Department Of Do Something Guaranteed To Make You Feel Smarter
(Or Maybe Just A Little Less Oblivious)
It’s much easier than you think. Just listen the Ologies podcast (Cosmology: the Universe, Part I, with Katie Mack) in which host Alie Ward chats with theoretical astrophysicist Katie Mack about way cool things about the universe and how cosmologists study them, including by using The Large Hadron Collider.
You’ve heard of the LHC; you vaguely recall that it’s that huge, circular, underground, atom-smashing thing, somewhere in Switzerland.
But wait, y’all protest: “Uh…trying to understand that stuff will definitely *not* make me feel smarter – I remember atoms but haven’t been required remember specifics since high school.” Not to worry. Writer, actor, science geek and podcast host Ward has got your back. In her own entertainingly profane inimitable way, she makes it easier for you, with her Cliff Notes® take on the LHC, which includes a story offering a bit of cosmic perspective (my emphases):
“… The Large Hadron Collider is…a circular tunnel…over 500 feet deep in some parts and is 17 miles around. It is the largest machine in the world. This thing consists of over 1,200 magnets, and they’re cooled to a temperature colder than outer space. The magnets accelerate protons to almost the speed of light and then the protons are bashed together….
…Matter is stuff. Molecules are some atoms stuck together. Atoms are made of a nucleus – a little cluster of neutrons and protons. Protons have a positive charge – pro. Electrons have an equal negative charge, and electrons are…zooming around…outside the nucleus. The neutrons and protons…in the nucleus, those are made of smaller particles called quarks. The quarks come in a couple different varieties.
What gives these particles their mass? What are they? Where do they come from? We’ve got all these tiny things that make up matter….
there is a field called the Higgs field….How a particle interact with the Higgs field gives it its mass, kind of like drag in water. Higgs bosons are particles that are an excitation of the Higgs field, kind of like a drop of water splashing from an ocean. The Large Hadron Collider smashed protons together to see if they could prove that the Higgs boson exists, and guess what, bitches? It does. The Large Hadron Collider, one of the things it does: smashes protons together in to smaller things to figure out why matter has mass. There you go.
Also, the Large Hadron Collider accidentally has its name spelled wrong on its own website as ‘Large Hard-on Collider.’ Once would be mortifying, but what if they did it more than once? Like twice? Or five times? That’s impossible. Is it? Because a search on their site revealed they’d spelled it “Large Hardon Collider” ONE HUNDRED AND SIXTY FIVE times!… . So whenever you’re like, ‘I don’t understand this stuff. Maybe I’m just not smart enough.’ Just think: someone typed in ‘Large Hardon Collider’ over 150 times. And they built the thing.”
(I decided against googling for a picture to illustrate a ‘large hard-on collider.’ Y’all will have to settle for this image of a hard-headed objects collision, which (fingers crossed) won’t get my internet search history forwarded to the FBI.)
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Department Of Sometimes Say Never To Never Saying Never
“Dyanna Volek was never someone who dreamed of becoming a mother.
From an early age, she knew deep down that she didn’t want children…. ‘I’m always looking forward to the next thing,’ said Volek, who works in local government in San Francisco. ‘Being a parent was never one of them.’ ”
( excerpts from “Why more women are choosing not to have kids,”
CNN 9-25-23 )
* I’m afraid that I’m going to end up like my biological mom.
* I don’t like the idea of giving birth and changing my body.
* I feel like I am too selfish to have a child.
* I don’t want to lose myself as an individual.
* Having kids would mean having to be in that caring position for the rest of my life.
* I think the world is going to shit.
* I don’t want to subconsciously become like my mother.
* Honestly? I don’t like most kids.
(excerpts, 19 Women Got Brutally Honest About Why They Don’t Want Kids; )
“I can’t stand the way social media has idealised motherhood
at the expense of women and children.”
( wearechildfree.com )
“There should be no guilt in choosing a life path without my own children, yet I still…can’t shake the feeling that I’m missing some vital part of womanhood because I have never felt ‘baby fever.’ … I will not have kids, and I believe the decision is the right one for me, full stop. ”
( excerpts from “I don’t want children, but sometimes I want to want them,”
“____explained that the main factor for her (in not wanting children) was the disproportionate amount of work she would have to do as a mother compared to if she was a father. She explained that dads get to be the ‘cool parent’, while mothers are categorized by any number of misogynist tropes like being overly smothering or nagging. And also, just having to do a lot more work.
