GMO Apple To Debut in the U.S. By 2017


The U.S. Agriculture department just approved the first genetically altered apple for the U.S. market.  A Canadian outfit has designed, yes, DESIGNED, an apple that neither bruises nor browns when sliced open or bitten into.  I suppose it stays red and fresh for hundreds of years and has a half life of several billion, longer even than a discarded k-cup.  They reengineered the thing minus an aging protein or something of the like so that it appears fresher than it really is.  While it may not brown or bruise, it might taste just as soggy and mushy as a bruised apple would, unless they’ve managed to artificially preserve the crispness, which I admit would have a certain appeal, that is if they’ve not used something like formaldehyde.  I really don’t like soggy apples but I like the smell of formaldehyde even less.  And in my view, there is a place for soggy and brown apples and that would be in a jug of cider.

The Okanagan Specialty Fruit company that designed the GMO apple is planning to add a logo to the apple sticker in the form of a snowflake which would distinguish it from a real apple.  It’s interesting that the natural and pristine snowflake is their choice of logo for the born in the lab apple.  Maybe they are also planning to produce these apples to make Ice-Wine, which I rather like.  But is an apple even an apple, if it’s DNA has been altered? Isn’t it kind of like Froot Loops cereal?  The loops are not fruit, which is why the cereal is spelled Froot.  And like Cheez Whiz, which is the not the reel deel, the Canadian apple should be spelled to reflect its synthetic properties – say Apel or Aple or maybe Apul.  Since they designed out a protein, I think it only fitting the thing lose an l.

Dr. Watson to the Rescue

Watson the IMB supercomuter may soon be used to diagnose patients.  Dr. Chase of Columbia, not the show House, has teamed up with IBM to “retrofit” Watson for use as an aid to physicians in diagnosing patient ailments.  Presumably, Watson could comb through unthinkable amounts of data in seconds flat and cough up a diagnosis.

I tell you one thing, I’d rather a doctor use Watson then to step out of the room to consult Web MD, as I suspect some do.  You know those ask your doctor commercials on TV?…Is Zegred OT right for you, or whatever…I’d like to ask my doctor if he could ask Watson what’s up with my ailing “frozen” shoulder.

I do have some reservations though. Watson is not omniscient.  It is a computer programmed by humans, who have been known to fail upon occasion.  Don’t forget that on Jeopardy, Watson did not answer all the questions correctly. It thought Toronto was a U.S. city, and it buzzed in to give the same wrong answer that its competitor gave.  Watson may be intelligent, but not a very good listener.

I can imagine a scenario where a doctor plugs in some data about an elderly male patient who has the chills, an earache and leg cramps and after a a 15 second delay, Watson comes back with a likely diagnosis: Colic.  Treatment:  Warm milk.

Actually, warm milk might just do the trick, I don’t know, but if you ask me, I say I’d rather my doctor stay informed than depend on a computer. After all, a computer is potentially more vulnerable to a virus than a doctor.


The thing is we’re wired, really we are.  And maybe even a little weird, at least we would have appeared that way to someone who had awakened from a coma after 30 years.  Wired used to mean wide eyed after drinking too much coffee.  Now of course it means connected, connected to devices.  In the 80’s about the only device anyone would have been connected to was the then ubiquitous Walkman.  While this made social interaction challenging  – ever try having a conversation with someone wearing headphones? – today, folks may be having a conversation via blue tooth which sometimes creates the illusion that they are talking to themselves.  Who knows, they may be.

We are seriously wired.  Blue tooth, blackberries, MP3 players, Ninetendo, iPads, iPods, iPhones, and others of the smart variety, netbooks, notebooks and Kindles.  If you observe people on the subway these days, yes, even underground, most are fiddling around with their electronic devices.  Riders don’t interact with one another anymore, not that they ever did.  No one reads a newspaper, not even the free Metro that litter the subway cars.  Folks don’t carry books anymore.  Instead people are hooked on newsfeeds and eBooks, and incessantly checking their Facebook and Twitter accounts, updating their status -“OMG, I’m on the subway and it smells like popcorn and dirty socks in here.  LOL”.  In some ways I think social media is actually anti-social.

We are wired 24 7.  It’s gotten to the point that when I come home, I no longer relax with a good book, or watch a TV show.  First, I take out my netbook, and tab it up – Facebook, WordPress, Twitter, E-mail, NYTimes.  Then I get out my HTC Evo and go to my newsfeeds.  I turn on the TV and channel surf while I go from one application to another on my netbook and smart phone.  I don’t know where I get all the energy after a long day of work, but I’m wired.  When it’s time for bed, my mind is racing and I have a hard time relaxing.  And here I am first thing in the morning, blogging.  I’m wired.  And time for another cup of Joe, as I watch MSNBC Morning Joe, and CBS, and CNN, and the Fishing Channel and play another addictive round of Angry Birds.  And I can’t stop playing till I get to the next level.

Pondering Technology

Around 1985, technology really took off.  If you took a walk around any college campus, you’d have seen practically everyone with a Walkman and over the ear headphones.  Instead of enjoying music together, people were turning inward and grooving by themselves.  The days of the communal jambox and record parties are over.  Though turntables are making a comeback, portable technology has reigned supreme since the mid 80’s. Today, I own a SanDisk mp3 player with 512MB of storage, enough for maybe 100 songs.   My cell phone stores more with its 2GB SD card.  The new iPod classic at 160GB has more storage space than my desktop PC and can  hold somewhere in the neighborhood of 4,000 songs.

In the 80’s, Polaroid and Kodak cameras were popular point and shoot options.  In 1984, I bought a Kodak disc camera.  Remember those?  I think I bought it in Germany and took a couple of “rolls” of film while on vacation in Europe.  It took pretty good photos.   I bought a Fuji FinePix digital camera in 2002 and it was a top of the line 2 megapixel camera and all the camera I could afford.  It came with a 16MB XD picture card as I recall, enough for about 50 photos or so.   I still have it and have resisted the urge to upgrade.  By the way, my 2 mp cellphone camera takes photos of comparable quality and considerably better quality video.  Most digital cameras on the market today are 10 mp or better.  The 12. 2 mp Fuji FinePix A220 sells for half what I paid for the 1st generation 2 mp version of the popular Fuji model.

Around 1983, personal computers hit the market.  By 1986, PCs began to replace the typewriter.  When I was a graduate student in 1986, I bought my first computer, a Leading Edge with a monochrome monitor and no internal hard drive.  The thing had two floppy disk drives.   I bought a dot matrix printer to go along with it.   In 1999, I bought a little Diamond Mako hand-held computer – smaller than a laptop, and a little bigger than a smart phone.    The keyboard was nice.  It had an agenda, a to do list, e-mail and internet capability, a word processor and spreadsheet, calculator and address book with 16MB of storage space.  The problem with it was that it could not keep a charge and each time my battery drained, my data drained with it.

I love new technology, but feel the need to resist the frequent upgrade temptations.  The thing is, I know most electronic products are planned with obsolescence in mind.  The only way I can fight back is to hold on to what I buy until it stops working or until it becomes so dated that it is no longer practical to own.  Except for our stereo and TVs (we still have a mono 19″ color Panasonic) we upgrade our stuff every 6 years or so.  We must have been the last family to buy a CD player and maybe the second to last to buy a DVD player.  And after our central idiot box caught fire, we bought a flat screen HD TV replacement and joined the new millennium.

One day, a Blue-Ray.