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Chinese geneticist claims to have gene-edited babies

 

Amidst the usual moral posturing and condemnation, it appears that somewhere in China some scientist – who is a graduate of top US universities – engaged in “washing” the sperm of some HIV infected fathers in order to spare their children HIV infection. The Guardian reports, through a lot of huffing and puffing, the following:

The researcher, He Jiankui of Southern University of Science and Technology in Shenzhen, said he altered embryos for seven couples during fertility treatments, with one pregnancy resulting so far. He said his goal was not to cure or prevent an inherited disease, but to try to bestow a trait that few people naturally have: an ability to resist possible future infection with HIV.

He said the parents involved declined to be identified or interviewed, and he would not say where they lived or where the work was done. There is no independent confirmation of He’s claim, and it has not been published in a journal, where it would be vetted by other experts.

He revealed it on Monday in Hong Kong to one of the organisers of an international conference on gene editing that is due to begin on Tuesday, and earlier in interviews with the Associated Press.

“I feel a strong responsibility that it’s not just to make a first, but also make it an example,” He said. “Society will decide what to do next” in terms of allowing or forbidding such science….

He Jiankui studied at Rice and Stanford universities in the US before returning to his homeland to open a lab at Southern University of Science and Technology of China in Shenzhen, where he also has two genetics companies.

He said he practised editing mice, monkey and human embryos in the lab for several years and has applied for patents on his methods. He said he chose embryo gene editing for HIV because these infections are a major problem in China. He sought to disable a gene called CCR5 that forms a protein doorway that allows HIV, the virus that causes Aids, to enter a cell.

All of the men in the project had HIV and all of the women did not, but the gene editing was not aimed at preventing the small risk of transmission, he said. The fathers had their infections deeply suppressed by standard HIV medicines and there are simple ways to keep them from infecting offspring that do not involve altering genes. Instead, the appeal was to offer couples affected by HIV a chance to have a child that might be protected from a similar fate.

He said the gene editing occurred during in vitro fertilisation. First, sperm was “washed” to separate it from semen, in which HIV can lurk. A single sperm was placed into a single egg to create an embryo. Then the gene-editing tool was added. When the embryos were three to five days old, a few cells were removed and checked for editing. Couples could choose whether to use edited or unedited embryos for pregnancy attempts. In all, 16 of 22 embryos were edited, and 11 embryos were used in six implant attempts before the twin pregnancy was achieved, He said.

Tests suggest that one twin had both copies of the intended gene altered and the other twin had just one altered, with no immediate evidence of harm to other genes, He said. People with one copy of the gene can still get HIV.

Musunuru said that even if editing worked perfectly, people without normal CCR5 genes faced higher risks of contracting certain other viruses, such as West Nile, and of dying from flu. Since there are many ways to prevent HIV infection and it is treatable if it occurs, those other medical risks are a concern.

Thus, sexual selection, and disease, which is the normal way humans and all sexual species have been gene-edited, body by body, phenotype by phenotype, for the last billions of years, that is okay. But getting into the molecular level  and splicing and cutting genes is bad. Go figure.

I can hear the Christians calling me a Dr. Mengele, that the genome is sacred, and I hear that that the bioethicists have “concerns”. [Can you imagine that some people are paid to be “bio-ethicists”?]

I can hear the sound of the Asians flocking to new technologies to make their babies smarter, healthier, more disease resistant, and stronger.

New forms of competition will come to the human species, and it will be genetic, though the practices associated with gene-editing will be tolerated or encouraged by certain races and cultures ahead of some others. Attitudes against gene editing will soon be seen as the equivalent of not allowing the pasteurization of milk. Nothing  can be done to oppose it, except voluntary non-participation. Those cultures or religions that do not participate will eventually be considered to be like those sects that do not allow blood transfusions.

We in the politically correct West will be talking about the non-existence or social construction of racial differences, which simultaneously exists and does not exist, depending on the argument being engaged in. Meanwhile, other cultures or races will be busily experimenting with genetic engineering.

What makes Steve Bannon so controversial?

