Aunt Jemima, the jovial and plump woman who for decades graced the pancake mix cartons, was replaced a few years ago by a younger, slimmer figure, who was nevertheless identifiable as someone who could have been the niece of the original. Now Betty Crocker, the blonde, blue-eyed cook of cake mix fame, is to be replaced by a computer-generated composite of 75 female faces. This is an interesting change: it may not mean anything, but it may be a harbinger of the time when all distinctive ethnic and racial traits have to be submerged in a computer-generated blend.

Some practitioners of artificial insemination by donor make use of a so-called “cocktail” in which the sperm of several different men is mixed, so that it will be impossible (without elaborate DNA analysis) for a donor to know that he is the father of a specific child, or for a child to know that a particular donor is his father. The “cocktail” method has already produced one bizarre situation in the Netherlands, in which fraternal twins born from artificial insemination plainly had different fathers of different races. In some brave new world of the not-so-distant future, it will probably be possible to avoid this sort of thing by requiring that all babies be conceived with sperm cocktails computer-programmed to produce totally blended, generic offspring.