Thursday, July 29, 2004

Plant a radish...

posted by Chet at 6:43 AM UTC

Get a radish. Never any doubt. That's why I love vegetables; you know what you're about!

Well, ok, I'm old enough to pretty much know how my kids will turn out, unlike the flummoxed parent in the song. But I still like growing veggies on my window sill.

They're dependable! They're befriendable! What the radish will turn out to be is all there in its 18 chromosomes.

There's more there too. A garbage heap of junk genes. The detritus of billions of years of evolution, roads not taken, destinies sloughed off. If we've learned anything from the study of DNA it's that life is jerrybuilt and wasteful. Any halfway clever engineer could do a better job.

As biologist Ursula Goodenough says: "Genomes are absurd. They really are. Small islands of meaningful genes and their regulatory modules floating in seas of meaningless sequences, each gene some crazy quilt of former ideas."

But my radishes reach for the sun, eager for the nip of my teeth into their firm white flesh. A man who plants a garden is a very happy man!