“[One female sexual desire questionnaire] consists of five yes-or-no questions that ‘…may be filled out by patients in the waiting room’. A scoring guide is provided. [Another] contains a long list of questions and a scoring system, but no information on interpreting the scores. It is apparently up to the clinician to determine who passes or fails. The researcher who published the questionnaire confirmed that there are no cut-off scores (Raymond Rosen, Ph.D., Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, personal communication).
The first question in [one] questionnaire asks, ‘Over the past 4 weeks, how often did you feel sexual desire or interest?’ and the patient is given options that range from ‘almost never or never’ to ‘almost always or always’. A woman who feels sexual desire for about 50% of her waking hours scores only 3 out of 5 on the first question. To score a 5, one must feel sexual desire ‘always or almost always’.”
Manfully they mount me, the pharma bros.
“Are you sure you feel the thrill
From the top of your head to your toes
Every moment? Take this pill
That we made for you, and no more know
The shame of two seconds that pass
Before you crave another piece of ass.”
“Treatments developed to enhance female libido, including the testosterone patch, Viagra (sildenafil), Libigel (a testosterone gel) and flibanserin, have all failed to obtain Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval.
Of these three, only flibanserin is still in the running. Flibanserin has been rejected twice. A failed antidepressant developed by Boehringer Ingelheim, flibanserin was recast as a treatment for hypoactive sexual desire disorder. In October 2010, after an FDA advisory committee concluded that there was little evidence that flibanserin increased libido and that the drug caused an unacceptable level of adverse effects, Boehringer Ingelheim abandoned developing the drug and sold it to Sprout Pharmaceuticals in 2011. In October 2013, the FDA denied Sprout Pharmaceuticals permission to market flibanserin. The company has resubmitted its application … ”
Manfully they mount the FDA, the pharma bros.
“How to lift the stigma of frigidity
From your drug approval committee?
We will mount and mount and mount
Until you grant approval to Sprout.
Nothing in your total rejection
Dims our lust for our disease-confection.”
“Fourteen [Continuing Medical Education] modules on hypoactive sexual desire disorder in women were identified. All were fully accredited CME modules, approved by a provider accredited by the Accreditation Council of CME. All 14 CME modules disclosed funding through educational grants by [the drug maker]. Additionally, 12 of 14 modules had at least one author with financial ties to [the drug maker].”
Manfully they mount the CMEs, the pharma bros.
“There is nothing we so adore
As your basic pharma whore.
With UD and the FDA
We put on a bogus display:
Compassion, social justice, fake research…
Ha! You’d ne’er besmirch
The essence of our pharma-fucks:
Pharma-lies for pharma-bucks.
(Great news! It’s been approved! A grateful nation breaks down the doors at Valeant ((that Valeant?)) to get it.)
We can put a person on the moon, but we cannot figure out a way to revoke a medal.
In a July press conference, President Obama said he could not revoke the medal, which President George W. Bush awarded to Cosby in 2002. “There is no precedent for revoking the medal,” Obama said. “We don’t have the mechanism.”
But… Yes We Can. I just know we can.
For instance, here’s one possible mechanism which UD arrived at after hours of deep thought.
Send a letter from the President to Bill Cosby asking him to return the medal.
… UD proposes that George Washington University’s last president, Stephen Trachtenberg, volunteer to appear at his trial as a character witness.
In arguing that GW should not revoke the honorary degree it gave Cosby a few years ago, Trachtenberg wrote:
What good would it do to void Mr. Cosby’s diploma? Who actually celebrates it today? He is revealed and reviled… There is a rough charm to the proposal that we should recall our degree from Mr. Cosby, but it is a blunt instrument that does not do real justice to the dreadful challenge it seeks to address. It does not actually get to right. It provides no real comfort to the abused.
Mr. Cosby knows that we no longer esteem him. Everybody knows. He is down. He is out. The degree is as null and void as it can be. It is self-executing. However much he may deserve it, I am disinclined to kick him again to underscore our own virtue. It’s too easy.
