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The truth behind Puskás Akadémia FC - How Hungarian PM Viktor Orbán stole a legend, built a stadium in his backyard and guided his team to Europe

The 2019/2020 season of the Hungary’s National Football League (NB1) – being one of the first leagues to restart play - came to an end on 27 June. If a casual observer (for whatever reason) decides to check out the final standings, he would be not surprised at the first two positions: record-champion Ferencváros defended their title, while regional powerhouse Fehérvár (Videoton) came in second. However, the third place team, Puskás Akadémia FC might seem unusual and one could think that there is a story behind that. Is there a team named after Ferenc Puskás? Did some academy youths make an incredible run for the Europa League qualification? Well, the observer is right, there is a story behind all this, but it’s absolutely not a fun story. It’s a story about how one powerful man’s obsession with football stole a legend, misused state funds and killed the spirit of Hungarian football. (Warning: this is a long story, feel free to scroll down for a tl;dr. Also, I strongly advise checking out the links, those images are worth seeing).
Naturally, political influence in football has been present ever since the dawn of the sport and we know of numerous state leaders who felt confident enough to use their influence to ensure the successful development of their favored clubs – Caucescu’s FC Olt Scornicesti and Erdogan’s Basaksehir are well-known examples of such attempts. However, I fear that very few of the readers are aware of the fact that Puskás Akadémia FC is nothing but Hungarian PM Viktor Orbán’s grandiose project for establishing his hometown’s club as one of the country’s top teams. Considering that Orbán managed to achieve this goal using state funds in an EU member democracy in the 2000s, one might even say that it might be one of the most impressive attempts of cheating your way through Football Manager in real life. Now that Puskás Akadémia FC escaped the desolate football scene of Hungary and is getting ready for the European takeover, I feel that it’s high time to tell its true story.

Part 1: Part time striker, part time PM

Our story begins in 1999 when the 36-year-old striker Viktor Orbán (recently elected as the country’s Prime Minister) was signed by the sixth-tier side of Felcsút FC residing in rural Fejér County. It might sound surprising that an active politician would consider such a side job, but given that Orbán has been playing competitive low-level football throughout his whole life and has always been known as a keen football enthusiast, people seemed to be okay with his choice for a hobby. Orbán spent most of his childhood in the village of Felcsút (population: 1,800), so it seemed only natural that he would join the team after one of his old-time acquaintances became team president there.
Orbán’s arrival to the club seemed to work like a charm as Felcsút FC immediately earned a promotion to the fifth league. The Prime Minister’s busy program did not allow him to attend every training session and game but Orbán did make an effort to contribute as much as possible on the field – there is a report of a government meeting being postponed as Orbán was unavailable due to attending Felcsút FC’s spring training camp. The 2001/2002 season brought another breakthrough for the side as Felcsút was promoted to the national level of the football pyramid after being crowned the champion of Fejér County. Sadly enough for Orbán, he suffered a defeat on another pitch – his party lost the 2002 election and Orbán was forced to move to an opposition role.
No matter what happened on the political playing field, Orbán would not abandon his club. Just before the 2002 elections, Felcsút was surprisingly appointed as one of the regional youth development centers by the Hungarian FA. Orbán continued contributing on the field as well (he had more spare time after all) but his off-the-field efforts provided much more value for the team as he used his political influence to convince right-wing businessmen that they should definitely get sponsorship deals done with the fourth-division village team.
Club management was able to transform the influx of funds into on-field success: Felcsút FC was promoted to the third division in 2004 and achieved promotion to the second division in 2005. Although these new horizons required a skill level that an aging ex-PM is not likely to possess, Orbán regularly played as a late game sub and even appeared in cup games against actual professional opponents. The now-42-year old Orbán did not want to face the challenge of the second division, so he retired in 2005 – but this did not stop him from temping as an assistant coach when the head coach was sacked in the middle of the 2005-2006 season.
Success on the playing field did not translate to political success: Orbán lost the elections once again in 2006. However, this was only a temporary loss: the ruling party committed blunder after blunder and by early 2007 it became absolutely obvious that Orbán would be able return to power in 2010. Now confident in his political future, Orbán opted for the acceleration of football development in Felcsút – by late 2007 he took over the presidency of the club to take matters in his own hands. Sponsors seeking to gain favor with the soon-to-be PM were swarming Felcsút FC, so the club was able to stand very strong in an era where financial stability was a very rare sight in the Hungarian football scene, accumulating three medals (but no promotion) between 2007 and 2009.
On the other hand, Orbán realized the value of youth development as well, and started a local foundation for this purpose back in 2004 that gathered funds for the establishment a boarding school-like football academy. The academy opened its doors in September 2006 (only the second of such institutions in the country) and Orbán immediately took upon the challenge of finding an appropriate name for the academy.
He went on to visit the now very sick Ferenc Puskás in the hospital to discuss using his name, but as Puskás’ medical situation was deteriorating rapidly, communication attempts were futile. Luckily enough Puskás’ wife (and soon to be widow) was able to act on his incapable husband’s behalf and approved the naming deal in a contract. According to the statement, naming rights were granted without compensation, as “Puskás would have certainly loved what’s happening down in Felcsút”. However, there was much more to the contract: Puskás’ trademark was handed to a sports journalist friend of Orbán (György Szöllősi, also acting communications director of the academy) who promised a hefty annual return for the family (and also a 45% share of the revenue for himself). Ferenc Puskás eventually died on 17 November 2006 and on 26 November 2006 the football academy was named after him: Puskás Academy was born.
Orbán shared his vision of the whole organization after the opening ceremony: “It’s unreasonable to think that Felcsút should have a team in the top division. We should not flatter ourselves, our players and our supporters with this dream. Our long term ambition is the creation of a stable second division team that excels in youth development and provides opportunity for the talents of the future.” Let’s leave that there.

Part 2: No stadium left behind

Orbán became PM once again in April 2010 after a landslide victory that pretty much granted him unlimited power. He chased lots of political agendas but one of his policies was rock solid: he would revive sports (and especially football) that was left to bleed out by the previous governments. The football situation in 2010 was quite dire: while the national team has actually made some progress in the recent years and has reached the 42nd position in the world rankings, football infrastructure was in a catastrophic state. Teams were playing in rusty stadiums built in the communist era, club finances were a mess, youth teams couldn’t find training grounds and the league was plagued by violent fan groups and lackluster attendance figures (3100 average spectators per game in the 2009/2010 season).
Orbán – aided by the FA backed by business actors very interested in making him happy – saw the future in the total rebuild of the football infrastructure. Vast amounts of state development funds were invested into the football construction industry that warmly welcomed corruption, cost escalation and shady procurement deals. In the end, money triumphed: over the last decade, new stadiums sprung out from nothing all over the country, dozens of new academies opened and pitches for youth development appeared on practically every corner. The final piece of the stadium renovation program was the completion of the new national stadium, Puskás Aréna in 2019 (estimated cost: 575 million EUR). Orbán commemorated this historic moment with a celebratory video on his social media that features a majestic shot of Orbán modestly kicking a CGI ball from his office to the new stadium.
Obviously, Orbán understood that infrastructure alone won’t suffice. He believed in the idea that successful clubs are the cornerstone of a strong national side as these clubs would compete in a high quality national league (and in international tournaments) that would require a constant influx of youth players developed by the clubs themselves. However, Orbán was not really keen on sharing the state’s infinite wealth with private club owners who failed to invest in their clubs between 2002 and 2010. The club ownership takeover was not that challenging as previous owners were usually happy to cut their losses, and soon enough most clubs came under Orbán’s influence. Some clubs were integrated deep into Orbán’s reach (Ferencváros and MTK Budapest club presidents are high ranking officials of Orbán’s party) while in other cases, indirect control was deemed sufficient (Diósgyőri VTK was purchased by a businessman as an attempt to display loyalty to Orbán).
Pouring taxpayer money into infrastructure (stadium) projects is relatively easy: after all, we are basically talking about overpriced government construction projects, there’s nothing new there. On the other hand, allocating funds to clubs that should be operating on a competitive market is certainly a tougher nut to crack. The obvious solutions were implemented: the state media massively overpaid for broadcasting rights and the national sports betting agency also pays a hefty sum to the FA, allowing for a redistribution of considerable amounts. However, given that the income side of Hungarian clubs was basically non-existent (match day income is negligible, the failed youth development system does not sell players), an even more radical solution was desperately needed. Also, there was definite interest in the development of a tool that would allow for differentiation between clubs (as in the few remaining non-government affiliated clubs should not receive extra money).
The solution came in 2011: the so-called TAO (“társasági adó” = corporate tax) system was introduced, granting significant tax deductions for companies if they offered a portion of their profits to sports clubs – however, in theory, funds acquired through TAO can be only used for youth development and infrastructure purposes. Soon enough, it became apparent that state authorities were not exactly interested in the enforcement of these restrictions, so some very basic creative accounting measures enabled clubs to use this income for anything they wanted to. Companies were naturally keen on cutting their tax burdens and scoring goodwill with the government, so TAO money immediately skyrocketed. Opportunistic party strongmen used their influence to convince local business groups to invest in the local clubs, enabling for the meteoric rise of multiple unknown provincial teams (Mezőkövesd [pop: 16,000], Kisvárda [pop: 16,000], Balmazújváros [pop: 17,000]) into the first division.
Although it’s not the main subject of this piece, I feel inclined to show you the actual results of Orbán’s grandiose football reform. While we do have our beautiful stadiums, we don’t exactly get them filled – league attendance has stagnated around 3000 spectators per game throughout the whole decade. We couldn’t really move forward with our national team either: Hungary lost 10 positions in the FIFA World Rankings throughout Orbán’s ten years. On the other hand, the level of league has somewhat improved – Videoton and Ferencváros reached the Europa League group stage in 2019 and 2020, respectively. Too bad that the Instat-based top team of 2019/2020 Hungarian league consists of 10 foreigners and only 1 Hungarian: the goalkeeper.

Part 3: Small place, big game!

