QUESTION OF THE WEEK: Did You Cry About the Death of Princess Diana?
In unhappier times and places, people spend all their tears in bewailing their own hardships. It’s a luxury of sorts when we have tears to spare for the misfortunes of people we’ve never even met. But, much as rising prosperity gives us leeway for discretionary spending, most of us in this country are now so distant from the likes of war and famine that we can indulge in some discretionary crying over events that don’t materially impinge on our lives. And we’re all the more likely to do so, of course, when television is emitting lachrymose signals for days on end. In a nationwide survey conducted for Adweek, people were asked whether they’d cried over the death of Princess Diana. An astonishing 35 percent of female respondents affirmed that they had-as did a scarcely less astonishing 8 percent of the men. In a breakdown by age group, the 25-34-year-olds were the stone-hearted cohort, with just 11 percent saying they’d succumbed to tears. The 35-44-year-olds had the highest proportion of criers (29 percent), followed by the 45-55s (26 percent) and the 18-24s (19 percent).

IF THE SHOE FITS What, Me Worry?
If you’re one of those people who get the creeps about the arrival of a new millennium, your own comfort level might be down at the heels these days. But polling for the Rockport Comfort Barometer finds a startlingly high proportion of people deeming themselves “very comfortable” with the way their lives are going. Other tidbits from Roper Starch research commissioned by the brand of comfy shoes: 58 percent of respondents would be comfortable serving on a jury that recommended the death penalty for a murderer; 84 percent would be uncomfortable about having a double created via genetic cloning; 63 percent would be comfortable about learning there’s life on other planets; and just 13 percent would be comfortable voting for a politician accused of sexual misconduct.

YOUNG AND GAY: Out on the Town
Since nobody is sure how large the gay market actually is, much effort is spent in debating the matter. But the number of people who are “out” isn’t the only factor that matters. It also matters how old they are when they come out. In the latest of its annual reports on ad spending in the gay press, New York-based agency Mulryan/Nash finds the strongest growth-an 81 percent rise in revenues-coming in the Local Arts & Entertainment Guides category. Why? Dave Mulryan, a partner in the agency, suggests it’s because “gay men and women tend to ‘come out’ at an earlier age” than they used to. And young people of any sexual persuasion are the ones most likely to be going out to clubs, concerts and the like.

MY HERO: From Gray Flannel Suit to Gray Flannel Shirt
It’s no surprise that entrepreneurs view themselves as “the heroes of American business.” But a study by Inc. finds that increasing numbers of corporate types feel the same way. Ten years ago, 74 percent of what Inc. calls “company builders” agreed that their ilk are business heroes, as did 49 percent of corporate executives. In this year’s survey, the proportion of company builders holding that view had climbed to 95 percent, while 68 percent of the corporate types subscribed to it as well. As the chart indicates, executives have adopted some of the rule-breaking attitudes that mark entrepreneurs, albeit to a lesser extent than those free spirits.

THE CLEAN-PLATE CLUB: You Are What You Used to Eat
If you haven’t reformed your diet for health reasons during the past few years, you may be the only living American who hasn’t. In polling for their “Shopping for Health” report, Prevention and the Food Marketing Institute find 44 percent of respondents saying they’ve made a “major change” in what they eat within the past three years. That’s down from 51 percent last year and 53 percent the year before that. But cumulatively, the whole population is accounted for-unless the same people are changing diets every year. The chart details some of the dietary shifts.