Produced by Gary Drevitch
FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, PLEASE DON'T LET SMALL FELLOW READ THIS REPORT - HE'S LIABLE TO PUT THE FILTHY THING BACK IN HIS MOUTH
The American Academy of Pediatrics has concluded that pacifier use prevents SIDS, and now advises parents to allow babies to use pacifiers at nap and bedtimes. This has predictably led to controversy among hardcore pacifier foes, but as Dr. John Kattwinkel, head of the AAP's task force on SIDS, quite reasonably points out, the group's evidence is compelling, and "to not call this to the public's attention would be irresponsible."
OH, YEAH? WELL, YOU'RE ALL OLD AND MEAN AND WRINKLY, YOU BIG BULLY!
Gawker reports that Si Newhouse took one look at the infant on the cover of the premiere issue of Cookie - his new magazine for parents anxious to spend too much on their babies - and said, "I think that baby's too fat."
JIM HENSON DIDN'T NEED TO GO TO AMERICA FOR PERMISSION TO ADD THE SWEDISH CHEF, DR. BENSON HONEYDEW, OR STATLER AND WALDORF THE CAST OF "THE MUPPET SHOW"
In their eagerness to drive the revered Muppet franchise right into the ground, Disney is planning to bring you "America's Next Muppet," a five-episode series modeled on "American Idol" in which home viewers will vote one which proposed character should be the newest member of the Muppet family. Below, the most dispiriting sentence we read today:
Since acquiring rights to the Muppet characters in 2004, Disney has been pursuing various ways to relaunch the popular brand as part of an overall corporate goal.
THIS HAS OFFICIALLY PASSED "ALL THE GUYS LOOKING UP HER SKIRT" AS OUR NUMBER ONE REASON NOT TO ALLOW TINY GIRL TO BECOME A CHEERLEADER
As further evidence of a trend that has been developing for years, Newsweek reports an alarming increase in cheerleading injuries over the past decade, including a doubling of emergency-room visits for cheer accidents. Further,
catastrophic injuries—those involving severe skull or spinal damage—are also on the rise, according to the National Center for Catastrophic Sport Injury Research (NCCSI). Of the 101 such injuries among female high-school and college athletes between 1983 and 2004, the center reports, 55 percent resulted from cheerleading.
IT'S 10:00. DO YOU KNOW WHAT YOUR KIDS ARE WATCHING? OR, FOR THAT MATTER, WHY THEY'RE STILL AWAKE?
Brent Bozell and the boys at the Parents Television Council have released their lists of the best and worst prime-time shows for families, and Fox leads the way with 6 of the 10 worst, including "The O.C." and "That 70's Show." The council, in a shrewd publicity move, claimed that, hard as it looked, it could only find 9 prime-time shows worthy of family viewing, including "American Idol," "Everybody Hates Chris," and the new CBS drama, "The Ghost Whisperer," starring Jennifer Love Hewitt. We hate to be the ones to break it to them, but where we come from, no show featuring Jennifer Love Hewitt can be termed "family programming" ...
HOW OTHERS SEE US.
Scholastic's estimable magazine for teachers, Instructor, has a feature in their most recent issue called Getting Along With the Grown-Ups: Expert ideas for solving your toughest parent problems. It's eye-opening reading, as it categorizes various parental "types" an elementary-school teacher can expect to encounter, and how to deal with them. Apparently, we can be quite a nuisance. For example:
The parent who...wants to talk daily.
It happens every morning like clockwork. The children have already come into the classroom, the beginning bell is just a couple of minutes away, and... there she is at your door: Mrs. Talker. She is pleasant but insistent as she catches your eye and smilingly demands your attention: “This will only take a second”-but of course, it never does . . .
Action plan: Let Mrs. Talker know that you would like to give her the attention she deserves, but you cannot do so just before the start of school. Give her several options, times when you can both meet and set a time for the conference . . .
There are several other types, and we've already seen almost all of them in Fellow's kindergarten class.
IN OTHER NEWS, THE CHURCH & DWIGHT COMPANY ANNOUNCED THAT IT WAS HORRIFIED TO DISCOVER TEENAGERS IGNORING ITS EXPLICIT GUIDANCE AND USING TROJAN CONDOMS FOR ACTIVITIES OTHER THAN WATER-BALLOON FIGHTS
In perhaps the funniest article we've read this year, the maker of Budwesier expresses shock and outrage that young people are playing its "Bud Pong" bar game with - gasp - beer instead of water.