And now some district attorney is about to kick him yet again! It seems to UD that the same language Trachtenberg has used to attack self-righteous people only interested in underscoring their own virtue can be used to attack the court for having arrested Cosby.
What good does it do to arrest Mr Cosby? Who actually celebrates him today? He is revealed and reviled… There is a rough charm to the proposal that we should haul the courts into this situation, but they are a blunt instrument that does not do real justice to the dreadful challenge [they seek] to address. It does not actually get to right. It provides no real comfort to the abused.
Mr. Cosby knows that we no longer esteem him. Everybody knows. He is down. He is out…. However much he may deserve it, I am disinclined to kick him again to underscore our own virtue. It’s too easy.
… chronicled in this book, are entertaining places, and no doubt this new year we’ll continue following them at their most efficient, at the nation’s for-profit colleges.
But this country’s Centers for the Absorption of Corporate Funds deserve equal attention. Indeed these are arguably even more entertaining places, because while the federal government simply acts the well-meaning idiot as it dispenses hundreds of millions of dollars to hedgies pretending to run schools, corporations are often brilliant operators with bad motives — and it’s always more fascinating to watch the strategic villain than the bumbling good guy.
UD doesn’t claim that corporations looking for academic respectability in order, for instance, to hook America on opioids, always exhibit strategic brilliance. Crucially, they must identify research units within American universities able to balance compromised data (papers and presentations must uncover the urgent necessity plus the safety of massively increased pain pill intake) with the continued appearance of scientific integrity, a scheme fraught with difficulty. It’s not uncommon for reporters, and even politicians, to notice that a place like the University of Wisconsin’s Pain and Policy Studies Group is an almost wholly owned subsidiary of pharma, as it stashes away more and more OxyContin money while pumping out more and more Oxy Rocks! research.
Coca Cola, fast food, over-prescribed anti-depressants, over-prescribed anti-psychotics for toddlers, Dr. Shkreli’s Miracle Elixirs… All of these substances need whitewashing, and the university is where that happens. When things get too obvious, or when from the start they’re mishandled (remember what brought down Virginia’s last governor), the Centers suddenly shut down, or suddenly announce they’ve decided to stop taking corporate money…
It’s simple to understand, actually. Fat cats like to study profit-fattening.
While other pharmaceutical companies don’t raise their drug prices fifty-fold in one fell swoop, as did [Martin] Shkreli, they would if they thought it would lead to fat profits.
Most have been increasing their prices more than 10 percent a year – still far faster than inflation – on drugs used on common diseases like cancer, high cholesterol, and diabetes.
This has imposed a far bigger burden on health spending than Shkreli’s escapades, making it much harder for Americans to pay for drugs they need. Even if they’re insured, most people are paying out big sums in co-payments and deductibles.
Not to mention the impact on private insurers, Medicare, state Medicaid, prisons and the Veterans Health Administration.
And the prices of new drugs are sky-high. Pfizer’s new one to treat advanced breast cancer costs $9,850 a month.
According to an analysis by the Wall Street Journal, that price isn’t based on manufacturing or research costs.
Instead, Pfizer set the price as high as possible without pushing doctors and insurers toward alternative drugs.
How fat can our profits get? How can we go almost as far as Shkreli without attracting attention? How expandable, when you get down to it, is greed?
… the art of argumentation.
Arguing in favor of increased taxpayer subsidy of the University of Hawaii’s pointless, corrupt, and wasteful football program is not going to be easy. Argumentation-wise, you’re going to have to lift your game as high as you possibly can. You’re going to have to stand on your tippy toes. You’re going to have to reach for reasons as you’ve never reached for reasons before.
It’s not surprising, then, that a local columnist fails to make the case that the governor was wrong when he recently denied the school three million additional athletics dollars. But the way he fails is instructive if you’re interested in how to write polemically.
