Journey through space to the Planet Fabulous, where the Ruler of the Universe will see you shortly.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

The Universe In A Handkerchief

Imagine, for a second, that you devoted your life to unravelling the secrets of human DNA. I have no idea what that involves, but it's probably a bit more taxing than unravelling some unloved knitwear so you can use the wool to make a snazzy balaclava helmet. I had a balaclava once. It's a mystery why anyone would want to wear one of those, but that's nothing compared to the complexities of chemical base pairs and all that shit.

It's well boggling - especially if your head for figures only extends as far as giving head to people with a good figure. And that's not the end of it, because if you sign up for this Herculean feat, you also have to keep an eye on ELSI. That's what the Human Genome Gang (a bit like the Happy Days gang but with lab coats instead of the leather jacket) call their 'responsibilties' programme. I think it stands for Ethical, Legal and Social Issues. Well, we all have issues.

(Talking of being principled - and Tuesday, Wednesday, Happy Days! - I recently completed an article about Big Brother for top entertainment magazine The Works. You may have seen on the news that the Australian Prime Minister wants Big Brother axed. I don't know how the production team felt about that. It was probably a bit of a slap in the face. Anyway... tapping away ten to the dozen, I inadvertently called the Australian leader 'Ron Howard'. It would have been embarrassing if that had sneaked through. Although, perhaps Australia would be more fun with Richie Cunningham at the helm. Who am I to say?)

Where was I? Oh yes - ELSI.

I reckon these boffins have spent so much time fiddling with As, Ts, Cs, and Gs (the four chemicals that make up DNA), that they've gone a bit acronym crazy. You'd be amazed at the percentage of their research budget that has been ploughed into finding the gene that bestows the ability to generate amusing abbreviations. They need all the help they can get: the best they've managed so far is HUGO (HUman Genome Organisation - cheating there, I'm sure you'll agree), ANGIS (the Australian National Genomic Info Service. Poor) and, of course ELSI.

Once they've worked out what BERRL stands for (answers on a postcard) they might set their brain power to unknotting some of the troubling implications their work throws up. Of course, like most people, I have my head up my own arse (always a good place to look for answers and, if you're Lee, lose things) so the ethical question *I* want answered is whether all this research will enable scientists to wipe out all those dirty filthy gays. I reckon it would be troublesome. I'm going to put myself forward as a subject for study, having been born without the shopping gene. The shopping gene must be all tangled up with the gay gene. And the enjoying musicals gene. And the looking after your mother gene. She was fine, by the way.

It's a thought isn't it? But, if I were you, I wouldn't think about it too hard.


Lee is busy coding non-linear DNA


Ollie said...

Lucky you noticed it read; 'Ron Howard'. I once made the mistake of refering to Gold medalist Kelly Holmes as a Gold mentalist. We had a few letters from sports fans, I can tell you.

Inexplicable DeVice said...

So where does Ethyl fit into all this?

Charlee Brown said...

DNA is so interesting though. And there's always HUPO, the HUman Proteomics Organisation

Spike said...

Although, perhaps Australia would be more fun with Richie Cunningham at the helm. Who am I to say?

We would have fun with a dead fucking lemur at the helm.

Qenny said...

Never mind identifying the dirty, filthy gays in utero. I think the world would be better served by identifying chavagenic sequences and manufacturing a gene therapy that can be distributed via MacDonalds and KFC to combat it.

Inexplicable DeVice said...

Ooh, an excellent idea, Qenny. I'm all for it.

At least it'll save on the regular culling if they're not kept in check...