Thursday, January 26, 2006

Price gouging because they can

Since I have a few chronic health conditions that require me to take medication daily, I'm very interested in medical developments and events that affect the prices and availability of medications. So sometime ago, when I got an email pointing out how medications that drugstores charge anywhere from 50c to $2 per pill contain fractions of a cent worth of medicine, it made me quite upset.

I'm fortunate enough to have insurance coverage from my government job, as well as secondary Medicare coverage since I'm an organ transplant recipient. But millions of people in this country don't have ANY health coverage, and millions of others don't have enough, forcing them to forgo needed medications in order to eat or to have a roof over their heads. And even those who have coverage are at risk of losing it when employers have to deal with escalating premiums due not only to fraud, but also to rising medication costs.

With the billions that the pharmaceutical companies make each year, this is uncalled for. Here is another blogger who agrees, telling her story.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Oddly Enough News Article |

A Danish website is courting controversy by contributing part of the proceeds from t-shirt sales to rebel groups in Colombia and Palestine. They actually even warn buyers that they should expect legal trouble because of antiterrorist legislation in the US and the European Union.

I guess this is what you could call "passive terrorism" -- incite trouble by buying a t-shirt.

Oddly Enough News Article

Friday, January 20, 2006

Wired News: She's Only 83? Cradle Robber!

The same guy who wrote the rude cell phone caller article at Wired (see above) has another article on the site entitled Wired News: She's Only 83? Cradle Robber! Interesting premise, but one thing I have to argue with.

There are already 6.5 billion people wandering around as you read this. Overpopulation is a severe problem in parts of the world (India, Bangladesh, the Upper East Side).

Some time ago writer P. J. O'Rourke pointed out that the net population density of Bangladesh is no more than that of Hayward, CA. Large numbers of people die each year in monsoon-related events in Bangladesh but that is because of the country's extremely low elevation -- its highest point is 660 feet above sea level -- not because of supposed overpopulation. If Bangladesh is overcrowded, then large sections of central and southern California need to be declared national disaster zones. Ditto Manhattan, while you're at it.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

What's with all the Jessica Simpson mentions?

(or, no accounting for taste)

Anyone reading the previous post is probably wondering why there are so many mentions of Jessica Simpson and Britney Spears, and suspecting it might be no more than a crass play to get viewers. And to those cynics I have to admit that it did cross my mind this morning, even before I left home, that I could get more readers if I found a way to work those names into a post. But when I browsed on the MySpace site earlier today, and saw all the profiles belonging to members all claiming to be Jessica Simpson, I had to vent about it.

But one thing I did wonder this morning when I came up with the idea is, just what is it about Britney Spears that makes her such a popular online search subject? I mean, yeah, I think she's cute, and millions of other guys agree, and even some girls (and of course Madonna). And she does have at least a modicum of talent. But what is it about her that makes her so much more popular than Christina Aguilera? I happen to think that Christina is greatly more talented, at least as a singer. They both have some acting talent (and no, Britney Spears' acting talent is NOT acting like a singer). I suppose Britney's past romance with Justin Timberlake has something to do with it; after all, folks LOVED n*sync (I even found myself able to stand them, unlike most boy bands). Christina didn't really go public with whoever she was involved with, or maybe I just hadn't yet started wondering what it was about them (besides their looks) that made them It Girls.

I wish I knew what it was, so I could find someone else with It, get her (and it would HAVE to be a "her") to let me bottle Whatever-It-Is and sell it. We'd be rich. Of course, then the market would be flooded with Whatever-It-Is and it would soon become worthless, meaning no one would care about Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, Jessica Simpson, and all the rest, because everyone would have whatever it is that makes the public so attentive to their every twitch and burp.

Myspace fakers

I was just browsing through for the first time in ages, and I can't help but notice the total lack of originality or even honesty in the so-called personal profiles.

I originally joined MySpace because someone posted a message at a Yahoo group I belong to in order to announce that he had started a group at MySpace regarding one of my many online interests (no need to dwell on that right now). I joined MySpace, joined the guy's group, posted some pics, and that was mainly that. I've visited Somaya Reece's MySpace page a few times; she's the model/actress whose site I posted a link to sometime back (and keep changing the postdate -- you'll see it's presently above this post today). But for the most part I didn't really browse the site.

Well, today I decided to browse the site. I have to admit, it wasn't so much that I was looking to make friends or anything like that; I prefer to do that face-to-face, or at least not on a site that's dedicated to such things. And I admit upfront that I was browsing mainly female members in the 18-to-40 age range, looking mainly for photos, because I do a bit of photomanipulation and wallpaper creation (OK, the Myspace group I had joined relates to, uh, photomanipulation. Nothing gross, but there it is). I couldn't help noticing that I was seeing the same profiles over and over again.

A good rule of thumb: if the member is a female, 18 to 25, with a fashion pic or glamour pic on her intro page, and her only listed friend is Tom, the company founder, and her site background has Britney Spears in the top lefthand corner, the profile pic is probably not really her.

I would think that the MySpace management would crack down on something like that, lest someone using the site with more serious intent (like networking) come to doubt how much value there is in it. MySpace has millions of members, but you'll see the same profile pics over and over again, and the same profiles over and over again. Some of them don't even bother to change the contact info in the About Me info they've swiped from elsewhere, which means they'll have conflicting contact info in their intro and their About Me section.

I was surprised to see how many celebrities have MySpace pages, but then, in light of all the copycatting, how can anyone be sure that the apparent celebrity behind any particular page is really who they purport to be? I saw what appears to be Jessica Simpson's site, and Ashlee's as well, and they seem to be on the up and up. There are many members claiming to be Jessica Simpson, but something about this one page in particular had me convinced that it might really be hers. But "Jessica" has Britney Spears listed as a friend, and I have some doubts, after looking at "Britney's" page, that the actual Britney Spears has anything to do with that site. She actually says, for example, that her birth name is "Britney Jean Spears Federline." Um, does that mean she was born married to Kevin? That would explain the need for annulling the 55-hour marriage to her old buddy Jason Alexander rather than getting a divorce. Or is Kevin Federline Britney's brother? (A redneck joke is brewing in my brain but I don't want to let it out here and now.) And I'm sure that if I'd done more looking, more silliness would have jumped out at me.

It's interesting also that "Jessica Simpson", an internationally known celebrity, has only about 10000+ friends, while one of her friends, a "supporting-actress" type from some show on one of the newer TV networks (I should have saved her name -- her site was listed under Myspace Music, and I *think* her name was Alex M) had over 100,000 friends. Would the real Jessica Simpson, assuming she really does have a MySpace site, really be trumped so badly by a newbie? So even the seemingly genuine Jessica Simpson page may be a fake, along with the myriad of obvious fakes. I mean, come on girls, how many sites would Jessica Simspon have anyway? Would she even be bothered to start an account with such a morass of fakery?

One of these days I'll fill out the rest of my profile, and maybe even personalize the layout of the site, but who uses MySpace to look for an over-the-hill type like me anyway?