Call for Evidence on the Clinical Use of Human Germline Genome Editing

The International Commission on the Clinical Use of Human Germline Genome Editing seeks information in response to its call for evidence.

See the link below.

Responses are due by 27 September. Information submitted to the Commission will inform its deliberations as it develops a framework identifying scientific, medical, and ethical requirements to consider as part of a potential pathway from research to clinical use — if society concludes that heritable human genome editing applications are acceptable. The Commission’s report is expected to be released in 2020. Several question in the call invite broad input, while others are more technical in nature. You are encouraged to address those questions most relevant to your particular area(s) of expertise. When appropriate, providing citations and/or links to evidence in support of your responses is greatly appreciated.

https://forms.royalsociety.org/s/4X3D5/

 

Brexit update

In spite of all the noise in the media, the dot gov dot uk website still mentions 30 June 2021 as the application deadline

Application? To use an app to ask if we – EU citizens lawfully residing in the UK – can pretty please obtain the rights about which it was said in 2016 that they weren’t going to change and were guaranteed.

Even if we ask and are approved, we still won’t get any official documentation, nothing that will convince anyone else, apparently. But at least they’ve waived the application fee.

The dot gov dot uk website also still advises EU citizens who haven’t been here very long to wait until they’ve passed the five-year mark, if applicable, before they apply.

Today, I received this e-mail below, which undoubtedly everyone else in that Home Office e-mail data base got as well. (Can’t do screenshots at the moment.)

Consumerism or not

My microwave finally gave up the ghost a few days ago. There had been one or two earlier occasions when it was using energy but not heating food, so it was no big surprise.

The first thing I did was go online and look for a new one. Old habits die hard. It is very tempting to run out and get for example a new shiny red one right away as I rely pretty heavily on my microwave (and a red or black microwave is prettier than a white one). I very rarely use a stove or oven.

But this one had come from someone else’s kitchen remodelling project, and served me well for years. I’d bought the one before that new, and it did not last long at all.

So, operating from a non-consumerist point of view, I was hoping to find another one that was getting tossed out or already got tossed out during a kitchen renovation. Those microwaves often still work fine but as they usually have no legs and their looks may be a bit less appealing, most people probably don’t want them. They’d look a bit odd in a shiny new kitchen, granted.

So I went on freecycle, posted my request and crossed my fingers. I received three offers! I only needed one – which was very kindly dropped off, too – so that means that two other local people whose microwaves are about to break down will be in luck.

There is still so much stuff sitting around unused in people’s sheds, basements and attics. It means that something else does not actually have to be bought yet, with the various environmental burdens that purchase would entail.

What puts FOOD on the table?

Cooperation.

I just saw this on Twitter:

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

When I looked into it, I found that yes, there is interest from Turkey to save about 4000 jobs or so. By the way, Turkey isn’t joining the EU either and the billion or so Turkish people who were supposedly all moving to Britain – as an argument for Brexit – have no intention of doing that.

Campaign paid for by…

 

Be like water

Part of the zen approach to life is to be like water, to go with the flow (and not see yourself as the water drop but as part of the water). Water can be gentle and soothing or powerful and instantly destructive, but the gentle trickle can accomplish lasting change – as any limestone can tell you – while the destruction wreaked by loud manifestations of water often gets repaired pretty quickly.

Water adapts to its surroundings, takes the shape of what it finds, does not insist on being anything else.

I know (of) someone who is like the sea, made up of many individual waves of dark and light, among and under which many sea creatures play and lurk. He sees himself aptly as a work of art, of light and shadow. The brain is infinitely more fascinating than beauty, he says, as beauty fades and changes and loses its appeal, but the workings of the brain continue to intrigue.

Most people, however, only get to see the cute little seal who waves one of his flippers at them, and are oblivious to the rest of him. What they don’t know either is that he does not choose to be this way. It is simply what he is and like water, he goes with the flow, adapting himself to the circumstances, but he is also the rock in the middle of the stream that watches and influences the flow of the water around him.

Throughout my life, I have found that in times of turbulence, most people around you will rapidly flow away along the path of least resistance to seek easier surroundings. (I said “most people”, as not all will do this.)

