The Human Genome

Today’s sci-fi cinema are avant-garde. Those scientific films could be considered social commentaries about what the not-so-far future will become, before the human population becomes fully aware of the possibilities, what is hovering over the subconscious mind is that the future is an unknown and a frightening place. Even science fiction literature from the likes of Mary Shelly, Robert Heinlien, H.G. Wells, Isaac Asimov, George Orwell, and Ayn Rand, poses moralistic and ethical questions about our “post-modern” technological realism.

Human Genome
The United States House of Congress passed the Anti-Genetic Discrimination law in 2008 that will replace the American with Disabilities Act. Obama administration passed the HIPAA medical records privacy act in 2009. The Brownback/Weldon’s legislation ban on therapeutic human cloning revised in the US Senate on 4/01/2009 has not passed. [Image Source: Scientific American]

The technology already exists.

The breaking of the genetic code happened in 1961 by the Geneticists Marshal Nirenberg and Heinrich Matthaei by decoding the relationship of mRNA to amino acids. The unimaginable happened with the last coding of the human genome published in 2003 by Genome. Of course, recent breakthroughs in genetic sequencing were never possible without the help from discoveries made by Oswald Avery and his colleagues that suggested DNA was responsible for transferring of genetic material in 1944.

It was in 1948 that the Nobel Laureate in Chemistry, Wilhelm Kaurin Tiselius prophetically asserted, “the knowledge of the genetic code could lead to methods of tampering with life, creating new diseases, controlling minds, influencing heredity in certain desired directions.” Over the past decade, current events stirred up controversies surrounding the Human Genome Project on embryonic stem cells, human cloning, In-vitro fertilization, test-tube babies, and creating environments where the genetic research already takes place.

Gattaca Quote

Human beings are motivated by endless pursuit for self-knowledge.

Sir Francis Bacon said, “knowledge itself is power.” In the Book of Genesis, the Tree of Knowledge (good and evil) was in the middle of the Garden of Eden from which God directly forbade Adam to eat (Genesis 2:17). Eve, after being tempted by Satan, and Adam, thus being tempted ate from the Tree of Knowledge. Since the fall of Adam from the Garden of Eden, man merely attempts to become like their Creator.

Centuries later, the Romans and Greeks credited the mythology of Prometheus, who challenged Zeus by stealing from Mount Olympus the sacred fire as a source of divine wisdom and inspiration having fashioned human beings. This endless thirst for knowledge and ‘understanding of our creation’ (intelligent design) is buried deep within our subconscious mind. Our thought comes into existence. What we’ve imagined becomes reality. René Descartes once said, “I think, therefore I am.” Whom is man to play God? Whom is man to play with the sacred fire, the act of creation itself that birthed man and the universe into existence? There are unforeseen consequences in striving for perfection. The natural history of humanity progress stems from our holistic environment, and there-in lies evolution of humanity.

“I think that’s always a risk in science that we seek improvement and to make our lives better in some way, but that’s not always what we get. It might be years, and many unplanned mutations, before we realize what damage we did in the name of science.”

– Name withheld

Human cloning is not necessarily a moral issue, but it is an ethical issue based on the practice of regulation and oversight, or lack thereof. Morality is based on religious beliefs and values. Ethical principles are based on how we conduct our behavior. If humanity wants to reproduce to bear children, build a Noah’s Ark to save endangered species from global disaster, collapse, or extinction, and harvest organs through embryonic stem cells, so be it. According to Human Genome, there are two types of techniques used for cloning: somatic cell nuclear transfer (cloning a human being to create a genetic copy through IVF —in vitro fertilization) and embryonic stem cells (extracted in research to treat a variety of diseases).

There are ethical implications of using cloned human beings for organ harvesting as alluded to in the film The Island that is basically in no way ethically or morally different from the black markets collecting organs from human bodies, dead or alive. There are exceptions to the given rule, whether it is for the survival of one person from a chronic illness or reproduction for preventing the extinction of the human race.

“A 2010 study showed that about 18 people die every day while waiting for an organ transplant. And, “that is 6,570 people” every year.  If we had the ability to clone organs, how many of those people would live? And, if we had the ability to clone organs to be better genetic matches to the recipients, how many people would live longer with transplanted organs because the risk of rejection would be smaller? Even if we could only save half of these people, aren’t 3,285 lives worth it?”

