Produced by Gary Drevitch
DO YOU FEEL LUCKY? WELL, DO YOU, DOC?
Back in February, we reported on plans hatched by the Prince of Darkness to "reimagine" Warner Brothers' classic Looney Tunes characters as "Loonatics," poorly-drawn futuristic superheroes with no pupils. Well, thanks in part to the work of 11-year-old Thomas Adams and his online petition, Lucifer is backing down. Warner announced yesterday that it will again rethink its plans for a new series based on Bugs, Daffy, and friends. Whatever its form, the new show will launch in Fall 2005.
"We just wanted to create something that would be accessible and fun to a new generation of kids," [Warner Bros. Entertainment spokesman Scott Rowe] said.
Now that little Tommy has blown the whistle on those plans, Rowe says that his lord and master, Beelzebub, is reviewing a proposal to turn millions of unsuspecting children into his evil minions by introducing a powerful mind-control potion into bottles of Sunny Delight.
IT'S A MADHOUSE! A MADHOUSE!
Actually, it's the Guggenheim, and city parents might want to take their kids inside during the Daniel Buren show, "The Eye of the Storm," which is up through June 8. We took Small Fellow to the show a couple of weeks ago, and while there's really not much to it, what there is, is pretty kid-friendly.
There's virtually no art on the ramps, except a few of Buren's trademark stripe paintings on the lower level. But he has assembled a gigantic floor-to-ceiling mirror in the rotunda, which is particularly fun for kids because, on every level of the ramp, one has to pass behind the wooden scaffolding which holds the mirror up, entering into shadow, only to re-emerge in front of your reflection. It's fun, sure, but it also takes kids behind the scenes of the art in an authentic-feeling way and makes the Guggenheim much less intimidating and much more like home.
Buren has also covered the museum's windows to Central Park with variously colored gels in geometric patterns. Fellow talked with us about which season it looked like as he viewed the park through yellow, red, blue, or green screens. (To our eyes, unfortunately, the season most accurately reflected in most of the views was nuclear winter.)
Speaking of art that's up in Manhattan right now, get yourself and your kids to the Nomadic Museum at Pier 54 on the Hudson River, just off 13th Street, before it packs up and leaves town on June 6. It's crowded and a bit expensive, and it's something of a challenge to keep the kids from picking up the rocks the line the floor of the gallery. It may also be too New Age-y for your tastes. Go anyway.
Gregory Colbert's sepia-toned, large-scale photographs which line the massive yet temporary gallery depict Zen-ish people in exotic locales interacting with elephants, leopards, whales, and birds of prey. Close examination of the works with Small Fellow and Tiny Girl enabled us to look into the very human eyes of an elephant, to guess which animals and countries we were seeing, and to speculate as to just how that boy could sit atop that rock cuddled up with that giant leopard. At the end of the gallery, a large screen plays a video of the animals and their human pals interacting.
And then there's the gallery itself. The Nomadic Museum's walls are composed of stacked shipping containers and many of its columns and structural supports are actually paper tubes, making it one of the most teachable structures to go up in the city in quite a while.
REQUIRED READING FOR PARENTS, SECOND IN A SERIES
Earlier, we had you read The New Yorker's devastating look at how the pharmaceutical industry and the FDA shortchange us through their failure to properly test important drugs on children, or to enact pediatric drug regulations with any teeth, respectively.
Now, we urge you to read this report on a festering scandal in the nation's pediatric vaccine stockpile, as an accounting dispute between the federal government and several of the largest pharmaceutical companies has prompted the drug makers to stop delivering doses of the shots that prevent illnesses like diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis to the emergency reserve. As the Washington Post put it:
Created by Congress in 1983, the stockpile is supposed to contain enough vaccine to supply the nation's needs for six months. Its virtual collapse is an acute embarrassment to the Department of Health and Human Services, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the vaccine makers . . . . The stockpile's usefulness is not theoretical. The government has gone into it nine times since 1984, the year after it was established.
Like many of you, we have had some children's vaccinations delayed because of shortages in supply over the past few years. If the feds and the manufacturers can't figure this out, sounds like we'll be facing more than the occasional delay. Stay tuned.
