Want a Piece of Me?
by Mad Dog
People are saving
DNA in case scientists unravel it— metaphorically, of course—and can
predict their medical future. That’s right, DNA could turn out to be
the palm reading of the New Millennium.
|DNA is poised to be the
baseball trading cards of the 21st century. Everyone wants to collect
it. The police take samples from anyone who will hold still long enough
to let them stick a Q-tip in their mouth. Parents are preserving their
children’s DNA in case, well, in case of something. And now people are
starting to save bits of their own DNA. It’s true.
DNA, you see, is magic. It’s not just a teeny
tiny twisty strand of genes that looks suspiciously like a spiral
staircase that would make you incredibly dizzy were you to climb it,
apparently it’s got the secret to everything about us locked up in
there. That’s why scientists are racing to decode it, using
supercomputers, high-tech lab equipment, lots of government grant money,
and a Cracker Jack decoder ring, but they’ve barely scratched the
surface. While they’re doing a great job of cataloging the genes, they
basically still have no idea what it all means. It’s like working hard
(and spending billions of dollars) to learn the alphabet, then realizing
you don’t have a DNA-English dictionary on the shelf. Yup, we’re all
DNA illiterates on this bus.
But this isn’t stopping anyone from saving DNA
“just in case.” Some people are saving it in the hope that cloning
becomes possible, practical, legal, and available at Wal-Mart while you
wait. Hey, if cloning is going to catch on it had better not take longer
than it does to get film developed. If they’re real smart they’ll
figure out a way to make them digitally. After all, this is the Age of
Instant Gratification, you know. Other people are saving DNA in case
scientists unravel it—metaphorically, of course—and can predict
their medical future. That’s right, DNA could turn out to be the palm
reading of the New Millennium. Still others are saving it in case they
lose their hair.
words, you might as well spit in a vial and stash it in your freezer
next to the Ben & Jerry’s We Are The Vanilla Fudge Whirled as send
Hairogenics a snippet of your hair.
|It’s true. A San
Francisco company named Hairogenics is selling a kit which allows people
to clip a few bits of hair, mail it to the company, and have it stored
in a refrigerator in a basement in Oregon, right next to last season’s
venison. And they’ll do it for only $49.95 plus $10 a year. The idea
is that if you end up going bald, medical science might happen to find a
cure which involves the manipulation of genes. Then if you’re lucky
and still alive, Hairogenics will hand over your hair sample and—voila!—you’ll
once again be able to walk around with a head of hair that makes Fabio
look like Burt Reynolds. That’s Burt without his toupee, of course.
So far 200 people, including two women, have sent
in their hair, leaving Hairogenics with enough room to store another
799,800 samples. And I’m sure they’ll get them, in spite of the fact
that even if scientists did figure out which gene they could screw with
so your hair would start to grow again they wouldn’t need your hair to
be able to do it. After all, DNA is DNA. Every bit of it has the same
information no matter what part of your body it comes from, so the
intimate details about your hair can come from anywhere. In other words,
you might as well spit in a vial and stash it in your freezer next to
the Ben & Jerry’s We Are The Vanilla Fudge Whirled as send
Hairogenics a snippet of your hair. Then you can spend the $49.95 plus
$10 a year you saved on a nice hat to keep your balding head warm while
you’re waiting for medical science to catch up to fly-by-night
The boom in collecting DNA will open up whole new business
opportunities. eBay could have an area where people put their slightly
used DNA up for bid.
|Meanwhile the DNA
Copyright Institute, also based in—gasp!—San Francisco, is trying to
convince people to have their DNA copyrighted. For a fee, of course.
While they say it’s a good idea for anybody, they’re targeting big
time entertainers, athletes, and models who have lots of money to waste.
And also may be afraid that someone might extract the DNA from a paper
towel they used in the rest room and run down to Clones-R-Us to have a
copy made in thirty minutes or less. Actually, this is a good idea. The
protection, not the cloning. After all, who wants to risk someone making
a second Carrot Top. Or a third. Or…well, you see the potential
nightmare now, don’t you?
Unfortunately the U.S. Copyright Office says this
can’t be done. Something about copyrights being issued for original
works of authorship, so unless God or Mother Nature applied for the
copyright on your DNA they won’t touch the application with a ten-foot
cotton swab. But all isn’t lost. Another service the DNA Copyright
Institute offers is to hold onto your sample and issue you a framed
representation of your DNA profile, which looks like a bar code that can
be scanned at Safeway so at least you can find out how much you’re
worth. Hopefully it’s more than their fees.
The boom in collecting DNA will open up whole new
business opportunities. eBay could have an area where people put their
slightly used DNA up for bid. The Chicago Mercantile Exchange could
start trading DNA futures so not only can you have your DNA under lock
and key at Hairogenics and the DNA Copyright Institute, but you’ll be
able to hedge your bet just in case it turns out someone else already
holds the copyright to your DNA and baldness is caused by global
warming, not genetics. And little DNA urns could start gracing
people’s mantles as a way to remember those who have passed on.
DNA—it’s not just for baldness cures anymore.
©2002 Mad Dog
Productions, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
These columns appear in better newspapers across the country.
Read them while waiting for your clone to be ready.