Chapter Four


Jaina Gets Accepted

Jaina came into class bouncy, bouncy, bouncy.

"What's up?" Jaden asked.

"Umm... I got accepted to Nothgonga School of Spirituality Massage."

"How neat!"

"I think so! ...but my parents aren't as excited about it." she sighed, "They wanted me to apply to Smith, Radcliffe and Wellesley."

"Heavyweight stuff."

"Yeah... They wanted that, but I wasn't getting the grades for it. Well... I wasn't on my own, but my cybertutor was making up for my human deficiencies."

"The good ones do that these days."

"Yeah, and mine is a good one. ...But I don't want to take credit for what it's doing."

"Why not?"

"Well... it doesn't really feel like me. I mean... I'm me."

"It does work for you, right?"


"Your parents spent a gruntload of money on it, right?"



Jaina got red, "IT'S NOT ME."

Jaden backed off.

"Anyway. What I do at Nothgonga will be me, so I'm looking forward to that... and to doing baby stuff."


 Accepting a Gift

Jaina wasn't the only one with good news.

Annette came in looking happy. She told the class. "Something special is coming up next week. My husband will come for a visit. I'm hoping it will be OK if he attends a class?"

"Sure," I said, "What's special that's bringing him to the Big Apple, if I may ask?"

"We're going to be working on a... special project," she said with a big wonderful grin on her face, "I've been doing some medical research here, and getting some treatment, at the fertility clinic." she grinned some more.

"Really! That sounds wonderful!"

"Our prophet and leaders have agreed that being fruitful can be as important as being human-sufficient, so they are letting me and Don try some advanced medicine."

"It doesn't sound too advanced to me." said Jaina.

"It may not be to you, Jaina, but our group tries hard to be human-sufficient. We try to do as much as we can as humans first, and only then call in creation help. God gave us bodies to use. That means we do as much as we can with medicines we can make and procedures we can carry out at the colony. We are not Neolithic Parkers, but trying what I'm going to try now has taken a lot of convincing."

"Well... part of it sounds pretty down-home." she said.

Annette paused for a moment at that, then laughed, "Yeah, that part is. The part that is new for us is getting my womb rejuvenated and scheduling my fertility. Don is skeptical, but he says he's quite willing to help out on the down-home part as Jaina calls it, and isn't going to mind seeing some sights while we do."

We all laughed at that, and wished Annette good luck.



Dahlia Lesson

Lesson Three -- Heredity (DNA) modifiers

Egg and sperm DNA and other heredity modifiers can be scientifically modified. DNA in particular can be edited. This brings enormous power, but also brings surprises as Adrian has noted. The people who do the modifying say it's so much like editing a long novel with a complex story line that it's spooky. And like story book editing, there's a lot of art in the process -- changes in one place can produce unexpected changes in what develops in other places on the chain.

One result is there is a whole range of skills in modifying. There are a whole lot of people who have the skill to handle simple changes such as modifying eye color and restoring Vitamin C metabolism to liver cells. And a few artists who can handle complex changes such as skin pigmentation and hair texture. And charlatans who claim they can create geniuses, super models, superstars and born leaders. There is also a whole range in the prices these people charge.

We will discuss what's currently possible, probable, and what are reasonable costs.

How these translate into personal choices:

This is the most complex issue in baby making. This is where the art flourishes. Once again our choices range from do nothing to "How much can you afford?" There is a whole lot of unknown in this process, but what the known can accomplish is truly spectacular.

What we can do well is check for simple gene mutations that predispose to physical weaknesses such as some cancer susceptibilities and congenital birth defects. What we can't do well is get your sons laid while they are teenagers and your daughters married to doctors. That requires subtleties that are well beyond our current understanding. But that doesn't mean there aren't charlatans who are out there implying that they can.

Over the term of this course, and as a social network after, we will discuss what is currently being offered and what is likely to be both real and cost effective.


Ruby at Madison Square Garden


"Hot news! I'm doing a gig at MSG, and I have tickets for you! -- Ruby"

This is hot news! I get details a bit later, and it's all you could hope for! She will be one of the headline acts for the Woodstock-in-the-Big-Apple celebration. This is a three day long event at the garden and the opening highlight of the summer season. And this is the newly-opened Ultra New Madison Square Garden -- opened just two years ago.

The building is spectacular. It is located where the Liberty State Park used to be not far from Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty. It was designed to wow those who think Sydney Opera House and Shanghai Buttercup Dome are impressive buildings.