FOR IT'S ROOT ROOT ROOT FOR YOUR DAD'S TEAM!
IF THEY DON'T WIN IT'S A SHAME . . .
A new baseball season has begun, and we again have high hopes for the Boston Red Sox, if not for Small Fellow. As you recall, when we last left this budding fan, he was having a bit of an identity crisis: As much as he loved the Red Sox, part of him wondered if he shouldn't really be rooting for the Yankees.
As the two teams renewed their rivalry in a pair of early-season this month, Fellow proposed a compromise: We should both cheer for the Red Sox when they played the Yankees at home in Boston, and for the Yankees when they played the Red Sox in New York.
It's a solution so sweet, so simple, so utterly idiotic, it could only have come from a four-year-old.
The $500,000 Lemelson-MIT Prize for invention has gone to Elwood "Woody" Norris for his innovations in "HyperSonic Sound":
To cut down on human-made sound straying beyond its intended audience, Norris developed a way to create a focused beam of sound waves, sort of like focusing a beam of light. As these high-frequency sound waves pass through the air, they generate lower-frequency sounds that people can hear. By stepping into the "beam," a person can hear sound that someone standing a foot or more away can't detect. "It's going to quiet everything down," Norris said. "If you don't want to be bothered by it, you step to one side and you don't hear it."
Yeah, we're definitely going to need a commercial application within the month.
IT'S LIKE STEALING WATER FROM UNDERPRIVILEGED KIDS -- NO, REALLY
West Virginia vandals drained the lake at a Salvation Army camp "where hundreds of underprivileged children go canoeing and fishing every summer." Which leads us to ask -- Just what kind of moonshine does one need to be swilling to hatch this plan?
HEY, TOMMY! I'LL TRADE YOU MY BORSCHT FOR YOUR TSIMMES!
Our favorite Web site of the week has got to be Kosher Today, "The Official Weekly Update of the Kosher Food Industry." For one thing, the site has a sense of humor (this week, it points out that the small print on the Whole Foods Market "Passover Menu" circular reads, "'None of the items above are Kosher for Passover"). It also offers cutting-edge news you can use, such as this report that, sloppy joes be damned, "Kosher School Lunches May be Wave of the Future" (at least in Minnesota):
Minnesota is considering including kosher meals in its state-funded school breakfasts and lunches. A state Senate committee approved a bill last week setting up a two-year pilot program that would set aside $60,000 for extra funds for kosher and halal meals at public, private or charter schools where at least 20 percent of the student body requires specialty meals.
A school meal costs on average $2.15; kosher and halal meals run closer to $3.
Which inspires the program's slogan: Kosher meals so good, your kids will pay retail!
THE EXPERTS WENT ON TO SAY, "IT COULDN'T HURT"
Our friends at Kosher Today also blow the lid off chicken soup, defending the broth from attacks by health-conscious infidels:
... experts have rushed to the defense of chicken soup, which has often been referred to as “Jewish penicillin” after a report claimed chickens contain nearly three times as much fat as 35 years ago .... But Jackie Lipowicz, Chairman of the Licensed Kosher Meat Traders Association, defended the Friday night favorite – pointing out that kosher boiler fowls used to make soup bear little in common with the vacuum-packed supermarket birds. Nutrition Scientist Rebecca Foster, of the British Nutrition Foundation, told Jewish News: “Chicken soup can be a good low fat meal, providing essential nutrients such as protein. When vegetables are added it can also provide fibre, vitamins and minerals which are essential for good health, and when eaten in sufficient quantities have been found to help reduce the risk of long term chronic diseases.”
Dr. Foster went on to say, "What, you're going to break your poor mother's heart because some goyisha scientist who doesn't know what from what says you're going to get fat? You NEED to put some meat on those bones! Look at you, you're so skinny from all that exercise. You run and you run and you run, around and around and around. What are you running from? Sit down and eat your soup!"
LADIES, YOU THINK YOU BREASTFED TOO LONG?
