The Daily Pulse, 04.27.05


Well, I got the first sign of “this stress is getting to me” yesterday. Major stomach cramps and a gas attack that makes World War I look like a cakewalk. I ended up leaving work six hours early, went to Wal-Mart and picked up some anti-gas medication (along with a couple DVDs, margarine, milk, and some snacks), then went home, took a couple of them and a Nexium along with half a K-Dawg, then relaxed and started to tits up that laptop I told you about yesterday.

Still don’t have the car charger for it (and I’m about to complain to the seller considering that he got the money order a week ago), but I’ve got a firewall, MS Streets and Trips 2005 (since my friend’s going to use it in his delivery truck for maps), and Symantec Anti-Virus Corporate 10 (which just came out) in resident mode. I also had to install SANDRA in order to find out the speed of this sucker, and it’s a 233 MHz Pentium II, the slowest PII that was ever made. No way to upgrade the processor on it either. Balls.

But that’s all of my personal life since yesterday. I’m actually pretty active considering my job is a total bore and something I don’t want to do. But let’s just get on with this…


Can’t pimp the Daily Pulse, because that’s this column.

Gloomchen reviews the latest Beck CD. Beck is one of those artists that I categorize in the “one good song” arena, like I do Nirvana and Soundgarden, that song, of course, being “Loser”. So I admire her bravery.

I pimped Stevens for his DC stuff yesterday, so today I get to pimp Maillaro for his Marvel material.

Wonder if the Enron documentary reviewed by PhenomAG contains the full story of being linked to the Junta?

Yeah, not much has been posted since yesterday, so it’s a short Pimp Section today. On to the stories…


From the Washington Post (but don’t worry, conservatives, Fox News has a similar story):

Actors pretending to be patients with symptoms of stress and fatigue were five times as likely to walk out of doctors’ offices with a prescription when they mentioned seeing an ad for the heavily promoted antidepressant Paxil, according an unusual study being published today.

The study employed an elaborate ruse — sending actors with fake symptoms into 152 doctors’ offices to see whether they would get prescriptions. Most who did not report symptoms of depression were not given medications, but when they asked for Paxil, 55 percent were given prescriptions, and 50 percent received diagnoses of depression.

Actual numbers here from CTV (whose readership would definitely have a vested interest in this given the situation over Canadian prescription medications here in the US):

Feigning the symptoms of a mild form of depression — a condition that does not require antidepressants — they followed one of three scripts.

In one, they mentioned having seen an ad for the brand-name antidepressant Paxil, and asked for it. In the second, they said they had seen a TV show on depression and wanted to know if a drug could help them. And in the final script they didn’t request anything specific.

Based on 298 visits to the offices of 152 doctors, between 2003 and 2004, researchers found doctors most likely to write prescriptions when Paxil was requested.

In those cases, doctors prescribed drugs in 53 per cent of cases, with 27 per cent of those for Paxil. When patients made a more general request, however, they walked away with drugs even more often: 76 per cent of the time.

Those who made no request were prescribed drugs in less than one-third of cases.

Among actors who pretended to be suffering an even less severe “adjustment disorder” such as fatigue, stress or sleeplessness, the results were the similar.

Antidepressants were prescribed 55 per cent of the time when Paxil was mentioned, 39 per cent in instances of general requests and 10 per cent when no drugs were mentioned at all.

I know what you’re thinking: with my fondness for little white slips of paper signed by a doctor, have I ever done this? No, not really. There is one occasion that comes to mind, and, gee, like this, it involves an SSRI. What a surprise given my condition, huh? The ironic part here is that I was trying to get OFF Paxil, not on it. I was reading a Time Magazine article on depression, and they mentioned a new drug that was coming on the market called Lexapro. At the time, my shrink had me on Paxil and Lamictal, and the Paxil was doing a number on me (as it always did). So, on the first visit after Lexapro came on the market, I asked him about it, and he wrote me a prescription. I’ve been taking Lexapro ever since.

