Saturday, April 1, 2017

New Defense: Not Facing "Societal Responsibilities" = Not a Person.

It was reported earlier here (July 2015) that courts in New York were deciding  the fate of non-persons like the chimpanzee Tommy. The cases are still very much active but, not surprisingly, have faced skeptical courts. On March 27, 2017 a new filing was made with Tommy challenging the definition of "person" used by the Court of Appeals.

Bear in mind that the issue in The Hot Monkey Love Trial is whether Bert Gropes, with a single but unique monkey gene can be prosecuted as a “person” for the crimes with which he’s been charged.  How might the New York courts define a “person” if deciding Bert’s case?

It boiled down to this, according to the earlier Court of Appeals decision:

“Unlike human beings, chimpanzees cannot bear any legal duties, submit to societal responsibilities, or be held legally accountable for their actions. In our view, it is this incapability to bear any legal responsibilities and societal duties that renders it inappropriate to confer on chimpanzees the legal rights – such as the fundamental right to liberty protected by the writ of habeas corpus – that have been afforded to human beings.”

This pretty much bodes well for corporations since they are held to that standard and are therefore  "persons" under law. But it doesn't look good for Bert… or, actually, it does if he wants to dodge the responsibilities that come with personhood such as a crime conviction.  Does Bert adequately submit to societal responsibilities? To his non-personhood credit, he loses his job and finds himself with no life and arguably no responsibilities. 

This could open up a whole new defense even for  those who don't have Bert's parahuman genome. Move over, "Twinkie" defense!

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Hot Monkey Tech Proves To Be "Post-Fictional"

Is it possible, as presented in the novel, through bioengineering to add a unique monkey gene to a human organism, including from another species? It wasn’t long ago that the idea of editing an organism’s genes – of removing or adding genes such that the chromosomes replicate the change and pass it on to the next generation – was purely the stuff of science fiction. A lot has changed.

The hottest new gizmo frp, the bioetech toolkit in the last few years is called CRISPR. You can almost guess what it stands for: “Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats.” In short, it means you should not buy a cheap CRISPR and try this kind of gene editing at home without qualified scientific supervision.  

CRISPR’s best application is for snipping genes out, but it can also be used for adding genes as recently described in a December 2016 paper from researchers at the Salk Institute along with others. Notably the technology also works best on cells regularly dividing and regenerating, such as the skin or in the gut. In this new case the inserted gene was used on non-dividing cells and in a way that came with instructions to repair the eye in a blind person, what was previously thought to be irreversible.

So is the monkey tech imagined in the novel prescient, i.e., “pre-” science? Or would it be more accurate to describe it  as “post-fictional.”

Friday, December 30, 2016

No, Monkey Has Not Been "Banned In Seattle"

Do not be discouraged by the notice on Amazon the last few weeks that print copies of The Hot Monkey Love Trial are “Temporarily Out of Stock.” No, it does not mean that copies have been seized and impounded due to violations of obscenity and public decency laws in Seattle or anywhere else. I say that knowing that if it were true, sales would blow through the roof if the story were true. I’m told by the publisher that it has to do with yet another inscrutable Amazon algorithm. Even though Amazon may have run out at one point, new copies have always been in its supply and they ship when ordered. But the algorithm stubbornly refuses to take down the notice. Be assured, there’s a troop of Monkey commandos at the ready. And of course copies are always available in ebook.

Stay tuned for more to report after the first of the year. Happy New Year, everyone!

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Hot Monkey Released!

It was supposed to be just a literary experiment carefully controlled by responsible, sensible people in white lab coats, armed with clipboards, but who drink way too much coffee and get way too little sleep. No surprise  what happened. As if life is an eye-rolling B move, homo sapiens are wont to leave cages open. Now...
The Hot Monkey has been released!

It all happened so fast. According to rogue literary scientists at Water Street Press, it occurred at a party on Sunday, November 20, an event intended to merely simulate the release of Hot Monkey, purely for research to prevent an epidemic of madness. But it quickly got out of control. And there weren't just cages left unsecure; boxes of books, swinging doors, and champagne bottles were left wide open.

 Both the Center for Disease Control and the Department of Homeland Security are now involved. A spokesperson for the CDC, Beau Nobo, warned: "It only takes one copy of The Hot Monkey Love Trial to be disseminated on an unwary public. They are prone to quickly propagate in ebook and print copies largely due to the fact that Hot Monkeys really like to... well, you know." 

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Federal Research of Human-Animal Chimeras; Monkey Trials To Follow

The National Institute of Health (NIH) has proposed to lift the ban on federal funding of research for human-animal chimera, e.g., injecting an animal with human stem cells to grow human organs. Many organizations, including the Nonhuman Rights Project (NhRP) oppose lifting the ban. The NhRP argues among other things that such research ignores “the ethical imperatives of an ever-evolving global scientific understanding of nonhuman animals’ cognitive and emotional complexity” already accepted by our culture.  

