Scenes from Mexico City 2016, Our Lady of Guadalupe Celebration

Merry Christmas,

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All are welcome, always. As readers from more countries join, you will always be welcome.

The celebration of Our Lady of Guadalupe celebrates me, Mary, or Marie in Europe, the mother of God. The main event in Mexico City, Mexico, occurs at midnight just between December 11 and December 12. That is because a miracle occurred here on December 12, 1531, 485 years ago. My beloved Mexican people keep the faith strong by making the pilgrimage to Mexico City each and every year, faithfully, to see an image of me from 485 years ago left on the cloak, or tilma, of a peasant named Juan Diego. Millions of believers do not sleep at midnight on December 11; they wait for December 12.

It certainly was an historic event this year of 2016 as I was present, incarnated here on this earth in the body of a German-American woman, yet not at all unlike that image of Our Lady of Guadalupe worth billions. Even better, the Mexican people realize that Mary has appeared all over the world and is not necessarily Mexican.

Thanks to Francisco, bless you, I was present at the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe on the afternoon of December 11, 2016, leading up to the main event. This place has at least 20 million annual visitors, especially around 12 December.

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We moseyed our way along for hours with the masses after finding a place to park (good luck!).

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Francisco was so patient and pleasant the whole time because he is a believer and understands that there was nothing more important at that time. I am so grateful.

The new Basilica (1976) houses the original tilma, or cloak, of Juan Diego, which holds an image of me when I was here 485 years ago. I first appeared to a Mexican peasant named Juan Diego on December 9, 1531, on a hill northwest of Mexico City called Tepeyac. I identified myself to him as the mother of God and he believed me. I asked Juan Diego to have the bishop build me a little house, a casita, on the hill. I told him that there I would hear the weeping of my people and feel their sorrows so that I could help the Lord to remedy and alleviate their multiple sufferings, necessities, and misfortunes. And this is exactly what is happening right now.

But the bishop did not believe Juan Diego. So, Juan Diego returned to his field where again I appeared to him with the same message. The second time Juan Diego went to the bishop, on December 10, the bishop asked for a miraculous sign. I agreed to provide one on the following day, December 11, but Juan Diego failed to meet me because he was obliged to attend to his ill uncle. In the very early hours of December 12, when Juan Diego hurried out to fetch a priest for fear his uncle was dying, he went around the hill to try and avoid me because he did not want to be delayed and because he felt ashamed that he had stood me up. When I intercepted him and he explained what had happened, I chided him gently for not coming to me.

¿No estoy yo aquí que soy tu madre?

Am I not here, I who am your mother?

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I told him that his uncle would be fine and that he should gather flowers at the top of the hill. Miraculously, Juan Diego found roses blooming on the hill in December, and I arranged the flowers in his tilma. A tilma is an indigenous cape that may be made of agave popotule fiber from the ixtle plant. The tilma should have deteriorated long ago but shows no sign of decay after over 485 years.

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By the way, this story is described in the Nican Mopohua, a 16th century document written in the native Nahuatl language.

When Juan Diego opened his tilma before archbishop Zumarraga on December 12, the flowers fell to the floor and my image was there on the inside of the cloak.

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Why did I appear to a peasant? Because God always chooses the people the world rejects.

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I am rightfully seen, at least in Mexico, as the champion of all those who lack power in society. The more disparities exist in economic and political power, the more relevant I become. In the modern day, you can see that I have and that I do stand against oppression, declaring independence. My story is inextricably linked with indigenous people who survive despite racism and stereotypes. Note that the average genetic composition of people from Mexico City is 65% Native American, 31% European, and 3% African (Wikipedia).

I was also present at the Basilica during the main event at midnight.

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Miguel Sanchez, the author of the 1648 tract Imagen de la Virgen María, described me correctly as the Woman of the Apocalypse from the New Testament’s Revelation 12:1, “clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars:” (Wikipedia).

The angel supporting me is the Archangel Michael.

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What better time than Christmas to reflect on the truth that the Lord did not take away our sins by suffering the death of the cross? The Lord bore sins and represented sins and pointed them out. Why? The Lord came into the world to make salvation possible for man. How? By remission of sins after repentance.

The Lord removes sins from those who believe in the Lord and who live in accordance with the Lord’s commandments.

