Unwellness of a sort

This is no way to start a week:

I retweeted this and received an answer: Panera Bread. Nearest might have been Beverly Hills, which for some inscrutable Beverly Hills-related reason closes fairly early, though not that early. And delivery? Perhaps it would have been better had she been in Louisville.

Anyway, there was no improvement the next day:

At least she’s sticking to serious remedies.

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Whatever this may mean

I have bloodwork done a minimum of three times a year, since some of the numbers derived thencefrom have occasionally been alarming. For the last decade or so, the blood has always been drawn from my left arm — or, when the veins are too embarrassed to show themselves, from my left hand.

For some reason this week — the only good reason I can think of is that they’d moved the furniture around — they drew from my right arm. And right there in the bend, for the first time in a decade, is a nasty bruise.

I’m not sure what to think of this. I mean, it’s not like I’m all of a sudden left-handed; I have always been a northpaw, and I thought that was why they drew from the left. And the left never bruises. (Used to the trauma, I suppose.) It will go away eventually, as bruises always do, or at least as mine always have. But it’s still strange.

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What goes (somewhat) around

It seems unlikely that the Fisker Karma failed in the marketplace because of its name, but you have to wonder about Henrik Fisker’s future prospects:

Karma is a Sanskrit word that translates literally to “action” or “fate”; in Hinduism and Buddhism it signifies (per Collins English Dictionary) “the principle of retributive justice” or (per American Heritage Dictionary) “the totality of a person’s actions and conduct during successive incarnations.” Bad actions lead to reincarnation in a lower order of being; good actions lead to rebirth in the higher orders.

In other words, if in a past life (say, 2011) you manufactured an unpopular car, in the next life (say, 2015) you are unlikely to prosper.

Meanwhile, China’s Wanxiang Group, which acquired the rights to the car, will restart production next year (maybe) under the Elux brand name. Maybe they can do something with it. So far, Maximum Bob Lutz hasn’t:

During Fisker’s Congressional investigation and plant shutdown, Lutz and his jet-fighter-flying partner, Gilbert Villarreal, had 20 Karma gliders waiting for a transplant and 100 orders. Lutz also said he had Karma owners interested in converting their cars to Destinos so they wouldn’t become “boat anchors.” Production was supposed to start last fall, although when we asked today, VL said it was “still working out the details” and would not comment further. The VL Destino comes with either the Corvette Stingray’s LT1 450-hp V-8 or the old ZR1’s 638-hp supercharged V-8, offering shoppers a choice of a six-speed manual or a four-speed automatic.

For “today,” read “20 February 2014.” Later that year, VL Automotive merged with WM Greentech. The renamed WM Destino remains vaporware, albeit really fast and expensive vaporware. Whatever cards Wanxiang may be holding, they’re being held close to the corporate vest. As for Fisker himself, we haven’t heard a word.

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Least-surprising development

This is part of a press release, but it’s so much more:

Imprimis Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ: IMMY), a specialty pharmaceutical company focused on the development and commercialization of proprietary compounded drug therapies, today announced it has made available a customizable compounded formulation of pyrimethamine and leucovorin available for physicians to consider prescribing for their patients as a low cost alternative to Daraprim®.

Last month, Turing Pharmaceuticals LLC, the sole supplier of Daraprim, increased the price of this prescription drug from $13.50 per tablet to a reported $750.00 per tablet. The FDA-approved label for Daraprim indicates that it is prescribed for toxoplasmosis and other types of infections. Toxoplasmosis can be of major concern for patients with weakened immune systems such as patients with HIV/AIDS, pregnant women and children. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, pyrimethamine works to block folic acid synthesis in the parasite Toxoplasma gondii, the cause of toxoplasmosis, and leucovorin helps to reverse the negative effects on bone marrow caused by this mechanism of action.

