All posts by tylerrhyan

About tylerrhyan

A self proclaimed film fanatic and aspiring writer. As someone who's tried my hand at directing a few cheesy short films, I have a deep appreciation for directors and their craft.

A Cure for Type 1 Diabetes On the Horizon?

Recent developments in stem-cell-derived therapy signifies a breakthrough in the treatment of Type 1 diabetes, a disease with no known cure as of yet that currently afflicts 1.6 million Americans. The disease affects the body’s ability to produce insulin, making insulin injections and multiple daily blood sugar checks a necessity to live with the ailment.

A recent article from USA Today details a clinical trial conducted by the company Vertex Pharmaceuticals on one man who was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes over 40 years ago. As part of the trial, the patient was given an infusion of stem-cell-derived treatment known as VX-880. Given that this was the initial test, he received only half of the target dose. 90 days following the trial, the results were overwhelmingly positive. The patient reacted well to the dose, and it “resulted in a 91% decrease in the patient’s daily insulin requirement and a restoration of insulin production.”

Vertex, the company behind the groundbreaking trial.

Dr. Bastiano Sanna, executive vice president and chief of cell and genetic therapies at Vertex, claims the results are “unprecedented,” as this could be a major breakthrough in the way that Type 1 diabetes is treated, potentially a huge step forward in the quest for a cure. The patient did experience some “mild to moderate health events” during the study, including a few instances of severe low blood sugar and a rash. Vertex claims these were not the result of VX-880, however.

While Vertex would like to acknowledge that many more trials need to be conducted, and that these results are not to be taken as indicative of a cure just yet, they are very hopeful for the future of diabetes management, especially given this major milestone.

Redundancy in Media: Entertainment Journalists Get Called Out for Being Uninspired and the Internet Can’t Handle It!

What exactly do Tom Cruise, egg yolks, and the Disney+ show Hawkeye have in common? Well, not much, but each of them are the topic of their own article that exemplifies one of the biggest problems in modern journalism, particularly entertainment focused journalism.

The first article details the return of a fan favorite Marvel Cinematic Universe character in the most recent episode of Hawkeye (haven’t seen the show yet, heard it’s good) and many fans’ to-be-expected enthusiastic response to it on social media. The second article regards a viral Twitter video that shows a young man drinking his egg yolk through a straw at a restaurant and the disgusted replies and he received after doing so. The third article details Tom Cruise’s recent trip to a Giants v Dodgers baseball game, where fans were surprised to see such a high profile movie star simply enjoying the classic American sport in his free time like any other person would.

Still not seeing the connection between these three stories? Don’t worry, I wouldn’t expect you to just yet. Let me lay out the three headlines and see if you can spot it:

“Hawkeye episode 4 features a major cameo, and the internet can’t handle it”

“Someone Drank Eggs Through A Straw And The Internet Can’t Handle It”

“Tom Cruise Goes to Baseball Game, and the Internet Can’t Handle It”

The collective mental state of internet users must be fractured beyond repair at this point, as every article regarding something slightly shocking gets capped by the “and the internet can’t handle it” cliche. It’s a worldwide sensation that brings to mind the Buzzfeed audience, yet has found it’s way adorning articles being published by the likes of respected outlets such as Vanity Fair.

Kingsley Amis sums it up quite nicely (and with MUCH more brevity than myself)

While this can be chalked up to a simple trend in modern journalism that will likely be replaced by another in time, the implications are troubling. What headlines like this prove is that not only are journalists beginning to deplete their originality tanks, but that they are also moving in a more trendy, buzzword-y direction that may define the way the media operates going forward. Hard hitting headlines with clever wordplay are becoming more and more infrequent as modern journalists begin to fall back on cliches and clickbait headlines that place more importance on the view count rather than originality. Similar to the direction of entertainment industries like music and film, originality in journalism is slowly being replaced with trends and choices that have been focus group tested to earn the sites as much money and views as possible, leaving originality and norm-defying journalism in the dust.

Is this a major problem? The largest issue facing the world in this modern age? No, not really. But when one considers the state that it could leave journalism in a decade or two from now, it does cause a slight eyebrow raise of curiosity. I wonder if the internet will be able to handle a world where every article uses different variations of the same headline? I sure hope someone writes an article about it. Preferably one that tells me whether or not they were able to handle it right in the title. I need to know what I’m getting into before I click on it. Originality scares me. Buzzfeed headlines make me feel safe (along with Vanity Fair now, I guess). All I know for sure is this…

I CAN’T handle it anymore (someone get Vanity Fair on the phone, I think I’ve got a story for them)!

YouTube Users Dislike the Removal of the Dislike Counter

YouTube recently rolled out a new feature for a majority of it’s users: they can no longer see the amount of dislikes on other users’ videos. YouTube’s defense and rational for implementing this new change is to discourage bullying and dislike bombing on videos that users come together and pile hate onto. They say that the decision was made with the mental health of the YouTube content creators in mind, as less ways for their videos to be bombarded with hate will hopefully deter the trolls from harassing the content creators. While the intentions are noble, YouTube’s decision here does little to benefit the platform as a whole.

