November 25, 2014

Why was I born?

Make 2 lists of 5 reasons why you were born, based on real-world facts about why events occurred that leading to your conception. No metaphysical speculation about God's plan or some needed function you are destined to serve. Just things that happened in the days, years, or moments before you happened.

List 1 should be terrible things that you would only feel bad about were it not for the brutal truth that without them you would not be here to experience the value of their nonoccurrence. Then amuse yourself with List 2 — nice things, things you can independently feel good about, quite aside from the fortuity that they led to you.

I'm working on my list and thought you might find it engaging to join me.


MadisonMan said...

I was born almost nine months to the day after my Dad's birthday.

Happy Birthday!!

Nonapod said...

I was lead to believe there would be no homework over Thanksgiving break Professor Althouse.

steve uhr said...

The WWI bullet missed by grandfather's heart by an inch.

rhhardin said...

Who what when and where are missing.

Gahrie said...

I was born because my Mom's parents were dumb enough to let an 18 year old boy live in the garage of their house while they had a 17 year old daughter......

Abdul Abulbul Amir said...

The A-bomb on Japan meant my dad came home from Europe and married mom rather than being sent to the Pacific. That covers a boatload of people born in 1946.

DrMaturin said...

My mother's fiance was killed during World War II. After the war she met my dad who survived Okinawa. If it had gone the other way, then no me.

steve uhr said...

A big asteroid struck the earth 70 million years ago killing the dinosaurs and allowing mammals to flourish.

Henry said...

Steve uhr wrote: The WWI bullet missed by grandfather's heart by an inch.

Whew. My grandfather ran telegraph wires and so was rarely on the front lines. Somehow he avoided cholera and the clap as well.

chillblaine said...

Is the blog post wondering why it was born? Talk about meta!

tim maguire said...

I feel bad because I can only name one fact--my parents were Catholic. I have a right to not feel bad, therefore this is a...oh wait, for a moment there I thought I was a Wesleyan student. Never mind.

Temujin said...

This will mean I'd have to talk to my mom.

Renee said...

I was planned. I asked my mom what would of happened to me if I wasn't???

MadisonMan said...

My great-great-grandfather fought in the Civil War *after* my great-grandmother was born. (He survived, but was maimed and lame for life afterwards).

Dad's Dad became qualified to fly in WWI in early November 1918. His Mom was 38 when she had Dad -- the first of their kids! Mom's Dad drove an ambulance in WWI. Her Mom didn't want to spend life teaching Latin in Green Bay. Dad taught Chemical Warfare Survival to soldiers in WWII.

Scott said...

Okay, then in other words, you want a list of terrible things that occurred that you don't feel bad about because they enabled your Mom to get pregnant with you?


When I was conceived:

1. My Dad was just starting his residency at the Menninger Clinic. My parents and brother had been living in poverty when they lived in Brooklyn, New York while Dad was doing his internship at Kings County Hospital. It was very hard on Mom. Now, in a tract house in Sunflower Kansas, things were looking up.

2. Dad had probably just finished his income taxes. What a relief.

3. The movie Forbidden Planet had been released.

bwebster said...

1) During WW2, my dad's ship (USS San Francisco) was badly damaged during the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal, with heavy loss of life. Dad was sent back to the States for OCS -- and got kicked out for slugging an instructor.

2) Instead, he received radio training, then was sent to Camp Pendelton (San Diego) to train with Marines preparing to invade Guam.

3) While at Camp Pendleton, he was able to get leave to head back up to his home town of San Pedro (Los Angeles) and take Jackie Fickes -- a girl he had had his eye on since high school -- out on one or more dates.

4) Jackie -- my mom -- says that during one of those wartime dates (1943), it was while they were dancing to "At Last" that she fell in love with him. But they broke up again because Mom was planning on being a Navy nurse, Dad said that she couldn't because Navy nurses had a bad reputation, and Mom said tough.

5) When Dad came back to San Pedro at the start of December 1945 (having, yes, landed with the Marines on Guam), Mom was engaged to someone else. Dad asked her out anyway, she said yes anyway, she broke off her engagement, and they eloped on December 30, 1945 -- the date she was actually supposed to marry this other guy.

And that's why I'm here.

Anonymous said...

