November 22, 2015

I've forgotten than I knew about Margaret Wise Brown's admiration of Gertrude Stein, and that Brown helped bring Stein and famed chillustrator Clement Hurd together to make The World Is Round. [I just made up that word: chillustrator. Actually, it turns out I didn't, but I am the first person to call Hurd one.]

Anyway, point is, I knew nothing. And Fordham English and Women's Studies professor Anne E. Fernald exposes the fascinating tip of the iceberg of my Brown/Stein ignorance in this excellent article about Stein's influence on these pioneers of early modern kids books:

We see, too, the strength of her [Brown's] conviction that writing for the very young could be great: "Here is an audience sensitive to the sheer elements of the English language.... Translate their playfulness and serious use of the sheer elements of language into the terms and understandings of a five-year-old and you have as intelligent an audience in rhythm and sound as the maddest poet's heart could desire."
Fernald delivers the tough love by pointing out that Stein's The World Is Round is not good. I would add, though, that the posthumously published To Do: A Book of Alphabets and Birthdays is a great celebration of words words words, and can be a blast to just pop open and read aloud. I wish Brown and Stein had lived long enough to hear it.

Or to see the awesome edition of To-Do published by Yale's Beinecke Library in 2011.

Previously: Gertrude Stein's Children's Book: The World Is Round
Gertrude Stein's other children's book, sort of
Buy the Yale/Beinecke editino of To Do: A Book of Alphabets and Birthdays for $25 or less [amazon]
We have the 2000 Green Integer paperback edition of To Do: A Book of Alphabets and Birthdays, which is very nice too [amazon]


This is one of four wooden lace-up toys-a pony, a camel, a sheep, and a lion-designed by Fredun Shapur in 1969, and manufactured by Naef. They're referred to as Schnurpfeltier, which, Schnur means "cord," and so pfeltier probably means "strangulation hazard."

I've seen these toys with multiple laces of different colors, so the fact that this horse is being sold with only one white string is probably what's keeping the bidding in the single digits. Also, it's 4x6, palm-size for a toddler, but otherwise pretty small.

original vintage FREDUN SHAPUR wooden horse Schnurpfeltier by NAEF Switzerland, current bid $9.50 + 11/50 s/h, auction ends Nov. 30 [ebay]
Naef still sells a Schnurpfel-Pony in red, green, and sometimes blue, for $46 []

November 20, 2015

As dozens of Osamas write college application essays about overcoming bullying, a new generation of kids named Isis arrives to remind the kids named Atticus that it could be worse.

When You're Named Isis for the Goddess, Not the Terror Group [nyt]
Previously: Atticus, Life, Complicated

November 17, 2015

Been feeling this a lot lately. Actually, since the beginning, but especially in a week I didn't post a single thing:

Do I post too much? I whisper with friends. You'll tell me, won't you, if I ever cross the line? The postmodern equivalent of trusting people to let you know your fly's open.

Quoth a stranger of her kindergartner naked on the toilet: "Bittersweet! My baby's last day in diapers!" Quoth a relative alongside a photo of her perfectly coifed daughter: "All For Her. Only Her. Always Her. All Ways Her." My personal favorite accompanies a photo of a teenage girl: "Stop growing!" (Meaning... Die!?) What is being put on display? Whose is it to put forward?

It is not only ours.

Is Mark Zuckerberg Ready for Facebook Parenthood? [nyt]

Cooper Fleishman [@_cooper] says we have "finally found the heir to Psst What, the all-time greatest kid Vine," which, you know 51m vs 477k, maybe we can take issue with, but for now, let's just enjoy it.

November 8, 2015

Here is a story about a 47-yo Massachusetts woman who says she didn't know she was pregnant until an hour before the kid was born. [Her husband who belatedly schedules that vasectomy has a cameo, too.]

And here is a story that's been in my tabs for a month now about a kid in Australia whose head was reattached following "internal decapitation." Which means his spine was severed from his, but his entire neck wasn't??

It is an incredible world we live in, is the point I'm trying to make here, I suppose.

47-year-old woman finds out she's pregnant an hour before giving birth [washpost]
Infant's HEAD Reattached Following Internal Decapitation [iflscience]


I cannot explain why, but it just feels really urgent to point to this amazing set of photos of thousands of sheep filling the streets of Madrid. Something to do with protesting/preserving the ancient droving pathways? Yo no se, but it would be an incredible thing to show a kid.

Wild photos show shepherds guiding 2,000 sheep through Madrid's streets to defend age-old droving rights [, image: gerard juliena/afp/getty via twitter somewhere]


It's not very #servicey, but I just could not bring myself or my blog to be a party to the auction madness that was unfurling yesterday in Lyon, France. Twenty, that's right, TWENTY mini-Ferraris of all sorts, vintages, and price points, went up for sale at Aguttes. It was, how you say? FOU, FOU, COMPLETEMENT FOU.

There were unrestored F1 pedal cars from the 1950s alongside seemingly random 80s Fisher Price junk. (Though that junk is probably rare now, if not actually valuable.)


There were Testa Rossa projects, FAO Schwarz-lookin' indulgences, and daunting P330 with motors that cost as much as a Camry. Really, though, it was just too much at once, clearly the dissolution of some baffling obsessive's collection which, I just cannot see a happy ending in this. Unless, of course, you scored a deal on that insane F50. Send pics!

