiPen and they would certainly be affected by the price increase.

The enormous price increases of many life-saving drugs are bound to affect every citizen through higher premiums for health insurance coverage and/or higher taxes. Only time will tell in any threatened Congressional investigations bear any fruit or relief of these unimaginable cost increases.




Is This The Year?

Tanner Rowe

Is this THE Year?

Even though the Cubs have had more than their fair share of struggles over the past 108 years, the one thing that has always been constant are the large crowds that pack the 102 year old Chicago landmark known as Wrigley Field.

There is always a buzz in the Wrigleyville neighborhood when baseball season rolls around, but a lot of that buzz also comes with the acceptance of being “Lovable Losers,” while expectations are none higher than just beating the Cardinals and White Sox a couple times for bragging rights during the offseason.

For as long as I can remember, my summers have been consumed by Cubs baseball, and my winters have been spent wondering whether or not this would finally be the year that the Cubs break through and win the World Series.

This summer has been no different, as I have spent more than a handful of days within the confines of Wrigley Field cheering on my beloved Cubbies.

There are however a few things that I have noticed that have changed for the better, such as the level of play on the field, and the level of passion in the stands.

It is not rare to go to a game at Wrigley field and have conversations with everyone around you, as if you were all just one giant family, which is one of the many reasons why they call it “The Friendly Confines.” Even fans that I have sat around this season who are cheering for the opposing team (besides Sox fans) have all sent such high praise to what the Cubs have been doing, and many of them admit it is time for the boys in blue to get some hardware in October.

If you are a baseball fan, then you know a lot of strange things can happen throughout the course of 162 game season and into the playoffs. More times than not, the Cubs have ended up on the outside looking in, but with the proven front office that they have to go along with a strong foundation of young ballplayers, and not to mention one of the best managers in all of baseball, “next year” may be closer than we all think.asdf

Gabbing with Grunt: graduation means leaving neverland

neverlandFor approximately 16 years I’ve been attending school. I’ve survived monkey-bars, drivers-ed, and college-level math. I beat the odds against the “freshman-fifteen,” and even had the honor of becoming the editor-in-chief of a newspaper.

All in all, school has been good.

So when it’s time for it all to end — at least for now, I just may further my degree someday — will it feel any different than graduating from high school? Am I going to wake up the first day after finals and feel like the adulting has officially begun?

I can think of at least 10 reasons off the top of my head as to why I’m not yet qualified for the “adult” position:  

  1. I am the WORST at remembering to do the dishes. Or putting my clothes away after they’re washed. Or taking out the garbage when it’s full. Or cleaning….vacuuming I’m a total champ at, but the rest just sucks. Pun intended.
  2. I hop aboard the struggle bus every time I have to open the lid to a pickle jar.
  3. I cannot “flic the bic” on a lighter, and I tend to break a match in half whenever I try to strike it. I would not survive in the wild. Not even if I had a matchbook.
  4. I’m not ready to stop wearing my fuzzy Cousin Eddie winter hat around Christmas time. Either the other adults comply, or I refuse to join their club.
  5. I enjoy staying up into the late hours of the night watching Netflix; my classes are all basically in the afternoon, so it has yet to become an issue. But it will be. Someday.
  6. I haven’t begun to “officially” save for retirement. I have so little money now…
  7. I never remember to carry an umbrella, even though there’s one in my car. I know it’s there, I’ve seen it.
  8. Sometimes I have a hard time pouring the water out of the macaroni when I’m cooking. There always seems to be a stray noodle that pops out, lands in the sink, and mocks me.
  9. I don’t take a vitamin, and I’ve heard that’s a thing “responsible” people tend to do.
  10. I always feel like chickening out last minute when it comes to calling to make appointments for things; I don’t mind being on the phone with people, I just would love it if my mom did it…

Not to say I won’t figure it all out as I go along — if our parents and grandparents and great-grandparents have figured it out, so can we.

There are hundreds of us graduating on May 19th; completing our time at Black Hawk College is just the next step.