Bad facts:
(1) Irish potato famine => emigration from Ireland.
(2) Influenza epidemic of 1918 => death of great-grandfather, causing his widow and four young children to move to another state to live with her sister, where my grandmother met my grandfather..
(3) Grandfather knocked up grandmother (=> my father) who then were forced to marry.
(4) Other grandmother didn't want more children, but grandfather did, leading to what would now be an illegal assault (and => my mother).
(5) My mother's miscarriage after birth of my older brother => time to conceive me.

TheSaxist said...

List one

Dad survived all his combat missions as a B24 navigator with the 454th Bomb Group Heavy

Mom, a Liverpudlian working for the British Red Cross, survived the London blitz.

That they didn't die through all the efforts to kill them amazes me.

Europe and the world survived because of their efforts.

There was joy that they survived, and won, and in spite of those efforts to kill them, they rejoiced in that survival by marrying and starting a family.

List two

Their survival and the economic and moral power of the US had good things on the horizon.

My sister was born in London in 1946. What a nice way to celebrate the end of the war.

Mom moved to the US and became naturalized.

Dad did not return to the New York State Police, but became an insurance inspector.

My older "brother" died from pneumonia at three days old. Had it not been for his death, I'd never exist. My son is named for him.

What adversity and hope existed in the aftermath of the war. And I miss my parents more each day. Ever upward, notwithstanding their burdens. We could use more of that these days.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

List 1 should be terrible things that you would only feel bad about were it not for the brutal truth that without them you would not be here to experience the value of their nonoccurrence.

1) My dad fucked my mom.

EMD said...

Ignorance stole my comment. Nice one.

Tank said...

My Dad took some shrapnel in his shoulder and upper thigh in WW2. A couple inches higher and no kids for him. So no Tank.

My Mom was a nice Jewish girl with big boobies.

Birches said...

Previously, my parents had two children 11 months apart. As a consequence, there was an IUD. I believe the IUD was only good for 7 or 8 years. Here I am. My parents divorced two years later...

bootron said...

My father's Vietnam draft board was firebombed, which delayed his inevitable deployment just long enough for him to have his knee blown out in a semi professional football game. This injury "helped" him to become reclassified as 4F, which removed any chance of him being sent to war. He had made it clear to my mother prior to the firebombing that he would only marry her after he came back from the war (if he came back at all), so I guess that makes my conception dependent upon both of these unfortunate incidents (firebombing and football injury).

Meade said...

The bad:
1. a rape by Genghis Khan
2. famine due to farming a monoculture of potatoes
3. religious persecution in Prussia
4. a riot set off by my ancestor who raised the retail price of whiskey at his tavern on the Wabash river.
5. a spontaneous abortion

The good:
1. the custom of primogeniture led to taking a native american bride and pushing west into Ohio to homestead the frontier
2. 32 individuals survived a war to end legal slavery
3. a grandmother who was the only person to volunteer to wet-nurse a newborn orphaned infant who might have been Crack Emcee's grandmother
4. 2 Methodist youth ministers of churches 10 miles apart decided to host 1 combined mixer because neither church had enough teens to warrant separate mixers
5. 3 older siblings who were cute and lovable enough that my parents thought oh what the heck, let's give it another go

EMD said...

In the words of a prescient Madame Secretary:

"What difference, at this point, does it make?"

Tari said...

My parents were friends who decided to have a few beers together. Nine months later my mother was handing me over to the State of NY.

Prior to that, I don't know a whole hell of a lot. The boat from Ireland didn't sink?

The Cracker Emcee said...

Poor Japanese AA marksmanship and skillful flying.
He just wasn't that in to the Australian girl.
National security job so he didn't have to go back for Korea.
Devout Catholicism (I'm number eight).

lee said...

Apparently, the year I was born there was one hell of a party or something in the neighborhood in which my parents lived for Valentines Day. Because, nine months later, there were four of us kids born. Fortuitously, the surviving three of us all looked like our respective fathers. (One baby for right after being born.)


If my parents hadn't gotten plastered that Valentines Day, I wouldn't have been born.

If my grandfather had not died when my mom was six months old, she probably would never have meet my father. He had a job that would have had them leave NY.

If Regents Scholarships had covered room and board, my parents probably would not have met. My mom would have gone to Cornell, and not have been at a party in Brooklyn to meet my dad.

