Bare Branches

branchesIt seems to me that this is my week for apologies.  I apologize.  I have guest posts working, but I was so tired, yesterday, that I couldn’t find it in me to schedule (or read even) them.  And this morning, when the place opened, I had an MRI.

Complicating things, I slept very badly.  Partly the two deaths, partly other people’s issues which I, like an idiot, tend to take on my shoulders, partly the book which I’m still fighting (mostly because I keep having headache-clusters and I’ve been in the middle of the auto-immune attack of the year, I think, with asthma and arthritis particularly bad.)   To make matters worse, Havey-cat decided it was a great time to demand pets every ten minutes, and when he failed to get them, run around the room batting things to the floor.  Since half the room is my “art studio” this woke me up, but unfortunately never enough to kick him out and close the door.

So today I’m at least two of the seven dwarfs, plus an alternate one: Sleepy, Dopey and Wheezy.

Which is probably why I’m attempting to do a post I had in mind for a long time, except perhaps with a different slant.

I first thought of the concept of “bare branches” when reading about Chinese families where the son couldn’t afford to marry.  The family line ends.  The branch is bare.

Most of us, on this blog, are bare branches.  Okay, I might just feel like it, but it would not shock me overmuch if neither of the boys marry/have kids.  It seems to be a thing for Odds.  It’s also a thing of our times.  I’m not sure EXACTLY what other long range goals modern feminism will have accomplished, but crashing human population in the lands it infects seems to be very effective.

My grandmother, younger than my mom is now, had something like 12 grandchildren and five great grandchildren.  My mom has four grandsons and no great grandchildren.  In fact in the whole extended family, including in it my cousin Natalia, who was raised with us, there is ONE child in the generation after my boys: a two year old born to a father who turns forty this year.  So, there is a very good chance that if I have grand kids I’ll never see them.  And it’s equally likely I’ll never have them, too.

So — bare branches.

Part of the reason for so many bare branches, particularly among the highly educated is the postponing of marriage and children till after education.  Part of the reason of bare branches among the Odds is that even in the age of the internet, there are so few of us we have trouble meeting/mating.  (Particularly those of us who are not on the left.  I swear we should start Almacks at Liberty Con.) Also, we have, as Kate put it in one of her con books “bodies as strange as our minds” and I suspect, though I have no proof, that infertility is higher in our ranks.  Though, frankly, just marrying late will do it.  And then there are any number of us who — most of us being cuckoo eggs and hurt by our upbringing, not because our parents were bad, but because we were odd — simply don’t think we’re fit to be parents.  And hell, we might even be right, though it could be argued nobody is fit.  But we are perhaps more conscious of it.

It’s entirely possible that the odd branches have been bare throughout history, that the people who communicated and lived for the mind were mostly childless, and left no descendants.  Certainly most of the great names of the past were either childless or (Shakespeare, for ex) grandchildless.

It’s possible the Odd world passes every generation, and every generation new Odds step up.  Leo Frankowski in one of his books thought that the church led to a massive decrease in IQ from the middle ages, by siphoning off the smarter boys into celibacy.  But I’m not sure that’s how that works.  I suspect a lot of the people went into monasteries or convents because they were Odd and having trouble mating (imagine pre-internet.)  And I’m fairly sure that’s not how intelligence works, or whatever you want to call the way our brains work sideways and upside down.  I imagine a number of us are thrown off every generation.  And the operative might be “thrown off.”  Evolution has a way of cutting off extremes.  And older son tells me the type of “extremely connected” brain we seem to have comes with issues like sensory and emotional issues.  Also other issues run in the same pack, like extreme auto-immune.

Some days I look around at my friends and colleagues and feel as though I’m living in a lost world, one that will leave no genetic trace in the future.

I kept meaning to write about it, and getting too depressed and not doing it.

Which brings me to yesterday.  Yesterday a first cousin once removed (I think.  My mom’s first cousin, and raised with her) died.

She wasn’t around much, when I was little, because she and her husband lived and worked MOSTLY abroad.  I think it was something like: South Africa, Rhodesia, France, Belgium.  They retired and moved to Portugal about the time I was born.

But without being around much, they were still two of my favorite people.  She, because she REALLY liked children, and he because he was… well… Odd.  There were other reasons, too.  They never had children.  She wanted them.  He didn’t (his upbringing having mangled him.)  But they tried.  It just never happened.

In a way they were a strange marriage, for the time and place I grew up in.  Most people were married FOR the children, or at least acted like it, in the village.  It was strange to see a middle aged childless couple, much less one that obviously enjoyed each other’s company.  And he WAS Odd.  Quick-witted and with killer snark.  I remember being three or four and trying to imitate him as he did yoga. He stopped and rather solemnly taught me how to do it.  Which is part of why I liked him.  He never treated kids like kids, but like serious little adults.  And his wife was just … a mother thing, always trying to console and help.

It will tell you how much I liked them that I don’t remember a single gift they brought me.  Because their visits were their own reward.  (I’m sure they brought me gifts.  you bring gifts for the children in the family.  It’s a Portuguese thing.  I just don’t remember any.)

He died somewhere between ten and fifteen years ago.  No, I don’t remember, for two reasons: the first is that he had a stroke, and stopped functioning at grown up level somewhere around 20 years ago.  The other is that I only go to Portugal once every few years, and the visits run together in my mind.

She died yesterday.  It was a great sadness, because she had become my parents’ main companion to go out to dinner, or have a picnic, or even just hang out and talk to my parents.

I first knew she had died, because my nephew, Jorge Ferreira de Almeida, (a poet of some renown himself) posted a poem on Facebook, which weirdly brought about that idea of “bare branches.” I thought the poem was his, until now, in fact, when I realize it’s a quote.  Cynthia Bagley very kindly has translated it.  I’ll reproduce it below.

“Cedo ou tarde

Devias saber

que é sempre tarde

que se nasce, que é

sempre cedo

que se morre. E devias

saber também

que a nenhuma árvore

é lícito escolher

o ramo onde as aves

fazem ninho e as flores


Albano Martins, 1930

You should know
it is always too late
when one is born,
it is always too early
when one dies.

And you should

that no single tree
the branch– where birds
nest, and flowers
bloom – Trans by Cynthia Bagley (a poet you should read, if you read any.)

My cousin had no children, but her kindness and — let’s face it — her husband’s Odness left a wide imprint on a little Odd girl who felt otherwise completely out of place.

We who are or might be (in my case) bare branches might not have had a choice not to bloom.  But we have a choice in how we act in the future.  You never know how far the ripples go, when you drop a pebble in a lake.  I spent very little time with them, and yet they presented to me an encouraging and unconventional example, one that made me feel loved and less isolated than I’d otherwise be.  Their loving, if childless marriage, gave me a model that might be very needed, since we probably will have a good thirty years after the boys leave which will be… well… any minute now.

You don’t choose not to fruit.  But it doesn’t mean you have to be barren.  Writing and art and science are all legacies of a kind, so are freedom and reason, and even “just” living a good, happy life.  The tree might not bloom, but the roots, under the ground, might fruit long after the tree is gone.

Go forth and be fruitful.

301 thoughts on “Bare Branches

  1. Some people are candles in the darkness, others are candle snuffers. Here’s to the candles, may they be many and bright.

  2. I was expecting something like this for myself. End of a “line”. My brothers didn’t (at one point) appear to be settling down in the family way. Now one has a daughter and I have a son. My mother has two grandchildren, and the odds of great grandchildren that she will live to see are practically non-existent. The chances of myself having grandchildren are getting pretty close. Yes I am an odd, my son’s mother is an odd. Chances are my son will be even odder.

  3. Leo Frankowski in one of his books thought that the church led to a massive decrease in IQ from the middle ages, by siphoning off the smarter boys into celibacy.

    My uncle was a merchant sailor. Got around a lot more places then I did in the Navy. Grandma was Irish through and through, her parents from the old country. My uncle made many trips to Ireland. It was one of his least favorite places to visit. He blamed Ireland’s problems on two things- the smart Irish became priests and didn’t reproduce, And the ambitious ones emigrated to the United States. Leaving the stupid and lazy to reproduce. My uncle never wrote any books like Leo Frankowski, but apparently Leo Frankowski’s views are shared by others who probably never heard of him.

    1. Very rarely is there only one “smart one” in the family, just as there is rarely only one “athletic one.”

      Having a place to go and a reason not to marry probably did lower the murder rate, though.

  4. I am a “bare branch.” I have several nieces and nephews who think of me fondly. I have step-daughters who remind me of their father when we talk. I am the “strange one” in my family.

  5. With hopes that this does not come across as patronizing or obstreperous, Sarah, perhaps it might be a good idea for you to take a formal week off from any work that permits such a temporary caesura, like this blog. If there’s one thing I know about getting hit with both physical and mental stress at once it’s that anything you can offload from the in-tray, even temporarily, helps.

      1. Good. This is one of those posts I love very much but don’t have anything to say about, except thank you, and I hope you get better and stay well.

  6. I’m not a “bare branch” but sometimes I wonder about my kids. Then I remember that ‘family’ is not just blood and bone. It his heart and mind most of all.

    And in that, I am rich. The Fellowship of the Odd is not a bad place to be. 🙂

  7. It’s not always the case that Odd leads to kidless. My parents averaged three kids per kid (we’re going to take over the world yet), though honestly, my dad was the one with all the kids from his family (nine living kids for his parents, plus two that didn’t make it, and five kids of his own.) These days, being in favor of more than one or two kids is almost Odd in itself.

      1. It’s really a shame that “fertility doctors” so often don’t even evaluate underlying health issues. I have several friends who were able to carry pregnancies to term only after getting other issues addressed. (Most common is insufficient progesterone early in the pregnancy, but for one of them, it was getting periodontal disease treated!)

        1. and other doctors will just pop women on the Pill without even looking to see if there’s a cause for the irregular periods or the like.

  8. From my experience, the real reason we don’t have children is, frankly, that others don’t find us attractive. For all the crap about “finding that special someone,” the reality is that some people are attractive to everyone, and the rest are attractive to no one. Yes, I know that many ugly people get married, but those marriages are based not on love but on desperation.

    1. I think you’re overgeneralizing based on your own experience. I wouldn’t win second prize in a beauty contest anywhere but Monopoly, and my husband and I weren’t “desperate.” In fact, at the time I met him, I was serenely sure I never wanted to marry, my parents having had a acrimonious divorce. Falling in love with him changed my mind.

      We are indeed bare branches, rather to our regret. I’m infertile, as I found out for sure after my womb was necropsied after my hysterectomy last year. It was a mess, with muscle where lining should be and vice versa, and they said it probably always had been. That’s because I’m a DES daughter.

