Late-Night Movies Open Thread: Scammers All the Way Down (The Theranos Grift)

I haven’t paid much attention to the Theranos scandal, because marketing a literal version of the classic Magical Money Box con to Silicon valley ‘edgelords’ hardly seemed innovative. Of course they knew it was almost certainly fraudulent, but like the medieval barons buying papal indulgences, just getting the offer was a mark of social status (to these marks.). And they figured they could always leverage it regardless, by selling the deed to a more gullible investor, or one looking to them for a favor.

(Besides, most ‘educated’ Americans know as much about medicine / medical technology as a feudal lord knew about actual Catholic theology. Throw your money in the offertory basket at Easter and Christmas, and be proud you can afford to pay for a private pew!)

Getting Henry Fekkin’ Kissinger hooked into her grift, though — that’s genuine craftsmanship. Like having the Papal nucio put his personal seal on those prettily-illuminated parchments…

A review, from Matt Zoller Seitz at RogerEbert.com:

Theranos sounds like a creature of myth, and in the end, that’s what the company was. Appealing to the common fear of having blood drawn invasively in large amounts, Holmes spun an enticing pitch about building a compact, portable analysis machine named after Thomas Edison and able to perform 200 different kinds of tests quickly, using a pinprick’s worth of blood. Holmes styled herself as a Mozart-caliber wunderkind. She started her company when she was barely old enough to drink. Within a matter of years, it employed 800 people and was valued at $10 billion.

Unfortunately, Holmes’ machine couldn’t do what she promised. She wasn’t a scientist, and her own experts had warned her that it was physically impossible to build the device she’d envisioned. …
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The Original Sin

A lot of people are screaming at the tech companies because the attacks in Christchurch were streamed. I’m not an expert on the matter, but I just don’t know how they are supposed to track every live feed. Maybe shutting them down could have been done faster. I don’t know.

To me, though, the real sin is that they have allowed these toxic communities to grow and prosper. Not only have they allowed it, they have monetized it and profited from it. It shouldn’t take a fucking groundswell of public anger to shut down /incel.








Late Night Diversion Open Thread: It’s In the Blood


“I’m a bird dog, retrieving some… pre-born birds!”

Also, bad news for Peter ‘Bathory’ Thiel, from Bloomberg:

Taking a young person’s plasma and infusing it into an older person to ward off aging — a therapy that’s fascinated some of the biggest names in Silicon Valley — has no proven clinical benefit, the Food and Drug Administration said.

The agency issued a safety alert on Tuesday about the infusion of plasma from young donors for the prevention of conditions such as aging or memory loss, or for the treatment of such conditions as dementia, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease or post‐traumatic stress disorder…

Ambrosia’s website was updated Tuesday to say it has “ceased patient treatments” in compliance with the FDA’s advisory

… Plasma infusion is an approved use by the FDA in trauma settings or in patients whose blood doesn’t coagulate. But, the FDA says, there are risks, including allergic reactions, circulatory overload, lung injury and infectious disease transmission.

“We’re concerned that some patients are being preyed upon by unscrupulous actors touting treatments of plasma from young donors as cures and remedies,” Gottlieb and Marks said. “Such treatments have no proven clinical benefits for the uses for which these clinics are advertising them, and are potentially harmful.”



Kids These Days Open Thread: Anti-Anti-Vaxxer Edition

Anything originating on Reddit must be closely inspected for “intent”, but if this is true, it seems like the most counter-intuitive method of trolling one’s parents since the early days of Straight edge:

Ethan Lindenberger, frustrated by years of arguments about his mother’s anti-vaccination stance, staged a quiet defection on Reddit.

The Norwalk, Ohio, teenager needed advice, he said, on how to inoculate himself against both infectious disease and his family’s dogma. At 18, he was old enough, Lindenberger explained. He wanted to get vaccinated. But he didn’t know how…

As anti-vaccination movements metastasize amid outbreaks of dangerous diseases, Internet-savvy teenagers are fact-checking their parents’ decisions in a digital health reawakening — and seeking their own treatments in bouts of family defiance.

At least three self-described teenagers from different states told Reddit they have a common problem: Their parents are staunchly opposed to vaccination, and they fear for their health if they do not take action. Different state laws affect how old minors need to be to make their own medical decisions…

For Lindenberger, the tension over vaccines started years ago after he began to notice his mother posting anti-vaccination videos on social media, he told The Washington Post on Sunday. His friends were getting vaccinated. So what was happening in his house?

Lindenberger read scientific papers and journals. He pulled up Centers for Disease Control and Prevention studies on his phone at the dinner table, hoping his mother would relent and get him and his four younger siblings — now ages 16, 14, 5 and 2 — vaccinated.

