Life’s ‘greatest small victory’: Finding money in a coat pocket

September 19, 2018

Whether it’s “pennies from heaven” or a true windfall, one of life’s greatest small victories is finding cash in a long-unworn coat pocket, according to results of a study conducted on behalf of the online casino Casumo.com by OnePoll.

Other mood-boosters include receiving an unexpected discount at the checkout counter and spotting loose change on the street, according to a report on the study posted by SWNS Digital.

Greg Tatton-Brown, a marketing and management consultant based in London, commented on behalf of Casumo, “There’s something completely untainted about finding an extra fiver in a coat you haven’t worn in a long time, and it feels right that the experience was named the ultimate little victory in life.

In fact, any opportunity where our finances receive an unexpected boost, however minor, appears to be a key factor in brightening up our day when we need it,” Tatton-Brown said.

A list of the top 20 little victories we all celebrate, compiled by the researchers, includes the following:

  1. Finding money in a coat pocket;
  2. Learning at the checkout counter that your purchase is on sale;
  3. Finding money on the floor;
  4. Getting good weather for a special event;
  5. When a delivery scheduled between 8 m. and 5 p.m. arrives at 8.01 a.m.;
  6. Not needing any work done at the dentist;
  7. Receiving an unexpected tax refund;
  8. When you arrive in a full parking lot just as someone is leaving a space;
  9. Being upgraded to first class;
  10. Getting in a line at the front just before loads of other people arrive;
  11. Someone leaving a table in a busy pub just as you get there;
  12. Getting home just as the postman was about to leave a ‘Sorry we missed you’ card;
  13. Finding a parking space right outside the shop you are going into;
  14. Coming into the house just as it starts raining;
  15. Getting to the bus stop just as it arrives;
  16. When a social event you really don’t want to attend gets cancelled;
  17. Getting two chocolate bars instead of one from the vending machine;
  18. Hitting all the green lights on the way into work;
  19. Getting the last of something on offer in a supermarket; or
  20. Waking up in the night and realizing you still have hours left in bed before you have to get up.

Indeed, fully 74% of respondents think that a little win has the power to rescue a bad day from disaster and give them a sunnier perspective on things. One-quarter of survey participants said they are most likely to encounter a win at home, and only 5% of workers think they are most likely to score a little victory at work.

One in five also admit that they write a smug post on social media to publicly share their little win, no matter how small. Conversely, 37% get a little boost hearing about other people’s victories, and 48% say they do their best each day to make sure people they know get the little wins they need.

Tatton-Brown added: “They are innocuous in most cases, and often barely worth bringing up in conversation, but there is still a small and personal joy in getting a little win when things might not be going your way.

“Whether it’s spotting a lucky penny on the ground, landing a lucky win on an online game, or even swinging your car into a parking space flawlessly, life is full of little victories.

Research contact: grant.bailey@swns.com

Latin American natives are more sociable than folks born in USA

September 18, 2018

People born in Latin America are more likely to be “social butterflies,” while those who started life in North America are more likely to “cocoon” with just a few friends and family members, based on the findings of a poll conducted by YouGov Profiles and released on September 17.

Based on the YouGov data, people who are born in Latin American and now live in the United States generally have a wider social circle and prefer teamwork to working alone.

When asked about their social circle, 27% of people born in Latin America—defined here as people born in Mexico, Central America, South America, or Latin Caribbean countries— say “I have a wide social circle, and I enjoy it.” Only 16% of the total population chose this same response.

A large number of people in both groups (43% of Latin American-born and 41% of the total population) say that socializing is a part of their life, but not a main focus. While almost one-third (31%) of the total population said they “don’t mind socializing occasionally, but try to avoid it,” only 22% of Latin American-born people said the same.

About half (49%) of Latin American-born people say they prefer working in a team to working by themselves, compared to only 38% of the general population who say this. People born in Latin American countries are almost evenly split between working alone and working in a team—51% vs. 49%.

People who are born in Latin America also tend to have bigger social circles: Eleven percent say they have more than 20 “great” friends, while only 5% of the total population chose the same answer. Another 4% say they have between 15 and 20 great friends, and another 6% say they have between 10 and 15 great friends.

The most common answer for both Latin American-natives and the overall population was between two and three friends.

