Sunrise Sunset

It is a cold morning here in Gaithersburg, with the wind and the sub-zero temperatures making me glad to be indoors.  But I am beginning to feel warmer already.  I leave today to the land of my birth, to the place of my childhood.  It is a trip that I used to make more often. It is a trip that has been delayed this time more than it should have.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

When I step out of the airport in Chennai I will once again absorb the feelings of being in a familiar place.  But I also wonder how much the place has changed since I last visited.  Will I still experience the familiar chaos, noises and smells?  I wonder how much people have changed since I last saw them.  People grow older, and perhaps wiser, and sometimes more frail.   I wonder how much I have changed.

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How Does Crispr Gene Editing Work? | WIRED

I wrote about this technology and its possible impacts a while back.  Here is an article on the topic with a short video that describes the technology in simple terms.  (The video in this link started playing automatically with my browser, but I needed to “unmute” the audio.)

via How Does Crispr Gene Editing Work? | WIRED

A Nearby Neutron Star Collision Could Cause Calamity on Earth – Scientific American

Consider this thought.  If life on earth as we know it is going to be destroyed by some extraterrestrial event some time in the future, it is possible that such an event has already happened.

via A Nearby Neutron Star Collision Could Cause Calamity on Earth – Scientific American

What about St. Louis, MO?

There are probably many other cities like St. Louis that exist in middle America today, big cities that came into existence along the major waterways of country, along rivers like the Mississippi, Missouri, and the Ohio, cities that supported the industry, trade, and growth, of a nation that in those days was experiencing a grand optimism about its industrial future.

But times have changed in many ways, and the nature of many of these cities has also changed with these times.  The very nature of the commerce that sustains these places has necessarily changed, and brought with it changes in the lives of the humans who occupy these spaces.

Many of these cities are still easily recognizable by their distinct downtown areas, with their humongous skyscrapers that now support, or attempt to support in some way or another, the new kinds of businesses that have inevitably replaced the old ones.

But the people who live in these cities have for the most part left.  The office-goers scurry in from their comfortable suburbs in the mornings to earn their keep, and then depart just as quickly as they appeared, after work in the evening, leaving the cavernous spaces beneath the huge skyscrapers for the most part abandoned.  There are very few people in the streets.

Move just a little bit away physically from the downtown areas and you may see another unfortunate impact of these changes.  There are the poor and even abandoned neighborhoods – where the weeds may have taken over in some places, where the only people present, if any, are those living on the fringes.  These are places that one could justifiably feel uncomfortable wandering into, but their stories, and the stories of the people who once lived there, are no less compelling than those of the more fortunate.  These are the people and places that time has left behind.

Cities try to revive themselves, and thus does the city of St. Louis.  I think these processes can succeed only if the entirety of the spaces that they occupy become more livable places, not necessarily when they become places where there is simply a lot of commerce going on, and not necessarily when they become the places that people tend to visit (but only the “safe” sections!) to get a temporary thrill of some kind or another every once in a while, only to abandon the place when night falls.

 

 

How the humble S-bend made modern toilets possible – BBC News

via How the humble S-bend made modern toilets possible – BBC News

“”Gentility of speech is at an end,” thundered an editorial in London’s City Press, in 1858. “It stinks!””

“More than 170 years later, about two-thirds of the world’s people have access to what’s called “improved sanitation”, according to the World Health Organization, up from about a quarter in 1980.”

“Across various African countries, for example, it reckons inadequate sanitation lops one or two percentage points off gross domestic product (GDP), in India and Bangladesh over 6%, and in Cambodia 7%”