The Dangers of DNA Testing

All my life I’ve been told I have Cherokee ancestry through my Knighten forebears. There are even a few interesting legends about how John L. Knighten escaped the Removal (a decade before he was born) and of family members visiting from the Cherokee “reservation”. I’ve even comments on them some (here). I’ve even commented on a possible connection to President Obama, who is purported to have descended from the first African slave in America though his mother’s line (here). I’m a natural skeptic, and though I wanted to believe my family stories, I wanted to substantiate the claims. Enter Ancesty.com’s AncestryDNA test. I spit in the cup, mailed it in, and impatiently awaited the results. And today, I received them.

Sadly, based on this DNA test, I can’t substantiate a claim to be anything other than a plain old white guy. I always thought I was a distantly-multiracial mutt, but I’m just a vanilla cracker. Here is what I learned from my results, based on Ancestry.com’s categorizations:

  • Europe West – 53%
  • Scandinavia – 13%
  • Ireland – 12%
  • Great Brittain – 11%
  • Iberian Peninsula – 7%
  • European Jewish –  <1%
  • Finland/ Northwest Russia – <1%
  • Caucasus – 2%

So based on my rank amateur genealogical research, I would have expected the Irish and British results, and I’ve even seen some information that is consistent with the Scandinavian blood. Having a couple of Scottish lines in my family could explain that, and possibly the Iberian markers, given the ancient migration of the Scots (and Irish) from the Iberian Peninsula. But over half of the genetic markers coming from continental Europe? That surprised me more than having trace European Jewish and Rus markers!

So my whole family legendarium is crushed. Not even trace amounts of Native American nor African genetics. I don’t even know how to broach the topic with my family now. I’ll stand as a heretic in their eyes. That Cherokee legend is so ingrained. I’ve had my suspicions over the past couple years, but like Santa Claus, I wanted the stories to be true. Maybe I’ll buy DNA tests for some of my aunts and uncles to see if they get different results. Is this the trap that Ancestry.com hoped to ensnare me in?

Are you from Dixie

I’ve been feeling some Southern nostalgia for the past couple weeks, and one of my favorite all-time, any-genre musicians is Jerry Reed. Mind you, I’m  not a diehard Country Music fan, but I go on Jerry Reed binges. I had the pleasure of hearing Mr. Reed at the Morgan County Fair several years back, to give a date to the performance, he was promoting his role as Coach Red Beaulieu in The Waterboy, which was about to hit the theaters. I have a hard time picking a favorite Jerry Reed song, with Amos Moses being pretty high up there, but today I want to talk about Are you from Dixie (‘Cause I’m from Dixie too).

One thing I didn’t know until I wanted to write this post about is just how old that song is. According to the greatest source of information on Earth, the song was written in 1915 by Jack Yellen and George Cobb. Here is one of the earliest recordings of the song:

I had no idea the song was almost one hundred years old. There have been several artists who’ve recorded a version of it over the years, but in my biased opinion, Jerry Reed’s rendition is still the best.

Always dress well

This isn’t a fashion blog, but I do on occasion write on the topics of gentlemanliness, chappism, and such. Quite some time back I commented on an article on A Suitable Wardrobe, and referenced a Mises article titled Dress Like its the Great Depression. I’d like to follow up with a brief commentary on the Société des Ambianceurs et des Personnes Élégantes.

I’d never heard of “sapeurs” until a recent bit on NPR, but I am fascinated by them. Aside from the absolute bombast of some of their attire, I am captivated that in the midst of the poverty that surrounds them, they choose to dress to the nines.

Hector Mediavilla/Picturetank
(http://www.npr.org/blogs/pictureshow/2013/05/07/181704510/the-surprising-sartorial-culture-of-congolese-sapeurs)

Now, given the examples one can find from an Internet search, some of the younger gents are a little too dandy for my tastes, but the older gentlemen dress quite well.

I understand the rebellion aspect of these Congolese gents, but I think it’s a great example of dressing well, even when the environment one finds himself in is in diametric opposition. Compare that to the United States, where even our poor are rich compared to the rest of the world, and we have people of all social strata walking around like this (I’ll not debase my site by actually posting any of these preposterous images).

Table manners of yesteryear

A new method of discipline (nay torture) I inflict upon my children for infractions in etiquette at the dinner table is to make them watch clips on YouTube from various finishing schools, etiquette trainers, etc. To my elation (and their dismay) I found the clip below from the early 50s:


To my surprise, both girls actually sat through the entire clip.  Afterward, the begged for a more kid-friendly version, so I found a Disney clip from the 70s? that they seemed to actually enjoy, and for about fifteen minutes they continued to watch clips on table manners. I don’t know whether to be impressed or confused.

