Produced by Gary Drevitch
IN CASE ANYONE WAS STILL UNCLEAR ON THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN NICKELODEON AND NICK JR
On Nick Jr, you get Oobi's thumb cleavage.
On Nickelodeon, you get Lindsay Lohan's rearend cleavage. (The photo after the link is marginally safe for work; the Kids' Choice Awards show is patently unsafe for your kids.)
OH, NOW THIS IS JUST SAD
Thanks to the hard work of Kraft macaroni-and-cheese and its carbo-loaded allies, our country now has hundreds of thousands of toddlers and preschoolers who are too fat for their car seats:
Based on national growth charts and the 2000 Census, at least 283,305 children ages 1 to 6 are too heavy for standard safety seats. That includes nearly 190,000, or almost 5 percent, of U.S. 3-year-olds, the researchers said.
In response, Britax, Cosco, and other seat makers have introduced "husky" seats for wide-bodied kids under 4 who are not yet old enough or tall enough for booster seats. These extra-large seats can handle kids weighing 65-80 pounds. To test the new seats' safety - wait for it - the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration will have to create a new 80-pound crash-test dummy, some 25 pounds heavier than the existing simulators.
You must - MUST - hit this link now to see the priceless picture of the zaftig preschool girl feeling guilty that her mommy had to buy a giant new car seat for her.
WHEN GOOD AFTERSCHOOL SPECIALS GO BAD
We like to give teachers the benefit of the doubt, so we're sure that a Florida Middle School teacher meant well when he tried to help kids better empathize with the state of Jews living under Nazi Germany. The teacher told kids whose last names began with L through Z to wear for a day the yellow Stars of David that Jews were made to wear before and during the Holocaust. During this "Jew for a Day" simulation, those students were told to stand in the back of the classroom and stay away from public water fountains.
John Tinnelly [said] his son, who wore a yellow star, was "forced to go to the back of the lunch line four times by an administrator," Mr. Tinnelly said. When his son came home, he was crying. "I said, 'What are you crying about?'" said Mr. Tinnelly. "He said, 'Daddy, I was a Jew today.'"
We know the feeling. Of course, the teacher's inspiration was the classic Afterschool Special "The Wave," which was itself inspired by 1970s high-school teacher Jane Elliott's notorious classroom simulation in which students with blue eyes were encouraged to discriminate against brown-eyed classmates, with traumatic results. The statement from the Holocaust Memorial Resource and Education Center of Florida acknowledged that these well-intentioned manipulation exercises tend to get out of hand:
"We applaud Apopka [Memorial] Middle School's effort to engage in Holocaust education with the hope of a tolerance education component in the classroom... However, we do not encourage nor train teachers to engage in simulation exercises."
To put it less diplomatically, if you can't figure out a way to make kids empathize with the plight of Jews in the Holocaust without requiring them to abuse each other, you suffer from, at best, a lack of imagination. Would it help kids empathize with the loss of the Amazon rain forest by having them come at each other with axes?
WHO WILL SPEAK FOR SUNNY D? (NOT US.)
A pair of Florida state reps has proposed that the state's schools ban products made with high fructose corn syrup from their cafeterias, and MSNBC takes the opportunity to run a fairly useful primer to the corn-syrup-and-obesity controversy. We're often asked what the difference is, make-you-fat-wise, between corn syrup and pure sugar. It goes something like this:
Our bodies burn glucose as a source of immediate energy, and store it in our muscles and our livers for later use. Glucose also causes the body to release insulin. Insulin, a naturally occurring hormone, helps with metabolism. Fructose, on the other hand, does not cause the release of insulin, but another hormone, leptin. This hormone also helps regulate our storage of fat and increases our metabolism when needed. Some studies show that obese people build up resistance to leptin. This is similar to diabetics becoming resistant to the effects of insulin.
