No Need For The New World

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a species with a massively growing population must be in need of another planet.

And that’s our problem.  We don’t have a massively growing population.  We might not have a growing population at all.

For thirty years now I’ve had this funny feeling at the back of my head.  It started on coming to the States and hearing that Portugal had a birth rate of something like six children per woman.  It made me sort of sit back and blink.

Again, yes, I know that anecdote isn’t data, but I knew at least 10,000 families fairly well – those in the village – and I knew OF probably a million families if you count my school friends, people I knew casually, etc.  Of those I knew exactly three families with six or more children, one with four and a couple with three.  More common – far more common – was the family with two and one child.

Sure in my parents’ day six children weren’t unusual, though back then it was highly unusual to raise them all.  Mom came from a family of six that raised five, and dad came from a family of four that raised them all.  But their generation didn’t reproduce in nearly the same numbers. My generation as far as I can tell has hardly reproduced.  Or the generation before mine.

Because Portugal is a relatively traditional country compared to the US most boomers did get married (sometimes several times) but few of them had more than two children.  And in my in-between generation, I’m a miracle of fertility with two children.  (And, of course, I don’t live there.)

Of course, when Portugal joined the EU suddenly we were told its birth rate was beneath replacement.  Then there was the USSR.  It too was growing, and its population would in fact crush us, and then, suddenly, after the collapse, it has negative births vs. death.

Meanwhile I’d been getting a feeling – just a feeling – this sense that the population wasn’t “exploding” nearly at the rate we’d been told it was.  While school books and textbooks said that we were expanding at a geometric rate, it didn’t seem like that anywhere I looked.

It was sort of the feeling Heinlein described in one of his books, when he talks about how he and Ginny went to Moscow and it didn’t “feel” like it had the population they said it had.

I’ve studied history.  I know what a society with a rapidly expanding population (and young population at that) looks like, and we have none of the symptoms.  In fact, we have the opposite symptoms, though masked by “digesting” the huge lump of the boomers as it moves through the elephant.

Twenty years ago, discussing this with a friend, she called me crazy, because, she said, if the population wasn’t booming, why were houses taking up more and more green space?  Why were cities expanding into areas that had previously been forested?

My answer, of course, involved people preferring more space (I always live, by preference, in walkable neighborhoods.  It’s not a greeny thing, it’s the fact that I know if I don’t have to run errands on foot I will never walk.  I don’t even particularly prefer Victorian houses, though they can be neat – they’re also a pain to clean – but that’s what’s mostly available in walkable neighborhoods.) Most of the neighborhoods I’ve lived in, you can reach out the window and touch your neighbor’s hand if he reaches out.

These days only the cheapest suburbs do that.  (And our region was a suburb when first built.)

And yeah, in places like Portugal you see a lot more vertical building and the overtaking of traditional villages, but a lot of that is because – as we discussed here two days ago – people no longer wish to raise ten (or one) kid in an unheated hovel with two rooms.  (My mom’s parents raised a family of five in a home the size of my current bedroom.  It had bedroom, common room and kitchen.  The girls – three plus a cousin who more or less lived with them – slept in a double bed in the living room, two facing each way.  The boys slept next door at their grandmother’s house. Now, her parents were much poorer than my paternal grandparents, but those living arrangements were middle class in her day.  In fact, until I was seven, my parents had both children in very little more space, and either I or my brother were farmed to sleep next door at grandma’s.  And we were if not the upper crust of the village – those being rich farmers – but we were close to the top of the middle class there.)

What I mean is that most of the signs people scream about as “expanding population” are in fact signs of expanding affluence, or expanding demands in lifestyle.

There has for instance been a move en-masse from less desirable to more desirable areas.  In the states this seems to be a move from the old rust belt states to more sun-blessed areas.  Going to Ohio, where I was an exchange student thirty five years ago, last year, it was not only obvious that it was shrinking – there were a lot of boarded up areas; houses were being offered at ridiculously low prices; selection in stores was much smaller. – but also that it was stagnating.  Most of the people we ran into were older – our age and older – or very young, ie high school kids waiting to move out.  The “vital years” of say between twenty three and thirty five seemed to be largely absent, doubtless having moved elsewhere.

In Portugal the movement is from G-d forsaken villages to cities and the surroundings.  This is in accord to culture – the idea of suburbs puzzles me, and I suspect would puzzle most Portuguese.  Life is always in the city and has been since Rome tramped in – and facilitated by highways which make it easy to live in one city and work in another, but difficult to go anywhere from villages in the mountains. So the village where I grew up, being 10 km as the crow flies (?) or so from Porto (remember Europe, everything is scrunched together) has been overtaken by the city, but when we drove around in search of Celtic ruins to show the boys, we wandered up areas of boarded up villages, decaying farmhouses and areas so isolated you couldn’t hear a sound of civilization.  Many more so than one used to find when going through that region.

And the States had and might still have (though with La Grande Salida (sp?) this is unlikely) a growing population, but this is mostly due to immigration, not to our craptacular birth rate.  It is the same mechanism that draws people to the sun states, or the cities.  They’re looking for a better life.

But the important thing is that we don’t KNOW, and we can’t KNOW.

Censuses, even in the US where we take them semi-seriously are manipulated.  Mostly they’re manipulated upward.  Because our electoral system depends on proportional representation, people who feel threatened with losing power come up with adjustments to the head count.  “Uncounted populations” and “people who are afraid to answer questions” and…  And arbitrarily add a number of people to the top of the count every census.  How many are added depends on how many congress critters and ward bosses need to retain power – pretty much.  If you buy that’s a scientific process, I have some swampland in Florida.

We do know how that can be expanded, because it’s turning out, for instance, the number of uninsured people with chronic illnesses is less than a tenth what it was puffed up to be around the time they were trying to pass the Unaffordable Health Care Act.

And if you think that other countries are better – please!

In democratic countries, the benes are usually distributed per-head: representation, aid, pork for a particularly region.  In the non democratic ones – the ones that are usually net receivers of public aid – it gets even worse.  Far, far, far worse.  They’re not just lying to themselves.  They’re lying to the UN and international aid associations. Frankly, they’re probably also lying to their own country.  You have no idea – NONE – how law abiding the US is.  Even now.  Even with all the “illegal immigrants” supposedly hiding in the shadows.  In Portugal, which isn’t even a third world country, lawlessness is a way of life.  For instance, when I was a kid, the government insisted you pay a radio license (no one had TV.)  No one did.  QUITE LITERALLY no one.  When the inspectors came by (once a year or so) word came down from the entrance of the village and people would hide their radios.  As far as official statistics, in Portugal at the time no one owned a radio.  Even though radio soap operas were a growth industry.  It was a miracle.

Do you think they don’t lie about their number of children?  Particularly when the government pays a subsidy per head just for having children? (It’s called support of family.) Particularly when so many births take place at home and often people are slapdash about registering?

I’m surprised Portugal doesn’t STILL have a birth rate of six children per woman.  They must be losing their touch.  I suspect it has to do with EU mechanisms curtailing that.

But what about the countries that aren’t part of a semi-civilized polity?

These days it has become more or less fashionable to say that Islamic countries are the only ones growing in population.  The Muslim womb will conquer the world.  But there are the occasional reports, sneaking in, under the wire, on things like women having discovered the rhythm method via the web and limiting their own fertility.  And no one asks: who goes into the desert and counts the Bedouins?  Or do you go up to one guy and ask him how many children he has, then extrapolate?  And why would you trust a guy, for whom having more sons is more power and definitely more honor..

But Sarah, you say, you know that they’re immigrating to Europe in massive numbers.  Yes, they are, and do keep that in mind.  More on that later.  However, the numbers are not nearly as massive as they were when the Europeans were going the other way (to all the world, not just Muslim countries, not considered particularly desirable at the time.)  Keep that in mind too.  Their immigration has more to do with their truly bankrupt economies than with their birth rate.  Portugal has a birthrate below replacement, but anyone with a bit of initiative still immigrates (usually to England these days, seems like.)

Also keep in mind that though their first generation seems to have much higher fertility (seem to have, you say?  Well, look, even in the US welfare recipients, which a lot of these first generation immigrants from third world countries are, are known to borrow neighbor’s children to show up at the welfare office.  Also, I’ve heard from social workers, they often apply for welfare at all cities within driving distance, under different names/addresses.  You think CLOSED ethnic communities largely hostile to the host country wouldn’t do the same?  Why?) than natives, the second and subsequent generations match with locals.

Is this happening?  I can’t tell you.  NO ONE CAN.  Because if the figures aren’t reliable, then we’ve got nothing.

The last time I talked about this, someone said “give us a way to investigate, and we’ll do it.”  The problem is that I’m not a trained anthropologist and I can only guess at methods.  One of the methods, if you can get those figures (and I’m going to guess you can only get it for the more developed countries) is to find the sources of water to a city, then supposed population and calculate whether that’s even possible.  Another would be with the food entering the city.  Another yet would be to count houses, occupancy, and figure out if it’s possible to have close to that population.

I don’t even know how to get those figures, though I suspect some of you do.  And in water sources, at least, you’re going to contend with “green” propaganda which tries to exaggerate water one way or another.

But Sarah, if you have nothing concrete, how can you say you know the statistics are wrong?

Well… first, because as I said, they’re not even particularly smart, even in the US about telling you they’re “inferring” people who are “hiding.”  And the movement is always in one direction.  They never say “this family answered the census twice in different addresses, so they can receive welfare at two locations.”

Second because there are things I know have happened – the AIDS epidemic in Africa, say – which were barely a blip on the demographic radar, in an absolutely impossible way.

Then there’s – as with evidence of self-deportation in the US right now – just… living day to day somewhere.  You see things.  One of the first signs in my region that people were leaving back to South America was that the mostly Latin high school closed, and its remaining population was dispersed to other schools.

In the same way – look, read the Heinlein juveniles.  They’re not of course a record of the future, but they’re a reasonable extrapolation of what an exploding population looks like.  This happened, historically, in Elizabethan England (not through an increase of birth rate, but through an increase in survival of infants) at proportionally larger rates than the boomers here.  It happened in most of Europe at the same time.

So, what does an expanding population look like, from other signs?  Well, humans are a colonizing species.  When we have an excess of young, we send them off.  They go and find new land, new places.  They go and discover new things.  Life changes very fast, and not just technology-change-fueled.  There’s new fashions, new mores, exploring of new (usually really old) ways of living.  There’s a feeling of POWER to the youth.

What there isn’t is a bunch of kids living with their parents and re-hashing the “controversial” ways of their parents or grandparents.  What there isn’t is overprotective parents struggling not to lose their one or one of two chicks.  What there isn’t is a sense of restraint and traditionalism to the culture.  (Which, yes, we do have.  It’s just our “traditional” got set in the last population explosion and it was influenced by Soviet propaganda.)

And that’s part of your answer on why Space colonization isn’t happening – it isn’t happening because there’s no population pressure driving it.  It is a longing of the mind, not the body.  But even if you think that Space is too hard to conquer, there isn’t other colonization taking place.  There are plenty of regions in this globe that are – yes – still untouched, including much of the Americas.  Beyond that, there is easier colonization than space, including some sort of “living on the sea” arrangements.  But it isn’t happening.  It JUST isn’t.  Why not?  Because there’s no pressure. (Which is also why it’s possible to abandon less hospitable areas.)

And then there’s the international financial crisis.  Socialist and socialist light regimes REQUIRE larger generations each time, in order to keep going.  They’re not getting that.  Demand is soft because the consumers counted aren’t there.

This is where I bear the bad tidings: writers of the golden age of SF imagined a falling population kind of like Europe after the plague, but they forgot something.  That was an abrupt fall and the few survivors inherited a lot from the dead, leading for many of them to a surplus for the first time.  Which in turn fueled an expansion.

But a naturally falling population looks different.  It’s a narrowing of consumer demand, a narrowing of expectations.  It’s becoming a little poorer every generation and – because of our expanding life spans, at least for now – a smaller younger contingent supporting a huge aged one.  Which makes having children harder.

If this sounds familiar, that’s what we’re stuck in.

I don’t hold it against Heinlein not having seen it.  Yes, he should have, but there was no genetic evidence (which we have now) that humans are like any other scavenging population self-limiting.  If we get the sense there’s too many of us around the population seems to limit, either volitionally or through some biological mechanism (perhaps explaining the epidemic of infertility.) Also in his time, it seemed like all the rules had been swept away.  Humans were living in new, new ways and nothing was impossible.

He was right at least in one thing.  When he said population pressures cause war, he was right.  But it wasn’t population in toto.  It was population of YOUNG people in proportion to old.  If you want to know why the cold war never went massively hot – that was it.  It came close during the boom, but then it cooled again.

I don’t believe in massive conspiracies.  You know that.  I think a conspiracy of more than a few dozen people with a lot to lose is highly unlikely.  But this wouldn’t take a conspiracy.  It takes a hundred little acts of corruption, a thousand acts of lack of exactness.  And once the figures move out of the village, out of the region, out of the city, out of the country, other governing bodies aren’t aware and take those as gospel truth.

It is a thing that humans are prone to – taking written numbers seriously and acting as though they were true.

And this, in turn, brings out cries of how we’re overpopulated and we’re all going to die.

I made this bet before and I’ll make it again – in twenty years, we’ll hear panicked cries, as the evidence of a fallen population (as the boomers die) becomes clear.  Governments will then try to tell people still of an age to reproduce it’s their duty to have kids.

Might very well be too little too late by then.  My biologist son tells me that the human species has gone through at least three bottle necks when populations around the world were reduced to maybe a few dozen individuals, maybe a few hundred.  There is a pattern of this, which means it’s part of who we are.  Though I hope this time is the first time we’ve talked ourselves into it through statistics.

However, meanwhile, please stop screaming at me about “exploding populations.”  You don’t know.  And neither do I.  No one knows, because all our figures are vitiated by the interests of those who are supposed to curate them.

What we know is that humans are certainly not expanding and not claiming brave new territory.  And those of us like me who think we must go to space; we must expand or risk losing civilization, have a tough, tough row to hoe.  Because there is no population pressure pushing us outward, and no vast numbers of expendable young to send ahead of us.

And that might kill us.

643 thoughts on “No Need For The New World

  1. It’s fascinating that even now, as we face an aging, poorer population, social pressure still leans towards smaller families. I belong to a subculture (Catholic homeschoolers) which favors larger families, but we’re derided as freaks wherever we go. (Because I have 5 kids. And I’m pregnant. And they’re all from the SAME DAD.) I think actually the ‘odds,’ will be the ones to start having kids again. Because we learned long ago that the cool kids will always hate us. And there’s a comfort in having your own little tribe where the people are fascinated by circuits and robotics and board games and scifi and fantasy and weird random ideas that explode into something bizarrely creative.

    I think the next 20-30 years will be a bit of a downer, but after that? The oddballs and nerds will inherit the earth, because we actually LIKE our children.

    1. I WANTED eleven. (sigh.) I shall adopt as many fans as possible who fit in with my very odd natural kids, so I can have a TRIBE of grandchildren. (Grins.)

      1. Mrs. Dave’s stated ambition is five. I’m terrified by the prospect, but supportive. I’ve spent a chunk of our time planning for it. Watch out, world.

        1. I’ve heard accounts that four is the tipping point after which you start to think you can always handle one more.

          1. By the time the fourth one is walking, the first one is old enough to start helping, unless there were some multiples in there.

            1. Once was on a discussion where someone solemnly declared that you can’t have a large family without forcing the older children into a parental position.

              An explosion of mirth, where the parents and children of large family declared at length that the parents can’t stop the older children.

              1. Truth. My girls even do it with the neighbor’s kids– and Duchess is only a few months older than their “baby;” likewise, their “baby” tries to help with Baron, including demanding a chance to “hold” the baby.

                Ever hear a two year old run around yelling “no, baby, no! Don’t do that!”? Die of cute…..

            2. By the time the fifth one (me) was walking, the first was driving.

              But I don’t recall any of my siblings taking on a parent role. Particularly the one that zipped me into a suitcase.

                1. Yes. My husband’s older brother LOCKED him in a travel trunk, which his dad had to ax open.
                  My brother never locked me anywhere. Mostly because I was slippery and evil. I think.

                2. Packed one into the toybox, sat on the lid, and read. Mom and Dad were Not Amused. I think at the time I wanted them to ship him back to where he came from.

                    1. I don’t recall exactly, but I think there was something about 90-day return-to-hospital period mentioned. It’s been a “few” years. 🙂

                3. My parents were mean to me. I was not allowed to abuse my little brother like all the other older brothers got to do, because little brother was “handicapped”. Little brother is still an asshole, and I wish to meet him in Paraguay with my second and my surgeon.

                  1. Robert? Why are you posting as justhisguy? (Marshall had heart issues, as well as sensory issues, so Robert wasn’t allowed to pound him. Oh, Robert was also double his weight till Marsh went through puberty. Robert says lack of brotherly torture has made his little brother “insufferable.” I think my brother had similar opinions about me. Pfui.)

                    1. Yup. It’s the last place in the world which allows it. I was thinking of Antarctica, too, where there are (were) no laws, but some weasel in a black robe has decided that U.S. laws apply in Antarctica, even in contravention of the Antarctic Treaty.

              1. Well, I was presuming a family where they were getting on with having the children, rather than spacing them out. My closest sibling is 14 years older than me, and did babysitting duty quite a bit. The other was graduating from high school the year I was born, and moving away to go to tech school.

                My father’s family, on the other hand, had 10 children who survived, out of 12, over a period of 23 years.

          2. We now have four. There will be no more, I’m sure, especially since the last three are all adopted, and the state won’t let us do that any more. We wanted twelve. Mom was fifth of ten, dad was the oldest of eleven (all of Mom’s siblings lived to adulthood [just lost my Aunt Marie earlier this year – she was the oldest, and died at 99], Dad lost two to a tornado in 1947, which is one of the reasons my parents moved back to Louisiana from California). Only one of Mom’s siblings is alive, the youngest. Four of Dad’s still live, including the two aunts of mine that are eight and six years older than I am (made it HE$$ going through elementary school).

          3. After four you’re saturated. Once you’re saturated you can add as many more as you like without significantly changing anything.

          4. One of my patient’s fathers once told me that going from two kids to three was going from man-on-man defense to zone defense.

      2. I’m available for adoption but I was hoping for a taller father. Have I sent you my list of requirements?

      3. I was a SBOC and my wife was one of three, but we both wanted plenty of children. Since my wife was a baker’s daughter we joked about having a baker’s dozen. Somewhere along the line reality set in. In the middle of pregnancy number four, my wife informed me that this was the end of the line. Even if number 4 was not a daughter, she was done. Of course we wound up with 4 boys.

        Now we have 4 great daughter-in-laws, and 6 grandkids (so far).

        1. My maternal grandparents had five daughters. Just down the road lived a couple who had six children – five older daughters and one baby boy. The gentleman would often urge my grandfather “One more time, Senor! One more time!”

        2. I wanted four. My wife said Hell No even to adoption, we ended up with two. They are both in stable long term marriages, great carreers, and are now 35 and 33 and we have no grandchildren. Very very few of my highschool classmates have grandchildren. Thus, I completely concurr with the conclusions Sarah puts up. Most annoying.

      4. > I WANTED eleven.

        Fiance and I each want six or so. Sadly, we didn’t find each other until we were in our late 30s, and nature and biology have their own rhythms.

        So: adoption! Not sure if we can get six at our age, but maybe we can do a sibling adoption of four or five.