The fast answer might be “the same thing that makes Jordan Peterson so controversial”, but that would be inaccurate. Their enemies are far closer to each other than Bannon is to Peterson. What their enemies want in each case is to shut them up, to dislodge them from  the public stage, to prevent anyone from hearing their arguments.

So what exactly makes Bannon so objectionable? More precisely, why do the lefties of Toronto want to prevent him from appearing at the Munk Debates?

Several organizations banded together Tuesday to call for the event, part of the Munk Debates, to be called off in light of last weekend’s deadly attack at a synagogue in Pittsburgh.

They said giving Bannon a platform to express extreme views contributes to a climate of hatred that can encourage violence against marginalized or racialized groups.

“We’re at an important and terrifying moment as we watch right-wing governments come into power all over the world. The hate we are witnessing is serious — in fact, it is deadly,” said Rachel Epstein of the United Jewish People’s Order.

Ignoring the sinister sound of the United Jewish People’s Order for a moment, why do people object to even hearing Steve Bannon?

Let me recite his arguments from memory.

  • The working class of the United States and elsewhere has been relatively impoverished by policies that have driven factory jobs overseas. This was caused by NAFTA in particular and freer world trade in general.
  • These job losses have been part of a policy of globalization, by which the working classes of third world economies have been lifted out of poverty.
  • Free trade has benefited many, but not everyone, and the people left behind happen to be the citizens of fly-over country, west of the Appalachian mountains and east of California.
  • In addition, lack of adequate immigration controls in the United States have served the interests of rich Republican factory owners and of Democratic organizers, but the flood of illegal immigration has drastically lowered the standard of living of the American working class, white black and brown.
  • After the economic crash of 2008, a vast lot of people lost the value of their houses, but everyone who owned an asset such as intellectual property or stocks has made out like bandits.
  • None of the perpetrators of the financial crash has spent a day in jail.
  • The interest of Bannonite policy is whether you are an American citizen, not what colour or ethnicity you are. US policies should be directed to the benefit of citizens, not sub-groups within the United States. This is not white identity politics, but American identity politics.

This set of policies and concerns may be described as nationalist,  backward-looking, reactionary, anti-free trade, misguided, or mistaken. It cannot fairly be described as racist or hate-filled. Nor can it be said to be “extreme”, if words are to have any meaning.

But as I have been saying for some time now, all the Left can say these days is “sexist, racist, fascist, nyah nyah nyah”. Their minds have atrophied to the extent that actually confronting reasoned debate is a challenge they would rather not face. Especially as Bannon, not they, is defending the interests of the working classes. Long ago the Left  abandoned the working classes and has sought to get the Supreme Court (in the States and Canada) to do for them what votes could not.

And who is the United Jewish People’s Order? It is here: https://www.winchevskycentre.org/staff.
My kind of obnoxious zealots.

Susan Ray’s kitchen, Nantucket, 1875 and Bill Gates

Occasionally a picture is worth a thousand words. This painting would have been made sometime in the latter half of the 19th century, around 1875, on Nantucket, a prosperous whaling island off the coast of Cape Cod, Massachusetts,

You will note the absence of everything that makes a modern kitchen convenient. Start with the absence of pipes and of cold (not hot) running water. No sink. No wood stove, only an open fire. Mrs. Ray emerges from a larder in which  food is stored.

No electricity: and thus no dishwasher, refrigerator, washing machine, dryer or lights. Scarcely a counter-top on which to cut and prepare a meal. In case you wonder about what is hidden at the other end of the kitchen, the painter did the other end too. You can see a sideboard, a small table, a mirror, a sconce for a candle, and the fireplace. Not even a wood stove!

These were prosperous people of the time. Not rich, but not suffering either. Note the fine piece of furniture below the mirror. Note the wide (16-18  inches?) sawn planks of old growth pine and the lack of water stains on the whitewashed ceiling. They lived in a comfortable house, by the standards of the time.

All this is a world before fossil fuels or electricity. Doubtless it had a very low carbon footprint.