As seen in the previous chapter, Orbán did have a strong interest in the improvement of the football situation Hungary, but we shouldn’t forget that his deepest interest and true loyalty laid in the wellbeing of Felcsút and its academy. Now that Orbán had limitless means to see to the advancement of his beloved club, he got to work immediately. Orbán handed over formal club management duties to his friend / protégé / middleman / businessman Lőrinc Mészáros in 2010, but no questions would ever arise of who is actually calling the shots.
First of all, no club can exist without a proper stadium. Although in 2011 Orbán explicitly stated that “Felcsút does not need a stadium as stadiums belong to cities”, no one was really surprised in 2012 when the construction of the Felcsút stadium was announced. Orbán was generous enough to donate the lands just in front of his summer home in the village for the project, locating the entrance a mere ten meters away from his residence. Construction works for the stunningly aesthetic 3,800-seater arena (in a village of 1,800 people) started in April 2012 and were completed in April 2014, making Felcsút’s arena the second new stadium of Orbán’s gigantic stadium revival program.
The estimated budget of the construction was 120 million EUR (31,500 EUR / seat) was financed by the Puskás Academy who explicitly stated that they did not use government funds for the project. Technically, this statement is absolutely true as the construction was financed through the TAO money offered by the numerous companies looking for tax deduction and Orbán’s goodwill. However, technically, this means that the country’s budget was decreased by 120 million EUR unrealized tax revenue. Naturally, the gargantuan football stadium looks ridiculously out of place in the small village, but there’s really no other way to ensure that your favorite team’s stadium is within 20 seconds of walking distance from your home.
Obviously, a proper club should also have some glorious history. Felcsút was seriously lagging behind on this matter as though Felcsút FC was founded in 1931, it spent its pre-Orbán history in the uninspiring world of the 5th-7th leagues of the country. Luckily enough, Orbán had already secured Puskás’ naming rights and they were not afraid to use it, so Felcsút FC was renamed to Puskás Academy FC in 2009. The stadium name was a little bit problematic as the Hungarian national stadium in Budapest had sadly had the dibs on Puskás’ name, so they had to settle with Puskás’ Spanish nickname, resulting in the inauguration of the Pancho Arena. But why stop here? Orbán’s sports media strongman György Szöllősi acted upon the contract with Puskás’ widow and transferred all Puskás’ personal memorabilia (medals, jerseys, correspondence) to the most suitable place of all: a remote village in which Puskás never even set foot in.
While the off-field issues were getting resolved, Orbán’s attention shifted to another important area: the actual game of football. Although academy players started to graduate from 2008 on, it very soon became painfully obvious that the academy program couldn’t really maintain even a second division side for now. In 2009, Orbán reached an agreement with nearby Videoton’s owner that effectively transformed Felcsút FC into Videoton’s second team under the name of Videoton – Puskás Akadémia FC. The mutually beneficent agreement would allow Videoton to give valuable playing time to squad players while it could also serve as a skipping step for Puskás Academy’s fresh graduates to a first league team. The collaboration resulted in two mid-table finishes and a bronze medal in the second division in the following three seasons that wasn’t really impressive compared to Felcsút FC’s standalone seasons.
It seemed that the mixture of reserve Videoton players and academy youth was simply not enough for promotion, and although Orbán had assured the public multiple times that his Felcsút project was not aiming for the top flight, very telling changes arose after the 2011/2012 season. Felcsút terminated the Videoton cooperation deal and used the rapidly accumulating TAO funds to recruit experienced players for the now independently operating Puskás Academy FC (PAFC). The new directive worked almost too well: PAFC won its division with a 10 point lead in its first standalone year which meant that they would have to appear in the first league prior to the completion of their brand-new Pancho Arena. Too bad that this glorious result had almost nothing to do with the academy - only two players were academy graduates of the side’s regular starting XI.
Orbán did not let himself bothered with the ridiculousness of an academy team with virtually no academy players being promoted to the first division as he stated that “a marathon runner shouldn’t need to explain why the other runners were much slower than him”. Orbán also displayed a rare burst of modesty as he added that “his team’s right place is not in the first league, and they will soon be overtaken by other, better sides”.
The promotion of PAFC to the first division made a lot of people very angry and been widely regarded as a bad move. Supporter groups were united in hatred all along the league and not surprisingly, away fans almost always outnumbered the home side at PAFC’s temporary home at Videoton’s Sóstói Stadium (demolished and rebuilt in its full glory since then). One of the teams, however, possessed an extraordinary degree of anger against PAFC: supporters of Budapest Honvéd – the only Hungarian team in which Ferenc Puskás played – felt especially awkward about the transfer of their club legend’s heritage to Felcsút. Tensions spiked at the PAFC – Honvéd game when home security forced Honvéd supporters to remove the “Puskás” part of their traditional “Puskás – Kispest – Hungary” banner – the team answered the insult with style as they secured a 4-0 victory supported by fans chanting “you can’t buy legends”.
Despite Orbán’s prognosis, other better sides did not rush to overtake his team, so PAFC, now residing in their brand new Pancho Arena, came through with a 14th and a 10th place in their first two seasons. Naturally, conspiracy theories began to formulate, speculating that government-friendly owners would certainly not be motivated to give their best against PAFC. However, as the league size was reduced to 12 for the 2015/2016 season, PAFC found themselves in a dire situation just before the final round: they needed a win and needed rival Vasas to lose against MTK in order to avoid relegation. PAFC’s draw seemed to be unlucky as they faced their arch-enemy Honvéd at home, but Honvéd displayed an absolute lackluster effort – fueling conspiracy theories – and lost the fixture 2 to 1 against a home side featuring four academy players. Vasas, however, did not disappoint, their 2-0 victory resulted in PAFC’s elimination and a very relaxed sigh all over the football community.
PAFC’s relegation seemed to be in accordance with Orbán’s 2013 statement, so public opinion supposed for a while that Orbán’s project came to a halting point and the Academy would go on to actually field academy players in the second division (especially as rostering foreign players was prohibited in the lower leagues). However, if you have read through this point, you know better than to expect Orbán to retreat – obviously, PAFC came back with a bang. With a ballsy move, PAFC didn’t even sell their foreign players, they just loaned them across the league, promising them that they would be able to return next year to the newly promoted team. The promise was kept as PAFC went into another shopping spree of experienced players (easily convincing lots of them to choose the second division instead of the first) and easily won the second league.
Orbán – now aware of his negligence – opted for the doubling the team’s budget, making PAFC the third most well-founded club in the whole country (only coming short to his friend’s Videoton and his party minion’s Ferencváros). With an actual yearly influx from TAO money in the ballpark of 30-40 million EUR, PAFC management had to really work wonders in creative accounting in order to make their money look somewhat legitimate. The books were now full of ridiculous items like:
Naturally, in the country of no consequences, absolutely nothing happened: PAFC went on with its spending and signed 35 foreigners between 2017 and 2020. They did so because they could not hope to field a winning team in the first league consisting of academy players, despite the fact that Puskás Academy has been literally drowning in money since 2007. This seems to somewhat contradict Orbán’s 2013 promise, stating that “Puskás Academy will graduate two or three players to major European leagues each year”. To be fair, there have been players who managed to emerge to Europe (well, exactly two of them: Roland Sallai plays at Freiburg, László Kleinheisler played at Werder Bremen) but most academy graduates don’t even have the slightest the chance to make their own academy’s pro team as it’s full of foreigners and more experienced players drawn for other teams’ programs.
Despite their unlimited funding, PAFC could not put up a top-tier performance in their first two years back in the first division, finishing 6th and 7th in the 12-team league. Many speculated that the lack of support, motivation and even a clear team mission did not allow for chemistry to develop within the multinational and multi-generational locker room. Consistency was also a rare sight on the coaching side: club management was absolutely impatient with coaches who were very easily released after a single bad spell and there were talks of on-field micromanagement request coming from as high as Orbán.
Even so, their breakthrough came dangerously close in 2018 as PAFC performed consistently well in the cup fixtures and managed to reach the final. Their opponent, Újpest played an incredibly fierce game and after a 2-2 draw, they managed to defeat PAFC in the shootout. Football fans sighed in relief throughout the country as ecstatic Újpest supporters verbally teased a visibly upset Orbán in his VIP lounge about his loss.
Obviously, we could only delay the inevitable. While this year’s PAFC side seemed to be more consistent than its predecessors, it seemed that they won’t be able to get close to the podium - they were far behind the obvious league winner duo of Ferencváros and Videoton and were trailing third-place Mezőkövesd 6 points just before the pandemic break. However, both Mezőkövesd and PAFC’s close rivals DVTK and Honvéd fall flat after the restart while PAFC was able to maintain its good form due to its quality roster depth. PAFC overtook Mezőkövesd after the second-to-last round as Mezőkövesd lost to the later relegated Debrecen side. (Mezőkövesd coach Attila Kuttor was fined harshly because of his post-game comments on how the FA wants PAFC to finish third.)
PAFC faced Honvéd in the last round once again, and as Honvéd came up with its usual lackluster effort, PAFC secured an effortless win, confidently claiming the third place. PAFC celebrated their success in a nearly empty stadium, however neither Orbán, nor Mészáros (club owner, Orbán’s protégé, now 4th richest man of Hungary) seemed to worry about that. While Orbán high-fived with his peers in the VIP lounge, Mészáros was given the opportunity to award the bronze medals (and for some reason, a trophy) to the players dressed up in the incredibly cringe worthy T-shirts that say “Small place, big game!”. Big game, indeed: in the 2019/2020 season, foreign players’ share of the teams playing time was 43.6% while academy graduates contributed only 17.9%.
On Sunday evening, less than 24 hours after PAFC’s glorious success, György Szöllősi, now editor-in-chief of Hungary’s only sports newspaper (purchased by Orbán’s affiliates a few years back) published an editorial on the site, stating that “the soccer rebuild in Felcsút became the motor and symbol of the revitalization of sport throughout the whole country”. Well, Szöllősi is exactly right: Felcsút did became a symbol, but a symbol of something entirely different. Felcsút became a symbol of corruption, inefficiency, lies and the colossal waste of money. But, hey, at least we know now: you only need to spend 200 million EUR (total budget of PAFC and its academy in the 2011-2020 period) if you want to have a Europa League team in your backyard. Good to know!

Epilogue: What's in the future?

As there is no foreseeable chance for political change to happen Hungary (Orbán effortlessly secured qualified majority in 2014 and 2018, and is projected to do so in 2022 as well), PAFC’s future seems to be as bright as it gets. Although consensus opinion now seems to assume that Orbán does not intend to interfere with the Ferencváros – Videoton hegemony, we can never be really sure about the exact limits of his greed. One could also argue that entering the European theater serves as a prime opportunity for making splashy transfers who could be the cornerstones of a side challenging the league title.
However, as all political systems are deemed to fall, eventually Orbán’s regime will come apart. Whoever will take upon the helm after Orbán, they will certainly begin with cutting back on the one item on Orbán’s agenda that never had popular support: limitless football spending. Puskás Academy, having next to zero market revenue, will not be able to survive without the state’s life support, so the club will fold very shortly. The abandoned, rotting stadium in Felcsút will serve as a memento of a powerful man who could not understand the true spirit of football.
But let’s get back to present day, as we have more pressing issues coming up soon: PAFC will play their first European match in the First qualifying round of the Europa League on 27 August. We don’t have a date for the draw yet, but soon enough, a team unaware of the whole situation will be selected to face the beast. I hope that maybe one of their players does some research and maybe reads this very article for inspiration. I hope that the supporters of this club get in touch with Honvéd fans who would be eager to provide them with some tips on appropriate chants. I hope that other teams gets drawn as the home team so Orbán wouldn’t get the pleasure of walking to his stadium for an international match. But most importantly, I very much hope that this team obliterates PAFC and wipes them off the face of the earth. 5-0 will suffice, thank you.
And if this team fails to do that, we don’t have to worry yet. Due to our shitty league coefficient, PAFC would need to win four fixtures in a row. And that – if there’s any justice in this world – is a thing that can’t, that won’t happen. Ball don’t lie – if I may say.
TL,DR
Hungarian PM Viktor Orbán redirected some 200 million EUR of taxpayer money over 10 years to fuel his ambition of raising a competitive football team in his hometown of 1,800 people. He built a 3,800-seater stadium in his backyard, expropriated football legend Ferenc Puskás’ trademarks and heritage and built up a football league where almost all clubs are owned by his trustees. His team, Puskás Akadémia FC was originally intended to be a development ground for youth players graduating from Orbán’s football academy, but eventually the team became more and more result-orianted. Finally, a roster full of foreign and non-academy players came through and finished third in the league, releasing this abomination of a team to the European football theatre. Please, knock them out asap!
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Med School: Why and why not Ateneo School of Medicine and Public Health (ASMPH) — an honest review

Hi! I have been sneaking around Reddit and Twitter for a few days now, and most threads that I saw are queries about comparing ASMPH to other med schools and seeing which one is “better”. In my personal and humble opinion, I would like to believe that there is no “best med school”; rather, I’d like to think that there is a “best med school for you”. This means that each medical school does things in very different and distinct ways, and it might be up to you if these distinctions or how they run the school would be preferential to you.
So in light of this, I’d like to share the pros and cons of what it means to be an ASMPH student. Just to be clear: 1) I am an ASMPH graduate and a medical doctor, 2) I think fondly of my time in school, 3) I am not paid to promote ASMPH in any way, and 4) there are some things in the school that I do not like (compared at least to the other posts that I saw which zealously ”defend” the school lol). I will be brutally honest and sincere about my review, so my advance apologies to readers who will find some comments “radical”. I made this thread with my own efforts to dispel (more of KILL) misperceptions hounding my school for a long time: “being babied”, “spoiled”, ”hindi naman magaling sa clinicals”, and etc.
To clarify, I am using my own experiences from my time as a student, and as this thread will age, some of the things written here might not be true anymore the older this gets (hence, future ASMPH students are welcome to contribute their experiences by commenting below!).

Why ASMPH? (PROS)

Strong helping culture
Traditionally, medical schools emphasize the virtues of “excellence” that got misinterpreted (by some weird reason) into the lines of the Machiavellian principle: “Only the strongest will survive”. Hence, you may hear the usual med school horror stories of “fierce competition”, ”I will fail you all”, and “do it all by yourself”. I am glad that I have not encountered these horrors, because the school has designed a system which cultivates helping each other thrive. There is the mentorship program, in which doctor-mentors help students identify their strengths and weaknesses in their medical training, and work on it. The “Pugad Agila” organization is there to support not just the board takers who are preparing for their board exams, but the students themselves in preparing for major examinations. Believe it or not, people in the school are seemingly ”transformed” to help one another: in my time, all the med students who are PTs (physical therapists) made extra review classes for Anatomy, the nurses bonded together to create mini modules for Physical Exam, the Med techs will teach extra classes of Pathology and Microbiology, and the RPharma will give classes of Pharmacology to students for free. The ones which had rigorous backgrounds of Epidemiology will offer classes to students who are not exposed to the Public Health Sciences concepts. Even the registered (bio)chemists will lecture Biochem and try as best as they can to make the concepts more understandable and student-friendly! The older generations of ASMPH students also generously would “pass on” their lecture transcripts of years’ worth of lectures to the new generations of students who will come in, and no one is spared from this generosity (compared to other med schools which are preferential, let us say, to their frat or sorority members). This culture of helping each other out regardless of anything and everything, I think, is the greatest pro that ASMPH has to offer, and I think that so far, no other med school has emphasized this as their core strength (others would emphasize a “long tradition of excellence”, “reputation”, etc). I strongly think that this culture of helping, togetherness, and unity is what is needed in our health organizations especially in the Philippines, which by far are obviously swamped by partisan politicking, “power-tripping”, and blame-throwing — a culture which MIGHT have origins from the subcultures cultivated in traditional med schools.
I also have to add here that some students who do not perform well/score low in examinations are treated not with rejection (compared I think to other med schools who are more than happy to kick out underperforming students), but with extra support from the admin and the student body. The school recognizes the value of its students and not just based on their performance or grades alone. Review classes held by better-performing students are held for free in light of removal exam weeks for students who needed them. This however does not mean that the school would deliberately lower its standards by making the exams easier for students to pass. However, the school recognizes that there are many factors that determine a student’s ability to perform well in examinations (e.g. mental health, financial issues, others), and it does try to strive in eliminating negative factors that hinder a student from performing well academically.
Rigorous Academic Curriculum in Basic + Clinical Sciences AND Working Feedback Mechanism
I have to say that the curriculum presented by the school is very rigorous in structure and in application, and it is very flexible and adaptive. Each module has been integrated into Systems, which really facilitates relatively easier learning since you can already apply your concepts from Anatomy to Physiology, or Pharmacology to Pathology (because the subjects are grouped together in a systems fashion). Aside from the weekly major exams (more or less), there are other avenues of learning as well like the Student Group Discussions (SGDs), where students are given a case to analyze and discuss, and the (in)famous Team Based Learning (TBLs), in which the students are given multiple extra readings from various CPGs and resources on top of the lectures, then solve a case right in front of the preceptor and take quizzes. Each subject is taught by different professors who are experts in their own fields, and more often than not, no single professor handles more than one lecture per module, which makes examinations more challenging (since no patterns of how questions are asked and what questions are asked can be established), hence making this a very effective ground of ensuring that the curriculum is rigorous in itself. However, others argue that this might disrupt the flow of repeating information in a spaced out fashion (which is necessary for true retention btw), and perhaps lumping related information into one module will deplete opportunities for certain information to be repeated in shorter periods, making it harder to remember in a long-term manner (ex: lumping Biochem altogether in the first part of First year Med will make it harder for the Atenean Board Taker (5th year Med) to recall Biochem concepts because these are not frequently revisited due to the Modular Set-up).
In the Clinical Sciences (Clerkship and Internship), there were some hits and misses in the training at least in my time. But overall, I think that it was great that we were exposed to both the Private and Public Health institutions, because both function differently. In the private setting, we were able to learn ideal management (since our patients do not have financial constraints) and observe topnotch, highly-respected physicians on how they practice their bedside manners and deal with cases involving with very high profile patients. Contrary to popular belief that students are not allowed to handle patients in private hospital settings, we actually do handle a LOT (the school’s partner hospital hosts the LARGEST amount of patients seen nationwide in the ER setting, private hospital-wise) and do it first-hand (especially in the Emergency Room and in the Internal Medicine Wards). In the public hospital setting, we are also first-line in terms of dealing with patients (e.g. history-taking, clinical skills, IV insertions, Foley insertions, ECG interpretation, delivering babies and suturing perineums). On top of these responsibilities and shadowing physicians, we are required to meet with selected faculty and staff and present case discussions on a regular basis in order to reinforce our learning. The beauty of being exposed on both private and public fields, however, is when you are forced to innovate your knowledge from the private setting and adjust it to the public health management, or when you bring your adeptness in your clinical skills acquired from the public health arena to the private health institution. In a way, both health systems benefit from your respective exposures, and you gain a holistic insight on how to deal with patients ranging from the richest of the rich to the poorest of the poor.
Furthermore, we were tasked to assist our residents and consultants to help in accomplishing numerous paperwork properly (tons and tons of them!), the basic framework and the most important cornerstone of hospital practice, for without it (or it being deficient or substandard), the practice of the consultant, the resident, and subsequently the medical student, will be highly endangered (read: medical lawsuits).
The feedback mechanism, despite it being taxing and hassle for most students, is absolutely necessary for the curriculum to be improved. In my batch at least, we were able to kick out (seriously) profs we felt that were not lecturing well enough, which I think is something that other med schools do not have. We also had our share of bad doctor-profs who just read from their lecture slides and (worse) copy some of their slides from online lectures — but the feedback mechanism successfully weeded them out, which (I hope) encourages most of our profs to make sure that their lectures are good (and worth the tuition we paid).
Insanely supportive Faculty
The core faculty of the school, despite being heavily decorated (eg. presidents of their affiliate specialties, numerous recognitions and awards), are very supportive of the student body, and are OPEN to subjective criticism and feedback, which I think is not that present in other med schools (MDs from other med schools are more than welcome to disagree!). I remember this incident wherein our batch decided to write a letter and express our negative sentiments towards a certain module (will not say what because this will provide a clue to which batch I belong to haha), and instead of venting their ire to the students, they proposed a meeting where we can discuss our grievances and suggestions without any fear of any forms of retaliation. Another incident would be when a classmate of mine proposed a change of dress code for graduation wherein students should be allowed to wear whatever they are comfortable with as long as it is decent (i.e. not limiting women’s clothing to dresses), which was supported by the administration. I have not heard of such degree of freedom in any other med school, which is why I laud our faculty for their efforts to be open and inclusive.

