G4BB 50: We Got Mail!

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Dear G4BB: Can you really be related to a parent by more than 1/2? …from Einstein Jr., in Outer Mongolia

50.1  Dear Einstein Jr: Absolutely you can…altho it helps if you’re a farm animal, rather than a human being…what genealogists might called “cross-generational interbreeding” would be called “line-breeding”in animal husbandry…and example of which is show in Chart 173.

50.2  Here, if your father is also your grandfather, and your great grandfather, and your etc., your CR is indeed greater than ½…again, there simply isn’t anywhere else for those genes to come from! Also notice that while the CR between B and her father Z is 3/4, the CR between B and her mother A is still ½…but half of that ½ comes from Z, who is also A’s father, as well as B’s. Weird, I know, but keep in mind, these are cows…

50.3   Needless to say, this would be a very unusual situation for human beings…what you’d be more likely to run into is a brother-sister union, along the lines of the Egyptian Ptolemys from last week. In that case, for example, your father would also be your uncle, and your CR would be 3/4, not 1/2. And that’s simply because of the half of your genes you get from your mother, half of those are genes your mother shares with her brother, your father. So you share 1/2 your genes with your father thru him, and another 1/4 you share with your father thru your mother…total = 3/4…see?

 Dear G4BB: I heard on the news that Bobby Kennedy’s grandson Joseph P. Kennedy III is considering running for Barney Frank’s old Congressional seat in Massachusetts. I’ve followed the Kennedys rather closely over the years, and shouldn’t he be IV or the 4th, since he’s the 4th in the family to have that name?  …from Patsy, in Plymouth MA

50.4  Dear Patsy: Good catch, but again, the short answer is “no.” Still,  I’m glad you asked the question, since I don’t believe we’ve yet covered the topic of namesakes here at G4BB. Now as you might expect, there exist, across time and place, many different ways to identify relatives who share the same name. Here in Western society, there are general guidelines, but no hard and fast rules. A family is free to do what they please, even if it isn’t “standard operating procedure.”

50.5   In Chart 174, (A) illustrates the most common practice. And you know, I wondered why I didn’t call the grandfather “Notary Sojak Sr.” But I was thinking chronologically…that is, he wasn’t born a Senior…he was born “Notary Sojak” period…he had to wait 20 years or so till Junior was born, to become a Senior. But consider: if you refer to Martin Luther King Jr.’s father as “Martin Luther King,” this will be confusing, since MLK Jr. is also sometimes called “Martin Luther King” for short. Adding on the “Sr.” eliminates the ambiguity. 

50.6  Now while I said that there are no hard and fast rules, the rule on the use of “Junior” probably comes the closest: it is usually reserved for fathers and sons with the exact same name. Thus, George Herbert Walker Bush’s son George Walker Bush was seldom referred to in the press as “Jr.” The best they could do was use the middle initials…”H.W.” versus “W.”…altho Bush-41 and Bush-43 was a clever coinage. Ironically, Dubya’s childhood nickname was indeed “Junior”…after all, in everyday life, both father and son were “George Bush”…but he always disliked it, thus using it while he was President had the whiff of a dig.

50.7  And you don’t often see the son called “II” since that would imply the father is “I”…which sounds like an emperor or something. But of course, families have their own traditions, and a Sr. can certainly have a II for a son if that’s what they prefer. In Chart 174, (B) and (C) show something else that is close to being a universal rule…when the 2nd namesake is not the son of the first, II is preferred to Jr. In (B) it’s a grandson, and in (C) it’s a nephew. But if they choose to call the grandson “Jr.”, they just do.

50.8  Where you see the greatest divergence in usage is when one of several namesakes in no longer living. In (D), I’m assuming that Jr. died before his son was born…and that son may be called “II”, since he is the now the 2nd of the living Notary Sojaks…or he may be called “III” in deference to his father. Either works. Reminds me of a wedding announcement I once clipped from the paper…interesting because the bride’s first name had 4 consecutive vowels…and the groom…it said he was 31 years old, so I doubt all 5 of “them” were still alive.

