Deoxyribonucleic Acid

DNA analysis caught my curiosity immediately, as genealogy always seemed fascinating to me and though I understand most people’s apprehension to home DNA kits, after much consideration I said, fuck it. 

For me, and I can only speak for myself here, most of my life I had been told things that simply were not true, whether outright lies or innocent mistakes, regardless of the intent, in a world wrought with deception and misinformation, I wanted a small semblance of truth about myself.

I knew that the results, whatever they may be, would not alleviate my inner turmoil or cure me of anything but I still wanted to know something so I spat into a tube, and sent it off and a short time later I got my genetic breakdown.

My ethnicity estimate is as follows: 53% Irish, 12% English and Northwestern European, 10% German, 9% Scottish, 8% Baltic, 6% Russian and Eastern European, and lastly, 2% Swedish.

The last three were curveballs, no one in my family has ever even hinted at being any of those ethnicities, and I would have guessed I was more German than that. There is a margin of error, of course. What if that analysis of English is really Welsh or Isle of Man? Then I’m roughly 75% Celtic and my ancestors most likely spoke Gaelic until it was forbidden to do so. Does it matter, maybe, maybe not, but nevertheless still interesting to me. 

My Nana, my mother’s mother, was the only one who spoke with any kind of accuracy about our lineage. She talked about Mary Ryan, a matriarch who left Thurles, Tipperary, during the famine, sailing alone to New York City. The website I used pinpointed geographically the jump off being Munster County, which comprises six counties: Clare, Cork, Kerry, Limerick, Waterford, and you guessed it, Tipperary. Nana, for the win.

Now, it’s a tad bit unnerving to have your DNA out there. Although, if you happen to be a suspect in a murder case, law enforcement can easily obtain a warrant to collect your DNA without having to contact Ancestry.com or 23andMe to borrow a smidge. And the site I used, the former, has reassured me that my DNA and its data is still owned by me. Thanks, guys. 

My trust issues have firm roots, so I wasn’t necessarily alarmed when I read that Blackstone, a private equity firm, bought the genetics company almost two years ago for $4.7 billion. Apparently, genetic health screening is very lucrative, and they promise to not to even peek at the data, nothing to be concerned about whatsoever. Companies never misuse personal data or sell information to third parties. 

While politicians and heads of global corporations seem more and more like Bond villains by the day, all I can wonder is, what if it’s not so bad to be cloned? Am I going to be activated to carry out some heinous deed? It could be cool. I don’t know, but if you see me acting like Reggie Jackson in Naked Gun, you know it ain’t me.

Better yet, if you ever see me in the wild and I appear to be overly confident, or stable, it’s the clone. Head for the hills. I might not know how to be completely normal but at least now I know I’m 53% Irish. 

Props to Miescher, Levene, Chargaff, Watson, Crick, and Ventner. If someone doesn’t take what you accomplished and use it for personal gain or worse, did you even accomplish anything at all?

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