Tuesday, October 31, 2006
That means instead of using the share price and date when the options were actally issued, they picked an earlier date with a lower stock price, so their gain would be greater.
At least 39 executives and board directors at 19 companies have been fired or resigned. Top executives who have recently resigned over options investigations include: UnitedHealth Group Inc. Chief Executive William McGuire, KLA-Tencor Corp. Chairman Kenneth Levy, CNET Networks Inc. Chief Executive Shelby Bonnie and McAfee Inc. CEO George Samenuk. McGuire quit as chairman earlier this month and will resign as CEO by Dec. 1. And the most recent casualty is former chief executive of Monster Worldwide Inc., Andrew McKelvey.
As always, it is easier to make money cheating, than the honorable way.
The only surprise is that this time they got caught.
Monday, October 30, 2006
"Can we play now? It IS almost dark, can we play now, daddy?"
He knows after dark I leave my computer and do more important things. Like play with him.
"Do you want us to write a story about you, on the blog?" I ask.
"No I want to play games . . ."
"You want to play games, what kind of games?" Now he is crawling behind me on my chair, hanging over my shoulder. And he is starting to lose his patience. Not that a five-year old has much of that.
"A game on the computer, you work so long. It's night!"
"Don't you want to play, like, regular games?"
"What's that daddy?"
"Well you know, like play with a train . . ."
"Can you do that on the computer?"
" . . . I thought we'd shut the computer down."
"Nooooooo, I want to go to Cartoon Network!" He insists.
"No way, something else, how about PBS kids? You wanna do that???"
I don't get this. Why even bother?
I mean, why not keep daylight saving time the entire year?
Sure, it was light and bright this morning, but by the time people drive home from work it'll be dark. What's the point of that?
And, to change the video, the tuner, the oven clock, the microwave clock, the watches, the car clocks, and a gazillion other clocks is a major pain.
So here's a cry for change:
KEEP DAYLIGHT SAVING TIME AROUND THE YEAR.
The fact that someone got the whole time thing wrong hundreds of years ago, doesn't mean we can't change things now, right?
But if you think about it, it wasn't the people who set time who got it wrong. Just the people who set the time when we start work. Because if most jobs and schools started at 10 AM instead of 9 or 8 or 7, no one would worry about daylight savings time.
So you know what I think will happen?
In the end, daylight saving time will result in starting-work-early-adjustments.
Soon, instead of some people being in the office at 7 AM they will start at 6 AM or 5 AM.
Many already do.
Eventually we'll all just live at work, and visit home over weekends. Until they take away the weekend. Of course, lots of people already have lost their weekends.
It's all a big scam to get us to work more. The daylight saving time scam.
Saturday, October 28, 2006
So, don't worry. I promise this site is not going to degenerate into cute dogs and cats, but since I had to use the image of an "adorable" dog to illustrate my last post, I guess I also have to take care of the cat lovers. You know me, I'm working hard to give everyone coming here what they are looking for.
And, this weekend, for people on the East Coast, it is a dark, rainy and cold day.
In fact, it is the perfect day to do this, the entire weekend. Stay warm!
Friday, October 27, 2006
Date: Fri, 27 Oct 2006 16:42:03 EDT
Dear Dr. Rost,
Just wanted to tell you how much I enjoyed your book, however, for you and your family's experience I wished it was fictional. However, I greatly appreciated the extent that you went to expose the industry and facts that are not revealed to the public, but known by many insiders. I still believe there are many good intentioned people in this industry, but are ruined by the few greedy people and the pathetic marketing ploys.
However, I was not aware of the Medicare Part D clause that does not allow the government to negotiate prices with the Pharma Companies. I never owned a business but, commonsense would tell me that the more I buy from my suppliers the better the price.....Economics 101....
Employee of the " I am no Mother Theresa" company.
That means I have to work very little to create a new post, and I get the gratification of wallowing in those lovely comments.
And the fact that I delight greatly in the comments below shouldn't be any surprise, since, as any woman knows, the only thing any man really wants is for her to talk admiringly about him.
Here we go.
You know I love you....don't you?
I mean, if I didn't find you adorable (in your own Swedish, sexually healthy, a bit shallow, let's have fun in life, but let's not cross the line too much on integrity kind of way) I would have been long gone as a reader!
What's more adorable about you is the fact that you will and don't see anything wrong with stating that you have a dilema or that you aren't sure about how to proceed (Most men rather die than say....OOOHHH I am not sure).
So, I am a fan of yours.....grumpy or not (you are decidely the most adorable blogger I know).
Please continue the balanced diet of serious and fluff.
If you only do serious, we'll be forced to get silly in the comments area.
We've got a loaded sense of humor, and we're not afraid to use it!
Thursday, October 26, 2006
That all seems to be common sense. As for me, I have been able to write almost every day, and based on the discussions it seems to have been interesting. But I haven't been able to stick with just one topic; there is just so much fun to write about and to tell you about.
I guess I've used this blog the same way you'd talk to friends. You don't talk about just one thing, but all kinds of stuff that you find interesting.
So I've mixed posts about my fight to survive, my book launch, political comments, and lifted the veil on some unsavory practices in the drug industry and related areas. I've also used no pictures, lots of pictures, videos and audio of stuff I found interesting.
This is, of course, entirely wrong, and as a marketing person I know that. I was suppose to do just one thing, like the more political commentary I started out doing for the Huffington Post. But, honestly, after having spent an entire life in the corporate world, I'm a bit tired of doing "the right thing." It is pretty liberating to do whatever I feel like. And the fact that all kinds of lawyers and PR firms, hired by Pfizer, come here simply create some additional spice.
But deep inside I know that what I'm doing is wrong. The fact that I vacillate between heavy-duty posts and very superficial posts means that half my readers are always upset. Which isn't really a bad thing, since violence and conflict sells.
I mean, if I get bored I throw in a lightly clad girl, and a number of more feminist readers get mad. Then I write about the Dooce blogger and a number of more politically interested readers get mad. Then I write about . . . well you get it. And, of course, common wisdom is that you shouldn't make your readers mad. But I'm not so sure that doesn't work quite well. Some people like a good fight. I won't name any names.
In fact, out of over a million blogs measured by Technorati, this blog is number 30,917. Not bad considering the eclectic content and the fact that it has only been around for 6 months. Of course, getting kicked off the Huffington Post kind of helped getting this blog going.
But, like any competitive individual, I'd much rather have this blog be in the top 1,000 or top 10,000, than top 30,000. And that makes me think.
So, I'm looking around at other successful blogs. And . . . they do stick with one topic, they write one post every day or every second day. In fact, some of the once I've talked about, like Dooce and Petite Anglaise, are very simple.
No political commentary, not a lot of videos and audio, just a simple story or anecdote about their lives, two or three times a week.
And by the way, Petite Anglaise ranks 1,591 on Technorati and Dooce ranks 44(!).
Of course, not everyone likes those blogs. So when the Salt Lake Tribune recently wrote a front page article about Dooce, the Mormons in Salt Lake city reacted with outrage.
This is what some of them had to say to the newspaper:
"I have subscribed to The Tribune for nearly 40 years. Until recently, I have looked forward to reading the paper each morning. The content and appearance becomes more unsettling every week. I will be canceling my subscription soon if the ridiculous content of the front page continues."
"The huge picture and accompanying article 'According to Dooce' is totally inappropriate for the front page of a major newspaper. The continuation of the story took up far too much space. I applaud Heather Armstrong for battling her debilitating depression, but this article should have been less extensive and published in a local section or even banished to the Friday community pages - which are nothing but fluff articles anyway."
