Mark Dolliver’s Takes: Less Worked Up About Spam

Some nuisances feel worse as our experience of them accumulates. Others, we mind less as time passes. Spam is in the latter category for many people, apparently. A survey by the Pew Internet & American Life Project found 37 percent of wired adults getting an increased amount of spam in their personal e-mail accounts (vs. 10 percent getting less) and 29 percent getting more at work (vs. 8 percent getting less). Still, fewer than one in five say spam is a “big problem” for them (see chart above), down from 25 percent in a 2003 Pew poll. There’s been an equivalent rise in the number saying spam isn’t a problem at all for them (up from 16 percent in 2003). The number saying spam “has made using e-mail unpleasant or annoying” has drifted steadily downward, from 71 percent in 2003 to 63 percent now. One factor, Pew suggests, is that spam with pornographic content—which many people, especially women, find the worst sort—is less prevalent. Fifty-two percent of respondents said they’ve received porn spam, vs. 71 percent three years ago.

no place like a 4-bedroom home

The building boom of the past decade might lead one to suppose that a majority of Americans live in newish homes. The Census Bureau’s latest American Community Survey, analyzing data collected through 2005, says otherwise. Among occupied housing units, 24 percent were built since 1990 (including 9 percent since 2000). Another 15 percent were constructed between 1980 and 1989, and 29 percent went up in 1960-79. Eighteen percent were built in 1940-59, and 14 percent before 1940. Sifting through the data, one gathers that nearly half the country’s homes are neither old enough to be quaint nor new enough to be in mint condition—which helps explain why home renovation is a vast market. Speaking of vast, the report says 20 percent of homes have at least four bedrooms, up from 18 percent in 2000. Eleven percent have one bedroom; 68 percent have two or three. Pity the sleepless souls in the 1 percent of homes that have no bedroom at all.