April 15, 2014


Techno-dystopian bears aren't just for Kubrick anymore. As this cartoon from Tom Gauld's 2013 book, You're All Just Jealous of My Jetpack shows.

I would totally kickstart a collection of J.G. Ballard-inspired Adventures of Ballard The Bear, though. I bet Ballard the Bear grows up amidst the privations of a Japanese prison camp in Shanghai would make a great movie. Spielberg's attached to direct.

Before you put Ballard on the shelf next to Cormac McCarthy's A Child's Golden Treasury of Tales from The Road, know that J.G. Ballard actually did write for kids, at least twice.

From Ballardian's roundup in 2008: In 1966, he wrote an episode for the BBC children's storybook show Jackanory, called "Gulliver in Space," which was only uncovered in 2007. [The fact, that is, not the episode itself, which appears to have been lost.] Apparently, Ballard took the gig because his kids were fans of the show.

Then in 1973, he worked on a kids book project, Next Rocket To The Moon, about an astronaut living at an abandoned Cape Canaveral. The project never happened, but the text exists in the Ballard archive somewhere.

Which, now that I mention it, is sounds like Jackanory was just a guy reading a story, maybe with pans across a commissioned illustration or two. Check out this crazy episode about the queen and tea, for example. Are we to understand that just because the BBC trashed their Jackanory archive, the "Gulliver in Space" manuscript is not in Ballard's papers somewhere? Because it should be. There's our Kickstarter project, people Right in front of us. Let's make this happen.

Buy You're All Just Jealous of My Jetpack: Cartoons by Tom Gauld at Amazon [amazon]
J.G. Ballard, you know, for kids [ballardian]

April 14, 2014



A couple of months of Throwback Thursdays ago Johnson Trading Gallery posted these photos to their Instagram. It's a wacked out biomorphic geodesic Habitrail of a jungle gym playground pod whatzit structure they bought on eBay. [And apparently flipped at Wright a few months later for $15,000. Nice hustle.]


The Curved Space Diamond Structure was designed by Peter Pearce, a systems-minded architect/engineer who ran with the idea of building a world full of nature-inspired kit-of-parts-based architecture. The Curved Space Diamond Structures, based on a diamond molecule, turned up at smarter playgrounds and museums in the 1980s, including the Brooklyn Children's Museum. But today the most prominent installation remaining has to be the Hakone Open Air Museum in Japan, where a big-ass Diamond Structure is known as the "Soap Bubble Castle."

I want to mourn the homogenizing, litigious, maintenance-deferring forces that kept the Pearce's Curved Space Structures from taking over the playgrounds of the world. But frankly, it seems only slightly more effective as a play structure than Pearce's Biosphere 2 was as a self-contained ecosystem. I'd still put one in my backyard, though.

TBT Back in 2007 me and a Friend bought this school playground on eBay [johnson_trading's instagram via reference library]
Peter Pearce's "Curved Space Diamond Structure" [play-scapes.com]
Peter Jon Pearce Design portfolio site [pjpearcedesign]

April 11, 2014

I was kind of into it at the time, but Stanley Kubrick & Steven Spielberg's A.I. is one of those movies I just can't watch since becoming a parent. [Also on that list: Marc Forster's dystopian suburban stillbirth saga, Everything Put Together; and Stephen Gaghan's electrified terror mosaic, Syriana.]

Noel Murray's disturbing and compelling look back at A.I. and the single, creepy licensed product it produced, the Super Toy Teddy talking bear, captures the gutwrench perfectly.

It also makes me want to give the film another try:

I bought Super Toy Teddy as a joke, because A.I.--and the Teddy scene at the end--hit Donna and me pretty hard. She was about six months pregnant when we saw A.I., and the movie spoke to all our fears about having a kid. A.I. ticks the boxes of all the common parental anxieties. Monica isn't entirely sure what's safe or unsafe for David to do, or how to handle it when he malfunctions. She doesn't know how to answer when David asks if she's going to die someday, since she knows that thing she's programmed to bond with her will likely outlive her by centuries, and then what's he supposed to do? The "imprinting" process between Monica and David is so quick and half-considered--not unlike the moment of conception for many parents.

Murray posted a video of his Super Teddy talking, and it is truly creeping me the hell out. Are these recordings real? What were these toy people thinking?

What movies imbue you with existential dread or anxiety and shake you to your parental core? Tell us in the comments!

A disturbing toy captures A.I.'s unnerving fatalism [thedissolve via kottke]
You can still buy an A.I. Artificial Intellilgence Super Toy Teddy on Amazon, btw [amazon]

April 9, 2014

Vox is breaking some news here that more people named their kid Khaleesi after a Game of Thrones character in 2012 than named their kid Betsy.

But I guess I'm surprised that at least 140 people name their kids Betsy instead of Elizabeth, and call her Betsy. In fact, I'd suggest that there are probably enough off-the-book Betsys out there to wipe out an entire weddingful of Khaleesis.

I really have no idea what GoT nonsense I'm talking about.

Except doesn't it follow the Name Your Kid After Your Favorite Fictional Character trend? Game of Thrones Has Changed The Way We Name Babies [vox]

photo: aya brackett for remodelista

"The cast iron enameled corner sink is original." "The gilded body cast on the wall is of Ayelet during one of her pregnancies." [remodelista via @hawthorneLAT]


While Australia is intercepting needy refugees at sea by the boatload and storing them on some [other] remote prison island, friendly neighboring New Zealand is taking a different approach. The nationa-wide family support agency Plunket recently arranged a playgroup visit for a young foreigner family on government support whose only child has not had much chance to interact other babies.

