Sick Genius

  • CRISPR-Cas9 is a unique technology that enables geneticists and medical researchers to edit parts of the genome by removing, adding or altering sections of the DNA sequence.
  • It is currently the simplest, most versatile and precise method of genetic manipulation and is therefore causing a buzz in the science world.

How does it work? That’s how. Amazing stuff, really. However… Editing genes to eliminate cancer or Schizophrenia could stop the rise of geniuses, scientist warns.

 If you haven’t followed the link, the article sums up the following: Dr. James Kozubek, the author of ‘Modern Prometheus: Editing the Human Genome with Crispr-Cas9’ suggests that the gene-editing technology Crispr-Cas9 — which is being tested in the US and China to curb the spread of cancer — is not completely a positive.

In 'Modern Prometheus,' Kozubek says the gene-editing technology Crispr-Cas9 ¿ which is being tested in the US and China to curb the spread of cancer ¿ is not  completely a positive thing‘Before we begin modifying our genes with gene editing tools such as Crispr-Cas9, we’d be smart to recall that genetic variants that contribute to psychiatric conditions may even be beneficial depending on the environment or genetic background.’

In a word, while gene modification technique is being tested in the US and China to curb the spread of cancer and it may also erase depression or Schizophrenia, it could eliminate geniuses — as high intelligence are often associated with such disorders.

  • Writers are 10 times more likely to have Bipolar Disorder.
  • Poets are diagnosed with it 40 times more often than the general population.
  • Thomas Edison was ‘addled’ and kicked out of school.
  • Tennessee Williams, as a teenager on the boulevards of Paris felt afraid of the process of thought and came within a hairsbreadth of going quite mad.
  • Scientists tend to think of variations in life as problems to be solved, deviations and abnormalities outside of a normal curve.
  • In reality, Darwin showed us that evolution does not progress toward an ideal concept or model, but rather is a work of tinkering toward adaptation in local niches.

Go and figure…

Rooms With A View

 

Banksy.jpgBETHLEHEM, West Bank (AP) — A Palestinian guest house packed with artwork by the elusive British graffiti artist Banksy unveiled itself Friday in the West Bank city of Bethlehem, with a sneak peek of what the owner called the “hotel with the worst view in the world.”

Banksy has made previous forays into the Palestinian territories. In one secret visit, he drew a painting of a girl pulled upward by balloons on the barrier facing his current project. Last year, he is believed to have sneaked into Gaza to draw four street murals, including one on a metal door that depicted the Greek goddess Niobe cowering against the rubble of a destroyed house. The painting, titled “Bomb Damage,” was drawn on the last remaining part of a two-story house that was destroyed in the 2014 war between Israel and Gaza’s Hamas rulers.

banksy1Wisam Salsaa, 42, said the nine-room Walled Off Hotel will officially open on Mar. 11, but he offered a handful of reporters a tour. The hotel looks directly out at the West Bank separation barrier erected by Israel to ward off potential Palestinian attackers. The barrier, which Palestinians consider to be a land grab that stifles their movement, is heavily decorated by artists, and Banksy has previously painted several murals on a walled segment of it.banksy2The hotel  has the markings of a gentleman’s club from the English colonial period. One small niche accommodates a life-size figure of Arthur James Balfour signing the 1917 letter that came to be known as the Balfour declaration — the basis for the international push for the creation of Israel. banksyThe cheapest room, $30 a night, is a dormitory-style room with bunkbeds.

The whole project took 14 months to complete and was kept under complete secrecy, in accordance with Banksy’s request to protect his anonymity. 

 An Israeli security watch tower is seen from one of the roomsSalsaa said the entire interior was personally overseen by Banksy, to the very last details. The hotel is the largest new body of the artist’s work in years, according to a press release distributed by representatives who attended Friday’s tour.The hotel, several of whose rooms look onto an Israeli security watchtower, is awash in the trademark satirical work of the mysterious artist. The highlight is Room 3, where guests sleep in a king-size bed underneath Banksy’s artwork showing a Palestinian and an Israeli in a pillow fight.

