Brainsnacks

Trendspotting: Necessary Baggage

In spite of the global financial beat-down, experts have given the tourism industry a sunny forecast, predicting that over the next five years travelers will look to scale back costs without sacrificing the vacations of their dreams. At least one destination is suffering, however: The Olympic torch handover ceremony in May drew some tourists to [...]


Trendspotting: Sugar High

In less than a decade’s time, the number of American teens with type 2 diabetes or prediabetes has risen from 9 percent to 23 percent. Researchers have concluded that these teens, especially when overweight or obese, are primed to suffer cardiovascular disease later in life. Furthermore, overweight teens with diabetes—also known as “diabesity”—have more trouble [...]


Trendspotting: Payback Time

Being obnoxious online now comes with a price. This year, two English football players were fined for posting homophobic tweets; a Swansea University student was sentenced to 56 days in jail for posting racist tweets about an ailing British footballer; an Indiana high school student was expelled after tweeting an F-bomb; and a U.S. Marine [...]


Trendspotting: Paging Bettie Page

After a slow but steady reemergence over the past few years, retro fashions like little-girl bangs, ruby lips, tie-front crop tops and high-waisted pants are back in a big way. Pinup chic, popularized by Rita Hayworth, Marilyn Monroe and Bettie Page, among others, is fundamentally demure, even wholesome in comparison with some hypersexy modern styles. [...]


Trendspotting: Paying Customers

U.S. companies are more commonly offering employees at least two health insurance options: traditional or consumer-directed. The latter lets employees pay their health bills from a pretax savings account. Known for their low premiums and high deductibles, consumer-directed plans have gone from niche to mainstream; in 2006, 4 percent of workers were signed on for [...]


Trendspotting: Second Sight

Television is a medium in transformation: Some 56 percent of us now regularly surf the Internet while watching. One screen just doesn’t cut it anymore, nor is TV the solitary pastime it once was. “Britain’s Got Talent”—you know, the program that gave us Susan Boyle—is now partially conducting voting through an iOS app that’s been [...]


Trendspotting: Sex, Lies and Integrity

Right now, corporate distrust is at a record high: First there were the Enron and Bernie Madoff scandals, then that whole Wall Street crisis, followed by revelations about John Edwards. More recently, Best Buy CEO Brian Dunn was dismissed (with a $6 million severance package) after allegations that he had an inappropriate friendship with a [...]


Trendspotting: Love 2.0

We’re seeing a whole new faction of people turning to Internet dating sites these days: married people in search of extramarital affairs. AshleyMadison.com, a service targeted to the already wed, reports that each year it sees its largest influx of married moms signing up for the service the day after Mother’s Day. (Evidently far too [...]


Trendspotting: Sins of Youth

When reports emerged that a teenaged Mitt Romney served as ringleader in tormenting a gay high school classmate, he issued an apology but said he couldn’t recall the transgression. But as Romney guns for the White House, this alleged incident has tongues wagging about the correlation between leadership and bullying—and how much of a bearing [...]


Trendspotting: Weight and See

For a bride with 20 pounds to shed in two weeks flat, the “feeding tube diet” can sound like an answered prayer. Other calorie-counters are administering daily injections of the pregnancy hormone HCG (human chorionic gonadotropin), a controversial method that was popular in the ’50s, debunked in the ’60s and is now making its comeback. [...]


Trendspotting: Interns Strike Back

Intern season is upon us. From London to Lancaster, Mass., thousands of college students and recent graduates look to enrich their summers with mentorship and valuable work experience in the form of an internship. Ninety-one percent of employers say they think students should have at least one or two internships before they graduate, and with [...]


Trendspotting: Little Lit

In February, sales of e-books for kids and young adults rose by triple digits, and experts say it’s not because kids suddenly made use of the tablets they got for Christmas. Instead, adults tearing through the Hunger Games trilogy ratcheted up profits while sales of adult e-books stagnated. Pottermore has further revolutionized children’s e-books by [...]


