FROM RUSSIA

Yana: ‘My name is Yana Y. Sazhina I am russian student. I found your web-site when was looking for any information about ‘male in rebates.’ I would like to describe this way of getting money back from any purchase. The ‘male in rebates’ is widely used in US but absolutely unknown in Russia. Could you please give me any information about it.’

☞ The mail-in rebate is a marketing gimmick. It is a way to advertise a low price for a product – a $500 television advertised in big bold letters at $400, but (small print) ‘with a $100 mail-in rebate,’ to get people to buy the product for $500.

Often, the companies that do this hope people will NOT send in the coupons, so they do NOT have to send the $100 back. Especially for less expensive items, where the rebate might be $2 instead of $100, many do not.

Sometimes, the companies purposely make it difficult to get the rebate. They require paperwork that is hard to complete perfectly, and/or do not send the rebate unless someone sends a second letter to complain.

So . . . what good is this mail-in rebate system? How does it make society richer or more productive? It is just a waste of a lot of time and energy. Mail-in rebates are not an idea Russia should import. (And does Russia even yet have a reliable postal / banking system for sending money?)

FROM BULGARIA

Mark Lefler: ‘You probably know about sites like tvtorrents.com. They let you easily download TV shows and watch them wherever you want. You can watch on a PC, or put the video files on a portable Media Player (like the Archos GMini 402 I use). Great for catching up with shows you might miss or never told your Tivo about. Most people edit out the commercials (a pity; I miss US commercials here in Bulgaria).

‘And, if I may, a small plug: I and a friend wrote a universal game program years ago called Zillions of Games. It plays around 5000 board games so far, and people can create their own games. Like what if you want to play chess, but the goal is to checkmate the queen instead? With Zillions, this is a one line change anyone can do. I am proud of Zillions since it is both a non-violent thinking game, and also because of the big game inventor community it inspires.’

WELCOME TO THE REPUBLICAN PARTY

The mail this week has been bright red.

I got a large envelope with a photo of the President, inscribed to me and signed in blue. I have several of these by now. Where does he find time to sign them all?

And I got my personalized 2006 Republican National Committee Platinum Card – ‘one of a very limited number reserved exclusively for the Republican Party’s most extraordinary leaders.’ (Note to new readers: I’m treasurer of the Democratic National Committee.)

I keep it in my wallet along with my 2005 Platinum RNC card, my 2005 RNC Sustaining Member card – I have cards going back at least to my 2002 Charter Member card, issued to me ‘in recognition of outstanding service to our Party.’

With the current card, Republican National Committee chair Ken Mehlman (has he seen Brokeback Mountain?) writes: ‘Mr. Tobias, I believe your exemplary record of loyalty and patriotism proves you are a leader President Bush can count on.’

‘What makes the Platinum Card so prestigious,’ he goes on (emphasis his), ‘is that only a very limited number were commissioned and only a select few chosen to receive it.’ He’s asked his staff ‘to carefully track every card issued’ and – if I don’t confirm receipt of ‘this prestigious honor’ in the next few days – he’ll be so distraught at the thought it was not delivered, he’ll have to ‘go to the extra expense of ordering and sending a new one.’

He hopes that along with my confirmation of receipt, I will send $25 or more – it’s that exclusive.

Equally sincere are his substantive statements. My favorite: ‘Republican tax cuts,’ he writes, ‘helped shrink the federal deficit by $108 billion in 2005.’

WELCOME TO THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY

Warren Spieker: ‘The Republican party has finally broken me. The fact that Bush has threatened his first ever veto for an item as stupid as the port deal (when it should have been used about runaway spending) was bad enough. But with South Dakota Republicans intentionally setting up a Roe v. Wade review, I’ve had it. Please, please, please, run a half-decent candidate in 2008.’

☞ Will do. Not to mention a lot of them in 2006.

NTMD

For the week ending February 17th, BiDil’s total weekly IMS prescriptions decreased slightly – 1,255 versus 1,273 the week before. As usual, about two-thirds of the scrips are ‘new’ – leaving one to wonder why monthly refills from happy patients who started on BiDil in July, August, September, October, November, December and January have not further swelled the numbers.

Assuming all these prescriptions are written at full price (and none under the voucher program for the uninsured), sales are annualizing at 1,255 times 52 weeks times 90 pills times $1.80 = $11 million or so, versus $95 million in projected annual expenses. You never know, but – don’t sell your puts.

 

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