Nothing sets off my Modern Prometheus alarms as the most recent interest in gene editing, particularly in that little bit of Crispr that seems to find its way into biological gene forms. Just like Victor Frankenstein creating his creature from dead body parts in Mary Shelley’s novel from 1818, we now have scientists in China working to find the way to ‘edit’ genes like the ones that they suspect cause cancer. Sound like fun? It didn’t turn out so well for Victor, and without actually understanding what’s happening with genetic ‘disorders,’ is it such a good idea to shoot in the dark?
“Modern gene editing is quite precise but it is not perfect. The procedure can be a bit hit and miss, reaching some cells but not others. Even when Crispr gets where it is needed, the edits can differ from cell to cell … Another common problem happens when edits are made at the wrong place in the genome. [oops!] There can be hundreds of these “off-target” edits that can be dangerous if they disrupt healthy genes or crucial regulatory DNA.”
But it’s already happening, right?
A bit of micro-cutting to get those genes back into tip-top shape! Victor Frankenstein eat your heart out. Boris may be closer than you think!
Gene editing – and what it really means to rewrite the code of life
It’s a long read on The Guardian, but definitely worth it.
Timothy Morton wants humanity to give up some of its core beliefs, from the fantasy that we can control the planet to the notion that we are ‘above’ other beings. His ideas might sound weird, but they’re catching on.
‘A reckoning for our species’: the philosopher prophet of the Anthropocene
The ascent of the latest U.S. president has proved Neil Postman’s argument in Amusing Ourselves to Death was right. In a very readable article in The Guardian, Andrew Postman (Neil Postman’s son), gives his take on the similarities of our current reality to Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World rather than George Orwell’s 1984. Basically, it’s not about Big Brother watching you, but people chasing entertainment, no matter how infuriatingly ridiculous or ‘fake’ it might be.
As Postman writes:
Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information. Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we would be reduced to passivity and egoism. Orwell feared that the truth would be concealed from us. Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance. Orwell feared we would become a captive culture. Huxley feared we would become a trivial culture..
Where will we go from here? Postman argues:
Who can be appalled when the coin of the realm in public discourse is not experience, thoughtfulness or diplomacy but the ability to amuse – no matter how maddening or revolting the amusement?
My dad predicted Trump in 1985 – By Andrew Postman
I am looking forward to reading Naomi Klein’s latest book, This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate, which links climate change to the economic system. There is also a film to follow. This is an issue that has not been addressed adequately, and it looks as though she has written a thoughtful, succinct book. Can social movements save us, though? Are we already past the point of no return? I would argue that social movements from civil rights to gender equality are still as relevant as ever, and are one of the only ways to affect change. I am adding this book to my to-be-read pile.
“This is the best book about climate change in a very long time— reminding us just how much the powers-that-be depend on the power of coal, gas and oil. And that in turn should give us hope, because it means the fight for a just world is the same as the fight for a liveable one.”
— Bill McKibben, author of The End of Nature and co-founder of 350.org
“An enormous, complex, compelling and, by turns, distressing and rallying analysis of the dysfunctional symbiotic relationships between free-market capitalism, the fossil fuel industry and global warming”
— Booklist Review
Sorry, Naomi Klein, social movements are not enough to save us | rabble.ca
The film trailer:
A 130,000-tonne asteroid is currently hurtling towards the Earth. Well, at least close to the Earth. Not AT Earth exactly, despite what recently happened in Russia.
A live view of the space rock’s approach from observatories in Australia, where it is nighttime, went live online around 11:30 a.m. ET, about three hours before the asteroid’s closest approach to Earth. Starting at 2 p.m., NASA will also be providing live commentary. Fun!
More News On the CBC.
Nikola Tesla: Why is he overlooked?
Fans have rallied to buy the lab of inventor and electricity pioneer Nikola Tesla to turn it into a museum. But why do so few people appreciate the importance of Tesla’s work?