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Consumer Reports

The clinic doctor got very pissy with me when I told her I wouldn’t take a statin. I had my doubts as to their effectiveness/relevance, and I sure as hell knew I didn’t like the side effects. Looks like I was right!

Can we stop all those Lipitor commercials now?

The medical community was shaken last week by news that raising HDL (good) cholesterol with drugs did nothing to protect against heart attacks, strokes, and death. Since high HDL levels have been linked to better heart health, it seemed a given that raising HDL would help prevent heart attacks. But the new study found that t’aint necessarily so.

The study, from the National Institute of Health with backing from the drug makers Abbott and Merck, was halted after 32 months of a planned 6-year clinical trial. The study included 3,414 people with a history of cardiovascular disease who were all on a cholesterol-lowering statin to lower their LDL (bad) cholesterol level. Roughly half were also put on high-dose niacin (Niaspan) to raise their HDL and lower their triglycerides. Niacin did improve those levels. But the researchers saw no reduction in the number of cardiovascular events and deaths compared with those on a statin alone, and so the trial suffered an early demise.

Cheery news

This is great!

WASHINGTON — It’s getting personal now. In a shift still evolving, federal enforcers are targeting individual executives in health care fraud cases that used to be aimed at impersonal corporations.

The new tactic is raising the anxiety level – and risks – for corporate honchos at drug companies, medical device manufacturers, nursing home chains and other major health care enterprises that deal with Medicare and Medicaid.

Previously, if a company got caught, its lawyers in many cases would be able to negotiate a financial settlement. The company would write the government a check for a number followed by lots of zeroes and promise not to break the rules again. Often the cost would just get passed on to customers.

Now, on top of fines paid by a company, senior executives can face criminal charges even if they weren’t involved in the scheme but could have stopped it had they known. Furthermore, they can also be banned from doing business with government health programs, a career-ending consequence.

The Chicago way?

Not sure what this is about, but it’s not good that the appointees don’t seem to know what they’re doing.

Reading as cartography

Ta-Nehisi Coates in the Atlantic:

Put bluntly, if you call yourself a reading man, but don’t read books by women, you are actually neither. Such a person implicitly dismisses whole swaths of literature, and then flees the challenge to see himself through other eyes.

This is not a favor to feminists. This is not about how to pick up chicks. This is about hunger, greed and acquisition. Do not read books by women to murder your inner sexist pig. Do it because Edith Wharton can fucking write. It’s that simple.

Yes, I do find it incredible that so many men don’t read female authors. Imagine if women (who are, after all, the majority of book buyers) said they didn’t read anything by men. It would be a huge marketing problem!

Browser check

Does everyone see the Paypal links that are always at the top of the page? Please note in comments, and tell me what browser you’re using.
If you can’t see it, it might be because of an anti-virus program or an ad blocker in your browser.

Priorities

While I think we can all agree that taxpayers have unknowingly financed the expansion of academic empires, the fact remains that higher education is the gateway to better jobs and this is the system we have. Let me remind you that when Gov. Corbett says we don’t have the money to fund education, what he really means is that he and Republican legislators have decided they’d rather use that money to subsidize big business (Marcellus Shale, anyone?) and more tax cuts:

Knowing the Pennsylvania government was waist-deep in deficit, Temple University leaders braced for a reduction of up to 6 percent in state aid this year.

Oops.

The current proposed cut stands at 25 percent. And that’s an improvement from the governor’s original 50 percent reduction.

That’s a loss of $44.6 million, enough to pay 18 months of water, gas, and electric bills at all nine of Temple’s campuses and sites.

Temple President Ann Weaver Hart has reimposed freezes on nonunion wages, administration hiring, and travel, while delaying plans to fill five top university posts. More hardship is coming as the school tries to reconcile big plans and fewer dollars.

Useful

Some stark differences between Palestinians and Israelis.

The boys of summer

Don Henley:

Under the boardwalk

If you didn’t grow up on the East Coast, you probably don’t understand how deeply the boardwalk experience is ingrained in our psyches. I remember getting my first real kiss under the Wildwood boardwalk when I was 13:

Sandy (4th of July)

Bruce:

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