Monday, February 22, 2010

Genetic Engineering

Some political/scientifical (yes spell check, I DO realize that's not a real word) things on my mind today...
Designer babies.
This article from the New York Daily News talks about a Dr. Jeff Steinberg who is offering parents the chance to pick the hair and eye color of their next baby-shaped accessory. Sure to become the next fad among the Hollywood elites in their bored, over-paid lives, genetic engineering is theoried to be able to effect height, weight, IQ, temperament, gender, sexuality- even, perhaps, taste and preferences. We can all see where this going, I think. Remember that kid we all knew growing up, the one whose mom wouldn't let her do ANYTHING? No running, no playing, no yelling, no sleep-overs, no camping, no computer, no video games... the kid with the list of allergies exactly as long as the list of his mom's neuroses... the polite, well-mannered little boys and girls who grew up under the quashing thumb of a crushingly orthodox religion, only to become adults who pierced themselves and ate sugar and became gay.
But thanks to the miracle of genetic engineering and embryo selection, this pesky problem will soon be eradicated! Give parents the opportunity to select the embryo least likely to ever defy or disappoint, and voila! A utopia of harmony unrivaled since the paradise of America, circa 1955.
I'm scared, too.
It's gonna be like Gattaca meets Pleasantville meets Stepford.

Put aside the more obvious objections- it's not safe, the technology requires testing on humans, isn't selecting one fetus to implant and "terminating" the others the same as abortion? (worse because you chose consciously to create and kill that embryo), the cost will create social divide, what happens when the super-race gets tired of the old models and causes generation slaughter, how are we going to feel when we're obsolete?- and let's get down to brass tacks: it's just plain CREEPY. And boring! Where's the mystery? Where's the FUN?

Now, if this was a widely read blog, I'd expect a couple of responses in the pattern of "Well you try having three children with down syndrome and one with Duchenne's and one with luekemia and you tell me where the "fun" is in THAT. Genetic engineering is the future."

Dr. Steinberg agrees.

In fact, his proclamation of the future is pretty interesting: ""Genetic health is the wave of the future," he (Dr. Steinberg) said. "It's already happening and it's not going to go away. It's going to expand. So if they've got major problems with it, they need to sit down and really examine their own consciences because there's nothing that's going to stop it.""


Cue creepy dun-dun-dun-dunnnnnnn.That sounds like some kind of evil monologue. Thank you, Dr. Doomsday. You hear that, internet population? We're powerless. Progress is progress and mere humans are helpless to stop it.

What happened to trust in God? What happened to good old Mother Nature? And what on Earth ever gave us the idea that WE were in the best position to decide the future of our race? I have very little confidence in my own ability to decide my OWN future, much less that of my future offspring. As for the people who say that it's useful for medical reasons, I provide this soundly reasoned rebuttal:

Yes, Well, they bloody well aren't DOING that with it now are they?

The trouble is, it's all the look-y type things that are easy to get at, on the outside part of the what's-its. The disease bits are much harder to identify and take out. Add to that the objection that even if they could be found, we can't CHANGE them- we can just terminate the embryos (Emily's take: slaughter the potential babies) that HAVE them. We're not curing cancer- we're killing every person who might potentially ever have cancer.

Which, by the way, is everyone.

That's the true road to a world free of disease and defects- kill everybody. Genius. There'll be no more war or pain or hatred (or love or music or art or family or society or civilization, unless the cats aren't telling us something)

Moreover, we still don't understand how genes effect each other. For example, there was a study a few years back ( I don't know where and I don't know when, I read it a few hours ago with no idea I'd ever think about it again and silly me, I don't routinely take citation notes in light reading. I certainly hope this doesn't pop up in the future as a plagiarism issue and ruin my academic reputation. To be on the safe side, I'll avoid building one. Anyway about the study) that found that when a gene was injected to cure some immune syndrome, it did in fact cure the immune thing. And then the patients had leukemia.

All of this is so uncertain and just reeks of being such a BAD idea. Think about where this will lead. It's a superficial future ahead of us, ladies and gentlemen, if we don't stop trying to play God. I've seen what kind of people are out there- I'd rather leave the fate of the world up to God, fate, luck, or blind chance, than place it in the hands of my fellow humans.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

The Biggest Loser at my Dorm

I woke up this morning to a fresh fallen sheet of white all around me.
No, not snow.
Posters, posters, everywhere. Apparently my dorm is having a Biggest Loser contest. So at first I was like, WOOHOOO! In the BAG!
And then I read the posters and realized they're actually talking about weight.
But maybe not such a bummer.

