Part of the Bay Area News Group

Archive for November, 2007

MYSPACE HOAX demands harsh punishment

MBRNo charges will be filed against a 47-year-old woman who posed as a 16-year-old boy on and issued insults that led a 13-year-old girl to commit suicide. News of the incident broke a week ago, leading to a firestorm of phone calls, e-mails and blog postings. The anger hasn’t died down. Nor should it.

The woman, Lori Drew of Dardenne Prairie, Mo., created the persona of a 16-year-old named Josh so “he” could befriend 13-year-old Megan Meier, a former friend of Drew’s daughter. The elaborate ruse ended when “Josh” turned on Megan, insulting her and reportedly writing, “The world would be a better place without you.” Megan used a belt to hang herself in her bedroom closet.

Problem is, Drew didn’t break any laws. As a sheriff’s department spokesman explained, what she did “might have been rude, it might have been immature, but it wasn’t illegal.” Now is the time to make it illegal.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Friday, November 30th, 2007
Under: Health & Safety | No Comments »

Is a $1,000 stroller a little much?

Cougar strollerOops, correction. That’s a $1,001 stroller. I’m sorry, but unless that puppy changes diapers, some manufacturer out there has got to be crazy.

 Here’s a blurb I got from The Gear Junkie, who reviews such products for newspapers across the country:

Chariot Carriers Inc. of Calgary, Alberta, calls its exercise stroller products `Child Transport Systems,’ alluding to the fact that each one has the ability to move a kid around in multiple fitness-oriented manners. Indeed, by switching out components, you can hike, run, bike, ski and stroll with kid — or kids — in tow. A neat idea for sure. But it will cost you: The full Cougar 2 setup runs a cool $1,001.”

To get the full scoop on how this stroller performed, visit the junkie’s Web site.

As for the rest of us, we’re putting the $1,000 into the college fund and settling for the $79 Graco number.

Posted on Friday, November 30th, 2007
Under: Babies & Tots | No Comments »

BAD SANTA: Home atomic lab, anyone?

atomic-energy-lab-01In this miserable age of toy recalls, it’s always good to keep things in perspective. So without further ado, here’s’s list of the worst toys of all time. Sure, AquaDots made the cut, but so did skull-penetrating lawn darts, carnivorous Cabbage Patch dolls, and the U-238 Atomic Energy Lab, a 1951 radioactive learning set that included three ‘very low-level’ radioactive sources, a Geiger-Mueller radiation counter, an electroscope to measure radioactivity, four samples of uranium-bearing ores and loads more fission fun! “Junior Einsteins had everything they needed, says Radar’s Paige Ferrari, “except a hazmat suit.”

Posted on Friday, November 30th, 2007
Under: Just Bizarre, Toy Recalls | No Comments »

SCHOOLS IN THE NEWS: Funerals, audits and – thank heavens – juggling clubs

School signIt’s been a heartbreaking week for Antioch families. Turner Elementary school is in mourning after a car crash killed fifth grader Sarai Rivera Tuesday.
And six days after hitting and killing an Antioch teen and fleeing the scene, a 72-year-old woman finally turned herself in. Memorial services for young JR Scott are today, and the family has set up a memorial web site.

Over in West County, El Cerrito High is in mourning after a beloved, 31 year old, drama and chemistry teacher died suddenly just before Thanksgiving. And a stray bullet hit a first grader waiting in line at Dover Elementary in San Pablo. She was not seriously injured, just scared half to death… as were her teachers, school administrators and all the rest of us.

It’s been four and a half years since the state took over Oakland’s troubled school district, and the latest audit delivers mixed news. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Friday, November 30th, 2007
Under: Schools | No Comments »

MOMMY needs a playdate

There’s just one day left! Read on…
Yeah, yeah, we’ve all seen those edgy T-shirts for babies. But have you seen the PlanetMom shirts for parents? (Pictured above, photo by Kristin Burke of Peter Baker Studios) So hilarious, we’re hard pressed to name just one favorite – “Nanny Deprived” perhaps, or “In my next life, I want to come back as my kids.” Or maybe “I need a playdate.” Because … we do. And so do you.

