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Thursday, October 12, 2006

Be Happy With Your Haplotype

In today's Philadelphia Inquirer, Pam Lobley advises readers to have reasonable expectations when checking their DNA for celebrity ancestors. (In my view, anyone who is disappointed rather than intrigued by his DNA test results probably deserves to be disappointed.)

If you're feeling a little bored or disillusioned with yourself, perhaps a distant DNA match is just what you need to revitalize your outlook. You're not just a housewife with Legos under the sofa cushion. You are a direct descendant of a Russian empress. That's why your house is so messy; your genetic code keeps telling you to leave all that for the servants to clean, and is peeved when they never show up.

Ready to spend and swab? Let me try to save you some money.

First of all, you are not related to anyone famous. You are related to regular people who baked bread or worked in a factory or, going back further, peasants who died early from icky diseases. OK, perhaps you have some rich merchants in the mix, or creative types who composed odes or wove pretty fabrics. Even so, they smelled bad and died early from icky diseases. [Link]
I think Lobley overstates her case here a bit. You are related to someone famous. But you might need to do more than spit in a test tube to prove it.

Lee Anders

"I think Lobley overstates her case here a bit."

What case was that? The one about DNA or the one about all the people who blog the minute details of their boring lives? Was her gripe with the DNA or blogging?

I am almost certainly positive I missed the entire point of this article.

~ Lee

Chris

I charitably failed to mention the second half of her article, which suggests that the diary of an 18th-century Pennsylvania hausfrau would be no more interesting than the most navel-gazing of MySpace blogs.

For an example of how even the mundane details of life can be interesting, read this WaPo article from last May.

In writing that "Lobley overstates her case here a bit," I was understating my case a bit.

Lee Anders

I read the article back then, and I read it again tonight, and I found it just as fascinating as the first time.

You're right, you were being quite charitable with Lobley, which, now that I think about it, is quite unlike you.

Are you in love or something? ;-)

*Lee runs for cover*

Chris

I'm pretty sure I'm not in love. Maybe it was something I ate...

Thanks for reminding me not to be charitable. I'll try to do better next time.

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