Today's episode features our second-most played interview of 2023, according to SoundCloud's data. Reporter, public records requester, researcher Julia Rock joins us to discuss her article at The Lever, "How Big Pharma Actually Spends Its Massive Profits: New research shows that pharmaceutical companies have spent more on enriching shareholders than drug research and development over the past decade." After the interview, we read more of your answers to this week's Question from Hell and an all-new installment of Rotten History from Renaldo Migaldi.
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As the crow flies, so shall it stop flying and settle down in a tree to watch the Romans dig a mass grave. Only a few miles north, as the crow flies, of Cambridge, England. As the crow flies, so shall it caw, and eventually fall to Earth, its feathers carried off by ants to build their ant-bowers, its flesh fattening the Cambridge worms, its bones turned to tinker-toys for Iron Age toddlers out of which to build tiny bone-henges.
But let us leave the subject of that tragic Iron Age crow that didn’t survive the Roman occupation. Few did, and not just crows. In point of fact, not a single person, crow, worm, nor it matters not what animal species, living or dead, today survives from the Roman occupation of Britain. Yet a certain song survives. A song of frogs. So, that is something.
Let us also leave aside all those dead humans, crows, and other species, and observe the Romans digging. What are they digging, here in Iron Age Cambridge? Why are they not enjoying the sunrise with a bowl of Romantic porridge flavored with borage and sorrel? Because they have their orders. They have gone from hut to hut in hamlet after hamlet, interrogating the occupants. They threatened to rape the women, cut parts off the men, or break the bones of babies to get at the truth.
They needn’t have bothered with threats. The humble Iron Age Britons, most of whom would have admitted to still being in the Stone Age, and proud of it, readily gave up the “guests” they’d been harboring.
In total, about five hundred fugitive frogs were discovered and arrested that day. The frogs were frog marched out to the village square, to where a mass grave was dug in view of the roundhouse, and were, one by one, executed by dagger and thrown into the pit.
Astonishing: there really was a mass grave of frogs in this area dating from the Iron Age. It’s both SuperTrue® and regular true. Really. Look it up!
What’s SuperTrue® about it is, of course, the story behind the remains, the conspiracy behind the tangible evidence, the rumors and innuendo by which an overactive imagination can make sense of the random clues. For example, there’s the possible fact that there were rumors the Romans believed to be true, about a frog prophet, King of the Frogs, whose army of followers – and, yes, the collective noun for frogs is indeed “army” (again, look it up!) –... read more
“If you’re right-brained, you’ll see a fish. If you’re left-brained, you’ll see a mermaid.”
Myrtle Adelweiss looked at the assemblage of gestural lines in the picture. In the image they formed, she saw no fish. Neither did she perceive a mermaid. What she saw was the head of kangaroo.
What did it mean? Was she right-brained or left-brained?
One day, Myrtle was at work, at Nordnik High School, coaching the varsity football team. While demonstrating to her beefy players the correct way for a linebacker to plunge ahead at the snap of the ball, she received a concussion from a slab of gristle named Artie Snigginbotham. Myrtle was rushed to the emergency room at Sleater-Sinai-Sloater-Kinnering, unable to recall her own name.
The attending physician, Dr. Elaine Bryant O’Brain, did an MRI of Myrtle’s skull. Then an ultrasound. Then a spectrograph. Then an encephalo-shmeffalograph. Then a spirograph. Then a titration test. Then a Ph test. Then an EEG. Then a BB King. Then an insufferabullitis portmantobleronagraph.
Every image, regardless of what test was done, showed one miraculous fact: between the two hemispheres of Myrtle’s brain lay a third lobe, nestled between them like a summer sausage between two napping, hairless, Sharpei-wrinkled guinea pigs. Dr. O’Brain called it “The Third Lobe.” It became known in neurological literature as The Adelweiss-O’Brain Lobe. “The Third Lobe” was cooler, though.
But what was the function of this extra loaf, or lobe, in the brain of Myrtle Adelweiss? How had this “third loaf” been acquired? How long had it been in amongst the payload of Myrtle Adelweiss’s cranium? Did it confer any other advantages to her besides the obvious one of allowing a third interpretation of an ambiguous figure meant to elicit one of two specific interpretations? What good was this third loaf, if any?
For the next three years, O’Brain conducted a wide-ranging study of people who saw a kangaroo head instead of either a mermaid or a fish in the picture that had given Myrtle Adelweiss a bit of agito. Various types of brain scans revealed that the majority of these specimens had the summer-sausage-shaped third loaf.
What else did they have in common? There was no single phenotype, genotype, ethnicity, religion, or economic class they shared,... read more
Since the beginning of time, money has been known to evaporate into thin air. There’s a saying: “Time is money.” It was originally said by managers to their subordinate laborers in order to urge them to work faster. What the manager didn’t reveal was that the money he referred to belonged to the owners and shareholders, not to the workers. Their wages remained the same regardless of the speed of their toil. Mathematically speaking, the faster they worked, the lower their real wages, because they accomplished more in the same hour for the same amount of cash.
Denial of remuneration to labor for its increased productivity in the latter-20th and early-21st Centuries was the most widespread case of disappearing money since the advent of paid labor. Like most mysterious disappearances that negatively affected the living standards and buying power of labor, rather than injuring the wealth accumulation of the ruling, owning, and speculating classes, however, it has never been the subject of a paranormal investigation.
This story is not going to change that.
Case in point: The National Republican Senatorial Committee, or NRSC. It was later renamed the Nuanced Rick Scott Committee, which allowed it to retain the same initials. The name-change was counter-intuitive, since being named after Florida Republican Senator Rick Scott had long been considered a public relations negative. Even Florida Republican Senator Rick Scott was known to agree with that assessment.
In 1987, Senator Rick Scott was on his way to becoming a big deal in the movement of private buy-up of healthcare services. Ten years later he’d become the CEO of the Hospital Corporation of America, one of the first private hospital companies in the legendary empire known as the United States of America. However, after only four months he had to resign as CEO of HCA due to a federal investigation into Medicare and Medicaid fraud at the company.
The fraud was so fantastically huge that HCA was eventually forced to pay the government 1.7 billion dollars in criminal fines, penalties, civil damages, and other settlements. Many of the fraudulent actions the DOJ found had had to have been signed off on by CEO Rick Scott himself. A lot to accomplish in only four months as CEO.
Maybe because he was so accomplished at fraud, the GOP made Rick Scott chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee and... read more