Posted in Bloggy, Rants

Discovering You: DNA Tests

Ancestry DNA tests are fun. Unfortunately, mine revealed nothing interesting or exciting. (Dang I was hoping to be part shark!) It also thwarted my plan of winning the lottery and buying everyone in Appalachia a DNA test to prove they’re not 50% Irish or 1/16th Native American, as they say they are. (And then parents brainwash their children to say/think this lie as well.)

It’s not that I have a problem with either group. On the contrary. I have a problem with people talking with an Irish accent on a regular basis when they’ve never even visited their “homeland.” We’re all mutts! Really, we are! And there’s nothing wrong with being a little of this and a little of that. Just please stop trying to act like you’re better than everyone because you’re your version of purebred. Moreover, this “I’m so Irish” act may fly here among other mutts, but how ashamed of your behavior would a real Irishmen make you feel? S/he’d humble you in no time!

Anywho, back to how my plan was thwarted. I received my results today, and in them I discovered that these companies are lumping together Britain, Ireland, and Scotland. (I used 23andMe, but Ancestry.com does the same thing.)

Ancestry.com even labels it in your report as “Irish” and then defines Ireland as:

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As we speak, they’re specifically running a marketing campaign with four-leaf clovers: “Kiss me I’m 63% Irish. Discover what you’re made of. Save 10% on AncestryDNA this St. Patrick’s Day.” (Seems a little misleading, I’d say.)

So now when you say you’re Irish and you’ve “even verified it with a DNA test!”, I still don’t entirely believe you. I do believe that we’re all a little bit of something, and we can all identify with whatever we want, and we’re free to be whoever we want to be. Just don’t act like you’re in some way better than everyone else because you strongly identify with something. This reminds me of grade school and everyone saying, “My heritage is German, French, blahblahblah, I’m related to a princess, what’s yours?” And I’d be all like, “Yeah, ummm… I’m Appalachian,” but what I wanted to say was, “Well I think my Grandma has some German heritage, but I’m a bastard child so I don’t really know.” Of course eight-year-old me would never actually say the latter part, but I was certainly thinking it and crawling into a hole inside my mind to escape my shame. (Oh the random societal shames we impose on this world…)

So, yeah, this minor and silly pet peeve of mine does go a bit deeper, but I know I’m not the only one who is annoyed by this strong feeling of false heritage Americans have. Because unless you’ve spent some time in whatever country you say you’re from (and maybe with whatever distant relative you may have there), I honestly don’t care. We’re all just humans trying to figure out who we are. If you want to be Irish proud, go for it. But if you’re going to, at least visit Ireland, familiarize yourself with the history of your people, and don’t use it as a tool for gloating, use it as a tool for discovery.

Speaking of discovering who we are, one last comment on DNA testing: it’s interesting in discovering a bit of our own histories, but it’s not going to tell you who you are. Discovering who you are is a lifelong journey. And if you’re focused on your history, I recommend a good old-fashioned family tree. You’ll learn more of your actual history that way. (DNA ancestry test results compare your DNA to other people who have bought the kits, not everyone on the planet–so it’s not going to give you a full picture.)

Overall, though, I still think it’s interesting, and I do hope that you all find some secret underlying and exciting thing about yourself that you never knew before. It’ll make for a great conversation piece!

Here’s my (totally uninteresting) conversation piece:

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And some other links/reading:

https://www.ancestry.com/dna/ethnicity/irish

http://sandwalk.blogspot.com/2015/11/we-are-all-irish-according-to.html

http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2490025,00.asp

Posted in Rants

Political Comfort Zones: Our Own Worst Enemy

bernie

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/bernie-sanders-could-replace-president-trump-with-little_us_5829f25fe4b02b1f5257a6b7 

Who will share the above article without reading it? A consumerist culture who wants more and more of what they want, and then move onto the next thing they want after they haven’t found satisfaction in what they’ve previously consumed (even if they’re only consuming titles)?

This is my first “political”-ish post (outside of my saying I was in Vegas at the same time the final debate was there — though that was meant to be neutral since “prayers” (however you view those) were certainly needed for the chaos of both parties).

Why don’t I post? Not because I don’t care, but because there are plenty of people out there spewing their ideas. Some right, some wrong, some just… there. But when you have a younger culture who exclusively gets their news from Facebook, we have a problem. So I don’t want to speak to how I feel on the outcome of the presidential election, I want to speak to everyone who is reading only titles; to those who are sharing memes that biased individuals (not credible sources) created; to those who are reading only their-wing news.

Furthermore, the amount of hate and alienation created on social media is appalling. I may not have had any political posts, but the day I posted that the World Series games were too late in the evening for kids to stay up for, someone made it political. (See post and its comments from Oct 26.) I provided facts and evidence in opposition to his opinions. Here I was thinking that I could have a nice, non-political discussion on Facebook (silly me!), and instead this is what happened: The guy said:

“This is honestly just another reason why this country is falling apart. Too many complaints about everything. You want it catered to you and you only. If I were a Cubs/Indians fan and worked in California, I would complain the game was on at 3:30 and couldn’t watch because of work. It’s never good enough, and never will be.”

In short, I am the problem with the country falling apart… Really though, it made me laugh. Especially that when provided with facts or beliefs that are against what people believe, instead of finding more facts and strengthening their side and having a healthy discussion, they will degenerate to personal attacks. And this is not directed at a particular “wing,” it is directed at both. This whole thing is meant to be neutral.

And if you are of the group of article-writing, click-baiting people who can’t believe the outcome of the election, then you just weren’t paying attention. Maybe you are guilty of only surrounding yourself with like-minded people. Just this weekend, I discovered that I was guilty of that. I thought: “How can there still be homophobia, racism, sexism, and such hatred toward others coming from people under the age of 30?”

