June 20, 2007

The DIY Clinical Trial

[Thanks to duplicity for suggesting this show.] Chelsea noted in her post for Marcia Angell on Big Pharma last week that we were were thinking about a whole series on our pharmaceutical nation. It actually occurs to me now that tomorrow’s sports doping show might ...

[Thanks to duplicity for suggesting this show.]

Chelsea noted in her post for Marcia Angell on Big Pharma last week that we were were thinking about a whole series on our pharmaceutical nation. It actually occurs to me now that tomorrow’s sports doping show might qualify, but this fantastic pitch from our loyal (and not at all duplicitous) listener duplicity certainly does:

I just came across this news item about a group of cancer patients who are putting together a sort of open-source Phase III clinical trial for terminal cancer at thedcasite.com.

Basically there’s a compound that has been shown to reduce human tumors growing in rodents, but no major trial of the drug has been performed in humans — at least partially because there is no money in a potential patent for the drug, which is the way Big Pharm recoups its losses in funding large-scale human clinical trials of experimental drugs. The drug is available online (‘for veterinary use,’ to bypass the FDA), and terminal cancer patients have been ordering it and plan to track their response to the group as a database (should we suggest a wiki?). Scientifically speaking, this would not provide proof of the drug’s effectiveness unless it is properly done (as Dr. Evangelos Michelakis is trying), but such trials are arduous, expensive, heavily regulated and controlled, and necessarily slow.

The bioethical questions surrounding drug development, trials, and approval notwithstanding, an analysis of this situation could provide insight into how and why medical treatment is dominated by large corporations, the role of the internet in and the overall pace of contemporary medicine, access to experimental drugs for terminally ill patients (on which I seem to recall a New York Times Magazine or New Yorker piece on not too long ago), and a whole slew of other questions. It’s clearly life-or-death in some people’s minds, but the question lingers about whether it really works or it’s going to be like a set of other promising anti-cancer drugs that have been disappointing.

duplicity, in a show pitch to Open Source

Duplicity should get an extra scoop of ice cream for this.

I’m putting calls out to the people running this bottom-up, democratized, decentralized clinical trial, as well as Dr. Evangelos Michelakis, who did the original research that’s gotten people so excited. More soon.

Update, 6/21 11:48am

You might be used to public radio stations (and shows!) asking the public for money, but when’s the last time you read a direct appeal from a medical researcher?

This is part of a recent funding update from Dr. Evangelos Michelakis, the Alberta cardiologist who is spearheading DCA research:

We continue to be moved by your sustained interest and support of our efforts. We have been working tirelessly over the past several months to bring this research from the laboratory to the level of a clinical trial. This is a very challenging endeavor since it is not supported by the pharmaceutical industry. The process of bringing a drug from animal research to clinical trial takes a few years. However over the past three months, we have made significant progress towards achieving our goals….

More importantly, we would like to remind you that this work, at least at its early stages, will not be able to be completed without your ongoing support.

Dr. Evangelos Michelakis, in a letter in DCA Research Information

Are citizen-funded research initiatives and patient-run clinical trials the wave of the future — or a brief detour on the way back to Big Pharma’s business as usual?

June 6, 2007

Blogsday 2007

Click to Listen to the Show (24 MB MP3) It’s here again. No, not Groundhog Day, our annual rite of the dead of winter. It’s the third-annual Blogsday, our bloggy riff on Bloomsday. In case you’re new to this party, it all started two years ...

Click to Listen to the Show (24 MB MP3)

It’s here again. No, not Groundhog Day, our annual rite of the dead of winter. It’s the third-annual Blogsday, our bloggy riff on Bloomsday.

In case you’re new to this party, it all started two years ago when Chelsea suggested a novel way to pay homage to the existing homage to James Joyce. Brendan explained it this way last year:

Taking as our model Bloomsday, Dublin’s very real June 16, 1904 in which James Joyce set his very fictional Ulysses, we took a look at one day of the blogosphere, in our case Tuesday, June 14, 2005. We gathered an hour’s worth of blog posts — about Britney Spears, about buying a car, about coming home from Iraq, about a night at a barbecue joint — and read them on air.

Brendan, in the 2006 Blogsday post on Open Source.

We’re doing it again. June 16th is a Sunday this year, so we’re celebrating a bit early: we’ll record the show next Thursday, the 14th. And the search has begun. We’ve chosen yesterday — TUESDAY, JUNE 5, 2007 — as the arbitrary but still official day for blog posts. Anything posted between midnight and midnight on June 5th is fair game.

We’ve learned a few lessons in the last few years, chief among them that brevity makes the blogsday world go round. This should be a fast-moving show, a sort of pointilist account. In the post-game analysis after the first show, I called it, somewhat breathlessly, “a symphonic, mosaic portrait of our nation as written by a legion of writers — some famous, some not — on one day. ONE DAY!” But we can only get a sense for the grandeur of that portrait if it moves quickly. And it will only move quickly if the posts themselves are succinct. Stories are good; moments in time are better.

Besides that, the sky’s the limit. Give us the personal and the political, the petty and the profound. Help us craft a portrait of the online world that does justice to the real one.

How you can help

  • Check your favorite blogs (or your own), and if you find something fabulous that was written on June 5, grab the best chunk of the post and leave it in the comment thread, along with the blogger’s name, the blog title, the time it was posted on the 5th, and a permalink — the URL that links directly to the post, not to the front page of the blog. You can often get to the permalink by clicking on the timestamp at the bottom of the post. More on permalinks here.
  • Run some blog searches. There are a few solid search engines out there that search only blogs — we’re partial to Google Blogsearch and Technorati. Start there. You should be able to sort the results of your searches by date so that you can weed out anything that wasn’t posted on the 5th.
  • We’ve found that one of the best ways to find stories in the blogosphere is to search for random, mundane words: canteloupe, flyswatter, sand. Since we’ll be reading these on the radio, it helps if the posts are rich in visual description, so we like to search for nice visual adjectives, too: crusty, soapy, pendulous.
  • Keep a listening audience in mind. Try reading the posts out loud as you search. Dialogue can work well for our purposes, so can poetry. We bring in two great local actors to read the posts on air, and we love to give them beefy, theatrical material to work with.