        1. You probably can, especially if you go through a private adoption agency. Both Catholic Youth Services and Lutheran Services will allow people up to 65 to adopt, although they prefer younger parents. They also are great for keeping a family of children together. Jewish Social Services can also provide adoption options. You don’t have to be Catholic, Jewish, or Lutheran to use these services, although if the child is Jewish, they will ask you to raise the child Jewish. That can be rough on Gentile families at times.

          1. … if the child is Jewish, they will ask you to raise the child Jewish.

            Oy vey!!! Give it to Chuck Lorre and the sitcom writes itself!! For so many of modern American Jews the religious strictures are so greatly diluted that about all that remains is a liking for Chinese food and an over-bearing Momma laying on the guilt trip.

            1. Hey, that makes us observant Jews! Rejoicing. Will tell older son there’s no need to upend our lifestyle should his permanent tottering finally fall that way.

            2. Had an observant Jew in our geek group on the ship. We spent most of Lent trading “recipes” to manage to get a balanced diet without breaking our religious codes.

              1. You remind me of Herman Wouk. When he was in the War in the Pacific, he was the only observant Jew within a thousand miles at times. After a while, the sailors, being superstitious as all sailors are, would sneak up behind him when he was praying and touch his phylacteries for good luck. Last time I looked, he was still alive. Goes to show what clean living and righteous thoughts will do for you. Like all God’s chillun these days, he has a Web site.

                1. Herman is a good guy – he’s a member at my synagogue, although he’s departed DC for parts warmer in the recent years. All of the veterans have stories which sound kind of like that, and I think that’s pretty cool.

          2. > if the child is Jewish, they will ask you to raise the child Jewish. That can be rough on Gentile families at times.

            I’m interested enough in Judaism that I took a semester of Hebrew in college (the one time I’ve used it since: figuring out the inscription on the side of a blacksmithing hammer), but as a follower of the One True Church, ecumenicism doesn’t come very easily to me.

            Catholic Youth Services it is!

            1. Most of my friends who’ve tried to adopt through Catholic Charities have had a 5 year long wait– or more. It’s harder to adopt when no one is having kids.

                1. I feel obligated at this point to warn you that most overseas adoption agencies are scam artists, and the remaining few are con artists that will prolong the process and soak you for as many bribesfees as they can get away with before giving up the kid. Who may not be an orphan at all.

                  1. > I feel obligated at this point to warn you that most overseas adoption agencies are scam artists

                    This is not the experience of the four people I know who have adopted from overseas; every one of them had a perfect experience.

                    While I don’t doubt that some are scam artists, I do question the word “most”.

                    1. I’ll admit, my view of the process comes based on the African source, through my husband, on the Russian source, through expatriates. If there’s a mechanism on the American side for filtering through the vast majority of scamming sources and returning a small but high-quality few non-scams that aren’t, that is excellent.

                    2. The ones I know who adopted from overseas have 20 year olds. If we got a lot of money, we’d go through our church services anyway. What’s stopping us is the cost — we figure around 50k per child, minimum. If I had a bestseller…

                    3. > What’s stopping us is the cost — we figure around 50k per child, minimum. If I had a bestseller…

                      Tell you what. I’ll buy 1,000 copies of your next book, and you buy 1,000 copies of my next book, and…





                    4. Sarah- FWIW, I know several couples who basically had babies handed to them. Word got around that they were looking to adopt, and people from their community approached them and said “Hey, there’s this teenager who’s pregnant, and she’d really like to give the baby to you.”

                      Those “take my baby, please!” adoptions tend to be cheaper.

                      So…. if you’re serious about adopting, make sure everyone who knows you KNOWS you’d like to adopt!

                    5. One of the gals I went to school with became utilitarian-pro-life because of “all the ads” from folks asking for gals who were pregnant and didn’t want the kid to give them the baby.
                      No idea what the non-newspaper version is. Craigs list?

                  2. Hmm, professionally I have to disagree. The overseas adoptions I’ve been involved in have been good experiences with healthy-ish kids, and several of the domestic adoptions have been amazing disasters.

            2. You might try all of them– depending on your area, the evangelicals will work with CYS and the Jewish groups, and they’ll all man crisis pregnancy centers. iChoice is a nice group. (They help with pregnancies, and are very careful to check that the folks aren’t being abused, and offer couples-counseling if folks want to keep their child. I didn’t know where to go for a pro-life doctor and found a planned parenthood site accusing them of everything short of killing JFK, so I went there to get a list of places.)

              1. If you want to know a man (or an organization), look at who his (or their) enemies are. Nice approach, Foxfier. It wouldn’t have occurred to me, but it should have.

              2. You want to get some strange looks if you are a guy? Go into a Planned Parenthood and ask for the morning after pill. (they had banned it for veterinary use at the time, and that was where the vet tech recommended obtaining it)

                  1. For them to even ask you would be a violation of your privacy, and to deny it would be an infringement on your freedom to make your own choices.

                    Besides, how dare they reach any conclusions about your plumbing based on your public presentation. That’s lookist!

      5. *happy thought*
        Occasionally, I feel a little angry at my folks– they had three and four siblings each, and a whole pack of first cousins.

        Half of my dad’s family didn’t reproduce. None of my mom’s siblings had more than two. My kids have fewer their-generation cousins than my folks had siblings.

        I understand they were facing the same pressures that we are– almost exactly, actually, although their Jimmy didn’t get reelected and we have access to lot more good information now– but it’s not a rational resentment.

        Adopting extra “grandparents” is a good solution.

    2. (Referring to my comment further down) I think this may be another reason people come to this area. No one treats you badly either because you have chosen to take care of your family instead of working outside the home (though many do work outside the home), or because you have more than 2.5 children. They are far more likely to say, “wow, you’re tougher than I am” if they aren’t likely to have more than a couple.

    3. I wanted four, myself – I thought that was a good solid number for a family. Alas, I only had the one, since her father bailed on us early on, and I was too shellshocked by that to even consider serious relationships or marriage.

    4. I wanted 4 children. But I’m not married and I refuse to purposely be a single mother. The children deserve better than that. At least I have nieces and nephews upon which to dote.

      1. Yeah, looks like I’m not going to have them either — never found their father

          1. Indeed, though mine is a guy in my shop deciding he wouldn’t allow the new airman to eat alone and dragging me over to the geek group.

          2. For me it was an ice cream social – for my lovely bride it was a nagging sister telling her “Okay, you got into MENSA, when are you going to one of their events?” and a crashed copy of WordPerfect.

            We met, we clicked – she invited me over with my bootleg copy to reinstall it so she could continue on her Master’s thesis… and I asked her to dinner after doing so.

            We got married a bit over a year later, and this September we’ll be at 20 years.

            1. I was waiting for my brother to get out of a meting, and I hadn’t brought a book (I’d just signed up for classes in college and walked over to Alvarim’s office as he was going to take me to lunch.) His phone was unmetered. (He worked for the phone company.) I called Dan’s mom. (Her number was easy to remember, and I didn’t have my address book.) She was busy. She gave me Dan’s number. I called him. We talked for an hour and a half. that was Sept 1984. We were married July 1985. Anniversary a week from now. Twenty eight years? REALLY? Where did time go?

              1. Devoured by the gaping maws of your ravening horde? Not to mention the effect of housing portals to other worlds in your conscious and subconscious minds.

    5. Because I have 5 kids. And I’m pregnant. And they’re all from the SAME DAD.

      I’ll echo that this isn’t just a “your kids are odd because you homeschool” thing, since I know trolls like to use that angle of attack….

      My eldest isn’t old enough for preschool yet, and I managed to horrify some of the ladies at church because we have three. Folks even try to interpret the almost-two year old as a twin of the three and a half year old, because that would make “sense.”
      (Followed medical advice– waited a year between pregnancies. Now officially sick of folks cheerily telling me “oh, good, you finally got a boy! Now you can stop!” Uh… ‘finally’? Unless we were “wanting” a boy first, how is #3 being a boy ‘finally’? Seriously fighting the desire to have another kid just to shut them up. Not a good motive, unworthy of a parent and an insult to the kid…human, though, since they’re insulting my husband and I and implying one of my daughters is a mistake.)

      1. Do you need a motive to have a kid? A kid is its own motive 😉 Okay, okay, I’ll stop enabling, but I’ve seen pictures. You make cute kiddies.

          1. See now… after three (and some of each) and discovering how different they each were… I started thinking in terms of… wow… I wonder what will come out NEXT time?

            1. Ours have also been quite the gamut of personalities and quirks – and there are only three of them so far! The funny things is how, as different as they are, they’re still so clearly from the Oyster family. Blood will out, in the oddest ways.

      2. I have four and at one time all four were age 6 and under. It’s not easy, for certain it’s not! If I could see a point in having them farther apart it would be to have only two at any given time whose hands *must* be held.

        I feel a bit like a poseur, though, only having four. Only four! I admire women who seem to enjoy pregnancy and stay organized with the little ones and who are willing to have more. Any time after three, though, it was the ladies at church and everyone else and random strangers and no one seemed to know how to cope with my choices… “Oh, you’re pregnant… your second?” “No… third.” And then the most stupid socially inept BS starts falling out of their mouths…

        A friend of mine when we lived in California had five. Her middle child was handicapped and it was the church ladies judging… she wasn’t supposed to have any more, you see. And how horrible would have that been not to have her two younger, perfectly healthy children because their older brother was special needs? If she had always wanted a large family, why should that change her mind?

        1. There have been women who have be handed consent forms for the C-section with the part about consenting to have her tubes tied was already checked off.

          1. I have whined about the policy over here of asking the woman while she is in labor if she’s getting her tubes tided, right?

            1. Actually anyone asking me that while I was in labor would have got his nose bitten off. Literally. Or any other body part I could reach. I become mean under extreme pain. Also a little feral.
              BTW with me it was when I started having hormonal problems at 37 — caused by a botched caesarean with number one boy. Long story — basically same issues I’m still having because… never mind. Menopause seems to be taking its sweet time and it’s only thing that will stop this — WITHOUT TESTING me or indeed trying to do anything, the proposed double solution was always “You’re menopausal.” (I clearly wasn’t. The hormone profile is almost opposite.) AND “Let’s take out your uterus.” (Having had a friend with a similar issue have an hysterectomy, it doesn’t solve the problem, just makes it less visible.) When I objected to the “solution” I got a puzzled expression “But you’re done having kids.” It took me till 47 to get someone to actually take an hormone profile before coming out with this “diagnosis.” Granted, she also suggested removing my uterus. I’ll point out this is a US obsession, and also that it creates other issues even when it solves the problem (which in this case it wouldn’t.)

      3. People don’t seem to realize that it’s not that homeschooling makes kids odd…. it’s that parents who were oddballs who didn’t fit in at school and who found the whole ‘7 hours in a desk reviewing things you learned years ago’ a waste of time are more likely to homeschool their kids…

        Because why should we put the short people through that hell?

        I’d actually send my kids to HS if they could go to one like my old high school. (It was a math/science magnet. Nerd heaven.) But… as it is, I like the fact that my kids hang out in a crowd where no one makes fun of them for reading a lot and liking museums and robots.

        1. The advantage of being fairly sure none of their classmates will slam your kid’s head in his own car door is nice, too. And they’re unlikely to be expelled for being right while disagreeing with a teacher…..

          1. Four boys and a girl, in that order, homeschooled. Second generation homeschooled, at that. Looking at our local schools, I’m glad we’re not dealing with them. I’ve got friends with smart kids who are struggling to get them an adequate education without either parent having to quit working: the teachers say right up front they aren’t mandated to offer the smart kids appropriate education, only the disabled.
            Also there’s the whole zero tolerance for boy-play, we’re going to put it in your permanent record nonsense. Seriously, they’re boys. They make finger guns and run around shooting stuff when they aren’t wrestling with each other.
            I can say that the LDS families in my area are shrinking as far as I’ve observed. I knew several twelve-kid families when I was a kid, and six to eight was pretty normal. My generation seems to be leaning towards three or four kids. There are a lot fewer vans and a lot more minivans on the road as well.

        2. ————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————–Deirdre, I hope and trust that you’ve taught Adele to shoot straight, in case she has to make her own way in the world after Speaker Leary cuts your head off.—————————————————————————

          1. OHHHHHHHHH… That’s why, when I search my name on Amazon, a David Drake novel keeps coming up. (facepalm). And here I thought Amazon was just nuts.

            1. Oh, Adele is way cool; she is my Ideal of the perfect librarian, unlike most actual librarians whom I’ve cordially hated since I learned to read, over half a century ago. She has all possible information at her fingertips, and is a scary dead-eye shot with her pistol. She also has a sociopathic killer servant who is as loyal as a dog to her.

    6. I get this too. We’re catholic, married five years, have a girl (2 1/2) and a boy (2 months). Everyone says “oh, you have a boy and a girl. Perfect!” With the implication (or sometimes explicit statement) “so you’re done now!”

      When I tell them we’re not, there is usually a yawning gulf of silence between us.

      1. Well, of course not. Two can keep a conspiracy, but three means there always one that can be pressured/slighted into telling. It’s far easier to raise three.

        (Not meant to imply you ought stop at three. Just to give them something to chew on when they imply you ought to stop.)

      2. My first is a boy… my second is a girl who now has decided she’s a boy… also, accidents happen. Having all of one sort makes some things easier, like sticking them in bunk beds all in the same room. A friend with a large family suggests four kids make it easier to all fit in a regular sized mini-van and easier to share a 6 pack of soda. (Though he had six kids last I heard.)

        I’ll be honest, I sort of hoped my fourth would be a boy so we’d have two of each simply for practical reasons. Dividing up bedrooms has been a hassle because you end up with one kid in his own room and then you need to stack the girls like cord wood. Few houses have room sizes that vary enough to make it all seem fair. Certainly having one of each doesn’t save anything at all on bedroom space. Two of one sort would be cheaper.

  2. “Amateurs study tactics, professionals study logistics.” Look at water (you already picked that one up), food supplies, amount of garbage, consumption of fuels, ridership on public transport and traffic on the highways. But the population growth is following a yeast-growth law pretty well; it’s just that instead of poisoning ourselves with wastes, we’re noting that we don’t need eleven kids some one or two will grow up to reproduce; they’re all likely to grow old enough to breed, so the survival strategy is to have a few kids who you can get through college.

    1. That’s exactly what Heinlein did to resolve his feelings about the size of Moscow. He consulted a logistician, if I recall correctly, who told him that there weren’t enough rail lines running into the city to feed the putative population.

    2. Darn straight, Charlie.

      A good proxy for Muslim presence in Europe is the consumption of Halal meat and products. The distribution businesses in Southern Europe say that this market segment represents 15% to 20% of the population.

      1. Depending on the cost of halal stuff and what difference it makes on cooking results, it will error one way or the other– if halal marks are as good an indicator of quality and safety as kosher ones are, non-Muslims may buy them, while if the cost is too high some Muslims will not buy them and either go without or feel guilty– but that is a very good indicator!

        I don’t know what makes food halal beyond a slaughter method and a suitable religious official being involved, but I know some folks buy from a kosher butcher because they object to factory farms and/or don’t trust labeling.

          1. They rinse/soak the freshly cleaned chicken in saltwater, don’t they?

            I believe that’s called “brining” when a cook does it…

          2. Every now and then I take a look at the non-kosher aisle and realize—it’s expensive to live the life I do. (My great-to-thenth grandpa musta wrote God a blank check 3,300 years ago.)

            @SPQR: How’s about you email it to me and I post it? ☺

            @Foxfier: Actual kosher meat is washed & rinsed with fresh water, then dredged with salt and left to stand for an hour before the salt is rinsed off. (Google will turn up more details than you could possibly be interested in.) But if it’s just the flavor you’re looking for, brining will work as well.

            1. N.B. – the Kosher rules are obsessive about removing all blood, which should explain the two-step process.

              There are also rules about how the critter is killed, rules which minimize pain (perhaps thus avoiding last-minute adrenaline flush which would affect flavour/texture of the meat.)

                1. Sadly, since posting that comment I have been haunted by the idea of a Jewish vampire trying to keep Kosher …

                  1. I believe some folks have managed background-character vampires that are Catholic.

                    Three guesses how they survive, and the first two don’t count. 🙂

                    1. If you’ve never read F. Paul Wilson’s Midnight Mass FIND IT AND READ IT. I’m serious. (The short story. Not the novel. The novel ruins the whole thing. Sigh.)

                    2. I love libraries that you can reserve stuff online… it is ordered!

                      (they also bring up results for all authors and stories in a collection)

                    3. The Catholic Vampires become Catholic Priest and drink the Communion wine that has become the Blood of Christ. (I read one short story where that was the ending.)

                    1. There are no elves born of kidnapped Jewish women. Make your own Jewish American Princess jokes to provide explanation.

              1. Temple Grandin has a link on her web site to a post by a Rabbi in Israel praising her reforming of the Kosher slaughter process in an abbatoir or two in which she was consulted. The Rabbi admitted that his people had been getting slack, not keeping their knives sharp, not considering the feelings of the cows, etc. He admitted that it took a Gentile to teach him how to do what he should have been doing all along. Professor Grandin likes cows, and also likes to eat cow meat. Therefore, she has spent a large part of her life designing facilities for humane slaughter of cows.

            2. Thank you; I actually mostly interested in terms of “if we have a guest that keeps kosher, I need to know more than that I don’t serve bacon cheeseburgers” type things, and wanting to know why, but it’s so fun to know…. part of why I started following TheGamian(sp)’s blog, IIRC.

              1. Ok, next question, what is the difference between a Kosher Dill and a regular Dill Pickle? I am admittedly ignorant on the Kosher rules, but having helped make dill pickles I am unable to think of what ingredients would be non-kosher.

                  1. My guess was going to be that the Kosher dill was prepared in a kitchen maintained according to Kosher laws.

                    That’s a lie; I was going to say: the Kosher dill has had a bris?

                    1. Oh, gads, RES, and I’d planned on making a cucumber salad to go with supper today. Drat you, marsupial, drat you to heck!

                1. Ahahha!

                  I went and looked– the straight dope boards pointed out that “koshering” also applies to being treated with salt, and that kosher dills are mostly preserved with salt, rather than vinegar; normal dills are the other way ’round.

                  1. Ah, the dills I have made were I guess vinegar preserved. Both vinegar and salt used, but I think vinegar would be the main preservative. I never really studied it out to figure which one was the main preservative, since both are preservatives I guess I just figured they were working in tandem, but it has been years and I basically just did what I was told.

                    1. Wise choice when learning.

                      Now I want to find out if pickled garlic always in a brine solution, since that’s why my Italian aunt’s mom always did….

                    2. Black or green olives? I love black olives, and unlike a certain undead cat around here, consider garlic one of the essential food groups, so garlic and black olives sounds good. I have never found green olives done a way I like, but my try them brined in garlic.

                    3. Our local Tom Thumb has green olives with minced garlic and spices that I like on their olive bar, I’m pretty sure they do business as Safeway on the West Coast.

                    4. The Kroger stores here have decided to put in Olive bars. I kind of like the olives stuffed with Garlic or with Mozzarella cheese, although I don’t eat many at a time, because green olives are generally too strong-tasting for me. I much prefer the black ones, too.

                    1. I see Sarah has already said not to be drinking when you read here, but I suggest preventative measures: get one of those plastic keyboard covers that will keep the liquids out even if you forget and spew something all over it.

                    2. Electrical contact cleaner. Well, possibly not needed for coffee, but I have a habit of being in the middle of working on something and when I come to something I don’t know how to take apart (or put back together) coming in and looking it up on the internet; with my greasy hands.