Why NOT ASMPH? (CONS)

No Labor Payment (at all) regardless of Hospital Setting
Whereas other interns earn (albeit minimally but still) allowances or stipends, ASMPH interns do NOT earn anything despite doing labor-intensive work inside the hospital. The partner institutions tend to justify and rationalize this treatment as “deserving“ for trainees (e.g. not just for medical students but for residents and fellows as well, who receive bare minimal salaries in the private setting) because the skills and clinical acumen that will be gained in training is deemed to be “sufficient compensation”, but I beg to differ and disagree. The amount of time and labor spent by medical trainees (regardless of being a medical student or a fellow) inside the hospital SHOULD be reflective on the amount of compensation (or hazard pay) that the hospital administration should give, since it is but fair and just labor. I would argue that hospitals, especially ASMPH’s partner institution, The Medical City (TMC), have the capacity to subsidize its trainees well because a) most of them are tertiary, profitable, top-earning hospitals in the country, b) Medical trainees run the hospital and make it alive, sacrificing more and doing more than the consultants, wherein some (not all, to be fair) usually just claim their slice of the pie, and c) Medical trainees are solely responsible for managing health data of all patients, which should ideally be managed by everyone involved in the set-up. To add salt to these wounds, an intern (medical trainee) from a hospital abroad who does only 8 hour shifts earns at least $170 (est PhP 8,000) PER DAY (source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZijqVV1NqYQ) compared to an ASMPH intern who earns NOTHING in 24 hour shifts, and subsequently compared to an average Philippine Medical Intern who earns PhP 5,000 - 7,000 allowance PER MONTH. Older MDs would dismiss this and might call this as “demanding” and “typical of millenial mentality”; I would call this as it is and would like to request for some form of justice. Most hospital administrators, or I daresay the investors of healthcare system who are mostly businessmen and are non healthcare professionals, are more than willing to opportunistically abuse the willingness of medical trainees (not just doctors, but nurses, midwives, etc.) to improve their training with minimal or no compensation, because this is what is tagged as “most profitable” or “minimal cost” for most companies in a business perspective. Others would argue that ”the time of the young doctors to earn and reap their rewards will come when they become consultants”, but I will ask: what if that time will never come? I think of all the medical trainees who valiantly suffered and died in the battlefield because of COVID-19 — their supposed promised reaping of reward, even hazard pay, never came.
However, I would like to point out that this issue does not concern ASMPH solely, but involves the partner institutions in which it is affiliated. Furthermore, this problem of labor exploitation is not exclusive to ASMPH’s partner institution (although I would argue that we feel it more since we technically receive nothing — MDs from St. Luke’s please help me out), but rampant in hospitals that belong to the Philippine Health Care system in general.
Note: I would have inserted exorbitant tuition fees here, but it would not have contributed that much significantly to the discussion since all non-state sponsored medical schools have more or less the same tuition fees. The only difference is that ASMPH still pays tuition during its Internship year (along with St. Luke’s), partly because of the Professors that still give lectures and examine case presentations, and for the Boards Review (hence the reason why Ateneans have their own exclusive section for the PLE Boards Review Season — which is honestly a big, big Pro)
MBA: Friend or Foe?
Most students from other universities would comment that the MBA component was added in the spirit of “profitability” and learning more refined ways on how to earn more — and was tagged and branded as counterintuitive to the nobility that a medical doctor is supposed to possess (I am looking at you, selected students from UP 🙃). However, I would like to clarify that the MBA was crafted in order for us future physicians to be adept in managing health systems and organizations, which would undeniably involve financial management (eg. how would you manage a hospital’s finances and allot budget to medical equipment?), strategic management (eg. given the COVID-19 situation, how will your outpatient clinic sustain operations in the next 5 months?), and marketing management (eg. given that everyone is scared to go outside their homes, how would you market your hospital to be safe from COVID-19?). In an ideal set-up, these concepts and exercises should guide the med student thoroughly on how to apply all of these in the medical setting.
The main con of the MBA program is that most of its professors (except for maybe two, because both are physicians and MBA holders) and subsequently, their classes, lack exposure in the Medical setting (i.e. Hospital Administration, OPD management, and Public Health Systems Management), and more often than not, most examples that they could provide involve fields other than medicine (eg. banking, economics, construction, advertising). I see this as a con mainly because despite having benefits of seeing how management works on a different lens (hence making you more interdisciplinary in a way), I think that practicing these concepts in the medical field at least in the classroom setting and learning these from someone who is equally adept in both medicine and management would enrich the knowledge and appreciation of how intertwined both of these fields are as a holder of a dual MD-MBA degree, and not a haphazardly constructed, disjointed one. Furthermore, there are concepts in MBA which makes sense in a corporate setting but might be unethical or unacceptable in the realm of Health (eg. sacrificing quality of health care access for patients in order to invest less assets and accumulate more profit). Therefore, it would be up to the student to apply these concepts on his/her own. Thankfully, students may have the opportunity to apply all of these concepts and skills once they make their Final Strategic Management Thesis Paper, because you may opt to select any field you like to study on. In my case, I was lucky to have gotten a hospital as my focus-subject, therefore I managed to learn about Hospital systems and management on top of the MBA concepts that I learned. Hopefully, with new batches of MD-MBAs that are being produced, this con could be changed by the school in due time.
A definite con during my time (which was thankfully changed, thanks to feedback!) was having MBA classes despite being from hospital duty (which meant no sleep but we still had to endure classes) — that was one of the most unproductive classes of my life and I never wanted to go through any of that ever again (I still passed the subject, but I really never gauged if I learned well).
Public Health: Lacking or Sufficient?
This section might be of great concern to those who are looking forward to exploring ASMPH as an arena for expanding their Public Health skills (hello, Health Sci majors!). At this point, I need to disclose that I was a Health Sciences Major myself who had a decent fluency in Public Health (Basic Epidemiology and Global Health) prior to entering ASMPH, and I know some classmates of mine back in college (especially those who took Health and Developmental Studies) who looked forward in going to ASMPH for more advanced public health courses, only to find themselves disappointed as they went through the curriculum. Some of them eventually quit and went on to pursue Masters in Epidemiology or in Global Health elsewhere. Hence, some students in undergrad might hear swirling hearsay that ASMPH ”lacks the Public Health component or aspect”. This is perhaps mainly due to the fact that most of the lessons and discourse on Public Health in ASMPH, at least when I experienced it, were quite on the basic level — a reiteration of the courses we already went through in college as HSc majors. To be fair to the school, these kinds of discourse and topics are not experienced or tackled by people with other Bachelor degrees (eg. BS Psychology, BS Biology, etc.), and hence a repeat of these courses in Med school is deemed necessary to even out the disparity of knowledge among its students. But it would be safe to say that as of this writing (since no announcements have been made yet anyway), ASMPH does NOT offer courses that cater to advanced branches of Public Health such as Advanced Epidemiology (which would involve crazy mathematics such as those being used in monitoring the COVID-19 pandemic), Global Health Surveillance, Global Health Politics, and etc. A query was made about this (hence an open forum), and the reason why this happened is because the school does not have the faculty or the experts to teach the said subjects (so far).
However, this does NOT mean that ASMPH discounts Public Health. The school’s curriculum still satisfies the minimum requirements of what a medical doctor needs to know regarding Public Health (eg. Basic Epidemiology and Statistics, Health Awareness and Communication), and the main thesis paper of ASMPH students during their second and third year has Public Health in its core. The school also established the ASMPH Public Health Council, which is an org that engages Public Health discourse in the school and invites lecturers and key experts to discuss socially relevant Public Health issues. The CEIP program, which is a specialized program designed for medical students interested in managing health in a community setting, was established in hopes of strengthening the Public Health core of the school. However, the need (or should I say, demand) for advanced branches of Public Health subjects still remains, and this is something that the school needs to work on.
Conclusion
So to sum it all up, ASMPH is more or less a good medical school with supportive admin and staff, ”No Atenean Left Behind” culture and conducive learning environment, and a rigorous training program for future medical doctors. Despite its non-compensatory internship and partly context-devoid and disjointed MD-MBA curriculum, its openness for improvement thanks to its working feedback mechanism and its ability to provide a holistic overview of private and public health sectors would definitely give a nice edge to its students and to the future batches of Atenean doctors to come.
With that, A M D G *mic drop\*
P.S. Comments, discussions, and queries are welcome in the Comments Section below. :)
submitted by B9C2AF25DD to ADMU [link] [comments]