Repentance means seeing one’s sins, praying to the Lord for help and refraining from sinning any more thanks to the Lord’s help. Only by repentance can sins be taken away. And when he has done the work of repentance, then may salvation be awarded him by the Lord.

That is, salvation is awarded to him who has seen and acknowledged his sins and who desists from them by virtue of being in the good of love and in the truth of faith from the Lord. Regeneration is a washing from sins, a spiritual washing, a baptism.

More and more I am asked how one can build one’s faith, one’s connection to our Lord? The answer is by serving others, non-merit-seeking acts of charity.

In John, we learn that the Lord is the Word (1:1, 14); that He is the Truth (14:6); and that He is the Light, and so Enlightenment (12:34-36). God is omnipresent, what is holy proceeds from God (for thou only art holy (Revelation 15:4)), and where God is received God enlightens.

We are coming a long way, Lord, from hundreds of gods to the realization, finally, that the Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit is all one thing!

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Lots of Love,

Marie

Will the Dakota Access Pipeline Leak? Vote Here!

Beloved Readers in Albania, Algeria, Antigua & Barbuda, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bermuda, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Cyprus, Denmark, Egypt, Estonia, European Union, France, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Honduras, Hong Kong SAR China, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Malaysia, Malta, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Norway, Pakistan, Paraguay, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Switzerland, Syria, Thailand, Trinidad & Tobago, Turkey, Uganda, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States of America, Vietnam, and Zambia,

You matter, you make a difference, you count, and you are important. Please feel free to use the voting button below to express whether or not you believe the Dakota Access pipeline could possibly leak crude oil into the drinking water of one third of the population of the United States of America.

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Genetic Engineering of Our Food – Nature vs. Nuture

A Warning About How Insanity Has Taken Over

Most people in the U.S.A. and their children are and have been eating genetically engineered foods, whether they are aware of it or not.  About 18 years ago, more than one-half of the world soybean harvest came from genetically engineered plants (Science, 18 December 1998, p. 2176).  More soybeans are grown in the U.S.A. than any other country except Brazil (motherjones.com).  Nowadays, more than 90% of the soybeans covering U.S.A. farms each year are genetically engineered to withstand herbicides, according to the US Department of Agriculture, nearly all of them involving one herbicide called Roundup (motherjones.com).  More than 90% of corn and cotton, also top U.S.A. crops, are now genetically engineered, which is up significantly from 2000 (http://blogs.wsj.com/corporate-intelligence/2014/04/11/how-much-of-u-s-crops-are-gmos/).  These commodities find their way into hundreds of foods, such as breakfast cereals, cooking oils, corn syrup (an ingredient found in many processed foods), soft drinks, and candies.  Other foods that have been genetically engineered include potatoes, squash, tomatoes, and canola.

Federal regulators very recently approved a genetically engineered salmon as fit for consumption, making it the first genetically altered animal to be cleared for American supermarkets and dinner tables (http://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/20/business/genetically-engineered-salmon-approved-for-consumption.html?_r=0).

Most people do not realize they are consuming genetically engineered foods because current laws and policies do not require genetically engineered foods to be labeled as such.  The food industry does not want to label genetically engineered foods even though most Americans feel that they should have the right to know what they are eating and feeding their families.  In fact, studies show that more than 90% of Americans support mandatory labeling of genetically engineered, or modified, foods (http://www.justlabelit.org/right-to-know-center/).

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Since most of us are eating genetically engineered foods, we ought to have a good understanding of what genetic engineering is.  The heart of the matter is DNA, which stands for deoxyribonucleic acid.  We all know that Watson and Crick elucidated the famous double helical structure of DNA in 1953 and that President Clinton was implicated in impeachment charges in part due to evidence found on Monica Lewinsky’s dress.  But what we may not have grasped entirely is that DNA is the molecule of heredity.  Furthermore, Rosalind Franklin was an X-ray crystallographer who contributed to the understanding of the molecular structures of DNA, RNA, viruses, coal, and graphite (Wikipedia).  Her contributions to the discovery of the structure of DNA were largely recognized posthumously (Wikipedia).  At least there is a medical school named after her.

It is DNA that is physically passed from parent to offspring, giving a child his father’s nose or his mother’s eyes.  Your DNA determines your traits through genes which are sections of a long DNA molecule.  Genes are the blueprints for construction of proteins, and proteins do work that gets done in the cells that make up your body.  The same is true for animals and plants.  Their cells are very similar to ours.  In fact, parts of their DNA are the same as ours.