Lots 224-244: 20 Mini Ferraris, EUR 80 - 5,000, Nov. 7, 2015 [ via dt ferrari guru dt]
Oh WAIT, there was a Baby Bugatti too? [aguttes]

October 31, 2015


Toyota's been driving this UUV (Ultimate Utility Vehicle) around the country since June as part of a PR buildup to SEMA.

I think two things when I see it:
This looks perfect for Iceland, and
Wait, you're telling me you're only getting around to putting a Sienna on a Tacoma frame NOW? smdh


Heather Armstrong gave a really thoughtful and classically unsettling talk at this year's XOXO Festival in Portland where she explained her experience stepping away from pro mommyblogging at Dooce.

You should really watch it or, if you're in a setting where the phrase HAIRY VAGINAS doesn't go over so well, then maybe just listen to it. With some headphones. Because that's her first slide, and the center of her talk.

I have to say, as different as our styles, Heather continues to command my respect for her achievements and her openness. Her baby daddy and then-husband John Armstrong and I were in what I think is the first newspaper article about dadblogging, back in early 2004.

Which was awesome, except that the article had a picture of me holding the 6-week-old kid, and her name was in the caption. And I had just decided that I was not going to use her picture or name on my dadblog. This was so long ago we called it, "Staying out of her future Google results." It was a position that got tested when TV people wanted to talk dadstuff-but only if the kid came along as a prop. So I was not on the Today show.

It was pretty well established, though, when advertisers and agencies and publicists wanted to buy "sponsored content" on Daddy Types, something that we declined to do over and over again. And ultimately, I'm glad for it. Especially after Heather's horrible-sounding experience making sponsored posts for Banana Republic.

Heather Armstrong, Dooce - XOXO Festival (2015) [youtube]

October 29, 2015


This is apparently the first picture taken and sent by a cell phone. It is Philippe Kahn's daughter, born June 11, 1997. Kahn is a Silicon Valley entrepreneur who founded Borland, and then in 1994, he founded Starfish, a wearable computer software company, with his wife Sonia Lee.

Kahn's integration of a digital camera to a Motorola StarTAC, one of the first flip phones, is considered the first phone camera. Kahn's Wikipedia:

Kahn founded LightSurf in 1998 shortly after he had created the first camera phone solution sharing pictures instantly on public networks in 1997. The impetus for this invention was the birth of Kahn's daughter; he jury-rigged a mobile phone with a digital camera and sent off photos in real time.
This Slate podcast profile of Kahn from the dawn of the phonecam era, 2007, put it a little differently:
Ten years ago, Philippe Kahn was walking around a hospital with a cell phone and a digital camera. His dadly mission: to share pictures of his newborn baby girl. With an assist from Radio Shack, he linked the two devices together and e-mailed photos to family and friends around the world. The day marked a twin birth of sorts: the cell phone camera and daughter Sophie. [emphasis added]
While Kahn's milestone has been celebrated every time somebody discovers it and decides to write about it [ahem], the details of how he actually executed the hack are more elusive.

An [OG] Wired Magazine article from 2000 mentions a keychain-sized camera attachment [that was coming that year, 2000, for one line of Motorola phones], and describes Kahn's original hack here:

Kahn came up with the idea for LightSurf three years ago, when he tried to send an ephoto of his newborn daughter to her grandmother. While many new dads would be looking around for a shave and a stiff drink, Kahn was crawling the maternity ward for an RJ11 jack [i.e., a phone jack]. With no landline in sight, he built a crude wireless photo application in Borland C++ and sent the pictures over a 2,400-bps connection from his StarTAC. Later, figuring there had to be better way, he brought together a team and set out to design a way to send a slender image file for online use and a larger one for printing hard copy. It worked just as he imagined.
OK. So the assist from Radio Shack was a modem? [update: Not likely. It was probably Starfish's TrueSync connectivity solution, which, as DT 90's mobile guru Micah points out, was offered as a product by Motorola in 1999 (pdf). Daddy Types regrets the error.] Because a laptop was involved here. Photos synced to a laptop from a digital camera, laptop connected to modem, modem connected to cell phone instead of the wall. [The first Wi-Fi spec was also born in 1997, but that does not seem relevant here.]

The send pictures to Grandma angle rings true, but in this 2012 Best Buy Superbowl ad [?], Kahn talks about two thousand people seeing that first photo. So he also invented spamming people with baby pictures? Do people even send out pictures of their fourth kid? Maybe he had a listserv. Or it was a webpage.

Anyway, as with most complicated births, the messy details are quickly subsumed by the baby in front of you. Starfish was acquired by Motorola in 1998 for $325 million; LightSurf was founded in 1998 and acquired by VeriSign in 2005 for $300 million. Whether Kahn's kid put Nirvana baby of the phonecam generation on her college applications remains unknown.

Philippe Kahn [wikipedia]
2007: The Camera Phone [slate]
2000: The Big Picture [wired]
1998 speech on wearables Kahn gave at Stanford []

October 21, 2015

Ian Bogost goes deep for The New Yorker on, of all board book authors, Sandra Boynton:

boynton_going_to_bed_book.jpgTake "The Going to Bed Book": what appears to be an innocuous precursor to the activity that its reading facilitates turns out, on closer inspection, to be rather strange. On a boat far out at sea, the usual Boyntonian menagerie--lion and pig and rhino and hippo and elephant and more--heads below "to take a bath in one big tub / with soap all over--scrub scrub scrub." After donning pajamas and brushing their teeth, the animals pursue an unusual bedtime ritual: "And when the moon is on the rise, they all go up to exercise." They work out! On deck! Right before bed!

