Mark Frauenfelder at 10:22 pm Tue, Oct 14, 2008
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Phil Torrone at Make Blog posted these photos of the Betterbaby snake-proof baby crib from the early 20th century. Betterbaby snake proof crib
Mark Frauenfelder is the founder of Boing Boing and the editor-in-chief of MAKE and Cool Tools. Twitter: @frauenfelder.
Come and hear Mark speak at the ALA conference in Chicago on July 1.
Eurovision 2013: An American in London
The technology that links taxonomy and Star Trek
Oh sure, on and on with the robots now, eh? But what about the zombies!? Huh? Will someone please think about the children and design a zombie-proof cradle?
That could really come in handy once the plague hits and we’re living in safe zones and all.
I have lived in Columbus Ohio for nearly 20 years and can honestly say I have never ever seen a snake outside of captivity.
Um. . .maybe they were for export.
It looks like that would make a neat habitat for a snake, if you removed the spring frame.
Oddly, I was just talking to my grandmother, who is 103, and she was telling me about coming into her son’s room and seeing a snake hanging on the wall over his crib. She would have been a prime market for one of these.
Those used to be all the rage in Ireland, until that crucifix-waving bastard Patrick killed the market.
Wouldn’t it be easier just to mate with Zeus?
I would like a picture of a good sized constrictor in one of these sproting a nice baby sized bulge…
The Butterbaby crib, on the other hand, was much less successful at preventing Dingo attacks.
You wouldn’t need one of these if you didn’t take the baby to Church :)
I think we need a modern equivalent that is more compact and attaches securely to airline seats…
Baby snakes could get in there.
Actually, I suspect that that’s not a snake-proof crib but rather a primitive Skinner box, designed to bring up a “better baby” by scientific methods.
#8 Yea, they make the best kind of pet.
I’ll bet that’s lead paint.
just look at those springs and hooks! reminds me of my high chair with casters — i’ve still got the under-chin scar from tipping forward and hitting the dining room table!
Any chance it might be intended to keep bugs, not snakes, off babies?
Immidiately made me think of this useful, important parenting tool
Sure, those were useful during the great Snake Plague of Ought-Eight. Totally useless now. A robot-proof crib, however, would come in very handy… now that we live in the future and all.
This is a story my parents told me not too long ago: when I was about four months old, my mom was in the living room reading after she had put me to bed one evening. The family cat, Adolph (so named because she had a splotch of black just below her nose, and another splotch of black on her head that looked like a messy hitleresque hairdo) was mewing up a storm at the entrance to my room. My mom got up, went over, and there was a real, live snake crawling into my crib! She freaked out for a split second, and then tried to corner it while calling my dad (who was at work at the time). He rushed home, got out one of his old ROTC boots, and stomped the living crap out of the poor little guy. They were interested in finding out just what kind of snake it was, so the next day Dad took what was left of the snake to the local university, where a friend of his worked in the Herpetology department (I know, convenient!). Turns out the thing was a common garter snake.
Anyway, the point I’m making is that these snake-proof cribs are probably still relevant and/or useful, so:
1. Begin manufacturing new snake-proof baby cribs
This one sold on Ebay for $206.50. I don’t think it was a lot of bidding going on.
Really? I bet there are a ton of dangerous snakes in the British Isles!? Can’t think of one right now? Maybe in the Falkens? Can’t think of one right now? Think you might have bought crap. Send me your address so I can sell you steampunk antiques from the moon when I move.
Anyone want to buy a bridge? I’ve got a few for sale. LOL!
Okay, you folks really want to know about the Better Babies? What you see here is a relic from mainstream Progressive Era eugenics movement. Allow me to quote from David Bender’s recent article in the Journal of Social History:
“Using the Womenâ€™s Home Companion as a national soapbox, [Anna} Richardson publicized baby contests as a way of improving the future of the race. Richardson brought national attention in 1913 to the baby contests, but enthusiasm had already been growing, not only on the state fair circuit, but also in urban reform circles. Starting in 1912, settlement houses and related reform organizations held numerous better baby contests, spreading the gospel of safe milk, scientific upbringing, and moral living to the urban immigrant working class. Richardson estimated that 100,000 babies were judged in the contests of 1913.”
…the article continues…
“As shows moved from rural fairs to urban settlement house clinics, the vocabulary and method remained remarkably similar. At the first baby shows, the form to judge children was adapted from the checklist to judge cattle. The same form made its way to cities. Where county fairs might judge the bloodlines of farmyard stock, the urban better baby contest judged the heredity of â€œimmigrant stock.â€
This crib was either used in the competitions, or was a weak attempt to cash in on the name; I’d guess the former.
So, the truth is much creepier than a Skinner box…
“Rikki-tikki, I led Nagaina toward the house, and she has gone into the verandah, and — oh, come quickly — she means killing!”
Rikki-tikki smashed two eggs, and tumbled backward down the melon-bed with the third egg in his mouth, and scuttled to the verandah as hard as he could put foot to the ground. Teddy and his mother and father were there at early breakfast; but Rikki-tikki saw that they were not eating anything. They sat stone-still, and their faces were white. Nagaina was coiled up on the matting by Teddy’s chair, within easy striking-distance of Teddy’s bare leg, and she was swaying to and fro singing a song of triumph.
“Son of the big man that killed Nag,” she hissed, “stay still. I am not ready yet. Wait a little. Keep very still, all you three. If you move I strike, and if you do not move I strike. Oh, foolish people, who killed my Nag!”
Teddy’s eyes were fixed on his father, and all his father could do was to whisper, “Sit still, Teddy. You mustn’t move. Teddy, keep still.”
Then Rikki-tikki came up and cried: “Turn round Nagaina; turn and fight!”
“All in good time,” said she, without moving her eyes. “I will settle my account with you presently. Look at your friends, Rikki-tikki. They are still and white; they are afraid. They dare not move, and if you come a step nearer I strike.”
“Look at your eggs,” said Rikki-tikki, “in the melon-bed near the wall. Go and look, Nagaina.”
The big snake turned half round, and saw the egg on the verandah. “Ah-h! Give it to me,” she said.
Rikki-tikki put his paws one on each side of the egg, and his eyes were blood-red. “What price for a snake’s egg? For a young cobra? For a young king-cobra? For the last — the very last of the brood? The ants are eating all the others down by the melon-bed.”
Sixteen posts in and none of you has pulled out one of these yet?
“I have had it with these motherf*cking snakes in this motherf*cking crib!”
Poor babies! It does look a little like a Skinner box (for rats.) Betterbabies through merciless conditioning. Run a line of current through parts of it and you can even keep the tots from moving.
Anyone read Brave New World? “The Alphas are ever so much more smart than me. They work ever so hard. Oh, I’m so glad I’m a Beta…..”
Can I take it on a plane?