Reearch contact: Jamie.Ballard@yougov.com

Skin deep: Chemicals in cosmetics alter women’s hormone levels

September 17, 2018

It’s time to face up to the facts: The cosmetics and creams women use every day may cover their flaws and accentuate their best features, but they also can pose a critical risk. New research has established that chemicals found in many beauty products are linked to changes in hormones.

Indeed, the new research results—published in Environment International by Assistant Professor of Global and Community Health Anna Pollack, Ph.D., and colleagues at Fairfax, Virginia-based George Mason University—discovered links between chemicals that are widely used in cosmetic and personal care products and changes in reproductive hormones that can lead to serious conditions, including breast cancer and cardiovascular disease. .

For their study, the authors collected 509 urine samples from 143 healthy women between ages of 18 and 44. Participants did use birth control and had no prior history of any chronic ailments. Urine was analyzed for environmental chemicals commonly found in cosmetic and personal care products.

The authors found numerous adverse effects on reproductive hormones when these chemicals were present—especially parabens (antimicrobial preservatives) and benzophenones (ultraviolet filters). They say that even low levels of exposure to mixtures of chemicals can alter levels of hormones.

“We have early indicators that chemicals such as parabens may increase estrogen levels,” says Pollack, in a university press release. “If this finding is confirmed by additional research, it could have implications for estrogen dependent diseases such as breast cancer.”

This study is the first to examine mixtures of chemicals that are widely used in personal care products in relation to hormones in healthy, reproductive-age women, using multiple measures of exposure across the menstrual cycle, which improved upon research that relied on one or two measures of chemicals,” Pollack noted.

This multi-chemical approach more closely reflects real-world environmental exposures and shows that even low-level exposure to mixtures of chemicals may affect reproductive hormone levels. Another noteworthy finding of the study is that certain chemical and UV filters were associated with decreased reproductive hormones in multi-chemical exposures while others were associated with increases in other reproductive hormones, underscoring the complexities of these chemicals.

“What we should take away from this study is that we may need to be careful about the chemicals in the beauty and personal care products we use,” explains Pollack. “We have early indicators that chemicals such as parabens may increase estrogen levels. If this finding is confirmed by additional research, it could have implications for estrogen dependent diseases such as breast cancer.”

Research contact: apollac2@gmu.edu

Taking body art to another level

September 14, 2018

Talk about “a body of work.” In a Manhattan showroom this past week, an art installation called A. Human—scheduled to coincide with New York Fashion Week and run through the end of this month—shows a future in which clothes have been replaced by body modifications.

Created by the fictional designer A. Huxley—with real-life help from the group of international freethinkers, called The Society of the Spectacle, and immersive theater director Michael Counts—the exhibit is meant for those who are “woke” or would like to be. The group promises, “It will shock you. It will provoke you. A. Human will blow your mind. Are you bold enough to experience it?”

According to a September 13 report by The Verge, the installation features both live models and mannequins—with lifelike pieces affixed to human flesh. Take, for example, the “biological heel” series, which is displayed on a live model—but looks exactly as if her feet have been through surgery to create a three-inch-tall, biological heel similar to the “high-heeled shoes” that woman wear today. It is uncomfortable to view, but visitors cannot takes their eyes off it.

 The space, which starts as a dim, earthy room filled with wooden boxes and dirt, then segues into bright, mirror-filled corridors. Near the beginning, The Verge reports, you can find pieces like the “Tudor,” a ruff collar seemingly made of flesh and displayed on a man buried up to his neck in soil.

Loop back around, and there’s the “Pinnacle,” a pair of raised shoulder horns whose live model gazes blankly into a mirrored wall.

For a break from the body-mod fashion, you can duck into a room that’s been turned into a grotto with a beating heart; or pose in a large ring made of stylized, grasping human hands. On your way out, you can customize a heart and print it on a T-shirt, ostensibly as a way to test out a new coronary implant before buying it.

The Society’s founder Simon Huck sees the exhibit as an opening to a conversation. “We want everyone to kind of walk out the door like, yes, you take your fun photo, and yes, it’s— we hope—an exciting experience,” he told The Verge in a brief interview. “But the question we want to ask is, if you could change your body as easily as you change your clothing, would you?”

General admission to the show is $28, with tickets available online only. Bring your ID—and arrive promptly for the half-hour slot that you have purchased.

Research contact: general@societyofspectacle.com

Singled out: Why unmarried people are stigmatized in our society

September 13, 2018

Are people who remain single likely to be unappealing loners, who are arrogant, antagonistic, or inflexible?  At one time or another, every person who is unattached has felt the stigma or heard the whispers.

