Mule in the Well

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I unbuttoned her shorts. She wriggled a little to help. I slid my hand under her panties. I was thinking that everything was information when I found myself clutching an erect penis. I whipped my head around. The blond was grinning wildly into my face. My hand involuntarily tightened about her cock. Her hand tightened about mine. They might have been the same hand.

We might have been one person twinned. The car was up to about mph. It was in that instant that I achieved enlightenment. Bad Blood is a straightforward read about the rise and fall of Theranos, done in chronological order in third-person up until Carreyrou becomes personally involved, at which point things accelerate to the SEC civil settlement. Good timing on my part.


This puts more of a period on reading BB, although the story is far from over. In any case, BB is good for resolving a lot of details about Theranos. For example, I was perplexed at the time by the large Walgreens deal: Walgreens is a large, competent, sophisticated provider of pharmacy services, well capable of thorough testing; if Theranos was not what it was hyped up to be, how could Walgreens fail to notice?

My assumption was that Theranos had done something clever to produce fake results if not perhaps as clever as the FSB at Sochi. BB provides the answer, which is dismayingly mundane: Theranos bluntly refused to provide any kind of real validation or access to its machines, and some Walgreens execs were furious about it and correctly convinced Theranos was a fraud, but others were seduced by the vision, and the doubters signed on because they were terrified of forcing Theranos into the arms of CVS , which is a rivalry I had no idea about.

Theranos had cleverly played on this insecurity. She was told to do it by one of her ex-Applers. Was Theranos initially too ambitious? Perhaps, but lots of startups scale back or pivot to new ideas based on their trial-and-error; reality cannot be planned out. Did it get too much money? But people already complain about investors being too risk-averse and short-term despite Theranos being 17 years old now!


Should we outlaw investing millions of dollars based on a phonecall? Hard to imagine that working out well. Should we criticize VCs for being gullible? Should we criticize the board for letting her accumulate so much stock and then letting her talk them out of firing her in ? Should blood testing in general be verboten to investors? Carreyrou suggests toward the end that Holmes might have psychopathic traits: A sociopath is often described as someone with little or no conscience. By all accounts, she had a vision that she genuinely believed in and threw herself into realizing.

Her ambition was voracious and it brooked no interference. If there was collateral damage on her way to riches and fame, so be it. I think this is wide of the mark and he gets closest in the final lines. What is the stereotypical profile of psychopathy? The portrait of Holmes in BB is very far from this.

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There is no hint of tendencies towards sadism or violence in her childhood, merely a mention of competitiveness. The way she dressed was decidedly unfashionable. She wore wide gray pantsuits and Christmas sweaters that made her look like a frumpy accountant. If so, she should dress the part, she told her. Elizabeth took the suggestion to heart. From that point on, she came to work in a black turtleneck and black slacks most days.

An additional interesting thread throughout BB although Carreyrou puts no emphasis on this and I wonder if he missed the connection is how Holmes continuously sought to amass more stocks or voting control of Theranos: one oddity in the end of the Theranos saga was that Holmes was never, and could not be, fired because she continued to own so much stock and voting power. Rather than selling out early and retiring to a life of leisure, she held on to the bitter end. The disappearing served a useful role in enforcing compartmentalization, risk-aversion, and covering up information, but might there not be another reason?

Holmes did not start off as a psychopath determined to rip off VC and SV by using her cunningly honed social skills and sexuality to manipulate horny old white men, as one narrative goes.

I particularly appreciated the ample material devoted to Russia: Russia is too often neglected in Western publications because of the language barrier, and Russians feature even more in life-extension than in many fields. It gets worse. Because the fallout from aging is destroying all bodily systems and impairing homeostasis, this implies there are hundreds or thousands of pseudo-interventions: interventions which deal with some downstream effect of aging and may help on that one thing, but nothing else.

This is the more abstract form of observing that curing cancer does not do much about curing aging. This is because our prior for an intervention on aging is, at this point, extremely low and so all the alternative explanations are much more likely. If the treatment invigorated the patient but they died on schedule, it was not an anti-aging treatment.

Use of proxies is the dark side of life-extension research: quick, easy, seductive, encouraging one is constantly making progress , but a dead end. How, you might ask, could anyone possibly try to explain the mechanisms of aging, estimate possible maximal lifespans, or give interventions without the Gompertz curve or evolutionary biology? Not well, is the answer.

I could forgive the people in the late s for not taking evolution or the Gompertz curve seriously in thinking about interventions, but it is baffling to read about Americans in the s getting excited about organ-transplant and replacements as a path to immortality—and how, pray tell, given the exponential increase with age of all diseases and failure rates of organs, were you planning on handling replacing the brain …?

So researchers are almost unanimous about moderate eating, or fruits and vegetables being the path to long life while meat is the path to an early grave?

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They are just repeating long-standing cultural prejudices about under-eating being morally virtuous and superior and meat which commits the sin of deliciousness is bestial and evil, part of the religious attitudes towards food we can see on display at any Whole Foods. Many of these recommendations are clearly coming less from scientific evidence than from the disgust axis of morality.

But as it is, diet is to longevity researchers what the Knights Templar or Jews are to the conspiracy theorists—a predictable sign of derangement. Our understanding of human aging is infinitely better than in , yet there are still no meaningful interventions. Multi-decade gaps separate practical and theoretical breakthroughs.

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The standard medical-academic approach is very slow. It is entirely possible that in , we will not be much beyond where we are in So, those are the hard and painful lessons taught by 3 centuries of life-extension work. What are some of the more hopeful aspects? And if not, then in the long run there may be escape hatches through cryonics or plastination. Some of the book is a misfire. Far too much relevant content is buried in the footnotes where few readers will check.

Gonzo-light style book by a music journalist on trying to meet the surviving 9 astronauts who walked on the moon, discuss it and their post-moon lives, and draw Deep Lessons. The reply comes quickly.