              2. Ummmm … if you have a guest who keeps Kosher you probably can’t feed them anything. Unless you go out and buy special cookware and serving items. This would probably not apply if you’re vegetarian, but unless you know you’ve never served cheese, for example, on the plate you use for the guest’s ‘burger …

                OTOH, it is the responsibility of the guest who keeps Kosher to not place such an imposition on you, and they ought take steps to obviate the necessity.

                1. I actually got a lot of tips from a cruise ship where some guests found out they didn’t offer kosher meals, when the agent had claimed they did– the chef did cooking with lots of tinfoil, and new cookware, and used disposable eating utensils.

                  The story of the teacher and his student that ate breakfast on a fasting day because they were guests actually won me a lot of brownie points with my mom when a beloved neighbor couple invited us over for steak dinner… on a Good Friday…. (Poor mom was so terrified I’d embarrass the neighbors by refusing to eat with them!)

                  1. Seems irresponsible to have booked a cruise without confirming which kosher certifying agency was supervising the kosher food preparation. (There are some people claiming to offer such service who are equally ignorant of Jewish dietary law and commercial & industrial food prep; and the Establishment Clause limits any sort of governmental oversight or licensing.)

                    The story with breaking a fast day… I dunno. The host would have needed his guests’ cooperation in making sure the food he was serving was kosher, so they should have mentioned, “by the way, Tuesday’s a fast so don’t make us anything that day.”

                    1. I seem to remember that the ship had actually been certified at one point, so the agent had all the papers…just didn’t mention they weren’t, anymore. It was a reprint of a newspaper article, so would’ve been a very long time ago!

                      IIRC, it was just a teaching story.

                  1. I don’t know, as I don’t keep Kosher, but a quick [SEARCHENGINE] suggests … it depends? First, only eggs from kosher animals are allowed, meaning the chickens have to be kept according to Kosher rules:

                    Eggs from kosher birds are kosher; they are also considered pareve (neutral; neither milk nor meat.) Eggs that contain blood may not be used. A partially-formed egg which is found inside of a slaughtered bird may be eaten, but it must undergo the same process of blood removal as the animal, and it is considered to be fleishig.

                    Kosher birds include: capon, duck (domestic), goose (domestic), chicken, turkey, guinea fowl and many others. As a general principle, scavenging birds such as eagles and vultures are not considered kosher, and others (generally) are.

                    Leviticus outlines the non-kosher birds and the rest are all kosher. In practice, however, only the birds that Jews have a tradition of eating are actually eaten.

                    1. Oh… my… this gives a nasty spin to the folks who want to argue that grain is the root of all our problems:
                      Challah or hallah is a traditional Jewish bread eaten on Shabbat and Jewish holidays (except Passover, when leavened bread is not allowed).

                      On Shabbat every Jew is commanded to eat three meals (one on friday night and two on Saturday). According to Judaism, one is only considered one who consumed a meal if he ate bread.
                      Since of the three meal mandate Jews will traditionaly eat a Challah before they eat their Shabbat meal. Like with any other type of bread, the blessing “Baruch atah Adonai, eloheinu melech ha’olam, hamotzi lechem min ha’aretz.” is recited.

                      Translated it means “Blessed ar You, Lord, our God, King of the Universe, Who brings forth bread from the earth.”

                    2. Well, yeah, you can hardly seethe an egg in its mother’s milk.

                      It is, indeed, a little odd that birds are considered meat vs. milk, since you can’t seethe a chick in its mother’s milk, either.

                    3. Treating poultry as meat in this sense is a rabbinical enactment. This stricture atop the Biblical rule was still under discussion as recently as 1800 years ago, but was universally¹ accepted shortly thereafter.

                      1. Except for the Ethiopian Jews, who were at the time out of general contact with the rest of us.

                    4. “Rabbinical enactment”. Heh. I mind the Karaites, who are the Southern Baptist equivalent among the Jews, as in “We can read the plain Hebrew of the Torah as well as the next guy, and don’t need no steenking Rabbis to tell us what it means!”

                      I was on a Karaite mailing list for a while. I think they figured out I was a Gentile and cut me off.

              3. Our old geek group (pre-kids) was about half Jewish and a third vegetarian, so cooking was fun. Parties often had three separate tables. Fortunately non of them kept kosher so strictly I needed a separate kitchen (which is good since we couldn’t afford it.) (Most of them were also single, so any food that someone else cooked was going to be appreciated.)

        1. There is a good reason for people to buy Kosher even if they don’t keep Kosher:

          A timeless ad.

          1. I don’t remember that ad– (parents didn’t have a TV during that time), but I do buy kosher hotdogs… cause they do taste better. 😉

        2. A guy I know of is making fairly good money raising goats and selling them to Muslims, they bring a religious official out to the farm to do all the slaughtering for it to be all halal, before Ramadan and such they will often slaughter a hundred goats in a day, the Muslims are their and as their goat is slaughtered and bled they load it up and take off with a halal goat in their trunk; for about 2-3 times the price of a normal goat.

    3. In rural farming environments, children are an asset; you don’t have to hire any help, since they will work for you. Interestingly enough, this is how industrialized child labor got started; families wanted to make their children productive assets, just like on the countryside.

      In modern urban and suburban environments, however, children are a liability. You can’t send them to work for a meaningful salary, so even though you love them and care about them, they are money sinks. Hence, fewer children as the world urbanizes.

    4. Don’t stop with water and garbage and food .. look at sewage. As a remarkably non-sexy number it’s less likely to be futzed with.

      Even with the eco-friendly toilets, one can figure a number of flushes per person, look at the capacity of the plants available, and do the math.

      I will point out that the main problem with sewage and cities is the old (not *that* old, pre-1960s) tendency to build a unified stormwater/sanitary system, but this works to our theoretical anthropologists’ advantage … there are plenty of screaming sewer departments out there…


  3. O tempura, o morays!
    Your innovations to English are uniformly in an erudite direction!

        1. Spider Robinson had his Callahan’s Crosstime Saloon characters do an entire riff of these once. My favorite:

          If your vitamins be
          Only C, D and E,
          Have some more A…

  4. Reminds me a bit of one of C.S. Lewis’s essay where he was talking about the perception that Christianity had been declining over the years. One of the indications was that the chapel attendance in the universities was going down. Lewis pointed out that the chapel attendance didn’t decline, it plummeted, once they ceased being mandatory,

  5. Bottlenecks why we got so much bad-ass in us. Sweetness and light, they for good times. Did you know your neighbours are made of tasty meat? Your bottleneck ancestors figured that out quicker than their neighbors.

    1. Pass, thanks: I’ve seen what humans eat. I’ll stick with pork, beef, poultry and game. On the other hand, I’m happy to enlist my neighbors in the growth, husbandry, eventual slaughter and guarding of same. For a portion of the harvest. I don’t imagine I’d have to kill very many to get my point across, either.

        1. Given recent general cooling trends, I’m thinking the Official Unofficial Hun-In may end up being somewhere in Texas. That way we all have enough space so we don’t crowd each other, but we’re all close enough to provide mutual succor. And we’ll have the space to grow things.

          1. May I register my objection to moving to any area known as “Tornado Alley”? Those things scare me, and I grew up in earthquake country…

            1. Hmmm. A most valid objection. But Texas is BIG: there’s got to be somewhere not prone to civilization demolishing cyclones. Maybe Arizona or New Mexico will turn green . . .

              1. Try the Texas Hill country – too far south for tornadoes (although there are some very high winds on occasion) and too far north for hurricanes to bring much more than a particularly heavy rain. And – no active fault lines.

                  1. Depends on how much and what you want. Trendy towns like Kerrville and Fredericksburg are a bit on the high side for Texas. Go to Lands of America, and do a search on Blanco, Gillespie and Kendall counties. Specify if you want acreage, or acreage with house, river frontage.

                    1. You’ll find a lot of military retirees up in those hills. If you’re serious about the Hill Country, email me privately, and I’ll put you in touch with my ranch real estate employer. He is as honest as the day is long, and he has fantastic connections in this part of the world.

                    2. This will take a lot more research on my part and discussions with Mrs. Dave and the seniors (I have this dream of gathering all the Important People in one place. I’m starting with the not-yet-grandparents) before I’m willing to consider myself Serious. And thank you for the offer. I’m honored.

                    3. *squeeks up*

                      If you really expect things to go bad, look into creek front. Something you can divert into a pool for irrigation, but that isn’t big enough for folks with more money/ability to bother damming away.

                    4. Yes, creek-front might be prone to flooding now and again – it’s probably best to build on a hillside above the creek! Another, safer bet is to have a well of your own on the property.

                    5. Depends on the creek, and how…um… “fronty,” plus how close you are to the source.

                      My familiarity is a creek coming out of foothills, not on a major storm-wash area, and the house a foot or so higher than the edge of the creek at minimum…and I just realized it was so exactly “a stone’s throw” from the creek that it was probably on purpose. In over a hundred years, it never flooded, although the culvert for the road washed out a few times so dad had to take the back route to work.

                      Best bet is probably to talk to locals, and ignore anybody who suggests that nice, big flat area so picturesquely located so if you stand out front, there’s a mountain framing either side….. (that means that the mountains put out enough of a flood to have kept trees and rocks out of the area, even if nobody remembers a wash; in my dad’s home area, they happened about every 40 years)

                    6. No, don’t look into creek front, unless you want constant hassles with the EPA. Believe me, I don’t even have a creek on my property, just a seasonal runoff, and those morons are up here trying to make it a wetland and checking for salmon habitat. WHEN IT IS BONE DRY!

                      A friend of mine spent over fifty thousand dollars in lawyers fees fighting the EPA, because they ruled his property a wetland and revoked his building permit, AFTER he had already put in the foundation and septic. The reason? Because beavers had dammed up the highway ditch adjoining his property and flooded the corner of it.

                    7. If I recall my History correctly, Washington DC used to be a wetlands before they built the government there. Any idea what kind of EPA suit it would take to require it be restored?

                1. That would be San Antonio and Austin area, right?

                  Already overbuilt and too many leftists.

                    1. And I have no clue WHY you’re in moderation. I didn’t change your status. Unless, of course, you’re secretly Ann Morgan? (Since I banned her IP)

                    2. While he can be a horse’s *ss on occasion, I’m not sure of the breed, I always pictured him as a Tennessee Walker, myself.


                    3. No, I figured it out after that last post. I’m posting from a new computer and had to manually enter my email again. I typo’d the last l in the domain name.

                  1. North of San Antonio, and west of Austin. I do a fair amount of books events there – and I haven’t noticed too many lefties outside of Austin. San Antonio is pretty conservative, with all the military. The areas that are a commutable distance from Austin and SA are probably overbuilt – filled in with developments, but there are plenty of places farther out that aren’t – Junction, Harper and Menard, for example.

                    1. The problem with the overbuilding is resource contention. Much like during the last drought in the SE Florida suffered while folks in ATL watered their lawn.

              2. We lived for a while in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area, and never had a tornado while we lived there. Wish I could say the same for here in Colorado. Either locality, however, is not really in “Tornado Alley”.

                1. Neither is Connecticut. I remember the day when I looked out the window and thought you know I could work a little later that night.

                  Horrendous traffic going home. Tried to get off the main highway, saw the backup on the secondary, and got back on. It finally broke up once we got past the tree that had fallen and blocked two lanes — in the tornado.

                  1. Was that the Hartford Tornado that hit Bradley airport and trashed the air museum a while back? I’ve had many of those “stay later” days when Rte 95 locked up.

                2. I don’t know… I’ve seen the tornado bunker that is (was? it was decades ago) the data center for Arco in Plano, so I have my doubts.

                  But tornados are COOL, guys (says the girl who grew up in Kansas City). What’s not to like about a green sky?

                  1. I’ve lived through floods, forest fires, earthquakes, blizzards, and a volcanic eruption. I moved off the coast before experiencing a tsunami (the japanese one was barely measurable by the time it reached Alaska, though the debris that’s washed up since is remarkable, so I won’t count it), got out of Louisiana before I could experience a hurricane making landfall, and have no interest in rounding out the set by collecting a tornado, either. (Though apparently I slept through one five miles away, so living in Tennessee is rather chancy in that regard.)

                    For some reason, my neighbors down here in this urban land don’t have the same healthy regard that Nature is constantly trying to kill you in every way possible that I do. I do so love civilization, for all its overcrowded claustrophobic asphalt-paved way.

                    1. Same here, though I was to young to remember the volcanic eruption, I was staying at my Grandmothers and ended up staying an extra day, due to it. I also have never lived in a house that flooded while I was there, but was stranded by floods every year growing up, and have worked in them. (wading through waist to chest deep water in hip boots for half a mile to get back to the truck, which is surrounded by water when you get to it, when all was dry a few hours earlier is not what I consider fun). I’ve been in hurricane force winds, but never a hurricane, I will however recommend, getting out of the timber! No tornadoes and no tsunamis, although a tornado hit about five miles from here last year, and I have never heard of a tornado in Idaho. But then I never heard about this one on the news either, just seen the swath of busted off timber and asked the people living across the highway from it what happened.

                    2. I’ve been in hurricane force winds, but never a hurricane

                      Walked home in a hurricane a couple of times–idiot captain wouldn’t let those of us that lived on town go home until he thought that nobody would leave.

                      Man, was he shocked to watch the folks who’d been counting noises, then cots, and realizing they’d be triple-bunking flood out of there…. a lot of friends went, too, if they had a floor to flop on!

                      My husband walked out for liberty in a hurricane, too.

                    3. When the wind is steady at 110 knots, peaking at or above 125 knots (that’s as high as the anemometer went), I found that I could walk forward against a 110 knots headwind, but had to stop and lean into the gusts until they died down, because I wasn’t going to make headway. I don’t know what the windchill was when the calm air was below zero, but it was cold.

                    4. ” I don’t know what the windchill was when the calm air was below zero, but it was cold.”

                      When your eyelashes freeze together from the tears the wind causes it qualifies as TDC. (Too Damn Cold)

                    5. You ought to see them around wildlife.
                      I’ve heard of tourists putting their children under a tree where there’s a bear cub to take pictures, or trying to lure a buffalo calf from its mother so they can take pictures of it with their children.

            2. If I have to move to Texas I will build an underground lair. Tornado-proof, and also useful for Latinate Undead if you want to borrow the plans. Also I think I may have right of return, as the daughter of a Texan, which might help if they start restricting immigration. Y’all are my family, OK?

              1. When we lived in Texas there were these bumper stickers “Anyone can become an American, but you have to be born a Texan.” Then there were the answering stickers “I was not born here, but I got here as quick as I could.”

            3. The Panhandle is the far western edge of Tornado Alley. We wave at them as the storms form over us and then go beat the stuffing out of KS and OK.

              1. K, discussion of Texas made me start thinking of size, and of Europe, so I had to go poke around– found this on goeurope dot about dot com:
                France (211,000 square miles) is between Texas (269,000 square miles) and California (164,000 square miles) in size. Austria (32,000 square miles) has almost exactly the same area as Maine. Italy is just about the size of California.

                And then someone blogged this:
                delete the 1 for A-L
                with tons and tons of countries with the states they are most approximately the same size as.

                TOTALLY saving it…..

                (our hostess’ birthplace is slightly smaller than Indiana)

            4. I would hope to reassure you. I’ve lived at the other end of Tornado Alley for fifty years — even been in a couple — and never suffered much from it. On the whole, tornadoes are easier to avoid than some government importunings.


              1. We lived in Enid, Oklahoma (Vance AFB) from 4/66 to 6/67. They’d never had a tornado before, but they had TWO when we were there. They’ve had a couple or so since then, too. If I move anywhere, it will probably be further west — somewhere with water.

                1. I’ve lived through four hurricanes in Connecticut. Two when I was still a minor, and two more after I hit forty.

                  Weather likes to remind you that statistical averages can sprawl all over the place.

                2. South-south east of Portland is looking good, modulo the possibility of stupid gun laws.

                3. I agree 100% and then some on the water point.Which, to me, lets right out most places west of, oh, say, St. Joseph, Missouri and east of Lewiston, Idaho. Look for min 30″ precip a year and big rivers nearby, if not ocean.

                  Great Smoky Mountains are nice, albeit a bit crowded. Or…how ’bout UP Michigan?


                  1. You can do it here in Colorado, but you have to own the water rights and use the sort of storage techniques that greatly reduce evaporation.

      1. Oh, ok. Reading the first part of that, I thought you were planning on using them ALL as fertilizer. Whew.

            1. Which is – more or less – the plan. I don’t imagine I’ll survive it with my sanity intact, but that’s not much of a loss. And at least then I’ll be good for fighting the forces of the Elder Gods.

              Completely off-topic, but I vaguely recall discussing the Pomodoro method with you. It came up on the Passive Voice today, and sparked half a memory.

              1. Yeah, it works great for writing or studying, when I remember to use it, which is not very often. I haven’t dared try it with editing yet, because there’s so much mental overhead for switching in and out of editor brain.

                1. Not exactly a magic-bullet, as you still have to put in the time and do the work, but I imagine useful for those of us with laz- ahhh, time-management issue. Have to give it a shot, me.

                2. This is the problem I’m having with editing Witchfinder and Shadow Gods. I need three days each UNINTERRUPTED. I might have to do what I’ve done before and hole up in a hotel.

                  1. You know, you’ve mentioned that you have several professional and aspiring editors amongst your fen and friends – surely one or more of them would help with that in exchange for, say, an autographed book. Or is this earlier, re-write stage editing?

                    1. I am quite seriously considering doing something like that when the kids get older– both as a “play house” and as a “I NEED SANITY” house, plus guest room.

                      The work I plan to do to insulate it would also work for soundproofing, and I’d probably build in a baby monitor as “security.”

                1. After my non-research, I recall that mostly setting a timer for 25 minutes, in which you pursue whatever your activity is with single-minded focus. When the timer goes off, you take a break. Repeat as necessary.

                  1. That’s a variation on the Navy tech school schedule– they do something like “start at 7, work til 8, ten minute break, work until 9, ten minute break….” with an hour for lunch. Since “start at” means “you are in your seat and the teacher is in the room” rather than actually starting, it works out…..

  6. I agree with your essay, but I do think, in one particular, you have still been taken it by the lies. We do not see a massive die off in Africa from AIDS, I think, because there was not actually a AIDS problem in Africa. In the same way you described the failings of Censuses around the world, Africa has been know to have huge problems with whatever disease Western “do-gooders” are worried about. Heck, they very publicly complain, to anyone who will listen, about the amount of birth control pushed on them. Africans are not stupid. They need medical supplies, and if they will only get them for “AIDS treatment”, then, by golly, it’s not Diarrhea, it’s AIDS. I don’t blame them, but since our dealings with Africa are so driven by the “Mrs. Jellybys” of the world, we really can’t take any information coming out of Africa at face value.

      1. I’ve read that one of the reasons we don’t notice the African AIDS Crisis as much is because lifespans are so much shorter there. Dying at 39 doesn’t seem as tragic when you were only going to live until 45 anyway. That’s supposedly also why it’s been so hard to STOP the spread of AIDS in Africa. The cost-benefit analysis doesn’t look the same as it does in the first world!

      2. Africa has had problems for a long time. But given that we have no cure for AIDS, and it’s huge latent period, and the sharing of needles in Africa, we were supposed to see an ongoing extinction level event in Africa. For a while there, the CDC wouldn’t shut up about it. A die off that didn’t affect food imports or exports (I might have missed it, but I would think we would have heard from the “Mrs. Jellybys”, yes?) and didn’t keep going is off model, and leads me to think that AIDS was not the problem. It does make a useful scapegoat, insofar as AIDS is itself not lethal, it’s the other diseases that do you in. The die off was probably caused by a Flu epidemic or something similar, and then blamed on AIDS, because that’s where the money and aid is. Trendy is, alas, a big part of the issue. Note there are no people wearing little brown ribbons to push Diarrhea, despite it’s huge lethality in the Third world.