Alternatively, those with close relationships or life partners are apt to say that stereotyping of—and discrimination against —singles in our society does not even exist. A different version of the objection concedes that there are ways in which single people are viewed and treated more negatively than married people, but insists that those instances are so inconsequential that they should simply be ignored.

After all, there are other “isms” that are far more serious than “singlism”—the label given to this form of bigotry by social psychologist, Bella DePaulo, Ph.D., who is the author of  the book Singled Out (published by St. Martin’s Press).

She points out, “In many important ways, singles are simply not in the same category as the most brutally stigmatized groups. So far as I know, no persons have ever been dragged to their death at the back of a pick-up truck simply because they were single. There are no “marrieds only” drinkingfountains and there never were. The pity that singles put up with is just not in the same league as the outright hatred conveyed to blacks by shameless racists or the unbridled disgust heaped upon gay men or lesbians by homophobes.”

And singles are by no means a minority: More than 40% of the nation’s adults—over 87 million people—are divorced, widowed, or have always been single.  There are more households of single people living alone than of married parents and their children

And yet, singlism can be quite serious, Dr. De Paulo says in the an article posted on September 9 on the site of Psychology Today.. It can be dangerous, and even deadly.

In part because of laws, policies, and practices that favor married people and couples over single people, the costs of living single can be staggering, she points out. For example, married people, with all their opportunities to draw from their spouse’s benefits, can get far more out of Social Security than single people do. Housing costs, healthcare costs, and taxes are higher for single people. According to one estimate, just those four categories alone can cost single women, over the course of their working lives, over a $1 million more than what married women pay.

In many other ways, too, the price of single life is high. Married men, for example, get paid more than single men. In a study of identical twins, the married twin got paid an average of 26% more. That will cost the single man with a $50,000 salary more than $500,000  over the course of his working life.

In everyday life, single people are penalized financially at every turn. They often pay more per person than married people do for products and services such as car insurance, home insurance, memberships, transportation, travel packages, and even wills.

But even when single people have great health insurance, and access to the finest doctors, they still do not always get the finest care. A single woman told Dr. DePaulo, “When I was 25, I was suffering from severe menstrual problems … to the point where I asked for a hysterectomy. I was refused because I was single and ‘might want to have kids someday.’ So I suffered … for 20 more years.”

Do men respect single women’s bodies and their dignity less than those of married women? In the workplace, the author claims, both single and married women experience sexual harassment—but single women experience it more. In a 2017 Suffolk University survey, 42% of women who had always been single said that a co-worker had made unwanted sexual advances, compared to 30% of married women.

In some businesses, single people are expected to stay later, or cover weekends, holidays, vacation times, or travel assignments that no one else wants, on the assumption that they don’t have anyone and they don’t have a life. When it comes to relocating employees or laying them off, employers sometimes look first to single people—not recognizing that many have roots where they are and do not have a spouse’s income to fall back on if they lose theirs.

“Elsewhere, I … have documented singlism in religionbusiness, advertisingresearch and teachingtherapy, the military, and popular culture,” DePaulo says, adding, “Single parents and their childrenare also a great big target of singlism that is sometimes mean-spirited as well as ill-informed.”

If you still think that singlism just doesn’t matter, and no one should take it seriously, let’s imagine that the tables were turned. Let’s say that all the ways in which single people are stereotyped, stigmatized, marginalized, and discriminated against happened to married people instead. Do you think married people would just shrug it off?

On the first page of her book, Dr. DePaulo imagines a world in which married people get the singles treatment:

  • When you tell people you are married, they tilt their heads and say things like “Aaaawww” or “Don’t worry honey, your turn to divorce will come.”
  • Every time you get married, you feel obligated to give expensive presents to single people.
  • When you travel with your spouse, you each have to pay more than when you travel alone.
  • At work, the single people just assume that you can cover the holidays and all the other inconvenient assignments; they figure that as a married person, you don’t have anything better to do.
  • Single employees can add another adult to their health care plan; you can’t.
  • When your single co-workers die, they can leave their Social Security benefits to the person who is most important to them; you are not allowed to leave yours to anyone—they just go back into the system.
  • Candidates for public office boast about how much they value single people. Some even propose spending more than a billion dollars in federal funding to convince people to stay single, or to get divorced if they already made the mistake of marrying.

If that world existed, it would not last long.