      That certainty was actually quite a relief to me, because it meant that even if I’d made different life choices, even if I’d slept around in high school and college (though I have no idea whom I would have slept around with in high school; it wasn’t like I even had friends there, but *theoretically*), even then I wouldn’t have had any children. So it wasn’t my fault.

      1. With me, besides the early immersion in cortisone (no, seriously) starting at about age three (not literally immersion, but using so much that it amounted to that. It’s the only thing that kept me from having bare flesh all over) which screwed up my whole hormonal development, the botched caesarean with #1 son means #2 son is a miracle child, and the continuous miscarriages between the boys and after for 17 years were … the natural thing. That I conceived at all afterwards was a miracle, considering one of my ovaries was bisected and attached to the wall by scar tissue.
        Like you, I found that finding out for sure was a relief. It wasn’t anything I did that caused the miscarries. It was what it was. But I still wanted my 11 children.

        1. Eleven. Huh. Some of my maternal cousins married into a family of eleven children; male first cousin married one sister; female first cousin married a brother; and male second cousin married a younger (youngest?) sister.

          And, yes, I thought I was a dud for a while. At one point after flunking out of one thing and washing out of another, I thought about the fact that Jesus had already fired his mission and gone home by the time He was the age I was. It wasn’t too many years later I was very happily married to my wife (who is about my age). We have two kids who are probably smarter than both of us.

    2. Besides loving him, I married my husband because I thought that he’d be a good provider. I also think that he’s handsome. He’s an economy size Hobbit.

      Love you dear.

    3. For all the crap about “finding that special someone,” the reality is that some people are attractive to everyone, and the rest are attractive to no one. Yes, I know that many ugly people get married, but those marriages are based not on love but on desperation.


      My godfather was, indeed, ugly– if you’ve watched “the good, the bad and the ugly,” Tuco looks so much like his (theoretical) handsome younger brother that my dad watches it when he’s missing him– but married one of the prettier ladies, when he was a poor guy.

      The trick is finding the person who finds something about you appealing– sometimes it’s even situational. Part of why becoming a friend is such a good first step in courtship.

      1. Tuco looks so much like his (theoretical) handsome younger brother that my dad watches it when he’s missing him–…

        How about Calvera in The Magnificent Seven?

        1. Nope– I wish I could explain why the difference, but Mr. Wallach just doesn’t LOOK like my godfather in any other movie, not from my memory and not to my dad.

          Part of it may be the nose, I think they did something, but… *shrugs*

          1. Even subtle differences can mean a great deal.

            I notice it more in the eyes of the two, both are hot, but it is like Tuco has a raging wildfire, while Calvera more more of a controlled burn.

        1. Piffle. Women do too marry a man for his looks — just not the kind of looks men consider.

          “He looks like he’ll be a good father.”

          1. Confidence is an important thing too.

            Granted, the Game players almost parody this and the genuinely uninterested guys have a hard time convincing women that they are seriously not interested. But just as a desperate woman drives men away but a touch of “hard to get” reels in a lot of guys, women are attracted to men who can take them or leave them. Interested but reserved. Gentlemanly.

            And yes, that does tie into being a good husband and father and provider.

            1. Confidence, not arrogance. Although some poor things have it flipped in their perception. Those are probably the girls who wonder why they can’t find a decent man.

              1. I think part of it is also tied to perceived strength, and the way current society has rather demonized it. That confidence ‘strong and don’t need to prove it’ is desirable, but in a lot of places guys are discouraged from displaying ‘strong’ even when it is appropriate to do so. So a lot of girls who don’t think about such things rationally. Find ‘close but wrong’. Which I think is the appeal of the Bad Boy ™. (Also I think, part of the appeal of the ‘man in uniform’.) Bad Boys tend to be the ones flaunting their strength and confidence (with many excuses along the lines of ‘he seems arrogant until you get to know him!’ If I had a dime for every time I heard that one I’d be in much less debt.) I think the ‘handsome is attractive’ types tend to fall into the perceptions of ‘successful’ which, itself, requires strength.

                Eh. Not sure what it really is, but these are the conclusions my observations have led me to.

          1. Famously Clark Gable and Humphrey Bogart, they both had something about them which just worked and that rendered them handsome. Cary Grant was one of the few classically attractive men that had a long careers. Most ‘pretty boys’ faded when they got older.

            1. Most Hollywood “pretty boys” could not (or were not permitted to) act their way out of a wet paper bag. At least two of them proved their chops in different adaptations of the same novel, Farewell My Lovely. I leave it to others to decide whether Dick Powell or Robert Mitchum gave the better performance; each adaptation was supremely suited to its time.

              Other “pretty boys” who learned how to act should include Gary Cooper, John Wayne, Henry Fonda, Jimmy Stewart, Montgomery Clift, Paul Newman, and Robert Redford.

              Surprisingly, even such “pretty boys” as Tyrone Power and Victor Mature proved themselves capable actors when directed by (respectively) Billy Wilder and John Ford.

              The key, of course, is not only learning your trade but learning to move through the ages you can play. The range is more limited for women, but that is because Hollywood is such a sexist business. Still, Barbara Stanwyck & Marlene Dietrich stand out as actresses able to sustain their careers beautifully over four decades.

              1. This line of the discussion had been in reaction to the assertion that women are not attracted to ugly men. By the time they made Farewell My Lovely neither Mitchum or Powell were pretty. Life had taken a toll which made them more interesting.

                And, oh dear me, yes, no argument, they could act.

            1. But to GET that, he had to be attractive enough to earn it through acting.

              I have no idea what he’s like in person, but he is awesome at conveying a very charmingly attractive personality– especially that thing where his character just figured out that whoever he’s talking to not only has no idea what BC’s character is talking about, but the other person doesn’t even have enough knowledge to convey what they don’t understand.

    4. On the flip side, my grandfather was a Hollywood gorgeous man– literally, I have a picture of him from their honeymoon at the beach, and it looks like a Hollywood photo. My grandmother was Granny Weatherwax– no deformities, clean, well cared for, but not attractive. They got married even though that meant he couldn’t keep the job that had brought him to town.

      1. My kids (who have only seen pictures of their grandfathers) say my father looks like Sheriff Andy Taylor on the Andy Griffith show.

    5. I may be projecting here, but, rather than that we are all truly unattractive, it may be that we feel unattractive. I’ve never been able to shake the teen-age belief, deep down, that I’m hideous and fat. My head doesn’t think that, I see myself in the mirror often and think I’m at least decent, but this is old and deep for me, from the days when Twiggy was the ideal and any woman whose spine didn’t show was obese, and so many American teen girls wound up with eating disorders that destroyed their metabolisms.

      Also, going back to Odds having trouble meeting up – we, the socially awkward, lost a lot when the sexual revolution got rid of all the courting rules and rituals. I think Odds like rules, particularly for interactions that have such potential for pain.

      1. I may be projecting here, but, rather than that we are all truly unattractive,

        When I employ my objective brain I don’t see any human as attractive — you’re all rather silly looking, in fact, with absurd quantities of hair in the most peculiar locations, inadequately muscled and peculiar proportions.

        OTOH, when I employ my hormonal brain …

      2. Yes and yes.

        I think some of it may be because we tend to identify methodical approaches– and if you’re methodically over-the-top, you’re dead. So you poke it a little to see if there’s a response, and withdraw….but to be little, it’s got to not have an explosive effect, and the “scream at a guy for holding open the door” types kinda blew that one all to heck.


        The “I must be ugly” thing might be from identifying polite fictions too early– like Pohjalaien said recently, our immediate response if we like something is to give it a solid squint-eye to find out what’s wrong with it. If we can’t verify that it’s true, then we figure it’s another of those polite falsehoods. (IE, “He’s just saying that to be nice.”)

        1. I’m so bad about it, I’m at the Groucho Marx stage – the “I wouldn’t join a club that would have me as a member” thinking.

    6. From my experience, the real reason we don’t have children is, frankly, that others don’t find us attractive.

      And by “we” you actually mean “you”.

      But, of course, since the universe revolves around you and your own bitter disappointment, you get to generalize from your own ineptitude to create a Law Of Humanity.

      Yes, I know that many ugly people get married, but those marriages are based not on love but on desperation.

      Thank you for validating my earlier assertion that you have little experience with actual people out in the real world. You just project your own hollow inner life onto the universe and declare it to be worthless.

    7. In my first year of college, I noticed that everyone looked…well, not exactly ugly…I suppose “ordinary” is the right word. I somehow expected everyone in college to look “pretty”. This may be because of movies like “Real Genius” where even the nerdy people are somehow less ordinary than real people.

      I suspect that this is in part because “Real Genius” is a movie, and thus, due to the process of auditioning people who are determined to look as pretty/handsome as possible, so they could get parts in movies, it’s likely that they’ll *always*, even unintentionally, make life look prettier than it really is.

      I realized all this within a week of starting college. We have a lot of expectations based on movies, but in the real world, people are ordinary, and in the end, it doesn’t matter, because ordinary people are fantastic, if you appreciate them on their own terms!

  9. Some branches are bare due to deliberate choice, being birthed of monsters.

    Many of the “Odds” I have known got that way due to things visited upon them by their parents; some have made choices not to perpetuate their lineage because of that.

    Frankly, were I to have given hostages to fortune, and found myself raising my father? I’d have likely murdered the little shit, before he could damage the world anew. Some tit-for-tat bullshit just needs to… Stop.

  10. One of my sons has achieved the first step–a wife–and they talk about children as soon as they’re financially stable. Since they’re both 31, I’m having trouble not draining my savings and throwing it at them “Here! Now get to work on the grandchildren!”

      1. We waited late and I’m trying not to be nervous this will have unfortunate consequences for offspring’s health. It helped when Mom pointed out most of my classmates’ parents were several years older than her. At any rate stressing about it won’t help!

          1. Also good to hear. First one seems to be in good shape. And right about half my height already. (At 14 months. I’m short, but good grief.)

        1. Life has a way of beating the odds, you know. My godson is an honest to goodness miracle.

          His mom couldn’t have children, you see. A myriad of factors, from dead tissue, to the body not making enough of this or that, and the doctors said “nuh-uh. Not gonna happen.” *Conception* was a million to one shot, let alone bringing a healthy child to term.

          When she actually got pregnant, she did not know for weeks. Until she started getting sick every morning, and went to the emergency room for *that.* She did everything wrong before then, too. Drank. Smoked. Etc. Much like her mother before that, as I recall.

          The child was supposed to be a miscarriage waiting to happen. Then stillborn. Then the idea was he would be brain dead, or severely autistic. None of these things, of course, occurred.

          It doesn’t always happen. But life is stubborn. Be stubborn, both of you. And be happy no matter what. That’s one of the best gifts that parents can give a child- a happy, loving home.

