In re: Jarvik out as Lipitor Pitchman

If you remember my post on Dr. Robert Jarvik and RX advertising (In re: Rx advertising – Liptor and Dr. Jarvik) you’ll recall that he was mostly a celeb indorser of sorts and that his medical creditenals were dubious at best.  Well now in the wake of an investigation into the advertising by the House Energy & Commerce committee Lipitor has stopped running the ads that “have Dr. Jarvik enthusing over Lipitor “as a doctor and a dad,”

Despite the presentation that he is a doctor “he [Jarvik] is actually an inventor and researcher. He has a medical degree, but did not go through residency training and is not licensed to practice medicine or prescribe drugs. The commercials also fail to note that Dr. Jarvik only started taking Lipitor about a month after he started touting its virtues under a contract that would pay him a minimum of $1.35 million over two years.”  See NY Times Lipitor’s Pitchman Gets the Boot

Personally as you may recall I am not a fan of the way Rx companies present drugs to us and the fact that such huge amounts are spent pitching them to people (us) who are really unqualified to choose among the products.  While there may be some dialogs that open up because of the commercials and some ailments that would not have been treated otherwise I think if looked at in total we gotta figure out someway of reigning in the advertising practices without stepping too much on the commercial free speech of the Rx companies (don’t worry though, with their lobbying dollars there is no way they end up with too bad a situation in anything).  Also see WSJ Health Blog: Jarvik: My Credibility Was Justified and Fairly Represented (“The record needs to show that the ad campaign Pfizer tastefully presented to the public, using beautiful natural settings and high tech modern architecture, fairly represents me as a world recognized heart expert.”)

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In re: Secret Shopping for CR

He enters the supermarket carrying a Styrofoam cooler full of dry ice (to keep the ice cream cold), a pair of gloves (to keep his fingers warm), and a flashlight (to help him see the inkless indentations on the bottom of each container that show where and when it was manufactured). Reaching the freezer section, he sits down and begins stacking ice cream on the floor.” (How the process of reviewing Ben & Jerry’s ice cream begins)

Welcome to the world of Consumer Reports where abiding by their strict code must purchase all of their products secretly, which of course can lead to some explaining when your buying a strange mixture of goods or insuring they are all from the same production cycle. If your interested a little story (I found it interesting and always admired the way CR did their reporting and love their back page ‘Selling It’) see Wired on CR’s Secret Shopping Consumer Reports‘ Secret Shoppers Have Lots of Explaining to Do’

In re: Cultural Diplomacy

The Philharmonic accepted the North’s invitation to play last year with the encouragement of the U.S. government at a time of rare optimism in the long-running nuclear standoff involving the two countries. …Ahead of their arrival, North Korea was even tearing down the anti-American posters that line the streets of Pyongyang, Mehta said Sunday, citing a diplomat based there who briefed the orchestra before its departure from Beijing, the last stop on a tour of the greater China region…. (From CNN.com)

“I’ve had a lot of moral reservations based on wondering what a concert for the elite is going to do to help the people starving in the street,” said Irene Breslaw, 58, a violist” While statements like this show that there are different sides to visits and to some cultural exchanges and the like may sound like silly cold war relics of melting the ice, with the New York Philharmonic playing in North Korea (to standing ovation for both North Korean and US National Anthems no less) and Eric Clapton set to play a concert next year in the sealed off country I think it shows that building cultural ties (rather than say calling them names) may be the way to crack the ice and be a way to bring about the end of the suffering of the North Koreans (it is believe that over 2 million have died from famine during the 1990s as the government is unable or unwilling to feed its people). I’ve long felt that engagement (as we are w/ China rather than Cuba, only a bit hypocritical I say) is the best way to reform regimes and to bring about stability. It may be slow and the results hidden but over time I think these can work. (Do you think that’s naive? or too idealistic? Maybe but its gotta be better than what we’ve been up to before…)

See Symphonic Diplomacy, With Odd Overtones in Washington Post

Also see Guardian (UK) Article on Clapton going to North Korea next year.

In re: From Cleveland the last Democratic debate?

debateatcsu.jpgTonight at Cleveland State University Clinton and Obama lace up their gloves for what might be their last debate.  While I gotta be honest and say I have really tuned out of the debates until last week when I watched some of the Texas one.  To be fair I’ve always thought that having lots of debates would be a good test that would help keep people like Bush out of the process (although this was to be coupled with reduced or limited advertising in my grand scheme).  And to my surprise it seems like people are still up to watching these debates even after we have had so many (and to the Dem’s benefit that they have the candidates to keep going, I don’t think anyone would tune in for a Huckabee/Mccain debate).  So partially because it is being put on in my state but also because my interest in the whole race is getting a bit piqued I am planning in tuning in to see CSU law alum Tim Russert take the state as co-moderator.

