Redefining the DNA in me

It’s all Greek to me.

AncestryDNAStory-Roger-210920Once again, Ancestry.com has updated its “most precise DNA update yet. In this latest update, you’ll notice that at least one of your previous regions has been split into two smaller, more precise regions. We’ve increased our precision this way in Europe, Africa, and Asia by updating our algorithm and expanding the size and diversity of the populations in our reference panel.”

What this means for me, most notably, is that Ireland and Scotland have split. I’m more Scottish than I imagine. It probably explains my affection for the Blackwatch color combination. If I were select a tartan, that’s what it would be.

Nigeria 25%
Ireland 25% – Munster, Ireland > West Cork> South West Cork> southwest Munster
Cameroon, Congo & Western Bantu Peoples 15%
Benin & Togo 7%
England & Northwestern Europe 7%
Senegal 7%
Scotland 6%
Mali 3%
Greece & Albania 1%
Norway 1%
Indigenous Americas—North 1%
Ivory Coast & Ghana 1%
Wales 1%
Sweden and Southern Bantu Peoples each less than 1%

The mild surprise is the first appearance of Greece and Albania on the list.

You may have noticed when you did your Census – I hope you completed yours! – that the race question additionally asked what particular geography you identify with. This was particularly interesting to my daughter, who selected the various strands of her background when we answered it way back in March.

Roots

Another aspect of the Ancestry report is that my people of African roots likely ended up in eastern North Carolina. It is actually a region east of an area from Virginia Beach, VA to Raleigh, NC to Myrtle Beach, SC. “You, and all the members of this community, are linked through shared ancestors. You probably have family who lived in this area for years—and maybe still do.”

This turns out to be quite true. Wilson, NC is about 50 miles east of Raleigh. It was the home of Raymond Cone, my biological grandfather, my father’s biological father. And the home of Willis Cone, Raymond’s father. At least four of the 10 closest relatives I have on Ancestry who were previously unknown to me are descended from Raymond Cone.

Agitate!

On September 29, I attended a ZOOM thing called Agitate!: Frederick Douglass and Ireland. Douglass wrote how he was “captivated” after attending a speech made by Daniel O’Connell, ‘The Liberator,’ in Dublin in 1845.

The event was sponsored by, among others, The African American Irish Diaspora Network, The Embassy of Ireland USA, Ireland’s Great Hunger Institute at Quinnipiac University, Irish Network-DC, and University College Cork.

Learn about the Frederick Douglass Global Fellowship. “Outstanding students of color” may “participate in a customized summer study abroad program focused on leadership and intercultural communication skills.”

My DNA is more Irish than ever

and Nigerian

I’ve noted before my DNA results. Twice now, I’ve gotten messages that read: “The next time you look at your AncestryDNA® results, you’re going to see some significant changes that might surprise you.”

Here’s iteration #3:

ancestrydna3

Version #1, from March 2018, had me 14% from Ireland/Scotland/Wales. The second take, from September 2018, showed me 19% Irish/Scottish. “Your DNA hasn’t changed, of course, but the science behind determining your ethnicity is constantly evolving.

“In this update, we’ve more than doubled the size of our reference panel, including more people from different parts of the world, which has helped us to refine your ethnicity estimates. We’ve split some regions and adjusted the borders of others for better precision.”

Now, as you can see, I might be fully 1/3 Scotch/Irish, and most likely from Munster, Ireland. Conversely, England/Wales plummeted from 20% to 2%. Cameroon fell from 26% to 15%, but Nigeria jumped from 1% to 28%. Mali stayed about the same, 6% to 7%.

I find this all quite mysterious. If I dig under the numbers, my ethnicity estimate for Scotch/Irish is 33%, but it can range from 15—33%.

Cousins

These are, of course, imperfect tools. 23andME has me pegged as 25% English and Irish. Since Ancestry now has had me at 2% English, I feel entitled to drink green beer. That is, if I drank beer at all.

And while my relationships to my second and third cousins are getting clearer, my fourth cousins are generally not so easy. For one thing, there are scads of them. And for another, I haven’t yet been able to identify all my third-great-grandparents (yet), so I can’t figure out HOW I’m related to many of these people.

Specifically, I don’t know which of my ancestors came from County Cork. However, I can tell that there’s at least one cousin, initials MM, who is STILL in County Cork, Ireland, where Munster is located. I figure I ought to fly over and say howdy. Well, if one could still do such things.

Roger Answers your Questions, Tom and Scott

I believe the dispersant BP used has created a whole new problem below the surface, which may ultimately be most toxic for sea life.

