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Proximal Origins - the movie - Pt 1 (General)

by dulan drift, Saturday, June 13, 2020, 18:22 (20 days ago)

Disclaimer:
This is not my 'theory' - it's just a movie idea.

Set inside the closed society of mostly male virologists. Within that group there are factions - they co-operate on experiments, papers, getting grants. A small group of 5 like-minded idealists come together - all of them are brilliant. A subset of 3 are genomic surveillance enthusiasts. They believe millions of lives each year could be saved through DNA and GPS surveillance - but can't get it past Western governments due to ethics concerns. An overlapping subset are environmental warriors, blaming the consumer greed of modern life for destroying the planet.

As scientists they collaborate internationally - including with China. In the wake of 911 - particularly after the anthrax incident - there was unlimited money for biodefense research in the US - several new institutes and research bodies were started - while research grants were handed out to University scientists studying viruses like confetti. Ironically, the anthrax incident, which was itself the result of an escaped pathogen from a biodefense lab, contributed to a surge in labs engineering deadly pathogens. Lindstrom headed one of these labs, one of his cohorts worked under him there, another at Harvard University, another headed Spitz, the final one ran a private lab and handled drug production which was outsourced to a company in China.

Among these, Lindstrom is the celebrity scientist. He’d been portrayed in a popular movie as a brilliant maverick. Amongst the media he is known as the 'Virus Hunter' and spends a lot of time selling his message - more funding for research to protect us from a potential outbreak. He is passionate about viruses - fascinated, drawn to them - predicting the big one to anyone who’ll listen - same way some people are drawn to other dangerous phenomena - like a typhoon chaser - or a volcanologist. Apart from the movie, his claim to fame is that he invented a new way to determine RNA (DNA for viruses) and DNA that dramatically reduces the amount of time required to decode the sequences. He is working on ways with his colleagues at making this even faster.

At the same time he’s an idealist. As a scientist he knows that humans are destroying the planet - may even be beyond redemption already. He attributes an increase in viruses to the same human impact that is causing climate change - he discusses the idea with his friends, in jest, that it might be a good thing if humanity had a wake up call in the form of a virus unleashed.

Proximal Origins - the movie - Pt 1

by dan @, Saturday, June 13, 2020, 19:53 (20 days ago) @ dulan drift

This is a fabulous premise. It has multiple storylines, a must for a good movie. In fact IMO good characters and multiple, solid storylines, driven by the characters, is the basis for a good movie script.

"Ironically, the anthrax incident, which was itself the result of an escaped pathogen from a
biodefense lab, contributed to a surge in labs engineering deadly pathogens." If it matters, I believe the anthrax letters sent to members of Congress after 911 contained anthrax that was later determined to indeed have originated from US military labs.

"Lindstrom is the celebrity scientist. He’d been portrayed in a popular movie as a brilliant maverick. " Bat lady?

"At the same time he’s an idealist. As a scientist he knows that humans are destroying the planet - may even be beyond redemption already. He attributes an increase in viruses to the same human impact that is causing climate change - he discusses the idea with his friends, in jest, that it might be a good thing if humanity had a wake up call in the form of a virus unleashed." The "in jest" bit here is the hook. What went wrong? How did it go from a whim to reality?

Proximal Origins - the movie - Pt 1

by dulan drift, Sunday, June 14, 2020, 15:39 (19 days ago) @ dan

Thanks! Yeah i'm sending Netflix the link to this thread as soon as we're done! Let me know if you've got any input

"Lindstrom is the celebrity scientist. He’d been portrayed in a popular movie as a brilliant maverick. " Bat lady?

Batwoman/lady of course is a star - there's a torrid sex scene coming later between her and Virus Hunter.

Excuse the tense mix-ups - still settling on that...

Proximal Origins - the movie - Pt 2

by dulan drift, Sunday, June 14, 2020, 16:07 (19 days ago) @ dulan drift

All of the group are obsessed with modelling - it's the glue that binds them. They swap models with each other - discuss them - tweak them - chatter on forums. Most of these models show mortality from viruses could be emphatically reduced with human dna and gps surveillance. However, they know it’s a sensitive subject that is unlikely to gain public approval. Even within the scientific community there is minority, but heavyweight opposition. Lindstrom avoids advocating for it publicly, though three of his colleagues collaborate on a paper in Nature arguing the concept has merit and should at least be discussed, just to float it into the mainstream. It attracts some criticism, but not much. When they are alone, they discuss it openly. The discussions go deep into the night with wine and weed. Not unlike a virus, the ideas start to get a foothold in a host body - take shape as a mental matrix, culturing a destiny of their own.