It is assumed that through such early interventions and regular professional followup, the undersocialized child might one day grow up to be a well-adjusted, productive member of society.

HAHA JK he's going to be the king of England!

Prince George embarks on (grumpy) first crawl-about in New Zealand [independent.co.uk]
Plunket | We provide a caring, professional well child and family and whānau service. [plunket.org.nz]

April 8, 2014

rebel_heart_myfoxla_uscg.jpgYou could blog for years and still not come up with a scenario that combined just the right about of aspirational travel fantasy with the opportunity to judge the bejeebees out of someone else's parenting half as perfect as the Rebel Heart saga.

So what do you think of the young family's decision to sail around the world with a 1-yo and a 3-yo, and have to get rescued by the skydiving Coast Guard because your kid got majorly sick, and your navigation and communication equipment broke, leaving you adrift in the Pacific, and then have the Coast Guard scuttle your boat with all your earthly possessions on it, minus three carry-ons? Tell us in the comments--of some other website!

But not here. Seriously, what's even the point? Are you just about to do this yourself, and you're surfing for tips?

Instead, tell me how to travel to Cabo with the kid and not get salmonella. That seems at least slightly more useful, tipwise.

Sick Baby Rescued From Sailboat on Round-The-World Trip Recovering [myfoxla via everyone and nathan]
Judge the Rebel Heart Sailboat Parents? Or Envy Them? [nyt]

Speaking of sports, Mets 2nd baseman Daniel Murphy took flak from WFAN talk radio commentators because he took two days of paternity leave last week when his wife gave birth to the couple's first son via C-section. Murphy missed the first two games of the season, against the Washington Nationals.

The free advice that was offered by the radio d-bags included: he shoulda scheduled the c-section for before the season, and he shoulda hired a nurse. Major League Baseball rules allow for three days of paternity leave, which is basically nothing, but is also three days more than most jobs in the US.

UPDATE As Seth the grown-up rightly points out, apologies also ensued, and this is now a learning moment for most if, not all. I'd still point out that three days of paternity leave is crap, but I'd also suggest that baseball players aim for the off-season when they swing for that conception fence.

Mets Baseball Player Trashed For Taking Two Days' Paternity Leave


Now that the NCAA Finals are behind us for another year, let's take a look at the brackets that really matter: the 2014 Name Of The Year, hosted this time around by The Concourse at Deadspin. I was out as soon as Genghis Cohen lost to Erby Ferby. Definitely did not see that coming.

2014 Name Of The Year Sweet 16 [theconcourse.deadspin via dt reader rolf]
NOTY Elite 8
Polls were supposed to close for the Final Four Monday Morning.

April 7, 2014

K2 just now:

on Gilligan's Island the Professor said, "Shakespeare said it best: 'oh what a tangled web we weave.'" Did Shakespeare really say that?
And as I start into my explanation of Shakespeare and how I think someone said that in Macbeth, I say, actually I don't know what play that's from; I need to look it up. And it turns out to be from Sir Walter Scott's 1808 epic poem, Marmion. And now we have to figure out why it's so often misattributed.

And then K2 goes, "Wait, is Shakespeare the one who wrote Queen Titania and King Oberon?" And then she dropped her mic and ran off to ballet.

April 4, 2014

Nearly seven years ago, when the kid was three and fascinated with death, and life, and how they were connected, I linked to Eric Meyer's post about having a similar conversation with his daughter. It starts out:

"Daddy, when will my baby brother or sister get here?"
"Soon, sweetie. We don't know exactly when."
"No, probably not."
"The tomorrow after tomorrow?"
"Probably not."
"But when my baby brother or sister comes, they will be a baby."
"Yep. A tiny little baby."
Well that tiny little baby was born. And now she's five. And her name is Rebecca. And, as Eric writes with such devastating clarity, she has had a rapid return of her brain cancer. And it really looks like she will die before she's all done growing up, not after. And though we only know people in common, my heart breaks completely for Eric and his family.

On Writing; The Truth [meyerweb.com via waxy]
Previously: Growing Up

April 3, 2014


In a 1994 memo to the Mexican people, Zapatista rebel leader Subcomandante Marcos told the story of the Mayan gods bringing colors to the grey world, colors which are contained in the tail feathers of the macaw. Until Ted Cruz read Green Eggs & Ham on the Senate floor, I would have thought this was unusual.

In 1996, Marcos' text was turned into La Historia de los Colores, an illustrated storybook by the Mexican Indian artist Domitilia Domínguez. In 1998 El Paso-based Cinco Punto Press received an NEA grant to publish two bilingual children's books, including La Historia de los Colores, in the US. [Marcos had rejected any copyright claim or financial interest in either the text or any books.]

Then, just as the book was coming out, and the NEA was about to cut Cinco Puntos a check, the head of the NEA freaked out and abruptly canceled the grant. He feared that funding kids' books written by masked Mexican guerrilla leaders would not play well with the Republican-controlled Congress seeking to defund and dismantle the NEA.

Anyway, it all ended well; the publicity was a boon for the book; the Lannan Foundation stepped in and replaced the grant. They blew through a couple of printings, and the book won a bunch of awards. As for the Zapatistas, they're still plugging away, trying to get their autonomous Mayan Marxist state carved out of Mexico.

Buy The Story of Colors / La Historia de los Colores: A Bilingual Folktale from the Jungles of Chiapas starting at around $11 [amazon]
The Story Behind The Story of Colors [cincopuntos]
N.E.A. Couldn't Tell a Mexican Rebel's Book by Its Cover [nyt, Mar 1999]

Seriously, ever have one of those days where you feel like your greatest accomplishment is finally loosening the kid's impacted ear wax?