Imprimis is now offering customizable compounded formulations of pyrimethamine and leucovorin in oral capsules starting as low as $99.00 for a 100 count bottle, or at a cost of under a dollar per capsule. Compounded medications may be appropriate for prescription when a commercially-available medicine does not meet the specific needs of a patient. For ordering information, please visit www.imprimiscares.com.

There is, of course, a catch:

Imprimis’ finished compounded drug formulations do not have an FDA-approval label for recommended use. Imprimis compounded formulations are not FDA approved and may only be prescribed pursuant to a physician prescription for an individually identified patient consistent with federal and state laws governing compounded drug formulations.

This state has some fairly specific laws on the subject: a long list of “Good Compounding Practices” takes up six pages of the Pharmacy Lawbook [pdf]. Still, since Imprimis claims to distribute their compounds in all 50 states, one might assume that they’re in compliance with Oklahoma law.

And truth be told, it would almost be worth it to shell out $99 (plus, presumably, shipping) for a bottle of this stuff, purely as a way of saying “Screw you, Martin Shkreli.” That would, however, be, um, illegal, since I don’t actually have toxoplasmosis. I think.

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On average, we’re broke

Like you need a headline that tells you that:

The average American took in $44,569.20 last year, according to data released Tuesday by the Social Security Administration. It marks an increase of 3.5 percent from 2013.

Still, 67 percent of wage earners made less than or equal to the average. Median compensation came in at $28,851.21 for the year, up from $28,031.02 in 2013.

I can remember when twenty-eight K seemed like a fairly tidy sum.

(Via Fark.)

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The revolution will not be realized

However disgruntled the residents of the Barely United States may be these days, Dave Schuler is pretty sure things aren’t going to turn especially bloody:

I don’t think that America has a revolution in store or even, in what might be better diction, a paradigm shift. Revolutions, real or figurative, aren’t started by the poor. They’re fomented and led by the middle class, the intelligentsia to use the Russian phrase, and our middle class are so thoroughly dependent on Things As They Are I suspect they’ll defend them to collapse and beyond.

What I expect is the Detroitification of the United States, an ongoing slow motion decay in which things just aren’t quite as good for this generation as they were for the last and things just aren’t quite as good for the next generation as they were for this, accompanied by a general lack of optimism. Look to Chicago and Illinois as Ground Zero.

Can this hypothesis be falsified? Yes, it can:

If, within a generation, Chicago introduces either a) a major decentralization of power and a reversal of the high tax, corrupt, government-centric style that has prevailed here for the last sixty or seventy years or b) has a socialist revolution, I’ll be proven wrong. If, on the other hand, Chicago’s political leadership continues to pursue the same old policies regardless of their efficacy and the people of Chicago keep right on voting for them, it will strongly suggest I am right.

Like I always say sometimes, the ability of politicians to kick the can is limited solely by the length of the road.

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How things have changed

Yea, even in the Land of Cheeses:

I’m sure Mari Negro will do a fine job as assessor.

(Online version is behind a serious paywall. Via @mdrache.)

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No bewbage on the Front Range

Fort Collins, Colorado, a few days back, was considering a change to a city ordinance that would permit women to appear topless in public. They are no longer considering it [warning: autostart video]:

The Fort Collins City Council voted late Tuesday to reject a proposal that would have allowed women to go naked in public from the waist up.

Brittany Hoagland, an activist with Go Topless, had pushed to change the city code banning bare breasts in public, but at the packed meeting, supporters of the idea were far outnumbered by opponents.

Many residents who spoke during the lengthy public-comment period said they were flabbergasted to find the council debating the matter.

I did find this one argument, um, interesting:

At least one person believed that a topless policy would lead to an increase in car accidents.

If the drivers in Colorado are as easily distracted as those in Oklahoma, I think this would be highly likely.

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Cold in the hose

BuzzFeed is touting this as a way to avoid runs and ladders and such in one’s hosiery:

As soon as you buy ’em, run your tights under cold water, put them in a plastic bag, and put ’em in the freezer… The cold air is supposed to strengthen and reinforce the nylon.