If my dad hadn't been such a cut up in his youth, he might have wound up in a more dangerous role during WWII. (Calling the boatswain's mate "boatsy" wouldn't normally do you much good. But I think it kept him from being taken seriously enough to be put in a position where people HAD to count on him.)

I suppose I could go back to the Potato Famine, too. But that's already been done.

tim maguire said...

I like how so many are military-related. There are so few shared experiences in today's world and this one will fade soon.

Reading them, I have 2.

1. Both my parents families left Ireland in the potato famine.

2. My father comes from a Navy family so when the Korean War broke out, he joined the Navy and spent the war safely on a boat. Many of his friends joined the Marines and were killed when China entered the war.

jr565 said...

I was born because my mom got pregnant and both my
Mom and dad wanted to have kids.

buwaya said...

Great-greats attempting to overthrow the Spanish government (2x, 40 years apart). They got exiled.

My grandma confiscated my dad's hand grenade collection. He missed it.

Other grandma had emergency surgery in a leper colony. Survived, and did not get leprosy.

Same grandma figured out that the Japs were up to no good (March 1945) and made the family sneak out of town before they killed everyone.

Mom not shot by mad uncle, who later tried to defect to Cuba.

tim in vermont said...

A lot of German and world history involved.

Who knows where it starts, but the earliest we know is a great great great ... grandfather who fled the blood drenched 17th and 18th century German Palatines up to my father fighting the Africa Corps in WWII, and meeting my mother as part of the Allied occupation of Holland combined with survival of my great great great grandfather of the Civil War, etc etc etc, combined with an absolute infinity of lesser and greater factors that summed together led to the impossibly unlikely fact that the particular set of people alive on the planet were born and are alive today.

Tyrone Slothrop said...

My parents would not have met unless World War 2 hadn't juxtaposed my Missouri dad and my California mom in New York City during Christmas 1943. My dad had just graduated as an ensign from the Navy's V-12 school, my mom was visiting a cousin during Christmas break while she was studying for her masters at GWU. It was the stuff of Hollywood, really. They were beautiful people. So, roughly fifty million people died so that I might eventually be conceived. Frankly, it was worth it.

tim in vermont said...

Nevertheless, they maintained their distinctive culture until well into the nineteenth century and Palatine surnames are now diffused across the country. With regard to America, the English transported nearly 3,000 in ten ships to New York in 1710. Many of them first were assigned to work camps along the Hudson River to work off their passage. Close to 850 families settled in the Hudson River Valley, primarily in what are now Germantown and Saugerties, New York. In 1723 100 heads of families from the work camps were the first Europeans to acquire land west of Little Falls, New York, in present-day Herkimer County on both the north and south sides along the Mohawk River. Later additional Palatine Germans settled along the Mohawk River for several miles, founding towns such as Palatine Bridge, and in the Schoharie Valley. - Wikipedia

Found the above. There is a graveyard in that area full of headstones with my family name on them.

Blue Ox said...

The A-bomb on Japan meant my dad came home from Europe and married mom rather than being sent to the Pacific. That covers a boatload of people born in 1946.

We have a family friend who also says the A-bomb was responsible for her existence. Her father was in training to become a kamikaze pilot.

traditionalguy said...

The birds and bees have long used a system of massive and wasteful to the extreme over abundance of seeds and small critters all beginning with an extremely small chance to survive.

That is the theme of the comments so far. Why did I survive?

Which drags religion right back in the door. We were chosen to survive by a Creator who either wants us or was playing craps to amuse himself.

Oops, that is a forbidden lets say there is no personal creator/architect of a cold and impersonal accidental world.

Rocketeer said...

List 1, Item 1: It was cheaper to have me than to buy Kotex and condoms for 9 months.

tim in vermont said...

Or we live in an amoral and unfair universe where accidental and natural selection has led to the creation of everything from the stars to ourselves.

That is such a scary thought that even supposedly atheist liberals and feminists can't accept it. I do. I think a good working definition of a skeptical conservative is somebody who is insensitive to social pressure and accepts stuff like the above.

SteveR said...

Unplanned pregnancy between an Army officer in Tours France and an American librarian working for the USO.

Tim said...

