The Brits continue to bolster U.S. television with some better ideas. London (AP)NBC and ABC are vying to adapt the BBC reality series "Who Do You Think You Are?" in which celebrities explore their genealogy. NBC is Americanizing the BBC's unscripted car-culture series, "Top Gear," as well as the reality show "The Baby Borrowers," where kids find out what it's like to be parents. David E. Kelley is making a pilot for ABC based on the hit British series "Life on Mars," about a politically incorrect cop and the time-traveler who has to work with him. The U.K.'s ITV channel is gearing up for a major presentation to the U.S. market, and many independent production companies in Britain are in talks to import their shows. "If it works in the U.K., more than likely it will work here if we do our job right," says Craig Plestis, head of NBC's alternative programming, who nabbed "Top Gear." "Very rarely has something been gangbusters over there that hasn't really worked over here." So can an Americanized version of "Torchwood" be far behind? The quirky sci-fi hit, now in its second season on BBC America (Saturday, 9 p.m. EST), is the work of Welsh writer Russell T. Davies, whose "Queer as Folk" transposed successfully to Showtime. Despite some failed adaptations -- among them NBC's version of "Coupling" and CBS' "Viva Laughlin" -- a formidable flow of hits has continued to stream across the pond, including British-born biggies such as Fox's "American Idol," NBC's "The Office" and ABC's "Supernanny." And lest we forget, Norman Lear once turned the edgy BBC sitcom "Till Death Us Do Part" into "All in the Family," changing the face of American television. The U.S. demand for British imports has been accelerated recently by a combination of the Writers Guild of America strike and the shifting face of domestic television, which is moving away from rigid scheduling and expensive scripted series. BBC America has been a prime showcase in the U.S. for British shows in their original format, such as "Top Gear," which begins a new season on Feb. 25 (8 p.m. EST), or the innovative sketch comedy "That Mitchell and Webb Look" (Friday, 9 p.m. EST). Los Angeles-based BBC Worldwide Productions then sells these programming formats for adaptation by networks or other cable channels -- shows like "Top Gear," for instance. "It was just a no-brainer for us to do this," says Plestis of the "Top Gear" adaptation deal. He now has the task of finding suitable American hosts for the show, headlined in Britain by the outrageously outspoken Jeremy Clarkson and his road-hog sidekicks, James May and Richard Hammond. "The first week we put it on the air, the median age of the show was 27 years old and predominantly male, which is extremely rare for any show on American television, let alone on BBC America," says BBCA President Garth Ancier. "The thing that is most fun for us as Americans is looking at the creativity coming out of the British market and saying, `What can we do with all these wonderful toys?'" Ancier added. "The market here is so much bigger even for very niche content," says British-born Patrick Younge, president of the Travel Channel, where present imports include "Michael Palin's New Europe" (Monday, 8 p.m. EST). "We are a niche channel but we are in 91 million homes, bigger than BBC One, so even the very, very niche networks have a massive footprint," Younge continues, "so there's lots of room for all of this content, provided you get the price right." Scripted material is trickier to import than reality programming, especially if thick with regional accents and atmosphere, although PBS has a successful tradition of airing British costume dramas and mysteries. Showtime faced the question of whether or not to Americanize when it recently bought ITV's "Secret Diary of a Call Girl," starring tabloid favorite Billie Piper. "It's one of those unique things. We initially looked at it and thought maybe we should buy the format rights and recast it and make it American," says Robert Greenblatt, Showtime's president of entertainment, who believes American audiences can be fairly "xenophobic." But he decided the original was fantastic and he was unlikely to find someone as engaging as Piper if he recast it. Besides, he says, "It's very hard to find American actresses who are comfortable doing nudity."
How the new DNA technology can solve mysteries in your family tree… and help you discover relatives you never knew you had.
I recently received an e-mail from a cousin of mine out on Long Island—we'll call him Harry -who was writing to invite me to a family reunion. It was an offer I couldn't resist, even though, as family reunions go, this one is a bit unusual. For one thing, Harry and I have never met. I didn't even know he existed before he e-mailed me. In fact, though I know for certain that he and I are related, I don't know exactly how. Neither does he. For that matter, the entire family gathering is composed of people who know we are related, but little else. The guest list isn't set-actually, it's growing all the time-but that's okay, because we don't have to rent a space, or figure out how much potato salad to make. This reunion, you see, is happening online. It’s virtual. And perpetual.
