Anything from current events, campaign finance reform, sports (especially baseball), corporate/political/legal ethics, pop culture, confessions of a recovering comic book addict, and probably some overly indulgent discourses about my 3-year old daughter. E-Mail: sardonicviews -at-
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Friday, April 18, 2003

Syria and Bashar

Here's a really good (and longish) article on the issue of Syria and Bashar Assad's concerns of being next on a US list of terror regimes to take down.

Spalding Goes Golf Only

The oldest sproting goods manufacturer in America narrows its focus.

In a $65 million deal announced yesterday, the nation's oldest sporting goods company is selling the Spalding name for all products - including basketballs, volleyballs, footballs, and soccer balls - to athletic wear maker Russell Corp.

Spalding officials say the move will let them focus on developing and marketing their Top-Flite, Ben Hogan, and Strata golf products, which account for about 70 percent of sales.

''We become a stand-alone golf company with those three brands,'' said Spalding president and chief executive Jim Craigie.
The deal, which is expected to receive federal approval by the end of May, also gives Russell control of the name and inventory under Spalding's Dudley brand of softballs. Russell also gets Sherrin, a brand of Australian-rules football equipment, and contracts with more than 60 licensees around the world for apparel, shoes, sporting goods, and related products.
Spalding, which will likely rename itself after one its golf ball brands, will continue producing the Top-Flite, Ben Hogan, and Strata balls at its Chicopee plant. The company has about 1,000 employees.

Spalding was founded in 1876 by A.G. Spalding, a star pitcher for the Boston Red Stockings and later the Chicago White Sox. He retired from the mound to make baseballs.

Just one of those corporations that I feel some nostalgia towards. It will be interesting to see how Russell uses the Spalding brand. I would expect a renewed focus on the tradition and history on the brand name.

You Were Searching for What?

I've been culling my referrer logs for a couple weeks now for some of the more "interesting" search results, and where I ranked. There were a lot of hits from people looking for information about Carmelo Anthony and Syracuse; and Dale Petrovskey and the Baseball Hall of Fame. For the record, I don't have an answer to any of these searches.

Strange and Relating to Public Figures

robert conrad on battle of the network stars (Ranked # 26)

Dennis Miller Hair Plugs (Ranked #8)

alumnus of maharishi university (Ranked #6)

Tesla mind control devices (ranked #18)

voting record for drug reform dennis kucinich (Ranked #23)

ralph willard holy cross salary (Ranked #4)

Looking for Jews and Stereotypes (or How Did You Reach That Conclusion?)

john smoltz german jew (ranked #3)

Ben Howland Jewish Coach (Ranked #18)

deformed african american gollum (Ranked #1)
[This one disturbs me on many levels.]

Just Disturbing

tied in a gynecologist chair (Ranked #32) [Someone was really looking]

How can I fuck effectively (Ranked #10)
[Like I'd know]

muddy thigh high boots movie (Ranked #31)

pelvis woman concentration camp (Ranked # 13)

Hoopie Searches

west virginia hoopies (Ranked #6)
[I'm going to have to work on bringing up my ranking on this one.]

w.v. spousal stocking abuse law (Ranked #2)
[The abuse of stockings in West Virginia is reprehensible and must be stopped. If they meant "w.v. spousal stalking abuse law," then I'm not on the list.]

Aw, Crud

I was reminded this morning why I need to make a better effort to keep the computer desk somewhat less cluttered. Periodically, while at the computer and attempting to upload sufficient quantities of caffeine into my body, I may slosh the coffee a bit, or the mug may tip while resting on a shifting collection of notes, paper, pens, and other rubble.

Thursday, April 17, 2003

Pharmaceutical Payback

It's hard to have much sympathy for major pharmaceutical companies, when they do everything in their power to extend their patents on drugs beyond the exclusive time; and then will change a molecule or two for a new version of a drug when it finally runs out (now OTC Claritin or prescription Clarinex). Still this article does try (Subscription req'd). It's about "branded generics" that are turning the tables on pharmaceutical companies. Where, the major pharmaceuticals would file lawsuit after lawsuit to prevent generic versions of their money-making drugs from being released by seeking to extend the exclusivity or claim additional patents; now generic drug companies are filing suit to sell certain generics before the patents expire -- and are winning.

