Genetic Testing: 23andme

A while back, the personal genetic testing company 23andme offered a special sale. They discounted their normal price from $500 to $99 for one day only. Naturally, I jumped on it.

Just got my results back. Nothing particularly surprising here, but it is neat.

  • My blood type is A (A/O). I knew this, good to see it backed up by genetics. :)
  • I have an elevated risk for Type I and II diabetes (no news here, my sister is diabetic).
  • Apparently, I can’t taste “bitter”. This does explain why I love Brussels Sprouts.
  • I’m lactose intolerant. I was pretty sure of this already.
  • I have a natural resistance to norovirus (stomach flu). Didn’t know that.
  • I am a carrier for Cystic Fibrosis. I don’t have it, but it’s possible that my children could.
  • I am a slow caffeine metabolizer. It says that drinking coffee increases my heart attack risk (duh), but I’m not sure what this really means. Caffeine typically doesn’t do a thing to me, at least not immediately. I go through a fair amount of it on a regular basis.
  • Paternal Haplogroup: I1*, Maternal Haplogroup: H1. This basically makes my ancestry 100% European. Very vanilla there. However, this does conflict with my known ancestry slightly, in that it says I don’t have any Native American ancestors (within 5 generations). But then again, I don’t have a whole lot of reliable information on that branch of the family tree.

There’s a ton more information (apparently I’d respond really well to Interferon Beta Therapy, whatever the hell that is), and I haven’t gone through it all yet.

One thing I did note is that they do allow you to download the raw data, which is pretty cool. However when I looked at it, I noticed that it’s not a complete record of your DNA, just a sampling. Basically it’s like 500,000 markers of it instead of the full 3 billion or whatever. Clearly you don’t need the complete sequence to draw useful information out of it.

Still, kinda neat that this is within the reach of the average person.

Happy Towel Day!

A towel is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitch hiker can have. Partly it has great practical value – you can wrap it around you for warmth as you bound across the cold moons of Jaglan Beta; you can lie on it on the brilliant marble-sanded beaches of Santraginus V, inhaling the heady sea vapours; you can sleep under it beneath the stars which shine so redly on the desert world of Kakrafoon; use it to sail a mini raft down the slow heavy river Moth; wet it for use in hand-to-hand-combat; wrap it round your head to ward off noxious fumes or to avoid the gaze of the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal (a mindboggingly stupid animal, it assumes that if you can’t see it, it can’t see you – daft as a bush, but very ravenous); you can wave your towel in emergencies as a distress signal, and of course dry yourself off with it if it still seems to be clean enough.

More importantly, a towel has immense psychological value. For some reason, if a strag (strag: non-hitch hiker) discovers that a hitch hiker has his towel with him, he will automatically assume that he is also in possession of a toothbrush, face flannel, soap, tin of biscuits, flask, compass, map, ball of string, gnat spray, wet weather gear, space suit etc., etc. Furthermore, the strag will then happily lend the hitch hiker any of these or a dozen other items that the hitch hiker might accidentally have “lost”. What the strag will think is that any man who can hitch the length and breadth of the galaxy, rough it, slum it, struggle against terrible odds, win through, and still knows where his towel is is clearly a man to be reckoned with.

A tribute to Douglas Adams (1952-2001)