Produced by Gary Drevitch
. . . it has the potential to be contaminated with Salmonella, an organism which can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Healthy persons infected with Salmonella often experience fever, diarrhea (which may be bloody), nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain. In rare circumstances, infection with Salmonella can result in the organism getting into the bloodstream and producing more severe illnesses such as arterial infections (i.e., infected aneurysms), endocarditis and arthritis. . . . Robert's American Gourmet has been notified by the U. S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the U. S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) of 51 cases of Salmonella across 17 states, associated or related to the consumption of the Veggie Booty, predominately in children of three years of age or younger. Based on the information provided by the CDC and FDA Robert's American Gourmet has decided to conduct this recall as a precautionary measure, even though there are no confirmed positive results in the finished product yet.
PLEASE JOIN US IN WELCOMING EDUCATION.COM TO THE WORLD WIDE WEB
According to cbsnews.com:
Hey, A new website launched Wednesday – with advertising and a big boost from venture capital - is designed to provide a bit of help and support. Education.com is an editorial site with over 4,000 reference articles about raising kids, along with online communities in which parents can interact with each other, and with education experts.
The article continues:
There is also a magazine section with advice columns from a child psychologist, a physical activities expert, and a "dad with three young kids" who also happens to be a former editor at Teen People and other publications.
Hey, that Dad with three young kids sounds kind of intriguing. And that sure is a nice picture. Why don't we all hop over to the startup, take a look at this new column, and maybe post a comment or two?
THIS JUST IN: “MIFFY AND FRIENDS” FOUND TOO INSIPID FOR COMMERCIAL TV
From a press release received at FD headquarters this afternoon:
Miffy and Friends, the popular preschool property, will debut on public television stations around the country beginning July 7, led by the series’ distributor, WLIW New York Public Television. The stop-motion animated series featuring the iconic bunny will air on WLIW21 in the New York metropolitan area Saturdays and Sundays at 8 am . . . Based on the children’s classic book series by Dutch author-illustrator Dick Bruna, Miffy and Friends explores the everyday lessons and discoveries of a preschooler. . . The premiere episode. . . will feature: Miffy’s Musical Day – Miffy learns to play the recorder.
AMUSEMENT PARK KILL-AND-MAIM WATCH, 2007
In a stunning upset, the season's first major theme-park maiming did not take place on a Disney-owned property:
A 13-year-old girl whose feet were severed in an accident on an amusement park ride is in stable condition in a Nashville, Tenn., hospital, her family said in a written statement Tuesday. . . . [the girl] was riding the Superman Tower of Power ride Thursday at Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom in Louisville when a cable broke loose on the ride, cutting off the girl's feet above the ankles. Bill Clary, a spokesman for the Kentucky Department of Agriculture, which inspects amusement park rides, said Tuesday the incident remains under investigation.
BEST. FIELD TRIP. EVER.
The other day we accompanied Fellow's first-grade pals on a field trip to New York City's Pennsylvania Hotel, where the kids spent the morning painting oversize flower decals that will soon take their place on some of the city's 13,000 taxi cabs, all of which are taking part in the public art project, "Garden in Transit." From Sept. 1 to Dec. 31, the hand-painted flowers will grace the roofs and hoods of every standard-size cab in town.
We had such a great time painting the flowers that we think you should try it, too. Visit the Portraits of Hope site here to find out when you and your kids can come down to the hotel for an "open painting" session. Painting ends July 21.
(Yes, the kids get to sign their paintings, though one wonders if this will lead to a string of taxi accidents this fall as six-year-olds run into the street to try to see their names on cabs. . .)
IT'S A SHAME: YOU NEED A LICENSE TO DRIVE A CAR, BUT ANY MORON CAN NAME A CHILD
The Wall Street Journal's incredible article on the booming baby-naming industry continues to bounce around the Web and invite ridicule on, well, all the parents involved. Here's a sample from the source:
Denise McCombie, 37, a California mother of two who's expecting a daughter this fall, spent $475 to have a numerologist test her favorite name, Leah Marie, to see if it had positive associations. (It did.)
* [Ed. note: Was that confirmed before or after the check cleared?]
. . . . "We live in a marketing-oriented society," says Bruce Lansky, a former advertising executive and author of eight books on baby names, including "100,000 + Baby Names." "People who understand branding know that when you pick the right name, you're giving your child a head start."
. . . . Madeline Dziallo, 36, a beautician and mother of two in LaGrange, Ill., turned to a consultant when naming both of her children, Ross, 3, and Natalie, eight months. That consultant . . . charges up to $350 for a package including three half-hour phone calls and a personalized manual describing the name's history, linguistic origins and personality traits. "She was an objective person for me to obsess about it with rather than driving my husband crazy," says Mrs. Dziallo.
. . . . Lisa and Jon Stone of Lynnwood, Wash., turned to a name consultant because they didn't want their son to be "one of five Ashtons in the class," says Mrs. Stone, 36, a graphic designer. For Mr. Stone, 37 . . . the challenge was to find a "cool" name that would help his son stand out. "An unusual name gets people's attention when you're searching for a job or you're one in a field of many," he says.
* [Ed. note: Our last five presidents: George, Bill, George, Ronald, Jimmy]
As one of the founders of Catchword, a corporate naming firm with offices in New York and Oakland, Calif., Burt Alper says he and his wife, Jennifer, who also works in marketing, felt "tons of pressure" to come up with something grabby. . . . They chose Beckett for their six-month-old son . . . "That C-K sound is very well regarded in corporate circles," Mr. Alper says, giving Kodak and Coca-Cola as examples.
* [Ed. note: The C-K sound appears in the names of precisely two of the top 50 Fortune 500 American companies.]
Good lord, ridiculing these people is like shooting fish in a barrel for a blogger. Isn't there an eminence gris out there who can really make these people feel bad about themselves?:
Albert Mehrabian, a professor emeritus of psychology at UCLA . . . . found that more common names elicited positive reactions, while unusual names typically brought negative responses. To him, giving children names that stand out may ultimately be no different than sending them to school with their hair dyed blue. "Yes, you can have someone stand out by being bizarre, but that doesn't mean it's going to be good," he says.
For the sake of full disclosure, we feel obligated at this point to disclose the names of our own children, otherwise referred to on the site as Small Fellow, Tiny Girl, and Little Guy. Their actual names: Batshit, Mussy, and Squirtle. And we didn't give a naming consultant a penny!
