A Nation of Scholars, Scouting for Cookies, Etc.

Let’s just hope they were learning something. According to a new Census Bureau report, “More than one-fourth of the population, 72 million people, were in school in 1999.” That breaks down to 8 million in nursery school and kindergarten, 33 million inelementary school, 16 million in high school and 15 million in college.

Being a parent is an all-too-humbling experience. There is, though, one respect in which today’s parents are oddly confident: Polls consistently show they feel they’re better at parenting than their own parents were. An online poll of mothers by Parents fits this pattern. According to the magazine’s May issue, 60 percent of participants said they “have more fun with their kids than their parents did with them.” Is it because the parents of yore kept their children on a tighter leash? Actually, today’s parents are surprisingly hawkish about discipline. For example, 52 percent of the mothers said “kids who are raised with strict rules grow up to be the best adults.” Another article in the same issue said spanking is “resurfacing as a disciplinary tool” after having gone “underground” for several decades. Kids who live in the South had better watch out: The article cited a study in which 76 percent of respondents in that region approved of spanking, compared to 59 percent in the Northeast.

What works for the Girl Scouts wouldn’t work for everyone. A campaign by Denver-based McClain Finlon for the Girl Scouts in that city and Los Angeles presents unpalatable alternatives to the girls’ familiar offerings. Not tempted by cookies that help fund the American Society of Taxidermy (bloody aprons and all)? Then you also might shun foot-shaped biscuits from the National Federation of Podiatrists. Still, railbirds might spring for a box of cookies from the International Brotherhood of Jockeys.

Add “global snowbird” to your demographic lexicon. For years, many Snowbelt retirees have spent the winter in Florida or other Sunbelt states. Now, says an article in Modern Maturity, increasing numbers of retirees are leaving the U.S. altogether for affordable, warm-weather countries. An online poll by the magazine found “low cost of living” and “ideal climate” the chief factors its readers consider in choosing a retirement destination abroad.

Maybe the Cleveland Indians should change their controversial mascot’s name from Chief Wahoo to Chief Yahoo! In a survey by Scarborough Sports Marketing, Cleveland led all cities in the percentage of adults who use the Internet and are “loyal” fans of big-league baseball (32 percent). Atlanta was the runner-up (30 percent), followed by Boston, St. Louis and Seattle (28 percent apiece). Detroit was the survey’s cellar-dweller (11 percent).

If you worry that America’s young women are wearing themselves out in front of a hot stove, fear not. In a poll by Self, the magazine’s readers were asked how much time they spend cooking on a typical weeknight. Just 10 percent said they spend more than an hour, while 61 percent get in and out of the kitchen in 30 minutes. Another 20 percent spend all of 10 minutes cooking. Pasta is their favorite food to prepare (picked by 31 percent), trailed by chicken (26 percent) and salad (17 percent).