Upfront Home
In This Issue
News and Trends
 • 
 • 
Features
Times Past
The Ethicist
Debate
Teen Voices
Upfront Topics
Contact
Magazine Info
News and Trends
February 25, 2008


Saving the Planet in Style
Tutoring Goes Global
Why Fido is Living Large
A Best-Cellular List?
Dollars That Jingle
Merging Two Traditions

Saving the Planet in Style
The fashion industry has been slow to go green. For example, most clothing contains dyes that are pollutants. To raise awareness during New York Fashion Week last month, designers were asked to create "Earth friendly" ensembles from plant materials like soybeans, bamboo, and banana leaves. "People are eating organic food," says Jessica Stam, who modeled a dress made from hemp and Piña—a fabric derived from pineapple. "So why not wear organic clothes?"

Back to Top


Tutoring Goes Global
Kenneth Tham, a 10th-grader in Arcadia, Calif., has never seen the tutor who helps him with English and chemistry. Using a digital pen and palette, Kenneth writes out exercises that appear on his screen and that of his tutor—halfway around the world in India. Ramya Tadikonda, who works from her home in Chennai so she can be with her children, then critiques his work via Internet telephone. Tadikonda works for TutorVista, an online service founded two years ago by an Indian entrepreneur. The service, which costs $99 a month for unlimited 45-minute sessions, has 10,000 subscribers in the U.S. Kenneth says at first it was strange not to see his tutor, but "you get used to it."

Back to Top


Why Fido is Living Large
Our furry, finned, and feathered friends are more pampered than ever. Americans spent an estimated $41 billion on their pets last year, a 41 percent increase over the $29 billion spent in 2002, according to the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association. People lavished this money on a pet population that includes 88 million cats, 75 million dogs, and 142 million fish, along with assorted birds, rodents, and reptiles.

Back to Top


A Best-Cellular List?
Until recently, cell-phone novels—composed on phone keypads by young women with dexterous thumbs and read by fans on their tiny screens—had been dismissed by many in Japan as unworthy of the nation that gave the world its first novel, The Tale of Genji, a millennium ago. But in 2007, five of Japan's 10 best-selling novels were cell-phone fiction republished as books. They are mostly love stories written in text-messaging style, incorporating smilies and other emoticons. A 21-year-old novelist who goes by the single name Rin wrote her best-seller, If You, when she was a senior in high school, tapping out passages while commuting to her part-time job. Rin's novel, published last year as a 142-page hardcover book, has sold 400,000 copies.

Back to Top


Dollars That Jingle
The U.S. Mint is releasing four new presidential one-dollar coins this year. James Monroe appeared on February 14, to be followed by John Quincy Adams, Andrew Jackson, and Martin Van Buren. The new coins could save the U.S. Treasury about $150 million a year because they last a lot longer than bills. But dollar coins have never caught on with the American public. Susan B. Anthony dollars, issued in 1979, were too easily confused with quarters. In 2000, the Treasury issued a gold-colored dollar featuring Sacajawea, the Indian woman who joined Lewis and Clark's expedition in 1805. But those coins haven't been popular either. A test program in the Washington, D.C., area is trying to encourage businesses to use more dollar coins. The presidential series, launched in 2007, will feature all deceased U.S. Presidents. Four new coins will be issued each year.

Back to Top


Merging Two Traditions
Ask Kareem Salama—billed as the first Muslim country-western singer—what makes his music "country" and he says, "Probably my accent." It's a genuine Southern drawl, rooted in Salama's rural Oklahoma childhood. The son of Egyptian immigrants, Salama, 29, was born in Ponca City, northwest of Tulsa. His songs highlight typical "country" themes like love and home. Salama performs mostly on Muslim concert circuits in the U.S. and Britain. The question is whether he can find wider acceptance of both parts of his identity. "I am certain there are some people who can't accept it," he says. "But hopefully, even if they don't like you as person, they will like the music."

Back to Top