My dad graduated 8 months early from dental school (U of Minnesota and within 9 months was in england, then europe for 3 years in WW2. My mom was a nurse from KC that came to Europe in 1945 to relieve the first wave of nurses. He proposed within 3 weeks- she told him he had been in Europe too long. Three months later they were married in Linz, Austria and 6 kids and one miscarriage later here I am. Neither one talked about the war.

madAsHell said...

Reading the comments, I see that there are many lives defined by war.

Me? I think I was a roll-in-the-hay after a gin-n-tonic on Valentine's Day of 1956.

Jamie Bee said...

The Good:

1.) My maternal grandfather was lucky enough to date and then marry a woman 14 years younger than he was.

2.) In the mid-1960s my paternal grandparents decided to move from California back to the Midwest to be nearer to their families in central Wisconsin.

3.) My Midwestern mother, as a teenager, had a thing for surfing California dudes who loved the Beach Boys and hot rod cars.

4.) My father ended up being a smart, hard-working young man who earned a scholarship to college instead of a one way trip to Vietnam.

5.) The Pill was invented, leading my parents, who married in 1972, to postpone child-rearing until 10 years into their marriage, when they were financially and emotionally ready to do so.

The Bad:

1.) My maternal grandmother spent her golden years nursing her husband who was a decrepit 14 years older than she instead of snowbirding to Florida or going on cruises.

2.) My paternal grandfather was a failed small business owner who was run out of California on a rail.

3.) My parents each cheated on their then-current partners to end up together.

4.) Some other kid was drafted to take my dad's place in Vietnam.

5.) The Sexual Revolution that eventually led to my (postponed) birth also led to a lot of abortions and the AIDS epidemic.

DanTheMan said...

1. Famine and starvation in Sicily
2. WWI – (but Dad’s too young)
3. WWII – Dad’s too old. Gets drafted anyway. Wife leaves him.
4. Wife #2 and Divorce #2
5. Domineering upstate mother forbids her daughter to marry a man 22 years older.

1. US Army decides 37 year old bartenders make great cooks, not so great riflemen. Dad assigned to field hospital – Geneva Convention non-combatant!
2. Dad skips the trip to Sicily at war’s end, and comes straight home to NYC.
3. Mom ignores grandma, runs off with dad.
4. Wife #3 – It’s a girl! And then, it’s a girl! Again!
5. Mom and dad really want a son, they try one more time. 9 months later, on a Friday, they are en route to the hospital. Mom realizes it’s the 13th. Makes dad turn around. Mom has contractions at home until 1A. Back to the hospital. I am born on Saturday, the 14th.

God bless you, grandpa, for getting on the boat, and getting off in NYC, and not Argentina like your brother!

Krumhorn said...

List 1:

1. Hitler's mom and dad fucked.
2. Hitler survived the gassing in the WWI trenches
3. The Japs thought Hirohito was a god.
4. The Japs bombed Pearl Harbor
5. Millions died horrible deaths

List 2:

1. My mom was a sweet innocent thing, and my dad was raised by a dominating woman with very sharp elbows.
2. They met while studying electrical engineering at Swarthmore
3. She developed the tracking capabilities of radar.
4. He worked on the Manhattan project at Oak Ridge
5. Hundreds of thousands of Japs were incinerated.

Other than that, I don't even try to picture my parents fucking or the circumstances of the event.

- Krumhorn

Original Mike said...

"Why was I born?"

Something about a stork ...

Trashhauler said...

Terrible things:

1. I grew up as the oldest of nine in a very poor family because my dad was a drunk. I therefore moved away from home as soon as I could.

2. Though my dad later got sober, I did not enjoy his company in the same way that my eight siblings did.

3. As overcompensation for poor social standing and lack of friends, I read everything and did very well in school.

4. I went through early adulthood with a huge chip on my shoulder, feeling simultaneously superior and alienated. I made few friends.

5. As things didn't go my way professionally, I took to drinking as an avoidance technique, which eventually ruined my marriage, cost me the house and most of my belongings, and the love of my children.

Is that what you have in mind? How about some happy things:

1. In my Air Force career, I flew all around the world. Been in over 70 countries and lived in Europe for three years.

2. I commanded an aeromedical evacuation mission carrying two premature babies from Korea to Hawaii. One lived and one died.