Or not stepping on that Cheerio you almost didn't see?

Because until right before bedtime, when I taught the kid how to make creepy peel-off skin by spreading Elmer's glue on your fingertips, those were literally the highlights of my day.

Driving to pick up the kid, I just heard Oscar Brown Jr's original 1961 recording of "Dat Dere" for the first time. And it is awesome. Brown's lyrics start with a kid pummeling his dad with questions on a trip to the zoo. My favorite lines have to be,

"Hey, Daddy, what's a square?
And where do we get air?
And Daddy, can I have that big elephant over there?"

Typing it now, I realize it could be geometry, but with a jazzman's kid, I'm pretty sure that's not the square he's asking about.

April 2, 2014

DT's favorite CSPAN guru Seth noted this odd mention from yesterday's House hearings into GM's total botching of the deadly ignition problems in the Chevy Cobalt. Basically the internal spring in the ignition would fail, and the car would shut off while you're driving if you had what Democratic Rep. Diana DeGette of Colorado calls, a "mom keychain." She helpfully jangled her big ol' mom keychain to illustrate:

So a keychain so big you have to keep it in a purse, not a pocket. Also, because of patriarchy etc., women's pants don't have useful pockets.

I'd missed this bit, but in this morning's Senate hearing I did hear Barbara Boxer say to GM CEO Mary Barra, "I am very disappointed, really as a woman to woman, Because the culture you're representing here is the culture of the status quo." Still trying to figure out if this is progress, or the exact opposite. I mean, I guess the fact that no male senator blamed GM's decade-long failure on its new female CEO is a good thing? I'm really reaching here.

Democrat Holds Up an Ignition Switch During Hearing [nyt]


There are days I really worry about this country of ours. When I wonder what it's gonna be like for my kids, how we'll compete, how we'll even survive.

Like when a tiny Soviet refugee country like Estonia can out-stretch and out-customize a Chevy Lumina, and all we can say is, SCREW YOU RUSSKIES, AT LEAST OUR'S IS BIGGER AND CAN FIT ALL THE DUGGARS AND THEIR GROCERIES!

This is one of those days.


19 Kids and Counting [peopleofwalmart via dt apocalypse correspondent @jjdaddyo]
Previously, depressingly: Luminawesome: Chevy Lumina Stretch Luminasine

April 1, 2014


Mazeltov to the whole Dotcom family, though I don't think fear is necessarily something to be afraid of. And anyway, if he ends up with an inexplicable anxiety about his bunny overlords, we know where it comes from.


The Samsung Galaxy S5 functions as a "baby crying detector," an amazing "hidden feature," which is techblog for "a feature that's not sexy enough to make it into the ads or the launch announcements or the press materials, but which is in the settings menu of a phone that hasn't shipped yet."

Here's how it works: first, you agree with Samsung's lawyers that you're an irresponsible parent for leaving your kid alone in the first place, and whatever happens to him is not Samsung's fault. Then you leave your phone within a meter of the crib. It will send a vibrate alert to your Galaxy Gear smartwatch when it detects the kid is crying.

But wait, you say, this is April Fool's Day. Surely they're really going to flip it, so you leave the otherwise useless watch as the detector, and keep the new, multi-function phone with you as the receiver?

Nice try, but you're still trapped in your old smartwatch paradigm. The S5 doesn't just detect; it predicts. If you position it close enough to the crib, it will emit a series of loud rings several seconds before the kid wakes up. You can personalize those rings in another settings menu.

Hidden feature turns Galaxy S5 into baby monitor [soyacincau via gizmodo thanks dt reader rolf]

March 28, 2014


Here's another Kickstarter I'm slow to write about, and this one is facing dire consequences. Artists Ezra and Miriam Elia's critique of the contemporary art world is called, We Go To The Gallery. It's a parody of the Ladybird Books, the UK version of Dick and Jane, only instead of Dick, they have Peter. Different words for everything over there.

Anyway, Penguin is the current copyrightholder on the Peter and Jane series, and they're demanding that the Elias destroy her book because it infringes on their intellectual property, and because it has adult content [which, yes, it really does] that somehow warps the fragile little minds of Penguin's customers from afar.


On the webpage where you'd normally be able to buy the book, Elia and her brother have posted a statement decrying and defying Penguin's demands, and asking for support.

We Go To the Gallery- limited edition book pre-order for £20.00 is not currently working [miriamelia.co.uk]
Penguin Group Targets Artist Over Satirical Art Book


In June 1971, three weeks after their son Zowie was born, David and Angie Bowie took a stroll for paparazzo Ron Burton. The resulting photographs are the second coolest thing that resulted from Zowie's birth: #3 is the song "Kooks," which Bowie wrote for the kid, and which is rather touching, but also not really a masterpiece. Though unless you can suggest a better song written for a kid, maybe we have to say it wins its category.

Anyway, #1 is obviously the kid's name itself. Even though it wasn't really his name, and he ditched it for his birth certificate name almost as soon as he got around kids his own age, Zowie Bowie is awesome. Ahead of his time.

Mr and Mrs Bowie Take Three-Week-Old Zowie For A Walk [retronaut via dt reader josh]

Here is a round-up of headlines to ruin your weekend all at once, instead of ruining your week one day at a time, the DT Friday Freakout:

  • Because of volatile chlorination byproducts, do not pee in the pool. [amer. chem soc via someone]

  • Disproportionate suspensions and other harsh educational discipline of African American kids begins in preschool. [nyt]

  • Donald Trump tweets that vaccines cause autism. [@actuallypjh]

  • The New England Journal of Medicine published a study that found autism-linked anomalies in the neocortex which develops in the third trimester. Before birth. [nejm.org]

  • The NHTSA is demanding Graco recall 1.8 million infant car seats, in addition to the 4.2 million it has already recalled this year [pdf], because they have similar impossible-to-open-in-an-emergency buckles. Graco's resisting, because the new batch has handles and bases and stuff, so you can just take the whole thing, why would you need to unbuckle anyway? Sheesh. [nyt, nhtsa.dot.gov, which still only publishes pdfs? what?]

