Gene test to help you beat death…

…sparks row on ethics

Do you want to know how you will die and when? Or would you rather live without that knowledge? Such a dilemma might only be expected to face characters in a science fiction novel or film. Until now.

The Observer can reveal that genetic tests that promise to foretell accurately our medical future are being sold in growing numbers across Britain.

Dubbed health ‘horoscopes’, they claim to be able to predict with certainty what illnesses you are likely to get throughout your lifetime by revealing inherited traits.

Delivered to your home wrapped like an expensive box of chocolates, the Genovations test offers people the opportunity to find out how likely it is they will suffer from heart disease, cancer, thrombosis, osteoporosis, asthma and a range of other serious medical problems. The Observer

Looks like we’ve bitten the hand that feeds us

Review — Extinction: Evolution and the End of Man by Michael Boulter: ‘Worried about overpopulation, pollution, dwindling natural resources and global warming? Well, the good news, according to British paleobiologist Michael Boulter, is that our selfish behavior as a species may not, in the long run, destroy our beautiful planet or most of the life forms that inhabit it. The bad news, however, is that our abuse probably will put an end to most of the larger mammals, in particular us, the soi-disant Homo sapiens, apparently less sapient than billed.

A professor of paleobiology at the University of East London, Boulter has been studying extinction, including the five major mass extinction events that have occurred since the beginning of life on Earth. The largest single factor in each case, he concludes, was radical change in the environment, leaving erstwhile flourishing species suddenly unable to survive. “Evolution,” Boulter explains, “is less to do with winning battles between species and individuals, more to do with being able to live well together in the same environment.” ‘ LA Times

Essential Sources in the Scientific Study of Consciousness ed. by Bernard J. Baars, William P. Banks, and James B. Newman: “Consciousness is at the very core of the human condition. Yet only in recent

decades has it become a major focus in the brain and behavioral sciences.

Scientists now know that consciousness involves many levels of brain

functioning, from brainstem to cortex. The almost seventy articles in this book

reflect the breadth and depth of this burgeoning field. The many topics covered

include consciousness in vision and inner speech, immediate memory and

attention, waking, dreaming, coma, the effects of brain damage, fringe

consciousness, hypnosis, and dissociation.

Underlying all the selections are the questions, What difference does

consciousness make? What are its properties? What role does it play in the

nervous system? How do conscious brain functions differ from unconscious ones?

The focus of the book is on scientific evidence and theory.”

Sagrada Familia in New York?

//' cannot be displayed]

God’s architect design for Twin Tower space? “Antoni Gaudi, the avant-garde architect of Barcelona’s Sagrada Familia church who could soon be beatified has become the latest candidate to design a replacement for New York’s destroyed World Trade Centre

Gaudi (1852-1926) was commissioned in 1908 to create a 366 metre skyscraper hotel for Lower Manhattan. Although the project was never realised, he left a spaceship-type design, topped by an observation platform in the shape of a giant glass star, which has now been submitted by a US-Spanish team of artists and academics.”

Walt Whitman (1819–1892), Leaves of Grass:

Of persons arrived at high positions, ceremonies, wealth, scholarships, and the like;

To me, all that those persons have arrived at, sinks away from them, except as it results to their Bodies and Souls,

So that often to me they appear gaunt and naked;

And often, to me, each one mocks the others, and mocks himself or herself,

And of each one, the core of life, namely happiness, is full of the rotten excrement of maggots,

And often, to me, those men and women pass unwittingly the true realities of life, and go toward false realities,

And often, to me, they are alive after what custom has served them, but nothing more,

And often, to me, they are sad, hasty, unwaked sonnambules, walking the dusk

(dedicated to George W. Bush as one in a continuing series honoring ‘banned’ poets)