2011 Census: Legos Outpace Humans by 4,000%

It’s that time of year, when we turn to review the results of one the most fundamental charters of our Constitution and profile ourselves as a household, peering deep into the mirror to see just what we have become.  Our census takers have been busy during the first quarter, fanning out across the vast territories of our sovereign domesticity to take a statistical snapshot that accurately captures We, the People.

I would now like to share the results.

I am startled to report that current trending indicates our household continues to outpace present-day averages for reproduction and housing density in both India and China. Combined. And multiplied. Our 2011 population hovers at 1,284 individuals, a staggering increase of 4,000% over our last annual census, capturing all adult males, females, children and Lego mini-figures currently in residence.

This figure does not include heads without bodies or bodies without heads.

A gorgeous mosaic. All on the living room floor.

Interpreting the raw census data can be challenging, but it provides some fascinating insights.  For example, the tallest members of our society  (those over five feet) are also our oldest; together,  both of these individuals represent just .16% of our total population.   Individuals under four feet but over 4.1 cm tall also represent  .16% of the demographic but 100% of the “boys-ten years-old-and-under” category. This second cohort is growing − albeit slowly − and is extremely unlikely to reproduce in great numbers before the next census.

Not so for the 1,280 individuals (99.69%) at 4.1 cm or below. It is this group that is exhibiting the most dramatic population growth and displaying the widest-ranging diversity in terms of color, interest, and occupation  (but oddly, not head shape). This rapidly evolving generation, dubbed “Lego Nation” by some household pundits, threatens to unravel basic assumptions about the fundamental composition of our family unit.

Who are “Lego Nation”? They are a diverse group, heavily segmented, vocation-based and generally hard-working.  Many are foreign nationals from island nations — principally pirates, skeletons, gypsies and a small but vital and growing community of Ninja warriors. The population of Santa Claus impersonators continues to grow at a steady rate of two per year, indicating the likely presence of advent calendars.

What are they hard at work at? Construction-related industries continues to profile heavily in the living room and vast portions of the upstairs bedrooms as deeply blue collar. Marine Biology and Aerospace are the mainstay white collar professions, likely due to iterative submarine development  programs and extensive outer space (Star Wars) defense technology industry growth, centered primarily in the living room and bathrooms, with a scattering of support services across all sampled districts. City workers continue to be housed in close proximity to the distribution centers of the services they provide. Little is known of the Lego populations in the cellar and attic areas but they are  presumed to be statistically insignificant.

Experts remain sharply divided on what rate of growth is reasonable, but are in agreement that the current pace is unsustainable. “Where once you had a steady influx of singles, of couples, you now see whole Death Star populations arriving at our doorstep,” said one frowny-faced source who declined to be identified. “This is just crazy.”

A close review of the data indicates mass immigration tends to come in waves, with Q4 of each year showing a heavy influx, particularly around the holiday season. Smaller waves have been noted to coincide with birthdays, holidays and major medical procedures, although it’s hard to interpret the precise meaning of these outbreaks — they may well be statistical anomalies.

The Happy Family. The appearance of smaller, younger Legos implies they can now reproduce. Darwinism or Extraterrestrial intervention at work?

The most disturbing new trend appears to furnish evidence that the Legos have finally mastered the ability to self-replicate. Sightings of micro-figures − small creatures 1/2 to 1/3 the size of a normal Lego figure − are gaining in frequency. Previously it had been thought the ability to exchange body parts was de facto evidence that it was biologically impossible for Legos to reproduce.

Our household remains divided about the meaning of this new phenomena. Some feel it is the natural path of evolution, other point to the very real presence of Martians and their attendant advanced technology as the likely source of this surprising new capability (doubt remains,  as Martians tend to show up only as the subjects of alien autopsies and thus would presumably be unwilling to help further expand their oppressors footprint).

Currently, Legos have no voting rights in our house, no form of collective bargaining, no participation in any form of representative democracy. While it is true they are among our homes most prolific, flexible and entertaining performers, we and not they are the native population. Fear of this status quo changing is clearly the root cause of the concern of the current majority regarding reproductive issues.