All serious forms of prejudice and discrimination go through a similar process of going unrecognized, then getting dismissed and belittled once people start pointing them out, and in the best cases, eventually getting taken seriously, she points out in her article in Psychology Today.

Dr, DePaulo concludes, “One of the problems is that these matters are not just about the facts and all the ways that racism and sexism and singlism and all the other ‘isms’can be documented with data. They are also about emotions and ideologies and people’s beliefs about the place they think they deserve in the world. I think there will be progress in getting singlism taken seriously, but it may be slow and unsteady, with setbacks as well as advances.”

Research contact: @belladepaulo

Pay for play: Don’t overlook the value of your vintage toys!

September 12, 2018

Put your toys away, as Mama always said—but remember where you store them! Those vintage playthings could become a source of profit.

In fact, Baby Boomers, Gen-Xers and Millennials who have saved their cherished childhood trinkets may be able to clinch deals with collectors today that will pay for a good chunk of their retirement, according to a September 9 report by Work + Money.

Jacquie Denny, co-founder of the online estate sale and secondhand goods marketplace Everything But The House, told Work and Money that iconic toys are the hidden gems in today’s marketplace for secondhand and collectible toys. Star Wars memorabilia, G.I. Joe action figures, Legos classic kits, and Pokémon cards and toys all are in high demand.

“The kids who grew up on these are now at the age that they are raising their own families and want to share those memories by enjoying them with their own kids,” Denny said.

So when’s the last time you looked in the attic of your parents’ house to see if a semester of college tuition for your own kid may be hiding in a toy box?

Here’s a list of what you should be looking for if you want to cash in on those childhood memories:

  • Power Rangers Action Figures: While a lot of collectors insist on mint condition figures that are still in the box, Power Rangers seem immune to that criteria. The Carrier Zord figure released in 1993 in good condition can get as much as $270. Other out-of-the-box Power Rangers average around $200.
  • 1959 Barbie Doll: There have been a lot of Barbie dolls released in the past 60 years, but this is the original. No mint-condition 1959 Barbie’s have sold in recent years, but even in good condition they are worth a lot. One sold earlier this year for $23,000.
  • Pokémon Cards: A Pikachu Illustrator card recently sold at an auction house, according to a report on Nerdist, for more than $50,000. Pikachu was the main Pokémon character that appealed to both boys and girls, and there was low production on the first generation while they were testing the market. Early misprints—such as the one that sold for more than $50,000—bring in more money than the more common corrected versions of the card.
  • 1980s-Era Video Games: Work + Money says that Mario Bros. is “making a huge comeback,” but any big-name game going as far back as the original Pong is finding love on the collectible toy market. The original Game Boy Color and a Sega Genesis console have been selling for as much as $2,000 on some video game collecting sites, while copies of Mario Kart 64 can fetch as much as $1,000.
  • Transformer Action Figures: Not all of those old-school Transformers action figures are worth a fortune, but Optimus Prime and Megatron can be worth megabucks: anywhere from $800 to $900 each, if the figures are in pristine condition.
  • Unopened Lego Sets: Not all of those old-school Transformers action figures are worth a fortune, but Optimus Prime and Megatron can be worth megabucks—anywhere from $800 to $900 each, if the figures are in pristine condition.
  • Super Soakers: The Super Soaker Monster XL still bills itself as the largest water gun ever sold. In mint condition, it routinely sells for $500 on eBay and other collectible sites. But even used, Super Soakers are worth something. A used Super Soaker CPS, known as the most powerful water gun ever sold, can get as much as $360 if your days of ambushing the neighbor kid are behind you.
  • Polly Pocket and Accessories: These inch-tall toys and the line of accessories sold separately were the craze for kids in the 1990s. Now they’re the craze among toy collectors. A Peter Pan Polly Pocket set was recently listed on eBay for $300. Other toys in less-than-mint condition can still get as much as $200.
  • Rare Beanie Babies: Most of the original Beanie Babies that sold for $5 during the first craze over these stuffed animals fetch an average of $21 on the secondhand market. But first edition Princess Diana bear has sold on the collectibles market for $500,000. Other Beanie Babies – including Peanut the Royal Blue Elephant and Quackers the Duck – can fetch prices ranging from $400 to $1,800, depending on their condition.
  • Pez Dispensers: They also have to be rare, but Astronaut B, a PEZ dispenser that was created for the 1982 World’s Fair, sold for $32,000 on eBay—marking the highest resale price for a PEZ dispenser that Work + Money could find in its research.
  • Early Monopoly Sets: Sotheby’s routinely puts original Monopoly sets produced in the 1930s up for auction, and they usually sell for between $4,000 and $6,000. But if you happen to find one of the original sets—the one with the hand-painted board that was fashioned in 1933 by creator Charles Darrow— you’re looking at $146,500, if we use the last sale price from Sotheby’s.
  • G.I. Joe Mobile Command Center: Or really anything G.I. Joe, Work+Money says. Even a used Starduster— a figure that Hasbro only sold through mail order—can get as much as $300.
  • Easy-Bake Ovens: If you managed to hold onto the one you got on Christmas morning in 1963, you can now probably buy a top-line oven. Originally sold in teal or yellow, matching the kitchen appliance style of the time period, these toys now sell for as much as $4,000.
  • Star Wars Action Figures: There’s an obvious question to be asked when collectors are willing to pay as much as $5,000 for a Boba Fett action figure: Why Boba Fett and not one of the better-known characters from the original Star Wars franchise? Kenner originally planned to sell it via mail-order with a rocket that actually launched from Boba’s jetpack. But the hazardous nature of the toy was noticed before it was shipped, causing delays and pent-up demand. As a result, Boba Fett is the king of the collectible toy market even if he meets an untimely end in “Return of the Jedi.” And that $5,000 is for the U.S. version. A Canadian version recently sold for $6,250, and a Hungarian version sold for $15,000. Don’t feel too bad for Luke Skywalker, though. There are only 20 of his 1978 original action figure known to be in existence. If you find one and it’s still in the box, it will make Boba Fett look like chump change. Sotheby’s sold one at auction in 2015 for $25,000.
  • Beach Bomb Hot Wheels Car: An individual Hot Wheels car won’t get much –  unless it’s the Beach Bomb Hot Wheels Car. The purplish-pink van has a surfboard hanging out the back. One of them sold in 2014 for $72,000.