Stephanie Clayman


Greg Steres


I accidentally poked myself in the thigh with a syringe of Bovine Blackleg Immunization yesterday, so any fears I ever had of developing the dreaded condition are gone for good. I can finally relax.

Ree, Pack of Marboro Lights, Confessions of a Pioneer Woman, June 5, 2007.

Is this war in the present tense, here in America? Iraq is on the other side of the globe and the events there are mostly reported in the past tense. And yet when I walk through a Home Depot and hear a sheet of plywood dropped on a pallet, I hear an airy breath followed by an explosive crack–the signature echo of an incoming mortar round. And when I listen well enough, late at night, I sometimes hear one of our Iraqi translators, Saier, repeating to me: ‘The wrong is not in the religion; the wrong is in us.’

Brian Turner, War in the Present Tense, Donkey O.D., June 5, 2007.

I was only vaguely teary at the airport when we said goodbye, and I thought I’d get away from it without crying, but then as soon as I rounded the corner at the security check, I was basically sobbing, and while I am mostly okay, I keep thinking about things and get all teary again.

Balefully, The Fancatus Bureau of Incest, LiveJournal, June 5, 2007.

Why am I drawn to that woman so much? I perfectly well know there’s next to no chances that i’ll see her again, but still she’s haunting my dreams and every time I end up crying while I’m sleeping. I met a very nice woman, she slept at my place a couple of times and the last two times she asked why I was crying in my sleep. She told me it wasn’t little sobs, I was crying like a baby, with tears and everything, crying as if my father or mother had died.

Mr. Lex, Haunting Dreams, Welcome to My World, June 5, 2007.

A pot of tea.

The smell of laundry that’s dried on the line.

The sound of an owl hooting whilst you’re lying in bed.

How much better the mouse works after you’ve picked all the crud off the bottom.

Anon, Simple Pleasures, Thursday’s Child…Has Far to Go, June 5, 2007.

My Shins Are Stupid. I wish they’d darken up a bit.

The problem is, they’re always in the shade. My broad and well-muscled back prevents any sunlight whatsoever from getting to my shins. Plants die from lack of sunlight when I ride by.

Fatty, I Contemplate My Shins, and Find Them Wanting, Fat Cyclist, June 5, 2007.

I find it hard not to read everything and anything . . . including the Customer Complaints Book that I saw hanging by a tatty string in the toiletries aisle in Bon Marche, Borrowdale. Many of the complaints revolved around the High Prices of commodities but someone else took the supermarket to task for keeping the fleshy parts of pig heads for the staff and leaving only the teeth and noses for customers.

Bev Clark, Emergency sex and other desperate measures, Kubatana.Net, June 5th, 2007.

If life is invariably fatal, cancer is a kind of accelerant that God squirts on you, His human charcoal briquet.

Michael Little, Unremitting Failure, Futility, June 5, 2007.

Mandy gets the results from her latest tests, tomorrow. We will know almost without doubt what type of cancer Mandy has and what, if anything can be done. We will find out if she will have surgery next week. After the meeting with the doctor, Mandy will go to her first chemo appointment.

Sodapopnskii, If wishes were horses, I would still want a pony, LiveJournal, June 5, 2007.

I have fallen head-over-heels in love with Mandy the market-trader from Milton Keynes. She smells of hot dogs and counterfeit perfume.

Andre Jordan, Ordinary Love Stories: Mandy, A Beautiful Revolution: Blog, June 5, 2007.

And when we picked you up you didn’t want to leave without showing me the Dora potty, so I was all, fine, let’s have a look at this Dora potty. So we walked into the bathroom, and you ran right over to it, and before I could stop you, you hugged it. You hugged a toilet.

Heather Armstrong, Newsletter: Month Forty, Dooce, June 5, 2006.

Both Erin and I have been known to kiss Josie on her cute little mouth. We both love taking baths with her, and we both do an inordinate amount of pinching and kissing of her fat little body, in particular her thighs, which now have these wonderful, curvy little tiers of fat. It’s not a sexual thing (duh) but it’s certainly a deeply physical thing.

Almondjoy, My Baby, My Girlfriend, Baby Daddy, June 5, 2007,

I have decided to focus on and seek things out that make me happy.

Hawaiian dancing makes me happy.

Julie Bo Boolie, What Makes Me Happy, World According to Julie, June 5, 2007,

There is something about mixing Shakespeare with zombies that is simply irresistible to me. Can’t say why for sure. It’s just how I’m wired I guess.

Joy, Shakespeare and Zombies, I’ve got a crush on…ME!, June 5, 2007.

You know when you leave water on the stove for too long and the water starts boiling over the side? Maybe you even left the lid on the pot, so now the thing is bucking and jumping off the pot as the bubbles slime their way to freedom and down on to your stove. Right now, that’s how I feel about my job.

digital_dave, Boiling Over, The Karmic Restitution Tour, June 5, 2007.

I’m a dentist, and I have a nurse called Cookie.

She has headphone wires sticking out of her ears most of the day and – for fear of appearing out of touch – I tend to keep my thoughts on through-brain irradiation to myself.

Still, on Friday last week, with rubber dam stretched like an elastic lettuce leaf across Mrs Pinkleblower’s enormous mouth, Cookie removed one of the wires from her brain and asked me if I had said anything. I told her I had been speaking to her for the past half hour, to which she stared at me with what appeared to be disbelief. She said she hadn’t heard a word but if I wanted to ‘ramble on’ I should start a blog.