Beyond Ghislaine: The Maxwell Octopus

Robert Maxwell (born Ján Ludvík Hyman Binyamin Hoch) was born into a poor yiddish-speaking Jewish community in Czechoslovakia in 1923. When Nazi Germany invaded Czechoslovakia during the Second World War, Maxwell fled to France as part of an underground organization ferrying youth out of his homeland. Still a teenager, this would be his first taste of the world of spycraft, an occupation which would define the remainder of his inscrutable life. After several years spent engaged in underground resistance activities which saw him shuttled across Eastern Europe and the Middle East he eventually found himself back in France, now a member of the French Foreign Legion and an active participant in the French Resistance, utilizing the newly acquired pseudonym of Ivan du Maurier.
After participating in the Allied invasion of Normandy, Maxwell (soon to adopt the name of Leslie Johnson) was shortly recruited by British Intelligence. Already a seasoned veteran of international espionage, the young man's multilingualism and underground connections made him a valuable asset to the British government. He continued to work for Britain in the years leading up to the end of the war and in its immediate aftermath, ostensibly as a press attache to the foreign office in Berlin. His actual assignment was to interrogate captured German scientists, work likely done in conjunction with the Alsos Mission, a branch of the American Manhattan Project which cooperated with British forces to collect and classify information on Germany's atomic weapons program. Though the goal of Alsos was primarily to prevent sensitive information from falling into Soviet hands, Maxwell soon also became affiliated with Soviet intelligence due to his desire to seek out surviving relatives who still resided in his homeland, now under Soviet jurisdiction.
He changed his name for the last time in 1945, and as the newly-christened Captain Robert Maxwell married Elisabeth Meynard, a native of France and the future mother of all nine of his children. Still working for allied intelligence, Maxwell began to anticipate the value his work could have on the private market. He started to gather German and Russian scientific documents and research papers which were unknown in the English-speaking world, with the intention of later selling or publishing them for profit.
Meanwhile, in America, a young scientist and child of Czech immigrants by the name of Frank Malina was establishing an international reputation for himself in the field of rocketry and aeronautics. As a graduate student at Caltech, Malina and his longtime friend Jack Parsons founded the research center that would later become the Jet Propulsion Lab. Parsons, himself a brilliant young rocket scientist, was also an avid follower of notorious British occultist Aleister Crowley. Parsons' involvement with Crowley's Thelema movement was so deep that he would eventually become the leader of the California branch of the Ordo Templi Orientis, a Thelemite initiatory organization whose practices included ritualistic sex magic and the summoning of supernatural beings. Thelemites shunned traditional religion and morality in favor of a belief in the supreme power of the will, an echo of Hitler's Nazi philosophy which was itself rooted in the same spiritualist and theosophist ideas as Crowley's. The supreme goal of Thelema, as with all occult practices, is the ultimate union of mind and matter, the combination of the disciplines of science, art, philosophy and religion into a single comprehensible whole. While continuing to work closely with Malina at this time, Parsons also became closely affiliated with Scientology founder and fellow occultist L. Ron Hubbard.
Malina and Parsons went on to form the Aerojet Corporation, a rocket and missile manufacturer from which Parsons was ousted in 1944. In early 1945, Aerojet was purchased by General Tire, a company whose business included contracts with the U.S. military during the second World War. Later in 1945, Malina's research facility was moved to the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico where the first Atomic Bomb was detonated that same year.
Leaving the British Army in 1947, Robert Maxwell utilized his military and intelligence connections to go into business as the British and US distributor for Springer Verlag, a Berlin-based publisher of scientific texts which had been taken over by Allied forces after the war. Maxwell soon purchased a majority share of the company, which he re-dubbed Pergamon Press, a reference to the ancient Greek city and center of pagan worship of the same name. During this time, Maxwell also became heavily involved with the newly-designated Israeli intelligence service Mossad, a connection which would arguably remain his primary allegiance throughout the remainder of his life.
In 1947 Frank Malina left rocketry and his native country behind to move to France, ostensibly because he had grown disenchanted with the military applications of his research, although at this time he was also being investigated by the FBI for his undisclosed involvement with American communist organizations in his youth (an ideology Parsons had also toyed with before moving onto more esoteric concerns). Malina took a job in Paris as Secretariat of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), where he worked under famed English eugenicist Julian Huxley, the father of mysticist author Aldous Huxley.
Back in America, Parsons was also increasingly hounded by the FBI. He devised a plan to flee to Israel after he was offered a job working for the infant Israeli rocket program, but a suspicious transfer of documents led to allegations of espionage from the FBI (later dismissed in court). Parsons remained in America until his 1952 death in a mysterious laboratory explosion, the cause of which would never be sufficiently explained.
After his stint with UNESCO, Malina left the organization to pursue his interest in art. In 1968, while still living in Paris, he founded 'Leonardo', an academic journal published by MIT Press which covered the application of science to the arts. The journal remained his primary concern until his death from natural causes in 1981, at which point control of Leonardo turned over to his son Roger Malina.
Maxwell, meanwhile, was busy building his publishing and media empire, amassing a variety of subsidiaries including newspapers, television networks and tech companies. He spent six years as a Member of British Parliament in the 1960s before being defeated in the election of 1970. Though nominally a British citizen, all of his children were born in the wealthy suburbs of Paris, their mother's native land. As his wealth and influence rose, Maxwell remained deeply entangled with MI6, the KGB, the CIA and Mossad.
In the 1970s Maxwell became involved in an intelligence operation centered around PROMIS, a database management software program that could be described as a forerunner to modern internet search engines. PROMIS was groundbreaking in its time, allowing the user to aggregate disparate databases into a single accessible interface. Though initially designed to help prosecutor's offices track and share data, the program quickly caught the attention of intelligence agencies who foresaw its potential for monitoring and compiling information in a variety of fields. In a sense, their plan could be viewed as a nascent version of the information gathering activities which would be exposed by Edward Snowden decades later.
The U.S. Department of Justice hired two men with connections to the Israeli defense forces to infiltrate Inslaw, the company which had produced PROMIS, under the pretense of being potential buyers for the Israeli Public Prosecutor's office. In reality, the men were sent to steal PROMIS and bring it back to their clients in U.S. and Israeli intelligence without Inslaw's knowledge. Their mission accomplished, the thieves soon devised bigger plans for the software than its application to their own systems. They hatched a scheme to sell the software to foreign intelligence agencies with covert back doors, thus obtaining a worldwide database of the intelligence activities of all the major powers in the world. In order to enact this plan they needed a middle-man with deep connections in the global intelligence community, someone who would be trusted as a known quantity by all. Naturally, they turned to Robert Maxwell.
Maxwell used his corporate empire (he had quietly purchased several fledgling Israeli tech companies which served as fronts for the sales) to broker deals with China, the KGB, and anyone else who would be interested in the ground-breaking software. Before long he even began to double-cross his own handlers, helping create new backdoors for China and Israel so that they in turn could spy on the Americans. The software began to find its way into banking systems and government databases worldwide, growing into a vast interconnected network which came to be dubbed "The Octopus". At the head of this Octopus was not any particular state government or intelligence agency, but Robert Maxwell himself, the only man who had been able to game the technology to his own advantage without being taken advantage of in turn.
When Inslaw discovered how their technology was being used they filed a series of lawsuits against the DOJ alleging that PROMIS was illegally stolen from their company. Without these lawsuits, it is unlikely that any of the information regarding PROMIS would have ever come to light. The lawsuits were predictably ruled in favor of the US Government, bankrupting Inslaw in the process. Danny Casolaro, a journalist who was covering the story (the man who coined the term 'The Octopus') was found dead in a hotel room in 1991, his wrists slashed several times in an apparent suicide. Casolaro had complained of threatening phone calls in the days leading up to his death, and his family have long asserted that he was murdered.
Eventually, Maxwell's double-dealing caught up with him. At the behest of China's Secret Service he sold a compromised version of PROMIS to Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, birthplace of the American atomic bomb. This modified version of PROMIS installed at the Los Alamos facility was designed to give Chinese Intelligence access to America's nuclear secrets. The affair became the subject of several FBI investigations regarding Maxwell's conduct, documents regarding which have never been made publicly available except in a prohibitively redacted form. Western intelligence agencies, Israel in particular, were incensed at Maxwell's dealings with China, which they saw as a betrayal of his allegiance. For the first time, serious discussion of Maxwell as a potential liability began to take place.
In 1991, while travelling aboard his yacht 'The Lady Ghislaine' (named after his youngest and favorite daughter) Maxwell fell overboard into the Atlantic ocean. His body was recovered the next morning and the cause of his death was officially ruled as a heart attack which led to an accidental drowning. Rumors of his murder continue to persist to this day, occassionally spurred on by daughter Ghislaine herself. Robert Maxwell was buried on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem, at a funeral attended by several Israeli government officials and known intelligence operatives.
In the aftermath of his death, Maxwell's empire fell apart. Financial improprieties were discovered and the Maxwell companies were soon bankrupt. The stage was set for a new generation of Maxwells to assume his position.
Twin sisters Isabel and Christine Maxwell moved to Silicon Valley in the 1980s, and despite having no apparent formal training in technology, founded the early internet search engine and e-mail provider Magellan. After selling this company, Christine would go on to form Chiliad, a data analysis company with its headquarters in the Washington D.C. suburb of Herndon, VA. An announcement on the appointment of Christine as the company's interim CEO in 2013 boasts
"The company’s Discovery/Alert big data search tool – operationally proven by the US law enforcement community – reaches across information stored in incompatible databases, documents and applications held in separate departments and organizations to provide the proactive, real-time situational awareness necessary for protection and preparedness."
-A perfectly accurate description of the PROMIS software co-opted by her father a few decades earlier. A 2008 article in Business Wire quotes Chiliad CEO Dan Ferranti as saying "In just a few years, Chiliad will be known as principal arms supplier to the information age."
In 1986 Christine married Roger Malina, the MIT-educated son of Frank Malina, and current editor of his father's 'Leonardo' journal. While it is unclear where and when the couple first met, it would seem that there was no shortage of opportunities for the two to cross paths considering their long shared family histories of involvement in Parisian society, technology, government service, and science publishing.
After two failed early marriages, Christine's twin sister Isabel would herself find love with a man named Al Seckel. Seckel was an avid atheist activist and collector of optical illusions, a self-styled intellectual whose academic credentials were overstated at best and non-existent at worst. The source of Seckel's finances were never entirely clear. He described himself as a dealer of rare books, but those who dealt with him in this capacity described him as a con artist and swindler. Seckel ingratiated himself with the academic society around Caltech and was well known for the lavish parties he threw, often packed with celebrities of academia and entertainment. His primary academic concern seemed to be the field of cognitive psychology, specifically the psychology of perception. It was a subject which surely overlapped with the interests of his brother-in-law, editor of the 'Leonardo' Roger Malina.
Many of Seckel and Malina's interests would also be shared by the longtime companion of their wives' younger sister Ghislaine, the namesake of the boat from which their father fell to his death. This man, Jeffrey Epstein, is likely already well-known to the reader. Ghislaine allegedly met Epstein in the early 1990s, a time when she was still heavily involved in her father's business dealings. Suffice it to say that Epstein would seem to fit right in with the Maxwell archetype- a shady cosmopolite of mysterious origins with unaccountable finances, questionable morality and deep ties to the worlds of scientific academia (especially at Caltech and MIT), technology, finance, French society, and, perhaps most importantly, international intelligence- specifically as related to the state of Israel. In 2010, two years after Epstein's conviction on charges of soliciting a child for prostitution, Al Seckel hosted a "private scientific conference" on Epstein's island which was attended by numerous superstars of scientific academia. As a side note, Epstein's island is known to contain a mysterious temple, the design of which makes use of optical illusions, labyrinthine motifs, a statue of Poseidon and twin golden owls, figures associated with occult and pagan symbolism. The purpose of the temple has never been fully explained.
Al Seckel would eventually be found dead in 2015 near his home in France after having apparently fallen off a cliff. After his death it was discovered that his marriage to Isabel Maxwell was never legitimate, as Seckel had still been legally married to a previous wife. In the last years of his life Seckel was reported as having been trying to sell the personal papers of his late father-in-law Robert Maxwell.
With Epstein apparently dead (typically, under mysterious circumstances) and Ghislaine Maxwell arrested, one might be tempted to feel a sense of closure regarding their crimes. The truth, as outlined here, is far more complicated. In all likelihood, the activities of the youngest Maxwell and her notorious associate were actually just a small branch of a much larger story, one with deep roots in the history of post-WWII academia, society, international espionage, and perhaps even the occult. It is difficult to draw conclusions from such disparate facts, and it is unlikely that the questions which arise can be easily answered. At a bare minimum, it seems fair to suggest that there is far more to the story of Robert Maxwell and his extended family than meets the eye.
submitted by evil_pope to Epstein [link] [comments]

Beyond Ghislaine: The Maxwell Octopus

Robert Maxwell (born Ján Ludvík Hyman Binyamin Hoch) was born into a poor yiddish-speaking Jewish community in Czechoslovakia in 1923. When Nazi Germany invaded Czechoslovakia during the Second World War, Maxwell fled to France as part of an underground organization ferrying youth out of his homeland. Still a teenager, this would be his first taste of the world of spycraft, an occupation which would define the remainder of his inscrutable life. After several years spent engaged in underground resistance activities which saw him shuttled across Eastern Europe and the Middle East he eventually found himself back in France, now a member of the French Foreign Legion and an active participant in the French Resistance, utilizing the newly acquired pseudonym of Ivan du Maurier.
After participating in the Allied invasion of Normandy, Maxwell (soon to adopt the name of Leslie Johnson) was shortly recruited by British Intelligence. Already a seasoned veteran of international espionage, the young man's multilingualism and underground connections made him a valuable asset to the British government. He continued to work for Britain in the years leading up to the end of the war and in its immediate aftermath, ostensibly as a press attache to the foreign office in Berlin. His actual assignment was the interrogation of captured German scientists, work likely done in conjunction with the Alsos Mission, a branch of the American Manhattan Project which cooperated with British forces to collect and classify information on Germany's atomic weapons program. Though the goal of Alsos was primarily to prevent sensitive information from falling into Soviet hands, Maxwell soon also became affiliated with Soviet intelligence due to his desire to seek out surviving relatives who still resided in his homeland, now under Soviet jurisdiction.
He changed his name for the last time in 1945, and as the newly-christened Captain Robert Maxwell married Elisabeth Meynard, a native of France and the future mother of all nine of his children. Still working for allied intelligence, Maxwell began to anticipate the value his work could have on the private market. He started to gather German and Russian scientific documents and research papers which were unknown in the English-speaking world, with the intention of later selling or publishing them for profit.
Meanwhile, in America, a young scientist and child of Czech immigrants by the name of Frank Malina was establishing an international reputation for himself in the field of rocketry and aeronautics. As a graduate student at Caltech, Malina and his longtime friend Jack Parsons founded the research center that would later become the Jet Propulsion Lab. Parsons, himself a brilliant young rocket scientist, was also an avid follower of notorious British occultist Aleister Crowley. Parsons' involvement with Crowley's Thelema movement was so deep that he would eventually become the leader of the California branch of the Ordo Templi Orientis, a Thelemite initiatory organization whose practices included ritualistic sex magic and the summoning of supernatural beings. Thelemites shunned traditional religion and morality in favor of a belief in the supreme power of the will, an echo of Hitler's Nazi philosophy which was itself rooted in the same spiritualist and theosophist ideas as Crowley's. The supreme goal of Thelema, as with all occult practices, is the ultimate union of mind and matter, the combination of the disciplines of science, art, philosophy and religion into a single comprehensible whole. While continuing to work closely with Malina at this time, Parsons also became closely affiliated with Scientology founder and fellow occultist L. Ron Hubbard.
Malina and Parsons went on to form the Aerojet Corporation, a rocket and missile manufacturer from which Parsons was ousted in 1944. In early 1945, Aerojet was purchased by General Tire, a company whose business included contracts with the U.S. military during the second World War. Later in 1945, Malina's research facility was moved to the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico where the first Atomic Bomb was detonated that same year.
Leaving the British Army in 1947, Robert Maxwell utilized his military and intelligence connections to go into business as the British and US distributor for Springer Verlag, a Berlin-based publisher of scientific texts which had been taken over by Allied forces after the war. Maxwell soon purchased a majority share of the company, which he re-dubbed Pergamon Press, a reference to the ancient Greek city and center of pagan worship of the same name. During this time, Maxwell also became heavily involved with the newly-designated Israeli intelligence service Mossad, a connection which would arguably remain his primary allegiance throughout the remainder of his life.
In 1947 Frank Malina left rocketry and his native country behind to move to France, ostensibly because he had grown disenchanted with the military applications of his research, although at this time he was also being investigated by the FBI for his undisclosed involvement with American communist organizations in his youth (an ideology Parsons had also toyed with before moving onto more esoteric concerns). Malina took a job in Paris as Secretariat of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), where he worked under famed English eugenicist Julian Huxley, the father of mysticist author Aldous Huxley.
Back in America, Parsons was also increasingly hounded by the FBI. He devised a plan to flee to Israel after he was offered a job working for the infant Israeli rocket program, but a suspicious transfer of documents led to allegations of espionage from the FBI (later dismissed in court). Parsons remained in America until his 1952 death in a mysterious laboratory explosion, the cause of which would never be sufficiently explained.
After his stint with UNESCO, Malina left the organization to pursue his interest in art. In 1968, while still living in Paris, he founded 'Leonardo', an academic journal published by MIT Press which covered the application of science to the arts. The journal remained his primary concern until his death from natural causes in 1981, at which point control of Leonardo turned over to his son Roger Malina.
Maxwell, meanwhile, was busy building his publishing and media empire, amassing a variety of subsidiaries including newspapers, television networks and tech companies. He spent six years as a Member of British Parliament in the 1960s before being defeated in the election of 1970. Though nominally a British citizen, all of his children were born in the wealthy suburbs of Paris, their mother's native land. As his wealth and influence rose, Maxwell remained deeply entangled with MI6, the KGB, the CIA and Mossad.
In the 1970s Maxwell became involved in an intelligence operation centered around PROMIS, a database management software program that could be described as a forerunner to modern internet search engines. PROMIS was groundbreaking in its time, allowing the user to aggregate disparate databases into a single accessible interface. Though initially designed to help prosecutor's offices track and share data, the program quickly caught the attention of intelligence agencies who foresaw its potential for monitoring and compiling information in a variety of fields. In a sense, their plan could be viewed as a nascent version of the information gathering activities which would be exposed by Edward Snowden decades later.
The U.S. Department of Justice hired two men with connections to the Isreali defense forces to infiltrate Inslaw, the company which had produced PROMIS, under the pretense of being potential buyers for the Isreali Public Prosecutor's office. In reality, the men were sent to steal PROMIS and bring it back to their clients in U.S. and Israeli intelligence without Inslaw's knowledge. Their mission accomplished, the thieves soon devised bigger plans for the software than its application to their own systems. They hatched a scheme to sell the software to foreign intelligence agencies with covert back doors, thus obtaining a worldwide database of the intelligence activities of all the major powers in the world. In order to enact this plan they needed a middle-man with deep connections in the global intelligence community, someone who would be trusted as a known quantity by all. Naturally, they turned to Robert Maxwell.
Maxwell used his corporate empire (he had quietly purchased several fledgling Israeli tech companies which served as fronts for the sales) to broker deals with China, the KGB, and anyone else who would be interested in the ground-breaking software. Before long he even began to double-cross his own handlers, helping create new backdoors for China and Israel so that they in turn could spy on the Americans. The software began to find its way into banking systems and government databases worldwide, growing into a vast interconnected network which came to be dubbed "The Octopus". At the head of this Octopus was not any particular state government or intelligence agency, but Robert Maxwell himself, the only man who had been able to game the technology to his own advantage without being taken advantage of in turn.
When Inslaw discovered how their technology was being used they filed a series of lawsuits against the DOJ alleging that PROMIS was illegally stolen from their company. Without these lawsuits, it is unlikely that any of the information regarding PROMIS would have ever come to light. The lawsuits were predictably ruled in favor of the US Government, bankrupting Inslaw in the process. Danny Casolaro, a journalist who was covering the story (the man who coined the term 'The Octopus') was found dead in a hotel room in 1991, his wrists slashed several times in an apparent suicide. Casolaro had complained of threatening phone calls in the days leading up to his death, and his family have long asserted that he was murdered.
Eventually, Maxwell's double-dealing caught up with him. At the behest of China's Secret Service he sold a compromised version of PROMIS to Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, birthplace of the American atomic bomb. This modified version of PROMIS installed at the Los Alamos facility was designed to give Chinese Intelligence access to America's nuclear secrets. The affair became the subject of several FBI investigations regarding Maxwell's conduct, documents regarding which have never been made publicly available except in a prohibitively redacted form. Western intelligence agencies, Israel in particular, were incensed at Maxwell's dealings with China, which they saw as a betrayal of his allegiance. For the first time, serious discussion of Maxwell as a potential liability began to take place.
In 1991, while travelling aboard his yacht 'The Lady Ghislaine' (named after his youngest and favorite daughter) Maxwell fell overboard into the Atlantic ocean. His body was recovered the next morning and the cause of his death was officially ruled as a heart attack which led to an accidental drowning. Rumors of his murder continue to persist to this day, occasionally spurred on by daughter Ghislaine herself. Robert Maxwell was buried on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem, at a funeral attended by several Israeli government officials and known intelligence operatives.
In the aftermath of his death, Maxwell's empire fell apart. Financial improprieties were discovered and the Maxwell companies were soon bankrupt. The stage was set for a new generation of Maxwells to assume his position.
Twin sisters Isabel and Christine Maxwell moved to Silicon Valley in the 1980s, and despite having no apparent formal training in technology, founded the early internet search engine and e-mail provider Magellan. After selling this company, Christine would go on to form Chiliad, a data analysis company with its headquarters in the Washington D.C. suburb of Herndon, VA. An announcement on the appointment of Christine as the company's interim CEO in 2013 boasts:
"The company’s Discovery/Alert big data search tool – operationally proven by the US law enforcement community – reaches across information stored in incompatible databases, documents and applications held in separate departments and organizations to provide the proactive, real-time situational awareness necessary for protection and preparedness."
-A perfectly accurate description of the PROMIS software co-opted by her father a few decades earlier. A 2008 article in Business Wire quotes Chiliad CEO Dan Ferranti as saying "In just a few years, Chiliad will be known as principal arms supplier to the information age."
In 1986 Christine married Roger Malina, the MIT-educated son of Frank Malina, and current editor of his father's 'Leonardo' journal. While it is unclear where and when the couple first met, it would seem that there was no shortage of opportunities for the two to cross paths considering their long shared family histories of involvement in Parisian society, technology, government service, and science publishing.
After two failed early marriages, Christine's twin sister Isabel would herself find love with a man named Al Seckel. Seckel was an avid atheist activist and collector of optical illusions, a self-styled intellectual whose academic credentials were overstated at best and non-existent at worst. The source of Seckel's finances were never entirely clear. He described himself as a dealer of rare books, but those who dealt with him in this capacity described him as a con artist and swindler. Seckel ingratiated himself with the academic society around Caltech and was well known for the lavish parties he threw, often packed with celebrities of academia and entertainment. His primary academic concern seemed to be the field of cognitive psychology, specifically the psychology of perception. It was a subject which surely overlapped with the interests of his brother-in-law, editor of the 'Leonardo' Roger Malina.
Many of Seckel and Malina's interests would also be shared by the longtime companion of their wives' younger sister Ghislaine, the namesake of the boat from which their father fell to his death. This man, Jeffrey Epstein, is likely already well-known to the reader. Ghislaine allegedly met Epstein in the early 1990s, a time when she was still heavily involved in her father's business dealings. Suffice it to say that Epstein would seem to fit right in with the Maxwell archetype- a shady cosmopolite of mysterious origins with unaccountable finances, questionable morality and deep ties to the worlds of scientific academia (especially at Caltech and MIT), technology, finance, French society, and, perhaps most importantly, international intelligence- specifically as related to the state of Israel. In 2010, two years after Epstein's conviction on charges of soliciting a child for prostitution, Al Seckel hosted a "private scientific conference" on Epstein's island which was attended by numerous superstars of scientific academia. As a side note, Epstein's island is known to contain a mysterious temple, the design of which makes use of optical illusions, labyrinthine motifs, a statue of Poseidon and twin golden owls, figures associated with occult and pagan symbolism. The purpose of the temple has never been fully explained.
Al Seckel would eventually be found dead in 2015 near his home in France after having apparently fallen off a cliff. After his death it was discovered that his marriage to Isabel Maxwell was never legitimate, as Seckel had still been legally married to a previous wife. In the last years of his life Seckel was reported as attempting to sell the personal papers of his late father-in-law Robert Maxwell.
With Epstein apparently dead (under typically mysterious circumstances) and Ghislaine Maxwell arrested, one might be tempted to feel a sense of closure regarding their crimes. The truth, as outlined here, is far more complicated. In all likelihood, the activities of the youngest Maxwell and her notorious associate were actually just a small branch of a much larger story, one with deep roots in the history of post-WWII academia, society, international espionage, and perhaps even the occult. It is difficult to draw conclusions from such disparate facts, and it is unlikely that the questions which arise can be easily answered. At a bare minimum, it seems fair to suggest that there is far more to the story of Robert Maxwell and his extended family than meets the eye.
submitted by evil_pope to conspiracy [link] [comments]

