Produced by Gary Drevitch
WE'VE WRITTEN TURNER NETWORK OURSELVES, DEMANDING THAT IT STOP AIRING ALL EPISODES OF "CHARMED" THAT GLAMORIZE DANGEROUSLY BAD ACTING. BUT IT HASN'T DONE A THING
Yet one complaint from a British viewer of Turner's semi-classic cartoon network, Boomerang, about cigarette and cigar use in a pair of old "Tom and Jerry" episodes, led the company to scour more than 1,500 old toons, including Tom and Jerry, The Flintstones and Scooby-Doo, to eliminate scenes that "glamorize smoking." (Is there ANY scene involving Shaggy that doesn't glamorize smoking in some way?)
There have been no recent complaints about anvil-dropping, cat-skinning, or dynamite-tossing, so other than the episodes featuring smoking, the remainder of the Tom and Jerry oeuvre remains intact.
THE DAY-CARE CENTER HAS RELOCATED TO THE SITE OF AN OLD INDIAN BURIAL GROUND, WHERE THERE SHOULD BE NO TROUBLE AT ALL
Fascinating story in the Times the other day about a New Jersey day-care center that was, incredibly, built on the site of an old mercury-thermometer factory, and the long chain of finger-pointing and irresponsibility that led to kids spending their days at a toxic site no one had ever cleaned up, which is especially troubling given that "mercury vapors are heavier than air and therefore more prevalent near the floor, where children nap and play." Here's a sample:
The state's Division of Youth and Family Services, which licenses day care centers, has also been criticized for not discovering the site on the environmental department's public list of contaminated areas. But Kate Bernyk, a spokeswoman, said the division was not required to check that list, and is required to ensure only that day care centers are free of lead, asbestos and radon gas, not mercury.
WINNING ISN'T EVERYTHING - IT'S THE WRONG THING
If you're like us, you pay little attention to the uplifting stories of the scrappy young stars of the Little League Series, which concludes tonight. But there was one recent Little League incident worth noting:
Back in June, in Bountiful, Utah, the championship game of the Mueller Park Mustang 10-and-under league came down to (inevitably) the Yankees and the Red Sox. The Red Sox had a player, Romney Oaks, whose growth was seriously stunted by a malignant cranial tumor at the age of 4. The frail player had only collected a couple of hits all season and was required to wear a batting helmet in the outfield. But, still, he's the kind of inspiring youth sports story you often hear about on Primetime or 20/20. So in the final inning of the championship game, the Red Sox, down by one, had the tying run on third base with two outs, and their best hitter coming up. So, if you're the Yankee coach - and you happen to be a complete tool - what's your strategy? That's right - intentionally walk the tough hitter to get to overmatched little Romney Oaks, who, with tears in his eyes, meekly struck out to end his team's season.
This article from espn.com got a variety of responses to the Utah scenario from coaches and players inside and outside of Little League, and many of them agreed with the Yankee coach's move - after all, the Red Sox did put Oaks in the lineup. But many also thought that there must have been a third way - like, if you're going to walk the other team's best hitter, then walk Oaks, too, and let the next guy up decide the game.
But our favorite reply was from Mark Pearson, a 12-year-old pitcher for New Hampshire's Little League World Series entry. What would he do if his opponent's best hitter cam to the plate with Romney Oaks on deck?
"Well," he said, a smile spreading across his face. "I'd just strike him out -- then I wouldn't have to worry about it."
SLATE TO NUT ALLERGY KIDS: DROP DEAD
We're sure that Emily Bazelon thought that her recent piece about "overbroad" institutional responses to children's peanut allergies would be thought-provoking and counterintuitive. And it is. Which is about the best that can be said for it.
At the risk of sounding heartless and bratty, though, let me try to make the case for better-calibrated, more-moderated responses to nut allergies. Parents who ask for more accommodation than their kids really need do a disservice, I think, by making the rest of us unsure of when we need to strictly comply. It's a form of crying wolf. Or at least that's how it has felt to me on occasion. One summer, my older son Eli, then 4, got sent home from preschool with a stern note, because the granola bar I'd given him for a snack was made at a factory that processed other products that contain tree nuts. The next day I sent Eli with a plastic baggie full of cheese crackers made by Annie's, the organic pasta company. Their factory stamped out organic macaroni and crackers, I thought—no nuts.