The first branch of the Mabinogi

From the Oxford University Press Blog:

In celebration of the National Eisteddfod of Wales, we thought an excerpt from a Welsh classic would be appropriate. The Mabinogion is the title given to eleven medieval Welsh prose tales preserved mainly in the White Book of Rhydderch (c.1350) and the Red Book of Hergest (c.1400). They were never conceived as a collection—the title was adopted in the nineteenth century when the tales were first translated into English by Lady Charlotte Guest. Yet they all draw on oral tradition and on the storytelling conventions of the medieval cyfarwydd (‘storyteller’), providing a fascinating insight into the wealth of narrative material that was circulating in medieval Wales: not only do they reflect themes from Celtic mythology and Arthurian romance, they also present an intriguing interpretation of British history. Below is an excerpt from the tale ‘The First Branch of the Mabinogi’.

Click here for the full article.

Cycles of cultural ages

An interesting read on Pravda concerning the cycle of cultural ages in Russia:

Russia’s Golden Age to start in 2013, Russian Nostradamus said: The end of 2012 marks the end of the Iron Age and the beginning of the Golden Age in Russia. This was predicted more than a hundred years ago by tsarist general and ethnographer Valentin Moshkov. Practically all of his gloomy predictions about the Iron Age have come true. Time will show whether his positive predictions are going to come true or not

When I read of predictions such as this, it reminds me of the words of the Preacher:

1 For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
2 a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
3 a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
4 a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
5 a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
6 a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
7 a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
8 a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace. Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 (ESV)

It also reminds me of God’s providence in the affairs of the world. When Nebuchadnezzar dreamed of a figure made of iron, clay, bronze, silver, and gold, Daniel interpretted the dream as such:

31 “You saw, O king, and behold, a great image. This image, mighty and of exceeding brightness, stood before you, and its appearance was frightening. 32 The head of this image was of fine gold, its chest and arms of silver, its middle and thighs of bronze, 33 kits legs of iron, its feet partly of iron and partly of clay. 34 As you looked, a stone was cut out by no human hand, and it struck the image on its feet of iron and clay, and broke them in pieces. 35 Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver, and the gold, all together were broken in pieces, and became like the chaff of the summer threshing floors; and the wind carried them away, so that not a trace of them could be found. But the stone that struck the image became pa great mountain and filled the whole earth.

36 “This was the dream. Now we will tell the king its interpretation. 37 You, O king, the king of kings, to whom the God of heaven has given the kingdom, the power, and the might, and the glory, 38 and into whose hand he has given, wherever they dwell, the children of man, the beasts of the field, and the birds of the heavens, making you rule over them all—you are the head of gold. 39 Another kingdom inferior to you shall arise after you, and yet a third kingdom of bronze, which shall rule over all the earth. 40 And there shall be a fourth kingdom, strong as iron, because iron breaks to pieces and shatters all things. And like iron that crushes, it shall break and crush all these. 41 And as you saw the feet and toes, partly of potter’s clay and partly of iron, it shall be a divided kingdom, but some of the firmness of iron shall be in it, just as you saw iron mixed with the soft clay. 42 And as the toes of the feet were partly iron and partly clay, so the kingdom shall be partly strong and partly brittle. 43 As you saw the iron mixed with soft clay, so they will mix with one another in marriage,3 but they will not hold together, just as iron does not mix with clay. 44 And in the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up ca kingdom that shall never be destroyed, nor shall the kingdom be left to another people. It shall break in pieces all these kingdoms and bring them to an end, and it shall stand forever, 45 just as you saw that fa stone was cut from a mountain by no human hand, and that it broke in pieces the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver, and the gold. A great God has made known to the king what shall be after this. The dream is certain, and its interpretation sure.” Daniel 2:31-45 (ESV)

Wo die Büffel röhren

I’m by no means an environmentalist, but I applaud excellent conservation efforts wherever they are to be found:

‘Straight Out of a Western Film’: European Bison Return to Wild in Germany: For the first time since the 18th century, the European bison is returning to Germany to live in the wild. The wisent, as it is also known, has been brought to the country by a famous prince. Although the creatures’ survival is uncertain, the project has already attracted considerable attention.

One of the trivial things I do whenever we are going to see the inlaws is to point out a small herd of American Bison that is maintained in a pasture. The kids still seem to get excited to see them, but I’m sure the novelty will wear off sooner or later. It’s much nicer to see these majestic animals living more or less free than in the limited confines of a zoological environment.