It may surprise you to learn that ape DNA differs from human DNA by less than 2% (Time, 11 January 1999, p.43).  The DNA of chimps, bonobos, and humans is 99% the same, while the DNA of gorillas and humans shares 98% identity (Scientific American, 1 September 2014).  The bottom line is that what can affect a plant or a cow can affect you, too.  We all interact and are all part of a larger ecological system, a bigger picture.

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Once you appreciate what DNA is, it is not difficult to understand what genetic engineering is.  The modern definition of genetic engineering is making changes to DNA or genes.  This includes cutting genes out, replacing genes with others, and inserting genes that were never there before, such as genes from another species.  Thus, genetic engineering differs radically from traditional crossbreeding which encompasses only the interbreeding of traits from the same or closely related species.  Genetically engineered changes are irreversible.  Furthermore, the process of putting genes into living organisms is extremely imprecise, inaccurate, and uncontrolled.  Once the DNA of a seed is changed, the seed will grow into something different from what it would have become if it were not manipulated by humans.  It could be something better or worse.

Change happens in nature, too.  It happens in response to environmental factors that we do not fully understand.  For example, in the 5 million years since humans diverged from apes, our DNA has evolved or changed less than 2%.  In contrast, genetic engineering is making radical changes quickly, abruptly, and artificially.  It is making changes that would never occur naturally, such as inserting a fish gene into a tomato plant.  One experiment gone wrong could cause a lot of harm because manipulating the rate of change of a species has the potential to destabilize the entire ecosystem.

The big picture is so complex that accurate assessment of the risk associated with a new technology is impossible.  Science has moved so fast recently that neither politics nor the law can keep up with it, and neither can research into unforeseen consequences.  The drive to push ahead is fueled by money.  Genetic modification is very big business today.  It is a domestic as well as an export earner.  The end result of this scientific process has often been that technologies that were new and thought to be harmless were later found to cause permanent damage to the environment and human health.  Examples include fossil fuels, x-rays, high dose estrogen replacement therapy, and chemicals such as CfCs (chlorinated fluorocarbons).

Roundup herbicide exposure leads to neurotoxicity (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24636977).  Concurrent with usage of ever-increasing amounts of herbicides, we are experiencing an epidemic in executive function disorders.

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Another example is recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH).  Bacteria are first genetically engineered (I used to do this kind of work!) such that they produce large amounts of rBGH.  The rBGH must then be strained out of the bacteria before it can be injected into cows.  Obviously, rBGH is difficult and expensive to produce.  Cows injected with rBGH produce at best 15% more milk, but they have shorter life expectancies and increased incidence of disease.  Perhaps most importantly, the milk produced by cows injected with rBGH differs from that produced by uninjected cows in that it contains higher levels of insulin like growth factor (IGF-1).  High levels of IGF-1 have been linked to increased risk of breast, colon, and prostate cancers.  The rBGH story is just one example demonstrating that science pronounces things innocuous in the absence of proof that they are harmful.  This can be misleading.

One of the most worrisome developments in the field of genetic engineering of food is called the Terminator Technology.  This technology was developed with U.S.A. taxpayer dollars by the USDA in collaboration with Monsanto, a large company that sells pesticides and seeds.  The Terminator Technology is a seed sterilization technique that is introduced into plants.  It renders farm-saved seed sterile.  The Terminator gene codes for a protein that kills the embryo in the seed.  This would allow Monsanto to protect its massive investment in bioengineered crops.

The Terminator Technology has no agronomic benefit to farmers because they need seeds to grow more plants and propagate our food supply.  In fact, this technology would prohibit farmers from saving seed from their harvest and would force them to return to the commercial seed market every year.

But what if the seed manufacturing companies have a bad year?  What if seeds become very expensive?

The Terminator Technology has no benefit to consumers either.  In many cases, it is the seed of the plant that is used for food.  Examples include corn, soybeans, and wheat.

Are there any risks associated with consumption of seeds containing the Terminator gene?  There probably isn’t an answer to this question because FDA regulations do not require any long-term safety testing on genetically engineered foods.