"I felt that Saturday's article about a blogging mother was interesting. However, the erotic story it opened with was totally inappropriate. Please be cleaner in the future."
"May I tell you how horrible the story 'According to Dooce' was. How could such a bunch of garbage talk show up on the front page? I am an avid reader of the Trib and have been for 30 years or more. I have never had such a negative reaction to something in all my reading history of the paper. The opening story on the front page had no business being there."
And of course, some of my readers reacted in a similar way when I covered this story and felt I'm getting into far too much fluff.
But as you can tell, even on this blog, the Dooce story was the most read, according to my post Most Popular Posts on This Blog.
Which led one reader to write to me today and state "You'll just morph from 'whistleblower' to 'sell out'... just like all your mainstream press buddies."
And the answer to this dilemma is that the fact that I've been writing about so many different things, means that my range of readers go from 17 to 70, in a perfect bell-shaped curve, and ratio men to women is about 2:1, which is a great audience.
So, all in all, I'm not so sure that what I'm doing doesn't work. I'm quite frankly just having fun with the whole blogging thing. Most fun, of course, is when very serious lawyers go to Court and pretend to be upset about what I write. Can't beat that.
After all, I get bored pretty easily and when it gets too boring I simply write something provocative and the lawyers hit the roof, just like Pavlov's dogs.
Can't be more fun than that. Oh, and when the Covington lawyers discovered I could even tell who they were, and started coming here with brown paper bags (anonymizers) over their heads, that was hilarious. Now they have resorted to using AOL. I guess some IT type told them AOL uses dynamic IP addresses, which switch all the time, so I won't know who they are. Wrong.
At least Pfizer's other lawyers, like Epstein Becker & Green, and the PR people Pfizer has hired to monitor me, kept their cool and didn't go gabonkas like Covington. That, I have to respect them for. But the Covington lawyers, well, they look like sissies when they're trying to hide their visits. (I guess at least one of the non-sissy lawyers will mail this post to one of the sissies.) Wish I could be a fly on the wall . . .
All in all, I haven't made up my mind about how to do this blog.
Except, I need to keep myself entertained, and I guess that means you might be too.
But maybe I should post a little bit less . . . keep you waiting for the good stuff and cut out some of the gossip from other blogs. Then again, gossip can be really fun.
Decisions, decisions. It's a tough world and someone has to blog about it. And someone has to use all those amazing pictures.
Wednesday, October 25, 2006
But where do they go next?
Which posts have been most popular over the past month?
Here is the data on the individual posts most often clicked on, either through a link on another site or the link below the post.
These are the top 20 posts over the past ten days:
Tuesday, October 24, 2006
NY Times first mentioned this story. This is a guy who sent a video of himself as he was trying to get a job on Wall Street. I guess too much promotion may be a bad thing . . . the video is now on You Tube, after having bounced all over every major firm in New York.
Here is one such comment.
I just read your book and found it inspiring. Inspiring because of your courage, your sacrifices, your tenacity and perserverence. These are are good traits and usually qualities we identify with success. Perhaps a twist of irony, perhaps not.
I'm confident the impact of your struggle and the awareness you bring to the American people will ultimately spell success, but success in terms other than the materialistic excess normally associated with the word. I 'm hoping that in small ways, such as with myself, change will occur because of you.
After reading your story, I took a long look at myself, and my relationship with the pharmaceutical industry. Years ago, as a physician, I examined my policy of seeing drug reps, and decided to allow them into my office with the rationale that the samples would benefit many of my PPO patients. The samples continue to be a valuable service I provide my patients. However, my participation of the drug dinner meetings have increased over the years. ( Got sucked in.)
It was an easy decision after realizing your sacrifices, for me to give up the dinners. I just want you to know, I support you a 100%, I'm glad you came to America, and I'm glad you made the right choice when faced with the very difficult life altering decision (which I'm sure is nothing close in magnitute to my decision to dump all HMOs).
Again, thank you for the inspiration to do the right thing. I will encourage all my colleages to read your book, and perhaps in small ways we can all effectuate meaningful change.
Sunday, October 22, 2006
How Not to Act on J-Date
So based on the success of "What not to do if you don't get the job," this week, we're proud to bring you "How not to act on J-Date."
COMPLETE WITH AUDIO!!
For the uninitiated, (those who don't live in either New York, Florida, Los Angeles, or Israel,) J-Date is match.com for Jews. I've used it. I've had a few good dates from it, a few horrible dates from it, like most everyone has.
And when you have one of those horrible dates, you chalk it up. "Oh, it was just dinner," you say.
That's life. There'll be other dates. Right?
I mean, that's what we all do, yes?
NOT DARREN SHERMAN. Darren just felt... Well, "wronged."
So let's start here: Darren's profile reads:
I joined JDate four weeks ago. Cute, tall and funny best describes me!
I am a person whom is usually on the go, particularly in the warm
weather. In the summertime you can typically find me on the beaches in the
Hampton's or New Jersey shore. In the wintertime I enjoy taking drives
to beautiful towns such as Lambertsville, Red Bank, Katonah, Port
Jefferson and Greenwich. "People watching" can be an easily enjoyable
activity for me. I own a management consulting firm assisting financial
institutions with regulatory issues. I travel extensively for business and
I am looking for:
I am on JDate to find someone special. I have no set rules per se on
dating someone younger/older (20-40). I have learned that age really does
not matter; so why limit any possibilities in finding a life long
partner. Wouldn't you agree? Physcial characteristics: Preferably tall and
medium build. Mentally: Fun and easy going. Someone who is comfortable
with themselves. I love a good jokester so please be funny!
Below is a little bit more about me from a professional perspective.
(Hey, JDating is serious business :-)
Biography of Darren L. Sherman:
Mr. Darren L. Sherman is CEO of <company deleted to give the guy at least somewhat of a chance of recovering from his stupidity at some point in his life from a business perspective, anyway,> a
consultation firm providing regulatory compliance and internal audit
assistance to..blah blah. Darren previously served as a Senior
Investigator for the <government agency deleted>..blah blah.
References are available upon request :-)
I hope we get the chance to finally meet!
So Darren asks Joanne out. Joanne accepts. They eat at China Grill. (Nice restaurant. I've been there.) Darren pays, despite Joanne offering to split the check.
At some point after the meal, Darren gets the idea that Joanne didn't like him.
Rather than just chalk it up to a bad date (hey, it happens, right?) Darren... Well, Darren has other plans.
DARREN EMAILS JOANNE ASKING HER TO SEND HIM $50 FOR HER PORTION OF DINNER.
Yes. I paused and re-read that about 30 times, too.
I couldn't be serious, could I? He actually didn't email that, did he? Oh, but he did:
From: Darren Sherman
Date: Jun 19, 2006 8:48 PM
Sorry things didn't work out. I guess you changed your
Here is my address for the $50 bucks:
<DELETED> East <DELETED> Street, Apt. 504
NY NY 10028
OK. So Darren's a bit odd. Fine. He emailed her, she didn't respond, and he let it go. Right?
Come on. What kind of story would that be?
Darren CALLED HER AND LEFT A VOICE MAIL, THREATENING TO SEND HER A SUMMONS IF SHE DOESN'T PAY HER SHARE OF THE BILL!
(Insert Jerry Springer "OH NO HE DIDN'T" line here.)
But he did.
So Joanne goes to work, after hearing that email on her mobile phone voice mail the night before, and before she can even say the world "stalker," she gets the following email:
From: Darren Sherman
Date: Jun 20, 2006 8:13 AM
I wanted to follow up on my email and call to you last night to ensure you received my messages for the $50.