Stan Johns, Cookie’s Great Idea, Half Dentist, June 5, 2007.

So, I’m trying to decipher the difference between movement and hiccups. With the baby that is. I can tell when it’s a kick or punch instead of simple movement. But what do hiccups feel like? All in all, trying to explain to someone what any of this feels like is pretty difficult.

All star me, Disjointed Thoughts, Incognitus Scriptor, June 5, 2007.

While Erin was breathing and pushing (and waiting), and then breathing and pushing again, I was realizing, much to my horror, joy, and more horror, that I was going to become a dad.

Robison Wells, She’s Having My Baby, Six LDS Writers and a Frog, June 5, 2007.

What on earth am I going to do? I was thinking of applying for a job at the AMF Bowling Centre, just so I have an excuse to hang around the place. Perhaps I will pursue the dream of a career in radio. What I should do is try and get something decent written and look for a publisher. I just don’t know what to do. Because I don’t have that many skills. I’m of course almost employable in any call centre now, having been trained at Telstra.

Jaguar7482, Shots Are Flowing, THe Daily Grind You Into the Ground Show, June 5, 2007.

I was slammed today.

It is good because “idle hands are the devil’s work shop.” That’s an old cliche meaning that if you stay busy you will not have time for Satan to get to you. In theory that maybe sounds good, but I believe it is that very concept that plagues our churches today. If we stay too busy to stop and read the Breath of God and ask Jesus Christ to be glorified through our actions each day, we will then become powerless busy-bodies. Our Lord tells us that the important duties in life that keep us from God are not really duties at all but sin.

JRoe, What a Day, JRoe Live, June 5, 2007.

My gameplan for today was to skip breakfast and go to McDonalds for lunch, where I got a McChicken sandwich for $1.10 and picked up some free condiments.

So far, so good, although I am already ready for a snack.

Congresswoman Barbara Lee, Congresswoman Barbara Lee Joins the Food Stamp Challenge, Congressional Food Stamp Challenge, June 5, 2007.

Paris Hilton’s stint in an LA jail is getting the American ink, along with CNN’s self-serving over-coverage of the two premature presidential debates in New Hampshire. There was a little oxygen left for one 40th anniversary — of Sgt. Pepper — but none for the 40th anniversary being covered by news media outside this country almost universally: the Six Day War.

Harry Shearer, It Was Forty Years Ago Today, Kinda, Huffington Post, June 5, 2007.

Well we did it again, security cameras be damned! We are number-one murder capital superstars. The top of the heap. More dead per capita than Gary, Indiana! Even Detroit!

Humid Haney, Hey, Thanks Gary, Surviving and Living the Dream in Post-Katrina New Orleans, June 5, 2007.

I remember visits where I would stay with my Grandma, my Uncle Norm and his clan or my Uncle Gene and his brood. Sure, there’d be the brief bout of home sickness, but it was nothing that a trip to the park or some Cadbury candy bars couldn’t fix.

You know, now that I am a parent with a 3-1/2 year old I have to wonder if my folks didn’t bundle us off to get some peace and quiet for a week.

Craig D, Let’s Get Away From It All, Who Really Cares, Anyway?, June 5, 2007.

I decided yesterday that I would get a grasp on the summer holiday and have the children begin their first Official Day of Summer Vacation with productivity; the chores began at 9 a.m. Loren was in the dog yard with his new weed eater, Cass was in the front yard with her new electric grass trimmers. Devon and I were in the flower beds pulling weeds and planting petunias. All was well until about 10 when the older two met up, she was bored and he was looking to take a break, and the arguments began. By 10:10 I was yelling at them both and wondering if there is a convent somewhere willing to accept witchy, willful reheaded ‘tween girls and if there is some sort of work camp accepting mouthy, wiggly, otter-like 13 year-olds.

Caloden, I don’t know why I even bother, Caloden, June 5, 2007.

Recently in a fit of uncharacteristic generosity I bought my girls the latest Avril Lavigne CD. Because they’d heard of Avril Lavigne from a friend in their grade one class, and they’d heard her music and they loved it, and I thought it would make a great out-of-the-blue present for them. I don’t regret buying it because they’re deriving great satisfaction from it, and I bought the sanitized version at Walmart, the one with at least one of the bad words partially bleeped out, but…

…now my seven-year old girls are wandering around the house saying “damn” all the time. “The best damn thing” they say.

Joe, Watch Your *&^%^ing Language, Assorted Nonsense, June 5, 2007.

Sunday we couldn’t make any plans because Mike was waiting for a call when the autopsy was complete and the body hopefully identified. Once they ID’ed him, Mike and the other Detectives would have to start doing interviews of every person in the dead guys life.

Lisa Mulvey, Anyone see a problem with this?, Lifestyles of the Easily Obsessed, June 5, 2007.

Somehow I penetrated the crowd and found myself right in front of the locked entrance where all the action was. Inside, an elderly woman maybe in her late 30s or early 40s lay unconscious on the floor.

Natasha Msonza, Yesterday, Kubatana.Net, June 5, 2007.

We always describe amputations as “below knee” or “above knee”. Every time the doctor told his mother and wife that he had a below-knee amputation he would sit up, mad. He wanted to make sure we said he only lost his feet.

SPC Ian Wolfe, Fifteen Months and Counting, THE SANDBOX (A Doonesbury milblog), June 5, 2007.

There are Russians outside my window. They are talking in harsh tones. I wonder if they’re friends.

Tony Rat, Manifesto, Cat Waiter, June 5, 2007.

1. Buildings.

2. Muffins.

3. Comb-overs.

Anna, Things That Are Big in New York, Little.Red.Boat, June 5, 2007.

Turns out, I breached the manly code…Men don’t want the immasculating experience of collapsing face first out of “plank position” because they slipped on their own sweat smeared all over the floor.