Applying to ART College: A Megathread

Hi! After using this sub for much of my junior & senior year (on a separate account), I've noticed there’s fairly little information on applying to art college. As such, I thought I'd compile all my knowledge and research about applying to art school as someone that used to obsess over the A2C process for both normal and art schools.
This ended up MASSIVE as I tried to stuff everything I could think of related to applying to art school in here. Hope it helps some of y’all out there :-)

Introduction

Having applied and researched applying to both art and normal schools, I feel that applying to art school is much more straight forward. There are so fewer moving factors and it's definitely much less of a crapshoot than applying to T20s and Ivies. If your art is good enough and you know what they're looking for, I think getting into even the top art schools is very doable and a lot less scary than one might initially think.
For some context, I'm currently an incoming freshman at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) and was accepted with highest merit scholarship to all art schools I applied to, including RISD, Parsons, Pratt, and SVA. I was a 2019 and 2020 YoungArts winner in Visual Arts, a 2020 Scholastic National Gold Medalist, and a 2017 Congressional Competition where my art was hung in the U.S. Capitol for a year.
While part of it was hard work, another part of it was also figuring out how to navigate the process and choosing where to apply my effort. Figuring out what AOs want is super important if you want to maximize your chances at success.
Applying to art college is ultimately a game that anyone with a drive to create art can learn how to play, no matter how much art experience you have. And if you know how to play, it becomes a lot easier to succeed!

The Portfolio

The portfolio is no doubt the MOST important part of your application. This is a selection of your artwork that AOs will look at to determine if you're qualified enough to be admitted. Grades and ECs often matter little to none depending on the school, so if you're set on art school, make sure to focus on creating the best portfolio you can.
Depending on the school, they may ask for anywhere from 10-22 pieces. Each school has different quantitative requirements; make sure you check their website and/or Slideroom portal (where you'll upload your portfolio) for details.
Important note: Please keep in mind that my portfolio was mainly 2D fine arts with a little bit of Graphic Design from my time at RISD Precollege, which I attended in the summer before 12th grade (2019). As such, most of the research I did was about fine arts portfolios and I don't know if the information here is as applicable to portfolios with or centered on photo, video, animation, etc. It's also most specific to RISD & other top art schools in the U.S. (but we're all overachievers here anyway lol).

Major-specific vs Non-major-specific portfolios

Some schools want portfolios that are specific to the major you apply to (though this is relatively rare) or portfolios that are "focused" on (rather than only on) a specific major (this is a little more common). They may not even mention it explicitly on their website, so make sure you clarify what the school wants.
The advice & info I'll give is about non-major-specific portfolios (which schools like RISD (especially), Pratt, Parsons, SVA, SAIC, MICA, etc. want/accept), so keep that in mind!

What to include in a portfolio? (For art schools)

While this honestly varies from school to school, I know that top art schools not only want to see technical skill, but conceptual thinking and experimentation as well. I think a current RISD student that gave a portfolio lecture at RISD precollege put it really well—RISD (and many other top art schools) look for things that they admit they can't teach you, like a POTENTIAL to grow, a drive to experiment and explore, a proclivity for a type of thought-process that they think makes great artists. Realism and technical drawing skill are all things that anyone can learn with enough practice (and at many art schools like RISD, Pratt, and Parsons, you WILL be practicing through foundation year studies).
That being said, schools still want to see that you have adequate technical skills to build upon. You want a mix between technically-strong pieces and conceptually-strong pieces, i.e. pieces that show off your rendering abilities and pieces that show off your ability to put ideas and thought behind your pieces. Of course, these two categories can heavily overlap (and it's probably better if they do!), but if they don't, make sure you have BOTH in your portfolio.

Technically-strong pieces

Technically-strong pieces are pieces that demonstrate your mastery over your medium. Many this means super-detailed colored pencil still lives, well-crafted and purposeful sculptures, intricate landscapes, accurately rendered buildings, etc. In addition to making things detailed, technical skill also includes a strong grasp of color, light, composition, form, space, etc.
Tip: Composition especially is something many art school applicants don't pay much attention to (according to some AOs I've talked to), so make sure you're not putting everything right in the center of your page/canvas/etc. Also, play with cropping and having parts of the subject & objects go off the page rather than containing the entirety of the subject/object within the bounds of your page.

Conceptually-strong pieces

Having a portfolio of impeccably rendered but purely technical pieces may get you into some schools, but top art schools will still turn you down. I know of so many people who've submitted portfolios full of hyperrealistic graphite shoes or tools or other objects, only to be rejected. Such portfolios show that the artist lacks the ability to go beyond depictions of life and given another dimension to their art—a conceptual dimension.
By "conceptually-strong" pieces, I mean pieces that are idea and thought-driven rather than just purely technical. Think about how you can indicate a narrative within your piece or say something.
Think also about how you intentionally choose certain compositions, certain lighting, certain colors, certain styles, certain painting techniques, etc. to help subtly build the narrative of your piece. This is really important as it shows you're thinking about these things.
This DOESN'T necessarily mean that there has to be some explicit "moral" or message to your piece; trying to spoonfeed a story through very explicit (i.e. not-subtle) imagery can result in cheesy symbolism and pieces that feel cliche.
(I hope to add more to this later when I can put it into words better—this category is so broad and vague and I wish I could be more specific. Feel free to ask more specific questions about it below!)

Mastery over a range of mediums

Top art schools like seeing that you skillfully use and experiment with different mediums. Maybe if you mainly work with pencil and pen, you can try paint, which is wet and a lot looser than highly controlled dry mediums. Maybe you can try 3D!! Many high schoolers are scared of it so it'll make you stand out (if it's well-executed).
Tip: You can also play with combining multiple mediums in one piece. Consider less conventional mediums like e.g. painting on wood (having the wood show through under the paint can create a cool effect, plus you can also burn wood to create designs & cool effects), creating texture with crumpled newspaper, incorporating wires to create a 3D aspect, etc. The list goes on and on!
That all being said, don't put in a bad piece just for the sake of showing that you work with different mediums. If the piece isn't very good, it can end up hurting you more helping you :')
Additionally, some art schools may not care all that much about seeing a range of mediums. This is definitely more of a thing at schools like RISD.

Life studies: figure drawings, still lives, landscapes, etc.

Art schools want to see that you can draw from life. This means literally looking at things IRL and drawing them instead of drawing from a photograph. These pieces don't have to fully executed, fleshed-out pieces—it's common for people to send shaded black-and-white charcoal sketches of figures. They can also be sketchbook pages from sitting at a coffee shop, a park, a train station, your room, and just drawing the people, animals, objects, scenery, etc. around you. This is also a time to combine mediums if you want to add a splash of color to pen/pencil drawings. You can have fun with it!
That being said, it's still very important to display well-executed technical skill, ESPECIALLY for still lives as those are probably the most common life drawing + are in nearly every single portfolio and probably the easiest of the 3.
Tip: Put shadows underneath your still lives; don't just have them floating in a blank white page! Try to also draw at least some part of the background so that the object is indicated in a space. Play with composition and try to break away from putting everything right in the middle of your page/canvas with nothing going off the edges (bc still lives are like that and it gets very boring!)
If you can't access live nude models for figure drawing, there are some online resources where you can draw nude models meant for this exact purpose, both timed and untimed (posted below!). Though it won't be from life, it may still be worth including as human anatomy is important and something many art schools focus on, especially in your first year.
Although the vast majority do, some schools don't care about life studies or purely technical pieces at all (notoriously parsons!), so make sure you do your research through attending National Portfolio Day & contacting admissions with questions (more on that later).
Note: You should only submit a few of these!

Sketchbook pages

This very much depends on the school—some really want to see them and some may only want to see your best, most completed work. Typically, a school that DOES want sketchbook pages will explicitly ask to see them. Make sure you check their website or ask them!
If they DO want to see sketchbook pages, you can include thumbnail sketches, planning for another piece, life drawings, small experimentations, anything that gives a "behind the scenes" look into your art making and thinking. It's great also to show sketchbook planning for another piece you have in your portfolio. Schools like RISD really want to sketchbook pages so make sure you keep one!
Note: You should only submit a few of these!

School-specific assignments/tests

Some art schools will require you to create art based on a specific prompt. This prompt may change every year or stay the same. This is an important chance to show how you tackle an art assignment given by the school itself and a good assignment response can really boost your portfolio. I wouldn't go as far as to say these "make or break" your portfolio, however, as schools have explicitly stated that the rest of your portfolio is also important and not to devote all your time and energy onto the assignment at the cost of a lower-quality portfolio. Still take it seriously though!
Cooper Union (tbh it's the only school I know of that does this) gives a "home test" where they mail/email you a list of prompts to make art from that they assess you on. There's also a bunch of questions you have to answer (I don't know much about the home test so please let me know if this info is wrong or misleading!).
RISD's this year (just released a few days ago!) is "Identify something in need of repair. Use any material or approach to fix it." and an accompanying written response (further details here).

Portfolio tips

Be creative. Come up with unique concepts.

