“So to Steven Mindich, an entertainment reporter at Boston University’s radio station, WBUR, Joe Hanlon, an editor at MIT’s student newspaper, and Jim Lewis, a canny business student at Harvard, the idea seemed natural. Kids would almost certainly pay for this information. But rather than fight the inevitable — the passing of one tattered dorm copy from hand to sticky hand — why not give it away free and cover the costs by selling ad space to stereo stores, record companies, movie houses and waterbed manufacturers? Suburban newspaper chains had worked on this basis for years, reaping big profits by handing out editorially dismal but ad-laden weeklies known as ‘shoppers.’ Students might not be as affluent an audience as their suburban parents, but what pocket money they could spare was concentrated on a few kinds of purchases; and for providers of those goods and services, student customers were becoming vital.”
Bad information | 25 years ago | October 27, 1981 | Anita Diamant discussed the findings of a study that explored national attitudes about menstruation.
“Whether or not people are more open, superstitions about menstruation die hard. Americans are evenly divided over whether menstruation is painful. Fifty-three percent think it is and 47 percent disagree. Twenty-two percent say that menstrual pain ‘is all in a woman’s head.’ Eighty-seven percent believe women are particularly emotional while menstruating. Forty-nine percent think women smell differently while menstruating. Thirty-five percent believe it affects women’s ability to think, and 30 percent say women need to restrict physical activities during their periods. Twenty-seven percent believe women look differently, and 22 percent think that swimming and bathing should be avoided during menstruation.
“Eight percent of Americans think that women should make an effort to stay away from other people while they are having their periods. This last gem surprised even the researchers, who felt compelled to translate the statistic into real numbers. ‘This does, however, represent 14 million people,’ they write. ‘Four percent, or seven million, feel strongly that women should try to stay away from others while menstruating.’ Just think how paranoid these seven million must be. On any crowded elevator, at least one woman in her child-bearing years is apt to wilt flowers, curdle cream, deflate rising dough, attract hungry sharks and brown bears. Lions and tigers and menstruating ladies, oh my!”
Happy spells | 30 years ago | October 26, 1976 | Mary M. Baures explored the rituals of real witches.
“Presenting Robert with an athame (a ritual knife), the High Priestess looked at the Maiden, her deputy, and said, ‘Feet to feet, body to body, lip to lip.’ The Maiden pressed the knife with its point downward between her breasts, and Robert pressed against her, thus consecrating it. Then Rovert was again presented to the Lords of the Watchtowers — this time, a witch.
“The High Priest, silent during the initiation, knelt before the High Priestess and kissed her feet and knees; then, holding a wine chalice before her, said, ‘As the athame is to the male, so the cup is to the female, and conjoined they bring blessedness.’