When all you have to rely on is yourself, you may have to be like the rock and not allow yourself to be swept away or swept along. This, then, will cause sand grains and pebbles and smaller rocks to snuggle up, finding shelter behind you, in your wake, for a while.

We’re all like the water and like the rock at times, and at other times, we have no choice but to be like the pebble that seeks shelter behind the rock to get some rest and recuperate.

Eventually, each rock turns into smaller rocks, then pebbles, then sand grains, only to be turned into massive rock again later. And then the cycle repeats itself.

We are all different, yet we are also all really the same.

From the Tao Te Ching:

The supreme good is like water,
which benefits all of creation
without trying to compete with it.
It gathers in unpopular places.
Thus it is like the Tao.

The location makes the dwelling good.
Depth of understanding makes the mind good.
A kind heart makes the giving good.
Integrity makes the government good.
Accomplishment makes your labors good.
Proper timing makes a decision good.

Only when there is no competition
will we all live in peace.

Also from the Tao Te Ching:

Water is the softest and most yielding substance.
Yet nothing is better than water,
for overcoming the hard and rigid,
because nothing can compete with it.

Everyone knows that the soft and yielding
overcomes the rigid and hard,
but few can put this knowledge into practice.

Therefore the Master says:
“Only he who is the lowest servant of the kingdom,
is worthy to become its ruler.
He who is willing to tackle the most unpleasant tasks,
is the best ruler in the world.”

True sayings seem contradictory.

Mesmerizing

Targui = singular

Touareg = plural

Also called “Kel Tamashek” (something like “those who speak Tamashek”).

How do I know this? For a long time, I had a bunch of books, some quite old, in storage in the US that I once bought in Amsterdam. I also borrowed some for a while. About (mostly) northern Africa.

How come? A long time ago, when I was working at a large hotel in Amsterdam, a guy checked in who was living in the US – I think he had a travel agency there, in Virginia – and he completed part of his check-in card in French, as he had been born in Oran.

I realized that I knew nothing about the country he must have grown up in and went to the library, started reading. I soon went south and this is how I ran into the Touareg and their rich culture. Music, poetry, dance, lifestyle. I found them very inspiring.

I crossed into the Sahel too, into Mali for example, but I stopped there (until I later got into apartheid a little bit).

I seem to remember that the white dress is worn by royalty or only on special occasions and that the royal blue is the more commonly worn color. The Touareg cover their faces out of respect for you, if I recall correctly.

So at first, the title “The Voice of Tamashek Women” looked like it had been translated incorrectly, but during the interview, Eyadou Ag Leche talks about “the Tamashek style” so it apparently is more complicated than merely “language”. More like “culture”? Kel Tamashek then becomes something like “those who speak the language of that culture”, maybe.

Reading up on Africa in the early ’80s made me aware how much we of the west messed up there. The way I see it, we caused many of the drought (food) problems there because we didn’t think people in Africa knew how their own land worked and we started drawing lines and called them borders and told people to stay put instead of move around like they had always done.

I also had Geoffrey Moorhouse’s “The fearful void”.

“I’m in a complete solitude, where thoughts frighten me, and lost in their midst I arose and noticed that I was thirsty and wanted water.”

Wonderful that I now get to hear what the books I read sounded like, so to speak.

Send this man a birthday greeting, please

Thanks.

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

Brexit-forward

See also my previous post.

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

I am so so so sorry that the UK government and the abundance it keeps away from so many of the British makes the person who wrote that tweet feel that way.

Sadly, that lack of abundance for most of the British appears to be part of the historic makeup of British society (the class system and the resulting whopping inequality).

I am not too fond of my own extremely well-organized country because I find it a little bit too rigid, but from living in the UK, I have learned to see how wonderful it is to have no class system and very little inequality. It makes people feel very secure and quite happy, even though they may not be aware of it.

That makes it easier to be welcoming to strangers.

From a book written by a Brit about cultural differences and on how to deal with British people, for foreigners in international business settings.

From living in the US, on the other hand, I learned that my own country was running way behind on women’s emancipation and much too focused on everyone having to be average (as being average is perfectly fine), hence not being very tolerant of and not creating any space for people who wanted more.

