Sunday, May 3, 2009

I'm hoping for some serious jailtime

... for everybody involved:

Don't believe everything you read on the internet is a good rule to follow, but it turns out that you can't even believe a 'peer reviewed scientific journal' as details emerge that drug manufacturer Merck created a phony, but real sounding, peer-review journal titled the 'Australasian Journal of Bone and Joint Medicine' to publish data favorable to its products. 'What's sad is that I'm sure many a primary care physician was given literature from Merck that said, "As published in Australasian Journal of Bone and Joint Medicine, Fosamax outperforms all other medications...."' writes Summer Johnson in a post on the website of the American Journal of Bioethics. One Australian rheumatologist named Peter Brooks who served as an 'honorary advisory board' to the journal didn't receive a single paper for peer-review in his entire time on the board, but it didn't bother him because he apparently knew the journal did not receive original submissions of research. All this is probably not too surprising in light of Merck's difficulties with Vioxx, the once $2.5 billion a year drug that was pulled from the market in September 2004, after a study showed it doubled the risk of heart attack and stroke in long-term users resulting in payments by Merck of $4.85 billion to settle personal injury claims from former users, but it bears repeating that 'if physicians would not lend their names or pens to these efforts, and publishers would not offer their presses, these publications could not exist.


If true, I would also hope for fine that would pay for healthcare in Africa for a few years.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Different century

After a couple of months of using MS Office products, I feel like I stepped back to the previous century. One application says it all: MS Outlook.
After using free Gmail (still Beta), I get upset every single day when I have to use MS O. It is slow, extremely inconvenient to use, unreliable and lacks certain features.
A simple thing like search: my boss has lots of emails. So do I on my private email. Finding one takes me about 0.5 second. At most. It takes him 1-2 minutes. Unfortunately, one cannot forward his business email to gmail for seemingly obvious reasons: security of information. But can anyone explain to me what is the difference between trusting MS to secure the software on servers, on your desktop and in between and trusting Google?
BTW: during 3 years, I could not access Gmail for about 5 hours total - and I had a backup, of course. During 6 weeks in my new job, I could not access Outlook for 3 hours already. And there was no backup. Great experience!
Other products are similarly terrible. And someone has to pay for them. A lot. Why???

Overall, anything I use from Google tells me that Microsoft is way, way behind Google. The only thing that keeps MS running is the monopoly position and that huge, disgusting cash cow it runs.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Bad, bad deflation

It seems that EU and USA currently fear deflation more than anything else. After all, the argument goes, decreasing prices motivate people to postpone consumption, which adds to the downturn.
This seems like an obvious truth but it is unlikely to be the only consequence of deflation, or even the most important one.
This is a banking crisis, during which the value of banks' assets decreased significantly. Plus, they perceive every asset as much more risky than before. Therefore, they are not willing to lend money because they do not have enough of the assets to feel safe. The deflation, plus at least in Czech Republic obvious hunger for deposits (interest rates are highest I have seen in the long time despite low rates set by CNB), motivates people to save. Saving on a banking account instead of in cash in the attic has twice as high rate of return and if there is one thing clear from this crisis, it is that the banks' deposits are safe.
Increased deposits will make banks to feel safer and to start lending again. This will re-start investment, which will require new employment, which will make everybody feel safer and start spending again.
From still strong reluctance of banks to lend, it seems that the government shortcut to just motivate people to spend seems unlikely to work, especially in the US, where the levels of consumption were not sustainable in the long term

P,S. I prefer to be a lender, not the borrower. Personally, I prefer deflation also because of this. But I believe that it may not be as harmful to the economy as everybody thinks so, given the type of crisis we are in.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Not so helpful protection

I recently started a new job. It's pretty time intensive - 60 hours a week is a norm, on average. More when necessary. The work is interesting, well (or even extremely well paid, depending on your criteria), colleagues are smart and the whole atmosphere is friendly (so far, as far as I can tell). So the hours seem acceptable.
Sometimes, there is just too much work and the workload increases to unreasonable levels. In the US, the firm asks you to measure true hours working. You report truthfully (there is really not reason not to - if there is not enough work, you are expected to be home, "on the beach". And if you get to insane levels, somebody will come and help you (seriously, man).
The great socialist left (and right) in Europe, probably at the end of the industrial revolution, decided that working about 50 hours a week a year should be illegal. Why the rule might make sense if you work in a factory for minimum wage, it does not make much sense for highly qualified jobs, when you actually want to work more, but should not. Nobody can tell how much you actually work, of course, but you have to report the hours and such reports have to be archived.
This idea of protection is actually harmful. Instead of truthful reports, you have to lie, otherwise your employer (and thus also you) would have a problem. It may be ok to lie to the government (it is not for me, but so what), but it is really stupid that you have to lie to the company that wants to know, but legally cannot (should not) for its own protection.
If I may ask, I don't want any more protection like this. Thank you.

Monday, January 12, 2009

What do you like doing?

I spent last two weeks wondering what I really like doing. What is fun?

What do you like to do? What do you look forward doing? What do you think about doing when you do something unpleasant?

I guess most people don't need to think about this. It just comes to them naturally. It does not to me, probably because I like to do most things (when I accept I have to do them). It actually is a tough question for me.

I think I just found the answer. I feel happy.