Please acknowledge by replying to this email that you will be sending me the $50.
I hope you understand from my point of view.
Um... OK. This is just getting weird. It ends here, right.
Heh. Yeah. Right.
Joanne sends the following email back to Darren:
I just received your emails and also your message from last night. I was away and am just getting back this morning. I had every intention of calling you andmeeting to go out but your email has completely turned me off and i find it extremely tacky. I will not be sending you any money since i offered that night to pay and you told me no that you would take care of it.
Please do not call me or send me another email i would rather not hear from you at all. And for future reference in the dating world you may want to rethink the tacky approach about asking someone for money like that perhaps that is why you haven't met anyone or have seen them again.
Go Joanne!! Way to show a backbone! Nice!
This, of course, (as you could have guessed,) just sends Darren to the next level.
HE CUTS AND PASTES HIS AMEX BILL INTO AN EMAIL!!!
From: Darren Sherman
Date: Jun 20, 2006 10:22 AM
Subject: American Express Bill
CHINA GRILL NEW YORK NY
Reference No: 320061560288086573
Do the right thing Joanne.
Words fail me.
About four hours later, DarrenStalker (TM) strikes again, sending another voice mail, telling Joanne that she's "hiding behind email," and now he's going to "contact her employer."
There aren't big enough letters on my keyboard to type "WTF?"
Listen here, and try not to snort soda out of your nose.
After receiving this barrage of communications, Joanne decides to fire off an email to Darren to end this once and for all:
Date: Jun 20, 2006 2:38 PM
To: Darren Sherman
I am truly sorry it didn't work out. You seemed like a nice guy, but after your voice mails you have now entered the world of a first class creep. Dating is not business, I offered to go dutch at the time the bill came and you declined, as far as I am concerned that is the end of the story. I didn't know that your paying the bill was contingent on me going out with you again.
Once again, I think you need to look internally as to why things are not working out for you in the dating world. You had mentioned that you had been burned several times, and I am sorry if you feel that it has happened to you again, but perhaps it is your approach in dealing with others that leads to this. Dating and relationships and business are completely different and there is not a quid pro quo for eating and drinking on a date. If this is how you think it works, perhaps you should get consult a professional who I could take care of all of your needs. If I remember correctly it was your choice to go out for dinner, I would have been just as happy to take a walk in the park to get to know you.
With that said, please feel free to call my employer or issue a summons if you think that this will help. Your message has said that you will not drop this, and I am not one to be bullied or threatened. I have saved all your messages and if you chose to go ahead with your threats then I will be more than happy to notify the proper authorities and get a restraining order. I will also let your clients and employees know about your erratic and bizarre behavior.
I do love her backbone.
Does this phase Stalker-Darren? (Who should totally be a comic strip character and should fight the Green Lantern or something...)
No, it does not phase Stalker-Darren.
Darren calls her OFFICE, again threatening the summons, and offering up this pearl of Darren-Wisdom: "You ate the food, you drank the wine, Pay your bill."
Words fail me here, guys. And seriously - for a publicist? That's rare.
And of course, much like the Ginsu Knives commercial, just wait. There's MORE!
After another 28 minutes, Darren calls her cell phone AGAIN!! This time, (and I implore you - sit down for this one) he lets Joanne know that he's CALLED CHINA GRILL TO REPORT A DISCREPENCY IN THE BILL!
Yes, you read that right. Darren has told Joanne that he called China Grill to speak to the General Manager to explain that he should not have been charged for the entire meal - i.e., He expects China Grill to call Joanne and get her half of the bill, and credit his AmEx.
People, I have no motive for lying. You can't make this stuff up. Listen to the fourth voice mail here:
Finally, the fifth voice mail. From CHINA GRILL! They called, apparently as confused as we all are, asking Joanne what the heck was going on.
PR props to China Grill - When Joanne told them the story, they not only told her to not worry about the bill, but offered her a free drink the next time she stopped in. WELL DONE, China Grill's GM. Someone got their PR training. Bravo.
At this point, kids, that's where our story ends. Who knows what evil lurks in the heart of Darren Sherman - Perhaps he's filing a "stop payment" on his Amex Bill... Or perhaps he's given up J-Date all together.
One thing we do know, though - (and how many times have I said this?) It you put it out there, either on a voice mail, email, fax, or the Internet, it WILL come back to bite you in the ass.
You don't believe me?
Just ask Darren Sherman.
"Jack Watters, Pfizer's vice-president of medical and regulatory affairs for Europe, Latin America, Africa and the Middle East, said drugs companies were partly to blame because they have failed to promote the positive contributions they make to society.
Films such as The Constant Gardener, based on a fictional novel by John Le Carré, helped perpetuate the idea that drugs companies put profit above everything else, he said. "
Sounds like yet another delusional corporate officer.
Tip: It doesn't take more "spin" to improve pharma's reputation. People know you make drugs that save lives. They also know you don't do this out of the goodness of your hearts. And they know that when you have a choice between doing the right thing and making money, not even half of your own employees think you'll do the right thing. Now that may take a bit more than "spin control" to change. You may actually HAVE to change.
This bright Pfizer spokesperson continues: "I don't think anyone in this world has the moral authority to decide what a reasonable profit is and what's not."
And of course this is what he thinks. After all, when the top ten drug companies made more money than all the other Fortune 500 companies combined a couple of years ago, this was as it should. And if one drug company could make more money than all the other companies in the entire world, this is of course also OK. At least if you are a drug company spokes person.
Hat tip: PharmaGossip
Saturday, October 21, 2006
Friday, October 20, 2006
Ok so here is another book that soundly condemns the industry that I sort of work for, in that I am a medical editor in an agency that provides physician and patient online (mainly) educational materials about drugs and devices and the diseases they treat. Almost all of the work I have done in this company has been funded by Big Pharma.
Is it a good book? Does it tell a compelling story? Yes and yes. It turns out Dr Peter Rost was an executive with Wyeth then Pharmacia/Pfizer and tried with all 3 companies to point out certain illegal or unethical practices, that is he was a classic whistleblower. With Wyeth he pointed out some tax dodging and was promptly demoted. With Pharmacia which was taken over by Pfizer he started by pointing out some illegal marketing tactics with a growth hormone that occured before he started in that area. When Pfizer ignored his complaints also he then pointed out some other issues. He finally ended up being fired, and is still pursuing legal recourse. At the time Pfizer took over he was being paid quite well to manage the endocrine division and was doing a great job selling the drug legally. He also dared to speak out as a private citizen about high drug prices in the US and the potential for saving dollars with reimportation, a process that has kept prices down in Europe for years.
The big issue for me is that this book tweaked my conscience, leading me to ask myself once again whether working in pharmaceutical marketing was such a good thing to do. As with the book Overdosed America by Dr John Abramson and others by prominent doctors, the evidence is out there that Big Pharma is an evil industry. Charging the highest prices in the world to US patients, lobbying for a Medicare drug act that does not allow for negotiation of drug prices, hiding negative trial results, covering up illegal off-label marketing, ignoring side effects, etc etc. The high prices are always said to be justified given the high cost of new drug development and the need to have a profit to ensure ongoing capitalization, that is bolster stock prices. Dr Rost notes in his book that one pharma comapany as an example had revenue in 2003 of $22.5 billion but spent $3.2 bilion on drug research and development and $6.4 on marketing, sales and administrative costs. Paying out dividends of $3.3 billion they still recorded a profit of $6.8 billion!! So if prices were brought down by price controls, reimportation or a mix of approaches, then something would have to go, maybe profit? The highest profits in all industries are in big pharma. Maybe, sales and marketing? Part of that cost is free drug samples. If drugs were affordable or covered by universal health care, maybe free samples would not be necessary. Surely there is still plenty of wiggle room to ensure good money spent on R&D.
