“Frediani has the personality of a sociopath: Charismatic, impulsive, hedonistic, smart, manipulative, faithless in sexual relationships, and ultimately remorseless” (Weinberg Chapter 21, pg. 339)”
Chapter 21 of Pointing from the Grave explores how Frediani has personality traits of a sociopath. The quote above mentions how Frediani is faithless in relationships and that trait attributes to a sociopath. Throughout the story we learn that Frediani falls for women very fast and he sees himself together with his women for a long period of time. In his relationships everything is all good until suddenly something happens and Frediani begins to have aggressive behavior. His partners find it very hard to trust him because of his sudden behavior changes. I found an article discussing sociopaths in relationships that explore personality patterns.
Essentially sociopaths in relationships are confusing. They are confusing because their emotions are completely different from their partners. They lack empathy which is “the ability to understand or share feelings with another person” (Oxford English Dictionary). Sociopaths tend to be extreme with their emotions, one minute they are caring and the next they are angry. With this type of behavior, sociopaths are able to manipulate their partner. Their partner may not feel comfortable speaking about the harsh times of the relationship because the sociopaths can easily switch back to being sweet and kind. The relationships are a whirlwind of emotions that generally affect the person dating the sociopath. I was shocked learning about this type of relationship and truly hope anyone involved in a situation like this can find a way out of it.
“There’s two different communities; the white coats and the suits”
In the biotech there are two major factors. The obvious one is the scientist, “white coats”, who do the research, report their findings, and make the products. The second is “the suits”, the people that market the biotech products made by the scientists. I think this relationship can be called a symbiotic one. Without the white coats, the suits would have nothing to market. Conversely the scientists would not be able to get their product into the market without the suits. I believe that if the relationship were to lack one partner, then the biotech industry today would be way behind where we are now.
“there were two different communities; the white coats and the suits” (Weinberg 15)
It seems that the world’s corporations, businesses, anybody that is a force of technological change, always are in these two categories: the suits and white coats. To me it doesn’t make sense that these are two separate communities, as a business it is in your best interest to make sure that the technology that the white coats are able to “sell” their products. Additionally, the suits, the marketers should be very involved in coming up with new concepts and ideas for the white coats to work on, just because they are not scientists does not mean that they don’t have unique insights and ideas that may help a scientist.
One part of forensic science that has always interested me the most is fingerprinting and fingerprint lifting. Fingerprints are so intriguing because no one’s fingerprints are the same. Fingerprints are kind of like our own little id cards, that can leave a trail of where we were and what we did. After reading Chapter 2 of Pointing From the Grave, I spent a lot of time thinking about how detectives lift fingerprints. We have seen this process in our favorite crime shows and movies, but most of us don’t know the specifics of how its done. Check out the article I have linked below. It talks about the materials needed and steps to fingerprinting. It’s pretty cool take a look!
Sexual assault scars a person for life. Often times, it can greatly affect one’s mental health. In chapter two, we begin to see how Helena handled her assault. After the attack, she still went to work and carried out with her daily, normal activities. I personally found it confusing that she did not tell her parents about the attack immediately after it occurred. If you read the article attached, you see how it notes, “…many survivors don’t want to believe that something as horrible as rape could have happened to them, so they deny that it was rape.” The article goes on to explain how often times, women do not report rape due to fear of being ostracized by people whom they surround themselves with. I am curious to know why Helena did not report the assault to her parents (or coworkers). Was she afraid?
“Syca’s main production was a system, known as Emitt, used to detect the presence of drugs— both therapeutic and abused–in the blood.”-Weinberg (p.16)
This quote I lifted off from Point From the Grave because it gave me great interest to know the science behind drug tests. Upon initial research I found that there are many ways science is used for drug testing. These tests range from examining the blood, urine, hair, breath, and even saliva. The one I specifically focused on understanding was blood testing. Because this type of drug testing was mentioned in the Samantha Weinberg’s novel. What I found were some really cool scientific facts about how the blood gets examined for drugs. Of these facts I found that blood testing is used to detect if an individual is currently under the influence of an elicit drug. Meaning that the active forms of the drugs and not the by products are detected. It is known to be a very time consuming, and expensive process to perform. Blood testing also requires a trained professional to perform the procedure due to nature of the test. Because of this blood testings are not the first choice for many law enforcement offices when testing drug use. What law enforcement do instead of blood testing are urine tests. The reason why they do this is because urine testing is easy, efficient, and inexpensive.
In Where Good Ideas Come From we learned of the power of competition, especially when patenting was involved. To counter that idea, Johnson also discussed the necessity of team work and the fourth quadrant. In Pointing from the Grave, Helena discusses how competition got the better of her company.
