Brief asides


POSTED: Friday, October 30, 2009


Baby Einstein not as smart as we thought

So you think you're smarter than a 5-year-old? Your odds may be enhanced now that Disney is basically backpedaling on educational claims for its “;Baby Einstein”; DVD series. Responding to challenges over such claims, the company is expanding a customer-satisfaction program to offer cash refunds on any “;Einstein”; DVD bought from June 5, 2004, to Sept. 4.

Whether the products actually, say, teach words to babies under 2 years old is up for debate. But really, parents or guardians who fervently look to “;Einstein”; or any one product as a magic carpet to Smartsville need to, well, think again.


How 'bout just drinking ice water?

Beer makers trying to capture a certain weight-conscious segment of the imbibers' market have rolled out ultra-low-calorie brews. MillerCoors' Miller Genuine Draft 64 and Anheuser-Busch InBev's Select 55, for example, broadcast their calorie counts in their names.

Early reactions to the new products? “;Kind of watery”; and too light on buzz. Looks like it'll be up to the marketers to create a different kind of buzz.


What's a little vog in the grand scheme of things?

Yes, it's been very, very voggy — but weather forecasters say a return of light trade winds today could finally start to lift the filmy veil.

People with respiratory problems no doubt are feeling effects, though the state Department of Health says the air quality was still rated “;good”; and posed little or no risk.

In the larger scheme of things: The occasional volcanic haze is a reminder of the consequence of living in a geologically active area. New lava is creating new land every second — and here we are, in the shadow of erupting volcanoes, plugging away day in and day out to shape our version of civilization.