As for the conclusions here…well, I’m not surprised. My doctor here gives me anything I want (that is, my general practice doctor; my shrink is a lot more reserved about that, and I end up taking what she wants me to take). I like that in a doctor. That’s how I was able to stockpile enough Vicodin for Lex Luger to become friends with me. I was also able to stockpile Nexium as well, which definitely helped yesterday. So, in a way, I approve of doctors doing this. They’re really trying to cover their own asses. They hear symptoms, make a diagnosis, and prescribe. If they don’t, they could be in for a suit if the condition becomes worse. Given the price of malpractice insurance and the litigous nature of people here in the States these days, I don’t blame them one bit. In fact, now that the wet season has arrived, I want to see if he’ll prescribe one more for me, and it’s a drug that, during the FDA testimony in front of Congress, the FDA said they’d like to take off the market.

Is there a danger? Oh, hell yeah, but it’s for the consumers, not the doctors. Ever since drug ads were allowed to be broadcast here in 1997, there’s been problems that have cropped up. Take Vioxx, for instance. There was no mention of severe side effects that were known at the time in the ads. Now it’s been pulled for danger to consumer health. So what did that prompt? A major ad push for Celebrex, which was slapped down by the FDA (and now Celebrex is also in trouble as well; maybe the problem is COX 2 inhibitors in general). Consumers are being informed about drugs, but they’re not being informed enough. We all laughed at Cialis warning about four-hour erections being dangerous; hey, we males would LOVE to have four-hour erections. And Bob from the Enzyte ads has become one of the most popular figures in advertising today. He’s the Clara Peller of the Zeros, except he’s not pushing hamburgers, but erectile dysfunction medication. Mark Martin is being sponsored mainly by Viagra, bringing the comfort and joy of being able to perform to the redneck crowd. And then there’s Paxil. The ads pimp the beneficial effects of Paxil (which, I must admit, I did have), but they don’t mention little facts, like how it turns your dick into a single-function tool. Pissing, yes; other necessary performance enhancements, no.

The problem in general here isn’t the advertising, but the lack of warnings in the advertising about what could happen if you take this shit. Financial ads are required to state that you may not get your money back, but drug ads don’t have that particular proscription on them when it comes to side effects. The drug industry should be able to regulate themselves on this issue; if not, Congress will gladly do it for them.


Semi-Regular Heath Peek knows what a Doctor Who mark I am, and he wanted my opinion of the new series, knowing that I, of course, downloaded it. Actually, I was going to wait until after this weekend, because we do have a Dalek showing up (don’t worry, it’s not a spoiler; they revealed that during the “next week” pimp last week). But I endeavor to satisfy my audience, so here it goes…

I get a woodrow every time that I see a new episode, period. Oh, man, it’s terrific. It’s not only because it’s the first real time it’s been back in sixteen years. It’s just great television. It’s even better than the revised Battlestar Galactica or what Enterprise is doing in its death thrashes. I’m utterly amazed at what Russell Davies is doing. Of course, after a decade of John Nathan-Turner f*cking up the series beyond belief, any change in executive producers would be good. But Davies’ writing is so impressive that it could even have overcome that.

I was apprehensive about two things: first of all, Mark Gatiss writing the Charles Dickens episode. I haven’t like Gatiss for years; he’s just a fanboy who got in a position to do some of the New Adventures novels, plus I’ve heard from my inside sources that he’s a major pisshead. But he did a damn good job on this one. Shocked the hell out of me, but the series coming back pushed him to a new level. The second one was Billie Piper. I was convinced she couldn’t handle the part of Rose, but, damn, she may be the best companion since Sarah Jane. Christoper Eccelson I had no worries about, but Piper was problematic for me. Sweet job. My only problem is Eccelson leaving after thirteen episodes because of his fear of typecasting. I want him to not only go up against Daleks, but I want the Cybermen too.