        2. Something that helped me:
          it’s a higher risk, not to be confused with a high risk.

          Guys have a higher risk of dying in a car accident– do you live in terror that all the guys here are going to vanish?

          You’ve also got a higher chance of twins…..

          1. Also helpful!

            Plus, we’ve now demonstrated once that we’re capable of the basics of getting one to term. With relatively mild inconvenience as pregnancies go, even. (Gestational diabetes was the worst bit, and proved controllable by diet.) I realize that’s not a guarantee with regard to future efforts, especially as in obedience to physics and biology I am getting older, but it’s still a good precedent.

              1. I’ve never clarified to my wife that, after the anesthetist added something (don’t remember what) to her IV, because her pain wasn’t being lowered enough by the epidural (second son, IIRC), rather than rushing out to get said anesthetist when her BP was getting dangerously low, her nurses were blithely standing around waiting to feel her belly when the next contraction came on.

                The anesthetist walked into the room about the time I was getting ready to tell them to get someone, and went off on them. But my wife believes they saved her life that day.

            1. (That was also meant to be reassuring– as you know, that first pregnancy HAPPENING in a good way greatly increases the odds of future successful pregnancies.)

              1. I managed to skip coming anywhere near dying the first time, which is always nice. 😛 I’m glad you wound up okay!

    1. This is getting to be a thing, the financial burden. I was figuring out today, if you are going to live in a house in Ontario right now, you have to have about $100k+ income. That’s for a -small- house. Two incomes is required, nobody stays home with the baby.

      That assumes Mom and Dad buy the kids a house. Because the kids are -not- going to save up the $100k down payment for a house before their child-bearing years are pretty well passed.

      If you want grandkids before you’re 90, it is beginning to look like having multiple generations under the same roof is going to be a thing. May be a thing now.

      1. We’re under the same roof as my folks, and we have six kids. For sure we’d be renting a dump somewhere else, btdt.
        There are a lot of issues, but honestly fewer than us trying to maintain their place and another place. I’ve put out to my kids that we expect at least one of them to live with us while raising kids someday.

        1. One of the must-haves in house hunting this time has been “a place for mom and dad.” (Mine.) Since this requires a forge and a leather/small woodcraft/wiring shop, not a small requirement. 😀 Not sure when they’ll take it, but they will HAVE their place, same way that I was able to move in with our little horde while my husband was off being trained and finding said house.

          1. I’ve got three generations living on my place now. Well actually I sold my parents 10 acres so technically they aren’t on my place, but they are just across the driveway from me, and last year we built a mother-in-law house* on my place and moved my grandmother over from the coast.

            *She lived with me for several months until we got the house finished. While it was nice to have dinner fixed for me every night when I got home, I was very thankful when her place was finished. I love my grandmother, but you can have too much of a good thing. 🙂

          2. We’re likely to have both my folks and my husband’s mother in the future which is why we’re looking at building a relatively large place as soon as we can (and are working on a couple of ‘apartment’ style sections so they can have their own place. And there needs to be enough room for the hubby to get away from his mother. They do well in short durations, but having a place of refuge for him and a place that’s ‘hers’ for her is a must.) Fortunately we have 10 acres so where to put it is more a matter of preference and funding than space. /tmi

            1. The “I need a place that is MINE” aspect is a very big problem a lot of folks miss.

              Might be a personality thing– I know that even if it’s a box with worthless treasures, I need a “MINE” thing.

            2. And once parents no longer need it, you might find the kids do. For a start in life, without rent, while they pay off student loans. For a place to stay while they recover from something very bad.
              One of the reasons we bought this house is that it has a separate-entrance daylight basement apartment. Do we need it? No. Unfortunately it looks like we’ll never get a chance to look after the one parent we always wished to (contingent on a lot of things.)
              And in two years, G-d willing and everything going right, it will just be the two of us… in theory.
              But right now, it saves Robert 14k in annual loans, for an apartment. Yeah, it puts some more driving on him, but you know… 14k. And when he’s done with it, who knows? It doesn’t look likely his brother will find a job nearby. But he might, and then it’s a place to live while he pays off student loans and gets enough for a downpayment. And there’s the adopted (late in life!) son and his kids, and maybe they’ll need a place to crash while wife is deployed.
              There are worse things than an independent/flexible apartment as part of a house. Maybe even, in twenty or thirty years a son moves in to the main living space with his family, and Dan and I take the basement for one-floor living, with family at hand should we need help. It could happen.

    2. I had my first at 31. Later than I would have perhaps liked, but we were being cautious financially. And honestly, the economy tanking actually helped us, because we were able to afford a house (rents in our area were and are insane due to lack of rental space. The city boomed with the housing bubble and nobody builds apartments in a bubble.)

    3. I’ve seen the case that you’re never financially stable enough to have children, and that children are rarely so expensive that you can’t make things work even when your finances are stable.

      I’ve had my first two children in grad school, and a third when my paycheck was still insufficient to cover all our basic expenses. If we had waited until financial stability, I’m not entirely sure if I’d be comfortable having children to this day…even though we’re far more financially stable than in my first year after graduate school.

      1. That, and the year you think you’re financially stable, is the year you might be looking for new work.

        Financial stability is an illusion, even at the best of times.

  11. Fun thing I’ve just had the last bit of information to notice.

    1. It had been said that 50 million abortions have been performed in the US since Roe vs. Wade.
    2. There are circa 40 black people in the US, around 12.5% of the population.
    3. At the time of Roe vs. Wade, the percentage was more 10%
    4. It has been said that around one third of all black pregnancies are aborted.

    Extrapolating this way is not statistically valid, but perhaps without abortion there could have been 60 million blacks in America.

    If this is correct, Hillary lost because of abortion.

    If you are speaking with Democrats, 20 million voters at the rates the other 40 million vote at might have been enough to swing things for Hillary. Again, might not be statistically valid, especially ’cause I haven’t looked at the election in detail.

    If you are talking to Republicans, twenty million is forty percent of fifty million. This is three or four times the percentage of the overall population. (This does not address how many of the remaining thirty million are Hispanic or otherwise undesirable in the eyes of a big government eugenicist.) That is enough to hang an accusation of racial motivation on. I haven’t checked, but 20 million might be around the number of Jews Hitler killed. It is entirely appropriate that Republican voters refuse to stomach such; even if he is a squish, Trump is still less enthusiastic about this program than Clinton.

    1. Hard to say. However much I dislike abortion as a method, avoiding an out-of-wedlock child when young and single, may lead to a later marriage and multiple children born.

      1. Per this dude on RedState, for every 1000 live births by a black mother, there are 420 abortions.

        Now, that rate wouldn’t been reached immediately after Roe, and Roe was only seventy years ago. So the extrapolation to twenty million is deeply flawed. Even without being certain of the sourcing on the forty to fifty total abortions.

          1. Thanks. I really should have checked. The Census numbers I was recalling would have been 1940 and 1950, I’m not sure I’ve looked at 1970.

        1. Kermit Gosnell delivered Will Smith, the actor. If an OB/GYN performs abortions because they are an ideological eugenicist, they may deliberately ‘accidently’ botch deliveries in ways that reduce fertility. Who knows who we have lost.

        2. And there would still be abortions, even if it was outlawed. I’m sure there would be fewer abortions, but there are always people willing to break the law, just making something illegal* isn’t going to stop them from doing it.

          *this is in no way to be taken as me supporting abortion, I am just stating reality.

          1. actually making them illegal is the only thing that makes them “safe and rare”. Safe because doctors and nurses don’t want to be caught. Rare because undertaken only in extremis.
            How do I know this? I grew up in a country where they were illegal.
            Do I like that? No, I really don’t. It offends my libertarian soul. And yet it’s true.

            1. I’ve seen libertarians that justify pro-life stances.

              Being a so-called anarcho-capitalist, I’m *technically* in favor of abortion being “legal”, but only because I’m *technically* in favor of murder being “legal”.

              Where “legal”, of course, means “You’d better recompense me for the loss of the person I loved, because otherwise I’m going to kill you in retribution.”

              I have often wondered what would happen to abortion if the father of the child had the right to insist on aborting the child, but otherwise not have to pay child support. Or, alternatively, be able to sue the mother for the right to adopt the child once the child is born — and to pay recompense for the life lost if the mother chooses to abort.

              It’s funny how people talk about “reproductive rights”, meaning that women have the right to abort if they decide, after the fact, that they don’t want to reproduce, but ignore the fact that men participate in the reproductive process as well — and that reproduction is important to men, too.

              1. I could quite easily go for your system of recompense. Easier than illegal, I guess.
                SERIOUSLY what we have right now is “mommy’s will makes you human.” And that’s a horrible slippery slope.

                1. What, like it will result in people diagnosed as mentally disabled being held down by family members as a doctor murders them, ignoring their screams that they don’t want to die?

                  What a ridiculous notion….


                  (The elderly woman was diagnosed as suffering dementia, and thus her views on if her life was worth living were to be ignored. But the doctor involved was scolded, after it hit the international news.)

              2. The argument I have for keeping abortion legal (I am pro-life, BTW) is that there are many necessary medical procedures that closely resemble abortion, and that equal enforcement under the law would be a nightmare. (For instance, a D&C after an incomplete miscarriage looks just like an abortion—but the fetus is already dead and the mother is getting sick.)

                Doesn’t mean I like it, but I don’t like the secondary consequences of making women suffering miscarriages afraid to seek medical help because of getting blamed of having an abortion.

                1. You know, it’s not? In countries where abortion is illegal, they can perfectly distinguish removing fetus after fetal death and D & C and abortion? It’s similar in the way drawing water to take a bath and drawing water for irrigation is. And people are NOT actually afraid of seeking medical care after miscarriage. If the miscarriage was induced, no one asks too many questions. Hell, people aren’t even afraid to seek medical care after failed abortions, or I wouldn’t be here today.
                  All these seem to be bugaboos, seriously. I know for you guys this is no longer “lived memory” but I lived through it, and no, people didn’t die in back alleys, no one used coathangers for abortions, and people weren’t arrested for having a miscarriage. The enforcement was always more on the doctor side than the mother side. It was a crime to PERFORM not to have performed.

                  1. I hate to point out the limits of law, but it doesn’t matter whether or not abortions are legal is a secondary issue to the reality that people will want them. Laws, to be effective, must be in accord with what people want. They do convey a moral sense and thus can vary slightly from the people’s will — if the “natural speed” of a road is fifty then the law can post a 45 speed limit and have it more or less respected; post a limit of 35 and ninety percent of drivers will ignore it.

                    Society has not as yet found many effective ways of straddling that gap between what people think moral and what people will feel it necessary to do. Moral Philosophy, such as Heinlein presented in Starship Troopers was for many years an effective practice in our first couple centuries but really, who among us would want that taught by the present pedagogical potentates?