In 2014, Obama declares a moratorium on gain-of-function experiments pending an investigation. He then shuts down most of the bio-defence programs due to a slew of accidents in the US. Lindstrom's department is abolished. Funding for his colleagues is cut-off. This is a blow to their research, but not the end of it. Ultimately it would prove to be a launching pad. The group were already collaborating with scientific institutions from China - it had become the nature of the business. No ban on gain-of-function experiments was instituted in China - in fact it’s encouraged.

10 years before, Lindstrom already had powerful contacts in China.
He first went there at the invitation of the government in the aftermath of SARS in 2003 - became friends with a microbiologist who was later promoted to Minister for Science and Technology. He was taken in by Chinese hospitality, the culture, and they loved him. Lindstrom admits to himself that he’s prone to vanity - he’s also self-aware enough to know that Chinese like to flatter guests - but even knowing that - it was still a comfortable fit.
Beyond this positive vibe, they were interested in discussing his ideas on virus outbreak planning - a topic that he's always eager to expand on. But this time, when he warned about ‘the big one’, and how to go about preparing for it, the Minister got it.

After his initial visi,t Lindstrom received an email from George Gu, the S&T minister. Would he be interested in coming back to further discuss his ideas? He was.

His simple mantras were:
1. Centralize data. Let the scientists see what the doctor is seeing in real time. Virus control is all about surveillance. The sooner the information is available the sooner it can be fed into the modelling, the sooner we know where to deploy resources.
2. Implement lockdowns around affected areas - with armed soldiers if necessary - it’s the only way to stop it spreading.
3. In the meantime - invest money in bio-security research institutes - try to predict what the next virus might do through gain-of-function research. Enable researchers to discover a vaccine (or at least therapeutics) through predictive science.

Working with Minister of Health and Minister of Science and Technology this was the system that was largely adopted.

In the process, Lindstrom became the bio-security architect of the world’s most populous country. For his contribution, in 2008 he was presented with the country's highest honour for foreign scientists at the Great Hall of the People. President Xi attended the ceremony - he was later summoned for a private meeting. The discussion was informal - the President said the country would never forget his service - that he hoped the relationship would continue to prosper for both parties - that if he ever needed anything then he should contact him directly.

From that meeting, Lindstrom rose to a level of respect within the corridors of power that no outsider had achieved since Marco Polo. He was already famous in his own country, a fame he enjoyed, the persona, but here, in China, he has a seat with the big boys. He is in a position to change the world for the better. This feeling, the manifestation of a feeling that had burned inside him since he was a child - that is more alluring than playing the celebrity. It gives playing the celebrity a purpose other than ego - it's a messaging platform for a larger ideal.

Proximal Origins - the movie - Pt 2

by dan @, Monday, June 15, 2020, 16:25 (18 days ago) @ dulan drift

The plot, driven by character motivations, thickens!

At some point, of course, in order to get corporate media buy in, Bat Lady will have to have kinky lab sex partially clad in her PPE, but I'm sure you've considered that.

This is a great story so far mainly due to the very strong characters.

Proximal Origins - the movie - Pt 2

by dulan drift, Monday, June 15, 2020, 17:34 (18 days ago) @ dan

Yes i'm thinking Bunsen burners and test tubes frothing over!

Proximal Origins - Bat Lady

by dulan drift, Monday, June 15, 2020, 17:45 (18 days ago) @ dulan drift

Chiang Zhou-wen works at the Wuhan Institute of Virology. As a woman it’s not easy carving out a career in science - not in China or the US or anywhere. For a woman to navigate through this old boys network to the top flight of academics in the world, you can safely deduce that that person is driven, tough, brilliant. Like Lindstrom, she made her mark with SARS, though their paths didn’t cross initially. At that time she was just a smart young scientist - not on Lindstrom’s level.

Later the race was on to identify the original host body. When all her colleagues were writing papers theorising that it could be this or that (Lindstrom had argued it was rats) - she decided to get out in the field. That doesn’t sound astounding but most scientists don’t do it. If it can’t be done in the lab then it’s not done. The popular theory had become bats to civets to humans at a wet market but there was no definitive proof. Chou-wen put on her hiking gear and went looking for the bat caves. She found them. She collected fecal samples, took them back to the lab - analysed them for viruses. She didn’t find SARS but she found similar ones. That was enough to set her off - she spent more time hiking in the mountains of Yunnan and Guangzhou than she did in Wuhan - a fact that was starting to concern the Institute's director. It was known that she loved nature and hiking already - it was starting to look like she’d crossed over to the other side. But then she did find it! Not a 100% match but 96.8% - enough to say for sure that it was derived from this strain - also enough where you wouldn’t need the civet - in fact she argued that it was most likely a direct infection from bats to humans.