“Syva had poured more money than it could afford into a new, automated drug-testing machine. If it worked, it would have dominated the field. But there were technical hitches and Abbott, Syva’s main competitor, got their product out first. It was a disaster for Syva- they were forced to lay off hundreds of staff and cancel future projects” (Weinberg 17)
It is interesting to see the theories come to life. It can only be a matter of days for a competitor to beat out its competition. I can see why patents can be essential because they can protect inventions and the employees who worked on a project.
She knew her future lay in science, and already she was turning her attention to DNA, the molecule that was reorienting the worlds of biology and chemistry, smashing preconceptions, and opening vistas that spread from pre-birth to eternal life. – Weinberg, page 14
Helena in the book already knew she wanted to be a scientist. She knew a lot about how biology and technology were the future in our society. It is pretty shocking how she had so much knowledge and when it could help her life to solve her case, she could not use it. It is kind of ironic how much effort she put to it her life studying it and then not being able to use in such an important event in her life. I guess that it would also be hard for her to study it later, knowing how she could have helped herself. Nevertheless, I cannot state that as a fact, but an assumption of how I would feel.
Jennifer Jomes studied the pictures for about a minute, then picked out the one numbered 5. “If i had to pick one, it would be this one,” she said, pointing to a photograph of Frediani…”This is spooky, he really looks like the guy.” Her roommate, Catherine Scott, again thought that photo 5 looked like the man from the nose area up, but she also said she couldn’t be positive. Her sister, Lyssa, wasn’t sure it was any of the men in the photographs. Roseanne Melia thought that number 5 was the closest. (Weinberg 26)
In every crime show on television there are photo id scenes or the classic suspect lineup. In this situation several women thought they could identify #5 as the rapist, but when asked if they were positive they could not confirm. So what do police do in a situation when they know the Frediani is most likely the culprit but lack proof? Perhaps this question is what lead scientists to search for another way to convict a suspect, DNA profiling. Because the memories from assaults can be blurred from trauma it is easy to understand how none of the women could be 100% sure that #5 was their rapist, maybe DNA will serve a purpose in this investigation and assist detectives in convicting Frediani.
Helena is very invested in her work, that was proven by her father’s, coworkers’, and employer’s accounts. She is a biotechnology specialist who has been aware of the DNA molecule and all of its glory for a long time. Her greatest accomplishment, at least with Syva, was creating a machine that took apart blood and urine samples to find what part of it was drugs and what part of it was DNA. (Weinberg, 16) Since she works so closely with it, she probably knows a good majority of its properties and what it can do for people.
Evidently, DNA evidence first made its way to the courtroom in 1986. Helena’s assault took place in 1984, long after she was an established biotechnician and doctor of her field. She was so educated in her field that she must have been aware of how to connect her assailant to his crime. Perhaps this is how she got the courage to go to the hospital for sexual examination right away, a trait that many victims don’t possess.
“All the attempted assaults occurred in the same complex: there was a good chance the man was local, and if so, it was only a matter of time before he struck again.
Chaput, however, was unaware of this series of attacks.” -Weinberg, pg 21
When I saw this, I was immediately reminded of the chapter of Johnson’s book that discussed hunches, specifically the narrative regarding the 9/11 hunches, how if those two ideas could have managed to connect before September 11th, maybe the attacks could have been prevented.
We don’t yet know if the assaults in the book are related, but if they are, surely the various cases could be solved much sooner if the police departments could work together, searching for a single suspect. It just goes to show how valuable liquid networks and the free exchange of ideas really are.
After reading Chapter 2 of Pointing from the Grave, I found it very interesting that Weinberg discussed Helena’s participation in the biotechnology industry in great detail. It is interesting that she works in this industry while also being a part of a court case in which their is a great value to the use of DNA. One idea that struck me was the fact that Weinberg stated,
“It was Kohne who had developed a revolutionary new method for diagnosing infectious diseases, using DNA probes instead of traditional cultures. . . She had been following the developments in DNA as they rolled through the scientific literature like a snowball on virgin snow, and she knew it was the way the biotech industry was heading” -Weinberg, p21.
After reading this sentence, I immediately related this new innovation of a DNA probe that is being used in the medical field to the ideas that Johnson suggested in his novel, Where Good Ideas Come From. Essentially, DNA is the building block that paves the way for many new innovations to arise. In this sense it could be understood that this DNA probe is an innovation that arose from the properties and prior uses of DNA – an exaptation. However, it can also be understood that this new probe is a platform that will allow other innovations that arise from it to reach the fourth quadrant. Just like Helena suggested that this is a new discovery snowballing and leading to others, the DNA probe can be a platform or stack in which a new innovation will come about. Overall, I thought it was interesting to see the complexity of DNA and the technologies associated with it that arise through platforms or exaptations.
This article talked a lot about how to cope with rape and how everyone has a different way of dealing with it. Helena’s personality from the start was very reserved and she did not like to talk about her problems with anyone. She figured out her own way to deal with the incident that wasn’t too public.
