By Nathan L. Walls

The Verge: Coding bootcamp Lambda School — now BloomTech — is finally getting punished

Sean Hollister:

In 2020, we wrote how coding bootcamp Lambda School seemed like a bit of a bait-and-switch. Four years later and one rebranding to “BloomTech” later, the US Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) is finally slapping it on the wrist – it’s permanently banning it from issuing any more student loans, fining the company and its CEO $164,000, and releasing some students from some of their debt.

Why? Among other deceptive practices, the “Bloom Institute of Technology” didn’t call them loans. It advertised a way for students to get high-paying tech jobs “risk free” with “no loans” by paying 17 percent of their future income for five years – rather than the $20,000 sticker price of tuition.

But those Income Sharing Agreements (ISAs) were definitely loans, the CFPB has decided, since Bloom was earning an average finance charge of $4,000 on each one, students could default and get sent to collections if they failed to make payments, and Bloom was turning around and selling those student debts to investors for $7,000 to $10,000 a pop.

What a reckless and abusive business model. I’ve worked with several fantastic software engineers that came out of code schools. The practical focus of these programs is incredibly beneficial, but there’s zero reason a program like this has to be run as a for-profit endeavor as opposed to being a certificate program administered through community colleges.

Solar eclipse

Mostly cloudy solar eclipse at 91 percent coverage Mostly cloudy solar eclipse at 91 percent coverage

Here in Williams Township, Penn., we had a maximum of 91 percent coverage from today’s North American total solar eclipse. We’d held onto eclipse glasses we picked up in Montréal, Québec in 2012, where we were present for a clouded-over Transit of Venus. The morning started off sunny, but around 1 PM, clouds started moving in. By the time the eclipse started here, it was iffy that we’d be able to see anything. So, we were feeling a bit of cosmic frustration.

Thankfully, at 3 PM, we were able to see the eclipse through some gaps in the clouds. I’d still love to see totality in my life, but I’m pretty pleased at how some photos in the front yard turned out. The benefit of the heavy cloud cover is it rendered the eclipse visible through the clouds and, therefore, able to be photographed easily without filters.

Vox: Pig kidney transplants are cool. They shouldn’t be necessary.

Dylan Matthews, writing for Vox

But the Mass General researchers went a step further when they transplanted a pigney into Rick Slayman, a 62-year-old Weymouth, Massachusetts, man who was very much alive. He luckily remains alive as of this writing and is producing urine through the piece of pork that some doctors put in him.

This is unquestionably good news for Slayman, and while routine pig kidney transplants are still a few years off, it’s obviously good for people with kidney failure to have more options.

We shouldn’t let the news distract us, however, from an uncomfortable fact: Humans could, if we wanted to, end the kidney shortage right now without any assistance from our porcine friends.

All of this.

Mass. man receives first genetically-modified pig kidney transplant

Rob Stein reporting for NPR:

For the first time, surgeons have transplanted a kidney from a genetically modified pig into a living person, doctors in Boston said Thursday.

Richard Slayman, 62, of Weymouth, Mass., who is suffering from end-stage kidney disease, received the organ Saturday in a four-hour procedure, Massachusetts General Hospital announced. He is recovering well and is expected to be discharged Saturday, the hospital said.

Unless kidney transplant candidates have a living donor, there is typically a years-long backlog for a deceased-donor kidney. As in Slayman’s case, it is possible for a first transplanted kidney to also fail and require a return to dialysis and a second, or sometimes third donor kidney.

The medical science to allow for transplantation of a kidney from genetically modified pigs is a hoped for way to ameliorate the backlog. Closing the gap also potentially means that more people could potentially qualify for transplant.

End-stage renal disease is 3.8 times more common among Black people than white people in the U.S., according to federal statistics.

The transplant “represents a potential breakthrough in solving one of the more intractable problems in our field, that being unequal access for ethnic minority patients to the opportunity for kidney transplants due to the extreme donor organ shortage and other system-based barriers,” said Dr. Winfred Williams, the kidney specialist treating Slayman, who is a Black man.

First and foremost, I wish every kidney transplant candidate could and would match with a living donor. Second, I wish everyone able and willing to designate themselves a posthumous organ donor would do so. Third, I hope for animal organs to be made available thoughtfully and safely, and with the welfare of the animals raised to be donors provided for at the highest level of care.

Bethlehem Steel Stacks

First Ave. Bethlehem Steel Complex First Ave. Bethlehem Steel Complex
Furnace Stacks/Bethlehem Furnace Stacks/Bethlehem

As a first since moving to Lehigh Valley area vs. visiting, I took a chunk of the President’s Day morning to walk around the Bethlehem Steel Stacks, what was the core of Bethlehem Steel. While the Hoover-Mason Trestle elevated walkway was closed due to snow, walking around at street level was plenty.

The warmer seasons are definitely busier here, but circling a decent chunk of the complex at street level was fairly pleasant.

My father-in-law worked at Bethlehem Steel before its closing. I am continually amazed at the scale of operation here, what work might have been like, and how, nearly 30-years after plant closure, just how much of South-side Bethlehem is occupied by parts of the plant.

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