The artist’s satirical stencils — rats, kissing policemen, riot police with yellow smiley faces — first appeared on walls in Bristol before spreading to London and then around the world. His artwork comments on war, child poverty and the environment. His identity remains a mystery, but his works have fetched as much as $1.8 million at auctions. (From the article by NEBI QENA, AP News).

Articles on Banksy’s newest endeavor appeared in The Telegraph (The Walled Off Hotel: Banksy opens dystopian tourist attraction in Bethlehem) and many other publications and internet sources.

Cheating Beautiful Bastards

DSC_8768Regal and beautiful birds, swans are admired by all. And how could it be otherwise? After all swan is symbol of  everlasting love, purity and fidelity. But it so?

Not according to the results of the recent study conducted by Australian ornithologists. Love and fidelity of swans, as it happens, is a myth now dispelled by scientists.DSC_8742“Swans have long been renowned as symbols of lifelong fidelity and devotion, but our recent work has shown that infidelity is rife among black swans,” said Raoul Mulder from the University of Melbourne’s zoology department.

He and colleagues tested the DNA of many cygnets and found that one in six (17%) is the product of an illicit encounter. (The Myth of Monogamous Swans.)DSC_8787Interesting that about a quarter of “married” black swan couples are formed by homosexual males. Often a couple of males temporarily teams up with a female and, after she lays eggs, they cruelly expel her from the nest.

In fairness it should be noted that while scientists have traced only for a type of black swans, so it is hoped that the white swans behaved more decently.

Congratulations, Rest In Peace!

Since times immemorial Chinese believed that man can be happy only in marriage, and unmarried people are socially handicapped and greatly disadvantaged. In earthly life (so short!) everyone aspires to find a mate. After death, in the endless afterlife, every person meets his/her dead friends and relatives. Afterlife is good for those who were righteous in their earthly life for there is no divorce in thereafter. If couples shared a happy married life, they are destined to stay together forever after.

Bachelors, however, are in a great disadvantage because they can never find a mate in the after-world. Chinese people care for their dead a great deal. They simply cannot let their unmarried deceased loved one to be unhappy in the afterlife for eternity. Thus living relatives look for a “dead bride” for the dead bachelor. When found, the “newlyweds” are buried together, to start married life in the “other world.” And this marriage is considered perfectly legal!

The history of a ghost marriage (Chinese: 冥婚; pinyin: mínghūn; literally: “spirit marriage” goes back to antiquity. In those years, the infant mortality was very high, so many had no time to get married before succumbing to death. Hence the tradition of afterlife weddings. Archaeologists often find ancient tombs of opposite sex children buried together. Inscriptions on the graves say that these kids are married.Ghost marriages were officially banned by the communist government after the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949. As the nation began experiencing increased wealth over the last few years though, the ghoulish practice has reemerged, particularly in the northern provinces of Shanxi, Henan, and Shaanxi.

There are varying levels of ghost marriages. The more basic ones involve molds of dough or clay with black beans for eyes, or silver statuettes, being buried next to the deceased male. However, the ‘best’ ghost weddings involve corpse brides, dug up from another grave, reinforced with wire, dressed in new clothing, and reburied next to the deceased single man. The problem is that these corpses are stolen from unsuspecting families who in turn are unable to perform appropriate levels of ancestor worship, such as burning fake money at the annual Tomb Sweeping Festival held every April.