When I read about carbon taxes, and rich magnates like Bill Gates saying we have to get carbon neutral by some date in the near future, I ask myself, do these fools understand what it was like to prepare a meal in Susan Ray’s kitchen?

Says Bill Gates:

To prevent the worst effects of climate change, we need to get to zero net greenhouse gas emissions in every sector of the economy within 50 years—and as the IPCC recently found, we need to be on a path to doing it in the next 10 years. That means dealing with electricity, and the other 75% too.

50 years is nearly twenty years less than what I have lived already. Two hundred years would be a more reasonable time horizon.

Read him, he exemplifies a kind of insane rationality that fails to understand that the world cannot get to carbon neutrality at any price we can afford, political or economic, in fifty or a hundred years, if ever. Insanity is not the absence of rationality, but the excess of it. Just think of Susan Ray’s kitchen when you think of a low carbon footprint, but  you should take out the fireplace and replace it with a wood stove, if the authorities will permit it. That is a low-carbon footprint kitchen. Why is it so difficult for the intelligent of our time to understand that they have embarked upon a course of folly and destruction?

Global warming catastrophism is a disease of the intelligent, like Communism in the 1930s.

_____________________

Wikipedia relates

Eastman Johnson, (July 29, 1824 – April 5, 1906) painted “Susan Ray’s kitchen”. Hewas an American painter and co-founder of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City, with his name inscribed at its entrance. He was best known for his genre paintings, paintings of scenes from everyday life, and his portraits both of everyday people and prominent Americans such as Abraham Lincoln, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. His later works often show the influence of the 17th-century Dutch masters, whom he studied in The Hague in the 1850s; he was known as The American Rembrandt in his day.

Males woes: Charles Murray, Francis Fukuyama, and Heather MacDonald

Charles Murray is the author of The Bell Curve, Human Accomplishment and Coming Apart, among other works. Any conservative minded person ought to have read these books, and liberals who want to inquire into why we think them mostly wrong. His insights into why things are getting worse, for men, for family formation, for society, and then for women, provides a necessary corrective to Steven Pinker’s rosy view set forth in Enlightenment Now.

There is a moment in the interview below which prompted a blog posting this morning. The issue was the sorting of society on the basis of cognitive ability, which is the essential claim of The Bell Curve. Murray remarks (at 15:30) that “What we are doing now is creating a world which is congenial to people of high IQs. People of high IQ love complexity. They think complexity is fun. That’s why you have Kohlberg at Harvard coming up with his seven stages of moral reasoning….. But, a world governed by that kind of complexity is difficult to deal with if you are not very smart”.

The interview is well  worth watching. He preaches the idea that the point of law should be to provide a clear moral compass so as to allow people the maximum moral autonomy which is what he calls “libertarianism”.

I bring up this issue of simplicity and complexity because I spent an evening with liberals last night, possibly wrecking their digestion and certainly providing them with a memorable conflict. At the basis of much of the disagreement was the idea that social democracy – assuming we know what that means  – is a morally superior system because it displays the highest levels of compassion. Hence belief in social democracy means necessarily that one is morally superior, because one has more compassion. Thus if I hold that 53% of GDP should be spent by government, and my political opponent says 46%, or 36%, I do not have to think hard about the consequences of a bloated state sector because I have a superior measure of compassion.

Since the criterion of political virtue is compassion, and compassion is best judged by how well society takes care of the poor and the indigent, and thirdly, that this compassion is accomplished through Scandinavian style state intervention, then in substance there is not much further one needs to think about politics.

Forget for a moment the doubtful superiority of Scandinavian welfare statism for showing compassion. My objection is deeper, and less fact-based.

I find such a one-dimensional view of the purposes of political life repugnant. What about virtue, accomplishment, achievement, belonging, and greatness, collective or individual, in a society that understands and appreciates what greatness is?

I have just begun reading Francis Fukuyama’s Identity, the Demand for Dignity and the Politics of Resentment, and already it is evident that he is talking about the real issues of our time.