                  2. “no one used coathangers for abortions, ”

                    Of course not, who would use coathangers when perfectly good haywire was readily available?

                    1. actually, bearcat, that might have been used in the 19th century. You know who performed abortions in the early twentieth? Doctors. Nurses. They just did it on the quiet. Sometimes you heard of a doctor losing his license, but FOR THAT they needed to botch it so badly the patient sought other help.
                      Again, it made abortion rare and safe. Rare because it was pricey and frankly, putting the baby for adoption after “an illness” during which you stayed with distant relatives was easier and cheaper. Safe because the doctor’s career was on the line.
                      From what I’ve read of the US it was exactly the same.
                      Yes, abortions will still happen, but making them illegal LOWERED the numbers. It wasn’t a “convenient” solution.

                    2. I agree with you, I was just being a smart*ss.

                      There will always be people who attempt medical procedures themselves, whether a doctor performing them is legal or not, but they will be rare, and probably not statistically important.

                  3. “And people are NOT actually afraid of seeking medical care after miscarriage.”

                    Well, you have to understand the mindset of people who equate the availability of abortions with women’s rights. They are the ones saying that if abortion is made illegal, women who have miscarriages will be penalized—and unfortunately, there have been a couple of localized law enforcement debacles that have supported their claims. (It only takes one arrest-happy twit to make a bad example nationally.) That’s where I got that idea—from the folk who actually would be afraid. Fear does not have to be justified.

                    I’ve stopped arguing with them. It gets me nowhere, and statistics don’t work, personal stories don’t work, nothing works, so I don’t bother.

                2. For that argument to work, we’d also have to allow doctors to deliberately amputate limbs for those crazy people who want to be amputees but don’t have anything wrong with the limb, because amputation is sometimes needed.

                  Or allow doctors to perform any medical procedure they think someone needs, even if the person disagrees, because in an emergency they need to have that authority without getting permission.

          2. Supporting evidence:
            There are illegal abortions right now, in towns where there’s a legal clinic and money isn’t an issue. It will sometimes pop up when the poor woman dies.

            It’s getting to the point where it looks like it’s a more severe form of cutting.

    1. My autistic son wants kids, and I think he’s personable enough to have that be a reasonable dream. (Heck, his dad is probably on the spectrum, not that there’s a good test for adults, and I like him just fine.)

      Odds find love too.

  12. I had children at a young age, and have four grandchildren and five great grandchildren. I am very thankful for them. If not for my father, his parents would have had been bare branch. I am one of seven siblings. His brothers had no children, even though they tried. Strangely during WWII both of their wives became pregnant with twins and lost them and could have no more.

    It is good when there are many children in a family that they have an aunt, uncle, friend of family who have no children and give the ones who are available to them added attention.

    I can’t not say it, but we are a very intelligent family, and also very prone to auto immune diseases. Yet we have lived long lives. One of my nieces who is married to a physician says he thinks they should study our genes to see why we are long lived with many diseases. Most of them in the auto immune category. Diabetes (both manifestations), lupus, fibromyalgia, scleroderma, several different arthritis types, many allergies, and even now Sjogrens disease. (that’s just in the original 7, 6 of whom are still living) Also many who are dyslexic, counters and other manifestations of odds.

    I had never connected that with artistic, writing or higher math and computer design and programming skills. But I am glad you brought it up. We are planning a family reunion in June with probably 100 of my parents descendants here. I believe I will start a discussion on this.

      1. I wonder how much of this is ‘long lived despite autoimmune’ and how much is ‘many diseases crop up because we are long lived’?

        I realize you aren’t old, and have had issues since an infant, but many diseases such as diabetes and a fair number of other autoimmune diseases can affect people of all ages, but are more common in old people. If you were to compare people who died at 60 to people that died at 90, I suspect those that lived to be 90 would have twice the autoimmune problems as those that lived to be 2/3s their age.

        1. My autoimmune has been with me since I was a year old. My family usually has them in childhood. Not diabetes in my family, at least by and large, but asthma, arthritis and eczema.

          1. Our autoimmunes kick in early. In some very early, diabetes, allergies (not uncommon in babies), arthritis started in my late 20’s, nothing waited till we were old. Our ages now are 68, 72, 76, 80, 80, 83. I am an 80 year old identical twin. I got a much smaller part of the placenta and was a full pound smaller at birth. My autoimmune kicked in much earlier than hers. Maybe in utereo environment has a something to do with it. We don’t know.

            1. my autoimmune kicked in when I stopped being nursed. My brother was nursed twice as long and doesn’t have auto immune. Related? Well, older son has negligible auto-immune. His younger brother who was nursed half as long (not parental preference. He nursed so slowly my milk dried out. I still regret not springing for an electric pump) had severe autoimmune from about one.
              MIGHT have something to do with it. Might not. Who knows? I just know it’s not old age. We all have it from very young. Now, if I live long enough it might do for my pancreas what it was done to my thyroid, granted. But it hasn’t happened to anyone else in the family, while the thyroid has.

  13. The Original Eugenics Society in England had the purpose of providing grants to bright students who wanted to marry but dared not because they didn’t yet have an income; the idea being that bright people tended to have fewer children when society would be better off if they had more.
    Of course the whole idea is denounced as racist today. It was after all started by Sir Francis Galton whose “Genetic Studies of Genius” is still worth reading, although I have to warn you that it finds there is an hereditary component to intelligence, a conclusion considered too racist and offensive to express in many conferences including one of professional science fiction writers because hearing that conclusion upsets people. The truth of the conclusion in unimportant; consider this a trigger warning. Galton believed that the children of great men — yes, he used that word although to him it meant humans of both sexes — were more likely to become great men than the children of persons other than great, even though most great men were not children of great men. He invented some mathematical concepts to try to quantify these uncertainties, and his student, Pearson, developed much of the correlation calculations now used in statistical inference; Pearson’s r is still the standard correlation coefficient.

    In any event, Galton lamented that bright people, male and female, tended to marry, but they tended to marry late due to the time spent acquiring an education; hence the Eugenics Society which subsidized early marriage by bright students (there being no reliable means of preventing conception in those days, children were rather likely after marriage, and physicians having recently learned to wash their hands before attending at birth, death giving birth was now less likely among the educated than it had been only a few years previously.

    Now, of course, reliable contraception being an entitlement, those smart enough to be aware of it are less likely to have children than those unaware or uncaring about contraception. Which may or may not remind us of the classic stories Marching Morons and The Little Black Bag.

    1. Sexist also.

      Did they try to control for the confounding factor of habits and such learned young?

    2. I said that’s not the way it works, not because intelligence isn’t hereditary, (that’s a given) but because it’s not STRAIGHTFORWARD. Mom’s family, for instance, with its tendency to marry first cousins for generations has about half and half geniuses and morons and an amazing prevalence of various forms of insanity on both sides. (bipolar, schizophrenia, etc.)
      The thing is, because of recessives, the morons can have geniuses. (Who are the ones to be pitied.)

      Dan and I were afraid younger son was a recessive to some unknown relative, but it turned out after testing he’s just so much smarter than us we couldn’t get a read on him (I find two deviations above is hard to read) and for a while the epitome of the absent minded genius.
      He’s also the most gregarious of the four of us, and I’m hoping some girl explains to him when she’s flirting. (He inherited from his dad the inability to tell.)
      As is, he is a throwback, to mom’s lineage, where the geniuses are well above me.

      1. Doesn’t it seem as if those who demand such subjects not be discussed are essentially conceding the claim and trying to deny it through suppression? If you consider the idea simply nonsense or too inadequately framed to be meaningful you wouldn’t suppress the discussion — you only resort to that if you believe it A Truth Too Terrible To Be Faced.

        “Well, I’ll tell you, in all my years, I never seen, heard, nor smelled an issue that was so dangerous it couldn’t be talked about. Hell yes, I’m for debating anything!”

      2. He’s also the most gregarious of the four of us, and I’m hoping some girl explains to him when she’s flirting. (He inherited from his dad the inability to tell.)

        Someone needs to find a t-shirt-suitable meme that boils down to “yes, I really am that clueless. Tell me you’re flirting, please.”

        1. Friends, are you suffering from the terrible affliction of flirtdeafness? This condition, in which the sufferer is unable to tell when he or she is being flirted with, afflicts millions of Americans. Through your donation to Fighting Flirtdeafness you can help give these many sad, lonely victims of flirtation deafness a chance at leading a normal life.

          Hi, My name is RES and I am flirtdeaf. I have failed to recognize a person was flirting with me even when their hand was (virtually) down my trousers and have been told I was flirting shamelessly even though I was merely sharing my interest in some book, film or idea. Thanks to Fighting Flirtdeafness I have been receiving the help necessary to allow me to (sort of) participate in such common activities as office parties, cocktail parties and even casual dining. Please, please contribute today to Fighting Flirtdeafness.

          1. I would say that there are two forms of flirtdeafness. There is the real inability to identify flirting, call it Type I. But there is also the inability, based on past experiences, to believe flirting is real and not just a malicious game–Type II.

            1. I’m sure Type II does exist.

              Of course, I don’t remember much about my High School years because of the shit that I received from my “peer” males & females.

              But paranoia is a dangerous thing to fall victim to as you suspect innocent people of “plotting against you”.

              I spent years not trusting people and it threatened my enjoyment of life.

            2. But there is also the inability, based on past experiences, to believe flirting is real and not just a malicious game–Type II.

              Type II will also be by proxy–“s/he’s really into you, you should ask him/her out!”

          2. My dad tells a story: “I started learning how ton play guitar so that I could have better luck with girls. And it turned out I liked it and got good at it, which was nice as far as it went. But, well, it turns out you still have to know how to talk to women.”

            My mom tells a different story. “Your dad never, ever noticed when anyone was hitting on him. Ever. A girl could throw her panties at him and he wouldn’t notice. I had a hard time getting him to notice it from *me*, and I’m as subtle as a bulldozer.”

            Ahh, perspective.

          3. I think he’d have to hit me over the head and drag me back to his cave before I noticed he was interested. Ah well.

        2. First, if you have to tell me you’ve stopped flirting. That is the sad trauma of the flirtdeaf.

          Second, since it seems to afflict boys most, how about a picture of guy, a hawt gal draping herself all over him, nibbling on his ear lobe and a caption reading “Is possible she might like me?”

          1. I don’t know if it actually breaks down differently, it’s just that courtship options for guys include much more obvious moves. Even a total flirtdeaf woman is going to notice being kissed.

            1. Of course if you are actually serious, many guys like to have some idea it will be well received before going to such obvious moves.

              Speaking for myself, I have always found it easy and fun to flirt with someone I have no real interest in, because it doesn’t bother me in the least if they brush me off. And I always make it obvious I’m not serious, so they aren’t hurt in return. Somebody I’m actually interested in though, I don’t do so well with flirting with.

