Boy Erased

I typically do not publish blog-posts so quickly after a previous post, for several different reasons, but this is just too important, too good, and necessary to raise awareness of a crisis that is in reality more common than most people around the world realize. What is it? It is twofold. One, the frequency of inter-sexed births around the world and how often it has been occurring throughout human history and its implications on societal (not religious or moral) norms! But this is not the real “Breaking News” story that’s going to shatter life as we know it. Second, and what IS shattering and inhumane is how Conservative, close-minded (religious?) hypocrites treat other humans (intersexed humans or LGBTQ humans) who have simply been born — from prenatal genetic developments and design — the way they were meant to be born. The abuse or mistreatment needs to be illegal and their safety and rights monitored/policed by all of society.

I have written a few posts in the past about the genetic prenatal designs for a person’s eventual gender and sexual orientation, e.g. Sexual & Gender Ambiguity: My Once Gross Ignorance. The science is overwhelming:  there are little options for a person to “choose” what they will be and how they will behave when most of their neurology, hormones, and neural-programming in the brain has simply manifested in a way it was DESIGNED to be in the first place, not only in the womb from conception, but also from genomes from many, many ancestors! Is anyone familiar with just how immeasurably these gender-sexual systems vary within populations around the world? These births happen today in at LEAST four or five different regions on Earth annually. If you are not aware, get educated; get informed and updated about just how unimaginably diverse this Earth and all her species truly are by reading this. But just as immeasurable are the vast, never-ending spectrums of gender/sexual orientations within endocrinology and neurology. In other words, just as there are obvious physical differences, there are exponentially more differences that are not physical, but internal that began early inside the mother’s womb and was finished before her third trimester. Think about that people!

And yet, for far too many decades and centuries we still have a cognitive dysfunctional sector of the human population that are grossly naive, ignorant, or in severe denial of the actual facts. And worse, those dysfunctional people want to treat these different individuals with such insensitive, inhumane, dehumanizing methods like this new 2018 film Boy Erased truthfully portrays.

Yes, these Conversion Therapy camps actually exist and ignorant religious zealots ship their kids and teenagers — who cannot help what their prenatal genetic design has made them into — off to these psychologically damaging internment camps! These “clinics” or facilities are not medically or psychologically based, much less legally licensed to perform such “therapy”! Just like bloodletting was a bogus remedy to infection, conversion therapy has no moral, medical, or scientific ground to stand on. It is child abuse. Period.

This must stop! Do everything you can to stop these abuses to children and teenagers by parents and churches that still live in the Medieval Dark Ages. How can you help and spread the awareness and higher intelligence? Go watch the movie for starters! Next, vote and campaign for the permanent closures of these (il)legal camps of child-abuse! These people (if you can call them that) simply do not understand the overwhelming science behind embryology, genetics, endocrinology, and neurology backed up by the actual, very tangible inter-sexed stats. Period. The religious-minded are horribly ignorant and misguided in this regard and many others! Educate them, save them from themselves… if possible. But do not NOT do anything. Speak out against them, stand up to them.

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For more important information on how to help and how much work/action needs to take place and continue, go here:  LGTBmap.org and get active against child-abuse!

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Gattaca Venit

The title means “Gattaca Arrived.” In this scene of the 1997 SyFi film Gattaca, Vincent Freeman’s parents are planning a second child, as their first (Vincent) was unfortunately conceived “naturally” and “passionately.” The geneticist-consultant shows them four candidate embryos:

Geneticist: You have specified hazel eyes, dark hair and fair skin. I’ve taken the liberty of eradicating any potentially prejudicial conditions. Premature baldness, myopia… alcoholism and addictive susceptibility… propensity for violence, obesity, etc.

Marie Freeman: We didn’t want… Diseases, yes, but– [looks at Antonio]

Antonio Freeman: We were just wondering if it’s good to leave a few things to chance?

Geneticist: We want to give your child the best possible start. Believe me, we have enough imperfection built-in already. Your child doesn’t need any more additional burdens. Keep in mind, this child is still you. Simply the best of you. You could conceive naturally a thousand times and never get such a result.

Less than two decades after the film’s release it is no longer cinematic fiction. Editing our human DNA safely and wisely is here and will soon be available to the public. What this means is beyond profound and will change life as we know it forever! Please watch this 16-min TED video presentation from one of the co-founders of the CRISPR-CAS9 gene-editor, Dr. Jennifer Doudna.

Some of the questions Dr. Doudna raises and those presented to her at the end of her presentation were very good, very paramount questions for her, the scientific-medical community, and people in general, legislatures in particular, to seriously consider. This has created two nascent scientific-philosophical fields:  bioethics and genethics.

