. . . Thursday November 9, 2006

Baby Urlacher, Out with Rummy In with Oedipus

My five month old son doesn’t yet concentrate all that long on anything (other than a bottle of white liquid) and fortunately (given my own intense and longstanding addiction) he really only glances at the television screen. The one exception to this rule is the NFL. Whenever I am watching an NFL game in the same room as my kid (translation, whenever there is an NFL game on), his eyes lock on the screen for what can seem like and eternal five minutes or so. Some friends have suggested that he is attracted to the combination of lights, movement and colors. That sounds plausible enough until one takes into account the fact that he only watches pro football. He has no interest in college football or any other colorful, movement-heavy games.

It’s probably not a terrible trend. Since the kid is half Samoan, I see his viewing time as early training. I will admit he is likely a bit confused by the change in my demeanor over the course of the season. My betting performance has been so poor that even New England Republican candidates feel sorry for me. My son’s expression has slowly changed from one that exalts, “Look at all the pretty colors,” to one that asks, “Why is Daddy screaming, crying and tapping relatives for a few bucks to score formula?” My hope is that this experience will teach him an important life lesson (Son, don’t suck at betting).

In the age of marketing fear to parents, our Sunday ritual probably makes both my son and I contrarians. If my wife and I really want to have a successful and intelligent kid, there is a line of marketers ready to shovel us the right foods, the right safety equipment, the right diapers, the right books and of course, the right entertainment. No one can entirely escape the pressure to buy products positioned as the right thing for kids. But how much of it is really a load of nonsense?

Probably a lot. Does it really matter if my kid listens to Springsteen instead of classical music? (Isn’t avoiding Josh Groban enough?) Can he somehow still advance in life if he skips the Baby Einstein and instead watches So You Think You Can Dance (at least until he’s old enough to appreciate The Sopranos and my Taxi DVDs)? As a kid, I dug King Friday as much as the next guy, but I neither credit nor blame him for what (other than this damn crown fetish) has happened since.

When you listen to the experts or read the fine print, no one is seriously suggesting that the right songs on the iPod or shows in the TiVo are going to make your kid any smarter. Even Baby Einstein’s own website explains, “Baby Einstein products are not designed to make babies smarter.” Uh, then why did you name the product Baby Einstein and not Dopey Baby Likey Music Too?

I’m talking tough now. We’ll see how I feel when the kid pulls this content from the internet archive and sues the hell out of me after receiving a B+ in grad school.

Goodbye Rummy, Hello Oedipus

Speaking of father-son relationships, America’s most notable one has seen a pretty dramatic shift over the past few weeks. Now that Rummy is gone, Cheney is marginalized, and Baker and Gates are back, it’s pretty clear that the old Bush is having a whole lot of influence on the young one.


Rummy’s departure was more than a bit surreal, especially when he insinuated that the real issue with his tenure was that people just don’t quite comprehend our current wars. That may be true, but almost everyone who does comprehend it was pushing hard from Rummy’s exit.

Slate has a list of Rumsfeld’s biggest blunders and his poetry.

Web 2.0, A Glimmer of Understanding

Finally someone in the mainstream press starts to get at what’s really different about this web as compared to the last one. It’s a lot cheaper to build stuff.

What’s Done is Done (and Free)

March on Washington, Aug. 28, 1963, The Eiffel Tower Reaches Full Height, April 29, 1889. These stories and more are available for download during the NY Times free Times Select week.


Allen Concedes, the Dems take the Senate too … 60 Minutes reporter Ed Bradley has died at the age of 65 … Democratic Gov. Tom Vilsack of Iowa is the first Dem to announce his presidential run … The increasingly detailed and disturbing story of Pat Tillman’s last hours … Who are the most influential Americans? … How a Nazi speech got a football team jacked … Can you delete your bad rep on the web? … Is that a banana in your hand or are you just happy to coach me? The weird world of cheating tennis coaches … Did you remember to set a world record today? … And Wal-Mart is bucking the Happy Holidays trend and ordering employees to say Merry Christmas to entering customers (Sounds right. I’ve never seen another Jew in Wal-Mart in my life)…

Back at you manana

Concentration is important!