When the Indian drug company Dr. Reddy's Laboratories Ltd. decided to crack the U.S. pharmaceuticals market, it didn't simply wait for a patent to expire, as many makers of generic drugs do. It turned to lawyers and asked them to exploit a loophole in an existing patent.

Last December, that strategy paid off big. A federal court in Newark, N.J., awarded Dr. Reddy's the U.S. rights to sell a drug that's nearly identical to the blood-pressure drug Norvasc made by Pfizer Inc. -- a full three years before Pfizer's exclusive right to sell it expires. Pfizer, which is based in New York, is appealing the Newark court's ruling.

Dr. Reddy's victory shows how the generic-drug industry is succeeding with new tactics that out-maneuver active patents. That presents a big threat to the lucrative profits of brand-name medicines. It also promises to give patients more lower-price alternatives to brand-name drugs -- though only up to a point. In a new twist, the generics' latest tactics are helping them raise their own prices.

During the past two decades, generic-drug makers with U.S. operations typically have sought permission from the Food and Drug Administration to market knockoffs of a branded drug after all the patents on the drug had expired. Generics, which don't have to pass the rigorous testing process of branded drugs, now make up more than 50% of all prescriptions filled in the U.S.

But lately Dr. Reddy's and others have gotten more aggressive. They are filing legal challenges on a range of drugs that seemingly have years of exclusive sales left. In a new strategy, these generics makers don't even challenge a patent directly. Rather, they argue that their product doesn't infringe on patent protection because it is made of different ingredients, even though it has the same effect as a branded drug.

If the generics maker wins in court, its drug often has fewer generic competitors, allowing the company to charge more. Sometimes the drugs that result are called "branded generics."
enerics makers are starting to use their legal savvy to push branded generics into the U.S. market, while keeping traditional generics out.

Last year, makers of generic drugs filed 83 patent challenges, up from just seven in 1992. They have little to lose in court because the cost of litigating is dwarfed by the potential windfalls.

The sympathy in the article is apparent by attempting to suggest that the major pharmeceuticals are only filing all the patents in response to the challenges.

Big drug makers are fighting back by extending protection on aging products through extra patents, covering everything from a drug's color to its coating. After Apotex Inc. filed in 1998 to sell a generic version of Paxil, GlaxoSmithKline PLC filed for more than 100 patents on the antidepressant. Analysts say the average number of patents protecting branded drugs has increased to 12 from two in the past 10 years. The Federal Trade Commission released a report last year that recommended legislative and regulatory changes that would make it harder for branded companies to use patent and legal procedures to delay generic competition.

The stage for the huge rise in litigation was set in 1997, when the FDA created strong incentives for generic-drug makers to fight branded-drug makers in court. In a bid to spur competition, the FDA granted the first company to file and win a suit against a branded-drug maker a bonanza: the exclusive right to sell the generic version for six months.

So the stage was set back in 1997, by the FDA, but the reporter talks of going back 10 years on the number of patents to protect branded drugs and court challenges. It seems simply that the generic pharmaceutical companies are the ones fighting back against the protective pharmaceutical companies.

The best thing I can see coming out of this, is the potential to finally get some reall reform of the laws in the US on prescription drugs, patents and the FDA. The pharmaceuticals -- major names and the generics -- might finally see the wisdom in making a clearer system with stricter limits and controls.

Unintentional Comedy Loss

If it's true...

It may well be the ultimate in spin from the Iraqi minister of information, but this afternoon there are reports circulating that Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf has committed suicide.

Two Iranian newspapers today published reports of the minister's demise, which came from Iraqi refugees who took shelter at Iraq's borders near the Iranian town of Dehloran over the past week.

They said that Iraq's famed information minister took his own life just hours before Baghdad fell into the hands of the coalition forces last Wednesday.