Caryn and Dan, This crazy thing that girls do…, Can You Ouwehandle This?, June 5, 2007.

I realized I was exhausted so I just fell down on the floor and let the cold water run down my body. I was exhilarated and started laughing like some madman.

Idai, Freedom, My Life Review, June 5, 2007.

Am I awake now? Or am I only dreaming that I am? how can I possibly find out? I just pinched myself.

I often pinch myself in my dreams. just to make sure that I am in control. A dream that is solid enough to survive a pinch is a seriously fun dream.

Witold Riedel,

A Mix Of A Freshly Ground Day.Dream, witoldriedel.com, June 5, 2007.

My chocolates seem to disappear into the air. It is making me peeved because of I HAVE NOT TRIED A SINGLE ONE AND SOMEONE HAS THE FREAKING GUTS TO EAT HALF THE BOX WITHOUT MY PERMISSION.Prime suspect: My lil’ cousins who had came to stay over and have been sneaking surreptitiously near the fridge.

efmw87, Who Stole My Chocolates?, As My Mouth Prattles, June 5, 2007.

Listen. I need to tell you this before I’m too wordless and powerless to go on, because I’m fading fast. Literally fading. Gone before dawn, I’m told. So. Listening? Are you?

You will no doubt have seen the cardboard box in the hallway. It was the largest one I could find. The box, I mean. Not the hallway. Why? Because I’m clearing out, that’s why.

An Unreliable Witness, Packed, Wrapped, and Folded, An Unreliable Witness, June 5, 2007.

When I put my hand on her, I realized that she had large areas of skin that were necrotizing — literally rotting on her body — with pockets of what I was pretty sure was pus underneath. I stuck a needle into one of the fluid pockets and got out a brown-grey fluid that looked and smelled like raw sewage. When I stained some of the fluid later to look at it under the microscope, I could identify at least three distinct populations of bacteria.

Mel, Life in The (Animal)ER, Cabezalana, June 5, 2007.

Remember last Saturday? I bought eight pairs of new socks.

What happens to the old socks or ones that get holes…If it is too greasy or ugly-dirty, then just throw them away. But mostly they can be used and then just put in the laundry and will be ready again. Cheap rags that will last a very long time.

Mr. Crazy, Twice Used, My Fun House, June 5, 2007.

We sat on my couch and talked and laughed. Talked about our exes and our kids (he has an 8 year old girl). He marvels at my intelligence and maturity. Says that I’m a lot different than other women that he’s known. And then, out of nowhere he starts saying that he’s too old for me. Granted, he is 42 (looks like late 20′s). I laughed and explained to him my preference for dating older men. I told him that he was lying to me and that I thought he had a girlfriend and this was what he saw as an easy way to get out of what we’d started.

Jasmine?s Momma, Help Me to Understand, Jasmine?s ?Mommy?, June 5, 2007.

Ok, living with five other people is good. And I do like all of them. I just need some me time. Time just to zone out. At least I got my own room. It’s not a bad lil’ room. I need like a little tv tray or something to put my keyboard on. That would be sweet.

Chucky, Alone Time, The Really Super Duper Kinda Okay Really Great On Tuesday Guy, June 5, 2007.

I told her caseworker that Mom had not been with me in the past month and that no, she could not live with me when she gets out. I told her I would help her in whatever capacity I could, but that she cannot live with me.

I felt guilty as heck about it afterwards and still feel sick to my stomach about it. I wish I didn’t feel guilty about it, but I do, and it’s eating me up.

rachelpennington, Yakkity Yak, How I see It, June 5, 2007.

People die. It happens. More often than not, people die when their time has come. It’s never easy to say goodbye, but it seems somehow less hard to swallow when an 86-year-old man dies after a lengthy illness surrounded by extended family. It’s a good death.

Couz, Eye See You, Tales from the Emergency Room, June 5, 2007.

If there is one phrase I’m sick of hearing it is “Sally get your foot off that accelerator!!!”

I know I’m just learning to drive, but do I need to CREEP ABOUT like we’re in a spaz-chariot?

My teacher Alan now says his nerves cannot take a lesson any more than THREE times a week.


sallypointzero, Driving Lessons, LiveJournal, June 5, 2007.

I always like going to Aunt Ida’s house in the springtime, the zydeco music blasting from the living room, smells of the barbecue and German chocolate cake coming from the kitchen and the slapping of dominoes on the card table…grandma using her two fingers to eat her famous mustard greens while reminiscing about the old days when things were pure….

Michelle, 8th Grade, Aunt Ida’s House, A Poem A Day, June 5, 2007.

May 22, 2007

The Varieties of Faith and Reason, Take Two

Click to Listen to the Show (24 MB MP3) One hundred and forty (and counting) satisfied and disastisfied listeners to last night’s Christopher Hitchens show can’t be all wrong. Hitchens (along with Chris and Eddie Glaude) seemingly touched everybody’s nerves, and we figured we’d try ...

Click to Listen to the Show (24 MB MP3)

One hundred and forty (and counting) satisfied and disastisfied listeners to last night’s Christopher Hitchens show can’t be all wrong. Hitchens (along with Chris and Eddie Glaude) seemingly touched everybody’s nerves, and we figured we’d try another go-around tonight.

This time we hope to frame the hour around varieties of religious meaning, ritual, and experience. Hitchens’s portrait of religion in America — around the world, really — was painted with big gobs of black and white; we’d like to add some grays.

A few questions for starters, spurred by last night’s show and the robust comment thread: Is there a sharp dividing line between religion and “spirituality” anymore? (Was there ever one?) Whether or not you agree with Hitchens’s style, can we talk calmly about this early 21st-century moment of religious fervor and anti-religious fear?

And, taking a step back, what’s the best hope for a smart, probing, civil conversation about faith and reason?