Research contact: @CopeWrites

Festival brings together both Bigfoot believers and freethinkers

September 11, 2018

Thousands of Bigfoot believers and skeptics thronged the first-ever Carolina Bigfoot Festival in Marion, North Carolina on September 8—but the Sasquatch himself did not make an appearance, according to a September 9  report by NPR.

The tall, shaggy ape-like being, who walks upright and leaves large footprints, has been sighted most frequently by Americans in the Pacific Northwest—however, enthusiasts nationwide says they have spotted him (or her) briefly in their local backwoods areas.

Indeed, the Bigfoot Field Researchers Organizations reports recent sightings—including a daytime road crossing on MN-73 near the town of Cook in St. Louis County, Missouri this past April.

McDowell County Chamber of Commerce Director Steve Bush told NPR that he is ambivalent when it comes to Bigfoot. “I’m going to say that until I see him — I want to believe, but until I physically see him — I’m going to say no at this point,” says Bush.

However, his disbelief has not affected his delight with the festival.  The down-at-the-heels small town needed an influx of visitors—and the event provided one. “We’re getting a lot of life back into these old buildings, and that’s what’s exciting about Marion,” Bush says. “So, if you really want to see a little bit of the old mixed with the new, then Marion, North Carolina is the place you want to be.”

At first glance, it’s pretty much what you’d expect from a an eccentric yet engaging meeting of the mammoth-chasing minds:  There are Bigfoot T-shirt booths, yard signs — but then there’s the Bigfoot Juice stand run by Allie Webb. She claims the earthy, woodsy-smelling concoction is both an insect repellant and a Bigfoot attractant.

“I believe that the Bigfoot juice does work,” Webb told the news outlet. “We say that it’s good for up to a mile and a half away. Just because you don’t see Bigfoot doesn’t mean that he didn’t see you and decide to turn around and run.”

Webb’s also is quick to point out that she has a witness. Festival organizer John Bruner has led the Bigfoot 911 explorer team for years in North carolina. He says they used the juice about a year ago and finally hit pay dirt.

“We were doing an expedition and I had one cross the forest service road about 30 yards from where I was at, and I got a really good look at it,” Bruner says. “I’ve been hunting Bigfoot for 40 years and doing research — and it was just totally exhilarating for me. … I finally got to see one after all I’ve went through and all the time I’ve spent in the woods.”