In some delusional universe, I thought maybe the majority of these people were just in pockets of older generations and Appalachian youth. But no. Sadly, I had to hear very aggressive, derogatory homophobic and racist comments (specifically the F and N words) come out of a 22 and 27-year-old. One was watching football and the other was expressing his musical tastes. Those two words were littered in about every 3rd sentence, followed by talk of guns. This wouldn’t have surprised me in Meigs County, but I had an awakening hearing it outside of Appalachia.

Hatred is everywhere. I’m not entirely sure where it’s coming from, but it’s there. Is it logical? No, but that doesn’t erase it.

“When we judge others, we kid ourselves that what we think privately has no effect on those around us. The truth is that judgments, especially repeated harsh judgments, send an energy into the world that alienates others.”

Here’s the point: the dems alienated a bunch of people by calling them all homophobic, racist, sexist, etc. for being right-wing and/or Trump-supporting. (Not everyone who supports Trump is those things, by the way.) Either way, the dems created a very defensive group of people who became more adamant to vote than in the past because they were being attacked, singled-out, and cornered like wounded animals.

I am in no way trying to explain the outcome of the election or why the world is the way it is. That is something for constant pondering and improving. And my original point got way off track, but to come full circle, what I have is this: “The only real wisdom is knowing you know nothing.” Limiting yourself to things that only you agree with, do not make you stretch as a human being. To become a good human, you must constantly learn, and be open to that learning.

What we have from both right and left right now is a know-everything mentality. Both sides are done learning, and they just want to fight over who is right. You no longer see or hear discussions or someone saying “Hmm, that’s interesting I hadn’t thought of that.” Instead you just hear anger and rage about how right or wrong someone or something is or isn’t. And whether you like it or not, social media does give everyone a voice, including you. So please be more responsible for the voice you’ve been given because people are following and watching you: Young people; people who will vote in the future.

So for the sake of the future, please: Read the articles you share. Fact-check something when statements seem broad-stroking or radical. Get your news from more than one source, and for the love of humanity listen! Listen to what your fellow humans are saying, even if you don’t agree. Discuss with them, don’t attack them. See where they’re coming from and resist the urge to attack when they degenerate to personal attacks. These are the people we surround ourselves with every day, and the common thread is that we’re all suffering in some way. We should be trying to help each other lessen that suffering, while remaining skeptical about all organizations with motivations of power and wealth. (<-Very Vonnegut.)

So either ignore my words, or have friendly disagreements and discussions. That is encouraged. But please leave your attacks to yourself. Hasn’t there been enough of that in this world?

Posted in Bloggy, Rants

Judgment

On my way to work this morning heading south toward the river, I came up over the viaduct and saw that beautiful image of the Kentucky hills blanketed in fog. The light wasn’t hitting the hills, so they had a bluegreen appearance which made the haze of the fog stand out even more. I breathed it in and thought, “This is such a pretty place…. but with so many ugly people.” And I don’t just mean their appearance, I mean what’s inside them: their hate and intolerance toward those who are different, and complete inability to see beyond themselves.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how judgemental people are, and about how they’re always obsessing over what other people are doing. I watched the movie Nebraska earlier this week (it’s excellent), and the main character’s mother is the perfect example of a small-town, righteous, judgemental know-it-all. She has nothing to talk about except for how others are living their lives; how this person is a whore, and that person wanted to get in her pants, etc.

And we all know those people who can’t make conversation without dragging someone else through the mud. And for what? They don’t know your story, what you’ve been through, or where you came from. Those people treat their lives like a celebrity gossip column. (And we don’t know those celebrities’ stories, either!)

If people are not interfering with your life or infringing on you, then what’s the problem? How are they causing you harm, and what gives you the right to judge them?

We all have different paths for different reasons. We have lived lives that no one else will understand. So remember that. If someone hasn’t harmed you, then be nice to them. Stop acting like a child and belittling others to feel better about yourself. And if you’re going to act like a child, remember the advice of Thumper: “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say nothing at all.”


During the hour between getting home from work and going to the gym, I puked out a song on the topic. Song puking happens when I’ve had something on my mind, and the song just spills out of me in one sitting.

Here are the lyrics. Some of them are placeholders since it came out so fast, but you get the idea.

–Untitled–

For such a pretty place,
You’ve got an ugly face.
Not sure what made you better than me.
Who gave you the right to judge my life?

Is it cause your ma and pa they got money?
And they been married for 30 years.
You claim you never miss a Sunday service,
And you never seen your daddy touch a bottle of whiskey .

By conventional standards
You’d be labeled a 10,
But it’s what’s on the inside that’s turnin’ me off;
The world owes you a place in the sun.

Is it cause your ma and pa they got a mortgage?
And they paid for all of your college.
You never miss a hometown football game,
And you never seen your father hit your mother.

Feelin’ sorry for you
And your preoccupation
With all the things that others do;
You’re concerned they’ll get their gay on you.

Is it cause it might make your marriage less meaningful?
Well that don’t sound like a real strong marriage.
Like you don’t know my story, I don’t know yours.
And what’s any of this got to do with you?

For such a pretty place,
You’ve got an ugly face.
Not sure what made you better than me.
Who gave you the right to judge my life?

Posted in Bloggy, Photography, Rants

Wasteland

2014 January 14

Today, I walked along the river and saw the vast amount of debris washed ashore from recent rising waters. Plastic abounds and no one is in a rush to clean it up–standard Portsmouth practice.

In many countries, people live off, worship, and fear their rivers. Here, they’re just something else we become so good at destroying.

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