MARK L. BAKKE'S
Night Owl Mk. II

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BABIES

I dread whenever somebody comes up to me, shoves a picture of a newborn baby under my nose, and asks what I think about it. Usually I answer something like "Yep, that's definitely a baby, all right". This usually gets a chuckle and causes the picture-shover to forget that he was trolling for some sort of compliment.
Let's face it -- unless the particular baby in the picture is extraordinarily ugly, almost all babies look the same. That "sameness", by the way, is not synonymous with "cuteness". Even though I have had three of my own, I fail to see the qualities inherent in babies that tend to turn most adults into gibbering fools.
Serious genetic disorders to the contrary, all babies will get bigger, learn to walk and talk, and will do silly and/or stupid things that observers will call "cute". Why, then, do adults tend to put their intelligence in suspended animation whenever they observe these things happening? After all, these same adults who are apparently so deliriously happy that their baby is starting to walk and talk are the same ones who will soon be yelling at those same children to "sit down" and "shut up" when the novelty of it all wears off.
Another thing I can't figure out concerning babies is why there must be special mention of them in any news story about a tragedy in which people have died. You know the ones -- "Car crash kills five, including a baby". I guess that mentioning the baby is supposed to make the story seem more heart-rending. In reality, it seems to point out a rather callous attitude towards adults getting killed. Is it any less tragic that four others were killed in that same car crash just because they weren't "babies"? I've often thought that we should be more concerned about the adults for one simple reason that will most likely provoke a bunch of fanatics to stalk me and throw large rocks. The depth of a tragedy should be measured by how difficult it is to replace what was lost. Since it should be obvious that it is much easier to make a new baby than to replace a dead adult, that suggests that the bulk of our sympathies are somewhat misdirected.
Sure, babies can be a source of joy for parents. Also, if not for babies, family lines, in particular, and the human race, in general, could never continue to survive. At least not until cloning is perfected.


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