WELL, FELLOW WAS REALLY PROUD OF US WHEN WE WROTE THAT BASEBALL BOOK, BUT TO BE HONEST, WE'D HAVE TO CONCEDE THAT THIS GUY HAS PULLED AHEAD OF US IN THE RACE FOR FATHER OF THE YEAR
A 300-pound black bear raided a family's campsite, and the father saved his sons from harm by throwing a log at the beast, killing it with a single blow.
THE FREELANCEDAD.COM MUST-READ ARTICLE OF THE WEEK (ESPECIALLY FOR PARENTS AT TINY GIRL'S SCHOOL)
More kudos from FD to the Wall Street Journal for the harrowing Page One article by the estimable John Hechinger on the downside of "mainstreaming,"
and the possible reality that except in the most ideal of
circumstances, the insertion of special-ed students into mainstream
classes may inevitably be doomed to fail, and not only for the students
involved (both special-ed and mainstream) but for the teachers, who, if
the article is to be believed, race to get out of the field altogether
after a year or two fronting mainstreamed classrooms:
In Scranton and elsewhere, the rush to mainstream disabled students is alienating teachers and driving some of the best from the profession. It has become a little-noticed but key factor behind teacher turnover, which experts say largely accounts for a shortage of qualified teachers in the U.S. Each year, about 16% of teachers quit their jobs, either leaving the profession or moving to another school, according to recent U.S. Department of Education surveys. Of those, 35% cite difficulties with mainstreaming special-education students as a main reason for their dissatisfaction, according to an analysis of the data by Richard Ingersoll, a professor of education and sociology at the University of Pennsylvania. "It's a red flag," Prof. Ingersoll says. "Mainstreaming is putting pressure on teachers... and the proponents of this reform are going to need to address it sooner or later."
Did we mention that Tiny Girl's school, Big City Elementary, is
introducing mainstreaming next year, in up to 40% of its classrooms?
Those are tough odds. . .
EXHIBIT REVIEW: "GODS, MYTHS AND MORTALS" AT THE CHILDREN'S MUSEUM OF MANHATTAN
Huzzah to CMOM for putting together a show that truly caters to, and
challenges, visitors over six. We took Fellow and Tiny to the museum
recently to check it out and while some aspects were tough for Tiny to
comprehend, the show was perfect for Fellow, who had read a children's
version of the Iliad with us earlier this year and loved it, especially
the story of the Trojan Horse. Along with several exhibits on life in
ancient Greece, the centerpiece of the show is a series of activity
centers that take kids through the Iliad and the Odyssey. At each
station, kids can interact with a computer and decide what they'd do if
they were Odysseus facing the Sirens, or Scylla and Charibdis. Like
every other interactive computer exhibit we've ever seen in a
children's museum, the stations were flawed, but it's the ambitious
thought that counts: At the end of the exhibit, a kid can emerge with a
pretty decent understanding of the Odyssey, and that's not nothing.
[PS: Don't think four-year-olds won't get anything from the show. In
school the next day, Tiny executed a quite sharp drawing of the Trojan
Horse and told the story to her teacher.]
While you're up, we feel obligated to mention that the Children's
Museum recently repurposed its second-floor preschool space, now that
it's sponsored by Nickelodeon property Dora the Explorer. The space has
all of the same engaging, well-thought-out, interactive stations it had
before. It's just that now all of them have Dora's picture on them. And
while we don't begrudge the museum bringing in revenue as best they
can, the change does get a thumbs-down from us.
EXHIBIT REVIEW: "THE GLORY DAYS" AT THE MUSEUM OF THE CITY OF NEW YORK
FD brought Fellow, and his press credentials, to the opening night celebration of the Museum of the City of New York's new exhibit, "The Glory Days,"
focusing on major-league baseball in the city from 1947-57, when local
teams won 9 of 11 World Series, participated in 10 of 11 World Series,
and competed against each other in 7 of 11 World Series.
We found the show to be, well, a little small. OK, too small. There
are bats, balls, and uniforms from the great players of the period,
along with baseball cards, scorecards, and actual seats from the city's
old ballparks, and we concede that if the show had been about, say, the
Red Sox, we might have found the artifacts to be more magical, but for
a show that should be focused on creating intergenerational
back-and-forth, we might have liked to have seen more contextual
statistics and team records from the period, more comparisons with
baseball today, and frankly a more favorable layout than the museum's
curators have produced. Still, the show's a ground-rule double for
anyone who wants to introduce their little Yankee or Met fan to the
city's baseball history, though the experience might be enhanced with a
book like this one, or, Hell, even this one.
Fellow just got his first sheet of Star Wars postage stamps, and we
have to confess, they're quite spiffy. And they're available at your
Post Office now.
THE OFFICIAL FREELANCE DAD LEAD-PAINTED THOMAS TOY TALLY: 3
We've finally taken the time to sort through Fellow's toy chest full of Thomas trains and tracks, and have discovered that we are the owners of three lead-painted, Chinese-manufactured recalled Thomas the Tank Engine toys—the Yellow & Green Box Car, the Red Stop Sign, and the Yellow Yield Sign. It could have been much worse: A few years ago, Fellow had a bizarre fascination with a Thomas Fire Brigade Truck. The "hose" piece of the toy, which was detachable, had a small plastic "nozzle" at the end of a string, and Fellow got in the habit of sticking that nozzle in his ear over and over (and this was WITHOUT lead poisoning). Mercifully, the Fire Brigade Truck in the recall is a different model than Fellow's. Fellow has largely outgrown his interest in Thomas, so the toys haven't gotten much use lately. Still, three products isn't zero. According to the Times, the value of RC2's stock hasn't declined, but it's hard to fathom how this company ISN'T going to take a huge hit in the marketplace. Their licensing partners, like HIT, Nickelodeon, GM, and Ford have got to be facing pressures to drop the manufacturer. . .
Also according to the Times, this would likely be a much bigger scandal if the Consumer Product Safety Commission had the kind of enforcement staff it used to have:
Scott J. Wolfson, a second Consumer Product Safety Commission spokesman, would not say how long ago RC2 discovered the problem or when it first reported it to federal authorities.
In the last two years, the staff of the consumer product commission has been cut by more than 10 percent, leaving fewer regulators to monitor the safety of the growing flood of imports. . . . The Consumer Product Safety Commission has safety standards, but it has only about 100 field investigators and compliance personnel nationwide to conduct inspections . . . of $22 billion worth of toys and tens of billions of dollars’ worth of other consumer products sold in the country each year. “They don’t have the staff that they need to try to get ahead of this problem,” said Janell Mayo Duncan, senior counsel at the Consumers Union, which publishes Consumer Reports. “They need more money and resources to do more checks.”