              1. Of course if you are actually serious, many guys like to have some idea it will be well received before going to such obvious moves.

                Heh, no kidding. Now imagine how gals are, where the “just make a move” option is even less standard… (And yes, it matters; rejection when making a move is normal is a lot less nasty than rejection where it isn’t your role. A guy’s reputation isn’t going to be destroyed by asking a girl out.)

                1. The guys who finally, in despair, proposed to me THOUGHT they’d be well received. The fact I was mostly shocked surprised them.
                  And yep, Dan and I used a two by four with nails in it on each other. At same time.

                2. A guy’s reputation isn’t going to be destroyed by asking a girl out.

                  But what if she laughs in his face, or slaps him, or calls her mafia Don father to have a couple hitmen deliver pay-back for insulting her with the idea …

                  Yeah, me neither.

                  1. Okay, even I never told Dad or Brother to rid me of anyone. I might once or twice have said “you come near me again, I gut you like a fish” but that’s because they were doing things like following me around, trying to pull me into dark alleys, and calling at inappropriate hours. OR trying to blackmail me into dating them. Nice guys who asked and I wasn’t interested? Eh. I usually lied and told them I had a boyfriend who went to another college.

            2. ahem. Foxfier. I managed to ignore kisses “it was an accident” said he when I flinched away, gifts, expensive dates “I’m ugly, why would he want to date me.” Marriage proposals I usually GOT but most i rejected. Until Dan, that is.

            3. Hmmmm … differences in gender courtship roles, yes. Guys are traditionally permitted greater “aggression” than gals, although contemporary dance moves have somewhat altered that.

            4. Given that guys have been fired for sharing the same ELEVATOR with the wrong sort of woman…….

              We’ll pass.

                1. I would be perfectly willing to have them skip the clubbing over the head and go right to the dragging off.

          2. I think that image ( but the guy would have to look confused or indifferent) plus Foxfier’s caption above, would do well for the necessary meme.

      3. “I’m hoping some girl explains to him when she’s flirting.”

        Yeah, sometimes missing the social cues sucks. Though it can be really hilarious in retrospect. I found out that one guy considered me a “serious girlfriend” even though we hadn’t even done hand-holding due to working at a location where that was Not Done. I wouldn’t have minded, but I also would have appreciated a firm statement that yes, there was actual intent there beyond friendliness.

      4. Yes, you never know. Momma would tell the following story from her family to illustrate this.

        Momma’s family was known as having brains to spare. (They have also been cursed with bio-chemical depression, which is now believed to be tied to the intelligence, but that is a different story.)

        One of Momma’s relatives, after ten years marriage failed to yield a successful pregnancy, adopted a child born in prison. ‘Everyone’ warned them such a child would probably be of poor intelligence and probably a bad seed. (It was pre-WWII, eugenics was quite the thing.) A number of years later the couple did finally have a child of their own. ‘Everyone’ put high hopes on the natural child.

        Both of the children grew up to be good decent people. The adopted child was brilliant, a high achiever in academics, which in the family meant STEM. The natural child turned out to be what they called at the time simple and was never able to finish high school.

        1. There was a story about some very smart man who was approached by this beautiful woman who wanted a child by him.

          Her comment was “With your brains and my beauty, our child would rule the world”.

          His response was “But our child may have my appearance and your brains so would be in big trouble”.

          Note, the words above may not be exact but I think the meaning is the same. 😉

    3. “…a conclusion considered too racist and offensive to express in many conferences…”

      I have found that even mentioning intelligence is offensive in lots of circles. The very idea that some individual might be smarter is enough to set off many people of my acquaintance. This makes discussions of the curse of high intelligence, aka tall poppy syndrome, ‘interesting.’

      The notion that some parts of intelligence might be hereditary? Heresy! The adjoining notion that intelligence might be higher in some geographical locations than others because of population mechanics? Sacrilege!!!

      Generally, when they draw breath to blast you, it is the best time to note that the Scots invented everything in the modern world, we’re the pinnacle of the Human race, and everyone else is just riding on our coat tails.

      Which explains why nobody like bagpipe music except Scots. Jealousy. 🙂

      1. > the Scots invented everything in the modern world

        As far as science and technology, that’s damned near true…

      2. While it may only be the Scots that play the Great Highland bagpipe, there are traditional forms of bagpipes across Europe, through the Middle East and into India. This includes one from Portugal called a gaita de foles mirandesa .

    4. Part of the issue with people admitting that intelligence might be partially hereditary is that various right-wing collectivists make the jump from that to “heredity explains the ‘racial IQ gap’ which is why (insert ‘solution’ that manages to put their racial group on top here.)”
      The reality is that there’s a lot of faulty presuppositions there (starting with the questionable assumption that intelligence wasn’t equally distributed to begin with), but that’s another story.
      More to the point, intelligence is *complicated*, and had the Eugenics society confined itself to subsidizing bright people having kids (although I suspect there would have been an ideological component brought in sooner or later–no religious types need apply, and soon enough no rightists either) no one would have especially cared.
      However, they didn’t.

  14. My husband and I had hoped for kids, but when it didn’t happen on its own, we didn’t have the money for infertility treatments. And given that my nephew and niece are both autistic, and that of my mother’s eight aunts and uncles on her father’s side, six of them had significant dementia before they died and she’s now going through it (which means my grandfather probably would’ve had it if he hadn’t died of cancer at the age of 60), I wonder if perhaps it was a mercy that children simply didn’t happen for us.

    There does seem to be a strong correlation between Odds marrying Odds and autism. It’s as if qualities that are beneficial in small doses become damaging once one has too much.

    But I try to console myself with the thought that, even if I can’t have children of the body, I can have children of the mind. Maybe I’ll never achieve Heinlein’s effect on the sf community, but I can hope that something I’ve written will be that one golden book that comes to someone right when that person so desperately needs it.

    1. Both boys seem to have escaped autism, but the younger son has the associated sensory stuff. Weirdly, I think he got it from me. BUT we knew it was a definite risk, since both of us have a predominantly… how do I put this? The predominant component of our abilities is math. And that’s a risk. Perhaps it’s for the best I miscarried the last one “that might have lived.” Or rather, that she suffered fetal death due to a very bad allergy attack on my part, at six months gestation. She would now be 15 I think, so born when I was almost forty. And that’s another risk.

  15. My only son just turned 25, and so far as I know is without a girlfriend and content with that situation. I’d be happy if he started a family, but I’m not one to push him in that direction. Two of my three sisters’ have children, each of which children have kids of their own now. So the family line is intact even if my particular branch ends with my son. Unfortunately, all my nieces and nephews seem to have contracted the leftist mental disorder. 😦

  16. Medical issues for me, not sure about my siblings

    At 18, a doctor asked if I wanted to have children because the medication he was prescribing causes birth defects. Those issues resolved on their own (and I dumped the medication down the toilet a few years later), but other issues cropped up in my 30s, leading to a similar conversation (“let me know if you want to have children because I’ll have to switch you from medication A to medication B, wait a few months for your system to clear all of medication A, etc).

    I do agree about bright people marrying late, as well as the plague of feminism pushing women into the workplace. Even before medical issues cropped up, I was fixated on having a career ,,, the idea of focusing on a family while I was young seemed insane.

  17. I’ll be honest: I don’t know why any Odd would want to be fruitful, I.e., convey Oddness to others. To me, this seems like a person with herpes deliberately spreading it.

    Probably worse. Herpes seems like it would be a mere inconvenience, while Oddness is a fate worse than death.

      1. Well, I don’t know. My overall impression of my life is that I was totally unaware of my differences as a child, and hyperaware of them ever since. I actually remember childhood in a way very similar to the way I remember very drunken episodes, with a kind of embarrassed realization of how ridiculous I was.

        I was obese until eighth grade, and I never even knew I was supposed to use shampoo or deodorant until 11th grade. I just figured I was an ugly, bad-smelling person with horrible hair and that that would never change.

        But here’s the kicker: when I discovered that BO and dandruff were preventable, and when I buffed up by lifting weights…things got worse instead of better. I went to 12th grade expecting to be hailed as the good looking young man I most certainly had become… and no one even noticed. I was treated like crap, same as always.

        I actually considered suicide at that point, because I realized that because I had been an outcast, I’d missed out on all the things other people had been doing.

        Over time I learned to kinda sorta pass, but I know that if I were ever to get into a romantic relationship with a woman, it would end as soon as she found out the truth about who I am.

          1. With all due respect, and please understand that this does not apply to anyone on this site, I don’t LIKE most Odds. Most of the ones I’ve met were horrible people: sneering, insulting and yet prone to self-righteous shrieking when someone turned their nastiness back on them.

            And yes, most were Leftists. Funny thing, though: even before they’d firmly settled on the Left, you could tell they were headed that way.

            1. Son, see my advice to pohjalainen below. The world is full of many more people and types of people than you’ve experienced. And oddity isn’t a binary thing; there are many types of odd, and many of us can be quite fun. You just have to be easy-going and a bit flexible. In this life you can either laugh, or cry. Choose to laugh at the world’s absurdities!

            2. Yes. I’ve been to worldcon too. But even there there are decent people if you look at INDIVIDUALS and don’t pre-judge them. Sometimes VERY odd in outward behavior, but nice people.

            3. You don’t like most odds? Heck, neither do I. I don’t like most people but have happily learned to tolerate them.

              Cats, OTOH, I very much like and have found very few about whom that cannot be said — and I expect I’d learn the ones I didn’t like had been mistreated along the way.

              Dogs are pretty good, too, but what people have done to them … !

            4. I don’t like -anybody,- and I’m Odder than hell. Success can be yours not withstanding, Young Odd.

              Pro-tip, check out the import models. They don’t have all the North American BS that a lot of women seem to have going on these days. Bonus, most of ’em can cook, and they can count back change too.

              1. I hear that a lot, but I’d rather not import more Democrat voters. Nothing personal, Sarah, I know you were an exception, but the overwhelming majority of immigrants vote Democrat–and considering that the Evil Party now demands adherence to feminist doctrine, within a few years, immigrant women will probably be harder to get along with than the native-born.

                1. Wow, I can’t figure out if you are trolling, really believe the line of crap you’re spewing or if you think you’re being humorous and failing badly. But, on the off-chance you’re being serious, where is your data showing that the “overwhelming majority of immigrants vote Democrat”? As for your comment about immigrant women going to become harder to get along with than native-born, projecting much?

                2. …and considering that the Evil Party now demands adherence to feminist doctrine, within a few years, immigrant women will probably be harder to get along with than the native-born.

                  It’s not very often we run into full-bore morons on According to Hoyt any more, but you, sir, have done us all a favor by parading your idiot assumptions for all to examine and see how little connection they have to reality.