The writer’s particular challenge is that he has absolutely no empirical evidence on his side. Almost no one goes to the games. Ever. The team is wretched. Consistently. The flagrant mismanagement of the program makes it a statewide embarrassment.
If he is going to get anywhere in making his case, he’s going to have to go straight and hard in the direction of total bullshit.
People disdain bs, but when you’ve got nowhere else to go, it can be very effective. If the subject is football, it means getting weepy and huffy and patriotic and mythic and misty-eyed as you recall past heroes on the field, the character-building power of teamwork, and the way your own university experience would have been hollow without crisp fall afternoons cheering on the lads. This approach will appeal to the typical reader’s sentimentality about football even as it allows you to sidestep the, uh, reality problem.
This particular writer opts against bs, which leaves him flailing. It leaves him to make the case against his argument. Let’s take a look.
Here’s his opening move:
[A]lmost every university athletics program in the country loses money. The debt is chronic, structural.
So … give your tax money to UH till it hurts? Because we won’t be on board with the national project of bankrupting schools via their big sports programs if we don’t? You wouldn’t want Hawaii to be left out of America’s ongoing chronic structural football indebtedness, would you?
Next move: If you don’t stop refusing to attend UH football games, you’re going to force UH to shut down the program. Then where will you have not to go on Sunday afternoons? The writer describes this terrifying scenario in appropriately terrifying terms:
UH [might have] to disband all or parts of its intercollegiate sports, including of course, football. That is a university’s nuclear option. Whatever they think of football, no university administrators anywhere want to be the ones who drop this bomb.
University administrators everywhere dream nightly of shutting down their football programs, so this wasn’t a good place for the writer to go. Again, the principle here is do not try to make your argument reality-based if you don’t have any reality-based arguments.
The writer’s next move reminds us that within the category bullshit, there is good bullshit and bad bullshit. By the middle of his essay the writer has commendably turned to bullshit, but he has chosen bad. Let us see if we can follow his serpentine reasoning here.
“It is a matter of setting priorities,” [the governor] told the newspaper, as if we are talking about Political Science Department office supplies. “If UH wants athletics to be a priority, then it needs to come up with the money.”
Very tough-lovish and totally misguided. [The governor] sees the problem as a budgetary issue — a cut here, a paste there, get off your okole and do your job.
Because athletics is completely different from anything else at UH, different rules should apply.
Solving the deficit should not be on UH’s priority list at all because the deficit is the community’s and by extension the Legislature’s problem, not UH’s.
Working her way through this extraordinary set of claims, SOS concludes that the writer is saying the following.
The University of Hawaii is a conduit, a vector, a vessel, through which the football-demanding citizens of the state are granted football. The citizens demand it and the state uses their tax dollar to provide it; UH just sits there fielding a team. Therefore money must come from the legislature, not from, say, UH ticket revenue ($0).
This argument combines the reality-based mistake (no one in the state demands football) with bad bullshit (football is a public good like the railroads – the writer compares university football to Amtrak).
SOS did find one good use of bs in this piece.
Is UH football one of these valuable endeavors worth subsidizing? If the politicians think so, then they should step up, allocate the money, and defend their choice.
Be accountable for your decisions and don’t make the university do the dirty work for you.
If the Legislature or the governor does not want to take the heat for bailing out athletics in this way, fine. But don’t pass the buck and blame UH for your lack of will.
This is great because it is both emotive (government pussies!) and totally madly insanely unreality-based (martyred UH is forced to take the fall for being a faithful public servant in the provision of football). Wow.
In concluding his essay, the writer brings out the big guns.
[The governor is] putting a nail in the coffin of the university.
And why? Because he is allowing UH autonomy, the bastard.
On the surface, [the governor’s] comments support the university’s flexibility. But what he is actually doing is stressing its flexibility to do things it really does not want to do.
… “I think the university should take responsibility and make a decision about what is important,” [the governor] said to the Star-Advertiser. “If they are unable to do that, I’ll take back all the authority to line item the budget. I’d do it in a second … I’d love to do that.”
