The Price of This Drug Went Up 100,000 Percent Since 2001 for No Good Reason

Pharmaceutical companies are evil, part 45,326.

Did you catch 60 Minutes last night? If you did, you may have learned about a drug called Acthar that went from $40 in 2001 to over $40,000 today. It’s a perfect illustration of just how poorly regulated the US pharmaceutical industry continues to be and how there’s absolutely no good reason for the extreme prices Americans pay for medicine.

Acthar has been on the market since 1952 and is primarily used to treat infantile spasms, a rare condition. Why does Acthar cost $40,000 today, an increase of 100,000 percent from the cost in 2001? Pure greed.

Source: The Price of This Drug Went Up 100,000 Percent Since 2001 for No Good Reason

What’s your preference, clickbait or spinach?

847″ /> Serious journalism, like spinach, is good for you.

Update 10 Aug: Perhaps I was a little hard on the N&O. I’m giving it a chance.

What’s everyone talking about today? Spinach, that’s what. N&O Executive Editor John Drescher compared “obligatory” stories about government process to spinach and apparently our spinach days are over. Instead, the paper is apparently now all about chasing clicks.

And local voices don’t matter anymore, apparently, so away with the metro columnists, Barry Saunders and the like. Quirky cat stories will now rule the day. I’m left with the impression that local matters – the stuff where a local newspaper shines like none other – will no longer be a priority for the N&O. If it doesn’t have national appeal it’s gone.

Can I be honest here? I hate, hate, hate the N&O’s new clickbait headlines (and yes, John, no matter how hard you go lipstickin’ this pig these headlines are absolutely clickbait). This is one step away from putting emojis and text shortcuts in headlines (“Y U NO PASS BUDGET, COUNCIL? LOL”). My intelligence is insulted every time I see one. In fact, I make it a point not to click on any story with an asinine headlines. Nothing good is ever behind a clickbait headline.

The N&O website is also bogged down by the worst pop-up advertising you’ll find on the web, here or anywhere else. While some of my media pals might look down on my use of ad blocking software, I would not need it if sites like the N&O weren’t full of exploding ads and self-playing videos. There are rules of decorum on the web and assaulting your web visitors has always been frowned upon, no matter how lucrative it might seem.
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Video shows man forcibly removed from United flight from Chicago to Louisville

In case you were under a rock, yesterday United Airlines dragged a paying passenger off one of its planes to make room for another United crew to fly standby. The resulting outcry caused United’s stock to lose $800 million in value at one point Tuesday. CEO Oscar Munoz then released the biggest bullshit non-apology ever, apologizing for having to “re-accommodate” this passenger. I predict that “re-accommodate” has already earned its place on the “word of the year” lists.

A video posted on Facebook late Sunday evening shows a passenger on a United Airlines flight from Chicago to Louisville being forcibly removed from the plane before takeoff at O’Hare International Airport.

The video, posted by Audra D. Bridges at 7:30 p.m. Sunday, is taken from an aisle seat on a commercial airplane that appears to be preparing to take flight. The 31-second clip shows three men wearing radio equipment and security jackets speaking with a man identified as Elizabethtown doctor David Dao seated on the plane. After a few seconds, one of the men grabs the passenger, who screams, and drags him by his arms toward the front of the plane. The video ends before anything else is shown.

Source: Video shows man forcibly removed from United flight from Chicago to Louisville

Insider reveals true intent of Florida’s proposed solar amendment | Miami Herald

Solar panels

Solar panels

Who’s ready to fire their electric company? A Duke Energy-backed lobbying group is pushing Amendment 1 in Florida, an anti-solar constitutional amendment disguised as a pro-solar one. This makes me wish I had some other choice for electric power than Duke Energy. Thanks to electric monopolies I don’t have that choice.

It’s time to end electric monopolies and open this market to competition. It’s time the Duke Energys in this country stop just pretending to support free markets and actually do it.

The policy director of a think tank hired by Florida’s largest electric utilities admitted at a conference this month what opponents have claimed for months: The industry attempted to deceive voters into supporting restrictions on the expansion of solar by shrouding Amendment 1 as a pro-solar amendment.

Sal Nuzzo, a vice president at the James Madison Institute in Tallahassee, detailed the strategy used by the state’s largest utilities to create and finance Amendment 1 at the State Energy/Environment Leadership Summit in Nashville on Oct. 2.

