GENTLEMEN, START YOUR LATE-TERM ABORTION PROTESTS

A new study shows that premature babies born as early as 24 weeks after conception can in fact feel pain.

SCARIEST TOY RECALL WARNING - EVER!

Giving lie to the myth that there is no publicity like good publicity, here's the latest news on Rose Art's popular Magnetix building sets:

The Consumer Product Safety Commission is recalling 3.8 million Magnetix toy kits. The toys are sets of plastic building pieces and rods, which can be linked together using magnets. Last November, 18-month-old Kenny Sweet died after swallowing magnets from a Magnetix set that had been given to his 10-year-old brother. The magnets were so powerful, they squeezed and twisted parts of his intestines together.

Someone gave Fellow a small Magnetix play set at his 5th birthday party, but it has never become a top-tier choice for play time. And now it's gone. While we are usually loath to reacting hastily to toy recall warnings, this one is plenty gruesome enough for us:

The commission says it has received reports of 34 incidents nationwide involving the small magnets included in the Magnetix magnetic building sets, including the X-treme Combo, Micro and Extreme versions. The magnets are fitted inside the plastic building pieces and rods but can fall out, posing a danger to children who inhale or swallow them. Should a child ingest more than one of the magnets, the magnets can clump together and pierce or block the intestines.

SNAKES . . . WHY DID IT HAVE TO BE SNAKES?

You've heard about the issues with Ritalin - it's overprescribed, it can lead to heart problems, etc. And now there's this: In between 2 to 5 out of 100 young patients, the drug causes "serious psychotic episodes like hallucinations," which typically star snakes, insects, and/or worms. Given that there are 2.5 million (2.5 million?!) kids on Ritalin in the U.S., that's in the neighborhood of 87, 500 kids seeing snakes. We hope having the boys sit still at the dinner table is worth it.

EXCEPT FOR THE FACT THAT THERE'S NO SUCH THING AS A RAINBOW-COLORED SHEEP, WE'RE TOTALLY BEHIND THIS IDEA

Nursery schools in Oxfordshire, England, have encouraged children to change the lyrics to the classic nursery rhyme "Baa, Baa, Black Sheep," to "Baa, Baa, Rainbow Sheep." In reality, the schools (unconvincingly) claim, the shift is not (entirely) a bow to political correctness - as commentators worldwide have (correctly) complained. It's more a pedagogic shift toward encouraging children to:

sing a variety of descriptive words so that the rhyme becomes an active one. The children will be asked to sing "sad," "blue," "pink," "black," "white," "happy," "hopping," and "bouncing" when describing the sheep to encourage the children to extend their vocabulary and use up energy.

Which is all lovely, except that this is no mere nonsense rhyme. As with many of the great British nursery rhymes, there's a historic reason the verse calls for a black sheep:

The nursery rhyme dates back to the mid-1700s and is related to a tax imposed on wool by the king, which divided receipts equally between the local lord (the master), the church (the dame), and the farmer (the little boy). Black wool was apparently taxed at a lower rate than white wool.

OK, CTW, BUT IF THE TELETUBBIES JUMPED OFF THE BROOKLYN BRIDGE, DOES THAT MEAN YOU'D DO IT TOO?

As we mentioned here several months back, the Children's Television Workshop has decided to go into the business of marketing videos for infants and toddlers - expert recommendations that no kids under 2 should watch any TV be damned. CTW enters an already crowded market of videos for tots, including the insipid Baby Einstein series, and the insipidder Teletubbies - both of which, one should note, rely heavily on bright colors and sounds bordering on the psychedelic to get the untrained youngest eyeballs fixed on the screen, a strategy with which we've always been uncomfortable.

But CTW claims their series, featuring Baby Elmo and Baby Big Bird (licensed toys and dolls coming soon to a nursery near you, like it or not) will in fact have value for kids - and for their parents and caretakers, who the company claims are the real audience for the new venture. Their argument has won them the imprimatur of respected child-development think tank Zero to Three: "These are the absolute antithesis of park-your-baby-in-front-of-the-TV kind of videos," Yale researcher Kyle Pruett (of Zero to Three) told AP. "They are thoughtful, informative - it's not a corporate campaign trying to draw kids into TV life." FD respects Pruett greatly and we'll take his word for it - but we won't buy the videos.

April 7, 2006 | Permalink | Subscribe to RSS

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