Saturday, December 19, 2009

When Bull met Bingo

I've said this before and I'll say it again (and again. . . ): People put way too much emphasis on words to the point where people can find (or create) slight where is does not exist. At the rate we're going, it's just a matter of time before it will only be safe to communicate through binary code. For once, the assault on language is coming from the EU which seems to be taking a hard line on any terminology or phrases it considers "gendered" which includes "‘right hand man" (will Joan Osbourne's song be banned?), "Old Masters" and "gentlemen’s agreement." What they plan to replace these terms with is beyond me but it really smacks of the feminist extremism that undermines the equality and right of self determination the movement is supposed to be about. I can understand taking a hard line and refusing to use terms that are meant to be derisive but demanding people change old heritage gaming terms, as well intentioned as it may be, is downright silly.

Rob Hutchinson at the online bingo club and bingo enthusiasts are staging a pre-emptive strike with a poll @ Maybe "Lady Humyn Being Luck" will smile upon them and people will finally learn to choose their battles wisely lest they face losing the war.


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Sunday, November 01, 2009

Roman Polanski promises the Swiss he'll be a boyscout

Roman Polanski is once again proving that great artistic talent does not make him an honorable human being. In the face of his victim, Samantha Geimer, requesting the charges be dropped due to the negative impact the media attention to the situation has had on her health, Polanksi is promising to cough up lots of cash to the Swiss government so they will release him from jail even though that will ensure continued media coverage.
The Associated Press reports that attorney Herve Temime told a French radio station on Sunday that the 76-year-old's latest bail offer would be in cash, after Swiss authorities rejected a previous bail offer last Friday that was not a cash offer. Temime also told the radio station that Polanski would accept any decision on extradition "whatever it is," adding that the filmmaker would not act "like a fugitive," says the AP. The Insider

Wow, Polanski says pretty please with some cold hard cash on top and promises not to act like a fugitive? What the Hell does that mean?! That, unlike your average fugitive, he'll carry on living a lavish lifestyle in private as well as in the public? Since he's now claiming that he's willing to accept any decision on extradition, maybe his promise not to act like a fugitive should be backed up with waiving his right to fight extradition so he can submit himself to the jurisdiction of the court to submit a legitimate request to reopen his case (the court has ruled he has no standing to do so as a fugitive) or complete the piddly amount of time he would serve under the terms of the original plea plus whatever limited time is added due to his decision to flee.

It seems to me, the path to getting this whole ordeal out of the media spotlight and lightening Ms Geimer's emotional load as the outed victim of this crime, would be for Polanski to just come back to the US, accept the court's decision, complete his sentence and then pay Ms Geimer the balance due, plus interest, on the settlement they reached in her civil case against him.


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Thursday, October 01, 2009

Wye not?

Wasn't the FTC supposed to relay a decision on Wye-Pfi yesterday? I'm hearing crickets chirping, but nothing else from Pfizer, here in Pharm Country. Could it be that the FTC is doing some Pfizering itself and making the "too big to fail" drug giant jump through hoops?

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Wednesday, May 13, 2009

FDA cracks down on corporate drug dealers

In this case, the renegade drug company is none other than General Mills purveyors of such nasty contraband as Cheerios®. My first reaction was to crack up hysterically at what, on the surface, appears to be histrionics in the face of overblown health claims for something that is no more than a tasty treat (and pretty darned good potty training tool). In all honesty, General Mills' advertising is fraudulent and something should be done but I still have a problem with the fact that neither the FDA nor the FTC do anything about so-called nutritional supplements until at least a couple of people die. The reason the FDA does nothing is because that old bag of vinegar & water, David Kessler, and his buddy Orrin Hatch sold out the agency's regulatory authority over herbal/nutritional "supplements" & vitamins in an effort to get the Senate to approve FDA user fees. This eventually lead to the passage of the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA) of 1994.

I'm cautiously optimistic that the FDA's willingness to threaten to pull every box of Cheerios over fraudulent but relatively innocuous claims (and no real potential for adverse effects to consumers) will be parlayed into attempts to regain the truly necessary oversight and regulation of the vitamin and supplement industry. The fact that FTC chairman, Jon Leibowitz, has grown a set to look into the marketing of that that bastion of addiction liability and dangerous treatment for Attention Deficit Disorder, Frosted Mini Wheats® makes me wonder why that agency has only decided to act because some kids believe an animated mini wheat that says they'll be more attentive if they eat the cereal when the energy could be much better spent holding the enormous diet industry accountable for overtly fraudulent and deceptive advertising practices (some of which are on products that have never been proven to be safe, let alone effective). Is the agency afraid to go after these companies because their reaction to FTC suggestion they may want to expand oversight of advertising to include testimonials on blogs and make it clear that user testimonials aren't evidence of product efficacy was for the diet industry to lobby for a right to make false advertising claims?