Anheuser-Busch will discontinue a national promotion called "Bud Pong," a drinking game the company says is supposed to be played with water. However, participants in the game — played with a ping pong ball and plastic cups — often were drinking beer as they lost points, according to a front-page story Sunday in The New York Times. The No. 1 U.S. brewer has been promoting Bud Pong competitions since July, supplying tables, balls and glasses to wholesalers across the United States. Players on one team try to sink a ball into another team's liquid-filled cups. If successful, the opposing team must drink.
Anheuser-Busch says the game's instructions called for water to be consumed during play, not beer, which is the company's main product.
"It has come to our attention that despite our explicit guidelines, there may have been instances where this promotion was not carried out in the manner it was intended," Anheuser-Busch spokeswoman Francine Katz said in a statement Tuesday.
Katz went on to explain other possible misunderstandings tied to Budweiser promotions: In wet t-shirt contests, as the company explicitly states, competitors are not supposed to wear the t-shirts, but place them in buckets of water. Also, in barroom football pools, all winnings, as the company has repeatedly advised, are to be paid in cashews.
WE HAVE TO ADMIT, AT A CERTAIN AGE, THAT RUNNING GAG IN "THE MUPPET MOVIE" - "IT'S A MYTH! MYTH!" "YES?" - CRACKED US UP EVERY TIME
Looking back on his career, Juhl said ... "I don't know if it's different writing for Muppets than humans because I spent my whole career writing for Muppet characters. But I always say that with Muppets, you can't write feet."
ON TONIGHT'S EPISODE OF "HOW A KINDERGARTEN FELLOW THINKS"
As we've mentioned before, Fellow takes his cafeteria routine very seriously. We dutifully pack a quarter in his lunch bag with his sandwich each day so he can buy his milk. The quarters come from a sandwich bag full of coins prescreened by Fellow himself (state quarters are preferred), which is kept near the kitchen. The other day, we found a quarter on the floor of our apartment, and said to Fellow, "Why don't we put this in your bag of quarters for lunch?" But Fellow gave it a once-over and said, "No, this quarter is no good. It's too dirty." But why should that make a difference, Fellow? "If I bring a quarter that's dirty, the lady in the lunch line might not call me 'Darling' when I pay her, so I want to bring a nice quarter every day."
MEANWHILE, NEW COURT TV COMMENTATOR TINY GIRL HAS AN AWKWARD DEBUT
Small and Tiny were playing on the couch the other day, mostly nicely but occasionally it got rough, and at one point, Fellow said to her, Don't do that! I'll put you in jail! to which Tiny responded with a look of pure terror and a sudden and startling tantrum: "No! I don't want to be in jail! Don't put me in jail! Aaaargh!"
SIR TOPHAM HATT WAS GROWING WORRIED. IT HAD BEEN THREE DAYS SINCE HE SENT THOMAS, GORDON, AND PERCY TO WEST PHILLY, AND THEY HAD NOT YET RETURNED . . .
A Yale architecture student creates model railroad environments inspired by neighborhoods like the South Bronx . . .
FREELANCE DAD ISSUES BLANKET PERMISSION TO THE NEWS MEDIA TO PUBLISH PICTURES OF SMALL FELLOW AND TINY GIRL AS HUMAN INTEREST PIECES, PROVIDED THAT THEIR HANDS ARE NEVER SHOWN IN EITHER THEIR: 1. NOSES; 2. PANTS
A Massachusetts newspaper tackles the issue of whether and how parents can approve or disapprove of their children's photographs being used in the media, after receiving a complaint from a local mom:
... Parents like Amy Rasimas of Newburyport. Her children were photographed watching a puppet show at a recent weekend harvest festival. Even though other youngsters appeared in the picture and no names or addresses were printed, she objected because she did not consent to the feature photo's publication in the Newburyport Daily News.
"Until children are of age to make informed decisions for themselves, it is the duty and responsibility of parents — as well as the media — to protect them," Rasimas said. "Publishing their pictures, and making them part of the public domain, without parental or custodial consent, is not what I consider to be responsible or respectful journalism."
Rasimas suggested a "higher standard of protection" for pictures of children in the media, with special consideration given to the dangers posed by sex offenders, abusive partners, and estranged or divorced parents involved in child-custody disputes.
REASON #23 WHY WE'RE STICKING WITH THE YOUNG LADIES OF THE BARNARD BABYSITTING SERVICE FOR ALL OF OUR WEEKEND BABYSITTING NEEDS
A pair of Arkansas babysitters (apparently relatives of the child's mother, though the Associated Press could not confirm that) doze off and allow a two-year-old to exit his home and stroll into a busy street. The child was unharmed, the sitters were arrested.