But the father of the boy in the class with the nut allergy wasn't so sure. He asked me to take the crackers home. I'm sure this seemed like a minor concession to him. But to me, it seemed unfair and a little ridiculous. My son and his son didn't sit at the same snack table. They'd never shared food. His son's allergy had never been triggered by airborne particles, and it was no longer particularly serious. And if I couldn't give Eli his crackers, then he wouldn't have a snack. For the second day in a row. So, there was a cost, however small, for doing as asked.
I left the crackers with Eli. They provoked no allergic reaction in his preschool classmate. When I got home that night, I checked the Annie's box. There was the telltale warning: "Produced in a facility that also manufactures products containing peanuts and tree nuts." So, what's the moral of this story—that I'm inconsiderate, or a reasonable risk-taker?
Um, the moral is that you're inconsiderate. Next question?
IF IT SEEMS LIKE WE ARE REFERRING YOU TO THE JEWISH WEEK EVERY FEW WEEKS TO READ YET ANOTHER ARTICLE ABOUT PREVIOUSLY UNKNOWN HOLOCAUST RESCUERS WHOSE STORIES YOU SHOULD SHARE WITH YOUR OLDER CHILDREN, WELL, THAT'S BECAUSE WE ARE
A FEW THOUGHTS FROM DAY #3 OF CHILD #3
- Fellow and Tiny have found the funniest comedy routine in history. It goes like this: When the baby cries, each of them copies the baby, pretending to cry, and doing their best to mimic his volume and tone. It's really quite hilarious, it cracks them both up. Yeah, they're adorable. We're really going to miss them after we ship them off to the Citadel.
- We're the father of three now, and, as we've perhaps protested too much, we're not one of the "crazy parents." And yet. Yesterday, we let Little Guy and Loving Mother share some nap time by taking Fellow and Tiny on some errands, and then to our hair salon, where we sat them down in the waiting area (at the front of the shop, with a door open to the street) with a couple of black and white cookies as we got a much-overdue trim. But when we were led to the seat where we'd get our cut, we realized that the kids were too far away, and perpendicular to us. As much as we tried to work our peripheral vision, they were in a total blind spot. And it was noisy in the shop. And there was that open door. And, we'll tell you, as calm as we are, as confident that we've properly taught them how to sit and wait and not run into the street, it was about the most stressful haircut we've ever had. The good news was the kids were still there when we were done - and the hairdresser did a great job trimming our eyebrows.
NOW THAT WE HAVE THREE CHILDREN, WE'RE GOING TO DO ALL WE CAN TO KEEP FROM HAVING A FOURTH. TO THAT END, FROM NOW ON WE'RE GOING TO KEEP THIS STORY FRESH IN OUR MIND EVERY NIGHT WHEN WE CLIMB INTO BED
***** BREAKING NEWS:
PLEASE WELCOME THE LATEST MEMBER OF THE FD.COM TEAM ****
We think that young Adam Samuel will have a bright career on our staff. After a nine-month, two-day trial period, he officially joined our fulltime roster on Friday, August 25, at 5:47 pm. He came to us at 7 pounds, 7 ounces, comparable to our other junior staff members when they joined the FD.com team.
In a hastily called staff meeting after Adam joined us, Tiny Girl and Small Fellow voted to change his FD.com security code name from "Small Fellow 2.0" to simply "Little Guy," and we will follow their wishes.
To see more of Little Guy's first photos, click here, and scroll the to the bottom. More will be added next week.
HOWEVER, WE'RE REALLY NOT SURE WE SHOULD BE BRINGING MORE CHILDREN INTO A WORLD WHERE ENTOMOLOGISTS ADVOCATE THAT KIDS KILL BUTTERFLIES
Did anyone else see the op-ed in the Times the other day, in which Wyoming science professor Jeffrey Lockwood came out against the kind of classroom butterfly-raising projects that Fellow and Tiny enjoyed so much in nursery school? His argument is that introducing butterflies from one locale into a different region could cause ecological havoc. Writing in a newspaper that lacks the peer review processes of legitimate science journals, Lockwood is free to say that while there is in fact no evidence of any damage caused by the release of classroom-raised butterflies, "the potential severity is sobering." So, what does he suggest as an alternative? Well, wedding planners could buy only neutered butterflies to release at their events, so there will be no crossbreeding of alien species:
But what about the eager students and future (might we say, larval) entomologists?