“But as important as material self interest is, human beings are motivated by other things as well, motives that better explain the disparate events of the present. This might be called the politics of resentment. In a wide variety of cases, a political leader has mobilized followers around the perception that the group’s dignity has been affronted , disparaged, or otherwise disregarded. This resentment engenders demands for public recognition of the dignity of the group in question. A humiliated group seeking restitution of its dignity carries far more weight than people simply pursuing their economic advantage”. (at page 7)

And what group has undergone a persistent social decline of status in the past thirty years? All men? Men of the American working class? Take your pick. This leads us to what Scott Adams and I have been talking about in relation to the Kavanaugh witch hunt. It is not merely the American working class male that is taking a beating, it is all males.

Heather MacDonald writes about the feminist industrial complex  in City Journal:

Our booze-fueled hook-up culture has made relations between men and women messier than ever, leaving many girls and women with pangs of regret—but those regrets do not equal rape. If we were actually in the midst of an “epidemic of sexual assault,” as New Jersey senator Cory Booker asserted the evening of the Ford-Kavanaugh hearings, we would presumably have seen women and girls take protective actions, such as avoiding frat parties and flocking to single-sex schools. None of those protective actions has occurred, however. Either women are too clueless to avoid patent danger, or the epidemic of sexual assault is a fiction. All evidence points to the latter conclusion. Judge Brett Kavanaugh may be the latest male to have his life torn apart by that fiction, but he won’t be the last.

Accordingly, I think a male backlash is finally going to manifest itself, not just by dropping out, as young men have been doing, but by male identitarian politics at the ballot box. It cannot start too soon. Compassion and social democracy will take back seat to a necessary social change that is long overdue.

Fukuyama on Identity

 

 

 

Ideological deviation at CERN

These are the power point slides that got Alessandro Frumia fired from CERN yesterday.

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1c_NyUhOZ8erdqU2AGZJZtNfFeA91Kefj/view

Naturally, he was fired from CERN that very day. CERN explains as follows:

CERN is a culturally diverse organisation bringing together people of many different nationalities. It is a place where everyone is welcome, and all have the same opportunities, regardless of ethnicity, beliefs, gender or sexual orientation. Indeed, diversity is one of the core values underpinning our Code of Conduct and the Organization is fully committed to promoting diversity and equality at all levels.

CERN always strives to carry out its scientific mission in a peaceful and inclusive environment.

CERN considers the presentation delivered by an invited scientist during a workshop on High Energy Theory and Gender as highly offensive. It has therefore decided to remove the slides from the online repository, in line with a Code of Conduct that does not tolerate personal attacks and insults.

The organisers from CERN and several collaborating universities were not aware of the content of the talk prior to the workshop. CERN supports the many members of the community that have expressed their indignation for the unacceptable statements contained in the presentation.

CERN is a culturally diverse organisation bringing together people of many different nationalities. It is a place where everyone is welcome, and all have the same opportunities, regardless of ethnicity, beliefs, gender or sexual orientation.

How can you be welcome, regardless of beliefs, and be fired for views that amount to beliefs? Easy. They just have to attack the idea that women are held back in physics because of some male conspiracy.

Different outcomes can only be explained by sexism and racism, never by differences in aptitudes, propensities and drives.

Question diversity.

 

More on the genetic basis of everything

David Reich, a geneticist, wrote in a recent New York Times op ed the following:

I am worried that well-meaning people who deny the possibility of substantial biological differences among human populations are digging themselves into an indefensible position, one that will not survive the onslaught of science. I am also worried that whatever discoveries are made — and we truly have no idea yet what they will be — will be cited as “scientific proof” that racist prejudices and agendas have been correct all along, and that those well-meaning people will not understand the science well enough to push back against these claims.

This is why it is important, even urgent, that we develop a candid and scientifically up-to-date way of discussing any such differences, instead of sticking our heads in the sand and being caught unprepared when they are found.

