Triumph of Incoherence

Genome Sequencing of Ozzy
May Explain Why He’s Still Alive

Scientists have just completed the genome sequencing of former Black Sabbath frontman Ozzy Osbourne and the assumption is that it’ll finally explain, once and for all, how come he’s still around – no offense -, even though all he plays these days is a gargantuan ass of himself. This reminds us of that old account that, according to science, bumblebees should not be able to fly.
Exactly like that old, probably apocryphal account, the only conclusive resolution the experiment most likely proves is that something is amiss. And, since we’re talking about the self-appointed Prince of Darkness himself, something has indeed, been terribly missing for far too long.
To be fair, the 61 permanently addled Osbourne is, in fact, a survivor, who walked away from comas, a broken neck, car accidents, and obscene amounts of drugs, and that’s just the part that his wife Sharon, bless her soul, helped him remember.
Stepping a bit deeper on the cruelty pedal, the comedian Denis Leary had a related bit about the basic unfairness of life from a 1960s fan’s point of view. While it wouldn’t give Hendrix a pass for seeking help from prescribed sleeping pills, it allowed many a star (not Ozzy) to spend multi-week benders locked in some hotel room, only to emerge, refreshed and well, with a new collection of songs and plans for a six-month tour.
But we digress. Osbourne’s blood sample was collected in early July and sent to St. Louis, Missouri-based Cofactor Genomics. The DNA sequence results were then sent to Knome, a startup based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, that analyzes human genomes. The research will be presented in more detail later this week at the TED Med conference in San Diego.
For those still awake, analysis of his mitochondrial DNA, inherited from his mother, revealed that Osbourne shared a common ancestor with the comedian Stephen Colbert about 1,000 years ago. That was somewhat surprising. What was not is the fact that he has some DNA segments inherited from Neanderthals.
A last word on that well-known myth about bumblebees: if it ever happened, it originated on an over-simplified calculation, made by an aerodynamics expert and scribbled on a napkin during a dinner party in Germany, in the 1930s. After a few cocktails, you may add. Scientists, who naturally don’t appreciate the way their whole category was made to look with the story, are eager to point to its misconceptions. Something to do with the lift of a helicopter. Or something. Unfortunately for them, that part got lost in the translation.
But in the end, it’s Osbourne who comes through and makes more sense than even the time spent in his blood research.
– “I used to drink four bottles of cognac a day. I’m not sure I need a Harvard scientist to get to the bottom of that mystery.” Whatta boy.

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