No manner of earthly logic explains the post-bath and toothbrush exercise ritual. Parents who notice it might appreciate the opportunity for a head scratch during the fevered tedium of bedtime. (Oh, that Boynton, she's a stinker.) But other interpretations are possible, readings that afford Boynton's work the same layered meaning that, say, "The Simpsons" provokes, but in the far more formally challenging genre of the board book.


Bogost has written history's smartest, most mind-blowing analysis of the McRib, but he completely loses me on Boynton. I just do not see anything more at work here than an expert in filling an industry-standard 24 pages with slightly wry rhymes.

If anyone knows a good dissertation on Goodnight Moon and nothing, however, I will stay up late.

The Hidden Depths of Sandra Boynton's Board Books []
Buy The Going-To-Bed Book or any one of hundreds of other Sandra Boynton books [amazon]


Until I clicked through to the actual article [which, is everything on 538 written in this faux-dumb voice?], I had assumed all 1,584 Sevens got their names because their parents were hot for the Borg. Which struck me as an unlikely naming strategy, if only because the inevitable Jeri Ryan Talk will never be less awkward than when Donald Trump discusses dating his daughter.

But no.

It has to be entirely driven by the other Jerry. Good grief, what the hell is wrong with you people. This show, I hated it, I never watched it, I had no idea about this baby name thing. And this clip, good grief, it is so grating and annoying in every possible way. Yet I've been in the business of writing about baby names for almost twelve years now, and this is still the first I've heard of it.

Seinfeld people are just the worst. If you all changed your kids' names to Disney Princesses tomorrow it'd be a net gain for the universe.

And anyway, Charles Schulz put a kid named 5 in Peanuts in 1963, and his sisters were 3 and 4. Their last name was their zip code, 95472 He's the one doing that shruggie dance in the Charlie Brown Christmas, and you really can't get any cooler than that.

There Are 1,584 People In America Named 'Seven' [fivethirtyeight via dt guru rolf]
555 95472 []

October 20, 2015


London's housing market has been off the charts lately. And with local art fair Frieze, the contemporary art market's circus came to town last week, too. Yet this unholy confluence, along with the ascendance of Lena Dunham to the cultural pantheon, was not enough to close the deal at Christie's this morning for artist mom Laurie Simmons' Kaleidoscope House, which failed to sell online for the GBP 5,000 - 7,000 estimate.


DT regulars and Googlers will know that Simmons' swanky plastic dollhouse, created with architect Peter Wheelwright for Bozart in 2000, has been a bellwether of modernist toy design and the knuckleheaded speculative trading that can accompany it: just like real real estate and art!


This time, though, five thousand pounds would also have bought you two Simmons photographs of Kaleidoscope House, from an suite of ten pictures I haven't seen since the dollhouse was unveiled at Deitch Projects fifteen years ago. They must have broken up at least one set. I was completely clueless and kidfree at the time, but now the poppin' nursery appeal of these photos is obvious.

So if this is your bag, baby, ring Christie's; they might have a motivated seller for you.

Lot 25 Online: ) Kaleidoscope House #2 (ii) Kaleidoscope House #8 (iii) Kaleidoscope Dollhouse, est. GBP 5,000 - 7,000, UNSOLD []

October 14, 2015

Amanda Fortini's interview with the writer Mary Karr at The Paris Review includes this visceral description of childhood:


In the first section of The Liars' Club, you inhabit the mind of a seven-year-old to an uncanny degree. How were you able to capture what it was like to be a child?


Childhood was terrifying for me. A kid has no control. You're three feet tall, flat broke, unemployed, and illiterate. Terror snaps you awake. You pay keen attention. People can just pick you up and move you and put you down. One of my favorite poems, by Nicanor Parra, is called "Memories of Youth":

"All I'm sure of is that I kept going back and forth. 
Sometimes I bumped into trees, 
bumped into beggars. 
I forced my way through a thicket of chairs and tables."

Our little cracker box of a house could give you the adrenaline rush of fear, which means more frames of memory per second. Emotional memories are stored deep in the snake brain, which is probably why aphasics in nursing homes often cuss so much--that language doesn't erode in a stroke.

The Art of Memoir, No. 1 [ via dt reader anne]

October 8, 2015


A woman bought a big Playmobil pirate ship for her nephew, and then got Facebook-upset when the instructions said to put a slave collar on the brown-skinned pirate. Other people got Facebook upset back, pointing out how the pirate ship has been around for 10 years and it didn't offend their kids. Which, maybe not the point?


Playmobil got Twitter-responsive, tweeting that "In a purely historical context, the figure represents a pirate who was a former slave, and, as shown on the box, is now a member of the crew. We did not mean to offend anyone."

So far, in a purely historical context, no one's upset about the pirate having a gun.

