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      As you’d expect from the title, both more and less than it seems. The impact on oil prices is not that big a deal, despite the screaming. If they were to, say, wind up at $75/barrel for a few months, well the last time we had prices that high was… less than a year ago. […]
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The answer is money

And time.

This is another boring post on drug discovery but ignore it at your peril.

Derek Lowe has another nice post up about the discovery of new antibiotics.  Summary: it’s really hard.  But I think even Derek might be glossing over something that seems pretty obvious.  Discovering new antibiotics and getting over the rate limiting step of not finding anything new or effective for a long period of time is going to take a massive infusion of money.  That money is going to have to come from somewhere.  My recent conversation at a user group meeting resulted in shrugs from the participants.  We have no idea who is going to pick up the tab for the research, which we already know ahead of time is going to be massively expensive and fruitless for a long time.

But here’s the thing, if you don’t take the time (and money) to do it right, when will you have the time (and money) to do it over?  Do we need a new version of the plague to light a fire under the responsible parties to get this party started?  On the other hand, it was the plague that got the Renaissance started when it wiped out a lot of the naysayers that stood in the way of the experimentalists…

Yes, I know the low hanging fruit has been picked.  Yes, I know we need to educate the helicopter moms out there to stop dosing their kids with amoxicillin every time they get colds.  Yes, yes, yes, there are a million reasons why bacteria are hard to kill.  But the primary reason we are failing in drug discovery is the one we have been talking about for a while now.  The shareholders don’t want to spend money on it.  They’d rather look for get rich quick schemes.  Meanwhile, there are tens of thousands of experienced American scientists who are vastly underemployed right now.

The next presidential candidates for 2016 better have policies to deal with this problem because the day of reckoning is fast approaching.

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Wisconsin Recap

The votes are mostly in and Walker will continue to be the governor of Wisconsin.  What have we learned from this?  Well, I doubt that the Democrats who are in charge have learned anything at all.  They’re still acting like this has nothing to do with them.  But secretly, they’re scared shitless.

What Wisconsin is saying is that with enough money, you can misdirect a whole population of people who are under economic stress.  At this point, I think that Abraham Maslow must have been the smartest person who ever lived because he very clearly spelled out what motivates people.  Here’s the Pyramid of Needs:

As Paul Krugman has come to realize, the idea behind the austerity measures and the deficit craziness is to use this moment of economic crisis to push through permanent changes in government and labor.  You may have seen this theory before in Naomi Klein’s Shock Doctrine.  Right now, the overlords are sitting on a pile of cash and they’re not going to let it go until we cry uncle and give up our safety net.  This results in a lot of uncertainty and pressure on all of us economically in the short term.  Of course, this has been building up for a couple of decades.  When people are under economic stress, they will look after their own needs first.  Forget all of that altruistic shit.  They don’t have time for it.  When their slice of the pie shrank to a size that finally got their attention, they started to hoard what they had.  Yes, it makes no sense to blame public sector employees and unions.  Putting pressure on them is not going to get you back what you have lost.  You have to focus your attention on the ruling class.  Ahhhh, that’s where the beauty of money comes into its full glory.  The wealthy can afford to flood the airwaves with misleading messages, continually focusing the attention of the voters down and not up.

I don’t know what to say about the vulnerability of voters to these messages.  There is no counterweight from the left.  That’s because the Democratic party has neutralized its left and taken all potential leaders out of contention.  When they had the chance to control the message right after the 2008 election, the Democrats passed.  They didn’t attempt to institute a fairness doctrine or make the Corporation for Public Broadcasting beholden to them.  I don’t know, maybe the Democrats are just stupid or they don’t want power as much as Republicans because they’re doing a piss poor job at keeping hold of it.

But whatever.  Here is where we are.  The economy has suffered extensive damage and people are feeling vulnerable.  They want to cut expenses wherever they can.  They are susceptible to Republican messages that assure them that all they have to do is break labor up and stop them from taking their hard earned taxdollars to pay for pensions and healthcare.  Nevermind that the bankers have taken so much more and don’t deserve it.  Nevermind that these right wing solutions will only make the recession worse.

Barack Obama is either in on the deal to divert money to the financial overlords or he is painfully inept.  He seems to be incapable of explaining what is going on to the average voter and even if he could, they wouldn’t believe him because they think he is a Kenyan Socialist.  I doubt that the real Kenyan Socialists would invite him into their club but there you go.  Logic has nothing to do with this.  This is on an emotional level.  It’s the kind of thing that provokes a flight or fight response.  Obama doesn’t seem to have an emotional bone in his body so his chances of getting through to voters is about nil.  And he can’t get around the paid for media filter.

All current data and trends point to him losing in November.  It has always been the economy, stupid and as long as the bad guys are holding it hostage, Obama will be vulnerable.

This is not the time for Chris Hedges and Noam Chomsky to go off on self-actualizing tangents. This is not a good time for the Obama fanboy base to get all warm and gooey with aspirational delusions of grandeur. This is the time to locate that will to survive in the Democratic party.  Don’t think that it is impossible for Romney to win in this environment.  It could be easier than you think.  All the money has to do is shrink the pie and then have us fight over it.  The Republicans can ride to victory on that.

A good reason to watch the Oscars this year.

