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Birth/Babies
The Premise: A couple claims to be allowing the internet to vote on whether or not they'll have an abortion.

This has been getting a lot of attention on blogs over the past few days, and by now it's been definitively proven to be a hoax. Kevin Hoffman points out what I think is the most telling piece of evidence. The couple registered the domain name birthornot.com over two months before the baby was supposedly conceived. Also, the man behind the site has been identified as Pete Arnold, who is apparently a well-known right-wing troll.

So, in other words, this is just another cynical shock-style hoax designed to be offensive. (Thanks, Bob!)
Categories: Birth/Babies, Websites
Posted by Alex on Tue Nov 23, 2010
Comments (17)
According to The Telegraph, politicians and industry experts have been shocked (shocked!) to learn that magazines occasionally photoshop pictures of babies:

The practice came to light in a BBC documentary, My Supermodel Baby. In footage of a photo shoot for the magazine, the casting director explained how the photograph of baby model Hadley Corbett, five months, was airbrushed: "We lightened his eyes and his general skin tone, smoothed out any blotches and the creases on his arms," he said. "But we want it to look natural."

Honestly, this seems like a non-issue to me. It's not like doctoring baby pictures is a new thing. Remember Baby Adolf?
Categories: Birth/Babies, Photos/Videos
Posted by Alex on Tue Nov 17, 2009
Comments (5)
As posted recently by LaMa in the forum, a video recently began to circulate that appeared to have been created by a Danish girl who was trying to find the father of her child. She said the father had been a tourist in Denmark. They had had a one-night stand a year ago.



Turns out the video was actually created by Denmark's National Tourist Agency as part of a viral marketing campaign. The tourist agency has since issued an apology:

Local media reported yesterday the woman is actually an actress named Ditte Arnth Jorgensen and the baby "August" is not hers. The revelation caused outrage in the country, with one newspaper labelling the stunt "grotesque". VisitDenmark CEO Dorte Kiilerich said the aim of the viral advertising campaign was to create a positive view of Denmark.

As a publicity stunt, I'd say the campaign was highly effective. But in terms of encouraging people to visit Denmark, I'm not so sure.
Categories: Birth/Babies, Videos
Posted by Alex on Wed Sep 16, 2009
Comments (17)
Swedish father Ragnar Bengtsson is pumping his breasts at three-hour intervals every day, in the hope that eventually he will start to lactate and be able to breastfeed his future children. If it works, he has no plans to breastfeed his 2-year-old son. The experiment is being filmed by Swedish TV8.

Odds that he may produce some milk if he works at it long enough: pretty good. Odds that he'll produce enough to feed a child: close to zero. He could help his cause by starving himself, since starvation triggers male lactation. That's just one of the odd facts I happen to know. (Thanks, Bob!)
Categories: Birth/Babies, Body Manipulation
Posted by Alex on Fri Sep 04, 2009
Comments (7)
I think the trend toward hyper-realism in dolls started in the 1970s with the introduction of Kenner's "Baby Alive" doll which ate, drank, and wet its diapers.

The latest evolution of the trend is Baby Glutton, the breastfeeding doll. According to thingamababy.com: "Your child wears a colorful bra-like halter-top featuring flowers over the nipple area. When the doll is lifted to the flowers, it makes a suckling motion and sound." A little too realistic, perhaps?

More links: berjuan.com (maker of the doll), nj.com.
(Thanks, Bob!)
Categories: Birth/Babies
Posted by Alex on Tue Aug 04, 2009
Comments (28)
Recently a woman who identified herself only as "April's Mom" started blogging about how her unborn child had been diagnosed as terminally ill. And yet she had decided to go through with the pregnancy anyway. Her blog quickly became popular with the anti-abortion crowd. On Sunday "Little April Rose" was born, but died soon after.

But skeptics noticed something strange about the picture of Little April that April's Mom posted on her site. Little April looked exactly like a reborn doll called Avery manufactured by Bountiful Baby.