– Name withheld

“Cloning organs for future transplantation is still far from a reality – but the thought of the lives that could be saved makes this an important process to discuss now – because it is thought that this technology will definitely become a reality.”

  – Name withheld

The future is here, the future is now.

Proverbs (30:15:16) – “There are three things that are never satisfied, four that never say enough: the grave, the barren womb, land, which is never satisfied with water, and fire that never says enough.”

Genetic cloning is 60 years in existence through scientific research and mapping of the genetic code well underway for over a century since the eugenics movement from the late 18th Century. Nadya Denise Doud-Suleman, the Octomom from IVF treatments, is not worth discussing… But, Dr. Harry Griffin who first cloned Dolly the sheep once said, “I think it is entirely unacceptable for groups like Clonad gambling with the health of children.” He was referring to a girl named Eve, the exact genetic copy of her 31 year old mother. This woman lived outside the United States when she used her wealth to bioengineer the first “test-tube baby”—a reproduced genetic copy of herself through cloning. In the not-so-far future, it might just become another accepted means of reproduction shaped by nurture to have his/her own identity.

“At some point I believe society will come to feel about cloning (as a way to have children) the same way we now feel about IVF.”

– Name withheld

Human beings are one-step closer to reenacting the creation of life. One thing is for certain is man ability to evolve into higher level of intelligence and physical ability. Alphonse de Candolle who published works on the effect of social factors of scientific studies concluded, “intellectual ability is heritable and that an individual with high inherited ability could progress when nurtured by societal forces.” The hereditary biologist Sir Francis Galton written a letter to M. de Cadolle titled “English Man of Science: Their Nature and Nurture” defines the distinctions between the overly debated “nature and nurture” argument. He said, “Nature is all that a man brings into the world and nurture is every influence from without that affects him after his birth….”

Gattaca Quote

In the not-so-far future, genetics not race is the greatest determinant for discrimination.

The United States House of Congress passed the Anti-Genetic Discrimination law in 2008 that will replace the American with Disabilities Act. Obama administration passed the HIPAA medical records privacy act in 2009. The Brownback/Weldon’s legislation ban on therapeutic human cloning revised in the US Senate on 4/01/2009 has not passed. A decade earlier in 1997, the film Gattaca, a social commentary on genoism poses questions about genetic discrimination. For example, should a man be judged against for having a genetic disability or in favor for his potential to achieve his dream?

“For someone who was never meant for this world, I must confess I’m suddenly having a hard time leaving it. Of course, they say every atom in our bodies was once part of a star. Maybe I’m not leaving… maybe I’m going home.” – Gattaca

Race Is Not Over

Race Is Not Over

Race is a mere illusion. It is politics of the struggles born from “class distinctions” that will not disappear. Laws were passed on race relations that led to segregation of inner cities. For example: “Chicago is the most segregated city in the United States.”

Discussions during lecture by Dr. Madeline Troche-Rodriquez and Dr. Anghesom Atsbaha reveals the idea that we live in this post-racial society is not necessarily true. There are some things not discussed or questioned like “whiteness” or perceptions of “White culture” and “white privilege”. On Ethnicity vs. Race, there is non-acceptance of an “interracial identity” or “intermediate” identity. A fellow classmate suggested the “bottle theory” that the reasons behind this might be due to an existing systematic racism that is reinforced through intimidation. Omi and Winant theory of racial formations is that the establishment of “racism are shaped by broader societal forces.”

It is common sense, racial logic, an individual looks around a classroom or campus and see that someone is Black or Asian or White … rather it is an observation made by another individual identity. Perspective, perception, and preconceived truths or notions is the difference between something being “real” and something being of a “social construct” like race or gender. According to Omi and Winant theory of racial formation “broader societal forces determine how and why we view race as we do.”