2. Because of my stumbling career path, I found myself accidentally in the right place to make a big contribution planning two military campaigns.

3. Despite a poor military career, my planning expertise got me hired as a civil service "expert."

4. Due to the intervention of God through strangers, I quit drinking ten years ago and began to pay attention to other people.

5. None of my grandchildren have ever seen me drunk. My kids welcome me and I visit my brothers and sisters regularly.

Ain't no shame in my game. Life, as they say, is good.

Aldo K said...

The Bad -

1. Religious persecution in England during the 1600s.
2. A grandfather who was gay, but closeted, and alcoholic. He married a nice girl from San Antonio in 1916 and stayed around long enough for my mother to be born.
3. The other grandfather who was a draft "slacker" during the first World War (this is not that bad) and lived to father twin boys (my Dad was the younger).
4. A Mom so disaffected by her alcoholic father's abandonment of the family, she married for security and stability (my Dad) not for love (the heir to a banking fortune). They were together for 51 years until she died. She told my sister she never loved my Dad, but he was always there.

The Good -

1. I have 3 grown and independent sons, and two wonderful grandsons.
2. A life that has been productive and positive - once I came out of the closet.
3. A wonderful life with a bona-fide 100% Cajun man (who cooks, of course).
4. Retirement in the Smoky Mountains.

Krumhorn said...

Our hostess only requested 5 items in each list. If 6 were permitted, I would add the following to each list:

6. My ancestors mastered the art of exercising unrighteous dominion over our melanin-enabled brethren without giving the outward appearance of doing so and thereby perfecting systemic, pervasive and engrained white supremacy which can only be summoned up when certain dog whistles are sounded.

- Krumhorn

Kylos said...

MadisonMan, I was born almost 9 months to the day before my Dad's birthday.

DanTheMan said...

Trashhauler -
Great story. Had you pegged as a (130/141/C5) driver from your screen name.
Sad about your path, glad about where you are now. Congrats for making it work.
PS It could have been worse. You could be "Gaspasser" ;)

policraticus said...

My great-grandfather died young and left my great grandmother nearly destitute with four children, in Lithuania.
My grandparents pig farm failed and Great Depression destroyed their savings.
My mom had a miscarriage.
My mom had another miscarriage.
My parents lost my older sister at birth.

My grandfather and grandmother both liked ice skating.
My grandmother was the prettiest of nine daughters.
My mother loved baseball.
My father was a ruthless knuckleballer.
My parents enjoyed traveling each spring.

Henry said...

I don't know have much to add outside of invention and historical extrapolation, except for a bad and good item that is the same item:


1. Great-grandfather is commanded by prophet to take second wife and move to desolate farming community.


1. Great-grandfather likes second wife. Grandmother grows up in desolate farming community. Community is too poor to support a secondary school so she is sent to board with a family in a bigger town that happens to include a smart, ambitious, but very shy eldest son.

Trashhauler said...

"Congrats for making it work.


PS It could have been worse. You could be "Gaspasser" ;)"

Thanks, Dan. Primarily C-141, but also EC-121, T-39, and C-12, plus the usual trainers. Couldn't keep a job but got over 4000 flying hours.

You ever heard the old joke about any crew on a KC-135? It's made up of one person who flunked out of pilot training - and two who should have. Man, that cracks me up every time. :)

Eleanor said...

Every one of the kids in my family can start with - "Mom and Dad went on a vacation and left her mother at home."

Brian said...


My grandmother's life-path includes being abandoned when she was three days old. Any other path probably doesn't put her together with my grandfather.


I'm born 9mo after Valentine's Day. So are about half of my multitudinous cousins. It is a family joke, which we have just finished sending on yet another trip 'round the horn.

Just Happenstance:

My parents' surnames were adjacent to each other on an alphabetically-ordered high school class roll; this determined the seating chart, which in turn determined the students' partners for exercises; and here I am.

DanTheMan said...

>>Man, that cracks me up every time. :)

It's been a few decades since I heard that one. Thanks for the chuckle. My college roommate became a 135 pilot, did his 7 and signed on with Delta.
My fave USAF line from back then was:"Screw the Russians... the real enemy is the NAVY!"

M. Findlay said...

Why not?

Achilles said...

My grandfather was grazed by a bullet in WWII but survived.

