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Are We There Yet? vol. 121 Thumbnail

Are We There Yet? vol. 121

I heard a story this week that made me cringe and think about how an offer of money may motivate us. An extermination company in North Carolina, The Pest Informer, is offering homeowners $2,000 if they will allow the company to test a new pest-control technique in their homes.  The company will release 100 cockroaches into the home and then use the new technique over the following 30 days to eradicate the roaches from the home.  If they are unable to get rid of all the roaches, the company will provide a free “normal” extermination.  

My experience with roaches in my college apartment many years ago leads me to believe that there is probably a higher likelihood that you end up with thousands of cockroaches after the 30-day period as opposed to none.  I also learned back then that the traditional extermination procedures don’t guarantee for a roach-free home.  

Surprisingly, or maybe not so surprising, the company reports that it has received over 2,200 applications from homeowners to participate in the experiment.  The company also notes that they have done this experiment in friends’ and family members’ homes but fails to mention if it was successful.  

Based on the number of applications, many appear motivated by the offer of money and possibly a desire to rid homes of roaches.  Rather than focus on the offer of money, I will try to focus on the fact that science does rely on those willing to participate in experiments, whether new pest-control methods or vaccine trials.  In this case, I feel very fortunate that I don’t need $2,000 that badly that I would consider participating in such an experiment.  I wish the lucky (or unlucky) selected participants the best of luck. 

Take care and stay safe.


Freezing Order by Bill Browder

When Bill Browder’s young Russian lawyer, Sergei Magnitsky, was beaten to death in a Moscow jail, Browder made it his life’s mission to go after his killers and make sure they faced justice. The first step of that mission was to uncover who was behind the $230 million tax refund scheme that Magnitsky was killed over. As Browder and his team tracked the money as it flowed out of Russia through the Baltics and Cyprus and on to Western Europe and the Americas, they were shocked to discover that Vladimir Putin himself was a beneficiary of the crime.

As law enforcement agencies began freezing the money, Putin retaliated. He and his cronies set up honey traps, hired process servers to chase Browder through cities, murdered more of his Russian allies, and enlisted some of the top lawyers and politicians in America to bring him down. Putin will stop at nothing to protect his money. As Freezing Order reveals, it was Browder’s campaign to expose Putin’s corruption that prompted Russia’s intervention in the 2016 US presidential election.

At once a financial caper, an international adventure, and a passionate plea for justice, Freezing Order is a stirring morality tale about how one man can take on one of the most ruthless villains in the world—and win.Even through the roar and effervescence of the 1920s, everyone in New York has heard of Benjamin and Helen Rask. He is a legendary Wall Street tycoon; she is the daughter of eccentric aristocrats. Together, they have risen to the very top of a world of seemingly endless wealth—all as a decade of excess and speculation draws to an end. But at what cost have they acquired their immense fortune? This is the mystery at the center of Bonds, a successful 1937 novel that all of New York seems to have read. Yet there are other versions of this tale of privilege and deceit.     Hernan Diaz’s TRUST elegantly puts these competing narratives into conversation with one another—and in tension with the perspective of one woman bent on disentangling fact from fiction. The result is a novel that spans over a century and becomes more exhilarating with each new revelation.     At once an immersive story and a brilliant literary puzzle, TRUST engages the reader in a quest for the truth while confronting the deceptions that often live at the heart of personal relationships, the reality-warping force of capital, and the ease with which power can manipulate facts.