  • Actual knowledge is a more effective motivator for preschoolers than random sticker rewards, a study finds. Teachers shared information about a picture as a reward for kids completing a mindless, irrelevant task. I'm no educational researcher, but maybe an actually relevant task would be even more effective? Just a guess. [edweek]

DreamWorks animator Daniel Hashimoto started adding CG effects to little videos of his son James playing. He posts them to YouTube as Action Movie Kid. They are pretty awesome, and are getting a lot of media attention starting yesterday or so. They will probably end up on Ellen before you finish reading this. Mike Walsh of the NY Daily News seems to have broken the story/surprised Hashimoto with his call about his channel, which, come on, was basically waiting to be discovered.

It's interesting to see where the videos started out, a month ago:

Hashimoto began with five videos, all uploaded on Feb. 18. One layered The Matrix on top of the room where James stood transfixed by the television. Then there was a fireworks malfunction at Disneyland, which, while hilarious, would probably get him fired from Pixar. The others follow the winning formula of toys seeming to blow things up.

Which I'm not really a fan of, at least at that age, so we have no guns, and have held off on the blow-things-up movies. Which is why my favorite has to be The Floor Is Lava, which is real and awesome. But it's all viral from here, with the light saber and grappling gun racing away from the rest. Have fun kids, cash in while you can!

See Action Movie Kid's videos on YouTube [youtube]
Action Movie Kid: DreamWorks animator turns his son into superhero [nydn]
Previously, related:
Woodworkers' Kids Always Have The Nicest Hand-Carved Rocking Toys
26m views and counting! FX Artists' Kids Always Have The Nicest YouTube Videos
"Fabricators' Kids Have The NICEST Bikes."

March 27, 2014


I'm slow sometimes, and maybe If I'd written about it last week, there would have been more suspense involved in Amol Sarva's Kickstarter project to create Q is for Queens, an illustrated alphabetic roadtrip through New York's third borough. But I am still working on my brackets, and I gotta tell you, I'm feeling pretty good about them right now. Think I'm gonna pick a winner.

As for Sarva's book, it's already blown through its funding goal, so all that's left is for you to sign on, and get in line for your copy. Sarva's timeline and process sound a little optimistic to me, but otherwise, it seems fine. I'm sure he'll finalize the book's contents and find a printer and have it out the door by July. Or so.


I do wonder if it's not too depressing to include 5 Pointz, though. Long Island City's global street art mecca has already been buffed by corporate goons in the dead of night, and the complex is slated to be demolished and replaced by luxury condo towers any day now. G is for Gentrification, not Graffiti. But maybe these are the tough lessons that only a scruffy borough like Queens can teach us. Carry on!

Q is for Queens will be funded on May 16. You can still back it and receive various rewards until then [kickstarter via amol and dt reader rolf]

March 26, 2014

I've never liked The Velveteen Rabbit. It feels like it's been coasting into new bookcases based on pure saccharine grandparental nostalgia for decades. But now I'm terrified of it.

Mallory Ortberg has ripped the happy facade off another vintage bunny storybook to reveal the monster within.

The Velveteen Rabbit, as retold/revealed by Mallory Ortberg [the-toast.net]
Previously: The Runaway Bunny: No Escape

March 25, 2014

The BBC reports that the "Boss of £1m firm will give it away to be a full-time dad."

He was a publicist for the Dalai Lama and TED and the Prince of Wales. For just £10,000, he will "hand over" 95% of the shares in his company, plus his business contacts, plus he will "mentor the new boss for a year."

All so he can spend more time with his kid. And write a book about his kid. His kid is turning one. He may consult part-time himself for "a Buddhist leader in India to supplement his income."

Oh, right, he's already taken off a year, and he let all the clients and employees of the firm go, and he told all his employees to work for their clients as freelancers. A year ago.

So, yes, technically, there is no actual operating, functioning, revenue-generating business at this moment. Which is a great opportunity! See, as he tells the BBC, "Staff will not be rehired next month so the new head can start with a clean slate and no overhead costs."

Finding a new person will be a five-step process, he said, including tweeting about what leadership means to them, filling in an application, submitting a business plan and attending an evaluation day.
Which is only four steps. But then, he readily admits, numbers were not his strong suit. His talent is getting the BBC to go along with his scam to get some twitterer to pay him £10,000 for his old contacts list.

Boss of £1m firm will give it away to be a full-time dad [bbc via dt reader nathan]

March 24, 2014


Dear Publicists,

They might not show up in mirrors, but they will display every damn camera-equipped electronic device and luxo-crib you send their way. Or maybe they got it from Z-Bey. [via the signs of the end times]

Nurseryworks Hollis lucite crib originally named after the designer they knocked it off from
Unidentified local hack buys PR bullshit about NurseryWorks lucite crib
You can buy a Stokke Sleepi System in White or something else for $999.99 [amazon]


In a shocking, exclusive report from Huffington Post, which they copied from imgur, where five months ago user SassyPants had LOLCATS'd the animated GIFs from a Buzzfeed post about an industrial trade group's 5-year-old PR video, baby carrots are actually just regular carrots cut into 2-inch stumps.