It’s a sentiment shared by many other researchers here at the festival, like Lee Woods, who told reporters, “The female we saw probably right between 11:30 and 11:45 at night. And we saw her with some night vision. And that was the first one I’d ever seen.”. Years later, he claims to have seen a male Sasquatch, some nine feet tall.

“And once you see it, it’s ingrained in your brain. Trust me [laughs]. Yeah, you don’t forget it. The reason I say that is the guy who actually saw it with me — his name is Sam, and he’s ex-Marine — and he said he’d never been so scared in his whole life when he seen it. And he’s never came back. Yeah, that’s how scared he was.”

Woods stands behind a booth alongside other experts, answering – questions, displaying Bigfoot photos, casts and even field recordings of strange sounds in the woods.

For many here at the festival, the Bigfoot calling competition will be the high point, for seasoned hobbyists like Woods and for Sasquatch newbies like Irys Frankon. She and her family drove from Clarkesville, Georgia to attend the event.At the Bigfoot calling competition, Frankon, along with dozens of others steps up to the microphone in front of City Hall one at a time. They belt out their best cry of the Sasquatch with hopes of luring a Bigfoot out of the forest and onto Main Street.

Eventually Bigfoot calling champions were announced and the daylong festival wrapped up for the year, with plans for another in 2019. There were no Bigfoot sightings, but stories were shared, thousands and thousands showed up for the occasion, and more than one Sasquatch skeptic was converted.

Research contact: @ChamberMcdowell

When it comes to exercise, most U.S. adults are going it alone

September 10, 2018

The United States has more gyms, health clubs, and fitness centers than any other nation—about 36,500, according to Statista; with about 30,000 that are membership-based and about 57 million U.S. adults opting to join up between 2000 and 2016.

However, when it comes to exercise, a poll posted on Civic Science has found, most Americans prefer to sweat it out solo. In fact, nearly half of U.S. adults—47%, to be exact—prefer to work out alone. And those who work out alone also tend to work out the most—indicating that they get moving several times a week

Only 12% of respondents said they prefer to have an exercise buddy; while personal training and group fitness classes are the least popular—both cited as a top choice by just 3% of participating adults. And fully 35% admit that they rarely or never work out. With numbers like these, it’s a wonder boutique studios and fitness centers are able to keep their doors open. Nevertheless, they persist.

Across the generations, who is more likely to do what? When it comes to working out with a friend, 50% of responders are Millennials, while 48% of those who prefer group fitness classes are from Generation X. As for those who rarely or never work out, it’s no surprise that 45% are Baby Boomers.

Research contact: laurnie@civicscience.com

Pressed for time? Sorry, the elevator close-door button doesn’t really work

September 7, 2018

Among our everyday heroes are those folks who put a hand—or an arm—across an elevator door sensor to keep the car open while we are rushing toward them at breakneck speed.

But what about those other guys who have been standing in the “lift” for what they feel is way too long—maybe 20 seconds—before they start to push the “door close” button? They see you, but they have a meeting upstairs—or worse yet, they see you, but they don’t want to travel several floors together because you are scary or overweight or unhygienic, or have shopping bags (or they are in a bad mood).

You may end up having the last laugh.

Over 325 million riders take an elevator daily, according to the Elevator/Escalator Safety Foundation—and about 210 billion riders travel on elevators or escalators each year in North America. Most of them don’t know that the “close door” buttons have not been programmed to work since the Americans with Disabilities Act was passed by 1990.

In fact, the National Elevator Industry, a trade association, told The New York Times a couple of years ago, that door-close buttons simply are “obsolescent.” Executive Director Karen Penafiel noted that the ADA requires elevator doors to remain open long enough for anyone who uses crutches, a cane, or a wheelchair to get on board.

“The riding public would not be able to make those doors close any faster,” she said, noting that firefighters and elevator technicians are the only ones with that privilege.

So how long should the elevator door remain open on a routine run? It depends on the distance between the buttons and the door on each lift, but the average is about five seconds. Most are programmed to remain ajar for a longer period on the lobby floor.

Research contact: info@neii.org

As good as their word(s)? How presidents have changed the American lexicon

September 6, 2018

When the U.S. president talks, most Americans listen. So it’s no surprise that our chiefs of state have had a huge impact on the English language Business Insider reported on September 5.

You’d be surprised at the words in common usage today that first were spoken by a U.S. president. Perhaps the most prolific were Theodore Roosevelt and Warren G. Harding, who came up with five and three, respectively.