The tradition has gained so much traction in recent years that entire matchmaking agencies of the dead have been established to connect the families of deceased, single males with the families of women who have recently died. The government allows these agencies to function, in part because it recognizes that such activities are a result of the One Child Policy imposed on the nation for over thirty years. However, these agencies are unable to keep up with demand, leading others to steal bodies. The incentives are high for the thieves, with fresh corpse brides fetching over $15,600. In 2011, a man was arrested for killing his wife and then trying to sell her body as a corpse bride. Three years ago, four men were arrested after selling ten bodies for nearly $40,000. Even old, decomposed bodies can be sold for over $760. The thieves are emboldened by the relatively minor punishment for stealing corpses, which is up to three years in prison.Ghost Marriage

With authorities unable to curb the problem, Chinese families have adopted a number of ways to protect their deceased loved ones. Rather than burying the female members of their families on distant mountainsides, families are constructing tombs next to their homes. Others have encased the tombs in concrete. Affluent families have begun building fences around tombs, installing CCTV cameras, and hiring security guards to conduct daily patrols to ensure their dead family members stay buried.

‘Ghost marriages’ on the rise in China as people steal ‘corpse brides’ to marry dead single men.

Mammoth Hunters

1-Бивень мамонта торчит из земли Photographer Evgenia Arbugaeva‘ s project Mammoth Hunters is a set of fascinating images of the indigenous peoples of Siberia searching for, finding and excavating tonnes of mammoth tusks. I read a Russian article featuring these photographs and was about to retell the story for this post, but found an article in English that pretty much word for word repears the content — Extraction of Mammoth tusks in Siberia.

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Spam. 1864

dentist.PNGPresumably, the first spam message by telegraph was recorded in 1864.

spamTO THE EDITOR OF THE TIMES

Sir,

 On my arrival home late yesterday evening a “telegram,”
by “London District Telegraph,” addressed in full to me, was
put in my hands. It was as follows: —

“Messrs. Gabriel, dentists, 27, Harley-street, Cavendish-square.
Until October Messrs. Gabriel’s professional attendance at 27,
Harley-street, will be 10 till 5.”

I have never had any dealings with Messrs. Gabriel, and beg to
ask by what right do they disturb me by a telegram which is
evidently simply the medium of advertisement? A word from you
would, I feel sure, put a stop to this intolerable nuisance. I
enclose the telegram, and am,

Your faithful servant,

Upper Grosvenor-street, May 30. M. P.

Yes, it has been dentist’s advertising services.

Ice Cream And You

Alan R. Hirsch MD, the head of SMELL & TASTE TREATMENT AND RESEARCH FOUNDATION, LTD in Chicago, Illinois, argues that our choice of ice cream can tell a lot about our personalities.
icecream.PNG Study participants were asked to choose a favorite variety of ice cream, after which they were given a whole battery of psychological tests designed to assess people’s personality. Although this study was sponsored by ice cream manufacturers (Baskin Robbins, Dreyer’s/Edy’s), the methodology of the research is quite sound and unbiased.

Those who chooses vanilla ice cream over all other flavors are idealistic, impulsive, ready to take risks, rely more on intuition than on logic.

Strawberry ice cream tempts most introverts, people who are generally calm, reliable and thoughtful.

Those who love chocolate ice cream also love flirting and seduction, they are fun, charming, though sometimes dramatic.ice-cream-series-by-jonathon-kambouris1

Mint ice cream is chosen by people who love to argue. In a dispute, they will definitely find a fly in the ointment. They are ambitious, confident and sure in their righteousness.

Multi-colored popsicles, rather unexpectedly, attract pessimistic people. This flavor’s bright colors and fruity taste is no match for the downbeat attitude of those who choose it as their favorite. “We found that people who prefer rainbow sherbet are more pessimistic than you would think,” says Hirsch, who also found they’re analytic and decisive.

Ice cream with cocoa, biscuits, walnuts and marshmallow is often the choice of aggressive, successful in business people. These people often are very good listeners.

Coffee ice cream is liked by people who approach life with gusto, living big. They are energetic and often fall into histrionics. They live in the present and need constant revival of romantic relationships.

Generous, competent go-getters prefer chocolate chip vanilla ice cream.

Ice cream with walnuts or pecans is a preference of loyal, respectful and honest people. They hold high standards for right and wrong and are afraid of hurting people’s feelings.

