Not for Counting Anymore

Using animals to grow human body parts has been done, but how about using a live sheep for dialysis? The idea comes from one design student Revital Cohen. The project she’s calling ‘Life Support’ seeks to use a sheep whose genome has been spliced with a human to produce human blood. The transgenic sheep then becomes a dialysis machine for diabetes patients, filtering their blood as it frolics in pastures during the day, then gets needles shoved in its head each night.

Some Catching Up

Happenings on the “life outside writing/blogging/anything artistic” front have been flying. News on those if/when things germinate. For now, here’re some things I’ve been meaning to post for the past month…

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Now what am I supposed to watch on Sunday mornings?

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[Michael] Chabon defends mass entertainment against the accusation that it is merely a formulaic product. At times it is; yet commercial culture’s focus on deadlines and profits can also act as a “quickening force” on an artist’s imagination. He demonstrates this with discerning essays on Arthur Conan Doyle, Will Eisner and Howard Chaykin, all of whom, like Chabon himself, attained the ultimate goal of the “pop artisan”: a delicate balance between “the unashamedly commercial and the purely aesthetic”. He disagrees with those who equate literary entertainment with mindless escapism, passive consumption or unproductive activity (“guilty pleasures” is “a phrase I loathe”). Instead, he finds that different forms of writing offer distinct satisfactions to an alert reader.

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It’ll probably still be a while before you can neurointerface directly with the internet or your friends and lovers, but psychologists are testing implantable brain ‘pacemakers’ that regulate brain activity and so far appear really useful for treating the most stubborn forms of depression.

But we can dream, can’t we?

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Some people may think that a monk is somewhat reclusive — kind of isolated, in a bubble, meditating all day. But it’s quite the opposite. I’m on the computer, e-mailing. I’m driving, using cell phones and using Facebook. I have my own Web site.

Maybe becoming a monk isn’t so bad after all.

Before Battlestar

Much as I love both incarnations of Doctor Who, there’s one show I will always like better, and that’s Blake’s 7.

Moral ambiguity, a corrupt galactic Federation, terrorists-as-heroes, story and character arcs. Unfortunately, a lot of those episodes were visually comparable to the Doctor Who episodes of the time. Plus, some episodes were stinkers, too. If someone new to the show caught the wrong episode, he’d probably swear it off for life.

Luckily, the folks at io9 have put together How To Get Into Rebel Space Opera Blake's 7

No Nanobots Required

Imagine re-growing a severed fingertip, or creating an organ in the lab that can be transplanted into a patient without risk of rejection. It sounds like science fiction, but it’s not. It’s the burgeoning field of regenerative medicine, in which scientists are learning to harness the body’s own power to regenerate itself, with astonishing results.

I got a lot more where these came from. I got weeks of catching up to do.

Who Needs People, Anyway?

I never got around to seeing Lars and the Real Girl when it was out. I’ll have to catch the DVD. I heard whisperings about this documentary, shot in the UK, called Guys and Dolls. Apparently, these folks are the real deal…

You’d think my first inclination would be to laugh my ass off, and that my second would be to pity some of these folks. Somehow, I managed to suspend all of that, at least through the first half of the video.