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Jewish World Review Feb. 20, 2004 / 28 Shevat, 5764

Tom Purcell

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Consumer Reports

The birds and the bees, updated | "Son, it's time you learn where babies come from."

"My friend Billy Johnson says that babies come from the stork, but I know that's not true. I know a husband and a wife become very affectionate, a miracle happens, and then a baby is born."

"Actually, son, that's how babies USED to be made.''


"Son, scientists have made tremendous advances. Back in 2004, Korean scientists succeeded in making the first human clone. They were researching how to extract stem cells from embryos in order to treat diseases, but it was just a matter of time before some people began using the knowledge to clone babies."

"What is a clone, dad?"

"Son, cloning involves taking a single cell from an adult and fusing it with a donated egg cell whose own genes have been removed. The result is an embryo that is genetically identical to the donor of the cell. Because I was the cell donor for you, you are clone of me."

"Really, dad?"

"Yes, son, but you're way better than I am. See, scientists also cracked the human genetic code back in 2000. The knowledge they gained was a boon to science and medicine, but it was only a matter of time before some people would use that knowledge to design their children. Once we cloned you, we then used the human genome to perfect you."

"I'm not following, dad."

"Son, the human genome is the DNA strand of more than 3 billion chemical 'letters' that spell out the instructions for how to build a human being. It took a long time, but scientists were eventually able to figure out which genes - and the millions of unique ways that genes react to one another - caused humans to be the way they are. Some people began using this knowledge to custom-build their children."

"You custom-ordered me the way you order a new car?"

"That's right, son. You have blue eyes and blond hair like me, but not my fair skin. Your mother didn't want you to get sunburned, so we reengineered your skin pigment. You'll get great tans for the rest of your life."

"Will I get bald like you, dad?"

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"No, son. We fixed that, too. You don't have your dad's big nose, either. Your mother picked one out of a catalog. I think it was from the Michael Jackson line."

"And I'm smart because you made me smart?"

"Absolutely, son, though that was hard to do. There are so many genetic and environmental variables that cause intelligence, we had to take a few guesses, but we got lucky because you are really smart - much smarter than me."

"You should say 'much smarter than I,' dad."

"Exactly. You're athletic, too, son. I was clumsy and skinny, but you won't have to worry about that. You should be about 6-foot-4 and 220 pounds, a lot taller than I am. I've already had talks with some major universities about your football scholarship."

"Really, dad?"

"But that is just the beginning of what we did for you, son. We eliminated the gene that causes crankiness. And because your mother is such a neat freak, we ingested another gene commonly found in people who pick up after themselves. And you'll likely never get cancer, heart disease or a host of other illnesses."

"Dad, do you mean to say that I'm perfect?"

"That is right, son, a perfect human being: good looking, smart, pleasant. Maybe you'll be president one day or run a big company like Microsoft."

"Gee, dad, I should be flattered about all the thought you and mom put into me, but I wish you had me the old way."

"Nonsense, son. Humans have sought to perfect their offspring since the beginning of man. Plato's Republic encouraged selective breeding. In 1926, the American Eugenics Society proposed restrictions on immigrants from 'inferior' stock."

"Didn't the Nazi party try making their version of perfect people, too?"

"Son, there's nothing wrong with what we did. Thanks to people like us, there are fewer ugly children, fewer dumb people and less sickness. Your should applaud us for making you and society better."

"But, dad, don't you think you and mom did a lot of the stuff that G-d should be doing?" "G-d? G-d who?"

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02/13/04: Dr. Laura plays Cupid
02/06/04: The Investigation
01/23/04: Weighty adjustment
01/16/04: Bucks for betrothals
01/09/04: Decisions, decisions
01/02/04: Making New Year's resolutions for others
12/27/03: Holiday Pork
12/19/03: FOUND! The captured-Saddam transcript
12/12/03: Peace, Man
12/05/03: Who are you, Miss Manners?
12/01/03: Joyless, selfish children
11/21/03: Thanksgiving, updated for our times
11/14/03: Hang in there, tubby America, your day in the sun will come
11/07/03: Morale at Veterans' Day
10/31/03: The Big Picture
10/24/03: A sorry bunch
10/17/03: Conversation with a typical poll respondent?
10/10/03: Men and women and brains
10/03/03: Iraqi Pork
09/26/03: They would not leave
09/19/03: A radical idea
09/12/03: Food Guide Pyramid has a "stupidity factor"?
09/05/03: Flag waving and football cheering
08/29/03: People who have it all, too often don't
08/25/03: Attack of the 'virus twits'
08/08/03: Why not have a whole slew of the world's dignitaries and leaders come by to visit you?
08/01/03: Do you really want to live until 500?
07/18/03: "Ain't-my-fault" lawsuits are becoming more creative
07/18/03: The real story never makes for good summertime drama in Washington
07/11/03: Government bureaucrats, not elected officials, are really the ones determining what people and organizations can and can't do
07/03/03: Overworked Americans
06/27/03: The Metrosexual Male
06/20/03: Crime Etiquette in Washington, D.C.
06/13/03: My Father, the Thief and the MGB
06/05/03: An Open Letter to Bill and Hillary
05/30/03: We are a busy people
05/23/03: Liar, Liar
05/16/03: Laffer all the way to the bank
05/09/03: My mother's house
05/02/03: Teaching the Iraqis how to protest
04/25/03: Iraqi TV
04/21/03: Explaining Democracy to the Iraqis
04/11/03: Major increases to the beer tax? That's a cheap shot right to the beer gut
04/04/03: War humor
03/31/03: Dolphins, PETA and the USA
03/21/03: Traffic Wars
03/14/03: Ronald Reagan's St. Patrick's Day
03/03/03: My Family's Tragic Secret: We're French
02/21/03: I'm worried about my people
02/14/03: George Washington Makeover
02/07/03: Making quiet sacrifices
01/24/03: "Gimme the, goo-goo, gah-gah, remote!"
01/21/03: "Misunderestimated"
01/10/03: Republican night life
01/06/03: Exercise pills
12/31/02: They provide unending joy to those who are wise enough to let them in
12/13/02: Hurried Man Syndrome
12/06/02: In DC, snowstorms have important ramifications --- or, at least, they should
11/26/02: Police advertising
11/15/02: An Interview with Osama
11/01/02: How to vote in America
10/25/02: On edge in Washington, D.C
10/11/02: Giving new meaning to "selling your body"
10/04/02: Bush's Angels
09/27/02: Conservatives, Liberals, Dick Armey and Barry Manilow
09/20/02: Are SUV drivers are the new GOPers?
09/13/02: Bubba is Dubya's man
09/06/02: The Freedom to Picnic
08/16/02: Ah, the $izzle of anti-terrorist pork
08/09/02: Vacationless prez and gutless Americans
07/26/02: Study gives women permission not to hide their emotions
07/15/02: Patriot food
06/28/02: Eavesdropping on a San Fran classroom
06/21/02: The crowded skies
06/14/02: Contemporary Father's Day: A conversation for the ages
06/07/02: Legal rights for animals?
05/19/02: Advice for prom goers this year: Hold onto your money
05/10/02: Don't take her for granted
05/03/02: Letter to the parents of a tubby teen
04/26/02: Zacarias Moussaoui gets expert legal advice

© 2003, Tom Purcell