When I was living in the US, people who wanted to be very good at something for the sheer joy of it, people who were very driven and enthusiastic, were so welcome and I loved that. I got to know Americans as open, easy-going and welcoming, but also as very hard-working, purpose-driven and goal-oriented.

In my home country, me wanting to work on weekends at the uni made some people consider me a total pain in the butt. In the US, it was perfectly normal for professors to be at the uni on weekends and over Easter.

Striving for excellence, for the sheer joy of it, is a wonderful thing, and that kind of “go for it” “yes, we can!” spirit is such a wonderful thing to have in one’s culture. I understand that part of what made America so great was the sense of everyone having to put their shoulders under it towards the same goal, no matter where you came from, a sense of pioneering and a sense of solidarity.

The way I see it, if we want to solve British feelings of intolerance and general misery and poverty, we must find a way to bring abundance to the people. Not charity. Not PR photo ops. A genuine everlasting sense of guilt-free abundance. This does not have to rely solely on material things, but should serve to make people feel that there will always be enough of anything they need, no matter what. Homes, food, clothes, education, opportunities.

Opportunities

So, I am stuck in a country that is preparing for riots over food shortages and medicine shortages and intends to bring the country under martial law when the government-imposed shit hits the lives of normal Brits a.k.a. the fan.

Is there anything positive in the foreseeable future, in Britain?

Well, they say that times like these, in which a society is in deep shit, offer the greatest opportunities.

Other than smuggling food and medications in with boats across the Channel and the North Sea, I am not seeing any yet.

Unless you are able to speculate big time every time the pound takes a hit and then moves up again.

Does this mean that people in Britain should pool their spare pounds? But with a couple of pounds, you can only make a couple of pounds, unless maybe if the pound drops to, say, one dollar cent eventually.

Britain already was so steeped in deep poverty and so much misery. Which idiots thought that making this much worse would benefit Britain? Who exactly in Britain does it benefit to have more poverty and misery in Britain? What are those people doing, the people who benefit from more misery?

That must be where the opportunities are.

Let’s face it, all the stories about the wonderful deals Britain will be able to make with countries and communities that are not the EU are utter bullshit. The whole world is aware of how desperate Britain is and the dire straits it is in. So, yeah, people like Trump will be jumping to sell Britain what it needs at extortionate prices (sometimes also known as a weak pound).

But let’s look at it practically. Food. Britain imports a lot of its food. So Brits have to learn how to become good at growing anything that is not kale and root vegetables and onions or apples and pears. That is one area in which there must be opportunities for some people.

If you look at global trends, it is very clear that eating meat is becoming less and less popular. So there are opportunities in growing more and more fruits and vegetables and nuts etc and start producing delicious foods that it can not only sell nationally but also export. (Global warming may actually be a plus within this context, as would a weak pound be.)

And focus much less on cattle, chickens and other forms of livestock farming.

So who is doing that? Who is working on growing more fruits and vegetables, pulses, mushrooms and nuts etc in a sustainable manner and offering it as or turning it onto delicious foods?

Want an example of how others do it? Look at Amy’s Kitchen. Does a British equivalent exist? (https://www.amyskitchen.co.uk/) Are Linda McCartney’s food products equally inspiring? Not quite in the same league, but interesting enough. Who else does this kind of thing in Britain? I have no idea. You?

And who is getting rid of the plastic and making sure these products are also as sustainable as possible? I don’t know. You?

Okay, we do have Jack Monroe too.

(Side note: I find that people who focus on ingredient costs often overlook energy costs related to storing and preparing the food in your home. An hour in the oven adds quite a bit to the costs of a dish and if you can leave your refrigerator off, you can keep your costs and environmental footprint down.)

And who is working on turning British cities into urban gardens for its citizens? This would keep them active without the need for gym memberships, hence keep them healthy (reducing some of the need for some of those medications in the future).

Does Britain have good fruit and vegetable seed vendors or do those seeds and plants have to be imported too?

There could also be opportunities in growing bamboo in the UK, which yields fibers for fabrics, wood for kitchen products and many other items.

Also, in economically hard times, people tend to seek more solace from time to time in things that cheer them up. (An example? Carnival glass a little under a century ago, during the Great Depression.)

