October 29th, 2010
10:55 AM ET

Friday's intriguing people

Ozzy Osbourne

The British heavy metal icon and former Black Sabbath frontman had a good reason for having his full genome sequenced and analyzed: He wanted to know why he was still alive.

“I was curious,” he wrote in a column this week for London’s The Sunday Times. "Given the swimming pools of booze I've guzzled over the years—not to mention all of the cocaine, morphine, sleeping pills, cough syrup, LSD, Rohypnol … you name it - there's really no plausible medical reason why I should still be alive. Maybe my DNA could say why."

The St. Louis, Missouri-based Cofactor Genomics sequenced his genome and Knome Inc. analyzed the data, putting the Prince of Darkness in the same company as DNA co-discoverer James Watson and Harvard University professor Henry Louis Gates, who also have submitted to the process, Scientific American reported.

People are increasing using genome analysis “to uncover information about their ancestral histories, impending health risks and disorders of potential progeny,” the magazine reported in June.

“Despite the completion of the generalized human genome draft a decade ago, connections between diseases and genetic variations have proved to be evermore complex and elusive,” it said.

Knome co-founder Jorge Conde said Osbourne was interested in his ancestry and in recently being diagnosed with a Parkinson’s-like condition. The test revealed some Neanderthal lineage as well as “novel variants” in genes associated with addiction and metabolism.

The company didn’t divulge the full results of Osbourne’s test. The rocker and his wife, Sharon, are appearing at TEDMED 2010 in San Diego, California, on Friday to discuss the results. His speech is titled, “What will the unveiling of a full Osbourne genome reveal?”

A Halloween treat, no doubt.

Samira Kawash

Speaking of Halloween treats, Kawash likes them and is willing to defend the sweet indulgences that are so often vilified this time of year.

The Candy Professor talked to The New York Times this week about “the Jelly Bean Incident” that instigated her blog.

She and her 3-year-old daughter were playing at the home of a new friend. Seeing cookies and juice boxes in the kitchen, Kawash pulled out some jelly beans. The mother seemed reluctant to let her child have any because the youngster had never had candy.

The mother relented, but the father called from the other room that you might as well give the kid crack cocaine, the newspaper reported.

Kawash, who has a doctorate from Duke University, says candy carries moral and ethical baggage and is viewed differently from other foods.

“At least candy is honest about what it is,” she told The Times. “It has always been a processed food, eaten for pleasure, with no particular nutritional benefit.”

Foods with these same qualities are on every aisle of the supermarket, but they don’t have the same stigma as candy, Kawash said, noting that a serving of Gatorade has the same amount of sugar as 12 pieces of candy corn.

Her Candy Professor blog “offers a cultural and historical view of American candy over the past century, one post at a time.”

Topics include what people think about candy, how candy is made and marketed, and “who ate candy and when and why.”

With candy slammers out en masse for All Hallow’s Eve, Kawash has a busy weekend mapped out. In addition to appearing on CNN International’s "World Report" on Saturday, she will be on NPR and CBC Radio on Friday, SiriusXM’s “Doctor Radio” on Monday and Radio Ireland’s “Newstalk” on Tuesday.

Laurence Tribe

The Harvard professor is under fire for a letter he sent to his former student, President Obama, during the hearings to confirm Justice Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court.

He told his one-time protégé in the May 2009 letter that Sotomayor should not be on the high court because “she’s not nearly as smart as she seems to think she is, and her reputation for being something of a bully could well make her liberal impulses backfire and simply add to the firepower of the Roberts/Alito/Scalia/Thomas wing of the court.”

He further told Obama the resignation of Justice David Souter should be viewed as “an opportunity to lay the groundwork for a series of appointments that will gradually move the court in a pragmatically progressive direction.”

Tribe closed his letter by suggesting that Elena Kagan be Obama’s first appointment to the court. Kagan became Obama’s second appointment after Sotomayor.

The letter was unearthed by Ed Whelan of the National Review, who pointed out a 2009 article in The New York Times which seemed to say Tribe, who served as an adviser in the selection process, supported the Sotomayor selection.

Tribe told the paper the White House felt complaints about her temperament were unfounded and had decided her background and perspective would be a “healthy antidote” to the philosophies espoused by the court’s conservative wing.

“The president’s inquiries into the way she interacts with others,” Tribe told the paper, “convinced him that she would be a positive force in the chemistry of the Supreme Court.”

Whelan wrote in his Thursday blog post that the quote could be translated thusly: “I couldn’t persuade Obama not to pick her.”

soundoff (37 Responses)
  1. Frank


    Keep riding that KRAZY TRAIN! ROCK ON MAN!

    October 29, 2010 at 11:20 am | Report abuse |
    • Joe

      If you want a great laugh, read Ozzy's book. "I am Ozzy". He is a very funny guy!

      October 29, 2010 at 12:06 pm | Report abuse |
  2. vtgirl

    James Watson didn't co-discover DNA, he co-discovered the double helix – the structure that DNA has. Get your science history straight.

    October 29, 2010 at 12:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jeffro


      October 29, 2010 at 1:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Vanessa

      Which means in a sense he did.. since the very name DNA is more or less an abbreviation for the structural elements that make up that double helix. You know what they mean.. nobody is impressed by your knowledge dropping.

      October 29, 2010 at 1:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jamie

      Technically Ben Franklin didn't discover electricity, he only conducted it and found a way to harness it. Newton didn't discover gravity either.. he was the first to "decode" it. Do you see where I'm going with this? Just because we know SOMETHING exists doesn't mean it's necessarily been discovered. Or you can flip it and say everything was discovered long ago, anonymously.