Then there is the issue of the corruption in the industry. All of the illegal activities leading to whopping fines, in the hundreds of millions but still often only a fraction of the multibillion dollar income generated by the blockbuster drugs. Rost nicely summarizes this, and adds that this sickens him, because he actually likes working in the industry, something that he will never do again after the Pfizer firing. We do have to remember that many of today's drugs save lives, improve quality of life, reduce pain and suffering. So we need these drugs, it just would be better if they were cheaper, safer, etc. The one thing I wish Rost had added in his book if available would have been a comparison of big pharma to other industries like big oil, defense industry (Halliburton anyone?), industries with companies like Enron, World Com even Walmart who have again and again been chastiaed, fined and worse.
If the pharmaceutical industry is no worse than others in avoiding taxes, cheating with marketing practices etc, then the main issue is price and safety. Controlling prices and beefing up the FDA may help to alleviate these problems. But we have a long way to go, baby!
In thinking about my own second career in pharma marketing, after practicing medicine for over 20 years, I have to once again, on the basis of Rost's book ask myself am I in the right place? My scheme to reduce drug prices by reducing marketinng would be like shooting myself in the foot. I have personal reasons for not returning to the practice of medicine so that would not be an option. I am too young to retire either. So once again I have to hold on to what is good in big pharma and keep on keeping on...
As for Dr Rost and his future? Well Peter, I am going to send you a link to this post so you can see my review but also so I can give you some ideas. We are both middle aged physicians although I am 10 years older and neither of us can easily return to clinical medicine. I am going to stick with what I am doing for now, but you, heck, you have so much pharma experience and youthful fervor. Since working for Pharma is out why not work for the FDA, I know would be a great decrease in income but you would be on the right side of the Force for once. Another possibility would be to work for Dr Sidney Wolfe or set up a similar business to his Health Research Group and Worst Pills, Best Pills. And here is another even wackier idea, start your own pharma company, if you can somehow get the financing, perhaps you could devote half your R&D to developing drugs for the poor developing nations and get some start up money from Gates/Buffett venture?
Just my musings forced on me by reading this fantastic book which I was lucky to get on Amazon on its first day of sales when it sold out its entire first printing! See Amazon on the book here.
posted by Friendly Curmudgeon
Anyway now one of the biggest newspapers in Utah put her on the front page and it is a fascinating story.
And of course, when Pfizer asks me in depositions how I plan on supporting myself (I have to do everything I can to "mitigate my damages"), I will, of course, point to this story, and reveal that this is exactly what I want to do too, when I grow up. That is, get so many readers to my blog that I can simply write my blog everyday, without worrying about actually working . . .
Here is how the article starts:
Utah blogger makes her life public fodder
By Matt Canham
The Salt Lake Tribune
Soaking in a warm bath with her 2-year-old daughter, Heather Armstrong asks her husband, Jon, to wash her back.
He runs the washcloth between her shoulder blades and then quickly circles around to rub her breasts.
"That's not my back," she says.
"Yes it is," he replies. "It's the part of your back called The Front."
As they banter, Jon Armstrong scoops up Leta and wraps her in a towel. He catches a glimpse of his grinning wife and warns: "You are not allowed to write about this."
Sorry, Jon. But she did. And this little item is far from the most personal Heather has shared with the online world.
From her homeHeather Armstrong is the writer behind the popular blog Dooce, where she writes about her life as the mother of her daughter Leta Armstrong, wife to husband Jon Armstrong, and her ongoing struggles with depression. The family dog Chuck makes frequent appearances in photos on the blog. (Trent Nelson/The Salt Lake Tribune)in Salt Lake City, Heather publishes quite possibly the most well read parenting blog on the planet.
Her site, Dooce.com, attracts between 800,000 and 1 million readers each month. For comparison's sake, Dooce receives about the same online traffic as The Salt Lake Tribune's site. Instead of daily coverage of the Iraq war or restaurant reviews, Heather posts a daily photo and writes an average four times a week about her life, her health and raising a child.
Continue reading here.
A Reporter's Story:
How H-P Kept Tabs
On Me for a Year
Firm's Search for Leak Led Sleuths
To Scope Out Trash, Compile Phone Dossier
Organizing a Bridal Shower
By PUI-WING TAM
October 19, 2006; Page A1
Unbeknownst to my family and me, someone was scoping out our trash earlier this year -- someone hired by Hewlett-Packard Co.
The trash study was carried out in January by Security Outsourcing Solutions Inc., a Needham, Mass., investigative firm that H-P employed, according to a briefing H-P officials gave me yesterday. Whether the sleuths ever encountered my toddler's dirty diapers, H-P said it doesn't know.
I learned this -- and more -- as I sat in a conference room at H-P's outside law firm yesterday in San Francisco, where attorney John Schultz ran through a litany of snooping tactics H-P's agents used against me as part of its effort to identify which of its directors might be leaking news to the press. For around a year, Mr. Schultz told me, H-P collected information about me. H-P's investigators tried at least five times, he said, to get access to my home-phone, cellphone and office-phone records. In several instances, they succeeded: H-P now has lists of calls I made to people such as my editors, my husband, my insurance company and a reporting source employed by one H-P rival.
H-P's agents had my photo and reviewed videotaped footage of me, said Mr. Schultz, of the law firm of Morgan, Lewis & Bockius. They conducted "surveillance" by looking for me at certain events to see if I would show up to meet an H-P director. (I didn't.) They also carried out "pre-trash inspections" at my suburban home early this year, Mr. Schultz said.
Continue reading here:
Thursday, October 19, 2006
Hometown: Ft. Lauderdale, FL
"Appearing in FHM has definitely helped me in my work as a rep for a pharmaceuticals company. Usually you have to push your way into doctors' offices to see them; now it's like, 'Oh, the FHM girl is here.' And I go right on in. All the doctors and nurses out there read FHM. They've all seen me in lingerie—and I bet they think about what I'm wearing under my uniform when I visit them."
To check if you too have what it takes to become a drug rep, go to www.pfizer.com.
I've just finished "Whistleblower: Confessions of a Healthcare Hitman," an expose by Dr. Peter Rost of his trials and tribulations with pharma giant Pfizer as it assimilated his former company, Pharmacia. It's amazing to me that in today's post-Enron environment that corporations can still behave so shamefully and get away with it. In the interest of full disclosure, I make my living thanks to healthcare and pharmaceutical marketing. That's why I read this book with so much interest. I have a tendency to be an apologist for the industry at large because I do believe that in general, it's a great industry that has saved millions of lives around the world. (See, there I go again.) And I certainly know any number of fine individuals who work for the industry. BUT, and it's a big BUT, I cannot excuse or explain how Dr. Rost was treated after coming forward with information that was critical for Pfizer to know. The story is so utterly absurd, you can't believe it actually happened.
From A Georgia Lawyer:
I had someone recommend to me Dr. Rosts's blog. According to the site, Rost is former Vice President for Pfizer who became well known in 2004 when he emerged as the first drug company executive to speak out in favor of reimportation of drugs.
He is the author of a book I just picked up: "Whistleblower: Confessions of a Healthcare Hitman," which shines the light on his trials and tribulations with Pfizer as it assimilated Pharmacia, his prior employer.
