succumbing to peer pressure

Saturday, November 20, 2004

More of the same at the FDA

"I would argue the FDA as currently configured is incapable of protecting America against another Vioxx. We are virtually defenseless," said Graham, associate director for science in the FDA's Office of Drug Safety.
Committee Chairman Charles Grassley, an Iowa Republican, said he worried the FDA was "far too cozy" with drug companies and an independent drug safety office might be needed.
Graham said he felt pressured by supervisors to water down his findings, from a study of patient insurance records, that Vioxx users had a 50 percent greater chance of heart attack and sudden cardiac death than people who took Pfizer Inc.'s rival Celebrex.
Vioxx was the second example this year of the FDA not respecting its own scientists, Grassley said. Another FDA reviewer, Dr. Andrew Mosholder, had warned antidepressants were linked to suicidal behavior in youth, but supervisors initially kept him from making those views public.

Although I have to admit, I don't think Vioxx is the scariest thing out there, and having skimmed the studies that resulting in Vioxx getting yanked from the shelves, it's my personal opinion that the group of people at a significantly elevated risk of heart attack is a pretty specific subset of the population. Of course, that subset deserves to be warned, and shouldn't be taking the drug, but I'm not convinced that Merck was wildly endangering the entire population in quite the same way that Graham is arguing. Nevertheless, I think this is indicative of the crap I mentioned in my summary of the APHA meeting - our federal regulatory agencies are in bed with the very same people they're supposed to be protecting us from. I wouldn't really trust any of these agencies very much.

Enough to give a gal a complex

The Scene - girl sits on bed. Boy lights candles. Reads Rabelais. And then? Nothing. So of course, I wake up this morning, replay last night, and commence obssessing over whether I misinterpreted something, whether it was inappropriate to ask to come in after driving him home...but the sane side of my brain confirms that everything is ok. This is just yet another example of the kind of guy for whom I seem to be a magnet. I realize that if one is a sucker for nice boys, one must also put up with the shyness and awkwardness and general slow-moving-ness of nice boys. But a) it's frustrating and b) I really hate to question my behavior in these sorts of situations; even if it's only for a second, I really hate to wonder if I'm a slut.

But really, that stuff aside, yesterday/this morning was lovely. Public Health Prom was ridiculously fun, with plenty of alcohol and old school rap thrown in. The reading and curling up in bed last night was nice, and waking up this morning to freshly ground coffee and guitar playing was a lot more than nice.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Surveying my domain (ok, so this entry is really more for me than you, a little record so someday I can look back and remember that I do have moments of clarity)

My friend April used to have this bulletin board at her old apartment, about which she said, I feel like this represents the person I want to be. Stuck to it were various posters and movie schedules and art exhibit notices and whatnot. I know what she means. Mark and Carrie and I used to talk about the books we wanted to show our guests (those went in the book case in the living room) and the books we were slightly less proud of owning/reading/loving (those were banished to our own individual rooms). I figure we're all guilty of that to one degree or another - fashioning our room/apartment/house to display the "best" of ourselves and who we hope to be. (and really, isn't that what a blog is too? as writer and editor, I can present my best self here, and omit all the graceless, embarrassing things I do all too regularly) I was thinking about that because I've been spending a little more time than usual tied to this laptop, writing a paper for my international health class, and during a moment of writer's block I glanced up at the IDs hanging from my window frame - one from APHA, an "Event Staff" id from our anti-zell miller rally, a Georgia for Democracy volunteer id, one from "Health Students Taking Action Together," and one from Doctors for Global Health. And I thought, wow. That's not only the person that I want to be, that's the person that I am. What a nice realization. Here's to hoping, for you and me, that those two things coincide more often than not.

Good Grief!
"Until this moment, Senator, I think I never gauged your cruelty or your recklessness...Have you no sense of decency sir? At long last, have you no sense of decency?" (army lawyer Mr. Welch to Joseph McCarthy)
House Republicans voted to change their rules today to allow members indicted for a felony to remain in a leadership post.

How could any reasonable person ever think this was good idea?!