The scariest part of this story, as the Times accurately reports, is that the Thomas products have to be just the tip of the iceberg, and RC2, for all its boneheadedness (the company still hasn't made any public disclosures about how it discovered the problem, or to what standards it holds its dedicated Chinese factories) is at least a pubic company that (eventually) runs safety tests of its products. On the other hand:
Among the toy recalls, the problem is most acute with low-price, no-brand-name toys that are often sold at dollar stores and other deep discounters, which are manufactured and sent to the United States often without the involvement of major American toy importers. Last year, China also was the source of 81 percent of the counterfeit goods seized by Customs officials at ports of entry in the United States — products that typically are not made according to the standards on the labels they are copying.
So, moms and dads, what's in your goody bag?
PROSPECTIVE DADS, IF YOUR SPERM COUNT TUNRS OUT TO BE LOW, YOU CAN BLAME IT ON THE LEAD PAINT IN YOUR NEPHEW'S THOMAS TOYS
Fertell, the first at-home device that can measure a fella's concentration of motile sperm is coming on the market. Fertility experts welcome the new device, part of a "two-in-one" test that acknowledges the medical fact that a couple's fertility problem can be traced to the man 40% of the time, to the woman 40% of the time, and to both partners 20% of the time. "It takes two to have a baby, as silly as that sounds," Dr. Harry Fisch of New York-Presbyterian told the Times, in a quote that was almost certainly blown up and taped to the fridge in his lab the next morning.
As for the at-home test itself, which requires the man to provide a sperm sample, Harvard fertility expert Keith Isaacson said:
“My guess is the female partner is the one who’s going to buy this and encourage the guy to use it.”
The insightful Dr. Isaacson went on to speculate that the female partner was also more likely to initiate participation in a book club, day trips to Ikea, and overseas travel with in-laws.
JUST GUESSING HERE: GRANDPA'S NOT GOING TO BE INVITED TO ZEKE'S FIFTH-GRADE GRADUATION
Newsweek rabbi Marc Gellman (just wondering: Does U.S. News also have its own rabbi?) weighs in this week on the silliness of kindergarten "graduations":
I just returned from Los Angeles where I saw my only grandson, Ezekiel, graduate with a group of cute and charming 5-year-olds from his nursery school. . . . I believe that the proliferation of kiddy graduations is something of a problem. . . . [It's] not just that they're silly. My main gripe is that they distort the nature of learning. Graduations send the message that learning has a beginning, a middle and an end—and this is just not true. The only graduation from learning is death.
[Note: OK, Gellman does go on to say that kindergarten graduations are maybe OK because they do celebrate learning and the kids are cute. But how much more fun would it have been if he'd ended his column with this evocative image of death, the ultimate commencement?]
ENJOY YOUR SUMMER SHARES, EVERYONE!
And remember, as you watch the tide go out, and wash all that gull poop off the beach, that when it returns, it'll splash all kinds of illness-causing bacteria on your kids. Last one in is a rotten egg!
AND NOW, HERE'S MORE ON THOMAS THE TANK ENGINE'S
HIDDEN SURPRISES (LIKE LEAD PAINT)
Slate piles on the RC2 Corporation, makers (well, offshorers) of Thomas the Tank Engine toys, with an Explainer column detailing the kind of product testing they apparently did not do before shipping the lead-painted trains from Chinese factories to American stores.
THIS IS THE NEW YORK CITY TRANSIT AUTHORITY. THANK YOU FOR RIDING WITH US—OH, AND NO FAT CHICKS
The ever-prolific Lynn Harris, a longtime friend of FD.com, writes on Babble this week about her lingering resentment that so few of her fellow New Yorkers gave up their subway seats for her last summer while she was waddling about town eight months enceinte. The article sounded eerily familiar to us here, because Loving Mother expressed the same complaint throughout her three pregnancies, down to this exact observation of Harris':
Now, for some even more puzzling nuance. If anyone did offer a seat — which did happen, on days when there was a partial eclipse, a unicorn sighting, and alternate-side parking suspended — or when, finally, I started asking ("Would anyone mind offering me a place to sit?") — the Samaritans appeared in this order of likelihood:
1. an older woman
2. a younger woman
3. a man of color
A white man? Not on the list. Didn't happen. Not once.
By the way, Freelance Dad gives up his seat for pregnant women all
the time—especially if we're riding with Loving Mother, and if we're
fairly certain that no one else in the car is going to give us their
seat first, and if we're not this close to the end of our book. . . Hey, let's move on, what say?
Our long national nightmare is almost over. The Complete Muppet Show: Season Two DVD will be released on. . . August 7! The package (left)
features all 24 episodes, on 4 discs, plus bonus features. Guest hosts
include Julie Andrews, Rudolf Nureyev, Jaye P. Morgan, Peter Sellers,
John Cleese, and our all-time favorite, Zero Mostel. Also: Look for a
Very Special Episode featuring Edgar Bergen.
Book it on Amazon or your favorite online retailer now.
FINALLY, THE ARTICLE YOU'VE BEEN WAITING FOR (IF YOU'RE FELLOW'S MOTHER)
The Village Voice goes out on a limb this week to answer the question, "Gay adults like to say they were born that way. So where are the gay children?" Fellow's mom would say maybe one of them is living right here at FD.com headquarters. (We're reserving judgment.) However, the
Voice article doesn't quite answer the question of Where the Mini-Gays
Are, or how to spot them. Also, for our money, the piece gets
sidetracked by an oddly bitter-sounding debate about whether to label
effeminate boys transgender or gay. ("Rather than go
ahead and acknowledge that a kid might be gay, adults these days are
quicker to suggest that a dress-wearing Daniel or dragon-slaying Tamika
was born in the wrong body.")
Anyway, the piece does have a little fun with the Little Red Schoolhouse before it trails off:
. . . . Whether they're saying they're gay or just embodying elements of a gay sensibility, kids who seem so queer so young thoroughly unnerve parents and educators from every walk of life. Parents come to the LGBT Community Center worried about their kids' sissy behavior. Others fret that they've "gayed" their own children.
