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Thursday, April 21, 2016 12:19 am

Letters to the Editor 4/21/16

 

WHY GENES MUTATE
A few remarks from left field on Jim Krohe’s April 7 column, “Being all you can be.” The instant I came upon “…accumulating scientific evidence suggests gayness is genetic in origin,” I was transported back to an intro course I’d taken in anthropology many years back. The following is verbatim from the textbook:

“Genes mutate as a matter of course. A genetic mutation can have a positive or negative effect on the organism in which it occurs; it can cause a disease, it can confer greater resistance to disease, or it can end life.

One way genetic change spreads through a group of animals is called genetic drift. With drift, mutations that are neither positive nor negative for the individual carrier (in terms of affecting one’s ability to produce more offspring) get passed on through generations. The random drift of negligible genetic changes can eventually spread a mutation through an entire population so that everyone has it. Or a mutation may disappear altogether as its carriers eventually die out.

The other force that affects how a new version of a gene fares and how widely it is passed on is selection. Negative selection removes deleterious genetic variants. In contrast, if a genetic mutation results in a trait that helps its carrier have more offspring, it will spread through a population much more quickly than the casual infiltration of mutations by genetic drift. This is positive selection.

If the carrier of a mutated gene is lucky, some effect of the new version will improve its chances of having offspring that survive, and then those offspring will have their own successful offspring, and so on and so forth.

There is no rhyme or reason to the mutations that occur over the evolution of a species. Within the constraints of what has so far developed, genetic mutations are random; it is what the creature does with them that make them meaningful.

Evolution is the opposite of destiny, and because we are creatures of biological and cultural evolutions, where we are going is really obvious only in hindsight.”

Short of a miracle, I see little hope that this gay gene will improve our odds for having offspring that survive, but one would hope and pray that Gay Power may help invoke “the better angels of our nature.”

Henry Dews
Springfield



MARKET ACCESSIBILITY
The Downtown Springfield, Inc. farmers market plans to close the Resource One parking lot. This lot has the last close accessible parking spot. It is only steps away from vendors. The only other spots are across Fifth Street by the Old State Capitol.

Carrying two heavy bags of produce to the ramp at Fourth and Washington may not be an option for some individuals. I’m wondering if any consideration has been given for close accessible parking?

Rita Whitney
Springfield


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