This new UNMSG was three years in construction and while that was going on there was a lot of grumbling that it was a boondoggle that was a waste of city money. But for the last year it has routinely sold out its 500,000 indoor seating capacity at various mega-events, so that grumbling has died down.

That old grumbling has been replaced by new grumbling about congestion getting to and from the place, huge crowds, huge prices, and on-line scalpers getting huge profits. Personally, I think these current complaints are valid. These designers knew what they were getting into, and they couldn't do better crowd control?

The politicians and human designers have ducked, so the creations who did the design and construction legwork have responded that they did the best they could given the constraints put on them by human designer imaginations, human political meddling, ancient human-designed building regulations, and the strength of materials, i.e., the real world.

In truth, these are the kinds of complaints that building designers like to have. It means the profits are being raked in. And, in truth, it seems like people don't really mind being treated like cattle when they come to an event such as this kind of place hosts.

And, the crazy could be a lot worse. Pamplona still runs bulls! And the casualty count has gone up, not down! Burning Man out in Nevada has gone totally weird. They outlawed the main Festivial there years ago, but it has been replaced with more than a dozen "flash events" that spring up all up and down the east side of the Sierra range. People gather, get totally machoed out... often with the help of Android Age drugs and creation stimulators... then wander around in the desert claiming they are experiencing new realities and insights into the fate of man. The casualty count there isn't talked about much, but I've heard some strange, strange stories.

Humans can be weird, but then that weirdness is at the heart of my business.


This particular event would be, of course, a three day celebration. The highlight, on the third day, will be a spectacular indoor rainstorm over the central arena. As that is in progress people can go down to the central arena, get naked, and go dancing around in the specially prepared mud that will be there as they listen to the final day's performances. Nostalgia can get super silly, but it was anticipated that about ten thousand people would pay extra for that privilege.

I know all this because we at DeMuzzy are planning to participate... in some fashion, pardon the pun. But exactly how to strut our stuff in the middle of a mud pile filled with naked dancing people has been a big, big challenge. When we first heard about this, we laughed our asses off. Since then, the panic --er, challenge -- has been faced more squarely. This is when human imagination is truly, truly called for.

What we finally came up with, and I think it was inspired, was to have the food and rec-drug vendors -- who would be plying that naked, muddy crowd --dressed by DeMuzzy. We'd dress them in bold, good-looking Teflon. Teflon so that they would clean up with a few seconds of hosing down, or rain, and keep plying the crowd. That decided, the remaining effort went into designing bold, cleanable, and brand-recognizable, to a dance- and drug-crazed crowd... nothing special there.

So when I got that message from Ruby, it was super fun to hear that she would be participating as well, and that I might get a seat far, far away from that mud pile!


The two days before the first day of the show I was in backwoods New Jersey somewhere on a farm -- a for-real historical farm, one with a fresh-plowed field. I was making sure the creations had everything mustered for the girls. They were on this farm practicing walking around in the mud.

It was good someone, me, had the sense to let the girls practice. It impressively tough to maneuver through all this squish while trying to both look good and sell stuff. The slipping, sliding, and spattering happened a lot more than anyone expected, and as a result so did the hosing downs. I saw this after two hours on the first day on the farm, and at that last minute, I doubled up the hosing stations and got the girls into flats with gripper soles. That caused some screams, but I stuck to my guns, and by the end of the second day of practicing it was the common sense.


The concert itself went smoothly. Day Two was something of a slack day for both Ruby and me, so we managed to catch a lunch together.

Day Three I flaunted. Instead of hanging around near "the pit", I waved my Entertainer's Special Pass that Ruby had given me and experienced the whole rain shower affair from a clean, comfortable, relaxing box seat with a wonderful view of both the performance and the Statue of Liberty. Ruby, of course, was backstage at this time. This was her day.

Ruby was impressive. Her specialty was combining her good dancing and singing skill with some really impressive supporting creation stunts. The buzz was she did a lot of the creation programming herself, and she did it with a wonderful sense of humor. It was inspired by those old goofy comedy acts you could catch on the nostalgia channels. I watched her and laughed my ass off.


And then it was over. The creations would take care of the clean-up. We humans would attend the raucous post-production party while we waited for the first post-show reviews to come in. This time they were good for both Ruby and me. She got mentioned; my girls showed up well -- gliding effortlessly and prominently through that muddy chaos on the news and entertainment vids of concert highlights.

The next day would bring some relaxing. Then planning would start, or continue, for the next performances.


Ruby’s Mars Tour

"You mean send your body to Mars, not take an avatar there?"

Ruby nodded vigorously. "Yeah! This is the real thing."

"Wow! That's terriffic! How did you arrange that?"