This catapulted her into the public’s eye. International media were fascinated by her story - they nicknamed her Bat Lady. The minister of S&T was also impressed. As someone in charge of the budget he sees a lot of money get spent on research that leads no where. Here was someone who'd actually got results. She was already a lead scientist at WIV but now she could get funding for whatever she wanted. What she wanted was to predict the next SARS. To do that she started making hybrid viruses with the samples they’d collected and/or forced samples to mutate to see what would happen. Her lab was now her crystal ball. If she could make the perfect coronavirus then she could make the perfect cure. Chou-wen is into the pure science of her work - but she also knows that the person who has an antidote for a new SARS-like outbreak - which she’s sure will come one day - that person is going to be rich and celebrated.

Proximal Origins - Bat Lady

by dan @, Tuesday, June 16, 2020, 15:47 (17 days ago) @ dulan drift

You know somebody is going to make a movie that looks very similar to this. Find a producer and pitch your idea. I'm serious. What's the worse that could happen?

Proximal Origins - Bat Lady

by dulan drift, Tuesday, June 16, 2020, 17:18 (17 days ago) @ dan

You know somebody is going to make a movie that looks very similar to this. Find a producer and pitch your idea. I'm serious. What's the worse that could happen?

Thanks! Yeah there'll be movies/tv series galore so better cracking with formulating the outline!

Proximal Origins - Spitz Research

by dulan drift, Tuesday, June 16, 2020, 17:28 (17 days ago) @ dulan drift

Spitz Research’s website says it “advances scientific understanding, educates the scientists of tomorrow and impacts human health across the globe. We are science changing life.”
Wiki says they’re the “largest private, non-profit biomedical research organization in the United States ...that has generated over 50 spinoff companies.” Government funding supplies half their income with the rest coming from education, hospitals, and therapeutics. As a not-for-profit they are eligible to solicit donations. They’ve got some good ones, including Ben & Mia Dawes. In general, business was booming. That extra money from donors and a boost in overseas education revenue went into salaries for the higher ups to the tune of 83% in the previous 8 years. Yes it was not for profit, but that doesn’t mean you can’t pay your key people decent money. You have to if you want to attract quality, the likes of Lindstrom who'd worked there for 7 years.
In the years following the Obama cuts though, the company started losing 20 million a year for a run of three years. They’re a big company so they can handle a downturn but it’s not sustainable. Things almost got to the point where researchers and administrative staff might have to take a pay cut.

In 2017, their luck changed. They’d already developed good ties with China through collaborative research as well as a 250% boost in the number of Chinese students over 10 years - in fact that was what'd rocket-fueled the pay packs - then the founder of WiXi PharmaTech, Li Jien-ting, who had been a donor, let it be known that he would like to get involved on an administrative level. It was agreed to welcome him as a Director of the Board along with Tom Rystian the real estate mogul and Jack D. Leichardt, founder of venture capitalist group 6 o’clock. The chairman is Wilfred Hearche the third - grandson of the media magnate, Wilfred Hearche.

Li brought new energy as a director. His first proposal was to develop a cutting-edge research facility in Guangdong on the border of Hong Kong. Li negotiated full-funding from the Chinese government, including salaries. As part of the deal, Li wanted the young, brash scientist working in the virology department called Xavier Hansen. Hansen's specialty is the crossover between science and surveillance - he refers to it as macro-science. He's tech savvy and knows how to apply it to modelling. He manages to rub some people the wrong way but he's happy in that world - juggling experiments, politics, papers, and twitter wars comfortably all in the one day.

Although Li Jien-ting is more of a private personality, he saw something of himself in Hansen - an energy, an impatience to get things done - a man who wanted to makes some money and get somewhere in this world. Most importantly, they shared a vision of the future where data is everything.