A review on another site has this to say about Rost and his book: Rost's book is about more than just himself. Much of the latter half, in fact, has nothing to do with Rost's battle with Pfizer, but is rather a litany of recent drug company corruption, and Rost argues convincingly that the FDA and America's major medical journals have been co-opted by the industry. When he moves on to examine the American economy at large, where he lays out some eye-opening statistics comparing skyrocketing CEO salaries with the static ones of American workers, we realize Rost has reached his destination. (Source: Here).
Thank you Georgia Lawyer for those kind comments.
I especially like your last sentence, "he has a pair of brass ones to take on Pfizer."
Because that is what this blog is all about. To have the balls to take on a guy with much larger balls.
Reminds me of the quote from an anonymous writer on Cafe Pharma, which we use on the back cover of my book:
"The guys got a set of brass balls. I'll give him that........... "
Wednesday, October 18, 2006
And here are those same sales girls "in training."
Hat tip PharmaGossip, one of the best blogs in the world.
Here is a listing of the most popular posts:
Dooce blogger Heather Armstrong Settles Lawsuit with Kensington Publishing Group
Ronald Green, Famous Lawyer for Pfizer Caught Lying in Court
How To Safely Select Hospital Clinical Software – Lessons from the Past.
"Pfizer/Pharmacia and the Art of Firing People; Pfizer Moves to Block Rost’s Book (excerpt included)"
As you can tell, the Dr. Peter Rost blog accounts for 3 out of the 4 most popular posts (1, 2 and 4). Click on the posts or on Most Popular for more info.
But it doesn't stop there. Once you enter the page with the most popular blog posts, you will also find this list of the highest rated posts, which is a grand slam for the Dr. Peter Rost blog, 3 out of 3!:
Dr Peter Rost:"Pfizer/Pharmacia and the Art of Firing People; Pfizer Moves to Block Rost’s Book (excerpt included)"
Dr Peter Rost:Ronald Green, Famous Lawyer for Pfizer Caught Lying in Court
Dr Peter Rost:Dooce blogger Heather Armstrong Settles Lawsuit with Kensington Publishing Group
Tuesday, October 17, 2006
In May I wrote Pfizer Celebrity Lawyer Runs To Court to Shut Me Up. In this post I pointed out that "I suspected there might be a conflict of interest between Mr. Kindler . . . and Ms. Katen." And boy was there a conflict of interest. Three months later Mr. Kindler became CEO and Katen decided to "pursue other opportunities."
In July I wrote about the UnitedHealth CEO in Cheating Executives, who had amassed over a billion dollar worth of stock option, by cheating the system and backdating his options. This week the board of directors for UnitedHealth had enough and fired him. AP commented today, "William McGuire ran UnitedHealth Group Inc. like his personal fiefdom, allowing the former CEO and his cronies to gain tremendous wealth with few internal controls to stop them. "
In August I wrote a post called Bye, bye Peter Dolan, hello Karen Katen??? Two months later Mr. Dolan was gone, too. But I was wrong about Karen Katen showing up at BMS.
All in all, though, a pretty good track record.
So what is my prediction about me and Pfizer and celebrity lawyer Ron Green?
Clearly I will win. But so far they have behaved like mad people and it is impossible to predict how people with no common sense will behave; what they do is anyone's guess. Meanwhile, if any future opponent to Ronald Green does a search on his name plus the word lawyer, they immediately find the story on how Mr. Green tried to mislead the Court. Not a good outcome for a famous lawyer.
Pfizer has also lost enormous public relations goodwill by treating me like a pariah and then firing me. There have been innumerable articles about this fight. For any reasonable employer, it would clearly have been preferable to find a single position for one employee, among 100,000 other employees, but Pfizer's hubris stopped them from doing that.
We asked for another job for me, in writing early in 2004, giving lots of examples of positions on a director level that would be acceptable, but they ignored this letter and later repeated that there was no position available on a VP level, conveniently "forgetting" our suggestions for jobs on a director level. That's how badly they didn't want to hire me.
And now they are backed into a corner with the world watching and a book out there telling the story.
To make matters even worse they asked for sanctions against me for writing the book, which sent sales sky rocketing, and continued sending letters ahead of all my public appearances, until I pointed out that this was like pouring gasoline on fire. In my post I have three more radio interviews coming up this week. I wrote "The more attention they give to me, the more credibility they give me. Best would be for them to be totally silent and stop acting like bullies."
And that, finally, made Pfizer stop sending their self-defeating letters.
This gives you an idea of what happens when lawyers run a corporation, without input from reasonable business people. And considering that a lawyer is now in charge of the entire corporation, my prediction is that this won't be the last time Pfizer stumbles.
And of course, in their panic they now resort to go on the record lying to a federal judge, which I wrote about in Ronald Green, Famous Lawyer for Pfizer Caught Lying in Court.
The point of all this is that no matter how things end, Pfizer has proven to the world that they are complete amateurs when it comes to adaptation and dealing with challenges. Such a corporation is not likely to give shareholders a good return on their investment.
You heard it here first.
Monday, October 16, 2006
According to Amazon, "Customers who bought this item also bought:"
Hard Sell: The Evolution of a Viagra Salesman by Jamie Reidy
A Call to Action by Hank A. McKinnell
Money-Driven Medicine: The Real Reason Health Care Costs So Much by Maggie Mahar
Inside the FDA: The Business and Politics Behind the Drugs We Take and the Food We Eat by Fran Hawthorne
The Truth About the Drug Companies: How They Deceive Us and What to Do About It by Marcia Angell
I can understand the connection to most of those books, but I'm a bit surprised about "A Call to Action" ending up SECOND place.
Or is the answer that so many Pfizer lawyers have bought my book that their purchases show up here?
If you didn't experience the actual party, click here, and scroll down (this is a big file and may take some time if you don't have superfast connection.)
Or go to the individual PARTY rooms, which may be easier:
ENTER THE BLOG PARTY!
The PARTY Room
The WHISTLEBLOWER ROOM - Introduction
THE WHISTLEBLOWER - MOVIE
THE WHISTLEBLOWER - AUTHOR COMMENTS
THE WHISTLEBLOWER - STORE
The MAGIC ROOM - Guest star Criss Angel
The MUSIC ROOM - Sponsored by PharmaGossip
The MUSIC ROOM - Sponsored by PharmaMarketing
The MUSIC ROOM - Sponsored by Shakira, Muddy Waters, Guns 'n Roses, ZZ Top, Aerosmith and Credence
The SALES REP TRAINING ROOM - Sponsored by Big Pharma
The CONFERENCE ROOM - Sponsored by Big Pharma
Sunday, October 15, 2006
But actually, the key to be successful with a book is word of mouth. That means you guys. Without you this book would go nowhere. And thanks to many of you this book is off to a great start, in fact we have sold more books during the first four weeks, than the blockbuster "Confessions of an Economic Hit Man," sold.
Here is what my publisher recently told me:
People buy books because of word of mouth. It's the nature of the product. It was the old conventional wisdom and the new conventional wisdom--the internet simply eases the process of one friend or trusted interlocutor "speaking" to another.
So book promotion basically entails triggering as many word-of-mouth actions as possible, in order to achieve a critical mass. All books that sell well over the long run do so because the word-of-mouth engine is humming.
Overall, my publisher has cut back on the number of e-mail blasts, because folks weren't acting on them. Reading them sure, but not acting on them in terms of reviewing a book, interviewing an author, running a feature...