The Rev. Dr. A. K. M. Adam

Professor of New Testament, Seabury-Western Theological Seminary

Blogger, AKMA’s Random Thoughts

The Rev. Dr. Allen Dwight Callahan

Interim Associate Protestant University Chaplain, Brown University

Professor of New Testament, Seminário Teológico Batista de Nordeste in Bahia, Brazil

Author, Talking Book: African Americans and the Bible

May 15, 2007

Equity: More Private, Less Public?

Click to Listen to the Show (24 MB MP3) Yesterday’s news that DaimlerChrysler is selling the second half of its name to Cerberus, a private equity firm, didn’t come as a complete surprise. Recent private equity deals have included other household names like Qantas, Clear ...

Click to Listen to the Show (24 MB MP3)

Yesterday’s news that DaimlerChrysler is selling the second half of its name to Cerberus, a private equity firm, didn’t come as a complete surprise. Recent private equity deals have included other household names like Qantas, Clear Channel, Gillette, Hertz, Toys “R” Us, and Neiman Marcus, along with a whole slew of huge companies whose names are less familiar. More than a thousand companies were taken private last year alone, in deals worth $371 billion.

But this buyout frenzy hasn’t emptied private equity’s coffers: they still have close to $1 trillion of “firepower looking for a home,” according to Merrill Lynch analyst Andrew Fowler. That money, which used to come from super-rich individuals now streams in from state pension funds (think CalPERS), university endowments (think Harvard), or overseas governments (think Dubai).

Even if all of these deals still represent only a small fraction of the companies on public exchanges, do they signal a broad shift in the private-public equity balance? In this age of Sarbanes-Oxley paperwork, government oversight, and daily shareholder demands (or, even worse, litigation), is the corporate dream not to go public but to remain private — or, even better, to get bought out?

And what happens to the companies that do? Their managers? Their employers? How will Cerberus’s Chrysler be different from Daimler’s? And how long before it’s public again?

Daniel Primack

Blogger, Private Equity Hub

Editor-at-large, “Private Equity Week”

Josh Lerner

Professor of Investment Banking, Harvard Business School

Robert Reich

U.S. Secretary of Labor, 1993-1997

Professor of Public Policy, U.C. Berkeley

Blogger, Robert Reich’s Blog

Author, Reason:Why Liberals Will Win the Battle for America and The Work of Nations, among many others

Extra Credit Reading

Micheline Maynard, In Deal, a Test for the U.A.W., The New York Times, May 15, 2007: “The most obvious way for Cerberus to make money off its investment is to cut costs — especially by reducing the benefits that workers hold sacred, including medical benefits for workers and their immediate families for life, with only modest co-payments or deductibles.”

Robert Reich, Private-Equity Baloney, Robert Reich’s Blog, May 8, 2007: “What exactly do private-equity partners do? They use the investment money of pension funds and college endowments and wealthy investors to buy up publicly-held companies and turn them briefly into privately-held companies. Then they do what you might do when you want to resell your home – redecorate, refurbish, knock out some walls, apply fresh paint, sell the furniture.”

Dan Primack, Gut Reactions on Chryslerus, PE Hub, May 14, 2006: “This is not even remotely the largest-ever buyout, but it will be the most discussed in the past decade. Chrysler is an iconic company, which means every move Cerberus makes will be dissected and used to paint the overall LBO market as either good or evil. For at least a while, Cerberus has become more consequential than Blackstone.”

Chris Shunk, Jeep employees pissed about Chrysler sale, Autoblog, May 15, 2007: “The members were also angered by Ron Gettlefinger’s comments that the sale to Cerberus was “in the best interest of the membership” only a few weeks after stating that the UAW was opposed to any sale to a private equity group.”

meehray, On work and peons, It’s all about Meeh, May 15, 2007: “We’re a private equity firm that seeks out high-yielding investments in order to place capital… I’m the little peon being trained on project management,acquisition and financial analysis. I do everything; from paper pushing to crunching numbers. The work itself isn’t hard but like they say, it’s not how much you work but how smart you do it. For now, I still tend to make mistakes or have a brain fart here and there. Hopefully that will change.”

LaMont, Here Comes the Tough Medicine: A DL Lindsay Story , LaMont’s MySpace Blog, May 15, 2007: “So, it comes to this. Private-equity is going to gut Chrysler like a fish if the profits don’t come swiftly. That only means one thing. The UAW is in for the fight of it’s life! Chrysler management in Auburn Hills don’t seem too concerned and with good reason. They all know who has the large bullseye on their backs and it ain’t them!!!”

What’s Behind the Private Equity Boom?, Working Knowledge, December 22, 2006.

May 7, 2007

Re-Broadcast: Japanese Baseball

Click to Listen to the Show (24 MB MP3) How’s this for lazy? Not just a rerun of a show, but of Mary’s copy! Tuesday we’re airing a rerun because Chris has been asked to moderate an afternoon debate between Stephen Walt and G. John ...

Click to Listen to the Show (24 MB MP3)

How’s this for lazy? Not just a rerun of a show, but of Mary’s copy!

Tuesday we’re airing a rerun because Chris has been asked to moderate an afternoon debate between Stephen Walt and G. John Ikenberry at the Watson Institute at Brown on the subject of crafting American foreign policy beyond 9/11 and the GWOT (Global War on Terror). Walt and Ikenberry had a lively exchange on the TPM blog and we’re planning to record the event to air on Open Source at a later date.

David and I voted to rerun the Japanese baseball show from last winter. The show covered the impact of Japanese baseball players like Ichiro and Dice K on the major leagues, and it holds up well as long as you overlook Dice K’s current slump, Yankee outfielder Matsui’s injury and the fact that we never talked about superstar Sox reliever Hideki Okajima. Emmett O’Connell, who suggested that show, will have to keep us up to speed on any other updates we need to know about.