… Overall, the governor’s views have a patronizing, dismissive dad-to-teen quality.
He makes it appear that UH may not have the courage to make hard choices.
Anyone who has followed the story of the University of Hawaii for the last ten or so years (put University Hawaii in this blog’s search engine) knows that on every level it is among America’s most dysfunctional public university systems, with scandalous ever-shifting leadership, endless financial and athletic misdeeds, supine trustees, and put-upon students. The evidence is overwhelming that what the governor hints at is right: UH lacks the intelligence and the will to govern itself.
It is bad bullshit for this writer to complain that a university which deserves to patronized is being patronized. It is positively Orwellian for him to say that a university which lacks the capacity and the courage to make even easy choices has the courage and capacity to make hard choices. Where is the chorus of Hawaiians outraged by the governor’s actions and comments in regard to the state’s university? If you took Amtrak away, I think you’d hear about it from a lot of Americans.
Rather than struggle against his absence of all grounded argument, this writer would have done better to focus relentlessly upon the transcendent glory of football, adding here and there some abstract anti-government references.
Cahn Stadium? Reading the letters backwards as they fly.
Flag at half staff. For whom?
Gray bridges and brown skyscrapers in late afternoon fog.
Soundtrack: Glenn Gould (1932-1982), Bach toccatas.
Today’s reading: Excerpts from an interview with Adam Phillips, a psychoanalyst.
[P]sychoanalysis starts from the position that there is no cure, but that we need different ways of living with ourselves and different descriptions of these so-called selves…
What psychoanalysis, at its best, does is cure you of your self-knowledge. And of your wish to know yourself in that coherent, narrative way. You can only recover your appetite, and appetites, if you can allow yourself to be unknown to yourself. Because the point of knowing oneself is to contain one’s anxieties about appetite. It’s only worth knowing about the things that make one’s life worth living, and whether there are in fact things that make it worth living.
Cos Cob train station.
Dingy water with thin marshes.
I like the counterintuitive feel of this: Self-knowledge seeker, heal thyself. Not because ignorance or lack of reflection is good, but because limiting who you are in very specific ways gives you a seemingly deterministic justification for repressing your capacity for strong feelings, for undetermined creative energies. Phillips says he cringes whenever anyone begins a sentence I’m the sort of person who…
[E]verybody is dealing with how much of their own aliveness they can bear and how much they need to anesthetize themselves… We all have self-cures for strong feeling. Then the self-cure becomes a problem, in the obvious sense that the problem of the alcoholic is not alcohol but sobriety. Drinking becomes a problem, but actually the problem is what’s being cured by the alcohol. By the time we’re adults, we’ve all become alcoholics. That’s to say, we’ve all evolved ways of deadening certain feelings and thoughts. One of the reasons we admire or like art, if we do, is that it reopens us in some sense — as Kafka wrote in a letter, art breaks the sea that’s frozen inside us. It reminds us of sensitivities that we might have lost at some cost. Freud gets at this in Beyond the Pleasure Principle. It’s as though one is struggling to be as inert as possible — and struggling against one’s inertia.
Where does civilization end and discontent begin? You end up on Phillips’ couch because the resource-management story you’ve expressed all these years is making you one big Salton Sea.
[I think psychoanalysis is really about] showing you how much your wish to know yourself is a consequence of an anxiety state — and how it might be to live as yourself not knowing much about what’s going on.
Everything in the corporate, therapeutic, consumption-driven world fights tooth and nail against this model, a model which aligns perfectly with one of UD‘s heroes, Henry Miller of The Tropic of Cancer. And with her first, much-loved boyfriend, David Kosofsky. On the verge of another new year, of what Stephen Spender called ‘one more new botched beginning,’ UD reflects on her many passionate, appetitive, teachers.
There [is in my favorite writers] a sort of blitheness that I love, a pleasure in the recklessness of one’s own mind.