Dark-skinned Playmobil pirate-ship doll wearing 'slave collar' ignites [sic] outrage [sic] [washpost]
Buy PLAYMOBIL Pirates Ship - 5135 for around $62 [amazon]

October 6, 2015


The contemporary art world is lately up in arms over flippers, speculating collectors who hoover up paintings by hot emerging artists, only to hype and dump them at auction, ideally for quick 10-100x returns.

It is not clear if the rocking llama market is subject to the same kind of flipping frenzy, but we may soon find out. It looks like this exact rocking llama was sold through this same Chicago auctioneer in 2011 for $250. Is four years the appropriate amount of time to buy and hold a rocking llama, or is it irresponsibly hasty?

As for the rocking llama itself, it definitely is one. They have turned up at various auctions before, and luxuriously marked up at 1stdibs. They have been described as Danish, and as having actual llama, but I think the Icelandic sheepskin is a better call. One auction site mentions a company, Animalia, Inc., but the only other citations are botscraped mirrors. Perhaps an original owner will emerge some day to verify their source. And then we'll all know whether $150-250 is a fair price or the deal of a century.

Oct. 13, 2015, Sale 422 Lot 560: A Fur Mounted Rocking Llama, est. $150-250 []
Aug. 24, 2011, 481: A Fur and Carved Wood Rocking Llama, Height 49 inc [liveauctioneers]

September 28, 2015

We're all Trumans now

This has been weighing on me for a while now, the last several posts, and the meaning and relevance and viability of it all. And this, The Atlantic's thought piece on the economics of mommyblogging, starring, obviously, Heather Armstrong.

And the stress of doing what you love-for money-and the ambivalence over turning your kids out for sponsored content. And the conflicts of selling out and commercialization and celebrity and privacy and agency. As a parent your choices affect your kid, too, when they are very far from being able to understand, much less weigh in on things.

Let's look at the four most recent posts:

Is it all as terribly clear to you as it is to me?

Forget baby monitors, we need baby platforms: livecasting baby monitors that support social media engagement, native and sponsored content partnerships, and affiliate thinkfluencer retailing right out of the box, right out of the womb. We need to stop locking down our networks and start monetizing them.

The disruptive baby monitor is important, but it's just the first level in scaffolding your and your kid's digital brands. Why settle for facebooking or pinning tired, old, static pictures of your kid, when you can plug him into a live audience who is primed to purchase?

Do you remember the Korean people who make total bank livestreaming their meals to thousands of adoring, tipping fans? It's like that, only with babies.

Can Mommy Bloggers Still Make A Living? [theatlantic]

September 21, 2015

Here is a blog report of an interview from a magazine where a celebrity dad talked about his lifelong friend who tried to sell delivery room pics of their kid. Even on the narrow terms of copyright law, this is a no-brainer--those pics are the dad's to sell (or to, implausibly, but apparently as it happened in this case, to keep private)--but above all, it is just a dick move.

Ryan Reynolds no longer speaking to friend [defamer via @deray]

September 18, 2015

Internet- and WiFi-connected baby monitors are still ridiculously insecure and can be hacked and turned into surveillance devices for your home and your home networks, experts find.

Experts recommend a couple of easy fixes, such as not connecting your baby monitor to the Internet, not uploading video from your baby monitor to the internet, and not connecting your baby monitor to your WiFi network that has the same password as its cutesy name.

Now let me tell you about how we used to have to get up to change the frequency on the baby monitor because it kept picking up the neighbors' cordless phones. I assume if you're old enough to buy a baby monitor, you're old enough to remember cordless phones. Right?

Watch out, new parents--internet-connected baby monitors are easy to hack [fusion]

Enter the 4yo Mini-me Dragon

How do you get to 30 million views on your viral kidsploitation video? Practice, practice, practice.

Just because your kid has dutifully copied the Bruce Lee nunchuck moves you have been fixated on your own entire sentient life doesn't mean your video of him performing will immediately go viral.

Now you must master the viral videomaking skills of the modern parent by getting the costume, the angle, and the background just right. Tranform your entertainment center into a minimalist Bruce Lee shrine with photos and slipcovers made from Visqueen and packing tape.

Disable YouTube embedding so you can get your pre-rolls, and for Pete's sake, get it onto Facebook which, in addition to jacking all YT's viral videos, also screwed up the click and sharing experience.

Bruce Ryu's YouTube channel [youtube via my dad]

September 14, 2015

Was this scientific breakthrough suppressed for nearly ten years, or was it merely published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, where no one notices it?

A 45-year-old male complained of a profound reduction in his left ear acuity while staying at an island cottage in rural Ontario. His hearing loss was reducing his ability to hear his newborn son cry in the middle of the night, requiring his wife to carry out all late-night child care. As a result, correction of the problem was considered urgent.


The patient later reported a resumption in his nighttime ability to hear his infant son crying, which led to his being able to promptly jump out of bed and attend to his son's needs, excluding breast-feeding. This return to normal enhanced the state of their marital bliss on this island location.

If only they'd published a YouTube video of the earwax removal, this would have gone viral in like a week.

Keegan, D., Bannister, S.; A novel method for the removal of ear cerumen, CMAJ vol. 173 pp. 1496-7, Dec. 6, 2005 [ via dt reader kelly]

September 9, 2015


These alphabet blocks with nautical flags on them are quite nice-looking. In fact, many, many of the alphabet blocks by Uncle Goose are nice-looking. Like these Hindi blocks. Oh man, gorgeous.


