Odd Files

Find That Genius!

Beijing Genomics Institute scientists are closing in on a technology to allow parents to choose, from several embryos, the one most likely to yield the smartest offspring. London’s Daily Mail (in January, referencing recent work in Wired, The Wall Street Journal and The New Yorker) explained that BGI will have identified high-potential mathematics genes (by mapping the cells of geniuses) so that researchers can search for those among a couple’s array of embryos.

(Most embryos will yield gene arrays resembling their parents’, but one embryo is likely “better” — and maybe much better.) One Chinese researcher acknowledged the “controversial” nature of the work, “especially in the West,” but added, “That’s not the case in China.” The parental price tag on finding the smartest kid? Expensive, said a supporter, but less than upgrading an average kid via Harvard, or even a private prep school.

Can’t Possibly Be True

“This (was) my life,” said musician Boujemaa Razgui in December, referring to the 13 handmade flutes that he played professionally, “and now they’re gone.” Arriving in New York City from Madrid with the 13 woodwinds in his checked luggage, he was shocked to discover that U.S. Customs had destroyed them without notice because “wood” is a restricted “agricultural” import. (Unsophisticated agents had apparently regarded them as mere bamboo.) Razgui plays all over the world including, since 2002, with the Boston Camerata ensemble staged by the city’s Museum of Fine Arts.

Saved by the Blimps: Americans who have grown accustomed to hearing that the U.S. is militarily without peer might have been shocked to learn in January (as CBS News reported from a Pentagon interview) that America has “practically zero capability” either to detect enemy cruise missiles fired at Washington, D.C., from offshore, or even worse, to “defend against (them).”

The Pentagon’s interim makeshift solution to protect the U.S. capital, said an official, is to launch two blimps, soon, to float two miles up over a base in Maryland to try to spot any such missiles.

 

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