Thursday, September 24, 2009

This and that

So we cleaned up out back. Cut everything out except the bed of irises. They'll probably ticket us for that but since right across the street the city hasn't cut the weeds they are responsible for and they are nearing three feet tall, I will certainly contest that. We live on the border of 4 boroughs kind of like the four corners point of Utah, Colorado, Arizona and New Mexico. I've noticed that sometimes the boroughs don't fully understand where the border of their responsibility is. This has led to missed trash pickups, missed snow removal and missed landscaping maintenance.

After a long break in our Spanish lessons (due to the tragedy) we started up again last night. I don't know why but I find the word for carrot so strange and intriguing - zanahoria. I doubt I'll ever use that word but at least I'll know if there's carrots in a dish on a Spanish menu.

Did you see Nova the other night? They've finally decoded the human genome but that doesn't mean they can solve genetic disorders. There is the epigenome now that turns genes on and off and this thing, whatever it is, "remembers" events from the grandparent's childhood. For example if your grandfather experienced famine during adolescence, you have a higher risk of cancer. They showed another example where they identified the faulty gene that causes two different diseases even though it is the exact same fault. Turns out you get one of the diseases depending on who you inherited the fault from, mom or dad. Just like most of science, the more they look, the more complex it becomes. Also, I understand now how identical twins could produce a gay and straight pair. Turns out that the epigenome also responds to the environment. So the events made during your rearing, particularly the first few years will impact your physiology and personality all your life. That made me laugh because maybe it is mommy's fault after all. Not that there's anything wrong with it.

19 comments:

CoffeeDog said...

I was born gay, popped outta the womb draped in a rainbow flag.

One word we used to titter at in grade school french class was "fatigue" the way the french say it made us laugh and laugh. Here I was laughing at myself, seeing as how I popped out of the womb gay...how did I know in first grade the meaning of gay? Now that I think back on that, it's sort of amazing that I did.

Breenlantern said...

Yay for Mommies then...the world would be bland without us queens....

Birdie said...

No, I did not see Nova, because our station decided to run those terrible music decade shows and ask for money. Gah. Hubby loves those things, but I don't. Especially on Science Night!

I could understand how early environment might have some effect on a child whose genome tends it toward bisexuality, swinging his/her preference one way or the other. But I'm a believer in genetics as the primary source of all of who we are, and my life experience backs me up. You can blame/thank Mom for some of your heritage, but that's pretty much it.

TED said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
TED said...

"Zanahoria" is actually a very useful word, especially if you visit Madrid. Back in the 1940s, on the heels of the Spanish Civil War, some elements of the pacifist movement decided that they needed a response to what they considered the overt and excessive violence of bullfighting, so they came up with the zanahorianas, a sort of restaurant/dinner theater where the menu was heavy on carrots, and the entertainment always included a zanahoria zarzuela: a light comic operetta where vegetables always played a crucial role. The zanahorianas fell out of favor in the seventies, mostly because excessive carrot consumption among the zanahorianistas (who were too poor to afford a more varied diet) led to orange-hued skin (think Oompa-Loompa) which was mistaken for jaundice. But the Ministry of Culture felt that an important part of the city's artistic history was being lost, so they stepped in with subsidies and nutritional reforms, and around the turn of the century, there was a revival, which continues to this day. If you get to Madrid, make sure you visit one of them. The carrot bread is to dine for.

Lemuel said...

I did not see the show, but I am fascinated by your comment about the "memory" of events of previous generations and how that can affect our genetic structure and life. How interesting! I have always enjoyed learning about my family history. Now I have additional impetus.

Mark My Words said...

I saw Nova too, and found the epigenome memory part fascinating. Even more tantalizing is how they will one day be able turn specific silenced genes back on. Love your blog, by the way.

wcs said...

I miss Nova. They don't show it in France. But we do get the occasional David Attenborough show, so that's ok.

Hope you guys are doing better. And how can you not be doing better after meeting IdleEyes and his hubby?

Dr. Mo said...

I love the word zanahoria. It's one of those many cool reminders that what is now Spain was occupied by the Moors (ie Arabic-speaking North Africans) for about 800 years. My other favorite is "ojala", a bastardisation of "Inch'Allah", Arabic for "god willing".

GayProf said...

It's funny how some words capture our imagination.

Larry Ohio said...

I saw the Nova program. I'm a total science nerd, I know, but that program had my full attention.

I wonder if the autism epidemic we are experiencing now is the result of the kids' grandparents being exposed to DDT and other things back in the 1950s and 60s. It's completely plausible according the research presented.

Mel said...

Missed the Nova episode, but it'd be interesting to see.

Here's a little etymology, en español, of zanahoria. It's says Arabic origin, though that was possibly derived from Greek. I believe I've seen them called carotas in some dialects, as well, which would be acceptable as Greek-derived Latin origin but is more likely adopted from the English. The fun thing about Spanish is that it has nearly as many dialectical variations as English. One of my favorite words is cacahuete, which is used in Spain for peanut. In much of Latin America, though, they use the word maní.

Mel said...

Oops, forgot to include the link:

http://etimologias.dechile.net/?zanahoria

franck said...

A lot of Spanish vegetables have beautiful names: berenjena for eggplant, albahaca for basil, for example

lattégirl said...

Stuff from your grandparent's childhood? That is so freaking cool. But a little creepy, too.

I can't imagine any of the boroughs were to complain about the irises. They're not weeds, or ugly.

anabel said...

You're right that the more we know the more complicated science becomes - Still interesting though.

Rebekah said...

Science is wonderful.

So it is nature AND nurture. Just how much of each is the interesting bit.

Greg said...

FYI, you could cut the irises back and they'd be just fine next year.

The best time of year to do that, though, is right after they bloom...and make sure to cut on an angle, so rainwater doesn't gather on the cut.

; )

Rick said...

I missed the Nova special...love that show. I'm sure it'll be on again. I'll have to catch it.