Friday, March 31, 2006

Post-Game Summary of My Appearance on Radio Open Source




Chris Lydon in the studio

Chris Lydon live on Open Source last night

Last night I had the pleasure of being a guest on Christopher Lydon's public radio program, Open Source. The focus of the show was genetics and genealogy.

I arrived at the studio just before 7pm, when the program airs live. I sat in the studio with Chris, who was busily jotting down notes for the show, peppering me with interesting questions about the subject. I'd met Chris once or twice at Harvard Berkman events, but this was the first time we'd ever really chatted. You can tell he's done thousands of interviews in his long career; he really makes you feel comfortable. I think it was particularly helpful that I was with him in person. Sometimes I've done radio interviews in which I'm over the phone or checking in via another studio, and the lack of eye contact can affect the rapport of the conversation. So it was great being able to sit at the same table with Chris, microphones bobbing six inches from our noses; it would make for a very comfortable, casual conversation.

I didn't come on for the first 40 minutes; Chris interviewed Spencer Wells of National Geographic and John Hawks of the University of Wisconsin first. This allowed me to observe his interview style and take notes. During music breaks, Chris would talk simultaneously with the control room as well as with me, taking advantage of every moment to prepare for the next segment.

Eventually, it was my turn to appear on air. Chris opened things up by asking me how I started my own family tree odyssey, and the brick wall I hit in terms of a lack of a genealogical paper trail beyond my great-grandparents. I talked about how I learned about genetic genealogy in early 2000 and tracked down the founder of Family Tree DNA, which was just getting off the ground as one of the first commercial providers of DNA tests for genealogical purposes.

From there, we talked about some of the findings I had, including the connections on both sides of my family with the Middle East and northeast Africa. I also talked a bit about my father-in-law, Dave Cornwall, who got tested last year and ended up connecting with other DNA customers who happened to be named Cornwell and shared a similar story of how their families came to America. Chris wrapped it up by asking me what I plan to tell our first child about our family's history and what we've learned from the DNA testing. I said I hoped that it would give them an appreciation of how we're connected to people from all over the world, and that we're all one large human family, all equally deserving of dignity and respect.

The hour was over quite fast - it's amazing how these things fly by when you're into it. Chris said he'd be getting tested soon; I can't wait to see the follow-up show and learn what he discovered.

In case you didn't catch the show, here's the podcast of the full hour. It's about 24 megabytes, so it may take a while to download. My segment is about 40 minutes into the show - not that you should skip ahead or anything. :-) -andy

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Discussing Genetics and Genealogy Tonight on Radio Open Source

Tonight I'm going to be a guest on Christopher Lydon's public radio program, Open Source. The show will focus on genetics and genealogy for the full hour; I'll be talking about my own personal experiences with DNA testing for family tree research. Other guests include "Journey of Man" author Spencer Wells of National Geographic's Genographic Project and anthropology blogger John Hawks.

Open Source is syndicated over public radio international. It airs live at 7pm ET/4pm PT in many communities, though sometimes it's recorded and aired at other times. Check their schedule for station air times near you.

Otherwise, you can go to hear the program streamed live over the Internet. -andy

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Genealogy in St. Louis

Genealogy in St. Louis

Do you know who would have the transcript of a murder trial that was held in St. Louis City in 1938 or 1939?
After posting your response on the blog, would you please send a copy to martinfischer@hotmail.com
Thanks for your help.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Jewish Connection to Pre-Roman Iberian mtDNA?

Dienekes' Anthropology Blog recently posted a blurb about a new study of DNA taken in Spain from human bones that pre-date the roman conquest of ancient Iberia. Interestingly, two of the most commonly found mtDNA haplogroups were J and pre-HV. J is somewhat common among Jews, and pre-HV is generally associated with populations in Arabia and northeast Africa. (It also happens to be my haplogroup). Unfortunately, the full text of the article isn't available, just the abstract. That's a shame, because I always assumed that any traces of J or pre-HV in Spain would have been from the Moorish conquest of Spain hundreds of years after the Roman empire collapsed. Will have to dig deeper into this one.... -ac

Friday, July 08, 2005

A personal family history Web site

Hi cousins,
This is my first-ever post to a blog, so I'll try to keep it brief. Since late December 2003, I have been crafting and modifying a personal family history Web site about my and my wife's genealogy. It has been a very enjoyable creative process that I would urge anyone with an interest in sharing family history with relatives and friends to try.
The home page URL is http://mefischer1.home.comcast.net/
You will see that I have compiled all kinds of family history-related information on the site: photos, letters from the old country, family anecdotes, the text of newspaper articles concerning family members, links to some relatives' own Web sites, our genealogy research breakthroughs and roadblocks, as well as family trees.
For those who might be hesitant about trying to create a Web site, I would suggest you read the article from my site at http://mefischer1.home.comcast.net/How-To.htm in which I explain, step by step, how I created the site with almost no experience. It was very much a learning-while-doing process.

Martin Fischer

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

New Journal on Genetic Genealogy

A few days ago I learned about the launch of a new peer-reviewed online journal called the Journal of Genetic Genealogy (JOGG). While other journals have covered genetic genealogy on a regular basis, this is the first journal to be dedicated to the subject. The premier issue features a fascinating review of current research on Jewish genetic genealogy. The article takes issue with researchers and journalists who have over-simplified the complex history of Jewish genetics. It also makes a compelling case for the admixture of genes from Europe, particularly the Mediterranean, and the Khazars, a Turkic people from north of the Black Sea that converted en masse to Judaism. Scholars have gone back and forth as to whether there's a noticeable Khazar imprint on the genes of today's Ashkenazic Jews; this article asserts that the Khazar connection needs to be taken seriously, and offers plenty of research to back it up. I was also fascinated by a related discussion on a Y chromosome connection between Jews, Scandinavians and Native Americans, some of whom may share a common ancestor -- via the Y chromosome mutation known as Haplogroup Q - by way of central Eurasia tens of thousands of years ago.

The other thing that impressed me about the new journal is that the articles are all freely available - ie, you're not stuck with reading just the abstracts, as is the case with so many journals. Even better, the journal uses Creative Commons licenses as a way of encouraging members of the public, scholars and educators to reproduce their articles, as long as it's done for noncommercial purposes.

From the looks of the first issue, JOGG is off to a great start. I can't wait to read it on a regular basis. -andy

Friday, June 10, 2005

Welcome to DNA Cousins!

Hi everyone, Andy Carvin here.... I've set up this blog for a group of guys from all over the US and Europe who have one thing in common - we've all been matched by FamilyTreeDNA.com as sharing the same Y chromosome DNA. What does that mean? In the coming days and weeks, you'll find out. The main purpose of this blog, though, is to give our group of DNA cousins a place where we can post news about family tree research, relevant DNA news and other interesting tidbits.

We're just experimenting with this site, so stay tuned... -andy