I'm sure someone out there is reading this thinking, 'Well, DUH, it's art school! Of course I have to be creative,' because I'd probably think the same. Yet, you'd be surprised how often AOs continue to see still lives of fruit or glass bottles, green landscapes, a portrait painted with a flurry of unnatural skin tones, etc.
Don't make things just because everyone else is making them. I guarantee you that you don't need a still life of fruit to get into art school. Instead, think about what pieces like that show AOS (for still lives, it'd be technical skill) and think about ways you can show those same skills but in a less-generic way. This piece by @lemoncholy_(IG) (link to a timestamped youtube video) is a great example of a fun and original still life that also works in a narrative while displaying technical skill.

Break out of rigidity

Common among applicants who are really skilled in realism are portfolios full of tightly rendered portraits and scenes from life, but nothing else. This is bad because it shows you don't know how to experiment and that your artistic skills and vision are limited within the very narrow realm of photographic realism.
Play with adapting a "looser" hand. Watercolor is great for this because it's so fluid! You can also play with combining realism and abstraction or illustration. An artist that I think does this well with oil paint is Jenny Saville. You can also experiment with stylizing some of your realism. Degas's pastel portraits

Don't place everything in the center

I mentioned this earlier, but placing things in the dead center is probably the most common composition that high school applicants use, usually without a particular reason why and just because it's the "default." Many AOs I talked to really emphasized it so definitely play with putting things off-center and asymmetry!!

Have backgrounds. Yes, even to still lives!

Also mentioned earlier, but pure white backgrounds should be avoided whenever appropriate. They can make pieces look unfinished and usually happen because people are scared of them. Break out of your comfort zone! Even if the background is simple, it still indicates the object in a space instead of it just floating in space.

Don't be afraid of color

Try to make more than half of your pieces in color! I'm not sure if this is as much of a problem now, but don't be afraid of it! It's much easier to work with it when the colors are controlled, like with colored pencils, versus when you have to mix your own colors, like with watercolor.

Make your artistic choices intentional

Why did you choose this certain composition? This color palette? This style? This lighting? Realism vs semi-realism? How can these choices help build a narrative without having to shove it down the audience's throat through explicit imagery?
Answering these questions can help you make more intentional and meaningful choices! and explaining these choices in the description will definitely give you a boost as it shows you're thinking deeply about critically (critically thinking) about your art-making.

Spend time on your written descriptions

Honestly, even if the work itself is subpar, a stellar description that reveals a lot of depth to the piece can save it and show that you think a lot about your artistic choices and art-making in general. From then, it just becomes an execution issue which you can work on in school.

Quality > quantity, but don't add too few pieces either

Don't try to reach the max-pieces limit with "filler" pieces that aren't very good. It'll bring the overall quality of your portfolio down.
At the same time, don't include too few pieces. If it asks for 20 pieces, try to give at least 13. If it asks for 12, try to give at least 9. Not every piece has to be absolutely outstanding!

Common mistakes

A purely technical portfolio

I'm sure I'm beginning to sound like a broken record at this point lol, but this is super important!! It's so so common for technically amazing applicants to get rejected because their portfolios are all just technical studies without any narrative or conceptual thought behind the majority of their pieces.
Tell narratives through your art. Go to art museums. Ask yourself what it means to be an artist and your role in society. What power does art have that other methods don't? How can you use your art to say things and reach others in ways that only art can?

Fanart or anime

Especially anime. They don't like it at all. The reasons are a little BS imo :( but you can't fight them; just don't do it.

Master copies

Mastercopies are when you replicate/copy famous pieces of artwork—art from "masters"—as accurately as possible.
This is a lesser offense than including fanart/anime and whether schools actually care will vary from school to school, but I know that schools like RISD & Parsons really don't like them and RISD specifically advises against them. They don't show any originality and the display of technical skill is also damped by the notion that it was copied from someone else's art.
Personally, I think master copies are actually super beneficial to people learning a certain medium and I really encourage people to do them as studies. Just don't put them in your portfolio!

Badly photographed pieces

The documentation of your pieces is an often overlooked yet highly important part of your portfolio. Try to take photos of work outside in bright but shadowy areas. This way you get natural light but not the glare of direct light. Rent a camera and learn how to use its basic settings or use a phone with a high-quality camera.
Crop your photos to the edges of your piece. Alter weird lighting, contrast, and color inconsistencies using a photo editing software. Photoshop is perfect for this as it's super powerful. If you don't have a subscription, PM me and I can help you with getting it for free.
Art Prof also has tooons of stuff on documenting your work here in the middle/second column of links near the top.

What makes the best portfolio? (For NON-art schools)

When submitting a supplementary portfolio to non-art schools, non-art schools typically prefer high-technical skill works and fully fleshed-out, finished works. Unless your experimental pieces are also highly skilled, it's best to go for very well rendered pieces that also have some conceptual thinking behind them.
The people looking at your supplementary portfolio may often be normal AOs that don't know much about art, and high-skill pieces will seem most impressive. And whereas the applicant pool for top art schools like RISD consists of many high-technical-skill low-conceptual-skill portfolios, supplementary portfolios to non-art schools on average usually aren't as good so you don't need as many risky, conceptual pieces to stand out.
Plus, non-art schools don't give two shits about your "potential to grow" in art so show off all the current skill you have rather than what you could have in the future! Especially if you don't even plan to do art in college.

Ordering your pieces

The order of your pieces does matter. You want to leave the best impression you can on the AOs and psychology plays a part in it. People generally agree that the first two and last two pieces should be your strongest pieces. You want to start and end with a bang.
Other than that, it's up to you and depends on your portfolio pieces. You could try grouping similar pieces together, but if two pieces are too similar to each other, it can seem repetitive and you should probably take one of them out (instead of just moving it somewhere else). You could also play with mixing things up, but be careful not to break the cohesion of your portfolio by jumping between pieces that have completely different purposes and moods—you want the order of your pieces to flow without seeming boring or repetitive.

What is Slideroom?

Slideroom is a portfolio uploading site where the majority of schools (including non-art schools) will ask you to submit portfolios on. Each school will have their own Slideroom portal (usually something like "[schoolname].slideroom.com") and you'll have to submit your portfolio separately for school you apply to.
When you upload pieces onto slideroom, you'll have the option to add a title and description for your piece. You may also have a box for year, medium, size, etc. depending on if the schools asks for it.
Tip: I highly recommend creating a separate document/spreadsheet with all your artworks' names, mediums, years, sizes, and descriptions as you'll have to put in that information again each time you submit a portfolio to another school (there IS an option on Slideroom to copy all your entries from portfolio A into portfolio B, but portfolio B may ask for yeamedium/size/etc. while portfolio A may not, which would require you to put it all in for portfolio B).

More tips!

Two ~1hr Youtube videos about "art school portfolio secrets" with tons more tips from Clara Lieu (former adjunct RISD professor) @ Art Prof!! Here and here.
A bunch of portfolio tips + more common mistakes by Art Prof (again lol) here (same link as the one about documenting artwork)!

Grades, Tests, Extracurriculars, Awards, Classes, etc.

Academics

Generally, grades and test scores very little to art schools. Most art schools barely care about your GPA and SAT, if at all. Even RISD, which probably cares the most out of all the art schools, has accepted people with sub 3.0 GPAs and sub 1200 SAT scores. Contrarily, many 4.0 UW 1400+ SAT people have been rejected because their portfolios are subpar. And it makes sense when you think about it, as academic strength matters little relative to your artistic strength when at art school.
Extracurriculars are more or less the same deal. Some schools only ask for art related ECs, so it's nice to have a few. It also may give you something to talk about.

Art Competitons/Awards

From my understanding awards also don't matter very much to art schools, and at least not as much as your portfolio. I know people who've won numerous Scholastic National Medals that were rejected from schools like RISD. IMO this makes sense, as art school AO's would definitely trust their own judgment when looking at someone's portfolio over that of a competition's that they aren't affiliated with, especially since they're admitting them to art school, which values potential, while competitions value skill.
Some schools give a few scholarships based on art competitions like YoungArts, Scholastic, etc. I always think it's a good idea to try for these as you often have nothing to lose except for your time and the application fee and you may end up with some portfolio pieces while preparing for them.
There are mainly two large art competitions that I know of:

Scholastic Art & Writing Awards

This is probably the largest art competition in the country. It has both regional and national awards. It's not too difficult to get some regional awards and it looks good on a resume. Anyone 7th-12th grade can apply and you need to do it while affiliated with a middle school/high school art teacher.
They have many different visual arts categories such as photography, drawing & illustration, sculpture, mixed media, design, digital, comic art, etc. They also have a whole writing section that also has a bunch of different categories.

National Youngarts Foundation

This is a fairly prestigious competition with only ~50 winners nationwide, only half (or less) of which are Finalists. For visual arts, you submit a portfolio of 10 pieces that generally follow some unifying theme (the specifics change from year to year so make sure you check their site for details). Anyone 15-18 OR in 10th-12th grade can apply (so many college freshmen still qualify!). The due date is in October and if you get notified if you're a winner in December.
There are also many other categories outside of visual arts, such as theatre, writing, singing, dancing, classical music, etc.

AP Art

I personally never took this class as it wasn't offered at my school, so I wish I could say more about it. From my understanding, this class is a good portfolio builder, and many who take it before 12th grade end up with portfolio pieces. I think most art colleges don't allow you to use AP Art credit in college.

School Art Classes and Private Art Classes

In terms of getting you into art school, I don't think having these on your transcript or resume will increase or reduce your chances at all. However, these are definitely great opportunities to work on portfolio pieces and get feedback from teachers and peers.
Private art classes (if you find a good one) are definitely a great place to work specifically on portfolio pieces. Usually your instructor will work closely with you to build a portfolio and create pieces. Having not really done or learned anything in my school art classes, private art classes definitely helped me churn out a lot of art for the first half of high school.

Choosing an art school

Your major matters

The quality of your education at a certain institution will be VERY major dependent. While it may be tempting, don't just look at acceptance rates because they can mislead you (sidenote on this: try to get acceptance rates from students or the school's website because the ones Google reports are always much higher for some reason).
Even reputation can sometimes be misleading—for example, while RISD is sometimes considered the "Harvard" of art schools, it has a poor animation, video, and photography department. Contrarily, SVA has a great animation program despite having a high acceptance rate and despite some of their other departments being questionable in quality.

Flexibility in switching majors

If you aren't sure which major you want to go into or unsure if you necessarily will want to stay in your current major, keep in mind how easy or hard it'll be to switch majors. Some schools require you to apply to a certain major and are very inflexible about changing majors. For example, to do Fashion at parsons (which is famous for their fashion), you have to specifically get into the Fashion major because it's so competitive and they probably judge the applicants at a different standard.
Additionally, their first-year curriculum is completely different from all the other majors' first-year curriculums (which is usually a foundation year where ALL majors take the SAME classes on fundamental art skills like drawing and design). If you get into Parsons for something else, I've heard it's relatively easy to change majors from say Illustration to Graphic Design to very hard to change majors into Fashion.
It also may be hard to transfer out of such majors. Animation at SVA has a different first-year curriculum than most of the other majors (which also have a foundation year) which SVA brings up as why you can't switch from Animation to GD or Illustration but why you can switch form GD to Illustration or vice versa. I've heard of people who went into SVA for animation but realized after their second year that they didn't actually like animation. As a result, they either had to stick with it for another two years and 140k later or drop out.

Location

This is true for both art and non-art schools. Depending on your major, it may be easier to find work in more urban areas or certain cities. That gives schools around SoCal or NYC an advantage compared to schools in, say, Florida. Make sure you consider if that's something important for you and your major.

Connections/Networking

This may only be applicable for 'industry majors' like Graphic Design, Industrial Design, Textiles, etc. and not so much for very fine-arts majors like Drawing and Painting. But for those formerly mentioned majors, I've been told straight up that you pay for art school for the connections and the networking. Reputable schools have well-connected faculty and networking events with renowned companies and employers. This is super important in art industries like Graphic Design, where your salary can fluctuate GREATLY depending on where you work.

Ultimately, the name doesn't matter that much

While prestige may help someone graduating from a NON-art school find a good job, for art schools, your graduating portfolio matters a LOT more (NOTE: The portfolio I mention in this section is the one you build during your time at art college. The portfolio I mention in the next section and for the majority of this post is the one you apply to art school with). This is the body of work that you come out of college with and is what hirers (for industry majors) are looking at to decide if your artistic vision and skill is what they're looking for. The best art school for you then is the one that helps you build your best body of work, and that may not be the well-known big-name schools.

Do you like their student work?

Some schools have an affiliated Behance site where students (and alums) can post artwork that they make. You can usually filter the work in the site by major and year. The URL is typically "portfolios.[schoolname].edu" but I'd look up "[schoolname] portfolios" or "[schoolname] student work" in google as many schools don't have an affiliated Behance site.
This is a great way to see what students are currently making. You may find that you particularly do or don't like the work produced, and that's a really important indicator for whether that school would be a good fit for you.

Other options

Art at a non-art school

This can sometimes be risky imo as art programs in non-art schools are often small and not very good. Especially when there's only one professor for your major, you run the risk of getting a limited/narrow education in a field that requires fresh ideas and creative problem-solving (for most majors). The quality of the education may also just not be very great, and you'll also have fewer peers to grow from (Your classmates in art school are super important imo as you'll constantly be learning and growing off each other. You literally spend a third of your time in art school getting feedback from your peers.).
That being said, there are definitely some non-art schools with a strong arts and/or design department, like Yale, UCLA, and Carnegie Mellon. It can be hard to find stuff about this online and I wish I knew some better ways to research this, but it's best if you can talk to a professor or art student who's more 'in the know' about this stuff.

What if I don't only want to do art?

Most art schools only offer a very arts-centered education. Some have an art history/liberal arts requirement but those classes are limited. You'll still have to take some non-art classes, and if that's enough for you, great! But if not, you could consider doing art at a non-art school, where you'll have access to the school's non-art majors and courses too.
At RISD, you not only have a (relatively) heftier liberal arts requirement, but you also have the opportunity to take classes at Brown University right next door starting your sophomore year. However, I've heard that it's actually pretty difficult to schedule these classes as RISD classes are usually really long and the two universities don't really work together to coordinate classes.

Dual Degree Programs

There are also some dual degree programs, most famously the Brown | RISD dual degree program. This shit is competitive as fuck to get into (3-4% acceptance rate) but an amazing opportunity as you get a degree from both Brown University and RISD after 5-years. You can find a lot more info about it online. Overview of some specific logistics about its admissions here. There's also the Tufts SMFA 5-year dual degree which also has a 4-year option if you only want a degree from Tufts.

FAQs/Misc

I only recently got into art/I don't have a lot of experience. Do I still have a chance at top art schools?

