Wednesday, July 29, 2009

How to keep babies fresh

Needless to say, we won't be doing this...we don't have twins.

(via BoingBoing, via Consumerist and Gawker, via Copyranter, via Vintage Adds, via Flickr user Wishbook, via page 135 of the May 8, 1954 Saturday Evening Post, via DuPont)

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Babies in boxes

BoingBoing's guest blogger tells of the fad in the 20's for hanging babies out windows in boxes to ensure that they received fresh air. The Boggins' Open Air Sleeping Compartment was just the thing. These types of stories are the reason that I don't believe almost any parenting advice because another eras fad turns out to be a really bad idea. Click on any of the pictures below for a larger picture.
The view from the streetThe view from inside. It looks like that window is closed, doesn't it.
Note the handles at the bottom of the window pane.

These were the rage enough that Woodrow Wilson's granddaughter was raised in one.

Here is a picture from 1915 of the open air crib in action.

1915. "Mrs. William Gibbs McAdoo, nee Eleanor Wilson. Baby McAdoo's open-air bed."

and a closeup for the crib in the window.

This box would have worked better at my old town house in Wilmington, there was a good three story drop out the back.

These boxes are from 1915 so it unlikely that most of any of my readers were raised in one. More of you will remember being raised in a sleek, modern, air conditioned Skinner Box.

1947. Boxes For Babies. Baby John Gray Jr. happily playing in his Skinner box, developed by Indiana Univ. psychologist Burrhus Frederic Skinner,. type of new-style crib which eliminates germs, drafts & constricting clothing because of temperature controls & slid-down glass

Note the box above is not really a Skinner box, but an air crib. The two are often incorrectly conflated.

I am concerned that none of these boxes appear to have enough packaging to avoid damaging the baby during shipment.

(via BoingBoing and commenters there, with pictures from Google Book search, Skinners box from LIFE and Google Book Search, 1915 picture via Shorpy who got it for free from but fails to credit the Library of Congress digital collection here)

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Is Linus Little Lord Fauntleroy or the Blue Boy?

Last week for church Lynn dressed Linus up in the cutest outfit. He was quite handsome in a velvet jumper and collared shirt. Not quite the Blue Boy or Little Lord Fauntleroy but very close.

Here is an insouciant pose that could be taken from the book.

"What the Earl saw was a graceful, childish figure in a black velvet suit, with a lace collar, and with lovelocks waving about the handsome, manly little face, whose eyes met his with a look of innocent good-fellowship." (Little Lord Fauntleroy)
For comparison Gainsborough's Blue Boy.

Or Goya's "Blue Boy", actually a rarely seen painting of Infante Don Luis Maria.

Or Linus' dark Blue boy.

Great works of art all of them.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Linus is an All-Star

Linus is ready for the MLB All Star Game tonight with the appropriate pajamas. He wore these last night for the Home Run Derby. Linus hit as many homers as Brandon Inge. (Brandon hits them when they count, in a game.)

Here he is holding the pajamas to one side to make sure that I get a good picture of the All Star logo.

I don't think these pajamas are official MLB merchandise but he is still an All Star.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Cute baby photos increase lost wallet return rates

Apparently having a picture of a baby in your wallet makes it more likely that it will be returned to you, according to an unscientific study performed in Edinburgh. The wallets had no money in them, but did have either a baby picture, puppy photograph, a family picture, an elderly couple or cards indicating donations to a charity. In addition to those, wallets with no photographs served as controls. Forty wallets were left in various locations and the return rates noted.

The chart shows that, at least according to these results, the baby picture resulted in the highest rate of return. Commentors on BoingBoing describe a good extension to this study in which wallets containing baby photographs of varying attractiveness and differing amounts of money could be used to better quantify the baby photo effect.

Now to get wallet size photos of cute baby Linus for my wallet protection and return system.

(via BoingBoing, via the Times online)

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Babies laugh, monkeys laugh.

How fun would this research project have been? Researchers elicited laughter (tickle-induced vocalizations) from infant and juvenile orangutans, gorillas, chimpanzees, and bonobos and babies to explore the emergence of laughter in primates. The results are reported in an article in Current Biology (available through Science Direct also). They analyzed the laughter and generated a cladastic family tree of the evolution of laughter which closely parallels the family tree generated from the genetics of these species.

Figure 3. Reconstructed Trees of Apes and Humans with the Siamang as the Outgroup Derived with Tickling-Induced Vocalizations

(A) The single maximum-parsimony phylogram as a result of exhaustive search (treelength = 113, RI = 0.750). Shorter branches indicate fewer character state changes.

(B) Bootstrap cladogram as a consensus tree of 10,000 replicates. Bootstrap values for ingroup clades are shown just above their preceding branches.

How did they come up with the idea and what implications does this have for laughter as communication and its evolution?

Uncommon names correlated with increased juvenile delinquincy

A study by David Kalist (also registered at IDEAS) and Daniel Lee of Shippensburg University seems to indicate that unusual or uncommon names are correlated with increases in juvenile delinquency. ("First Names and Crime: Does Unpopularity Spell Trouble?" - full text in html, abstract).
The study takes the list of names from an undisclosed state and creates a Popular name index which is essentially the ratio of the popularity of a name to the most popular name in his list, Michael.
A cumulative distribution plot of the popular name index (PNI) for the two populations, the state population and the juvenile delinquents shows that the juvenile delinquent names are less popular than the general state population.

The plot shows a considerable difference in the medians (50th percentile). About half the names in the state population have a PNI greater than 20, while about half the names of juvenile delinquents have a PNI greater than 11. The average PNI for the state population is 26.31 but falls to 22.0 for the juvenile delinquents. The study says that this difference is significant. Therefore, compared to the state population of names, a larger proportion of juvenile delinquents have unpopular names.

The study also correlates the PNI to the fraction of the population that is a juvenile delinquent. It shows that a 10 percent decrease in the popularity-name index (less popular name) increases the number of juvenile delinquents by 3.67 percent.

Of course, the comments at Neatorama and even by supposedly educated researchers in the newspaper article spout off about examples of people they know that were against type according to the study. One should remember that the plural of anecdotes is not data, it is anecdotes. The study is over a population with a distribution, you will always be able to find examples of youths with unusual names who are not delinquents and those with common names who are, you would almost have to, given to have the results be balanced. That doesn't necessarily invalidate the study. I guess people like talking about that one friend from childhood with the certain name that was trouble, or even that one friend who was trouble no matter the name.

That being said, correlation is not causation and so the results of the study should be examined critically as with all scientific study. There is some evidence that the choice of names is correlated with other socio-economic and racial indicators which themselves are sometimes correlated with increased crime or juvenile delinquency, but the question remains, does the name make the person or do are they both caused by some other factor.

(via Neatorama, via Orlando Sentinel, via Social Science Quarterly)

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Linus can lift Daddy's head

Linus likes to come in (with a little help) and say good morning to us in the bedroom sometimes. Here he is trying to hold up my big old head.

And attacking me from a different angle, he knows mommy has caught him trying to put my whole head in his mouth.

Linus's increasing dexterity when trying to hold things means we are now in the firing line.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Linus turns over - sometimes

Linus' new trick (learned a few weeks ago) has been to roll over from his back to his front. He then is "stuck" in this position and enjoys it or tolerates it for some time and then calls to us to turn him back over. It has become a bit of an aggravation at night since he crams himself up against the crib bars (with breathe-through net for some cushion) and then wakes himself up, changing a baby who slept through the night to one who screams all of the sudden at 2am. We have been waiting for him to master the next step of turning from front to back again so that he can right himself and be more comfortable. He is finally starting to do that again. An example is in the too dark video below. Since Linus has been doing all of his growing up and hitting his milestones while I have been at work, mommy graciously films them for me later.

Careful readers may recall that, in March he had already demonstrated the ability to roll from back to front. But since then he has apparently forgotten how to. I have a theory that the head weight and arm strength grow at different rates and that in March he was at an optimal range in which to roll over even if it was accidental. Then he grew out of these constraints, head to big maybe or arms to weak, until now where he is almost able to do it again giving the motivation. At least now he will probably have more control over it.