The 1983 court case Susie Guillory Phipps vs. Louisiana defense ruling made by Attorney General Ron Davis reaffirmed the legality of racial grouping (by genetics). Race has been a matter of scientific interpretations to determine racial classifications. Max Weber and other social Darwinists defined race as social construct. Prior to that, race was thought of as a “biological concept” devised by Linnaeus in System Naturae —the identification and ranking of variations in human beings. This social construction in which race is seen as quote and unquote “the assumption of a continuum of higher” and “lower cultural groups.”

From start of the early 18th century, the ‘Eugenics’ movement throughout Europe—well into 19th Century—prevalent thought existed that anything not of their classification is seen as the “lower” quality of human beings like “non-white” or “savages”. End quote: “Race and the interpretation of racial differences was a central factor in that world view.” Those interpretations were the reasoning behind the white Europeans as the dominant social class. Contemporary psycho-analytic thought finely touched on the most debated of subject matters.

“Hereditary factors shape intelligence’ not only revived the ‘nature and nurture’ controversy but raised highly volatile questions about racial equality itself.” – Arthur Jensen

Francis Galton, a pioneer of hereditary and biometry made a response to an eminent scientist in hereditary genius, Alphonse de Candolle who published works on the effect of social factors on scientific basics. Messieurs de Candolle concluded, “intellectual ability was heritable, and that an individual with high inherited ability could go far in any profession” when nurtured by societal forces.” In response, Sir Francis Galton had written a letter to M. de Candolle titled English Man of Science: Their Nature and Nurture and defined the distinctions between nature and nurture. Bulmer, M.G., Francis Galton, Pioneer of Hereditary and Biometry. Baltimore, Maryland: John Hopkins University Press, 2003:

“Nature is all that a man brings with himself into the world; Nurture is every influence from without that affects him after his birth…” Nature and Nurture is considered a cited reference to Shakespeare’s play “The Tempest” in which Prospero complains about his adopted son Caliban: “A devil, a born devil, on whose nature/Nurture can never stick.” 

No matter ones racial classifications, the nature of an individual with intelligent ability may become prominent. In other words, an individual may become prominent in society, given the nurture of their environment and opportune circumstances.

Superficial indicators attributes to the social, economic, political … broader societal determinants of racial identity as “underprivileged” and “underclass” in racial terms rendered “black” by the establishment and maintenance of a “color line”. What it boils down to is dialectics (language, hyperbole, symbolism) and the representation of false beliefs or elicited truths on what is being signified about the subject. Films like Rain Tree and expunged Marvin Harris theory of hypo-decent explains affiliation with the subordinate group rather than the super-ordinate group that avoids the ambiguity of an “intermediate identity” (the “other” identity not defined as “this” or “that” view of Black & White) keeping away from the racist collective.

The power of the media lies not only in their ability to reflect the dominant racial thought but also in their capacity to shape that ideology in the first place. U.S. Television media lead to the perpetuation of racial caricatures, and lead the audiences to “assign and reassign” racial characteristics to particular groupings. Race is rooted in “nature” and plays the crucial role of politics and ideology shaping race and ethnic relations. Perhaps that is why Japanese competition spurs resentment to this day because they have been the most successful in breaking through to the other side—an “intermediate” identity from interracial mixing otherwise called “marrying up”. “Women on the Verge” by Karen Kelsky, a deeper look into the female psyche on interracial dating, revealed Japanese women desire to mix and procreate with a Caucasian male. Men and women attempt to skirt discriminatory barriers imposed by law and custom through reaching out to the OTHER side, by obtaining an “intermediate identity” and multicultural identity for their children.

Stereotypes influenced by race can be exposed. Subculture, films, and roles portrayed by different classes both in the media, private, and the public are a medium for exposure. African American Denzel Washington is not the first to portray the role of a BLACK president ‘til Jan. 20th Inauguration in 2009. Saturday Night Live skit portrayed a “black” president in a satirical and comedic direct-fashion that exposed perceived truths by societal forces. That exposure disrupted society. However, the dominant social class is resilient if finding innovative ways to reassert or reaffirm super-ordinate authority.

Karl Marx said, “The history of all existing society is the history of class struggles”. It is not necessarily true that we live in a post-racial society or post-class or post-modern anything society. Race is the politics of the struggles born from “class distinctions” that will not disappear. Moses (Moshe) Hess, a secular Jewish philosopher and one of the founders of socialism wrote in the epilogue Rome and Jerusalem” (1862) “the race struggle is the primary and the class struggle is the secondary and with an end to antagonisms … the struggles of race and class comes to a stand still.”