        1. Hysteria about AIDS was politically useful.

          Witness that we did NOT implement the techniques that we KNOW can contain incurable, fatal STDs — because we used them on syphilis before penicillin, and they worked.

          1. Yes. And given how politically charged AIDS has been, direct reporting is, as a rule, going to be useless. So we look at secondary indicators for a more honest picture, and happily, nothing points to a huge die off. No drop-off of food imports, no vast return of farms to jungle, no huge exodus of staving Egyptians to settle a newly empty frontier…..

            1. But you’re missing that everything ABOUT Africa is distorted indicators. Again, this was over years, and friends told me of roving bands of orphan kids. You can’t tell if they upped or lowered food. We ship way more than needed, and it’s all destroyed. And the middle east… note their “colonists” go to lands where there’s easy pickings, not “pioneers” but “pensioners.”

              1. Not everything about Africa is distorted indicators. They can’t spoof our satellites, and we haven’t seen areas abandoned to the wild. And the Catholic charities that do such good work there are pretty good about seeing with eyes unclouded. I wonder how much of a die-off there really was, and how much was caused by the slow collapse of systems as the Europeans pulled out of their colonies. Again, Africa should have been emptied by AIDS, given the reported rates of infection.

                And I doubt very much that the food was destroyed. That’s something rich socialist governments do to buy the votes of farmers. Stolen, sure, which is why they end up having to import food (A gloriously evil act by the Leftists, to be sure.).

                1. Africa should have been emptied by AIDS, given the reported rates of infection.

                  See my comment below. People can remain relatively healthy for decades with the medicines we have. After the first few years, the die off slowed.

                  Regarding the food being destroyed, you DO know that she’s talking about the DONATED food, right? And that there are witnesses? The governments of the countries didn’t even have to actively destroy it, they just refused to deliver it to the people, after it was delivered to the country.

        2. Africa has been helped massively by the introduction of low-cost versions of the medicines that help AIDS patients in First World countries. Of course, the companies who made those drugs didn’t have a say in it, because, “HELPING!!!”, so they are out the cost of the research, without seeing any return on the ones shipped there, so the patients here have to pay exorbitantly high prices for them.

          1. Part of the reason I don’t pay much attention to “food needs from Africa” vs. population is that the first world literally drowns Africa in aid, and, as always in such circumstances, most of it seems to be wasted.

    1. As Sarah said– I too have friends in South Africa who saw the die off. I don’t know if it was AIDs or something else… but it was dramatic.

  7. Maybe they are just trying to protect us from the space amoebas! (Nah, I don’t believe that either.)

    On the positive side, maybe we can figure out a way to live that doesn’t require everyone to do the same things or get nagged about it. Some people thrive having a large happy family, and they should be able to do it. Some people just want one or two kids, and that’s fine too. Then there are people like me, who like children but don’t want any of their own (the world barely survived ME, I should cause more damage? ) I just want to not be told I’m Destroying Western Civilization for my choices. I’m not telling anyone else my way should be theirs! (Not implying Sarah said this. Other people do say, in so many words, that I am selfish for not marrying the first available guy I see and having kids. Really.)

    Besides, this would eventually lead to that most wonderful of worlds, where there are Father-things and Mother-things 😉 Me, I think I’m an Auntie-thing. The kind of Auntie who has the kids over to dissect devices (one of my favorite childhood activities, I had automatic dibs on anything that stopped working) or Microscope Time (aka Cavorting Beasties). And frankly, some people *shouldn’t* have children. The whole point to a culture is to allow specialization and not having every family be a complete microcosm.

    1. I am more like you, Sabrina– after my childhood, raising my parents children (9 in all), I was ready to discover the world. I am not really an Aunt thing either because children can make me sick (really they can). I was around one of my nephews during the first year of illness and I would get a cold every time he gave me a beautiful sneezy kiss (the kid had asthma–etc).

        1. My mother does it to me regularly to, but somehow I think she would be a bit put-out if I didn’t get a wife first. 😉

          1. Ah. I’ve told Robert “There are surrogate mothers in this world, you know, and we could raise the child.” — but I’m mostly joking. He’s young and he still has a lot of studying ahead of him.

            1. And he’s an attractive and fascinating young man. I’m sure he’ll meet a nice young woman somewhere. Probably in an operating theater.

              1. Either that or at some future con, we’ll lock him in a room with some fascinating woman and a strawberry. Not allowed out till they have eaten the strawberry. Or something.

                1. tiramisu. And some alcohol, to unwind, and some coffee, to keep them up all night…

              2. Eyes meet– across a crowded surgery room. Both covered from head to toe with only eyes showing. The heart beats fast as she hands him a scalpel. *wink

                    1. So, do you at least kill off his character when you do that? Because the father of Gorebal wormening needs to have many deaths ascribed to him in fiction.

      1. Time honored– guilt trip btw. My nieces were complaining recently that they were being guilt-tripped (is too a word) into getting married and having children. I was made of stronger stuff btw.

          1. Well… at six I wanted a lot of children– and then I started to become the diaper changer (and scrubbing the diapers in the toilet or bucket) and bottle washer. My mind changed after twelve years of this. 😉

            Since five of the nine had children, I am not too upset about it. One of my sisters had twelve.

            1. In my early 20’s was so uninclined toward a social life that my mother started dropping hints about there being no “modern” necessity for marriage before children, and sperm banks . . . I think she was totally flummoxed by my actually getting married–mind you I was only 26. Of three sisters, I’m the only one who gave birth, although one sister adopted 4 kids.

                1. I was married at 31 and I was a considered a spinster. Most of the women in my family were married before they were 21 even the cousins and now the nieces. I was the odd-ball. 😉

                2. When I hit 24, for all serious intents unkissed, I think she decided I must be lesbian. She married at 21, which, just post WWII, was still pushing the limit on being an old maid.

                3. Culture is funny. Mrs. Cat and I got married at roughly the same age.. I was regarded as barely old enough, she was regarded as a spinster.

                  Between all of our siblings, we count 15 nieces and nephews. When we get into the may-as-well-be-family, that number just about triples.

                  The lawyer looked at us very strangely when we set up our wills .. “You have one child, this all goes to him, done.” “Umm, no. Here’s a list.”


    2. It’s the ones who say, “I don’t want to bring children into a world like the mess this one is in” that kill me. This is not a bad world by comparison to most of History, so why not?

        1. …and because it makes them sound both sensitive and deep.

          Saying “I don’t want kids because that would stop me from having a designer sofa and meeting my friends for Saturday brunch at a hip jazz bar” doesn’t sound nearly as commendable.

          1. Also morally superior to those who do have the kids. Talk about cheap virtue.

            1. The most annoying part is that they think their “moral superiority” authorizes them to lecture actual parents on how to raise kids.

      1. Well, it can SEEM so. But I keep thinking that was part of Heinlein’s reason in his first marriage. (Okay, the stated reason. Obviously there were issues there. Okay, actually his second marriage, but you know what I mean. the pre-Ginny one.) Yet, if they’d had kids, they’d be my dad’s age now, and have lived through some of the nicest times in America…

      2. Because it’s a subterfuge?

        Actually, that one I haven’t heard. But I have read “childfree” people — read childless narcissists — boast about all the wonderful selfish benefits of sterility, which are stated to be the reason why, and then get into a snit that people don’t admired them for their selflessness in not having children because of the population explosion.

      3. I’ve got a friend like that.

        He’s not so much upset about the now, he’s worried about the now+20.

        OTOH,at ~41 and single I think some of it might be justification.

      4. Having children is a sign of hope, a sign of faith in the future, since the future will belong to those who show up for it.

      5. I’m not one of those – my reasons for not having kids are that neither of us thinks we’d be good parents (our cats are disgracefully spoiled), between us the medical issues/genetic bombs are way too ugly, and the meds I need to be functional have never been evaluated on pregnant women.

        1. I can understand that Kate– I heard about a woman who finally wanted a child at forty. Her husband didn’t. She went through a lot of turmoil and then she started to have some female problems (about a few months later). so wanting a child then was too late. In my case it was probably a good thing I didn’t have a child. (the disease)… Also, the temperament of my family (mother and father) made me uneasy about raising a child. It was quite volatile and there was no privacy. Since I am an introvert, it was a special kind of H-E-L-L.

          1. There’s three kinds of women who don’t have children: Can’t. Shouldn’t. Won’t. A lot of “won’ts” change their mind, and discover they’ve left it too late, and become “can’ts.”

    3. “Father Thing”? Shudder. I remember a SF short story were a boy discovered that his parents were replaced by alien critters. He and some of his friends had to go “Thing Hunting”. [Evil Grin]

      Sorry about the “Off Topic Thing” but this “Uncle Thing” still remembers that story. [Wink]

        1. No, that’s not the story referred to here. Heinlein wasn’t the only sf writer to use that phrase. There was a short story, which I think was called “The Father Thing”; if I recall correctly I read it in Groff Conklin’s anthology 17 Times Infinity. Wikipedia lists it as written by Philip K. Dick, published 1954, and apparently the anthology was Boucher’s A Treasury of Great Science Fiction, which I have on my shelves—the story is in Volume 1, p. 245.

  8. “There has for instance been a move en-masse from less desirable from more desirable areas. In the states this seems to be a move from the old rust belt states to more sun-blessed areas.”

    No, that’s a switch in what is deemed desirable. Those were sun-cursed areas before the invention of air-conditioning.

    1. Not simply what is desirable, what is possible. Prior to A/C printers in the South had to shut down during summer months as high heat kept ink from “curing” on the page. This made Southern printers less competitive due to having to amortize a year’s overhead over nine months. In NY city much of the population retreated to the mountains during their summers; A/C alleviates that dislocation.

      When we were dependent on water mills for power industry tended to cluster differently than it does with other power sources. The change from water to rail to highway transport also affects population distribution.

          1. While life may be possible without printers, certain components of the economy are not. Environment is a major reason publishing and related businesses (including things like banking and bond underwriting) that require vasts swaths of inked paper are concentrated in the North East.

            It was mentioned in passing in my Accounting 201 course that construction of the Erie Canal prompted the development of America’s financial underwriting in NY city. G. Washington surveyed and helped develop a plan to construct a canal connecting the Kanawha river (Charleston, Western Virginia) to the James River at Richmond. The Falls of the James marked the furthest point on that river reachable by seafaring craft; connecting it to the Ohio River system would have had far-reaching effects in this nation’s development.

            In this day and age it is easy to forget the degree to which geography mattered.

            1. No navigating west of the Fall line in Virginia (legacy of geology). That’s why the railroads were so important to open up the breadbasket of the Shenandoah Valley east-west, and why it was so much easier to transport things north-south into the Valley of Virginia, despite the river crossings. The culture of the valley and the Piedmont is quite different from the tidal area.

          2. Says you little miss indy e-book publisher.
            Only dead tree book that has come into my possession in the past year is the one Toni gave me at Liberty. OTOH I’ve worn shiny spots on my Kindle reader over that same period.

            1. Oh, yeah. As I keep trying to point out to the people in my congregation, The Church got along just fine for almost 2000 years without electricity, let alone electric guitars, may they all be smashed with fire axes

  9. It’s funny. Not having been around that much as an adult, having only my local area to go by, it seemed like the population WAS exploding, because in my local region, until the housing and financial crises of the last several years, everything was expanding enormously. The population in the area probably expanded by nearly 10 times in the past 40 years. Construction was booming, suburbs were going up everywhere, new office buildings all over the place, etc. But it was from people moving in, far more than any birth rate explosion.

    1. We tend to notice expansion more than contraction. People are quicker to raise prices than cut them, inflation provides upward price pressure, as well.

        1. Mostly.

          Although Seattle is…strange, and buildings “disappear” a lot easier than on the high desert!

          Started noticing that a lot of the “wooded areas” I’d seen actually have the remains of a house on them, and then applied “see what isn’t there” and realized a lot of the “undeveloped lots” or “parking lots” had building remains, too.

          The houses I’ve paid enough attention to for making a guess can’t be more than a decade out of use; meanwhile, on the high desert we’d regularly visit places a century old, and on the dry side of the state the almost-a-century-abandoned stuff (based on the memory of the oldest cowhand we knew) is in only slightly worse shape than these.

          Between this being the soggy side, and vandals destroying stuff for kicks, houses do slowly disappear….. Probably a good match for inflation?

          1. In rural Connecticut and New York, you’ll see old farms returning to woodland, a process which started long ago when the Western Reserve opened up and people wanted to grow something other than rocks. We had a place in Woodstock, NY (yes, THAT Woodstock) for a while where you could see it in action.

            Across the road from me in central PA, in the middle of the woods, is a lilac. That’s invariably the sign of a vanished dwelling (probably a cabin), since lilacs were traditionally planted at a corner of the house and don’t really get around without the help of humans. Can’t find a foundation under the mountain laurel (there probably wasn’t one) but if you kick hard enough, you can find the remnants of a well. The lilac has lasted longer than any other sign of man.

            These are both disappearances that are at least 100-150 years ago, but that’s just a blip to the land.

                  1. Lilacs, yellow roses, and apple trees, almost all old homesteads had apple and sometimes pear and plum trees. Many times that is the only obvious indicator left, but if you see fruit trees and lilacs or roses, you can usually kick around and find an old hand dug well, or possibly a fallen down stone chimney, and a pile of rusted tin cans.

                    1. The cottonwood trees I only notice in treeless areas where they were planted for shade. The lilacs, fruit trees, and yellow roses seem to be universal, whether the homestead was timber country or open. (true desert is often missing all these due to lack of water, but then the buildings tend to last a lot longer in true desert.

                    2. In NE Utah, they were around the houses and along the canals. I notice Northern Nevada that the cottonwood trees are in odd places. If you look harder, you’ll find a very old foundation.

                    3. A Texas organization for old roses was started by a woman who had tried to nurse hybrid Teas and they died with the best tending — and found a rose bush by an abandoned house blooming away in the midst of a drought. Their favorite way of finding roses that will flourish in Texas is going about poor neighborhoods, abandoned areas, etc. and looking for roses to take cuttings from. They often have to give them “Texas study names” until someone can identify the type.

                  2. Roses work pretty well as an indicator, but don’t stop at just yellow… the flowering part was most likely grafted onto a more hearty climbing-rose root stock that, if the flowering stems die off, or just die back *enough*, will send up its’ own canes.

                    Strangest one I’ve seen was bamboo .. along a creek in a Virginia mountains forest. That did *not* get there on its’ own.. and we later tripped over (literally) the rubblestone foundation of the old house.


                    1. Not modern roses, the rather old one that’s famous from “the yellow rose of Texas.”

                      Modern ones do work, but that’s for house-remains that are a lot newer than I’m thinking!

                    2. There is a homestead on the Salmon river with a stand of bamboo, looks completely out of place, but there is a stand of bamboo about 50 by 100 feet (much of it 20-30′ tall and several inches around) and about a hundred feet away is an old fireplace and chimney. The fireplace and chimney is made out of unmortared rock, and is still standing mostly intact, no sign of the cabin it was attached two, but since there have been fires through the area in the past I assume it burned.

                    3. For whatever reason, the field next to my elementary school was abandoned and filled with bamboo. We girls found this very handy when we jumped over the wall to harvest the canes, so they could be pretend swords.
                      It will help understand this if you figure out that — unable to play any of the games they played and bored to death by them — I convinced my entire class into playing games I invented. It wasn’t until this year I realized I invented (or re-invented) LROP Games (Live action role playing?) Swords were needed for most of those, from three musketeers to Robin Hood. Our teacher said she’d never seen such a troublesome bunch as our class (she says with some pride) and that she’d rather teach double the number of boys. (Points to hallo slightly askew on horns and smiles innocently.)

                    4. “*twitch* It must be a disease. Ours was set on fire, along with grandma’s lilacs”

                      Aargh! My aunt and uncle bought an old place (my grandpa had rented it for a couple years before he went to Mexico, and they moved in when he left). They tore out all the old lilacs, rosebushes, hydrangeas, walnut trees, most of the apple and pear trees, plum trees, and I don’t remember what all else. Then my highly intelligent aunt plants those flowers that you have to replant every year because they don’t come back (can’t remember the term) and buys all her fruit and nuts at the store. Of course she always refused to eat any fruit that came off a tree anyways, and bought it all at the store before she convinced her husband to cut them down.

                    5. So, then was she one of those who says killing animals to eat them isn’t necessary, she buys her meat at the grocery store?

                    6. She actually isn’t anti-hunting, actually she used to bug me to take her, and I actually did once, but since I can’t stand to be around her for more than an hour or two, it wasn’t my most enjoyable day. But yes, even though her husband and son hunt, and her husband has raised a beef several times and had it butchered at the butcher shop; she buys her meat in the store rather than eat what is in the freezer. Heck, her daughters (16 YO twins) have chickens and get enough eggs they are always giving them away, but their mom buys eggs at the store.

                    7. Ok, now that’s just weird. In fact, I not sure that’s not stranger than if she was like the moonbats who say what I posted.

              1. If they eat hobos, that explains a lot about Detroit . . . Oh, dang, I sense a story building. Arrrrgh! *Kermit arm flail, runs for the hill*

                  1. I don’t think it was *just* a Silver John short but yes Wellman had a “predatory plant” that looked like a small house (small as in number of rooms). A human would go in but not easily get out.

                  2. Yep, he hints about one in “A Desrick on Yandro” and then goes all the way in the fragment “Find the Place Yourself.” There may be another, but I can’t recall it just now.

                1. I think I saw a movie once where a house was eating people. I can’t remember how that one was solved (but it did involve destruction of the house).

                    1. Ladies, gentlemen, Huns and Hoydens, I do believe Mrs. Dorothy Grant has just won the thread.

        2. Actually they often do. Empty buildings burn, or succumb to the ravages of the elements and cave in on themselves. And of course here in the South kudzu covers a multitude of sins and the remains of many a former family home.
          Just walking away from a property you’re financially under water in is not just a recent development. As technology improves once attractive homes remain abandoned as they lack what buyers have come to expect in basic amenities such as forced air heat, cooling, and indoor plumbing. Driving in the countryside locally I can spot dozens of the remains of farm homes. At least in the winter, summer not so much what with the proliferation of that oriental devil weed.

          1. Not all ruins are abandoned to the wild. I know several farms in Virginia, reasonably well-to-do-places, where the main house (100-200 years old) burned to the ground, sometimes while the family was away, leaving nothing but the fireplace and chimney. Those old chimney-stacks, often without foundations, are very often left in place, like any other landmark, cleaned up for picnics, tidied like the barn, while life continues in some replacement house elsewhere.

          2. I did mention, didn’t I, that I’d always assumed the woods behind my grandma’s house had been there “forever” (which in retrospect is stupid, since I first picked up Latin from reading inscriptions on ruins there. never mind.) But in google areal view it’s REALLY clear that the village used to be bigger even than it is now, and that entire area inhabited, before reverting to pretty much “primeval” forest.
            Of course, there is no local history and researching it might be problematic (though if I had lots of time, I might try.) I wonder if the buildings were left empty by the Black Death, and just collapsed in on themselves. I now also wonder if the name given the woods “Coriscos” (which CAN mean lightening rays, but might also have been something else. Like barca is a small boat in Portuguese, but it’s also Hannibal Barca’s family name, and in Phoenician it meant lightning) which never made any sense, was in fact the name of the village/town. it might have been Roman and not medieval for all I know. Most inscriptions are, of course, in Latin, but that would be true either way. It might have been wrecked when the Swabians came in in fire and blood. Anyway, it returned to the greenery from whence it came.

