QUESTION OF THE WEEK: Would It Be More Fun to Relive the ’60s or the ’80s?
Dispatches from the culture wars concern themselves with the past as much as the present. And well they should, since a culture defines itself in large part by its stance toward past events. Thus, battles continue about the ’60s and the ’80s. Depending on who’s talking, the former was a heyday of aquarian virtue and the latter a cesspit of greed. Or the former loosed an epidemic of irresponsibility while the latter saw a reassertion of entrepreneurial vigor. Or some mix-and-match combination of those views. In a nationwide survey conducted for Adweek, we approached the controversy in a more personal way, posing the question: Which decade would be more fun to relive-the ’60s or the ’80s? Respondents split down the middle: 48.5 percent would relive the ’60s, 48.5 percent would take the ’80s and the rest were undecided. Women gave the ’60s (51 percent) an edge over the ’80s (47 percent). Men slightly preferred the ’80s (50 percent) to the ’60s (46 percent). In a breakdown by age, the 45-55-year-olds were the biggest fans of the ’60s (75 percent), while the ’80s polled most strongly among the 25-34s (64 percent).

A TIE IS LIKE: Kissing Your Brother
You wouldn’t know it from the way they jostle for seats on the subway, but women in the Northeast are less likely than women in the Southeast to call themselves competitive. That’s just one of the info-nuggets in a poll conducted by Condƒ Nast Sports for Women among its charter subscribers. Asked “Whom do you feel more competitive with at work?” 10 percent cited male co-workers while 18 percent pointed to female colleagues. But 36 percent said they feel equally competitive with the two and another 36 percent said they feel competitive with neither. While most respondents said they’re competitive, many suspected that people look askance at this attribute in women-as you can gather from the chart. Anyhow, they do lots of their competing with themselves: 68 percent cited “myself” when asked to identify the person with whom they’re most competitive.

THE WIRED BUNCH: At Least They Aren’t Out Playing in Traffic
Try this statistic out for size: Among households that have a teenager and a personal computer, one-fourth have more than one PC. Evidently the kid (or kids) monopolizes one computer, so the household needs an extra if anybody else is going to get into the act. Sounds like one more reason to pack the kid off to military academy, but some parents are squeamish about that. According to the teenagers themselves, they’re diligently using the computers for homework and research. On the other hand, nearly one-third are confirming their parents’ lurid fears by using the PC to “communicate with strangers.” And when asked what sort of software they’ve bought during the previous three months, 85 percent of the teens say they bought games-more than twice the proportion who report having bought reference CDs. The stats come from a survey conducted among teens for Channel One Network by research firm Millward Brown. The findings about teenagers’ role in the PC purchase decision (see the chart) are attributed plausibly enough to the theory that the kids know more about computers than their parents do. And what attributes are teens especially keen on when the family is shopping for a PC? “Fast and powerful” scored highest in the survey, cited by 88 percent of respondents, while “has a CD-ROM” ranked second, at 82 percent. Also high on the list of coveted characteristics were “big, colorful screen” (69 percent), “has Windows 95” (65 percent), “has a modem” (64 percent) and “has speakers” (58 percent). Portability was cited as important by just 23 percent of the respondents. In all, 90 percent of those surveyed said they’ve used a computer during the past year. Still, in-school use is not as universal as one might expect, with 67 percent of respondents reporting that they use one there-nearly equal to the 66 percent who use one at home.

PHOBIC BOOM: If You Fear Statistics, Don’t Read This Item
The hierarchy of human fears is a curious thing. As researchers have noted over the years, the degree of fear with which we regard various perils has a spotty correlation to the likelihood of a particular disaster befalling us. Among the findings of an extensive USA Weekend survey on common anxieties, the number of people afraid of exposure to foreign viruses (30 percent) easily eclipses the number afraid of losing their jobs (23 percent), though the latter circumstance is vastly more common (albeit less dire). Likewise, while people are fearful of an early demise of one sort or another, that doesn’t save them from worrying about Alzheimer’s or a shortfall in Social Security. Among other signs of the times detected by the survey: 15 percent of the respondents fear being accused of sexual harassment, while 11 percent are afraid of being sexually harassed.

DISCOUNT DUDS: Nice Suit You Got, Mr. Big Spender
If men today look as if they bought their clothes in the bargain basement, that look is not deceiving. Figures published in Daily News Record show the gains in menswear sales coming at cut-rate retailers during the first half of 1997. While department-store sales of men’s clothing fell 2 percent versus the same period in 1996, sales at off-price stores rose 9 percent, those at discount stores increased 6 percent and factory outlets saw a 4 percent rise. Major chains posted a 5 percent increase, while specialty stores suffered a 1 percent decline. The menswear publication drew its data from the American Shoppers Panel, a service of The NPD Group in Port Washington, N.Y.