[Elaine] Winter, the Little Red principal, is reluctant to talk about whether her kindergartners might be gay. "I would never make a presumption like that," she says. "What a child does at four may be different from what a child does at six." This is coming from one of the most progressive educators in New York, the head of a school that actively supports LGBT-headed families, encourages its youngest children to explore nontraditional gender roles, and has a float in the Pride Parade.
The school's director of diversity, Sharon Dupree, a lesbian, is more comfortable talking about the sexual orientations of her students. "Some young people four or five years old might be aware that something is different," Dupree says. "But they don't have the language at that point, or the knowledge, to express that difference. They might say, 'I want to be a lesbian because I want to be best friends with Lisa,' but they're not connecting it with sexuality."
LITTLE PROFESSOR: THE NEXT GENERATION
week in this space, we boasted of our success tracking down an original
Texas Instruments Little Professor quizzing calculator for Fellow.
Turns out, we may not have had to go to the trouble. Sharp apparently makes a pair of calculators with "drill function," one for kids and another, an "Exerciser," for grown-ups
fearing the early onset of addlement. Unlike the Little Professor, both
of Sharp's devices offer standard calculator functions as well. But
based on the Amazon pages, neither appears to be a hot seller. While
they certainly lack the design charm of the old TI driller, they might be worth your consideration.
THE FREELANCE DAD MUST-READ SERVICE ARTICLE OF THE WEEK
The estimable Tara Parker-Pope of the Journal recently wrote about sun-protective clothing for kids.
We've started to see these clothes everywhere around town but had
remained skeptical of their utility, although that was at least in part
because of their high cost. Parker-Pope makes a strong case for them,
though, especially since the flimsy t-shirts many kids wear outside all
day in the summer only offer an SPF of about 5 and, of course, few of
us think to put sunscreen on under kids' clothing.
TONIGHT ON FOX: WHEN BIOETHICISTS ATTACK
No one likes fertility more than Freelance Dad, but nothing gives us a headache faster that reading about couples like the Morrisons of Minnesota.
Just 24 (in math terms, that's a comfortable decade and a half before
the end of child-bearing years), they turned to fertility drugs to get
pregnant, specifically Follistim, one complication of which is the
possibility of creating a veritable flotilla of fetuses—in the
Morrisons' case, six. The children were born on June 12, after 22 weeks
of gestation. Three are now dead, and the other three remain in
critical condition, with "a small amount of room for hope" that one
might survive. The Morrisons, committed Christians who met at Bethany
College of Missions, were given the option of selectively aborting one
or more fetuses in utero to increase their chances of delivering one or
more healthy babies, but declined, leaving the children's fate "in
So, bioethicist Alexander Capron
of USC, isn't it the height of hypocrisy and arrogance to rely on
modern medicine to get pregnant, and then refuse to use those same
techniques to ensure the delivery of a healthy child?
"It is always an interesting situation when people rely on modern medicine and talk about God's will -- because if it were simply God's will, then you'd say, 'If you're not becoming pregnant, that must be God's will.' But people instead say, 'No, God's will is that I use medical interventions," he added. "I guess that is a view of God's will . . . If the idea is that you want to be a parent, there are a lot of children out there who need [adoptive] parents. And the notion that you have to use artificial means to become biologically pregnant, and a parent in that way, is not very persuasive to me."
THE PARK WAS A DUD, TO BEGIN WITH. THERE IS NO DOUBT WHATEVER ABOUT THAT.
WE CAN'T SAY WE'RE SURPRISED AT THE DECISION, SINCE DURING WARMUPS BEFORE THE AUDITION, ONE BOY TURNED CARTWHEELS, ANOTHER STRETCHED AT THE BARRE, AND FELLOW LAY FLAT ON THE FLOOR AND SAID, "COME ON, DADDY, TRY TO ROLL LITTLE GUY'S STROLLER OVER ME!"
Despite his fame in the dance community as the boy who inspired the article that remains, six weeks after its publication, the definitive word on the state of boys' ballet in New York City, the School of American Ballet rejected Fellow after his tryout in the company's spring auditions. Given that Fellow's grandmother and great-grandmother, after seeing him dance to Annie's "Tomorrow," pledged never to buy another New York City Ballet ticket again if they let him within 50 feet of "The Nutcracker," it was probably a good decision by SAB.
NEXT SEASON, WE'RE HOPING FELLOW GETS PUT ON THE HAMAS/FATAH SQUAD
Our first spring of West Side Little League wrapped up yesterday with a game that had not appeared on the initial season schedule, and was only added last week. Given the scheduling issues, the league expected few players to show up, and so decided to merge pairs of teams together for the day. Which is how, as a distinct chill descended on Hades, Fellow's DodgerCubs squared off against, yes, the YankeeRedSox.
FIRST THERE WAS EVERYDAY MATH. THEN SINGAPORE MATH AND REFORM MATH. BUT WOULDN'T YOUR CHILD BENEFIT FROM STUDY OF GOLF MATH?
It was Father's Day weekend, and Freelance Dad was tired, so we joined Fellow on the couch late Saturday afternoon for a couple of hours of third-round coverage of golf's U.S. Open. But we didn't allow the teachable moment to pass, introducing Curious Fellow to the basics of golf math: birdies, bogeys, eagles, double bogeys, and their cumulative effect on a player's score relative to par. By the end of the day, he could tell you how a double-bogey by Angel Cabrera, coupled with a birdie by Tiger Woods, would shake up the leader board—especially if Tiger's train from Florida to the Open left at 3 pm traveling at 60 miles per hour and Cabrera's train from Buenos Aires left at noon traveling 80 miles per hour. . .
HERE'S HOPING ALL THE INCREASINGLY RARE GOOD DADS OUT THERE HAD A HAPPY FATHER'S DAY
We'd planned to celebrate a weekend of inspiring Father's Day pieces in the mainstream media today, but bagged the idea after reading just the opening line of Tony Woodlief's essay in the Friday Journal:
I think Father's Day ought not to be a celebration of every man who managed to procreate, but instead a time to honor those increasingly rare men who are actually good at fathering.