  10. A lot of this rings bells with me. Just for a start I believe it is officially acknowledged that there is something wrong with the United Kingdom’s Census (carried out at 10 year intervals since 1851). Just going from memory, there are a million young people who are assumed to be out there somewhere who the census takers are never able to find, so they get pencilled in anyway.
    And it has been explained to me that what is driving up London property prices is not population pressure but desire for space. The London of my childhood was more prosperous than the Portugal of yours, but kids shared bedrooms as a matter of course, and there was bathroom to a household. Now parents and kids expect separate bathrooms and even a modest sized family requires what were origianlly five bedroom houses.

    1. Also the Green Belt, which is basically a region about London with no building.

  11. Great article, but I think that you meant: “There has for instance been a move en-masse from less desirable TO more desirable areas.”

  12. On the other hand — one often notices that people who most want evolution taught in school don’t believe it themselves. As witness that they think the most sterile elements of society are going to reign in the future. As witness their denial that the sexual revolution threw evolution into hyperdrive, and it’s selecting for love of children, susceptibility to social pressure (where there is pressure to have children), and not using contraception and abortion for whatever reason.

    The people who are now having six, eight, ten children are the wave of future. We may see the need yet.

    1. But evolution does not imply that biological reproduction is the only way to be successful. Catholic monasticism was quite successful for many centuries, and new monks and nuns and other religious mostly were not the children of the previous generation; they were, rather, infected with their ideas.

        1. Not true, not in the literal sense of “survival.” Every single organism dies; evolution does not produce immortal organisms. What evolution produces is organisms that succeed in bringing copies of themselves into existence, more than one copy per original. But human beings are capable of producing ideological/cultural copies of themselves, as well as physical copies—and that’s what monastic institutions are based on.

          As to “success,” that’s just a semantic quibble. In the context of evolution, “success” means “evolutionary success,” which is measured by the coming into being of an increased number of organisms like oneself. The Benedictenes and the Franciscans had centuries of success at bringing new Benedictenes and Franciscans into existence.

          Of course, you do need a population that reproduces biologically to supply those new recruits.

    2. *lightbulb*

      But… they make sense, if you remember that their group doesn’t grow by giving birth.
      We’re on, what, three generations of “kids go to college and are converted”?

      IF they are effective enough, and get enough kids into college, they can “reproduce” enough to fulfill demands without having kids of their own– or not having many kids, if they desire.

      This makes movies like “Idiocracy” insidious, because they’re outstanding recruitment videos– if you are like Those ones that are having a dozen kids and think you have a right to your work, believe in God and personal responsibility, then you’re part of the problem. But there is salvation possible! You may be the rare flower from the dung heap– if you agree with us.

      1. Except that it’s also selecting for resistance to liberalism. The more your kids succumb, the fewer grandchildren you will have.

        1. Well, liberalism seems to be an imbalance of various good things– I don’t think it can be selected against, any more than you could select for maturity.

          1. You can select for maturity. It just requires nerves that will let the kid be out of sight, a strong stomach, and the willingness to visit the ER often. After enough summers with something in a cast, the kids grow up with a lot more hellion in them and a lot more care for consequences than the ones safely quarantined at soccer practice / by the xbox.

            1. *laughs* Going off of the fact that all of my folks’ kids got to do that kind of stuff, it’s not selected genetically! (although our play was less…painful than mom’s stories, I think that has to do with three kids very close in age, rather than one being young enough to be Little Miss Test Dummy. Plus, two girls instead of three boys.)

              1. Our friends were visiting us with their young daughter (who gets married next month – damn I’m old …) when she was injured with a shoulder dislocation being swung around by her father and I. So the whole crew of us drive off to the ER – still engaged in the joking banter of the visit – and proceed to do our act in the ER waiting room.

                The daughter still remembers this as her favorite time.

          2. “The word “good” has many meanings. For example, if a man were to shoot his grandmother at a range of five hundred yards, I should call him a good shot, but not necessarily a good man.”

            In what sense does liberalism fall under “good” in terms of reproducing itself without parasitizing? One notes that conservatism is not well served by having its children subsumed.

            1. In what sense does liberalism fall under “good” in terms of reproducing itself without parasitizing?

              I did not say that it was good at reproduing itself without parasitizing; I said that the things which make one liberal are good things, just done wrong– such as showing you’re a good shot by shooting your grandmother at high range, to use your old story.
              Compassion, idealism, dedication to goals….

              1. Compassion, idealism, and dedication to goals do not a liberal make. Indeed, since liberals donate less money, give less blood, and provide less food for food banks than conservatives, even though they earn more, one would say that compassion is more likely to make a conservative — who is also idealistic and dedicated to goals.

                1. They are aspects of liberalism– but liberals also believe that large groups are more effective; that people are naturally good and just need a “chance,” and that if people don’t do what the liberal thinks is right it’s because they have an inherent flaw (evil/stupid), rather than simply disagreeing; that changing the system is a better idea than changing yourself.

                  Those traits are not inherently good, they have to be aimed to good things.

                  Liberals tend to be nice– so nice that they’ll support killing someone rather than that they have a life that is below the quality the liberal thinks they should have. They’re rather horrifically wrong, but they are trying to prevent suffering.

                  “Nice” in an imbalanced form may as well be a synonym for the honest liberal.

                  1. Liberals are nice?

                    Not in my experience. Certainly not above and beyond the normal standard of human niceness.

                    1. You are not claiming they are above and beyond normal anything, but that they are so lacking in all else that they can be selected against.

                    2. No, I claimed they would be selected against because they do not reproduce as well as other ideologies. Yes, they have to be above and beyond normal to succeed as brood parasites. Especially since evolution is selecting against tendencies to think liberal.

                    3. Originally, you claimed that we’re “selecting for resistance to liberalism.”

                      All the various forms you’ve claimed only work if liberalism is different in kind from other forms of though, rather than being a difference of degree.

                      Since people can go from liberal to conservative or the other way around, it must be different forms of thinking, rather than a different kind.

                  2. One notes that in order to claim that “liberalism seems to be an imbalance of various good things” they do indeed have to be nicer than everyone else, so you have to maintain not only that liberals are nice, but that non-liberals are not nice.

                    Also that nice is an immensely important if not supreme virtue. Given that it supports rampant dishonesty in this country, I do not think that can be taken for granted.

                    1. One notes that in order to claim that “liberalism seems to be an imbalance of various good things” they do indeed have to be nicer than everyone else, so you have to maintain not only that liberals are nice, but that non-liberals are not nice.

                      Not true; I chose the word “imbalance” specifically because it’s not raw amount that is important, but inclinations not over-running counter-inclinations and sending one off the tracks.

                      The claim that liberalism can be selected against by breeding implies (besides picking a side in nature vs nurture) that liberals absolutely lack good traits that are found in conservatives.

                      (Makes folks who went from liberal to conservative or other way around hard to explain, too.)

                    2. Liberalism can be selected against in breeding because LIBERALS DON’T BREED — as least, nothing like conservatives do. It is therefore not a survival trait.

                      Do not collapse this claim with that they can survive by picking off vulnerable children of conservatives.

                    3. Liberalism can be selected against in breeding because LIBERALS DON’T BREED — as least, nothing like conservatives do. It is therefore not a survival trait.

                      Begs the question: you’re assuming that liberalism is/is caused by a/some genetic trait(s).

      2. 80% of all kids vote as their parents did.

        Given the effects of evolution, and that we are talking about differential fertility not absolute sterility, it would take more than three.

  13. Sarah, you write;

    “But Sarah, you say, you know that they’re immigrating to Europe in massive numbers. Yes, they are, and do keep that in mind. More on that later. However, the numbers are not nearly as massive as they were when the Europeans were going the other way.”

    What are your sources? Consider France and its colonization of Algeria, for example. About a million French emigrated to Algeria — mostly farmers attracted by the forty-acres-and-a-mule land development programs. Between 1830 (when the French defeated the Barbaresques) and the independence of Algeria in 1962, the European population in Algeria grew to about 2 millions. Meanwhile, the Arab population went from 5 to 20 millions. How’s that for a birth rate differential?

    There are at least four million Algerians now living in France. The number are underestimated because the 2nd and 3rd generation Algerians are considered French, even those who violently reject their French citizenship.

    Same story for Morocco, Mali and Senegal. Immigrants from these country all over Europe massively outnumber any European presence they ever had.

    Or take Germany: It never had any colony in Turkey and yet has a very large Turkish presence.

    So I am not sure what’s your basis for saying that European “immigrating” to the Muslim world outnumbered modern-day Muslim immigrants to Europe. Do you have details?

    1. Not to the Muslim world. I’m sorry if I was imprecise. I meant migrating outward. And of course all of it related to population. (there is no denying a massive population explosion starting around the 1600s or earlier and continuing to the mid twentieth century.
      Migration to the Muslim world was always small, since the land itself is somewhat inhospitable, particularly at a time with air conditioning.

      1. Don’t forget the inhabitants, who openly practiced slavery of anyone they could until, oh, yesterday.

        1. who openly practiced slavery of anyone they could until, oh, yesterday.

          They’ve stopped?

          1. Of course, didn’t you see the CNN news bulletin about that? (they posted it because NBC has never admitted that slavery was EVER practiced by non-Christian cultures)

    2. One of the reasons why certain groups of immigrants appear to want to keep their women uneducated is the fear of lack of offspring. They are not, at base, wrong because educated women can find ways to not have a dozen unwanted pregnancies. Especially in a country like France where you can get the pharmaceutical abortion at your local pharmacy. The problem they face, and the reason why I think even the decadent bits of Western Europe will survive them, is that in order to keep them barefoot and pregnant you have to keep them isolated from any contact with educated women unless you are chaperoning them. That doesn’t work and logistically can’t work when technology gives you cell phones and the like.

      In about 50 years or less the only women in the world having children will be those that want them. And that’s going to drastically change the human race

  14. This reminds me of a story—no idea if it’s true—that one reason Custer didn’t expect the massive resistance at Little Big Horn is that (a) the government knew approximately how many Indians there were, and (b) they subtracted the number that the local reservation managers reported. But the reservation managers were inflating their figures to get more money and resources. Which meant that there were more Indians outside of the reservations than they knew.

  15. One factor in the Great Overpopulation Bushwa is that, like Global Worming, it validates as Morally Superior behaviors that the Western Intellectual Twits were going to undertake anyway, for largely selfish reasons. One child can be a dandy fashion accessory. Several children are a significant investment of time and money, and might interfere with summers on Martha’s Vineyard or a four wheeled, mid-engined, midlife crisis in fire engine red.

  16. “It is a thing that humans are prone to – taking written numbers seriously and acting as though they were true.”

    Did you know that Sarah Hoyt and family are trying to survive on $5,000 per year? The kids are starving, and the cats? – let’s just say there are no more mice to be found in the neighborhood. So please buy a book and hit the Donate button – FOR THE CHILDREN!!!

    [I have now done my small part to stimulate the economy.]

      1. There’s an Andrew Greeley novel where he has the local parish priest have an innovative funding method. It goes like this:
        The parish spends $N a year on schools, clergy yadda yadda. We have X families. That means that the average family should contribute N/X per year. Now we understand that some are richer than others so we ask that those making more than the average income contribute a bit more to make up for those that can’t and, of course, we don’t want anyone to donate more than they can afford. Due to the general desire to not appear poor almost every parish family contributes more than the average number.

        It is my belief that writers probably ought to try somthign similar (and yes I’ll be one of those supporting one more writer than I ought to)

        1. I’ve never lived in a parish where there wasn’t a massive income spread, such that a stunt like this would be impossible to run. So you can see the uniformity of neighborhood income levels in Chicago, and how very different a normal mid-sized city is.

          I’ve heard of some priests or ministers who’ve tried it, mind you. It sets people’s backs up, these days. Turns Father into some kind of IRS agent, in people’s minds.

  17. If you want to know about population growth you might look at grocery store records in the size of the diaper section. another hint might be television advertising. Look at the number of minutes purchased for aging products as opposed to child products.

    1. Television ads are going to be highly problematic because since the 1930s the number of advertising outlets has increased *so* dramatically.

      From the 1910s to the 1930s you had print and AM Radio, with large regional stations (WLS, etc.) booming out at night. In the late 1930s you started to have some FM stations. In the 40s you start to see some televisions.

      By the 1950s you had print, radio (more stations) and national TV networks. By the mid 1960s you had 3 national networks and almost all TV stations were part of one of them.

      This was relatively static until the late 70s when Cable came on the scene and blew that up bigtime. Cable adoption took off, and so did the number of channels.

      In 1970 you might see ads for diapers (dunno) on the tonight show (probably not, but ITYSWIM). You’d almost certainly see it during the evening programming.

      Today only old people[1] watch the tonight show (or David Letterman). Folks in the child rearing years are watching cable programs while twitting, and Hte K1|>5 are all streaming porn on the interwebs. Some of it made by their friends.

      So tracking diaper commercials is problematic.

      Also on the diaper side these days you have a different diaper for each month of the kids life, whether they’re a setter or a pointer and how active they are. This is the diaper companies attempt to gain eyeball/shelf space.

  18. Is it possible that young people today will become so fed up with no (employment) opportunities, with being indebted by their parents (social security, health care, gov’t debt), and being a political minority with no power, would jump at the first chance to spread out and colonize space? And in making that choice and being in that situation, suddenly the urge to have children and homestead on a new planet is renewed?

    1. Colonizing space, like the new jobs, requires skills. And no, a Black Studies/Puppetry/Ecofeminism major does not teach skills. Those with skills still have problems, but nothing like the unskilled.

      Until we discover planets where unskilled labor will be useful — along with an FTL drive — not a fix.

          1. Sigh. Now I have Captain Link Hogthrob and Dr. Julius Strangepork aboard the Swinetrek demanding to know “Where’s Waldo?”

          2. Why? You would have to train him to do the technical side of things, since the waldos would be needed for purposes.

            1. It’s a skill that would translate with less training time. The puppeteer would be able to learn to control the Waldo in a short period of time.

              When you’re building space colonies, there will be a lot of construction work done with Waldoes that will have little in the way of technical know-how needed. Most of the things we do by hand on Earth will be done with them, because it’s too hard to do in a spacesuit.

          3. I was on the puppet team for a year in college (the First Time). I’m not sure if I got any skills from it, but it was a lot more fun than street ministry, or chorale.

    2. Colonists are typically poor or middle class, because rich people have nice lives at home. But environments that require significant resources to survive aren’t really open unless you can afford those resources.

      70% of the planet’s surface is ocean, much more hospitable than space. We haven’t even colonized that, because keeping a seaborne town (like an aircraft carrier) working takes too much resources.

      1. The wealth of the colonists depends strongly on the conditions at home. Some of my ancestors were very unwillingly uprooted from their beautiful brick homes in the Palatine to harsh frontier conditions in the Colonies because the family patriarch had one finger up, testing the political winds for war, and was nobody’s fool. Looking at the historical timeline, he got all the portable/sellable wealth (and family) out to the new country barely ahead of the next wave of armies shooting and looting through the rich and fertile farmland he used to own.

        1. Among the reasons my ancestors left Europe due to (A) a political change-of-management and/or staying just ahead of the headsman (B) the absence of any prospect of any political change-of-management and /or staying just ahead of the Imperial draft board (C) the village having fewer and worse prospects than some unknown place way over an ocean that cost money to get to, and (D) an irate father with either a sharp implement and/or a shotgun, depending on which version/timeline is believed.

          Note the detail differences in item (D) may be due to that same reason also explaining why an ancestor (not clear if it was the same dude) left Pennsylvania for points further west around 1800.

          1. Oops, forgot my Irish ancestors – they came over due to (E) no bloody food left at all.

          2. A, B, and C were the motivations for the German settlers that I wrote about in my Trilogy – D was the reason that we suspected that my Scots-Irish Grandfather Jim legged it from Northern Ireland in 1910. He was charming … very charming. My Grandmother Jessie married him and we suspect regretted it very early on. But they were yoked in marriage then, and what could Grannie Jessie do then?

            1. My Grandmother Jessie married him and we suspect regretted it very early on. But they were yoked in marriage then, and what could Grannie Jessie do then?

              My grandfather’s mom divorced her husband– he was a gunslinger of some sort. Papa was an only son, and his mom worked like a demon to keep them going. Would’ve been a bit before your grandfather. No idea if Kansas just had very easy laws or something.

              1. Divorce was difficult in law, but it was the social stigma that was the real reason couple stayed together. My grandmother, born one side or the other of 1900 _left_ her husband, but never divorced him.

                1. Yes, in The Believers, which, while it is fiction, I believe is fairly accurate on the subject, Rebecca Fowler divorces her husband in the early 19th century (stated in the book as being one of the first divorces in Kentucky).

            1. The Hessians recruited that way. Including foreigners who didn’t speak the language and weren’t quick enough to escape the press gangs, including merchants, including monks. The roads in areas bordering Hesse must have been very bad, because otherwise I doubt anyone would have traveled there!

  19. Conspiracies are not needed when you have significant institutional bias. Some claims are challenged, some are not, according to their correspondence to cultural bias. Some things (abortion) don’t get counted because we don’t really want to know.

    Think of the many ways people tend to mis-state measurements on a daily basis: I only had a couple drinks; I could stand to lose a couple pounds … and then there’s the joke about why women are so bad at judging distances, “Because they are constantly told that “this” is six inches.”

  20. I know what a society with a rapidly expanding population (and young population at that) looks like, and we have none of the symptoms. In fact, we have the opposite symptoms, though masked by “digesting” the huge lump of the boomers as it moves through the elephant.

    I’m familiar with the “snake that swallowed an elephant” thing, and somewhat familiar with word-folks putting the metaphor they’re gesturing at in a blender, but better to ask: Snake-swallowed-an-elephant metaphor, a cross between that and the “figure out what an elephant looks like” one (which is also fitting) or an allusion I’m not familiar with?

    Yes, is tea time. I’m sucking down my gallon of coffee now….

      1. I’ve heard of that one .. never read it. I want to say Ace of Spades had a rather positive review of it up, at one point, but my google-fu is weak and I can’t find it.


  21. This trip to Germany is the first one when I’ve seen a noticeable number of young European families and pregnant women. It caught my eye, because they were all over the place, not so much in the part of Frankfurt I visited, but everywhere else. Bavaria and the Rhineland seem to be having quite a baby-boomlet. In the past 20 years I can’t recall seeing so many small and school-aged kids over there. *shrug* Be curious to see if it’s also happening in the rest of Germany.

    1. I was (pleasantly) surprised at the number of kids I saw in Spain recently. We were staying in the old section of Barcelona, which (judging from the foot traffic at 3 a.m. down in the square below my window) has a large population of young hipsters — not your stereotypical parental sorts. And yet there were at least half a dozen little kids playing in the square every night.
      Sarah: I don’t know enough about European city patterns, but in New Orleans you don’t see many children in the French Quarter, and that’s the closest analog I can think of to the old section of Barcelona. So there may be good news from Spain, anyway.

  22. 1. It’s not clear to me whether the drop in births is a trend or a transient. For example, this article claims that, before the financial crisis at least, having more than two kids was the thing to do on Wall Street. Cf. TXRed | July 18, 2013 at 12:45 pm, above. And, yes, various subcultures are reproducing prolifically.

    2. With all due respect to our hostess, it’s also not clear to me that Heinlein should have foreseen today’s drop in birth rates. Hindsight, y’know. (For that matter, maybe he considered the possibility but couldn’t express it in a salable way.)