Kill them. Not the students, the butterflies. If the point of the educational venture is to teach important lessons, then here’s one: We are responsible for the harm that we may cause in the world. So once the butterflies have emerged, pop them in the freezer. Tell the children that protecting our environment is not always easy, that we must accept the responsibility that comes with bringing a life into the world, and that like other animals produced for our needs and wants (the industry refers to the butterflies as “livestock”) we owe the butterflies a quick and painless death.
And another thing: Kids love having rabbits in the classroom, but if the critters ever got out, they could cause incalculable damage to the local flora. Our recommendation: At the end of the school year, gather all the kids together and toss Senor Hoppy-Hops in the microwave. That'll teach them (the students, not the rabbits).
NOW THAT WE'VE HAD ALL THREE OF OUR CHILDREN, AND GOTTEN ALL OF OUR SOUVENIR PICTURES, WE'RE FULLY PREPARED TO ENDORSE A COMPLETE BAN ON NONESSENTIAL ULTRASOUND USE
A recent Yale study of pregnant mice revealed that prolonged exposure to ultrasound caused brain abnormalities in the developing mouse fetus:
“Proper migration of neurons during development is essential for normal development of the cerebral cortex and its function,” said Pasko Rakic, M.D., chair of the Department of Neurobiology and senior author of the study. “We have observed that a small but significant number of neurons in the mouse embryonic brain do not migrate to their proper positions in the cerebral cortex following prolonged and frequent exposure to ultrasound.”
Well, that does sound serious. The study's authors do not recommend a ban on medically valid ultrasound testing, as the benefits of the tests outweigh the potential risks, but they do advise that "non-medical" ultrasound tests be limited while researchers study the potential effects on primates. Joshua Copel, also of Yale and president-elect of the American Institute of Ultrasound Medicine, agrees that "entertainment" use of ultrasounds should be discouraged, but he did point out that:
"there are large differences between scanning mice and scanning people. For example, because of their size, the distance between the scanner and the fetus is larger in people than mice, which reduces the intensity of the ultrasound. In addition, he said, the cranial bones in a human baby are denser than those of a tiny mouse, which further reduces exposure to the scan."
So if you really want that souvenir ultrasound photo with a little arrow pointing to your fetus' penis, he's not going to stand in your way. Props to the Associated Press, by the way, for getting Tom Cruise into the lead of their story on the study.
HAVING A NEW BABY PUTS US FRESHLY OF A MIND TO SAY, WE HOPE WE NEVER HAVE TO FACE THIS
After a lawyer for the New York Civil Liberties Union, Beth Haroules, concluded her statement yesterday condemning the use of electric shocks in schools, an angry, exasperated mother followed her out of the meeting room and into the hall.
The mother, Linda Doherty of Long Island, wanted to know why the NYCLU was trying to convince the New York State Education Department to ban aversive behavioral therapy, the only type of treatment that had worked on her severely autistic, violently self-destructive son. . . .
"It's torture," someone said. "The other programs have failed you, but that doesn't mean we should use corporal punishment."
"So these kids should die?" Ms. Doherty shot back. "My son should die?"
Find out more about the debate over the Judge Rotenberg Education Center of Canton, MA - the only school in the country that uses electric shock "as a behavior-shaping tool" - from the New York Sun. Then kiss the kids goodnight.
RECOVERING HELICOPTER PARENT BECOMES STEALTH BOMBER
Today's the last day of the kids' four weeks of day camp, at their local nursery school. It also marks the successful end of our experimental new approach to extracurriculars: We simply dropped the kids off each day with the people in the T-shirts marked STAFF, asked them how their day was when they got home, oohed at their artworks, and we moved on. We didn't try to find out which colleges the junior counselors attended, we didn't complain if we found out sports was canceled for a day, we didn't ask what other families were packing for their dairy-only, nut-free lunches. We just let them go each morning and enjoy themselves. Last night, we helped the kids prepare thank-you cards for all of their counselors and other staffers, and when we helped deliver them at drop-off this morning, we realized that with the exception of the head counselors, we actually couldn't identify any of the other staff members by name - and, honestly, we felt pretty good about that.
