A decision made Tuesday by San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors may make little kids (and probably some adults) cry. With an un-vetoable vote of 8 to 3, the board banned restaurant chains like McDonald’s and Burger King from giving out toys with “unhealthy” happy meals within San Francisco’s city limits.
The decision is preliminary and will be followed up by a second debate and vote on Tuesday, November 9.
Under the proposed rule, meals deemed healthy can still be packed with action figures. To meet the city’s “healthy” standard a kid’s meal must contain fewer than 640 milligrams of sodium and 600 calories, and under 35 percent of those calories can come from fat. It also has to include a serving of fruit or vegetable with each meal and meet a number of other requirements (pdf).
The majority of McDonald’s Happy Meal options don’t meet these standards, including ALL of the cheeseburger options and any meal with fries. McDonald’s spokesperson told The New York Times they don’t agree with the Supervisors’ stance:
McDonald’s called the bill misguided. “It’s not what our customers want,” said Danya Proud, a spokeswoman for the company, in a statement. “Nor is it something they asked for.”
Never let a group of scientists have too much time on their hands. While a fusion reactor was down for improvements, scientists at the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory unleashed their inner child and built a model train track inside the reactor. A toy train then chugged around the track for three days, according to The New York Times:
It was not an exercise in silliness, but in calibration.
The modified model of a diesel train engine was carrying a small chunk of californium-252, a radioactive element that spews neutrons as it falls apart.
We’re all for sustainable toys. After all, having children is the single most carbon-intensive action human beings can take, so the least we can do is give our kids a recycled rubber ball or eco-friendly duckie to play with.
And so we applaud the efforts of green-minded design group [re]design in putting together an exhibition of sustainable toys from around the world. But there is a line to all of this. And that line is the Placenta Teddy Bear. If you want to eat it, that’s your business—but forcing your placenta on the world in the name of sustainability is another matter. Here’s a description, courtesy of Inhabitots:
A crafty alternative for those who don’t necessarily want to eat their baby’s placenta, but want to pay their respects to the life sustaining organ by turning it into a one-of-a-kind teddy bear. Green’s ‘Twin Teddy Kit’ ‘celebrates the unity of the infant, the mother and the placenta,’ and enables preparation of the placenta so it may be transformed into a teddy bear. The placenta must be cut in half and rubbed with sea salt to cure it. After it is dried out, it is treated with an emulsifying mixture of tannin and egg yolk to make it soft and pliable. Then, you craft it into a teddy bear.
Then, you wait for the apocalypse. Which can’t come too soon.
(Hat tip to Maia Weinstock.)
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What’s fuzzy, pink, and just plain cuddly? The Influenza A H1N1 virus, of course… or at least, the stuffed toy crafted in the pathogen’s likeness. You can get your very own swine flu toy made by GIANTmicrobes online or, if you happen to be in the neighborhood, at the CDC headquarters in Atlanta.
The stuffed toy has been designed to represent a “cuddlier” version of an H1N1 microbe, complete with a pig-like nose and eyes… [doll company GIANTmicrobes] describes its toys as “great learning tools, as well as amusing gifts for anyone with a sense of humour.” Each purchase comes with an information leaflet with details of the relevant infection.
If a stuffed replica of just one pathogen isn’t enough for you, don’t despair: The company makes a variety of other dolls, from the snakelike Ebola virus to the bean-shaped, Black Death-causing Yersinia pestis bacteria.
There’s something strange about asking for smallpox or the swine flu as a gift…but that won’t stop this blogger, whose birthday is (ahem) coming up next week.
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Image courtesy of GIANTmicrobes
Little children will put just about anything into their mouths. Even ovaries. That’s why the plush toy manufacturer, I Heart Guts, is recalling their plush uterus. The pink plush toy, which technically is an all-in-one female reproductive system rather than just a uterus, sports fallopian tube “arms” and purple egg-shaped ovaries. Unfortunately for small children, however, the ovaries can be pulled off and become a choking hazard.
Although there have been no reports of death by ovary swallowing yet, the company’s Web site suggests that: “If the plush uterus is being use by a young child, please remove it immediately.”
Owners of the cushy uterus can send it in for a full refund or for an organ swap with any one of the other plush organs, including a plush brain, gallbladder, heart, kidney, liver, lung, or pancreas. And for those who simply must own the female reproductive system, a new kid-friendly plush uterus is in development, according to the company.
DISCOVER: Tokens of Science: Toys, favorite toys of famous scientists
Image: I Heart Guts
For the past three decades, the U.K.’s space policy has been in favor of sending robots into space, but not humans. And certainly not bears—of the living variety, that is. Last Thursday, a group of British school children tweaked that policy a bit when they sent teddy bears into space.
The project was part of the Cambridge University Spaceflight program, which worked with 11- and 12-year-olds from nearby schools to encourage science education. Not to get too technical, this is how the teddy bears made it into space. First, the students had to design space suits for the bears, so they could withstand the extreme temperatures and pressure present in near space.
On the day of the launch, the space team gathered at Churchill College with four space-suited teddy bears. The bears were placed in a foam box filled with instruments and cameras. When the conditions were just right, the “teddy-nauts” were launched into space with a helium balloon.
This holiday season, Santa’s toy bag will again overflow with plastics. From Legos to Barbies to the Nintendo Wii, most toys today are made from non-degradable and non-renewable plastics derived from fossil fuels. Now a company is developing a bio-plastic that’s made from trees. Could ARBOFORM, or liquid wood, cure us of our plastic addiction?
Liquid wood is made mostly of lignin, one of the three major components of wood, the other two being cellulose and hemicellulose. Lignin is discarded during the paper-making process. A few years ago, researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Chemical Technology in Germany took the lignin and combined it with natural fibers like natural fibers made of wood, hemp, and flax and natural additives such as wax to produce plastic granules. The resulting material was tough, melt-able, and mold-able, and has already been used to make car parts, hunting rifles, and golf tees. But there was one major problem: It stunk from the sulfurous substances that are used to extract lignin from wood and make it non-water-soluble.