Much has been written of late regarding the occasional diasporas that drive the various Lego populations from the living room to the bedroom, den and beyond. These are viewed by the 5-plus crowd (slang for the administration, those over five feet) as necessary to the efficient running of an orderly society. The 5-minus crowd often represents this activity as clear evidence of the oppressor’s hand being applied without just cause against a defenseless peoples (of which they consider themselves and Legos to be a part). The official take on this charge by the administration is that it is just so much agitprop.

What is clear is that with the increased population comes  increasing acts of violent protest. The number of reported battery incidents  (typically visited upon the soft, fleshy arch of the foot in the dead of night as the 5-plus go about their rounds) has been growing exponentially.

The administration’s take on these recent outbursts is clear: “We are all Americans, whether we be mini-figures, micro-figures or just plain full-figured. Can’t we all just get along?”

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The People vs. Bruce Wayne

Perp walk or cakewalk for billionaire Wayne?

Your honor, ladies and gentleman of the jury, your patience during this trial has been truly remarkable. I will not tax it any further by a long closing statement, but will instead restrict myself to a simple summary of the facts, for those will be more than enough to prove the case against the defendant.

The papers have long enjoyed detailing the more salacious nocturnal details of the playboy who sits before you. They certainly haven’t slackened their pace during this trial, where an even more amazing hidden life has emerged.  You or I may not be able to understand why a man with so many obvious advantages chooses to spend his early morning hours in the throes of what appears to be a variety of heroic cross-dressing with an animal theme, but let me be clear: his lifestyle choices as a Bat-Man are not what are on trial today.

What is on trial is the singular arrogance of one of the city’s most wealthy men.  To Mr. Wayne’s mind,  the rules, regulations and customs of our social contract simply do not apply to those of substantial means. At every level of local, state and federal government, Mr. Wayne has seen fit to thumb his nose at the rules that govern every other citizen’s life.

You will recall our story and this trial  began when an employee of Gotham Power and Light — in investigating why a collection of buildings as large as Wayne Manor could be consuming so few billable kilowatt hours — was astonished during a routine meter inspection to find what amounted to an unlicensed nuclear reactor in Mr. Wayne’s basement, powering a mixed-used facility totally in violation of all relevant zoning laws. In sworn testimony, GP&L inspectors refuted the premise that this was some sort of Green energy prototype,  pointing out that the reactor was in no way “off the grid” — allowing Mr. Wayne to potentially release unchecked an amount of energy into residential power lines that could literally burn Gotham City to the ground. Counsel’s suggestion that in fact Mr. Wayne required access to the city’s grid for additional power to complete certain “alternate universe” experiments strike many as an ad hoc justification with no credible scientific basis.

The reactor, of course, was not the only thing that was  discovered underneath Wayne Manor.

In the interest of time, I will not review the photographs and videos that were exhibited and entered into evidence earlier in this trial. Nor will I speculate on what sort of cold war mindset must have motivated Mr. Wayne to create over the last few decades what amounts to his own personal Greenbriar Bunker. The cave discovered beneath Wayne Manor is  a modern day King Tut’s tomb, with the exception being the King still walks among us. Or sits directly in the dock to your left. Instead of filling his cave with gold, however, Mr. Wayne chose to create a bizarre, high-tech, end-of-days warehouse, replete with planes, helicopters, boats, rich-boy souvenirs and even a tony English butler to bring him his tea and toast when a busy night of “crime fighting” left him too taxed to open the fridge himself. Too tired, ladies and gentleman? What sort of  crimes was this orphaned son of a society doctor fighting ? Outbreaks of Starlet Fever?  Or were there perhaps other reasons Mr. Wayne couldn’t rise from his seat?

These are excellent questions that Mr. Wayne refuses to answer. Alfred Pennyworth, the putative butler, could probably answer them as he was presumably more lucid than Mr. Wayne during this period. What does the butler know? This court  can’t ask him, of course, because we can’t find him! This is a familiar problem with illegal aliens serving in a domestic capacity for the very wealthy. Rest assured, like his master, Alfred will eventually be brought to justice.