“It was Kohne who had developed a revolutionary new method for diagnosing infectious diseases, using DNA probes instead of traditional cultures. Helena liked them, and needed little persuading to accept their offer. She was excited about the technology– she had been following the developments in DNA as they rolled through the scientific literature like a snowball on virgin snow, and she knew that it was the way the biotech industry was heading, with Gen-Probe leading the rush.” -Weinberg 21
Helena Greenwood lands this job heading up the marketing department of Gen-Probe because the co-founder of this biotech company had seen her at international markets “present papers to scientists and salesmen alike and was impressed” (Weinberg 21). In short, Helena got the job because she was so efficient at being a scientist and salesperson. In her description of Helena, Weinberg presents her as passionately interested in science, but also as wanting to improve the field of biotechnology itself, by reconciling the business and science aspects of it, and improving the efficiency of the relationship. This is what inspires her to get into the marketing side of biotechnology to begin with.
Helena’s ability and passion to bring the two aspects of the field together are very interesting to me. It reminds me of Steven Johnson’s observation that most “geniuses” were masters of many trades and had many interests and hobbies: guys like Einstein and Ben Franklin were not only scientists and statesmen but also musicians and hobbyists.
But this leads me to ask of Helena’s great success in life: was it due to her multiple interests? If Helena had never gotten into the business side of biotechnology, would she have continued to climb the ladder? Could she have continued to advance just staying in the research side of things? I think she could have continued researching and with unlimited possibilities simply due to her intellectual capacity. But I think the true genius and the fulfillment of her potential came from her passion to combine the two aspects. I think this is an interesting question to consider regardless, because there are so many “what ifs” that can be asked of great innovators and minds of the past few centuries. Were their ideas worth a lot because they could be exapted, or did the innovator exapt themselves and their skill set and passions to an ever changing world?
“She knew her future lay in science, and already she was turning her attention to DNA, the molecule that was reorienting the worlds of biology and chemistry, smashing preconceptions, and opening vistas that spread from pre-birth to eternal life” -Weinberg, p14
I found it extremely interesting that Helena devoted her life to studying DNA and that it seems at this point in Weinberg’s book, that DNA could be the missing link to solving her case. Helena’s work with DNA could potentially help the police find her attacker. What scientists have discovered about DNA, and all the different things that they can do with it in this day and age is an amazing biological advancement. At this point in the book, I wondered whether or not DNA will help solve this case, and also if Helena would be one of the people that discovered the link between DNA and her attacker. I am interested to keep reading to see if Helena figures out a method to find her attacker even before the police do. This insight on DNA’s link to criminology is new to me and allowed me to view these types of cases in a new light.
As this chapter talked about Helena’s work on a test to detect drugs such as cocaine, it reminded me of a lecture I attended this fall. The police department has now adopted dogs at birth to train them to detect drugs that are not visible or found by the police themselves. This new technique has been proven to be successful in busting meth labs, marijuana, cocaine etc. What this lecture discussed was a case where a man was tried for possession of cocaine. However, if I remember correctly, the police officer who called for the search was only based off of probable cause. The probable cause came from his canine identifying they smelt the drug. This questioned the validity of the canines smelling ability for detection. The defendants case was that the search warrant was not granted on proper terms and he was falsely charged. Even though the canine had correctly identified the large amount of drugs that man had in his home, he won the case and was freed from all charges based on there not being a standard for canines established in the system yet.
After this case happened, canines were now put into funded training programs that is made to train them into detecting these drugs. At the end of the training they have to pass a series of exams to qualify as a legitimate DEA canine. This put an end to any further court case like the man’s described above.
What was interesting about their training is that dogs are trained in both drugs and bomb detection. Because of this, when they smell a particular oder, they walk up to it and just sit to wait for a policeman. The reason for this is because if it wore a bomb and the dog started scratching at it, it could possibly go off. Cocaine doesn’t have a scent that can be smelt by someone when it is concealed but a dogs noise is so hyperactive that it can.
“It wasn’t enough. With no physical evidence, Joe Farmer knew he was going to have problems persuading the DA’s office to prosecute Frediani for anything other than the indecent exposure.” (Weinberg 26).
How many cases get thrown out due to a lack of physical evidence? According to the Yorkshire Post, a newspaper based out of England, almost 2/3 of police rape investigations in Yorkshire in 2014 ended with no one being charged because of this lack of evidence. Often times, eyewitness testimonies in such traumatizing cases, like sexual assault cases, are unreliable and inconsistent due to high anxiety, stress, and paranoia. The best bet for a conviction relies on physical evidence, such as semen and pubic hair DNA sampling, but these are hard to find matches for. The victim must still have this DNA on his or her body, meaning that unlike Helena they mustn’t wash off after the assault. Does the failure rate of sexual assault cases influence victims and future victims? Are victims less likely to make a case out of their assault if they were to know this statistic?