The Death Panels approve

The Food and Drug Administration, by law, takes no position on pricing. The advantages of their neutrality are occasionally offset, though, by stories like this:

Here’s yet another facet of the U.S. drug pricing conundrum: older treatments which have been around for years can win label expansions that significantly increase their value, and consequently, their list prices. That appears to be the case with Marathon Pharmaceuticals’ deflazacort, a steroid that has now achieved FDA approval for treating the devastating muscle-wasting disorder Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD). There’s a dearth of available DMD treatments (and the most recently approved one in the U.S. was cleared under a cloud of controversy), so it’s not hard to see why the FDA wants to speed treatments to the finish line. But Marathon also decided to price the drug, which is available for less than $1 per pill in Canada as a steroid, at $89,000 per year. And since the treatment isn’t already approved in the U.S. for other, cheaper indications, there’s no risk of doctors prescribing it for off-label purposes to Duchenne patients.

Then again, this sort of news is by now old news:

In recent years, companies that have gotten old or existing drugs approved to treat rare diseases have reaped big financial rewards. For example, tetrabenazine, a drug that was available from abroad and used for years to treat the uncontrollable tremors of Huntington’s disease, was approved as an orphan drug in 2008. In 1998, it cost $42.28 for a bottle of tetrabenazine pills from a European pharmacy, according to Joseph Jankovic, a neurologist at Baylor College of Medicine. After receiving approval as an orphan drug, that bottle of pills — now known by the brand name Xenazine — carried a list price of more than $6,000 in the U.S. in 2008. The price was repeatedly ratcheted up to more than $21,243 a bottle, according to Truven Health Analytics data. Xenazine accounted for $325 million in U.S. sales in 2015, the year it went generic, according to data from Evaluate, a market intelligence firm.

I suppose I should be grateful that none of the stuff I take costs as much as $10,000 a year. (Yet.)

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Grudge match

First, to get Crowd Response out of the way:

Subtle, Mr. Mayor, sir.

Anyway, were there collars on NBA uniforms, they would have been hot under; late in the third, KD and Andre Roberson nearly came to blows, and trash talk was the rule rather than the exception. Down 23 at the half — the Warriors had a picture-perfect 43 points in the second quarter — the Thunder managed to pull within 12 in the fourth. But that was as close as they would get; a 27-footer by Yonder Cupcake (I have no idea where KD picked up that pejorative) put Golden State up 19 with three and a half minutes left, and with all the air sucked out of the room at 1:52, both benches were emptied. Warriors 130, Thunder 114, the season series goes to 3-0, and if nothing else, Houston’s James Harden probably went up a couple of points in local regard.

In the Battle of the Superstars, Russell Westbrook, 47-11-8, edged KD, 34-9-3, though both committed five fouls. Only four Warriors scored in double figures, but the Thunder had only three. The scary aspect was that JaVale McGee came within one point of a season high, with 16; it’s never a good sign when the more marginal players come up big. This wasn’t a great night for either bench — Golden State’s scored 22, OKC’s 19 — but note should be taken of Andre Iguodala’s +30 for the night, far and away the greatest plusser.

There will be one face-saver in March in OKC. Maybe Kanter will be back. Maybe one of the Warriors will develop flu-like symptoms. But definitely, things will be loud.

Two games before the All-Star break: at Washington on Monday, followed by a visit from the Knicks on Wednesday. I expect little snarling in either case.

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When we were 35

Ross Stracke states the case for not booing Kevin Durant tonight:

If we were just talking basketball, I’d say boo away. And I get why we want to boo him. He was our prodigal adopted son. He took on our ideals, displayed our hopes, and then squashed our dreams by fleeing to our biggest rival. I’ve seen all the quotes of his forgotten promises and insincere loyalty. I get it, I do.

This is why I’m not advocating for cheers or a standing ovation. That comes later, a few years down the road when the wounds aren’t so fresh.

But KD was more than a star athlete in a forgotten city. He adopted us back and did all that he could to bring our city with him on his journey to success. No other superstar did that, or at least they didn’t succeed in the way KD did. And for that, he is one of a kind.

So put aside his bullshit for a night, because when it mattered and counted KD shined for us the past 9 years.

Besides, we’ll always (or for several years, anyway) have Patrick Beverley to boo.