Nuzzo called the amendment, which has received more than $21 million in utility industry financing, “an incredibly savvy maneuver” that “would completely negate anything they (pro-solar interests) would try to do either legislatively or constitutionally down the road,” according to an audio recording of the event supplied to the Herald/Times.

Source: Insider reveals true intent of Florida’s proposed solar amendment | Miami Herald

Georgetown Hospital blocks MT.Net, gives Facebook a pass

I’m connected to Georgetown University Hospital’s MedStarGuest network and trying to keep from being bored between tests. I was about to do some blogging this morning when I was greeted with a WebSense notification that my blog has been blocked:

No MT.Net for you!

No MT.Net for you!

What makes this particularly amusing is that Facebook is not blocked by the hospital’s WebSense nanny filter. It seems that MarkTurner.Net is considered “Social Networking” but Facebook, the granddaddy of all social networking sites, is not blocked for being “Social Networking.” What’s even more amusing is that other sites I host on the very same site using the very same software (like are not blocked. Somehow I’ve earned inclusion onto WebSense’s no-no list.

This is yet another example of how idiotic these Internet nanny filters can be. Attention fellow IT people: there is no substitution for monitoring your own network. Don’t delegate your network monitoring to stupid products like WebSense.

And aren’t “guest” networks supposed to be safe for guests? Protect your important infrastructure with a secure network but your visitors shouldn’t need nanny filters.

Fortunately my VPN has not been blocked so that I could bring you this important message.

Apple defends decision to remove 3.5mm headphone jack, cites “courage” | Ars Technica

I want to love Apple. I really do. But then Apple does something boneheaded like phase out a perfectly-good 3.5mm headphone jack in favor of its own, $160 proprietary headphone technology and I want to throw out every Apple product in my home.

Apple doesn’t want its customers to have choices. It has become the Microsoft of the 2000s. “Courage,” my ass. How about greed? How often do you think Apple’s customers will lose these loose, pricey earbuds?

"Airpods," a.k.a. overpriced junk

“Airpods,” a.k.a. overpriced junk

SAN FRANCISCO—Apple Senior VP Phil Schiller took the stage at Wednesday’s iPhone event to announce the news most tech geeks had been expecting: the iPhone will leave the 3.5mm headphone jack behind. It was Schiller’s job to justify why Apple was doing so, and he defended the company’s decision by citing three reasons to move on—and one word: “courage.”

Schiller explained to the San Francisco event crowd that Apple would push the Lightning port standard for wired headphones and push a new proprietary wireless standard, driven by the new “W1 chip” in iOS devices, which Schiller called Apple’s first wireless chip.

The 3.5mm port, on the other hand, has to go, Schiller said, because the company can’t justify the continued use of an “ancient” single-use port. He described the amount of technology packed into the iPhone, saying each element in Apple’s phones is fighting for space, and it’s at a premium. And while every iPhone 7 and 7 Plus will include a Lightning-to-3.5mm adapter, Schiller was a lot more bullish about the company’s wireless-audio standard.

Source: Apple defends decision to remove 3.5mm headphone jack, cites “courage” | Ars Technica

The 19th Century plug that’s still being used – BBC News

The BEEB covers Apple’s rumored plans to kill off the phono plug. The story includes a quote from an Apple analyst:

“It feels painful because you’ve got hundreds of millions of devices out there that are using the old standard,” says Horace Dediu, a technology analyst with in-depth knowledge of Apple.

… and …

“Studying Moore’s Law and the history of technology, it’s clear we’re not going to stick around with something analogue for long,” he says. “It’s almost puzzling that it’s taken so long.”

Maybe because analog phone jack technology Just Works? Any guesses why an Apple stock analyst might like this move?

The Sum of Us petition is here, if you care to sign it.
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Surrendering to shootings

I watched a training video explaining what to do during an active shooter event. This is more of a “how to stay alive” video rather than any suggestion that Joe Citizen could or should take any active role against such a shooter.

I remember cringing the last time I saw this video. It depicts a horrible scene: an actor is depicting killing several people with a shotgun. The second viewing didn’t make it any easier.

As horrific as the video was, it pales in comparison to the video parents were shown by our kids’ principal during a PTA meeting last year. This video was one used by school administrators to depict how school staff would react during a shooting incident. Shots fired. Cowering teachers. Crying kids. Absolute nightmare stuff.

