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Mark Liberman of Language Log talked about these issues last year. He says you don't even have to go back that far to be descended from everyone who has any descendants left alive. Liberman writes: "My standing to make this argument is based on the fact that I too am descended from Confucius. And I can prove it mathematically." It's a careful argument and I won't try to paraphrase it.

Patrick Marren

As Tolstoy should have said, "All happy families are alike; all unhappy families are also alike, because it's all just one family after all." And as Gandhi should have said, "All men are cousins. Except your actual brothers. And your dad and your sons, and his dad and so on. ...I need to find a way to make this snappier somehow and still be accurate."

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