50.9  Which brings us around to the Kennedys. Joe and Rose’s first son, Joseph Patrick Kennedy Jr., was the “standard-bearer” of the clan, expected to one day become president. He was killed in action in 1944, shot down over the English channel…and the mantel was passed to the #2 son, John Fitzgerald. Skip ahead to 1951, when the 29 grandchildren started arriving. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend was born in 1951 to Robert and Ethel, the first of her generation of Kennedys.

50.10  The following year, her brother Joseph Patrick Kennedy II came along. The story goes he was named after his late uncle, altho obviously he shares his name with his grandfather as well. And here we see where the matter of family preference comes into play…he certainly could have been III, but that was not how they chose to do it. Thus, his son is III. One interesting sidelight…the next of Robert and Ethel’s 11 children was Robert Francis Kennedy Jr. …it does seem odd that the “III” would be older than the “Jr.”, but of course they’re namesakes of different people. (BTW, there is an RFK III…)

50.11 And while I’m thinking of it, you’re likely to see the word scion in the paper in connection with this developing story. No, its not a car…it’s a descendent, altho its original meaning is a living portion of a plant cut off and grafted elsewhere. It comes form an Old English word meaning to split or gape.


50.12  You know how sometimes, a question will be asked that displays so little understanding of what they’re talking about that you’re barely able to fashion an answer. The latest post at “DumbGeek”s notoriously bad Cousin page comes close to that…

50.13  The first thing that should jump out at you is this: if the path to Gramps on the father’s side of the family has more steps than the path on the mother’s side, then Gramps can’t be a grandfather with the same # of G’s to this individual on both sides. Well, it’s not technically impossible, but much more complex than I suspect what this poor soul is trying to describe here.

50.14  The second problem is what precisely is meant by “it’s 10/11 generations.” Taking the simplest case of a parent and child, together they represent 2 generations…but from the child to the parent is just 1 generation “up,” which is why the parent’s 1st cousin is the child’s 1st cousin once removedBottom line: the question is inconsistent…everything stated can’t be true simultaneously, except in the most tortuously convoluted way. So for my analysis, I’ve assumed that “10 generations” is what’s correct, and it means 10 generations “up” from the individual, so his generation is not counted as one of the 10…same thing for “11 generations.”

50.15  And if that really is the case, then Gramps is this person’s 8G Grandfather on the mother’s side, 9G on the father’s side. Unless of course, Gramps really is a 10G on some side, which means “10 generations” and “11 generations” is wrong…and Gramps would then be either both a 9G and 10G…or a 10G and 11G. Either way, Gramps is, as we saw above with Cleopatra’s family, a type of “double grandfather,” and slightly more related to this individual than if he were a normal “single” grandfather.  Next week, more from the mailbag…bye 4 now…

What’s the Dang Deal?

Here are 2 close-ups from Chart 176…I disguised this with a background color, but where did all these little colored bits come from? Text and graphics for G4BB are normally done on an Apple laptop, but occasionally I use a Windows machine, as with Chart 176…and naturally, I used solid lines and colors…and got this mess? Any geeksters out there know why…and how to prevent it? I’d ‘preciate it…

Copyright © 2012 Mark John Astolfi, All Rights Reserved

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One Response to G4BB 50: We Got Mail!

  1. Hey, Hoodsie. Don’t know if anyone has answered your question about why there are those funky colors in your genealogy charts, but… it’s the very nature of JPEG image compression. JPEGs suffer from this sort of color “dithering”, which you will not see in bitmaps, for example. Some programs, such as Gimp, are not as bad as others, say Windows Paint. I’d recommend saving your charts as GIF files, which don’t dither colors like JPEG. Also try PNG, just for grins.

    Take care!

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