Monthly Archives

January 2009

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NYTimes.com: Drug Making’s Move Abroad Stirs Concerns

From NYTimes.com: Drug Making’s Move Abroad Stirs Concerns

But now experts and lawmakers are growing more and more concerned that the nation is far too reliant on medicine from abroad, and they are calling for a law that would require that certain drugs be made or stockpiled in the United States.

“The lack of regulation around outsourcing is a blind spot that leaves room for supply disruptions, counterfeit medicines, even bioterrorism,” said Senator Sherrod Brown, Democrat of Ohio, who has held hearings on the issue.

Decades ago, most pills consumed in the United States were made here. But like other manufacturing operations, drug plants have been moving to Asia because labor, construction, regulatory and environmental costs are lower there.

The critical ingredients for most antibiotics are now made almost exclusively in China and India. The same is true for dozens of other crucial medicines, including the popular allergy medicine prednisone; metformin, for diabetes; and amlodipine, for high blood pressure.

Part of the reason these plants went overseas is that the F.D.A. inspects domestic plants far more often than foreign ones, making production more expensive in the United States.

The short term benefits of outsourcing is clear.  Lower labor costs means lower prices and higher profits for companies.  However, the longer term effects are now starting to show.  We now are reliant on foreign countries that have poor track records on product safety to manufacture drugs that we need.  Plus, China is not exactly an ally.  What happens when there’s a conflict.  Will our dependence on Chinese made goods force us to accept policies that we normally wouldn’t?

I don’t think the public is even clear that many of these drugs are no longer made in the United States.  I think it’s a matter of time before we hear news of some kind of tainted drug.

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How I watched the Presidential Inauguration

I had intended on watching the Presidential Inauguration over a live stream from CNN Live, but that was a pretty miserable failure.  CNN Live was overwhelmed and failed to connect to the stream most of the time and when it did, it was a stuttering mess.  MSNBC was just as bad so I ended up watching the Inauguration the old fashioned way- on my 24 year old 9 inch Color TV.  And on FOX News!  Normally, I’d rather watch a turned off TV set than FOX News, but this was the only station that I could get clear reception over the air.  It wasn’t too bad in this situation since the talking heads were quiet during the actual swearing in and inaugural speech.

With the coming digital transition for TV, this will most likely be its last hurrah as it’s not worth getting a digital tuner for a 9 inch TV.

InauguralTV.jpg 

As a size comparision, a 9″ tv screen is the same size as the original Macintosh screen. I wonder how many of you have actually seen an original Macintosh screen?apple_macintosh_with_hello_screen_in_1984.jpg

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Chia Obama

The Obama Presidential Inaugural collectible you’ve been waiting for-  The Chia Obama.  Available in two styles, Happy Chia Obama and Determined Chia Obama.

Growing an Afro on President Obama just seems a little undignified.  Amusing, but undignified.

Buy Chia Obama now at Amazon.com

HappyChiaObama.jpgDeterminedChiaObama.jpgUPDATE 1/20/09: Not due to ship until April 1st!
UPDATE: You know, I think I might actually get one of these.  I’ve never had a chia pet and this looks like it be fun to photograph and blog about. Sure beats growing hair on Chia Shrek.  At least Obama’s supposed to have hair.  So, stay tuned for some fun future Chia action!

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NYTimes.com: Bailout Is a Windfall to Banks, if Not to Borrowers

From NYTimes.com: Bailout Is a Windfall to Banks, if Not to Borrowers

Most of the banks that received the money are far smaller than behemoths like Citigroup or Bank of America. A review of investor presentations and conference calls by executives of some two dozen banks around the country found that few cited lending as a priority. An overwhelming majority saw the bailout program as a no-strings-attached windfall that could be used to pay down debt, acquire other businesses or invest for the future.

(bold- my emphasis)

There’s something seriously wrong with the execution of the bailout if banks are considering it a “no-strings-attached windfall”.

The Obama Adminstration needs to look at this bailout very carefully before handing out the second half of the bailout money.  What are we trying to accomplish with this money and will giving out this money actually meet these goals?

This is a lot like the economic stimulus checks that the government sent out.  Who doesn’t love a windfall from the government?  But, what did it actually do for the economy?  Very Little.

From LATimes.com: With stimulus, there’s more bang in each buck

Analyses of how last year’s tax rebate checks were spent have convinced economists that taxpayers and businesses are not in a “stimulative” mood. Joel Prakken, chairman of Macroeconomic Advisers, a St. Louis-based economic forecasting firm, estimates that taxpayers spent only 30% of the rebate checks they received.

That meant $100 billion in tax reductions bought just $30 billion in demand for goods and services.

“What happened was exactly what economic theory says should happen,” said Valerie Ramey, an economist at UC San Diego. “People knew the tax rebate was temporary, so it didn’t make sense for them to go out and splurge. Rebates are not the best way to stimulate spending.”

What we need is a strong effort to invest in the United States.  Build our future by investing in energy, education, and infrastructure. 

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SCIFI Wire: Battlestar Stars Remember Their Favorite Moments

SCIFI Wire: Battlestar Stars Remember Their Favorite Moments

The reminiscing of Battlestar Galactica has begun as the show winds down with its final episodes.

One of the more interesting stories to me is from Michael Hogan, Colonel Tigh about Edward James Olmos’s spontaneous creation of one of the show’s signature moments.

“Adama finishes this speech and then says, ‘So say we all,’ and I guess we sort of mumbled, ‘So say we all.’ Eddie [Olmos] kind of looked at all of us and said it again, ‘So say we all.’ Well, we weren’t ready for that, so we said, ‘So say we all.’ And he looked at us and said, ‘SO SAY WE ALL.’ And he got us all going, and it was a chilling, chilling time. It was like, ‘Whoa,’ and by the end of it the whole room, the hundreds of us, are just yelling, “SO SAY WE ALL!” And that wasn’t in the script. When that was over you were kind of, ‘Whoa boy, we’re in for a ride now,’ because Eddie just kind of looked at people and said, ‘Come on. Let’s go. Let’s get on board here. …’ Eddie definitely did take a leadership role right from day one and continued all the way through to the end.”