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New Zealand

Mass penguin deaths.

Chantix

Oh, look – 150 completed suicides from Chantix users “improperly” reported to the FDA!

I’ll say this again: If your doctor prescribes a new drug (and really, whenever possible, you should ask for a drug that’s at least 10 years old), go online and find the bulletin boards where users report the side effects they experience. Those communities were reporting problems with Chantix long before the medical community figured it out.

It’s important, however, that you read all the comments. When you read the rest, you often find the side effects go away in a few weeks, or that a drug interaction was responsible. Some people (like me!) have strong reactions to just about any drug, and you have to use common sense.

The kinds of stories coming out about Chantix were unusual and scary. Someone should have noticed sooner.

You don’t have to cry

Crosby Stills Nash and Young:

‘Do you know who I am?’

Yeah, you’re an asshole:

HARRISBURG – Gov. Corbett’s newly minted secretary of health likes his eggs fresh off the grill – very fresh.

Diner owner Richard Hanna says he found that out the hard way.

Hanna says that just weeks after Corbett tapped Eli N. Avila to serve as the state’s top health official, Avila walked into Hanna’s restaurant opposite the Capitol, ordered an egg sandwich breakfast, and angrily complained that it wasn’t fresh enough.

What followed, Hanna says, was a testy exchange that culminated with Avila’s shouting, “Do you know who I am? I am the secretary of health!”

A month or so later, a city health inspector descended on the restaurant, Roxy’s Cafe.

A Harrisburg city spokesman confirmed Thursday that the visit was triggered by a complaint from the state Health Department – about eggs, no less.

Avila, who came to Pennsylvania from New York and received state Senate confirmation two weeks ago, declined a request for an interview for this article.

Instead, his office e-mailed this statement, saying the incident was in January: “Secretary Avila went to Roxy’s . . . and noticed what he believed were unsanitary cooking conditions. As the secretary of health, he felt it was his duty to report this incident to the city of Harrisburg.”

Go read the rest of the story to learn what really happened. Asshole.

Assault reported

This was smart. This woman is a lot more likely to get a real investigation this way than by reporting it to the police:

In a tear-filled disclosure, a Lower Merion woman took the lectern last night at a township commissioners meeting to allege she was stalked and sexually asssaulted by a a Lower Merion police officer in 2010.

Speaking in a shaky voice during the public comment period, the 25-year-old woman alleged that the patrolman stalked her over a period of a month by sitting in a patrol car in a parking lot beneath her window.

“He saw me naked,” said the woman, whose identity is being withheld by the Inquirer. “Because of this, I have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.”

Further, she told the commissioners, when she reported the police officer to the township, she was “illegally detained by one of his friends.”

“It was a violation of my rights,” said the woman. “It took a lot of courage for me to come forward. I know I’m not the first, and I know I’m not the last. You guys can make that decision.”

The woman said the matter had been troubling her “for over a year.” She told the commissioners she came forward because she was looking for “justice, not money.”

“I just don’t want this to happen to another girl,” the woman said.

Fascinating

Amazing success for spinal cord injury patient!

Bitcoin

What if Anonymous had its own bank? That’s the tagline of the open source project Bitcoin. Virtual money? A peer-to-peer electronic currency system? I don’t quite understand it, but a lot of geeks are really, really excited about this:

We are 100% certain that governments will start banning bitcoins in the next 12 to 18 months. Additionally, we’re certain bitcoins will soar in value and a crush of folks will flood the system and start using them.

Currently there are 6M coins at $6.70 each for a total economy of about $40M. Bitcoin speculation and hoarding will also cause a massive spike in bitcoin value. For example, if 10M people find out about bitcoins in the next year and want to buy $100 worth, $1B will be infused into the bitcoin economy.

Finally, there will be massive breakage in bitcoins. If your laptop crashes and you didn’t back up your bitcoins, well, you’re SOL. If someone steals your laptop that has 10,000 bitcoins on it you won on Bitcoin Poker, you’re SOL. Lost your USB drive with 500 bitcoins on it after a night out on the town? You’re SOL.

Sites like 99designs, eLance and oDesk will start accepting bitcoins for payment. If they don’t, they will face competition from folks who do.

Bottom line: The world is going to be turned over by bitcoins unless governments step in and ban them by prosecuting individuals.

This is about to get really interesting, everyone.

New book

Susie Bright, who taught me more about sex I ever dreamed I didn’t know. Go buy it!

With God on our side

Joan Baez:

Sara

Bob Dylan:

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