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Dr. Siddhartha Mukherjee on Genetics, MTS3K Cast, and Felicia Day: Friday’s Show (May 12, 2017)

Dr. Siddhartha Mukherjee on Genetics, MTS3K Cast, and Felicia Day: Friday’s Show (May 12, 2017)

Siddhartha_Mukherjee_by_Deborah_FeingoldWhat happens when a machine begins to read its own instruction manual? No, I’m not talking about Skynet (from the Terminator films) but rather humanity’s rapidly increasing understanding of its genome – the code that makes us who were are. We’ve mapped it and identified genes that lead to certain disorders. So could we someday just turn some of those genes off and on? Or decide how tall we want our kids to be – before they’re born?

Dr. Siddhartha Mukherjee says those questions are becoming more reality than science fiction as of late. He’s a cancer researcher and the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancerwhich became a PBS documentary by the same name. His most recent book, The Gene: An Intimate History, is about the amazing world of genetics.

Last week (May 3, 2017), Houston Matters producer Michael Hagerty spoke with him onstage in front of an audience at St. Paul’s United Methodist Church during an event for Brazos Bookstore. On today’s edition of Houston Matters, we hear an excerpt from that talk, in which Dr. Mukherjee discussed the ethical concerns raised by our growing understanding of genetics and he explains the vast complexity of the human genome.

Also this hour…

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of the News

A lot can happen in a week. Some of it good. Some of it bad. Some of it downright ugly. When faced with intriguing developments in the week’s news, we turn to our rotating panel of “non-experts” to parse The Good, The Bad and The Ugly of it all.

This week, our panel weighs in on the Texas Senate taking up the Houston pension reform bill, and the Confederate flag on display at UH’s Blaffer Art Museum.

On today’s panel: Vlad Davidiuk, conservative writer and political analyst; Lisa Falkenberg, columnist for the Houston Chronicle; and Fred Goodall, author of parenting blog MochaDad.com.

The Art of Movie Riffing

The revival of the cult TV show Mystery Science Theater 3000 debuted on Netflix last month (April 14, 2017). The show’s premise is all an excuse just to hear a guy – no different from you or me – make fun of a cheesy B-movie – the worst they can find – all with the help of his robot friends. Mad scientists have trapped him on a spaceship and are studying the effects of this terrible cinema on his mind.

Got it? Well, the mad scientists in the earliest days of the show in the early 1990s were played by Trace Beaulieu and Frank Conniff. Beaulieu played Dr. Clayton Forrester (along with writing and voicing one of the robots) and Conniff played Dr. Forrester’s henchman named TV’s Frank. Well, the pair has teamed up again to make fun of bad movies in person at theaters across the country in a tour they’re calling The Mads Are Back, and they’ll be at Alamo Drafthouse Mason Park Saturday and Sunday (May 13-14). Michael Hagerty talks with them about the art of movie riffing and the revival of MST3K.

A Conversation with Felicia Day

Felicia Day is a noted actress, writer, and all-around major figure in the so-called “geek” community. Some of her earliest appearances were in her own web series The Guild and Joss Whedon’s Dr. Horrible’s Sing-a-Long Blog, and now she’s also been in Supernatural, Eureka, and more recently the revival of Mystery Science Theater 3000.

She’s also one of the founders of the Geek & Sundry production company. Day will be a guest at the upcoming Comicpalooza convention in Houston this weekend (May 12-14, 2017), and ahead of her appearance she spoke with Houston Matters Joshua Zinn about her career and her love of the pop culture that she is now a part of.

Houston Matters offers a free daily, downloadable podcast here, on iTunes, Stitcher and various other podcasting apps.

Segments:

  • What Happens When Humans Start Reading — and Altering — Their Own User Manual?

    (Above: Dr. Siddhartha Mukherjee, cancer researcher and author. Photo: Deborah Feingold) What happens when a machine begins to read its own instruction manual? No, I’m not talking about Skynet (from the Terminator films) but rather humanity’s rapidly increasing understanding of its genome – the code that makes us who were are. We’ve mapped it and identified genes that lead to certain disorders.

    Read/Listen More...

  • Pension Reform Bill, and the Confederate Flag as Art: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly of the News

    A lot can happen in a week. Some of it good. Some of it bad. Some of it downright ugly. When faced with intriguing developments in the week’s news, we turn to our rotating panel of “non-experts” to parse The Good, The Bad and The Ugly of it all. This week, our panel weighs in on the Texas Senate taking up

    Read/Listen More...

  • Mystery Science Theater Alums Discuss the Art of Movie Riffing

    (Above: L-R Frank Conniff as TV’s Frank and Trace Beaulieu as Dr. Clayton Forrester in the early days of “Mystery Science Theater 3000.”) The revival of the cult TV show Mystery Science Theater 3000 debuted on Netflix last month (April 14, 2017). The show’s premise is all an excuse just to hear a guy — no different from you or me —

    Read/Listen More...

  • How a Selfie Got Felicia Day Her Dream Job

    (Above: Actress Felicia Day. Image Courtesy: FeliciaDay.com) Felicia Day is a noted actress, writer, and all-around major figure in the so-called “geek” community. Some of her earliest appearances were in her own web series The Guild and Joss Whedon’s Dr. Horrible’s Sing-a-Long Blog. More recently, she’s appeared in Supernatural, Eureka, and now the revival of Mystery Science Theater 3000. She’s also one of

    Read/Listen More...

About the Author

Abner Fletcher

Abner FletcherAbner Fletcher is a multimedia producer for Houston Matters and Houston Public Media.View all posts by Abner Fletcher →