He looks a bit like an Oscar, but Iron Man has forgotten who he is. Found wandering the streets of New York among the homeless after his suit was stolen, Tony Stark is now almost stark naked. And afraid. He couldn’t even remember his net worth, which was $12.4 Billion. Assuming he had money to pay his medical bills, hospital staff at Bellevue ordered a round of CT and MRI scans, psych tests, then put Tony onZoloft and Aricept. Nurses pitched in to buy him an Iron Man suit at Boys R Us in hopes that his memory will return. Along with his credit card numbers. They fed him a steak dinner in hopes that the protein and iron would improve his memory. He did mumble something about “where’s the beef,” after all. Meanwhile, unbeknownst to his doctors, Tony’s Malibu estate was being ransacked for gold jewelry. Several cars were stolen, along with several blueprints to be sold to China. Despite his high IQ, Tony remains virtually speechless about the Avengers whereabouts, or anyone else. JARVIS, his AI, has been contacted about his situation, but someone pulled most of its memory crystals, so it only recited the Taylor Swift song “Ready for It.”
In more important news, here’s a book written by a Harvard geneticist showing that iron in the diet is linked to Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. Are they reporting this? Not really. Why? The meat industry has one of the biggest lobbyist groups in Washington, and owns the press, along with junk food and prescription drugs. The drug industry is bigger than the gun lobby, and makes more money. Their ads pay the salaries of network news shows and affiliates. So they CAN’T talk about this. Which is also why you may never have heard it. The facts: those countries which eat the least red meat have the lower rates for dementia and other brain diseases. Plus only in America do they add iron to cereals and flour products as “fortified.” It sounds good: fortified. But if you are over age 40, you are essentially being poisoned. “It’s a toxic dose,” says Estep. You know that sodium is needed by the body, right? Too much salt kills? (Stroke and high blood pressure result.) Well, too much iron kills too. “Many people over 50 get over 100 times the amount of iron they need.” In Japan and northern Italy people live longest, plus some places in China. What do they eat? White rice and beans, fish, vegetables, with no added iron in the flour. Next time you’re in the store, look at the label of cereals. Some say “100% of the daily allowance” of iron. That’s one cup. As if you’re eating no meat or anything else that day. Now watch the ads for the Baconator or the Whopper. The bun even has added iron. Happy? What about your grandpa and grandma, who will need your help to remember your name?
Biotech is big business, or as Trump would say, “very, very big.” Now a giant called Celgene is investing in biotech’s future by buying Impact BioMedicines with a possible $7 Billion ante up. Good investment? Well, biobucks are hotter than Bitcoin, long term. Just watch any network news report, the second half of which is all pharmaceuticals, with side effects. Development takes years and millions, and the payoffs are big, and losses also. Drug patents expire, rivals vie for space, with mergers and acquisitions the ultimate power play. Trump is trying to deregulate everything from the EPA to the DEA. It’s a “go big or go home” strategy. The cancer drug Jakafi is a huge seller for two other pharmaceutical giants, and Celgene wants to compete. They want in. On the ropes with their own drug expiring soon, they have little choice. The CEO touts the future of using genetic engineering to attach genes to molecules, similar to what Ron Howard’s show Breakthroughs reported last year in which a neutered HIV targeted cancers past the blood/brain barrier. Meanwhile, supplements like Nugenix is being hyped to athletes to improve testosterone. (The Dan Patrick Show advertises it NBCSN. Wink, wink.) Is there a dark side to biotech? “CRISPR” (pronounced “crisper”) stands for Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats, which are the hallmark of a bacterial defense system that forms the basis for CRISPR-Cas9 genome editing technology. It may soon be possible to eliminate certain diseases genetically, to change the eye color (and more) of babies, and to lengthen the lifespan of humans. Many strides have already been made, such as the means to fight cancer using gene therapy. To some, this is all “playing God,” while to others it is progress: the “search for better explanations, leading to discoveries,” as David Deutsch put it in “The Beginning of Infinity.” Whatever one’s beliefs, there are problems with all technologies, as discussed in the new book on social media interfaces: “Dawn of the New Everything” by Jaron Lanier. In my novel “The Methuselah Gene” a neutered HIV is used, not as a cancer therapy, but to implant a longevity gene taken from a bristlecone pine tree past the blood/brain barrier, and extend human life by decades. A pill to do something like this is now in the works, and may be here within a decade. How much would such a pill cost, and will only the super rich be able to afford it, not the “Young, Dumb and Broke?” In the New Rules governing culture, before our young icons can acquire near immortality via science, what if nefarious forces tested it on a small town without their knowledge or consent…and discovered that there were side effects?
Tom Cruise is a fan of science fiction. He is a fine actor who takes risks, and has made many movies in the genre. He has talked on Oprah, on the Today Show with Matt Lauer, and the Tonight Show. He is also a Scientologist. Harlan Ellison is one of the most award-winning science fiction writers ever, with multiple Hugo and Nebula awards, plus Edgar awards in the mystery category. His story “I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream” is a classic. Almost single-handedly, Ellison saved Star Trek in the early days from extinction. He wrote the “City at the Edge of Forever” episode, and in an audiobook of the same name tells how it all happened. The Terminator was Ellison’s idea, too. Based on an Outer Limits episode he wrote, and a short story. He sued James Cameron, who settled out of court. So here’s the question: why not get Tom and Harlan together on a talk show? Can you imagine the fireworks? Why? Harlan knew L. Ron Hubbard personally. Hubbard told Harlan that starting a religion was the best way to make money. Listen to this brief conversation. Ellison talks to Robin Williams about it. His award winning “A Boy and His Dog” was made into a Don Johnson movie whose ending was twisted by Hollywood hacks into a joke. Is Ellison combative and a narcissist? Sure. So is Trump, and he got elected. Ellison is also right. Trump is not.