Interesting Stuff

I have Thursdays noted, on my ad hoc schedule, as the days for link round-ups. I do a fair amount of reading in odd moments, from blogs I touch in at on a routine basis, to tidbits that float across my screen seemingly at random. I’ll collect the ones that caught my eye, and post them here for my readers who share my tastes in news and amusements. To give a bit of an update on me: the new job is progressing slowly, but that’s a good thing. This is a much more regulated, stringent lab than my first contract, and I am being trained carefully. It’s going to be a great opportunity, this year of learning new methods and bench techniques. I’m starting to get rather excited about it, just glad to be getting past the tedious part of training! I’m not writing. I get a shorter lunch, which means writing then isn’t possible, and for whatever reason my evenings have been full of this, that, and the other thing. So… I really have to carve my schedule up better. Lock and barricade my bedroom door perhaps, for an hour or so.

In the meantime, there’s some really interesting news on the frontlines of the war on cancer. It’s not so much the drug that was approved, as the wording changing. Derek Lowe’s blog of chemistry and drug discovery is one of my regular reads, and while this post of his is short, it’s really interesting in the significance. “We’re used to referring to cancer with a body part signifier, because that’s been the most natural classification, but no longer. Eventually, I wonder if there will be acronyms for the various biomarker/molecular biology approvals that might come into general use. Will people refer to a diagnosis of “MIMR” cancer, say, and will calling it by a body part come to sound old-fashioned?”

Chris Chupik, who sometimes does me the honor of wandering over here to comment on a post, has a guest post up at Sarah Hoyt’s blog on young adult science fiction and the trends toward dystopias. “I’m worried that all our kids are seeing of the future is doom and gloom. There was some of that when I was growing up. The media of the ’80s played up the threat of impending nuclear war for what I’m sure were completely non-partisan reasons. And then there was the steady drumbeat of ozone hole/acid rain agitprop. But I had Star Trek to show me something better. And even though I look at Trek‘s worldview with some skepticism now, I still appreciate that it’s a fundamentally optimistic view of humanity’s future. YA science-fiction readers aren’t getting that. What they’re being told, over and over, is that the future sucks and that science-fiction is the genre about how much its its going to suck.” 

As a part of my training, I’ve been learning more and more about the FDA, and it’s fascinating (and I’m making notes for future career goals). I learned today, with amusement, that the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research acronym is pronounced just like my name. I learned that every year the FDA issues thousands of ‘warning letters’ to companies who are not following the guidelines – most of these letters are sent to violators of the newly-created tobacco branch, but others make odd and intriguing reading. Take this one, written to a company in China producing drugs for use in the US: “when our investigator asked for a list of your critical raw materials and your sampling requirements, you told our investigator that you had no written procedures for testing and sampling incoming materials. Instead, you explained, your warehouse employees accounted for incoming raw material handling, sampling, and testing “in their heads.” Not all the letters are sent to overseas companies, of course, but this one to a company in India is striking in the description of what an inspector saw, when he was finally granted access to the plant after much stalling: “During the inspection, the lights were off in the facility. In those areas that were physically accessible, our investigator had to perform parts of the walkthrough in the dark, using a flashlight. Even with limited visibility, our investigator observed powder scattered throughout the production areas, including powder caked on the floor. In addition, our investigator observed empty boxes, trash, finished drug products covered in powder, and containers littered throughout the facility.” I’m sitting here with my jaw dropping… Anyway, that’s a rabbit hole I could fall down for hours, if not days, and I’d like to wrap this post up and go write. Enjoy!


6 thoughts on “Interesting Stuff

  1. Well, here’s a question for you. Thanks mainly to Sarah’s blog introducing me to writers like you, I’m on top of SF for my g’daughters, ages 11 and 12, but are you aware of other kinds of fiction that would be age appropriate? Or even any idea where I might start looking? So far almost everything I’ve found appears to be written by and for The Young Radical Feminists Guild, if yaknowhatImean, and the books I read in the 50s and 60s have been “edited” or are just hard/impossible to find in their original form.

    *Any* suggestion would be gratefully appreciated. I’ve run out of ideas! The younger g’daughter does not like SF or even fantasy, and we wanted to do a little family book club this summer.

    1. I’ve created a number of lists of books… Some of them are targeted for kids. I have three linked lists I did for that age, but for boys. However, I strongly suspect they will find books to like on them. And I’ll work on another list for young ladies (not young Womyn! in training) because it’s a good idea, and a needed list as well. I’d focused on the boys because it’s even harder to find great fiction for boys these days. (you’ll find links to the other two lists at the beginning of this post).

      Please do let me know if you have books you’d recommend adding to the list, as well.

  2. If some of the young adults in the book are forward thinking and free, even though the “mudball” life sucks it still a positive outlook for YA readers. Like Mackey Chandler’s Family Law and April Lewis series.

    1. I’d hardly call either of those books dystopias. Yes, there is a dysfunctional society, but the children don’t live in it, they just brush up against it and it highlights how good they have it in their own social settings.

  3. The study Cedar points out about some chemical/drug plants is interesting and is well known to those working in the field.
    The best India/China companies are as good as the best hete or in Switzerland.
    The worst overseas operations are startlingly bad in every way one can imagine and reflect practices that wouldn’t have been acceptable here 60 years ago.
    The laws and regulations are excellent on paper there and their big companies follow good practices. But, there are huge numbers of very tiny operations, or medium size ones with good connections, that don’t seem to know or care. It is remarkably cut throat on the pointy end of the stick there.
    The FDA, etc., have a really hard and thankless task with these imports. In my lab, we learned early that one needed to check not only sample purity but also identity!

    1. Yes, it’s a fascinating glimpse, and one I plan to enlarge on in my own learning. I learned today that after we test crude product from China, we bleach it prior to disposal of samples tested. Just in case.

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