Also covered at : https://medium.com/new-york-magazine/denying-genetics-isnt-shutting-down-racism-it-s-fueling-it-5e5ccaca684e

And in response to this, Andrew Sullivan wrote:

Last weekend, a rather seismic op-ed appeared in the New York Times, and it was for a while one of the most popular pieces in the newspaper. It’s by David Reich, a professor of genetics at Harvard, who carefully advanced the case that there are genetic variations between subpopulations of humans, that these are caused, as in every other species, by natural selection, and that some of these variations are not entirely superficial and do indeed overlap with our idea of race. This argument should not be so controversial — every species is subject to these variations — and yet it is. For many on the academic and journalistic left, genetics are deemed largely irrelevant when it comes to humans. Our large brains and the societies we have constructed with them, many argue, swamp almost all genetic influences….

 

(Vox editor Ezra) Klein cannot seem to hold the following two thoughts in his brain at the same time: that past racism and sexism are foul, disgusting, and have wrought enormous damage and pain and that unavoidable natural differences between races and genders can still exist.

I know this is a touchy, fraught, difficult subject. I completely understand the reluctance to discuss it, and the hideous history of similar ideas in the past. But when people seeking the truth are immediately targeted for abuse and stigma, it matters. When genetics are in a golden age, when neuroscience is maturing as a discipline, and when the truth about these things will emerge soon enough, it matters that we establish a liberalism that is immune to such genetic revelations, that can strive for equality of opportunity, and can affirm the moral and civic equality of every human being on the planet. Liberalism has never promised equality of outcomes, merely equality of rights. It’s a procedural political philosophy rooted in means, not a substantive one justified by achieving certain ends.

That liberalism is integral to our future as a free society — and it should not falsely be made contingent on something that can be empirically disproven. It must allow for the truth of genetics to be embraced, while drawing the firmest of lines against any moral or political abuse of it. When that classical liberalism is tarred as inherently racist because it cannot guarantee equality of outcomes, and when scientific research is under attack for revealing the fuller truth about our world, we are in deep trouble. Because we are robbing liberalism of the knowledge and the moderation it will soon desperately need to defend itself.

What Sullivan concludes is true. The Left is only interested in science to the extent it appears to support their preconceived notions, not because they have the slightest regard for the scientific process, which involves rational skepticism and full debate. The Left cannot abide the notion that we are not somehow infinitely plastic and only made unequal but human institutions. Science is not on their side.

 

Refresher course: The constrained and unconstrained vision

 

Thomas Sowell has spent a life time fighting the unconstrained vision which, crudely, comes down to “I know best and there is no institution that should stand in my way of doing good as I conceive it”. The sincerity and passion with which they hold their view is the guarantor of its truth. “Man is born free, and yet everywhere he is in chains” said Jean-Jacques Rousseau. Only bad institutions make us behave badly. Since man is the creature of social arrangements, if we change the institutions we will change man, for the better. Nothing prevents us from the attainment of this goal except reactionaries, people of ill-will, ignorance, and the forces of evil.

Sowell, on the subject of sincerity in politics:

“People who have the constrained vision will understand that people make mistakes. and so therefore when someone says something the disagree with,…they see no need to question his sincerity, his honesty or whatever. But for those with the unconstrained vision, what they believe seems so obviously true, that of you are standing in the way of it, either you must be incredibly stupid, utterly uninformed, or simply dishonest.” (at minute 24 of the interview)

Hence, in the days when I still watched broadcast television, I saw the three political party reps talking about gay marriage (as I recall). The little faggot from the NDP [there is no more swiftly accurate designator] was insisting “we shouldn’t even be debating this”. His views exactly typified why normal people find leftists so intolerant.

And that is how it is with everything on the Left. We should not even be debating this, when what they think should not be debated is precisely what should be debated.

 

The Google video of 2016: Guardian values and Pharisees

Sergei Brin, cofounder of Google

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FRf9UxsM-NE

https://youtu.be/FRf9UxsM-NE

(Paranoid note: every other video I have loaded appears in full, but Google’s video of its own meeting appears only as a hyperlink).

 

 

“I certainly find this election deeply offensive” said Sergei Brin, co-founder of Google. “So many people don’t share the values we have”.