"The people on Mars like their entertainment, and they're willing to pay well for it.

"They like live entertainment, and they can tell. Part of it is the gravity. You move so differently. You can simulate that, and you can "cheat" by going to the moon and performing on a stage there. It's low G, too, and a lot quicker and cheaper to get to. But those Mars people can tell, and they like paying for the real thing. They also like the after-the-performance parties, and that's real hard for an avatar to imitate." she grinned.

"When will you go?"

Ruby frowned, "That's a big issue. The Mars trip will cut a giant hole in my schedule. It still takes most of a year to get there, and the same to get back. It really has to be worth my while. These are my prime years as an entertainer."

"How about in one of those new plasma jet ships? I hear they are much faster."

Ruby brightened, "Really? Are they ready?"

"I was just talking with Adrian about them a couple of days ago. Let's check..." We both consulted with our searchers, and confirmed that plasma jet ships were going to be available to handle commercial flights next year.

"But look a the cost!" gasped Ruby, "If I'm doing this, my promoters are definitely covering that!"


Adrian's Workshop

Adrian invited me to see his workshop. He picked me up and to my surprise we headed across the Hudson.

"Not Silicon Alley?" I commented.

"Oh I keep a facility there," he laughed, "But I keep that one to impress investors, media people, and government committees. The one I'm taking you to now is one where I work on more interesting things.

"This is my 'mad scientist' laboratory." he said in a conspiratorial tone, and grinned.

My thought on that remark was, "I hope this is as funny as he seems to think it is!" I enjoy seeing science and science fiction videos every so often, and I know enough about real life to know that bioengineering is powerful stuff.

We stopped somewhere in the heart of East Jersey Creationland -- that industrialized area across the Hudson from Manhattan. It wasn't too far from UNMSG, where Ruby had performed, but it was like being in a different world.

This place was no-nonsense. The road traffic was ninety percent or more creation traffic -- so exclusively creation that no one bothered with billboards in this area. There were modest sized company signs on some of the buildings, and some of those were logos. In this environment they looked flamboyant. What were much more common were bar-code signs that creation vehicle sensors could read.

The buildings, grounds and even the road network in all directions were spotless, mostly new, and utilitarian in design -- cost/benefit, not historical legacy, determined what structures survived here.

This was quite a change from thirty years ago. Then the area had been in long-term decline and was famous for its "Jimmy Hoffa graves" -- in popular media tales The City gangsters would always dump their bodies over here somewhere. Some did in real life, too. Then twenty years ago the creations convinced human legislators to let them handle zoning issues as well as administrative and maintenance issues in what was by then a de facto cluster of creation cities.

At first there was some protesting to that. There was legacy graft, unspoken about, and legacy buildings which became the graft's proxy and were talked about a lot. But as the creations put it, "You want to experience legacy? Get virtual in a historic sim, and get some serious and authentic legacy." How the graft got handled I'm not sure. But I do know that there were only a thousand or so voting residents left at that time, and even the nomads had abandoned the area. So even the graft pickings were pretty thin. So why not let the creations have this lemon?

Constant change has been going on in the area since the creations got full control. This ongoing cost/benefit reorganization of the local infrastructure has considerably reduced the general human impact on the environment -- efficiency does that. Reduced impact, plus, a whole lot of stuff now gets made here again. It's a resurgent manufacturing center. The creations have made some sweet, sweet, lemonade here.

Nowadays it's actually a bit difficult for a human to get into this area. You need a creation-issued permit. This keeps out the "Stick it to The Man" nomads, other pranksters and outright looters. Adrian must be a regular here because we traveled through various checkpoints without interruption. We stopped in the parking lot of a building labeled Andy-573's Workshops, and headed for a door. The building looked like an oversized cheap motel -- just walls and doors around a parking area, and those doors alternated between big and small. We went in one of the small doors and I found myself in a spartan office.

"Give me five minutes." Adrian said as he dashed for his desk after he opened the door.

I knew the feeling, so I was patient. First I looked around while he did his catchup. He stayed busy at it, and if he was anything like me, it would be more like fifteen minutes. So I did some catchup myself, then I started wandering around the office and getting acquainted with his little wonderland here. He didn't seem to mind.

It was clearly a human office, not a creation office. It was messy, there was stuff scattered, and half completed projects and ideas filled a couple of tables and many shelves. And it was utilitarian. There was no brag wall here, no Feng Shui stuff, no art. I got the feeling I was looking at some DIYer's workshop basement on steroids.

It turned out I was not far off on that guess. When Adrian got back to me, he showed me around and explained what I was looking at. It truly was a collection of inventor dreams.

