Sunday, 23 October 2005

Patents & Monopoly vs. People

Taken from Slashdot this morning, this little diddy had me wondering...

"The Taiwanese government has announced that it will violate patent laws to manufacture a drug that can help fight bird flu virus. In doing so, they have spelled out their reasoning very clearly: 'We have tried our best to negotiate with Roche, it means we have shown our goodwill to Roche and we appreciate their patent. But to protect our people is the utmost important thing'. Not being in Taiwan, this makes me wonder how bad the situation would have to be for some of the other governments to follow a path of violating patent and copyright laws for the benefit of the general population. Are there precedents, procedures for doing so?"

While I recognize the efforts of the scientists / researchers and the need to satisfy shareholders, I must question the prudence of withholding information that could save lives.

I was on the phone with my parents earlier and both of them expressed concern about "Bird Flu". Sheesh, I woke up with sniffles and thought of it. The eggheads say that this thing could rival the epidemic experienced in the early 1900's !! Do you know that Europe lost countless lives in that one ? This thing is a fucking killer !!

If Roche, or any other company has ANYTHING that can help curtail the spread / infection / viability of this "Bird Flu"..shouldn't they offer it to others..Freely and with all good speed ? I invest, I invest money in the hopes of a better future for myself and those close to me but I am willing to take a hit in the pocketbook if lives are at stake !

My $0.02 worth

By the way, here's ROCHE's financial tell me if they're suffering

Saturday, 22 October 2005

Top 10 Bush-isms

10) "I want you to know. Karyn is with us. A West Texas girl, just like me." —Nashville, Tenn., May 27, 2004

9) "Then you wake up at the high school level and find out that the illiteracy level of our children are appalling." —Washington, D.C., Jan. 23, 2004

8) "Free societies are hopeful societies. And free societies will be allies against these hateful few who have no conscience, who kill at the whim of a hat." —Washington, D.C., Sept. 17, 2004

7) "I want to thank the astronauts who are with us, the courageous spacial entrepreneurs who set such a wonderful example for the young of our country." —Washington, D.C. Jan. 14, 2004

6) "We will make sure our troops have all that is necessary to complete their missions. That's why I went to the Congress last September and proposed fundamental — supplemental funding, which is money for armor and body parts and ammunition and fuel." —Erie, Pa., Sept. 4, 2004

5) "After standing on the stage, after the debates, I made it very plain, we will not have an all-volunteer army. And yet, this week — we will have an all-volunteer army!" —Daytona Beach, Fla., Oct. 16, 2004

4) "Tribal sovereignty means that; it's sovereign. I mean, you're a — you've been given sovereignty, and you're viewed as a sovereign entity. And therefore the relationship between the federal government and tribes is one between sovereign entities." —Washington, D.C., Aug. 6, 2004

3) "I hear there's rumors on the Internets that we're going to have a draft." —second presidential debate, St. Louis, Mo., Oct. 8, 2004

2) "Too many good docs are getting out of the business. Too many OB-GYNs aren't able to practice their love with women all across this country." —Poplar Bluff, Mo., Sept. 6, 2004

1) "Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we." —Washington, D.C., Aug. 5, 2004

White House Watch: Cheney resignation rumors fly

In this article it is suggested that in the wake of the Rove / Libby / CIA Leak case in Washington the US Vice President may step aside allowing Bush to elevate Condoleeza Rice to the VP slot.

Now, the thought of Cheney finally skulking away is something to bring a smile to many faces. He's the cumdrugeon of the administration. In fact, I've heard the word "Crusty" bandied about..and that's being generous some would say. However, the flip side of this is the elevation of Ms. Rice to the Vice Presidency.

Scary thought there. Rice is the Ultra-Hawk / Die-Hard Bush groupie "Grizelda" to Cheney's Haliburton Grinch of the administration. While I believe that Rice is an intelligent lady and one of firmly held beliefs, would she be any better than good 'ol "Crusty" ?