Reports show that Americans’ white refined sugar consumption has dropped over the past 20 years. However, according to USDA figures, our consumption of high-fructose corn syrup has increased 250 percent over the past 15 years. Estimates indicate that we consume about 9 percent of our daily calories in the form of fructose. . . . too many products on the market use high-fructose corn syrup as an ingredient to mask or enhance flavors. Do we really need any kind of added sugar in pasta sauce, ketchup, BBQ sauce, bread, cookies, or even frozen entrées?
We believe there is little overlap between ourselves and the "crazy parents" - we do not ban TV, we do not buy soy or organic milk - but we have always tried hard to keep the kids away from corn syrup, which, it turns out, has led us to several organic products, such as ketchups and apple sauces. We're fairly sure the trends in the research in the next few years will validate this decision.
NOT TO MENTION, A POTENTIAL BILLION-DOLLAR MARKET IF THEY PITCH THE PHONES TO PARENTS WHO WANT THEIR KIDS CALLING THEM FOR RIDES, NOT TEXTING FOR TAIL
An Israeli concern is gaining attention, particularly in the Arab world, for its temptation-limiting "kosher" phone:
The kosher phone is stripped down to its original function: making and receiving calls. There’s no text messaging, no Internet access, no video options, no camera. More than 10,000 numbers for phone sex, dating services and other offerings are blocked. A team of rabbinical overseers makes sure the list is up to date.
WHATEVER THE HARVARD EQUIVALENT OF BOOLA! BOOLA! IS, PUT US DOWN FOR THAT
Harvard announces that it will no longer ask any financial contribution from parents toward the tuition bills of students from families earning $60,000 a year or less, escalating what continues to be, for our money, the best bidding war in the history of higher education. First, a couple of years back, Harvard announced it would waive parental contributions for families making less than $40,000. A year later, Yale announced a similar policy for families earning less than $45,000. Now Harvard has topped that.
What we love about this is that the schools are acknowledging that if they are serious about creating an equal playing field for all of their students, then those from the poorest families need to be relieved of the burden of parental contributions, which are typically covered by students themselves, who put off studying to take on two campus jobs, or work throughout the summer - perhaps passing up non- or poorly-paying internships that would better serve their career aspirations - to cover even the relatively small sums the universities demand of them.
Before the Elis got on board, a Yale development officer once told us that the university saw forcing parental contributions as a "character issue," claiming there was benefit to forcing some "buy-in" by parents in their children's education. But when you're talking about poor families that have managed to overcome the obstacles and raise a kid who is in demand by the country's finest colleges, trust us, there's plenty of character and buy-in there, whether or not they can write a check for $1,500 every semester.
THE ARTICLE HAS INSPIRED MANY UPPER MANHATTAN PARENTS TO RUSH THEIR KIDS TO THEIR NEIGHBORHOOD BRAIN-IMAGING CENTERS
What makes a child gifted? The latest report is that it's an agile, ever-thickening cerebral cortex. And credit the Washington Post for anticipating its readers' first question: I'm just one person; what can I do to thicken my child's cortex before his private-school application is due?:
The study, being published today in the journal Nature, does not suggest any particular interventions that might boost a child's intelligence. But Richard J. Davidson, a brain imaging expert at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, said the fact that the region of the brain being studied is highly malleable suggests that experience and environmental cues may play a very important role in shaping intelligence.
IF THE AMNIO GAL TELLS US WE'RE GOING TO HAVE A GIRL, IT JUST MEANS WE CAN NARROW OUR NAME SEARCH - APPARENTLY, SARITA'S NOT GETTING A LOT OF USE THESE DAYS
But then, we don't live in India, where for very good reason it's a crime for doctors to tell parents the sex of their fetus. Following a recent sting operation, an Indian doctor was sentenced to two years in jail for telling a mother after an ultrasound "that she was carrying a 'female fetus and it would be taken care of.'"
India is trying to cut down on abortions of girl children strictly because of their sex - the medical journal Lancet estimates that 10 million female fetuses may have been aborted in the country in the last 20 years, and in the region where the doctor was caught, only 861 women are born for every 1,000 men.
Sentencing the doctor, the magistrate said, "Because of persons like the convict, the day is not far when there will be no girl child."