I will still be annoyed when I hear Hillary talk about fixing NAFTA something she has been involved with from creation to expansion.  (While there are flaws with NAFTA I support wholeheartedly free trade and don’t believe that sealing off our borders with tariffs will benefit the Ohio economy long term – sounds like I support Mccain on more then a few issues).  I would like to hear some ideas on getting Ohio churning again that don’t involve us firing up twenty steel plants again, but unlikely to get those from the stage tonight.  Oh well.

If your curious what it takes to put on a debate see Cleveland Plain Dealer story

In re: Pavlik defends Youngstown

defend_01b.gifIf you don’t know who Kelly Pavlik is your either not a boxing fan (highly likely in our era) or your not from Ohio where Pavlik has a cultlike following especially in his native Youngstown in Northeast Ohio where he is from and has remained. His surprising rise to boxing greatness is only slightly more surprising than his ability to remain grounded and humble while remaining in Youngstown (living at his parents house during training). Last night Pavlik rematched with Jermain Taylor who last September he took the middleweight title from.

This time no belt was on the line as they fought up a weight level. The fight went the distance unlike last time but while Pavlik didn’t win in the decesive fashion of the first he still won in a unanimous decision. At least for Ohio it seems boxing is on the return as it seems likely that a match will be held in either Youngstown or Cleveland in one of his upcoming matches and this is just the ticket for rust belt cities to get something to be proud about.

While not tons of Central Ohio bars bother with PPV events once you found a place that was showing it (I went up to watch at Gallo’s Tap Room on Bethel) you would likely found a packed house decked out in Ohio gear, be it OSU or Youngstown State gear (Pavlik wore Youngstown ‘Y’ adorned trunks in this fight, having worn Scarlet&Grey ones in the first fight). The crowd was of course entirely behind Pavlik and the bar errupted when the decision was announced. See more on Pavlik and the fight here in the Youngstown Vindicator.

In re: High Cost of Free Parking

freep.jpgI finished up Pillars of the Earth the other day and instead of starting in on another page turner (Pillars was just such a book, despite the topic of being about the building of a cathedral the book moves really fast and you get pretty taken into the back stabbing, the rivalries, and the crazy politics that existed circa 1100). Anyway I have a huge stack of books that are awaiting to be read and for some reason I have a lot of non-fiction in that stack (I think I should be reading more fiction, it moves quicker) but I’ve been meaning to get into  The High Cost of Free Parking. by Donald Shoup of UCLA (first mentioned In re: is free parking bad?)

The book is really and is clearly more academic in nature and in its audience (it is probably half footnotes). The topic though is stunning and one that I really feel is compelling, the fact that parking in this country is zoned in such high quantities and the fact that on 99% of car trips people park for free. This doesn’t sound bad except that in reality the cost of all this parking is priced into everything else and this just further encourages people to drive since they already essentially paying for it (for example if you walk to somewhere you are still charged in your purchases for the parking lots – and cities copying each other have zoning that requires huge amounts of parking – meaning that even at peak demand you’ll find spots). Again if we all drive no one really loses out, but everyone driving all the time is the problem, some people want to walk and having everything based around free parking spreads out cities, encourages sprawl and I assume I will learn causes many other problems. I’ve only read a few pages of the hefty book, but already it seems like it should be required reading for politicians and urban planners.

In re: EPL going global

epl.jpgDespite fan opposition already (domestic) and some manager opposition its looking likely that in three years time the English Premier League will be hosting 10 matches (a whole extra 39th round) overseas.  Larger in scope then the NFLs who has already started the trend with a regular season match being held in London and another slated for next year the EPL is going to send its squads around the globe to five cities who are prepared to pay the most.  As an overseas supporter (of Arsenal) I love the idea and the chance for some good matches (i.e. not the summer tour friendlies) being played somewhat nearby is really exciting.  For English fans who feel they are missing out on having their teams at home I am not sure how sorry I feel as it is an extra round, they are going to stagger the matches so that it could be a TV glutton day watching over two days the entire slate of the round (scheduled for January).  FIFA and the FA might have problems with it and are going to be examining the deal, but with salaries rising for the top international talent fans might realize that these types of ventures can possibly prevent ticket cost increases.  I am in favor of the NFL going overseas and I think the NBA who does well on TV globally should do this as well.

The Game Plan

  • All 20 Premier League clubs will play an additional round of league fixtures, extending the season to 39 games, from Jan 2011
  • Cities bid for the right to become a host, not for individual matches
  • Four clubs will travel to one of five host cities, with two games in each venue, played over a weekend. The siting of matches in different time zones would allow television viewers to watch one match after another.
  • Points earned from the games to count towards the final Premier League standings.
  •  Clubs to earn an extra £5 million per season in increased television and commercial revenues