IN A RELATED STORY, THE CONSUMER PRODUCTS SAFETY COMMISSION IS INVESTIGATING SIR TOPHAM HATT'S DEALINGS WITH A PAINT SUPPLIER OWNED BY THE CHINESE GOVERNMENT
There are product recalls that you can understand. Two children using a certain model of high chair experienced falls, and the company acted in good faith when it found out? OK, fine. We can get behind that. And then there's the recall of Thomas the Tank Engine toys announced by the RC2 Corporation. Twenty-eight toys in the ubiquitous Thomas product line—1.5 million items in all—were made using red and yellow paint that contained lead. The products were manufactured in China, and the story will now become part of an increasing awareness of the lack of oversight in that country's factories. Unlike our fictional high chair maker, who may have done safety testing but missed a specific flaw, RC2 apparently hadn't paid pay to make sure that the products they produced cheaply overseas contained no lead content before they put them on the market. And when the recall was announced last week, RC2 initially asked consumers to send their products to the company for replacement at their own expense, a policy reversed only after widespread public complaints.
Everyone reading this blog today should immediately print out the list of affected toys at RC2's Web site, then go home and tear through your child's Thomas collection and get rid of these toys.
THE FD.COM MUST-READ STORIES OF THE WEEK (TIE)
* The Journal's "Numbers Guy," Carl Bialik, examines the widely-cited stat that children in low-income households may spend as many as 1,000 fewer hours reading with their parents before starting school than their middle-class counterparts. He concludes that the stat as it's commonly cited is almost certainly a massive exaggeration of reality, but that it persists in policy discussions, maybe even rightfully so, because it "makes sense" and because it can help to drive necessary action to boost pre-school reading in poor communities.
* It's already the Number-One e-mailed article on the Times' Web site, but everyone who's paid even a little attention to the passionate debate over the causes of autism (in a nutshell, genetics vs. environment/vaccinations) will be fascinated by today's Page One piece on how that debate has sparked a bitter divide within former NBC chairman Bob Wright's gigantic autism research foundation, between Wright (who claims to be agnostic on the question, but his opponents allege that he tends to favor the genetic side of the debate) and his daughter, whose child's own diagnosis of autism was Wright's impetus for starting the fund in the first place, and who believes passionately, as many parents of autistic kids do, in the environmental theory. The only good news here? Wright's fund is still investing millions in research looking into both theories.
AT THIS PLAYGROUND, KIDS WILL ALSO BE ABLE TO USE A SLEDGEHAMMER TO KILL ANTS
Frank Gehry will contribute some convex titanium slides to a new Battery Park playground, in what just might be the least necessary architectural commission in American history. The Battery Conservancy will raise and spend about $4 million* on what Mayor Bloomberg calls a "brilliant addition to our world-class city," instead of, say, feeding the poor or repairing 15 other playgrounds in neighborhoods with fewer investment bankers. The design will be unveiled later this year, at which point FD.com will launch a pool for visitors to bet on how many millions of dollars over budget the project will run.
* (We just hope Daniel Handler didn't have to pay for it.)
JUSTICE UNCOVERS HER EYES, ACCIDENTALLY SEES PORN, GETS OVER IT
Good news in a case that should be watched closely by everyone who uses the Internet:
A Superior Court judge Wednesday granted a new trial for Julie Amero, 40, a Norwich [CT] substitute teacher whose faulty computer spewed pornographic images in her seventh grade classroom.
We've discussed Amero's case before; through no fault of her own, a string of pornographic pop-ups appeared on her classroom computer, and the substitute could not figure out how to stop them before students saw the screen.
The new trial ordered by Superior Court Judge Hillary B. Strackbein comes after a campaign on Amero's behalf by computer security experts around the country, who offered evidence showing that Amero's computer was taken over by malicious "spyware" that caused a rapid-fire sequence of pornographic "pop-up" windows to appear on the screen.
Strackbein, however, still criticized bloggers for trying to "improperly influence" the court. . . to do the right thing.
NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND (AT LEAST, NOT IN MISSISSIPPI)
Among the multitude of problems with President Bush's signature educational initiative, the No Child Left Behind Act, is the fact that it allows states to set their own standards for what results will actually get a child left behind. For example, in a new measure used to compare standardized testing among different states, a child in Mississippi can pass a state reading test with a score that would only be two-thirds of the way to meeting the minimum standard in Massachusetts. Meaning that a Mississippi school could be rewarded by the federal program for producing C students who would get Ds in a "failing" Massachusetts school.
While FD joins most educational experts in opposing the creation of truly national standards (unless representatives of Texas schools weren't invited to the meeting), the current status quo is laughable—a national program for measuring student achievement, and punishing or rewarding individual schools, based on vastly unequal state standards.
The local gossip site was motivated to create a list of
New York City's most expensive private schools,
topped by Riverdale's $33,000-plus per annum ticket.
Learn it. Know it. Live it. Use it at your next cocktail party.
PRIVATE SCHOOLS, DON'T LET YOUR ADMISSIONS DIRECTORS GROW UP TO BE SUBJECTS OF FASHION ARTICLES
In a recent “What I’m Wearing Now”
feature in the Sunday Styles section of the times, Dana Haddad,
director of admissions at the three-year-old Claremont Preparatory
School, poses in an Anna Sui lace minidress over an American Apparel
tank dress, Danskin leggings and Prada boots, and says, “My winter coat
is Balenciaga, and I live in it. I wear it with a J. Mendel fur hat I
bought on sale, and when I walk into a room I feel just like Greta
WHEN WE PUT OUR KIDS IN OUR PRIVATE PLANE TO FLY TO THE HAMPTONS
HOUSE, WE FEEL JUST LIKE THE DIRECTOR OF ADMISSIONS AT CLAREMONT PREP
The New York Post scored big with this piece on how:
The city's youngest high-fliers are pampered campers whose parents are paying big bucks to jet them off in style to their summer vacations. . . . The charter company Revolution Air has assigned more than 20 private jets to fly children to summer camp at the end of June, at a cost of about $8,000 a flight.
Property developer and mother of three Robin O'Hara says of her
eight-year-old’s upcoming flight to camp in the Poconos, "It's a trend.
A lot of my friends do it. . . sometimes, we'll have a manicurist on
EXCESSIVE CHEERING SHOULDN'T BE A PROBLEM DURING THE PRINCIPAL'S REMARKS AT NEXT YEAR'S CEREMONY
Officials at Galesburg High School in Illinois have decided to give five students their diplomas after all. Administrators had refused to hand the diplomas to the students at graduation ceremonies last month because their families, in defiance of strict school orders, had cheered for the kids when their names were called.
"This policy is completely unenforceable," said Jeff Green, a lawyer for the students. "How can you take away four years of hard work for four seconds of something someone else did?"