(… Race …) “To see it as a mere illusion which an ideal social order would eliminate. In our view it is crucial to break with these habits of thought. The effort must be made to understand race as an unstable and complex of social meanings constantly being transformed by political struggle.” – Moses ‘Moshe’ Hess, a Jewish philosopher and Socialist

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  • Bulmer, M.G., Francis Galton, Pioneer of Hereditary and Biometry. Baltimore, Maryland: John Hopkins University Press, 2003
  • Theory formulated by cultural anthropologist Franz Boaz, Omi M. and Winant H., Ch.2 Racial Formations.
  • Wikipedia: Moses Moshe Hess quotation(s)
  • Kelsky, Karen. Women on the Verge: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/women-on-the-verge-karen-kelsky/1100312013

The Former President Obama Administration Asia Pivot On Hold

The Indomitable Rise of the Sleeping Dragon

The United States engagement with the Asia-Pacific region is due to economic reasons, and not military aggression. It is imperative for the United States to strengthen regional security among China’s neighbors in the South China sea. The inevitable economic rise of China as a global super power brought about a multi-polar world. As a result, the Asia-Pacific region is a strategic priority. The U.S. seeks to re-establish hegemonic dominance by rebuilding its economic strength as its main pillar.

The global community should understand the historical context how China developed into an economic powerhouse. Mao Zedong, influenced by Russia, established communism in China. During the Cultural Revolution, Mao Zedong shaped a Chinese-style communism based on a Confucian dynamic—a philosophy that maintained society through hierarchy and collectivism. During the Great Leap Forward, Mao Zedong policies made the intellectuals devote time to agricultural production and industrialization to modernize China, followed by Deng Xiaoping economic liberalization. This established the People’s Republic of China as the most effective foreign policy initiative established by Russia during the early 19th Century. Then, Mao Zedong closed its doors to Russia.

Henry Kissinger’s “Open Door” policy under Richard Nixon later developed China into a major player on the global stage. The “indomitable rise of the sleeping dragon” brought redistribution of power among nations displaying hegemonic dominance also known as a major geopolitical realignment. However, China rise created problems for the United States. After WWII, the United States benefited from exorbitant privilege: the dollar status as the world’s reserve currency.

The United States Dollar as the reserve currency allowed the United States to borrow cheaply, by selling its assets in return for goods, mostly obtaining resources from the global periphery, and purchasing exports from China, a developing country. The rise of the developing world shook the foundations of the West. Taken by surprise, the imperialist model became unsustainable. America based its economy on the Keynesian model of consumption, outsourcing jobs overseas, resulting in the general decline of a once robust manufacturing & export industry. The standard of living declined for the American middle class. Americans could no longer afford home mortgages and job security, due to changes in the U.S. labor market. The 2007-2009 U.S. financial crisis was the worst recession seen in over a decade.

The core problem at the U.S.-China adversarial relationship is China exploitation of a symbiotic relationship, coined by Niall Ferguson as “Chimerica”. China ran a trade surplus, selling goods in return for financial claims. Firms, households, and government saved more than they were willing to invest at home and played this game for a very long time. Described in the exact words published by Daniel Griswold from the CATO Institute, “China manipulated its currency.” Griswold discussed how the global markets resorted to protectionist measures that spurred a trade war.

The United States and China played a very dangerous game of competitive devaluations that allowed worldwide inflation to hurt domestic economies. Because China used the least acceptable means at maintaining a fixed currency rate by not trading at a floating exchange rate. The U.S. Federal Reserve under Ben Bernanke pushed hard for the rise of the Yuan due to China’s government monopoly over the currency conversions.

According to HSBC Economist report, decades from now, China may strengthen and internationalize the Yuan, allowing it to compete among the world reserve currencies. The most practical thing the United States could do is set the game for multi-polarity in the G-Zero world as coined by Ian Bremmer, the CEO of Eurasia Group, on geopolitical risk analysis. Winners take all. In this G-Zero world, we are all connected by each other rise and fall.