A long unaddressed issue in electronic communication has been how to stem the flow of baby pictures. My reaction has always been, "Oh, it looks like Winston Churchill," but that reaction is unutterable in polite society, and ineffective in preventing future baby pictures, especially since we're coming up on a generation that won't get the joke. Also, such a reply would be inevitably lost amidst the torrent of reply-all responses expressing some kind of genetic positive response to offspring. Lacking this response, I remain silent.
Recently, however, someone sent along a baby picture with a note explaining that the picture was supposed to "brighten my day." This message was forwarded by someone not responsible for the baby's genes, so I was forced to conclude that this person was sending me the message for my benefit, and the motive was not simply to announce that the sender had successfully spawned. If babies did brighten my day in a figurative sense, I could open a browser, go to Google images, set safe search to "moderate," type "baby," and be instantly rewarded with thousands of little Winston Churchills, providing the metaphorical illumination of a major star. In a strictly literal sense, the picture was poorly lit and the background of my email client is predominantly white, so the picture measurably darkened my day.1
Given these points, silence is no longer an option.
My first thought was to use image recognition software to identify incoming babies, turn the pictures black and white, dress them in little Winston Churchill outfits, and send them back, but this fails on three points: 1) people wouldn't get it, 2) people would think it was cute, and 3) it's a lot of effort.
My next idea was to still use the image recognition software and just work it into a spam filter2. I discussed this with some similarly concerned friends, and they suggested extending the filter to include emails with more than two consecutive exclamation points, more than one emoticon, and any links to videos of kittens. This software is now in the R&D phase, but will have a kitten option, since though I can sympathize with the sentiment, my reaction to kitten videos is roughly the same as the reaction a twelve-year-old girl would have to being tossed onto a puppy-covered trampoline, so I prefer to receive such emails.
The debate over the kitten option gave me the inspiration for what I like to call my "final solution," if you will: henceforth, I will interpret all pictures of babies emailed to me as head shots of applicants seeking mortal combat with my cat.
Not my big cat. My big cat, Cerebus, is a twenty-pound death machine personally responsible for the execution of no less than a thousand small rodents who once called Hancock Point home.3 Your newborn must fight my little cat, Olive.
Let's have a look at the contestants.
Olive weighs in at 10.0 lbs and, I dunno, probably 21 inches, not including tail. The average baby comes in at 8.12 lbs and 20.28 inches. So Olive has a minor size advantage that should come handy in later rounds. Here are their primary weapons.
Olive obviously has the upper hand here, but the baby's weapons could prove overpowering. The baby's best strategy is to frighten Olive with its wailing and hope Olive chokes on the stench or starves to death. The baby will be permitted to soil itself prior to the match, just to be fair. However, in case of starvation, Olive may overcome the baby's defensive strategies in order to feed, at which point the baby's best strategy will be to try to get a strangle hold and choke Olive out. This may prove difficult, as I, weighing in at 146 lbs and 6.0 feet tall, have had difficulty holding Olive down in our training matches.
In case the match goes over 48 hours with no clear winner, the match will be resolved according the following metrics:
Olive can leap onto a three foot high table crowded with wine glasses without knocking anything down. Cat-proofing home involves closing refrigerator and putting food on high shelves. Average baby can usually crawl three feet without falling down. Boarding school is the only known method of child-proofing home.
Olive could hunt her own food and bathe herself by the time she was 7 months old. Buries own feces for easy disposal. Baby will require feeding, washing, and careful observation for 18 years. Carries feces around with it in diaper for first few years of life.
Olive will cost approximately $16,000 dollars to raise over 15 years. Average baby, not including college, will cost upwards of $200,000, assuming they don't wreck any cars.
Unless your baby is earning its own keep at 3 months old, it's clear that it had better kill my cat within the allotted 48 hours. As my cat is significantly better armed, your best bet is not to enter the contest.
However, if you still want to send me a picture of your baby, please be advised that I will expect your baby to be Fedexed to my apartment within 72 hours of receiving the picture, at which point it will be put in the cat carrier along with Olive. Both contestants will then be injected with a small amount of adrenaline, and cocaine will be sprinkled in the air holes at two-hour intervals, to ensure an entertaining match for all.
I look forward to your submissions.
P.S. I usually try not to cross promote myself, but there are two things important to me right now. One is making money, so you should go vote for my pictures here:
Also, somewhat less self-servingly, you should give money to this thing in Brooklyn:
Just because this has to do with a friend of mine who's basically a superhero and I try to help her out when I can. I'm not even trying to get her into bed. Anymore. Really, it's for a good cause or something.
1 Light reading from white background: 1470 Lux. Reading from average area of picture: 294 Lux. Percentage of screen occupied by photo: 40%. Total laptop light reduction: 32%. I think. Math is hard after my fifth drink.
2 The Baby Blocker. By Trojan.
3 I will however pit Cerebus against any five year olds able and willing to take the ring.