My gal Namita has been suckling her pet monkey for 5 years. Top that! (Photo not really safe for work, or for not ruining your appetite.) (via fark.com)
Tom Farrey of ESPN Magazine recently reported on having his toddler's saliva analyzed for signs of genetic inclination for various sports (in Australia! Where they do that kind of thing! Just to stay competitive in the Olympics!). After several pages, Farrey discovers that, lacking the genetic disposition for "fast-twitch" muscles that so many explosive athletes share, his son may be doomed to the press box. We suspect Small Fellow would receive the same analysis, given his parents' general lack of (non-gaseous) explosiveness, but Tiny Girl, especially when it comes time to be put to bed, twitches all over the place, so maybe she's the next Mia Hamm.
Milburn, NJ, parents are having their feathers ruffled by a health-conscious kindergarten mom who has come north from Atlanta to show them the error of their ways:
First her son was offered a doughnut to celebrate a birthday. Days later, another student brought in Twinkies because he was the "star student," a weekly program that allows kids to bring in their favorite snack. Then a school consultant promised to bring Starburst candy for the children next week. That was too much for Roth, who fired off e-mail messages to parents, noting that 40 percent of sixth-graders in New Jersey are overweight.
And here's the reasoned response from Parent-Teacher Organization co-president Jane Gomez:
"She's caused an incredible amount of hard feelings . . . . People are very angry that she does not live in this community permanently and she's a renter. And people are angry that she's dictating what people can and cannot do at home."
You tell that filthy renter, Jane!
Apparently, the community once had better relations with Roth. In fact, the PTO allowed her to pilot a healthier school-lunch program (the regular menu is made up, exclusively, of pizza, chicken tenders, and bagels-and-cream-cheese). But veggie lasagna, turkey hot dogs, and black-bean burritos didn't catch on with the kids. Go figure.
Purdue scientists searching for a solution for the "old maid" unpopped kernel problem in microwave popcorn -- have apparently found one.
In the Post-Schiavo era, this is probably the wrong country to bring it up, but the backlash against what "all sides call the 'Wild West' era of infertility treatment" seems to have begun. Couples regularly undergo treatments in which up to 11 embryos are implanted - and then refuse to consider "selective reduction." The result can be multiple births of 3, 4, 5, or more - often with at least one child suffering birth defects or cerebral palsy. As the LA Times reports:
. . . . even if the risks of having multiples are explained thoroughly, many patients -- so desperate to become parents -- simply cannot envision them, experts say. "Families who are in heavy-duty infertility treatment have been down such a long road that it's quite understandable if they brush off the implications," said Patricia Malmstrom of Twin Services, a parent support organization in Berkeley, Calif. "So often we hear, 'Oh, we'd be so blessed, so delighted, after all these years of no children.' They are sort of in a romance about being parents and don't understand the implication for themselves or the babies."
We haven't been there. And maybe you have. So we won't opine. But Malmstrom seems to be on target.
IF SMALL FELLOW BRINGS US GRANDCHILDREN NAMED PHILIPPA AND ALDO, WE WILL SURELY LOVE THEM AS ONLY GRANDPARENTS CAN.
BUT WE MAY ASK THEIR FATHER WHY HE NAMED THEM AFTER "BATTLESTAR GALACTICA" CHARACTERS.
The authors of Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything have been getting a lot of attention for their conclusions about the impact of a distinctly African American first name on a child's future. But on Slate.com today, they discuss the most popular baby names among high-income and low-income white families, and how they have shifted over the past 20 years. (We'll just note in passing that the Number One boy's name among high-income families in the 1990s was . . . Benjamin.) They also speculate on the hot names of 2015:
Where, then, will the new high-end names come from? Considering the traditionally strong correlation between income and education, it probably makes sense to look at the most popular current names among parents with the most years of education. Here, drawn from a pair of databases that provide the years of parental education, is a sampling of such names.
So -- Lara, Linden, and Maeve? Meet Johan, Keyon, and Reagan.
YOU SEE, HERE'S THE PROBLEM. A SPORT WHERE THE GREATEST THREAT OF INJURY COMES FROM YOUR CART ISN'T REALLY A SPORT, IS IT?