AND YOU DON'T WANT TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENS IF LOURDES DOESN'T PUT HER LEATHER BUSTIER BACK IN THE CLOSET WHEN SHE GETS HOME FROM SOCCER PRACTICE
Madonna turns out to be the Disciplinary Girl at home, where she says she keeps 9-year-old Lourdes and 5-year-old Rocco on a short leash:
[Madonna] told Newsweek that she doesn't let her children watch TV or look at magazines. She says milk and ice cream are also off-limits ...
She's also strict about laundry duties: If Lourdes leaves dirty clothes on the floor, "we take all of her clothes and put them in a bag, and she has to earn all of her clothes back by being tidy," Madonna said. "She wears the same outfit every day to school until she learns her lesson."
Well, FD has written more than once about the benefits of milk for children of all ages, so we're not down with Madonna on that score, but we do agree with her rationale for protecting the kids' from celebrity mags and TV programs full of old photos of mom in her underwear, and scathing reviews of her children's books.
And while her punishment for Lourdes' leaving her dirty clothes out may sound harsh, don't you get a vibe that the teenage Madonna Louise Ciccone used to wear the same outfit for days at a time?
IT HARDLY SEEMS FAIR. WITH THIS LATEST PUBLICITY BOOST, GATES IS ALMOST DEFINITELY GOING TO BEAT OUT OUR UNCLE FOR WASHINGTON STATE KIWANIS MAN OF THE YEAR -- AGAIN
The New Yorker's article this week on the work of Bill Gates' foundation, and the $29 billion it's putting on the table to eradicate disease worldwide, is a must read:
"Global health is our lifelong commitment . . . Until we reduce the burden on the poor so that there is no real gap between us and them, that will always be our priority. I am not so foolish as to say that will happen. But that's our goal."
THESE JUDGES ARE GOOD EGGS
The Tennessee Supreme Court made a quite reasonable ruling on a parental-rights case this week, awarding parental rights to a woman who was artificially inseminated with a donor egg and her boyfriend's sperm, then gave birth to triplets. The couple has since broken up, but the court ruled that even though the woman has no genetic connection to the children, she is their legal mother, equal as a parent to her ex-boyfriend. The implication for other reproductive-technology cases is clear, and positive.
OK GRANDMA, JUST STEP ASIDE, HAND THE VACCINE TO TIMMY, AND NOBODY GETS HURT
Slate has a legitimately fascinating article this week about why it's so inefficient to line up the elderly for flu shots when a new strain breaks out. Short answer: Their weakened immune systems often don't respond to the vaccine, rendering much of the effort wasted. What, then, is the best way to protect the population from flu? Immunize all the kids - and to answer your immediate questions, yes, we can do it with a nasal spray, but no, we can't do it without the government stepping up to make it happen:
... The researchers confirmed that the flu spreads primarily via toddlers and school children, whose immature immune systems are easily infected and who have lousy hygiene. Kids often don't wipe their noses, wash their hands, or cover their mouths when they sneeze or cough, and they touch everything. That's why they catch the flu twice as often as and much earlier in the season than older people do. For an airborne virus, kids are the conduit of choice.
Fortunately, though, kids are also the conduit most easily blocked. Their immune systems respond wonderfully to flu vaccine. A whopping 90 percent are successfully immunized by a flu shot, compared to the 28 percent figure for the elderly and 60 percent for middle-aged adults.
As it is, America's death rate from the flu is soaring even as our vaccination of the elderly steadily rises. But if we look to (yes) Japan, we'd apparently find a plummeting flu death rate as immunization of the young has increased.
Coming soon to a newspaper near you: Enlightened parents from Brooklyn who refuse to allow their kids to get the flu vaccine ...
DEAR "SIMPLE LIFE" PRODUCERS: I WOULD WELCOME EITHER NICOLE OR PARIS INTO MY HOME, AND WOULD BE MOST WILLING TO SHOW THEM THE ROPES OF, HEH HEH, HOUSEKEEPING. I ASSURE YOU I AM QUITE FRISKY AND WILLING TO STEP UP FOR YOUR VIEWERS. I AM PREPARED TO MAKE REPEATED ADVANCES AT EITHER YOUNG LADY. IN FACT, I HAVE SOME SUGGESTIONS FOR THIS SEASON'S EPISODES: 1. WE PUT ON SWIMSUITS AND WASH THE CAR TOGETHER; 2. BOSTON CREAM PIE FIGHT! ....
MSNBC reports that the producer of Paris Hilton's reality show, "The Simple Life," are seeking some randy dads to, how do you say, put her up this season, just to spice things up for viewers and destroy their marriages:
The concept for the new show has former best friends Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie ... trying to be surrogate moms in strange households. A casting call has gone out to find families willing to be filmed, and a source familiar with the search says that the execs have declared: "The friskier the dad, the better." "They’re looking for dads who are likely to make a play for Paris or Nicole," says a source ...