Mary, in her Notes, May 4, 2007

Mary was more coy than is her wont. I think the real reason she and I wanted to re-broadcast the show is that her team (the Red Sox) and mine (the Mets) are both in first place. We want to savor this as long as it lasts.

By the way, fellow Metropolitans fans might want to check out my recent discovery, the smartest and most entertaining Mets blog out there: Faith and Fear in Flushing. And I bet you don’t have to be a Mets fan to enjoy it. It’s more about suffering and transcendance than double plays and on-base plus slugging.

May 7, 2007

The Baghdad Wall

We got an irresistible pitch from tbrucia a few weeks ago: Today’s NYT website features an article: U.S. Erects Baghdad Wall to Keep Sects Apart (registration req.). What about a discussion of “WALLS?” It could bring in the role of the Berlin Wall, fencing the ...

We got an irresistible pitch from tbrucia a few weeks ago:

Today’s NYT website features an article: U.S. Erects Baghdad Wall to Keep Sects Apart (registration req.). What about a discussion of “WALLS?” It could bring in the role of the Berlin Wall, fencing the U.S./Mexican border, the Israeli/Palestinian wall, and the division by walls of the neighborhoods in Belfast, Northern Ireland. (For those with a poetic frame of mind, Robert Frost’s famous poem could ‘slip in under the wall.’) Are walls symptoms of interpersonal problems, solutions to conflicts, or a mixture of both?…

tbrucia, in a pitch to Open Source.

So we’re jumping in, starting with the concrete facts of Iraq and getting more metaphoric as we go. And concrete they are: the 82nd Airborne Division’s plan — as outlined in their own article — is to create a three-mile-long, twelve-foot-high wall made up of 14,000 pound concrete barriers. The idea is to separate the predominantly Sunni Adhamiya neighborhood from Shiite areas to the east. They joke about building “the great wall of Adhamiya,” but point out that they’re going for more of an “exclusive gated community.” “The wall,” they wrote, “is one of the centerpieces of a new strategy by coalition and Iraqi forces to break the cycle of sectarian violence.”

Local Iraqis didn’t see it that way. Their reaction to the wall was swift and overwhelmingly negative. Mark Lynch, one of the savvier Arabic-media watchers we know — and a guest in the past — has a good synopsis.

All of this makes tbrucia’s Frost recommendation all the more salient. A few lines in particular stand out:

Before I built a wall I’d ask to know

What I was walling in or walling out,

And to whom I was like to give offence.

Robert Frost, in Mending Wall.

What did the 82nd Airborne ask to know? And what are they learning now? More broadly, when is a wall just what the doctor ordered? And when does it add fuel to the fire?

April 30, 2007

France: The Sarko vs. Ségo Prism

Click to Listen to the Show (24 MB MP3) [Thanks to Alexandre Enkerli for pitching this show. It will record at 5:00 pm Eastern to accomodate overseas guests.] The wild first round of French presidential elections is over, and the shaggy 12 candidates have been ...

Click to Listen to the Show (24 MB MP3)

[Thanks to Alexandre Enkerli for pitching this show. It will record at 5:00 pm Eastern to accomodate overseas guests.]

The wild first round of French presidential elections is over, and the shaggy 12 candidates have been whittled down to a slim two. It’s a classic battle of left and right now, with the conservative interior minister Nicolas Sarkozy going head to head against the Socialist Ségolène Royal, president of the Poitou-Charentes region in Central France.

If there was a consensus among the 12 candidates in the first round it was negative: there’s more pessimism about France’s role in the world today and her future prospects for the future than we’ve seen in a long, long time. Of course, that’s where the consensus ends. Just what should be done to rescue France’s battered economy, social fabric, and self-identity is completely up for debate.

And it’s a fascinating debate. So what can we learn about France through the prism of the Sarko v. Ségo race? Is it possible to imagine a Clinton-Blairesque “third way” in this clearly demarcated country that invented the cardinal directions of left and right? (Or did that third way, represented by François Bayrou, already fail?) How sustainable is the French welfare state? Were the flaming banlieues two summers ago an isolated skirmish or a taste of future unrest? What stance will France take with respect to the U.S.? The E.U.? Her own identity?

What pictures of France do you see in this contest?

Christine Ockrent


Anchor and Producer, France Europe Express

Jerome Guillet

Blogger, Jerome a Paris of the European Tribune

Paris-based energy banker

Patrick Belton

Blogger, Oxblog

Extra Credit Reading

Débat Ségolène Royal – Nicolas Sarkozy : partie 1

Elaine Sciolino, Candidates Spar Vigorously as French Vote Nears, The New York Times, May 3, 2007: “By midway, Ms. Royal’s perpetual smile disappeared from her face. Their tone was reminiscent of a couple bickering at the breakfast table, with the husband barely restraining his sense of superiority and the wife attacking him for not listening to her.”

Jennifer Brea, The French Presidential Election: A View From Outside the Metropole, Global Voices, April 26, 2007: “Here’s a view of the election from outside the metropole — voters in overseas French departments, interested bloggers in former French colonies, and the growing ranks of hyphenated French.”

Jerome Guillet, Why the French election matters to all progressives, European Tribune, April 21, 2007: “If Sarkozy loses, the 5 biggest European countries will actually have parties of the left in power. Italy and Spain, with their undoubtedly leftwing governments will suddenly be remembered; people will focus on the fact that the SPD is part of the coalition in power in Germany, and that it is formally a Labor government in power in London. The momentum for “reform” will be very different.”

Simon Dickson, Video in the French election, I’m Simon Dickson, April 24, 2007: “I thought I’d glance at what les candidats en France were up to. And blimey – Nicolas Sarkozy really digs the 2.0 thing. His campaign slogan – ‘together everything becomes possible’ – is, of course, tailor-made for the whole collaborative online thing, but even so, it’s quite startling to see him embrace it quite so fervently.”

