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      If there is something this blog is about, it’s how to think. There’s an entire category, but it’s most of what I write. Thinking well isn’t about always being right, because you can’t be. It is about having models of the world that are right often enough; and, that when wrong fail with the least […]
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Stroll: Soul and CDC

I have to face my addiction to crunchy almond butter. I keep a jar at home and at work. {{hangs head in shame}}. I’m powerless before it.

Time to go home. Everybody dance.

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This is weird. The CDC is instructing all employees to not talk to the press or answer the most basic requests for data.

What is that all about??

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Another Harvard psychiatrist breaks the Goldwater Rule on Trump’s mental illness as a public service. Too late, actually, we can’t roll back the election, though I’d love to have a tardis to play with that wibbly wobbly, timey wimey thing.

The shrink says Donald Trump is a sociopath. His case is convincing. And here’s the bad part:

I don’t think Trump’s cruelty is coincidental to his appeal. His bigotry, his racism, his meanness — that is why people like him. I think that is the core of his appeal for a certain part of the public.

I agree. Hitler had a lot of followers too. Some people look for strong leaders. Others are suspicious of strong leaders. A lot of people seek out strong leaders because it is part of our shared human experience. As children, we all want to believe that our parents are good and strong and great and will protect us forever. So if you have someone who comes along say, “I am good and strong and great and I will protect you forever,” a certain number of people will follow that person.

If they are skilled at it the way Trump is, or the way that Mussolini or Hitler was, then they speak to the concerns of those people. Not that they really have any care about them. Trump does not. He could care less about these people. What they want from him is somebody who will finally be strong and speak up for them, except that it is a one-sided bargain. They just do not know it is because he is a liar.

Hmmm. Maybe we should worry more about the voters who put him in office. Why is it they can’t detect the most obvious of lies about Donald? That he doesn’t care at all about them?

The rest of us figured it out.

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IBW sent this link to Wonkette’s list of 19 Books That Hillary Clinton Should Write Next. Some of these are bound to be classics, such as:

Which Part of “He’s a Russian Puppet” Did You Dipsquats Not Understand?

Suck It: A Guide to the Cocktails I Drink Now That I No Longer Have to Be Polite to Doucheschooners Like Chris Cillizza

Eat It: A Recipe Book of Cookies I Never Baked and Never Fucking Will

Doucheschooner is so much funnier if I don’t think about it too long.

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Tuesday: Cross My Mind

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Does a cancer drug really cost $2.7 billion to bring to market? Yes and no. This is something I actually know a little bit about. I’ve bored you people with it before. Will probably do it again.

Here’s the money quote from a related article about the cost of Kymriah, a new gene therapy treatment for a rare form of leukemia:

Drug makers argue that the prices ought to reflect the value of a curative treatment to the patient. Dr. Kesselheim and other experts are far from convinced.

“We don’t pay the fire department that way,” he said. “When the fire department shows up at a burning house, they don’t ask, ‘How much is it worth to you to put out the fire?’ ”

Executives at drug companies declined to say what they plan to charge for the gene therapies they are developing. But they said a variety of factors justified setting unprecedented prices.

By definition, there are very few patients with the rare diseases that the treatments target. Companies thus will have comparatively fewer opportunities to make enough money to pay for their investment, to turn a profit and to fund future research.

So, yes, research is very expensive. It takes a lot of trial and error and mucho dinero to research and develop and test a drug.

BUT, and here’s why the business dudes have made the situation worse, it used to be that drug makers had a large portfolio of small molecule drugs for cardiovascular disease, central nervous system disorders, diabetes, antibiotics, reproductive health yadayadayada. They don’t now. That’s what laying all of the small molecule R&D staff was all about in the wake of the patent cliff. Small molecule research got to be too expensive. The FDA kept raising the safety profiles in the middle of the pipeline making patents less profitable if the drug ever got approved. And what did get approved was immediately set upon by brigands in the class action legal profession. Oh, sure, it’s all fun and games to sue over an unavoidable and previously undetected rare side effect until all of us lose some really important therapeutic agent.

So the business bros decided to concentrate on cancer therapy and orphan drugs for rare medical conditions.

Why?

Because the patients’ lives depend on them, they’re chronic conditions, they’ll indenture themselves to get them and no one complains about side effects.

Ta-Da!

Now, if you have schizophrenia, heart disease, high blood pressure, a multi-drug resistant infection or want a better birth control option, you’re SOL.

The business side abandoned that kind of research. They put all their eggs in the cancer – orphan drug areas. That’s where the money is and the lawsuits ain’t.

Why, yes, it *is* opportunistic and evil. Why do you ask?

Next week, why the NIH grants don’t REALLY produce drugs in the university and how the business bros convinced a lot of PIs that they were mini gods so they could get the almost free graduate students to do the dirty work at a fraction of the price -and speed. And expertise. Really, there’s a reason we call them students.

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Jacob Weisberg and Lawfare’s Benjamin Wittes talk about how to read journalists’ codes about where they get their sources on the latest episode of Trumpcast.

Maybe this is easier for me because scientists never commit to anything. I just figure that “sources familiar to the investigation” could include Capitol Hill staffers, congresspeople, FBI people, and the cleaning ladies.

Who knows? Need Moar Data.