                  I mean, I’m wondering if you wear an actual aluminum foil hat, considering you appear to believe that the “Evil Party” has mind control rays that affect dem furrin wimmins and all.

                  Whereas if you actually knew any women born elsewhere, and they didn’t avoid you because you smell and keep staring at them in ways that make them uncomfortable, you’d find that, no, first-generation immigrant women tend to be quite leery of third-wave feminism, when they encounter it.

                  Chinese women, in my experience and observation, take to American culture like fish to water, and are very feminist — but not in the current, third-wave sense. More in the “we come from a culture where grandparents try to murder their granddaughters because they’re not boys, and that shit needs to change, and why the fuck are you bitching about this trivial nonsense about non-existent wage gaps?” kind of a way.

                  Having actual experience with real people in reality makes a difference, bud. You should try it sometime.

          2. “Impostor Syndrome” (being convinced that people,would not like you if they really knew you) is hugely common, even among normal extroverted people,with no childhood bullying history. The more popular people are, the more they tend to have such a worry.

            Sometimes your brain’s insecurities are better not believed. Or you can ignore them and have fun anyway.

        1. No, that is not the truth of who you are. That is what a small bunch thought you were. The two are not the same. Things didn’t become all magic for me when I hit my growth spurt and took weight lifting, either. But one day, home from college, a former bully saw me and said “Don’t hurt me.” I was disgusted when I told him “I’m not going to hurt you,” because he was still “there” while most of us had moved on with our lives.

          That is them. You are not them. You are not required to live your life how they think you should.

          Being an outsider didn’t keep me and a young lady from falling in love with each other, or staying together nearly thirty years now. I’m pretty sure if anyone knows the “truth” about me, she does, and our love is still going strong.

          Live your life well. That is the best revenge of all.

        2. I was obese until eighth grade, and I never even knew I was supposed to use shampoo or deodorant until 11th grade. I just figured I was an ugly, bad-smelling person with horrible hair and that that would never change.

          I really do not like being this blunt– partly because I’d be tempted to feed someone their teeth if they said something like this to me– but where the heck were your PARENTS?

          You are not supposed to have to figure this stuff out by yourself– it’s their job to go “look, you must do X, Y and Z.” That’s why they’ve got the “because I said so” authority, so they can manage you until you’re old enough to screw things up for yourself.

          1. My dad was pretty odd himself, probably Asperger’s. How he ever married I don’t know. My mom was very passive aggressive, and probably suffering from near psychotic depression. I vaguely recall her asking if I was going to use shampoo, and when I answered no (figuring it to be girl stuff), just giving a hurt response of some sort.

            1. Okay, you’re not going to like what I have to tell you. I suspect in fact you’ll default to your own favored mode of passive aggressive whining. I’m only doing this because there is a VERY off chance you’ll heed it and do something about it. And saving just one person is worth it. If you don’t, it’s on your head.

              You obviously emulated your mother’s social style. Your comments here are passive aggressive with a side dose of “poor me”. You came in comparing most people on this blog to HERPES on the human race, for heaven’s sake. The only reason no one smacked you was the immediate “poor me” attached to it. So people tried to help you. They’re nice people and most of us were depressed at some point. Your answers to them were just as aggressive. Because of your mal-education you in turn accused us of being ugly (young man, as a young woman I was FRICKING ADORABLE) and having bo, then said every foreign wife is going to be leftist and turn hard feminist. (Mind you, I know several and most are to the right of their husbands.)
              In fact, your statements, done without the continuous “poor me” veneer would have got you turned into a grease smear. Fortunately for you, even as a male, the “poor me” attracts white knights. I imagine your mother found it VERY useful against a borderline aspergers male. Which is why as a child, you identified it as a winning strategy.
              These things happen. No one, lest of all most people here had the perfect upbringing. But most of us, by TWELVE identified what parts of our social approach were counterproductive.
              In your case, I would say ALL of it. Including the sad-sack act. (Yeah, so one girl cancelled one date. I’ve cancelled dates with guys I really liked because I was suddenly tired or ill. Much less if they had a creepy vibe, which I bet comes out of your every pore. Do you know the difference between successful males and those who aren’t? Successful males ASK more.)
              So your parents sucked at parenting. You’re an adult now. It’s time to pull up your pants and stop blaming other people for what they done you wrong. It’s time, too, to stop acting like the world owes you something because you have “suffered.” It might have worked for your mom. It won’t work in the real world. Having read your comments here, I’m not shocked you don’t have dates. I’m shocked if you have ANY friends.
              Right now your social style amounts to ripping people down while DEMANDING they comfort you. It’s like a suicide who leaves a note saying “it was all you fault.” People will break their legs to get away from that. And if some feel sorry for you at first, eventually self-preservation will make them run away.
              Go read your comments and identify every occasion you insulted the whole group. No, saying “not meaning anyone here” does not shield you. No, whining about your experiences doesn’t shield you. It’s like saying “no offense” or “with all due respect.” Go read those comments. Identify every occasion of “you’re all bad, but I’m a poor thing” and then resolve to eliminate that crap from your social persona. If you can’t, there are counselors who can help you. But most of us managed this on our own, as teens.
              Life is not what you’re given. It’s what you make of it. Stop imagining everyone here had it easier than you or didn’t have the same experiences. You just adopted a really broken social style and are fighting tooth and nail to hold onto it. It’s comforting, I get that. It will also destroy your life.
              The great thing of being an American is that you can move and reinvent yourself. Give it a try. Or don’t. But don’t expect others to cater to you when you act like a passive-aggressive loon.

              1. I have seen that such a negative attitude adopted as a kind of preemptive salve to feared failure, “Hey, all women* want are ____** men, so I knew it wouldn’t work anyway.”

                It becomes sadly self-fulfilling. Most people don’t want to spend much time with anyone who so carefully nurtures a dark cloud of negativity over his own head.

                *if you are female substitute men for women and women for men

                ** fill in the blank with a quality you don’t think you have: good looking, sharp dressers, tall, athletic, popular, wealthy, successful, connected, what-have-you.

                1. Conversely, plenty of women adopt the attitude that “all men only want one thing” and thus justify their exploitation of any male desire.

                  Lord, what fools these mortals be!

            2. *headdesk* Good heavens.

              This is the kind of stuff that gets Child Protective Services involved in all sorts of powers they oughtn’t have.

      2. For all his peculiar ideas about Love, Heinlein was clearly a cheerful proponent of large odd families. Go read The Rolling Stones or ponder Manny’s brief descriptions of his home life.

        In fact, celebration of large odd families is an American tradition, one which got lost since WWII. Watch You Can’t Take It With You and remember they were not unusual, merely caricatures.

        Caricatures many in the audience wished to emulate.

        1. Y’know, I think RAH had Granpa in mind when he created Kip’s father …

          “Not with my money, no sir.”

        1. (Sorry, posted too soon)… Odds. Look at what the Odd Woodrow Wilson did to our nation.

          As a kid, I never did understand why, say, sports were so emphasised. I now realize parents were basically training their kids to be normal, so that they could marry. And considering what Odds had done to America, I can see why they wanted to discourage them.

          1. That’s painting with a pretty broad brush there. If the tightest you can narrow down the population to is “Odd” and “Not Odd”, of course you’re going to find some nasties in both groups. No one’s claiming that Odds are the Ubermensch or angels descended to Earth or anything else like that.

          2. …considering what Odds had done to America,…?

            They created it.

            Consider: Benjamin Franklin? John and Abigail Adams? Alexander Hamilton? Thomas Paine? Patrick Henry?

            If you study the Founding Fathers (and Mothers) you will find that George Washington was probably one of the most normal of the lot — and he was exceptional in his own right.

    1. Gotta disagree here. I wouldn’t be happy not being a bit odd, and I’m glad my son shares my sense of humor and perspective on the world. I certainly hope he finds someone who can give us some odd grandkids, too. Oddness is a worthy characteristic to have–statistical normality is boring, frankly.

    2. Oddness is uncomfortable and sometimes painful but definitely not a fate worse than death. Personally I’d consider herpes much worse. I’ve never had children because my husband didn’t/doesn’t want them, and I am scared silly of labor. Go through that much pain, for how long, with no painkillers? If your Oddness is causing you intense trouble there are ways to mitigate it. Counseling, medication, New surroundings with new people etc. I felt much better after taking my first med for depression. Some odds have brain chemistry issues. Or it could be any one of a number of other issues.

    3. That was one of several reasons I chose not to reproduce.

      Also, I dislike children intensely. Why would I want to be stuck with one?

      1. As my mother told me, the nice thing about having your own kids is that you can train them to be the kind of people you enjoy hanging around with.

        Other people’s children will probably still be intolerable.

    4. I’ll be honest: I don’t know why any Odd would want to be fruitful, I.e., convey Oddness to others. To me, this seems like a person with herpes deliberately spreading it.

      Probably worse. Herpes seems like it would be a mere inconvenience, while Oddness is a fate worse than death.

      Your self-loathing is not evidence of anything except your own psychological damage.

      But, you know, at least you’re finding a totally unhealthy, obnoxious, and unproductive way of coping with it.

        1. It should be noted that ad hominem responses are not necessarily fallacious.

          Assertion: “Nobody likes me, everybody hates me.”

          Rebuttal: “That’s because you’re a jerk; go eat worms, why don’cha?”

  18. Isn’t it an unfounded assumption that Shakespeare’s only children were within the confines of marriage? I understand he was considered quite the rake.

    1. It’s COMPLICATED. Believe it or not he only had ONE possible bastard. And that’s only a ‘possible’. He did have a granddaughter, but she died childless after several marriages.

  19. Maybe we odds think “Build a better mousetrap, and the world will beat a path to your door” being them self as the mousetrap, that learning the rules of courtship beneath us.

  20. Maybe the best function for Mensa and other high IQ societies would be as dating services because it can be pretty hard to meet prospective mates otherwise.

    I tried to date for some years back in my 20’s, but it was painful, frustrating and scary enough (disastrous is a good word) – I can’t read people all that well, and also seemed to attract exactly the wrong kind of guys, I suppose I give off enough of “nice” (or doormat…) vibes that I seemed to get the guys who mostly seemed to be looking for a mom who’d take care of them, also financially (nope, no fucking way, now move along dear) – that I just gave up and settled with the idea I would be an old maid.

    1. Unfortunately, the Mensa folks I’ve met seem to be mostly people I wouldn’t hang out with by choice. Too impressed with their own intelligence, mostly. I don’t have very useful dating advice, but I’d say just find people or organizations doing things you enjoy doing and take part in those things, not considering it a “dating” endeavor. If it happens, it happens. If not, you’re still doing things you enjoy.

