Saturday, January 19, 2019

Designer Babies

If you're new here, this is a weekly column consisting of letters written to my (eventual) grandchildren (who exist) and my great-grandchildren (who don't yet, aka the Stickies) to haunt them after they become grups and/or I'm dead.

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                                  Who The Hell Is This Guy?

Irregularly Appearing Imaginary Guest Stars 
Marie-Louise -- My beautiful muse  
Iggy -- My designated Sticky
Dana -- My designated gentlereader

"Families with babies and families without babies are sorry for each other."                                                                                                          - E.W. Howe

Dear (eventual) Grandstickies & Great-Grandstickies (assuming that there's anyone left to read this, that this exists in some form or fashion and that if it does, the technology to access it and the wherewithal to read it also still exists -- and that the world hasn't been ravaged by packs of mutant babies),

By nature, I see the glass as being half empty but I have two cunning strategeries to avoid succumbing to a terminal case of Fugiden. Til relatively recently my only defense was to try and find the smile/giggle in a given situation. Your arrival, actual and (hopefully) imminent, provided a second reason to bother getting out of bed in the morning and to not have brownies for breakfast.

I've no idea why grandstickies have this effect on (most) sexy senior citizens, it's probably something clinical that can be scientifically explained by some combination of DNA/evolution/acculturation/etceteration. Who cares if it works?

Speaking of science run amok...


Work with me Dana, quantum literary leaps for artistic purposes are covered under the terms of my Poetic License.


Man, it's hard to work with a philistine running loose, dare I say, amok, in one's subconscious.

[I'm going to eat a brownie and go back to bed, please don't bother me.]


Anyways, recently a Chinese scientist at a conference in Hong Kong claimed to have successfully implanted genetically altered embryos in a woman who gave birth to twin girls.


He said that he had altered a gene in such a way as to make them resistant to infection from H.I.V. For some reason I'm reminded of the favorite phrase of marketers everywhere, "New and Improved!"

Dr. He Jiankui (who has denied reports that he's a first cousin of Dr. Who) offered no proof and published no reports or data for peer review by his fellow scientists, mad or otherwise. Maybe, hopefully, he's an incompetent mad scientist or just nuts in an ordinary, non-mad scientist sort of way.

Vaguely remembering that some Chinese scientists were in the news a few years ago for this sort of thing I went a-googling and sure enough... There was a group of scientists in 2015 that messed around with some damaged embryos and who had no intention of trying to make a baby. They were seeing if they could successfully complete the first step of what Dr. He claims to have done, edit a gene. Baby steps.

Bad news (well, for them at least): they only succeeded in altering the DNA of 4 of the 85 embryos they tweaked. Worse news: they triggered accidental mutations in those four. The good news was that they published and scared the hell out of everybody... but apparently not Dr. He and who knows who else.

Tweaking embryos (making designer babies) is illegal in most countries, but not China. I guess you can't blame them since they can't follow their usual policy and steal what they can't develop on their own since theoretically, hopefully (but I don't believe it), somebody else isn't trying to perfect the tech.

Now -- legal, illegal, or whatever -- for a minute there Dr. He was thought to be missing. Not to worry, he appears to merely be under house arrest. Or not. Various and sundry gummit agencies, spokespersons and others swept up in the drama, such as many of Dr. He's fellow scientists, have come down hard on the good doctor.

However, from what I've been able to ascertain his official status appears to be that he's consigned to limbo till the current Emperor of the Middle Kingdom's vast bureaucracy decides what to do with/about him.

[Geez, sucks to be him, but what, pray tell, has any of this to do with the vague, lengthy, and paranoid salutation that began this incoherent rant?]

C'mom, Dana, that's painfully obvious don't you think? Somewhere out there may be not one, but two seemingly innocent babies mutating into God only knows what...

[Oh please...]

And even if this guy failed, or even made the whole thing up for whatever reason, given the nature of the beast do you believe for a second that someone('s) not working on this sort of thing somewhere?

[I'm gonna eat another brownie, good night.]

Some days I'm glad I'm old. Poppa loves you.

Have an OK day. 
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[I haven't got around to figuring out the official way to do this yet... but as of 12.15.18 I'm offering up my humble scribbles under a Creative Commons License. That is to say, Anyone may republish my columns anywhere -- as long as they don't alter them and as long as they credit me (Mark Mehlmauer) as the [I haven't got around to figuring out the official way to do this yet... but as of 1 author, and, link to my website, The Flyoverland Crank.

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