And it goes from there. Fear. Everyone is supposed to feel fear at the prospect of the Trump regime. Minorities are in danger and need to be stood up for. Women likewise. Liberal values are to be stood up for. Yet the same corporation endlessly touting its values fired James Damore in August 2017 for politely protesting the corporation’s bias towards preferential hiring of  women.

I have had experience with Google employees at several levels of seniority over the years, and I feel quite certain that the vast majority are leftist Democrats, which is not surprizing considering the San Francisco Bay area culture. But what bugs me – as the movie reveals – is the enormous self-vaunting, the endless prattling on about their “values”. This is a company whose core business is to sell advertizing. It guts previous business models and replaces them with its own. This is normal creative destruction, in the manner that Schumpeter spoke of. However painful, this is the stuff of economic progress. And talk to former newspaper people if you want to know what Google has wrought.

When the Vice President says that “this is a place where you can bring your whole self to work”, clearly she does not include conservatives (min 16:30)

“We all talk a lot about what it means to be Googley”, said CFO Ruth Porat. The endless blather about tolerance, respect and diversity grates when one compares it to the outrageous and actual treatment of Damore. More, the tone of the film is that the poor people of Google have endured something like the 1940 Blitz of London, or having been unhoused by a hurricane, and that they need reassurance and a group hug, and assurance tot the 10,000 or so working on visa that their visas will remain valid.

Values, values, values: it is irritating and faintly nauseating.

A few years ago the late Jane Jacobs published a marvellous concise book called Systems of Survival. It dealt with the differences in morality between what she called Guardian institutions – the church, the regiment, the academy – and commercial institutions.

If you hand a suitcase of cash to a businessman, that is right and proper, because you are exchanging cash for a private benefit. If you hand a suitcase of cash to a public official, that is a crime of corruption. Why? Her book seeks to answer the question. She also said that corruption occurs when a commercial corporation adopts Guardian values. Thus, the old telephone monopolies constantly appealed to their status as institutions serving the public, and they had a genuine public service ethos. They could afford the attitude because they were monopolies.

Google has Guardian values, but instead of public service being its goal, that is, actually doing something for the general public, it constantly propagandizes its membership/employees with the notion that it stands for superior values: tolerance, inclusion, and diversity being the modern conception of virtue. It thus succeeds in being smug, intolerant, exclusive, and as proud of itself as the Roman Church of centuries past.

Is Google morally bankrupt? Is that not too harsh? It all depends on whether you pay attention to anything Jesus said about Pharisees, about words without deeds. It is not what we put into our mouths that defiles us, but by what comes out of our mouths that defiles us.

In the case of Google I am prepared to argue that the company needs all the self-vaunting talk of values to disguise from itself and its staff that its real business is centralizing the control of information. In short, an illiberal idea being carried out by liberals prattling on about their superior values.

 

__________________________

Here is Joe Rogan talking to James Damore, and you will find out all you need to know about Google’s values:

 

 

 

Maxime says it straight

 

 

“Trudeau’s extreme multiculturalism and cult of diversity will divide us into little tribes that have less and less in common, apart from their dependence on government in general. He went on to decry the possible “cultural balkanization” of Canadian society.”

Maxime Bernier is exactly correct.

I think he is the real Canadian Opposition. And if Andrew Scheer had any sense, apart from the calculus of the  immediate political impact of anything, he would gradually find a way to agree with Bernier. Because Maxime has just told truth in a public place, which is always called a “gaffe” by the MSM.

Liberals may claim their donations have increased, they may claim their vote has strengthened.  I doubt both. In taverns, barbecues and Legions across Canada,  people are waking up from the summer doldrums and nodding assent to Bernier. You can have too much multi-culturalism. If you doubt this, go to India, and experience real, not ersatz, multi-culturalism. The place scarcely coheres, so great are the internal divisions of religion, caste, language, and race. And canada is heading in exactly that direction, courtesy of the Liberals.

For a more intelligent discussion of this issue, as it relates to immigration, see Does Diversity Really Unite Us?: Citizenship and Immigration by Edward Erler.