According to Sam and Jim Commenting on things that irk us off, make us laugh out loud or just seem too weird too believe According to Sam and Jim: New Genes or New Blue Jeans?

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

New Genes or New Blue Jeans?

Sam seems to think I need some new jeans. We saw this TV commercial where a woman walks into a clothing store, takes off her jeans and tells the clerk she needs a smaller size. It might been a commercial for one of those weight loss programs, I’m not sure. Then I read Sam this newspaper article by David Brown of The Washington Post, which appeared in The Olympian on Sunday. The article said the average person goes through life with 20 genes permanently damaged and not doing their jobs in our bodies.

So, Sam thinks I need some new jeans. But he’s a little confused as to what kind. Or is he?

“A new study estimates that the average person goes through life with 20 genes permanently out of commission,” Brown’s article said. “With each one of us possessing about 20,000 genes, that means 0.01 percent of our endowment is broken from the start - and we don’t even know it.”

Apparently, we don’t need all of our genes. “As one might expect,” says Brown, “genes that go missing without being missed aren’t involved in essential functions.” (Of course we do notice when essential genes go missing and we wind up with some kind of physical disorder).

Up until now though, we couldn’t do anything about our broken genes even if we wanted to; certainly not as easily as we could change our clothing. But scientists are working on developing so-called designer genes that will change all that

“Right up until this decade, the genes that humans carried in their bodies were exclusively the result of chance—of how the genes of the sperm and the egg, the father and the mother, combined,” according to an article by Bill Mckibben in the May/June 2003 issue of Orion Magazine.

“We now know two different methods to change human genes,” McKibben says. “The first, and less controversial, is called somatic gene therapy. Somatic gene therapy begins with an existing individual—someone with, say, cystic fibrosis.”

And you try to fix the broken genes of that person so he or she can lead a normal life.

Then there’s germ line genetic engineering, where a biologist programs the genes of an embryo so that your son grows up to become a virtuoso concert pianist or an all-star baseball player like Albert Pujols or your daughter receives genetic coding to become another Madame Curie or the next Miss Universe - whatever - as long as you’re willing to pay the price. Plunk down, say $150,000, and you can have another Whitney Houston - without the drug craving.

Biologists apparently hope that germ line genetic engineering will eventually become easier than adding HTML code to your web site. But here’s the rub. Is it fair, is it right, that some people will be able to afford designer genes for their babies, and others won’t? Is this yet another case of the haves versus the have-nots, the one-percenters versus the 99 percenters?

I don’t need new jeans. I mostly wear khakis. I only wear jeans when I want to look studlier. Besides, I don’t care for jeans like Levis that advertise your waist size on the back for the whole world to see. Last time I went to buy jeans I asked Sam, “Do these make my butt look bigger,” to which he barked an affirmative. So that, combined with the aforementioned waist size ixnayed that sale before I even left the dressing room.

On the other hand, if I could buy designer genes so my butt would be smaller or I could hit a baseball like Albert Pujols, that might be worth the expense . I worry though that those designer biologic genes might have holes in them just like designer apparel jeans. According to David Brown those holes might not be a problem - I know they don’t bother teenage girls - but what if I couldn't hit a high hard one because the gene I bought for that turned out to have a hole in it?

Two bags of poop on designer jeans/genes that might have holes in them.

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