    1. Witness the way that no other SF writer predicted demographic collapse — and now that it is upon us, they STILL don’t treat it as the future.

      Or if they do, it’s not published.

      1. Um, demographic collapse is part of my WIP, although it happens on a colony world and not on Earth. I fear my MC is going to make wymynists’ heads explode, if they get to book four. “No, you can’t do what I did, because we need mothers more than we need women soldiers.”

        1. “We need…” We being…the State?

          raises eyebrow

          Figure out a market-based way, in contrast to a twenty-year period of conscription, to incentivize/compensate women for their labor, and you’ll have a thought-provoking book, IMHO.

            1. Oh, also she didn’t say it was a GOOD thing.

              Point taken.

              It can be shows as conscription and shown as a bad thing, too.

              Or as a necessary evil.

              When subjected to a necessary evil, the appropriate thing is to buckle down and do what needs doing. Once the emergency is past, it may be appropriate to take a cold-eyed look at why the necessary evil was necessary.

              I continue to maintain that ideally, conscription should not be necessary. Ideally, society should induce with benefits, not with penalties.

          1. back briefly, before going to the bank

            True, sometimes people willingly sacrifice their personal preferences for the greater good. Sometime survival of the community even requires that people be required to sacrifice their personal welfare.

            However, because the ruling class is likely to abuse powers of compulsion which are granted to them, the State’s overriding of personal liberty should be a last resort. I’d like to think that there is almost always a better way, especially, in advanced societies of the future, and would be interested in speculative explorations of that thesis.

            1. Yes, but even if her state does that, it can be shown to be a bad thing. My friend Rebecca Lickiss had a short story that did just that, and now I’m wondering what the name is and if she’s released it. She couldn’t SELL it,of course, not back in the day 😉

              1. Granted, writers have to write what sells, but I’d like to see some libertarian alternatives to statist narratives like Life of Julia.

          2. If you have to buy mothers, they probably aren’t going to be worth the cost.

            There is no need to conscript. All you have to do is refuse to enlist women in the military, and let nature take its course. There is no right to military service, AFAIK.

            1. If you have to buy mothers, they probably aren’t going to be worth the cost.

              If a futuristic technological society relies on coercion, or on behavior contrary to self-interest, to reproduce itself, I question whether such a society can be called free.

              There is no guarantee that free societies are viable or that the future belongs to them, but I’d like to believe that such is the case. Despite the contemporary concentration of power in the hands off the corrupt incompetent few, at present I’m sticking to that belief for the long term.

              There is no need to conscript. All you have to do is refuse to enlist women in the military, and let nature take its course. There is no right to military service, AFAIK.

              There are, or should be, benefits to military service. Afaic eligibility should primarily depend on aptitude to perform the required duties, not on gender.

              1. There are, or should be, benefits to military service. Afaic eligibility should primarily depend on aptitude to perform the required duties, not on gender.

                The primary benefit is: the group survives.
                Pay, respect, education– those are all things offered to sweeten the pot, but they are NOT the purpose of military work.

                If allowing someone to enlist hurts the mission more than it helps, of freaking course the group isn’t required to pay for the bullet in their foot.

                Saying “No, you cannot join the military when we’re dying off, because you are one of the few who can give birth” is not the same as “buying mothers” or even forcing girls to be mothers.

            2. If you want high quality workers, the current situation suggests that what you want to “buy” are stable two parent families. _Massive_ income tax breaks for parents might work. Making “single mother” a career choice, rather than an unfortunate burden is a really bad idea.

              1. Agreed. Your phrase the current situation suggests… is a thoughtful and engaging one. I have opinions, but certainly not all the answers.

                IMO the Life of Julia path for our society (with one child in the picture but no spouse) leads to stagnation at best and very likely to worse. A nation structured in traditional division-of-labor families will very likely fare better than a nation of Julias.

                The question remains whether that traditional model can be improved upon, especially with the aid of futuristic technology. I’m inclined to believe it can but can formulate no specific social structures that are better than the traditional one. In particular, the childrearing parent—presumably but not inevitably the wife—is taking ~20 years out of a professional career track. IMO an enlightened advanced society should make that worth her while in more than personal satisfaction; moreover, such a society should have pathways for her talents once the kids are out of the house.

                A society of two parent families would be better than a nation of single mothers; I suspect that the kind of society—technologically based, mind you—I am speculating about would be better than a society of traditional families. (I have deliberately left “better” unspecified.)

                To summarize & repeat: I can do no more than speculate that such a society is possible. I have no idea of what it would look like. Fortunately, writers of science fiction get paid big bucks to figure stuff like this out. 😀

                1. If you look back at the tax tables you will see that the dependent exemption (primarily used for children) remained at about $2,000 for decades. In 1935, when the deduction was $400 —

                  What Things Cost in 1935:
                  Car: $580
                  Gasoline: 19 cents/gal
                  House: $6,300
                  Bread: 8 cents/loaf
                  Milk: 47 cents/gal
                  Postage Stamp: 3 cents
                  Stock Market: 144
                  Average Annual Salary: $1,500

                  it represented a significant sum. If it had held that value across the years, adjusted for inflation, far more couples could afford one household adult investing their time in staying home with the kids.

                  Fewer people in the workforce would have secondary effects of increased job security and higher wages. Having an adult involved full time with the children and household would allow people to grow more of their own vegetables, prepare home-cooked meals, and involve themselves more with such trivia as children’s schools and activities.

                  1. So…over a quarter of a year’s average income?

                    That would be…. $50k is the modern average income, so at least 13k?

                    1. Keep in mind that that second income you make is taxed at a pretty high rate, very likely 35% — with no extra deduction as that went to shield the first earner’s income. Of course, before you get to pay that 35% Federal income tax (and whatever your state taxes demand) you have to pay 7.65% for Medicare and Social Security*.

                      So, in order to enjoy an after-tax income equivalent to the $26,000 your dependent** deduction would shield, your actual salary has to be $44,000:
                      44000 – (44,000 – .35) – (44,000 * .0765) = 44,000 – 15,400 – 3366 = 25,234.

                      This does not take into account the extra expenses of two commuters, two “work” wardrobes and so on.

                      *Double that if you are self-employed

                      **If ganny or granpa move in with you, that also qualifies for a dependent deduction.

                  2. Fascinating. Except for Milk and the Stock Market, the rest average out to just about 1/30th of today’s values. That would put the dependent exemption at about $12,000. As you say, that would make family life a lot more manageable for a lot of people.

                    The lower workforce would encourage, rather than discourage, automation, which would increase productivity to the point that those higher wages would be reasonable.

                    1. The beauty of it is that it rewards the families with at least one productive, working adult. It does not pay the unambitious to not marry, not get an education and not get a job.

                  3. IMO government policy has undermined the traditional family in recent decades: sometimes as an unintended consequence, sometimes with malice aforethought.

                    I am favorably disposed toward policies that support the traditional family: not because I think the traditional family is the best we can do going forward, but because I think it’s much better than what we’re doing.

                    1. A number of the costs of child-rearing are only deductible when you pay somebody else to do them. Put the kid in day care so you can work a minimum wage job that pays less than your day care costs and you can deduct the day care as a work expense. Stay home with your kid and teach him/her to read, care for animals, do math, science — nada.

                    2. Because of teachers’ unions etc, I suppose. In particular: the unions may or may not have pushed for such policies to be instituted, but they most definitely would ferociously oppose them to be corrected.

                      Thanks for the information. Depressing to know, but should be known.

                  4. Since at heart I’m a numbers geek I extrapolated all these up to today using the price of an ounce of gold (1935 gold was $34.84/oz) as a proxy for inflation (I know, but it’s easy to look up, and gets the numbers sorta close):

                    Car: $24,475
                    Gasoline, gal:$ 7.04
                    House: $ 233,266
                    Bread, loaf: $ 2.96
                    Milk, gal.: $ 17.40
                    Postage Stamp: $ 1.11
                    Stock Market: $ 5,332
                    Avg.Ann.Salary: $ 55,540
                    Deduction, per child: $ 14,811
                    1 oz gold: $ 1290.00

                    Milk at $17.40 a gallon is pretty amazing, but I was impressed how close the salary and housing numbers ended up.

                    1. Considering that in 1935 milk was a hand-crafted (hand-drawn?) product delivered to your home fresh from the dairy, that price isn’t unreasonable. Certainly, modern dairy breeding and production methods have greatly increased yields per acre of dairy farm (or whatever the proper unit of production ought to be.)

                    2. We pay around $7.50 for milk that is delivered to our home from the dairy. (No, we don’t know how it survived in some neighborhoods in town, but we’re glad it did, and we’ll use it while we can.)

                    3. Well, in 1935 I think bread was still hand-crafted as well (I don’t think one got bread delivered to the door, however, but I’m not certain). Thanks to [SEARCHENGINE] and wikipedia, I just learned that Wonderbread went nationwide in 1930, so [emilylatella]Nevermind[/emilylatella].

                    4. I was going to say you should revamp those figures, then I looked at the price of gold today. I hadn’t realized it was still so low, I had just been hearing that it had rebounded, I assumed that meant back up to somewhat closer to the highs of a year or so ago.

                2. Technology-wise, making the workplace assessable for mother with young children (or taking care of elderly relatives, for that matter) is possible with online and working from home and very flexible hours.

                  It simply can’t be done for some jobs. It’s just a matter of working out the details and introducing managers to the 21st century for others.

                  With increased robotics, even manufacturing from home will become possible. Advanced vehicles, ditto. The farmer, male of female, can sit at home and monitor the tractor out in the field.

                  1. And with real-time virtual reality.

                    In fact, for many tasks the farm and factory won’t even have to be on the same task as the operator. (I hope for a renaissance of owner-operated farms and workshops, but that’s not the only possible future.)

          3. I would guess “we” is the colony, which is now dying off.

            At least as noble as giving your life as a soldier, especially if someone being a soldier would require some sort of allowances made.

            “Allowances” can be as basic as needing a different place for them to sleep– either for different sexes, or just someone being too tall for the racks or short for the ladders.

            Even being one of those folks who is just good at picking unneeded fights is enough to be removed.

            Everybody else has rights, too, not just the individual– the group interests need to be defended at least as much as the desires of an individual.

            1. Everybody else has rights, too, not just the individual– the group interests need to be defended at least as much as the desires of an individual.

              We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,

              1. And? What has that to do with the claim that everyone else should have their interests ignored to subsidize the desires of the individual?

                You seem to be missing the part where the military is not just a fulfillment of a personal desire.

              2. Shorter:
                The military is there to defend the people of the state.
                A member of the military has to put the mission ahead of their personal desires.
                Someone who puts their personal desires ahead of the mission should not be on the mission.
                Someone who puts their personal desires ahead of the entire purpose of the military should not be in the military.

                1. Thank you, nicely put. I thought this was obvious enough to the regulars here that I didn’t bother replying earlier, but obviously I was wrong.

                  1. Thanks.

                    Gs seems to be arguing against actively forcing women to be mothers, but I tried to stick with the secondary claim that not allowing someone military service was somehow forcing….

              3. No man is an island. Can’t secure individual rights if there are no individuals left, or government. The State of Nature is not a Rousseavian Utopia, but rather a war of all against all. If you’re not part of a group, you’re meat. High-flying rhetoric about individual rights and the Equality of Man notwithstandind.

                1. Sure. That’s what I tried to indicate last night in my response to Free-range Oyster.

                  The self-evident truths of the Declaration were written by a slave owner. IMO that does not invalidate them as a basis for civilization, especially as a basis for future advanced civilizations that are less vulnerable to Nature than their predecessors were.

        2. About the time I started writing (what… 15 years ago, 20?) the “thing” was women refusing to be a womb. I read one short story where the woman refused to be a womb even at the cost of the colony dying out. It was that important not to be a womb.

          So my first attempts at short stories put that on it’s head because it just didn’t make any sense to me. It was irrational. Someone might look at the numbers and decide that there was no possible way to have enough kids to build a population and that it would be better for the last of the original crew to die alone of old age than to leave a child to die alone of old age… but that wasn’t the story. The story was “I am not a brood mare.” Selfish beyond measure, I thought.

          Now, I was in the military and I really liked it and I think that women are certainly prone enough to violence (I don’t quite buy our unique and necessary nurturing natures if it doesn’t include killing anything that threatens what we nurture) but it’s true… the time window for military service exactly overlaps the time window for reproduction.

          In any case, I haven’t abandoned the theme. One of my more recent world building efforts involves the matriarchal society of the belt miners and now it’s misinterpreted by outsiders as to who is in charge since the miners are all men and the women stay back on their bases having babies… because obviously that means that the men are in charge, right? (This is definitely one I need to finish… the powers-that-be make a very large mistake… they “rescue” the belt miner’s “children” and bring them onto their space station.)

          1. The “Most Dangerous Of The Species” Strikes Back!!! [Very Big Evil Grin]

          2. Now, I was in the military and I really liked it and I think that women are certainly prone enough to violence (I don’t quite buy our unique and necessary nurturing natures if it doesn’t include killing anything that threatens what we nurture) but it’s true… the time window for military service exactly overlaps the time window for reproduction.

            Oooh, oooh– I am so going to blame this on my husband’s AF reserve unit–
            why does military service have to overlap with reproductive times?

            There’s some benefit to quick reactions and such, sure, but because the military takes physical strength.

            So make a military that doesn’t need physical strength…and recruit from the grandparents. 🙂

            1. “and recruit from the grandparents. 🙂 ”

              Scalzi did that in the Old Man’s War books. As much as I may dislike Scalzi I did like those books.

            2. In my opinion, young men should have a child or two before putting themselves directly in harms way also. Still, it’s hard for mothers and fathers, both, to be apart from their children. Particularly when they’re very small, it doesn’t take long for the kids to forget who daddy or mommy is, and it’s heartbreaking to finally get home and your child is afraid of you!

              My kids are all teenagers, now, the youngest is 16. I *feel* like now is the time to go adventuring but I have the physique of a sedentary 48 year old and all the pains and waning eyesight and need to pee at least once or twice a night. (TMI, I know!) I suppose I might have had my kids up to 10 years earlier (age 16 isn’t a bad idea *biologically*).

              Still… I do believe I agree with you.

              1. Guys in my shop made me believe that, even if they weren’t as horrific as the career gals who were throwing away the pictures their kids sent them.

                Dear Husband’s dad was Navy when he was little…which is why he wanted out of active when we got married to have kids. Ended up being sent to school for six months. Thank God for Skype, meant that the girls were mostly confused because daddy couldn’t see things right in front of his nose when he was on the computer-TV.

                1. That’s why I retired from the Reserve when the small and crunchy son was 3. I was at the 23 year mark, (10 years active, 13 reserve) and didn’t see making it to the next rank, and thought I was more important to my son on the weekends than I was as a part-time paper shuffler to the AFR.

                  Haven’t missed the paper cuts, and I no longer have erotic dreams about dumping all the squadron’s files in a massive shredder. 😉

              2. “Particularly when they’re very small, it doesn’t take long for the kids to forget who daddy or mommy is”

                You know you have been gone too long when the kids start calling you “Uncle Daddy”.

            3. “why does military service have to overlap with reproductive times?”

              Because that is your peak physical and mental condition.

                  1. Ah,but they’re there because of their youth– set it up so that “young and strong” isn’t required, and you can instead have the valleys that are higher than their peak.

          3. Re: the pondering that the time window for military service exactly overlaps the time window for reproduction.

            As was noted, physical fitness is a major driver of enlistment age limits, but in the US military the absolute enlistment age limit is actually controlled by government pension law, which mandates an individual can only enlist if they will be able to complete twenty years service by the mandatory retirement age of 62, and so 42 is the legal max age for initial enlistment. During the last 12 years (when they were occasionally close to falling short of their recruitment numbers) they played games with that a little bit and were pretty generous about waivers and prior service credits (which get subtracted from the 20 years total), but now with all the cuts on the horizon the DoD max initial enlistment age is down to 35, and there are even lower service-by-service age limits – for example, it looks like as of last year the Air Force max enlistment age was 27.

            I know other countries are less restrictive – I have heard that the oldest person seen going through Australian Army basic training in the last number of years was in their middle 50s (and that recruit was apparently kicking ass in training), and there are plenty of 50 year old hypermarathoners and cross-fit maniacs these days. On the other hand, the official commentary on older recruits in the US military training pipeline is that they are statistically more likely to get injured in training and take longer to heal.

            It sure seems to me that it would make sense to eliminate the pension thing as the driver and base policy on needs of the service, perhaps increasing the pool age limits for certain MOSs, but that’s not going to happen.

            1. To put it bluntly the military is to big to be run on a common sense basis, too much room for graft and cronyism. So they draw up hard and fast rules, it results in a few people that could be very helpful being ineligible, but it also keeps a number of freeloaders and others from gaming the system.

        3. “We” in the case of my WIP is species, although the MC is also thinking about her part of their world, too. She’s part of a faction that favors tech development/rediscovery, and she knows that one reason they lost the last of the tech in the first place was because of a population crash.

          [Spoiler alert] She’s also projecting, because one consequence of surviving an accident and subsequent attempted murder is that she’s barren. (Not that she could have had children safely to begin with, but she has no way of knowing that).

  23. I’m glad someone else sees the same things I’ve been noticing. I think there is something seriously wrong with the entire statistic-gathering and analyzing structure we’ve built up over the years, and I’m not quite sure how to go about verifying or refuting the things we see reported in the papers.

    Take a look at the horrible statistical manipulations they’ve had to do with the temperature records in trying to prove AGW. In some cases, they’ve actually destroyed the original data, going back and applying nonsensical “norming” to historically reported temperatures.

    Anyone with a whit of history and common sense can look at the entire AGW concept and go “Hey, wait a minute… Something’s off, that can’t quite be right… Didn’t the Norse manage to establish a colony on Greenland, along with traditional Norse agriculture? Are we growing barley and other crops on Greenland, these days? Nope, we’re not… So, how the hell can they claim we’re in the middle of an unprecedented warming right now?”

    The trouble is that the majority of the people gathering and analyzing the statistics we rely on to make policy decisions have a vested interest in making those statistics reflect things that will tend to increase their power and, incidentally, their budgets. Any casual acquaintance with how we go about allocating science funding will quickly show you that there are vested interests who’ve invested in this AGW idea, and who are very unlikely to be at all tolerant of dissent. Since they control the money taps for the “Science!!”, guess from whence the consensus arrives?

    I would suggest that two things should be done: One, separate out the statistics-gathering from those who benefit from the distortions, and two, we really ought to be doing something like an automatic two-track research policy: “Dr. Smith… You want to do a study that will finally prove that coffee is a substance inimical to human health, causing massive endocrine problems… OK, Dr. Jones: You are assigned the diametric opposite goal for your study; the truth ought to be somewhere in the middle ranges, here…”.

    Of course, you’d have to work out how to stop unconscious and conscious collusion and transference of bias, but the idea remains at the macro level: Cease paying for these single-minded research programs, and automatically build some competition in when you do it.

    Looking back over the years I’ve been paying attention to such things, I honestly can’t think of a single widely-spread result of research that hasn’t been refuted to one degree or another, and in some cases, it’s absolutely insane. How many times have they changed their minds about things like cholesterols, coffee, red wine, and who knows how many other nutritional and health issues. The doctors more-or-less caused my grandmother to kill my grandfather through his ulcer treatment, which called for a high-fat, very bland diet. The atherosclerosis is what killed him, essentially, while they were trying to treat what was almost certainly a helicobacter pylori infection with what amounted to witch doctery.

