Frisk #177

Blow the doors off, it’s Frisk #177! This is a very versatile number – it’s the second-highest score achievable with three darts on a regular dartboard, the phone number for the police in Morocco, the smallest available calibre of airgun pellets, an ultra-premium limited edition Aston Martin, a little Cessna from the 1970s, the bus route from Peckham to Thamesmead, the year Marcus Aurelius began the systematic persecution of Christians in Rome, and the atomic number of the appropriately-named unseptseptium. Phew.


Fidget spinners
Depending on whether or not you have kids, you’ll either be sick to death of fidget spinners or have absolutely no idea what they are. If the latter is the case, here it is in a nutshell: it’s a stress-relieving device for people who have trouble focusing, perhaps because they suffer from anxiety, autism or ADHD. It’s basically a little curvy triangle with a bearing in the middle that you spin around with your fingers.
Why should you care about this? Because fidget spinners are SO HOT RIGHT NOW. The idea actually emerged in the 1990s, but it’s become the schoolyard craze of 2017 (well, after slime – the stretchy, glue-based, brightly coloured sludge that kids love and teachers can’t bear): all twenty of the best-selling toys listed on Amazon are fidget spinners, and schools on both sides of the North Atlantic have been banning them for being too distracting. Why are they suddenly so popular? Hard to say – it seems to simply be a playground fad that, thanks to YouTube and Instagram, has gone global.
It’s not great news for the fidget spinner’s inventor, Catherine Hettinger, who gave up the patent in 2005 (she pitched the idea to Hasbro twenty years ago; they turned her down), as she’s not making a penny from it. And teachers aren’t too hot on the idea either. But for the schoolkids? Hey, it’s the new Pog. Or Garbage Pail Kids. Or Monster in my Pocket. Or diabolo, or Crazy Bones, or Tamagotchi, or Barcode Battler…

The Pregnancy Pause
The single worst thing you can say to a woman when she breezes out of the office to commence her maternity leave is ‘enjoy your time off’.
Maternity leave is not time off. Being a mum is a full-time job; in fact, it’s way more than that… full-time jobs generally take up a pre-determined, finite chunk of your day - having a new and tempestuous miniature human in your house is a 24-hour endeavour.
The length of your leave depends on a number of factors, but the situation in the US is, in general, rather different to the UK, as American mums tend to get just twelve weeks, unpaid, before having to return to the grind. And, understandably, a lot of people feel that such a short time simply isn’t enough – so they feel forced to quit their jobs.
This can raise eyebrows way down the line when they do decide to return to work, as their CV will have a big hole in it. So The Pregnancy Pause exists to stuff that hole: you can list your current occupation on LinkedIn as ‘Mom’, with The Pregnancy Pause as your ‘employer’ – it may seem like a small difference to make, but it could help get a foot in the door for mums who might otherwise be overlooked.
(And in separate but not-unrelated news, airlines such as Alaska, Qantas and British Airways have changed their frequent flyer programmes so that people who have racked up a lot of miles but suddenly stop travelling so much for childcare reasons won’t lose their mileage benefits. That’s nice.)

OK, so vaping isn’t exactly new. Why bring it up now? Because it’s intriguing to look at how rapidly and massively it’s changed the face of the smoking scene. For generations, from James Dean to Rita Hayworth, Clint Eastwood to Molly Ringwald, cigarettes have been a symbol of cool. Which is troubling, obviously, given what’s in them. So when vaping emerged a decade or so ago, and really pushed into the mainstream in the last few years, people were conflicted: the long-term health ramifications are of course unknown, but it’s likely that e-cigarettes are far less bad for you than tobacco. But does the nature of vaping (the variety of flavours, the ability to mod your hardware to make colossal vapour clouds, the Millennial cachet of doing something your parents never did) mean it’s a good way to turn people off smoking actual cigarettes, or a gateway from the fun stuff to the hard stuff? If kids start vaping in school, will they turn into cigarette smokers?
Well, according to recent research, vaping actually is getting people off the fags. There are now more ex-smokers vaping in the UK than there are cigarette smokers, while 79% of Americans no longer consider smoking to be cool. After decades – nay, centuries – of an established norm, a new way of thinking has rapidly escalated a massive cultural shift. Which is interesting.

Daniel Bevis, Senior Knowledge Editor

17th May 2017