Christina Brown is world famous. And she's barely a week old, poor thing.
Little Christina - well actually not that little, but we'll come to that - was born by caesarean section at Methodist le Bonheur Hospital in Germantown, Tennessee.
If ever an address illustrates the mongrel nature of the world that's it. Tennessee is a Cherokee word, Germantown speaks for itself, le Bonheur is the French for happiness and Methodism is yet another fatuous Christian sect founded by a deluded - obviously - 18th century Englishman. Furthermore little Miss Brown happens to be black. So there's plenty going on, some of which we will return to.
The exact date of Christina's birth was 11/9/2019. Has a bell rung yet? If not, remember the American habit - an irrational one it seems to me, but so what? - of inverting the order of month and day. To them 11/9 is 9/11. And 9/11 is seared into the American, and much of the global, psyche.
(I have heard no one observe, by the by, that here in New Zealand the planes flew into the World Trade Center a day late. Here it was already the rather less rhythmical 9/12. I remember the morning well because I was due to appear on breakfast television to plug a book.
TVNZ rang me at 6am to tell me not to bother. "Why not?" I said. "Turn on the telly," they said. I did and was still there five hours later, transfixed. All of which is also by the by.
So, Christina was born on the 18th anniversary of the attack on New York. Impressed? Of course not. Lots of babies are born every day. (Rather too many, indeed. Around the world about 360,000 of us arrive in any 24 hours while only 150,000 or so leave. Which means the human population of this finite planet grows by more than a million a week. We're a plague species. But that too, for the purposes of this essay, is by the by.)
What begins to distinguish Christina from her contemporaries is the time of her arrival. She is recorded as having been delivered at 9.11am. You have to admit that's a tad neat. But it's not the end of the neatness.
The midwife, having washed, dried and swaddled Christina, placed her on a set of scales and looked at the numbers on the LED screen, and looked again, and then summoned colleagues to confirm what she had seen. For Christina Brown, born at 9.11 on 9/11, weighed 9 pounds 11 ounces. I mean to say, what are the odds?
Well, let's work them out, 9 pounds 11 ounces is a substantial weight for a baby but by no means freakish. About 10 per cent of babies weigh more than 9 pounds at birth.
Bless you: String theory and sneezing, what do they have in common?
Now, if 360,000 babies are born a day then about 260 are born a minute. Ten per cent of 260 is 26. And of the 26 babies over 9 pounds born in any particular minute the likelihood that one is going to weigh exactly 9 pounds 11 ounces is close to 100 per cent.
Which means that rather than being spookishly improbable, it is a statistical near certainty that on the 11th of September every year at least one baby somewhere in the world is born at 9.11am weighing 9 pounds 11 ounces. So it would actually be more remarkable if there wasn't a little Christina. But that of course is not what the world wants to hear.
I learned of Christina's birth from a line across the bottom of the screen on BBC World News. The BBC, the ostensible voice of reason, which prides itself on thinking before it speaks, had chosen to announce Christina's birth as if it meant something.
Because if it didn't mean anything, if it didn't have some inherent significance, why mention it above every other of the 360,000 births that day?
We are a pattern-seeking species. It is our scientific strength. No other animal is as clever. There are laws to how things work and patterns reveal them.
But the flip side of that is that we are a meaning-seeking species. It's our superstitious weakness to find meaning where there is none. No other animal is so stupid.
The paradox is enshrined in the very hospital where little Christina was born. Every item of equipment in that hospital and ever ounce of medical knowledge in founded in pattern-seeking science. But the hospital itself was founded in the superstition that is Methodism.
Poor little Christina, through no fault of her own, was born slap bang into the middle of the human condition. I can only hope she manages to escape her fame and the clutches of religion and to live as happily and as meaninglessly as my dog.