OH. OK, THEN. NEVERMIND.
Fox cancels "The Simple Life," announcing that the network's "midseason schedule allowed no room for the fourth installment of the series." Apparently, part of the problem was that this season's plot had to be scuttled:
According to the new TV Guide, the plan was to shoot the feuding women separately as they gathered tips from families on how to become perfect simple wives. Though Richie remains engaged to DJ AM (Adam Goldstein), Hilton's called-off engagement to Paris Latsis required producers to retool.
Will anyone else join us in applauding USA Today for its use of "retool" in a sentence about Paris Hilton needing to find a new fiancé?
HOW MUCH DO YOU WANT TO BET THAT WHEN THE SHOW AIRS, ALL THE GUYS IN THE LOCKER ROOM ARE GOING TO START CALLING HIM "TOUCHY" FEELY?
New York Giants kicker Jay Feely and his wife, Rebecca, agree to have their new child's birth be filmed for TLC's maternity-room-porn series, "A Baby Story." But the couple are no mere exhibitionists. Having suffered a miscarriage, and having each lost a sibling, they hope to inspire viewers:
"There is so much more to life than football, and we just wanted to highlight that," Rebecca Feely said. "Whether it's the death of a sibling or the birth of a baby, it's such a opportunity to see God's hand in it, the bigger picture in life."
OK, we surrender; when is that show on?
AND ANOTHER THING, I DON'T LIKE THOSE UGG BOOTS. NO MAN WILL EVER MARRY YOU AND FATHER YOUR CHILDREN IF YOU KEEP WEARING THOSE THINGS.
Fark.com linked to columnist "Vox Day" this week; he's a Christian libertarian - and Mensa member! - with some advice for all the young ladies out there anxious to bear children, but trapped in feminist empowerment fantasies:
1. Don't engage in casual dating relationships after 18. ...
3. Settle earlier rather than later. ...
4. Let everyone know that marriage and children is your ultimate goal. ...
7. Shed your man-hating friends. ...
10. Remember that love is ... not a feeling.
Have a nice weekend, girls!
"THE WRONG PANTS" ARE DESTROYED IN A FIRE AT THE WRONG PLACE
The very same weekend "Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit" opened at Number One, a fire destroyed all the archival material - props, characters, etc. - of Aardman Animations. Creator Nick Park was philosophical, but it's a terrible loss for animation fans.
OUR MOTHER DEPRIVED US OF CURRY THROUGHOUT OUR CHILDHOOD, AND WE NOW BELIEVE THAT IS THE SOURCE OF ALL OUR HEALTH PROBLEMS TODAY
A Stanford pediatrics professor will face lawsuits if it turns out he's wrong about this, but he makes a strong case that there is no reason other than habit that we feed children under two the way we do. Tots from six months and up can try and enjoy spicy ethnic dishes, red meat, and even potential allergens without fear if handled properly.
Further, say some pediatricians, the widely accepted approach of giving babies rice cereal as their first food is counterproductive, as it fosters a lifelong taste for sugary starches early on:
David Ludwig of Children's Hospital Boston, a specialist in pediatric nutrition, says some studies suggest rice and other highly processed grain cereals actually could be among the worst foods for infants. ''These foods are in a certain sense no different from adding sugar to formula. They digest very rapidly in the body into sugar, raising blood sugar and insulin levels'' and could contribute to later health problems, including obesity, he says.
What struck us while reading this article is how much of the material we get about introducing foods - seemingly authoritative detailed charts, calendars, and the like - seems to be based on no science at all. A good lesson for everyone.
THE GOVERNMENT MAKES YOU JUMP THROUGH HOOPS BEFORE THEY'LL LET YOU SELL FOODS TO BABIES, BUT THEY DON'T EVEN REQUIRE A LICENSE TO BECOME A PARENT (sigh)
The Times business section the other day had this item about a former marketing manager at Sun who opened her own frozen organic baby-food company, which offered some insight into what the feds demand of you before they'll allow you to market baby food:
The easy part was developing the recipes, which consist of nothing more than organic fruits and vegetables, and spring water. Once blended, the foods are placed into plastic cups and flash frozen.
The more arduous task was jumping through several regulatory hoops. As Ms. Stevens quickly discovered, starting a baby food company is not as easy as, say, starting a company that makes clothes or toys. For safety reasons, state and federal governments frown on the commercial sale of home-cooked food.