The therapeutic uses for this medical technology are unquestionable when it comes to relief of human suffering and early mortality from diseases. One of its uses I personally find fascinating and optimistic about is that of combating addiction, heretical or acquired. The U.S.’s addiction-crisis of the brain’s reward-dopamine abuse is absolutely a treatable illness and disorder! This neurogenetic editing-rehab would have a major impact on our species and societies. For a poignant assessment of this current mental health epidemic and its solutions, click here. At the other end of the addiction spectrum there is one form of treatment which has proven a failure:  abstinence. In fact, abstinence has shown for the last 70+ years to exacerbate recovery for almost all addicts.

But rewiring and editing neurological and genetic strands does raise some sub-questions. For example, when is giving charity or open-love or generosity an addiction (clinical co-dependency), and when is it healthy and not an addiction? For hundreds and thousands of years of human history, nowhere, no one group, organization, belief-system, or society has ever had a workable and successful answer — until modern medicine and science.

Then there are some non-therapeutic questions too. For example, here are some I picked out from the National Human Genome Research Institute’s website posted August 2017:

Regarding Properly Informed Consent

  • How can an informed choice/decision be offered to an unborn embryo of the edit(s) or to its descendants?
  • What exactly should define Properly Informed Consent?

Regarding Justice and Equity

  • How can the impoverished and disadvantaged (the world’s 80% – 90% population) people be assured that genome editing is available for all, not just the wealthy causing disparities throughout healthcare?
  • How will our species avoid germline editing that creates classes of individuals defined by the quality of their (purchased?) engineered genomes?

However these issues and questions play out, like it or not, gene-editing is here to stay. Whether the U.S. and other democratic nations are at the forefront of this Venit/Arrived technology, other questionable groups, societies, and nations, depending on their “resources,” will get a hold of it eventually, or do everything within their power to stop it or corrupt it. Which brings me to another profound question.

Don’t we have a moral, humane imperative and responsibility to ease and/or stop all suffering?

For me, the answer is Of course we do! It’s a no-brainer. But I am also very happy to report that this positive course of action implies another wonderful reality!

Since a supposed “God” fucked all this up in the first place — or allowed Satan to do so, whichever — in that light we can start doing the work that the mentally retarded, lazy, “God” with no foresight whatsoever has refused to do for well over 300,000 to 500,000 years! Let’s at least keep moving forward helping our reality in practical beneficial ways!

If you’d like to know more remarkable news about gene-editing, watch this 12-min TED video “Gene-editing Can Now Change An Entire Species.”

The positive benefits of utilizing gene-drives and DNA-repairing editors are endless and must be increasingly understood and discussed. At minimum, THAT is indeed what we are responsible for doing. Staying with status quo or what I’ve often described to the religious as stagnate-in-antiquation is a sure-fire way to accelerate extinction.

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Live Well — Love Much — Laugh Often — Learn Always

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2017: Our Past, Present, & Forecast

Surprise! I am not a fan of horse-blinders, headless ostriches, or one-tree forests. I am not a fan of shallow, baseless rhetoric or opinion unless it is cleverly woven with satire and parody. Nor am I a fan of closed systems and strong-armed boxing in. Are you asking “What on Earth is he going on about?” Fair question.

What 2017 will become for Americans, and hopefully to a minimal extent the world, will be or has been partly determined by 2015-16, the state-of-the-Union and its unionists today, and what will result in 2018 and 2019 based on the past and present. This is the final post from the previous:  2016: Cries for Mutiny.

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The Past Two Years

2015 and 2016 in America saw many economic, political, social, and scientific headlines, many good as there were bad. Following are some of the biggest and in my opinion most impactful relative to the well-being of all U.S. citizens and citizens to be.

Racism, lethal violence, and gun-control, and so by default our nation’s outrageous incarceration rate, seems to never go away. The mass shootings at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, SC and the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, FL, a popular LGBT club, were two of the deadliest shootings in recent history. The Charleston Church shooting was reportedly motivated by a 21-year old white supremacist charged with 33 counts including murder, firearms charges, and federal hate-crime charges. The murderer’s beliefs prompted continued debate over the state’s long history of flying the 19th century Confederate Battle Flag atop the state capitol building. This shooting and other similar shootings in the U.S. including the Pulse nightclub — and Roseburg, Lafayette, Chattanooga, Planned Parenthood, San Bernardino — ignited again the still never-ending controversy of racism and gun-control.

blm-march

The phrase Black Lives Matter became a common trending 2015 hashtag on social media following events such as the death of 25-year old Freddie Gray while in custody. Increased police violence and killing continued throughout 2016, primarily toward or effecting African-Americans, shockingly suggesting that the end of the American Civil War in 1865, the ratification of the 13th Amendment also in 1865, then decades later historical victories by the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960’s and 70’s never happened! It seriously begs the question whether basic human rights in America have really taken firm roots after 151 years!

