The Chinese scientist He Jiankui recently claimed to have opened yet another of Pandora's seemingly endless set of boxes: Germline gene editing. He proudly announced that two babies were recently born whom he had genetically modified to provide resistance to HIV, changing their embryos, their germline, in vitro prior to their implantation in their mother's wombs by employing gene editing techniques based on the new phenomenon CRISPR-Cas9, a recently characterized bacterial immune system.
Jennifer Doudna's book A Crack in Creation: Gene Editing and the Unthinkable Power to Control Evolution warned against such a premature application of CRISPR-Cas 9 to the human germline. If you are interested in this new technology, its enormous promise and power, and the potential consequences, good and bad, this book is must read. The ability to directly and much more easily modify the genome of any living organism, via somatic or germline modification, has become a reality.
Book Book Review, Title Inhabited, Author Charlie Quimby, Rating 4.0,
Inhabited, Charlie Quimby's follow-up novel to his excellent Monument Road, focuses on life as a homeless person in a small city in western Colorado. This story is both edifying and compelling because he draws sympathetic and realistic characters, not just of those who migrate uncertainly from one temporary abode to another, but of those inhabitants who try to help the homeless and those who oppose such help, which can even be the same person under differing circumstances.
Reading has been in my own life a regular feature, even an addiction. So much beyond the immediate and the local becomes accessible. Reading has been in some ways for me a trusted companion. Recently the PBS series The Great American Read came to my attention. My wife Cindy and I followed with it with great eagerness.
Book Book Review, Title Slouching Towards Bethlehem, Author Joan Didion, Rating 3.0,
Slouching Towards Bethlehem
Joan Didion's set of personal essays from the mid-60's, an exercise in the emerging New Journalism and most in the first person, are episodically brilliant, but just as often facile and self-indulgent.
Book Book Review, Title Ordinary Geniuses, Author Gino Segrè, Rating 3.0,
This is a good but not great biography of two lesser-known 20th century scientists, George Gamow and Max Delbrück, both of whom show up in many historical accounts of the history of molecular biology, hence my interest. I was particularly interested in the author's depiction of Delbrück, a Nobel Prize winner late in his life for work done thirty years prior. Delbrück, who is routinely depicted as a great thought leader and a fiercely intelligent scientist, is elusive in other historical accounts, begging the question: What did he contribute, and why was his input so prized?
I have always supported law enforcement - it is a basic need in a country governed by laws, and our police put themselves at risk to enforce the laws on our behalf. For this the police deserve our appreciation and our full support. Yet full support is not unconditional support. Police wield a great deal of power, and they sometimes abuse that power; when they do, they, like anyone else who is in a position of public trust, must be held accountable.
The Peaceable Kingdom, 1833-34, Edward Hicks. Attrib: Wikipedia Loves Art, shootingbrooklyn, CC BY-SA 2.5.
Whose view of animals has more appeal? The ancient Jews or Henry Beston's?