The biggest risk of all associated with the Terminator Technology is that the Terminator gene could spread.  It could spread to similar plants by cross-pollination.  It could even spread to unrelated plants by bacteria, viruses, insects, birds, and even wind.  Introduction of the Terminator gene into the environment has the potential to wipe out all kinds of seeds, and we could never get back to where we were.  In short, the one way of making food that has, until today, functioned in a sustainable manner could, through genetic engineering, be changed into a way that doesn’t assure sustainability.

There are at least two things you can do that will have a positive impact.  You can support organizations that promote consumers’ right to know the composition of their food.  You can also buy locally grown, organic food.  Many organic farms have annual events allowing consumers to visit and see for themselves how their food is produced.  Meanwhile, big agriculture has only become less transparent about their process.

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Commercialization of University Research

Response to the Request by the Office of Science and Technology Policy and the National Economic Council for Information regarding Commercialization of University Research

Originally submitted to NEC_General@who.eop.gov on April 26, 2010; modified April 2016.

(approx. 4 min. read)

This response addresses the question of how commercialization of promising technologies stemming from Federally funded research can be successfully promoted.  An initiative is proposed herein that is adapted from a model used by persons who command significant capital dedicated to commercialization of promising new technologies.  Biologists provide this response with experience in the commercialization of university research and experience working in global pharmaceutical companies.

Executive Summary

We need new products, new companies, new jobs, and more affordable and effective healthcare.  The underlying root of economic growth has been, continues to be, and will undoubtedly be technology (e.g., Google, the Honeycrisp apple, insulin, penicillin, CAT scan, MRI, ultrasound, pacemaker, seat belt, cochlear implants, laser cataract surgery, vaccines, Ziagen and so much more).  Thus, the most promising technologies need to be identified and brought to fruition in a timely manner to create quality products and jobs.  Federal funds are needed to bridge the “valley of death” that prevents promising technologies from being developed to a level that would interest investors and/or companies.

We propose a commercialization effort driven by multi-disciplinary teams of people, including people who understand the commercialization process.  Such commercialization teams could:

  • Evaluate projects from all relevant perspectives (basic science, regulatory, intellectual property law, business, marketing, end-user, product development),
  • Select projects for Federal funding that have the greatest potential to fulfill the most pressing needs in the timeliest manner,
  • Launch selected projects towards efficient commercialization, and
  • Continue to advise, manage, and be accountable for the projects throughout the commercialization process.

More details about the proposed initiative are provided below.

Justification

We believe that the U.S. has new technologies that can be harnessed to drive future economic growth in a sustainable manner.  Unfortunately, the “valley of death” has become even more onerous as investor fortitude has waned overall.  Investment has shifted to later-stage projects with decreased risk and shorter time to return on investment, which ultimately leads to fewer innovations and products in the “pipeline.”  In addition to impatience and nervousness, the current economic environment also seems to suffer from decreased availability of private funds for investment.  Further, significant investment of private capital is geared towards keeping existing companies and technologies going in efforts to preserve past investments, rather than investing in new companies, technologies, or improvements.

Federal funding is needed, therefore, to move promising technologies further down the development path before investors will be interested.

In FY08, the U.S. government invested an estimated $54.7 billion in research and $56.6 billion in development.  What is the return on this investment?  In the words of Benoit Godin, “…After 60 years of statistical work, we still measure the inputs…but very seldom the outputs and the impacts…The challenge lies…when it comes to measuring results that sometimes remain intangible, not to mention the fact that they often manifest themselves only in the very long term.”  Current evaluations of research funding organizations do not satisfy the needs of those who want to know the societal and economic impacts of research.  Nevertheless, it is clear from the current state of our economy that there is ample room for improvement in obtaining returns on the sizable annual investment of Federal funds in research and development.

Proposed Initiative

We propose a Federal Government initiative to form multi-disciplinary teams of professionals charged with and accountable for commercialization of Federally funded research.

Projects with foreseeable potential for commercialization and creation of domestic jobs should be solicited.  Particular areas of greatest need could also be highlighted.  Descriptions of projects submitted for review should ideally include business/commercialization plans complete with realistic estimates of costs and timelines.  The proposed initiative could include providing business/commercialization planning for promising innovations.  For example, a corps of recent college graduates could assist in this process.  Commercialization teams should determine how well commercialization plans align with patent, regulatory, product development, and market considerations, and should select projects for funding that have the greatest potential to fulfill the most pressing needs in the most timely manner.