In fact, many non-alphabet blocks by Uncle Goose are also gorgeous, including the Eames House and Neutraface blocks they've done with House Industries, when I didn't know who Uncle Goose even was.

Buy Uncle Goose Nautical Blocks with Canvas Bag - Made in USA, around $40-48 [amazon]
Or buy Uncle Goose Hindi Blocks, which are like $37-43 [amazon]
Uncle Goose has like 50 different styles of sweet-looking blocks, in fact [amazon]

September 8, 2015


I've always thought it took a special type to drive a Stokke Xplory. A confident, quiet sort who's comfortable in his decisions. An independent spirit who doesn't chase public approval. And now we can add a calm, cool, and collected luxury car vandal who'll key an Aston Martin in a Tesco Superstore parking lot for no apparent reason.

That's what Gary Brissett, 48, of, Glebeland, somewhere in England, did in June, while pushing his 13mo kid in his Xplory. He was recorded by the Aston's dashcam, and was apprehended in August after the footage was released.

Last Friday the single father pled guilty to causing £7,741.28 in damage. Which, let's keep things in perspective, is what an Aston costs any time you take it into the shop. Still, it's always the quiet ones.

Man is arrested over keying of Aston Martin [ via carscoops, thanks dt stokkespotter jj daddy-o]
'Silly' Hackney father admits damaging £100k Aston Martin outside Tesco []

September 3, 2015

Abdullah Kurdi was the only survivor in his family after the overcrowded dinghy they were escaping from Turkey to Greece in sank, 500 meters from shore. Photos of his three-year-old son Aylan's body washed up on a Turkish beach have caused heartbreak and political outrage, and every time I think about this or see it I cannot not cry.

"Let this be the last," Kurdi and I say.

Aylan Kurdi's father rejects Canadian offer of citizenship []

August 31, 2015

A wonderful video of a toddler playing hide and seek with a baby gorilla is available for licensing across all platforms. It's probably being ripped off and reloaded to Facebook as I type this.

Toddler playing Gorilla Toddler at the Columbus Zoo! [youtube via @moorehn]

August 27, 2015

I just, I mean, I, I, what?

WLS, ABC7 in Chicago is reporting:

Chicago rapper Chief Keef has named his son after his record label in an effort to promote his latest album, according to a statement from the CEO of FilmOn Records.

"Chief Keef and his newest baby mama have agreed to name the newborn Sno FilmOn Dot Com Cozart in order to promote the release of Sosa's double album Bang 3 with FilmOn Music and MondoTunes on September 18," Alki David said in a statement Thursday.

However, David released an updated statement Thursday following an apparent paternity dispute between Chief Keef and the child's mother.

"In light of new developments disputing that Chief Keef is the father of Baby Sno, the streaming TV and music platform is retracting the right to let the mother, Lauren Woods, use the middle name FilmOn Dot Com until paternity is settled. We wish Ms. Woods all the best," David said in a written statement.

First off, the announcement of the kid's name only happened this morning. So the unannouncement is like only a few hours later. Second, I'm sorry, but you cannot "retract" the "right" to someone's baby name. Even if it is named after your brokeass basic holographic concert-flogging website. Ms Woods can name her kid Louis Vuitton Keef von Alki David-On-A-Stick if she wants to.

The point, though, is why would she want to saddle her kid with a URL for a name if she's not getting paid for it? Just sit tight and wait for the test results, mkay?

UPDATED, OBV: Chief Keef names newborn after record label [abc7chicago via dt reader noah]

August 24, 2015


A few days ago DT reader Nathan spotted this amazing-looking vintage cradle on eBay in St Louis. [Turns out it's also on craigslist.] "Had this been up a year ago," Nathan wrote, "I would have considered it for our second kid."

Right? But what even is it? I gotta admit, this one had me stumped.


It's a two-part molded fiberglass shell, which looks very Eames technology, if not exactly Eames design. But it's mounted on a vibrating/rocking motor base. The eBay description says the seller used it for their own kids, and their grandkids, and it's still going strong.


The label on the bottom says "Anthony & Co.," but it doesn't even mention the cradle, just the motor specs/disclaimers. The address in Los Angeles doesn't have a zip code, which dates it to pre-1963. And that's what we have. I couldn't turn up anything at all about an Anthony & Co., or a motorized fiberglass cradle.

Which made me think maybe it's a one-off, a hack. Like some enterprising dad had taken an old coin-operated rocking horse from in front of his family pizza joint and attached a custom cradle. The mind reeled, imagining all that effort for a piece of gear that might have six months of useful life, tops, per kid. And yet it's still rocking, two+ generations later.


But the title on this post is not Mystery Cradle, it's Magic Cradle. And the tell was the address. When I put the LA street address into Google Books, a bunch of old magazine ads for Stauffer Home Reducing Plan showed up. Stauffer manufactured the Magic Couch, a motorized oscillating weight loss machine that supposedly exercised for you. And the Magic Couch also converted to the Magic Cradle, the world's first [sic] motorized rocking bassinet. The ad above is from the Saturday Evening Post. [I enlarged the Cradle part.] And Popular Mechanics said the Magic Cradle could convert to a hobby horse and a "nursery" [a playpen, I guess].


