Industrial Cloning, Genetic Sequencing, and Curating the Real World

If it tastes good you should sequence it,” he tells me. “You should know what’s in the genes of that species.”

Species that taste good is one criterion. Another he cites is that of industrial use – raising yields, for example, or benefits for healthcare.

“A third category is if it looks cute – anything that looks cute: panda, polar bear, penguin, you should really sequence it – it’s like digitalising all the wonderful species,” he explains.

via BBC News – China cloning on an ‘industrial scale’.

We’ve been breeding plants and animals for flavor, temperament, sturdiness and many other traits for millenia. Now, as with so much of our world, technology is speeding it up.  The Chinese farm profiled by the BBC has a large cloning infrastructure for medical testing, and a large genetic sequencing center.  They’re determining what creatures work for the need and mass producing the variety of pig in one part of the facility.  In another area of the center workers record and decode the DNA sequence for a variety of animals.  The criteria are a mix of good business – flavorful, good producers, and the stereotypically Chinese – cute species.

Technology allows us to do things much faster than before. Sometimes that is destructive, as with the extinctions of whole species and ecosystems, and sometimes it’ll allow us to perform miracles. Cloning scares me as the ultimate mono-crop, but for a use like lab animal trials makes a lot of sense. Genetic sequencing can be both a way to know the animals, and a way to save crucial traits that may prove of immense value in a changing world.

If you’ve got to start somewhere, picking the cutest animals isn’t such a bad idea.

Red panda by flickr user ming1967
Red panda by flickr user ming1967

Too cute? Must see more? Watch videos, learn more, adopt a red panda here.

Street Parking, Homelessness, and “Storing Personal Property in Public”

Last year, Tampa, Florida — which had the most homeless people for a mid-sized city — passed an  ordinance allowing police officers to arrest anyone they saw sleeping in public, or “storing personal property in public.”

I look forward to seeing all of the parallel parked citizens arrested.

The article over at Nation of Change is very positive.  It describes a new Utah program to house people and provide social workers. But first the article lists other programs that have been recently implemented around the country.  This Tampa one struck me because ‘storing personal property in public’ is such a common activity.  I’ve lived in San Francisco where people overwhelmingly use street parking, and it is a fiercely fought over commodity, generating arguments over permits, parklets, construction and bus lanes.  I’m fairly sure this law was not applied in that context however.  Have you ever stopped to think how much money is spent on paving roads, grading curbs, and assisting people to store their car in the public space?  How many miles of lanes of public parking are in your town? Have you had a neighbor  who parks his boat/trailer/car that doesn’t drive on the street?

Appearing better off gets you advantages. Cars, boats, RVs, etc are a more valuable class of property and thus supported by the city, and when someone has so little, what they have is begrudged.

Programs like the one described do not fix the problems; they shift and change the problem.  The city and people still have to pay for the arrests, and cleanup the area.  Investing in long-term improvements, facilities and assistance programs for the individuals can actually be cheaper.  Homelessness in America should be fixable – we have the facilities and ignoring it isn’t free.

I’m excited to see how Lava Mae  will do in the Bay Area.

Southeast Asia Climate & Conditions – Month by Month

So I want to go on a tour of Southeast Asia. But I know there is flooding, and oppressive heat, so when to go where? I don’t mind rain so much, but flooded river runoff can make swimming ill advised and travel difficult. I can start my journey at any location, and month by month here is the best of Southeast Asia climate:

  • January – Phuket Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, South Vietnam, Philippines, Myanmar
  • February – Ko Samui Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, South Vietnam, Philippines, Myanmar
  • March – Ko Samui & North Thailand, North Laos, North Vietnam, Malaysia, Philippines, China
  • April – Ko Samui & Thailand Northern Provinces, North Laos, North Vietnam, Malaysia, China
  • May – Ko Samui & Thailand Northern Provinces, North Laos, North Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia
  • June – Ko Samui & Thailand Northern Provinces, North Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia, Eastern Philippines
  • July – Thailand Northern Provinces, Malaysia, Indonesia, Eastern Philippines
  • August – Malaysia, Indonesia, Eastern Philippines
  • September – Malaysia, Indonesia, Eastern Philippines, China
  • October – Malaysia, Indonesia, Southeast China
  • November – Phuket Thailand, Laos(especially for river travel), Cambodia, South Vietnam, Indonesia, Myanmar, Southeast China
  • December – Phuket Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, North Vietnam, Myanmar, Southeast China

Methodology – I have visited the Frommers’ and/or Lonely Planet country page for each of these countries, and distilled the month by month climate recommendations. These pages were also designed to convey informations regarding events & crowds; I tried to avoid non-climate based recommendations. In some cases the weather was reported as fairly consistent year around with only slight deviations for climate, or unpredictable elements such as typhoons. Those were: Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines

PS There is a great table at Insight Travels, and a great overview of how the weather systems work at about.com.