1. AstraZeneca! In Jurassic Park’s control center, as the first tour of the park begins having technical glitches, creator John Hammond turns with contempt to tech guru Dennis Nedry (Wayne Knight, aka “Newman”) and spits, “Our life is in your hands and you have butterfingers?” That was the first thing that jumped into my head when I read this:
The announcement this week that a cheap, easy-to-make coronavirus vaccine appeared to be up to 90 percent effective was greeted with jubilation. “Get yourself a vaccaccino,” a British tabloid celebrated, noting that the vaccine, developed by AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford, costs less than a cup of coffee.
But since unveiling the preliminary results, AstraZeneca has acknowledged a key mistake in the vaccine dosage received by some study participants, adding to questions about whether the vaccine’s apparently spectacular efficacy will hold up under additional testing.
Scientists and industry experts said the error and a series of other irregularities and omissions in the way AstraZeneca initially disclosed the data have eroded their confidence in the reliability of the results.
Competence. Diligence. Responsibility. The duty of care. Trustworthiness.
2. Butterfingers II: The case of the premature obituaries. Radio France Internationale (RFI) mistakenly published online the obituaries of about 100 public figures who were and are still alive.Among those declared dead were Queen Elizabeth II, Clint Eastwood, Jimmy Carter, Yoko Ono, Sophia Loren and Brigitte Bardot. Google and Yahoo then picked up the fake news, which was, of course, spread on social media.
RFI apologized for the error last week, saying a “technical problem” had caused unedited drafts of the death notices to go up on its website.
Right. All by itself. RFI celebrity news editor Dennis Nedry was unavailable for comment.
3. “Mister we could use a man like Alex Trebeck again…” Today in the cancel culture: No sooner was former “Jeopardy!” champion Ken Jennings named a temporary guest host of the traumatized show in the wake of the passing of long-time quiz-master Alex Trebek (if indeed he is dead) then the cancel mob was after him for a tweet he issued in 2014. The offensive Twitter statement was “Nothing sadder than a hot person in a wheelchair.”
There was nothing wrong with that tweet or that sentiment—think Christopher Reed, Kirk Douglas, Deborah Kerr or Annette Funicello—and it is obvious to anyone not looking to be offended. But never mind : the disability community can get cheap publicity and a sliver of power by trying to hurt Jenning’s reputation and career over a six-year old throwaway tweet. Rebecca Cokley, director of the Disability Justice Initiative at the Center for American Progress, wrote, “Not sure I’ll be able to watch ‘Jeopardy’ after learning what an ableist-trash heap Ken Jennings is. That just sucks.”
Following the script, Jennings is now groveling apologies. I sure hope he reminded the producers of “Jeopardy” about the tweet before agreeing to step into Alex’s still-warm shoes, since he had already issued an apology for the remarks in 2018, when the Cancel Crowd hadn’t started taking steroids. (Wait—isn’t this double jeopardy?)
Ethics Alarms does salute Jennings for integrity: He has refused to take down the tweet as a matter of principle, saying in 2018, “I’m strongly against deleting old tweets, even the gross ones…seems like whitewashing.” I don’t agree with him if a tweet conveys misinformation or the author regards it as both unfair and needlessly hurtful. Taking down a social media post or statement because cyber-bullies demand it, however, is cowardly, and just empowers the jerks.
4. Worst Excuse By A Hypocritical Mayor Ever. Wow, Coloradans. You voted for this guy? After being exposed as a flagrant imperialist and violating his own anti-pandemic edicts minutes after issuing them (as discussed in yesterday’s post) Denver Mayor Michael Hancock issued this statement:
Ugh. Try that one in court, you ass. Or when your wife catches you in bed with another woman after lecturing her on the importance of trust and fidelity. I much prefer the explanation of another hypocritical mayor, the remarkable Marion Barry of Washington, D.C., who was caught smoking crack with an old girlfriend a few days after warning D.C. students about the dangers of drugs. He memorably said, “Bitch set me up.”
Hancock’s conduct was signature significance for an untrustworthy phony. No apology can undo the reality. Hancock should resign.