He met a nurse there and that is my grandmother.

My other grandparents were raging alcoholics and that side of the family was a complete mess.

My Moms first fiancee died in a car accident before they got married.

My Dad was in college and his draft number was not reached so he didn't go to Vietnam.

My mom was on the pill when I was conceived.

Sorry that is 6.

Nice things? If you take strictly secular descriptions of how it happened, the several 1 in a million chances that led to a specific sperm and egg combination on that particular day? Anything nice revolves around destiny and religious stuff. I haven't really made it that far yet.

David Carlson said...

Vietnam. At the time there was a deferment for husbands with pregnant wives. My dad had just graduated UW Mad and my mom was not to keen on him getting drafted.

tim in vermont said...

I see that there are many lives defined by war.

Yeah, you are the exception. You are the person who would have been born anyway, had none of the wars in history have happened. Why not?

I guess the reason I was born is that there was an almost infinitely unlikely fluctuation in the quantum substrate that happened just so about 15 billion years ago, to the best of our ability to calculate. Anything that happened before that will likely remain unknowable for the remainder of human existence.

tim in vermont said...

Oh yeah, and no Gamma Ray Burst has sterilized this galaxy yet.

David said...

1. There was a war on. My father wanted to leave something behind if he did not return. (He returned.)
2. My mother was 20 years old and beautiful and my father could not resist her.
3. Having children seemed the natural order of things to my parents.
4. My mother was young and healthy and had a healthy pregnancy.
5. My parents had less than four weeks between their wedding and his going overseas so chance and luck were involved.

My wife was born because her father survived four years in Japanese prison camps during the war, and in particular because the nuclear bombings (one of which he saw from a distance of about 30 miles) broke the will of the Japanese. He was approaching death from disease, starvation and overwork (copper mine) in August of 1945, and probably would have been shot had there been an invasion of Japan if he was still alive.

David said...

Amendment: I left out the fact that my great-grandfather survived Andersonville Prison during the Civil War. That should have been number 1.

And all the other events I know nothing about.

David said...

I see I did not read the instructions very carefully. I used to be more careful about that, but I think this is an ungraded exam.

Happy Thanksgiving. This is a good Thanksgiving post.

Kieth Nissen said...

I was born because abortion was not just illegal and unobtainable in Lyman County but also unthinkable in 1936. My mom had already had four children and our family was living on what was then a subsistence farm. My parents were brave, resourceful and protective. We all survived to old age.

Big Mike said...

My father was in his senior year of college in December 1941. The president of the college appealed to the undergraduate men to resist the urge to enlist immediately, and the Army provided ROTC training during their final semester. In a three day period in May 1942 he graduated with a degree in EE, was sworn in as a second lieutenant, married my mother, and boarded a train for Ft. Ord, California (the first time he had been outside the state of Illinois, I believe). He was in North Africa, Sicily, Italy, and France. When he returned to the United States my mother was able to join him while he took training to become a field grade officer, and apparently the two of them couldn't keep their hands off each other. He left the service after VJ Day.

I was born in 1946.

rwnutjob said...

The bad:
WWI-My grandfather slogged through France.
The Good:
He survived to raise 7 children on a red dirt cotton farm in Mississippi during the depression.
The bad:
They had no money
the Good:
He refused to take government help & told his children that government cheese was poison. (Come to think of it, he was prescient)
The bad:
My Dad's first flight upon entering the Army Air Corps was on a B-17 that caught fire over Louisiana causing him to have to bail out through the bomb bay doors, striking his head on the way out.
The good:
He didn't lose conscious
The bad:
He was stationed in a Hell hole in Mississippi.
The good:
He met a gorgeous red head, married her almost immediately, & notified his parents with a post card picture taken on the street, with a hand written note saying "Just married"
The bad:
He didn't have enough money to have 4 kids
The good:
They became productive citizens anyway through force of will & yes, switches on the legs.
The bad:
I spent 29 months on an ocean going minesweeper during Vietnam.
The good:
It was at once, the worst & best thing that ever happened to me.
The bad:
Having to make up for 18 hours of "F"s upon returning to college
The good:
Managing to stay on the Deans list while partying like a maniac, dropping freshmen who couldn't party & study like flies & earning a degree.
The bad:
A divorce with two kids
The good:
Managing to keep involved & guide them both to become Eagle Scouts & work their way through college, becoming employed, married & fathers.

