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Sunday, March 02, 2008

More on Microtrends

I'm back to checking out Microtrends: The Small Forces Behind Tomorrow's Big Changes. If you like trivia, behavior patterns, and small , but growing trends in our society--this book will please you. I wrote a little about it in this post a while back, then set it aside for some fiction.

The 30-Winkers chapter discusses the trend toward sleep deprivation. Sleep Experts recommend between 7.5 - 8 hours sleep per night, yet the number of people who sleep fewer than 6 hours per night has increased "from 12 percent of American adults in 1998 to 16 percent in 2005." Lack of sleep can have tragic results, causing more than 50,000 traffic accidents a year; the Exxon Valdez and the Staten Island Ferry crash were also a result of drivers falling asleep at the wheel.

But lack of sleep can also mean less productivity, more domestic problems, and obesity.

Southpaws Unbound discusses the rise of left-handedness. Left-handedness is no longer discouraged as it was in the past, and children are no longer forced to switch with the same aggression. Other facts: "Lefties are disproportionately represented among twins"; lefties are 128 percent more likely to be born to Moms over 40; and lefties are often associated with innovation and self-expression. As a result, allowing lefties to be lefties may mean an increase in the number of people with these qualities,and with the rise of lefties, more products may be designed with the lefty in mind. I can't imagine the inconvenience of always having to overcome difficulties with products designed for right-handers.

Other chapters have dealt with the working retired, extreme commuters, Protestant Hispanics, Moderate Muslims, and the effects the growing numbers in these groups have and will have on society.

I'm about to begin the chapter on Old New Dads - men who are fathering children at older ages (Mick Jagger -55; Strom Thurmond and Rupert Murdoch - over 70!). It should prove interesting.

If you'd like to be included in the drawing for copies of The Sonambulist or Nameless Night, don't forget to comment on the previous post.

Addendum: Check out what Robin is doing here! What a fabulous collaboration she and her husband have worked out!


  1. That book sounds really interesting! I have an illness, so if I don't get at least eight hours of sleep, I'll get really sick. Sometimes it's kind of frustrating to schedule it into my life, but I feel so much better than when I was trying to do the college student who never sleeps thing.

  2. I must get hold of a copy of the Southpaw book for a friend whose son is left-handed and who has met, even in this day and age, with a lot of criticism because she hasn't tried to change him over. I remember at school children being slapped over the knuckles with a ruler if they picked up a pencil with their left hand, which may explain why I do nearly everything as if I was left-handed except write; I clearly saw which way the wind was blowing and did what was expedient.

  3. Eva -- I'm really enjoying this book, although I do put it aside and read fiction. Most people don't realize how much lack of sleep hurts them or the ways in which it can. Sometimes in today's hectic society, it is difficult to "schedule" (as you mention) enough time for the sleep we need.

    Ann - "Southpaws Unite" is one of the chapters in Microtrends. I'd really like to be ambidextrous, but find using my left hand so awkward. Which is one of the things the chapter mentions about the French word for left - gauche. What a challenge it must be to always be forced to use the "wrong" hand!

  4. This sounds interesting. It reminds me a little of Freakonomics because of the connections between seemingly disparate things.

  5. Well, as a leftie or southpaw or whatever, sometimes things really are awkward. I remember in college trying to take notes on one of the flip-up righthand desk things in an auditorium-style classroom. Almost impossible for me. Had to take notes using my binder as a desk in my lap.

    My mom is lefthanded and she adopted 3 kids (me, my brother and my sister). So, my brother and I are both lefthanded. None of us were related by birth. Go figure.

  6. My father (b. 1935) was getting whipped at school for using his left hand. The teacher tied his arm to his body. My grandfather came down to the school and told her to knock it off; that he'd been born that way for a reason. Grandpa was a big guy and could be intimidating. My father remained a lefty. My son is also a lefty, so I'm quite interested in this trend.

  7. Lisa - It has connections to The Tipping Point, too - which I also found fascinating. I love this kind of sociological information.

    Kay - Yes, things that we righties take for granted (because they are designed for our convenience) would require creative adjustments for lefties.

    Bybee - Penn seems to think it is the result of 3 things: the fact that the kind of treatment your grandfather received is no longer the norm; that the numbers of twins born in the last 20-25 years have doubled (a higher percentage of lefties are twins); and that the children of moms over 40 are 128% more likely to have twins (and more women are putting off having children until they are older).

  8. Fascinating book. And so upsetting about the sleep. Geez, people don't have time to sleep. What a world! I've read, and I know it in myself, that women may need 9-10 hours a night. I'm at my best when I get that much. It makes me wonder if people are able to appreciate fully their non-sleeping hours when they haven't had enough rest. I know that everything starts earlier than when I was a girl. People up at 5 to get their days going. It's like we have to re-learn the lessons of taking life easy, enjoying each day, all those words that have been around forever. Oh, and I love the one about twins more likely after 40. Makes a lot of sense to me. Have them at once, and not have to give birth again. :<)

  9. What an interesting book and post! Thanks, too, for mentioning the Shakespeare project my husband and I are enjoying. I love the word and concept of "collaboration."

  10. I certainly don't get near enough sleep at night--5.5 to 6 hours. I hate going to bed even when I am exhausted. I am always trying to squeeze more from the day. When I do actually get more sleep I feel much more energized. I really need to work on this area of my life.

  11. Nan - In my case, it isn't that I don't have time to sleep, but that I have trouble falling asleep, and always have. My husband is asleep when his head hits the pillow, which makes me so envious! I need less sleep than I did when I was younger, though.

    Robin -- It is a great book. I love that you and your husband can enjoy literary pursuits together, Robin, and the "Shakespeare Project" is so well thought out!

    Carl - That is about my average as well. I'm also always trying to squeeze more out of the day--I've always got something more that I want to do!