I wish all of my readers the best of luck — it’s been absolutely fantastic being able to have a column where I can openly discuss things that I have found other people have similar distress in. For two semesters, I’ve been fortunate to interact with students at BHC who were excited to be quoted in the newspaper; they didn’t run away from the blonde girl running around from student to student, brave souls. Some students even signed up at the Promotional Fair to receive emails from me about the newest column idea; I couldn’t thank you guys enough.

If you were ever interested in journalistic writing, I have to say that there is almost nothing more rewarding than seeing your work printed in the newspaper.

I also know that if you are graduating this month and you still haven’t got a clue what you want to do for a career, you’re not alone. When I find the right niche for me, it’s going to be just like how Prince Eric expects he’ll realize he’s found the right girl. It’ll just hit me, “bam, like lightning.”

Don’t be afraid to grow up, even if you feel at times that you will never be ready. All that matters is that you’re happy; I’ll be staying up to unreasonable hours in the evening, and you do what you enjoy.

Peace out.

please let your babies grow up to be cowboys

the ranch

If you’ve been browsing on Netflix lately, chances are you’ve seen a show that incorporates top-grade country music, an iconic mustache, and an unfortunate pair of Ugg boots.

The Ranch is a sitcom unlike anything else Netflix has produced to date; filmed with only a handful of different sets in the studio, its essence is a throwback to other classics like Cheers or Full House.

Ten episodes of the first season were released on April 1st of this year; with each show only being half an hour long, a binge-watcher could do some serious damage in just one day.

Everyone in my household actually came together to watch history unfold: Danny Masterson and Ashton Kutcher, the infamous Steven Hyde and Michael Kelso, teamed up again as the Bennett brothers.

Colt Bennett, played by Kutcher, is the hometown football hero, who has arrived home with his tail between his legs after falling short on his dream of becoming a big-time professional football player.

Jameson ‘Rooster’ Bennett, played by Masterson, has continued to help out his daddy on the ranch for the last 15 years while Colt has been away. With a lot of the same quirks and mannerisms as his character “Hyde” from That 70s Show, this beer-guzzling redneck has the best “horse walks into a bar” jokes on television.

Sam Elliott portrays their father, Beau Bennett, who’s the living definition of a stubborn old ox. Thankfully his voice is enough to cause any woman to swoon to the floor in a puddle of mush — my mother included.

While the story unfolds, we see the screenwriters taking full advantage of the fact that the show is not on cable; there are multiple instances where characters drop the F-bomb, or some other forgivable four lettered words. You will also see a hiney — I’m not gonna say who’s — but the ladies will not be disappointed.

And if you’re a George Jones fan, there’s a scene that is pure GOLD.

Some of the haters/critics alike argue that the show is nothing that we haven’t seen before. Colt is just another son who is seeking the approval of his father. Beau is just another cranky, hard-headed old man who can’t even stand the fact that there is almond milk in his fridge: “What the *bleep* is almond milk…show me the tit on an almond.”

However, the show’s charm emulates a family many viewers either relate to, or enjoy learning more about. It takes a character that would otherwise be made into a cliche and manages to poke fun at it in a loving-family way.

The Bennett men win the medal for quick-wit sarcasm and stubbornness; without a doubt, Colt and Rooster have learned from the best. Sam Elliot’s lines in this show are a mix between the ideals of your grandfather and the comedic wisdom of Ron Swanson from Parks and Recreation.

Just some examples include: “What kind of *bleep* spends 85 dollars on a pair of jeans?”, “Sushi is fish for men who don’t know how to build a fire”, and “A man doesn’t grow a mustache, the mustache grows the man.”

Many of Beau’s ideals may seem old fashioned, but there’s enough modern-day turmoil occurring between his marriage and the state of the ranch for the character to be relatable to the generations after him as well.

The Ranch is one of those shows that can perk you up regardless of the mood you’re in. My family would sit down and watch it at the end of the day for the same reason we’d turn on Jimmy Fallon after the news — it makes you smile.

More episodes are set to debut later this year, but the release date is still pending. Hopefully they air sooner rather than later; I miss seeing me some Rooster!