For starters, this is not a new feature. At least not from the content creator’s perspective. YouTubers have had the option to disable likes/dislikes from their videos for some time now. It is a basic feature that one can utilize if they are getting dislike bombed and want to deter it from happening in the future. YouTube forcing this feature onto every video is an unnecessary change that takes the choice away from the content creator and essentially tells users that they are too careless with the feature, treating us like children as they take it away like a parent snatching a toy from an unruly toddler.

Furthermore, the dislike feature is a crucial tool for users in deducing what is spam/misleading content and what is not. Users clicking on a video may be quick to notice the overwhelming amount of dislikes in comparison to likes, realizing that the video is not worth their time before it even begins. As YouTuber Chris Burton says in an interview with the BBC, “A lot of the time, you can’t trust the title or thumbnail. If you see a tutorial video and it’s got almost all dislikes, you know it’s not going to help you.” The dislike count can be an immediate red flag to verify if the video is helpful (or even in some tutorial videos like home improvement, safe), and the discarding of this feature could enable more people to buy into spam content, fake news, or incorrect tutorials.

While their hearts may have been in the right place when dreaming up this new site change, the executives over at YouTube are sorely misguided in their beliefs that removing the dislike feature would be a major win for them and their content creators. Even their mental health justification falls flat when you realize that this adds nothing that YouTubers couldn’t already do themselves. There is even a theory that the removal of the button was a decision of greed, as the most disliked video on the platform was a video produced by YouTube itself. Suspicious…

Many are passionate about this topic and the slippery slope it could lead to for YouTube in terms of censorship. A Change.org petition has amassed 12.5 thousand signatures already, less than 2.5 thousand from its goal. Hopefully YouTube will see the outrage and the petition results and overturn their decision, but only if we make our voices heard and our disapproval vocal. Sign here and ensure that YouTube does not get overrun with spam, clickbait, and misleading content going forward.

Ready Up Those Proton Packs: It’s Time to Bust the Biased Reviews of Ghostbusters: Afterlife!

When critiquing anything as a professional, it is important to separate your personal biases from the overall review so that you can review whatever it is you are reviewing from the most objective place possible. A film review on a popular site in particular should focus on arguing for or against that particular movie based on the merits of the film alone, without outside influence. Well unfortunately, Christy Lemire over at rogerebert.com must have missed this memo entirely with her review of Ghostbusters: Afterlife, a review permeated with the foul stench of bitterness and disdain for the fans of the franchise that it sours any sort of insight that can be found within.

After only the two introductory paragraphs of her review of Afterlife, Lemire launches into another paragraph dedicated to a long tangent on how much she hates Ghostbusters fans. She mentions the chaotic disaster that was the release of the 2016 reboot and her firm beliefs that the only reason anybody criticized the film was because sexist men can’t stand to see women be Ghostbusters, that is unless they trade in the jumpsuits for more revealing outfits and they look hot while they’re doing it. “…it dared to feature women busting ghosts. That’s men’s work! Women are allowed to answer the phone at Ghostbusters headquarters, and they can be possessed by an ancient demon from another dimension as long as they still look sexy, but that’s about it,” Lemire rants.

This flawed, childish even, belief is baffling to me that it was able to make it onto such an esteemed site that was once host to the opinions of Roger Ebert himself, one of the most influential and poetic film critics of all time. Yes, some of the hate thrown towards Ghostbusters (2016) was the result of sexism. But if you look anywhere online or talk to the fans, you will know that much of the hate was the result of the film’s godawful writing. Paul Feig took a comedy masterpiece that excels in dry, deadpan humor with witty writing and tried to remake it (clumsily, might I add) as a slapstick comedy with way too much of a reliance on cheap physical humor and elementary gross-out gags. I could go on about why Ghostbusters (2016) is a failure and an insult, but I digress.

This section of the review tarnishes any points that Lemire may make later on, as it shows that she cannot separate her bitterness towards the 2016 film’s reception from her thoughts on Afterlife as a standalone product. It calls into question whether she truly hated Afterlife, or if she’s simply writing a scathing review so that it bombs at the box office and Ghostbusters fans can feel the disappointment she felt when the 2016 reboot underperformed.

It’s not like she’s not allowed to address the controversy surrounding Ghostbusters (2016), as that was a major talking point surrounding that film’s release. But to approach that controversy in such a simple minded way, with wording that is so rich with seething anger and passive aggressiveness towards the fanbase, is one of the most misguided decisions I’ve seen made by a major critic. It sours anything and everything else you have to say in the eyes of people who disagree with your position on Ghostbusters (2016), ultimately making you a a biased and unreliable source.