      1. It isn’t the issue of intelligence, anyway. It is a matter of being open to ideas and finding fun ways to play with them.

        Of course, they teach the antithesis of that in school. School these days is about making you fit in as a good productive cog in the machinery of society.

        1. I wish that was what school these days was about. But it’s actually more about indoctrinating the students to a leftist quasi-religious dogma while they’re young and intellectually pliable. Unfortunately, that is pretty much the opposite of making them into good productive members of society.

        2. I don’t think it’s trying to make people fit in to society– I think it’s trying to MAKE people actually do the “question authority” and “have an open mind,” but it does it mass-production style.

          The whole point of questioning authority is that you have to pay attention to the answer; you’ve got to have a mind before you can open it.

          It’s like trying to grow peas with no trellis. Yeah, some of them will manage to get up– but if there’d been a framework, the whole bunch would’ve gone far higher.

        3. The single time I went to a local meeting, their discussion was about T-shirts. The previous meeting had decided to make the purchase; this meeting was to decide what to put on them.

          I learned that I’d found a group of people (mostly) even less socially-adjusted than I was, and that they took themselves way too seriously.

          (My suggestion: “IF WE’RE SO SMART, WHY AREN’T WE RICH?”)

    2. Talking about dating experiences: I fell in love, in my late twenties, with a beautiful but somewhat dense and, frankly, selfish woman five years older than me. I took forever to ask her out, because I couldn’t believe she would have me. When I did, I realized I did not have the wherewithal to go on dates; for starters, I did not have a car.

      So I busted tail trying to borrow one, and eventually found a man who was selling his truck. I prepared EVERYTHING for our date. I called around and found a mini golf place and made sure it was open. I made reservations at an Italian restaurant. I bought her flowers.

      …only to have her cancel at the last moment. Apparently I was right all along about me being lacking.

        1. It came in as a response to her. The comment nesting can take some getting used to. If you follow the line next to your comment upward, you will find the one that it is considered by the software to be in response to.

      1. Talking about dating experiences…

        Wow, ONE girl cancelled on you one time, and that means nobody will ever love you.

        Can’t imagine why not. You’re such a positive, ebullient, pleasant human being, given all that you’ve said here.

        [Note included because Ken is a moron: The preceding is sarcasm, bucko.]

        1. Seriously, wtf is your problem?

          I can’t recall doing anything to set you off. You have sought out every post of mine on this thread and made disparaging remarks.

          The term ” cybercourage” comes to mind.

          1. Ken, perhaps reading your previous answers will give you a clue as to WHO has the problem. I shall answer your comment to foxfier more fully. you will not like it. BUT if you HEED it there MIGHT be hope for you.

          2. I can’t recall doing anything to set you off.

            What, you mean other than comparing the vast majority of commenters and readers of this blog, many of whom are my friends, to Herpes for the human race? And that only because you are such a whingeing narcissist that you can’t face the possibility (read: likelihood approaching unity) that the problem isn’t the rest of humanity, but your own benighted self.

            Other than that, hey, you’re pure as the driven yellow snow.

    3. *blink* Wait, you too?

      All but one of my sister’s boyfriends were like that, the guy I was dating before I became friends with Elf* is like that– they wanted to move back in with mommy, but plus sex.

      * Preemptive honor defending: he and a buddy borrowed a large amount of money from me just before base transfer and then “lost” all means of contacting me for better than half a year, at which point he started contacting me again but had “forgotten” the loan. I’m a big believer in never making a loan you can’t afford to not be repaid and consider the knowledge from it cheap for the price.

      1. Some guys… to be blunt, they see Odd and think “desperate idiot who will be grateful and docile.” Disabusing them of this idea is a good thing.

        OTOH, I think I was a dating nightmare for most of the Odd guys I ever tried dating. To my credit, I warned them that they did not want to date me and would not enjoy it, and that we were much better off being friends. I was right, too. Most of them wound up finding someone later who suited them, but who was totally different than their illusionary ideas of the perfect girl.

        1. *snicker* Putting it like that, I find it ridiculously funny that I actually, at heart, *want* to be grateful and docile… and the best way to ensure it never happens is to go around expecting it. Give me room to be crazy and I’ll follow you anywhere; press before I trust you and you’ll just get the crazy.

          …glad I found someone who earned it. 🙂

        2. Grateful, docile and compliant.

          And then the guy finds the hard core at the center of all that marshmallow.

          Did the fellows you encounter become petulant when they found the point of “thus far and no farther”?

        3. I’ve never understood how guys could stand to live with a submissive little doormat. I want someone I can argue with, and who won’t be hesitant to tell me when I’m being a freaking idiot.

          1. You’re being a freaking idiot

            You probably want to revise and extend your remarks to insert phrasing about someone who will look out for your interests, argue with you, and who won’t be hesitant to tell me when you’re being a freaking idiot.

              1. Sigh. It’s the ears, ennit? Maybe if I added a set of deely boppers they wouldn’t seem so disproportionate.

                Happily for moi, I already have a Beloved Spouse who not only accepts the ears but admires the long feet and sturdy tail.

      2. I swear some women seem to have “sucker” written on their forehead in some sort of invisible ink that only leeches can see. I can’t pick such women out anyways, unless I have known them long enough to see the pattern, but if you see a woman in such a relationship odds are practically every relationship she has ever been in is similar.

  21. I am so sorry for your loss.

    This post hits home for me since I am very much a bare branch. Which probably isn’t easy anywhere but particularly so in Mormonism. So I read to my nieces and nephews and hope I am a good influence on them.

    My youngest sister told that I did more raising of her than our father did and she seems to have turned out well. I don’t know. I just hope that overall I am more of a help than a burden in life.

      1. Very much so. If, when I am dead, all they have to say about me is that I didn’t lay my troubles at others’ doors, I shall be content. If ever I’ve been a help when it was needed, so much the better. *grin*

  22. Also, we have, as Kate put it in one of her con books “bodies as strange as our minds” and I suspect, though I have no proof, that infertility is higher in our ranks.

    Going off of my geek friends, yes. Elf and I are fortunate to be so very fertile– every single other couple we know had “issues.”

    1. Note: it apparently runs in the family; at the very least, my maternal grandfather and his daughter are geeks/Odd, and I’m pretty dang sure my grandmother on the other side was Odd. Dad is…well, Wayne? You remind me of him. 😀

      1. Perhaps odd parents are simply better at not beating the oddity out of their children?

        I don’t mean literally beating (although in some cases …) but rather the habits of going to the library and not saying “Twelve books is enough, dear. We’ll be back in a week.” Or by not insisting that a trip to the Museum of Natural History would be too dull.

        1. Along with some cultures being better at mainstreaming Odd; part of why I am not sure if my dad is “odd” or not is because he has gorgous manners, just like his dad– between being quiet and being polite, it’s hard to tell. His mom was more outgoing, so I do know she was Odd.

          I think the English have a lot of Odds that are totally normalized, while the Irish have not-exactly-normal-but-a-recognized-type. The guy who is “handy,” for example– can be anything from a mechanic through a full-on mad geninus engineer, the Scottish they just sort of fade into the “ornery guy over that way” group…..

        2. You might have something there. I think both my parents tended toward being odds, but dad had it worked out of him (though his older brother kept it more), then went into the military during WWII, and pretty much buried it to be a family man. My mother, in turn, buried hers for the same reason.

          My siblings are far less Odd than I, with my sister being the most mainstream, but even she lets her freak flag fly once in a while.

  23. At 60+ I’m the “Bare Branch” of the family.

    My “Oddity” caused me to lose jobs and have long periods of unemployment.

    On top of that, I worked several places across the US with periods of returning to my parents home (during the periods of unemployment).

    This “switching” locations caused me to lose track of people and on top of it I had problems connecting with people especially the lovely opposite sex. 😉

    Does it bother me?

    A bit but I refuse to feel sorry for myself.

    I have a warm place to live.

    Enough income to live without too much difficulty.

    Have made on-line friends so I refuse to think about “how things could have been better if only….”.

    Oh, I have thought that at my age (long-time bachelor) that it would be a big pain to adjust to another person in my life, both for me and the lovely lady. 😀

  24. And older son tells me the type of “extremely connected” brain we seem to have comes with issues like sensory and emotional issues.

    Who’d have thought it?

    I recall reading as well as discussing with various specialists this concept: That the wiring that leads to this particular brilliance, that allows for making unusual connections in the mind — well — it makes for unusual connections across the mind.

    1. Strange how that works out. My namesake and I (he, a traveling preacher in the late 1800s, my great great grandad) have the same strange allergy, and he was by all accounts a flavor of Odd, too, for the time.

      Credit where credit is due, though, he had something of a mechanical genius in him where I do not. I just fix stuff on occasion.

  25. How does adoption play into this? Because my father had no biological children.

    My No. 1 Son will almost certainly never spawn; but No. 2 Son plans on it, and is able to attract and keep members of the fairer sex; and Daughter doesn’t want children of the body, but is thinking adoption is in her future. (Of course she’s only 15 and things change.)

  26. a first cousin once removed (I think. My mom’s first cousin

    Your thought is right. The nth cousin is determined by the older generation, and then the removed by the number of generations younger the younger person is.

    1. That’s the first time any explanation of that made any sense at all. My usual reaction to hearing Nth cousin Mth removed (M>1), is, “Was removed once, who let him back in?”

    2. Interesting, that makes more sense than how I commonly here it expressed as a second cousin. I always thought that calling your moms cousin and your moms cousin’s kid both second cousins was confusing, but that is the way I have most commonly heard it expressed.

  27. Not sure how Odd, but it struck me as a bit odd that at my father’s funeral a few older women told me I need to “keep the line going” and find someone. And at least one of them said (and might have had agreement), “You don’t have to marry her, you know.” Implying that ‘shacking up for the duration’ would be sufficient… Uhhmmmm.

    1. You, too? I’m something of the last of the last, too- mom’s side of the family is going strong, but dad’s has only me for several generations back of only one son. Such a “recommendation” was made to me as well. *shakes head*

      And were I to produce offspring that I did not then take responsibility for, what would that then make me? Nothing I’d like to be proud of, that’s what. Any child of mine would have a home and family that loves them, no matter what.

  28. we should start Almack’s at LibertyCon.

    You think you jest, but that sounds like an excellent way for the socially awkward to meet each other in a structured manner.

    One wouldn’t have to hold dances, but offering dance lessons might not be a bad idea.

    1. *checks logs*

      There *was* a dance at last year’s Libertycon. Of course at 10pm on a Friday night, competing with John Ringo reading and several other panels… it was still rather packed as I recall. I looked in the window on my way (working that night). Wasn’t very structured, though. More of a… bar/DJ type of thing? Might be better to ask someone who as actually *at* said activity.