Welcome to the astonishing, edifying, and sometimes perplexing world of tracing your roots using DNA. Just swab the inside of your cheek and you can learn some amazing and even life-changing things about yourself and your family-even if they're not the things you were hoping to learn. You could learn that you are descended from Moses' brother, Aaron, for instance. Or maybe Genghis Khan.
So how did I, a guy who had to wax the teacher's car just to pass high-school biology, get into something like this? Well, I always wanted to have a large extended family. An armchair psychologist would probably tell you that this led to a longing for a sense of community, and that this in turn led to an interest in genealogy. For years I hoped that some relative would just present me with an enormous, elaborate family tree. Sadly, no one did. So I started working on one myself. I made some exciting discoveries at first, but then I had the quintessential genealogy experience-I hit a wall.
I started hearing sensational stories about DNA tests: Norwegians who discovered they were really Chinese, for example.
It's inevitable: Everyone who sets out in search of roots will come to a point where he or she just cannot track down that next great-great-grand-somebody-or-other. My wall was the Atlantic Ocean. I was able to track down lots and lots of ancestors in America; in Europe, not so much. Those forebears' birth, marriage, and death records may have existed once, but in the course of two world wars, the Russian Revolution, and seven decades of communism, they seem to have been misplaced.
Frustrated, I posted some questions on genealogy websites, in the hope that some distant cousin might read them. No such luck. My questions are still sitting up there, sad and unanswered. But technology had other things in store. At the same time the Internet was blossoming, tremendous strides were also being made in the field of genetics. One day a man-a genealogist who had run up against his own wall-hit upon the notion of marrying the Internet with genetic science, and in doing so transformed genealogy, and the very notion of family, forever.
A few years ago, I started hearing sensational tales of people who took DNA tests and made astonishing discoveries about their backgrounds-white people who discovered black ancestors, black people who discovered Native American ancestors, Norwegians who discovered they were really Chinese, and so on. Getting nowhere online, I thought I should look into this DNA thing. So I found a testing company, sent off for a kit, swabbed the insides of my cheeks for cells, sent the samples back, and waited for the results.
That company is called Family Tree DNA; its founder, Bennett Greenspan, is the man I mentioned above, the one who first launched a commercial venture combining the Internet with genetics. Greenspan, who lives in Houston, had been a hard-core genealogist since he was a teenager in the 1960s. By the spring of 1999, though, it seemed as if he'd reached the end of the line. The problem was his mother's mother's father, about whom he couldn’t find much more than a surname, Nitz.
"So I entered the name into a database at a genealogical website," he says, "and found someone looking for that same name who was in Buenos Aires." They compared notes and found striking parallels in their families. He couldn't find a paper trail link, however. He knew they must be related—but how?
Then he got an idea. Geneticists had recently proven that some African Americans were descendants of Thomas Jefferson or a close male relative of his, and that certain Jewish men were descendants of the priestly line of the biblical Aaron. If genetic testing could help other people discover their ancestry, Greenspan thought, "Why not me?"
He tracked down Michael Hammer, Ph.D., at the University of Arizona, one of the geneticists whose work had been in the news. All Greenspan wanted to do was pay to submit a sample of his DNA. But Hammer wasn’t interested.
"Someone should start a company doing this kind of testing," the doctor sighed. "I get calls from crazy genealogists like you all the time."
And that, Greenspan says, "was a true eureka moment." He sat down, wrote a business plan, and within months launched Family Tree DNA, the first company to offer the general public the opportunity to use genetic science in the pursuit of genealogy. And he enlisted, as his chief scientist, Michael Hammer.
To understand how all this works, it helps to know that almost all of the genetic material you inherit from your parents is thoroughly mixed together, and is thus unique to you. It can be used to link you to living relatives, but it can't tell you much about your ancestors.
There are two intriguing exceptions, though-and, so far, they form the whole basis of genetic genealogy. One is something called mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA), which a mother passes on to all of her children. If you're a woman, you have that. If you're a man, you also have your father's Y-chromosome, which is passed down, intact, from father to son to son. (For more details, see "Under the Microscope," below.)
Because these two genetic elements remain virtually unchanged generation after generation, they create two clear, if narrow, trails you can follow back through time-the line of your mother's mother's mother and so on, and the line of your father's father's father and so on. Because these genes don't come bearing microscopic labels that read "Senegalese" or "Mongolian" or "Dutch"-let alone "Grandma Gertrude" or "Great-grandpa Fred" -the only way to determine anything about your ancestry based upon your DNA is to find your genetic matches and then compare your paper (or digital) family tree with theirs. Because you and your matches share a common ancestor, their research could fill gaps in your own-and vice versa. Most genetic genealogy companies will put you in touch with your genetic matches, but the rest is up to you.