Catholicgauze, French Presidential Election Round 1 is Over, Geographic Travels with Catholicgauze!, April 23, 2007: “The geography of the election is along similar lines of previous elections. The east and north parts of France vote conservative while the southwest, the west, and Paris go Socialist.”

French Election: What Sarkozy and Royal Stand For, The Tocqueville Connection, April 30, 2007: “Here are the key proposals of the rightwing Nicolas Sarkozy and the Socialist Segolene Royal.”

Good blog for French election beginners: French Élection 2007

April 25, 2007

Weinberger's Miscellany

Click to Listen to the Show (24 MB MP3) [This show will record at 11:00 am Eastern so that Chris can attend an evening meeting.] David Weinberger, one of the smartest of our many smart neighbors, has a new book about books and planets, Staples ...

Click to Listen to the Show (24 MB MP3)

[This show will record at 11:00 am Eastern so that Chris can attend an evening meeting.]

David Weinberger, one of the smartest of our many smart neighbors, has a new book about books and planets, Staples and Amazon, 20 questions and the periodic table, Carl Linnaeus and Melvil Dewey, data and metadata — about everything, in other words: Everything is Miscellaneous.

It’s hard to summarize his theory of everything in one sentence, but this is pretty close: “To get as good at browsing as we are at finding — and to take full advantage of the digital opportunity — we have to get rid of the idea that there’s a best way of organizing the world.”

Weinberger is the first to admit this is a mighty tall order. We were organizing the world (and, implicitly, privileging our particular organizing principles) long before Linnaeus and Dewey. As Weinberger explains, we’re basically hard-wired to organize all the atoms and planets we see: “We invest so much time in making sure our world isn’t miscellaneous in part because disorder is inefficient — ‘Anybody see the gas bill?’ — but also because it feels bad.” And Weinberger isn’t suggesting that we’re going to stop naming, sorting, or ordering things. In fact as “things” gallop exponentially into our lives we’ll end up doing it more. The trick is that we — not librarians, or book sellers, or photo editors, or other metadata misers — will be doing the sorting.

We at Open Source use — and celebrate — the new tagging tools on a daily basis. We’d have no photos on our site without Flickr and no way to easily share links without del.icio.us. We gaze at the Global Voices tag cloud and dream of the day when we’ll have one of our own.

But at the risk of seeming like a nostalgic prig, I wonder if anyone else out there is also fiending for the quaint numeric certainty of Dewey and his decimals. We know what we’re gaining when a photograph is tagged “beach,” “Phuket,” “galangal,” “Christmas,” and “singhabeer.” There’s a whole lot of potentially useful information in those tags, for one thing, and you can simultaneously file it under as many categories as you want. But is anything lost when it’s not called “P & P in Phuket, Christmas 2008?” When a photo has multiple names and infinite existences, and doesn’t let us pretend that, in this very 21st-century world, we can still exert 18th-century control?

David Weinberger

Fellow, The Berkman Institute

Author, Everything is Miscellaneous

Blogger, JOHO the Blog

Karen Schneider

Librarian, Florida State University

Blogger, Free Range Librarian

Tim Spalding

Founder, LibraryThing

Extra Credit Reading

David Weinberger

David Weinberger (co-author), 95 Theses, The Cluetrain Manifesto, created April 1999:

“#6. The Internet is enabling conversations among human beings that were simply not possible in the era of mass media.

#7. Hyperlinks subvert hierarchy.”

Beth Kanter, David Weinberger at NTC on Transparency, Beth’s Blog, April 6, 2007: “I asked David ‘Why is transparency important for nonprofits?’ Transparency helps with learning is the gist of the sound byte.”

Sony Cloward, Joho the Buttkicker: David Weinberger, NTEN, April 5, 2007: “Funny, insightful, academic, and down to earth, David led us through the evolution – and impact of that evolution – of content, ideas and organization from the physical (e.g. libraries, Encyclopedia Britannica, newspapers) to the digital (Amazon, Wikipedia, blogs).”

David Weinberger, Zero Tolerance for Humans, The Huffington Post, April 21, 2007: “We are dragging the process down, legitimizing the tactic, debasing understanding, and driving nuance out of the system. Frankly, taking McCain down a peg just isn’t worth it.”

Paul Gillin’s Blog, David Weinberger’s comments provoke thought and debate, Paul Gillin’s Blog, April 24, 2007: “I agree with David that this is the way the world is going. In an atmosphere in which information is freely available to everyone, the expert can no longer claim to be the final word on anything. He or she must admit to fallibility and derive influence from the ability to assimilate many facts”

The Happy Tutor, French Code of Blogger Conduct – Oui Oui!, Wealth Bondage, April 22, 2007: “One code that David implicitly observes is to be painfully literal… French code of conduct? David, did you ever read Derrida? Those French people are shifty.”

April 24, 2007

Post Game: The Theremin

I ran into Studio One as soon as last night’s show ended, because I couldn’t wait to try my hand at (or, rather, near) this instrument we’d heard for an hour. I grew up playing violin and later viola, and like to think that I ...

I ran into Studio One as soon as last night’s show ended, because I couldn’t wait to try my hand at (or, rather, near) this instrument we’d heard for an hour. I grew up playing violin and later viola, and like to think that I have some musical facility, so I thought that I could muddle my way through something. I actually was trying to decide what my first piece would be — something lyrical, of course, but not too serious. Maybe it would be “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” or “Maria?”

The Gods have given serious smackdowns for lesser hubris.


Trying to rock out [Sam Gale Rosen]. See more pictures from last night’s show in our ROS Flickr group.

The theremin is so impossible to play that the entire preceding hour — which had been weird and otherworldly enough — suddenly made absolutely no sense to me. It seems to respond not just to breathing, as Pamelia mentioned, but to thinking about breathing. It reacts wildly not just to a fraction of a millimeter of a pinkie wiggle, but also to your wrist. And your elbow. And your side. I managed a warble, a screech, and a blurp. But no “Maria.”

