HAPMAP IS A HAPPY MAP
The National Institutes of Health director, a Republican appointee who will go nameless ‘cause isn’t he the dude who refused to make a decision about the morning after pill, said recently that, “...over the next five years we’re (that should read, ‘they’re’ instead of ‘we’re’ because Republicans are so consistently anti-science, they should get no credit for any scientific advancement) going to discover the most important genes that are associated with the most important diseases...”
The Hapmap is a sophisticated method of finding out which genes cause which problem in the human chemistry. According to a NEWSWEEK report in the November 7, 2005, p. 12:
“The reason for all the excitement is simple, even if the science behind it isn't: the HapMap may finally usher in the era of preventive medicine that doctors have been anticipating ever since the discovery of DNA's structure. The highly variable SNPs, which make up about .1 percent of the genome, can signal susceptibility to various diseases. They tend to travel in packs, so they're always inherited in tandem.
“The HapMap essentially tells scientists which SNPs travel together, reducing the work scientists have to do in order to pin the blame for diseases on particular genes. For a given disease, researchers can compare the SNPs of a group of afflicted patients with the SNPs of a healthy group. Finding a particularly prominent type of SNP in ailing patients would tell a scientist that the SNP was either causing the problem or stuck on the same chunk of DNA as the deleterious gene. In the latter case, scientists would quickly know where to look for the culprit. with the bad genes identified, they could tailor treatments to their patients' genetic profiles—even warding off diseases in advance.”
I always get a picture in my brain, when science triumphs yet once again, of “moralists” moralizing away about making the world a better place as they kill one another with their arguments over which system of moralizing is best while science goes on solving problems and making life an ever better place for the human race with truth and intelligence leading the way.
THE FUNDAMENTALIST EUROPEAN MARRIAGE
I don’t know how many of you are familiar with the concept of the European marriage as it has been known in history. The European marriage was or is characterized by “le affaire” or, in the extreme case, by “the other woman”, the love object, who is set up in an apartment while the wife stays home to raise the children. These situations were caused, I believe, by the resistance of the churches of Europe to divorce until both men and women learned to get their love outside of marriage and, simultaneously, the institution of marriage could remain sacrosanct while partners sought real love elsewhere.
I am hearing rumors and a buzz about the same sort of situations developing in the Bible belt South where fundamentalists are heard to brag that their marriages are still intact, while on their desks sit the pictures of the girlfriend instead of the wife and boyfriend instead of husband. These are just rumors brought to me by Southernors, but if human nature is to be our guide, when marriages go bad and people are inclined by black and white dogma not to seek divorces, we should expect the European marriage to become the American marriage soon enough.
QUESTION OF THE DAY
What are the three multicellular kingdoms, according to a passage in Dawkin’s book, THE ANCESTOR’S TALE: