Sunday, August 16, 2009

Open letter to God on baby design

Dear God,

RE: Baby design improvements

As I am sure you are aware - being omnipotent, omniscient and fluorescent (well, I am guessing the last one, since the first thing I would do as God would be to make sure that I glow in the dark) – I was an engineer before I became a journalist.

You are also no doubt aware that I am now a father. You probably regret letting that happen, having watched me play Black Sabbath to my five-week-old daughter and teach her how to give the finger to the evangelicals next door - even though I am sure they annoy you too with their tuneless singing and gibbering in tongues. Maybe you were perched on the celestial bog looking at the centre spread of Hot Angels Monthly at the moment of conception. It does seem like you dropped the ball.

I, however, prefer to think that since you have a master plan, you must have let it happen for a reason. Is it possible you wanted me to bring my engineering skills (admittedly now a bit rusty after seven years of not being used) to bear on improving your original baby design? I think so. I don’t want to second guess you, but I figured it wouldn’t do any harm to suggest a few tweaks, which you can take or leave, you being God and all.

Please bear in mind that the following are merely initial observations. I have not costed the project or figured out the technicalities, although I have carried out one or two small experiments. They didn’t make Charlotte cry for too long, so I think I am on the right track.

1. Replace crying with programmable alarm tones

I don’t want to be too critical here, but I think your premise that parents have to be irritated into helping their children through ear-splitting and insistent wailing is flawed. Crying babies are a pain in the arse, as I think the above picture illustrates even without sound. I think it is fair to assume that parents love their kids and want the best for them. Therefore, I would like to suggest a more sedate system for alerting parents that there may be a problem.

Swap crying for an alarm, preferably with a snooze function. As with mobile phones, parents should be able to download MP3s for the tone. What parent wouldn’t go rushing to their baby’s aid when they heard their favourite song wafting through the door? One note though: the system should reject any song written by Lionel Richie, Michael Bolton or anyone else whose hair is too big to fit through a door frame without turning sideways. Pan pipes are also out. We are trying to make the world a better place after all.

2. Introduce an LED system

Now, I know what you’re thinking about doing away with crying: Different cries mean different things.

For example -

“Wah, wah, wah, waaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!!” means: “Me hungry, where’s that big squishy thing that gives me milk?”

Whereas “Wah, wah wah, waaaaaaaaaaahhhh!!!!” means: “Tell those bloody evangelicals to stop singing, I am trying to get an afternoon nap in.”

If we cut out crying, we will lose those subtle differences, you say. I disagree. Respectfully, of course.

May I suggest that, since most parents don’t speak annoying cry, we install a network of LEDs to indicate the child’s current mode. This would be low cost, as infants only have a few states: Hungry, Tired, Sleepy, Ouch, Sick, Bored, Grumpy and I’ve shat myself and it is sticking to my arse.

Most parents attempt to resolve crying by random application of boob, blankets and booze. Well, the third one we try in Scotland at least. A few cans of Super Lager work wonders when your baby is crying - you just stop noticing. I suggest we employ a more efficient system: install a bank of LEDs in the baby’s forehead to indicate these primary states. Then we can deploy a secondary network about the body to indicate where the pain is, should it be necessary.

3. Alternative power systems

As you know, an increasing focus is being placed on non-traditional energy sources. Solar power, wind power, biomass, etc are being developed and scientists and engineers are looking at ways to recycle and cut waste. I would suggest that we apply the same principle to babies instead of allowing them to consume so much milk.

Now, I admit I have a vested interest here. I recall a time in the vague, distant past when I was allowed access to my wife’s Fun Bags, as we playfully referred to them. Well, at least as I referred to them. When she wasn’t listening. Now there is an infant constantly clamped on them. This is bad for me and also bad for my wife, who finds it quite difficult to go about her normal business with a little nipper swinging from her tank starter buttons.

I propose a system using multiple green energy sources that should dramatically cut down time on the boob or bottle. The system would incorporate the following elements:

a) Solar – Let’s be honest, babies don’t really care what they look like. We can easily slap a few solar panels on top of their heads,

b) Wind – Babies fart. A lot. It would be simple to attach a small turbine to the upper thigh and place the blades directly over the anus.

c) Biomass – Babies go doo doo. A lot. A biomass unit would go a long way to increasing efficiency.

d) Kinetic – Babies spaz out randomly. A lot. Why not use the energy from the spastic limb flailing or head wobbling kids seem so fond off. I am sure a few dynamos can be subtly attached to arms and legs.

4. Improve olfactory experience for parents

Baby shit stinks. Sorry to be so blunt about it, but it does. Why not take a fresh, scented leaf out of the book of Ambipur? If some geeky scientist with hairy palms and an addiction to World of Warcraft can invent a device that you plug into the wall to make the room smell of the autumn breeze, I am sure you can invent a plug-in that directly pumps sweet smells into a baby’s intestines. Imagine, every time your baby lets one go the room could smell of Forest Fruits rather than curdled milk toots. You could even use your child to freshen the room before having a dinner party, rather than desperately burning ten incense sticks and searching for that rogue nappy that got away five minutes before your guests arrive.

5. Hibernate button

Computers have them, so why not babies? They are generally pretty crap at getting themselves off to sleep, so why not do us all a favour and provide a wee button that knocks them out (preferably with a variable time setting for how long they are out). We could also have automatic hibernation, so if the child is left unattended for say 15 minutes, it will automatically enter hibernate mode, enabling parents to nip out to the pub and not worry if they left the baby turned on.

6. Paedolarm TM

All parents know that paedophiles are lurking behind every corner, rubbing themselves through their filthy cords and waiting to pounce with sweaty hands on any unguarded baby. I suggest installing a Paedolarm TM (my invention). If a paedophile comes within 30 metres of the child, a pre-recorded message of “LYNCH THE PAEDO” will blast out from the attached unit, and an accusing finger will spring out and point in the direction of the offender. I suggest employing Gary Glitter in the factory’s test department, as nobody will buy his records or go see him on tour ever again anyway and he probably needs the money for his next ticket to Thailand.

7. Locator

We’ve all done it. Put the baby down somewhere and then forgotten exactly where. Let’s cut out all the frantic searching and attach a locator device. One press on the parent’s key fob, and the baby emits a shrill tone. This could easily be integrated with the Paedolarm TM.

8. Baby microwave

Small babies are boring. Fact. They don’t do very much, and their lack of self-reliance is quite tedious. My fellow engineer David Docherty long ago began work on the microwave bed (a full night’s sleep in ten minutes). He still hasn’t perfected it, and may not, since he is in hospital suffering from internal third-degree burns, but I am sure you, who created the universe, can easily knock together a microwave device that will add months to your child's life within minutes, thus cutting out all the boring bits.

Well, that’s it so far. I do hope you don’t take offence at my suggestions and strike me down with a bolt of lightning or anything. I have been hit by lightning once before (that’s actually true) and didn’t much enjoy the experience.

I'm a big fan of all your work, and appreciate that when designing such a complex system as Earth you are going to get a few teething problems. But it has been a few million years, so I'm thinking it might be time for a review.

I hope this finds you in good health and fine smiting form (just not me, please).

Yours Faithfully,
Michael Logan.

1 comment:

Vanessa Gebbie said...

Hey, congratulations! Lovely news, and here's to many more. (When you've had some kip).