on drug companies

A friend of mine passed on this article from the New York Review of Books on drug companies. I haven’t finished reading it myself, but here’s an excerpt from it:

In fact, year after year, for over two decades, this industry has been far and away the most profitable in the United States. (In 2003, for the first time, the industry lost its first-place position, coming in third, behind “mining, crude oil production,” and “commercial banks.”) The prices drug companies charge have little relationship to the costs of making the drugs and could be cut dramatically without anywhere close to threatening R&D.

Interesting, don’t you think(?), that oil and banks should supplant the pharmaceuticals during the Bush administration. These drug companies are really global entitities according to the article, so there’s plenty of blame to go around. The article also makes the point that:

In 2001, nearly one in four seniors reported that they skipped doses or did not fill prescriptions because of the cost. (That fraction is almost certainly higher now.)

PhotoShop

Chasing Daisy has an interesting link about a photographic scavenger hunt with a link to a discussion on manipulating photos using PhotoShop. Since I make my living by taking photographs, I found it very interestng.

I’d like to note that like many professions, photography has different fields of expertise. I work in the newspaper industry so the rules for altering photos are pretty well known. Simply, you don’t place or remove anything that wasn’t there when the photo was taken. If the photos can’t be trusted, then neither can the words. But, if you look at photos taken for advertising, I’d guess that most of them have been heavily manipulated.

If you read the discussion, you will also see that someone has posted a link to the proper use of the product name Photoshop. One of the don’ts is that you should not use the word Photoshop as a verb (i.e. “he photoshopped the eyes”). Now this is just my opinion, but (always watch out for a “but”, it’s the transition for completely denying what was previously said;)) I don’t believe in giving corporations control over how we use our own language. If anything, it gives the product more exposure. It I were writing a book I’d add the trademark symbol. I’m not. I’m writing a blog. My writing reflects, in general, how I speak. I don’t say “the picure looks like it was manipulated by using Adobe’s trademarked product called Photoshop.” I say, “It looks photoshopped,” and everyone knows what I mean.

Anyway, I learned photography during the old days, when I developed my own film, knew the difference between cold light and condenser enlargers, and the difference between different films and papers. I have a historical background from which to draw my ethics. It will be interesting to see how those morés change as younger people, who do not have that background, take over the field.

gmail

I have another blog that I sorta maintain on Blogger. It was the first blog I had. There’s nothing really there,… just quick notes and probably an angrier part of me (at least that’s the way I seem to be feeling when I logon there). Perhaps I’ll use it as an alter ego (thanks for the idea “D“). I’m conflicted on whether or not to give it a link, so I won’t for now.

Anyway, when I posted recently, I was given the opportunity to try out Gmail (Google owns Blogger), so I signed up despite the fact that I don’t like the idea of people or machines reading my email without my permission. Especially given the latest news from a US appeals court. Now I’ve known for many years that email is like a postcard, but you kind of forget that. So, here is my PGP key. You should be able to copy and paste it. I haven’t figured out how to put it on my “about me” page. Perhaps I’d have to upgrade my account.


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Amazing what tangents one can go on. Anyway, so now I have this gmail account that has googles (sorry, couldn’t resist) of space and I’m not quite sure if I can make use of it all. I’ve become so accustomed to limiting myself, that a gig of space seems enormous. Of course, I remember when an 8K CoCo was considered to be more than enough space. Dare I say it? Of course! My how times have changed… There I’ve said it and I’m glad.

Fahrenheit

I just saw one of the most powerful movies that I have ever seen in my lifetime. I avoided the opening night crowds on Friday and the weekend, and met my wife after a doctor’s appointment for a 2pm show. 2pm on a Wednesday afternoon and it was totally filled (including the seats in the very front). If you haven’t guessed by now, I am talking about Fahrenheit 9/11.

If you have a right wing relative or loved one who proclaims it’s all propaganda, ask them if they’ve seen it. Ask them to see it and then discuss it with you. It is so easy to understand why it won the Palme D’Or at Cannes. It’s powerful, powerful film making.

There are times in which it seems to drag but that’s when we are being given dry information. So understand that I am not saying it is a perfect film, but it is extremely well done. Perhaps it is because I live in NYC, but one of the opening scene in which the audience is not shown the World Trade Center being hit, but hears all the sounds, is one of the most powerful moments in cinema.

If you have not seen it yet, run… very fast, to the nearest theater showing it. You won’t be sorry.

unskilled and ignorant

From the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology (1999)

Abstract
People tend to hold overly favorable views of their abilities in many social and intellectual domains. The authors suggest that this overestimation occurs, in part, because people who are unskilled in these domains suffer a dual burden: Not only do these people reach erroneous conclusions and make unfortunate choices, but their incompetence robs them of the metacognitive ability to realize it. Across 4 studies, the authors found that participants scoring in the bottom quartile on tests of humor, grammar, and logic grossly overestimated their test performance and ability. Although their test scores put them in the 12th percentile, they estimated themselves to be in the 62nd. Several analyses linked this miscalibration to deficits in metacognitive skill, or the capacity to distinguish accuracy from error. Paradoxically, improving the skills of participants, and thus increasing their metacognitive competence, helped them recognize the limitations of their abilities.