So anything that makes people happier or more at peace, more content could also be good to undertake. Including mindfulness events and certain YouTube channels (such as ASMR) or podcasts as well as music and theatre.

So, who is going from door to door, shop to shop, business to business in Portsmouth, in person and asking people what their biggest challenges are and what their biggest Brexit concerns are? Who is bringing these people together, organizing meetings and putting taskforces together to address the issues that come up?

 

The vilification of pigeons

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-49256251

Anyone who has one or more pet pigeons can tell you that assuming that pigeons poop all over the place, non-stop, is just as ridiculous as assuming that humans poop all over the place, non-stop.

We are a mammal species. 

We took pigeons from their (sub)tropical sea cliffs and spread them all over the world. Pigeons are immensely intelligent creatures. In many ways, they are smarter and more capable than humans.

In addition, birds have been on the planet immensely much longer than humans, and look what WE have done to the planet. Here are two must-watch documentaries:

An interesting watch

Prior to this, I knew a little bit about Aaron Swartz. That little bit probably boils down to “i knew the name, and knew it was something tragic, but I thought he was a HACKER”.

That it turned wrong for him after downloading tons from JSTOR – JSTOR, people! – was news to me, and I find myself deeply shocked and taken aback. If we continue to do this kind of thing to bright people, what the hell are we doing to the world? So let’s applaud the bright youngsters instead of criminalize them just because they are smarter than most of us.

Certainly still in the days that pertain to the stuff that was in JStor, the scientific publishing situation was even more dramatic than this documentary reveals. Scientists often had to PAY to publish their articles AND they still had to hand over copyright too, usually.

The institutions that produced the research were paying large sums of money to give their scientists access to the damn databases, too. (This was my job for a while and just about each year, some journals had to be axed for budget reasons.) Many scientists and most students working at universities were and probably still are not aware of this at all.

As a self-employed person carrying out studies for others, I’d run up costs of up to EUR/USD 2000, off the top of my head, just for access to databases and papers, for a decent-sized study. I had paid access to Ingenta and to STN (probably still do). Jstor was a minor player, operating in the fringes, as it only had back issues, no current papers, and not that many journals (and I seem to remember that many or most of them were free, too).

Though scientists having to pay to publish – on top of peer review and everything – has been decreasing, it seems to have been taken over to some degree by scientists now having to PAY for it if they want their articles to be open-access: available to the public.

Bottom line? Sounds like they mainly wanted to get back at Aaron Swartz for Pacer (and also for Wikileaks, though he had nothing to do with that). God forbid citizens should know what their governments are up to and how their own laws are being used and developed, eh? Never mind reading a few scientific publications.

I found watching this profoundly shocking. So shocking that I cried. You’re warned. Now watch.

Continue reading

WhatsApp flaw “puts words in your mouth”

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-49273606

This sort of thing has been possible since at least 2010.

Back in 2010, I knew it was happening on my equipment, but I couldn’t prove it and when you say something like that out loud, everyone assumes that you’re delusional. After all, accepting that I might be correct is a scary thought.

Too scary for most people. 

So when I finally got the proof, when I was able to compare a tweet on my phone with the same tweet on a friend’s computer, I could see that there were words in the tweet on my phone that were not present in the tweet on my friend’s computer… I didn’t show it to anyone. There was no point. Nobody was going to be interested.

The original tweet came from Portsmouth-based Maricar Jagger, but she had nothing to do with the digital mischief (other than that she was connected through her social circles).

I also knew about phone hacking via the invisible text message method before it became news – because I saw it happen on my own phone. (Same thing. Delusional cow who has difficulty grasping technology was the usual response.)

 



PS
And OUT goes a big chunk of police “evidence”, of course.

 

(See also this page.)

Tentacles of cling film

(September 2011)

I am so angry.
So very very angry.
So so angry

I carry out boxing exercises,
imagine beating your face,
breaking your nose.

Teaching someone – me – how to be afraid
afraid – afraid – afraid
is not a nice thing to do.

You wrapped your cling film tentacles
around my throat,
around the throat of my life.

You robbed me
of all my air,
of all my oxygen.