Only time will tell.

Friday, 21 October 2005

Aide Says FEMA Ignored Warnings

Having just read an article in the Washington Post, I am somewhat dismayed at the general attitude of CYA in Washington. While I've always suspected that most bureaucrats & politicians are self serving scum, this has got to be the greatest confirmation....This week.

Apparently, during the height of the problems caused by Hurricane Katrina, a single FEMA staffer was frantically emailing his superiors giving them updates on the situation as it degraded.

Meanwhile, Mr. Brown (former FEMA head) was more concerned that he get a good table at a restaurant for his dinner.

Mr. Brown has claimed in sessions with the US Senate that he was recieving "conflicting reports" about the severity of the problems. That he didn't know the extent of the damage, wasn't being informed..etc..etc... And yet, apparently at the peak of the damage, there was only one FEMA staffer in New Orleans. Question: Who else was in a position to be offering him these conflicting reports ?

Looks like Brown is more interested in covering his own hide, blame the problems on others, and not do what even President Bush ultimately did (begrudgingly though)...and that was to accept responsibility. Granted, Bush was contrite and was merely responding to a public outcry and trying to forstall his declining public approval, but at least he stood up.

Mr. Brown instead demonstrated how inept he is an an administrator, and more to the point, demonstrated that he has the moral character of a slug !

Don't worry though, he'll probably be posted to another job where his remarkable skills can shine again....Like Saftey Manager at NASA maybe ?

Thursday, 20 October 2005

The idiocy of the US Senate - One of MANY

What's it worth to make sure nothing gets between Americans and their TV sets?

Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) thinks $3 billion is about right. That's what he proposed yesterday to spend to make sure TVs don't go blank when broadcasters switch to digital signals in about four years.

The money would subsidize the cost of set-top boxes to convert digital signals to play on the old analog sets that millions of people without cable or satellite TV rely on. Under Stevens's proposal, people would make a $10 co-payment for the boxes and the government would absorb the rest of the cost. The cash would come from an estimated $10 billion to be raised from auctioning the spectrum when analog broadcasts end.

Taken from a Washington Post Article on Thursday, October 20th, 2005.

Now, I've got to admit that I watch TV. It's a source of entertainment, news and a good old fashioned 'boredom killer'. I think that everyone should have access to at least their own basic local news and programming, and if that comes through on the bunny ear antennas on top of the set, then so be it. I also think that if you want access to the premium channels then you should pay for them, though I think that the cable companies are charging too much considering the fact that they make money through advertising revenue which should be subsidizing their monthly access fees as opposed to just going into their pockets...but I digress.

The US Senate proposing a subsidy of 3 Billion (or even 1 Billion) so that people can still get TV is just plain ludicrious ! Lets see, the US Government has spent a few hundred Billion in the Iraq effort, there is the cost of reconstruction after all the Hurricanes, the ongoing costs associated with Bush's own spending spree on other issues and NOW they want to drop another few Billion on subsidizing people's ability to watch TELEVISION ?!?

Sony, Hitachi, RCA, Zenith etc...Take one for the team and drop the costs of your basic digital TV sets. Shareholder value is one thing, price gouging the citizens is another thing entirely.

As for the US Senate, why don't you try to keep your hands off of money...Period !! If you think it's more important to subsidize TV access than it is to trim spending, getting your country a little bit out of debt, or heaven forbid, to actually spend that 3 Billion on something tangible like books for schools than you definately have your priorities sadly misplaced.

People, that 3,000 Million dollars being spent to subsidize a little box so people can watch TV !!
For those of you a bit curious about the resulting math of all this, think about the following.

Based on the US population, that all works out to $10 for every citizen. That's every Man, Woman and child in the USA ! Not much of a subsidy if you ask me. But I bet that for the few million people directly affected by the Hurricanes, a $1000 + subsidy would sure go a long way !!