Friday, January 26, 2007

Inspiration for all mountebanks from the edumacation president

Putting the "duh" back in "education"

The other night I was reading this great post on the Tao of FAU, which supports my long-held belief that senators shouldn't run for president, and in which FAU gives a shout out to Bill Richardson. I forwarded the link to our friend, who works for the Dems in NM, figuring he'd be interested.

He wrote back, "Hey man, shouldn't you be watching the State of the Union?"

Yeah, yeah, yeah. I meant to, but I ran out of gas. I, I had a flat tire. I didn't have enough money for cab fare. My tux didn't come back from the cleaners. An old friend came in from out of town. Someone stole my car. There was an earthquake. A terrible flood. Locusts.

But seriously, 3B's been going to bed at 6:30 or so, and sleeping until 7:00 in the morning, so I couldn't even use the excuse that I didn't want to expose him to TV or stupid people or is that redundant?

So I relented and turned the tube on, although I have to admit that I couldn't bring myself to watch closely. My head did snap up, however, when I saw Shrub giving the presidential shout out to the founder of Baby Einstein. Say what? He really believes that she's on a par with a soldier who took rounds in his chest to save his comrades? Or the recent subway hero, who left his children on the platform and leapt into the path of an oncoming train to save a stranger?

Someone who makes mediocre products that prey on the fears of parents and who sold out to Disney?

No offense to the many people who have bought us Baby Einstein products as gifts. They are solid, if ordinary, books, toys, CDs, and DVDs. As with other product lines, we like the products that 3B appears to like and ignore the ones that he ignores, which goes to show that BE products are not consistently brilliant. Nor do they make your child brilliant. In fact, according to this article, the BE site states that "Baby Einstein products are not designed to make babies smarter." Funny, you can't tell that from their marketing.

I could go on about this--remember, I'm still self-medicating--but fortunately for you, Timothy Noah, over at Slate, already wrote an article about this. Noah employed all kinds of tricky journalist techniques like punchy writing, research, and solid editing, so it's a far better read than what I would have produced using slacker blogger techniques like hackneyed cliches, specious rumors, and a half-assed spell check. You can tell his article is good because he uses words like "mountebank" properly (Google it yourself, you knob).

And, hey, don't forget to let me know your thoughts on the "walk it off" school of parenting.

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  1. With regard to BE products.
    I'm totally with you on their marketing...people automatically associate "Einstein" with an increased level of intelligence, and believe their toys/products will make children smarter.

    I like the toys that entertain my child.
    I could care less about the ones that don't.
    And the products that leak or break or suck in any way just disappoint.

    Additional mention: Baby Einstein videos.
    My son was sooooo not interested in those.

    Oh...our parental rants!

  2. I guess Bush was trying to tie in the "baby safety" angle as her gift to our country??

    I love what the AAP said: "The reality is that parents play the videos to give themselves some time to do other household chores, like cooking dinner or doing laundry. However, they shouldn't be led to believe that it helps their baby."

    Lovely. I'm all for keeping kids occupied with something safe and entertaining if you have to get something done. If I didn't have to do dishes 3 times a day my kids would never create as many crayon drawings. But I'm not sure a baby needs a video when things like, well, their toes are so entertaining. about a book? They make these great things called board books, easy to hold and totally chewable....

  3. According to 'The Freakonimics Guy' (how's that for research and solid editing?), it doesn't matter what your kid watches or how much you read to your kid - your kid will turn out like you. Baby Einstein be darned.