FD.com's calls to Galesburg's superintendent were unanswered because, a spokeswoman said, the official was holding his breath until Green took those comments back.
DANCE SHOWS WE HAVE ATTENDED
Dance Fever has taken hold at FD.com headquarters, as we have attended three student dance performances so far this month. First, Fellow and other young male dancers from Ballet Hispanico took the stage at the City University of New York for the school's annual junior recital. We're proud to say that not only did Fellow refrain from eating his shirt collar at any time during the performance, in which the boys acted out a baseball game through dance, he also "hit" the climactic home run in the set piece. Quite a show.
Next, Tiny performed in the spring recital of the afternoon ballet class offered at her old Big City Nursery School. She may not be as lithe or flexible as Fellow, but as far as we could tell, she went through her paces flawlessly. The highlight? How sincerely thrilled she was that FD came to her show.
Finally, there was the Dance Festival at Fellow's elementary school (see photo, left). Dance Festival is a unique and somewhat quaint NYC tradition (surely more quaint than the strip searches). It was also the subject of this amusing Times article during the 2006 performance season. Suffice to say, the level of performances did not match those at the Ballet Hispanico recital. Instead, they were something of a cross between the opening of the "Do the Bartman" video and the boy's band debut from the end of 'The Music Man." But we felt as proud as every other River City parent upon hearing our own child butcher the cornet in his own way.
OH, ABOUT THOSE STRIP SEARCHES
Times op-ed columnist Bob Herbert has not always been our favorite, as he tends to beat topics like the proverbial ex-equine, but unlike some of his peers (cough-Dowd!-cough), he does sometimes actually do reporting for his columns, and his attack-dog mentality serves him well when he hits upon a worthy, under-reported topic.
His recent columns on the apparent widespread abuse of New York city public school students—primarily, minority students—by police should be required reading for all parents in the system, and here's hoping that the pieces inspire a movement for change. You can and should read the columns here and here, but here's the gist:
Students are being belittled, shouted at, cursed at, intrusively searched and improperly touched by cops and security aides who answer to the Police Department, not school authorities. In many cases, the students are roughed up, handcuffed, arrested and taken off to jail for behavior that does not even begin to approach the criminal. Teachers and administrators who have attempted to intervene on the behalf of students have themselves been abused, and in some cases arrested.
FD.COM IN THE NEWS
Freelance Dad, aka Gary Drevitch, was quoted in this month's issue of Baby Talk magazine, on the subject of how at-home dads do it. (No, not that. How they parent.)
"To help my son wind down at nap time, I would try to fool him into thinking that everyone was going to sleep. I would lie on the floor near him and close my eyes. Sometimes I'd fall asleep myself." — Gary Drevitch, New York City
By the way, we're doing the same thing with Little Guy, and it still works.
SMALL FELLOW AND TINY GIRL: HUMAN DISPOSALLS SINCE 2007
Michael Pollan's articles are rightly inspiring a revolution in thinking about how we omnivores eat, and his recent piece in the Times magazine
on the impact of the federal farm bill was ripped from the headlines
here, especially his comments about the nation's school lunch program:
The school-lunch program began at a time when the public-health problem of America’s children was undernourishment, so feeding surplus agricultural commodities to kids seemed like a win-win strategy. Today the problem is overnutrition, but a school lunch lady trying to prepare healthful fresh food is apt to get dinged by U.S.D.A. inspectors for failing to serve enough calories; if she dishes up a lunch that includes chicken nuggets and Tater Tots, however, the inspector smiles and the reimbursements flow. The farm bill essentially treats our children as a human Disposall for all the unhealthful calories that the farm bill has encouraged American farmers to overproduce.
Fellow carried lunch from home throughout kindergarten and most of
the way into first grade. While the lunches weren't a symphony of
organic produce by any stretch, they featured a bottle of water, a
sandwich (typically hummus, tuna—yes, only once a week, or soy butter),
a cup of organic apple sauce, an organic fruit or granola bar, and
maybe a few Newman's Own letter cookies. And he ate the whole thing.
Later, when Tiny began pre-K, we were told that lunch was part of
the city's pre-K curriculum. The kids needed to learn how to sit and
share with others, and so it was sternly requested that we allow her to
receive the daily school lunch, which, as Pollan well knows, meant a
mix of chicken nuggets, pizza, hamburgers, and mac-and-cheese. Not
exactly what we'd choose to put in her lunch box.
Then, sometime this spring, Fellow decided it was high time he
started getting the school lunch as well. He had no gripes with the
lunches we'd been making him, and he still takes a tuna sandwich once a
week, and additional lunches from home when the featured school item is
something overtly un-Kosher, like pepperoni pizza or tacos. But day to
day, hummus sandwiches don't generally beat chicken nuggets and pizza.
And it's certainly unfortunate that the school system is still rigging
the competition with its Happy Meal menus.
YES, FATHER'S DAY IS COMING UP, AND FREELANCE DAD IS HOPING TO GET THAT CASHMERE BABY SLING HE'S BEEN EYEING
Forbes.com told FD something he didn't know: There is a magazine called Baby Couture ("We put the 'coo' in couture!"), and it's not a spoof. (Readers: Won't you please launch a write-in campaign to get FD named Hautest Dad of the Year? If we all work together, we can beat Brad Pitt and Will Smith. Come on!)
Forbes is running a slide show of selections, many from Baby
Couture, of the most expensive "baby bling" on the market, ranging from
the ridiculous to the sublimely ridiculous. Most legit item? Probably
the Ooba Nest bassinet,
well designed and not completely preposterous at $600. As for most
impractical? There's a lot of competition, but as we look at the
thunderstorm out our window, we'll have to go with the $4,000 black
leather Maclaren GB Type Au buggy with the detachable nine-karat gold brooch. . .
THE FD.COM FATWA OF THE WEEK
We are declaring an immediate boycott of all parenting writers who write columns on being torn about whether to allow their kids to watch Sesame Street. First up: Amy Sohn, who writes in New York magazine that:
To me, TV was a loud, blaring, potentially harmful nuisance I wasn’t even sure I wanted to own. . . . I never thought I would be this zealous about any aspect of parenthood. But as I learned long ago on Sesame Street, everyone makes mistakes.
OK, class. We all understand what it means when someone writes articles like this, right? It means:
I am such a superior parent that even my internal debates are of a higher level than yours. While you wonder whether your Noggin-addicted four-year-old should also watchSeinfeld reruns with you, I—I'm not even sure she should be watching Sesame Street at all! Now, kneel before Zod!