The Gotham Registry of Motor Vehicles spent several days with us, confirming the lack of licensing for any of the vehicles located within Mr. Wayne’s man cave − I’m sorry, your honor, point taken − his Bat Cave − or any sort of regular safety inspection of said vehicles.  Admittedly, the statutes governing what Mr. Wayne describes as the BatBoat and BatWaterSki are open to interpretation, but the concerns surrounding the BatCopter, BatPlane and BatJetpack − all apparently homemade aviation projects involving turbines, jet fuel and a variety of jerry-rigged controls − are currently the subject of an FAA investigation. Yet despite the danger to innocent citizens, Mr. Wayne repeatedly saw fit to fly and occasionally crash these contraptions within city limits without so much as a learner’s permit. Or a clean-up, after the fact. I guess Mr. Wayne was too used to the butler taking care of this sort of detail.

It goes without saying that the storage and launch of these devices next to a home-made fuel dump within the cave is − on its own — a substantial violation of federal law. The EPA has also weighed in on the non-standard storage of aviation fuel, marine-grade diesel and a variety of industrial grade heavy machine lubricants in said subterranean bunker. There is no record of any inspection ever having taken place at this facility.

Considerable discussion was also held during this trial by experts over the advisability of grafting a recycled jet engine on a 1955 Lincoln Futura for the purposes of personal transportation. While we can all admire the technical skill it took to do so, this is not “street legal” − as Mr. Wayne’s counsel posits −  just because there is no regulation prohibiting jet-powered crime cars on Gotham streets.  There is a place for driving such “Franken-cars”, and that is the Gotham Speedway, where ambulances and firetrucks stand by to rescue daredevils and the spoiled rich from their four-wheeled follies. Additionally, the prosecution has entered into evidence a careful review of the 911 dispatch records for the last ten years which reveal a disproportionate number of calls to the Gotham Fire Department to extinguish brush fires on the road leading to the entrance of Mr. Wayne’s estate. The cost of every trip out there was of course borne by the taxpayer.

Counsel maintains that much of the extensive iron and electrical work in the man cave − I’m sorry, your honor, BATcave − is grandfathered in requiring no permits be presented. Suffice it to say that the various Gotham trade unions have a very different take on the matter, and are pursuing additional detail regarding the use of non-union labor with apparently no payroll, health care or workman’s comp benefits recorded by Mr. Wayne. In fact, no record whatsoever of their existence can be found. Perhaps the workman are vacationing with Mr. Pennyworth.

I’m sure everyone in this room has seen the speculation in the tabloids about the trophy room Mr. Wayne maintains. While no one can fault a man of Mr. Wayne’s means for maintaining what amounts to a private museum of curiosities under his home, the EPA has serious concerns about his adherence to existing watershed and wildlife protection acts in the cave. Gotham’s trade unions have also pointed out that the transport of gigantic robotic dinosaurs, car-sized pennies and playing cards scaled to fit highway billboards would likely require a first-class crane operator’s license, which Mr. Wayne also has failed to produce.

The Gotham Department of Youth Services was kind enough to share with us their thoughts around the extralegal adoption of circus orphans, and as you all recall, were not at all happy with Mr. Wayne on several fronts. You have heard from Mr. Wayne’s ward, Dick Grayson, about the constant physical activity he was compelled to undertake on a nightly basis — ludicrously described as “training exercises” by Mr. Wayne — while forced to wear motion-restricting tights in a dank, guano-laden underground  “gymnasium” with inadequate ventilation. This would hardly be an appropriate  place for an incarcerated individual to be held, never mind a young man in the full flower of his youth.

Finally, I think many of us will be forever haunted by Mr. Wayne’s bizarre description of his adoption of Mr. Grayson at this hearing, a version of which I am told he is fond of telling whenever he introduces his ward at social functions and charity fundraisers.  If I may quote from the record:

“… he fell off of his trapeze and into my arms. I have not let go of him since …”

which struck our court-appointed psychologist in expert testimony here as:

“… far too dismissive of the homicide that was the direct antecedent of Mr. Grayson living under Mr. Wayne’s roof and patronage and not without a large creep factor in its own right. I am additionally concerned with the long-term impact of repeatedly referring to Mr. Grayson as the ‘boy wonder’. The constant juvenilizing of Mr. Grayson at the same time he is being repeatedly exposed to dangerous and adult situations cannot fail to impact his normal growth and understanding of what it is to be a man.”