One commenter — yes, children, I did look at the comments, don’t judge me — said she’d been doing this for a decade, and that you thaw them and let them air-dry the night before.

I have no idea whether this will work or not, though I note that nylon is hygroscopic and can absorb (or, for that matter, desorb) water from its surroundings.

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Snow hours

As distinguished from snow days, thanks to a new Texas law:

Texas students who are used to marking 100 days of school as a sign they are on the downward slope to summer might be more technically correct celebrating 42,000 minutes this year.

Because of a change in state law, the Texas Education Code no longer defines 180 days of instruction as an acceptable school year. Instead, the requirement has been changed to at least 75,600 minutes of instruction, with one day defined as 420 minutes.

“The rationale was to give districts more flexibility for making up missed instructional days,” said DeEtta Culbertson, a spokeswoman for the Texas Education Agency. “This is a way for the district to not have to add additional days unless they want to.”

Which means — what, longer school days? Possibly:

With the new law, a district could avoid adding days or requesting a waiver by instead tacking minutes onto the school day or extending half-days already in the schedule, Culbertson said. The new law, which was passed as House Bill 2610, counts recesses and other intermissions such as lunch as instructional time.

“Soon as three o’clock rolls around,” sang Chuck Berry, “you finally lay your burden down.” Boy, would he be surprised. (Then again, he’s 89 years old and probably not worried about the prospect.)


Amusing ourselves to undeath

Severian looks at Our Favorite Zombies:

I’m not as gushy over The Walking Dead as my hipster contemporaries, but it, and horror movies generally, are an interesting peek behind the Zeitgeist’s curtain (or, these days, up its skirt). In both TWD and its recent spinoff, Fear the Walking Dead, the government is either nonexistent, or a backstabbing group of cowardly sellouts. In Fear the Walking Dead, citizens who might otherwise be a social burden — the (non-zombie) sick, drug addicts, etc. — are rounded up for disposal, but before the liquidations can begin, the army prepares to pull out. And — this is important — they’re thwarted by a few civilians and a bunch of walking corpses before they can even do that. Think about the implications for a sec: The world’s premier fighting force, and they can’t handle an old man, a school counselor, and a bunch of literally brainless corpses.

The lesson of both Walking Dead series couldn’t be clearer — when the shit hits the fan, you’re on your own. Your government — whose #1 job is the protection of its citizens — will be useless at best, an active hindrance at worst. The first season of the original Walking Dead even has a scene where a scientist at the CDC in Atlanta mentions that the French were close to a cure for the zombie plague. The French! Meanwhile, every American scientist, with the sole exception of Exposition Man, has “opted out.” Even the hipsters who make up 99% of AMC’s viewing audience, in other words, expect zilch from their government (and note that TWD premiered in 2010, i.e. right in the middle of America’s slobbering honeymoon with Obama).

Zilch is by now the default expectation, and I suspect it would have been equally so had John Servile McCain somehow been wafted into the White House; the only conclusion I expect to be entertaining after 2016 is that we don’t get hit by enough asteroids.

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Get dashing already

Yet another Amazon.com scheme has come to light:

Amazon has made twenty-nine devices which can be stuck onto the surface of your choice. Let’s say, for example, that you got the toilet paper button. (We can all guess where you’re going to stick it.)

And you notice you’re running low on toilet paper. You press the button, which hooks up to your WiFi network (you have one, right?), which contacts Amazon, which decides you want toilet paper and debits the cost from your account before shipping it to you, and considering that you’re ordering toilet paper, probably not in time.

Among the other buttons offered: Kraft Macaroni & Cheese; Hefty bags; Gatorade.

I figure a house with a three-year-old will have every single button pushed in a matter of minutes.

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Apple does it again, sort of

The absence of Taylor Swift notwithstanding, Apple’s music-streaming service is drawing a pretty fair number of paying customers:

6.5 million users are now paying for Apple Music, the company’s music streaming and download service that offers users unlimited access to over 30 million tracks. A further 8.5 million are still trialling it, according to Apple CEO Tim Cook, who dropped the figures during the WSJD Live conference [Monday] night. Apple music costs £9.99 ($9.99) per month, with family accounts going for £14.99 ($14.99) per month.

