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Re: [Ashkenazi-Q] Qualitative question: why

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  • Abramselaine@aol.com
    Thank you, Barry. In the 70s in San Francisco PhDs were driving taxis.. And did you ever read The Razor s Edge? A classic in which the world traveler with
    Message 1 of 27 , Oct 30, 2009
      Thank you, Barry.  In the 70s in San Francisco PhDs were driving taxis.. And did you ever read The Razor's Edge?  A classic in which the world traveler with much wisdom and experience returns and chooses to drive a taxi.
      I just read that Michelle Obama advises not to look at the title or the bank account, but at the heart and soul when searching for a mate.

      -----Original Message-----
      From: Barryzwick@...
      To: Ashkenazi-Q@yahoogroups.com
      Sent: Thu, Oct 29, 2009 7:48 pm
      Subject: Re: [Ashkenazi-Q] Qualitative question: why

      Elaine, I am SO sorry! Your father is a generation older than most of us and of course did not have the opportunities that we had.
      There is, incidentally, a taxi driver in our ranks who is in his 30s.
      I deeply apologize and will watch my generalizations.
      In a message dated 10/29/2009 2:31:23 PM Pacific Daylight Time, Abramselaine@ aol.com writes:
      Barry, I must say that the one laborer-truckdriver in our group is my father. He is neither
      unintelligent nor unsophistacated.  Just a product of his times and the hand that life dealt
      him.  I am proud to be his daughter.

      -----Original Message-----
      From: Barryzwick@aol. com
      To: Ashkenazi-Q@ yahoogroups. com
      Sent: Tue, Oct 27, 2009 1:39 pm
      Subject: Re: [Ashkenazi-Q] Qualitative question: why

      Yes, Fred, we could be a self-selected elite. Of the 100+ matches who have replied, more than 25% hold doctorates. When you add scientists, engineers and lawyers to the mix, that's well over half of us. I suppose miners, farmworkers and laborers don't shell out $99 or more for a DNA test, but that in itself is an elitist presumption.
      Your perspective was well-stated a couple of years ago by Charles Silver, a law professor and one of our matches, who wrote:
      Beware the Lake Wobegone effect, Barry!  We'll probably never know about the descendants of our common ancestor who turned out badly because they won't have their DNA tested.  Could be thousands of our ilk lurking in prisons and dark alleys.  The matched "DNA brothers" may be the top portion of the distribution.  Only in Lake Wobegone are all the children above average.
      In a message dated 10/27/2009 5:08:09 AM Pacific Daylight Time, FSRODEN@aol. com writes:
      No worries, Barry -- I don't intend to publish anything immediately, nor with any raw data of findings (as a humanist I'm more interested in anecdotal evidence rather than survey research anyway!).

      Your comment on people who are unusually accomplished interests me.  Don't you think that people who have the money, leisure, and intellectual curiosity to pursue these kinds of searches would likely be more accomplished than the general population anyway?  I'm not sure genetics has anything to do with it whatsoever.


      -----Original Message-----
      From: Barryzwick@aol. com
      To: Ashkenazi-Q@ yahoogroups. com
      Sent: Tue, Oct 27, 2009 12:37 am
      Subject: Re: [Ashkenazi-Q] Qualitative question: why

      Hi, Fred,
      I had my YDNA tested simply because I wanted to find out whether I was related to other individuals who carried my surname, originally Tzvik in Yiddish. I had been corresponding with representatives of five other Zwick clans in the United States, England and Israel. DNA testing showed that a handful of us who were not known relatives were indeed flesh and blood. A majority, however, were not.
      I quickly learned that I shared genetic patterns with a large number of men who did not bear my surname. Many were much more accomplished than any random group drawn from the population at large. So I became interested in something I hadn't thought about before: From whom are we all descended?
      You are right that some people in this group have agendas. They have beliefs that they wish to validate, easy enough to do while so much of what we know is purely theoretical. As for me, I am simply curious. I do not profess to know where our shared ancestor--and his ancestors--came from, although I would be delighted to find out.
      I'm all in favor of this being public, but more focused members of our group may object that this discussion is off-topic.
      If and when you publish your findings, please let us know where we may find them.
      Barry Zwick in Los Angeles, retired journalist, male-male ancestors from three villages about 60 miles south of Minsk, Belarus.
      In a message dated 10/26/2009 6:50:54 PM Pacific Daylight Time, FSRODEN@aol. com writes:
      Greetings --

      I've been lurking since subscribing earlier this year, and your posts have given me much to think about.  I'd like to pose a qualitative question for anyone interested in responding.  I haven't consulted the listserv archives, so perhaps this issue has been addressed; or otherwise has been concluded to be outside the range of topics. 

      I'd like to inquire of those who are interested in responding to me on- or off-list (use your judgment) what prompts you to pursue these inquiries into your (at times remote) genetic heritage, often many generations removed, and what you hope to gain from it.  The intellectual exercise and curiosity is worthwhile.  However, given the prevalence of theories that pointedly dissent from one another, there's also a fair degree of passion, commitment, and one might even argue agenda, associated with this kind of genetic research.

      I should "come out" to you as to where I'm coming from.  I'm a college professor who studies cultural history, and I have an undergraduate background in biology (with a focus on genetics).  To put it simply, I'm interested in our interest in origins.  I will say that if you do write, you don't have to fear that I will quote you or cite you, but I am concerned with the cultural phenomenon of our search for origins.  My period of specialization is Victorian Britain -- that time that produced Darwin, Freud, modern Biblical hermeneutics, and constructed all the sciences of the self (sociology, anthropology, psychology; not to mention the empirical sciences of origins: genetics, paleontology, geology).  So suffice it to say I'm curious about why we are obsessed with origins.  Of course, I'm implicated in that as well having bought a DNA test and done some minor investigations into very recent family history.  I have neither siblings nor biological children and probably won't, so the line ends here!  I'd be interested in what leads others to pursue these kinds of inquiries in contemporary culture, and this listserv is a good venue for me to pose such a question.  Again please let me know whether this is fair game for list discussion or if qualitative questions are better suited off-list. 

      I remember how molecular geneticists two decades ago promised how all would be revealed once we unlocked the secrets of the human genome.  I think we've really become aware -- accepted, and realized -- that this kind of biological determinism has severe limitations.  But I'm curious about what keeps us looking, and asking questions about our origins.

      Kind regards,

      Frederick Roden, PhD
      Department of English
      University of Connecticut


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