When you want to create a new branch that has no ancestors, you use
"git checkout --orphan" to set the repository in a state where the
next commit will have no parents.  However, it appears that one can
only do "git checkout --orphan" only if the *current* state will *not*
create an orphan commit.  This makes no sense, because the current
repository state has nothing to do with setting up the next state.

Here is a script that shows the problem:

$ git --version
git version 1.7.7.6

$ # Make a test directory.
$ DIR=temp.$$
$ mkdir $DIR
$ cd $DIR

$ # Create a new repository.
$ rm -rf .git
$ git init
Initialized empty Git repository in 
/common/home/worley/git-checkout/temp.19517/.git/

$ # Try to create an orphaned branch.  This fails.
$ git checkout --orphan first-new-branch
fatal: You are on a branch yet to be born

$ # Create a commit on branch master.  (We are still on master.)
$ git commit --allow-empty -m 'Empty commit.'
[master (root-commit) db3f0dd] Empty commit.

$ # Try to create an orphaned branch.  This succeeds.
$ git checkout --orphan second-new-branch
Switched to a new branch 'second-new-branch'

$ # Show the Git status.
$ git branch
  master
$ cat .git/HEAD
ref: refs/heads/second-new-branch

$ # But now we can't create another orphaned branch!
$ git checkout --orphan third-new-branch
fatal: You are on a branch yet to be born
$ 

Dale

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