On a high note, in 2015 June 26th, the White House vowed its support for the Supreme Court’s landmark decision in favor of marriage equality for same-sex couples. President Obama remarked:

“In my second inaugural address, I said that if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well. It is gratifying to see that principle enshrined into law by this decision.”

But American history has shown that simple moral, ethical equality for all is still far from established, practiced, and protected within our national borders, e.g. Texas Rep. Andrew Murr in my previous post. And America is not always so embracing when it comes to foreigners and foreign affairs, despite what Lady Liberty is supposed to symbolize to the world.

refugees-in-sloveniaThe European refugee crisis from war-torn nations like Syria have been an embarrassing blemish across Lady Liberty and all Americans. Tens of thousands of people fleeing from the Middle East and Africa learned harshly just how paranoid and apathetic the United States has become. Germany, Sweden, and the U.K. on the other hand opened up their arms wide taking in far more than President Obama’s plan to allow 10,000. Other foreign aid into those warring nations reached all-time highs and lows for the international community despite U.S. peace and refusal talks. Yet, these refugee figures come out of European and American sources — the numbers are anywhere between 1.1 to 4.4 million refugees in African nations, ironically where some of the poorest nations in the world are located. Hmmmm.

The U.S. economy made several headlines as well, no surprise given the upcoming Presidential primaries and election in 2016. The federal deficit indeed shrunk over 2015. The final figures came in at $439 billion, about $45 billion less than in 2014. Employment rose, unemployment fell, and for the first time in the past 7-years, 2015’s real hourly pay climbed faster than 2%. Good news, yes. However, America’s widening zip code inequality continued to rise as poverty and a lack of upward mobility became not just social and economic problems, they became bigger geographical ones too. American living standards only saw limited gains creating a false illusion of recovery. This was reflected by a contraction of aggregate supply rather than a strong expansion of demand, all according to the Brookings Institute. Therefore, now is an easy segway into America’s federal politics and “Election 2016″… a campaign year that would go down in history as infamous, to put it mildly.

In an April 2015 two-minute video, Democrat Hillary Clinton announced her anticipated second run for president. With Democratic candidates Sanders and Clinton set, the race for the Republican nomination became a wild free-for-all. Another Bush from Florida entered the race, Jeb Bush, along with no less than 15 others, including the TV-reality star and business mogul Donald Trump. From that point on, the fiery “You’re Fired!” TV personality turned the campaigns into polarizing, even comical, reality shows. Soon after, as if to get in line for the next blockbuster show, rapper Kanye West proclaimed he would run in the 2020 presidential election. Why not! Come one, come all. No experience necessary.

In November 2016, what can only be described as a stunning outcome, Trump won not the popular vote, but the Electoral College vote to become the 45th President of the United States. Yes, the rest of the world was shocked, not shocked, and Vladimir Putin and Russia loved it.

In late 2016 the Brookings Institute spoke about Trump’s economic team forecasting doubled long-term GDP as “unrealistic.”

“Labor force growth is slowing to a crawl. The population is aging, the dramatic advance of women into the labor market is waning, and male participation has been declining for decades. We will be lucky if the labor force grows by 0.5 percent a year. That means labor productivity growth would have to grow by 3 percent a year.  Over the past decade, it grew by just over 1 percent.  So the Trump administration seems to be assuming that they can more than double productivity growth. So, is a near-doubling of the GDP growth rate realistic? No. But even if it were, it would be less important than ensuring that whatever growth we have is more equally distributed.But let’s assume we can bump up the growth rate.  Even then, unless something is done to ensure that growth is more broadly distributed, the average American is unlikely to benefit very much. This lesson was reinforced recently by the release of new data showing that, on average, if you were born in 1940, you had a 90 percent chance of being better off than your parents, but the odds fell to 50 percent if you were born in the 1980s. Both lower growth and rising inequality contributed to this depressing story for today’s younger generations. In addition, the study—by Raj Chetty and colleagues—found that more equally distributing growth would be more effective at improving the average person’s life chances than simply restoring GDP growth to its golden years’ rate. In fact, in today’s lopsided economy, it would take a growth rate of more than 6 percent to revive the income trajectories experienced by middle class children in 1940.”