We come now to the subject of the Cray Super computer, currently impounded by the National Security Agency. This will be the subject of its own legal action, but I point out to those who feel Mr. Wayne’s activities were eccentric but essentially a victimless crime,  that Mr. Wayne’s arrogance extended to the ambitious hacking of every level of police agency in this country. His contention that he “did a better job” than traditional law enforcement agencies in sifting through that data to catch “criminal master minds” does not seem to be born out in practice. Does it in fact take gigflops worth of processing to capture a man who thinks he is a penguin, a sad circus clown or an individual who prances around in a body stocking decorated with question marks?  Are you comfortable with him having access to all of your personal information  as a byproduct of this “crime-fighting?” These are not super villains, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, these are emotionally compromised individuals who are nevertheless entitled to the same rights as any citizen. The right to a fair trial, the right to be judged by a jury of their peers and the right to not be stored in close proximity to what amounts to a likely superfund hazard site should not be a judgement call made by one man with unlimited resources.

Officials at Gotham’s Arkham Asylum have also pointed out − thanks to a Freedom of Information Act request − that the rate of recidivism of those individuals successfully imprisoned as a result of Mr. Wayne’s vigilantilism is shockingly high. In fact, it amounts to something of a revolving door. It is hard to prosecute based on the methodology of his citizen’s arrest.  The courts have been quite clear on whether Miranda rights are “optional” as the defendant puts it; they are  not something to be thrown out the window just because you or your target or both are wearing what amounts to feety pajamas.

The preponderance of evidence against Mr. Wayne is extensive, crossing multiple jurisdictions; his actions are consistently dangerous, potentially impacting many, many lives. If he were a poor man — roaring through the night in a halloween costume in his uninsured, unregistered vehicle, forcing a minor to perform circus tricks in a darkened cellar where he kept all manner of home-made go-karts and explosive devices, providing energy to his home with illegal and dangerous wiring — rather than a well-heeled, prominent society toff,  we would not be hesitating one moment to get him the help he deserves. Do not hesitate to use the same standards of judgement, justice and compassion against one who was so fortunately gifted. If we allow him to walk out that door into the dark night,  we will be encouraging a world where anyone can don a mask, slip on an opera cape and swing from our highest buildings in an outfit more befitting a fashion runway than an officer of the law, dispensing justice as they see fit. Do you really want to live in a society like that?

The prosecution rests, your honor.

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Motherblogs: Do you need to Pepys?

For those who have made the perilous passage,  becoming and enduring as a parent is the great adventure of ones adult lifetime, a magical mystery tour with no posted stops or scripted ending. Or at least that’s what the brochure says. With its staggering profundity and mind-numbing repetition, you realize (too late!) that by becoming a parent you have also just entered the ultimate triathalon, taxing your health, sanity and soul — a grueling test of character spanning the rest of your lifetime.  It’s as if the first leg of the Tour de France was up the side of Mount Everest, to be followed by a time trial to Mars. For those who have not made the journey, it’s impossible to put into words.

Until the advent of the Motherblog, that is.

Not the Mother of all blogs (there’s a nice picture of him below) but the Motherblog, which chronicles the pilgrimage from me to we with the ditzy self-absorption that can only come from someone whose brain is being tsunamied with mind-altering hormones.  In the past, such rantings were contained to localized outburts at La Leche League meetings. Now,  no aspect of the journey no matter how deeply personal or profoundly intestinal is the subject of a few hundred thousand words. Every day. Perhaps even every hour of every day.

For example, say you are a new mom with a stoppered tot. Plenty of blogs cater to your needs to share this startling turn of events. On one of those sites, you might well write:

“… Zoltar is having constipation problem since we moved here.. We gave her stool softener, laxatives, took her to doc which ended up having miralax everyday and not drinking milk at all and the problem is still there. Last week we thought of giving a last try and decided to put medicine in the other end before taking her to doc who we know would want us to go for some strong meds…”

Is this the ultimate legacy of Samuel Pepys?   If you were Zoltar (I have changed the name to protect the innocent) can you imagine reviewing this as a mature 18 year-old (with presumably a high-fiber diet)? No, of course not. Even Zoltar isn’t interested. If a blocked baby blog falls in the forest, does anyone hear it?

This is, of course, the yin and yang,  risk and reward of blogging. You now have an infinitely larger potential audience, but that audience can chose to ignore you. Globally.

Luckily, there is a potential solution. It’s the same solution that usually works whenever we have an abundance of something that no one wants. We just need to brand Motherblogs © ® ™.  Couldn’t we connect thousands of unemployed journalists with the motherblogistas to punch them up? Eh, I mean punch up their blogs?