The Iranian newspaper Mardomsalari and Iran's Arabic newspaper, Al Wifaq, both carried claims that al-Sahaf hung himself a few hours before Baghdad fell to US forces on April 9. However, the refugees did not provide any source to confirm the claim.
The fate of the man dubbed "Comical Ali" might not be known, but he is sure to live on in legendary status for his own creative interpretation of the truth, denying what was quite obvious to everyone around him.

Obvious, except to Robert Fisk and Peter Arnett.

Wednesday, April 16, 2003

Hopefully the Quality will Return

Cleveland's one alt-weekly, Scene, has been very uneven in the quality of its stories lately. There has been a lot more snide comments and rehashed material than good stories, especially after the closing of the Free Times in the shutdown swap between Village Voice Media and New Times Media (Scene's parent company). Well they are finally mentioning the anti-trust settlement that will bring back a second weekly to Cleveland (and LA).

Four months later, the Free Times was dead. Scene's parent company, NT Media, purchased the dying paper from its parent company, Village Voice Media, and it was promptly shuttered. Village Voice, in turn, purchased the money-bleeding New Times Los Angeles from NT and closed it down.

But our mushroom cloud went up too soon. The feds started investigating the parent companies for anti-trust violations. Long story short: Rather than spend five years and a few hundred thousand in lawyer bills fighting the feds in court, both companies agreed to pay fines and sell the dead papers' assets on the cheap.

Now former Free Times Publisher Matt Fabyan and Editor David Eden hope to restart the paper in May. The new version, they're saying, will be a slimmed down replica of the old.

Punch contacted Eden to see how he planned to make it work this time around. But Eden, apparently still smarting from that whole mushroom-cloud thing, didn't play ball. He railed against Scene for not reporting how NT "violated U.S. anti-trust law in two cities." He then lapsed into an imitation of Jack Nicholson in A Few Good Men: "You want a story? You want the truth? Try writing that and see if [Scene Editor Pete] Kotz lets you tell the 'truth,'" he responded by e-mail.
One thing is certain: Cleveland will be getting yet another dose of evil corporate media. The new Free Times is owned by Times Publishing, a Pennsylvania company that owns the Erie Times-News and other media properties. It plans to build an alternative weekly chain.

I can only hope that one of the two actually does some reporting.

Worth Reading the Debate

This Post over at Hit & Run about democracy and gender issues/opinions in the Middle East is interesting. The comments section, though, is filled with a very, very stimulating debate on the issue.

Broad Applications

This caught my attention:

Let me get the tough part out of the way ... Less than three weeks ago, I predicted that the Arizona Diamondbacks would win the National League West title in 2003.

Immediately after that prediction was made public, I received a few messages from fans of the San Francisco Giants, the gist of which were, "You're an idiot! Giants rule, dude!" (Or at least that's how I care to remember them. It's a lot easier to deal with critics if you assume they're all blowhards without an ounce of objectivity when it comes to their favorite teams.)

[Emphasis Added.]

I think you can pretty much apply this rule to everything.

Final Thoughts on Pitt's Search

I think I've beaten this thing into the ground. Jamie Dixon is now head coach of Pitt's basketball team. I can only hope he does well. My problem has been with the search for a new coach and the lousy job done by Pitt's administration. There is an interesting compare/contrast of the job by Pitt versus how Dayton handled things.

Dayton made an ideal choice in part because it was prepared to deal with the hiring process. When the Flyers started strongly, athletic director Ted Kissell recognized the possibility Purnell would be pursued by wealthier programs and determined it wouldn't be prudent to enter a bidding war. By early February, with Clemson foundering under Larry Shyatt, there was a strong buzz Purnell would seek that job if it opened.
When Purnell became Clemson's choice, Kissell was ready. Dayton had Gregory in place within four days.

That's a painful contrast to Pittsburgh, which spent most of the season in the top 10 and all of it in denial. Administrators expected the team's deep roster, its beautiful new home court and a boatload of cash to disguise the absence of a productive talent base and enduring tradition.