    We don’t know what we don’t know, and probably 90% of what we think we know is wrong.

    1. I have a lot of sympathy for Sir John Cowperthwaite the civil servant who pretty much single handedly got Hong Kong to be a thriving economy. He thought moth statistics gathering was harmful ( )

      In Hong Kong, he refused to collect all but the most superficial statistics, believing that statistics were dangerous: they would led the state to to fiddle about remedying perceived ills, simultaneously hindering the ability of the market economy to work. This caused consternation in Whitehall: a delegation of civil servants were sent to Hong Kong to find out why employment statistics were not being collected; Cowperthwaite literally sent them home on the next plane back

      1. I discovered Cowperthwaite on “The Trillion Pound Horror Story”:

        He quickly became a hero due to what he accomplished in Hong Kong. The funny part is that I think he’s a hero in certain Chinese circles.

    2. “In some cases, they’ve actually destroyed the original data, going back and applying nonsensical “norming” to historically reported temperatures.”

      When you take an existing historical database, ‘adjust it’ with rather arbitrary values, stuff that into ‘computer models’ which you insist on keeping proprietary, and you insist that the predicted disasters you forcast from the output of those models is more than sufficient to massively restructure the economies of the world… well, that’s not science, that’s science fiction. (And a pulp novel plot, at that.)

  24. Hey, don’t worry; our aging electrical infrastructure will encourage more active, healthy youngsters and close-knit communities! After all, whenever there’s a blackout, I get to see many kids playing in the street who otherwise are only small faces in the back seat of cars driving by, and people sitting on the porch passing the time with comments to passerby…

    …and nine months after every bad blizzard in Alaska, there’s always a miniature baby boom.

  25. “These days it has become more or less fashionable to say that Islamic countries are the only ones growing in population.”

    Checkout chapter 1 in “Look Inside”.

      1. One of the primary theses of the book is that as population pressures grow, societal strictures against the eating of meat increase. It becomes more and more a cultural norm to eat a primarily vegetarian diet.

        And a vegetarian diet results in reduced fertility.

        It may simply be a coincidence, but Sweden has been going through a low-carb boom, for the last five years or so – what they call the High-Carb, Low-Fat diet. Surveys indicate that over 25% of the population are trying to eat a HCLF diet. And it shows up in the statistics. Total consumption of butter, for example, has increased significantly.

        And, oddly enough, Sweden has also had a significant increase in its birth rate.

        1. Just for confirmation – didn’t you mean Low Carb High Fat? Otherwise, it doesn’t fit the first part.

    1. Interesting. I may have to buy it and read the whole thing.

      I am a bit dubious about a century of extrapolation of birthrates. Especially in view of the speed of tech change and the state of the US government. Will tech make motherhood more or less of a roadbump in a woman’s education and career? Will the “Progressives” gain or lose power? Will they join the ranks of Marxists who murder their own populations wholesale? Or will they become a meaningless term in the history texts. Tammany who?

      Heck, take the battle of the sexes a step further. Disgusted with modern feminazis, will men use high tech to have children? Some of the regressions of body cells to stem cells have the potential of creating ova without a female around. Now all we need is an artificial uterus, and cult-of-victimology women will have made themselves into an evolutionary dead end.

      1. An idea I’ve been toying with for years is wondering what is going to happen when we finally manage to destroy the nuclear family. So long as modern technology is available, and the life sciences continue to grow in competence, some interesting things become possible.

        Take for example what happens if the average woman no longer seeks out the father of her children via the traditional technique of marrying the sire of her children, and instead decides to select from other options.

        Further suppose that a market comes into being for, oh, say germ plasm from the latest and greatest pop star? Women might well choose to have ten thousand of Justin Bieber’s kids, via artificial insemination. That’s a nightmare scenario–Selecting fatherhood via celebrity. How many women would have gladly chosen (and, might still…) someone like George Clooney to sire their children. How does a society that does that on a widespread basis look? What social mechanisms would have to come into play, to accommodate such an “innovation”.

        That’s kind of a nightmare scenario, but it wouldn’t have to look that way.

        And alternative would be a more-or-less matriarchal “service” that handles breeding, and would decide who was going to be the best match for whom, in the child-producing area. Something like this would be almost a necessity for widely spread small populations like you’d find in a space-faring culture. You’d have to work hard, and carefully monitor who was providing the genes for your children, in order to avoid inbreeding. So, you might see a culture develop mechanisms that essentially decouple mating bonds from parental genetic contributions. You’d never raise your own kids, because that would just be genetically unhygienic. Instead, someone far away would go through a catalog of available gametes, look up your biography, and decide “Hey, that guy’s genes look pretty good… He’s got a track record of success at things in his life, and we need someone who’s likely to have his talents in our little part of this larger society… OK, we’re going to match him with our young lady Miss X…”.

        In other words, genetic success would no longer be determined by the things that work in our society. You’d have a situations where the people making these decisions might look at some guy who died young with no kids, but who died heroically doing something for the good of the society, and choose to spread more of his genes through the population, while the sweet-talking ladies men who dally with dozens and never work a day of their lives don’t get picked to provide any contributions.

        It would have the effect of introducing criticism into the whole game of who winds up having kids. Mr. Steadyhands, who’s an expert at piloting? Oh, yeah… We want more of him. Mr. Fancypants, who hasn’t done a days honest work in his life? Not going to have too many takers, when it comes to picking out who’s going to be providing the germ plasm for the out-crossings.

        I think it is entirely possible that we’re living in one of the last few generations of humanity that we’d recognize, as far as these matters go. What comes next? Who the hell knows? The death of the traditional nuclear family is going to lead to some very strange adaptations.

        1. Further suppose that a market comes into being for, oh, say germ plasm from the latest and greatest pop star?

          Read your Greek myths — Hercules, Theseus and their ilk couldn’t hardly spend the night alone in any town, village or farmstead where they chose to lay their head.

          As for that matriarchal “service — read Dune. What were the Bene Gesserit if not that?

          It would make sense to separate breeders from rearers (we are already doing that in many ways) with the sire and dam of a child having nothing to do with its upbringing. The qualities desirable in a breeding line might well not be deemed conducive to inculcating offspring into the culture, after all, just as the qualities suited to being nanny, teacher and mentor are not necessarily ones the society would consider worth breeding.

          1. What I’m thinking of is what happens when the effect is wholesale, rather than retail? Hercules could only service so many. What happens when someone puts Justin Bieber’s sperm into mass production, and twenty thousand concert-goers can buy his seed as a part of the concert package?

            Young women aren’t noted for their foresight in mate selection, and if we make single motherhood a norm, and add in souvenir sperm… What the hell happens? Male genetic success strategies will sure as hell change, that’s for sure.

            As to the parallels to the Bene Gesserit… Yeah, I read Dune when I was around nine, and reread it every few years. One of my favorite books, actually.

            The BG were looking to breed a messiah, using the nobility as breeding stock. I’m thinking more of a situation where the female elders are more or less deciding who they want in their society across the board, and thus choosing who’s going to be breeding with whom somewhat impersonally. Performance data, and screening of the germ plasm would then become critical to the choices made. “Mr. X is an excellent pilot, but he drinks to excess, and has a history of argumentative fighting… Ms. Y has very good hand-eye coordination, is very sober and upright, and works well with others… Let’s see if we can’t get a good pilot who isn’t a total jerk by crossing them.”

            And, again: Male reproductive strategy would change massively. Instead of being a rock star, maybe dying young and heroically would be a better strategy, in that it would garner a bit more sympathy from those female elders: “Poor Sammy… He had such promise, but then he died saving those kids from that awful fire… Let’s see what a few more of him can do, why don’t we? Give those genes a second chance…”.

            Change something as fundamental as who breeds with who, and a lot of the bedrock assumptions of your society are going to change past the point of recognition.

            1. But what would be worse? Tens of thousands of Justin Beiber’s kids . . . or no kids at all?

              I used to breed horses, and there are several very popular stallion that, Oops! had some bad recessives, that started impacting the breed as a whole, as descendants were bred back to each other.

              1. Anybody who thinks they can breed a better human is too foolish to breed and too wicked to trust with human lives. Eugenics is one of the most fundamental violations of human rights possible.

                If you really want to meddle, you should do it the old-fashioned way: matchmaking and genealogy. This is traditionally trusted to old ladies and their minions.

                1. and most of them are wicked, but few are foolish. (Sarah who gets more wicked every year she lives, because the d*mn young won’t get it RIGHT — particularly in matters of the heart.)

                  1. The research WON’T be done, except maybe in China. I used to think that too, but GS you’re missing one big thing — our socons are practically libertarian compared to Europe. No, seriously. You have no idea. They might have no religion, but by gum they have taboos.

                    1. I would broaden your statement to include Asia, with China the most likely place. (My hyperlink points to Wikipedia’s piece on the Beijing Genetics Institute.)

                      Agreed wrt Europe: I mentioned their Precautionary Principle. But even there, history can turn on a dime. (TXRed, iirc, recently posted about a noticeable increase in pregnant women in Germany.)

                2. Sheri Tepper’s “The Gate To Women’s Country” does that but they’re breeding for “civilized” behavior. The “violent” men are kept outside but supposedly used for breeding and the pacifists are inside and actually the fathers.

                  Giving an oligarchy sole control of your reproduction is an even worse idea than giving them control of your government.

                  1. In another book, one character is cheerfully defending a eugenics program on the grounds of whether you would allow certain sheep in the herd to breed.

                    to which my retort is: And what am I in this analogy? Another sheep? then I would have no say. The shepherd who is raising the sheep to be shorn and, in due course, slaughtered? Yes, since I regard them as mine to do with as I please. To be sure, if the sheep got what was going on, they would be entirely within their rights to try to trample me to death.

                    1. Sheri Tepper has some awful totalatarians in her books as the good guys. In one book, having wiped out humanity in an attempt to decrease the population, a group censored this from the history of the intelligent animals that followed, and the censorshhip is praised as a wonderful, wonderful wonderful thing.

                3. “If you really want to meddle, you should do it the old-fashioned way: matchmaking and genealogy. This is traditionally trusted to old ladies and their minions.”

                  Which is pretty much what I see as a possibility, updated by technology. We seem to forget that there was a lot of “practical eugenics”, back in the day when marriages were arranged by the elders. Although, a lot of the time, they were motivated by economic and other petit dynastic interests, like which families had which land.

                  Take a society that has a widespread, intermittently in-contact population, such as we might imagine for a spacefaring culture. The individual elements would have to carry with, and regularly exchange germ plasm from elsewhere in the society in order to ensure that they maintained genetic diversity. How will they do that, and who’s the most likely to take responsibility for it?

                  I’d posit an updated version of the “meddling little old lady matchmakers”, who’d probably keep a carefully recorded record of who did what for the genes they were custodians of. Need more pilots? Hmmm… This line shows good results for producing the pilot-talented. Need people who have a knack for engineering? Use this one…

                  Like I said, as the life sciences progress, human reproduction is going to change, and in unforeseen ways. Fad babies will come and go, perhaps. Or, we’ll make laws against it. I think that what will happen is all sorts of things being tried, and if they don’t work, well… There will be laws against the things that don’t work out.

                  I think it’d be an interesting idea for a story–Celebrity fad babies of someone like Micheal Jackson, who is first immensely popular, and then manages to destroy his reputation through scandal. What happens to all the resultant kids, when the scandal breaks? How does that work out, for them?

                  Human capacity for folly almost guarantees that there will be some consequences to all the improvements I see coming to the reproductive life sciences. Nine-tenths of which we won’t even see coming–That’s the only real certainty.

                  1. Heinlein addressed this in his depiction of the Free Traders in Citizen of the Galaxy. It is interesting to consider that Heinlein’s society reflects a far more restrictive sexual organization (into moietys) than he advocated in other novels. Either he considered the tight shipboard population a limiting factor or he considered his editor and audience …

                  2. Human capacity for folly almost guarantees that there will be some consequences to all the improvements I see coming to the reproductive life sciences.

                    The changes may be enormous.

                    As a rule of thumb, I’d entrust the new technologies to individuals seeking what’s best for their children, not to the ruling class which has given us the current state of public education while sending their offspring to private schools.

                  3. Take a society that has a widespread, intermittently in-contact population, such as we might imagine for a spacefaring culture. The individual elements would have to carry with, and regularly exchange germ plasm from elsewhere in the society in order to ensure that they maintained genetic diversity. How will they do that, and who’s the most likely to take responsibility for it?

                    Actually, that’s already been done– any tribes, or even distant towns.
                    It’s solved by regular fairs and a standing tradition about who’s supposed to go to whose family.
                    Need an engineer? See if one of the engineers in another group wants to move. No need to hope that the genes that make for a good engineer cross, or that you’ve accurately predicted how many you’ll need.
                    If everybody in his home group is either married or a relative, he’s more likely to move…..

                    1. Need an engineer? A honey trap would work much better. Why try and breed one, hoping you will get one in twenty years, if you need one now. In twenty years you may all be dead, including your potential future engineer, because your life support failed before he grew up and learned how to fix such things. Instead send a nice young lady with instructions to nab the engineer, and bring him back willingly. When the nice young lady is pregnant with the engineers kid you can start planning how you are going to train your next hopeful engineer to replace the one you honey trapped, but hopefully he will live a long and healthy life, because it takes a long time to raise and train a child from swaddling clothes to radiotope space craft engines.

                  4. T. J. Bass never gets any love any more for the books _The Godwhale_ and _Half-Past Human_, but he talks about the planetary state and applied eugenics: the population, living in vast hives, at times needs specialty individuals to do manual and technical tasks that the standard individual (the nebbish) can’t physically do. But since breeding in bottles (a la Huxley) and their higher calorie and intensive indoctrination and training costs so much, many higher intensive or complex projects are abandoned because the cost is too high, in that the resources diverted would either cause starvation, or chunks of the lesser productive population to be put into “Temporary Suspension” which is basically frozen until converted into protein unless a miracle happens and the state needs extra out of shape couch-potatoes.
                    He still points out the the lead time on this sort of thing is very large – the world state has to do long term planning since nothing can be done with the tools at hand.

                    They are a series of very grim books, by the way.

            2. Young women aren’t noted for their foresight in mate selection, and if we make single motherhood a norm, and add in souvenir sperm… What the hell happens? Male genetic success strategies will sure as hell change, that’s for sure.

              What makes you think young women will volinteer to become mothers?
              It ain’t the stigma of single motherhood that makes female birth control so popular, nor is it the equally-not-famed-in-young-women financial sense.

              1. I don’t know… I’ve talked to some who would do it to have a celebrity’s child, even if they didn’t want one the normal way.

                1. There are some, but difference between having a celebrity’s something, and having a child, tends to make a pretty big dent in that shiny worldview when the work and the hurt and the swollen ankles and morning sickness, stinky diapers and colic and ear infections that leave the baby screaming in pain every time you try to lay them down to sleep start to cut in. Because even if you remove all the stigma, it’s still a heck of a lot of work to have a kid. And that’s before the reading, writing, skinned knees, PTA meetings, ER visits, homework tantrums, heartbreaks…

                  Some will go for it. They’ll serve as examples to the rest on why this is a bad idea…

                  Especially since the shiny superstar model will neither know nor care that some girl used the piece of him she got, and will go blithely on with his glamorous rock star world that will be even further away when there’s a kid to care for (unless she finds a babysitter, now she can’t even go to his concerts – if she can afford both diapers and tickets!)

                2. It’s even possible that some would manage to go through with it, to the point of giving birth– I greatly doubt that the trophy-baby phenomena would be much of a blip.

                3. …now having serious ick-fits over the image of idiot girls talking about having “a little piece of so-and-so” their idol. Not sure if the life of the boys or the girls would be more hellish.

                  1. Can’t you just see all the little Elvis toddlers, running around the playground in their spangled jump suits?

                    Considering the reports on NBA superstars such as Earvin “Magic” Johnson having “relations” with some 10,000 women one has to wonder about how many would eagerly have a child out of Magic Johnson, Wilt Chamberlain or other athlete, especially if it did not require putting up with him afterward?

                    1. The “having relations” part involves physical contact and– more importantly– all your friends seeing you walk off with him.

          2. “The qualities desirable in a breeding line might well not be deemed conducive to inculcating offspring into the culture, after all, just as the qualities suited to being nanny, teacher and mentor are not necessarily ones the society would consider worth breeding.”

            so you think that people suitable to inculcating offspring into the culture will just spring up from the ground like mushrooms? And a society that did not consider being nanny, teacher and mentor worth breeding is one that will rapidly find itself facing a shortage of people who can be nanny, teacher or mentor .

            1. Er, … no. I think people stupid enough to believe that was a good way to organize a society might believe other stupid things as well, and that those stupid things would likely be stupid in consistent ways.

          3. Heck, read the stories about when classically black men met up with Indian tribes that respected the buffallo; powerful symbols, there. Must’ve been heck for any good Christian fellows!

        2. Evolution argues against. The “service” you are describing is much higher cost that the natural technique, so those that stick to that, rather than submit to your regime, will have higher differential fertility. And those that do both are still better off.

          One notes that those who actually do the work of raising the children will need to be selected for or they will vanish. They will still need to be paid, which raises the cost still farther.

        3. You’d have to work hard, and carefully monitor who was providing the genes for your children, in order to avoid inbreeding.

          Or you can just ignore any claims of degree-of-relation, and do a genetic test before folks marry/reproduce.

          Inbreeding, genetically, is a proxy for avoiding bad recessive genes.

          1. I don’t think we know enough about the genes involved in all the various genetic disorders for that to be workable yet. Of course, if you were assuming that would be possible before any space colonies were available to require it, you could certainly be right.

            1. We don’t have technology to be so spread out in space that we need a manager to prevent inbreeding, either…..

              Honestly, I think that it’s unlikely for such a culture to develop, but eh.

              1. Some, we do – sickle cell anemia makes it much harder to catch / die from malaria.

                Wonder if that will turn out to be a really good or really bad adaptation when we hot another, alien, ecology?

                1. I was thinking something more subtle– like “having this in a recessive form is required to interact with that way over there and this third thing to make folks who are smarter” or something strange like that– the “junk DNA” and other unknown interactions, not even as “obvious” as sickle cell.

              2. Biologist-son tells me that intelligence, for instance, is a complex affair and that the same genes that produce geniuses produce morons depending on what’s flipped off and on. This accords to my experience in the village where er… developmentally delayed families would throw out the occasional astonishing genius and, of course, vice versa.

      2. Technological replacements for nature have a price tag. Natural reproduction comes for free. Evolution argues against your program.

        1. And all of this sort of thing ignore the real world of what our genetics tell us. No matter how we are raised, young people are going to continue to fall in love, and want a permanent, loving relationship and _that_ one person’s babies. Culture can interfere as a much as it wants, but anytime it stutters, Mother Nature will step back in. No matter how much has to be reinvented.

          1. Its interference is also strictly limited to what it can enforce. Sneaking about in these matters is something that has a LONG history.

          2. Given the realities of the existing situation, where men don’t really know if their kids are their own or not, I think the most likely way they would implement this sort of thing is in letting the kids pick who they marry, but actually control which gametes get to do the fertilizing…

            We’d be talking about a society that had to strictly control such things as birth rates and times of birth, due to the very nature of the environment it existed in. A lengthy deep-space voyage isn’t the place to be having and raising kids, so they would have to do such things at set times, and under conditions suitable to the task–A sort of punctuated equilibrium, to the whole thing. Long voyage/mission, followed by a pause at some safe intermediate goal, and have kids, raise them safely, next voyage/mission.