Considering rival Spotify boasts around 20 million paying users after a full seven years of operation, that Apple’s netted over six million subscribers since its launch on June 30 is impressive.

Of course, one can always be cynical:

[I]t’s likely that a few of those customers currently paying for the service simply forgot to turn off their automatic subscription renewal at the end of Apple’s free three-month trial period, even with Apple’s reminder emails.

I assure you, I’d notice ten bucks (or ten quid) being siphoned (or syphoned) out of my wallet every month.

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Jack Baruth makes a sacrifice on behalf of the rest of us:

Okay, I admit it: I’ve been reading The Nation a lot while I’ve been laid up. I cannot recommend you do the same. The youngest generation of the publication’s writers grew up taking Orwell as an instruction manual rather than as a cautionary tale; you won’t get through any two random features on the site without being lectured that Hillary Clinton’s decision to host classified e-mail in a bathroom closet is a “non-issue” and that race is the only issue of any importance facing America today. Words like “racist” and “racial” appear everywhere with a frequency approximately equal to that enjoyed by “cock” and “wet” over at Literotica.com, and for the same reason: the average millennial is constantly battered with demands that he or she be racially outraged and/or sexually stimulated and therefore they require ever-stronger imagery to get it up for the cause.

Take the audio from a Sasha Grey porn, overdub every one of her groans with the word “RACISM”, and you’d basically have created a Books-On-Tape version of The Nation.

Disclosure: I have read something like half a dozen, um, features on Literotica. I will vouch for the word distribution therein.


Preemptively clearing the lawn

There is, after all, such a thing as too much connectivity:

Recently there’s been a commercial on television for a drug / alcohol rehabilitation center that emphasizes that “you can bring your cell phone and laptop!” (I’m pretty sure it caters solely to the very well heeled.) The possibility that being continuously available and perpetually connected, via one’s cell phone and the Internet, might have something to do with one’s dependencies on drugs or booze should be of interest to the proprietors of such an establishment. I do hope they know what they’re doing.

I mention this because of a bit of knowledge that seems to me to fall into the “obvious / overlooked” category:

To the extent that one concentrates on worldly things, he neglects his own mental and spiritual health.

Just so. You must have time for yourself: for hobbies, for relaxation, for contemplation. Not having that time is genuinely Bad For You.

Having time each day merely to amuse oneself, or just to sit and think, greatly improves one’s life. Yet we’re practically taught to avoid such periods — to stay as busy as possible virtually all the time. The emphasis on work, on “multitasking” (which, as a former expert in the architecture of multitasking operating systems for embedded devices, I can assure you is always an illusion) and on achieving ever more per unit time is using us up in ways we don’t always perceive and even less often appreciate. You’d almost suspect that time spent in introspection had been deemed an offense against the social norms.

One of the reasons I’ve stayed in my particular job so long is simply that I can put it aside at 4:30; I don’t take work home with me, and seldom do I take calls from the office. I consider this practice absolutely essential to my mental health, and gradually, the powers that be are seeing it my way. Poor you if your particular set of TPTB doesn’t.

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Lots of solos

The Jazz beat the Thunder twice in Salt Lake City last season, and briefly they came close to dispatching them again tonight, cutting a lead as big as 21 points to a mere three halfway through the fourth quarter: Utah hit nine of its first eleven shots in that final frame, definitely a different dynamic from the scene early on when Russell Westbrook (!) was briefly guarding the ten-inch-taller Rudy Gobert. This calls, you say, for Kevin Durant? You damn betcha. KD scored ten in a row to put the game out of reach, and Westbrook rolled up a triple-double for the night. The final was 113-102; imagine what the score might have been had OKC not turned the ball over twenty-odd times. Then again, it’s preseason, so it doesn’t really matter — does it?