Commercialization teams should be comprised of professionals who know how to commercialize technology, who have regulatory experience, who have product development expertise, who understand patent law, and who will be, or at least accurately represent, end users of the technology.  Of course, team members should also include inventors and academicians who understand the technology area.  Compositions of teams will differ as appropriate for different technology areas.  It would be valuable in and of itself to assemble such teams of individuals to sit down at the table together and evaluate projects from all of the relevant perspectives, even if the only deliverable was to provide advice to inventors and academicians.

Commercialization teams should be comprised of a mixture of entry level, mid-career, and experienced professionals.  It is important to balance experience levels because high-level experts with track records of success can offer a wealth of resources, while past patterns of success may be irrelevant under new conditions.  Having younger professionals at the table is also valuable to balance the tendency of older professionals to be more risk adverse.  Team members should be non-biased and free of any potential conflicts of interest.

The proposed commercialization initiative also offers ample opportunities for training.  For example, students could be included (e.g., as internship opportunities) as well as faculty who want to learn about commercialization (e.g., during sabbaticals).  Bringing together different perspectives (expertise, age, culture, etc.) can have a dramatic impact on the creativity and efficiency of the team.

The entire process should allow enough transparency for people to understand the decision-making processes and use them to guide other projects; however, enough latitude is also envisioned to protect intellectual property and competition from groups who have not made an intellectual or financial investment in the technology area.  We also recommend that commercialization teams continue to advise, manage, and be accountable for the projects they have selected for funding throughout the commercialization process.  This includes discontinuing projects that, for example, fail to meet milestones, turn out not to be feasible, or become otherwise de-prioritized relative to other opportunities.

The overall portfolio of commercialization projects should include a balance of higher and lower risk projects.  Higher risk projects should be innovative and/or have significant potential to create jobs and/or benefit society.

The virtual company model may be a highly advantageous business model, at least for some commercialization projects such as biotechnology projects.  In particular, a virtual company model can be highly efficient when activities are outsourced to experts rather than “reinventing the wheel” internally.

Evidence that the multi-disciplinary approach proposed herein works is that venture capitalists and angel investor groups use a similar approach wherein teams of professionals, covering a broad range of collective expertise, evaluate technologies for investment.

Metrics for Success

Metrics for success include creation of companies and quality jobs in the U.S. as well as generation of licensable intellectual property.  Metrics for success should also include positive health and social benefits.

Summary

We have no doubt that allocation of Federal funds to multi-disciplinary “commercialization teams” with a primary goal of commercializing the fruits of the labor, creativity, and genius of Americans will stimulate our economy in a significant and sustainable way.  In addition to realizing the full potential of Federally funded research, such efforts will help academicians to commercialize their inventions while also teaching them and students how to commercialize technologies.  Transparency and teaching will help all inventors and entrepreneurs to commercialize technology, which will further promote sustainable growth.  In addition, Federal funding towards commercialization will, in turn, stimulate private investment.

Thank you for your consideration.

Marie D. Kube, Ph.D. and Michael G. Klug, Ph.D.

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SCITAINMENT

Dear Readers,

I love you and I want you to know that I do not take you for granted.  I have for you an attempt at making science entertaining:  Scitainment, Inc.  I was searching for proof of the soul to turn all atheists to the Lord for once and for all when I had my company called Scitainment, incorporated in 1997.  While I am afraid it may be true that most scientists would rather believe in ridiculous alternate explanations than our Lord, I still believe that real scientists respect and appreciate and love the supernatural.

Francis Collins is Director of the National Institutes of Health and openly Christian after having converted from atheism at age 27 (see Time, November 13, 2006, Vol. 168, No. 20).  Before being appointed director of the NIH, Collins led the Human Genome Project and other genomics research initiatives as director of the National Human Genome Research Institute (Wikipedia).

Emmanuel Swedenborg (1688-1772), the greatest scientist of all time, had a spiritual awakening at age 56.  He then became the most prolific theological writer ever.  One cannot even read everything he wrote, seriously.  It is a miracle which hardly anyone seems to know about or talk about, which is weird.

William J. Baldwin became a dentist in Southern California in 1970 (must have been nice).  He pursued training in hypnosis as an adjunct to his dental practice.  This training went well beyond the field of dentistry, and in 1982 he left dentistry and enrolled in a doctoral program in clinical psychology.  He graduated in 1988 and went on to become one of the pioneers of spirit releasement therapy (see Spirit Releasement Therapy:  A Technique Manual, second edition, 2009).