Sohn, in fact, has a multitasking superiority complex. Her basic distrust of TV, she says, comes from the same source as her overall superiority to her husband—her superior childhood:
That night in bed, I realized that Charles and I have completely different relationships with television. He was a child of divorce and had watched a lot of TV as a kid. As a result, he found it comforting. He saw it as benign. I had grown up listening to NPR and watching maybe four hours of TV a week, mostly when the entire family would gather for programs like The Cosby Show and Family Ties. We didn’t have cable, and I only rarely watched when I didn’t know what was on.
Where, then, does Charles get off allowing their child to watch TV at all? Amy wonders the same thing:
“I think we should limit her usage,” I said. “It’ll be better for her, and it’ll improve our marriage because I’ll be happier.”
Sorry, guys: She's taken!
FINAL UPDATE: 2007-08 NYC GIFTED & TALENTED ADMISSIONS
First off, they do not include Tiny Girl, who in a stunning upset was apparently tripped up by the OLSAT format and so will remain at Big City Elementary for at least another year. We've heard similar stories here and there, of kids who scored well on the Stanford-Binet test for Hunter, but then took a precipitous tumble on the OLSAT. Is one test more accurate than the other in measuring four-year-olds' intelligence? Our theory: The free rein given S-B testers to gauge a child's intelligence likely leads to either a more well-rounded—or more generous—result than the OLSAT, which is proctored by teachers in the school system under orders to follow a set format to elicit answers, be they right or wrong.
In any event, Inside Schools has an informative interview with city G & T director Anna Commitante online today, which everyone who just emerged from the process should check out, as it includes official numbers of applicants and admits for the season.
KIDS DRAW THE DARNEDEST THINGS
As part of Fellow's homework the other day, he had to show, with a drawing, the change he'd receive for purchasing variously priced products at a store. Part of the change included a dollar bill, which he strove to depict as accurately as possible, right down to its motto:
"We Love God"
HAPPILY, WE DIDN'T GET A SQUIRTLE. BECAUSE SINCE WE WERE PLAYING ON A THURSDAY, THAT WOULD HAVE GIVEN US A SHRONK
We finally sat down with Fellow the other night to play a game of Pokemon. We had no idea going in how this card game worked, so we left it to Fellow to explain it to us, and now we know how the Iotians felt when Captain Kirk told them how to play Fizzbin. We played the game for about 20 minutes, engaged in several attacks, lost several characters, and still cannot tell you a thing about what was involved.
We were impressed by Fellow's seeming ability to keep in his head the relative Hit Points of all the character cards on the table, acquired or lost during battles—unless of course he was just BS-ing us all along, in which case, honestly? We're even more impressed.
FIRST IN A SERIES OF UNFORTUNATE COLUMNS?
Daniel Handler is deserving of admiration for the fine series of children's books he wrote, "A Series of Unfortunate Events." As a social commentator, however? He's maybe a bit tone deaf. We suppose that your own reaction to his piece in the Times this past weekend—about how awkward it is to field requests to donate millions of his dollars to worthy causes—may depend on whether your annual income puts you among the top 15% of the world's population, the top 1% or the top .001%:
This is why, maybe, there are so many noble causes and so few of them are well financed: we all want other people to write the checks — they’re richer than we are. I wrote the guy a check anyway, of course, and it was for a lot of money. At least, I think it was a lot of money. You’d have to ask those other people, the hundred thousand who make more than I do and the 60 million who make more than I gave to restore the historic building: isn’t this a lot of money?
ICE COLD AMERICAN SUMMER
Preparations are well under way for summer camp. In fact, we spent the better (actually, the worst) part of this past weekend filling out all of the required paperwork. Tiny will be returning to the day camp run by Big City Nursery School, along with several of her closest friends. The mother of one of those friends actually just contacted Loving Mother to see if they couldn't coordinate a day to accompany the girls on a camp field trip together by signing up for the same outing on the camp forms. She did, however, have one request: "Now, don't sign up for a field trip with me and then send Freelance Dad instead!"
FROM THE DEPARTMENT OF ENDORSEMENTS
FD.com receives a lot of e-mail from marketers of children's products, asking us to promote their goods online, and we ignore most of them. But we did recently hear from the maker of Eyes Cream Shades, and took them up on their offer of a trial set of shades for Fellow, Tiny, and Little Guy. The kids all took an immediate liking to the sportily-styled glasses, and we like that the lenses feature polycarbonate lenses with 100% UVA & UVB protection, unlike all those birthday party goody-bag shades, which offer approximately 0% UVA and UVB protection.
So, consider Eyes Cream Shades for all of your sun-blocking needs this summer. You can see the glasses and order them here.
BEST. EDUCATIONAL. TOY. EVER.
FD spent a lot of time home alone as a child (this is starting to sound like a theme), and one of his boon companions was Texas Instruments' Hall of Fame math learning toy, the Little Professor, introduced in 1976. The Little Professor's genius lies in its simplicity: It's an inverted calculator, which asks you a series of 10 questions, in your choice of addition, subtraction, multiplication, or division. You can also choose levels of difficulty, 1 through 4. Then it tells you how many you got right out of 10. And that's it. But it's addictive as all get out, as Fellow can attest. Through the magic of EBay, we recently acquired an original Little Professor for him, and it has kept him occupied during hours of car rides over the past few weeks.
You can find the Little Professor on EBay, and sometimes on Amazon. Also, some UK-based sites appear to be selling a more recent, solar-powered version.
Along with the nostalgia appeal, the toy offer kids the math drilling that, in our opinion, they desperately need in these days of Everyday Math. Although for all we know the second-grade curriculum may call for multiplication to be introduced in September, dropped until November, reinforced in February, and assessed in May, we're going to spend a couple of days this summer on our own getting Fellow up to speed on the multiplication tables, thanks all the same. And plan to have Little Professor at our side.
MAY WE REQUEST A SIDEBAR?
It's spring, when a young blogger's thoughts naturally turn to linking. Please see our LINKS column on the right to find a new and improved roster of thought-provoking parenting sites that get the FD Seal of Approval.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
Gawker posted this the other day, via Best Week Ever, and you've got to check it out: Evan O'Dorney, home-schooled winner of the 2007 Scripps National Spelling Bee, had an incredibly awkward interview with CNN's vapid morning-show host, in which he blasted her for asking him to spell a word for which she didn't know the national origin, and which she mispronounced to boot. A thing of beauty. We also like this tidbit from Evan's bio:
Last summer Evan was chosen as an onstage contestant for The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, but the judges could not outsmart his spelling skills and resorted to making him spell out of order and giving him non-dictionary words.
