Return of the Auroch?

Move over bison burgers, the ancestor of cows is coming back.

Scientists edge closer to bringing back the aurochs, the fearsome cattle breed last seen in the 1600s

The creature, the ancestor of modern cattle, once roamed forests and marshlands from Britain to the Balkans and beyond to Asia and North Africa.

But it disappeared from the British Isles in the Iron Age and was driven to extinction in the rest of Europe by the 17th century, with the last specimen dying in Poland in 1627.

Now researchers are working through a process known as back-breeding, which entails selectively mating existing breeds of “primitive” cattle which retain much of the ancient aurochs’ DNA.

Good for them for going at this with breeding. I still kind of want to point the scientists to Jurassic Park in the part where it talks about wildlife tourism.

Labels

This started out as a comment to Adrian, but I it got so long it may as well be a post on its own….

The significance of racial labels is not in identifying the genetic makeup of individuals. The significance is in how the labels were used to enforce segregation long before the American Revolution. Before slaves in the United States were freed in 1865, defining who was Black was to identify who was eligible to be held in slavery and have ownership of property. There were grave concerns about mixing owners and slaves resulting in slaves gaining their freedom, especially once capturing them from Africa was no longer allowed. Defining race was about control then. Even in the more than one hundred years after the slaves were freed, defining who was Black was about control. Instead of who could be forced into slavery, the definitions of who is Black identified who could be excluded from power.  The fear was mixed people using the laws to somehow get access to power. Only since Affirmative Action has it become in any way beneficial for others to have less than pure European descent.

Adrian remarked many of us have ancestors which keep us from being purely from one or another group. Chatting with George and Lorenia yesterday, George pointed out even in Europe, southern Spain and Italy confounds the stereotype. Our increasing understanding of genetics and culture invalidates race as a useful means of describing individuals. Individuals have genetic markers linking them all over the globe. We are one species. My favorite example PBS show indicating the women described as Amazons moved to western Mongolia.

“The earth is but one country and mankind its citizens.” – Baha’u’llah

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.

Pick One

The difference a decade makes! I actually knew a couple other kids in school who were mixed growing up. Jimmy was part Spanish and part Black. I’m not sure what Eddie was. Some people still wanted me to pick one.

J2, my aunt, was very Afro-Centric. She decided that my white mother could not raise me to be Black. Therefore, she would help out my mom. She gave me books, talked to me about stuff, etc. One day we had the conversation. I told her I wasn’t Black. A picture of her face would be awesome! Eventually, I did convince her that I am mixed, not Black or White but something else. Something I would have to create for myself.

Lives – David Matthews – New York Times

In the hallway, on the way to class, black and white kids alike herded around me. Then the question came: “What are you?”

I was stumped. No one had ever asked what I was before. It came buzzing at me again, like a hornet shaken from its hive. The kids surrounded me, pressing me into a wall of lockers. What are you? Hey, he won’t answer us. Look at me. What are you? He’s black. He looks white! No way, he’s too dark. Maybe he’s Chinese!

They were rigidly partisan. The only thing that unified them was their inquisitiveness. And I had a hunch, based on their avidity, that the question had a wrong answer. There was black or white. Pick one. Nowhere in their ringing questions was the elastic clause, mixed. The choice was both necessary and impossible: identify myself or have it done for me. I froze, and said nothing — for the time being.

*Cough, Cough*

Not sure what to think about this. After all, the reasons for why people get sick are as varied as the illnesses. Why would two distinct populations have different rates of illness? Well just off the top of my head:

  • Genetics
  • Pollution
  • Bad habits
  • Poor management

These could all be slight contributors. Or it could be something else entirely. Observations of trends often make people go looking for problems that may not exist.

Study Shows Americans Sicker Than English – Yahoo! News

White, middle-aged Americans — even those who are rich — are far less healthy than their peers in England, according to stunning new research that erases misconceptions and has experts scratching their heads.

Americans had higher rates of diabetes, heart disease, strokes, lung disease and cancer — findings that held true no matter what income or education level.

Those dismal results are despite the fact that U.S. health care spending is double what England spends on each of its citizens.