See the downside is, to enter, you gotta pay $20. Which is a lot for me. All the entry fees go into a pot and at the end of the contest, in like April, the person who's lost the most weight gets all the money. The thing that makes me think maybe I should enter is, most of the chicks in my dorm are already pretty athletic. Meaning... no matter how hard they work, they just plain flat-out CAN'T lose as much as I could. (I could lose... a lot. A lot. We'll just say that nice vague amount.) So really it might be worth it. I mean think about it... if I succeed, not ONLY does my butt finally fit in the same zip-code as me, I also have money from a bunch of skinny girls.

I call that a win-win scenario.

So what does anybody think? Oh wait... silly me... I forgot that the only people currently reading this blog are my mother, my roommate, and my friend. That is so so sad. I need to work on becoming webfamous... I crave attention.
Someday. Mark my words.

Well, someday's really only one word....

So mark my word.



Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Not-So-Secret Admirers

My first encounter with a secret admirer was in fifth grade. A ratty three-by-five card slipped into my backpack, with the elegant words "your so nice will you be by grillfriend love guess who???" printed in childish scrawl on one side, the other decorated with lopsided hearts. Despite the atrocious spelling and grammar (a friend to your grill? Your gorilla friend?), I was thrilled. For the entire ten minutes that the illusion lasted, I felt lifted up. Transformed. No longer just the chubby shy kid who the eighth graders picked on, I was the object of desire.
Until my little sister started giggling manically.
Not the last time I would feel stupid for believing someone might be interested.
The next anonymous communication of love came from me to the cute, curly-haired blue eyed boy in my class. The only one who never called me names or yelled at me for being terrible at sports. We were assigned to write nice notes to our classmates for Christmas that year- again, on 3 x 5 cards. While I DID sign my name, the love was disguised oh-so-cleverly: around the perimeter I wrote, "Caro mio bien, cree deem ya men, senza di te languis el cor" which is terribly spelled Italian for "dear one, believe- when we must part, I must languish in my heart". Awfully strong sentiment for a boy whose best quality was simply NOT torturing me.
Seventh graders have lower standards, apparently.
My next encounter with anonymous affection was a second-hand one. My good friend started getting emails from a mysterious and fascinating "strawberrysprinkles", a boy with a great sense of humor known to her only as "Jerry". She really started to fall for this guy. The relationship continued on and off in cyberspace for almost a year- until she found out that these emails were actually being written by my sister, the serial-fake-anonymous-lover.
My sister, bless her heart, never meant any harm. She's about the sweetest person you'll ever meet, and the best at making people happy. The problem is, the immediate fix for happiness isn't always the best plan for long-term contentment.
Which is kind of a good thing to keep in mind, in relationships. Hello, teenage pregnancy.
The next time I wrote a secret admirer note was the worst Valentine's day I've had so far... and that's really saying something. One of my friends convinced me to write a note to another friend as a joke. The whole thing back fired when he immediately knew who had written the note. Instead of taking it as intended, he took it 100% seriously and that forced him to have a very awkward conversation in which he attempted to let me down easy. The ironic part is, my main fear in giving him the note was that he'd take it seriously and ask me out, forcing ME to have a very awkward conversation in which I attempted to let him down easy.
Few friendships could survive such awkwardness.
Thinking about all of this lately, because my roommate just received a rose for (belated) Valentine's day... It wasn't anonymous, but for some reason it made me think about secret admirers. What's the appeal? Why go to all the trouble and then not take credit?

Cuz we're chicken.

No, seriously, I think it's deeper. There's this kind of basic insecurity mixed with primal pride... we think the object of our affections really WOULD love us back, if they could see US, the inner us, the us that doesn't seem to show itself in English class. If we weren't us, trapped in our routines and habits and stereotypes, we would be MORE ourselves. Somehow. There's always a side of ourselves we don't get to BE, every day. If he could see that... see ME, without the limitations actual appearance puts on me, I just know he'd love me.

Take my advice: if you love someone, just say it. Be honest and let the chips fall where they may. Because if someone's only gonna love you when they don't know it's you, that's really not gonna work out long-term, now, is it? You can't grow old with a mystery date. You can't even DATE a mystery date. And don't fake-secret-admire your friends. It's not as good of an idea as you think: they'll either hate you or force you to have The Awkwardest Conversation of Your Life.

