Passing the Sniff Test

I found a discussion over brunch entertaining.

Apparently women sniffed teeshirts worn 2 days by males. Women preferred the shirts belonging to genetically dissimilar men. These are the good men because they ensure better MHCs in offspring. Unfortunately, the women on oral contraceptives preferred genetically similar men. Yeah. The latter women would prefer their brother, son, or father (all sharing 1/2 her genes) to any other men. The feared scenario is women marry men satisfying their preference for genetically similar men and in preparing to have children suddenly find their husbands revolting.

Our mothers were on to something when told us to always smell nice. Preventing women on birth control from smelling who we really keeps us from getting judged down inappropriately. Well, really the game we play is not letting the other side have too much information.

P.S. The same study almost found significance to single women preferring genetically similar men. That really would make news.

Smart Boys

George and I talked about this some last night.

Nature vs Nurture… I tend to think of both as bottlenecks for human development. The debate about which does more to me makes as much sense as debating which is better for a web application: Apache or MySQL? Both are involved and affect the end results. The debate should be about how to leverage the synergy of both, but that is another blog post.

We humans have 46 chromosomes. 23 from each parent which come in pairs. Males have an XY pair. Females have an XX pair. Brain Rules was the first I’ve read that ~1500 brain-related genes are on the X and ~100 on the Y (and losing ~5 every million years). So the X chromosome is quite important for determining brain development.

For boys, the one X they have comes from the mother. Girls inherit an X chromosome from both her mother or father. To set up the strong potential of great genes for boys, look to women who are really intelligent. That tells you there is a 50% shot for the boy to get a good X. If both of the woman’s parents are intellectuals, even better.

Be smart about it though… Don’t make an IQ score for the parents part of a prenuptual agreement.

My mother has occasionally said things I enjoy remind her of her father. That’s a biased sample. 
🙂

Melungeon

Mom dropped me a note last night. She ran across the word melungeon while doing some genealogy research. It describes someone who is of European, African, and Native American descent. It was popular in the Appalachian Mountains and similar in use to Mulatto in being a negative term.

I haven’t talked about this much on this blog, apparently. Just the one post mentioning I am a product of miscegenation. I was searching for other posts and ran across this draft from 2005 which I did not publish here:

Apparently I make people think of miscegenation. In a way that describes my social status: Other. See, my father is among the darkest African Americans one will see. He works in construction so he has tanned quite a bit. My mother is among the lightest European Americans one will see (former platinum blonde; it changed to brown when my brother was born).I represent what many purists among either White or Black cultures fear the most…. a dilution of the purity of the race. Over the years I have come to realize that as such a tiny (but growing group), mixed race children represent something new and thus are in the spotlight.

I am not a golf fan, but I like that Tiger Woods has excellent personality qualities which made him the top prize in Chapelle’s Racial Draft sketch.
🙂

My looks are different enough people do ask. Usually, its a contrived transition, but I am not offended. My favorite conversation went like this:

Laurie: Ezra, where are you from?
Ezra: Right here, born and raised.
Laurie: Oh… Where are your parents from?
Ezra: Dad is from here. Mom was a military brat, so she’s not really from anywhere.
Laurie (Getting visibly confused… Long pause.): Okay, I’ll just say it. Why do you look like that?
Ezra: Oh, okay! I understand now. My father is black. My mother is white.

Truth is there is also some Native American genetics working in my father’s genes. The story is one of my great-great-grandmothers was full Creek. Its so far back that I have my doubts about its influence.

However, apparently, if the features to identify are known, then it can be seen? For instance, back at Valdosta State, I went over to an office to convince a guy to let my office put together their web site. I had not had any luck over email or phone, so I was going to use the face-to-face time to make it happen. Just as I was about to leave, he asked, “What tribe?” That threw me. He explained he saw the influence of Native Americans in my features and was curious which tribe was involved.

Then there is the Nike Air Native N7. It sounds like the perfect shoe for me.

Years ago, when I was young, my aunt was trying to get me interested African American culture. Years later we finally agreed that I am indeed Multiracial which isn’t necessarily the same as just African American. Instead, its my responsibility to pick and choose what works for me.

Binary

Right v wrong. White v black. 0 v 1.

With all that I am, I am a maybe.

  • Decision-Making: When up against a deadline, I’ll make a quick judgment and run with it. When I have time, I will mull over the possibilities infintitum. Why make a decision when no one wants a decision yet?
  • Evaluation: Part of why I have a hard time deciding, is I don’t typically evaluate anything in absolute dichotomies. I’m always leaning towards something. An action is rarely thought of as 100% great. It falls within the 0 to 1 scale but almost never is a 0 or a 1.
  • Genetics: Mom is a blend of Scottish, Irish, English, and German. I haven’t explored all that far so there could be lots of others. Dad is a blend of Ghanan, Creek Indian, and many more unknowns. [1]
  • Skeptic: Doubt is something I am. I often re-examine my assumptions and beliefs in hopes of finding an error.

[1] A thought hit me the other day regarding disease and genetics. Genes for sickle cell anemia combat prevent malaria from attacking the blood cells. Genes which helpled people survive the plagues of Europe also help prevent HIV. All too often we hear about the genes which hinder us. I like there are genes which help us as well.

What About Mixed People?

These companies use mitochondrial DNA to trace one’s genetic lineage. So, they take a sample from my mitochondria (which I got from my mom) and compare it to samples that have been taken from mitochondria samples found in their database to match it.

Well, my mom’s mom has lots of English and Scottish ancestry. So this doesn’t really do me a whole lot of good (even if it were a viable program).

Bodyhack:

DNA Tests May Flunk African History
Topic: Genes

Remember a while back when Oprah Winfrey took a DNA test and found out she was descended from Zulus?

Other African-Americans have gotten their DNA tested too, as have curious people inspired by theories about ancestors known as the “Seven Daughters of Eve.” There are even “home” DNA tests, as I wrote last year.

But a new study published in an open-source journal suggests that DNA tests don’t have much to tell most African-Americans.

Researchers found that fewer than 14 percent of mitochondrial DNA samples tested could be linked to a single ethnic region, and 40 percent turned up no links at all due to incomplete data from Africa.

According to the study, the research “suggests that few African Americans might be able to trace their mtDNA lineages to a particular region of Africa, and even fewer will be able to trace their mtDNA to a single ethnic group.”