Thursday, July 03, 2003

This is Going to Get Ugly
According to this story, the FDA is considering approving the anti-narcolepsy drug Provigil for use by shift workers:

I think probably we will end up using it more than we had anticipated using it because, despite our best attempts at educating people on the need for sleep, people are still cheating," says Dr. Joanne Getsy, director of the Medical College of Pennsylvania's sleep clinic.

Getsy sees desperately sleepy patients who want to beat the clock.

"And they're out there driving trucks and buses and taxis, and I don't want them to crash," she says. "Is it worse to let a sleepy truck driver drive, or is it worse to give him Provigil?"

However, according to this, sleep deprivation can also lead to diabetes, hypertension, hypothyroid conditions, and chronic fatigue syndrome, not to mention mental deterioration, hallucinations, and, in extreme cases, death.

I can't find any studies on the health risks of keeping yourself aritificially awake through Provigil. The Provigil factsheet does report side effects such as headache, nausea, infections, nervousness, anxiety, and dyspnea. The package insert, which they link to, also reports that during the clinical trials, otherwise healthy people developed chest pains and palpitations (three cases) and paranoid delusions and auditory hallucinations (one case).

The Economic Policy Institute, meanwhile, has a new briefing paper out stating that the new Deaprtment of Labor proposals means that millions of workers will work longer hours for lower pay. And there are signs that in the skilled, high-paying jobs, it's turning out to be a jobless recovery. More and more workers are expected to do the jobs of those that were laid off and are not being rehired. Managers call it "increasing productivity"; workers call it...well, this is a family-friendly blog.

So let's see: we're going to become a nation of people kept artificially awake so we can work harder and faster for less pay...increasingly more irritable and moody because of the pills...getting angrier and angrier because they see no end in sight for themselves and no future for their children...

Tuesday, July 01, 2003

Good Golly, Woulja Lookatdat
From the print version of Financial Times:

Rice Spells out Change on Bush's ABC Policy
When the Bush administration took office, it pursued a foreign policy that seemed to many diplomats as simple as ABC: Anything But Clinton.
But 30 months later, revisionism appears to have set in. Ari Fleischer, the White House spokesman, this month invoked the Clinton administration's assessment of the Iraqi threat to strengthen the case for going to war.
And yesterday Condoleezza Rice, Mr. Bush's national security advisor, went a step further to praise Mr. Clinton.
Speaking to the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London, Ms. Rice lauded the former president for his efforts to broker a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians at Camp David.
Ms. Rice went on to describe the 1994 Clinton-era agreement aimed at freezing North Korea plutonium-producing nuclear energy programme as "probably the exactly right thing to do" at the time.
She qualified the comment by saying the agreement, the favourite hate object of many Bush administration hardliners, was "badly phrased" and allowed the North Koreans to start a uranium enrichment programme "almost before the ink was dry"

Any bets on how soon a "better phrased" agreement gets trotted out?