And we've saved up all of our neuroses for Fellow's first-grade teachers.
And now for the latest installment of "Pride or Punishment?": As longtime readers may be aware, there's a TV in the bedroom shared by Fellow and Tiny. It's been in there since before they were born, and there's a pre-existing cable wire, so, bottom line, it's not going anywhere, despite the grim warnings of the American Academy of Pediatrics. And most of the time this isn't a problem: They know their rules and limits and they follow them. For example, they never turn it on without permission. However, Fellow is allowed to have the TV tuned into one of the visually static music stations at the top of the cable dial as he falls asleep at night. (For the past several weeks, he's nodded off to the mellow sounds of Smooth Jazz - no, we have no idea, either.) And this can, on rare occasions, lead to abuse. Like two nights ago, as we were in the living room urging Tiny to fall asleep so we could tune into the Red Sox game on ESPN, already in progress, Fellow rushed in from his room after bedtime to tell us, "Daddy, you said Big Papi couldn't run so fast - but he just scored from SECOND BASE! That's fast, isn't it?"
"Fellow, how do you know he just scored?"
"Um. . . [big smile] I don't know. . ."
So, would it be Pride or Punishment? Come on, folks, it's a pennant race. This is the equivalent of a kid in the 60s secretly listening to his transistor radio under the covers. And who are we to outlaw such a great tradition of American boyhood? We just smiled at him, gave him a kiss, and gently urged him to turn the TV off. And he did.
WE KNEW WE WERE ONTO SOMETHING
The other day, we wrote about our sick-kid TV rules which, to recap, involve the kids getting to watch a lot of TV when they're home sick. Well, here's the science to back us up: TV is more comforting than Moms.
Researchers confirmed the distracting power of television. . . when they found that children watching cartoons suffered less pain from a hypodermic needle than kids not watching TV. Especially disturbing to the author of the scientific study was that the cartoons were even more comforting than Mom.
The Italian researcher who directed the study bemoaned the power of TV to distract children - “I believe that this power must be controlled and reduced," he said - but Dr. Brenda McClain of Yale had a different, counterintuitive take on the results, which parents would do well to keep in mind:
Other studies have found that mothers' and fathers' attempts at comforting often backfire because it makes the children feel that “something must really be bad” if they need to be soothed, said [McClain].
And, of course, Bob the Builder treats you the same whether you're sick or healthy.
TRAGICALLY FOR THE PANDA POPULATION, THIS 48-HOUR WINDOW TYPICALLY OVERLAPS WITH SUPER BOWL WEEKEND
Many of you probably already knew this, but a helpful docent at DC's National Zoo explained to us during our recent visit that among all of the other problems with fostering panda reproduction in captivity is the fact that the lady panda is in estrus only once a year, for a period of about 48 hours! So the fact that any pandas get conceived at all -- such as the National Zoo's adorable little Tai Shan (left) - strikes us as a miracle. And there's been quite a baby boom this year, according to recent reports.
We also discovered that except during that perilously brief mating window, the National Zoo's adult male and female pandas are kept in their own environments, separated by a fence, because, as it turns out, panda Dads just don't take much of an interest in child-rearing. Although the National Zoo's situation is a little unique, in that Tian Tian used to be one of Mei Xiang's backup dancers, so what could you really expect of him anyway?
. . . AND THE JOKE WRITES ITSELF: BE CAREFUL WHEN YOU ENTER HIS BARBER SHOP AND ASK FOR "JUST A LITTLE OFF THE TOP"
We have circumcision on our mind these days -- logically enough, as, God willing, we'll be hosting a ceremony about two weeks hence - but nothing we could possibly plan for Small Fellow 2.0 could match the show they put on in Gornje Lubinje, Kosovo. It's our FD.com Story of the Week:
Every five years, the inhabitants of the two villages, high up in Kosovo's Shar mountain range, close to the boundary with Macedonia, come together for an extraordinary festival. . . . For three days, upward of 3,000 people gather here to feast, sing and dance and take part in traditional Turkish sports, like wrestling. . . But the distinguishing feature of this festival is the ceremony of Sunet, or circumcision, that takes place in one day for all of the host village's boys age 5 or under -- 111 of them this year in Gornje Lubinje.
