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Essay

It’s all there...in my DNA

Playing fast and loose with genetic truth

Paul Andrews 17 March 2007

www.lablit.com/article/229

Downward spiral: genetic buzzwords annoy

That poor genome – burgeoning under the strain of it all

There you are, quietly going about your daily business and boom! From out of nowhere they spring: those annoying buzzwords or phrases that you hear bandied about. Bereft of meaning or contextually hijacked, they start in manager-land and spread like a nasty dose of Hungarian bird flu into common parlance.

You hear them 24/7,when facilitating the knowledge-economy workshops with all those stakeholders who are hitting-the-ground-running. You overhear them in corridors – people going forward to a win-win situation, pinging things to each other and firing off emails. You may be urged to take it offline, add value or put it on your radar screen. Edges will be bleeding if not cutting and benches will be marked. The legendary movers and shakers, who are all thinking outside the box of course, will be both in the loop, on the same page and singing from the same hymn sheet. So let’s touch base, hook up, drill-down – at the end of the day it’s a no-brainer. The list is seemingly endless – marvel at the creativity of the human brain. Thankfully they are not too common at the hard-core end of science…at the moment.

The new kid on the nonsense-phrase block – and one that makes my blood simmer – is “in my DNA”. Every time I hear this I want to ask, ‘What is in your DNA? Deoxyribose? Phosphate? I jolly hope so.’ To some people, the fact that they like, say, the Red Sox, or rabbits or Rodin, is apparently genetically encoded. That’s an interesting idea – one gene for enjoying cycling, another for expert knitting. Or one for the need to watch soap operas, whilst dressed as a member of YMCA. That poor genome – burgeoning under the strain of it all.

Unfortunately it’s not that simple. Nurture’s role in some of these sorts of traits and characteristics, as opposed to nature’s, is likely to be prominent – in other words, DNA may have nothing to do with many things. And technically, even if it was possible to epigenetically modify the genome to confer the love of Fray Bentos Steak and Kidney Pies, it would be on my DNA, not in my DNA. But that doesn’t sound as good, does it?

Curious as to the penetration of this phrase, I googled “in my DNA” to see what was out there. Of the 45,000 hits, only about 0.5% were actually about DNA or genetic testing. As for the rest, the blogosphere predominated as the source of some real classics – you can’t make this stuff up. For your enjoyment I have listed a few of the best (some more fine examples are listed on my website):

And, the tests will probably confirm what I know deep in my DNA, that somewhere way back ... I had a halibut and herring eating, fjord sailing, great grandfather.

Paying retail for a wardrobe is simply not in my DNA.

But perhaps there is something in my DNA that needs to sweat, some genealogical memory that cries out to me. Sweat feels like my birthright.

“I guess it's in my DNA,'' says Droop-E, who did back-up vocals for his father starting at age 3. “Ever since I could remember, I've been rapping”.

Any party I attend, or any family function, I bring a certain weirdness with me that's in my DNA.

The aroma of newness, as always, was intoxicating, triggering memories of product-buying stored like hidden seeds in my DNA strings.

wow i’m already a devout pastafarian but if i wasn’t this just proves it. i’ve never seen jesus in my dna

The Church is in my DNA and in my muscle memory whether I like it or not. And I believe it's important to honor the spiritual practices of my ancestors.

I feel it and see in my DNA. My DNA continually fills with light, forming new strands, combinations, activation codons, creating new geometric formations.

And of course, the ultimate affirmation:

Blogging is in my DNA and here's proof. Mom's blogging. I have web 2.0 parents! I always knew it was in my DNA ;-)

Next time you hear someone say something silly like “in my DNA”, poke them with a sharp stick and ask them politely to go incentivize their portals and strategize turnkey initiatives to deliver viral partnerships.

© Paul D. Andrews 2007

Other articles by Paul Andrews