Supernova's Journal - Archives
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Families have survived the ups and downs of economic booms and busts for a long time, but the fall-behind during the busts has gotten worse while the surge-ahead during the booms has stalled out. In the boom of the 1960s, for example, median family income jumped by 33% (adjusted for inflation). But the boom of the 2000s resulted in an almost-imperceptible 1.6% increase for the typical family. While Wall Street executives and others who owned lots of stock celebrated how good the recovery was for them, middle class families were left empty-handed.
The contrast with the big banks could not be sharper. While the middle class has been caught in an economic vise, the financial industry that was supposed to serve them has prospered at their expense. Consumer banking -- selling debt to middle class families -- has been a gold mine. Boring banking has given way to creative banking, and the industry has generated tens of billions of dollars annually in fees made possible by deceptive and dangerous terms buried in the fine print of opaque, incomprehensible, and largely unregulated contracts.
And when various forms of this creative banking triggered economic crisis, the banks went to Washington for a handout. All the while, top executives kept their jobs and retained their bonuses. Even though the tax dollars that supported the bailout came largely from middle class families -- from people already working hard to make ends meet -- the beneficiaries of those tax dollars are now lobbying Congress to preserve the rules that had let those huge banks feast off the middle class.
Pundits talk about "populist rage" as a way to trivialize the anger and fear coursing through the middle class. But they have it wrong. Families understand with crystalline clarity that the rules they have played by are not the same rules that govern Wall Street. They understand that no American family is "too big to fail." They recognize that business models have shifted and that big banks are pulling out all the stops to squeeze families and boost revenues. They understand that their economic security is under assault and that leaving consumer debt effectively unregulated does not work.
I hope with this bill most plans will not reimburse men for their boner pills. They should have to pay for them out of pocket because I find it disgusting and unbiblical that anybody over 50 wants to have sex.
I saw this article from the New England Journal of Medicine referenced over on The People's Pharmacy website and thought I'd bring it over here for discussion too. The article discusses benefits and harms of prescription drugs. For the purposes of the article, a "harm" is a bad effect. They also cover the phenomenon of newer drugs or bigger doses being not necessarily better theraputically, but they sure do rake in the bucks. The article goes on to discuss Lunesta as an example, which I believe we have discussed in this space before.
Lost in Transmission — FDA Drug Information That Never Reaches Clinicians
Lisa M. Schwartz, M.D., and Steven Woloshin, M.D.
The 2009 federal stimulus package included $1.1 billion to support comparative-effectiveness research about medical treatments. No money has been allocated — and relatively little would be needed — to disseminate existing but practically inaccessible information about the benefits and harms of prescription drugs. Much critical information that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has at the time of approval may fail to make its way into the drug label and relevant journal articles.
When companies apply for drug approval, they submit the results of preclinical studies and usually at least two phase 3 studies — randomized clinical trials in patients with a particular condition. FDA reviewers with clinical, epidemiologic, statistical, and pharmacologic expertise spend as long as a year evaluating the evidence. FDA review documents (posted at www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/cder/drugsa... ) record the reasoning behind approval decisions. Unfortunately, review documents are lengthy, inconsistently organized, and weakly summarized. But they can be fascinating, providing a sense of how reviewers struggled to decide whether benefits exceed harms. Yet in many cases, information gets lost between FDA review and the approved label.