Contrary to popular belief, people who are good at art are rarely truly "talented." Much of it is really just practice, practice, and more practice. Even with talent, practice is still essential (just like how talented athletes still have to train really hard in order to do well).
But imo, you can practice "smartly" and not-so-smartly. I know of multiple people who only started making art mid-high school or never took an art class before an art camp the summer before 12th grade and these people got into some of the best art schools in the country! They weren't secret Van Gogh's who had finally uncovered their god-given talent; they just knew how to build a portfolio that highlighted their strengths over their weaknesses and showed they had potential above all else.

How expensive is art school?

Top art schools are as expensive as top non-art schools. Some, like RISD, are notorious for being stingy about giving money. It's a sad reality. However, there are definitely other affordable but decent options outside of the big-name schools. Remember that a school might be alright overall but really good for your major, specifically!

How do I know if art school is right for me?

I struggled with the same question and am honestly still struggling with it. Is art to you a hobby or a passion? Would you be ok with doing art as a job, even if it means sucking some or most of the joy out of it? Would you be willing to go into debt for a degree that may be hard to pay back?
Do you want to go to school with passionate and driven students doing what they love? Do you want to go to school with students all more-or-less doing the same thing as you? Are you ok with focusing mainly on art but dabbling in other subjects too?
Ultimately, you can also always transfer schools!

Resources

Oh boy,, my favorite part lol. Disclaimer: I'm not affiliated with any of the links or organizations below :’)

Portfolio reviews

National Portfolio Day - A collection of days throughout the year where you can have your portfolio reviewed & critiqued by representatives from a whole host of art schools. There's typically one in a certain state/region per year. It's a great opportunity to get legit feedback on your portfolio and I highly recommend people to attend if possible, especially if they're unsure about what direction to move forward in with their portfolio. Also a great time to ask art schools questions!! Calendar here.
Virtual National Portfolio Day - NPD but online through Careereco. Many schools also attend. Dates for upcoming VNPDs are on the NPD website. Their most recent one (as of the time I'm writing this) was on May 22nd, 2020; you can find the details for that one here.
This is still fairly new (first one was in 2019) and can get very hectic with long wait times but the whole thing usually runs the whole day from ~6 a.m.–5 p.m. EST. I'd definitely recommend NPD over VNPD if possible.
AICAD - If you can't make NPD, you can submit a 5-piece portfolio online to have it reviewed by a select list of art schools that you get to choose from. Not many schools participate but some decent ones do, like RISD and MICA. You'll get an email with feedback.
In my experience, a lot of schools used it as an advertising platform and I didn't get that much useful feedback on my portfolio. However, some schools (like RISD) did give feedback and it's definitely worth trying though if you want as much feedback as possible!
Art Prof Portfolio Critiques - Art Prof, a free online art education service, posts 30+ min critiques of user-submitted portfolios on their Youtube channel. The reviewers include art school professors and grads. You can buy a review on Art Prof's website.
They also have a ton of live art piece critiques (scroll through the created playlists) on all categories of visual art that you can submit your own art for for free!

Portfolio Examples

Admitted Portfolio Youtube Videos - A playlist of admitted art school portfolios + tips + general videos with info about art school. As of now, it hasn't been updated with the Class of 2020 acceptances, but has most of the ones from before then.
Art Prof Portfolio Critiques - (as mentioned above!)

Learning

Art Prof - The HOLY GRAIL of free online art education. The founder and head, Clara Lieu, is a former RISD Adjunt Professor. There is a TON of useful stuff on here, including tutorials in oil paint, marker, animation, printmaking, 3D, etc; ideas for art and portfolio pieces; guides on composition, light, portraits, etc; guides for photography art; etc. Literally sooo much useful content.
Here's a post with a ton of useful info on art school portfolios!
They also have a Youtube channel that is also incredibly useful and heavily integrated with their main site. As mentioned earlier, they have a lot of full portfolio critiques which you yourself can also purchase. You can also submit art on their site to get critiqued on their channel. They have tons of useful guides on just about everything art related, like it's seriously crazy. Literally God Prof.
New Master's Academy - Tons of solid lessons on all sorts of fundamental art skills, including anatomy, oil paint, watercolor, etc. A not-free subscripton based service. They also have a Youtube channel where they post some critiques and lessons here.

Reference Photos

Figures (nude and clothed)

Line of Action - Timed nude and clothed models. Also has facial expressions, animals, landscapes, etc.
Quick Poses - Timed also; same as Line of Action but the images vary more in quality (though they're also more diverse).
Artmodeltips.com - Tons of nude poses with some clothed. Not timed.
Senshistock on DeviantArt - Clothed and nearly-nude poses. Many are from dynamic perspectives and they're overall more suited for anatomy reference in illustrations but still serve as good practice.

Royalty-free images

For when you want to heavily reference a photograph that isn't yours. It's a good habit to start building as it's you could get sued using copyrighted photos + it's looked down upon. Take reference photos yourself if possible!
Pexels
Pixabay
...and tons more!
Hope this was helpful! I knew this would be long but it's now very very close to the 40k character limit lol and I'm out of space. I'll definitely try adding and editing stuff as I remember more art school-related content.
Feel free to ask any additional questions below and I'll try to answer them if possible!! I'm sure there are some things I've unintentionally glossed over, so please don't hesitate to ask :') If you have questions about specific schools, I may also be able to help!
submitted by batsbatsrats to ApplyingToCollege [link] [comments]

I love having preceptees!

Sorry for the long post. TL;DR at the bottom.
I’ve worked in a CVCU for about 4.5 years. Recently, I’ve started taking RNs from a military-affiliated program to shadow me for some shifts. I have no actual connection to the military myself - the program just happens to operate within the walls of my hospital. They go from floor to floor and shadow people to get varied experience while they’re in town, prior to possibly being deployed somewhere else.
I have to say - I love it! I can teach whatever I please! I’ll go in-depth on disease processes, hemodynamics, adrenergic/vasopressin receptors/cAMP, vasoactive meds, paralytics and their associated receptors (pre and post synaptic nicotinic/muscarinic/fetal nicotinic), pharmacology-related topics that aren’t talked about much like context-sensitive half time. We look at pacemaker settings, how EKGs from more of a biomed approach, etc. I explain old topics being more detailed than you think like acid-base interpretation and the Stewart approach. Even back to basics about PROPER 5-lead placement (I’ve realized I’ve been doing it wrong for the past 4.5 years, and that I didn’t understand the RL lead at all). Prioritization just means taking care of the NSFL stuff first, and then progressing to finer levels of detail as the shift progresses.
It’s not that they’ll be doing those exact things when they leave, and I don’t expect anyone to pick that stuff up 100% on their first run-through. It’s just to get them thinking on a more microscopic level so they can be more flexible and have more attention to detail in their practice, in general (I tell them this, as well). I always try to dial it back so they can see the forest for the trees. I try to make sure they know why having this level of detail is beneficial.
I also get to teach about little things I think about in my practice like mise en place/cleanliness in my rooms and being prepared, being aware of your own faults, the benefits of working well with others and not being blamey - just seeing what the situation is and getting through it. I tell them that if you always ask yourself “why,” you’ll never run out of things to learn. I don’t pressure them or shame them for not knowing anything. I try to be friendly and low-pressure so they don’t feel like they’re being PIMPed.
Best of all - I can leave all the filler that I think my nursing unit emphasizes too much. I can go past what some of my coworkers feel is “enough.” I don’t have to teach about charting at all other than CYA. I don’t have to teach about which skin cream or bed model to use. Don’t have to teach about the “nursing process” or care plans. Nursing diagnoses are absent from my teaching.
I used to work in accounting and was appalled by how disjointed nursing is as a whole (as well as nursing culture). I’ve seen how new RNs are trained on my unit, and it just bothers me that the only thing anyone seems to care about is if having a preceptee results in less work for them. If it’s less work, they’re a good preceptee. If it’s more work, they’re bad, and that’s it. There’s no teaching, only error correction and sitting around. I have a good reputation on my unit, but I’m not asked to precept new RNs because I don’t have as much experience as some of the other RNs on my unit. However, in spite of their experience, I still prefer and am proud of my precepting style. My voice is hoarse by the end of the shift, and it IS more work for me to explain these things, but that’s okay. The RN in charge of distributing their RNs through the hospital loves how I go about teaching, so I keep getting more of her RNs.
It helps ME get my crap together too. Having someone shadow me is almost like bringing my internal dialogue to the external. To teach effectively, you DO have to know it. It helps me be more self aware and intentional. It helps to keep me on my game.
Anyway, it’s been hard at work lately; there isn’t much that I’ve been very excited for lately at my workplace besides this.
TL;DR: I love having preceptees because I disagree with how nurses are trained and educated (at least on my unit). I get to teach exactly how I want to teach. My precepting style is patho/pharm-heavy and fairly technical, with a lot of my own philosophies thrown in. I dial it back to see the forest for the trees, of course. Lately, work sucks, so it’s nice to be excited for something!
submitted by LoopyBullet to nursing [link] [comments]

Shopify isn't all it's hopped up to be (current developer insight)

Hey all,
Recently I have been working remotely and thinking more and more about the atmosphere at Shopify, where I currently work as a software developer. I started here as an intern, not long ago, and went on to gain a full time offer after multiple internships. However, I wanted to shed some light on what may otherwise go unnoticed here.
In general, Shopify does have a lot of noticeable employee firings. In the last few years, many senior employees and executives have been fired, but also many junior employees. As well, many employees, both senior and junior, have left because of this atmosphere or related circumstances. 2018 was an intense year as there was a hiring freeze, and recruiters were told to slow down and at times halt hiring. During this time, many were also fired. The SVP of Data and Analytics at the time, who came to us from Netflix was not around long, and was quickly terminated from their position. Soon after the General Manager of Money, the department that handled Shopify Payments, Capital, and more, was let go. A senior accountant who assisted in the company reaching its IPO efforts was also let go. Soon after that, the Director of Engineering (or internally known as Director of Getting Shit Done), and someone who was directly asked to join Shopify by our now CTO, Jean-Michel Lemieux (JML), and worked directly with JML in a previous job, was let go, by JML. This was a challenge as people disagreed with the director's management efforts, but have since greatly disagreed with JML becoming CTO, as he has gradually lost control of his teams, and gradually gained a larger ego through his position. Also at this time the new/recent lead of the Dev Degree Program was terminated. Shopify held a town hall meeting, our weekly meeting in which executives address the company, or new announcements are made that are relevant to the company as a whole, soon after. In this meeting, many employees asked about job security, and why there were so many firings happening. Of course, not much information was provided, though the company's motto is "default to open". The students in Dev Degree were also in a bit of a tough spot at this point too, though the original first cohort was very used to the chaos at this point. They were also brought into a meeting of their own, which apparently was of similar amounts of help to them.
So, as many now know, Shopify started the Dev Degree program about 4 years ago as an experiential learning program with the schtick that they pay you and pay your tuition during school. Super cool right? Well, I knew many of the first students in this program, and even acted as a mentor for this program. It kind of went up in flames quickly and the fire has not yet been put out. The unfortunate part is the media painting the picture that causes other students to join, without letting them know the complete health of the program. During the first little while of this program, 11 students were brought in. One of them was more or less directly asked to join by the CEO of Shopify, Tobi Lutke, at least based on what they said. This was believable considering they had also been brought into Shopify in high school after cold emailing Tobi. In the first little while of the program, I heard the stresses from the students were mainly oriented around management. The original managers of the program consecutively went on parental leave, as they should, but temporary management was low priority. A temporary manager was brought in, who for the most part, was constantly at odds with the students. From my mentee, and her colleagues, this manager acted opposite to Shopify's culture. At one point, a student had asked for leave to visit her parent for health reasons, which the manager responded with by asking for double the time worked. This all the while normal Shopify employees were entitled to unlimited vacation, provided a discussion with managers. The original team lead of the program had been provided feedback by the Director of Getting Shit Done, based on much of the current uproar at the time by students to colleagues. Her response (or reaction), was not provided to the students, but was written on her blog, which the students individually discovered and shared. The blog post was titled "when feedback makes you cry a little". Soon after this was when the original team lead left on parental leave. Understandably, students expressed their worries regarding this reaction, as well as the change in management without proper explanation. I was hearing much of this second-hand, while also seeing much of it myself in what were the "Dev Degree Mentor" meetings. Originally, this program was slated to begin a year after its actual launch, but was rush-launched in an effort to just get it out there. The discovery of unpreparedness was clear immediately, yet the team, and new manager quickly worked to bring more cohorts of students in without the success of a first cohort. In this time, many issues arose.
The aforementioned student asked to join Shopify by the CEO, was one of the many original students who began understandably challenging the route of the program they had signed up for, which would change without their knowledge. The new manager had quickly changed the style of learning, and provided students with only 4 months of training out of high school, expecting this to serve them fully on professional software development teams. One student, a friend of my mentee's, had reported their first software development team lead saying "the Dev Degree students should go back to high school if they need more hand holding". The student asked to join Shopify by Tobi, was the first of many let go, without a contingency plan in place to bridge them into the university's normal computer science program, essentially leaving them with no place to go, a sudden loss of income, loss of tuition payments, and loss of community among many other things. Students continuously brought up struggles in keeping up with the little amount of training provided, and still do. The first cohort was left to continue forward, while the new manager worked on creating a team to bring in new cohorts and "fix forward", only with real people as the product. New cohorts are provided with at least one academic year's worth of training. The thing is, they lost what was easily one of the brightest minds in the company, if not the world. That student now runs an app and company he co-founded with a friend, used by the masses and endorsed by celebrities. Students signed offers for 25 hours of work, but were generally only recognized by teams and the program manager if at work full time, while managing a full course load at school. One instance in particular stood out when an original cohort member was denied a raise while he was putting in some of the best work seen in a student, while a new cohort member, who had never worked on a software development team nor was, was provided a raise. Additionally, the new program manager began developing an effort to remove reading weeks from students, citing the fact that they were provided with 10 days vacation and should not need reading weeks as additional paid vacation. However, to stay in this program, students must hit a specific high GPA, which was at many times, only possible with the reading weeks used to catch up after putting in more hours than required-on-paper at work by many of them. This in combination with their colleagues getting any amount of vacation.
During the entry of new cohorts of students, the program manager raised the need for students to come up with projects to work on web development skills in an effort to prepare and continue training them for development teams. It was mentioned that the program was in need of a website, with some students suggesting this be built as a group project, splitting work up and working in a similar style to Shopify development teams. To me, this seemed completely logical! Why not do this in preparation for team work? The program manager did not respond and later outsourced the development of a... website... at a... highly skilled web development company... to Redspace. The first iteration of the website, which was only recently changed to the current one previously linked, failed Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) standards, outrageously falling out of line with our own web development guidelines, as well as other usability issues. We continuously work towards improving our accessibility while always ensuring Shopify's own content is produced in an accessible manner for both hiring and customers. The issues surrounding the Dev Degree website were raised numerous times with no changes.
The contracts for the first cohort of students underwent renewal in the summer of 2018, where students had raised a number of issues and questions. One student, also a mother, was told to sign it or leave, in basic terms. I'm told she quit, after considering what would leave her happier and more stable. Two months or so later, another student was let go from the program after raising issues regarding the present and future plans for the program. It was said to be without cause, but to refer back to conversations with the program manager, as was the termination of the student brought in by the CEO. About a week after this, the new program manager was terminated from her role. Weeks later, two more students were terminated from their roles.
After all of this, one of the students told me Shopify had mistakingly sent upwards of at least 25k dollars to their accounts as payments for tuition. Of course, many students thought this was part of a severance. However, the issue was raised on worry of the amount coming back to bite the students, causing money to be unexpectedly owed. Without explanation on the appearance of the money in accounts, the money disappeared from student accounts days later.
Originally, students were only able to join the Dev Degree program at the start of an academic year. After losing many students, a new student was hired mid-semester, in what may have been an effort to increase success vs. failure rates.
This program does not guarantee you a position on a software development team. The cohort that just graduated contains students that have not been offered jobs at Shopify, while the Dev Degree team did not offer them mentorship in what may help them gain one recently. Some students abandoning those frustrations sought out completely independent internships at Shopify without the Dev Degree team and succeeded, only representing the weak connection the Dev Degree team has to Shopify as a company, though they work as a team within it.
Shopify has grown to an enormous size, and has shown it both through its monetary value and internal treatment of employees. Additional employees have since left, quit, or have been suggested to quit after disagreeing with management practices. Some have been let go through disagreeing with managers after experiencing sexual harassment and later discussing it on social media. In the past, it has been explained that one big reason we are provided lunch is because generally, employees at companies that do not provide lunch, spend 1 - 1.5 hours on lunch, whereas those at Shopify spend around 45 mins at lunch providing them with that much more time to focus on work. This could be viewed as good or bad really. One of the first hires at the Toronto office was extremely frustrated with the work environment, as well as their manager, leading to them quitting around the time of their stock options vesting. They were denied the options, which were likely going towards their child, as they were a single parent. Shopify acquired a company called Kit years ago. The founder, and now directory of Kit once posted on social media that they would provide anyone who refers a friend to a Shopify job that is successfully hired, with a sum of money. That sum of money was equal to the amount Shopify provides to all employees for referring anyone to Shopify. Of course, the affiliate link was also posted. In this attempt to look generous, it is worth considering the same director purchased a white gold Rolex GMT Master II for his infant son, valued over tens of thousands of dollars. Additionally, a highly known and respected director of engineering for the Core team at Shopify (the most important team), quit due to disagreeing with the management practices of the now CTO, JML.
The point of this post is to provide you with an internal view of Shopify's management, in an "open by default" effort as we say here. Please use this when deciding on internship and job opportunities, and hopefully things will get better.
I do enjoy my role as a software developer, but can 100% say I am considering joining the others in quitting.
submitted by acics74u to CarletonU [link] [comments]