Chancellor Mark Nordenberg failed to recognize the need to hire a full-time athletic director -- be it interim A.D. Mark Boehm or someone else -- when it became obvious during the winter that coach Ben Howland could leave for UCLA.

Without someone empowered to determine the athletic department's course, there was no one to conduct a proper search. No one had the juice to guide Nordenberg through the vitriolic gossip that follows Memphis' John Calipari and help determine if he would advance Pitt's future. The Panthers overreached for Skip Prosser, counting on the allure of his hometown to convince him to accept a backward move. He wound up, instead, with a lucrative extension at Wake Forest.

Two weeks after Howland left, there was no indication that able and accessible candidates such as Xavier's Thad Matta, Manhattan's Bobby Gonzalez, former Bulls coach Tim Floyd and Creighton's Dana Altman had been considered. Incoming recruits such as Brooklyn's 6-10 Chris Taft grew anxious as the search persisted.

Speed in these situations is not as important as accuracy -- making the right hire -- but Dayton accomplished both by being realistic about its station and fully prepared.

Pitt may have a higher profile than Dayton, but competency is the issue. Howland had been rumored for the UCLA job as early as the end of the 2001-02 season. When UCLA kept losing this winter, everyone knew Howland would at least be considered for the job. The Pitt administration sat on its hands.

Is This Thing On

I have no idea why I haven't been able to get a post out

Tough S**t for Abu Abbas

The Palestinian Authority's negotiator, Saeb Erekat, undermined himself and the Palestinian Authority by immediately demanding the release of terrorist Abu Abbas and claiming he was immune from prosecution. I mean, never mind the hypocrisy of a Palestinian Authority official demanding that any part of the Oslo Accords be respected and followed; the immediate demand to free Abbas showed where their priorities are. It also appears he didn't read the agreement very closely.

But a State Department official, who asked not to be identified, said: "The 1995 interim agreement concerns arrangements between Israel and the Palestinian Authority for the detention and prosecution of certain persons. It does not apply to the legal status of persons detained in a third country."

Abu Abbas, also known as Mohammed Abbas, masterminded the 1985 hijacking of the Italian cruise ship Achille Lauro in the Mediterranean in which a disabled elderly American Jewish passenger, Leon Klinghoffer, was shot and thrown overboard.

If Abbas is lucky, he'll only end up in Italy.

Is it Something in the Water on the South Side?

(One of the posts from last night that I was finally able to publish)

What the f**k is wrong with the White Sox fans when the Kansas City Royals come to town?. Are they all just white trash? I was watching Baseball Tonight, when they showed the video of some blitzed out moron charges first base umpire Laz Diaz -- who looks like the absolute worst choice among the umpires for anyone to go after. Diaz looks like he could snap in half many of the ball players. The idiot fan tried to tackle Diaz from behind, and Diaz just shrugged him off. KC Royals players out in the field came charging in on him. They got some good shots in on him. As security was trying to rescue (?) the human waste that was pinned to the ground, you could see some players start stomping on the guy's legs. Damn. Seeing that moron get stomped and pounded made me laugh.

Does This Go Under: Better Late Than Never

Simply Dumb and Late

I guess they felt that since they went to the trouble to make the sign, and planned ahead (I guess) to do this, despite the fact that the major fighting in Iraq was already finished, they still needed to do this on Monday

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico -- Two fans who ran onto the field and held up an antiwar banner at a game between the Montreal Expos and New York Mets will be banned from games in Puerto Rico this month, police said Tuesday.

The two men jumped from the stands after a two-run homer by the Mets' Tony Clark in the fifth inning Monday. They unfurled a banner that read: "No a la guerra" ("No to the war") with a drawing of a machine gun and oil well.
He said Marti and Rivera are to appear in court April 28 to face charges of "unsportsmanlike conduct," which is a misdemeanor under city law in San Juan athletic facilities.

Those charges carry a possible sentence of up to six months in jail and/or a $500 fine, Mercado said.