Soon after, April's Mom was unmasked as Beccah Beushausen of Mokena, Illinois. Her entire blog had been fiction. The Chicago Tribune has more details.
Categories: Birth/Babies, Websites
Posted by Alex on Fri Jun 12, 2009
Comments (8)
News from the frontiers of medicine: "Baby Brain" is a myth; that syndrome being the supposed decline in intelligence that women suffer while pregnant. A study led by Dr. Helen Christensen of the Australian National University in Canberra tracked 2500 women over ten years and "found no difference between their brainpower before and during their pregnancies."

Baby Brain reminds me of Josh Whicker's 2004 Hoosier Gazette hoax in which he claimed that a five-year Indiana University study had found that "having children significantly lowers parents’ IQs." If I remember, that fooled a lot of the media, including Keith Olbermann.

Anyway, I still believe there's such a thing as Internet Brain.
Categories: Birth/Babies
Posted by Alex on Mon Feb 09, 2009
Comments (8)
A Broomfield, Colorado man got his name in the local newspaper for claiming he had named his new son Carter Barack Obama Sealy. He also said that his two other children were named Brooke Trout Sealy and Cooper John Elway Sealy. Supposedly he had a deal with his wife. She got to choose the kids' first names, and he got to choose their middle names.

The children's grandmother spilled the beans on the father, notifying the paper that the names were not real. The guy's wife explained that the fake names were her husband's idea of a joke. She added, "My husband's an idiot."
Categories: Birth/Babies, Journalism, Literature/Language
Posted by Alex on Fri Nov 21, 2008
Comments (5)
People magazine reportedly paid $14 million for the rights to publish the first pictures of the twin babies of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. But what the blogosphere is buzzing about is the suspicion that the cover photo of the twins was photoshopped. New York magazine seems to be the originator of this theory:

In that cover photo, it looks like Vivienne Marcheline — clearly the Ashley half of this Olsen-like combo — is sporting a giant grin. She may even be laughing. Hold on. These babies are purported to be a mere 3 weeks old! Parenting magazine says that babies don't smile from exterior stimulation until two to four months — even if said exterior stimulation is the most beautiful pair of humans in the entire world.

The picture could very well be photoshopped. Most magazine covers are nowadays. But to me it simply looks like the baby happened to have its mouth open.
Categories: Birth/Babies, Photos/Videos
Posted by Alex on Tue Aug 05, 2008
Comments (10)
There's one final news item I've received a lot of emails about in the past week -- and so deserves a place on the front page (though it's already in the forum). The Gloucester Pregnancy Pact.

Seventeen girls at Gloucester High School are pregnant. According to Time magazine, they all made a pact to get pregnant and raise their babies together. From Time:

School officials started looking into the matter as early as October after an unusual number of girls began filing into the school clinic to find out if they were pregnant. By May, several students had returned multiple times to get pregnancy tests, and on hearing the results, "some girls seemed more upset when they weren't pregnant than when they were," Sullivan says. All it took was a few simple questions before nearly half the expecting students, none older than 16, confessed to making a pact to get pregnant and raise their babies together. Then the story got worse. "We found out one of the fathers is a 24-year-old homeless guy," the principal says, shaking his head.

My first thought was that this reminded me of the prom babies rumor I posted about last year. According to this rumor, girls try to get pregnant on prom night so they won't have to go to college. With the Gloucester pregnancy pact, we again have the notion of teenage girls conspiring to get pregnant.

Teenage girls (like teenage boys) are capable of incredibly stupid behavior, but the pregnancy pact has the whiff of urban legend. Sure enough, school officials are now throwing cold water on the idea, claiming they never heard of such a pact until it appeared in Time. Which isn't to say that group psychology didn't play a powerful role in influencing the girls' behavior. It obviously did. But did the girls make a premeditated pact, and then act on it? That seems highly unlikely to me.
Categories: Birth/Babies, Urban Legends
Posted by Alex on Tue Jun 24, 2008
Comments (13)
If you're tired of your kid, why not swap him or her for another? Childtrader.com makes this possible. From the site:

Child Trader is now the nations 4th largest child exchange network and as such, has brought happiness to more than 1623 American households who otherwise had very few options in creating a more loving family and home life when realizing their child wasn’t the right fit for them.
Child Trader Child Exchange Network isn’t about not loving childing [sic]. Its about finding a family that can love them more.
Get started today with this exciting new way to love your children.