‘People have always asked me, do you have kids?…they love asking me if I have kids. And I say, ‘No, I will not be having kids. And would you like to know why?’ And they say, of course. And I say, ‘I would love, love, love to be a parent. I would love to be a dad. I don’t get that choice.’ ”
( excerpts from Single Woman Explains why she doesn’t want kids…; )
Moiself has been seeing a lot of these kind of articles recently.  Is it just my imagination, or is there an increase in stories written about young women deciding not to have children,  and articles written by the young women in question, defending/explaining their decisions to be childfree?
“I love children…. But I don’t plan on having any of my own.
It took me a long time to be able to say that out loud. And by ‘out loud’ I mean whispering it with a hint of uncertainty so as not to offend. Because when you’re a married woman of a certain age with no kids, people have questions. Fertility advice. Pity. Judgment. Lots of judgment….
…the pressure to procreate comes from so many directions I’m considering pitching a ‘Walking Dead’ spinoff where the child free are the living and everyone else are zombies trying to turn us. But it’s a comedy so no one dies, except on the inside….
My mom-friends often confide in me the inequities of motherhood — how the childcare duties fall mostly on them and their bodies have shifted to the side and down. They lament the loss of time for personal, career or creative pursuits of their own. So, when I told one friend in an uncertain whisper that I wasn’t planning to have children, I was shocked by her reaction: ‘Telling people you don’t want kids is like telling people you’re vegan. It’s not about your healthy choices. It’s about making other people feel bad about their choices.’ And then she prayed I’d change my mind because having kids is the best.
I promise she’s not a monster. She’s a zombie, and that’s just what zombies do….
Life is about choices. Having them (or not). Owning them. And sometimes regretting them — but I would argue even that’s a choice. Because often there’s really no right or wrong decision, there’s just the one you make and you do your best to be happy.”
(excerpts from Opinion: “I chose to be child free. (The correct response is ‘Congratulations!’)” LA Times 8-19-23 )
I read these articles about and by young women explaining themselves – and BTW, it’s *always* women doing the explaining. Men, too, can struggle over the decision to have children, but there are nowhere near the same cultural pressures and expectations for men to become fathers – it is not locked up with society’s definition-as-a-person as it is with women.
I understand, and agree with, many if not most of the reasons and observations, both personal and societal, that the I-am-not-going-to-procreate women recount in these articles. And while I am supportive of these decisions, many of them often seem to be…missing something…in their reasoning. And moiself can’t help but compare and contrast the stories they tell to my own situation and decisions.
For the first three decades of my life moiself declared (and honestly believed) that I did not want to/was not going to have children, and probably would not get married. Then, I went and did both. I met MH when I was 28; we married when I was 31, and welcomed our son K and then our daughter Belle  when I was in my mid-late thirties.
As MH and I raised our very-much-planned-and-wanted  kids, when it was age-appropriate to do so, moiself shared with them Robyn’s Realities ® about marriage and family: There are no Everyone-must-do-this/live-like-this-to-be-fulfilled rules:
* You can be single and be happy;
* You can be single and be miserable;
* You can be married and be happy;
* You can be married and be miserable;
* You can be happy if you and your spouse have children;
* You can be happy if you and your spouse are childfree…. 
But it wasn’t until relatively recently that I realized something key about my earlier, I-will-not-be-a-parent mindset. It was not that I merely changed my mind about a major life issue.  It was that I had based that decision on my life – from my teens to early thirties, and how I viewed the trajectory of that life – as the single person I was. It was a decision made totally out of context of being in a committed relationship, which is the only way I would have even remotely considered having and raising a child. It was a decision based on what I (thought I) knew about moiself, and not moiself-and-MH…because there was no moiself-and-MH. 
There are people, men as well as women, who claim to have known from an early age that being a parent is what they’ve always wanted. There are women I’ve known who said they’d “always” wanted to have children, and if that opportunity did not arise within a relationship, they vowed to pursue single parenthood. Then there are the rest – the majority, in my opinion and experience. When it comes to having or not having kids, these not-yet-married-or-partnered girls and women express slight to strong preferences either way, but acknowledge their decision might ultimately depend on their relationship with their potential parental partner.
Let’s say you’re one of those women: you are single, and when you consider parenthood or are asked by friends/family/coworkers/your doctor/your barista about your procreative plans,  you say that you would do so only within the context of marriage/a committed partnership. As in, even if you had a strong preference for having and raising a child someday you know you will never pursue that as a single parent. So, if you are single and you consider the option of having children and conclude, “I’m not going to have kids,” you are making the decision sans complete data. That is, you are imagining something you would never do, so your imaginations are going to be negative – what you think about what being a mother would be like could only be about what it would be like for you, alone, because you have no parent-partner. There is no Other Parent (yet), to imagine how you would be a family, together.
