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Selling life for fun and profit

Maybe not so much for fun, but profit? Definitely. I’ve written about what’s really wrong with genetically modified food before, and it’s not mutant monster three-eyed chickens giving you cancer.

Being a biologist, I’ve been complaining about biological problems.

  • Monsanto creating crops to withstand its own RoundUp herbicide. More herbicide = more ecological damage + less nutritious crops. And, in a win-win (for Monsanto), it gets paid for the patented crops and the patented RoundUp sloshed on the fields. (1)
  • The potential to cause allergies due to substances created or used anywhere in the process of production through to application of the genetically modified plant or animal. 1, 2)
  • The industry hiding information about problems in what’s a very familiar pattern by now. (2)

But it suddenly hit me, reading this article, that the biggest danger is not irreversible biological damage. Not enough people care about irreversible biological damage.

The real problem is that

genetically altered food has been subject to intellectual property protection, and the creation of new foods has become a reliable way to ensure profit streams for whoever patented them first.

Profit streams. God help us. People would, and do, destroy their own grandchildren to get at a profit stream. We’re doomed.

The only good news is that, unlike irreversible biological damage, we have total control over profit streams. Start once again enforcing the unpatentability of life, the profit stream dries up, and the problem is solved.

What are we waiting for? Permission from Monsanto?


Mexican farmers block Monsanto law to privatize plants and seeds.


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Gay conversion therapy doesn’t need testing

Gay ‘Conversion Therapy’ Faces Tests in Courts.

Gay “conversion therapy,” which claims to help men overcome unwanted same-sex attractions but has been widely attacked as unscientific and harmful, is facing its first tests in the courtroom.

Telling someone he can’t have gay conversion therapy is not really different from telling anyone they can’t have assertiveness training. You can do whatever you want with your soul, if you’re not hurting anyone else. Either we can tell each other what kind of sex to have, or we can’t. If not — and I would say emphatically not — then we also can’t tell people to be gay or not to be gay. Their business is nobody else’s business.

Now, that’s at the patient end of the deal.

It’s a different can of worms when someone sets themselves up to get paid for curing gayness (gaiety?). Nobody has a shred of evidence that gayness — or any other manifestation of the gender spectrum — is a disease or needs a cure or that there are any generally applicable ways to transform straights into gays or vice versa. So there are big issues of misrepresentation, false claims, lying to extract money from people, and general con artistry. That’s a crime. Nothing much to test there, either. Require restitution and throw the bums in jail.

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Women must run the world

And businesses. And everything else. That is the inescapable implication of the following findings from:

The Mere Anticipation of an Interaction with a Woman Can Impair Men’s Cognitive Performance, Nauts et al. 2012.

Recent research suggests that heterosexual men’s but not heterosexual women’s cognitive performance is impaired after an interaction with someone of the opposite sex Karremans et al., 2009. These findings have been interpreted in terms of the cognitive costs of trying to make a good impression during the interaction. In everyday life, people frequently engage in pseudo-interactions with women e.g., through the phone or the internet or anticipate interacting with a woman later on. The goal of the present research was to investigate if men’s cognitive performance decreased in these types of situations, in which men have little to no opportunity to impress her and, moreover, have little to no information about the mate value of their interaction partner. Two studies demonstrated that men’s but not women’s cognitive performance declined if they were led to believe that they interacted with a woman via a computer Study 1 or even if they merely anticipated an interaction with a woman Study 2. Together, these results suggest that an actual interaction is not a necessary prerequisite for the cognitive impairment effect to occur. Moreover, these effects occur even if men do not get information about the woman’s attractiveness. This latter finding is discussed in terms of error management theory.[Emphasis added.]

Men need to start hoping that biology is not destiny at least as much as feminists have always insisted it isn’t.

Nonfunctional yet self-destructive constructs

(Rube Goldberg)


(The article by psychologists was critiqued by a computational scientist for its terminology. (No link due to complete paywall.) The authors’ response is here.)

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If you don’t control it, you don’t own it

Now can we start refusing to be cattle instead of customers?

Instagram says it now has the right to sell your photos – CNET News:

Under the new policy, Facebook claims the perpetual right to license all public Instagram photos to companies or any other organization, including for advertising purposes, which would effectively transform the Web site into the world’s largest stock photo agency. One irked Twitter user quipped that “Instagram is now the new iStockPhoto, except they won’t have to pay you anything to use your images.”

These services are “free” the same way the supermarket is free for the bar of soap. You’re the product. Of course it’s “free.” The real tell showing your place in the scheme of things is that nobody is offering you a cut of the (huge) profits. If you were an actual human being, you’d have a right to part of them for your contribution.

But you have no rights. It’s all subsumed under property rights. Whoever is making money has the right to trample your privacy, copyrights, free speech, and whatever else suits their bottom line.

You know what? That doesn’t work and can’t work because it ends in total absurdity. Some rights have to take precedence over others or they all become useless. Human rights have to come before property rights. If they don’t, I could kidnap people for a slave farm and there’d be nothing they could do about it because they’re my property, which is more important than anything else. And anybody else could do the same to me. There would be neither human rights nor property rights for anybody. Everything would be lost. If human rights come first, property rights are secure within their proper limited sphere.

Religion is another example. Freedom of religion must be secondary to freedom of speech, movement, and basic human rights like self defense. If it isn’t, then my religion could be to kill your religion. There would be neither human rights nor freedom of religion for anybody.

As I said, getting rights in the wrong order ends in absurdity. It ends in no rights, not even the one usurping the top spot.

If we had a real government, instead of our captured kleptocracy, our rights to our own work would be clear in law, and we wouldn’t have to worry about losing control to some piker holding us up at a chokepoint.

Instagram expropriating people’s cat pictures seems like a picayune thing to get worked up about. But it’s yet one more symptom of an inversion in the correct order of rights. They have no right to do that because money cannot cancel basic rights to your own work. There’s no law against corporations making money, certainly. That’s what they’re there for. But not at the price of trampling more important rights. And that’s not a small thing at all.

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