More blessed than I have a right to be.

William said...

I've been healthy all my life. That's the upside.. I can't help but think that there must be some combination of my fathers sperm and mother's egg that would have resulted in a center fielder for the NY Yankees. There's lots of downside to my existence. I just don't want to discuss it.......We're all flukes floundering in happenstance.

jr565 said...

The gypsy woman told my mother, before I was born
YOu got a boy child's comin', gonna be a son of a gun
He gonna make pretty women, jump an' shout
And then the world wanna know, what this all about

That's why I was born.

jr565 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
traditionalguy said...

God has a purpose for Adam's my case He seems to have formed me as a bad example for the perfectionists to point out. It's a job in the clown car of life.

But God makes some very special people too. Ann Althouse proves that.

Rob McLean said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rob McLean said...

My mother didn't die at age six from scarlet fever, a disease that in the 1930s had a high mortality rate.

My father was only 16 when WW2 ended. His older brother was not so lucky.

I have two older brothers. My parents decided to try for a girl. Oh, well.

David said...

Like most American Jews, I exist only because of institutionalized anti-Semitism in eastern Europe.

Quaestor said...

Given the answers I seen so far this is more of a how question than a why question.

A lot of the replies involved war, mostly it's an antecedent, typically a father who avoids death in combat, which creates procreative opportunities that would not have existed if the said antecedent had gotten his ass blasted by a kraut or a jap.... A bit facile if you ask me.

These histories appear to assume so some kind a fatalism at work, i.e. if given male A survives long enough to meet female B, then the function A + B inevitably follows, producing Althouse commentator C. If this kind of thinking really answers the question why was C born? then we're ignoring the much less likely outcome created by a given sperm from A beating out all it's millions of brethren in the Fertilization Derby that really led to C.

ken in tx said...

1. My earliest known American ancestor fought with Andrew Jackson in the Indian Wars and got land grants in Alabama, as a veteran's benefit.

2. My Dad was born in Alabama in a county that had no high school.

3. He lived with his uncle and worked as a shoe repair apprentice in another county so he could attend High School.

4. He met my mother in that High School.

5. He joined the Navy during WW II.

6. Harry Truman authorized the dropping of the Bomb while my father's ship was steaming to Japan for the first wave of the Invasion of Japan.

7. My father married my mother when he got out of the Navy. He wouldn't have been there if the bomb hadn't have been dropped, and neither would I.

ken in tx said...

2nd part--I have nine grand children. That's why I was born.

Quaestor said...

ken in tx wrote: My father married my mother when he got out of the Navy. He wouldn't have been there if the bomb hadn't have been dropped, and neither would I.

I'm sorry Ken, but your reasoning here is baloney. (I'm not picking on you specifically, btw, what I have to say applies to the majority of those who have commented here.) There is a virtual infinity of possibilities of hale and hearty survival of your father even if Truman had declined to use the Bomb on Japan. Many argue that the use of nuclear weapons against Japan saved millions of lives, both American and Japanese, and I agree that that is both reasonable and likely. What is not reasonable or likely is the assertion that the Bomb saved anybody in particular, your father included.

ken in tx said...

My Dad was on an LST and his combat job was to drive a Higgins boat full of Marines up on the beach. How long do think he would have survived during the invasion? What are the odds?

After the surrender, his boat ferried Korean slaves from Japan back to Korea. Please forgive me if I don't care if you accept my point of view or not.

We are here for a reason.

tim in vermont said...

then we're ignoring the much less likely outcome created by a given sperm from A beating out all it's millions of brethren in the Fertilization Derby that really led to C

Nobody's ignoring that. Of course that was the final surmounting of incredible odds, and that final role of the dice was affected by every factor that every affected either parent in the history of all factors that affected either's ancestors going back to the first string of DNA and beyond.

There is no reason that anybody was born precisely because there are so many reasons, limited only by degrees of freedom in the Universe I guess, as to make any one factor insignificant. The thing about war is that it is a factor that mixed populations in unusual ways and affected huge numbers of people. Sure, my dad might not have been killed in the Pacific, but it is certain that he would not have married my mother had he gone. So, among the astronomical number of reasons I was born is the dropping of the atomic bomb. That is not facile at all.

tim in vermont said...

