There Is No Cat

Hollering into the void since 2002

Wednesday, June 12, 2002

Gene, Gene the Dancing Machine

There's an interesting article in the San Jose Mercury News about the impact genetics and the mapping of the human genome is having on the study of history and archeology. I've heard some of this before, but the article seems like a decent summary of where things stand right now. For example, the genetic evidence supports the theory that there was a single point of origin for humans about 130,000 years ago. And the genetic differences between different ethnic groups are so trivial as to be virtually nonexistent. When I was young and unsophisticated, I used to think that ethnic groups were well-defined and demarcated, but as I've learned more, and particularly since I started researching my family history, the more I've come to realize that ethnic groups are fluid and changing, and that it's possible for a family to be one thing in one generation and consider themselves something else a couple of generations later. Of course, it's also possible for groups to maintain a distinct identity for centuries, as in the case of German settlers in Ukraine, or the Amish in Pennsylvania and Indiana. But the distinctions are all cultural; the genes just don't support the idea that there are significant differences between humans.

Posted at 8:11 PM

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What do you mean there is no cat?

"You see, wire telegraph is a kind of a very, very long cat. You pull his tail in New York and his head is meowing in Los Angeles. Do you understand this? And radio operates exactly the same way: you send signals here, they receive them there. The only difference is that there is no cat."

- Albert Einstein, explaining radio


There used to be a cat

[ photo of Mischief, a black and white cat ]

Mischief, 1988 - December 20, 2003

[ photo of Sylvester, a black and white cat ]

Sylvester (the Dorito Fiend), who died at Thanksgiving, 2000.


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