Contrariwise, publicity like NY Post, MM&M, CNN/Glenn Beck, Lenny Lopate, Bloomberg, Fortune, local radio and such, is so key because they've got a loyal audience--Beck and Lopate are like trusted friends to their fans--the folks Rush Limbaugh used to call his ditto heads. Oprah's genius is not her ratings which are lower than a lot of primetime and breakfast stuff, but rather the kind of bond she has with her audience, one that is intimate and shared, and a word from her about a book traverses that intimate bond...the less intimate a bond, the less effective the statement "this book will speak to you personally"
Consequently, my publisher's focus has been on generating that kind of publicity, and we've been plugging away with that stuff all along, actually. But the process is like really bad baseball, one hit in every 15-20 at-bats. But it's not something one can give up on, it's something that we have to keep pushing, sending books to radio producers, magazine editors, websites, every day another dozen copies of the book go out to new folks, and that's the process that has borne greatest fruit over the long run: "The Whistleblower" is a David and Goliath story and is timeless, so we expect to keep doing this for a long time to come.
One particularly noteworthy thing is that we've not yet been covered by the progressive press, and they will be key to the book over the long run: Many of the blogs, CNN, Bloomberg, Fortune, BrandWeek are all in the news/opinion/business sphere. The good part is that this means there's a whole universe of stuff waiting for us there. Now that said, we've got many, many copies of the book out in the progressive world, but they're slow. The magazines are quarterly or bi-monthly, the websites are way understaffed.
As for libraries, as some of you have suggested...to be reviewed in BOOKLIST, they need to get the book 4 months before publication. We couldn't do that for various reasons, but this is not the type of book they review anyway. They review, on average about one quarter of my publisher's books, mostly fiction. Also, it takes a starred review to get orders above 500 units from libraries.
This is a long way of saying that the difference for this book will be made by YOU. In the end it is what YOU say to your friends and YOUR action that makes a something happen . . .
And if you can't afford the book, but want to read it, ask your library and they just may buy it...remember $10 is about as cheaply as you can get any book today.
Saturday, October 14, 2006
Lone Wolf Takes on the Pharma Pack
By Jake Whitney
Early in Dr. Peter Rost's new book, The Whistleblower: Confessions of a Healthcare Hitman, Rost compares corporate culture to running with a wolf pack. "Everyone helps out and is friendly as long as it benefits the group," he writes, "but each wolf cares only about himself and will do anything to survive."
Rost is talking about the bad guys -- the greedy corporate executives and gutless, backstabbing coworkers who either take part in or turn a blind eye to corporate malfeasance. Rost, as the title indicates, is the good guy, and The Whistleblower recounts his career exposing corporate wrongdoing. But the question that lingers over his 200-page David vs. Goliath story is this: Is Rost, too, a wolf, attracted to whistleblowing by reasons more self-serving than altruistic?
Rost's career as a whistleblower began at the pharmaceutical giant Wyeth, where, as a top executive, he sued the company after blowing the whistle on tax fraud. His book skips this part (for legal reasons) and picks up a few years later, in the summer of 2002, when Rost was a successful vice president at Pharmacia -- a mid-sized, New Jersey-based drug firm. In July of that year, Pfizer, the biggest pharmaceutical company in the world, announced it would acquire Pharmacia, and Rost's book takes us through the acquisition up until his firing, on Dec. 1, 2005.
According to Rost, his termination from Pfizer was the final blow in a prolonged period of retaliation for his whistleblowing, which included shedding light on a string of illegal and/or unethical business practices: illegal marketing of Genotropin, a human growth hormone; wholesaler stuffing (to inflate sales numbers); and sexual liaisons among Pfizer management. But it was Rost's position on drug importation that made him famous.
While still a vice president at Pfizer, Rost infuriated his bosses by appearing before Congress and on 60 Minutes advocating the importation of drugs from Canada as a way to reduce pharmaceutical costs for Americans. This was a direct contradiction of the industry's (and the Bush administration's) line, which declared importation to be unsafe. But Rost, a native Swede, shot holes in the industry's argument by pointing out that drug importation had been taking place safely in Europe for 20 years.
All of this is recounted in fascinating detail in The Whistleblower, much of which reads more like a detective novel than a memoir. This is due in no small part to the fact that, as Rost's responsibilities at Pfizer were slowly removed, he was left with little to do but detective work. His account of what he discovered is alternately hilarious and terrifying.
In the book, Rost recounts how, following his appearance on 60 Minutes, Pfizer retaliates by disabling his corporate email, killing his cell phone and dropping his annual bonus. In response, Rost pens emails to Pfizer's general counsel and IT department demanding an explanation -- and he attaches an electronic tracer to the messages. The emails bounce around the company and then on to three "world-class law firms" and a huge communications company. Within a few days his emails are opened over 100 times, and Rost realizes he may be "outgunned" in his battle with Goliath.
Perhaps Rost's scariest discovery comes after pushing Pfizer management to address Pharmacia's illegal marketing of Genotropin. He uncovers a mysterious document stuck in his personnel file which turns out to be authored by a private investigator, hired by Pfizer, reporting on whether Rost ever purchased a weapon and whether he might be a danger to himself or others. It is around this time, Rost says, "I vowed I would expose the pharmaceutical industry and their methods."
Rost's critics say his whistleblowing has been more about seeking fame and fortune (the latter in the form of book deals and lawsuit settlements) than helping people. In fact, Rost does have an uncanny habit of making headlines by exposing deviousness wherever he goes -- most recently at HuffingtonPost.com, where he was "fired" after unmasking a frequent critic as the Post's very own technology manager.
But criticizing Rost's motives is off base, for two reasons. For one, every time Rost has spoken out, he's lost more than he's gained. By taking on Pfizer and publicly advocating importation, he insured he would never work in the industry again; at Wyeth, he lost what he said was the best job of his life. "I've never had more fun than when I was the managing director of the Nordic region," he said in a recent interview. "Nothing I've done since compares with that."
Second, Rost's book is about more than just himself. Much of the latter half, in fact, has nothing to do with Rost's battle with Pfizer, but is rather a litany of recent drug company corruption, and Rost argues convincingly that the FDA and America's major medical journals have been co-opted by the industry. When he moves on to examine the American economy at large, where he lays out some eye-opening statistics comparing skyrocketing CEO salaries with the static ones of American workers, we realize Rost has reached his destination.
Ultimately, The Whistleblower is an impassioned jeremiad against corporate greed, with Rost our inside man. The book's overriding theme is that the American political system is in danger of degenerating into a plutocracy (or "kleptocracy," as he dubs it) -- if it hasn't already. "The American democracy has been stolen by our new class of robber barons -- the CEOs of our largest corporations," he writes.
These assertions aren't new, but when spoken by a former vice president at the world's largest drug company, they take on added weight. Rost, after all, was reeling in almost a million dollars a year with Pfizer, and conceivably one day could've joined this ruling class. Instead, he chose to break away from the pack, and become a lone wolf. And we're all the better for it.
Friday, October 13, 2006
You should all be aware that Dr. Peter Rost, former Pfizer employee and well known whistleblower and FCA relator, has recently published a book. (The Whistleblower --- Confessions of a Healthcare Hitman, Soft Skull Press, 208 pp.)
In my opinion this book is one all lawyers that represent relators should read and this is especially true if a lawyer has cases involving the pharmaceutical industry.
Rost was a sales executive for Pharmacia in charge of Genotropin marketing. The book begins when Rost learns that Pfizer is about to acquire Pharmacia and ends with the events surrounding the government's declination of his qui tam case and his firing by Pfizer. In between those events enough happens that would fill a book much longer than Rost's memoir.
The book is succinct, well written and holds your interest. I am uncertain as to how Dr. Rost's FCA case will fare; it was dismissed on Rule 9(b) grounds and I have no information as to whether he will be able to revive it. However, he has already accomplished so much as a whistleblower that the pharmaceutical industry will never be the same, and that is all to the good.
