Notes Of A Biology Watcher
We have become, in a painful, unwished-for way, nature itself. We have grown into everywhere, spreading like a new growth over the entire surface, touching and affecting every other kind of life, incorporating ourselves.
If we had a reliable way to label our toys good and bad, it would be easy to regulate technology wisely. But we can rarely see far enough ahead to know which road leads to damnation. Whoever concerns himself with big technology, either to push it forward or to stop it, is gambling in human lives.
Stewart Brand On Nuclear Energy, Genetically Modified Foods, And Climate Engineering
Will we grow buildings? That’s been my hope for thirty years, including making parts of them edible. We’re sitting in a room that has old-fashioned, energy-intensive air conditioning. It could be that someday all walls will be made of engineered living tissue that takes up carbon dioxide and replaces it with nice, clean oxygen while keeping the temperature of the room comfortable for humans and allowing all the microbes in the room to do their jobs.
“Don’t worry about taking care of me,” my mother liked to say every year as her birthday approached. “You’ve already trained me not to expect anything.” This because once, right after the divorce, my father had taken my sister and me to the beach on her birthday week.
Every morning I’d have an audience with my tree. I always began by saying, “Namaskar,” which is Sanskrit for “I salute the divine within you with my entire mind and heart.” Standing before the tree, I’d hear words in my head that weren’t my own. I suspected the tree was actually speaking to me, and I began a journal of our conversations.
A Zen Buddhist monk in my tradition gets exactly one week off a year. This time is specifically designated for a “family visit.” I always take my week at Thanksgiving, and every year I prove right that old Zen adage: Think you’re getting closer to enlightenment? Try spending a week with your parents.
I don’t believe in anything mystical, Ms. Freedman. Not even God. You made us build that diorama of Mount Olympus, and you made us paint that mural with unicorns and butcherbirds and sand toads. You said it was to show that books transport us to different worlds, where there are different rules, and there’s magic in everything.
On the day my mom got her last chemo treatment, I fished from the dike of the Intake Reservoir. I wasn’t supposed to be fishing. I was supposed to be delivering the Hawthorne Pennysaver. My summer job was to place a crisp Pennysaver at each of the 465 doorways of the Pleasant Pines Apartments once a week, but I hadn’t done that for months.