I’m happy to get a question from Tom the Mayor, an old colleague of mine, a picture of whom I came across just last weekend.

What, if any, was your favorite comic strip or comic book when you were young? Mine was Dennis The Menace. It was the first comicbook I ever read.

By the time I was 10, I was reading both newspapers in Binghamton, NY, the Sun-Bulletin and the Evening (and Sunday) Press. I read all of them, except Prince Valiant. I had a particular affection for Peanuts and B.C. and The Wizard of Id. The latter two were by Johnny Hart, who was from the area (Endicott, specifically) and was involved in the community. I even had an Id book, “The peasants are revolting!” I also had a peculiar affection for Gil Thorp, this exceedingly earnest sport-related serial strip.

As for comic books, I read them. Early on, it was Archie, Baby Huey, Richie Rich, but all disposable to my mind. Later, mostly DC (Legion of Superheroes, Justice League of America, Superman) but I soon outgrew them, too. Superman being subjected, not just to green kryptonite, but to red, gold, aquamarine…it just got silly.

That’s why, when I went to college, and found this guy who would become my good friend, and he was reading comics, I thought it was weird, and that he was weird. (He WAS weird, actually; he used to hang off the edge of his desk like Snoopy hung off his doghouse roof.) But he was reading Marvels. So I re-entered reading comics very late, and I didn’t read DCs again (except for Green Lantern/Green Arrow and a couple of non-superhero books) until I worked at FantaCo.

Scott of the Scooter Chronicles, now gainfully employed, I’m happy to note, asks:

1. Do you have any interest in the World Cup?

It’s peculiar that I actually do, because I have no recollection of caring 4 or 8 or 12 years ago. I think it’s that the coverage, everything from ESPN to notifications from the New York Times to Twitter makes it feel as though it’s been covered better. BTW, Tegan tells an interesting story, only tangentally related.

2. Who do you think will win the AL and NL Pennant this year?

If the Yankees stay healthy, they can. Otherwise, it’ll be Texas or maybe Tampa; just not feeling it from the Central Division.

I’d like the Mets to win, but Philly or San Diego seem more likely. Again, not believing in the Central.

3. Who wins the World Series?

The American League team, probably.

4. Is there a novel that you have always meant to read, or feel you should read, but haven’t yet?

Lots and lots. About 2/3s of Billy Shakes, e.g. Then again, I’m more of a non-fiction guy, comic books notwithstanding, so it’s more ought to than want to. I miss my reading group at my old church which forced me to read outside of my comfort zone.

5. What was the craziest question you have been asked from one of these sessions?

Well, it probably came from you, Scott. Seriously, I keep hoping for a truly weird one that I can sidestep, but no, you folks are too nice. Maybe I should try it on my newspaper blog site. Some of those people in the general public are CRAZY.

6. What is your opinion on how BP and the government are handing the oil spill in the Gulf?

For one thing, I don’t understand how it became called an oil SPILL. When you drop a glass of water, the water spills – downward. Oops. This is more like a geyser. Yes, the oil geyser, that’s what I think I’ll call it.

As for the Obama Administration response, it tends to show how much in bed the government has been with the industries they are supposed to be regulating, hardly unique with these particular officials. We, or those of us who were actually paying attention, have known this all along. And, to be fair, so have those folks who believe there has been too much regulation; they just liked the results more. That’s how you get your Joe Bartons apologizing to “poor BP”.

But clearly, the ultimate fault was shoddy corner-cutting by BP. The judge who stopped the Obama administration’s six-month lockdown on new deep-sea drilling said that the federal government is acting as though this could happen again; that’s PRECISELY what worries me.

Yes, the governmental response to oil geyser has, until recently, been slow. They believed BP’s lies and seemingly had no way to verify the information independently. I’m not remembering; did the federal government give BP permission to use the dispersant? Because I’m convinced that has created a whole new problem below the surface, which may ultimately be most toxic for sea life.

Apropos of oil, why have we not heard very much about the oil disater in Nigeria going on right now?

7. Is there a piece of art (painting, sculpture, etc.) that you really admire?

I saw, I believe in Albany, but it could have been NYC or Boston, a version of Rodin’s The Thinker, which was one of the most sensual things I had ever experienced in my life. Two-dimensional photos do not do it justice, and I’m not convinced that even these three-dimensional online tours can capture it. Gotta see it in person, if possible.

If The Wife and I have Our Piece of Art, like couples have Our Song, it would be The Kiss by Klimt; it’s even on a coffee mug of ours.

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