Home-Improvement Havens, Launching the Affluent, Etc.

If you’re hoping to become a monarch, you’ll need to relocate. A Gallup poll found just 9 percent of Americans saying it would be good for this country to have a royal family.

Media multitasking isn’t just for teenagers. Eleven percent of 35-49-year-olds use the Internet and their TV sets at the same time on weekday evenings, says a Knowledge Networks/SRI MultiMedia Mentor study. Men are more likely than women to do so (13 percent vs. 8 percent). Among teens, 13 percent use both TV and Internet. How to account for this phenomenon? (1) People find both media so compelling that they can’t dispense with either, or (2) people find neither medium compelling enough to keep them from peeking at the other.

Leave it to advertising to make the recession a selling point for recreational gear. Of course, an ad for Thule’s car-rooftop boat carrier has a point: Company layoffs do give people ample leisure time, some of which they can spend in the great outdoors. “Do what you can to make your employed friends jealous,” counsels the small-type copy. Sound advice. TDA Advertising & Design of Boulder, Colo., created the ad.

Harrisburg will be a paradise and Honolulu will be a dump if current trends hold. A study by Scarborough Research found Harrisburg, Pa., the city in which the largest proportion of locals (59 percent) initiated some kind of home-improvement project during the past 12 months. Close behind were Buffalo, N.Y., and Toledo, Ohio (both 56 percent). At the opposite end of the scale, just 37 percent of Honolulu residents had taken on such a task. The biggest cities tend to be home-improvement laggards, with Washington and Los Angeles (44 percent), Chicago(46 percent) and New York (48 percent) all falling short of the norm for the 75 cities covered by the study (49 percent). While small jobs were more common, 36 percent of home-improvers said they’d spent over $3,000 on their projects.

Another gender stereotype bites the dust. We’ve been told for years that schools are rigged in such a way that girls lag behind boys in learning math. While this may fit the credo of victimology, it turns out not to fit the facts. A University of Michigan study of middle-school and high-school students finds “girls’ and boys’ achievement in math classes is virtually the same.” The report notes that girls “seem to have less interest in the subject,” but this doesn’t prevent them from getting “slightly higher grades” than boys, whether in the honors/college-prep track or in the basic classes.

Gym absenteeism explained: A Self survey of women found44 percent admitting they’ve skipped a workout in order to have sex. That far exceeds the number (16 percent) who said they’ve skipped sex in order to work out.

Mamas, don’t let your babies grow up to be bureaucrats. In a survey by the Brookings Institution, people were asked to imagine they had a grown son or daughter who’d received two job offers—one to work in the federal government and one in private business. Which would they urge their kid to accept? Fifty percent would pick the private-sector job; 31 percent would prefer the federal post. The study also asked respondents how highly they think of corporations and the federal government in Washington. The feds pulled slightly more “very favorable” (15 percent) and “somewhat favorable” votes (45 percent) than did corporations (12 percent “very favorable” and 44 percent “somewhat” so). But the government also attracted a significantly greater numberof “unfavorable” mentions (20 percent “somewhat” and 13 percent “very”) than did corporations (17 percent “somewhat” and 7 percent “very” unfavorable).

Nothing like hard data to make a commercial authoritative. A spot for the Utah Transit Authority (by R&R Partners of Salt Lake City) puts that principle to work. Rather than merely say the UTA bus gets you close to the Lagoon, a Salt Lake City-area amusement park, it precisely measures the distance from bus stop to front gate. The site-appropriate method: Students from a local high school place a line of corn dogs between the two points, and a girl calls out the number of dogs it takes (93). Hey, it beats that stupid metric system.

It’s too soon to pitch a space-travel account, but a Zogby survey suggests the niche could become a lucrative one. Polling was conducted among adults whose income tops $250,000 and whose net worth exceeds$1 million. If they could take a 15-minute suborbital space flight, would they pay $100,000 for the trip? Nineteen percent said they’d be likely to try it if they could. What about a two-week orbital jaunt in a space station at a price of $20 million? An intrepid 7 percent said they’d do it. Cut the price to a mere $5 million and nearly 16 percent said they’d give it a whirl.