Which, duh. Read the package. There's a difference between baby carrots and "baby cut carrots," or "mini cut carrots."

Somehow all these journalists missed the real shock about "baby carrots," which is that they were invented by Bakersfield carrot processor Mike Yurosek in 1986, who was tired of tossing out up to 70% of his carrots because they were scarred, twisted, or "slightly rotted." So he got a frozen green bean cutter. And he peeled them in a giant cement mixer-like thing. And then "polished" them. This is the real advance here, people. We get artisanal carrots at the farmer's market once in a while, and peeling carrots is annoying, tedious, and messy. Pay them what they want.

And read Wikipedia. Because they have these facts. And a link to a 2004 article on Yurosek where no less than the food editor of Better Homes & Gardens says she was "shocked" to discover that baby carrots are cut carrots. Being shocked for us is what media people do.

Wikipedia also mentions a 2010 "hip marketing campaign" by Bolthouse Farms, another carrot conglomerate, which used ironic sex and violence to promote baby [cut] carrots as an alternative to Cheetos.

First, let's point out the epic sexist/sexy ad fail of an "overt sexual innuendo" involving a woman eating a 2-inch carrot. I am personally mesmerized by these words, written and spoken by actual professionals:

Ad psychologist Carol Moog says kids may be disappointed to find all the flashy ads are really just for carrots. She says they need to make carrots more fun -- like, perhaps, putting an orange (but natural) dusting on carrots that mimics Cheetos.

Consultant Kate Newlin says she wants to like the idea. She loves the fact that carrots are the color of Cheetos and make the crunch of Doritos. But she says she is not quite buying the premise of carrots mimicking junk food. "The guilt is missing," says Newlin, author of Passion Brands. "I don't think Frito-Lay will be trembling."

Yeah, that was before Bolthouse Farms introduced Baby Carrot ShakeDowns, the bag of baby [cut] carrots with a packet of flavor dusting attached, in Ranch, Salsa, or Chili Lime.

They promise to "smother delicious chili lime flavor all over your snack time," and to "single-handedly turn on-the-go lifestyles into flavor-filled lifestyles." Frankly, the whole thing sounds like a disgusting, smeary mess, and you're one wrong tear from that powder packet exploding all over you, your kid, and your car seat. No thanks.

Producepedia.com: How baby carrots are made, 344, 066 views [youtube]
The Extremely Upsetting Truth About Baby Carrots EVERYTHING IS A LIE. 776,095 Views. [buzzfeed]
How do they make Baby carrots? 173,935 views [imgur]
Getting To The Bottom Of Baby Carrot Lies (WATCH), 808 Comments [huffpo]
Baby carrot [wikipedia]
Baby carrots take on junk food with hip marketing campaign [usatoday]
Baby Carrot ShakeDowns® Chili Lime [bolthouse]

March 21, 2014

The DT Friday Freakout is here to ruin your weekend with a roundup of headlines from the worlds of science, health, parenting, politics, and France:

  • An Indian couple in a rough Northern Paris suburb is being investigated for child neglect. Authorities think their two sons have never left their apartment, and they seemed to care even less about their newborn daughter. Wait, Le Parisien reports there are three boys and one baby girl. [bbc, and le parisien via dt sr wild child correspondent dt]

  • Harvard says low-fat milk not necessarily all that; whole milk fine for some. [hsph.harvard.edu]

  • 3yos remember someone they met once when they were 1yo. There's no escape. [bps]

  • We're all horrible helicopter parents damaging our children with our paranoia, and adventure playgrounds are our only hope. [theatlantic via everyone]

  • Oh, and dads are even worse, because we're the real kidnappers. [theatlantic again]

This is obviously completely perfect.

This is why the world needs more paternity leave.

Swedish filmmaker Johannes Nyholm was on his family leave, taking care of his 1yo daughter, when he decided to shoot a one-day short film. That grew into a six month play project, and the resulting film, Las Palmas, won the Directors' Fortnight at Cannes and went onto more than 100 other film festivals in 2011-12.

This is the trailer, called "Baby Trashes Bar." You can now buy the entire short, plus behind-the-scenes bonus blah blah directly from Nyholm for a mere $1.99. And you totally should.

Baby trashes bar in Las Palmas [vimeo via kottke]
Las Palmas Movie [laspalmasmovie.com]

March 19, 2014

I think the last time we tried to take a newborn kid to see a movie it was Million Dollar Baby. It felt awkward and depressing as hell, and I was only too glad to take the kid out when she started wailing. Ultimately, it wasn't the mom-demo-heavy movie selection, or the "Mommy & Me" branding that turned me off: it was all the other peoples' kids. So noisy.

Anyway, if you took your kid to the Landmark Sunshine Cinema's Rattle & Reel screening this morning of Lars von Trier's explicit Shia Labeouf vehicle Nymphomaniac, I'd be slightly interested to hear how it went.

And if you could get in touch again in 15-20 years, I'd love to hear if the experience left any discernible psychosexual scars on your infant child.

Landmark Theaters Invites You To Bring Your Child To See Nymphomaniac [gawker]

March 17, 2014

Speaking of It Doesn't Get Better, the Times asks, "Shouldn't the Breast Pump Be as Elegant as an iPhone and as Quiet as a Prius by Now?"

Yeah, no. Considering how recent the iPhone is, and how rare design talent that can actually produce an iPhone is, it's totally unsurprising that something as niche as a breast pump is not a hotbed of innovation. Also, and yes, it's their point, it's a chick thing. And guys only even become aware of the Breast Pump Problem when they're tasked with cleaning and repacking it for the first time. WHICH YOU TOTALLY SHOULD BE DOING, BTW, GET WITH THE PROGRAM.