Trendspotting: In the Drink

Beer is one of the few things, along with technology, that eternally budget-conscious Americans won’t skimp on. In the U.K., too, beer sales survived the most dismal days of the recession. Once marketed on the premise that an ice-cold beer is a good beer, beer has been held to higher taste standards in recent years. [...]


Trendspotting: Donations Welcome

Though plasma donation has practically become a business exchange stateside, the concept of blood for money (or, you know, plasma) doesn’t sit well with many in the U.K. However, with young people increasingly opting out of blood donation and the demand ballooning—especially as the U.K. preps for the Olympics and its 1.2 million expected tourists—Europeans [...]


Trendspotting: Burn Notice

When a crispy-faced New Jersey woman was charged with taking her 6-year-old daughter into a tanning bed, the story burned up the Internet. And for good reason: Indoor tanning significantly increases the risk of developing melanoma—the deadliest form of skin cancer. There’s already a parental-consent law in New Jersey for teens aged 14 to 17 [...]


Trendspotting: Calling It Quits

Fewer of us are using the telephone for the purpose for which it was created: talking. A new term, “telephobia,” has been coined; voice calls are down 12 percent since 2009, and a growing number of us consider voice mail antiquated and/or bothersome. Leading us to wonder: How many among us feel fear or anxiety [...]


Trendspotting: Pained Expression

In the U.S., teens’ abuse of prescription pain medication has grown—one in eight has misused painkillers, which are now responsible for more deaths than cocaine and heroin combined. Americans consume 80 percent of the world’s supply of pain meds, while across the pond an estimated 1.5 million Brits are addicted to prescription drugs. The issue [...]


Trendspotting: Eternally Online

Nineteen thousand Facebookers die every day, and now that Facebook has launched Timeline, which begins at birth, there’s really only one logical way for it to end, in the words of Ross Andersen in The Atlantic, isn’t there? Modern-day philosophers say that our ritual of communicating with late loved ones, or even celebrities, by posting [...]


Trendspotting: Sew Cute

First came “babyccinos” and iPad apps for infants—now there are these, just some of the outrageously priced designer children’s items offered in the burgeoning market for stylish tots: a frothy little Lanvin dress that retails for $1,200, a fuchsia puffer jacket from Moncler priced at $380 and a pair of $132 True Religion cargo pants. [...]


Trendspotting: Battle Scars

The autopsy of a U.S. Iraqi war veteran who hung himself following a tailspin of self-destructive behavior revealed that he had suffered from a degenerative condition called chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE. The finding was monumental, as the condition—marked by the development of a protein that goes on to wipe out brain cells that control [...]


Trendspotting: Smarten Up

As we know, technology is steadily altering the learning landscape, as startups like StudyBlue allow the creation of online study groups, BookRenter lets college kids secure textbooks on the cheap, and InternMatch fires off résumés to dozens of firms at a time. But the newest education trend to sweep U.S. classrooms can’t be found online: [...]


Trendspotting: In Truth

It’s relatively easy to spot a liar at work, if you can dial in on atypical behavior such as a fake smile, unusual response time, dilated pupils and changes in gestures. But whereas authenticity is crucial to a person’s mental health when communicating with romantic partners, friends and family, a study out of London revealed [...]


Trendspotting: Parental Controls

In most countries, approximately half of parents say they have hacked into their teenager’s Facebook account; in the U.S., 60 percent of parents fess up to it, while in New Zealand, 44 percent say they’ve done it. In most cases, American parents go to greater lengths to keep tabs on a teen: 75 percent stay [...]


Trendspotting: Splitting Pairs

There seems to be an ever-growing number of us suddenly jonesing to have the ink dried on our divorce papers. In the U.S., the divorce rate of those over 50 is double what it was 20 years ago, while military couples are also splitting up in spades, with a 42 percent increase in divorces. Researchers [...]