In this week’s Long Reads, Richard Jackson looks at the story of the Marwencol art project and the future surrounding molecular biology.


Marwencol: The incredible WWII art project created by a cross-dresser who was beaten up by bigots – Jon Ronson (The Guardian)

Mark Hogancamp uses his spare time to construct a miniature fictional WW2 town, Marwencol, composed of Nazi soldiers inflicting terrible pain and suffering on civilians.  The details are precise and gruesome with blood etched down the figurines back.

Creating this art project is a coping mechanism for Hogancamp; back in 2000, he woke up from a nine-day coma, after being beaten half to death by five men for the crime of admitting to being a cross-dresser. He now has no memory of his life from before the attack, so he creates this violent art. His life and the attack are the central narrative for all the violence depicted.


Who owns molecular biology? – Yarden Katz (Boston Review)

The legal system seems to be going against pharmaceutical companies at the moment, as citizens are winning legal cases against companies attempting to patent and then sell reconstructed genes that might cure certain conditions and diseases.

This article deconstructs this complex space and the inconsistent legal decisions. Make no mistake, this will become a more contested space as further understanding of the human genome continues and more scientists and academics work in this space.

“Our molecular constructions shouldn’t be thought of as inventions, but rearrangements of nature’s brilliant projects. If we must award credit for inventing CRISPR-Cas, it ought to go a bacterium and the forces of evolution that have shaped it.


Medical research: The dangers to the human subjects – Marcia Angell (New York Review of Books)

Millions of people sign up to be part of medical experiments each year. Most, I guess, do it for money. After the flip of a coin, a medical researcher decides whether they will be part of the control group or the group who actually test the drug. Over the course of this article, we learn the legal rules – or the lack thereof – that govern medical trials.


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