Roving Without Rover, Curious Teens, Etc.

travel marketers need to offer pet-sitting services. In a poll conducted for Orbitz, adults were asked to cite the “barriers or obstacles” that keep them from taking vacations or weekend jaunts. Twenty-three percent mentioned “arranging for someone to take care of pets,” making that factor second only to “taking care of work schedule(s) or responsibility when away” (28 percent). Are people so tied to work that they can’t use their vacation time? That’s a myth: 91 percent used up all their vacation time in 2004 or made arrangements to roll it over for 2005.

What do they want to be if they grow up? An annual survey of college freshmen by UCLA’s Higher Education Research Institute gives a clue. “Student interest in majoring in the general biological sciences, biochemistry or biophysics is at an all-time high this year, with twice as many freshmen indicating an interest in these fields in comparison with students in the late 1980s.” Interest in careers as nurses, pharmacists and dentists is at historic highs, while the number of freshmen who intend to become physicians has been holding steady in recent years.

If teens aren’t having sex at any given moment, it must be because they’re talking about sex, right? So one might suppose from the way pop culture depicts them. A survey conducted for NBC News and People among 13-16-year-olds finds a tamer reality. Asked whether they’ve “ever been with someone in an intimate or sexual way,” 27 percent said they have. Thirteen percent said they’ve had intercourse. As for sex as a conversational topic, 26 percent said they “very often” talk with their friends about it; 36 percent said they do so “somewhat often,” vs. 22 percent “not too often” and 16 percent “never.” Against all odds, parents outrank friends as fonts of sexual wisdom (see the chart). The Internet has yet to gain much standing in that role. It seems sexual initiation is prompted as much by the mind as the body. Of teens who’ve had sex, 34 percent identified “sexual desire” as a major reason for doing it the first time, vs. 36 percent who were “curious.”

The term “labor union” still evokes an image of men toiling in a factory. In reality, each year’s union-membership data show a shift from industry to the public sector. A new report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics says 12.5 percent of wage and salary workers were union members last year, down from 12.9 percent in 2003. Among government workers, 36.4 percent were union members; just 7.9 percent of private-sector workers were. Men still have a higher rate of union membership than women (13.8 percent vs. 11.1 percent). But the percentages have been converging in recent decades as the number of male union members falls more sharply than the number of female members.