Friday, March 4, 2016

3mar25016 -- CRISPR, Scalia, FRESH Food Hub, Erika Moss Gordon, Pagosa Springs Sun, and a poem “Leaf Litter.”

Editing the human genome
Erika Moss Gordon (Art Goodtimes photo)

CRISPR … Scientists around the world are wringing their ethical hands, as this new technology breakthrough promises the alleviation of many inherited diseases, but also a dark side where designer babies could become a reality… As Nobel Prize-winning biologist David Baltimore told the The Week last month after an international gathering of scientists calling for a moratorium on inheritable human genome editing, “Everything I’ve learned here says we’re not ready to be doing this yet”  … It didn’t make the Science News top science story of 25015 (2015 CE). Pluto did.  But CRISPR came in a close second … What is it? A new way to edit genes that’s cheap, quick and precise. Imagine splicing new film onto an old reel – cutting, inserting, and rolling things into motion. That’s what this revolutionary technique is capable of with the DNA helix – using an enzyme (Cas9) like a molecular scissors to snip a particular spot, insert a new gene, and stitch everything back together … CRISPR is already being used to create genetically-modified crops, to create a strain of mosquito with malaria-blocking genes that pass on to following generations, and theoretically might be capable of removing genes to cure single-gene defects like Huntington’s disease and other tragic illnesses … Last year a team of scientists under the direction of Harvard geneticist George Church successfully copied Wooly Mammoth genes from frozen tissue and pasted them into the genome of an Asian Elephant. Next they want to inject them into an elephant egg cell. The hope – to create a mammoth-elephant hybrid that could survive outside of Asia and Africa … Genetically, things are moving fast. The future is uncertain. But for sure, you’ll be hearing more of CRISPR in the years to come.

SCALIA … As a member of the radical socialist middle, I feel like Paul Rosenberg in Salon, “Good riddance” … I wrote critically about Nino’s dictum, “Text is king,” when he came to speak up at the Mountain Village a couple years back. His “originalism” -- that hewed, more or less, to a strictly literal, almost royalist interpretation of the Constitution -- I found in direct contradiction to Lincoln’s vision of a nation by, for and of the people. Although Scalia wasn’t always consistent. In Bush v. Gore, The Week “cited his nakedly partisan, circular logic”. To my mind, changing circumstances require changed interpretations to fit the reality of post-modern life, not absolutist adherence to 18th Century values … As Law Professor Eric Posner wrote in Slate, Scalia’s “originalism” was more pose than philosophy. It let him pretend that he was politically neutral, while scorning his colleagues as activist hacks … But a different picture emerges of the man when you read the personal account of a seminary classmate of Greg Hobbs and I, liberal professor of constitutional law at Valparaiso University in Indiana, Ed Gaffney. It’s quite touching. Send an email to shroompa at gmail dot com and I’ll gladly forward you the account.

FRESH … Norwood’s new storefront Food Hub, sandwiched between Happy Belly Deli and US Bank, opened for snacks & good conversation this past Sunday, thanks to Leila Serafin and friends. Structured as a membership coop, FRESH hopes to sell local food and become a hub for local community food efforts. Come check it out. And become a member, like I did.

ERIKA MOSS GORDON … Under the new management of Norwood émigré Sara Doehrman, the Cimarron Bookstore in Ridgway has starting doing poetry readings. Gordon was the featured reader at a 5 o’clock performance Sunday, and it was outstanding. Erika writes strong, often short, lyrics – stripped down to essentials. But lush with imagery. Her pieces were captivating, and the full-house audience enthusiastic. She was celebrating the publication of her second book, Phases (Middle Creek Publ., 2016) with its daring impressionist cover that looks at first like a landscape of gentle hills, but on closer inspection turns out to be the breasts of a reclining nude … Although wholly her own person, Erika reminded me a lot of Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer – an excellent performer of her work, a poet with great heart and powerful insights, and a beautiful human being … Buy her book. Highly recommended.

PAGOSA SPRINGS SUN … One of the smaller regional newspapers made national press in The Week’s “Wit & Wisdom” column this month, with a quote from the late Robin Williams: “Music is God’s little reminder that there’s something else besides us in the universe, a harmonic connection between all living beings, everywhere, even the stars.”


Leaf Litter

Too often cocooned
inside, busy with
the 10,000 things

Took the time today
to watch sunset’s sepia
bronze the San Juans

The clouded sky blazing
molten gold, until
dulled by night’s shadows

Knowing soon enough
the trembling aspen leaves
not yet budded

will curl into litter
on layer like uncut lawn
& what once burned

will turn, McRedeye
sez, & ask us too

to lie down

1 comment:

  1. Who's going to spindle the splicers? Do they have a mandate from humanity to cut and paste? This is why some folks cling to their guns and bibles. Simple comforts against the old new predator, the unknown, Archons and AI running amok. Trying to get inside our heads and suck out our souls.

    Wolf Creek Pass
    Way up on the Great Divide
    Comin' on down
    the other side...


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