According to The Journal of Neurosurgery, head injuries are becoming a growing problem for children who play golf. "The biggest dangers are errant swings and golf cart mishaps," the study reports.
The UN Mine Action Service's campaign to rid the world of land mines is laudable and beyond debate. Very much debatable, however, is the public service spot they created to boost the campaign's visibility and to guilt suburban parents into supporting them. The ad, which you can see here, features gung-ho girl soccer players trotting out onto the field for the start of a game when, boom, one of them trips a land mine and gets blown up. The tag line: "If there were land mines here, would you stand for them anywhere?"
To the shock of, well, absolutely no one, most American networks have declined to air the spot; the History Channel showed it once, in the middle of the night, after which it received numerous complaints from insomniacs that now they REALLY couldn't get to sleep.
OUR HIGH SCHOOL TEACHERS COULD ALSO RECOGNIZE THIS TELLTALE SMELL. UNFORTUNATELY, THEY WEREN'T SO MUCH SEARCHING FOR METH USERS.
An Illinois state lawmaker wants to supply teachers and day-care providers with scratch-and-sniff cards carrying the telltale smell of methamphetamines, so that they can identify kids who have used meth or been exposed to its production in their homes.
"Everybody's probably smelled marijuana or heard it, or smelled it if they were even at a concert. But methamphetamine has a very distinct smell that smells like cat urine." . . . . So Michael McAuliffe has won house approval to provide certain professionals with scratch and sniff cards so they can compare a meth smell with unusual odors they might detect on the clothing, hair, or skin of their students, indicating the child had been exposed to the drug's production or use.
Sounds like a great plan -- until a kid who changed his kitty-litter box on his way out the door for school gets busted for using meth.
OUR STATE FAIR IS A GREAT STATE FAIR!
(except for the e.coli)
Twenty-three Florida children have come down with e.coli infections after petting goats, sheep and cows from the worst traveling petting zoo EVER.
WE'RE STILL TELLING COUSIN JACK TO KEEP HIS HANDS OFF TINY GIRL -WE'RE NOT THE ROOSEVELTS, FOR PITY'S SAKE.
A new study shows that it's not so bad for first cousins to marry, birth-defects-wise. In fact, state laws barring cousins from marching down the aisle are “a form of genetic discrimination," says Robin Bennett, associate director of the medical genetics clinic at the University of Washington. And she's probably right about that, but we'd take advocates' concerns more seriously if their national organization didn't go by the acronym CUDDLE (Cousins United to Defeat Discriminating Laws through Education).
NIGHTMARE SCENARIO: A SPOTTER SCREAMS "GOOSE!" AND A GROUP OF AGENTS BREAK INTO A DESPERATE SPRINT TO SAVE THE MOTHER MALLARD
A family of ducks has taken up residence right in front of the U.S. Treasury Building, where they are receiving Secret Service protection. And given the success of this, and this, we expect a picture book on "The Treasury Ducks" to be on Barnes and Noble shelves by fall.
IF WE WERE VARIETY, WE'D CALL THIS ONE:
"DOWN UNDER WAGS: WIGGLES NIX NIC, CROWE"
That's right: The Wiggles - Jeff, Murray, Greg, and the Blue guy - are Australia's wealthiest entertainers, outclassing Nicole Kidman and Russell Crowe by grossing $34.5 million in 2004. AC/DC was fourth on the list. Which makes us think:
1. We should buy more AC/DC albums.
2. Has that fey pirate who chases the Wiggles around gotten around to suing Johnny Depp for stealing his act in "Pirates of the Caribbean"?
About one in five ninth-graders report having had oral sex and almost one-third say they intend to try it during the next six months, a small study of teens at two California schools reports. The teenagers, whose average age was 14, also say oral sex is less risky, more common and more acceptable for their age group than intercourse.
While one would like to dismiss this study as having been conducted at some latter-day Ridgemont High, the results seem to ring true:
“Adults are sitting there yelling at each other about abstinence, condoms, oral contraception and abortion, and kids have found their own path,” [said Dr. Robert Blum of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health]. “That’s the most important issue that underlies these data: Adults are more clueless than we would like to admit.”