“I looked into it; it was clear there was way more evidence in defense of vaccines,” he said.

His mother, Jill Wheeler, resisted; she claimed there were autism risks from vaccines, a common argument used by anti-vaccination groups that has been widely debunked.

Wheeler was angered by his pursuit, she told Undark, an online science magazine. “It was like him spitting on me, saying ‘You don’t know anything, I don’t trust you with anything. You don’t know what you’re talking about. You did make a bad decision and I’m gonna go fix it,’ ” she told the site.

Wheeler did not respond to a request for comment from The Post…

Second major media siting:



Ralph Northam Press Conference Live Feed

Virginia Governor Ralph Northam is scheduled to give a press conference today at 2:30 PM. The live feed is at the bottom of the post.

As late yesterday afternoon turned to night and then morning, Governor Northam has apparently decided he won’t resign. From the reporting, Northam no longer believes, despite yesterday’s apology by video, that he is in the offensive picture. Specifically, he doesn’t remember the photo, nor does he believe that he is the man in blackface, nor the man in the Klan costume. And he has been contacting his former classmates to ask if they know who the two men are who are in the picture.*

All of this may be true: that it is not Northam in the picture and that the picture was put on the wrong page. It doesn’t matter. He’s had that yearbook for almost 34 years. So have others who were in medical school with him at the time. Had he come out, during his first run for office or even his run for governor when the Virginian Republican Party and his Republican opponent, Ed Gillispie who went all in on xenophobia, accused him of turning his back on his own family’s history with the Confederacy, disclosed the picture, explained that it was coming to an understanding that going to a costume party in blackface and/or in a Klan costume was both wrong and morally unacceptable, and that is why he’s denounced his forebears service to and support of the Confederacy, there would be a very different discussion about the photo, the yearbook, and whether Northam should remain in office. This is, however, not what happened.

It doesn’t matter whether he’s in the photo or not. It doesn’t matter if it was put on the right yearbook page or not. It doesn’t matter if this accurately represents who Northam is in 2019. Right now America, both state and society, are subjected to a non-stop barrage of bigotry, prejudice, and lying from the President of the United States. Every time he gives remarks, off the cuff or prepared, whether from the Oval Office, the Roosevelt Room, the Cabinet Room, the Rose Garden, the White House lawn, one of his rallies, or, as I fully expect to happen, from the dais of the House of Representatives next Tuesday, Americans are confronted with a President who lies about his own bigotry and prejudice, then makes more bigoted and prejudiced statements, and then delivers more lies on a wide variety of topics. Right now one political party, the Republican Party, goes out of its way to cozy up to, play footsie with, and tolerate bigots. It’s why Senator McConnell can condemn Congressman Steve King’s remarks, while never being held to account for his own longstanding relationship with neo-Confederate organizations. It’s why Congressman Scalise can do the same thing despite campaigning for Congress as “David Duke without the baggage”. And that’s before we get to the President’s political appointees, such as Stephen Miller and Kirstjen Nielsen, who are just as bad if not worse.

Right now there is a need in the US for both formal and informal leaders, and this includes Northam, to stand up, tell the truth, and do the right thing. American state and society are in desperate need for more of this, not less. And Northam can do America a great service today if he stands up at his press conference and provides one last act of formal leadership and resign. He needs to resign not because he or anyone else may be sure that he is actually either the man in black face or the man in the Klan costume or that the picture is on the right page, but because American needs to see examples of leaders who take responsibility, even if they’re not 100% sure that they are the responsible party, when something bad happens, and then take the hard and important first steps to fix the problem. Which, in this case, would be to resign. The real question about whether Northam is a real leader, and is even morally fit to be a leader, is less about the picture in his yearbook from 1985. It is really about whether he leads today by giving up power and seeing it peacefully and efficiently transferred to his lieutenant governor or whether he tries to petulantly cling to power in the hope that an explanation for the photo surfaces that exonerates him and allows him to brazen this out. You can’t teach character, despite what the knuckleheads at the Combined Arms Center think. You can identify it, you can nurture it. You can mentor it. You can reinforce it. But you either have it or you don’t. At 2:30 today we will learn if Governor Northam has character and is actually fit to lead, even as he gives up formal leadership, or if he doesn’t.

Update at 3:55 PM EDT

Governor Northam has announced that he won’t be resigning. Here’s the response from the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus:

 

Open thread.

* It is possible, though not probable, given what we know of them, that this is PJ and Squi in the picture after brewskis at Timmy’s with Brett, Judge, Tom, and Bernie because they were all black out drunks in high school at Georgetown Prep and this is the type of things they would do. But I think this is highly unlikely.