The effects are magnificent. No obvious rubber-suit monsters (although there are some), and they did a phenomenal job on the CGI (look at Cassandra from “The End Of The World” or the Slitheen’s transformation from the two-parter that just finished last week). Even the live Dalek looks good, even though it’s not CGI.

I’m even pleased with the weekly Doctor Who Confidential. Lots of inside stuff, and great interviews to go along with it. I was shocked to see Peter Davison doing the interview segments, since I was still convinced that he hadn’t got over being the Doctor, but he’s finally come to terms with it, and he’s aged quite well. Not so Colin Baker or Nicholas Courtney (although I do love Courtney’s idea of bringing back a Lord Lethbridge-Stewart for a little action, and since UNIT is still canon…). Tom Baker…I hate his current hairstyle, but it’s apparent that he still loved his time on the show, and his enthusiasm for discussing the new show is infectious. He’s still got that charisma. I just wish they’d pull out some of the older companions, since they seem to stop at Pertwee. Maybe in the future.

It takes a lot to impress me, and I’m so impressed that I’m going to try to create DVDs for my friend in Chicago (I haven’t used the software that I have to create DVDs from AVI files yet, so I’m crossing my fingers) and ship them with the laptop when I’m done with it. Of course, I want to wait until all thirteen are done, but they want that laptop post-haste, so, shit. All in all, it’s definitely worth the download. If you’re an SF fan, you’re going to cream your jeans. If you’re not an SF fan, you’ll end up liking it. So fire up your BitTorrent client and wait for Sundays.


From Reuters:

U.S. House Republican leaders have decided to roll back a rule change that has left the ethics committee in a stalemate for weeks, The Washington Post reported on Wednesday.

Top House Republicans met on Tuesday to discuss restarting the committee and acknowledged that ethics disputes have taken a toll on the party’s image, the newspaper said citing officials who participated in the talks.

The 10-member ethics committee — five Democrats and five Republicans — are deadlocked on a vote to adopt new Republican rules that would make it tougher to launch an ethics investigation.

The rules were approved in January by the Republican-led House after Majority Leader Tom DeLay of Texas was admonished by the ethics panel on three separate matters in 2004.

Republicans on the committee said they would open an investigation of DeLay’s handling of overseas trips and gifts as soon as the impasse over the rules is broken, the Post said.

DeLay has denied any wrongdoing in taking two foreign trips paid for by outside groups.

House Majority Whip Roy Blunt told reporters after the Tuesday meeting that Republican leaders were working to resolve the ethics impasse as soon as possible, the newspaper reported.

It cited participants in the talks as saying that House Speaker Dennis Hastert had agreed to ask for the House to vote later this week on a package that would roll back the changes.

The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the package was certain to include a reversal of the rule that would automatically dismiss an ethics complaint after 45 days if the committee is deadlocked, according to the report.

A House Republican aide told the newspaper the automatic-dismissal rule was “the rule that is most commonly believed to be designed to protect Tom DeLay” and that it was “impossible to win the communications battle” on it.

DeLay’s a slimeball, but everyone in the blue states knows that. Hell, even people in the red states acknowledge it. He should be investigated for having been caught with his hand in the payola cookie jar. He’s violated the most cardinal rule of Chicago Politics: do it, but keep it low-key. Of course, as Lord Acton said, power corrupts, and given his position in the Junta and his iron-fisted rule over the House, he’s damn close to absolute power, which corrupts absolutely. So he definitely needs an investigation and, hopefully, a censor after they find him guilty.