"What I tell people," says James Freed, Ph.D., an avid genealogist and retired professor of zoology who taught genetics, "is that you have to have a hypothesis about your family beforehand."
Fortunately for me, I had one. In fact, I had more than just a hypothesis. I actually knew where my ancestors had come from in the 19th century. Still, when I first received my DNA test results, I found the data confusing. I liken it to walking into an antiques shop with the lights off: you know the place is full of fascinating stuff, but you have to wait a bit, until your eyes get adjusted to the darkness, to find out exactly what's there.
The more obvious discoveries will reveal themselves first. For instance, in comparing myself with my matches, it quickly became apparent that I am of Jewish descent-something I had suspected at least since my bar mitzvah. I also wasn't too surprised to learn that my matches' ancestors were mostly, like mine, from eastern Europe. But eastern Europe is a big place; while I had believed that my maternal line originated in Lithuania, I found close matches in western Poland, Romania, the Czech Republic, and eastern Ukraine. Even more dispersed is the family on my father's side: while my earliest known ancestor in that line came from Belarus, I found close matches in such distant locales as Germany, Latvia, Hungary, and Bosnia. Oh, and also Puerto Rico, where the family of a man I'm supposedly related to has been living for more than 300 years.
Now that was a head scratcher. At first I thought it must be a mistake. But we are, indeed, a match. There is a 96.56 percent chance we share a common ancestor within the past 24 generations. That's about 600 years ago-or some 85 years before all Jews were expelled from Spain. Which means there’s a good chance I’m not only eastern European but Spanish.
That revelation, though, wasn't as big a surprise as the e-mail I received just a day after I first saw my results. It was from Harry, the cousin I mentioned earlier. You see, when you swab the inside of your cheek, you also give your name and e-mail address, and indicate whether you wish to share them with others. If you do, you and your genetic matches will be able to contact one another. This function is what really makes the process worthwhile, because it enables two previously unacquainted people to work together on tracing their shared family tree. (The image that comes to my mind is of two miners tunneling toward each other in the hope they'll eventually meet.)
This, says Bennett Greenspan, was his vision from the start. Today his company's database has more than 200,000 people in it. Greenspan configured that database so it would seek out matches between members and facilitate their getting in touch with one another. Which means that every time a new person enters the database, matches are instantly notified of the newcomer's arrival.
So back to my e-mail from Harry. He was writing, he explained, to invite me to join a club of sorts, in which all the members were genetically matched. Not to brag, but my cluster group has 81 members at present and is, according to Greenspan, one of the largest and most active. I, of course, couldn't be prouder.
But here, at last, is perhaps the most surprising thing of all: what seems, on the surface, to be the coldest, most impersonal means of tracing your own lineage is anything but. As I have said, before I received that e-mail, I had no idea Harry existed. Aside from the fact that he and I both live in the New York City area and share a direct ancestor, we have very little in common. He's in his 80s, was born in Vienna, and is an electrical engineer; I'm in my 40s, was born in New York City, and am still inclined to stick a fork in the toaster unless someone stops me. And yet we have become very friendly, talk and e-mail often, and have even made plans to visit in person.
It's strange to think that it wasn't some outside networking entity but something deep inside me-not the Elks lodge or MySpace but my own DNA-that managed to offer me such a strong sense of community. I'll have to find an armchair psychologist to tell. I'm sure there must be one in the family.
The search feature of my genealogy database has been down for a while. You can still search from the phpgedview front page. This is a cool extra feature from google that you can use to look for relatives, individuals on my site until my searchbot is fixed for phpgedview.Use search box in phpgedview if you wish. Try this out for your websites, blogs.
Yep! "Say It Ain't So Joe."
It's true and its another grab and teardown, just like the row houses in Kew Gardens.
The New York Genealogical and Biographical Society (NYGBS) is a non-profit educational institution located on 122 East 58th Street in New York City. Founded in 1869, it is the second-oldest genealogical society in the United States. Its purpose is to collect and make available information on genealogy, biography, and history, particularly as it relates to the people of New York State. To carry out its purposes, the Society maintains one of the principal genealogical reference libraries in the United States. The Society also publishes periodicals and books, conducts educational programs, maintains a Committee on Heraldry, and offers several other services. Just a add on note "NYG&B gave their library to the New York Public Library." Its now in "Good Hands." NYG&B Website
Massey & Kankel Sales Info Its just a buy and flip for a group that bought the building. The Society was running out money, so they sold the building and moved into an office condo building. The building was built in 1929 specifically for the Genealogy Society.
