Cancer as a talent.

Eva Vertes looks to the future of medicine | Video on TED.com. This is a talk by a 19yr old who is trying to find a way to approach cancer in radically new ways. It had me returning to a future fiction story I started to write in the early-mid 90s, in which the capacity to develop cancerous cells had become a 'talent', because we had worked out how to manipulate cancer in desirable directions once it appeared. So, for instance, if you developed bowel cancer, you might direct this cancer into the capacity to digest certain substances in more efficient ways, or a brain cancer might allow for new sensory/thought processing capacities. Basically, the idea was that because cancer cells are versatile, we could use them as design tools.

In what Eva is saying here, cancer cells are perhaps initially part of a repair mechanism. So, perhaps we can fine tune this repair response, as she suggests, but towards new designs for bodily capacity.

extreme change

So what the hell's going on in the Eastern States of Australia in the last month? Massive floods in the north, drought and unprecedented fire storms in the south, and now earthquakes in Victoria and a cyclone brewing in Queensland. Climate change is what they call it. All this in the midst of the global financial crisis and, in the past days, the numbers showing that Australia is now in recession. Everything seems to be extreme and on the move: an all pervasive climate of change.Remember the opening line of the web film EPIC 2015? "It is the best of times, it is the worst of times". With the help of google, i now know this refers to a quote from Charles Dickens, which you can read here. The reason I looked this up was that Philip Adams also refers to it in his column in the today's weekend Australian magazine. His article is more-or-less a call for wary optimism: that in this time of doom, gloom and radical upheaval, we can still be optimistic about the future, but we should not simply expect the best to happen, but attempt to actively make it happen (well, he says we should "demand" it, but i think we need to be a little more creative than just making demands). It turns out that Adams is a little cynical of the following, but this is what caught my eye: "The worst of times? No, these are the best of times, an opportunity for unprecedented creativity. For ideas and innovations in economics, in politics, in environmental strategies." While we should be wary of either blind optimism or gloomy doomsayers, constructing future scenarios that enter into a energetic, engaged enthusiasm about possibilities seems vitally important in this climate of change.

becoming animal

The rather mind mind-boggling news about the Californian woman giving birth to eight babies (and she already has six), made me think of Patricia Piccinnini's work, particularly her piece 'The Young Family': The Californian brood was the result of IVF, the embryos being artifically implanted (they apparently didn't expect all of them to 'take'). Interesting how biotechnology is leading us closer to our animal companions.