Dr Hirsch also says that the preference of a certain type of ice cream might give us an idea about comparability — if people like ice cream of the same flavor, especially the ice cream with complex flavor, such as vanilla ice cream with chocolate ships and strawberries.

Thus tell me what kind of ice cream you like and I’ll tell you who you are. On the other hand, if I like several flavors equally then what am I?

Justice For Jesus

christ.jpgJesus was condemned by the Sanhedrin, the Supreme Court of Israel (an assembly of twenty-three to seventy-one men appointed in every city in the Land of Israel) for proclaiming himself the Son of God, the Messiah. Since, according to Sanhedrin and the Romans,  Jesus was not the Son of God, the ruling and the sentence was fair — perfectly in keeping with the times. However, the verdict handed down by the Sanhedrin and executed by the Romans wasn’t without a number of procedural errors.

  • The hearing took place at night, although the law explicitly forbade the convocation of the Sanhedrin after dark.
  • Jesus was condemned during the Easter holidays, while during the Passover every official activities were strictly forbidden. 

Interesting that in 1948, an appeal to overturn Jesus Christ’s conviction was filed with the newly created Supreme Court of the State of Israel. The Court, however, declared itself incompetent to rule on appeal.christ.PNGMore recently, in August of 2013, the Kenyan lawyer Dola Indidis attempted to get justice for Jesus yet again. He urged the International Court of Justice at Hague to hear the 2000 year old case of the founder of Christianity and  completely exonerate Jesus Christ.

Is the “justice for Jesus” quest has merit?

“In this case, it is not clear what international law might have been violated and, even if there was such a violation, it is not clear that the relevant states have consented to the ICJ (the International Court of Justice) having jurisdiction over the dispute.” (Columbia law professor Anthea Roberts.)

Dead In The Sea Of Trees

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Live and learn… how people die, where and why…

Aokigaharathe forest at the base of Mt. Fuji in Japan. This is no place for a leisurely stroll. The forest’s trees organically twist and turn, their roots winding across the forest floor in treacherous threads. Because of its location at the base of a mountain, the ground is uneven, rocky, and perforated with hundreds of caves. But more jarring than its tricky terrain is the feeling of isolation created from the stillness; the trees are too tightly packed for winds to whip through and the wildlife is sparse. One visitor described the silence as “chasms of emptiness.” She added, “I cannot emphasize enough the absence of sound. My breath sounded like a roar.”

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Suicide is the leading cause of death for Japanese men between the ages of 20 and 44. It is beginning to look like an epidemic among teens as well. For the elderly, it’s a problem, too, as Japanese life insurance (for the most part) still pays out in suicide cases. There doesn’t appear to be any sector of Japanese society that is not dealing with suicide, and one of the most popular places to do it is in Aokigahara Forest. (From the article by David Mattews)dead4
Since the 1950s, Japanese businessmen have wandered in, and at least 500 of them haven’t wandered out, at an increasing rate of between 10 and 30 per year. Recently these numbers have increased even more, with a record 78 suicides in 2002.

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The forest workers have it even worse than the police. The workers must carry the bodies down from the forest to the local station, where the bodies are put in a special room used specifically to house suicide corpses. The forest workers then play jan-ken-pon—rock, paper, scissors—to see who has to sleep in the room with the corpse.

It is believed that if the corpse is left alone, it is very bad luck for the yurei (ghost) of the suicide victims. Their spirits are said to scream through the night, and their bodies will move on their own. (From the article Aokigahara Suicide Forest.)

Histography: Everything About Everything

5681769_original.gifHistography is interactive timeline that spans across 14 billion years of history, from the Big Bang to 2015.
The site draws historical events from Wikipedia and self-updates daily with new recorded events.
The interface allows for users to view between decades to millions of years.
The viewer can choose to watch a variety of events which have happened in a particular period or to target a specific event in time. For example you can look at the past century within the categories of war and inventions. prt_430x345_1441667274Take a look. It might seem tricky at first, but if you get a handle of it, you might find that the Matan Stauber’s site really delivers on its promise.
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