Had we dealt with Indians fairly and honestly.
Had the pandemic that wiped out huge populations of Indians before settlers arrived not happened.
Had slavery not happened.
Had the Indian Wars in the west not happened.

Not a single human being alive today would be alive today. There would be some completely different set of humans alive. People need to realize that, I think, and get over the past and live for the future.

chillblaine said...

Why was I born? The Triumph of the Will. Every cell in every living thing is impelled by the drive to replicate. After my conception, the collective will that favored my birth was sufficient to overcome all the adversarial forces.

This is a wonderful thread. So many touching stories, and so many fathers like mine. He, too, was destined for combat in the Pacific until Providence intervened.

WestVirginiaRebel said...

The week I was born, LBJ sent a fresh batch of troops to Vietnam. The week I turned ten, Saigon fell.

Quaestor said...

My Dad was on an LST and his combat job was to drive a Higgins boat full of Marines up on the beach. How long do think he would have survived during the invasion? What are the odds?

Impossible to calculate for an invasion that didn't happen. However, given the example of the Normandy landings where Higgins boats were used en masse the chances of survival were very good; D-day fatal casualties among boat coxswains were about 3 percent. But this is irrelevant. There are infinite universes in which you exist, Ken, and an larger infinity of universes where you do not (Surprise! Not all infinities are equal.) Picking one as your favorite timeline is your prerogative, but it is indefensible logically.

While paying a cashier at Walmart I dropped a penny. When I looked for it I discovered that it had come to rest standing on its edge! The unlikelihood of that outcome dominated my thoughts for many hours thereafter. Then I realized that that outcome was about as likely as any other for a dropped penny, even though I could spend a lifetime dropping pennies and not see a duplication of that event.

Just so with your genes. There's a finite combination of genes available for gametes. Men get a better shot at covering all the possibilities; women have a much smaller chance. Since there's finite set of genetically unique sperm, and a much smaller set of unique ova there's a finite change that a couple may produce two genetically identical children who are not twins. Yet in all recorded history there is not one case of that outcome happening. The interesting fact is that the odds of a couple having two identical children are about the same as the odds of your parents having you, Ken. Chaos rules, not Order.

Will Cate said...

I couldn't possibly make two separate lists as specified.... Things just happen as they do.

I was the product of a college romance between 19 yr. old Dad and 20 yr. old Mom, who subsequently got married and are still married to this day.

Mom only wound up at the University of Arkansas where the blessed hookup occurred, because she flunked out of Sophie Newcomb College at Tulane.

Upon learning of the pregnancy, they drove from Fayetteville across the state line to Oklahoma to elope. Something having to do with the Arkansas marriage laws. (insert obligatory "cousins" joke here)

I Have Misplaced My Pants said...

My mother had my half-sister out of wedlock at 16 and raised her on her own for some time, until she met a kindly man ten years her senior who wanted to take care of the both of them and have a few more babies. I was the first of the additional children. Without the teenage pregnancy and single motherhood, my mother would never have been interested in my dad.

My husbands' parents carried on a five-year-long affair resulting in his inadvertent conception; they divorced their spouses and left previous children in order to marry each other and raise him. His mother frequently tells him that had abortion been legal when he was conceived she would have certainly have "gotten rid of" him. I'm so very grateful that she did not. He is magnificent and has improved the lives of many.

new york said...

My grandfather was drafted into WWI and was on a ship heading for Europe on November 11, 1918. I celebrate armistice day as a personal holiday. After his return he married by grandmother and they had 9 children, one of whom was my mother. When she had just graduated from high school in 1952, bored with small town life she responded to the romantic exotic description my father gave her of his life at Seward Air Force Base in Alaska, flew up there with only enough money for a one way trip, and married him.

PatHMV said...

My great-grandmother was born in hillbilly country in Kentucky. She married a well-to-do man in something of a mail-order bride situation. She had her first child with him, but was very unhappy. When the young boy was 5 or 6, he asked his daddy why he wouldn't just let momma go, since she was so unhappy. He agreed, and sent her on her way with the boy, a train ticket, and a bit of cash.

She landed in Arkansas, where she met my great-grandfather, then finishing medical school.