Sometimes what gets lost is data on harms. For example, in 2001, Zometa (zoledronic acid, Novartis) was approved for use in patients with hypercalcemia of malignancy. Approval was based on the results of two trials,1 in which 287 patients with cancer were randomly assigned to receive either 4-mg or 8-mg doses of Zometa or Aredia (pamidronate), the standard of care. According to the label, 8 mg of Zometa was no more effective than 4 mg in reducing calcium levels but had greater renal toxicity (see box on Zometa data). The numbers quantifying the renal-toxicity data for the 8-mg dose did not appear in the label, as they did for the 4-mg dose. But they did appear in the 98 pages of FDA medical and statistical reviews. Surprisingly, the reviews also noted that the 8-mg dose was associated with a higher rate of death from any cause than the 4-mg dose (P=0.03). These mortality data also did not appear in the label. Nor did they appear in the journal article reporting on these studies,2 which actually recommended the 8-mg dose for refractory cases. In 2008, the FDA approved an updated Zometa label with an explicit warning statement: “Renal toxicity may be greater in patients with renal impairment. Do not use doses greater than 4 mg.” Yet the mortality data are still missing from the label.
The People's Pharmacy: http://www.peoplespharmacy.com/2009/10/24/... /
Full article: http://healthcarereform.nejm.org/?p=2126&q...
Moral: Always research any meds you are proscribed and discuss it with your doc. Your doc may not have all the information either.
Letterman and Me
BY NELL SCOVELL
Most media stars responded by defending one of their own. On The View, Barbara Walters remarked that Dave “is a very attractive man” and offered a blanket excuse for his in-house affairs: “Where do you meet people? In the workplace.” Joy Behar took a tougher stance and argued that his behavior might have created an atmosphere that’s uncomfortable for other female employees, especially “if you’re one of the girls who works there and
Actually, it may be. There’s a subset of sexual harassment called sexual favoritism that, according to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, can lead to a
“hostile work environment,” often “creating an atmosphere that is demeaning to women.”
And that pretty much sums up my experience at Late Night with David Letterman.
Without naming names or digging up decades-old dirt, let’s address the pertinent questions. Did Dave hit on me? No. Did he pay me enough extra attention that it was noted by another writer? Yes. Was I aware of rumors that Dave was having sexual relationships with female staffers? Yes. Was I aware that other high-level male employees were having sexual relationships with female staffers? Yes. Did these female staffers have access to information and wield power disproportionate to their job titles? Yes. Did that create a hostile work environment? Yes. Did I believe these female staffers were benefiting professionally from their personal relationships? Yes. Did that make me feel demeaned? Completely. Did I say anything at the time? Sadly, no.
Now, I don’t want a lawsuit. I don’t want compensation. I don’t want revenge. I don’t want Dave to go down (oh, grow up, people). I just want Dave to hire some qualified female writers and then treat them with respect. And that goes for Jay and Conan, too.
OK, I admit that I was one of the ones who wanted more info before passing judgement on Dave, but OK. I have it. It's way past time for the writing rooms to open up to women.
There's a great blogosphere-battle brewing between website Boing Boing and clothier Ralph Lauren over an advertisement featuring a Ralph Lauren-clad woman photoshopped to impossible thinness.
The gauntlet was thrown when a Boing Boing blogger reproduced the ad with this succinct critique: "Dude, her head's bigger than her pelvis."
Instead of addressing this disturbing, and accurate criticism, Ralph Lauren responded by accusing Boing Boing of copyright infringement for reprinting the ad. Even though, As Boing Boing points out, this is "classic fair use: a reproduction 'for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting.'"
Other strategies for battling Ralph Lauren Doctorow plans to employ include: reproducing the ad with the original criticism, publishing Ralph Lauren's legal threats and offering "nourishing soup and sandwiches to
Read more at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/10/06/e...
The ad in question:
This is more than airbrushing out a model's acne, or perhaps getting rid of the odd bulge here and there for a smoother line. This woman looks like she's wearing a full body corset!
Sept. 25 (Bloomberg) -- Democrats will step up their challenge to Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus’s health-care-overhaul plan next week, the opening salvo in a larger fight over the shape and scope of final legislation.
Senators Charles Schumer of New York and Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia will push for a government-run insurance plan to compete with private insurers such as Indianapolis-based WellPoint Inc. While four other congressional panels have adopted that “public option,” Baucus, a Montana Democrat, has endorsed more limited health cooperatives instead in a bid to draw Republican support, antagonizing members of his own party.