What pisses me off is the fact that Congress keeps establishing rules for one part of the Federal Government and has another set for Federal Employees. We meat inspectors are bound by such rigid ethics guidelines that we could be filmed in an S&M movie. And God help us if we actually try to follow them. There are shitloads of friendly personal relations with plant employees, especially supervisors, that it definitely violates the professionalism that we’re supposed to abide by (in fact, it’s so prevalent here that since I try to remain professional at all times, I’m regarded as being hostile to supervisors). And there are so many inspectors that are essentially working for the plant instead of the agency that it feels like I’m back in private industry. These people bend over backwards to help the plant; anything the plant wants, they get. Bullshit. This isn’t how I learned to be an inspector. It’d be almost beneficial being fired at this point; that way, I don’t have to deal with the sheer hypocrisy going on.

Maybe we should have an investigation of
meat inspectors’ ethics. But Mike Johanns wouldn’t do it. Well, screw him. After all, he was Governor of Nebraska before this, and you know how much I hated being in Nebraska.


From Reuters again:

Tens of thousands of Israelis protested in Gaza’s Jewish settlements on Wednesday against Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s plan to abandon the strip this summer after 38 years of occupation.

At least 40,000 sympathizers joined the show of defiance after exhausting political avenues for stopping Israel’s first removal of settlements from land where Palestinians seek a state, witnesses said.

Settlers said there were 80,000 demonstrators, still well short of the 100,000 they had hoped for.

Orange balloons and flags fluttered from lampposts in the spring sunshine as settlers and their supporters marked what could be their last Passover holiday on land that many of them see as a biblical birthright.

Settler leaders vowed to use all non-violent means to prevent the withdrawal — reinforcing the settlement blocs with their supporters and possibly bringing Israel to a halt.

“No one will fly, come in or drive if Jews are not allowed to live in every place in the land of Israel,” right-wing parliament member Arieh Eldad said.

But the atmosphere on the day was of carnival not confrontation.

“We will be here forever,” said one banner, bright orange in the color of the local authority’s flag that has become a symbol of the wider protest.

Most Israelis favor giving up the costly-to-defend enclaves where 8,500 settlers live among 1.3 million Palestinians on land captured in the 1967 Middle East war. Washington sees it as a possible step toward reviving Middle East peace negotiations.

Okay, let’s figure this out. Syria withdraws from Lebanon, thus eliminating one flash point in the Middle East. Now Israelis are protesting the same thing, which would eliminate another flash point, and a bigger one. One step forward, one step back; that’s been the story of the area since the Crusades, and even earlier than that. For Yahweh’s sake, just get out of there. The Israeli government will guarantee housing and all that. In the meantime, the Palestinian Authority gains some credibility, which they desperately need post-Arafat, and the rate of terrorism will slow down because Hamas et al will see that the Sharon government is serious about ending the intifada through compromise. It’s a win-win situation, really.

And continuing this story…

In a fresh peace move, Russian President Vladimir Putin proposed a summit in Moscow to seek a settlement to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which Palestinians welcomed.

But Israel was wary, saying it would oppose any effort to circumvent a U.S.-backed “road map” peace plan.

Wait a second, Russia is trying to broker a peace movement? Oh, yeah, that’s worked so well in Chechnya, hasn’t it? And the Palestinians are welcoming it? Chechnya is chock-full of fellow Muslims, some of which have turned to Al-Qaeda for support and a need for action against the infidel. Now Israel not wanting the peace talks, that I can understand, but it isn’t because of any road map. Russia is still the home of obvious anti-Semitism. The history of Russia boils down to one key fact for Israelis: when something goes wrong, blame the Jews and start the pogroms. Czar Alexander III was so obviously anti-Semitic that he accepted the creation of The Protocols Of The Elders Of Zion by his secret police during his reign. Israelis have every right to be afraid that any Russian-brokered peace plan is going to screw them, and big-time. So they’re not going to go for it, and they’re right.

Well, that covers everything I wanted to, so I’m going to blow this off. Double-dip for me this weekend with the Smackdown Short Form and the Backlash Round Table, so you’ll get a good dose of me (and I promise I won’t advertise on television). Until you see me next time, remember to read the news and understand it.