Lemire’s review, along with several others, proceed to lambast Afterlife for its frequent nostalgic throwbacks and familiar elements to the original 1984 film, yet they defend Ghostbusters (2016) which suffers from this problem way more than Afterlife could ever dream of. Personally, I adored Ghostbusters: Afterlife. It is true, I am a lifelong fan of the franchise, which also makes me a biased source, but I also watch a lot of movies and am more critical than the average viewer. I need more than just cheap nostalgia and endless references to enjoy a film, which is why movies like Ready Player One and Free Guy were huge duds for me. So speaking as a fan of great films first and Ghostbusters second, let me tell you this: the movie is fantastic. There’s familiar elements and some cheap nostalgic references, sure, but these moments don’t overshadow the lovable characters, fun and spooky atmosphere, wonderful direction/camerawork, and touching moments of heart that pays true respect to the original 1984 film. Unlike Lemire would have you believe, this is a movie crafted with true care for the franchise by Jason Reitman.

Go see it in theaters and show it some love so that we can show these biased critics that their words mean nothing to us once they begin to let their personal feelings overshadow their objective thoughts on the film. And also because Afterlife is just fun as hell and I want you all to have a good time.

Is There an End in Sight for Soaring Insulin Prices?

The exorbitant price of insulin, a life-saving drug that helps millions of diabetics all around the world live normal lives, has continued to rise as the years have gone on. It has gotten to the point that some diabetics must ration out their insulin or skip doses altogether due to not having enough money to cover the cost. Thankfully, this may be an issue of the past very soon, as two large developments in Washington hint towards a future with more affordable, easier to access insulin.

A recent article from Healio, an online medical journal, reports that the United States House of Representatives has voted to cap insulin prices at $35 a month for Americans who live with diabetes. Social spending bill H.R. 5376, dubbed the Build Back Better bill, was approved by the House by a vote of 220-213. This bill would make it so that Medicare Part D and other healthcare plans can not charge more than $30 a month for a 30 day supply of insulin. Assuming it is approved by the Senate as well as President Biden, this would go into effect starting 2023.

Garnering approval from President Biden should not be an issue however, as an article from Healthline reinforces. Long-time diabetes activist Gail deVore was recently given the opportunity to sit down with Biden and discuss the current nature of the insulin market and what needs to be done to deflate these prices. According to deVore, the meeting went exceptionally well, as they were able to talk and really listen to one another for a full 30 minutes. “He really heard me,” says deVore. “He was so open, so kind, so wanted to make a connection. I honestly believe that his whole heart is in this proposal, and that he can help persuade people on this.” Biden’s comments at a press conference later in the day reaffirmed that he and deVore are on the same page regarding the accessibility of insulin for all Americans, and that he intends to make her dreams a reality during his presidency.

So does this confirm that insulin price hikes are for sure going the way of the Dodo? Well, there are no guarantees yet, but the approval of the House as well as the verbal approval of President Biden sparks good news for the millions of American diabetics being bled dry by the greedy corporations who provide them their insulin. It all comes down to the Senate and their decision regarding the Build Back Better bill to see where the prices of insulin stand in 2023 and beyond. Let us all hope, for the sake of diabetics everywhere, that they make the right decision.

Insulin Prices Continue to Climb, Leaving Diabetics in the Dust

Since the scientific breakthrough of insulin discovery in 1921, people diagnosed with diabetes have been able to lead happy, healthy lives. Diabetes is a disease that effects the pancreas, where it’s either producing little to no insulin (Type 1) or not enough insulin to keep up with the body’s carbohydrate intake (Type 2). Thankfully, those who discovered insulin refused to profit off of their groundbreaking discovery and sold their patent for only $1. Unfortunately, large medical corporations have taken control of the insulin distribution industry, and have monetized the drug to a degree that leaves some diabetics unable to afford the drugs they need to survive.

According to a report from the World Health Organization (WHO), the staggering truth is that 1 in 2 people in the world who depend on insulin do not receive it due to the staggering prices that the drug has reached. Many diabetics have reported skipping or rationing out their insulin doses just to ensure they have enough until they have sufficient funds for their next prescription. The insulin price hikes are even more devastating in low and middle-income countries. Three out of four people diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes live outside of the United States or Europe, yet only make up 40% of total insulin sales.

Hope is not fully lost, however. WHO has a plan to lower these prices and ensure that diabetics do not have to choose between money or their health. WHO suggests a boost in human insulin production as well as biosimilars, which are cheaper and easier to produce than the synthetic insulin that is more costly and is currently dominating the market. They also suggest diversifying manufacturing to raise the competition within the industry and begin to deflate the prices. WHO also recommends regulations on price mark-ups, as well as promotion of insulin production in the lower income countries.

WHO has entered talks with those within the industry on their strategy, and things are beginning to look up. Policies have been drawn up that would improve the access to insulin biosimilars, as well as access to other diabetic management supplies such as glucose meters, test strips, and diagnostic tools. If efforts continue to move in the right direction, insulin affordability can become an issue of the past for millions of people around the world, such as myself, fighting this disease.