My jaw dropped. Is everyone actually fine with this? And … I’m expected to be fine with it, too?

While many people might just nod their heads and accept the responsibility for protecting themselves during events like these, the sheer fucking madness of it all wouldn’t let me.

No. I reject that people should accept being shotgun fodder.

I reject that the fear of being shot needs be instilled in young kids.

I reject the notion that more guns will somehow save us.

I reject that a bullet flying through the air has more rights than I do!

How can America just give up and accepts this kind of violence? How is the right answer “well, we’re all just going to have to live in fear” or “obviously we need more guns?” How did we arrive at the madness?

Is this the best we can do? Do we simply surrender to the fear? Can we as Americans admit that America has a problem and that whatever it is that we’re currently doing isn’t working?

Lawmakers in Utah introduced a bill to train middle school students in gun safety and what to do in case of an active shooter incident. Said bill sponsor, Woods Cross Republican Sen. Todd Weiler:

“I think it’s always helpful for children and adults to think through what you would do in a situation before you encounter it. Unfortunately, it is probably a necessary reality in the society we live in these days.”

Oh well, we certainly can’t do anything about our gun problem so we’ll just have to train everyone in how not to be a target.

This is bullshit. If we accept that mass shootings are now part of life then America has utterly failed as a society. We should just wave the white flag as we cower under the bed. It is failure. It is madness. America is toast, and we did ourselves in.

We did it to ourselves.

I’ve long been supportive of a citizen’s right to own guns but it’s not a blank check. It’s time to tighten the regulation of these killing machines. It’s past time that we talk about the “well-regulated” part of a well-regulated militia.

This is no way to live, folks. The madness has to stop.

Barking dogs

Gentle reader, if your dog has been barking its head off for fifteen minutes straight in your backyard, please do your neighbors a favor and bring your dog back inside. It’s not fun listening to a dog constantly barking for seemingly no reason at all. It’s one thing if there’s an actual reason for the dog to be barking – say, if Bigfoot is standing in your driveway. If on the other hand the dog is barking simply to hear itself bark or because it’s feeling a little lonely (which seems to cover about 90% of the instances), bring it inside. Your dog will love you and so will your neighbors.

This has been a public service announcement from MarkTurner.Net.

in Rant | 120 Words

Apple should kill the headphone jack – Tech Insider

Tech Insider columnist and apple fanboy Alex Heath advocates for Apple’s reported nixing of a headphone jack on it’s upcoming iPhone 7. Says Heath:

The audio jack in the iPhone is based on technology intended for telephone switchboards in the 19th century. It’s an ancient port, and while it’s a common standard now, its days are numbered.

Well, yeah. We’ve been using audio through analog wires for over a hundred years. Know what? We’ve pretty-much got it perfected. Is it the best audio available? Not anymore, but it’s cheap and ubiquitous. Don’t count out cheap and ubiquitous.

Then Mr. Heath hints at why Apple might consider this move:

The main downside of Lightning-equipped headphones right now is price. Apple recently started selling a $800 pair of Lightning headphones from Audeze in its store, which only the most serious audiophile would even consider buying. Only a few companies have committed to Lightning so far, and their headphones generally run for at least $200.

Eight hundred bucks for a pair of headphones and $200 for the cheapies. Meanwhile, standard phono-jack phones are so cheap that they’re practically given away.

Oh, and there’s also this:

Lightning is also a proprietary connector that Apple owns…

Do you see where this is going? “Cheap and ubiquitous” is the last thing Apple wants. Apple can’t claim to be saving space by its switch from a phono plug to Lightning. What it really wants is to get the millions of Apple-loving drones out there used to shelling out $100+ for Apple-proprietary accessories that could otherwise be had for mere dollars through the wonders of mass-market standardization.

I once railed against Microsoft’s “embrace and extend” way of sabotaging standards. Apple has taken a play from the Redmond playbook. Apple’s refusal to play nice with the rest of the world rubs this advocate of open source and open standards the wrong way.

Remember the collective outrage when Apple removed the optical CD drive in the Mac? Or how about when Apple chose to not let the iPhone’s browser support Adobe Flash, the horrible and insecure web standard that was nearly ubiquitous at the time and basically extinct now?

They were all big changes that may have caused inconvenience and raised eyebrows at the time. But looking back, they seem like obvious steps forward.

Source: Apple should kill the headphone jack – Tech Insider