The Magic Cradle was introduced in 1959, just as competition was heating up in the pointless mechanical vibrating weight loss contraption industry, and right before a damning report in Reader's Digest [right?] declared the whole concept was a ripoff. Rather than help diversify Stauffer's business, the Cradle was an expensive bust. The company was stuck with more than 3,000 unsold units as their sales tanked.

So greet this survivor with a kind salute; unless there's an undiscovered warehouse in Albuquerque full of them, this may be the only one you ever see.

Mid-century baby furniture
Eams style, egg-shaped, motorized, rocking, baby cradle, opening bid $150, BIN $400+freight, auction ends Aug. 27
[ebay via dt reader nathan]
A tax accountant's-eye view of Stauffer's business: ESTATE OF STAUFFER v COMMISSIONER []

August 22, 2015


The artist Rob Pruitt has been selling all kinds of his own random clutter on eBay for a couple of years now. This summer, he's turned his Rob Pruitt Flea Market into a Brant Family Flea Market, by setting up shop in the Greenwich art barn of collector/publisher/polo magnate Peter Brant, and his supermodel wife Stephanie Seymour.

While the Versace gowns and English suits and Louboutins are all priced up where you'd expect, the Brant Family Flea Market also includes mountains of cheap stuff, too.


So you can buy this five-pack of 0-3mo Gerber Onesies knowing that one might have been worn once by a tiny scion, that the money you spend goes to a good cause (Bard College), and that you now have an 8x10 glossy photo of the Onesies signed by Rob Pruitt, ideal for framing and hanging in the nursery. Why not buy the Belize onesie, too, and make a diptych?

Brant Family's Flea Market: Gerber 5 Plain White Cotton Onesies Size 0-3 Months, $5+$5s/h [ebay]
Brant Family's Flea Market: Kid Popular Peace Love Belize Ringer Onesie Size 6 M, $2+$5s/h

August 18, 2015


Look what I found while surfing around the website of the Centraal Museum in Utrecht, looking for more info on Piet Klaarhamer, Gerrit Rietveld's mentor and De Stijl collaborator.

It's a cradle! More importantly, it's a cradle on wheels, like a wheelbarrow. This feels good to me. As good as the big arched cornice feels bad. But whatever, it was 1910; De Stijl was not even a twinkle in Klaarhamer's eye at that point.

Wieg/Cradle (ca. 1910) P.J.C. Klaarhamer []


The Gemeentemuseum in The Hague has the largest collection of Mondrians in the world, and one of the largest collections of art and furniture from the broader de Stijl movement. Hometown favorites, I guess.

Anyway, this boys bedroom design just caught my eye. Vilmos Huszar designed the color schemes in 1918 for the Bruynzeel family, with furniture by Gerrit Rietveld's lesser known mentor Piet Klaarhamer. It holds up.

de Stijl boys bedroom at Gemeentemuseum, The Hague, photo by mariannebevis [flickr]
Previously: Two High Chairs, Both Alike In Uncomfortableness

Oh right, how could I forget to mention in that previous post that Amazon is one of the main sources of revenue for Daddy Types via its affiliate link/kickback program. Also that it's apparently a family-hostile quant-obsessed corporate hellcult?

Perhaps you've read the article about Amazon's brutal office culture (which is separate from its even more punitive warehouse culture) in the NY Times by my hero, friend, and former editor Jodi Kantor, which she and her colleagues spent six months reporting? Six months while she has also been busy making a baby?? She's due in a couple of weeks. Just amazing.

Meanwhile, perhaps you've also read the outstanding work of her husband Ron Lieber on the American realities of paternity leave? I am glad to know he will be taking it soon.

Inside Amazon: Wrestling Big Ideas in a Bruising Workplace [nyt]
Bringing Paternity Leave Into The Mainstream [nyt]


So this guy Ted Benson [who named his kid Everest, great move] just posted about how easy it is to hack Amazon Dash buttons, those ridiculous little gadgets Amazon wants you to put around your life so you can reorder stuff with one-product-one-click, to automatically track kid data. You just write these python scripts and capture these MAC addresses and automatically post the data to a Google spreadsheet using the app his startup just launched last week and--aha. Always be evangelizing.

Basically the Dashes send out a single message over wifi with a single touch; Amazon intends for that to be a product order, but you can reprogram them to log, say, diaper changes or feedings or naptimes. It wasn't clear from the writeup, so it took me a little while to confirm that Benson's solution requires a separate button for each type of data. You could have one diaper change button, but you'd need two buttons to track pee and poo. For feeding, you could have one near the fridge, or near the bed or the rocker, but you'd need it somewhere. Unless you're going to wear it like a Fitbit or something.

Weighted Companion Cube rendering by saphirenishi at deviantart

Couldn't you put all the Dashes into one device? Just put a different button on each side of a gently glowing, wifi-enabled cube, and it could be a companion for the kid. Why has no one thought of this already? Get me Kickstarter on the horn!

How I Hacked Amazon's $5 WiFi Button to track Baby Data [medium]
See what these Amazon Dash Button things are about [amazon]

August 13, 2015


via @TheRyanParker


August 12, 2015


One good thing about leaving the toddler bed behind is that you're back in real furniture land again. And in that real furniture world, twin beds are usually discounted pretty heavily.

