Upfront Home
In This Issue
News and Trends
 • 
 • 
Features
Times Past
The Ethicist
Debate
Teen Voices
Upfront Topics
Contact
Magazine Info
News and Trends
October 1, 2007


Why Sad Movies Are Fattening
Self-Serve Cycling
Who's Been Editing Wikipedia?
Recipe For Debt
Around The World in 97 Days
Poultry in Motion

Why Sad Movies Are Fattening
The next time you're deciding which movie to see, consider this: Sad movies may be more fattening than comedies. According to a recent study, test subjects watching Love Story—a weepy 1970 romance—ate an average of 125 grams of buttered, salted popcorn (the amount in a medium-size bag at the movies). That's 28 percent more than they ate during Sweet Home Alabama, a 2002 comedy about a fashion designer going home to the rural South. The popcorn experiment was described in a recent article in the Journal of Marketing about the connection between people's moods and the type and quantity of food they eat. Researchers found that people who are feeling unhappy eat larger amounts of foods that they consider tasty but unhealthy. In a similar study, college students reading about the deaths of seven children in a fire ate more than four times as many M&M's as raisins from nearby snack bowls, while students reading about friends spending an evening together ate four times as many raisins as M&M's. Nitika Garg, an assistant professor of marketing at the University of Mississippi and one of the authors of the article, says, "When people are sad, they have this need to seek a reward, and it's very easy to pick up on unhealthy, but tasty food."

Back to Top


Self-Serve Cycling
A fleet of 10,600 hefty gray bicycles took to the streets of Paris in July, marking the start of the Vélib program (vélo, "bicycle," plus liberté, "freedom"). The bikes are available for inexpensive rental at 750 self-service docking stations around the city. A one-day pass costs 1 euro (about $1.40). Vélib was conceived by Paris Mayor Bertrand DelanoĆ«, who is aiming for a 40 percent reduction in car traffic by 2020. Similar programs are operating in Berlin, Stockholm, and Beijing. The rent-a-bike concept hasn't caught on in the U.S. But it's likely that Mayor DelanoĆ«'s plan will be more popular than that of Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg of New York. Bloomberg proposes to reduce traffic by charging cars $8 and trucks $21 a day to drive in Manhattan's most congested areas during the workday. A similar system in London has dramatically reduced traffic.

Back to Top


Who's Been Editing Wikipedia?
A new Web site called WikiScanner (
wikiscanner.virgil.gr) traces the source of millions of changes to Wikipedia. Users are finding that many Wikipedia edits come from corporate networks. For example, someone at PepsiCo deleted several paragraphs from the Pepsi entry that focused on the soft drink's unhealthy qualities. And someone at Wal-Mart had changed an entry about employee compensation. Most of these corporate revisions did not stay posted for long. Many Wikipedia entries are in a constant state of flux as they are edited and re-edited, and the site's administrators try to keep an eye out for bias.

Back to Top


Recipe For Debt
The age of celebrity chefs has inspired tens of thousands of young people to enroll in culinary school, with many dreaming of being the next Bobby Flay or Emeril Lagasse. But with the pay for restaurant cooks averaging $9.86 an hour, few graduates make enough to pay off their student loans. Erica Reichlin, a 2005 graduate of the California Culinary Institute, says the school helped her build good skills. But she now owes nearly $84,000 in federal and private loans; her payments are about $600 a month. Reichlin works at two jobs: She's executive chef at a Long Island, N.Y., yacht club and a cook in a seafood restaurant. Of the 32 people in her class, only three are still cooking. And the classmate who bragged that he would make it to the Food Network? "Now," says Reichlin, "he's working at a country club in Florida."

Back to Top


Around The World in 97 Days
Barrington Irving, 23, has become the youngest solo pilot to fly around the world in a single-engine plane. Irving, a senior majoring in aeronautical science at Florida Memorial University in Miami Gardens, is also the first black pilot to accomplish this feat. He named his Columbia 400 plane Inspiration "because that's what I hope to be for younger people." His 97-day journey began on March 23 and ended on June 27— 150 hours of flight time and 26,800 miles later. "My plane had no radar and no de-icing equipment," says Irving. "It was just me up there, alone, flying on gut instinct—pretty much the way Charles Lindbergh and Amelia Earhart did it."

Back to Top


Poultry in Motion
Why did the chicken cross the Pacific? To get to the other side, in South America. How did it get there? In Polynesian canoes, which apparently arrived at least 100 years before Europeans settled the continent. An international research team reports that it has found the first hard evidence that people other than the Europeans introduced chickens to the New World. Researchers say that bones buried along South America's Pacific coast are from chickens that lived between 1304 and 1424. DNA analysis linked the bones, which were excavated at El Arenal, Chile, to chickens from the Polynesian islands. Scholars find it disappointing and puzzling that the Polynesians left behind nothing more than chicken bones. Perhaps they ate and ran—but not before leaving behind some starter chickens for future plates of arroz con pollo.

Back to Top