Society & culture

The new rudeness

Are we getting ruder? It appears so and the reason is that it’s easy to get away with it. It’s also because we are busier and more stressed. Our lives are more uncertain which creates anxiety and we are increasingly being told to express our deepest emotions. One could even point a finger at down-sized companies who value speed and results ahead of waiting or civility. Or you could align this trend with the fact that manners are associated with social class which smacks of elitism. Does any of this matter? Yes, because people have a tendency to take out their frustration on others (usually those below them in social status). It creates aggression and social conflict: a world without boundaries, toleration, obligation or empathy.

Source: The Australian/Spiked Online (Aus/UK).

The past is still another country

It is somewhat ironic that when cases of Alzheimer's disease are growing it seems that we want to forget our past. Whether it's a bad date, a corrupt politician or genocide we increasingly forgive and forget. This is a problem at both an individual and a societal level because we tend to repeat what we can't remember. Or as Milan Kundera more eloquently put it, 'the struggle of man against power is the struggle of memory against forgetting'.

Source: Sydney Morning Herald (AUS).

Divorce data 1

Research conducted by the American Association of Retired People says that the idea of ‘trophy wives’ is wrong. 66% of divorces after the age of 40 are initiated by women.

Source: The Times (UK).

Divorce data 2

Parents of girls in Vietnam are 25% more likely to get divorced than parents of boys. In the US the figure is 4.4%.

Source: The Atlantic Monthly (US).

A burglar's best friend

Alsatian dogs have become too friendly to be used as police dogs according to Dogs Today magazine (UK). Rottweillers are being used as replacements.

Source: The Week (UK).

Letting off steam

Vent-Line is a commercial telephone service in the US that charges angry customers US :pageContent.99 per minute to let off steam. Asked whether the service was there to help people the founder replied ‘No, I’m in it for the money”.

Source: Portland Press Herald (US).

Loha Lifestyles

Lohas are consumers who care about the environment and want products produced in a sustainable way (Lifestyles of Health And Sustainability). According to some estimates there are 68 million Loha’s in the US (about 1/3 of the population) and they spend about US $ 230 billion a year. (US)

Suspect statistic

This statistic smacks of xenophobia but apparently 40% of adult Arabs cannot read or write.

Source: The Times (UK).

Squeezed in the middle

The cost of living for the middle class in the US is growing while the number of well-paid middle class jobs is declining. Meanwhile, the number of poorly paid service jobs is increasing. This could potentially create a new type of feudalism in which cash poor Americans service the needs of time poor Americans.

Source: The Atlantic Monthly (US).

Jobs of the future #4

A list of jobs with the largest projected declines between 2000-2010 includes farmers, order clerks, bank tellers, insurance process clerks, typists, switchboard operators and computer operators. The jobs with the largest projected increases include food preparation and food service, customer service representatives, nurses, retail sales and security guards.

Source: The Atlantic Monthly (US).

Talking dirty

Sam Roddick (daughter of Bodyshop founder Anita and owner of upmarket sex shop Coco de Mer), has launched a ‘salon’ to help people master the art of erotic conversation. The events are held at Soho House in London and cost GB £195 per session.

Source: The Times (UK).

Marriage redesigned

Anna Warwick (author of Dating Disasters) thinks that marriage should be replaced with renewable 5-year plans.

Source: Prospect/CIPD.

Working weak

The amount of people working more than 48-hours a week in the UK has increased from 10% to 26% since 1999.

Source: Sydney Morning Herald (AUS).

Man's best friend

A MORI poll in the UK has found that 10% of people are happier spending time with electronic devices like computers than with their partner or friends.

Source: The Times (UK).

Ask the boss

'WAF products' (Wife Acceptance Factor) are those products that are wife friendly. Typical WAF products include cookers, televisions, cars and sofas.

Source: Daily Telegraph/ (UK/US).

Do you, applet 40, take Speck Moonshine ...

We have written about name innovation before. Now an anthropologist at University College London has discovered that name mutation is greatest for girls and that the mutation rate is increasing. For every 10,000 baby girls born in the US 2.6 new names were invented. For boys the figure was 1.6.

Source: Sydney Morning Herald (AUS).

Old ideas needed

After more than 50 years of avoiding demographic questions, Germany is facing up to the fact that in some regions over 30% of the population will soon be aged 60+ As in other countries, the issue has serious consequences for economic growth (how do you attract young risk takers to areas that are essentially retirement zones?).

Source: The Economist (UK).

Do they or don't they?

Use of ‘The Pill’ by girls aged 16 and 17 in the UK grew by 30% between 1998 and 2002. However, 40% of under 16s say they are still virgins (up from 35%). Meanwhile the US has experienced a 28% fall in teenage pregnancies between 1990 and 2000. This is largely due to an increase in teenage contraception although the ‘chastity movement’ has also had some effect.

Source: The Observer (UK).

Wanted: A new idea.

In the UK, membership of political parties has fallen by 50% since 1980. The figure is roughly the same in France and Italy. The main reason for this is TINA – an acronym coined by Margaret Thatcher to describe the fact that There Is No Alternative. In other words, there is no alternative to globalisation and market economics. Consequently, there is no real difference between parties and no competing visions of the future. This could be because politicians keep asking ordinary people what they want. Unfortunately most people can’t tell you (it’s akin to asking people what inventions they’d like that haven’t been invented yet). A good example of this was the recent anti-war protests in which participation was an end in itself. No alternative solutions were offered.

Source: Spiked Online (UK).

Animal crackers

Australians are expected to spend AUS