“It will be a big fight all the way down to the wire,” Schumer, a member of the Senate Democratic leadership, said last night in an interview. “The health-care bill that will be signed by the president will have a good, strong, robust public option.”
Schumer and Rockefeller each intend to introduce amendments that would include a public option in the finance committee bill. Rockefeller said including a federally backed insurance alternative was crucial to bringing down costs.
Read more: http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=206...
This is getting REALLY good.
Ice Cream May Target The Brain Before Your Hips, UT Southwestern Study Suggests
Main Category: Obesity / Weight Loss / Fitness
Also Included In: Neurology / Neuroscience; Endocrinology; Nutrition / Diet
Article Date: 15 Sep 2009 - 5:00 PDT
Findings from a new UT Southwestern Medical Center study suggest that fat from certain foods we eat makes its way to the brain. Once there, the fat molecules cause the brain to send messages to the body's cells, warning them to ignore the appetite-suppressing signals from leptin and insulin, hormones involved in weight regulation.
The researchers also found that one particular type of fat - palmitic acid - is particularly effective at instigating this mechanism.
"Normally, our body is primed to say when we've had enough, but that doesn't always happen when we're eating something good," said Dr. Deborah Clegg, assistant professor of internal medicine at UT Southwestern and senior author of the rodent study appearing in the September issue of The Journal of Clinical Investigation.
"What we've shown in this study is that someone's entire brain chemistry can change in a very short period of time. Our findings suggest that when you eat something high in fat, your brain gets 'hit' with the fatty acids, and you become resistant to insulin and leptin," Dr. Clegg said. "Since you're not being told by the brain to stop eating, you overeat."
This is what I've taken away from it.
We have to, due to pigheadedness from both leaderships in congress, try to reform the insurance market first. No, it won't be single payer or even a publicly funded option for now.
But, here's the thing. Congress is so out of it, they have to see that what they enact will not be nearly as far reaching as needed, nor as successful as they thought it would. It will be playing around with the margins.
Sure, reforming insurance will help some, but it won't bring about a sweeping change in the shape of healthcare in the US.
When they see that it isn't working, we will be right back here having this same discussion some years from now. And then it will be time to talk about HR 676 and whatever its future incarnation will be.
Meanwhile, I think those of us on the ground need to continue pushing for single-payer as a right. We will fight on as we always have done.
The first anniversary of the Lehman Bros collapse is coming up. Reuters checked in with the guy who made it all possible.
The man vilified for the collapse of Lehman Brothers (LEHMQ.PK) almost a year ago, a failure that triggered the global economic crisis, seemed burdened but not crushed by the pressure of the upcoming anniversary.
But it was forced to file the biggest bankruptcy in U.S. history after it choked under the weight of souring assets and lost investor confidence, and as the U.S. government and Federal Reserve failed to find a buyer and decided not to come up with a rescue package.
Fuld was then humiliated before a Congressional panel last October as stock markets spiraled downwards. He was told by one politician that he was the designated "villain" of the day and screamed at by protesters who called for him to be jailed.
Since then, he has mostly ducked the spotlight, allowing an image of greed, arrogance and failure to cling unchallenged to his name.
I'm in the tank financially and one of the ways out I'm looking at is having more than one way to earn money. If there's anything that working in corporate America for the last 20 years has taught me, with layoffs and all, is that depending on a single paycheck is not the best solution.
So, I want to be involved in several things that earn money. I'm not afraid of working or even working long hours. I'm primarily a writer. Fine, it's fun. No, haven't published anything yet. Still hope to. But I want to have another option, possibly two, that does make money. Online would be great. It doesn't even have to be a lot. My material needs are spartan. Car paid off. House paid off. No kids.
I went to a networking meeting on Monday morning and had a lovely time meeting other ladies who have or are thinking about starting their own businesses. It was also a different social circle because these were mostly Yankee transplants. Like I said, everybody was lovely. I really enjoyed the lady who runs the event, she's a great facilitor and kept everybody on subject and on time.