Ms. Stevens had to enroll in a local Better Process Control School, a cram course approved by the Food and Drug Administration. Only graduates of such a school can legally supervise a food processing and packaging plant. She had to ace 16 different exams before receiving her certification, answering questions regarding correct chlorination techniques and the four methods of crimping a tin lid.
FD.COM: ON THE SOAPBOX
Should pediatricians deny treatment to families that refuse to vaccinate their children? It's become a hot topic in the medical community, as the Archives of Pediatric & Adolescent Medicine now reports that a third of pediatricians say they're within their rights to refuse to treat unvaccinated children. The medical community is (rightly) concerned about misinformation being spread by the anti-shot lobby about vaccine safety and risks. Epidemiology experts have established that there could be a significant public health risk "if enough people refuse to have their children vaccinated," and yet, of course, many people still do, and proudly.
The author of the new survey herself advocates that doctors accept unvaccinated patients, and then aggressively urge the parents to become productive citizens and accept vaccinations so as not to put the community at risk. Which is sound advice, though we're not so sanguine about the success of that approach, given the entrenched philosophy of the anti-vaccine set. Maybe better would be for certain pediatric practices to declare themselves open to nonvaccinated patients, indeed to market themselves that way, and then put out their shingle in a neighborhood far from Small Fellow and Tiny Girl.
THEY'RE PUTTING MORE SHRIMP ON THE BARBIES - OR WHATEVER THEIR WIVES' NAMES HAPPEN TO BE
Australian men have responded to government prodding to raise the nation's birthrate by setting down their Vegamite and Foster's and knocking up their wives at a record clip.
AND NOW IT'S TIME FOR A SEGMENT WE LIKE TO CALL "GRAVE THREATS TO YOUR CHILDREN THIS WEEK"
Our latest installment includes a warning from Radar Magazine that US Magazine is taking aim at your seven-year-old daughter's feminism, pocketbook, and self-esteem; and an expose by the Times of "sports drinks" marketed to "athletes" as young as 4 which contain the caffeine content of a cup-and-a-half of coffee; one critic calls Spark a "gateway substance," while a company executive claims, "It's not just a caffeine delivery system; it has many more nutritional properties."
CRITIC'S CORNER: LOEWS CINEPLEX LINCOLN SQUARE, NEW YORK CITY
We attended (without the kids) the 9:30 Saturday night showing of "Tim Burton's Corpse Bride" at Loews Cineplex (capsule
review: If you see just one Tim Burton movie this year, well, go ahead
and see any one of them, because at this point they're all pretty much
the same). Now, this screening was attended by a disturbingly high
number of small children, who probably weren't any more successful
staying awake till the end than we were. We decided we'd enjoy a little
snack as the film began, so we approached the concession stand and
decided that the smallest popcorn and smallest soda would best meet our
needs. Turns out, that's the "Kids Combo," and it comes with a toy
surprise. By the way: It also costs an astonishing $5.50. So we
requested it, but then the high-school junior behind the counter eyed
us skeptically and asked, "Is your child with you?" indicating,
apparently, that grown-ups aren't allowed to spend $5.50 on a tiny
popcorn and soda by themselves. We looked her dead in the eye and said
the kids were inside and so she begrudgingly let us contribute we'd
guess about $5.15 to the theater's profits -- but she refused to give
me the toy surprise.
AND CAN WE TALK ABOUT THOSE BABY SLINGS, PEOPLE? IT'S LIKE,
LOOK AT ME, I CAN BREASTFEED, AND I'M GONNA RUB IT IN YOUR FACE BY
CARRYING MY BABY RIGHT IN FRONT OF MY CHEST. WHERE DO THEY GET OFF? AM
I RIGHT, EVERYONE? THANK YOU! I'LL BE HERE ALL WEEK!
The Times style pages recently reported on the never-ending clash between upscale parents who buy oversize, bulldozing strollers (a group which does not include us) and the single hipsters who feel threatened by all that they represent. As with most such articles, there's no news here, just plenty of folks willing to air their neuroses in the paper of record. Here's a sample:
-- Christopher Peruzzi, 39, of Freehold, N.J., has also had to dodge baby strollers - especially those that are "double wide or triple long" - usually in stores, and he doesn't like it either. "They're blocking off products you want to get to," he said. "I find this particularly annoying in Barnes & Noble and Walden Books. I'm here to read. I'm not here for your kid to slam into me."
-- "These women have a child, and they're like, 'Look at me,' " said Ophira Eisenberg, 33, a stand-up comedian from the West Village who refers to oversize baby strollers as lawn mowers. "It's like this baby is more important than anything, and everyone should be bowing down because they created life."