At best, the next scientist can only take an incremental step, in the right direction, beyond where the last scientist left off.  Baldwin recognizes scientist and psychiatrist Carl Wickland and his wife Anna for their work detailed in the book Thirty Years Among the Dead that was published in 1924.  The Wicklands’ methods formed the basis for techniques developed by Baldwin.  In turn, I recognize Baldwin’s methods as the basis for the techniques detailed in the “Instructions for Helping to Improve the Human Condition” posted on this website.  Baldwin never got to meet his mentor, but his book was always there for him.  It is the same for me.

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Enough about me; this story is about you:

All humans are made of trillions of cells, but the DNA in the cells of one human differs from that in the cells of every other human.  Your DNA is a comprehensive biological atlas of you.  Information about many aspects of you, such as your health, is encoded in your DNA.  You should have access to your DNA, and so should your loved ones.

It is possible to possess samples of one’s own DNA that are large enough to see with the naked eye and that can be stored at room temperature.  DNA samples can be passed down through generations as family heirlooms and potentially used for analyses to establish things like identity, lineage, inheritance patterns, probable strengths and weaknesses.  You can even incorporate your DNA samples into art for display, such as a family tree with DNA samples from various family members.  DNA samples can also be incorporated into jewelry and given as uniquely meaningful gifts.  In this way, you can give a part of yourself to a loved one, something no one else can give them.  So much for diamond rings.  I was able to make your DNA for you for about the same money or less than most couples spend on a diamond engagement ring.

What is DNA?

DNA stands for deoxyribonucleic acid.  DNA is the molecule of heredity.  It is DNA that is physically passed from parent to offspring, carrying the traits that result in children having their father’s nose or their mother’s eyes.  Half of your DNA is from your mother and half is from your father.  DNA exists as long, paired strands spiraled into a double helix.  DNA is packaged into units called chromosomes which are housed in the nuclei of cells that make up the human body.

What information does your DNA contain?

Your traits, such as eye color, health and maybe even thought patterns, are determined by your genes which are sections of a DNA molecule.  Genes are units of heredity that carry the blueprints for making proteins.  Proteins do everything that gets done in a cell and in the body.  Genes, through the proteins they encode, determine all body processes, including how the body responds to challenges from the environment.  Your genes constitute a blueprint of your possibilities and limitations.  They hold an encyclopedia of information about you and, indirectly, about your relatives.  The legacy of generations of ancestors, genes carry the key to similarities and uniqueness.

Why is it valuable for you to have your DNA (genes) at your disposal?

The value of your DNA sample is the same as that of your family portraits; it provides documentation of you.  But not only can you look at your DNA, you can also look into it.  Collecting DNA samples from your family members and passing them down through the generations will result in the ultimate history of your family.

DNA fingerprinting can determine things like gender, physical characteristics, and whether two people came from the same family.  The process is complicated, but the result is simple.  Each DNA sample is turned into a set of lines, like the bar code on price tags for store products.  The lines of one sample can be compared to the lines of another to see if they are alike.

In the past few years, researchers have learned how to test for hundreds of genetic disorders, and more new tests are becoming available all the time.  More than 4,000 diseases such as sickle cell anemia and cystic fibrosis are known to be genetic and passed on in families.  DNA-based genetic testing involves examining a person’s DNA for signals of health and sickness, ability and disability, strength and weakness.  Genetic testing can be helpful in diagnosing disorders and predicting chances of developing a particular disease or risk of passing a genetic disorder to a child.  Knowing your genetic profile could suggest what health-related behaviors you should follow and offer you greater potential for early diagnosis, effective treatment and accurate prognosis.  An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, so eloquently noted by Benjamin Franklin.  Yes, there are 16 ounces in a pound (and about 28 grams of flower per ounce, while we are at it).  Knowing your genetic profile could also be very helpful to your offspring for generations to come.

How about this one for a timely headline:  “23andMe helps identify genetic links to common skin cancer”?

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What else should you know about genetic testing?

The decision to have a genetic test deserves careful preparation and thought because the issues are so complex and so new and the consequences so profound.  If you have a pressing issue, genetic testing may be appropriate for you now.  For the vast majority of us, however, the time for genetic testing is in the future.  This is because the legal, social and ethical issues surrounding genetic testing have not been resolved.