Plus, you could argue that it's not a Prius anyway, which should inspire the design breakthrough, but the Tesla. Except that Teslas cost a hundred thousand dollars. And so the Tesla of breast pumps would be awesome, but too expensive for all but the top 1% of breast milk producers. So that won't work.

In conclusion, then, we'll see nationwide paid parental leave legislation enacted before we see iPhone-level breast pump innovation. Sorry.

Shouldn't the Breast Pump Be as Elegant as an iPhone and as Quiet as a Prius by Now? [nyt]


Ezra Jack Keats' The Snowy Day was one of my favorite books growing up. It wasn't until I was a parent myself that I realized how extraordinary it was, and that before Keats' success, there had been almost no kids' books with non-white characters in them.

This weekend's NY Times has a couple of frustrating essays looking at this same whitey white problem, which somehow still continues, decades later. And in fact, it seems to be even worse once you get out of the storybook phase, and into books that kids read for themselves. There are only pink people.

Walter Dean Myers writes very movingly about realizing he'd never seen himself or his world in books:Books did not become my enemies. They were more like friends with whom I no longer felt comfortable. I stopped reading. I stopped going to school.Christopher Myers is even more devastating about the limits this literary apartheid puts on the imaginations of kids of all colors, and of the adults around them.

And as I'm thinking of how kids' worlds get shaped and foreclosed from the get-go, often without our even noticing, I recognized the chords of Myers' critiques echoing through this manifesto by the literary editor of the UK Independent, decrying the gender segregation of kids books, and the inequities and stereotypes it deepens.

You see, it is not just girls' ambitions that are being frustrated by the limiting effects of "books for girls", in which girls' roles are all passive, domestic and in front of a mirror. Rebecca Davies, who writes the children's books blog at Independent.co.uk, tells me that she is equally sick of receiving "books which have been commissioned solely for the purpose of 'getting boys reading' [and which have] all-male characters and thin, action-based plots." What we are doing by pigeon-holing children is badly letting them down. And books, above all things, should be available to any child who is interested in them.
Again, they're discussing books for kids who can read, but it starts at the beginning, with the books we read with our kids. Angelina Ballerina and Fancy Nancy and Ruby and , I'm looking at you.

Anyway, point is, think about it.

Where Are the People of Color in Children's Books?" [nyt]
The Apartheid of Children's Literature
Gender-specific books demean all our children. So the Independent on Sunday will no longer review anything marketed to exclude either sex [independent.co.uk]

March 16, 2014


If Burrito Justice had stopped at documenting the clock in Clement Hurd's illustrations for Goodnight Moon, and created this animated gif, and determined that bedtime took a freaking hour and ten minutes [!], it would have been enough.

But we also get an incredible analysis of the moon itself, which turns out to be a lot less benign than I was led to believe. As in, "Say goodnight to the moon that's about to rip the earth apart, probably before you wake up, little bunny, this is it, we're done for" less benign. Seriously, math!

Goodnight Clock [burritojustice via dt reader peter]

March 13, 2014

City of the World (for all races are here)
City of tall facades of marble and iron
Proud and passionate city.
When million-footed Manhattan unpent,
descends to its pavements.

And spreads measles to vulnerable children because you are not vaccinated, or because you are WTF choosing not to have your kid vaccinated, or you're not paying attention, and BAM MEASLES.

There have been 19 cases of measles reported in New York this year. NINETEEN. Nine are children. Four are too young to be vaccinated yet, and so depend on the immunity of the people around them. Whoops.

Three, ages 12-15mo, have gotten the first vaccination, but measles needs a second shot. It's normally given when a kid's 4-6yo, but health officials are saying everyone in the affected communities should get their second shot immediately. "Two others had not been vaccinated by parental choice."

All the more reason to make sure your kid gets vaccinated, because there are people out there choosing not to vaccinate, and their kids are like little viral vectors of heightened risk. Damn, people.

Measles Outbreak in NYC Grows by 3 Cases to 19 Total [nbcnewyork.com]

March 12, 2014


I'd seen the various editions that artist/blogger/Canadian/dad Michael Dumontier had published with Paul + Wendy Projects. But I confess I didn't realize the Typing edition, the unique, hand-typed prints which he and Neil Farber started in like 2012, were still going so strong.

And so my karmic consequence involved surfing through all 548 Typings to find the one above, which Matt from RO/LU posted a little while ago. It was #440. Alas, it's already sold, but wouldn't that be an incredibly devious mindgame of a thing to file away in some box, to be left for your kids to stumble across after you're dead, and they're sorting through all your stuff? Damn. If you're nervous, you could stick a Post-It note with "Naahhh," or "jk" or whatever on it.

Anyway, along the way, I found a couple of other kid-related Typing prints, equally edgy, but maybe slightly less destructive to your kid's psyche:

#192: The correct answer to anything a child says is "who cares?"

OK, maybe that one's a little harsh, too. But it's available. How about #172, When I was a baby?


#172: "Mother, I know very little of this
world, but I know you and I know milk
and these are the things I like most."

An easier way to surf through Dumontier & Farber's collaborations is to visit their blog, Personal Message. It's full of Typing, paintings, and books. Don't get behind.

Typing, by Michael Dumontier and Neil Farber, $50 ea. [paulandwendyprojects via ro/lu]
Ranking the Children [personalmessageblog]

Jason Kottke pointed to Thomas Beller's New Yorker post about introducing his 2yo son to Nirvana.