But this is anything but a boring story; it is a rather sad tale with an unexpected twist.
And the fact is that since I wrote about the Dooce story yesterday, my blog has been completely innundated with Dooce readers who want to find out what Heather didn't write on her own blog; that is, why she was sued and why she had to settle.
I'm not jealous of her legal predicaments, but I am a little bit jealous about all her readers. Wow! This was like a Tsunami coming by.
So, I guess, since I've managed to find out the story I should tell all the Dooce readers what Heather didn't disclose in her own blog.
A few years back, Heather B. Armstrong got fired because of her blog, which, of course, helped her blog soare to the stratosphere and everyone started reading it. Same story as when Pfizer went to Court to ask for sanction because I had written "The Whistleblower."
Anyway, Heather's big audience made her a great candidate for one of those blogger book deals I have written about (most recently Petite Anglaise), and back in November 2005, according to the lawsuit, Heather agreed orally to a two book deal with Kensington's Rebel Base Books line. I guess that simply means she agreed to start negotiating, which, of course, is not how this is portrayed in the complaint.
They negotiated for months, until they had a final agreement in May 2006. The complaint alleges everyone was happy and they has sorted everything out. But Heather didn't want to sign that final agreement.
I guess she thought, like anyone would, that as long as she didn't sign the dotted line, she was fine, and could back out. Of course, the publisher claims they had started doing a lot of work and pre-marketing, and so, lost money.
In fact, they write, "As a result of the breach of contract by Armstrong, Kensington will suffer irreparable harm."
And here comes the kicker . . . what made Kensington so mad? They contend that Heather went to a different publisher with her book.
Heather has announced a settlement on Dooce, "officially ending what has been the most traumatic, agonizing, demoralizing experience of my life."
In case you wonder about the outcome, she adds: "I have no faith in our legal system, one that guarantees victory only for the party who can afford to pay for it, one that would allow a large company to bully a private citizen because it knows that she has no money with which to defend herself. I am angry and bitter and feeling all sorts of unbecoming emotions. More than that, though, I am afraid that these people are watching everything I say here, ready to pounce on a single word, twist it, manipulate it, and then sue me again."
And in this lies a good lesson. An oral contract is a valid contract, and the fact that someone backs out before signing the dotted line can be expensive, indeed. Which makes any negotiation pretty dangerous. I hope Petite Anglaise doesn't make the same mistake.
Here are the comments by a third party lawyer on this case: "Oral negotiations between two parties in order to come to an agreement on specific terms of a contract occur. The representative of one of the parties assures the representative of the other that the contract is fine, it meets all expectations, and it will be signed. All of this is memorialized in writing.
Then, the rep of one of the parties informs the other party that they intend to breach the contract for which they have negotiated. Money has been spent in anticipation of this contract (also known as detrimental reliance). The person breaching the oral contract cannot provide any reasonable explanation for the breach other than: 1) the editor left; and 2) they did not receive enough “support” from the company and it was “nerve-wracking.”
This lawyer claims this is all cause for action.
But the flip side is also that it is rather shocking to see a rich publisher going after an author this way . . . and who knows who was right?
After all, the publisher had a few more lawyers than Heather, a ton more money, and in the end the one with the biggest pockets is likely to win any legal fight in the U.S.
If you want to view the entire complaint, click trainwrecks.net.
Thursday, October 12, 2006
If you'd like to know how "normal" people, like Heather, react when they are involved in a lawsuit, see her post Here Goes Nothing.
Kind of puts things into perspective.
Not that I have any intention of reacting that way. I intend to continue to enjoy every moment of the fight and continue to expose Pfizer and their goons when I catch them lying in Court or putting paper bags over their heads (using the anonymizer) when they try to hide their visits to this blog.
By the way, this is how Heather describes herself:
I am a Stay at Home Mom (SAHM) or a Shit Ass Ho Motherfucker. I do both equally well.
In a previous life I was a web designer. I lived in Los Angeles, California, for several years where I worked for drug-addicted executives and discovered what life was like as a recovering Mormon. This means that life was filled with PowerPoint templates and lethal amounts of tequila. I dated several actors and met a handful of celebrities. Everything you’ve ever heard about Los Angeles is absolutely true, especially the parts about traffic and actors: they really are that bad.
I grew up in a small suburb of Memphis, Tennessee, and graduated valedictorian of Bartlett High School in 1993. The reason I am telling you about the valedictorian part is because being able to say, “I was the valedictorian,” is the only privilege I ever got in life from achieving that goal. No one ever hired me because I was valedictorian. The lesson to be learned from this is: AIM LOW. Save yourself the time.
My parents raised me Mormon, and I grew up believing that the Mormon Church was true. In fact, I never had a cup of coffee until I was 23-years-old. I had pre-marital sex for the first time at age 22, but BY GOD I waited an extra year for the coffee. There had better be a special place in heaven for me.
I attended BYU from 1993-1997 and graduated with a degree in English. I firmly believe that BYU is the most horrible place on Earth, worse even than Disneyland. The one skill I learned in college that serves me well now is not how to solve differential equations or how to write a paper deconstructing “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock,” it’s how to distrust organized religion. I am no longer a practicing Mormon or someone who believes that Rush Limbaugh speaks to God. My family is understandably disappointed.
I started this website in February 2001. A year later I was fired from my job for this website because I had written stories that included people in my workplace. My advice to you is BE YE NOT SO STUPID. Never write about work on the internet unless your boss knows and sanctions the fact that YOU ARE WRITING ABOUT WORK ON THE INTERNET. If you are the boss, however, please don’t be a bitch and talk with your hands. And when you order Prada online, please don’t talk about it out loud, you rotten whore.
This website chronicles my life from a time when I was single and making a lot of money as a web designer in Los Angeles, to when I was dating the man who would become my husband, to when I lost my job and lived life as an unemployed drunk, to when I married my husband and moved to Utah, to when I became pregnant, to when I threw up and became unbearably swollen during the pregnancy, to the birth, to the aftermath, to the postpartum depression that landed me in a mental hospital. I’m better now.
In October 2005 I began running enough ads on this website that my husband was able to quit his job and become a Stay at Home Father (SAHF) or a Shit Ass Ho Fuckingbadass. He takes both very seriously. This website now supports my family.
I have to admit that Heather's last sentence gives me hope.
I guess I'll also have to use that sentence in Court when I explain why I consider my blogging to be the start of some kind of future income.
Hey, you have to have hope!
But when I go home, I'm not the same as at work. My wife can testify to that. If you ask her, I'm not only lazy; I'm one of the children in the house.
Sometimes I try to object, but then she points to the amount of time I spend on the computer instead of cleaning the house, and then I lose the discussion. It is sad that computer time is not counted as working time in our house.
Considering that I spend a lot of time writing a blog for people who don't want to buy my book, my wife thinks I'm on the fringe of lunacy (OK, don't get mad about that comment, this is what she said). In fact, when she learned that some of my blog readers hadn't read the book, I almost got my blogging privileges suspended. That was a really close call. Fortunately a couple of kind readers then inserted reviews on Amazon, (check the most recent reviews here) and I managed to stave off that vile threat.
So now I'm here again, secretly blogging away.
This blogging thing has led to a lot of self discovery. Such as the fact that a few readers have claimed they read my blog because of my snarky comments. The weird thing is I never saw myself as snarky. I didn't even know what that word meant. Nor does the Word spell checker. Actually, the word is so new to the U.S., and spreading so rapidly through the blogworld that PharmaMarketing did an entire post on that word called Snark Meter.