Tales from Eiriel

I very recently found this sub. I have never known another person with a taste for DPH. I have never been able to talk about my experiences or relate to others in this space. I want to tell my story, such as it is. I'm probably going to jump around a lot. I'm already coasting on tonight's entertainment. Also...this an excessively long post. Im partly venting for my own sake.
tl;dr: I have a LOT of experience with DPH and, as a public service of sorts, would like to offer my knowledge to anyone who may need it.
Disclaimers: Clearly, I can only speak from my own personal experiences. I am also not a medical professional of any sort. Your experiences may be radically different. If it feels like my intention is to lecture, it isn't. I'm not trying to climb onto some soapbox to try to tell anyone not to do what they are doing. I'm not that hypocritical. I'm also not looking for a pity party or trying to humble-brag. I promise only brutal honesty and candidness. Ours are not sugar-coated pills.
Let's also throw in some content warnings for mentions of familial neglect, childhood trauma, and medical abuse, since that shits all the rage these days.
I ask, in return, that anyone who reads this refrain from telling me how stupid/juvenile/pointless this habit is. Believe me, there is already enough shame wrapped around my use of this particular substance. In my eyes, it's right up there next to abusing duster or huffing glue. I'm a grown-ass lady! What the fuuuuck am I doing, right?? I could easily just take up drinking. Or use any other number of more useful, mind-expanding substances that wont turn me into a dumpster fire. And I do. But I eventually come back, full circle, to DPH and the shadow people who raised me to be the brave little psychonaut I am today.
My hope is that my story may help less experienced users be as informed and as safe as possible. I wholeheartedly believe in harm reduction practices. At best, I hope to offer my knowledge as a resource; One that I never personally had. If you push boundaries with this drug, there WILL be lasting consequences.
Be me: 36-year-old single mother and a full-time undergraduate student. I study human evolution, behavioral ecology, and primate cognition. From the ages of 14 to 20 I used DPH almost daily. Recently, after 16 years and several lengthy side missions with other chemicals, I have reunited with my eldest fling (drug fling that is). This led me here to DPH and for the first time, I'm not a lone weirdo. Youz are my people, for the most part
I can't really tell you how I found or started using DPH. My mother suffered from a pretty severe mental illness and I am an only child. There was stress. Lots of it. On good days, I was neglected. On bad days I was raged at and belittled for existing. My home life was pretty abusive. I was also bullied consistently throughout school. I was a super geek, noticeably smarter than my peers, and emotionally volatile. I've always been maladjusted and eccentric. Being as isolated as I was in my abuse, it makes sense, in retrospect, that I turned to the medicine cabinet rather than smoking weed or drinking as escapism like a "normal" teenager would have. I didn't have many friends in school; I had no friends outside school. I had no access to other recreational drugs. I was severely emotionally traumatized and had little to no impulse control. I was also a pawn to the medical industry so pill-popping came very naturally.
When I was in my mid-teens, my mother doctor shopped me into a diagnosis for a highly medicated mental illness which I now know I don't have. The older I got, the angrier I became. I started defending myself against her constant belittlement. It was explosive and unbearable for everyone. She wanted me chemically controlled and used my supposedly defective brain to gaslight me into believing I would be forever dependent on her. Our relationship was highly detrimental to me, and I am still dealing with the fallout from never having been allowed to develop my own sense of self. I haven't spoken to either of my parents in three years. They continue to stalk and threaten me and my chosen family to this day.
I was coached from a young age to be hypercritical of my thoughts, feelings, and the effects of the rainbow of psych medications I was on. I was groomed to keep reporting that the meds were ineffectual so that my doses were raised at most of my med check appointment. And honestly the meds weren't working because I was being treated for the wrong issues. At one point I was spending upwards of 5 hours a week in various counseling sessions. My mother repeatedly replaced my therapists when they caught on and started questioning her about our home life. I was a minor and could do nothing to stop her. These factors greatly contributed to my fixation on altered states of consciousness.
It also left me with the belief that my mind was irreconcilably different and incompatible with the outside world. Doing piles of drugs seemed reasonable if I was already a lost cause. I was good at managing my body like a chemistry set.
My DPH habit started with Tylenol pm. I jumped straight into the deep end of the pool. In my sophomore year of high school, I was eating a bottle every couple of days. At 24 caps a bottle, 25mg each; I'd estimate on average I was taking around 300-400 mg of diphenhydramine at a time. I was dosed all day at school and most nights as well. I was a disgustingly good student so I flew right under everyone's radar. What could possibly be wrong with a straight-A student? And besides, she's already in therapy. Clearly, she's being managed, right?
Obviously, that much acetaminophen is god awful for your body so I eventually switched to dramamine. It was far easier to steal, had double the DPH content, and the original formula had fewer active ingredients.
I coasted like this through the end of high school and graduated at 17. When I got to college, shit got real. At that point, I was averaging just under 2 full bottles if dram a day. I was stealing them from the grocery store where I worked part-time. 2 bottles at 12 tabs a pop, 50mg a tab; I estimate I was consistently doing at least a gram a day. As much as 1.2 grams on the regular. On top of my recreational chemistry experiments, I was also on fairly high doses of risperidone, zyprexa, and ambien.
I have always staggered my dosing. I was methodical. I built a set of ritualistic habits to deal with the significant memory loss I was experiencing. My first dose of the day would be about 200mg, followed by 200 more as soon as I started coming up. This helped prevent me from shocking my system and straight up dry heaving for hours while the drugs bum-rushed my neural pathways. Through the day, I'd stack 200 more every two hours or so. I ALWAYS wore a watch. I kept obsessive track of my dosing. I'd regularly keep a running account if my dosing schedule on my arm. (Foreshadowing: this system failed in the end)
At night, I would take a slightly higher dose and spent most of my time aimlessly drifting in and out the ether, living in a disassociated fantasy world. I believed I was making connections to another realm. I openly believed that I had psychic abilities which allowed me to contact energetic entities, explore other levels if existence, and perceive and manipulate other peoples energetic states. I believed I was possessed. I'm still not entirely convinced these things aren't true. The shit I've experienced is close to irrefutable in my eyes. Or my actions caused brain damage. Prolly that.
The first 3 years, while I was in high school, I was still surprisingly functional. I had horrible sleep issues and super vivid and disturbing dreams, though very few "bad trips" in waking life. I had persistent visual and auditory hallucinations.
Around the time I graduated high school I was living in Eiriel almost full time. I existed on the margin between two dimensions. As my life at home was growing steadily worse, so did my habit and the impacts of using. As my use progressed, I would regularly lose control of my dosing schedule when I was real fucked up and often took more than intended. I regularly found myself passed out on random bathroom floors around campus. I have no idea how I managed to hide what was going on. I was like a walking mad-lib. I was eating the shit like candy. DPH became a food group.
I know what you might be thinking by now: How did she sustain over a gram a day for more than a year without fucking herself up hard? Is she full if shit? And I have no reasonable answer for that, aside to say that my lasting injuries are, for the most part, psychological. Frankly, I'm shocked I'm not a drooling imbecile.
First I lost the ability to read. My eyes were unable to focus and I was no longer able to interpret symbols. I couldn't identify letters. I couldn't interpret street signs. I totalled my car. I eventually completly lost the ability to drive. I had significant issues with my coursework at school. My disassociation grew into full blown derealization and at times I would fail to recognize every day objects such as the toaster or my own shoes. I also struggled with depersonalization. I became convinced that I no longer inhabited my own body. I was trapped in the astral plane. My body was merely a golum. A stand in. A puppet. A toy to play with and abuse.
I experienced SIGNIFICANT aphasia. I lost all ability to communicate. I could understand speech and could think in clear, full sentences but lost all semblance of thought when I tried to speak. I was only able to get out one or two words at a time before my speech processor shorted out. I couldn't write coherently.
This is the point where I became seriously concerned. My mental state had deteriorated to the point where I was living in a dissociated dream world 24 hours a day. I had no meaningful relationships or interactions outside of my own mind.
At some point during this time, my psychiatrist found out about my habit. I assume I let it slip to my therapist while I was high in a session and subsequently she shared that information with my shrink. He pulled a "tough love scare tactic move" and told my parents that he would no longer see me as a patient if I did not go into a drug rehab program. He happened to be affiliated with a local rehab facility so I was put into an intensive outpatient program fairly quickly.
(On an interesting side note, years later he lost his medical license after a pharmacist reported him for potential drug trafficking and refused to fill his scripts. That's how much he over medicated his patients...)
So I got shoved off to rehab. To be clear, I dropped clean at my intake appointment, and all my weekly drops after. I didn't even smoke cannabis at this point. I didn't drink. When I told them I abused diphenhydramine they didn't even know what it was. My presence there was highly resented by both the other patients and the staff. I was taking up space that could have gone to someone in a more urgent situation like a homeless pregnant crackhead or any other number of people with Real drug habits. As far as they could see, I was a privileged little white girl who was being punished my parents in an extravagant way.
I was declared Recovered® and let go from the program fairly quickly. Year's later, when I was opiate dependant and banging an 1/8th of crack every day, I would laugh hysterically at the irony of having been to rehab before I even took the training wheels off my addiction.
The same year, when I was 17 I made 2 suicide attempts, was admitted to a psychiatric hospital for several weeks, and was kicked out of my house after I was discharged. After that I was taking significantly lower doses due to lack of access, but I was still using daily. It was still not unusual for me to take as much as a gram several times a week. I went off all my psych meds and withdrew from treatment.
I was taking enough days off that I could hold a coherent conversation from time to time. My vision was still significantly damaged. I couldn't read or focus my eyes and I experienced visual distortions and auditory hallucinations even when I wasn't high.
When I finally stopped altogether, the damage I had done was pretty apparent. My speech issues resolved first, thankfully. I regained the ability to focus my eyes within a few months but was not able to really comprehend any text of significant length for several years. I had crazy emotional breakdowns and great difficulty interacting with people. I had issues swallowing without choking on my own spit, which persist to this day. It's a difficult sensation to describe. It's as if my muscles are not coordinating with each other. It feels sorta like half of a hiccup, of that makes any sense.The auditory hallucinations and visual distortions never completely went away, though eventually they lessoned to the point where I was, for the most part, able to tune the noise out. It became my new normal.
I spent my 20s cultivating, nurturing, and subsequently killing an IV drug habit. I settled into my recovery like a good little stoner, landed a great job, met a man, and had a baby. Moved across the country. Managed a kickass music store. I cut all ties with my abusers. Things were looking up. Turns out I wasn't totally broken after all. Sure, I was fucked up from my abusive upbringing, but I thought it wasn't anything a little Buddhism and some radical acceptance couldn't fix. 8 years went by. Last year I quit my job and returned to university full time.
Cue the 2020 Shitshow®. I was dumped late last year and abruptly became a single mom. Then came COVID. I've been isolated in my house with all my demons since early March. In my boredom and distress, it made sense to resume my chemical experimentation. So I'm right back at it like Icarus flying straight into the sun, getting raped by shadow kin all night.
As far as lasting effects, I mentioned most of them already. I still struggle SIGNIFICANTLY with dissociation and derealization. I have had several psychotic episodes over the years. I have long bouts of major depression. I struggle with executive dysfunction and self-care. I chain smoke. I have severe insomnia. At times I'm still trapped in the delerium. My sex life is essentially a game of roulette; I have a tendency to disassociate and slip into into a feral state. I've been known to attack my partners.
I don't know for certain if these things are the result of my substance use or childhood trauma and emotional neglect. Likely it's both. Now that I have read many other people's experiences on this sub, I suspect that DPH is, at the very least a significant contributing factor.
If you read this far, thank you for bearing witness with me. I've never told this story in its entirety. It feels so immature and shameful to "party" like a 14-year-old.
Feel free to ask me anything you're curious about in regards to long-term use, high dosages, or after-effects. Again, I can only speak to my personal experiences so don't take my word for shit. YOU and only you are responsible for your own use and safety. Don't trust strangers on the internet kiddos. /end
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