Carlos Martinez elected as Student Trustee


Image taken by Ryan Prochaska

The students of Black Hawk have spoken, and there’s a new Student Trustee on campus, one dedicated to making improvements on campus for a better student experience.

Freshman Carlos Martinez, who is pursuing a degree in pre-engineering, was elected as the new Student Trustee to represent the students on the Board of Trustees. Before Election Day, Martinez squared off in a debate with fellow candidate Rowen Burroughs, in a final attempt to influence undecided voters why he would be the best choice for the position.

The debate consisted of questions about how the candidates would go about serving as the Student Trustee, and the changes they intend on making if elected.

Martinez will serve as the Student Trustee for one year, during this time, he looks forward to serving as a voice for his fellow students and hopes to ultimately make Black Hawk’s campus experience better.

Overall, the responsibilities of the Student Trustee is to serve as the voice of the students on the Board of Trustees. The Student Trustee can bring up any concerns or improvements that could be made in the best interest of the students, and that’s exactly what enticed Martinez to get involved and run for Student Trustee.

“I wanted to play a role, and actually be able to influence what’s going on,” said Carlos Maritnez. “Many times, students are only here at Black Hawk for two years, and they really don’t get involved. I want to show the students there’s an opportunity to get involved, and we can make changes on campus to make things better for the students.”

Martinez encourages suggestions on what exactly needs improved at Black Hawk, so if you see him on campus speak up and don’t be shy, it takes a voice for change.

Hackers are hitting where it hurts


The new two-pound MacBook is on display in a demo room following an Apple event Monday, March 9, 2015, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)

Ransomware is insidious software that is designed to block access to a computer system until a certain amount of ransom is paid, usually in bitcoins, a digital currency that is transferred without the need of a central bank.

The infection usually comes in the form of an email containing an invoice or a shipment notification with a link attached. Once the recipient clicks on the link, their files are almost immediately locked.

Ransomware attacks are nothing new. In fact, they have been going on for years with the first known attack taking place in 1989.

In 2014, several Apple users, most of them located in Australia, were affected by the malware, and more than 225,000 iPhone users had their Apple accounts stolen in 2015.

Palo Alto Networks named this “the largest known Apple account theft caused by malware.” The malware was only able infect jailbroken iPhones due to the phone’s file systems becoming unrestricted.

In recent years, more and more companies and institutions have fallen victim to these computer system hacks. According to a 2014 report by Symantec, an antivirus software company, ransomware attacks went from 100,000 in January 2013 to 600,000 by December of that same year.

Within the last month, 14 hospitals were hit, along with a café in Maryland, and Apple Inc’s Mac computers. Fortunately, most of them were able to stop the attack before it retrieved all of their files.

Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center, which first noticed the attack on February 5th, was not so lucky. The medical center ended up paying $17,000 worth of bitcoins to hackers in order to regain control of their computer system.

Ryan Kalembar, senior vice president for cybersecurity strategy at Proofpoint, told CBS news that medical records are extremely valuable on the black market, potentially more valuable than an individual’s credit card information or identity. If hackers start to observe their target’s data before encrypting it, they may be able to identify, not only what kind of data it is, but also to whom it belongs to. This would not only raise ransom demands, but also enable hackers to decode and sell the data.

The newest ransomware that is being used is known as MSIL/Samas.A. This malware is able to encrypt the data of entire networks rather than one computer at a time.

The FBI has asked businesses and software security experts for help in its investigation of this newly developed malware.

Made in the A.M.: Will it fly or fall a “Long Way Down”?


Image Courtesy of Genius.com

When Zayn Malik suddenly left One Direction in March 2015, fans were skeptical about how the band would continue forward with just four members. This motivated the band to try to create an album that would destroy the skepticism that said they would crumble without Zayn. The band released their newest album on November 13, 2015 titled, Made in the A.M. The lack of one member isn’t the only thing that made this album unique, this album is easily their most mature one yet. All of their albums have become progressively more mature but this one seems to come a long way from the songs on their last LP, Four. The standard edition of Made in the A.M. contains 13 tracks 9 of which members of the band helped write. In the deluxe edition of the album there is 4 more songs that the members all had a hand in writing. Continue reading