Yes, it's an all-out cavalcade of circumcision, and this isn't like Shirley Jackson's lottery -- every child gets their cut.
Some parents chose to send their children to be circumcised at the village's clinic. . . . But a vast majority opted to put their children in the care of the nimble hands of Zulfikar Shishko, 69, who normally works in the Ekspres barber shop in the nearby city of Prizen.
For 25 euros each, Mr. Shishko performed the operation in the boys' homes, without anesthetic. He was accompanied by two burly assistants dressed in red aprons whose task it was to restrain the boys during the operation. (''We have a special technique,'' explained Hajrulla Osmani, one of the assistants.)
Armed with a scalpel, a bottle of iodine and some scouring powder to help clean his hands after each operation, Mr. Shishko had the air of man possessed, as he proceeded to circumcise 87 boys in just over 12 hours on Saturday.
YEAH, IT'S A WORLD RECORD -- FOR FREAKING OUT THE MOST LITTLE KIDS
As if we still lived in a world where citizens aspired to appear in, or even thumb through, the Guinness Book of World Records, the World Aquarium in St. Louis has filled a new exhibit with 10 two-headed snakes and turtles, and even hopes to be able to bring in an 11th:
Aquarium officials hope [the] exhibit. . . will prompt the creation of a Guinness World Record for the most two-headed animals on display. "It should be a huge two-headed party," aquarium president Leonard Sonnenschein said Tuesday. Sonnenschein hopes two of the guests will hit it off. He would like to mate [a pair of] two-headed albino rat snake[s]. "There are no guarantees," he said, "but it's very likely these two could mate and have babies."
And then, with his legacy in the Guinness Book of World Records assured, and an army of four-headed snakes at his command, Sonnenschein can get on with his longtime dreams of global domination.
OH, AND WHEN YOU'RE DONE WORKING ON YOUR STRUT AND YOUR SNEER, YOU MIGHT WANT
TO JOIN A VARSITY TEAM, DO SOME PUBLIC-SERVICE WORK, AND -- OH, YEAH --
GET GOOD GRADES
Well, God bless AOL for still even trying to produce original content, we suppose. But this lifestyle guide to help readers "Get Ivy League Prestige in Seven Easy Steps" is fairly mind-numbing even by dial-up standards. The guide suggests that non-Ivy graduates can boost their confidence, and find career success, by just acting like arrogant elitist jerks:
Think your degree from Never-Heard-of-It U. pales in comparison to Princeton? . . . . Now you can employ the same methods as those who graduate those hallowed halls and go on to great success.
Conceptually, it's a little like the classic advice given by the Wizard before he took off in his balloon, and maybe there's something to it -- maybe it would even be good advice for parents of college-bound teens. But then the details just run right off the rails:
1. Feel comfortable in your own skin
2. Dress your best
3. Learn all you can
4. Sound like a natural
5. Mind your manners
6. Groom your body language
7. Act elite, not from the street
To sum up: "The typical Ivy Leaguer doesn't think about the pedigree and they don't try to impress. It's an aura, and it can be captured."
OR YOU COULD JUST TRY THIS
Wichita teen Jakub Voboril scores a rare exacta - perfect scores on SAT and ACT - then immediately tries to put Stanley Kaplan out of business:
“It’s weird, because before I took it, I checked out a couple books from the library. I expected there to be this big secret that all the smart people had that I just had to read. But I found out there’s not a secret formula. Obviously, you have to pay attention in classes, take classes that are going to teach you what you need to know — that sort of thing.”