You can view the profiles of kids available for trade. For instance, Jacob (pictured) is described as, "Not a particularly impressive boy. He hasn’t much been into sports, but he does have a great smile and likes to sit around the house, so he is very quiet."

I'm willing to go out on a limb and declare this a hoax. I'm not even going to do any research into who the site is registered to, etc., because it's obviously a joke. In other words, you're stuck with your kids, even if you don't like them. It's not legal to swap them for another.

Links on the child trader site indicate it was created by the same person responsible for two other spoof sites: medicaladoptions.com (adopt a kid who is a perfect match for an organ transplant you need), and puppyprofits.com (make money from illegal dog fighting).

Childtrader.com does, at least, highlight that children aren't always a constant source of joy to their parents. It reminds me of a study conducted in 1931 by Dr. Mandel Sherman of the Child Research Centre in Georgia. Sherman asked thirty-two parents to keep track in notebooks of all the ways their children annoyed them. He found that there were 2,124 ways in which children annoyed their parents. The most common source of annoyance was disobedience, but other annoyances included being too slow, too quick, and spending too much time primping.
Categories: Birth/Babies, Websites
Posted by Alex on Thu May 15, 2008
Comments (15)
Yale undergraduate Aliza Shvarts' senior art project has created a little bit of controversy. She has apparently created "a documentation of a nine-month process during which she artificially inseminated herself 'as often as possible' while periodically taking abortifacient drugs to induce miscarriages." That's just lovely. (Already posted by whoeverur in the forum, but so bizarre it warrants being on the front page.)

Shvarts insists that her project was not designed for "shock value." Funny. I would have thought it was designed precisely for shock value.

She also says that "she was not concerned about any medical effects the forced miscarriages may have had on her body. The abortifacient drugs she took were legal and herbal, she said, and she did not feel the need to consult a doctor about her repeated miscarriages." I'm always puzzled about why people think that just because a drug is "herbal" it can't possibly be harmful.

The final display of the project will be like something out of a horror movie:

The display of Schvarts' project will feature a large cube suspended from the ceiling of a room in the gallery of Green Hall. Schvarts will wrap hundreds of feet of plastic sheeting around this cube; lined between layers of the sheeting will be the blood from Schvarts' self-induced miscarriages mixed with Vaseline in order to prevent the blood from drying and to extend the blood throughout the plastic sheeting. Schvarts will then project recorded videos onto the four sides of the cube. These videos, captured on a VHS camcorder, will show her experiencing miscarriages in her bathrooom tub, she said. Similar videos will be projected onto the walls of the room.

As word of Schvarts' project got around, Yale hurriedly released a statement assuring everyone that it was all just "creative fiction":

“Ms. Shvarts is engaged in performance art. She stated to three senior Yale University officials today, including two deans, that she did not impregnate herself and that she did not induce any miscarriages,” a Yale spokeswoman, Helaine Klasky, said in a statement sent by e-mail to reporters. “The entire project is an art piece, a creative fiction designed to draw attention to the ambiguity surrounding form and function of a woman’s body.”

But according to a follow-up report in the Yale Daily News, Sharvarts is still insisting that she really did what she initially claimed:

Shvarts reiterated Thursday that she repeatedly use a needleless syringe to insert semen into herself. At the end of her menstrual cycle, she took abortifacient herbs to induce bleeding, she said. She said she does not know whether or not she was ever pregnant. “No one can say with 100-percent certainty that anything in the piece did or did not happen,” Shvarts said, “because the nature of the piece is that it did not consist of certainties.”

My hunch is that Shvarts probably did conduct her bizarre project. But who can say for sure? Creating doubt seems to be the basic point of her project.

There's a long history of hoaxes and "art projects" involving reproduction, which is why I devoted an entire chapter to that subject in Hippo Eats Dwarf. The two that remind me most of Shvarts' project are Mary Toft, the woman who gave birth to rabbits, and Chrissy Caviar, the performance artist who claimed she harvested the eggs from her body and sold them as food.
Categories: Art, Birth/Babies
Posted by Alex on Fri Apr 18, 2008
Comments (15)
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