Patent Nonsense

As an owner of shares in both Merck and Glaxosmithkline the following is very depressing reading.

Patent Nonsense (Henry Mintzberg)

Surely any rewards system should be encouraging cures to diseases not relief of symptoms. The appendix of the article is very depressing, are they truly this corrupt? I wonder if any of these people actually go to prison for their actions. The Limited Company encourages people to take risks they would not otherwise take in case of financial failure etc but surely when they start blurring the lines, especially when it’s peoples lives on the line, there must be some rule of law.

In 2008 Merck, Glaxo and Pfizer had a combined turnover of over $100 billion, a fine of a few million is like shooting an elephant with a pop gun, mild irritation but little cause for concern. The elephant continues on its merry way and soon forgets the sting on its ass. If you check out the first page of first page of Pfizers 2008 Annual Summary, they have a cute kid on the first page but do they give a damn about that kid or any other or is shareholder value the main driver. I know the company answer would of course being wrapped up in cotton wool and they would wax lyrical about how important people are but then why all the apparent corruption, the government fines. They cannot wash their hands of setting the wrong rewards system or crap managment, and I don’t mean crap management ie they got caught.

One of the reasons I bought shares in Merck was the story in Tom Collins Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies about them helping with River Blindness, that’s a company I want to own a stake in. Don’t get me wrong their financials are also a factor but every company has a social responsibility and Merck’s actions in the River Blindess case was good evidence to me that they take that responsibility seriously.

Pfizer talk about putting trust back on the agenda in their 2008 report but then they all talk about Corporate Responsibility but is this just lip service ie we were naughty and we are cleaning up shop but really nothing changes. Do any of them realise that Corporate Responsibility is missing a word, “Social”, it should be Corporate Social Responsibility. I personally hope that the big pharmaceuticals stop talking about Corporate Responsibility and start living it. There are few other companies that can have a bigger impact on our total well being than the big pharmaceuticals and if we let them get away with this sort of nonsense we will continues to have countries with an average lifespan under 50 for years to come.

Glaxo 2008 Annual Report

Merck 2008 Annual Report

Losing Weight

I managed to get to 108 Kgs (17 Stone) by  the 5th April. This was a total weight loss of 14 Kilos or for our imperial readers 31 lbs. The resting heart rate has not been going so well though, I stopped tracking it.

Losing weight and a Sub 50 Heart Rate

As usual over the Christmas I over indulged. I weighed myself and came in at 122KG (269LBS). Luckily I’m not 5′ tall or I’d look rather odd. Being almost 6′ 6″ I carry the weight not too bad, but it still annoys me. So I decided to do something about it.

At various times in my life I’ve done a fair bit of training, running (I was a lot lighter then), rowing (Concept 2 only), swimming, walking etc. Any time I’ve started training again I’ve always had a goal or target to get my fat ass moving so I had to set myself some targets. A target or goal needs to be something measurable and there needs to be a carrot to make it fun.

The most easily measurable target I can think of is weight so my carrot needs to help me reduce calorie intake so I decided to stop drinking alcohol, no more beer. At around 200 calories a pint this is a good place to reduce my calorie intake. My target weight is 108KG (238LBS), I picked this weight because it will be the lightest I’ve been in several years, it’s also approximately 17 stone and that’s a nice round (prime) number. (Apologies for using Imperial and Metric, I seem to think in both).

The other target I decided to set myself may be somewhat harder to achieve. The lowest resting heart rate I’ve ever had is 52. I think I’ve had it lower but 52 is the lowest I’ve ever recorded it at. As far as I’m aware to get it below 50 involves some effort so that’s my second target. I’m not 100% sure if I’ll be able to get it as low as this but it’s worth a shot.

I have a 3rd target that’s not really fixed but its another thing to aim for. I’m walking up Mount Snowdon in early April so I’m hoping I can lose all the weight by then because I don’t want to be carrying too much to the top.

With the targets set the next thing to do is to start working towards them.

Weight gain or weight loss although sometimes difficult to achieve is governed by a very simple rule. To lose weight you need to:

Burn more calories than you eat.

There is a little bit more to it than this i.e. if you just stop eating as much and don’t exercise you are likely to lose Fat Free Mass (FFM) and this is generally not a good thing. This is where most diets fail miserably and people end up in the yoyo diet hell that a lot of celebrities write books about or invent some new fad diet to make a buck so some other poor smuck stays in yoyo diet hell. There is no easy way to lose weight and keep it off. It’s a lifestyle change that normally involves exercise. Losing some weight in a few months or a year does not mean you found a new wonder way to lose weight. Once you’ve kept the weight off for ten years look back and look at what you did to achieve it and ask yourself if it was lifestyle or wonder diet. Don’t get me started on people that opt for surgery over self discipline.

In life self discipline is the key to mastering many thing not least of which is health. If you’re unable to master the urge to eat a chocolate or a bag of crisps then you are unlikely to succeed at keeping your weight under control. It’s my self discipline that always lets me down but I also have an extremely disciplined streak in me that saves me from slipping too far. It’s this streak that berates me when I see the cheddar in the fridge or the crisps near the checkout. It’s this self discipline that will get me into shape, without it I would remain overweight.

I own a Concept 2 rower so its the perfect tool to start on. I’ve been using the Concept 2 for over 15 years off and on so am comfortable with it. I also took the Instructor course a few years ago to make sure I was using it correctly because I was worried about injuring my back with too much rowing. It’s been a while since I’ve done any training so I intend to go easy on the rower to start and do more walking to get a base fitness level.

I intend to row three times a week for about 20-30mins duration and then to walk on Sundays for about two to three hours over the fields behind the house. I need to take it easy because my knees and back are both buggered from being in the Navy but thats another story. My knees are also why I will probably never be able to take up any high impact sport again. My knees got bad when I was significantly lighter so its not weight that caused the damage.

If anyone is actually reading this, different rules apply to different people, so don’t think that anything I do is equally applicable to you. Its probably not. I will post some more details around the training plan soon.