To Kill an Atticus

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I’m one of those people profoundly saddened by the publication of Go Set a Watchman, not simply because I think everyone will benefit from it but Harper Lee, but also because it defaces an important and enduring hero who has given America hope over the years even during its worst moments.

It saddens me that Lee’s lawyer, her agent and her publishers preferred to put first the prospect of earning millions over literary judgment or their charge’s literary reputation.


The second brain

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In 1992, after rediscovering a network of neurotransmitters in the gut that act in a similar way to ordinary neurons, Dr Michael Gershon, chairman of the department of anatomy and cell biology at New York–Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center, an expert in the new field of neurogastroenterology, christened this phenomenon ‘the second brain’.

He and others have since found that the enteric nervous system, as its technically known, consists of some 30 neurotransmitters and vast sheaths of neurons embedded all along the nine meters of our alimentary canal—100 million of them in all, more than are present in either the spinal cord or peripheral nervous system. In fact, the self-same genes involved in the formation of synapses between neurons in the primary brain are also involved in the formation of synapses in the gut brain.


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