Like the 1940s-1950s Station Wagon series Paul Frankl designed for the Johnson Furniture Company. The mahogany and pearwood pattern looks like a classic Woody, and the bed is probably the best looking piece of them all. The nightstand and dressers in the series have leather handles, which are kind of cool. A little leather goes a long way.

But the price of dressers and such online are bonkers, from $6-24,000. This bed and nightstand, however, are in Rago Arts' upcoming no reserve summer auction with a reasonable-seeming estimate of $1,500-2,000. And if no one else wants to put their kid in the Station Wagon, you might get it for even less.

Aug 29, 2015, 1343 PAUL FRANKL; JOHNSON FURNITURE CO, Estimate: $1,500 - $2,000 [ragoarts]

August 11, 2015


Twitter is a gold mine today, a freakin' gold mine. Siddiqi is the editor of The New Inquiry, which just dropped The Daddy Issue last week. So she knows from Brooklyn Rugrats dads.

The New Inqiury | The Daddy Issue []


August 7, 2015


I think these Daddy Against Patriarchy t-shirts are designed by the artist Nayland Blake. What I do know is that they are available only for a limited time--less than two weeks--so if you want to bring down the patriarchy through fashion, you need to hurry.

Join the D.A.P., t-shirt $20, Available until Aug. 20 [, yes indeed, via @naylandblake]

August 6, 2015


Kidpost was created by some awesome, web-savvy parents to share photos with less plugged-in relatives and friends. It solves a small but real challenge, and it does it very thoughtfully. And now they have upgraded. Read co-creator Khoi Vinh's announcement and and give Kidpost a try today.

Kidpost []
Major Update to Kidpost []
Previously: Kidpost will automatically email kidpics to whomever you want

August 3, 2015

The first generation of kids to watch Teletubbies are now in college, and they are paralyzed with anxiety and inadequacy. And their OG helicopter parents have already called all their professors to discuss it.

Kids these days aren't getting enough free play. They are kept inside at all times and not allowed to go anywhere unsupervised because of terrified parents, who nonetheless remember their own free-range childhoods.

After prioritizing equality in parenting and a less-work-more-life balance, millennial dads are reverting to traditional gender paradigms.

This means that everyone from your parents' generation forward, over the last twenty years, and the last ten, have failed in their own way, and now it's your turn. I'm sure you'll figure it out.

The Play Deficit []
The Case for Free-Range Parenting [nyt]
Suicide on Campus and the Pressure of Perfection [nyt] Millennial Men Aren't the Dads They Thought They'd Be [nyt]

Anthony Caro, Child's Tower Room, 1983-84, image:

Relentlessly experimental British sculptor Anthony Caro was interested to make a sculpture that was also architecture, and a sculpture that had no inside or outside. And so in 1983-4, he made a playscape-like sculpture you could enter [if you were under four feet tall]: Child's Tower Room. It's around 4m tall and made of polished oak.

Anthony Caro, Tower of Discovery, 1991, image:

By the time he scaled that up for the Tate in 1991, and created the 7m-tall Tower of Discovery, Caro had workshopped some stuff with Frank Gehry. Caro figured that Gehry was a sculptor at heart, while he himself, the actual sculptor, was most interested in the experience of moving in and through his "sculpitecture" structures.

Caro's Tower of Discovery, ridiculously installed in 2012, image: hitsujicafe

Which was apparently not interesting enough for the Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo, who slapped a couple of color-coordinated barriers on Tower of Discovery in 2012 and, what, assumed no one would notice? What an embarrassment. One hope this wasn't the Cass Sculpture Foundation's idea. I'd hate to ramp up the kid's expectations for a wild, sculpture-climbing trip to West Sussex, only to have her hope's dashed on a steel fence.

Child's Tower Room is currently on view, and climbable, at the Hepworth Wakefield in Yorkshire.

Caro in Yorkshire
Saturday 18 July - Sunday 1 November 2015
Anthony Caro's Tower of Discovery []
Anthony Caro interview on collaborating with Frank Gehry and 'Sculpitecture' []

July 30, 2015


The Tactical Baby Carrier from Mission Critical looks like it's just a bodycam and a couple of Kevlar inserts shy of a Take Your Kid To Work outfit for law enforcement. There is black for urban crowd control, coyote for desert and border deployments, and grey for fashion, I guess.


The only way this baby carrier could be more outstandingly manly is if it came with a rock climbing harness. Also that back panel is huge.

Mission Critical Baby Carrier, $190, plus extra for some matching manly accessories [ via dt's man nathan]
Compare to the original BABYBJORN Baby Carrier for like $59 [amazon]
Related, previously: Does this baby carrier make my manboobs look big?

July 23, 2015

Everything's bigger in Texas, including the family prisons. image: ICE

I'll be honest, when I first heard that the ICE immigrant family detention centers full of Central American refugee kids and moms had animal-themed cell blocks like red bird and blue butterfly, I imagined they were using Eric Carle drawings, and I got a dark, blogging thrill.

But no. The South Texas Residential Center in Dilley, the largest family detention center in the world, run by the for-profit prison contractor, Corrections Corporation of America, was too cheap to license Carle's work, and just used random clip art instead.