NEXT WEEK IN NEWSWEEK: A COURAGEOUS YOUNG MAN OVERCOMES PERFECT PITCH TO EARN A SPOT IN THE NEW YORK PHILHARMONIC
Newsweek's "My Turn" column is the space where readers just like you and us can share their stories of obstacles overcome and life lessons learned. This week, for example, we meet Summer Banks, a young woman who was accepted to New York University but realized early in her freshman year that, gosh, everyone there was so distracted by the bright lights of the big city that no one had the time to just sit down in the dining hall and debate the pros and cons of Locke and Blake. So she set a goal of transferring to Yale, and, although she eventually succeeded where 97% of transfer applicants fail, her journey was not without pitfalls:
When I got home to southern California after final exams, I found two large packets awaiting me. I had been accepted at Brown and Yale, and soon learned that Harvard had accepted me, too. The only catch was the deadline. The Yale letter said that I had to reply by the next day.
I had momentary second thoughts. New York had been absolutely amazing, and I was reluctant to leave all my friends. But as the hours ticked away, I decided I was going to Yale. I’d get to live the college life with all its inherent idealism—and New York would still be there when I finished. I called Yale the next day to reserve my spot.
With that, we're proud to announce a new FD.com Reader Contest: A free year's subscription to the first reader who can tell us which top Newsweek editor is Summer's uncle.
IF THE PROGRAM IS DEEMED A SUCCESS, THE SCHOOL PLANS TO LAUNCH TRAINING PROGRAMS FOR PINBOYS AND STENOGRAPHERS
Theodore Roosevelt High School in the Bronx is planning to boost its
students' financial literacy this fall by allowing North Fork Bank to
open up a branch in the school lobby, where students from the
building's Fordham Leadership Academy for Business and Technology will
act as tellers for their classmates during lunch three days a week. The
students told the New York Times
that they plan to promote accounts at the bank to their peers, so the
bank's getting what it wants, and the department of ed is busy
negotiating security and other issues with the bank, so that's time
well spent away from academic issues.
One thing that's already been decided is that the branch will have no ATMs, "to make sure that students do the work." Because you don't want the other students just using an ATM when the tellers are right there, because then the student tellers wouldn't get the experience to work in an actual bank branch. . . where everyone prefers using the ATMs.
MEANWHILE, INSIDE THE WOMB
Fellow 2.0 has been keeping everyone up at night - at least, everyone
who's carrying him - with his highly unusual gymnastic feats. The boy
has been in breach, out of breach, back in breach, and out of breach
again in the last four weeks alone. His mother is threatening to call
We'll keep you posted.
STARTLING NEW RESEARCH FROM LOVEY LABORATORIES
Cleaning out the kids' closet in preparation for the new arrival, we discovered a forgotten trove of loveys - here we call them "Sleepy Animals," as in "Sleepy Bear," who is Fellow's night-time companion; "Sleepy Duck," who is Tiny's, etc. Turns out when Tiny Girl was born, she received three Sleepy Animals, each personalized with her name, and we chose to keep Sleepy Duck out for her and simply put Sleepy Hippo and Sleepy Lamb aside. That is, until last week, when, as we tore through into the closet in an attempt to make our baby supplies handy again, the extra animals reappeared, and Tiny scooped them right up. And what we're finding fascinating - and on one level, perhaps a bit troubling - is that Tiny is now treating the three Sleepy Animals as completely interchangeable, defying years of child-development research that once a connection has been made between a child and a single "special" comfort object, it can't be replaced. To recap, she's really quite a wingnut, our little girl.
MAYOR McCHEESE CLAIMS HE ONLY SUPPORTS THE PEACEFUL USES OF SPACE, BUT HIS ADMINISTRATION'S ACTIONS SEND A DIFFERENT MESSAGE
So we spent the weekend with Small Fellow in our nation's capital, enjoying such attractions as the Smithsonian's Air and Space Museum. Actually, we caught lunch there in the McDonald's-branded cafeteria, where Fellow got himself a chicken-nugget Happy Meal. And it was then that our befuddlement began, because the toy accompanying the meal - in keeping with the museum's theme - was a yellow plastic fighter plane, wheels and all, piloted by . . . RONALD McDONALD.
right, manning the bomber was the corporation's friendly spokesclown,
who loves all of the world's children so much that he would never, we
had presumed, try to bomb any of their villages back to the Stone Age.
