Upfront January 31, 2011 : Page 4

NeWs & TreNds g oogle Book SuRfing Did anyone write about “teenagers” in the 1700s? What’s been written about more in the 20th century, “hip hop” or “punk rock”? A new tool from Google called Ngram Viewer can figure it all out. With a database of 500 billion words—of books published from 1500 to 2008 in English, French, Spanish, German, Chinese, and Russian—Google allows you to plug in a string of up to five words and create a graph that charts the word or phrase’s use over time. Type in “women” and “men,” and you’ll see that the former was mentioned in books much less frequently until the early 1970s, when feminism gained a foothold. Since 1989, “Tiananmen Square”—now associated with the Chinese government’s massacre that year of hundreds of protestors in the Beijing square—has appeared many more times in English than in Chinese. (China’s government doesn’t like to talk about the massacre.) By the way, “teenager” doesn’t appear in written English until the 1900s, and “hip hop” starts outspiking “punk rock” in 1996. Try the tool at ngrams.googlelabs.com. • News & Trends was reported by Celia W. Dugger, Andrew E. Kramer, Tamar Lewin, Patricia Cohen, and Kenneth Chang of T he Ne w York T ime s ; and Veronica Majerol. People around the globe get together regularly to laugh out loud about nothing in particular. Yoga Om Om Om, Ha Ha Ha! Jeffrey stephens, 19, a freshman at santa cruz University in california, likes to laugh with friends when he’s feeling stressed out. But they don’t tell jokes; rather, they practice “laughter yoga,” an exercise that involves simulated laughter and the breathing methods of yoga. The exercise is based on the theory that the body can’t tell the difference between real and fake laughter, so it gets the same physiological benefits from both. Yoga laughter guru sebastien Gendry says the practice strengthens the immune system, boosts “happy chemistry,” and helps people connect with others. Like yoga itself, laughter yoga started in India; it is now practiced in 60 countries. stephens, who’s been doing it for two years, thinks a good laugh can benefit everyone. “I think everyone should take the time for play and not always take themselves so seriously,” he says. • A dv er tising F Naming Rights: Is Everything for Sale? rom Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida, to the Staples Center in Los Angeles, Americans are used to music and sports arenas with corporate names. But now cash-strapped municipalities are getting in on the action, selling the naming rights of train stations, schools—and even towns themselves. A high school in Newburyport, Massachusetts, says the name of its auditorium can be bought for $100,000 and its English classrooms for $5,000 apiece. Philadelphia recently agreed to change the name of Pattison Avenue subway station (Pattison was a 19th-century Pennsylvania Governor) to AT&T Station for $3 million. That troubled writer Yonah Freemark, who blogged about the prospect of taking “the Coca-Cola Trolley from Pizza Hut to AT&T.” But Philadelphia doesn’t hold a candle to Clark, Texas: The town changed its name to DISH for a decade in exchange for free TV from DISH Network. • 4 U P f r O n T • UP fr O n T ma G az I ne. c O m Name your price: The town of Clark, Texas, changed its name to DISH for a decade of free satellite TV from the network. SPENCER GRANT/ZUMA PRESS (LAUGHTER YOGA); DONNA MCWILLIAM/AP IMAGES (DISH CITY)

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