Archive for October, 2008

Most Popular Birth Control

Tuesday, October 28th, 2008

Most Popular Birth Control

Condoms are one of the oldest of prophylactics with usage (debatably) dating back to ancient civilizations. Prior to the fifteenth century, glans condoms, which covered only the head of the penis, were used in Asia. They were usually made of oiled silk or lamb intestines.

That’s right—lamb intestines. History is disgusting.

Of course, the oldest method of birth control isn’t the most popular. Today, the pill is the most popular form of birth control in the US.

There are two different kinds of birth control pills in widespread use. Combined Oral Contraceptive Pills (COCP) contain both progestin and estrogen while Progestin Only Pills (POP) only have… I forget which one. Ask me again later.

POP pills are less likely than their more robust cousins to cause weight gain and they’re not associated with DVT or heart disease. However, they do tend to cause regular “light spotting,” mastalgia and mood swings.

Okay, maybe history wasn’t so bad after all.

The most popular birth control is used by 28% of women, according to a recent study, with condoms only being used by 24%. All things considered, I feel that these statistics are better than those in a 2000 study that found that the most popular form of birth control was the surgical approach.

Most Popular Halloween Costumes

Thursday, October 23rd, 2008

Most Popular Halloween Costume - Joker
The Joker

Halloween is just around the corner and costume shop owners couldn’t be happier as this year’s blockbusters drive costume sales. So what are this year’s most popular Halloween costumes?

Most Popular Halloween Costume - Rainbow Brite
“Sexy” Rainbow Brite

For men, the most popular costume is from the hit movie Dark Knight—but it isn’t Batman. Instead, the late Heath Ledger’s ghoulish portrayal of the Joker has inspired many of this year’s costumed partygoers. His henchmen from the movie’s opening sequence are also a popular choice.

The most popular costume for women is somewhat more retro (and surprising to this particular writer). It’s Rainbow Brite. Apparently, Playmates and United Media have decided to relaunch the popular girls’ cartoon and the costumiers were ready for it.

Of course, there are always the old standbys. Couples costumes will always be popular. Then, of course, there’s my personal favorite costume concept—anything that starts with “Sexy.”

Most Popular Social Networking Site

Thursday, October 16th, 2008

World's Most Popular Social Networking Site

Social networking sites have come a long way since they were first introduced to the internet. Sites like The makers of Classmates.com and SixDegrees.com were pioneers in a field that eventually exploded onto the mainstream. Of course, no one remembers those sites now, but most readers will be intimately familiar with the most popular social networking sites in the world.

The most popular social networking site in the world is Facebook. Mark Zuckerberg’s notorious social networking site was exclusive to Harvard students until 2004. Gradually, the site expanded to service most universities in the US and Canada. The site was later opened to high school students, employees of large companies and, finally, anyone over the age of thirteen.

Until recently, the world’s most popular social networking site was MySpace, a site well known for its music scene. As recently as May 2008, however, Facebook overtook MySpace for the first time with 123.9 million unique visitors and 50.6 billion page views. MySpace, for its part, had only 114.6 million unique visitors and 45.4 billion page views. If we’re to believe MySpace owner Rupert Murdoch, however, that won’t last.

Most Popular International Vacation Spots for Americans

Wednesday, October 15th, 2008

America's Most Popular Vacation Spots

In general, Americans aren’t a particularly worldly people. In fact, most estimates place the number of US citizens with passports somewhere around 20%. It should be no surprise, then, that according to a recent survey of our most popular international destinations we generally stick close to home.

TNS, a respected market research organization, recently conducted their American Traveler Study, asking 8,000 respondents where they had vacationed in the past year and which they liked best among those places they’d been in the last three years.

The results indicate that the most popular destination for Americans is Canada. Of course, the price of gas and other economic factors are a likely reason both for Canada’s popularity as a vacation spot and an overall decrease in international travel. Other popular destinations include the Caribbean and Bermuda, Mexico, the British Isles and France.

The TNS Traveler Satisfaction Index tells another tale. According to the survey, American travelers found Australia to be the best vacation spot. Australia was followed on the Index by London, Ireland, Scotland and British Columbia.

Most Popular Passwords

Wednesday, October 8th, 2008

World's Most Popular Passwords

If you’ve seen the movie Hackers (1995), you may remember that it used to be plausible that the most popular password was, simply, “god.” Try to set a password like that nowadays and see how far it gets you. So what are the world’s most popular passwords in this security conscious day and age? A number of lists have been made.

We’ll start off with a list published by the University of Maryland in early 2007. According to the university’s Michel Cukier, these are the most popular passwords—if you’re a hacker. The following list of passwords are the most commonly-guessed passwords used by hackers to gain access where they’re not allowed.

1. [username]
2. [username]123
3. 123456
4. password
5. 1234
6. 12345
7. passwd
8. 123
9. Test
10. 1

The following list was generated by PC Magazine in 2007. Supposedly, these are the most popular passwords on the internet today. Luckily, according to security expert Bruce Schneier, these passwords are used by a small number of users—only 0.22%, in fact. Apparently, it doesn’t take much to be one of the most popular passwords.

1. password
2. 123456
3. qwerty
4. abc123
5. letmein
6. monkey
7. myspace1
8. password1
9. blink182
10. [user’s first name]

If you happen to be using one of the world’s most popular passwords, you may want to think again. This is one area where popularity hurts.

America’s Most Popular Magazines

Tuesday, October 7th, 2008

If the most popular magazines are anything to judge by, then there are a couple of rules to abide by if you want to make your own successful magazine. First, your magazine should be family-safe. Second, it should appeal to women.