And in the list of other things the Republicans have done lately that suck:
Here's what Republicans of conscience have to understand about the machinations of Karl Rove and company. Fear isn't some emotion that can be easily bottled back up after it's been -- viciously -- unleashed. It isn't a once-every-four-years vehicle that can be wheeled out for a few months, then stowed back in the garage to be retooled for the next election cycle. Encouraging fundamentalist preachers to pound their pulpits and inveigh against gay people has consequences. It puts men and women in communities across this country at personal and professional risk. There's nothing more despicable than creating a phony political issue (just how many gay couples are clamoring for marriage certificates in the state of Ohio, anyhow?) and preying on people's prejudices.
"Our progress in degeneracy appears to me to be pretty rapid," Lincoln wrote in the years leading up to the Civil War. "As a nation, we began by declaring that 'all men are created equal.' We now practically read it 'all men are created equal, except Negroes.' When the Know-Nothings get control, it will read 'all men are created equal, except Negroes and foreigners and Catholics.' When it comes to this, I shall prefer emigrating to some country where they make no pretense of loving liberty -- to Russia, for instance, where despotism can be taken pure and without the base alloy of hypocrisy."

There are a lot of Republicans troubled by their party's exploitation of contemporary know-nothingism. You know who you are. And before your party's degeneracy is complete, you ought to do something about it. Because camouflaging the fear and loathing of gay people as "moral values" isn't the base alloy of hypocrisy. It's hypocrisy itself.

And in slightly better news, here's yet another reason to consider moving to DC: "The District of Columbia ranks ahead of all 50 states in women's median wage..."

And lastly, some musings on charity. Janet Poppendieck says, "The resurgence of charity is at once a symptom and a cause of our society's failure to face up to and deal with the erosion of equality...It is symptomatic of a pervasive despair about actually solving problems that has turned us toward ways of managing them..." I was thinking about this quote because I received an e-mail at work today encouraging me to donate through the federal charitable collection thing that's happening right now. I forget what it's actually called. It's an umbrella set up, where you donate through your federal employer and designate which charity you want it to go to. Anyway, despite the fact that there are tons of charities to choose from, many of which I really like and respect, and would donate to on my own, I couldn't bring myself to do it through the government. Maybe that's silly.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

The boy reads parts of Gargantua and Pantagruel to me over the phone.

Monday, November 15, 2004

Someone has put UNFPA donation cards on the bulletin board in the breakroom. While it makes me sad that the UNFPA needs donation cards, I really like that I work somewhere where people are aware of the 34 million friends organization and are working to get more funding for the UNFPA.

The Boy
After a week of phone tag with me in DC and him in NY we finally spoke in "real time" last night. After I warned him that my week might be going to shit with a potential last-minute deadline for a presentation getting bumped up to Thursday, he suggested a study date. Translation - he likes me! He really likes me! (and the good news is my deadline didn't get bumped up, so hopefully I can see him under more relaxed, enjoyable circumstances this week)

An article in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution on "quarter-life crises" seems a little hard to believe. First, I'll offer a ton of disclaimers - yes, I realize that I am incredibly lucky to have found something I love doing. No, I don't actually think that people in their early twenties are fully formed yet. And yes, I am in favor of bouncing around a bit in your twenties to really figure yourself out and what you want to do with your life. But a girl in this article was "stunned" by a six month post-college job search, "baffled" by $70 grocery bills and "…felt like a deer in headlights" with her slightly more than $20,000 a year salary. I'm sorry, in what reality have these people been living? And why didn't their friends/parents/guardians/teachers/mentors grab them by the shoulders and yank them back into the reality that most of have been living in before they slunk back home to live in Mom and Dad's basement totally depressed about life and its prospects? (one more disclaimer - I don't think moving back home is necessarily a bad decision. It makes perfect sense to move home while transitioning from school to school or school to job or while getting yourself out of debt or while licking your wounds after significant personal upheavel. But I think doing it out of laziness because it seems like a pretty good default option or fear or the fact that life is tough, are all inadequate reasons.)