I love you all!
most Nonymously,

Monday, February 15, 2010

YouTube Famous

So today I was spending (read: wasting) some time between my academic advising appointment (more on that) and Spanish class (3:45- 6:00 PM. Um, maybe it's just me, but... that's NAP time.) watching random videos on YouTube. Well, one random "misheard lyrics video" -My Chemical Romance, Helena. Funny funny funny- and a random video by a big YouTube celebrity who shall remain unnamed (but it rhymes with Mane Lawson) and I started wondering... how do these people get to be web-famous? Smosh... Fred... Bo Burnham... they're basically just bored white boys (is Anthony white???) being random. Yet somehow, they enormously entertain me. And many thousands of other bored citizens of the webernet.
I have two theories.
One: they are not, in fact, just having fun. There is a long, complex process involving a large budget and a lot of forethought and they are actually trained actors with script writers and a camera crew.
Two: human beings are very easily entertained. Specifically the 12-21 variety.
But really the question remains... how do these people get so web-famous?
And how would one go about copying them in that?

Can I just say that academic advising rocks? You go in there, adrift, no idea what classes you need next term, no idea what you're doing, and wow! Someone has all the answers. It's amazing. A couple of pieces of paper lay out a map for your next step. Why don't they have job advisors? Or better yet, relationship advisors? Someone to just tell you in simple terms what your next step ought to be. Life should come with an instruction manual... and DON'T anybody reply saying that's what the bible's for. Yes. God's word is valuable and moral. But when it comes to choosing a career or deciding whether or not those shoes will make the hot junior in Bio fall madly in love with you? Yeah. Not so applicable.

It also doesn't have a chapter on becoming web-famous.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Valentine's Day

I know it's all a plot by corporate America to fill our landfills with "I Love You" balloons and heart-shaped candy boxes, thus contributing to global climate change and dooming us all to explode in a cataclysmic fury of consumer greed... but I still feel lonely on Valentine's day.
Maybe it's just an excuse to wallow in my single-ness. After all, I can't mope around and eat cartloads of chocolate EVERY day. It's a good day to sit back, watch a couple corny chick flicks, and gain another counterproductive five pounds.
I look at my life and I look in the mirror and the word that springs to mind is, unfathomably, "self-destruction". Every day that I spend in College Algebra is a day lost- a day out of this finite slice that I will never have back. I can't help feeling this is not what I ought to be doing. And it seems like having a special someone would alleviate that.
It's not about candy and flowers and PDA. It's not about having someone to meet in the cafeteria or go out to a movie with. I have that- I have friends. I'm not utterly isolated like some sad crazy cat lady. Not yet, anyway.
The real problem is that I know what it's like when you look into somebody's eyes and you see them looking back at you and you know that they think you're.... well no, really, that's all that matters. They THINK something of you. They think about you. That boy, that other person, has reached across improbable space and singled ME out as someone worthwhile. It's incredibly affirming.

And addictive.

And when it's gone, it's not the same as before you'd ever had it. If a child was raised his whole life in a cold, dark cave ( raised by bats, let's say) and one day, experienced the sun- warm, golden light, soothing pains he hadn't been aware of until he felt the alternative-then- cruelly- he is stuck back in the same stupid cave, left to whimper in the dripping shadows for the rest of his life, isn't he worse off than before he knew? Knew how different life could be?

I have just one thing to say to the sun:

I hate you.

Happy Valentine's day.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

New to the blog: AdSense and my personal blog

So this is kind of attached to my story blog... I wanted someplace where I could talk about stuff. And explain what's going on with the stories and the blog and... well.. me. I just signed up for AdSense with google so in a couple of days ads should start showing up on my pages... which makes me feel like a real genuine member of the internet swindling community. I'm wondering if they'll put ads for cruises on my page since I have like "island" and "castaway" as key words in Stranded.
Speaking of Stranded... I'm still working on it but I've hit a serious bump in the road.. this one conversation I just canNOT seem to make flow. And the story might be taking a strange turn... I don't know what's wrong with my characters. They want things to be so complicated.
I thought I could use this addendum-blog to maybe give out some writing tips and respond to feedback I get on the story page. We'll see how it goes.