Both the FTC and the FDA need to get their priorities straight and take action against the more egregious manufacturers of dietary supplements before they go after the breakfast food industry.


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Monday, March 09, 2009

How long before big Pharma companies have their hands out for more?

Today's announcement that Merck will buy Schering-Plough just marked another notch in the belt of bad news for not only the economy, but for drug development and healthcare worldwide. Pharma company failures, unlike the banking industry, not only have the capacity to wreak havoc on the economy with the job losses but also brings with it the threat of negative impact to drug supply and effective monopolies that impede instead of advance development of new therapies and cost containment of those treatments. The sheer size and industry control of so few large companies is also likely to blunt any attempt to control this industry worldwide (seriously, when a penalty of $1.5 Billion dollars for regulatory infractions is just seen as the cost of doing business, companies are way too big for the good of anyone but senior management). It's time for the government to refuse to approve these mega-mergers.

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Wednesday, February 04, 2009

When the trickle down drippage from the golden parachute isn't gold

So, according to CNN, President Obama has announced that he'll deflate Golden Parachutes for execs who take bail out money:

"For top executives to award themselves these kinds of compensation packages in the midst of this economic crisis isn't just bad taste -- it's a bad strategy -- and I will not tolerate it. We're going to be demanding some restraint in exchange for federal aid -- so that when firms seek new federal dollars, we won't find them up to the same old tricks," the president added.

Under Obama's plan, companies that want to pay their executives more than $500,000 will have to do so through stocks that cannot be sold until the companies pay back the money they borrow from the government. CNN

What I'd like to know is will company execs still be able to provide these huge payouts to execs if they take money from banks who've received bailout money that was, ostensibly, meant to help the economy and prevent job loss for the unnecessary acquisition of another large company that will cause massive layoffs and do significant damage to local economies in two states. . .you know, the Wye-Pfi deal?

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Sunday, January 11, 2009

Budd Dwyer begs your pardon

Wow, talk about selective memory where a friend is concerned. This morning I ready an editorial in the Inky that really irked the hell out of me. In the piece, former Reagan staffer Jeffrey Lord writes of the need to show mercy and offer a posthumous pardon on his old friend Budd Dwyer. In 1986, Dwyer was offered a plea bargain for accepting a $300,000 kickback. A plea bargain under which Dwyer would be required to serve 5 years, resign as PA State Treasurer and cooperate with the investigation. Dwyer, professing his innocence, refused the offer, went to trial and was found guilty. In early January 1987, Dwyer called his friend Lord to inquire about the possibility of having Ronald Reagan pardon him to avoid a jail term.

I was not a lawyer, but I certainly knew that a request of this nature was "above my pay grade." I told Budd that I would be happy to get the details of the process for him, specifically noting that it was impossible for me to promise presidential pardons to anyone. I brought the request to my immediate boss, Mitch Daniels (now the governor of Indiana). I was given the OK to check with the White House Counsel's Office to get information on pardon procedure and relay that - and only that - to Budd. There could be no promises made.

I mentioned something else to Daniels. I knew Budd well enough to feel very uncomfortable with his tone of voice. "The man on the phone," I said, "does not sound like the Budd Dwyer I know." Daniels nodded sympathetically and encouraged me to get Dwyer his answer right away, which I did.

Budd took the news of the process - the appeal for review had to be made to the Department of Justice, not the president - calmly. While he had the right to appeal and could receive a pardon if his case were approved, this could take years. Certainly this would not happen before his impending sentencing, now only days away.

Dwyer was permitted to continue his position as state Treasurer until sentencing and, on the day of Jan. 22, 1987 he committed his final abuse of that position by calling a televised press conference during which he committed suicide on live television. This was a big case in PA and, since many expected Dwyer to resign during the press conference, viewership was expected to be high. The fact that much of PA was dealing with a huge snowstorm also increased viewership. Dwyer had a sizable audience for his final act and, I'm sure, anyone unfortunate enough to see the spectacle (understand, this was in the days before we were desensitized to the grotesque by so-called "Reality" TV) probably remember it well.

