~ The Philosophers’ Couch with Jack and The Dude ~
Boy, this vacation is just what I needed! Hanging out with friends and taking my ease is great medicine for these tired old bones. Case in point: The Dude and I were out for an evening stroll and enjoying a heart-to-heart the other night, and the conversation turned to heritage. He’s a purebred, and rightfully proud of it, but my background isn’t so clear. For Father’s Day 2016 my daughter had a DNA workup done on me by Ancestry.com; note the brand as it is important, at least it is to me. Having grown up within a family’s oral history of Scandinavian roots with a sprinkling of English, I was proud of being a mix of the Vikings who terrified everyone who encountered them, and the “Thin Red Line” who had stood up to every dictator from Rome to Hitler. Then the results came back.
Imagine my surprise, then, to find that my largest genetic block was Irish! That had never crossed my mind. That portion wasn’t dominant, just slightly ahead. The exact percentages were 38% Irish, – 35% Scandinavian – 17% British – and 10% trace elements from everywhere the Vikings had visited during their 300-year sailing party. Okay, Irish is a cool thing to be, and I cheerfully embraced it. I bought a pin and a hat to celebrate my newly discovered status, I was given a beautiful shirt calling attention to it, and even created a dish in commemoration. I blogged about it on my old site and reposted it here. Having never given it a thought before, I was digging it.
And then the email arrived in my daughter’s mailbox. She has an Ancestry.com account, has spent years diligently researching our family tree, and she has put an incredible history together for us, but this was more than a bit disturbing. It seems that in the 2½ years since I submitted my DNA, the “science has been improved, allowing us to consider more markers.” Apparently, these refinements have caused some of the determinations to change. Okay, fine. What does that mean to you? When I heard it, I thought that the percentages would slide a few points one way or the other, making the slices of the pie-chart slightly different. Nope.
My aforementioned Irish heritage which I had embraced and learned to be so proud of is gone, erased, zero percent. And that 17% British? That’s now 78%. Scandinavian has slipped back to 21%, leaving one percent for what used to be ten. And the groups included in that 10%, the North African, Middle Eastern, Crimean, along the Caucuses, gone. That has been replaced by 1% sub-Saharan African from along the Ivory Coast, a possibility I can’t refute, as some of my distant ancestors were slave owners.
This frustrates me something awful, and makes me very angry as well. This is the result of a little refinement? This looks more like my sample was switched with someone else’s. I don’t know what to believe now. My instinct, coupled with what I learned from my family, tells me that the first report was much more accurate. It also tells me that this is not the result of a little refinement, but if it is, what does that say about the science of DNA? How did my Irish go from the biggest slice of the pie to nonexistent? How did they see it as the main element the first time around if it was never there to start with? How can I tell anyone or even believe that “I’m this” or “I’m that,” when next week they might decide that I’m an African Spaniard who came to America by way of southern China? And how many poor bastards are sitting on death row after being convicted on DNA evidence? What can a prosecutor say, given how radically the results change after “a little refinement?”
“Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, the DNA clearly shows that the killer was a white guy with roots in northern Europe. The defendant is a white guy with roots in northern Europe, so clearly, there can be no doubt of his guilt!”
My personal opinion after the dust has settled? This has a bit of an odor to it. I’m not sure what, whether it’s simple carelessness and disregard for the customer, or a more sinister scheme centered around harvesting money, but at the very least I feel that this product is worthless, as I now have no idea what I am ethnically (other than a white guy, and I knew that already), and no faith at all in anything else they might tell me. I can’t start telling people that I’m English now, because who knows what I’ll be tomorrow? I feel like I knew more about my heritage before this “service” was ever performed. My daughter paid for this (and it wasn’t cheap), but knowing what I know now, if I had to buy a screening myself, I’m afraid I’d have to try National Geographic or 23-and-me, and hope they were a bit more serious about their accuracy. I’m sorry. I rarely write a negative review of a product, but this is just ridiculous.
But that’s just me . . . Now, with that off my chest, I may be on vacation, but my friends aren’t, so let’s take a look at some much more interesting blogs . . .
~ Other Voices ~
The Bold Mom: Book review – Three Days in Ashford by Ty Tracey – Do you believe in eternity? You better do.
Rambles, Writing, and Amusing Musings: White Fire – another review. Woooo!
MovieBabble: Film review – The Last Laugh (2019)
Writers Helping Writers: How to get emotion onto the page.
Richie Billing: New flash fiction section added to list of publishers of short fantasy fiction.
Exploring the Epiphany: The Face Molds.
David Lee Summers’ Web Journal: Squirrel Girl.
Writers after Dark: What’s your wellness strength?
Cool San Diego Sights: Cool street art memories for a rainy day.
Experimental Film & Music Video Festival: Experimental Festival testimonial – January 14th, 2019.
Pointless Overthinking: Your emotions are in your way.
Tara Sparling Writes: Superblogger Chapter 2: The thinnest fitness blog you’ll ever read.
Firewater Site: Good Omens by Terry Pratchett & Neil Gaiman – a book review.
Lucid Being: Articles and the abstract.
Irevuo: Quote of the day.
Bon Bon Lifestyle Webazine: Meet the head of TikTok, a 35-year old who makes employees do push-ups if their videos don’t get enough likes.
Existential Tableau: French might be the language of civilization, but it’s not the language Poles are particularly fond of. You know why.
The Art of Blogging: A simple five-step guide to creating a popular blog.
Cheche Winnie: Do your best.
The Pioneer: English language daily news from India.
And that’s 30 for this issue. Be with me on the 1st when I’ll be promoting more of the interesting reads I encounter on my travels, and raving about how refreshing my vacation was and how I can’t wait to get back to storytelling. And if anything special crosses my path, you can count on me to drop a special edition. So until we meet again, get out there and live life like you mean it!