Artist Mary Kelly’s 1976 exhibit at the Insitute of Contemporary Art in London consisted of a framed series of soiled liners from her kid’s diapers. Below the fecal stains, she listed what her kid had eaten in order to produce the marks.
The 1930s-era solution to the problem of babies getting mixed up in hospitals was to temporarily brand newborns with a UV-ray lamp. The procedure was said to be painless, though it was terrible PR to describe it as 'branding'.
Sara Franklin's 15 minutes of fame came from being the first baby raised in a glass box. Or in an Air crib, as the device, invented by psychologist B.F. Skinner, was called. More info from wikipedia:
The air crib is an easily cleaned, temperature- and humidity-controlled enclosure intended to replace the standard infant crib. Skinner invented the device to help his wife cope with the day-to-day tasks of child rearing. It was designed to make early childcare simpler (by reducing laundry, diaper rash, cradle cap, etc.), while allowing the baby to be more mobile and comfortable, and less prone to cry. Reportedly it had some success in these goals.
The air crib was a controversial invention. It was popularly mischaracterized as a cruel pen, and it was often compared to Skinner's operant conditioning chamber, commonly called the "Skinner Box". This association with laboratory animal experimentation discouraged its commercial success, though several companies attempted production.
For nominatively challenged parents, a new company offers help. Future Perfect charges $350 for a personalized list of 10 possible first and middle names for a newborn. For $225, you'll get a list of first names only, while for $100 they'll provide “a namestorming session like no other.” And for a mere $75, they’ll also help you name your pet.
Add this to my list of things I'd be willing to do for less money.
Back in the late 1940s and early 50s, Swift's urged mothers to start feeding their babies canned, processed meat at 6 weeks because "Results of actual test feedings with six-weeks-old infants show meat gives baby a better start in life!”
I'm no expert, but six weeks seems awful early to start feeding your kid meat, even if it has been pureed into meat mush. Aren't most kids still on breast milk or formula at six weeks?
Retired professor Edwin Paget (1902-1989) decided that one of the problems with the world was that babies weren't exercising enough. Therefore, their brains started to go into decline. In an effort to correct this problem, he tried to organize what he claimed were the first ever "baby olympics" in the summer of 1980.
I'm not sure they were ever held, but events would have included "crawling, weightlifing, tug-of-war, 'head-over-heels rolling' and three aquatic events, including the 'leaping fish from the water' swim."
Paget advocated a number of other unusual ideas, such as periodic brain scans for U.S. presidents, to check that their brains had sufficient oxygen levels.
He believed that the rules of basketball should be revised so that the game would be played continuously, with all free throws shot at the end of the game.
And he also designed a line of women's clothing with built-in lighting, saying, "Unlike the bikini, which reveals almost everything, much of which is unattractive, lighting permits a homely girl to reveal only her best, possibly in color."
Over in Abu Dhabi, an eight-month-old baby was appointed to a position in a government office as a "happiness executive." Apparently it was believed the presence of the kid might boost morale. Or maybe it was just someone's scheme to save on daycare. Following complaints, officials are now investigating.
Cows are a definite WU theme. But in all these years, I do not believe we have ever commented on the rare instance of triplet calves. The odds of a successful gestation and delivery are "one in eight million."
Paul Di Filippo
Paul has been paid to put weird ideas into fictional form for over thirty years, in his career as a noted science fiction writer. He has recently begun blogging on many curious topics with three fellow writers at The Inferior 4+1.