In the end, the presumably childless academics say, the discovery that half of all 14-year-olds will have been, or plan to be, on their knees by September is actually good news:
David Landry, a researcher at the Alan Guttmacher Institute, a nonprofit group that studies reproductive issues .... said the California survey is encouraging because it shows teenagers know that oral sex carries some health risk. “Most adolescents also correctly recognized that oral sex is less risky than sexual intercourse,” Landry said.
We're going to hate ourselves for it, but we know we're going to be one of those dads who tells the kids, "the only form of safe sex is abstinence" -- and hopes they buy it.
THE CRIME IS INEXPLICABLE - UNLESS THE ARSONISTS SOMEHOW MISTOOK THE JUNGLE GYM FOR THE MOBBED-UP PIZZA PARLOR THEY WERE HIRED TO TORCH
Some really, really mean arsonists in Washington State torched an elementary-school playground, depriving 400 kids of their slides and swings for the rest of the school year. And KOMO-TV was on the scene with a full arsenal of umbrage:
Now, there are no screams of laughter; no signs of children, just signs that order kids to stay out...
Investigators suspect teens who didn't know or didn't care that parents raised the money to build this playground -- and that parents don't know how to explain arson to a Kindergartener...
The district says insurance will likely replace it. But replacing a child's trust may not be as easy...
OK, OK, we confess! We did it! Now, for the love of God, please stop tugging at our heartstrings!
WELL, IT SURE BEATS EATING LESS AND PLAYING OUTSIDE
The West Virginia Public Employees Insurance Agency, which apparently has given up on weight-loss options that aren't tied to TV viewing, is conducting a 6-month, $60,000 test to see if it can't get portly preteens to drop some pounds by sweating to the popular Japanese video game Dance Dance Revolution.
A representative of game maker Konami, suppressing a giggle, told USA TODAY that the company "knows of no other state or insurance agency using the game for its health benefits."
Jeep and the National Association for Music Education have launched a national campaign to get Americans singing the national anthem, an apparent response to a poll that shows two-thirds of U.S. adults don't know all the words to the song. What are those Americans missing? Here's what Kurt Vonnegut had to say about the lyrics in "Breakfast of Champions":
There were one quadrillion nations in the Universe, but the nation Dwayne Hoover and Kilgore Trout belonged to was the only one with a national anthem which was gibberish sprinkled with question marks.
As for those Americans who DO know their broad stripes from their bright stars, the campaign's Web site reports:
Many of those who do say they know the words say they learned patriotic songs in music class. The National Association for Music Education wants all Americans to know our National Anthem and take pride in singing it together - and wants all Americans to have access to music in school!
Now, we support music education in the schools. In fact, it's our sixth- or seventh-most-favorite kind of education. But we're not sure the greatest benefit to our children would be devoting classroom time to learning the anthem. Small Fellow is going to learn the words the same way his father did -- at a baseball game.
IN THE FUTURE, A SCHOOL BULLY WILL BE ABLE ESCORT YOU TO A BANK BRANCH CONVENIENTLY LOCATED OUTSIDE THE BOYS LOCKER ROOM SO YOU CAN TRANSFER YOUR LUNCH MONEY DIRECTLY INTO HIS ACCOUNT AND AVOID ANY LATE FEES
For some reason, high schools, middle schools, and even elementary schools are giving away public space within their buildings, for as little as $1 a year, so that banks can establish branches on their campuses and generate brand loyalty among the most vulnerable consumers. On the plus side, bank executives and duped school officials say, these branches could help foster sorely needed "financial literacy" among children -- even though schools have actually been teaching the basics of economics for years without actually letting naive students put their credit ratings at risk before they reach puberty. On the down side? THEY'RE OPENING BANKS INSIDE SCHOOLS!!
WHICH IS JUST ONE REASON WE'VE GOT TO TEACH TINY GIRL TO HOLD HANDS AND NOT TRY TO RUN INTO THE STREET
A new study highlights the sharp increase in the risk of mental illness and mood disorders among parents who have lost a child.