U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs still uses hydroxychloroquine on COVID-19 patients, despite risks of unproven drug

The United States Department of Veterans Affairs said Friday that it will not stop use of hydroxychloroquine, an unproven malaria drug pushed by Trump, on veterans with COVID-19. Read the rest

Man peddling bleach as coronavirus 'cure' wrote to Trump this week

“Mark Grenon wrote to Trump saying chlorine dioxide ‘can rid the body of Covid-19’ days before the president promoted disinfectant as treatment”

Trump's biz tweets video of pro golfer John Daly who suggests drinking 1 bottle of vodka daily will 'kill' coronavirus (IT WILL NOT)

According to the suggestions of a professional golfer whose video was tweeted today by Donald Trump's companies, drinking an entire bottle of vodka every day will 'kill' coronavirus. There's only one problem with this advice: it is not true, and may harm you. Read the rest

Jim Bakker selling fake coronavirus cures now

Ex-convict, sex scandalist, and TV evangelist Jim Bakker is at it again. Read the rest

Independent evaluation of "aggression detection" microphones used in schools and hospitals finds them to be worse than useless

One of the griftiest corners of late-stage capitalism is the "public safety" industry, in which military contractors realize they can expand their market by peddling overpriced garbage to schools, cities, public transit systems, hospitals, etc -- which is how the "aggression detection" industry emerged, selling microphones whose "machine learning" backends are supposed to be able to detect "aggressive voices" (as well as gunshots) and alert cops or security guards. Read the rest

Grifty "information security" companies promised they could decrypt ransomware-locked computers, but they were just quietly paying the ransoms

Ransomware has been around since the late 1980s, but it got a massive shot in the arm when leaked NSA cyberweapons were merged with existing strains of ransomware, with new payment mechanisms that used cryptocurrencies, leading to multiple ransomware epidemics that locked up businesses, hospitals, schools, and more (and then there are the state-level cyberattacks that pretend to be ransomware). Read the rest

Philadelphia city council candidate says his secret AI has discovered disqualifying fraud in the nominations of 30 out of 33 candidates

Devon Cade -- a former bureaucrat who now describes himself as a "philanthropist" -- has asked a court to disqualify 30 out of the 33 other Democrats standing in the primary for the city's council elections on the grounds that the signatures on their nominating petitions were forged. Read the rest

Gofundme jumpstarts a golden era of snake oil as desperate people raise millions for quack homeopathy cancer "remedies"

In Patients' crowdfunding campaigns for alternative cancer treatments, published by researchers from Simon Fraser University in The Lancet Oncology (Sci-Hub mirror) we learn that thanks to Gofundme, 13,000 people have raised $1.4 million to help 200 desperate cancer patients pay for ineffective homeopathic "treatments." Read the rest

How to make your own "Black Water" and why you probably shouldn't

The Action Lab got a bottle of the much-hyped Black Water and tasted it. Turns out it tastes like plain water, but bitter. (Strike one against it.) It's not black, it's the color of "flat Coke." (Strike two.) It is advertised as "Premium Alkaline Water." According to the New York Times, "there’s no evidence that water marketed as alkaline is better for your health than tap water." (Strike three). The Action Lab then made some black water using the ingredients found in Black Water: humic acid, which is very black, and fulvic acid. According to Self, "neither fulvic acid or humic acid are required in humans." (Strike four.) Read the rest

This 'storm glass' is stupid but looks neat

This decorative storm glass "predicts" the weather. Admiral FitzRoy says so.

It seems natural, to me anyway, that there would be a storm glass on my curio packed shelves. Purported to change in advance of weather, the chemicals in solution form crystals as the temperatures mildly change around the glass.

Most notably Admiral FitzRoy, once the Captain of Darwin's HMS Beagle, recorded changes observed in his weather glass, and claimed them to be a true indicator of what was to come.

I like this round one. It indicates if I have the heat on or not.