ICE, ICE, babies

Also, the government's punitive detention of these people is shameful, and it can't end soon enough. Most of these families are fleeing war, violence, and abuse in their home countries and have already qualified for refugee hearings the US, but remain in these remote prisons, guarded by actual prison guards, temping in khakis and polo shirts, as a feeble deterrent to other refugees.

Home of the free, land of the brave. image: Bob Owen for San Antonio Express News

I resisted comparing ICE's outsourced prisons to the desert detention centers Japanese-American families were forced into during WWII, even when I saw Bob Owen's photo in the San Antonio Express News, which is a damningly straight-up evocation of Dorothea Lange's photos of the War Relocation Authority's internment camp at Manzanar, California.

Dorothea Lange, flag and barracks at Manzanar internment camp, July 1942

Ansel Adams also took photos at Manzanar, which he published in a book, Born Free And Equal, alongside a text that reads today as disturbingly upbeat in its praise of the gumption and loyalty of American citizens forced into desert prisons. I've always viewed Adams' project as a protest, a condemnation of the injustice visited upon Americans because of the racist fears of their neighbors and political leaders. But that is over-optimistic hindsight. Re-reading Adams' text now is pretty depressing. To think that it's all the Constitution and fundamental principle that wartime white America could handle at the time.

Dilley want to build a playground? image: Will Weissert/AP via

At least it helps make sense for how this country could get so cross-wise with its own professed ideals today; we really have not changed that much at all. And when I tried to put some evolved distance between the ironies of Adams' treacly government-reviewed-and-approved fluffing and this account from inside Dilley, I couldn't. So here it is:

While children wait for their mothers to talk to lawyers and legal aids, they are usually watching kids' movies dubbed in Spanish, namely Rio or Frozen. The children of Dilley, like children everywhere, have taken to singing Frozen's iconic song "Let It Go."

The Spanish-language refrain to the song "Libre soy! Libre soy!" translates to "I am free! I am free!" It's an irony that makes the adults of Dilley uneasy. Mehta recalls one mother responding to her singing child under her breath: "Pero no lo somos" (But we aren't).

Do you know the chorus of "Let it Go" in Spanish? I did not, but it is one helluva song for kids to be singing in a corporate prison in 2015:

Libre soy, libre soy
No puedo ocultarlo más
Libre soy, libre soy
Libertad sin vuelta atrás
Y firme así me quedo aquí
Libre soy, libre soy
El frío es parte también de mí

I am free, I am free
I can't hide it anymore
I am free, I am free
Freedom without turning back
And I'm staying here, firm like this
I am free, I am free
The cold is also a part of me

'Drink more water': Horror stories from the medical ward of a Texas immigration detention center []
which is basically a re-reporting of this: Immigrant families in detention: A look inside one holding center [latimes]
Ansel Adams, Born Free And Equal, 1944 []
Related: Translating "Frozen" into Arabic [newyorker]
"Let it Go" in 25 languages [youtube]

July 18, 2015

I wish I would've seen this tweet earlier; we're on a road trip, and K2 just woke up at 4AM and needed some hanging out. But alas, our connecting flight didn't strand us in Chicago. Instead, we're in a houseful of cousins, so my wife took the little firecracker out driving for two hours. [!]

July 17, 2015


I am deeply unsettled by the coloring books for grownups trend. Honestly, if you have that much time, you should be editing Wikipedia articles, or working on your Pinterest board or something.

Unless you're talking about something actually unsettling, in which case, go crazy, color it out! Oh wait, no no no, that IS the coloring for grownups trend. What to do? Should I just suck it up and wait for my 40 cents/apiece cut? NO don't do it, go buy something else do anything else!

the Coloring For Grownups Activity Book on Amazon [amazon via awkwardfamilyphotos thx dt hero rolf, from like march, but I've been in denial]


With all the hype about Pluto, now's the time to get your kid psyched for the next cosmic destination, The Sonar System.

The Sonar System is a group of planets orbiting around a giant speaker, where everyone's really into amazing sound systems. It's the subject of MC Ras Mykha's awesome-looking new kids book called, obviously, The Sonar System.

It is being published by One Love Books as part of the Sound System Culture National Tour, which celebrates "the history of Reggae sound systems in cities across the UK."

The Sonar System by Ras Mykha is £10 / €15 / $20 [onelovebooks via fader, thanks dt og mc rolf]

July 15, 2015

Just one more and naming your kid after the kid in the podcast will officially be a trend:

July 13, 2015


Meanwhile, if anyone does invent this, I'll just scootch mine over to the stairs and end it all. I'll make sure to have my cam on, tho, so the kids will be able to get some viral video ad revenue. [via @pmarca]

Mazda's commercial about nervous new parents being well prepared to bring the kid home from the hospital in their safe CX-5 warms the hearts of everyone who doesn't notice that the kid's car seat straps are ridiculously loose.


[thx @JosephRooks via @KevinBuist]

I have no idea, but I've learned to trust Neojaponisme on these sorts of things. So here is Matt Treyvaud's tightly curated little playlist of summer dad music for sitting on the engawa, watching the kids hunt semi. Read Treyvaud's descriptions because, again, I have no idea, but I tracked down some videos and links to sample them:

the ethereal country music of Oshima Yasukatsu,

zoning, synthy 70s jazz from Fukumachi Jun,

and Taj Mahal Travellers' underground Vangelish rock.

Dad music for the Japanese summer [neojaponisme]

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