So I asked my wife if I was snarky. She just looked at me and then she said a couple of things I can't repeat because I don't use such words in my blog.
So there I had it, I realized that I was officially snarky. It was suggested I could move people to tears, using that trait. And I thought that if I could make Pfizer's lawyers cry, that would be a pretty cool thing. Almost like being superman and be able to fly.
And that's when it hit me. My blogging, snarkiness, and tendency to make fun of big companies that hire detectives to spy on me; all that isn't really a liability; it is a potential revenue stream.
I could probably, somehow, make money off being snarky. When I mentioned this to my wife she said something to the effect that "enough was enough." I think she meant I didn't have to further develop this talent.
But of course when my wife tells me not to do something it becomes almost irresistible.
And so, last week, I set off on a week of snarky writing. I kind of wanted to hone my skills. That shouldn't be surprising; imagine if you discovered you had a hidden talent, i.e., flying like superman—I'm sure you'd go off flying every day after work.
But that didn't work at all, because finally Moogirl took me to task, and gave me a spanking, and she sounded exactly like my wife. I mean that in a good way. But I wouldn't be surprised if the two of them had been talking. They have the same perspective.
So what is a snarky guy supposed to do?
Well, I figured I'd just write a post about being snarky. Like this one. Maybe it will get the snark out of my system for a few days . . .
Oh, one more thing. Even though my wife thinks I'm lazy, she complains that I work to much. Go figure.
Wednesday, October 11, 2006
It seems incredible that a major multi-national company (and especially one that presents itself both to its employees and to the outside world as a "caring, sharing" employer that "respects people" and "values diversity") would go to the extremes that Pfizer did (and still do), just to try (and fail) to shut up one lone dissenting voice. Yet Dr. Rost gives exquisite details of all of the expensive lawyers, spooks, intimidation and surveillance techniques that Pfizer ranged against him in an unbelievably spiteful effort to cow him into silence. It's not surprising that Pfizer's products come at a premium price, given the legal overheads they must have.
Such a tale could easily come across as a spot of axe-grinding by a bitter ex-employee. This doesn't. It's a rattlingly good, intelligently-told yarn and a compulsive page-turner. I devoured the whole thing in a couple of hours. Not only does Rost make the US legal stuff understandable, he also provides some laugh-out-loud moments (like his brush with Pfizer's "decruitment consultants" during its hostile take-over of Pharmacia) and some serious general observations as well.
Chapter 19 ("How Corrupt Is The Drug Industry?") is particularly thought-provoking - Dr. Rost suggests that an industry that "leverages its scale" by regarding nine-figure fines for illegal activities as an acceptable cost of business should rightly be labelled a criminal one. How is it possible to disagree?
For anyone in the UK who follows the politics of the global healthcare industry, or indeed for anyone in the UK who works in it, this book is a must-read. Buy it.
Tuesday, October 10, 2006
Don't misunderstand me, I'm not talking regular readers. Of course, they can also give life meaning, especially the good looking ones. No, I'm talking about people who monitor you for a living and a fee. In fact, I think everyone should have someone monitoring them. Just to make them feel important. Because monitoring means that "they" care. About you. Maybe not in a good way, but if you can't be loved, to be feared or loathed or to be anything makes you alive. Right?
So it is time to unveil and publicly reveal THE MONITORING GUY.
That is the guy, hired by Pfizer, who has kept coming here day in and day out; Saturday, Sunday, and middle of the night, if he has to. Here is what he looks like.
I think we'll call him Joe, although his name is Joseph. He is not like my regular readers. Because he charges Pfizer an estimated $440 per hour to read my blog.
I know what you think. If you would get about $400 to read my blog, you'd come here a lot more often.
But you can apply for this cushy job! Feel free to contact Security Boss and former FBI agent, John Theriault, at Pfizer. His last known e-mail was firstname.lastname@example.org, but they may have scrambled that and made it email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. Or maybe his email is now email@example.com.
We don't know what else Joe (and Johnnyboy) reads or what other information they have gathered about me. But we do know that Joe (we won't mention his last name, because maybe he hasn't told his mummy what he does for a living) serves as a kind of "early warning system" for his colleagues. When I write something they all want to see, he sounds the alarm.
So what do we know about Joe? Well, we know he isn't very politically active, unlike many of his colleagues. We also know that he likes Big Tobacco. Or maybe I should say they like him. He is a staunch defender of Big Tobacco's right to kill as many Americans as they can get their hands on. And he is also loved by Big Pharma.
Funny coincidence, I thought.
But he is a multifaceted guy; he also cares about poor people. I guess he just doesn't mind if they kill themselves smoking cigarettes.
The important thing is that Joe cares about me. That makes me fulfilled. And we care about him. So much that we know that he is 41 years old, and lives in Washington D.C. and that he is an East Coast man.
Oh, one more thing. Unlike the spies at HP, Joe has not been indicted. In fact, we are not aware of any illegal activity by Joe.
And that's all for today folks!
Monday, October 09, 2006
Clearly they have received professional advice on how to hide who they are.
Only problem is they didn't do so well . . .
I can't tell you exactly what I know, because then I'll simply teach them. There are many ways to find someone who suddenly wants to make himself invisible.
He can switch IP provider, he can use an anonymizer, and a few other things, but he can't really hide.
You see, even if he changes everything, his tracks betray him. People who monitor blogs read them a bit differently than people who just come by.
I'll try to explain without saying too much. A few years back there was a large city in Sweden in which it was discovered that the people who emptied the parking meters had been skimming a lot of coins. The week after this hit the newspapers, revenues from parking meters in all the other cities in Sweden doubled. Of course that didn't prove anything, but we all understand what happened and how the crooks in their attempt to not get caught, actually revealed themselves.
And this, without going into further detail, is exactly what some of the montoring professionals who have tried to hide the fact that they are monitoring me and this blog, have done. The only thing it has made me realize is just how many they are. Sheeeeeeeeeet. Pfizer! Can't you let a fired employee alone?
Apparently, my revelations last week when I told you a few of the lawyer names in Covington & Burling goes Gabonkas, had far reaching reverberations. Of course, they had nooooooo idea I could actually find out WHO they were. And this set off a seldom seen frenzy among the Pfizer goons.
One group of Pfizer goons in New York actually thought it would be a swell idea to use an anonymizer. (Use the link to check it out!)
It was so funny to see them tropping into my blog yesterday, all with the anonymizer over their heads, thinking they were anonymous.
Only it didn't work too well, because they made, oh well, a few mistakes. So I could see their old IP address. And of course the fact that I know will tell them they really messed up.
I have to tell you I was rolling on the floor howling with laughter (ROTFHWL) when I saw the Pfizer spies entering my blog dressed like that, looking for info on the three lawyers I outed last week. It was kind of like watching people who put a brown paper bag over their heads thinking they were invisible.
Better luck next time Pfizer!
I spy, you spy, we spy, but no one Spies Like Pfizer. Oh, sorry. Maybe HP. And they have been indicted.
You say you want a revolution
Well, you know
We all want to change the world
You tell me that its evolution
Well, you know
We all want to change the world
But when you talk about destruction
Dont you know that you can count me out?
Dont you know its gonna be
You say youve got a real solution
Well, you know
Wed all love to see the plan
You ask me for a contribution
Well, you know
We are doing what we can
But if you want money for people with minds that hate
All I can tell is, brother, youll have to wait
Dont you know its gonna be
You say youll change the constitution
Well, you know
We all want to change your head
You tell me its the institution
Well, you know
Youd better free your mind instead
But if you go carrying pictures of chairman mao
You aint gonna make it with anyone anyhow
Dont you know its gonna be