Wednesday, May 8, 2013
As readers of this blog know, I seldom review new books --or old ones for that matter-- nor do I intend to do so now, but for sake of general clarification I shall refer closely to the volume pictured above. I am reminded of a quote from Alexander Graham Bell : "Man is an animal which, alone among the animals, refuses to be satisfied by the fulfillment of animal desires."
The book, nearly as I can make out, begins with a description of the Human Genome Project. It was an international scientific research project, begun in 1987 and completed in 2003, intended to determine the sequence of chemical base pairs of DNA --identifying and mapping 20,000–25,000 genes from physical and functional standpoints. Where there is an anomalous mispairing of base DNA, it is called a Gene Glitch. Few people, and even fewer geneticists, know this anomaly --responsible for early baldness, guys who say "hey buddy" and several presidents-- was, like Bell Telephone, named after its discoverer.
In 1965, I was in the EGSH high school cafeteria eating lunch and noticed the kid beside me at the table was naked except for a tutu and heavy leather hiking boots. It was Friday, fishstick day, and he was squatting in
"Gene Glitch," he replied and shook my hand, which transferred the tutu onto me and caused him to grow lederhosen and a sombrero. Gene Glitch and I ended up being lab partners in all our science classes but his strange ability to turn foetal pigs into giant butterflies and noble gasses into world leaders was found unnerving. He was sent repeatedly to the principal's office, where district counselors and administrators discounted his explanation, that he suffered a genetic anomaly, and finally resolved to donate Gene's body to science while he was still using it.
I lost touch with Gene Glitch after that but, apparently, upon escaping the Calvinistic dourness of our small town's idea of inherent evil, he was able to establish himself in scientific circles high enough to kick-start the Human Genome Project. He is now a prominent government-funded researcher, married to his cute five-foot-tall high school sweetheart who is occasionally ten six-inch-tall women.
I am afraid to read the book.