In this morning's editorial, Lord sums up his piece with a request to pardon Bud Dwyer:
If anyone deserves a pardon - mercy - from the president of the United States, it should, finally, be Budd Dwyer. Let him rest in peace.
He doesn't indicate there is evidence that exculpates Dwyer or provide any rationale for the "need" for a pardon except to note that Dwyer professed his innocence, was "broken" by his conviction and inability to get pardoned prior to sentencing.

As I read the article this morning, the only words that came to mind were "you have got to be shitting me!" Dwyer blew his brains out on live TV. He called a press conference to do it and the whole thing was done on a day in which much of the state was in the midst of one heck of a snow storm so quite a few small children ended up seeing this horrific display. This was Dwyer's last act and the only reason to commit this act so publicly would be to hurt others in a sad attempt to martyr himself. If his suicide were only to ensure his wife could keep his pension in addition to avoiding any jail time, he could have killed himself in private.

Be sure, Dwyer's last act was not just a cowardly act to avoid taking responsibility for his actions and paying his debt to society, it was a heinous one in which he intentionally punished others because he was caught with his hand in the proverbial cookie jar. Sorry Mr. Lord, but the callousness & public nature of Dwyer's suicide renders him exceptionally unqualified for a pardon.


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Saturday, January 03, 2009

Air Tran apologizes - sort of

Like many a public figure caught doing something that could impact their bottom line, Air Tran issued an apology for severely screwing up the vacation plans of Atif Irfan, his family, and a family friend. The apology, issued mere hours after the airline insisted all actions taken [or not] were appropriate and that there was nothing for which they needed to apologize has a tinge of a "we're sorry that you are so overly sensitive that you were offended" smell
While Atif Irfan's brother described the airline's about face as surprising and generous, the apology that was issued still misses the mark. Yes, the airline finally agreed to reimburse the Irfan family and their friend for costs associated with a new flight & transport home in addition to granting the full refund for the Air Tran flights they were not permitted to take but they glossed over the fact that the airline itself unneccessarily and, to be honest, quite rudely, aggravated the situation by refusing to just rebook the group on the next flight out and publicly lying about the reasons why. Instead, they chose to point out that nobody on the flight got to Orlando on time without acknowledging their role in making the situation worse for 9 people in particular. Their apology, it seems, is focused on the need to follow security precautions in which air marshalls elevated the situation to the FBI. While, I'm sure, racism and ignorance was the underlying reason that other passengers relayed concerns about the conversation they overheard to the flight attendants, the family was not angry at the airline for doing what they had to do to ensure there was no real threat and that the passengers and crew could have a calm flight. The outcry about the incident was due to the manner the group was treated by Air Tran after they were not only cleared by the FBI, but after the FBI agents themselves requested the group be re-booked on a later flight.


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Friday, January 02, 2009

2009 Predictions

All one has to do to confirm that I have absolutely no psychic abilities is to look at the decisions I've made in my life about men and more than 1 job, however, I'm pretty confident predicting that AirTran will lose (or quickly settle) one lawsuit that has yet to be filed in response to an incident that occurred yesterday afternoon:
A Muslim family removed from an airliner Thursday after passengers became concerned about their conversation say AirTran officials refused to rebook them, even after FBI investigators cleared them of wrongdoing. CNN
Eight members of Atif Irfan's family were supposed to be on an Air Tran flight from DC's Reagan National to Orlando as part of their dastardly plan to meet up with other family members to attend a religious conference. The five adults and 3 children had what sounds to be pretty similar to a conversation I often overhear among people who don't travel [by air] routinely when taking a flight
"We were (discussing whether it was safest to sit near) the wing, or the engine or the back or the front. . ."
My guess is that it is a similar conversation the passengers who reported the group may have, at some point, overheard others have or even had themselves. Unfortunately for Irfan's group, they were FWC (flying while colored) and doing do in the US where, I kid you not, I have personally witnessed Arabs be confused for "wetbacks" and Hispanics/Latinos be confused for "A-Rabs." After other passengers raised concerns to flight attendants, the two air marshalls on the flight contacted the FBI who took Irfan's family and a family friend, an attorney at the Library of Congress who was not traveling with the family but was seen speaking to them, off the plane for questioning.

The entire group was cleared by the FBI, who went the extra step to request the group be allowed to take a later flight to get to their destination. Air Tran may be a discount airline but they certainly know how to give a first class F-you: they offered a full refund and stated the family can [try to] fly with Air Tran again in the [distant] future, just not one that can get them to this vacation.


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