Ian Yarett

Stories by Ian Yarett

  • Putting the iPad Through the Mom Test

    At certain points during the run-up to the launch of the Apple iPad, it seemed like techies were more excited to buy the tablet for their mothers than for themselves. Something about the intuitive, super-simple interface just says "Mom" to a lot of people. I'm among them (although I'm also pretty eager to get one for myself). I could hardly contain my excitement when the iPad was finally released on Saturday, heading over to the nearest Apple store as soon as the lines died down to get a hands-on look at the new device. And I dragged my reluctant mother along, trying to convince her that the iPad was something she'd want to see. My mom is someone who cares little about electronic gadgets. For her, computers are strictly a means to an end. She uses a laptop primarily for basic word processing and Web-browsing tasks. Her computer is a slow first-generation MacBook with a broken optical drive and a cracked case—but it works for her (most of the time) and tha...
  • Who Were the First April Fools?

    We know that April Fool's Day, a worldwide celebration of pranks and hoaxes, was around before 1539, when the earliest clear reference appears in a Flemish manuscript. Beyond that, we're not really sure. Theories on the origins of the goofy celebration abound—but, then again, they could be hoaxes themselves.
  • Does Soda Cause Pancreatic Cancer? What the Latest Study Really Says.

    Early last week headlines hyped intriguing new research linking consumption of sugar-sweetened soda with increased risk of pancreatic cancer (see coverage here and here, for example). At first glance, this sounds huge—the very notion that drinking only two glasses of soda each week could increase your pancreatic-cancer risk by 87 percent is shocking. The seriousness of pancreatic cancer (which has a five-year survival rate of less than 5 percent) and limited medical knowledge of what causes the disease made the research seem even more relevant.But there’s a problem: the research, published in the February issue of Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, is very preliminary and has some serious limitations. Not to mention that much of the news coverage failed to clearly explain the 87 percent figure: since pancreatic cancer is so rare (about 12 cases per 100,000 people each year), an 87 percent increased risk does not amount to a very high absolute risk. In other words, the...
  • U.S. Parents Are Moving In With Their Grown Kids

    Modern American households are coming to resemble those of centuries past, when it was the norm for multiple generations to live under the same roof. Census data show that the number of U.S. households with three or more generations increased by 38 percent between 1990 and 2000. There were about 4 million multigenerational households in 2000, and that number appears to be on the rise. Between 2000 and 2007, the number of parents living in the homes of their adult children increased by a whopping 67 percent. In other cases, grown children with families of their own are moving back into a parent's house. Experts say harsh economic realities like high housing costs and low incomes are probably a driving force behind the trend. "It is so much less expensive to have one kitchen, one living room, one dwelling to heat," says Frances Goldscheider, professor emeritus of sociology at Brown. "If you can manage to be polite to each other … you can get all the benefits of the reduced costs."...