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News and Trends
January 15, 2007


Who Gets Naming Rights?
Beyond Superman and Batman
Football, the Navajo Way
China's Wikipedia Watch
Seduced by Snacks? Not You
A Symbol of Hope Comes Down

Who Gets Naming Rights?
If John Smith marries Mary Bakalaka and wishes to become John Bakalaka, should that cost him money? Under California law, a woman who changes her last name when she marries doesn't have to petition the courts. But, according to a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union last month, a man who wants to take the surname of his wife must pay at least $320 in court fees and advertise the name change in a newspaper. Currently, only six states—Georgia, Hawaii, Iowa, New York Massachusetts, and North Dakota—recognize a man's right to change his name through marriage without a petition. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Michael Buday, 29, who would like to take the surname of his wife, Diana Bijon, 28. "It's not about the money," says Buday. "It's about the principle of families being able to make their own decisions."

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Beyond Superman and Batman
"It's time we got teenage girls reading comics," says Karen Berger of DC Comics. In May, DC—best-known for Superman and Batman—will introduce Minx, a line of graphic novels aimed at young adult female readers. The stories will be far removed from the superheroes who typically appeal to young men. First in the series is The P.L.A.I.N. Janes, the 146-page story of Jane, who transfers to a new high school. (Her family flees to suburbia after Jane survives a terrorist attack that blows up a café in Metro City.) Other Minx titles include Clubbing, about a London girl who solves a mystery; Re-Gifters, about a Korean-American girl in California who enjoys martial arts; and Good as Lilly, about a young woman who meets three versions of herself at different ages. Teenage girls, says Berger, are smart, sophisticated, and "about more than going out with the cute guy. This line of books gives them something to read that honors that intelligence and assertiveness, and that individuality."

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Football, the Navajo Way
"The guy who throws the football gave it to the guy who runs with it and a guy on the other team caught up to him and threw him down. . . ." So goes a typical radio call for the New Mexico State University Aggies, as translated from the language of the Navajo. Cuyler Frank, 29, does the play-by-play in his native language for the team's home games on two New Mexico radio stations. They reach most of the 300,000-member Navajo Nation, which covers 27,000 square miles in the Four Corners region of the Southwest. The biggest challenge in calling the games is that the language the Navajos speak, Athapaskan, is highly descriptive so it takes longer to convey the action than it does in English. Check out the chart at right for some examples: Could John Madden handle these calls?

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China's Wikipedia Watch
Wikipedia has been a challenge for China and its 100,000 Internet censors. At times, it seems as though the government can't make up its mind: It intermittently blocks and unblocks both the English and Chinese versions of the user-generated encyclopedia. Even when the Chinese site is available, it can seem so different from the English site that it might have been written by the censors themselves. For example, Mao Zedong, the founder of China's modern Communist state, hardly sounds like the same man in the two versions: The Chinese site makes no mention of the millions of deaths that resulted from his purges and policies in the 1950s and 1960s. Apparently, contributors to the Chinese site are practicing self-censorship, leaving out information—or avoiding topics entirely—that might provoke censors into taking the site down again.

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Seduced by Snacks?
Not You.

Do you reach mindlessly into the chip bowl or eat more when you're with a friend who's pigging out? "No way!" you say. But Brian Wansink, who heads the Cornell University Food and Brand Lab, suspects otherwise. "People will swear they aren't influenced by the size of a package, or how much variety there is on a buffet, or the fancy name on a can of beans, but they are," he says. Wansink studies the cues that make us eat the way we do. In his book, Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think, Wansink outlines simple tricks that he says can help people take in 100 to 300 fewer calories a day. For example, if you are trying to eat less, sit next to a slow eater.

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A Symbol of Hope Comes Down
Anne Frank's diary entry from Feb. 23, 1944, reads: "From my favorite spot on the floor I look at the blue sky and the bare chestnut tree, on whose branches little raindrops shine . . .while this lasts I cannot be unhappy." Now, the tree that comforted a teenage girl hiding from the Nazis in an Amsterdam attic during World War II is diseased and must be cut down. The Anne Frank House Museum plans to replace it using grafts from the original tree. In 1942, Anne, her sister, parents, and four other Jews went into hiding in the attic above her father's office. On Aug. 4, 1944, their hideout was raided and they were sent to concentration camps. Only Anne's father, Otto, survived. Anne, 15, and her sister, Margot, 19, died of typhus at the Bergen-Belsen camp in Germany. Their mother, Edith, died at Auschwitz in Poland. A friend found Anne's diary and gave it to Otto Frank after the war. It was published in 1947.

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