HEY, SUPERCOOL PARK SLOPE MOMS: STILL FEELING SMUG ABOUT REFUSING ALL THOSE SHOTS?
From Reuters, confirmation of a basic concept from Public Health 101 -- If enough people in a localized area refuse a needed vaccination, the community is put at an unreasonable risk:
Recent outbreaks of measles and whooping cough show how easily a rare or "eradicated" disease can flare up again, U.S. investigators said this week. Three people in Indiana were hospitalized last year after a 17-year-old girl carried measles back from Romania. It spread to 34 people because many in her community had refused to be vaccinated, a team at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said. . . .
Measles . . . has staged a comeback as people question the safety of vaccines: The World Health Organization estimates that measles infects 30 million people annually and kills 454,000 of them, mainly children. In the Indiana measles case, the unvaccinated girl returned from Romania with the disease and went to a church gathering the next day, the researchers said.
She infected 16 people, who infected others until 34 people carried the virus, the largest U.S. outbreak since 1996. . . . Almost all of those infected had previously refused the vaccine for fear of side-effects, the researchers said. Some groups say vaccines preserved with a mercury compound called thimerosal can cause autism and other disorders . . . . [but] the ingredient has been removed from all U.S. childhood vaccines except the flu vaccine. [emphasis added]
We're in no position to argue one way or the other on the effects of thimerosal, but we recognize that the preservative continues to cause public-relations for public-health officials as they try to promote 100% child inoculation. And so we wonder if they shouldn't be making more of an effort to spread the word that the compound has in fact already been removed from all of the traditional childhood vaccines.
By the way, here's the official word from the FDA's site:
. . . . Since 2001, all vaccines manufactured for the U.S. market and routinely recommended for children < 6 years of age have contained no thimerosal or only trace amounts (< 1 microgram of mercury per dose remaining from the manufacturing process), with the exception of inactivated influenza vaccine. In addition, all of the routinely recommended vaccines that had been previously manufactured with thimerosal as a preservative (some formulations of DTaP, Haemophilus influenzae b conjugate (Hib), and hepatitis B vaccines) had reached the end of their shelf life by January 2003.
A GOOD ARGUMENT FOR NEVER MAKING BLANKET PROMISES TO YOUR KIDS
We have a special set of "sick rules" for the kids, many of them relating to TV access. Basically, when you're sick, you get to watch more TV, and you pretty much get to watch whatever you want. And it has always worked out fine - Tiny will come down a fever, and she'll lie down to repeated screenings of her "Dr. Caillou" video, or Fellow will get an ear infection and watch multiple episodes of "The Most Extreme" on Animal Planet. But, alas, the little ones are growing up, and their choices are becoming less wholesome.
Fellow turned up with a 102 temperature Sunday night and as soon as we took the thermometer from him and delivered the bad news, he dialed up channel 109 on our Time Warner Cable box - the Toon Disney channel - so that he could watch Power Rangers, a show which has always been banned here on the grounds that it was "about fighting," "for bigger kids," and "crap." We demanded a channel change and were of course told, "But I'm sick! I can watch what I want!"
But yes, Reader, he did agree to change the channel - right over to a Texas Hold 'Em competition.
ISN'T THIS IS WHAT PARENTAL CONTROLS WERE MADE FOR?
We've since looked further into this Toon Disney channel. According to its Web iste, it's apparently "the only channel that celebrates the magic of Disney animation 24 hours a day!" But not 24 hours in a row, because when the sun goes down, Toon Disney morphs into something called "JETIX," an all-night lineup of worthless, violent, overstimulating Fox Kids programming like "Digimon," "W.I.T.C.H.," "Dragon Booster," and at least two kinds of Power Rangers, "Generations" and "S.P.D." (Why not just remove all pretense and call it "Power Rangers A.D.H.D."?) Insidiously, Time Warner places Toon Disney on our chennel lineup just two slots north of Discovery Kids and The Science Channel. That's like putting a Good Humor cart in the produce section.