But don’t fret too much America. There are some very bright spots from 2015-16!

shattered-chromosomeA shattered chromosome cured a woman of her immune disease then reassembled. This is known as chromothripsis, possibly paving the way for therapies against a variety of human diseases. 2015 saw the dawn of gene editing, the rise of immunotherapy and the first hints of a drug to slow the pace of Alzheimer’s disease. NASA’s Kepler telescope found 1,284 new planets of which nine could plausibly support human life. About 800-million years ago a slight genetic mutation lead to multicellular life on Earth. An ancient molecule known as GK-PID was discovered to be the reason single-celled organisms on Earth started evolving into multicellular organisms we have today. In mathematics a new prime number was discovered, further expanding and enhancing encryption programming:  the Great Internet Mersenne Prime Search. Then perhaps one of the biggest headline for medical science in 2016 was made by the Stanford University School of Medicine! Stem cells injected into stroke patients re-enabled patients to walk again.

cryptotora_thamicolaFinally and on the faith vs. science debate, cavefish were found that could walk up walls. This showed similarities to four-limbed vertebrates. The New Jersey Institute of Technology discovered a Taiwanese Cavefish that is capable of walking up walls with the same anatomical movement as any present-day amphibian or reptile. And in the state of Utah, the Black Dragon Canyon rock-art debate was finally solved! Due to pterosaur fossils being found in the area, young-Earth creationists — who believe our planet to be only 6,000 to 10,000 years old — have relentlessly cited the rock-painting as proof that humans and the winged reptiles had walked the region together. Archaeological chemist Dr. Marvin Rowe using “a photographic enhancement program known as DStretch and a technique called x-ray fluorescence,” completely debunked the creationist’s claim of the art.

There were many, many more major breakthroughs in medicine, history, and science for 2015-16 that simply could not all be listed here. Apologies.

The Present

The reviews are mixed about 2017. No surprise, right? It’s only January.

However, from a U.S. economic standpoint, the fiscal outlook for America’s “new POTUS” plans are not promising, says the Brookings Institute, and “it is likely to get worse soon.

“The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget estimates that Trump’s tax and spending proposals – the latter including replacing the Affordable Care Act, modifying Medicaid, boosting military spending, and enacting savings in non-defense programs – imply that the debt will rise to 105 percent of GDP by 2026. The CRFB report leaves out any estimate of increased infrastructure spending, which Trump has said he would like to increase by roughly $1 trillion over a decade. Including that would add further to the debt figures.”

From a political standpoint, never before has the spirit of true, pure equality for ALL Americans been so threatened (e.g. 2016: Cries for Mutiny), arguably weakened the last 2-3 decades. Racism and hate-crimes littered our nation’s news media and if 2015-16 is any barometer, it isn’t going away anytime soon in 2017. For here and now and the sake of time, I am going to focus on sex-gender identities only.

sex-gender-equality_graphic

Notwithstanding the obvious growing social trend of sex-gender equality across many states, the political-Conservative representation and processes, for various reasons, progressed at snail-paces. It took the highest court in the land, the Supreme Court, after four pivotal landmark decisions — Lawrence v. Texas (2003), United States v. Windsor (2013), Hollingsworth v. Perry (2013), and Obergefell v. Hodges (2015) — to make same-sex marriage legal in all 50 states. Can you say it took not an act of Congress, but the gavel of the Supreme Court to finally follow its majority of people!?

From the social and scientific standpoints then, the future in America has wider glimmers of hope. Since 1991 the work of doctors and scientists — like Dr. Simon LeVay and medical/university colleagues across Massachusetts and New York with their supporting universities and clinics through 2001 — has led to the progression and evolution of tangible better understandings of sex-gender dynamics. For example, in 2006 the Council for Responsible Genetics reported:

“We are sexual beings, yet this does not mean that we are born homosexual, bisexual, or heterosexual. Our sexual expression can change over time, towards different people, through different experiences. A lack of understanding about this type of human variability often leads to a perspective that our genes define who we are.

…Yet a narrow focus on the variability of sexual expression threatens to cloud the issue altogether. Without giving proper attention to the mutability of human sexual expression, questions regarding its origins and character cannot be answered. Without giving proper attention to the mutability of human sexual expression, questions regarding its origins and character cannot be answered.”
Brief on Sexual Orientation and Genetic Determinism, May 2006, citation Jan. 5, 2017 at http://www.councilforresponsiblegenetics.org/ViewPage.aspx?pageId=66

Then by 2015 more results were in…

“For men, new research suggests that clues to sexual orientation may lie not just in the genes, but in the spaces between the DNA, where molecular marks instruct genes when to turn on and off and how strongly to express themselves.”

In individuals, said [UCLA molecular biologist Tuck C.] Ngun, the presence of these distinct molecular marks can predict homosexuality with an accuracy of close to 70%.