And I hate you
hate you – hate you – hate you –
hate that.

My anger
has nowhere
to go.

It punches air.
It flows into fairy tales.
I am powerless.

Because I am
nothing but a woman
and that, they say, means I don’t count.

My head pounds
and my fists fly
against the air

You sucked from my lungs,
you sucked from my days,
you sucked from my future.

Now I feel better
because voicing my anger
any way

is better
than the silence
wrapped within your cling film.

Your butt crack
is not
my punch line.

It’s yours,
and yours
alone.

You.
Took Joy
and killed her.

You killed her,
killed her killed her
killed her dead.

Still I wish
I wish I wish you
well.

Though your
stone tone
death.

~~~~~

I wrote this in 2011, after having been pursued for years by two British individuals (though up to the end of 2010, I was only aware of one of them; while the other one had popped up on my doorstep one day in 2008, I was unaware of his connection to all of this at the time and he was a complete stranger at that point).

The last line is a phonetic word play. Pronounce it and you will hear “tone deaf” and “stone deaf” and you’ll see the deliberate spelling error in “your”.

What else can you do with this kind of situation in which you are utterly powerless than at least try to do something mildly creative with it?

It is part of my booklet “Crunchy Peanuts“, which I took offline for a while because of its very negative tone, but it reflects a very negative situation, so has a high level of pure truth.

(It’s 2019 now… and this stuff is STILL going on, as you can see in some of my other posts.)

 

The incident at the Tate Modern

Brain scans in order.

Let’s face it, no people in their right mind – with perfect brain health – would do something like this, knowing fully well they would get arrested and possibly put away for a long time.

Brain-based health conditions carry a huge stigma, but when you think about it that strokes, brain tumors and traumatic brain injuries can alter someone’s personality rather dramatically, you realize that it is the brain that creates any person’s personality and that we have relatively little control over it.

That idea makes us feel uncomfortable and that’s why we prefer to assign blame to other people’s brain-based conditions that make them do bizarre things such as throw a random young boy off a building. It simply makes no sense. Hence, there is some pathology at work here. Period.

What is the biggest enabler of child (sex) abuse and its effects?

Secrecy.

Others pretending that it is not happening and that it never happened.

Others wanting to hush it all up forever and ever and ever.

But the wish to “protect” the child or later adult in a way blames the child, if you think about it. It imposes a burden, one of shame and embarrassment, doesn’t it?

You do not hide the fact that someone had appendicitis or broke his leg as a child, after all, though the leg may still be weaker as a result.

Openness says:

“It should never have happened to you and you are not to blame and you are fine just the way you are. It had nothing to do with you as a person, just the fact that you were somewhere at a specific point in time where you encountered a specific person or specific persons”.

“Had you been somewhere else, it is very likely that nothing would have happened to you.

But once something did happen to you, the ball started rolling and it wasn’t you who was rolling the ball. You were the powerless ball.”

That it is not always quite as simple as this, I do know.

But the blame game has to stop. People who were abused as children have nothing to be ashamed of, just like a ball or a bucket or car tire or door cannot be blamed for getting kicked.

(Just some random thoughts that occurred to me with regard to two specific people I ran into in the UK.)

 

About that honking

My nose never goes “whatup whatup” when I blow my nose and it never howls/whines/begs like a pining puppy either.

Neither do I very loudly blow my nose around the time when my downstairs neighbour is about to crawl into bed or has just crawled into bed. So how can the reverse be possible?

I am a scientist. I don’t have set bed times etc. So I know that this is scientifically impossible. 

In any normal given situation, that is, in which no stalking (including hacking) occurs.

Why I don’t do hints?

Why don’t I do hints?

  1. Only the person who gives the hint knows that it is a hint.
  2. If it is a hint, only the person who gives the hint knows what it means.
  3. Paying attention to “hints” is a recipe for mental illness.
  4. Normal human communication works MUCH better.
  5. Apparently, Brits are the only ones who understand their hints anyway.
  6. (Are there any other cultures who do this hinting? That is highly unlikely as it all stems from the rule of Queen Victoria.)
  7. Why anonymous hints? Why anonymous?
  8. Period.