For example:

Tabloid style:

“… friends indicated that after an all-night drinking binge, the hard pAArtying Zoltar remains sluggish and unresponsive. Investigating reports of incoherent screaming coming day and night from his crib, police report the presence of prescription meds and a topless woman…”

Fox News Style:

“… subsidizing the cost of medication is not the answer to this problem. If Zoltar is so foolish as to get himself into a jam, he should have the intestinal fortitude to get himself out of this predicament. When will the liberals stop babying people like Zoltar …”

NY Times Style:

“… His face grimacing in pain, his bedclothes strewn about the room, Mr. Zoltar may well require a complex amalgamation of physical therapy, medication and counseling to resolve the issues currently facing him. Unable to comment directly, Zoltar indicated through his representatives that he was extemely distressed over recent events …”

We need to help all MotherBlogs realize their full potential. Self-awareness is like a butterfly emerging from a cocoon for the new parent. It takes time. Within the first year, one starts to dimly perceive that the entire world may actually not be interested in a real-time recitation of the progress of your precious mini-me. Secretly, new parents take solace in the fact that although “stories about the baby” may not entertain a  general audience in hour number two, but in your very special inner circle of newborn parents who are also parents of newborns you share an intense delight in sharing such material. In fact, five years into the parental role, you will realize that no one is actually listening in these exhanges, they are merely waiting to start their serial monologue, usually with “…yes, well that’s exactly like…” which likely will have nothing to do whatsoever with what preceded it, as they really weren’t listening. Which of course, you won’t catch, because you are not listening either. This can come as a quite a disappointment. With your fellow parents, of course.

The situation can become far worse when in conversation with non-breeders. Puerile by Proxy, is a condition by which a child-free participant interrupts the sui generis child monologue with a declaration of bathos, announcing: “Well, I know exactly what you mean. I have cats, and in many ways they are exactly like children. ”

Well, not exactly. True , both will bring you things they have killed for approval and attention (see Norman Bates, for example), but unless the aspirational goal for your child is to have her star in a home movie where she uses the toilet rather than the litter box, I think it best to compare having pets to taking care of an invalid albeit a cute invalid, and one that doesn’t reminisce.

Still, I think there is a time and place to celebrate Fido’s every bon mot. The time is later, and the place is a pet blog (or PetBlog © ® ™). Where there is likely great advice for a clogged Corgi or bottled Boxer.

The Root Cause of Blogging

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Ten Things Television Has Taught Me

10.) Nine out of ten of us will die in a manner requiring a procedurally vague autopsy. The public will generally attend to help direct the Medical Examiner. The tenth person will be either a cyborg or a space alien. They will be very annoyed when they catch their fake skin on something (often a bullet) revealing their shiny undercarriage.

9.) We love looking at nature almost as much as we love eating it. For every living thing that crawls, hops, swims, canters or waves in the breeze  there is a matching slow-motion documentary and hopeful mouth, waiting to lecture us about how to prepare said life before popping it into aforementioned mouth and consuming it.

8.) We are very afraid of something eating us and like to watch others in situations where they escape this fate at the jaws and paws of alligators, polar bears and sharks. The cyborgs could care less about this fact but the aliens are very, very interested. As a race, we may have to accept that, we too, taste like chicken.

7.) Doctors never think inside the box. They are creatures of impulse, who must fight those who have been exhaustively trained to carefully eliminate possible false leads. They are deeply eccentric and not prone to procedural methods. Also, the more brilliant they are, the less likely they remember to shave.

6.) Stand-up comedians on late night talk shows  look like television news anchors, television news anchors earlier in the night look like catalogue models and actual models look mostly to launch fragrance lines, as it is hard for a smell to lose its looks.

5.) Although the great pyramid and space shuttle were interesting diversions, the real purpose of millions of years of human evolution and thousands of years of human engineering have been dedicated to  a single, important goal: A really close shave. All men and many women’s legs know this to be true. As do the cyborgs and space aliens, who are universally shiny or smooth.

4.) Mark Zuckerberg invented Facebook which enables TMI (too much information) about people you don’t know to be indexed on a global database, Oprah created all other forms of communication and The Donald invented Trump, which is a type of licensed brand of superlative self-importance. New York is particularly large consumer of this brand.