At the end where you can chat privately, I connected with someone who has the same first name as me. Says she's in the "travel business," Wants me to watch a video.
It's yet another MLM scam. Beware YTB Travel. Anyone ever heard of it? I did some poking around this morning and if it isn't a pyramid, I don't know what is.
You pay a "franchise" fee. It costs $50/month for the website.
California and Illinois have both sued the company for being a pyramid.
You must recruit others into YTB.
I feel like telling this woman to stuff it and leave the other members of the group in peace. Meanwhile. I really would like to find something that I can run PT on the web. I'm just not seeing a lot out there at the moment.
Here's the site if you want to see for yourself
Travel agent on YT a couple of years ago, talking about YTB:
Campaign for America's Future put together this chart:
Went to see Julie & Julia yesterday afternoon. My SO and I usually like going to matinees because it leaves our evenings free for our favorite activity.... eating out at really good restaurants.
Anyway, I had a feeling this movie would be popular but I didn't know just how much so. Unlike other matinees when we have the theatre practically to ourselves, the theatre was just about FULL, on a sunny Saturday afternoon! We settled into our seats and finally, the movie started.
It opens with the Childs arriving in Paris for Paul's assignment at the American Embassy there. The costumes and evocation of mid-twentieth century design for their story is spot on. The dresses are perfect. And if that's the real apartment where the Childs lived, it is idyllic. I'd give my left eye tooth to live there. Glass and Mirror hallway, small and elegantly put together kitchen (nothing fancy though), lovely sitting room with the previous century's furniture and a cozy fireplace of course, with what appeared to be a coal stove.
Meanwhile back in 2002, Julie and her husband are moving to a walk-up in Queens. The 900-square feet they have here is evidently bigger than their place in Brooklyn. The kitchen is tiny. I swear it is no bigger than my little bathroom. It is a feat indeed just to cook in that minuscule space.
This production is a movie of contrasts and parallels: Julie/Julia, Julia/other women of her time, Julie/other women in her time as well. The rest of the movie is spend going back and forth from present-day New York to 1950s Paris in some well-timed transitions. When you are jumping time lines like this, it can get tricky to keep a viewer interested and Nora Ephron does a good job of not letting you get lost in either narrative.
As soon as they get to Paris, Julia is at a loss as to what to do with herself. She finds the then normal life of a diplomat's wife boring. Hobbies like millinery, and bridge lesson just don't fill the bill. Julia's got more on the ball than that. There's a quasi-montage of Julia trying to figure out what to do with herself while Paul is at work. This is comforting to those of us who have struggled the hard way to find our calling in this life. "Shouldn't I have SOMEthing to DOooooo?" She intones to her hubby over yet another sumptuous restaurant dinner.
Paul says, "Well, what do you like to do?"
"Eat!", she laughs while sticking another forkful into her mouth.
Eventually, Julia makes her way to Le Cordon Bleu cooking school. She doesn't impress the all male students and staff at first. And she's convinced the matronly administrator hates her. But, she practices hard at home. There's a great scene with Julia chopping away on some onions at home. It's not till the camera pans back that you see the mountain of chopped onions! Paul comes up the kitchen stairs only to be beaten back by the overwhelming odor.
We also get to see how Julia came to work with her two collaborators, Simone Beck and Louise Bertholle. They met in the powder room at an Embassy function. Bertholle is portrayed as a lightweight collaborator, so much so that Simone ("Simca") and Julia cut her share of the book profits to 18%. I'm not sure how Mme. Bertholle's family feels about that. The story of how the book came to be could be its own movie, I think. There was a very long delay, over a decade?, between their working on it and finding an enthusiastic publisher.