Unskilled and Unaware of It: How Difficulties in Recognizing One’s Own Incompetence Lead to Inflated Self-Assessments

hmmmm…… now where does this apply?

Fahrenheit 9/11

I just finished readng an interview of Michael Moore, documentary filmmaker and creator of the about to be released film, Fahrenheit 9/11 by Matt Lauer. Lauer is a TV personality here in the states. As you can see, the tone of the interview is pretty assaultive.

It seems the extreme right is already in attack mode even though the film has not even been released yet. The same people who brought us the demonstrations in Florida to not count all the votes are now bringing us an organization called “Move America Forward.” If you’re wonder (as I did) who these people are, there is a very interesting exchange reported at Pacific Views: RM R and Move America Forward.

Alternet has a thorough assessment of the right wing attack machine and this issue in particular, with some background material.

I remember

It’s been weeks since my last post. No excuses. Just didn’t feel like typing. A lot has happened since my absence, including the deaths of Ronald Reagan and Ray Charles.

The Reagan thing, was very interesting. I’ve never seen such a love fest in the “mainstream” media here in the states. It’s almost as if they had totally forgotten everything negative about the man and painted this picture of a saint. That is not the Ronald Reagan I remember. I remember his arguing that ketchup is a vegetable for school kids, I remember people losing jobs and big blocks of cheese. I remember his comments about the homeless choosing to be so. I remember the invasion of Grenada. I remember thinking that if you were rich it was a great time, but if you were middle or lower class you were in trouble. I remember a huge US deficit. But hey,… That’s what I remember.

Meanwhile, Ray Charles has died as well. I remember songs like “Hit The Road Jack,” “Busted,” “America, The Beautiful,” and even a ditty by the Beatles called “Eleanor Rigby.” I remember that Ray Charles sang all types of songs from R&B to Country to whatever. That was the nature of his genius. He wasn’t bound by any categories and he was good at whatever he attempted. I’m sure he has had some flops during his time, we all have (… even Reagan). I remember seeing him in concert and his stopping the band from playing (in the middle of a song) because they weren’t keeping up with him. He scolded the band right there on stage and then started over. My understanding is that he was not an easy man to get along with.

The easy going guy and the hard to get along with guy. Your choice.

An Addendum

on shareware

I have been using a wonderful backup program for the Mac called Impression, but when I recently upgraded to Panther it broke. By broke, I mean it would no longer complete a backup before giving an error message and terminating the backup. I sent a note to the author (via a pull down menu) and heard back from him in a couple of days.

He was baffled as to the cause of the problem. Since he had not heard from others about this it seemed to be something particular to my system. Long story, short… we communicated via email for a few days and he was able to correct an assumption in his coding and I had my favorite backup program back.

Impression is shareware, and this experience is only one example of why I think it important to support shareware authors. Not only did I receive personal support, but both parties benefitted from the communication. This is not something you can get from larger companies or corporations. I am not saying that corporate software is bad, I’m simply saying there are a lot of shareware programs out there written by good coders that can be obtained at a fraction of the cost of corporate software.

Looking at my dock, I count at least seven shareware programs (all registered). Not one of them has shortchanged me in support or satisfaction. So, this note is basically to encourage people to try out shareware. Most will give you, at a minimum, a trial period and some will give you the entire program with minor crippling. Impression is like the latter. You can’t personalize the label of your backup discs without registering, but the you can do complete backups and restores.

How did I find out about Impression? Well like most of my other shareware, I had a specific need that was not being met by my current software. I went to the the various software web sites and like most people, looked for the free stuff first. Then I started looking at the shareware.

Another of my favorite purchases is LittleSecrets. I have so many passwords and usernames, it’s ridiculous. With LittleSecrets they are all in one place and protected by a blowfish encrypted password. What was the password for that web site? I simply type in the search field of LittleSecrets and it pops up. Love it!

radicals in the whitehouse

I’ve been relatively quiet for a while, and just observing. I can not, for he life of me, figure out what it is that people see in George ‘W’. Those that support him seem to be more involved with supporting their party rather than the US (or the world, for that matter). I have yet to hear anyone who supports him give me three positive things he has done for this country.

Even some conservatives are recognizing that he is not putting forth their values. I’m referring to people like Thomas Friedman and George Will (free subscription necessary to view pages). I’m hoping that the majority of people are recognizing the disastrous situation this administration has produced. If it were not for the fact that the Republicans control the House of Representatives, Bush and his cohorts would have been impeached by now.


The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.
– United States Constitution

The torture and humiliation going on in Abu Ghraib prison is a direct result of the administration’s policies. Whether it’s breaking treaties or “floating” the idea of torture (anyone remember that debate from last year?), or refusing to sign on to the World Criminal Court or simply ignoring the Geneva Conventions.

It’s sickening! The American public has to get this administration out before this madness destroys us all.