Under debate are issues such as privacy and protection against the use of test results to discriminate in employment or insurance coverage (at least coverage can no longer be refused for preexisting conditions today, except for poverty).  Before predictive gene tests become generally available, specialists and society at large need to address major ethical concerns.  The present moment, when genes are being discovered but before tests become widely available, offers a window of opportunity to prepare for the future.

Scitainment offered clients purified, visible quantities of their own DNA.  In providing clients with their DNA samples, I could assure them privacy, confidentiality and anonymity because Scitainment was owned and operated solely by me, my husband, and my parents.  My company had no obligations, ties, or interests in and was not connected in any way to any database, organization, government agency, insurance company, investors, etc.  Furthermore, having DNA samples separate from the body is designed to ensure confidentiality of genetic testing.  We had planned to offer additional services preferentially to our first clients.

How are DNA samples prepared?

Say your goal was to obtain as many leaves of a particular plant as possible.  Starting with a seedling of the plant, you would nurture it under just the right growth conditions so that it would become as large and healthy as possible.  Then you would take cuttings from the plant and produce even more plants that are all the same.  Eventually there would be a lot more leaves than the original seedling had.

In a similar manner, we grew large numbers of cells from a sample of skin and then purified DNA from the cells.  Before cells divide into two, they first duplicate all of their DNA.  Thus, by growing cells we can achieve natural and complete amplification of DNA.  This requires a small biopsy of normal skin to be performed.  The procedure is similar to having a mole removed.  It took about two or three months to culture cells from skin biopsy samples, and we encouraged clients to visit our laboratory during that time if possible to watch their cells grow.  Cultured cells are mortal.  That is, after a variable period of active proliferation, they inevitably lose their capacity to divide and they eventually die.  However, we cryopreserved some of the cells while they still had the capacity to multiply.  Cryopreserved cells can be thawed even years later and allowed to grow again.  Thus, if someone wanted more of their DNA in the future, it could be derived from their preserved cells and there would be no need to have another skin biopsy done.

Although DNA can be purified from blood, it is possible to derive only relatively small amounts in this manner.  This is because the vast majority of the cells comprising blood are red blood cells which do not contain DNA.  You could not donate enough blood to yield as much DNA as can be obtained from cells grown out of a skin biopsy specimen.  Hair, nail clippings, and saliva are also common substrates for genetic testing; but again, these substrates provide a very limited amount of DNA that may be insufficient to perform all the analyses you want.  We were able to provide clients with so much of their DNA that they could have a multitude of analyses done.

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I hope you love DNA as much as I do!

DNA does not, however, encode the soul!  DNA encodes the physical body, which is the vessel for the soul here in the physical world.  The soul is energy.  It may be a luminous field, it may encompass the colors of the visible spectrum of light, it may be a biomagnetic field.  It seems efforts are always underway to image, measure, or otherwise describe it.  It is believed that people with strong fields can transfer energy.

The body is the form of the soul, just as charity is the form of faith.  Charity is love toward the neighbor.  Faith is truth.

Charity through faith accomplishes good, not charity by itself or faith by itself.  Indeed, faith and charity are nothing unless they terminate in good deeds.

Charity opens the spiritual mind.  Faith comes through charity, which is a life in accordance with the 10 commandments (see Exodus Chapter 20 in the Bible and my first blog post).

All who lead a life of charity and faith are guarded by our Lord and raised into heaven after their judgment.

Only through strict discipline in a selfless life can one gain an understanding that goes beyond just learning and knowing.

In loving memory of my father, the Wolf, excellent scientist, I will pass your DNA down to your grandchildren whom you never got to meet.  The vial shown in the picture is a liquid form.  We also made a dry form for jewelry.

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Sun Salutations

Yoga is a Great Way to Start the Day

Dearest Readers,

I love to start the day with three sun salutations.  I ask the Lord how I can serve today.  I try to listen well for the answer.  I recognize the warmth and love and light of the Lord.  When I hear the answer, I try not to complain or protest or claim that it is impossible or that I cannot do it or that I am not worthy or capable or competent, but I struggle.  In the end, I want what the Lord wants so badly that I have no choice but to comply.  And then I praise the Lord and love the Lord even more.  In the morning the sun comes up and the cycle repeats.