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This big-eyed girl

If you, like me, tend to think of Christina Ricci in terms of Wednesday Addams, you will flinch, as I did, when you hear that she’ll be thirty-eight tomorrow. What she won’t be, however, is any taller:

Christina Ricci says she doesn’t think she’ll ever be a major star because she’s too short. “I don’t think that’s ever going to happen for me,” the Black Snake Moan star tells Premiere. “I’m five-one first thing in the morning, and I tend to look really small on camera. I can probably go as far as Holly Hunter went, then I think that’s going to be it. I have a feeling I am way too small.”

Perhaps being small enough to fit into the fridge is indeed too small. However, she’s hard to overlook:

Christina Ricci at the British Academy Awards

Christina Ricci stretches out, sort of

Christina Ricci goes blonde

Of late, she seems to have opted for blondness. She still does a good disembodied voice, though: you’ll be able to hear her as Terra in Teen Titans: The Judas Contract, due later this year, and if you don’t want to wait that long, you can hear her in bite-size (sorry) segments in Beck’s 2005 record “Hell Yes.”

(Title, if you were curious, comes from Siouxsie and the Banshees.)

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Still more of the best-unlaid plans

Almost certainly you’ve seen this before:

I am an American man, and I have decided to boycott American women. In a nutshell, American women are the most likely to cheat on you, to divorce you, to get fat, to steal half of your money in the divorce courts, don’t know how to cook or clean, don’t want to have children, etc. Therefore, what intelligent man would want to get involved with American women?

American women are generally immature, selfish, extremely arrogant and self-centered, mentally unstable, irresponsible, and highly unchaste. The behavior of most American women is utterly disgusting, to say the least.

This blog is my attempt to explain why I feel American women are inferior to foreign women (non-American women), and why American men should boycott American women, and date/marry only foreign (non-American) women.

In fact, you’ve seen it here twice before. Both incidents were in 2011, which tells me that this character can carry a grudge nearly as long as I can, and he might even have a long memory.

I sum him up this way: “He wants you to know he’s taken the Red Pill. He doesn’t want you to know that he begged for a chewable version.”

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Chapeau de Reynolds Wrap

We have here a nimrod who says he “needs [an] attorney in Boston.” What he needs, if you ask me, is a tailor who can provide him with 60-inch sleeves:

I am a very smart 30 year old male. The last 2 year’s I have been relentlessly bullied online, here is what I think has happened for I have been using my PC every day for 20 years.. I am being used as an experiment for the government, I do have proof and my word, I never lie. I can tell you thing’s you never would of imagined and I know I am right because of the action’s I see take place online interacting with people online from all over the world. One thing I am very passionate about, is retrieving my transscripts from an internet chat site called Omegle, I been using this site every day speaking my theories and random stuff like a robot for 4 years, there could be over 1 million chats, I feel the items I have wrote into this site can be very valuble and I believe they are being used by the government for i Have seen some of my possible work in the public. I need help, I am just trying to learn about life as I go and make for better things but I am being tortured, I know I am. I really want all my chats back in paper form and data form from Omegle. I have that right, please give me the info to an attorney who can do this for me. My name is Roy and yes I LOVE my PC and using my PC and people are ruining it for me by their words and now corrupting my working PC.

There are no “very smart 30 year old” males on Omegele, which exists largely to provide adolescents the opportunity to look at each other’s naughty bits. And while under copyright laws he does in fact own his words, this does not obligate anyone to provide him hard copy. (I am something of a legend in chat rooms, but I don’t delude myself that anything I wrote is valuable.)

And if you were a very smart 30-year-old male and had been bullied for two years, what would you do? Hint: you wouldn’t hang around at the same place all the damned time.

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McCrab?

Well, not in Topeka, but you gotta start somewhere:

McDonald’s is planning to launch a crab sandwich in the San Francisco Bay area.

The fast food giant says the sandwich consists of snow crab meat mixed with mayonnaise and served with tomato and lettuce on a sourdough bun. It says it worked with San Francisco chef and former Top Chef contestant Ryan Scott to create the sandwich.

Current testing is taking place in four locations in San Jose; if things go well, McCrab (or whatever it’s called) will spread across the Bay area, and perhaps even beyond.

Best snark so far:

(Via Fark.)

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The ink conspiracy exposed

Everyone who’s ever owned an inkjet printer knows that the major expense is not the printer itself, but the ink it keeps demanding. Meh.com was frank about this day before yesterday:

The cheap-printer hustle is just a recent iteration of an age-old game. The manufacturer takes a loss to get you hooked with a cheap printer. They give you all this molded plastic and tooled metal, all this sophisticated circuitry, this array of precision sprayers, for less than it cost them to make.