Don’t believe me? Check out the list of America’s most popular magazines.

Most Popular Magazines - Family Circle

Family Circle

Published by the Meredith Corporation, Family Circle has been called the most popular women’s magazine in America at times. It was originally published in 1932 by the New York Times and now reaches 20 million readers monthly. It’s considered one of the “seven sisters,” a group of women’s magazines also consisting of Ladies’ Home Journal, McCall’s, Good Housekeeping, Better Homes and Garden, Woman’s Day and Redbook.

Most Popular Magazines - Good Housekeeping

Good Housekeeping

Another of the “sisters,” currently owned by the Hearst Corporation, Good Housekeeping was originally published in 1885 by Clark W. Bryan in Holyoke, Massachussetts. It was acquired by the Hearst Corporation, still run by newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst, in 1911. The popular women’s magazine is well known for the “Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval.”

Most Popular Magazines - National Geographic

National Geographic

The National Geographic Society first convened in Washington, DC’s Cosmos Club in 1888. At the time, it consisted of thirty-three explorers and scientists. Now, the society is 8 million members strong. The magazine was first published nine months after that initial meeting and has been published monthly ever since. It is now delivered to 9 million readers every month and read by over 50 million. Its popularity most likely doesn’t stem from the occasional booby that graces its pages.

Most Popular Magazines - Better Homes and Gardens

Better Homes and Gardens

The third, and most popular “sister” on the list, this monthly magazine needs no introduction—the name kind of says it all anyway. Better Homes and Garden has spawned numerous home economics books, including the Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book.

Most Popular Magazines - Reader's Digest

Reader’s Digest

Co-founded in 1922 by Lila Bell and DeWitt Wallace, America’s most popular magazine is available monthly in thirty-five languages. Published in a pocket-sized format, Reader’s Digest bore the tag “America in your pocket” from 2005 to 2008. The magazine’s popularity is no doubt due to both its general-interest nature and the fifty-two editions that are available worldwide. The publication even goes through a rigorous “localization” process to make sure that international readers aren’t threatened by our dirty American memes. All told, the magazine is read by 100 million people globally, which also makes it the world’s most popular magazine.

Most Popular Board Game

Tuesday, October 7th, 2008

World's Most Popular Board Game

Parker Brothers’ famous game of economics, Monopoly, has been called “the most played board game in the world.” It’s certainly a believable title when you consider that, according to Hasbro, the game has been played by over 750 million people since Parker Brothers originally published it in 1935.

Monopoly is actually based on a game patented by Elizabeth J. Magie in 1906. The Quaker woman hoped to use The Landlord’s Game to explain Henry George’s single tax theory. Despite Magie’s original and renewed patents of the world’s most popular game, several versions of the game were created in the years before it was published by Parker Brothers. The name “Monopoly” was first applied to the game in 1910 when a shortened version called “Auction Monopoly,” which had eliminated the Georgist elements of the game, became popular.

In 1933, Charles Darrow copyrighted his own version of the game, simply called “Monopoly,” and began shopping for publishers. Despite having rejected Magie’s original Landlord’s Game twice and Darrow’s Monopoly once, Parker Brothers eventually elected to publish the game in 1935. Officially, neither Parker Brothers nor Hasbro, their parent company, acknowledge the history of the game prior to Charles Darrow’s version. They have, however, acquired Magie’s original patent.

The board as most players know it features locations in and around Atlantic City, New Jersey. A multitude of alternate editions, however, replace these properties with others more appropriate to the theme. Monopoly Here and Now: The World Edition, for instance, replaces the two utilities in the game with solar and wind energy. Localized versions also exist for countries outside of the US.

Then, of course, there’s the game’s official mascot, Mr. Monopoly—known as Rich Uncle Pennybags until he was renamed by Hasbro in 1998. The character is loosely based on John Pierpont Morgan, billionaire and founder of J. P. Morgan & Co.

Most Popular Spoken Languages

Monday, October 6th, 2008

After many painstaking hours of research, we have compiled a list of what we believe to be the most popular languages in the world. Be warned; the results may surprise you. Esperanto is nowhere on the list.

Spanish (español) – 417 million speakers

Spanish may only be the fifth most popular language in the world, but it ranks significantly better in native speakers. Its 322 million native speakers make it the third most spoken language in the world by native speakers.

Arabic (al-ʿarabiyyah) – 452 million speakers

Spoken in over twenty Middle Eastern countries, Arabic is one of the oldest living languages in the world. While it is the language used in the Qur’an, most Muslims are not native Arabic speakers.

Attempts to speak this language on planes may be met with irrational fear, incarceration or bullets. Use at your own risk.

Hindustani (हिन्दुस्तानी) – 650 million speakers

Also known as Hindi-Urdu, Hindustani is an official language in Pakistan, India and Fiji. It encompasses a number of dialects, the two most prominent being Standard Hindi and Urdu. In fact, the conquering British in the late 1700s used Hindustani and Urdu interchangeably.

Hindustani is the “neutral” language used in Bollywood films and is the second most spoken language in the world by native speakers.

Mandarin (官話) – 1.05 billion speakers

With well over 800 million native speakers, Mandarin Chinese tops the list of languages by native speakers. Considering China is the most populous country in the world, that’s not exactly surprising. Mandarin, like Hindustani, actually consists of several dialects spoken across most of China.

English (English) – 1.5 billion speakers

It’s no surprise that English is the most popular language on the planet—after all, it’s the language spoken by two of the most formidable global powers in recent history. Will English continue to be the most spoken language on the planet? We’ll see.