The following words, which first were heard wafting from the White House, according to the business news outlet and History.com, are now part of the American lexicon:

  • Administration – George Washington: Our first president set the standard for all US presidents to come—and was instrumental in establishing the language we use to describe our government. Although the word, “administration,” has been in use since the 14th century, it was Washington who first chose it to refer to a leader’s time in office. According to History.com, Washington’s original use of the word came in his 1796 farewell address when he said, “In reviewing the incidents of my administration, I am unconscious of intentional error.”
  • Belittle – Thomas Jefferson:  America’s third president introduced the word “belittle,” meaning to make someone or something seem unimportant. The earliest use of the word seems to be a 1781 note of Jefferson’s in which he said of the American people, “The Count de Buffon believes that nature belittles her productions on this side of the Atlantic.”
  • Squatter – James Madison: In a 1788 letter to Washington, James Madison delineated several factions who might be opposed to the newly drafted U.S. Constitution, including a group of representatives from Maine who occupied land owned by others and to which they had no legal title. “Many of them and their constituents are only squatters upon other people’s land, and they are afraid of being brought to account,” wrote Madison.
  • OK – Martin Van Buren: The word, “OK,” has a rich history, and eighth president Martin Van Buren played a major role in ensuring its lasting popularity. There are a few explanations of how “OK” came about, but the most popular one pegs it to an 1839 edition of the Boston Morning Post. Van Buren then popularized the word during his 1840 election campaign, as a rallying cry. At that time, OK stood for “oll korrect,” as in, “all correct.” Apparently, it was a popular fad among educated elites to deliberately misspell their slang words. Other abbreviations of the era included NC for “nuff ced” and KG for “know go.”
  • First Lady – Zachary Taylor: During the first few administrations, the president’s wife was commonly referred to as the “presidentress”—quite a mouthful. Not until Zachary Taylor eulogized Dolley Madison in 1849 did that begin to change. “She will never be forgotten because she was truly our First Lady for a half-century,” the 12th president wrote of the widow of the fourth president.
  • Sugarcoat – Abraham Lincoln: Not only did Abraham Lincoln pioneer the use of “sugarcoat” in the sense of making something bad seem more attractive or pleasant, but he stirred up a minor controversy with the word, too. In 1861, four months after he was inaugurated, Lincoln wrote a letter to Congress as Southern states were threatening to secede from the Union. “With rebellion thus sugar-coated they have been drugging the public mind of their section for more than 30 years, until at length they have brought many good men to a willingness to take up arms against the government,” Lincoln wrote.
  • Lunatic fringe—Theodore Roosevelt : America’s 26th president—whose contributions to the popular lexicon included “bully pulpit,” “muckraker,” “loose cannon” and “pack rat”—was the most masterful president at coining new phrases. “Even beyond his presidency, Roosevelt added to his linguistic legacy when in his review of the avant-garde Armory Show in 1913 the unimpressed former president wrote, “The lunatic fringe was fully in evidence, especially in the rooms devoted to the Cubists and the Futurists, or Near-Impressionists.” The term soon crossed over from the art world to the political arena to characterize those with beliefs well outside the mainstream.
  • Bloviate – Warren G. Harding: Warren Harding also had a way with words. He popularized the terms, “Founding Fathers” and “Normalcy.” But, if you thought that the term, “Bloviator,” came from the TV shows, “Saturday Night Live” and “The Simpsons,” you would be wrong. To bloviate is to speak pompously and long-windedly—something Harding readily acknowledged that he did frequently. The president once described bloviation as “the art of speaking for as long as the occasion warrants, and saying nothing.” His usage was sourced from the more common word, “blowhard.”
  • Iffy – Franklin D. Roosevelt: FDR began using the word “iffy” early in his presidency, and by virtually all accounts, he was the first known person to have used it. That’s according to Paul Dickson, the author of the book, Words from the White House, which tracked the influence that U.S. presidents have wielded on the English language. When dismissing hypothetical questions from the press, FDR would say, “That’s an iffy question.”
  • Fake news – Donald Trump: While fake news traditionally refers to disinformation or falsehoods presented as real news, Trump’s repeated use of the term has given way to a new definition: “actual news that is claimed to be untrue.” Trump’s reimagining of fake news became so widespread in his first year as president that the American Dialect Society declared it the Word of the Year in 2017.

Research contact: @HISTORY