Damn. I thought that it was only a 15 yard penalty.

Back, I Think

It appears I am partially recovered. Right now, I can't edit/update past posts, but I can post new ones.

Tuesday, April 15, 2003

Technical Difficulties

Blogger was, once again, down. Couldn't post the update below or anything from around 5pm until just now.

Anyone know if you can use Moveable Type on a blogspot site?

CORRECTION: I got the same problem again as soon as I tried to post this. It just now came back. April 16, 8:45 am

Seriously, WTF is happening? Status is useless, since it usually doesn't say there is a problem until after it is fixed.

Pitt Coach Search, Endgame (Probably)

The late night (and multiple repeats in the morning) ESPN Sportscenter and on their site, reports that Pitt associate coach Jamie Dixon will be the named the new head coach today. Apparently a press conference has been called for today, prior to the fan appreciation banquet taking place tonight. In the Pittsburgh papers, the reports are conflicting. One says no hiring decision has been made, while the other says it's Dixon. The article on Dixon being hired has a lot of information about the guy (including a brief acting career), that he has been a great evaluator of talent and he is keeping the top recruiter from the old staff. The guy is the players and the recruiting class's choice. At this point I think Pitt had no choice but to hire him after botching the initial search.

Meanwhile, Pitt still has no full time Athletic Director. No one really knows why, though the feeling -- much like what has happened with hiring the head basketball coach -- is that at this point you might as well give it to the interim guy. Given this was Smizik's opinion and in the same column he also said:

On the matter of finding a new coach, Boehm and Pitt have been criticized unfairly. In fact, Pitt's recruitment of Wake Forest Coach Skip Prosser was textbook correct. Pitt identified the candidate it wanted and went after him almost immediately and aggressively. Prosser was the ideal man for the job, and early last week Pitt thought it had him. But any number of reasons changed Prosser's mind.

I'm more convinced then ever, that Pitt needs to find a different person to be the AD.

I don't think I was being unfair. Even if Prosser was the top choice before even starting to interview, you need to at least consider and talk to other candidates. Pitt didn't do this. They went after Prosser without being sure he would leave. Yes, he was from just outside of Pittsburgh. Yes, he still loves the area. No, that usually won't be enough to get a guy to coach at Pitt. For all their interest and apparent reciprocation, they couldn't even get Prosser to come to Pittsburgh to look around the campus. Not good. I said it earlier: they were in New Orleans for the final four; every coach in the country was down there; they couldn't spit without hitting a coach; they didn't even talk informally with anyone other than Prosser and Dixon. That is stupidity, bad decisionmaking, and not anything close to a full search for the best possible candidate.

UPDATE: Here's the official press release based on the 3pm news conference announcing the hiring. Assistant Men's Basketball Coach Barry Rohrssen, will also remain at Pitt. And, former Pitt stand-out and Harlem Globetrotter, Orlando Antigua Named Men's Basketball Director of Basketball Operations.

Monday, April 14, 2003

Pitt Coach Search

It's been back to square one for Pitt. Now that Prosser is out, the lead candidate is Jamie Dixon, Pitt's associate coach. He's the lead candidate by virtue of being the only other person interviewed by interim AD Marc Boehm. In fact they met again on Saturday. The Prosser mess, has belatedly caused some Pittsburgh columnists to realize the Pitt head basketball job, while looking good right now, isn't a top tier job. No s**t. I love my school and the teams, but it's not going to change the fact that in basketball, Pitt will always have an uphill battle. So, the search continues, and finally someone in the Pittsburgh sports media starts to ask, "what the hell is up with still not having a full-time Athletic Director?"

If Dixon does become the new coach, he had better have one hell of a high energy level and ability to communicate that to the fans. Right now, the fans and alum are feeling a bit down about the way this has happened and a bit embarrassed. I don't know if Dixon is good or bad. Maybe he will be the next Tom Izzo/Roy Williams/Tom Crean. Pitt has put itself in a position where it has to decide this week.


(Copyright © 2002-2005 Chas Rich All rights Reserved.);
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