genetic hobby kit, fine slice, not a difference of principle

That genetic screening for potential mates I mentioned in a previous post might have become more accessible, Human Genetics is Now a Viable Hobby — 23andMe Cuts its Price to $399

Personalized genomics just got a lot more accessible. Until tonight, the cheapest whole genome scan was available for just under a thousand dollars. Thanks to improvements in microarray technology, 23andMe has been able to cut that cost by more than half — to $399

Microarray technology seems to be the key to making a scan of your genome cost less. Though, I still have doubts they’re giving you the results for the entirety of your genes. There are different types of arrays. Early arrays could only look at a known sequence. The entire sequence of a single celled organism by the microarray technique was done in 1997. Though researchers have dome microarrays of the human optic nerve and other cells. From what I could dig up in a few minutes what the kit probably does is not so much sequencing, but profiling writ large. That might be all that is needed to find a disease causing gene or whatever depending on the experiment. While the human genome has about three billion base pairs, only about twenty-five thousand of them make proteins. In other words this kit probably won’t be as much fun as playing with Legos or spying on the neighbors.

fine slice

Sometimes I feel like Michael Corelone. I try to stay out, but they keep pulling me back in. Juan Cole has a write up at Salon in which he compares our homegrown fundamentalists with the Muslim variety. Both types have a certain antipathy toward evolution ( rational empiricism in general). Christian and Islamic fundamentalist think that censorship of books and newspapers is necessary to protect us from naughty words and secularism. Censorship is always to protect you from yourself among other things. Cole also mentions the thing that concerns or scares many people here and abroad, the melding of a particular religion with the state. Poor Professor Cole should know better then to mention actual political candidates in his examples. A few trolls stopped by to call everyone stupid and ridiculous. There’s no comparison was the opinion of one especially obnoxious commenter. Fundamentalist Muslims stone women to death, cut off  heads, and do a variety of other like real bad stuff. Occam’s razor has never touched a stubble on this guys face. Fundamentalist come in a variety of flavors in all religions. The one’s that have done some beheading are the relatively small fraction of fanatics within fundamentalism. I would prescribe some liberalism for the run of the mill dogmatists of any flavor, but the ones with a fetish for gory violence are beyond hope – though some Catholic readers may disagree. Cole, further down goes to great and eloquent lengths to say that even most believers of the Christian or Muslim faiths are basically good people that share a basic humanity. Trolls apparently have a limit to how much they’ll read of an article before they feel compelled to pound away at their keyboards. Cole spells it out in ABC… fashion, some North American fundies have some things in common with their Middle-East Muslim counterparts, and all the troll hears is some Christians behave badly – quick compare the most physically extreme with some cultural extremists – Since American fundamentalist are not cutting off heads they’re obviously superior. In the land of 3000 religions – the United States, we make some attempt to guard people’s privacy and not use religion to sort people out. If you murder someone this week when you’re arrested they will not ask your religion. With a few exception like the Oklahoma City Bombings, the murder of  Danielle Van Dam ( her murderer was a Christan Republican software engineer) we or rather the government generally doesn’t get information about or compile statistics on crime by religion ( hate crime victims being an exception) , or politics for that matter. We know that according to the U.S. Department of Justice that there are over two million inmates in our prison systems as of summer 2007. We know that 94 to 96 percent of the population believes in some kind of deity. Christianity is the dominant religion. Highly unlikely that our prison population is composed entirely of  atheists and agnostics. People believing in a monotheistic deity has never and probably never will guarantee against murder, torture, rape, kidnap, arson or battery. Is it even worth mentioning that stealing and lying are common – I just watched a McCain commercial he told five blatant lies in thirty seconds. How many of our annual murder, rapes or domestic abuse crimes have a manifest or latent religious cause. No one knows. In 2006 according to FBI statistics for Murder and nonnegligent manslaughter 17,034 Americans killed 17,034 of their fellow Americans ( we would have to have a 9-11 disaster every year for over five years to equal that) and committed almost 93,000 rapes. We commonly hear the claim that we’re a Christian nation, we’re so much better then that ominous them over there. Just going by the numbers maybe, at the very least, some humility is in order. Statistically anyway, we’re not doing that bad, but obviously there is room for improvement. There are over a billion Muslims in the world, most of whom live in Asia, not the Middle-East. If they were all head chopping maniacs, or all American Christians were as violent as the people that killed Dr. Barnett Slepian, America, the Middle-East and most of the world would look like an Apocalypse Now movie set. In America it is not the overtly violent extremists that are the largest problem, it is the ideological extremist who use our very system of freedoms to undermine that freedom.

“Individual Christians are the only ones really — and Jewish people, those who trust God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob — are the only ones that are qualified to have the reign, because hopefully, they will be governed by God and submit to Him.” (Pat Robertson, The 700 Club television program, January 11, 1985, defending his stance that only Christians and Jews are fit to hold public office)

“We have enough votes to run the country. And when the people say, “We’ve had enough,” we are going to take over.” (Pat Robertson, speech given to the April, 1980 “Washington for Jesus” rally, quoted from Robert Boston, The Most Dangerous Man in America, p. 29)

As opposed to this gentleman,

Let us, then, fellow-citizens, unite with one heart and one mind. Let us restore to social intercourse that harmony and affection without which liberty and even life itself are but dreary things. And let us reflect that, having banished from our land that religious intolerance under which mankind so long bled and suffered, we have yet gained little if we countenance a political intolerance as despotic, as wicked, and capable of as bitter and bloody persecutions. During the throes and convulsions of the ancient world, during the agonizing spasms of infuriated man, seeking through blood and slaughter his long-lost liberty, it was not wonderful that the agitation of the billows should reach even this distant and peaceful shore; that this should be more felt and feared by some and less by others, and should divide opinions as to measures of safety. But every difference of opinion is not a difference of principle. We have called by different names brethren of the same principle.

First Inaugural Speech – Thomas Jefferson