So, let’s play. In last week’s contest, we gave away a Nancy Drew video game and Penny Warner’s new “Official Nancy Drew Handbook” (congrats to our winner, Cathy!). This week, we’re giving away one of those fab playdate T-shirts. All you have to do to enter the drawing is click “comments” (we’ll draw a winner tonight!) and tell us about the moment when you suddenly realized you needed a playdate very, very badly. Us? When we suddenly realized we knew the words to all the Raffi songs. All. Of. Them. And we were singing them, even when we were alone. Yeah, brutal. Your turn.
Jackie Burrell

Posted on Friday, November 30th, 2007
Under: Other | No Comments »

FACEBOOK reverses course

SpyIn a major reversal, Facebook is changing its controversial “Beacon” feature. For the last several weeks, when members made purchases, declared “favorites” or posted reviews on certain other web sites, Facebook sent the details to all their friends as part of their daily news feed, without asking permission.

Needless to say, the feature pleased advertisers, but it enraged many members who saw it as a major privacy violation. In some cases, the news feed included details about holiday shopping, prompting comparisons between Facebook and Dr. Seuss’ Grinch. A Facebook protest group organized by had reached 24,000 members by Monday afternoon. It stood at 54,000 today.

This evening, Facebook did a complete 180. “We appreciate feedback from all Facebook users,” said spokeswoman Rachel Peterson, “and made some changes to Beacon.” Not only will members be shown a screen when they log in that tells them exactly what Facebook is planning to post and asks for their OK, but Facebook also added an “external websites” section to its privacy page that allows users to opt out completely. For details and screen shots, check out Facebook’s explanatory web page.

Meanwhile, happy shopping. The Grinch won’t tell a soul.

Posted on Thursday, November 29th, 2007
Under: Teens | No Comments »

DANGEROUS CONFETTI: Yet another recall


 Just in time for New Year’s comes … a confetti recall! The federal Consumer Product Safety Commission recalled these Confetti Bursts this afternoon.

Idea is, you inflate the little bags, squeeze them and they burst, showering confetti all over you … oh happy, happy day. Except the bags are covered in lead paint.

Posted on Thursday, November 29th, 2007
Under: Toy Recalls | No Comments »

RAIDERS’ NEWBERRY hosts a toy drive for foster kids

Jerry Newberry, RaidersRaiders player Jeremy Newberry is hosting a toy drive for Contra Costa County’s Volunteer and Emergency Services Team in Action – the folks who provide holiday gifts to foster children. And if you’ve a hankering to join Jeremy, come on down to Pee Wee Muldoon’s (8900 Brentwood Dr., Brentwood) on Saturday from noon to 5 p.m. Food, live music, a football memorabilia raffle and a sweet time – and all it costs to get in is a $20 unwrapped, new toy. Or just hand ’em a crisp $20 at the door and they’ll do the shopping for you.  

Posted on Thursday, November 29th, 2007
Under: Other | 1 Comment »

FAB FIVE for the Weekend

Looking for some Bay Area family fun this weekend?
dickens fair
Wander the bustling streets of Victorian London at the Great Dickens Christmas Fair (above) weekends through Dec. 23, Cow Palace. ($10-$22)

Catch Charlie Chaplin’s “Gold Rush” – plus Fenton’s ice cream and Peet’s coffee – at Berkeley’s Pacific Film Archive Saturday at 3 p.m. ($6.50-$9.50). Or check out the holiday matinees for kids at Rialto Cinemas Elmwood, 2966 College, Berkeley – Saturday at 10 and noon, Sunday at noon. “An American Tale,” cheap seats ($2) and it benefits local PTAs. “A Christmas Story” more your style? Livermore’s Vine Cinema hosts a special screening Dec. 1 at 11 a.m., including a guest appearance by the actor who played “Flick.” ($10)

Or try a visit with St. Nick, Victorian crafts and a “Homespun Holiday” at Dublin’s Heritage Center (6600 Donlon Way) Dec. 1, 2-4 p.m. ($3, plus $5 for pics with Santa – bring your camera!)

Posted on Thursday, November 29th, 2007
Under: Family Outings | No Comments »

KID NATION: Ugly chickens deserve to die

taylorEven at her worst, you have to love Taylor on “Kid Nation.” She refused to let the town kill her brown chickens — the pretty ones, that is. Those poor chickens she labeled ugly, well, they were fair game. “Ugly chickens deserve to die,” she explained. It was vintage Taylor. She was back causing trouble, and frankly, thank God. “Kid Nation” had become stale with Taylor on the back burner. She’s certainly a queen-sized brat prone to tempers and self-centeredness and I would never ever want her for my kid, but when it comes to reality television, she’s the only thing I find worth watching on this show.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Wednesday, November 28th, 2007
Under: TV | No Comments »