Because they know that once you buy the printer, they can put the screws to you for years of overpriced ink. Only once you see the eye-watering prices of replacement ink do you realize you’ve been conned. You’ll be paying over and over for that “good deal” on the printer. But what are you gonna do? Go buy some other printer and start the dance all over again?

So we decided to stretch the absurdity. Heighten the contradiction. Bend this angle to its ultimate extreme. We found a good, cheap inkjet printer for an even cheaper price and slashed our margin to the cheapest possible point.

And so it came to pass that they would sell a Canon 2820 printer, with no ink cartridges and no USB cable, for the absurd sum of ten bucks. (Plus, of course, five bucks shipping.) Limit one per customer, and that’s what I bought.

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Unanticipated mail

Stuffed into my mailbox yesterday: the March ’17 issue of Reader’s Digest.

No, really. It’s a little smaller than I remember it in several dimensions — 136 pages this month — but otherwise it’s much the same as it used to be. (On page 131, for instance, there’s the old reliable “It Pays to Increase Your Word Power,” now being run by Emily Cox and Henry Rathvon, once the operators of The Atlantic Puzzler.) Single-copy price is now $3.99, and they offered me 10 issues (one year) for $10.

The corporation in charge is billed as “Trusted Media Brands, Inc.”, which sounds incredibly bland; it is, however, the same old Reader’s Digest Association under a new name, inasmuch as they’ve acquired some special-interest magazines.

And there’s this:

“The pen is mightier than the sword, if you shoot that pen out of a gun.”

So saith Stephen Colbert, in, yes, “Quotable Quotes.”

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A change of hands and feet

The late Aubrey McClendon’s last enterprise, American Energy Partners, decided last year to liquidate, which prompted this question from me: “What happens to that supercool fitness center the company owned?”

Now we know:

The intricate dance to allow professional dancers, young students and their parents to fit into Oklahoma City Ballet’s 8,000-square-foot building won’t be necessary much longer.

The nonprofit organization announced Wednesday that [it] is acquiring two facilities that will help it expand its mission of bringing high-quality classical and contemporary dance to Oklahoma City.

The organization is under contract to purchase the former American Energy Partners Fitness Center, 6800 N Classen Blvd., and convert it into the new home for the professional company, its administrative offices, and its school, The Dance Center of Oklahoma City Ballet.

In addition, Chesapeake Energy Corp. recently donated the current OKC Ballet building, 7421 N Classen Blvd., to the arts organization. It will become overflow for dance classes and house the company’s costume and prop shop.

Next production is The Sleeping Beauty, music by Tchaikovsky (via the OKC Philharmonic), beginning a week from today.

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When it rains, it pours

I get the impression that Samsung is somehow on the wrong side of the Wheel of Karma these days:

Just when you almost forgot about what a shitty time Samsung’s been having, a literal garbage fire broke out at the company’s battery supplier in Tianjin, China. The cause? Discarded faulty batteries.

Reuters reports that it was just a “minor fire,” but we all know that this is a major “fuck you” for the company that lost a reported $5.3 billion in profits due to exploding Galaxy Note 7 phones. That extended nightmare, of course, was also caused by faulty batteries that were made by Samsung SDI, the aforementioned victim of the garbage fire. It’s so far unclear if the discarded faulty batteries were related to the Note 7 debacle.

Some days it just doesn’t pay to gnaw through the straps.

(Via Jeff Faria.)

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Unpsyched

Tyronn Lue was trolling, evidently; all that pre-game talk about possibly sitting his stars on the second night of a back-to-back proved to be nothing more than talk. Lue’s Cavaliers, minus the walking-wounded Iman Shumpert, were close to full strength, and they pretty much played like it, with Kyrie Irving running the point to perfection and LeBron James being LeBron James. Add a Kevin Love double-double, and you have to wonder how the Thunder were going to respond. Answer: Strongly, and late. After plenty of time on the teeter-totter in the fourth quarter, the Thunder found themselves up 111-101 with two minutes left, still led by 10 after one minute more, and had thoroughly stymied the Cavs’ big three. Lue knew he was licked, the aforementioned big three withdrew, and OKC won it 118-109, their first win over Cleveland in over a year.