Have you seen Moneyball?  The movie about the Oakland A’s and its record breaking winning streak was developed from a book by former Wall Street insider Michael Lewis.     Billy Beane, manager of the A’s, hired a math and statistics guy on a whim, and together, they use numbers to find hidden gems in other teams’ baseball lineups.  It sounds kind of dry, doesn’t it?

Well, it’s not and part of the credit for turning math into magic is due to film editor, Christopher Tellefsen.  A couple of weeks ago, he was nominated for his first Academy Award.  The New York Times had an interview with Chris about what it takes to be an Oscar nominated editor, and wrote it up for today’s paper.  A clip from the movie, Moneyball, demonstrates what Christopher sees, the shots he uses and why he selects them to describe an abstract concept (it looks like principal component analysis) in a film for the sports lover in the general audience.

And the reason why all of this is important is because Christopher is married to Bev who is a sister to

….

Katiebird!

We’re nearly peeing ourselves with excitement for Christopher and looking forward to catching a glimpse of him and Bev on the red carpet.  And it goes without saying that we hope he wins.  Moneyball is a terrific movie with one of the tensest baseball game scenes I’ve ever seen.  It had me on the edge of my seat and as afraid to watch for fear of jinxing it as Billy Beane himself.

(note to Bev: Katie and I think lavender is your color and you should wear the Spanx in the dressing room when you try the dresses on)

Monday: Makeover Madness still bugging Maureen Le Fey

The jig is up, media.  The voters are are on to you.  It’s because you’ve gotten lazy.  You don’t even try anymore to mix it up.  It’s the same patterns.  Does Maureen Dowd just phone it in these days?  In 2004, she wrote that John Kerry was the elitist snowboarding, boy toy to a rich heiress.  This year it’s John McCain.  And I can’t believe she is suggesting that Sarah Palin go to Penney’s to buy her campaign wardrobe.

By the way, Maureen, I LOVE your Georgetown home. That custom colored Benjamin-Moore pink paint is gorgeous.   Maureen, you are an inspiration to bloggers everywhere.  Maybe if I cut back on my snarky posts to twice a week, I too can live in such swank surroundings.

$150,000 on clothes is a drop in the bucket compared to the obscene amounts of money that the Obama campaign has been spending on advertisment.  The Obama campaign raked in $150 million in campaign contributions in September and *still* I get half a dozen requests for money in my email box every single day.  Obama bought his own channel on DiSH.  Yep, if I go to channel 73, I can see non-stop Obama 24/7.

The funny thing is, I don’t think it’s working.  If you want to avoid Obama ads, you use your DVR and never go near channel 73.  Just fast forward through all of the hopey changey stuff. Ad time is expensive but I think it’s getting to be less and less effective.  Republicans, on the other hand, have taken a decidedly low tech, inexpensive approach that’s pretty hard to miss.  They have plastered McCain/Palin signs all over my route to work in the morning.  The sheer number is breathtaking.  They must be very busy at night.  I don’t see as many Obama signs.  Or should I say “OBAMA biden” signs.

Well, I guess that’s what you’re stuck with when you opt for public financing.  That lousy $84 billion doesn’t go as far as the $500 million and counting that Obama has spent.  (By the way, where is all that money coming from???)  You’d think you could get more impact with that much filthy lucre.  Like, in a year when the Democrat could. not. possibly. lose. $500 million should put Obama so far out in front that McCain/Palin *could* have just shopped at Penney’s for all the good it would have done them.  But this race is still well within their reach.

Well, you know what they say:

It’s up to you, Pennsylvania. Go, Hillary, Go!

Today’s the big day. Positive thots go out to Hillary and our friends in H-burg: Maya, Brian, Will, Peggy and Jeff, Melissa, Phyllis, Khalil, Katrina, Lee and all of the other staff and volunteers. You guys worked really hard and I know it will pay off.  It’s bright and sunny in NJ, a beautiful spring day.  I’m guessing it’s pretty much the same in many parts of PA.  That should lead to a nice turnout.

Hillary, you were fantastic on Countdown last night. Keith is probably reflecting on how sordid his career has become since he sacrificed his integrity for the money chase. There is much consternation among the Conflucians as to why this is even a contest. There’s no one on either side that approaches your professionalism, preparation or grace under fire.

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Spending money like a sailor

Obama’s campaign shows a pattern of spending vast quantities of money in places where he thinks he can convert the inner city vote.  He’s doing it again in WI where the polls are very close and there are a large number of undecideds.   This is the same thing that happened here in NJ.  He spent so much more money here than the Clinton campaign that it gave the Clinton staffers the willies.  But it didn’t help Obama at all in NJ.  Part of the reason might have been geographical, part might be due to the large number of Asians in NJ who tend not to be susceptible to “cults of personalities” (perhaps because some of them have lived through them in their native countries).  But whatever the reason, it seems like Obama spends a lot of money in coastal state primaries but can’t convert to a win.  There are exceptions, of course, CT, MD, VA and DE for example.  But I think a clever campaign operative on the Clinton side can see the pattern clearly and where there’s a pattern, there is always room for the element of surprise.

This also makes me think that in spite of all of the money that Obama’s raised, his burn rate in primary states is much higher than hers.  He probably doesn’t have the huge money advantage that he used to have.