      October 29, 2010 at 1:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • vtgirl

      It's not knowledge dropping, I just think that if most people get their "facts" from the media, then the media should make an effort to report science correctly. I have no need to try to impress anyone... Anyway, scientists knew about genetic material long before Watson and Crick discovered the structure it has. Mendel was doing experiments with peas in the 1850s almost 100 years before the double helix was discovered.

      October 31, 2010 at 4:14 pm | Report abuse |
  3. RuFkngKdngMe

    Why does CNN keep reposting the same non stories?

    First this isn't even a story that is anything remotely new. All Caucasians have Neanderthal genes in them. That story was reported months ago and had a small article on CNN even. Are you going to do a story on every single Caucasian that has ever lived to confirm what was already confirmed months ago?

    Second. You already did this damn article yesterday. Posting it a second time is really pathetic to the 10th degree.

    Third. How about focusing on real news CNN? There is so much more going on in the world that you really do not need to stoop to "covering" made up stories about celebrities. Honestly. Move on!

    Yes. I know who he is. Yes. I like his music from when he rocked hard. Yes. I feel sorry for the guy- sort of. But he did it to himself. He fried his brain. Nothing to see here. Move along!

    October 29, 2010 at 12:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dixie

      Why would you bother posting? CNN posts articles based on whether they generate traffic. This may not be interesting to YOU, but it is interesting to some others. Perhaps you should take your own advice, and move along.

      October 29, 2010 at 1:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • RuFkngKdngMe

      Indeed. I'm on the cusp of doing so. CNN is failing at being a news organization. They are becoming less about news and more about celebrity gossip. If that's the role they wish to fill then they will absolutely lose me as I will move on to real news sources.

      October 29, 2010 at 2:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Seriously?

      This is a blog you tard, and this is a vast news site. Obviously news that you don't care about will come up here, i mean this site has an entertainment section. I'm sure you dont care about that.

      Websites, a new fangled idea, can contain vast information about a variety of categories. Certain sites, like news sites, contain a wide variety of topics covering anything. Are you new to the internet sir? Welcome! Since you do not like this site because of articles like this I suggest that the internet may not be for you. Maybe you should stick with newspapers.

      October 29, 2010 at 2:46 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Texas Pete

    He is lucky to be alive after that time he urinated on the Alamo.

    October 29, 2010 at 12:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Texas Vic

      Yep, I agree...glad I wasn't there when he did it...I'd probably be in prison right now.

      October 29, 2010 at 1:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chris

      Forget the Alamo.

      October 29, 2010 at 1:39 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Jon

    Seriously... maybe we should clone Ozzy's liver so that new strong livers could be grown in a lab for others that need transplants.

    October 29, 2010 at 12:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tim

      Geez, you'd have to keep them in special cages or something.

      October 29, 2010 at 12:51 pm | Report abuse |
  6. mtnmedic

    A lot of people don't give Ozzy the credit he is due for being a man, a father and a husband, aside from his accomplishments as a rock legend. He's an intelligent man who possesses a ton of humour and a great personality. Ozzy's right: all of the drugs and booze he did over the years should've killed him off. And none of this takes into account all the multiple perscription drugs his former doctor loaded him up on. The poor guy was literally a walking drug-and-booze induced zombie for years. I'm glad he's cleaned up and he's doing much better. But all of this stuff, plus any pre-existing medical condition he may already have (the Parkinson's-like indicators) and the hard living over the years have started to show on him. He's really a good guy and a lot of people misunderstand him. For the rest of us, THE OZZMAN RULES ALL! The Prince of Darkness FOREVER!

    October 29, 2010 at 12:29 pm | Report abuse |
  7. thinker

    Hmm, yeah, I like ozzy and Black Sabbath, a lot, but this is boring

    October 29, 2010 at 12:55 pm | Report abuse |
  8. stringman

    Texas Pete
    "He is lucky to be alive after that time he urinated on the Alamo."

    The American people are lucky to be alive after the US corporate government has urinated on all of us. (Opps, sorry, I meant the middle class.)

    However, give it time and we'll be gone, (the middle class).

    October 29, 2010 at 1:01 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Frankly Speaking..

    Samira Kawash...what a waste of time! why do people indulge in stuff whose face value is absolute stupidity?..Is candy evil ? as an educated adult i would say "its a stupid question, if anything candies are sweet!"..whats wrong with this world ?

    October 29, 2010 at 1:03 pm | Report abuse |
  10. paramus

    Ozz, God loves you, and so do we....thanks for the great music

    October 29, 2010 at 1:14 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Steve-O

    Genome hell, it's pure LUCK that Oz is still alive! (Especially after jumping off the plane in '86, throwing himself on the ground, and snorting a line of ants off the tarmac!...classic!) You rock Ozzy!

    October 29, 2010 at 1:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • Texas Pete

      I don't get it were the ants white?

      October 29, 2010 at 1:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • Steve-O

      No Pete, he was on the last leg of the first 'Ozzfest' and wasted as could be after partying with Motley, Skid Row, Bon Jovi etc. for a few months and thought it would be funny to snort up the ants! It was, of course!

      October 29, 2010 at 1:53 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Chris

    And I suppose a deal with the devil was never thought of?

    October 29, 2010 at 1:24 pm | Report abuse |
  13. MS

    It's called dumb luck

    It's the same reason why Courtney Love is still alive despite having been a heroin addict for years and yet Shannon Hoon OD'd in 1995.

    October 29, 2010 at 1:31 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Vita

    "The test revealed some Neanderthal lineage." That explains a lot.

    October 29, 2010 at 1:42 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Texas Pete

    So how much goat and bat DNA did they find in his blood?

    October 29, 2010 at 1:46 pm | Report abuse |
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