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Thursday: Stupidity and Revelations

Bits and pieces found around the web:

Digby says the deal that Obama is making with the Republicans is nearly finished.  As expected, he sold us out for a s%)*load of spending cuts.  In return, the Republicans had to agree to a eensy-weensy, itsy-bitsy, soupçon of a tax on stuff like private corporate jets.  Mind you, the masters of the universe wouldn’t have to give up their private jets, because that would at least have the appearance of looking good.  No, they merely had to pay an increase in the taxes for the privilege of using them, a tax they could well afford to pay several times over without blinking an eye.  This they would not do and they walked out of negotiations- that were held behind closed doors that we did not see the legislate.  Of course, it is all kabuki.  The Republicans will act like they are offended, the president will propose another number, they will eventually reach a deal where the tax will be symbolic and everyone else in the country will just have to suck it up because rich people don’t want to be inconvenienced by paperwork or something.

But anyone who is focussing like a laser beam on the corporate jet tax, a situation divinely to be wished by the GOP, is missing the point.  The point is that we have come to the place where the wealthy have been taking us for over 70 years.  They HATED the New Deal.  Why should they, the winners, have to give their money to the losers?  It’s the same argument we see played out in the conservative media gasbag shows where lazy people and seniors who rush to the doctor for every little thing are the reason why the rest of us should deny ourselves a rational health care policy.  Those slackers don’t deserve it.

When will people realize that to the wealthy, *everyone* below them on the socio-economic ladder is a loser, slacker, lazy person who didn’t have the good sense to be born into wealth or work as hard as they do?  Have these people even *been* in a lab these days?

Which brings me to the second stupidity: Anne Patchett’s new novel State of Wonder.  I can’t believe I wasted an audible credit on this piece of silly pulp fiction.  Patchett’s description of how research is done at a Big Pharma company isn’t even wrong.  I honestly don’t know if she did any research for this book.  It’s ORGANIC chemistry, Anne, not INorganic chemistry.  INorganic chemistry is fun and full of pretty colors and oxidation states.  ORGANIC chemistry is what small molecule chemists do in the lab to make compounds that get tested in a lab.  CHEMISTS make them, not pharmacologists, who, from what I can tell wouldn’t know an active compound from a detergent.  And the labs are located in a big, blocky building located on some bay on either one of the coasts of America, not located in the middle of the Amazon jungle surrounded by cannibals.  Ok, shareholders do somewhat resemble cannibals but that’s besides the point.

One last point, and this is important, a pharmacologist and the company CEO would never have an affair, clandestine or not.  That’s because the company CEO doesn’t even know that the pharmacologist is a human being who works for him.  Even if he did, which he wouldn’t, because a laboratory is as foreign to the CEO as an Amazonian tribe of tree chewers, fooling around with “the help” is practically the only thing that would get a clueless, incompetent CEO of a major pharmaceutical company fired in this day and age.  Who did Anne speak to about how big pharma works?  I can almost see her conversation with two practical jokers in a lab somewhere:

“So, in this book, the protagonist is having an affair with the CEO and…”

“Oh, yeah, we see that guy down here all the time.  He flies in on his corporate helicopter, invites us to lunch, he asks us all about what we need and how things are going and whether the new lean-sigma-jiu-jitsu system needs modification.  We told him we thought that the labcoats didn’t really do our cleavage justice.”

Please, Anne.  And don’t just assume that pharmaceutical companies would withhold cures for malaria from third world countries.  They donate anti-malarial and sleeping sickness drugs all the time.  You’d know if you’d been paying attention to the news.  But, really, if these shaman and tribal women are so incredibly wise about the effect that chewing tree bark has on their ability to evade malaria, don’t you think the cannibals down the road would have figured it out?  They’re not stupid children, Anne.  Ethnobotanists consult them for a reason, you ninny.

Anyway, don’t waste your time.  It’s the Orpheus and Eurydice story all over again mixed with Heart of Darkness and the Wizard of Oz.  But I do need a suggestion for a good book to take to the beach (beach vacation was planned the month before the layoff.  How nice for me.) So, if you know of one that won’t make me want to strangle someone, list it in the comments.