Julie, already a pretty good cook and feeling left out of the seemingly more high-flying lives of her friends, finally figures out that she could blog about cooking. Even better, blog about a favorite childhood memory: her mom's copy of Mastering the Art of French Cooking which she absconded with on her last trip home to Texas.
It's not explained how in the film, but Julie also watches the original episodes of The French Chef. Either WNET was rerunning them or Julie was able to get them on video. I would love to know if it's out on DVD now. I have a copy of Julie Powell's book and maybe she says in there.
Also, what movie about Julia Child would be complete without the infamous Dan Akroyd SNL homage? It's here too in all it's gory hilarity.
The main criticism of this movie has been that the modern story is weak. I think that's unfair. Does Julie come across as a little neurotic. Well, yes, especially when contrasted with the feisty Julia Child. But Julie tells her story with all the foibles and uncertainties of the present. Julia on the other hand, had nearly a lifetime to simmer her life and come up with a compelling story. My Life in Paris was published in 1994, I think. That's a good forty years after the fact. You can forget a lot of your angst at birthing something new in that time.
This is clearly a movie born out of love: love of food, love of one's spouse, and love of life. It made me laugh and smile for nearly its two and a half hour running time.
A word about the husbands: we should al be so lucky to find such supportive mates. They may have eaten the drugstore out of TUMs and Alka-Seltzer, but they didn't let their spouses give up on their dreams.
Source: Huffington Post
Forget the Blue Dogs, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told reporters Thursday. The real "villains" in the fight for health care reform are insurance companies.
"They are the villains in this. They have been part of the problem in a major way," Pelosi said of the insurance industry after her weekly press conference. "It's almost immoral, what they are doing," she said, referring to industry lobbying against a public insurance plan option. "Of course, they've been immoral all along. They are doing everything in their power to stop a public option from happening, and the public has to know about it."
The current system works so well for insurers that they don't even want subsidies, Pelosi claimed. "They've had a good thing going for a long time at the expense of the American people and the health of our country," she said, adding that it will be tough to keep them from getting their way. "This is the fight of our lives."
Read more: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/07/30/p...
Well, I might not agree with her that "progressives have been well represented" ( further down the article) but it's good to hear her finally nailing the insurance companies as they should be.
RONDA, N.C. — A North Carolina wine was part of a gift President Barack Obama presented to Italian President Giorgio Napolitano before he attended the G-8 summit.
Obama gave Napolitano a variety of American wines packaged in a custom-made box crafted from the wood of former Oval Office flooring, and a bottle of 2008 Raffaldini Vineyards Vermentino was among the wines in the package.
Raffaldini is a family-owned vineyard in Wilkes County that produces a variety of wines. It was among the first U.S. vineyards to plant Vermentino vines, which are cultivated in coastal districts of Italy and on the island of Sardinia.
“Raffaldini Vineyards is honored to have been selected to represent the U.S. and is proud that our preservation and promotion of our Italian heritage and culture have been recognized,” Barbara Raffaldini, co-owner and general counsel, said in a statement.
Read more: http://www.wral.com/news/local/noteworthy/... /
This is a huge leap for NC wines. I'm definitely going to go find this one.
edit: Maybe POTUS's gift-giving skills are improving.
item like a keychain or similar to an AIDS ribbon that we could send in the mail to Congress showing boatloads of support for a public option? Anything small that would fit in and envelope and not cost much to mail.
What kind of logo would fit this purpose? The medicare logo? the HHS logo?
I'm thinking mostly of Schumer and all the rest who want to remove or delay a public healthcare option. We could also send to congress folks who are already on board to add assurance that we do support public non-profit healthcare.
Ad personal persuasive stories about being helped by national service and being hurt by the current rapacious insurance industry and you've got yourself a campaign.
I was just thinking that Congress people get a TON of letters about a brazillion subjects but the small items would definitely be noticed and not confused with other causes.
Or maybe not mail them, but have someone like Skinner *ahem* or somebody at MoveOn to deliver in person.
Anyone else thinking similar?
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