Though the lyrics start with babies talking to each other, Nevermind's "Drain You" is kind of a creepy, angsty song [Nirvana, duh], and Beller's kid gets kind of freaked out by it. What happens next will, uh, give you some ideas for when you listen to some classic song that you didn't realize your kid may not have been prepared for:

In my years teaching creative writing, I have encountered scenes about fathers' sentimental moments with their favorite music. One woman wrote about her father lying on the floor of the den and blasting Bruce Springsteen. At the time, I thought it was a bit cringe inducing. But now, having entered their ranks, I am inclined to forgive the dads and their music. I have always been an enthusiast, and sort of foolish about the music I love. For a period of time, I was very into Nirvana. It seemed that they were saving the world of music from itself, as well as saving the culture at large from itself.
Thomas Beller | Nirvana for Two-Year-Olds [newyorker via kottke]

March 9, 2014


In 2008, Maurice Sendak told the NY Times about how the Lindbergh baby kidnapping, and the sensational trial that followed, freaked his 4-year-old self right out, and generated an anxious fascination with the incident for the rest of his life.

Sendak based his 1981 picture book, Outside Over There, on the Lindbergh case. And he spent decades searching for one of the little souvenir ladders sold outside the trial. Memorabilia auctioneer Ted Hake finally found him one. And now just a couple of years later, Hake is selling it, out of the late artist's estate.

Most of the rest of the Sendak's collection is early Mickey Mouse merch, if that's more your thing.

Item 1042: LINDBERGH BABY KIDNAPPING TRIAL SOUVENIR WOODEN LADDER, est. $1000-2000, bidding ends Mar. 19 [hakes]
Previously, 2008:
Sendak talks about the Lindbergh baby in the context of the rest of the horror and terror of childhood in this 1989 Fresh Air interview, rebroadcast in 2007 [npr.org]


It's right there! Behind the glare! Can you see it?? No, of course you cannot. But it is there, I swear. We pulled into McDonald's in McLean, VA yesterday afternoon on a post-Girl Scout cookie run, and parked next to the first Ferrari FF I've seen in the wild. And, just as expected, it had a car seat in the back.


Actually, it was a booster seat, a grey Cosco backless Leo, $20, nothing to it.

The FF looks much better in person than I expected. In fact, it was kind of refreshing, beautiful, even. And it looked very nice in the Scion-ish gray, a real family car. It was so tasteful, that taking too many pictures of it felt kind of tacky, so this is all I got.

I tried and failed to spot the Ferrari Family inside McD's, though, which makes me think the FF is reaching a new, less pimpish clientele. And it turns out the driver was a grandfather with three grandsons, around 5-12yo, and no one quite knew how to operate the touchscreen system. They were all still poking at the dash as we pulled out, Ferrari's 2+2 demographic mystery still intact.

You're With Me, Leather: The Ferrari FF Car Seat

Buy a Ferrari FF 2+2 with a Cosco backless Leo booster seat, around $399,020 [amazon]

March 7, 2014

Time was if you wanted white noise to put your kid to sleep, you had to run the vacuum cleaner, or the washing machine, or the dishwasher. Then some enterprising genius figured out how to make CD's of these same sounds. Then someone else--dozens of someone elses, apparently-loaded white noise generators onto a chip, and now there are ambient noise machines for every quirk and nursery.

Except gee, guess what, a study found they are too loud, too close, and in any case, that much continuous noise stunts the development of a kid's normal hearing. So scrap that crap and try something else.

Like move to a city where there's a steady thrum of traffic that lulls kids to sleep; works for us.

Meanwhile, in other white news, a Duggar-sized family of evangelical German homeschoolers will not be deported back to Germany, thanks to the same "prosecutorial discretion" tactics ICE uses when they don't deport brown children who were brought to the US by their freedom-loving parents. Living the American Dream of immigration reform for Europeans!

Infant sound machines could be dangerous to babies' ears [boston via dt freakout sr correspondent sara]
German home-school family will not be deported from US [bbc via twitter and sara]

March 6, 2014

Now the story can be told. In 2008, Daddy Types set out to find out once and for all who composed the music on the classic Sesame Street clip, "How Crayons Are Made."

What we find will not surprise you, I hope, because the mystery's been solved for years now. It's Richard Harvey. Part of the confusion results from the use of parts of two tracks: "Dragonfly Dance" is the bread on the "Exchange" sandwich. Harvey reissued digitally remastered versions of his early work in 2009.

And just last night, for the restless compleatists among us, Harvey has posted a making-of video to YouTube, where he breaks down the 16 tracks on each song to show how they were made. This is possible at all because Harvey rescued the original master tapes from a dumpster when his old recording studio was being dismantled. If only the creators of Pinball Number Count had done the same. Sigh.

Watercourse and Exchange - from How Crayons are made [youtube, thanks Marvin in Harvey Studio]
Previously: Who Wrote The Music For That Sesame Street Crayon Movie?
Related: How Crayons Are Made [sesame street on youtube]

March 5, 2014


Let me guess, her favorite book is Olivia. Are these product? Or homemade? Or both, i.e., etsy?

In other Armory Show news, it's amazing that Uppababy is turning up at the VIP preview. Back in the day it was Bugaboos-only. How times & tastes change.

lmfao lady and baby dressed up in jackson pollack [sic] halloween costumes for the armory. [1aurabrown's instagram]


"5-Year-Olds Can Learn Calculus," says a math education researcher with a book out about teaching calculus to 5-year-olds.

I'm all for it, and I'm quite ready to believe that the traditional way the math education system is set up, with memorizing grids of math facts followed by algebra, trig, and calculus, is suboptimal.

