Thursday, November 26, 2009


My favorite holiday of the year. For obvious reasons.

Some things that I am thankful for:

1) - donate to your favorite causes just by sending e-mails! [fabulous. i love donating other people's money! haha]

2) - because I hate going to separate webpages for facebook, twitter, gmail, etc. Thank you, threadsy, for pulling me together. You've come a long way since your unifime days.

3) my job, which allowed me to have a kid without the messiness of giving birth. I just signed up to sponsor a child through It's awesome! You can donate a GOAT AND TWO CHICKENS for $100. LOVES IT.

4) The Economist.

5) my people (this includes family, friends, blog followers, etc.)

6) my dog.

7) and how could I forget, the independence of the Fed.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Music and Medicine.

I went to an intellectual property rights (IPR) lecture the other day, and the professor mentioned this thing called the "homestyle exemption" which basically allows small restaurants and stores to play music without paying royalties so long as they use "homestyle equipment."

I don't know about other people, but I have pretty badass subwoofers and speakers attached to my laptop...and Carrie's subwoofer puts mine to shame...

Anyway, there's also a "business exemption" which allows food and retail establishments to play music without authorization or payment of a fee as long as their size does not exceed a certain square footage limit.

So I was telling Hillary that in Dispute Settlement 160, the EC complained that these exemptions were violations of Article 9(1) of the TRIPS agreement, which is basically this, from what I can tell...

Her response was, "It makes me sad that people spend their energy on that kind of thing..."

I can't really imagine Lang Lang throwing a hissy fit because he didn't get paid for a CD of his that was played at Bloomingdale's or wherever...
He probably plays because he loves to, and because he's so f-ing good at it. [Just went to his concert on Friday and he was amazing!]

And I don't think F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote The Great Gatsby thinking, "Yeah...this one is totally going to produce $500,000 a year for my grandchildrens' trust fund!" (Truth)
Hillary says, "That's crazy! That's more than 7 times what YOU make." Thank you, Hillary, for so kindly pointing this out to me.

Anyway, it seems silly to me that people have to pay to play music for others...if it is a disincentive for musicians to make music because their music is being played in public places for free, then maybe they shouldn't be musicians to begin with.

The Economist just had an article about music piracy, here.

Also, because I was talking to a few people about IPR and drugs and wanted to write down some thoughts:

1) As Michelle Boldrin and David Levine argue, perhaps we are on the wrong side of the Laffer curve when it comes to innovation and rewards. CMR International reported that in the 1990s, $35-40 billion on R&D yielded 35-40 new drugs. Now, however, $60 billion on R&D yields fewer than 30 new drugs.

2) A good excerpt from an old article in the Economist:

"• Drugs Much of the recent debate over the impact of IPR on the poor has centred on the issue of access to expensive medicines. On paper, many of the world's least-developed countries have laws which provide patent protection for pharmaceuticals. In practice, few enforce them. Spurred on by a victory in April 2001 against drug companies fighting patent reform in South Africa, developing countries issued a declaration at the WTO meeting in Doha last year. This asserted the primacy of public health over IPR. They resolved that the world's least-developed countries should be given at least until 2016 to introduce patent protection for pharmaceuticals.

On September 17th, the WTO council responsible for TRIPS will consider a far trickier proposition in the declaration: how to make compulsory licensing (the manufacture and marketing of a patented drug without the patent-holder's consent) work for the poorest. TRIPS already permits compulsory licensing under certain conditions, including national emergencies. This is fine for countries such as Brazil, which have domestic drug industries to copy the medicines. Brazil has, indeed, used the threat of compulsory licensing to wring price discounts out of drug companies, a ploy which the commission, somewhat controversially, supports.

The problem is what to do with countries which have no drug makers. For the moment, they can import generic copies from the likes of India, but come 2006, when those exporters are supposed to have fallen in with the TRIPS line, who will supply the drugs?"

3) Random fact: Viagra was initially developed as the hypertension drug, Slidenafil. But they were like, hey, there's this weird side effect and we can make so much more money this way! Ha.
Hillary: "Can you imagine? You're going to climb Mount Everest and you pack some Viagra with you, and people are like, 'why are you bringing that along?!'"

4) From Hillary: "
This does make the drug companies look pretty evil, but the argument that drug companies need to make money in order to invest in new research is a valid one."

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Happy World Series!

Interesting fact about Larry Summers and baseball, "in the sixth grade Larry created an analysis of baseball games that attempted to predict the probability of a team’s performance at the end of the season based on its position in the standings on the Fourth of July." [from the New Yorker]

Alan Greenspan also learned how to do fractions by studying baseball stats.

Let's go YANKEES, let's go!