Nova Scotia's sailing ambassador, the world famous schooner Bluenose II, is sailing into Toronto, bringing with it the sights and sounds of Canada's seacoast province. The visit is part of the 2008 Nautical Festival at the Toronto Harbourfront Thursday, June 19 to Sunday, June 22. "We are thrilled to have Bluenose II at the Toronto Nautical Festival," said Bill Dooks, Minister of Tourism, Culture and Heritage. "While she was born in Nova Scotia, Bluenose II is a symbol of endurance and achievement for all Canadians and remains a wonderful ambassador for our province." The event will feature a Nova Scotian pavilion, including a wide range of industry professionals demonstrating new products, sharing experiences and offering samples from Canada's seacoast province. It will also give the public an opportunity to stroll the deck of Bluenose II. Popular entertainers, such as the Barra MacNeils, will perform at the festival, immersing Toronto residents in Nova Scotia's rich and lively music. Information about Nova Scotia as a travel destination will be featured at the Nautical Festival. Included will be an outline of air travel options available to those interested in visiting Nova Scotia from Toronto's Pearson International and City Centre airports. The original Bluenose was launched from a shipyard in Lunenburg on March 26, 1921. Because of wins in the races of Grand Banks schooners between Canada and the U.S., the Bluenose became known as Queen of the North Atlantic. In 1963, the ship's replica, Bluenose II, was launched from the same shipyard, also built by many of the same men who worked on the original Bluenose. The Preservation Trust The Boats have had plenty of people on board so far. US Brig Niagara and the Pride of Baltimore II will join Toronto's homeport vessels Pathfinder/ Playfair, Challenge, and Kajama. For more Event info.
Researchers get access to new records Ancestry.ca has the 1891 Canada census available. Before this offering you could get bits and pieces of it thru volunteer groups such as OGS branches.
FamilySearch.org has a new pilot project interface for searching for data. The search list has new census records to look at indicated by a red asterix.
Some of the indexes you can look at for example are the 1860 US Census and the Civil War Pensions Index. You will possibly find your relatives that were born in Upper Canada/Canada West in this index.
Can Geni Succeed
Geni.com is out of Beta.Two major features added were:
1.) merging your tree with another family member's to create a single tree that is more complete. Up to 50,000 names.
2.) adding unlimited video uploads.
Lots of users of the site will be like myself waiting to merge GEDCOM files into an existing project.
I won't give my personal experience on trying to do this recently. I'll just be glad when this feature is implemented.
Get well Stanley!! Up Up and Away!
Remains Found Nine Years Earlier
In 1994, Kevin McGregor and Marc Millican, both airline and retired Air Force
pilots who were intrigued by the mystery and by fanciful accounts that
the plane carried Chinese gold, began searching for the wreckage,
McGregor said. They had to fly in and then hike 16 miles to reach the
They failed to reach the spot in 1994. McGregor got there in 1995
but found nothing. They went back in 1996 and again found nothing. They
returned in 1997 and discovered a bent piece of metal that bore the
serial number of one of the engines, "the holy grail of
identification," he said.
They went back in 1998 and again in 1999, when they found the arm.
McGregor recalls that it was in the evening. The arm was partly buried
in icy gravel and mold. McGregor said he had been instructed not to
disturb any human remains. So they left the arm and returned to their
"It's pretty weird," McGregor said.
The arm and a ring that turned out to belong to another victim were
retrieved by Alaska state police a few days later. The effort began to
make an identification.
For nine years, teams of pathologists, forensic experts and
fingerprint technicians in Canada, Alaska and elsewhere in the United
States worked with the latest fingerprinting and DNA techniques while
genealogists sought to track down relatives of the victims.
At first, neither good prints nor DNA could be obtained from the arm, McGregor said.
Eventually, with the help of the Armed Forces DNA Identification
Laboratory in Rockville and Professor Edward Robinson of GWU, the team
was able to extract usable DNA and to "rehydrate" the fingers on the
hand to get good prints.
Robinson made a stone copy of the prints, which were matched to a
set of Van Zandt's print on record. The only Van Zandt relative the
team could find was his distant cousin, Maurice Conway, whose DNA
matched Van Zandt's, team genealogist Chriss Lyon said.