But this article doesn't make the case for me that Maria Droujkova and Yelena McMananan have the solution.

I guess we'll all need to buy Moebius Noodles: Adventurous math for the playground crowd for ourselves and find out. By which point--the point where our kids either do or don't do any better than with some flashcard app--it'll be too late. Science, you've failed us again!

Buy Moebius Noodles: Adventurous math for the playground crowd at Amazon, run your kid through it, and let us know how it turns out! [amazon]
5-Year-Olds Can Learn Calculus [theatlantic]

March 4, 2014

Writer Kevin Young was on NPR Fresh Air today talking about his new book of poetry, Book of Hours. It sounds like it's largely associated with the unexpected death of his father, and then becoming a father himself.

Young also wrote a poem about he and his wife dealing with a miscarriage. Terry Gross asked Young just what I had been thinking: how long after an experience do you start writing a poem about it?

I think the hardest thing, really, is trying not to write. There's a real desire as a poet to make a poem and you're almost just writing for survival right after. You don't know anything else.
It's the parentblogger's dilemma, too; every writer's, really, whose process is to turn life into content. However long it takes to actually do something with it, you're always on the lookout for material.

Interestingly, the moment Young decided to stop writing about his son was when the kid learned to talk. A slightly too-early milestone, perhaps, but symbolically solid.

Kevin Young On Blues, Poetry And 'Laughing To Keep From Crying' [freshair.npr.org]
Buy Book of Hours: Poems at Amazon for around $20 [amazon]


February 28, 2014

Oh man, do you know the freakoutiest kind of Friday Freakout story from the worlds of science and health and parenting and politics and just general freaking out? It's the kind with "unpublished data."

Because with unpublished data, you get to freak out before any actual peer-reviewing takes place, and if it turns out that the freakout is real, you're just that much farther ahead, and you can freak out again when the research is actually published.

And if the peer review process finds out the data is wrong, irrelevant, inconclusive, or otherwise unpublishable, you've already had your solid, pre-pub freakout, and you're ready to move on to the next one.

So kudos to Inhabitots for reporting that "new, yet unpublished data" shows that "PCBs (Banned in the U.S. 35 Years Ago) are Found Leaching Out of Clothing and Paper"!

PCBs are carcinogens, and like the headline say, are banned, but it's useless; they're still everywhere. Or at least in "28 samples of non-U.S., ink-treated paper products, including advertisements, maps, postcards, napkins and brochures. All samples contained PCB-11 in the parts-per-billion range."

Wait. parts per billion? So two orders of magnitude lower than 1 part-per-million, the level at which the EPA certifies a site as decontaminated? [pdf]

Will the health risks from exposure to these unpublished 99.9% lower levels of PCB exposure hit us or the kids before the oceans go extinct in 2048?

In other freakout news, birth order affects school performance, because even by the second kid, parents are so wiped out, they're literally like, Expectations? School? Whatever, watch TV.

"PCBs (Banned in the U.S. 35 Years Ago) are Found Leaching Out of Clothing and Paper" [inhabitots via dt reader michael]
Polychloryl Biphenyl (PCB) Site Revitalization Guidance, Nov. 2005, PDF [epa.gov]
2006, we are already doomed:Salt Water Fish Extinction Seen By 2048 [cbsnews]
Birth Order and Student Performance [nber.org]

February 27, 2014


I dreamed a dream my life would be so different from this hell I'm living.

Also, I that they paid retail for that Bugaboo and Maxi-Cosi combo.

image: rocketing around twitter I don't even want to know don't tell me
never forget [youtube]

February 26, 2014


Dark Roasted Blend's got a huge, motley, but all-around entertaining historical survey of WTF kid photos, check them all out.

But the one that hit me is right here: a dad from the 70s taking his kid on his skateboard.

You see, I am just about to buy my kid, the kid, her first skateboard. Which, even though I skated in my day, this nerves this picture wracks for me are exactly the same ones that are freaking out at the idea of my little baby riding a skateboard.

How do we do this when I'm paralyzed with parental anxiety? Or do I just suck it up and help her put her epic fail vids on YouTube?

DRB doesn't credit it, but this a photo of Herbie Fletcher, of the surfing Fletchers, which means this is probably Christian Fletcher, which means I have even less cred and confidence now. Also, my headline is now from the wrong side of the Orange Curtain.

Extreme Parenting & Wild, Wild Kids! Part 2
Read more at http://www.darkroastedblend.com/2014/02/extreme-parenting-wild-wild-kids-part-2.html
[darkroastedblend.com via dt reader rolf]
May 2010: Herbie Fletcher, from Frank Ch. 38: Surf [storkbitesman]
Ch. 38: Surf, Fall 2009 [frank151]
Punk Family Values [nyt]

February 25, 2014

OK, here is an ad for Save The Children UK that is basically a woman giving birth, and a properly trained midwife helping keep the baby alive. It is for a campaign to end half a million first day deaths each year. It is pretty stunning and amazing.

First Day (TV Advert) [youtube via jezebel]
Ending Newborn Deaths: Ensuring Every Baby Survives [savethechildren.org]


It's always nice to see an Antonio Vitali Creative Playthings family come up for sale on eBay. It's especially nice to see one come up with a superlow starting bid; it always makes for good action.

And when the woodgrain conspires to produce a beautiful multi-racial family like this one, it just makes me want to pour out a celebratory bowl of Cheerios.

May your bidding always be fast and furious, Vitali rainbow doll seller pigseatmorehumansthansharks! Wait, who what?

Details about Modernist Family by Antonio Vitali for Creative Playthings Mid Century Eames Era, ends Mar. 5, current bid $102.50+6.39 s/h

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