The Early Days of a Better Nation

Friday, May 21, 2010

Why 'playing God' is (in principle) a good thing

I have some initial thoughts about the first synthetic cell up on the Guardian's Comment is Free. Feel free to comment, there or here.

And hey, I'm chuffed, and grateful to Andrew Brown for asking me to write it. He phoned me about 4 o'clock yesterday, sent me the article announcing the breakthrough, and I worked on my piece that evening and this morning. It was the first time I've seen embargoed news - it broke at 7 p.m. UK time yesterday - and I can well see how being in the loop like that can become addictive.

Labels: , ,


I read several articles about this yesterday. Great that you are in the loop Ken. The Guardian is the best there now is, and the Guardian App makes it even better. But yesterday I learned about Gagging Orders, targetted at specific topics. IMHO the Guardian should announce constantly that they are gagged. Or is such a statement itself gaggable?

Good article, Ken. Having said that though, I could not but help sympathise with the comment left by KenBarlow:

"I'm prepared to bet that 100 years from now humanity will be struggling on pretty much as we are now - minimum wage, unemployment, crop failures, big business being bastards, tooth ache, diabetes, obesity, computer viruses, jeans and trainers that need replacing every few months, junkies, war lords, call girls, bio-tech success and cock ups, agri-business cock ups, politicians having affairs, video games that suck, fatal car crashes, average life expectancy of about 86 for working class males...

Basically, our great grandchildren and their lives will be more like the humdrum of Eastenders than any sci-fi utopia you care to name or imagine."

George - yes, as far as I know the existence of a D-notice is itself subject to the D-notice.

Danny - a funny thing about that list is that nearly half the items are things that didn't exist a hundred years ago (well, a bit over a hundred years ago - I keep forgetting we're in the 21st century, something of a lapse for a skiffy writer) and would have been completely inconceivable then. But yeah, he's right in a way: one can read Blade Runner and Neuromancer as illustrations of the increasing misery of the working class. In fact I would regard Eastenders as a component of the increasing misery of the working class.

Here are two other must-read essays on Venters achievement:

Age of Excessions Interlude: Biology, or the Drugs Win the Drug War.

Today we lost the drug war

"Drugs will finally be p2p, and governments and drug lords alike will find out what it’s like to be media companies and counterfeiters in a world of lossless copying and 100Mb pipes."

You are right Ken. A good friend just told me about "Super-Gagging"( maybe it's "Hyper-Gagging", doesn't matter). and a check by me confirmed that. This is quite disgusting. Still, I wonder if there's not some circumlocution that news media can use on their front page to warn the reader.

Circumlocution: post a list of areas they aren't gagged on? Most would be very broad and not very interesting, of course, but a few...

But is the D-notice about the D-notice subject to a D-notice? If you ignore this question, Ken, I'll assume that you have been hyper-gagged. And NOBODY wants to talk about being hyper-gagged....

I think circumlocution is called satire and allegory. I hope there is a drug for that.

The first rule of D-notice is you do not talk about D-notice. The second rule of D-notice is you do NOT talk about D-notice.

I was disappointed when I learned the details of the "artificial life" story, as it turned out to be synthetic DNA replacing the DNA in an existing cell. I was hoping for an artificial cell, to be replicated along with the DNA. I wouldn't ask for much, just a drop of water in a drop of lipid, in water.

This seems more like a fancier version of the chemical synthesis of the first "organic" molecule, that was itself a paradigm-buster in the old days, because some commentators had suggested there was something special about organic molecules.

Rather good piece, especially the angle that this should be the finish for vitalism and all its cognates.

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

Might need to adjust your spam filter, Ken.

There's a spam filter?

Del, the artificial cell work seems to be coming along very well:

Post a Comment