Proximal Origins - Uyghurs

by dulan drift, Wednesday, June 17, 2020, 17:58 (16 days ago) @ dulan drift

Uyghurs
With an unlimited budget, Lindstrom made rapid progress with his DNA profiling technique.
Hansen worked on refining models and eventualising the database platform. Sherlock was in Wuhan Institute with Chiang Zhou-wen inserting a SARS sequence into a mutated Yunan bat virus. The three men gathered on Zoom once a week to formally report, catch up - but also texted daily.
This week there’s a big announcement. Lindstrom announces they’ve got the go ahead for a large-scale human trial.
It involves the Uyghurs
The who?
The Uyghurs - they’re an ethnic group in Xinjiang
Where’s that?
It’s way out west - it’s the middle of fucking nowhere
So what about these... what did you call em?
Uyghurs. Anyway, they’s been some incidents - like terrorist incidents - these crazy fucking knife attacks on a a fucking farmers' market - cops were killed as well as you know like civilians
Fuck! I didn't hear about that.
Yeah so it’s China right? They’re not gonna put up with that shit - so they had a crackdown, as you would.
Ok.
So what’s that got to do with us?
They’ve made these, well they call them ‘Re-education Camps’ so they’re like processing the whole area. They’ve constructed these, you know, pre-fab internment facilities. They’re state of the art - fucking massive - we flew over the area in a helicopter
Cool!
So’s ‘we’?
What?
'We flew over in a helicopter' Who's 'we'?
i don’t like to name drop haha.
C'mon
You know i can't say. Anyway, it's not the point. The point is as part of the processing they want to trial DNA gathering - you know - so - i mean there’s a lot of fucking people gonna be locked up in these...ah ...education facilities.. this is..
Sounds a bit fucking weird man. Is it like a concentration camp?
No - it’s not like that - it’s really about education. They’ve got a problem with terrorism - just like we do - you know it’s like it’s ok for the US labeling everyone terrorists and bombing the shit out of them but the Chinese can’t take measures to control their own?
Yeah - good point - probably do it with a lot less fucking death and destruction as well
Exactly! They just want them to assimilate into society - get the job skills for today's economy - you know get 'em invested. It's not about locking them up it's about bringing them in.
So our job is to monitor health?
Pretty much - they’re really serious about that shit. All our genomic surveillance work - this is our chance to try it on for real on a scale that...
What sort of scale are we talking - in the thousands?
Try the millions
Fuck, really!
This is our chance to take it around the block. People will be in close quarters - so it’s a place where disease can break out - so they want to control that right?
Around the block? I just googled Xinjiang - it’s like the size of fucking Texas
This is the start of the.. well i was gonna say 'brave new world' haha but that's maybe not the best reference - you know what i mean. We all know data gathering is exploding - we're riding the crest of it.

Proximal Origins - Uyghurs 2

by dulan drift, Wednesday, June 17, 2020, 17:59 (16 days ago) @ dulan drift

So excuse my crassness - but say we pull this off - show that our little system works - then money wise ...
We're gonna be rich men, don't worry Sherlock.
You already are a fucking rich man Lindstrom!
Ok, it sounds ... perfect. Who are these terrorists again?
Uyghurs?
How to spell that i want to google it
I don’t know .. W something. Try 'Xinjiang terrorists'.
How about the data - how does that work - we like go in there…?
No the data it's all be uploaded to Hansen's platform directly - we’ll be able to see it the second it’s available.
So that’s all the Chinese want - just disease prevention? How about criminal profiling?
Yeah well that too of course. You know it’s just like identifying a virus - the sooner you can predict it, the sooner you can stop it spreading.
Yeah, we all get that, but it’s kinda - how to put it - controversial
Well that’s the beauty of doing business in China - they don’t care about that - they’re looking big picture
Yeah - but how about the rest of the world? You know people are gonna try and make out it’s like … I’m assuming there’s not necessarily consent involved in collecting the DNA, is there?
I don’t know. You know what? I don’t really care. If it can identify terrorists the same way it identifies viruses then how is that a bad thing?
But other people will care - Gretzki wrote that paper…
That's exactly my point. Who knows or cares about fucking old Gretzki? Just because we think about this stuff all the time doesn't mean others do. You didn’t even know who the fuck the Uyghurs were until i told you five minutes ago. I told you it's literally the middle of fucking nowhere. Nobody knows, nobody cares.
Yeah, and if they do, they’ll be too gutless to say anything coz China’s running their economy haha
Anyway - it's not like we're fucking rapists and murderers - we're doing this because we believe it can save lives.
I agree, that's what we gotta keep sight of - like we said before, we’re not here to be politicians - except you of course Lindstrom - how’s your buddy President Xi doing?
He’s doing fine. But he wants an answer promptly.
Yeah, just out of curiosity, we say ‘no’ - then what happens
Nothing. Well not nothing - you won’t get disappeared or anything if that’s what you’re worried about. But all those nice honorary professorships and sweet joint facility deals - that’d cease to exist as a thing - i’d imagine.
Like i said, just curious
So is that a yes?

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