      Single Odds attending Libertycon 30… No, I’m not going to give it the Roman numerals this time, for reasons… Well, it might be worth a shot.

    2. Also, while folks that know me know I don’t dance… I can teach waltz (four square), swing, Charleston, and a couple of others I’m way rusty on. The guys part, I mean. For most of them, it’s pretty easy even for people who are not very coordinated (can be fun, too).

      Gals, though, if you want to try swing, you’ll want to be in shape. Guys just need to be a good fulcrum, a solid base, and steady hands. *You* are going to fly.

        1. If you can 1) count, b)have sex, or III) open a door, you can dance. Teaching could possibly help. I mean someone other than you doing the teaching, specifically of dancing type stuff (though given what passes for teaching in schools these days, you might be eminently qualified, at that!), not sitting in a classroom and being lectured on your privilege.* Heck, people that don’t know you might end up copying your mistakes and thereby create a whole new kind of wild gyration- err, dance, I meant to say.

          *Though such infantile twaddle could inspire one to yet undiscovered athletic abilities, it is not, as a rule recommended. We’ve gotta have *some* standards, you know.

    3. Steve and I were fixed up. We have been married for 16 years next month. Introductions by friends can be quite helpful.

      1. Hey, if it weren’t for friends setting her up with a guy they just KNEW she’d adore, my mom wouldn’t have met my dad!

        ….of course, she only accepted his invitation to dance because she was reaching gnaw-off-your-arm-to-escape levels of desperation to get away from the guy they were trying to set her up with, and having met him I totally understand her response….

  29. Before I start this comment, which will be longish: happy Half-Tau* Day, everyone!

    You know, I don’t think I’ve actually mentioned my wife before, so some of you may not know that I’m married now. Coming up on our two-year anniversary — and we hope to have kids as soon as her thesis is finished later this year. (We chose to hold off because people told us that writing a thesis is a full-time job, taking care of a baby is a full-time job, and it would be wise to try to schedule things so that you’re not doing TWO full-time jobs at once. So far nature has cooperated with our plans, which (of course) isn’t guaranteed.)

    We met at a church “dinner for the new people in town” event, where I asked the room at large if anyone there was interested in Doctor Who, and heard an enthusiastic “Yes!” from someone behind me. That’s how I knew that she was someone I’d probably enjoy having as a friend — but she was only in town for a few more months, then her internship would be over and she was going back home, so I didn’t pay too much attention to her as a romantic prospect at the time. Then a year later, I found out that she was coming back for a much longer stay. I invited her to watch Avatar: the Last Airbender with me, and we started hanging out. At first we were watching 2-3 episodes and talking for maybe an hour each time we hung out, but that quickly shifted to watching just 1 episode and talking for 2-3 hours. I discovered that she had also read The Man Who Was Thursday, by G.K. Chesterton — the only single woman I’d yet met who had read that story — and more than that, she actually understood it on its multiple levels (the surface story, the second layer, and the analogy to the Book of Job that’s hiding underneath the whole thing). And furthermore, she’d invented her own language when she was nine, and was continuing to develop it. So a month after we started hanging out, I asked her out on our first date. A year or so later, I asked her to marry me — in the language that she’d invented.

    Every courtship of Odds is going to be different, but ours was about as classic an Odd courtship as you could find.

    * 6.2831853 — for the Greater Good!

    1. I recall you mentioning you were dating someone and you thought it was serious, but never that you got married. Congratulations!

      1. In SE Asia. I’m not really willing to be more specific than that in public, but you can email me at (my first name) dot (my last name), courtesy of Google’s email service, and I’ll be happy to give more details over email.

  30. I myself am a bare branch, but I never heard any of the “Waiting for grandkids” thing. My mom had six children, fourteen grandchildren, and (as of now) twenty-four or twenty-five greats… (Mormons and Catholics, go figure.) I was an uncle at twelve, Mom’s birthday list fills a lot of the calendar once you bring the in-laws on board.

    Family name is ongoing, as my brother had one son who’s put another generation out there.

    I hope my ideas/ideals will live on, but since most of them are cribbed from the libertarian/conservative sources, I think they’ll be okay.

  31. I’ve written this before – the trend to lower fertility is long, deep, and broad. U.S. fertility dropped by a third from 1800 to 1850. In the last thirty years, there have been huge fertility declines in dozens of countries all over the world. Fertility in several regions is well below replacement.

    This means that there are lots more “bare branches” than ever before.

    What’s driving this? Choice. When people are free to choose whether to marry, whether to pair up, and whether to have children, they will often choose not to – which means fewer children.

    Furthermore, modern cultures encourage people to delay marriage and children until they find “the right person” and “economic security” (a constantly rising bar). It isn’t just “Odds” who refrain.

    It’s just about always the easier, safer course to refrain. Also, the “cultural revolution” of the last 50 years destroyed many of the institutional practices that got people past their initial shyness and lack of confidence.

    The terminal case of the syndrome seems to be Japan. Not only has fertility declined to far below replacement, but a large proportion of young people don’t bother having sex or even dating.

    I don’t know where it will end.

    1. In the case of Japan, I like Vanderleun’s “Nuked too much or not enough” moniker……

    2. I suspect our species has done this before. Contracting till there are only a few individuals left seems to be a thing of scavengers. I just don’t think civilization survives it, and I LIKE civilization.

      1. Humans may be scavengers, but they are very like coyotes. They adapt quite well and can survive almost anywhere.

        I don’t see a lowering of the birthrate contracting population enough to destroy civilization without other contributing factors. Problem is there are always lots of contributing factors; as a matter of fact I suspect that lowering birthrates would simply be a contributing factor, and not one of the major ones, to a civilizational collapse.

        1. There are degrees of civilization. Technology probably has minimum necessary populations of technological literates.

          I think the choice thing is going to end up selecting for subcultures that make that choice, rather than than essentially erasing a culture.

          1. Our current high tech society has so many specialties that require highly detailed knowledge in very narrow areas that I’d say the minimum surviving number of engineers of all specialties, with two or three deep backup, approaches about 100,000. Then you have your technicians required to run and maintain said society, which IMHO would be minimum 1,000,000.

        2. How many people do you need to sustain a technological civilization? I don’t know. Neither do you.
          As for “birthrate won’t do it by itself.” Visit Europe. Then come back and tell me that.

          1. Birthrate hasn’t done it by itself to Europe, Europe has been hemorrhaging young potential parental aged people for the last few generations. That is of course another contributing factor.

            What I suspect is more likely to happen is a stagnating technological civilization for a time (sort of like Europe, without the influx of technology from the rest of the world) possibly even backsliding a little, but not much unless it has serious help. and then both the birthrate and civilization to rebound. If of course something serious like a WWIII or even an effective attack by uncivilized opponents doesn’t push us over the edge.

            The problem is that you get too many contributing factors, none of which would be that decisive in and of itself; but eventually one of them is the straw that breaks the camels back.

      2. It is not just that you like civilization, you want it to be there for your kids and the succeeding generations. 😉

  32. Bare branches is precisely the reason why nobody should be worried about alleged white privilege. At the rate we’re going, there won’t be a white person left in the world in 200 years.

    1. That’s as nonsensical as climate science.

      Whenever you say ‘this will happen in the future if current rates are the same’, you enter the territory of mathematical modeling. Mathematical modeling has principles that you ought to pay attention to if you don’t want to get garbage results.

      Population models are not very useful for forecasting. Ten years gets absurd, two hundred well beyond that.

      The American population last census was 12.5% black, 1950, IIRC, was something like 9% or 10%. Not exactly a significant gain, especially if you consider that in 1950 there was incentives for blacks to pass as white, whereas now there are whites passing as black.

      Item the second, world population is estimated in part based on the claims of some very untrustworthy governments. Estimates of world demographic trends are likewise fairly dubious.

      Mass deaths from pogroms and big wars could potentially be significant. Over that time period, such deaths cannot be calculated with any true certainty.

        1. Example of how this can work, from my mom’s family:

          A couple has five kids; three chose one or two kids as a lifestyle choice, two others’ kids were limited by biology or finances. Total of ten grandkids.

          Those kids have:
          no grandkids (“We have dogs”), possibly one grandkid in the future (more interested in travel), two grandkids never want more (TEH PLANET!!!!1!!), two grandkids and counting (even though it’s dangerous), eight grandkids and counting (…yo!).
          If you add in step-kids, the no-grandkids jumps up to two (accidental twins) and a ggreat, and the eight becomes nine.

          In unusual and kind of mean cosmic justice, those last two are the ones that wanted more than they had; I think the ggreat will be followed by more, although I don’t know how much of that is wishful thinking on my part– I like them. 😀

          1. Yep. My grandma had 6 children. She has 46 grandchildren and 85? great grandchildren so far. So this 93 year old woman has over a 100 descendants.

      1. iirc, the UN recently admitted that a lot of the population boom was people not dying. That’s why hell-holes are having such ginormous growths.

        Folks’ projections tend to go off of a lot of assumptions; if you put even “USA 100 years ago” models on a place where revolutionary USA’s population looks like a step up, you’re going to get bad outputs.

        Then think about stuff like how “E-books growth is slowing” and such, because it’s not doubling every year anymore.

        Add in Mary’s observation that a much higher portion of the population is going to be people who wanted kids so badly they were going against rather vicious public pressure against more than two or three….

        Lots of ways to screw it up.

        1. Add in ‘What is white?’

          Will there be humans in two hundred years? I’d guess yes.

          Will some form of Christianity be around in two hundred years? I’d guess yes.

          If there is such a thing as a ‘superiority gene’ that has significant measurable differences across current extant populations, that would stand a good chance of being around in two hundred years.

          Our current ideas about what white is are recent, and I doubt will ever after be permanent.

          ‘We shall see’ isn’t really correct, but your descendents may. That many generations would be a long time to care about the question.

  33. I’m probably a 3rd generation odd. Something about Montana breeds odds and we like it that way. I found my odd-mate in a graduate program in Virginia, and I infected her with dreams of children. She has since confessed that she never wanted children, but she has grudingly grown to be a nurturing mother. I was motivated by desire to not be a bare branch, I’m the only grandchild in my line of a family that has been in the US for 400 years.

    Raising a family is our greatest challenge, and first son is decidedly odd, daughter remains to be seen. We hope to give them the tools to thrive and the desire to propogate the odds to a future generation, though with how late in life we started, we may not witness our progress.

  34. The other problem I’ve seen is that Odds frequently wind up working in locations that are dating deserts. Very slim pickings WRT eligible members of the opposite sex. Naval Air Station Pax River is infamous…as is, I suspect, Edwards AFB. Both in the middle of bloody nowhere.

    And the sad part is that even for men, you hit your early 40s, realize that your likelihood of marrying or having children is nil, and it’s damned depressing.

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