Pawaca Storm Glass Weather Monitors Decorative Desktop Barometer via Amazon Read the rest

This dump of Iphone-cracking tools shows how keeping software defects secret makes everyone less secure

Last month, a hacker took 900GB of data from Cellebrite, an Israeli cyber-arms dealer that was revealed to be selling surveillance and hacking tools to Russia, the UAE, and Turkey. Read the rest

Blackballed by machine learning: how algorithms can destroy your chances of getting a job

The Guardian's published a long excerpt from Cathy O'Neil's essential new book, Weapons of Math Destruction, in which O'Neil describes the way that shoddy machine-learning companies have come to dominate waged employment hiring, selling their dubious products to giant companies that use them to decide who can and can't work. Read the rest

How Zzyzx Road got its name

Having driven the LA to Vegas route more times than I can recall, I've often marveled at the Zzyzx Road sign. I'd been told the name was intentionally chosen to ensure it the last spot on a list of US road names. Seems there is a little truth in that...

Road Trippers shares:

Zzyzx (AKA Camp Soda and Soda Springs) is located at the end of Zzyzx Road, a 4.5-mile-long rural road off Interstate 15, in San Bernadino County, California. The unicorporated community is also located within Mojave National Preserve. In its former life, it was the the Zzyzx Mineral Springs and Health Spa. What makes Zzyzx, California such a weird and wonderful place is that it was founded by a crackpot preacher who stuck his middle finger up at the government when he named the town with the last letters of the alphabet.

So, who the heck came up with that crazy name?!

Well, that's where things get a little weird. Curtis Howe Springer was one of those old-timey radio evangelists, way back in the day. However, he wasn't actually a minister of any kind. He was born in 1896 in Birmingham, Alabama, and spent much of his early life convincing people he was a doctor. He proclaimed himself to be the "last of the old-time medicine men", but the American Medical Association disagreed. They proclaimed him "King of the Quacks" in 1969.

Throughout his life Curtis also claimed to be a boxing teacher in the U.S. Army, the "Dean of Greer College" (a defunct/bankrupt school in Chicago), he was a rabble-rouser during Prohibition (he was in favor of it, and railed against "Demon Rum").

Read the rest

1950s TV show exposes medical quacks

Confidential File was a television series that ran from 1953-1959, hosted by Paul Coates. In the episode above, they tackle quack medical treatments and devices.

And here's a sensational episode of the program created to scare people about comic books, which were villainized as corrupters of young minds in the 1950s:

Related: 1950s live television: tricks of carnival game swindlers Read the rest

1940s women use bizarre robotic exercise equipment

These machines look like they are doing all the work.

Read the rest

A pound of Tibetan "Viagra" mushrooms jumps in price from $2 to $40,000

Yartsa gunbu (summer grass-winter worm) is a fungus that parasitizes moth larvae by devouring them from the inside-out and sprouting from their exoskeleton. It has been used for centuries by Tibetan and Chinese doctors to "improve breathing, metabolism, sexual function, mental clarity, and more."

Demand for the mushroom has skyrocketed, according to Epoch Times:

Tibet has enjoyed a vigorous caterpillar fungus trade with China for centuries, but in recent decades prices have skyrocketed. A pound of yartsa gunbu was less than two dollars in the 1970s, and close to $100 in the 1990s. Today, a pound of high quality specimens could sell for as much as $40,000 or more. Total revenue from yartsa gunbu comes to about a $1 billion a year.

Ecologist and mushroom specialist Daniel Winkler says, “I know Chinese people whose friends are willing to spend half of their income on this, because they feel like, ‘Well, I’m getting old. I’m falling apart. This buys me life.’ That’s why people are willing to pay this incredible amount." Read the rest

Debunking Batteriser's marketing claims

Electrical engineer David L. Jones explains why claims made on behalf of The Batteriser--a gadget promised to get up to 8x life out of alkaline batteries--are nonsense.

The Batteriser is a really neatly designed product (apart from the shorting issue), I love the miniturisation technology in it, and I’ll be buying some once it goes on sale to check out how they have done it. And yes, it can and certainly will work on some, perhaps many products and get some extra life out of it. But the 800% claims are demonstrably untrue, and unfortunately this is what every media outlet ran with. They took a blue sky marketing estimate and ran with it because it made a great story. There was no basic fact checking. All the electronics engineers who immediately questioned the claims were right in doing so, it’s trivial to prove there are issues with even the most basic of engineering due-diligence. There are just way too many downsides and unanswered questions on this product. I’ll guess we’ll have to wait and see until they start shipping so we can get one and actually test it.

Just get Eneloops, civilian. Read the rest

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