Am I making sense here?
When I met the man-who-would-become-MH, as our relationship deepened we began to talk about Such Things ®. MH married me with the understanding that, although he would like us to have children, for moiself it was not a sure thing. I married MH with the understanding that, while I’d always thought being a mother was not for me, MH and I would consider this parenthood adventure thing.
Our decision to have children was an outgrowth of *our* relationship. It was vital to moiself to see how we worked together, as life partners.  In my years of working in women’s reproductive health care, I saw too many  married women who were essentially single moms, with regard to their husbands’ participation in the physical, intellectual, time and emotional investment in child-rearing. After five years of marriage to MH, I was assured enough to take the reproductive plunge. More significantly, I also anticipated the rewards, the adventure, of being “part of it all” with him, part of the circle of life (take it away, Elton!), which is why all of us are here in the first place.
Despite having no time travel/alternate reality technology with which I can confirm this belief I am about to state, I believe that I would have had equally significant – just different – highlights and low points in my life if I’d remained childfree (whether with MH, or another partner, or as a single person). That being said, raising my offspring – watching them become the kind, intelligent, curiosity-filled, artistic, witty, science-oriented, free-thinking, compassionate, nature-appreciating, cat-loving, do-the-right-thing people that they are – has been a, if not the, highlight of my life. I look forward to knowing them for as long as I can: it has been has been and is a challenging, rewarding, exhausting, energizing, surprising, sometimes agonizing, and more often kick-ass-fun, pee-your-pants-with-laughter experience, and remains an ongoing source of joy.
When I read these I-am-never-going-to-have-kids articles, having been there moiself I can identify with many if not most of the sentiments expressed therein. I also understand that few things can be more irritating that the smug, condescending responses which are all too commonly flung at the declared child-free woman: “Oh, you’ll change your mind, after all I/she/they did….” I moiself have had those experiences and heard those comments (and I moiself have changed my mind, moiself ). Even so, I’d advise any young woman who would ask to keep an open mind: never say never….and congratulations, on whatever you decide.
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Freethinkers’ Thought Of The Week 
“The main goal of education should always be to learn how to learn, to become an independent thinker….
…evangelism of children seeks to cut off the process of independent thought before it begins. It’s this aspect of religious indoctrination that is most unacceptable—the idea that doubt is bad, that unquestioning acceptance is good, that there is only one possible right answer, and that someone else has already figured out what that answer is…
(1) Always question authority;
(2) when in doubt, see rule 1.”
( professor, writer, philanthropist Dale McGowan; excerpts from
Parenting Beyond Belief: On Raising Ethical, Caring Kids Without Religion )
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May you carefully consider the contexts of your major life decisions;
May you enjoy your own particular dance steps in The Circle of Life;
May you be daring enough to do an internet search for “large hard-on collider”
(and discreetly let moiself know the results);
…and may the hijinks ensue.
Thanks for stopping by. Au Vendredi!
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 Some of these articles are written about demographic studies that show that “nearly one-in-five American women ends her childbearing years without having borne a child, compared with one-in-ten in the 1970s.” (Pew Research center)
 As opposed to having no children due to infertility issues.
 More than one longtime acquaintance of myself, knowing I’d never expressed any interest in parenthood, when hearing the news of my pregnancies had a kneejerk reaction of spewing something along the lines of, “Uh, was this intentional –oops, sorry, of course it was, or must have been…I mean, she worked for Planned Parenthood…okay, I’ll just shut up now….”
 And I always refer to the state thusly, instead of the vile (IMO), lacking-something label, “childless.”
 as I have done throughout my life and doubtless will do again.
 I had other boyfriends/potential life partners pre-MH, most of whom made it known that they wanted, eventually, to have kids.
 And if you are a grown-ass woman who has not yet had a child, someone will always ask you.
 And If I had married someone else, it is entirely possibly I’d also be happily married at this point and be childfree.
 Any is too many.
 “free-think-er n. A person who forms opinions about religion on the basis of reason, independently of tradition, authority, or established belief. Freethinkers include atheists, agnostics and rationalists. No one can be a freethinker who demands conformity to a bible, creed, or messiah. To the freethinker, revelation and faith are invalid, and orthodoxy is no guarantee of truth.” Definition courtesy of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, ffrf.org