Jewish World Review June 5, 2002 / 24 Sivan, 5762

Ian Shoales

Ian Shoales
JWR's Pundits
World Editorial
Cartoon Showcase

Mallard Fillmore

Michael Barone
Mona Charen
Linda Chavez
Ann Coulter
Greg Crosby
Larry Elder
Don Feder
Suzanne Fields
Paul Greenberg
Bob Greene
Betsy Hart
Nat Hentoff
David Horowitz
Marianne Jennings
Michael Kelly
Mort Kondracke
Ch. Krauthammer
Lawrence Kudlow
Dr. Laura
John Leo
David Limbaugh
Michelle Malkin
Chris Matthews
Michael Medved
MUGGER
Kathleen Parker
Wes Pruden
Sam Schulman
Amity Shlaes
Roger Simon
Tony Snow
Thomas Sowell
Cal Thomas
Jonathan S. Tobin
Ben Wattenberg
George Will
Bruce Williams
Walter Williams
Mort Zuckerman

Consumer Reports

Of Humice and Men


http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com | According to the Los Angeles Times, about ten years ago, a medical school professor named Stuart Newman was given a challenge by a friend: "Could he think up a new form of life that would be scientifically useful and possible to patent-- yet so disturbing that the public would recoil?"

It's stories like this that make we wish I'd become a scientist. I'd show the Frankensteins of the world a thing or two: fuzzy rattlesnakes, dogs that can hop, tarantulas that can say "I love you" in five languages!

This Newman fellow, however, showed me up for the piker I am. He proposed a "humouse," part-human, part-mouse "that could be made with existing lab techniques and would help companies test for the toxic effects of new drugs."

His proposal was whimsical of course, but it has been submitted for a patent by him and his partner, the gloomy technology critic Jeremy Rifkin, even though Newman claims that has "never made a humouse and says he probably never would." So far, the patent office has not responded.

So the humouse proposal is one of those symbolic gestures. They want to push the envelope of what is permissible, bio-engineering-wise, because, as Newman puts it, "There really is no boundary on what you can do with human life. That troubles me. I think it will ultimately lead to genetically engineered human beings made for sale."

Well, it seems to me that if you think humice are bad idea, you shouldn't dream them up. And if you're dreaming them up for the sole purpose of goading a bureaucracy, well, you don't need humice to do that. Not filing a tax return, for instance, ensures a quick response from the Internal Revenue Service.

And if they don't want to see genetically engineered human beings for sale, why did they put that idea in our heads? The next time I go to the mall, I'm going to be envisioning racks of humans, marked half-off for a holiday sale (without accessories, though).

But even if I got a good price on a genetically engineered human, how would I bring one home? Will he or she fit in the trunk? Do I strap my human to the roof like a Christmas tree?

And there are larger issues. Will genetically engineered humans come with a warranty, or will that be extra? Will that include parts and labor? Come to think of it, if my human breaks, and the manufacturer will fix it free of charge, that's a pretty good deal. Sounds like my genetically engineered human will have better medical coverage than I do. Somehow, I don't think that's what Dr. Frankenstein had in mind.

Like this writer's work? Why not sign-up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.


JWR contributor Ian Shoales is the author of, among others, Not Wet Yet: An Anthology of Commentary. Comment by clicking here.

Up

05/30/02: Pooches in sharkskin suits and the end of dog tags
05/22/02: We baby boomers used to rule the roost
05/20/02: The Files now Ex
05/14/02: Entangled in Spider-Man's web!?
05/02/02: April Showers May Come Our Yadda Yadda
04/24/02: From child murderer to milk hawker
04/10/02: New realities
03/21/02: You did it your way? I have to kill you now!
03/14/02: IN THIS CORNER SUSAN LUCCI AND STEPHANIE ZYMALIST!
03/12/02: Life in the warehouse
01/28/02: Shoes and food
01/24/02: Suspension of disbelief has nothing to do with whether we accept something as real or not
01/22/02: Save the Grand Ole Opry?
12/15/01: If you truly want to appeal to the lowest common denominator
12/11/01: KNITTING!
12/07/01: Conspiracy by the 'fat suit' lobby?
12/04/01: The future of comic books
11/15/01: Literary tips in a jar
11/12/01: The ectoplasm of a ghost economy
11/05/01: Sumner Redstone's passions
10/31/01: My irony
10/29/01: Even in wartime, America can still bring it home
10/25/01: Ad memories
10/17/01: Pathetic me
10/08/01: War time lite
10/01/01: Confessions of a sarcastic scribe
09/11/01: The end of Mom
09/07/01: Boy Loses Girl, Boy Bites Girl, Boy Gets Girl
09/05/01: Virtual elegance?
08/31/01: I COPY, THEREFORE I AM
08/28/01: Buzz!
08/23/01: Radio workout
08/20/01: I robot, you Jane
08/15/01: A wild and crazy world!
08/10/01: When the future was "as real as a dime"
08/08/01: Garage Dearth!
08/06/01: That Big Clock
08/02/01: Stop the pop!
07/31/01: Catchphrase history of the world
07/26/01: The Bride of Science
07/23/01: That java jive
07/17/01: Homogenized hegemony
07/13/01: Applying Newton's First Law of Physics to textbooks
07/10/01: The dumb and the dead

© 2001, Ian Shoales