Freelance Dad, aka Gary Drevitch, wrote a cover story in this month's issue of Working Mother entitled, "The New Dad." It's all about stay-at-home dads and the working mothers who love them. you can view it here, or peruse the poorly-formatted text version at the top of our sidebar, at right.
STILL, THOUGH, ALL THINGS BEING EQUAL, NOT AS BAD AS M & M's
TV can be bad for diabetic children
Snacking, less exercise linked to increases in blood sugar levels, study finds
CHICAGO - Diabetic children who spent the most time glued to the TV had a tougher time controlling their blood sugar, according to a Norwegian study that illustrates yet another downside of too much television.
SEE? IT'S NOT ALWAYS TELEVISION'S FAULT!
Early Menarche Linked to Heavier Children
The younger a woman is when she has her first period, the more likely her children are to be overweight, a new study suggests. . . . researchers found that age of first menstruation, or menarche, is a predictive factor independent of physique. “This highlights a key pathway to childhood obesity,” said Dr. Ken Ong, the lead author and a pediatrician at the Medical Research Council in London.
NEW YORKER MAGAZINE CARTOON OF THE WEEK
Bruce Kaplan captures pre-K as it would be if FD were the teacher.
WELCOME TO THE WORLD, BABY. IT'S ALL DOWNHILL FROM HERE
Science Times reports on the latest stunning study of infant language ability. Apparently, children are born with the ability to recognize, just by watching a speaker, whether he has begun talking in a different language. This ability begins to fade as early as eight months, at least for babies in monolingual households, as infants join the rest of us in declining from our cognitive peaks.
SO, OK, WHAT'S THE PROBLEM?
Notably loopy actress Anne Heche is suing for sole custody of her five-year-old boy, because her estranged husband is an unfit at-home dad.
When their son, Homer, stays with [Coleman] Laffoon in Los Angeles, he sends the boy to preschool or leaves him with nannies and baby sitters while he “plays ping-pong, backgammon and poker and views pornography online,” Heche stated. “He holds a poker game at his home every Thursday night and allows Homer to participate."
Hey, if it's wrong for Homer to participate in weekly poker games, then it's wrong for Fellow to play Texas Hold 'Em on his GameBoy, and we don't want to live in a world where that's wrong. On the other hand, in Heche's defense, who still plays backgammon?
WHERE ELSE WOULD THEY BE ABLE TO PUT THEIR KNOWLEDGE OF LATIN ROOTS TO SUCH GOOD USE?
Time magazine offers a "Where Are They Now?" for a number of past National Spelling Bee champions, and finds most of them employed in medicine of the sciences.
On the Times op-ed page the other day was a hand-wringing piece about the state of playgrounds today, specifically their inability to attract tweens, who have apparently (this just in) "abandoned playgrounds en masse for instant messaging." For that, by the way, all of us parents of kids 6 and under say, "Thank you, tweens!" But we suppose that wasn't the writer's point. No, the point was to create an excuse to invite a handful of cutting-edge artists and landscapers to imagine playspaces that could entice tweens to play outside. You can see their proposals here, which resemble nothing more than a variety of sculptural interpretations of the Life game board, and your guess is as good as ours why any 10-year-old worth his salt would be caught dead at any of them. The main problem? They all look like -- playgrounds! And wasn't the problem we were trying to address here that tweens don't like playgrounds? Oy.
So here's our suggestion: A field. A well-maintained field, within some wide, paved borders, with plenty of portable furniture for hanging out, and a never-ending supply of. . . balls. It strikes us that the cost of keeping a steady supply of soccer balls, tennis balls, or the like would be vastly less than the millions of dollars communities would have to spend building and maintaining the architectural concoctions the cutting-edgers came up with for the Times. Our fenced-off grounds might have a sign saying, "For kids 8-14 from 2:00-8:00." Maybe there'd be one staff/security guy on hand to make sure equipment is put away at the end of the day and that the furniture doesn't walk away. And the kids could come, hang out, and if they like, play ball. Without having to jump through the contrived hoops that the designers propose.
Just a thought.
TWEEN QUOTE OF THE WEEK
Speaking of tweens in the Times, we loved this quote from a Manhattan nine-year-old in the paper the other day, because it captured so well the huge attitudinal difference between our generation and the next (improved) one. And don't kid yourself: This is NOT the first thing that came into your mind when you read about Britney Spears shaving her head.
. . .Alexis Gursky, 9, found herself wondering not why Ms. Spears picked up a razor in the first place, but why she did not do more with the hair she shaved off. “I just thought it was a little weird to just do it and not to give it to people who have cancer,” said Alexis, a third grader in Manhattan.
Charles Nelson Reilly passed away this weekend at 76. The Tony winner once said of his regular appearances on "Match Game," "You can't do anything else once you do game shows. You have no career." Maybe so, but, Charles, on behalf of all the kids who sat at home snacking on graham crackers and grape juice while watching you, Richard, and Brett fill in Dumb Donald's blanks -- thanks for doing the game show.
CAN YOU TELL US HOW TO GET, HOW TO GET TO SESAME STREET (ON iTUNES)?
Various news reports this week say that Sesame Street has released its greatest hits and video clips to iTunes, which is good news, and yet, Sesame Street doesn't appear to have its own iTunes page, as it should; you need to search by album, song, or character. We entered "Cookie Monster "and got a song list that gave us access to most of the available albums, but there's got to be a better way.
NOW IT CAN BE TOLD: WHAT ELIOT SPITZER DOES IN HIS SPARE TIME
NY Gov. Eliot Spitzer has some very particular ideas about what kids should be allowed to drink in the state's public schools:
Among the other requirements: high school students could be served decaffeinated coffee or tea, or hot chocolate if it had no more than 180 calories per eight-ounce serving, but only at breakfast. Vending machines in high schools could offer only products meeting a lengthy set of criteria, such as “nonnutritive-sweetened, noncaffeinated, noncarbonated, nonfortified beverages that contain less than five calories per serving.” . . . . The measure is still being negotiated with the Legislature, which is generally supportive but has raised objections to the high level of specificity in the governor’s legislation.
OK, it's really a "Dumbo octopus," but would you just look at this thing?