Lots of good numbers: Russell Westbrook was 29-12-11, Steven Adams scored 20 and retrieved 13 boards, Victor Oladipo knocked down 23. Perhaps the most remarkable was this: despite losing the shooting percentage battle by something like 0.9, the Thunder made tons of shots: 50 out of 106. (The Cavs were 38-79.) Cleveland made more trips to the stripe — the Cavs never, ever foul — but King James, who had a healthy 16-point first half, finished with, um, 18. Andre Roberson can so guard LeBron. Irving was the default sharpshooter, and he wound up with a respectable 28. The Cavs’ bench, however, was held to 20, or about what Enes Kanter gets on a good night. Despite Kanter’s absence, the Thunder reserves popped up 30, half of them from Cameron Payne.

Once you’ve beaten the champs — well, the runners-up are showing up Saturday night. Heaven knows how the Loud City crowd will respond to the appearance of Kevin Iscariot, and you can be absolutely certain Heaven will hear it. We won’t think about that for a while.

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Duly quarter-noted

The Oklahoma City Philharmonic stuck this up on their Facebook page with the promise that it would improve your dating life 110 percent:

S'up babe?

After that much sightreading, I could use a rest.

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Let there be torque

Erin Palette, celebrating her tenth anniversary here in blogdom, is still plenty fast with a quip:

On a related note, I’d like be the first to announce that the transgender version of Uncle Tom is an Aunt Dorothy, and the transgender version of “House Negro” is “Performance Tranny.” I figure that if I’m going to be called names for going off-narrative, I might as well pick those names myself.

Oh, and before you ask, I’m a 4:11 final drive, with a 6-speed double-overdrive and a competition clutch.

May her throwout bearing never need to be thrown out.

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V for Vanished

“Why just this year?” is my only comment to this proposal:

If I were an activist of any stripe, and someone who people actually listened to, instead of, you know, me … I’d put out a call to “cancel” Valentine’s Day this year.

Not for any reason about frustration with romantic love (though there is that, and I get tired of how V-Day is all about the romance, and so those of us who have none in our lives are left standing on the outside of the restaurant on a cold night, looking in at the happy couples eating good food in the warmth).

No. It’s because I see precious little love in the world: humanity, at least the US culture form of it I see, is becoming more separated and fractionated and I’ve said several times this week that maybe the future of humanity is for all of us to live solo, with as little contact with other humans as possible, because it seems we can’t do interpersonal stuff without it turning into either a fight or a virtue-signalling contest.

Nuke it from orbit. It’s the only way to be sure.

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Not so noble after all

The so-called “noble” gases occupy the right-hand column of the periodic table; their “nobility,” as it were, derives from their general disdain for forming compounds. Which doesn’t mean it can never happen: when I was still a lab rat, stuff like xenon hexafluoride (XeF6) was known to exist, and krypton was considered a reasonable shot for the occasional compound. But neon and especially helium? Not gonna happen.

Helium’s staunch stability is due to its closed-shell electronic configuration — its outer shell is complete, which means there’s no room for it to bond with other atoms by sharing electrons.

But that’s assuming the conditions are consistent with what we experience on Earth’s surface.

Ay, there’s the rub:

Being one of the most abundant elements in the Universe, responsible for forming stars and gas giant planets, helium could play by very different rules out in space and deep within our planet, and researchers have just found the first evidence yet of that weird behaviour.

“[E]xtremely high pressure, like that found at Earth’s core or giant neighbours, completely alters helium’s chemistry,” one of the team, Alex Boldyrev from Utah State, told Mary-Ann Muffoletto at Phys.org.

The researchers used a “crystal structure-predicting” computer model to predict that under extreme pressures, a stable helium-sodium compound could form.

They then physically created the never-before-seen compound, Na2He, in a diamond anvil cell experiment, which allowed them to subject helium and sodium atoms to pressures of around 1.1 million times Earth’s atmospheric pressure.

“These findings were so unexpected, Boldyrev says, that he and colleagues struggled for more than two years to convince science reviewers and editors to publish their results,” says Muffoletto.

Sodium, of course, is darn near hyperactive, as anyone who’s dropped it into water has found out terribly quickly; you’d need something that fierce to get helium out of its shell, so to speak. Still, these aren’t your standard chemical bonds; they’re Something Else Entirely.

(Via Glenn Reynolds.)

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