Researchers working in the young science of epigenetics acknowledge they are unsure just how an individual’s epigenome is formed. But they increasingly suspect it is forged, in part, by the stresses and demands of external influences. A set of chemical marks that lies between the genes, the epigenome changes the function of genetic material, turning the human body’s roughly 20,000 protein-coding genes on or off in response to the needs of the moment.

“Our best guess is that there are genes” that affect a man’s sexual orientation “because that’s what twin studies suggest,” said Northwestern University psychologist J. Michael Bailey, who has explored a range of physiological markers that point to homosexuality’s origins in the womb. But the existence of identical twin pairs in which only one is homosexual “conclusively suggest that genes don’t explain everything,” Bailey added.”
Scientists find DNA differences between gay men and their straight twin brothers, by Melissa Healy – LA Times, October 2015

Stepping back from any one tree and examining the genetic or epigenetic forest strongly suggests that ancient and long-standing social-theological traditions of strictly an unbending binary paradigm in post-modern Europe and modern America are fast fading into fallacy. For the future growth of higher human virtues and education, this is great news!

ngm_gendersThis very month one of the most iconic American magazines, National Geographic, released their double-issues on the gender revolution. Since I can remember over the last 25+ years, this bold highly controversial step by a world-renown organization is long overdue in the U.S.! It paints the reality of the changing social stigma of sex-gender identity bringing it to our public squares to define the correct precise terms so misunderstood, and looks closely at the cultural, political, social, and most importantly the biological aspects! Must copies for your personal library.

Topics the magazines cover include Helping Families Talk About Gender, Girls, Boys, and Gendered Toys, the power and influence of our society’s binary Color Code on American children, a deeper look into children’s animated films of popular characters:  Who’s the Fairest?, a detailed graph of Where In the World Are Women and Men Most-and Least-Equal, candid first-hand reports from 9-year olds around the globe of How (in their countries) Gender Affects Their Lives, Rethinking Gender: Can Science Help Us Navigate?, and then the lengthy article, Making A Man: How Does A 21st-century Boy Reach Manhood? that I found astonishing. And those articles and graphs are merely the first-half of the first magazine!

“Enveloped by the men of his family and Hasidic faith, Levi Tiechtel celebrates his 13th birthday at his bar mitzvah in Queens, New York. For millenia, Jews have been performing this ritual, which commemorates the [supposed] age when a male becomes accountable for his own actions and sins.”
Making A Man: How Does A 21st-century Boy Reach Manhood?, January 2017 National Geographic, pp 86-87.

From 800 BCE Sparta to 1930 Italy and United States, “cultures have devised [not genetics or epigenetics necessarily] myriad practices and rituals to make boys into men. The methods — often secret and sacred — vary widely and continually evolve, says cultural anthropologist Gilbert Herdt. But they also share some universal themes that broadly reflect a community’s values and the roles its men are expected to play.” At such a young malleable age, in several cultures around the world, America included, it makes the decision to conform or not conform daunting or near impossible until perhaps an older age of increased independence and exposure to the world’s endless variety.

The Possible-Probable Forecast

us-map-state-flagsBased on what I’ve written in this post and previous posts, my life experiences as an 8th-generation Texan as well as American, my 28-year futebol-soccer career across 4-of-the-6 inhabitable continents exposed and engrossed to a multitude of native cultures, the copiousness and curse of the internet, and my unconventional journey from young agnostic, to evangelical-fundamental Reformed theology with church leadership and practice, back toward a Freethinking Humanist today… and now an evolving, learning, and hopefully teaching social-sciences from basic chemistry to Quantum Physics, I would say the next 2-6 years in the United States looks promising through several lenses on the social and scientific fronts, but ominous on the economic and political battlefields. Why?

After 241-years as a nation and about 182 for Texas, we have nurtured the freedom to continually push the envelope of social refinement and scientific exploration, granted in pockets of the country, while also nurturing the fear of change and the consumer rewards of self-reliance and exclusion. When we examine the entire American forest over the lifetime of our nation, we stand at a pivotal ridge on our future’s horizon. Either we embrace a bigger global community, reverse the return or nuisance of old uncivilized ideologies which have crept or will creep back in, and instead keep pushing the scientific thresholds… else we risk increased fragmentation, polarization, and socioeconomic collapse in  a few more generations, if not sooner.

I hope my seat behind this windshield and the view through my/our rearview mirror is different or temporarily malfunctioning! (half laughing, half nervous)

Tell me your thoughts and suggestions below. Whether you are American or not, I’d like to read them.

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Live Well — Love Much — Laugh Often — Learn Always

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