            Part of the problem would be that you’d have to decouple things like when you harvested eggs and sperm to ensure optimal results, and when it was convenient for someone to raise the kids. One might see, for example, eggs and sperm from someone in their twenties finally being combined when they were actually in their forties, in order to have the kids.

            If I remember Podkayne of Mars, Heinlein was already here, albeit with suspended animation. I never cease to be amazed at the prescience of the man–You’d almost think he was a lost time traveler, but then you remember them using sliderules in stellar navigation.

            1. I suspect that any society capable of sending a significant number of people on an interstellar trip will be sufficiently advanced that all this tinkering with reproductive and social mores will be unnecessary. Either the entire crew is in suspended animation, or they’re all uploads, or the ship/fleet is large enough to accommodate population growth. Imagine a Bishop Ring ( outfitted with some kind of space drive (the Outsiders inertialess/reactionless drive would be ideal). It wouldn’t even have to be 2,000 km in diameter to support population growth for a good long time.

              FTL eliminates the issue altogether of course.

            2. ” A lengthy deep-space voyage isn’t the place to be having and raising kids, so they would have to do such things at set times, and under conditions suitable to the task”

              Actually in your hypothetical future, a long space voyage might be JUST the time to have kids. Think about it, no worries about not being around for your kids, if the voyage is going to take twenty years, you know you will be around longer than necessary to raise your kids to adulthood yourself. Unless they decide to breathe vacuum for a while, you don’t have to worry about your kids running away, you will be raising them in a controlled environment.

  26. It takes a hundred little acts of corruption, a thousand acts of lack of exactness. And once the figures move out of the village, out of the region, out of the city, out of the country, other governing bodies aren’t aware and take those as gospel truth.

    It is a thing that humans are prone to – taking written numbers seriously and acting as though they were true.

    I cannot find the original quote, but I believe it was G. K. Chesterton who pointed out that the cult of numbers folks who want to move people around with mathematical precision are all using numbers that rest on the oh-by-the-way busy work of the best estimate of the town constable.

    Or, as my mom once pointed out: the temperature inputs the Forest Service gets are usually from some hungover college kid looking out the window at a commercial grade thermometer and writing it down. Depending on both how lazy they are and how suspicious their supervisors are, the may round to the nearest bolded division, they may forget to do it at all until asked to turn it in, they will probably miss days and if the numbers are too similar they’ll probably “adjust” them so it doesn’t look like they forgot.

    1. Human beings are what they are and mistakes happen. Most time you just fill in and go on. It’s amazing how easily fudge things when it really doesn’t matter. I volunteer at my NRHS chapter’s switch tower museum and here a bunch of stories from former tower operators. One story was of the lost train. One night, a freight train left New Haven CT and arrived at the terminal in NYC. The thing is that if you looked at the tower blocking sheets for the entire trip, that train never existed. this had been the middle of the night and all of the tower operators had been asleep. This was realized in the morning when the dispatcher asked about the train and the blocking sheets were “corrected.” Still there was a “ghost train.” Stuff like that goes on all the time, when things go a little wrong. I laugh when I hear about global warming claims of 1 or 2 degrees simply because I know the instrumentation being used to take the measurements is only intended to be used for general weather forecasting where an error of 5 degrees or so doesn’t really matter. After all, in weather all you care about is going to be hot or cold and if it’s going to rain.

      1. An arrow for your quiver– I was a calibration technician, and nobody is supposed to use the lowest marked-and-measured unit on a device. You go one decimal over. So even if we assume the thermometers are accurate to one degree, as marked, they could only be used for ten degree increments.

        Related: China Lake “lost” a tank that was there for target practice because nobody noted down where it was parked. Was eventually found either by someone basically running into it or by one of the Russians spotting it when they came to use the flight area. (depended on who was telling the story, but the “don’t know where it is” was real)

        1. Instrument errors notwithstanding, the siting errors sort demonstrate that the weather network is not what you want to use for climate measurements much closer than +/- 5 degrees or so:

          If you are looking for one or two degree change, your kidding yourself.
          Anyway, what’s the big deal about losing a tank or two out in the desert? it’s not as if they wouldn’t be found, eventually.

        2. Weird – in Physics and Chemistry classes we were taught to interpolate the number between the marks for next-place-down measurements.

          1. When I first started surveying I used an older 30 second transit and we did the same, sometimes down to the 7 1/2 second or two-place-down measurement. Interpolation doesn’t work well with the newfangled digital stuff though.

          2. We were taught that in my (high school) science classes, too; I would wager that how accurate you need to be is the important part?

          3. Generally, the more extremely similar repeated measurements you do, the more likely it is that mathematically clever statistics will help you get highly accurate results. Various techniques in analytic chemistry and physical chemistry end up averaging over zillions of similar vibrations or zillions of similar laser zaps of the same sample in the same container, and can benefit greatly from clever statistics even applied in a straightforward 1800s way. A radar set tracking a target over a period of seconds gets a whole lot of data that its point of view (thinking in microseconds or milliseconds) change slowly, and can benefit greatly from clever statistics applied in a somewhat less straightforward 1940s way. GPS depends on this kind of cleverness very strongly: it runs on a signal that is ridiculously faint, and picks the signal out of the background using a lot of 1960s cleverness which is (to seriously oversimplify) like averaging over many cycles. But in the messy world of measurements that aren’t automated repetition, but instead different individual humans making observations in different places in different moods using different instruments, the mathematically pretty clever statistics tend to be less useful, and usable rules can include crude recognition of ignorance like “throw away any extreme outliers, because we know from experience that any estimate that depends on them is too likely to be garbage”. And it can be much more important to use techniques to keep human weirdness under control — “double blind” procedures, for example — than to try to get terribly clever with statistical postprocessing of many raw weird human measurements.

            1. Hmm, rereading I don’t think I was so clear how I was trying to connect to what I was responding to. Once you have highly repeatable techniques — sometimes *very* careful techs, more often automated measurements — you can use math to get accurate results out of noisy measurements, so effectively that any simple rule like “don’t read more finely than the scale” breaks down badly. Any single measurement that your GPS receiver takes is ridiculously noisy, but by the time it’s done combining a large number of them, the result can be exceedingly precise. The reason we can’t do this so effectively with human measurements like rulers (e.g., measuring the same object ten thousand times with rulers with one millimeter resolution, and distilling those data down to a single summary estimate which is accurate to a hundredth of a millimeter) has more to do with human idiosyncrasies than with any fundamental limit of reality: it’s a law like the Peter Principle, not a law like the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle.

              1. 1. Fancy techniques can be misused, deliberately or unintentionally, in the service of prejudices. I was about to write that this is glaringly implicit in your first comment when your follow-up appeared.

                2. OT: After a period of shock and outrage upon encountering the bootstrap method, I became taken with it—with the attitude that the data is what we know about the system—and remain so.

                Soooo it just crossed my mind that it would be interesting to teach statistics from a computational/bootstrap standpoint, extracting various theorems & rules of thumb empirically and treating proofs as secondary.

                Maybe it wouldn’t work, or maybe it’s being done.

    2. Hmm. The only Chesterton one I remember on this topic is the one where he objected that your numbers could be very precise without being meaningful because the things they refer to are imprecise. They would say there were x many educated people as if they were saying there were this many blacks, not this many opinionated people.

      And that, actually, the racial question would also admit of more refinement than that, since after being to America, he was aware that “coloured” was actually better term than “black” because if not every color, they were every shade and variant on one color.

  27. Population pressures might cause expansion into space, but colonization of space can’t relieve population pressures. Still, I’m sure you’re right about why we’re not going. Not, as some people argue, that it’s wrong to spend the money in space when people are hungry at home, but the opposite… because we’re too comfortable and affluent at home.

    My family came from Sweden and Norway, not because immediate problems had been solved and people now had money to explore, but because life sucked and they were looking for opportunities. One family branch from Sweden had 18 children (my great grandfather was the youngest) of which 16 survived (there was one set of twins that didn’t). Of those 16 children half of them came to America and half stayed in Sweden. One immigrant disappeared in Oregon never to be heard of again. The women tended to get married to younger men when they were in their late 20’s, so the idea that girls got married at 15 didn’t apply… more like 10 years later than that. And then they went on, all of them but one who had a single daughter and then died, to have 8 or 9 children. (15 times 9 in one generation is….) My great grandfather had 13 children… all of whom lived. My grandfather was the 13th child, the youngest. He, however, only had three girls. My father, though, was one of 9. The generation before my own seems to have gone for an average of 4, which still adds up to a great number of first cousins.

    Also, speaking of the Muslim womb… some fundy Christian communities in the US are prone to very large families, still. Not Catholic, but commonly 6 or 7 kids.

    1. ” . . . but colonization of space can’t relieve population pressures. ”

      Yeah. Just calculate how many people would have to emigrate every year, just to keep up with (reported) population growth.

      Mind you, some people colonizing multiple places in space would reduce the risk of the next asteroid impact destroying the human race, but the distance and expense is going to cause a bottle neck event in the population of every single destination beyond the Moon.

      1. And you get the founder effect. . . if it’s sufficient hard to send people to the colony, you will select for the fertile, those who can reproduce without medical assistance. That’s going to have a huge effect on humanity.

        1. I suspect what you’ll wind up with is “Two kids of your own, then one out of the frozen embryo bank” as a custom designed to prevent excessive inbreeding. Eventually they’ll run out of outside genes, but you can expand the *genetic* size of the founding population enormously.

          1. Having an enormous genetic size is of no use at all if they don’t breed like rabbits. The genes will just be lost otherwise. Therefore the genes brought in will be carefully filtered to prevent deleterious ones. Such as causing people to need medical assistance to reproduce.

            1. Some women carry and deliver more easily. If the community values more children the women who are willing to have extras will likely be those who carry and deliver well.

              But certainly, genes out of the gene bank would be from people who were checked for known genetic disorders. We can do gene sequencing now to identify populations… Neanderthal genes… Asian… South Pacific… Africa, etc., and how much of a mix of what anyone is. So along with my gingers, wide hips could be listed and anyone with a particularly narrow build could be sure to get wide-hip genes. I sometimes wonder, too… would it be worth trying for *short* people and smaller bodies? Seems to me that a 100 pound person uses less resources than someone who is 200 pounds.

              1. One fellow who used to post on the Bar, and knew his stuff, said most people have four to five _hundred_ deleterious genes. It when you get the same ones from both parents that the actual medical problems start showing up.

                Trying to avoid colonists with the known worst problems is going to be the best you can do. There is no such thing as perfect. Then the colony needs enough people (and/or spare genes in some form) that avoiding cousin marriages is not a hardship, and, as Marycatelli said (paraphrased) have a growing population to avoid losing the genetic diversity you start with.

            2. Assuming modern medicine, at least to the point of having antibiotics, a bit over four babies per woman will double the size of each generation. The expansion of food production in an alien environment will determine how fast a population “ought” to grow.

              A terraformed planet, full of wild edibles is a different situation than a world full of inedible/toxic alien vegetation, and different again from an entirely artificial habitat. If you’ve got to build your living space and your agricultural space as the population grows, and manufacture air to breathe, and go catch a small icy asteroid for water before you can use the new hydroponics module, your growth rate may be curtailed. If you lucked out and found a world with breathable air, and nothing but algae in the oceans, then by all means, have tons of kids. By the time they’re grown you’ll have had years to turn barren clay and sand into productive farm land, planted the start of forests, broadcast grass seed and so forth.

              Part of the problem is that as we first leave the Solar System, until we have the experience of several extra-solar planets, we won’t know how hard it’s going to be. Inside the Solar System, of course, it’s going to be all artificial habitats.

              1. The terraformed planet will have a lot more of the future in its genes than the other two.

              2. I plan to put my engineered asteroid somewhere inside Earth’s orbit, depending on where I can determine is the best balance between abundant solar power and low enough heat from the sun to maintain temperature. We’ll send automatic ships out to mine comets way out beyond Saturn, and bring supplies back. Or they may be manned with a small mining crew. Since I expect to have fusion powered rockets, the travel times will be a few weeks each way. Plenty of power and resources as needed. 🙂

          2. It might be easier to just have a sperm bank instead of embryos. Might “keep” better for longer, too. But I’ve often thought that would be what ended up socially expected – Have your two children and then at least one sperm bank baby. Or have a sperm bank baby or two even if you don’t have a partner. I imagine a fairly exact accounting of anyone’s genetic history, at least at first.

            Or even… you can be married but not reproduce because you’re too closely related… he puts his sperm into the bank, she takes someone else’s sperm out.

            I’ve also thought that if I were queen of the sperm bank my colony would end up with lots of gingers. 😉

            1. All of which takes money and resources so the bang for your buck must be much higher for you to not be outbreed by the people who stick to the old ways.

              Really, too closely related has been something we’ve handled for generations, why would we meddle with it?

            2. You need to be careful to not alienate the men. Would an embryo transplant child, ie, not related to either mother or father, be more acceptable to men than his wife having another man’s baby? One is similar to adoption, husband and wife of equal standing as the child’s parents. Donor sperm might seem like a lopsided burden on the men who raise the child that is their wife’s but not theirs.

              Especially in a culture where everyone obsesses over genetics, unfaithfullness and bastards are going to be serious transgressions, and donor sperm might become a touchy issue. Plus it only adds half the genes to the local pool per child.

              Practically, there’s got to be backup, redundencies, several possibilities. So both embryos and sperm and ova, and tissue cultures, and anything anyone can think of will be included.

              Depending on the culture that wins the space race.

      1. You’ve obviously never read The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress.
        I urge you to do so. Best fictional revolutionary tome ever, bar none.

        1. As it happens, I have read TMIAHM, but I was referring to the real world. There’s no one on the moon right now to shoot at you, and unlikely to be anyone there to do so any time soon. I don’t see colonists welcoming gang-bangers, and illegal immigration would be such a good trick that anyone who pulled it off would be a positive asset to the colony:-).

          1. I figure if we colonize the moon there will be plenty of G-men there to shoot at you. Which might be more dangerous than Detroit, they might actually know how to hit what they were shooting at.

            1. While it’s both easy and fun to assume the worst of the Feds at all times in all places, I’d still feel safer meeting a CIA/NSA/FBI agent on a dark and storm night than wandering through Detroit in similar circumstances. Or even in the light of day.

              Granted, Detroit is easier to get to than the Moon, but until the locals are either walled in or driven off, it doesn’t sound like a place any sane person would want to live anymore. (Hmm, _The Snake Plisken Chronicles: Escape from Detroit_…)

    1. Detroit. Raze most of it and depopulate the rest. Of course, somebody else will have to do the actual rebuilding, as I’ll be dead or in hiding. People get so tetchy about mass slaughter. The other problem is that you’d have to hit an enormous chunk of Michigan to make it stick, and then run the state for a bit to repeal laws and break the unions/corporations to heel.

    2. Detroit. No worries about air, fewer about water, shorter, cheaper supply line for the startup equipment, transport of personnel, and food until self-sufficiency is reached. However, I’d personally recommend starting _almost_ anywhere else. Even California might be easier. 😉

  28. Totally and completely off topic, but I thought someone here would know the answer to this question. Is the Larry Dixon that is married to Mercedes Lackey the same Larry Dixon that races drag cars?

        1. Unfortunately, I think it mostly turned out to be about Dickensian abused kids, which doesn’t really go with the NASCAR vibe. But I never read all the books and that was a long time back.

          1. I remember the series, which is why I thought it might be the same Larry Dixon. John Rodeck bought the property adjoining mine and is building on it, while I was reading about some of his motors online I came across several references to Larry Dixon.

    1. I used to go to zerohedge for giggles, thinking they were nutbar. But their stuff has been more and more on target. That article is dead on, I believe.

        1. From what I’ve I’ve read about Harlan Ellison, some of it written by himself, I don’t think I’d care for him very much, but we may be getting into the “A boy and his Dog” scenario.

          That was a brilliant story. The underground society in that story seems very like where I live now, where Midwesterners try to preserve 1958 in Ohio against all odds. As a Southern boy, I have always giggled at those people, or, as General Lee said, Those People.

          1. Owhell, I think I’ll unlimber my recorder and see if I can still play Das Panzerlied on it. Everybody dies in the last verse, but maybe we can accomplish something before then.

            1. Ah, I found the last verse:

              Und lasst uns in Stich einst das treulose Glueck,
              Und kehren wir nicht mehr zur Heimat zurueck,
              Trifft uns die Todeskugel, ruft uns das Schicksal ab.

              JA, SCHICKSAL AB,

              Dann wird unser Panzer ein ehernes Grab!

              The complete song is the official song of the South Korean Armor. ( I wonder what it sounds like, sung in Korean)
              It is the unofficial song of every American tanker I have ever known.

  29. I think you missed one other theory about the “expanding population”, Sarah (someone may have covered it, I’m running behind and didn’t feel like scrolling through 200+ comments).

    The “Domino Effect” in terms of counting. Say that someone takes a population count during a census in Lima, Ohio. It shows that their population is stagnant, with no great loss or gain either way worth.Meanwhile, 20 miles or so down the road, Findlay, Ohio has grown by leaps and bounds, according to the census. The count in Lima is confused, since the two cities share similar attributes. So the census believes that there is a mistake in the methods gathered in Lima and adjusts accordingly.

    Meanwhile, Toledo, Ohio is looking at the numbers from Lima and Findlay and is wondering how _their_ populations are growing while Toledo’s is not. Toledo has more to offer and is a college town, after all. The census is adjusted accordingly (“we must have missed something in our counts”) and so on and so forth.

    It’s not a conspiracy, I think it’s more of a “They’re growing/shrinking, so we should be too” kind of mentality.

  30. Many of my students came from South Korea and Japan. There is a negative growth rate in both places. Education and the fact that women pretty much have to work to afford to live a middle class lifestyle, were the reasons my students gave me. Many of them were well educated women who needed to speak better English to move upward in their jobs. (However, not into top spots in large traditional companies ) Most of them were married to professional men, and they all had at least one child, some two, but never three or more. Because, again, it costs too much to educate and raise a child in those countries, especially if you want your child to be successful.

    We see the same thing happening in large cities all over the world, the more upperly mobile people are, the fewer kids they want or need. And, dare I say, adults are much more selfish these days. They all want their toys too.

    As a genealogist, I am more than familiar with how family size has changed over the generations. A woman could be pregnant 22 times, and only have five children live to adulthood. However, sometimes women had 22 kids (honestly, several of my ancestors did, but with multiple births) and all of them will live. The average family size in the 1800’s was between five and twelve children. Many did not live much past birth. Family size drastically changed after boomers and the onset of working birth control.

    So, that leads me to one of the scariest books I have ever read. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley. That is the future I fear most. Baby farms, and places like Hitler had where the entire purpose of a woman’s life was to turn out child after child. Shudder ……

    1. I think the Ceausescus’ orphanages did a good job of proving that children need to be raised by families, natural or adopted. Oh, wait. Am I actually thinking that history matters?

  31. Sarah, I drank the “Population Bomb” kool-aid when I was a kid, but when I got to college I found a title, “The Myth of Overpopulation” that I didn’t read, but it created a seed of doubt. Then I did read P. J. O’Rourke’s “All The Troubles In The World” chapter about that overpopulated hell-hole–whose population density exceeds Bangladesh–known as Fremont, CA. His thesis is that it is poverty, not population that matters.

    I think the shrinking-demographic thesis will surprise policy makers and that’s when you’ll see the state change its tune about abortion. As Instapundit says, wait until they take it seriously before you take it seriously. If you really believe the country has not-enuf worker bees, you won’t let them terminate their pregnancies. This should make some strange bedfellows swap partners.

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