We’re Talkin’ Real Money

Elizabeth Marro’s article (“Hi, Connie. We’re Ready for You,” Cover Story, November 13) is interesting for me as she earlier worked in pharmaceutical marketing. The article reports the figure of $55,000,000 spent by the pharmaceutical industry in 2006 on research and development. She suggests that the amount has grown in recent years as the pharmaceutical companies have taken on more R&D. May the reader be informed that $55,000,000 in the pharms budget is a mere pittance.

Secondly, be aware that PhRMA, the national association of pharmaceutical companies, spends the bulk of their funds on marketing. For the most part they market drugs while academia and the NIH do the R&D.

Thirdly, in recent years PhRMA and associates provided $53,000,000,000 worth of free drug samples to physicians! Yes, billions! That figure does not include the $5,500,000,000 paid a year to the drug salespeople who deliver those samples. Now that is real money. One major result of their marketing practices is the continued excessively high cost of prescription drugs.

R. Larry Schmitt, M.D.
via email

Elizabeth Marro responds: The article should have said that the pharmaceutical industry spends a reported $55 billion per year on research and development.

A New F-Word Record

Thank you but no thank you for Mr. Duncan Shepherd’s review of Pride and Glory (November 13). I counted 19 F-words in that review. He’s a journalist? Give me a break.

Paul Lang
San Carlos

Hello. Hello? Hello?

Can you tell me a little bit more about the 700-7000 telephone number that you mentioned in the article “The Border Wait, and Wait, and Wait,” by Dorian Hargrove (“City Lights,” November 13). I do research that often involves trying to determine border-wait times and have not heard of this number before. I tried calling it, but I’m thinking it may be a Baja number. The 619 area code doesn’t seem to work with it. Any info you can provide would be greatly appreciated.

Nice article.

Tracy L. Manzo
via email

Dorian Hargrove responds: San Diegans can hear the Customs and Border Protection’s advisory on current traffic at the San Ysidro Port of Entry by calling 619-690-8999.

The Epoxy Solution

This is regarding the November 13 issue. Ollie (“Remote Control King”), our coffee table is one side of an old cable spool epoxied onto half of a fish barrel that exactly fits into the spool top’s groove. After 40 years of the top flipping off, I finally got the bright idea of the epoxy. It never did wobble, and now it doesn’t fall apart either.

Second half is to John Brizzolara (“T.G.I.F.”). Stuff is just stuff, no matter how dear. We’ll all be dust soon enough or glorious beings of energy. I love your writing and hope you continue to write for many years.

Dale Anne Thompson
Clairemont Mesa

Ta-Dah!

Just a note of approval for the delightful weekly comic strip from Ben Katchor (Shoehorn Technique). My fingers are crossed as I flip through the back pages, and then, lo and behold, there is yet another episode. Bless you for sharing my sense of humor.

Irv Jacobs
La Mesa

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DownTheAmericanEmpire June 15, 2009 @ 5:27 p.m.

"Jeff Smith's Theater Essay 'Mind and Hand Together' goes on and on about 'how did Shakespeare do it? How did the author of King Lear...compose two plays a year for almost two decades?' with out even the mention of the on going obvious?

Fact: The first 'Shakespearian Plays' were documented years after the actor's/ director's/ publicist's death.

Fact: There is very very little original first hand documentation. The vast majority of the 'works' were recreated from memory years later.

Fact: At a time [the Age of Expoloration/ the Renascence where the biggest geopolitical story, the proof of a round globe verses a flat map: North and South America, the 'Shakespeare Works' only mention the New World twice. En toto!

Fact: William Shakespeare was a grade school drop out, and poorly read. Yes, Bill Gates is a Harvard drop out. Yes, my personal hero, Bucky 'Geodesic Dome' Fuller, was a two time Harvard drop out. Yes, Einstein was a mid level clerk in the Swiss patent office.

However: Einstein was also a PhD. As was the person whom helped him on the math side of his ponderings ---- his first wife. Italy is mentioned, by the 'British play writer' Shakespeare, almost as much as the UK.

Hmmmmmmm: Four centuries after the Age of Liz I, the debate concerning the real identity of the Bard Continues. Most of the suspect ghost writers are British college educated rebels spending banishment time in the old Roman Empire!

How did two plays a year get cranked out of the Old Globe? Maybe via the 1600s equivalent of FedEx from Italy. Maybe Billy Shakespeare was more of the conduit than the original inspiration for the 'Shakespearean Works'. But not one word from Jeff. Oh well, many would think that Reader readers deserve better.

Donald R. Lake late of UCSD Chula Vista

<p>donlake@ymail.com>

619.420.0209

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Jeff Smith June 16, 2009 @ 9:15 a.m.

Donald. You cite "facts," but when was the last time you consulted them? You say: "fact, there is very little first hand documentation." But there's tons. Read S. Schoenbaum's Documentary Life (or Nicholl's The Lodger Shakespere, which locates him with precision). You say: "fact, Shakespeare was a grade school dropout, and poorly read." Where did you get that? Where's your proof? (for his schooling, read Eccles, Shakespeare in Warwickshire) As for who wrote the plays, computers are answering that question, in favor of Shakespeare, as we speak. They've got him pinned down on stylistic, grammatical, and lexical grounds.

I'm confused about your other points. Are you saying that a drop out couldn't have written the plays? Is this yet another elitist, town versus gown take on the bumpkin who couldn't have done it? Well, Ben Jonson was the stepson of a bricklayer and he did okay for himself. Jonson was Shakespeare's arch rival, and wrote about Shakespeare's actual writing (and not always pleasantly). Years after Shakespeare died, Jonson said "I loved the man, and do honor his memory (on this side idolatry) as much as any." He isn't talking about Francis Bacon, or Edward deVere, or some vague Italian express of banished college rebels.

You'll need a better case than that. And until you make it, I'm sticking with the bumpkin from Stratford.

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