In The Hot Monkey Love Trial Bert defends himself, at the urging of his attorney, by insisting that he is not a “person” because of the unique monkey gene inserted into his genome.  It’s a good move since, inconveniently, a real person can be tried for the murder charges he faces.

Steven Wise, founder of the NhRP, tackles the issue head on: “…legal personhood has never been, is not now, nor will it ever be synonymous with the term ‘human being.’” He foresees the inevitability of the legal drama fully acted out in The Hot Monkey Love Trial: “Whether chimeras are considered human beings, nonhuman animals, or a new class altogether remains to be legally explored."

And perhaps decided by a jury.  

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Pence Stand-Up Act Imitating Monkey Falls Flat

It’s a Presidential election year.  The concern in America’s reality-television culture is not whether a candidate makes sense or absolutely no sense at all. The question is whether he or she looks or sounds “Presidential.”  In this video from the House floor in 2003, then-Congressman, now Governor and candidate fore Vice-President, Mike Pence seeks to disprove evolution once and for all. I’ll concede he must be Presidential because he makes absolutely no sense. I also give him credit for his imitation of the comically-righteous and blindly-ambitious Presidential candidate, Senator Ray Hoffenworth, in The Hot Monkey Love Trial.

Pence’s entire argument revolves around the fact that evolution is just a “theory.”  In the realm of science that would be like challenging a “fact” for being nothing more than objectively verified, grounded in reality, and undisputed by everyone. Good move, sir. You’re on a roll!

The first and scientific dictionary meaning of “theory” is “a set of statements or principles devised to explain a group of facts or phenomena, especially one that has been repeatedly tested or is widely accepted and can be used to make predictions about natural phenomena.” Think theory of gravity, theory of electricity, and yes, definitely theory of evolution. All fit the definition and have dramatically altered for the better our understanding and experience of the physical world. Among many symptoms of his allergy to intellectual discipline that he manifests in this video, he’s apparently never heard the primary definition but instead is only familiar with the sixth definition of “theory,” way down at the bottom of the definitional food chain: “an assumption based on limited information or knowledge; a conjecture.”

In his meandering and nonsensical presentation, swinging from one branch of history to the next, he even manages to mention the 1925 Scopes Monkey Trial. Somehow the Monkey Trial was another blow to science making Pence's case that evolution has proven to be a shot-in-the-dark conjecture. Watch the wildly gesticulating hands in the video. Who or what is Pence trying to ape? 

Oh. Never mind...

NOTE: No nonhumans were treated with cruelty or in any way dissed in the writing of this blog post. The subject human is the object of ridicule for his utterly foolish imitation of an alpha-male primate of another species who, incidentally, in a scientific debate would easily have the subject for lunch (literally and mercifully).

Saturday, October 1, 2016

A Dog Is A Sentient Being. Are You?

In The Hot Monkey Love Trial the question boils down to this: Can Bert Gropes be prosecuted for crimes as a person when he’s different than “ordinary humans” because of the presence of a unique monkey gene (from the Libidoan monkey, unique to the Isle Libido) that was inserted into his genome in vitro?

Similar legal issues are now playing out in courts and legislatures throughout the free world. In December of 2015 France passed a law recognizing that dogs are “sentient beings” entitled to rights not to be subjected to  cruelty. Until then they were considered nothing more than “movable goods” along the order of soybeans, furniture, and bananas. How did it take so long for  dog-loving France to come to this? Mon Dieu! 

More recently in June of 2016 the Oregon Supreme Court in a landmark case held that dogs are "sentient beings" that may be tested without the consent of their owners. The dog’s owner objected to the blood being drawn from her “property” in violation of search and seizure laws. But the Oregon court concluded that because of the sentient, capable-of-suffering nature of dogs, and the rights they have to be free of abuse or cruelty, it was permissible to draw blood to detect and measure malnutrition and neglect regardless of the owner’s objection, similar to the way such testing can be conducted on children, who may have been abused, without the consent of  parents.

So what’s the takeaway here? That we are still debating whether dogs are sentient beings shows why rights should be based on sentience, not command of science, i.e., intelligence. It also proves that human beings are not too – shhh! someone who can spell may be listening – “s-m-a-r-t.”  The owner of the dog in the Oregon case, when confronted with the overwhelming evidence of animal starvation and neglect, responded by admitting that she had no dog food but – wouldn’t you know it? –  she insisted that she was just going out that very evening to buy more dog food.

See what I mean?