What’s most interesting, in retrospect, is that Pamelia (and other thereminists as well, although she seems to be in her own class) has a kind of mastery I’ve never even considered. I’m aware of super-tasters (like the ones Malcom Gladwell introduced us to in those labs in New Jersey), and super-smellers (those perfume makers who can detect 20 top and bottom notes). I’ve seen pianists with a sense of touch and pressure that left me speechless. I’ve read about interrogators who can spot micro-facial expressions that barely register on a camera. But I had never thought about a master of abstract space, of invisible fields, of a hand moving with no frame of reference through thin air.

Although, hmm: maybe this is just dance at the nearly nano level?

April 24, 2007

Globalization’s Double-Edged Sword

Click to Listen to the Show (24 MB MP3) We have entered the age of the faceless, agile enemy. From London to Madrid to Nigeria to Russia, stateless terrorist groups have emerged to score blow after blow against us. Driven by cultural fragmentation, schooled in ...

Click to Listen to the Show (24 MB MP3)

We have entered the age of the faceless, agile enemy. From London to Madrid to Nigeria to Russia, stateless terrorist groups have emerged to score blow after blow against us. Driven by cultural fragmentation, schooled in the most sophisticated technologies, and fueled by transnational crime, these groups are forcing corporations and individuals to develop new ways of defending themselves. The end result of this struggle will be a new, more resilient approach to national security, one built not around the state but around private citizens and companies.

John Robb, Brave New War, June 2007.

John Robb has an unusual resume: he went from being an Air Force officer in a counterterrorism unit coordinating Delta Force folks and Navy Seals in the late 80s to working as one of the first Internet technology analysts in the mid-90s. Since then, as the world has gotten more wired and no less bloody, he’s been putting these two disparate strands of experience together, writing and arguing that globalized connectivity and democratized technology will lead not just to increased productivity and creative possibility but to sophisticated attacks and chaotic disruptions. That, in other words, the bad people people out there are just as wired as the good ones.

Robb’s contention is that in our near future, when non-state actors commit cheap but effective network attacks (think internet, electricity, oil, water, transportation, etc.), our lugubrous, inefficient, centralized states won’t be able to help us (think Katrina, or Iraq). Instead, we’ll have to get resilient. Rich corporations and individuals will lead the way:

Security will become a function of where you live and whom you work for, much as health care is allocated already. Wealthy individuals and multinational corporations will be the first to bail out of our collective system, opting instead to hire private military companies, such as Blackwater and Triple Canopy, to protect their homes and facilities and establish a protective perimeter around daily life. Parallel transportation networks — evolving out of the time-share aircraft companies such as Warren Buffett’s NetJets — will cater to this group, leapfrogging its members from one secure, well-appointed lily pad to the next.

John Robb, Security: Power To The People, Fast Company, March 2006.

But his real call to action is more public, and more local. He’s looking for a 21st-century self-sufficiency, with community food production, a more supple and sophisticated power grid, and an underlying assumption that the only way to survive attacks in a globalized world is to be able to survive locally.

I should have mentioned that Robb was also an Eagle Scout. Are you prepared?

John Robb

Author, Brave New War

Blogger, Global Guerrillas

Richard A. Clarke

Advisor to Presidents Reagan, Bush (I), Clinton, and Bush (II)

National Coordinator for Counter-terrorism, National Security Council, 1998-2001

Author, Against All Enemies and, most recently, Breakpoint

Chairman, Good Harbor Consulting

Moisés Naím

Editor-in-chief, Foreign Policy

Author, Illicit: How Smugglers, Traffickers and Copycats Are Hijacking the Global Economy

Former Venezuelan Minister of Trade and Industry

Extra Credit Reading

John Robb, Security: Power To The People, Fast Company, March, 2006: “This terrorist-criminal symbiosis becomes even more powerful when considered next to the most disturbing sign coming out of Iraq: The terrorists have developed the ability to fight nation-states strategically–without weapons of mass destruction. This new method is called “systems disruption,” a simple way of attacking the critical networks (electricity, oil, gas, water, communications, and transportation) that underpin modern life.”

Michael Tanji, Brave New Review, Haft of the Spear, April 22, 2007: “Comparisons are going to be drawn between Robb’s work and that of Tom Barnett of Pentagon’s New Map and Blueprint for Action fame… Suffice it to say that their work is complimentary in many areas save for issues related to the roles of government and the long-term. Tom is Pooh Bear, John is Eeyore.”

Grim, COIN: The Gravity Well, BlackFive, April 23, 2007: “Give me ten minutes, and I’ll tell you everything you need to know to understand this new model of insurgency. Plus, I have a little addition of my own — a way to visualize David Kilcullen’s “disaggregation.” Ten minutes, and you’ll both understand how the Global insurgency works, and how to fight it — even in those times and places when we have no combat troops to devote to working it.”

Chris Monasterski, Most powerful force in the international economy?, Private Sector Development Blog, March 21, 2007: “Naim painted a picture of transnational criminal networks of “specialists in logistics” operating as independent cells. He warned of the growing criminalization of politics and the politicization of crime in many corners of the world.”

Dan tdaxp, Guerrillas as Petty Realism, Tdaxp.com, April 24, 2007: “Unable to hold territory, and unwilling to join a minimal winning coalition capable of achieving victory, all global guerrillas can do is generate violence. All they can do is make some other group even more attractive, if that group promises to end or reduce the violence.”

Richard Clarke, Breakpoint, Powells Books Blog, January 23, 2007: “In Breakpoint, somebody is attempting to destroy the technological facilities making scientific advances. They are using the vulnerabilities that exist today in cyberspace, in our computer controlled networks.”