"There is so much still to discover," Adrian said, "And like Thomas Edison said, 'Genius is one percent inspiration, ninety-nine percent perspiration.' You have to try things, and try again, over and over, in different ways."

He introduced me to George-776, the creation that ran this office.

"George-776 is one of the most unhappy creations alive," he said like he was talking to a beer buddy, "He has to endure as I have him perform one wasteful experiment after another."

"It's true," said George-776, and then in a dramatic way, "But I accept it as my lot in life. I'm here to serve humanity, and we creations all serve in different ways. Many of us serve by researching and then doing things more and more efficiently... But I follow the path less taken."

Adrian laughed again, "Don't take him too seriously. He's quite aware of Gene Editor's balance sheet."

We toured and Adrian explained some of his projects. They seemed pretty obscure, and trivial, to me. Things like: Could he coax a yeast culture to pay attention to the lithium ion concentration in its growth media?

When I stifled a yawn, he got it, and explained a bit more.

"The key to the experimenting I do here is to keep it fast and flexible. I don't really care about this yeast, but if I can get these controlling concepts working here, then I can apply them to much more interesting situations -- things that will affect agriculture and health. After I get something working here, then I introduce it to the Silicon Alley office. And we build the really big show around it."

"And speaking of really big shows..." he motioned for me to head into the work shop area, "This is the part George hates the worst."

We did a quick walk through, then we stopped at one table with some plastic chambers filled with complex machinery, and a big monitor on it. He flexed his arms, cracked his knuckles and said, "Ready to be totally amazed?"

George-776 interrupted, "Excuse me, sir, but before we start, what category do I expense this under?"

Adrian looked at me with the sparkle in his eye of what I call The Man Look, "The impressing a woman category." he said with a grin, "You'll find that under 'Macho', 'Macho Male Bullshit', to be exact."

George-776 paused a moment before responding, "Sorry, no macho category." then he added helpfully, "But we creations do have a category for human bullshit, and it's rather well populated."

Adrian laughed, "Grr... I don't do this often enough. ...OK, put it under 'Advertising, Male Display'."

"Right," responded George-776, taking the hint, "I'll figure it out later."

What I saw really was amazing... I guess. Adrian transformed those plastic chambers into what for all the world looked like a flea circus composed of fruit flies. There were a dozen or so observation cubes, and he loaded some fruit flies from a master cage into four of them.

"First we have some fruit flies in a control situation -- a normal one. Notice that when I stick in a rotten banana they swarm over it like insects-gone-bad in some horror film."

They did. He put a close up image on a monitor and it really was creepy.

"Those are females laying eggs," he explained, "They live to do just that. For these females sex is nothing compared to the thrill of egg-laying," he watched my reaction to that, which wasn't much, then continued, "But I digress, now watch this...

"In this next chamber there is a fruit fly obstacle course: An electrified grid, like a bug zapper. These fruit flies have been raised with this zapper as part of their environment for more than a thousand generations now. They can sense it and they understand it. Watch as I turn it up." He turned up the voltage, and put a banana in. The fruit flies swarmed, but didn't approach the grid.

"It's at a fully lethal level, and the flies can sense this. They stay away. Now watch what happens when I turn down the voltage to a specific level that I have researched..."

I gasped, "They're dying!" as I watched hundreds headed for the grid, got hit with the zap and either tumbled to the bottom of the chamber or got stuck to the grid and fried, literally. It was a grizzly sight.

"Not all of them." said Adrian grimly, "Ninety percent will die, but ten percent will make it through and lay their eggs. These flies are well experienced with this grid, and they have evolved to adapt to it. It turns out that they survive as a species if ten percent can make it through. When they sense the voltage is low enough to permit that, they take the risk."

He turned and looked at me, still looking grim, "This is one of the harsh realities of Mother Nature's choices: She fully understands risk taking, something modern humans do not. Many people know that in Neolithic Parks lots of women die in child birth -- the actual number is one in two hundred. They reflexively think that's horrible, and then without thinking any more about why this is the way it is, call for action: Stop the slaughter! They don't finish thinking about this situation and realize this is an example of Mother Nature applying risk-taking to the human condition."

Then he smiled and got back to talking about his work, "But this is just stage setting. This isn't the interesting part. The interesting part is what this does." He held up a bottle of some colorless liquid, and we moved to the next chamber.

"I'm going to add some 'rational thinking', to the air in this chamber. And by rational I mean becoming more risk-adverse." He spritzed the air in the chamber. "This is my latest triumph. It will take about ten minutes to affect their thinking, so let me explain more about it.