OH, THIS IS JUST GREAT. INSTEAD OF WORRYING ABOUT WHICH UNHEALTHY FOODS OUR KIDS MIGHT FIND IN THE SUPERMARKET, NOW IT TURNS OUT THAT THE SUPERMARKET ITSELF IS ONE GIANT DEATH TRAP
Estimable design blog Unbeige today links to an article on a new American Academy of Pediatrics study claiming that 24,000 American children - nearly all of them under 5 - were "treated for shopping cart-related injuries" last year. Common causes include unharnessed kids standing up in carts, and poorly-designed carts with high centers of gravity that can tip over even when children are properly strapped in, leading to head and neck injuries including concussions. Pediatricians and engineers are working up prototypes of shopping carts that place children closer to the ground. But until they're ready for market, there's another option for concerned parents.
SADDEST STORY OF THE WEEK
Regular readers are aware by now that Loving Mother is carrying our third child, a boy due in about three weeks. Both Fellow and Tiny were December babies, so this has been our first exposure to the special miseries of a third trimester in the midst of peak summer heat. But for another New York-area woman, seven months pregnant with her first child, heat exposure during a Red Sox game at Fenway Park proved fatal. Her son was delivered safely, however, and survives her.
SHE CARRIES A BABY AS GRACEFULLY AS SHE CARRIES A TUNE. . .
Longtime FD.com favorite Barbara Brousal, slinky sidewoman in the Dan Zanes ensemble, is eight months pregnant, just like Loving Mother. Dare we dream that when we head over to the maternity ward in a few weeks, there she'll be, in the next bed, moaning mellifluously through her contractions, or humming sedately as her epidural kicks in? Yes, we dare . . .
On a less actionable Dan Zanes note, if anyone out there hasn't picked up the new CD because maybe you had kinda started to get the idea that all the Zanes CDs were pretty much the same drill, and your collection of three or four was enough -- Sorry. You need to get Catch That Train. The "Loch Lomond" duet with Natalie Merchant is sublime, Brousal's latest Spanish-language composition, "Mariposa Ole," is sweet and precious, and even Father Goose scores (for the kids) with "Choo Choo Ch' Boogie." Add Tiny Girl's favorite, the African theme "Pigogo," with The Children of Agape, and our own favorite, the ancient and absolutely fierce "Grey Goose," with the Kronos Quartet (yeah, we know!), and you've just got a Hell of a lot of album for the money ($12.99 on Amazon).
EDITORS IN A POD(CAST)
Our friends at Parents magazine (full disclosure: we've written a number of pieces for them) have unveiled their first-ever podcast, available here or on iTunes. The first installment focuses on overweight kids, as one of the publication's senior editors discusses the dilemma she faces trying to encourage her own husky son to get in shape. It's worth a listen; please let us know what you think.
WHAT DOES IT SAY ABOUT OUR SOCIETY (OK, ABOUT US) WHEN WE READ THE HEADLINE, "GIRL SCOUT LEADER CHARGED," AND END UP RELIEVED THAT ALL SHE DID WAS STEAL THE COOKIE-SALE MONEY?
A Girl Scout leader has been charged with stealing $5,000 raised by a central Ohio troop through cookie sales and other fund-raisers. . . . “Five thousand dollars is a lot of Thin Mints,” Delaware County Prosecutor Dave Yost said.
Geez. Good luck finding a sympathetic jury.
FOR BETTER OR WORSE, THE FUTURE
Pearson PLC imprint Scott Foresman has shocked the textbook industry by capturing nearly half the California elementary-school market with its technology-based social-studies program. (Full disclosure: We had a hand in producing one of its competitor's programs.)
What began as a long-shot attempt last year. . .to sell California educators digital materials to teach social studies has become reality in what could be the first large-scale step to eliminate books from classrooms. . . . about half the state's elementary school students will learn about the American Revolutionary War and Thomas Jefferson using an interactive computer program. Chief Financial Officer Robin Freestone [said,] "It's a major breakthrough. . . We managed to launch something for schools that didn't need a book."
The rest of the industry, Reuters goes on to report, is expected to scramble to catch up (full disclosure, etc., etc.), and probably will do so, as there's no proprietary technology involved. But parents of today's preschoolers should expect their kids to bring home plenty of non-book-based school materials in the near future, and if that troubles them (as it probably should), they should speak up now.