3.) On television women long to surprise men by joining them in the shower and frequently do so. This results only in a prolonged kissing before the commercial break. Men also long to surprise women by joining them in the shower and frequently do so. This results in the men starring in their own procedurally vague autopsy after the commercial break.

2.) Real life is often boring; reality television, more so. Fun fact: If you place two television monitors so they face one another, each playing a different reality show, it will produce an effect of infinite progression, similar to standing in the Hall of Mirrors at Versailles. If one of the programs playing on the televisions features Donald Trump, the progression effect will be greater than Versailles. It will, in fact be the greatest effect of all time. Ever. Especially in New York.

10.) Crime is on the rise, with the incidence of mugging skyrocketing. Children, sadly, are most often the perpetrators, and have a natural advantage. With their defenseless, oversized heads mounted on their undersized bodies, they only need the circumstance of an eponymously named half-hour program on the Disney channel to serve as the tipping point to a regrettable life of spastic, overloud reaction shots. As their jazz-hands windmill, their eyes bulge and their small mouths present a rictus of manufactured glee battering the viewer for a big laugh, it is perhaps the saddest lesson television has taught me. Also, they are millionaires before they reach puberty, never a very good combination.

Blueprint for Higher Learning: Farnsworth's TV Patent

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If twits Twitter, what do bloggers do?

In the past, my default answer was “Procrastinate, hopefully, and spare us all.

Blogging used to strike me as the textual equivalent of streaking, with a fleeting burst of activity intended to generate some startled attention from the crowd followed by a rapid, gleeful retreat into anonymity. If Tweeting was the digital equivalent of belching, blogging was the babbling drunk weaving through North Station, raging out a passionate, solipsistic profundity.

With the difference being the bloggers I had read were far less lucid than the drunks.

(Good for a first blog, no? Compelling metaphors, deep thoughts and a drunk to keep it real! But I am missing a few other things to make this first effort perfect. Great job with the first person, but what about the omniscient narrator? Here, wait a minute:)

The pattern and explosive growth of blogging had a familiar feel to it. Since the first photograph in 1839, we have had about 175 years of shutters snapping millions of images that flowed mostly  from the camera to the landfill in surging torrents of anonymity. Precious images of ancient relatives are passed on, stored, augmented by exponentially more family photos and ultimately tossed, as family lines wither and die. Tomorrow’s archaeologists — hoping to find a rare styrofoam Big Mac container — may well consider the superabundance of photos in our static landfills the kudzu of their profession.  Future collectors may be more interested in the variety of plastic bottles we made than the visual record of our daily lives.

This pattern becomes fractal with the arrival of digital photography, where even the barrier of cost in developing and printing the images is removed. Now, hundreds of images of a single moment are taken — why not? —  and stored away on ever-expanding server farms, because, as it turns out,  even we aren’t even interested in looking through our own history to sort the photos. But we assume someone else will be later.

In this context, blogging seems the perfect counterpoint,  the captions to paste under our self-obsessed photo sessions.

(Tremendous! Have I got you depressed now? Me too. It’s not my nature, but sometimes you control the QWERTY, sometimes it controls you.  And there is really no way out of that corner. Not for most bloggers, anyway. But let’s face it, I’m special. Well, more special.  No, really. The only way out of this jam is to interview myself. Like with a question. Watch this: )

So why, then, am I on a blog site crowned with what appears  to be a clear attempt to simultaneously violate both the Volkswagen and Waterstones trademark?  The answer is simple. Social media, like the Martians, delivers one message: “Resistance is futile. Submit.” Thus a small footprint on Facebook is one small step for Michael and one quick-apple two-step over to Twitter. Twitter forces pith, but sometimes taking a long pith is what truly satisfies.

And thus, to seek, to strive, to blog and not to yield. I now stand shoulder-to-shoulder with hundreds of thousands of my brother and sister bloggers, singing our siren songs into the abyss. I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each. But will they sing to me?

(Nice, eh? Bloggers love crowbarring in poetic touches; I score the lay-up with both Tennyson’s Ulysses and  Eliot’s The Lovesong of J. Alfred Prufrock.  This is fun! But one question before I go: Who are you? )

Après moi, le déluge

The World’s First Picture, 1839.
Reprinted, 1952.

Après moi, le déluge

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