"It's well known that a lot of things affect the thinking process. We learn, we have instincts, we sense our surroundings, we have hormones... They all change how we think, and the soup in which of these are active is constantly changing. This is why teaching children, and adults for that matter, is still such a by-guess and by-gosh practice. We still don't have much control over that mix. I plan to change that.

"You're going to make people more risk adverse?" I asked incredulously.

He laughed, "No! It's even bigger than that." he wiggled his eyebrows at me in his mad scientist way, "What I'm after is the tools that will let other people design all sorts of thinking-altering products. I'm providing the standards, the tools, that all other thinking altering designers will use. I will be creating an entirely new industry."

I was mystified, he could tell, he explained further, "If I was doing this in your business, the fashion business, I would be providing colors to fashion designers. There will be fashion winners and fashion losers, but both winners and losers use my colors, so I win. The new industry I would be creating is a fashion industry that used colors."

That was a lot to take in. I was speechless, literally.

He checked his watch and looked at the chamber, "We should be ready now." He turned up the voltage and put the banana in.

"This is the same voltage as last time, note that the fruit flies won't approach... Now I'll lower the voltage to where they have a fifty-fifty chance of making it." He did so, and the flies now took their chances. Once again there was a pile of bodies under the grid, but only half as large as last time, and a lot more flies were now happily buzzing around the banana.

"And that's it for show and tell time," said Adrian, "Any questions?"

I could sense this was big, enormous, but little more came to mind so I asked, "Is this, like, secret? Should I not talk about this?"

He smiled, "Talk all you want. I've just shown you flashy results. I haven't shown you any of the things that are behind the curtain. And this stuff I'm showing you is at least three years away from commercialization, if not a lot more."


After the tour we stopped for ice cream on the way back. The place was on the edge of creationland, and near empty while we were there. I'm not sure who kept place open, who were customers, maybe there were lots of other crazy inventors like Adrian. Whoever it was, they weren't concerned about adding any human touch to their presentation. We sat down, ordered from the menu on the table, and the food came out on a motorized tray.

"So was your father an inventor?" I asked while we were waiting.

"He was, but I was raised to be a dancer. My folks wanted me to be someone important, someone who would make a difference."

"I spent years at it, and got pretty good, too." He got up and demonstrated a couple of soft-shoe routines.

"Wow! But you didn't pursue that? You look like you could have gone far."

He grinned, "They didn't spend all that hard-earned money on giving me dance genes and endless childhood lessons to no effect. My family was known as the Jackson Family of Alberta. It was all local stuff and very commercial. We never got a national breakout, but the pay was good. We did well, and I could still be doing that, but I was the black sheep: I used dance to pay my way into Gene Editors.

"Dance wasn't my dream. I had an Uncle Henry who 'polluted' my thinking when I was in middle school. He had a workshop, and when I came visiting we'd spend time there. He showed me that there were things, material things, that a human could create that no creation could think of. My feeling when I saw that was, 'Such Power!' and I realized doing that was my dream.

"When my folks figured out how much I was enjoying my time with Uncle Henry, they got concerned. We had a heart-to-heart, and they explained how much time and resource they had put into my becoming a dancer.

"'We want the best for you, and we want you to do the best for our world.' they explained, 'And famous dancer-singers have the most influence on our modern society. If you want to have the world pay attention to you, and people do the good things that you want them to do. You need to become a successful dancer and singer. It's a lot of work. We recognize that. But we've given you the best of opportunities... if you choose to take advantage of them.'

"I was a good boy. So I did what my parents asked... for many years... but I kept my dream." he grinned, "I learned the business side of our work. I learned to deal with people and creations who have their attention on budgets, priorities, and schedules.

"And I stayed in touch with the university research scene. Julian Homeby was a colleague of one of my professors. When I got wind of the success he was having, I contacted him and offered my services as an agent/manager for marketing his IP -- Intellectual Property. We got along and he was thinking commercial enough that we did more than license, we launched a full business... Gene Editors."

"What do your parents think of all this?"

"They have mixed feelings. They are real happy that I'm happy and that I'm successful enough to get featured in industry trade publications. But those aren't anything they read regularly, so it seems like I'm off in another world to them, an irrelevant one. They still think I would have done even better if I'd stuck to the dancing."

He looks a little embarrassed when he says, "When Dad gets to drinking too much, he accuses me of torpedoing the family's chance to get the big break." He shrugged, "We all have lives to live."

We talked more, but that was pretty much the end of that session. We finished, hopped in the car, and caught up some more as we headed home.