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Monday Mashup: a Packing Hack, a Smart Barbie, and an 80-Hour Week

Every week, we scour the web to bring you interesting bits and pieces from around the world. Enjoy!


It’s not much of a video, but it’s all you need. Check out this short clip for a trick that will save you time, luggage space—and countless baby socks.


No, we’re not talking about Physicist Barbie or Architect Barbie. We’re talking about a Barbie that records what your child says and transmits it to a computer, which analyzes your child’s words and prompts an appropriate response from the doll. This article argues, among other things, this could fool children into an emotional relationship with an inanimate object that seems to love it back. We’re more concerned about the privacy and safety aspects—is the next step a camera in Barbie’s eyes to analyze children’s facial expressions? Smartphones for adults are one thing; Smart Barbies for kids may be another thing entirely.


How does she do it? Or, he, but women are more often considered marvelous for ‘doing it all’ (often because they have more to do). But this article offers a view not often considered: that the trade-offs made by parents with demanding careers might not be as big as we think. Making the most of flex time, asking forgiveness rather than permission, are tactics high-powered parents say they use to balance work and home life. The information is drawn from a book we’re excited to read; you can look forward to a review of it here sometime soon.


This isn’t an article on to spank or not to spank, to allow or ban Facebook. This is a deeply profound inquiry into the decision to become a parent, the moral risks and the moral rewards. “When deciding whether to have children, many people think about what mark their child might leave on the world. But they might not consider that they will have limited control over their children’s behavior, yet could very well share the guilt for anything those children do wrong,” writes Claire Creffield. Despite our best intentions and efforts as parents, we may still be held accountable for our children’s bad behavior—the trivial and the very grave.


What do you get when an industrial designer and engineer collaborate? A climate-controlling piece of furniture that could eliminate the need for air conditioners. Underneath an otherwise unremarkable oak table, the duo have added material that traps and releases excess heat, as the temperature of the room fluctuates, which they say could cut energy costs by as much as 60 percent. At this point in Mumbai’s first summer, we at The Swaddle office are thinking of ordering … oh, about 12.


Lots of articles tout the benefits of marriage and the negative health effects of divorce. This article manages to do something fresh: It examines the incidence of divorce (in the US) when one partner has become ill. While a husband’s illness had no correlation with divorce, married women who became ill were 6 percent more likely to get a divorce. Researchers didn’t look into who initiated the divorce and why, but they do offer hypotheses which are interesting and a testament to how deeply traditional gender roles still colour our relationships.


Nursery rhymes—you read them over and over until they echo in your head like the din of a dhol. But with this collection of Mother Goose favorites, illustrated by some the greats in comic book art, is something parents and kids can both enjoy. For anyone who can’t wait to introduce their kid to classics like Chacha Chowdhury, The Phantom, and Amar Chitra Katha, start grooming your little comic book nerd early with these wonderful illustrations.

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