“FUR CHILDREN:” I ran across this term — meaning pets you have instead of, you know, real children – a while back and was bothered. I mentioned it to a friend from DC, who remarked that it wasn’t uncommon to see women, and even men, on the street with a cat or small dog in a baby carrier.

Great science fiction plot: Hostile aliens infect humanity with a virus that causes us to lavish parental attention on animals instead of human offspring, as a means of extinguishing the human race without a messy invasion. But it’s just a science fiction plot. Isn’t it?

UPDATE: Stephen Carter emails:

I spotted your item today about “fur children”. In P. D. James’s novel The Children of Men, set in a world in which no children can be born, there are two scenes involving women caring for pets as if they were babies — not only walking them in strollers, but actually having them baptized — and the narrator tells us that this is common behavior. I suppose the symbolism (to say nothing of the psychology) was too complex to risk trying to put this in the film.

What’s funny is that behavior intended to symbolize an apocalyptic state has now become semi-normal.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Pat Dooley says forget the aliens — the infection comes from cats.

I, for one, welcome our new feline overlords.