"I had mixed feelings, but I was delighted to be part of this
project," Conway told the team yesterday by phone from Ireland. "I
learned a lot about my own family, but I felt like I was walking,
sleeping and talking with the dead."
have revealed the complete mitochondrial genome of one of the world's
most celebrated mummies, known as the Tyrolean Iceman or Ítzi. The
sequence represents the oldest complete DNA sequence of modern humans'
mitochondria, according to the report published online on October 30th
in Current Biology, a Cell Press publication. Mitochondria
are subcellular organelles that generate all of the body's energy and
house their own DNA, which is passed down from mother to child each
generation. Mitochondrial DNA thus offers a window into our
evolutionary past. "Through the analysis of a complete
mitochondrial genome in a particularly well-preserved human, we have
obtained evidence of a significant genetic difference between
present-day Europeans and a representative prehistoric human—despite
the fact that the Iceman is not so old—just about 5,000 years," said
Franco Rollo of the University of Camerino in Italy. The
Tyrolean Iceman witnessed the Neolithic-Copper Age transition in
Central Europe more than 5,000 years ago. His mummified corpse was
recovered from an Alpine glacier on the Austro-Italian border in 1991.
In 2000, scientists defrosted the Iceman's body for the first time and
sampled DNA from his intestines. Earlier study of the DNA
showed that he belonged to the lineage, or "subhaplogroup," known as
K1. About 8% of modern Europeans belong to the K haplogroup, meaning
that they share a common ancestor, and that group is divided into two
"subhaplogroups," K1 and K2. The K1 haplogroup, in turn, can be divided
into three clusters. In the new study, the researchers took
advantage of advanced genome-sequencing technologies to shed more light
on the Iceman's genetics. They sequenced his entire mitochondrial
genome and compared that sequence to other published human
mitochondrial DNA sequences to construct his evolutionary (or
phylogenetic) family tree. "The surprise came when we found
that the lineage of the Iceman did not fit any of the three known K1
clusters," Rollo said. His team has informally named the newly
discovered branch on the human family tree "Ítzi's branch." "This
doesn't simply mean that Ítzi had some 'personal' mutations making him
different from the others but that, in the past, there was a group—a
branch of the phylogenetic tree—of men and women sharing the same
mitochondrial DNA," Rollo said. "Apparently, this genetic group is no
longer present. We don't know whether it is extinct or it has become
extremely rare." At least for the moment, he said, that means no one can claim to be "the issue of Ítzi." Human mitochondrial DNA haplogroup
LONDON (Reuters) - An international research team has identified two
genetic variations that appear to increase a person's risk of
developing lung cancer by up to 60 percent, they reported on Sunday.
April the same researchers identified another gene that raised lung
cancer risk and they said their latest finding was relevant for both
smokers and non-smokers.
are looking at differences in the DNA that makes you more or less
likely to develop lung cancer," said Paul Brennan, a cancer
epidemiologist at the World Health Organisation's International Agency
for Research on Cancer.
"The idea is if you can identify genes then that might indicate why people develop lung cancer."
cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in men and the second
leading cause of cancer death among women worldwide, according to the
American Cancer Society, with about 975,000 men and 376,000 women
forecast to die annually.
is the leading risk factor but increasingly scientists are looking to
genetics to help explain why some long-time smokers never develop the
disease and why some non-smokers do.
The study published in the journal Nature Genetics
included researchers from 18 countries who analyzed genetic mutations
in more than 15,000 people -- 6,000 with lung cancer and 9,000 without
discovered a region on the fifth chromosome containing two genes --
TERT and CRR9 -- where they believe variations can boost the likelihood
of lung cancer by as much as 60 percent.
"We are looking at versions of genes that everybody has," Brennan said in a telephone interview.
much is known about CRR9 but pinpointing the TERT gene is promising
because it activates an enzyme called telomerase which is key to aging
and cancer, Brennan said.
is caused by defects in DNA, the basic genetic material. All
chromosomes, which carry the DNA, also have little caps on each end
Each time a cell divides, these telomeres become a little more frayed. When they are too worn out, the cell dies.
when cells become cancerous, they produce telomerase, which can renew
the telomeres and lets the cells reproduce out of control, eventually
to form a tumor.
the TERT gene in a specific cancer can help lead to a better
understanding of how cancer develops and boost the design of new drugs
to stop tumors, Brennan added.
"The principle is there," he said. "If one can identify what goes wrong, it may be possible to identify targeted drugs."