Food and Drink

Math Explains Coincidences, Getting Fat, and Death

Curated by CLAI

SURPRISING COINCIDENCES: We tend to fail to understand how the basic laws of probability work and our selective attention, which lead to great surprise at many coincidences. Stunning coincidences are only natural — like stumbling into a close friend halfway around the world or meeting someone with the same birthday can be explained by simple mathematics.

  • In a group of 366 people, there’s 100 percent probability that two people will have the same birthday — since there are only 365 days in a year, excluding leap year. In a group of 23 people, there’s >50% two people in the room have the same birthday
  • We also have selective attention — we notice and remember coincidences, but we hardly ever heed their absence.

Credits: Guillaume Jacquenot (Wikimedia Commons)

FAT TEMPTATION: Drop a bunch of kale into your cart and you’re more likely to head next to the ice cream or beer section. The more “virtuous” products you have in your basket, the stronger your temptation to succumb to vice. When shown a burger, their average guess was 734 calories; when shown the same burger alongside three celery sticks, the average guess dropped to 619. These are not rational calculations; they betray the shortcuts your brain takes in its running tally of vice and virtue.

LIFE EXPECTANCY OF MUSICIANS BY GENRE: Musicians from the older genres – blues, jazz (including bebop and dixieland), country (including country and western, boogie woogie, honky tonk and bluegrass), and gospel (including spiritual and Christian rock) – enjoyed, on average, similar lifespans as those from the U.S. population with the same year of birth and gender.

  • The next group – R&B (including doo wop and soul), pop, folk (including ballad and polka) and world music – had lower life expectancies compared with the U.S. population.
  • Thereafter, the gap between population lifespans and average age of death for the more recent genres – rock (including rockabilly), electronic (including experimental, techno, disco, and funk), punk, metal, rap and hip hop – widens.

Eat your Breakfast and Chocolate – Preferably in Prison

Curated by CLAI

EAT BREAKFAST: For students, especially, eating a healthy breakfast leads to improved cognition and memory, helps reduce absenteeism and generally improves mood. A 2008 study in the journal Pediatrics found that teenagers who ate breakfast regularly had a lower body-mass index than those who did not.

The logic about mood holds true for all: Eat breakfast and you’ll have a better morning. Perhaps you’ll eat less at lunch. You’ll have a better afternoon. Which leads to a better evening and better sleep. And a better breakfast the following morning.

So: Whole-grain muffins. Orange slices. A sausage or two. Everyone wins. It is all good cooking, if you serve it with care. And it gets better, easier, even more delicious, every time you do.

Start making breakfast every day. Make breakfast all the rage.

Credit: Gretchen Roehrs (NYTIMES)

EAT CHOCOLATE: Eating chocolate was significantly associated with superior “visual-spatial memory and [organization], working memory, scanning and tracking, abstract reasoning, and the mini-mental state examination. These functions translate to every day tasks, “such as remembering a phone number, or your shopping list, or being able to do two things at once, like talking and driving at the same time.

Nutrients called cocoa flavanols, which are found naturally in cocoa, and thus chocolate, seem to have a positive effect on people’s brains. Eating the nutrient increases blood flow to the brain, which in turn improves a number of its functions.

Credits: Amy King (WAPO)

FINE DINING in PRISON: InGalera, a restaurant that opened recently to rave reviews. It is inside the Bollate penitentiary, a medium-security prison with 1,100 inmates on the outskirts of Milan. The waiters, dishwashers and cooks have been convicted of homicide, armed robbery, drug trafficking and other crimes.

Dinner reservations are almost fully booked for March, and the Milanese elite have taken note. A former bank president came a few weeks ago. So did a former Miss Italy. Families come on weekends.

The restaurant may bother some people but prisons must train inmates to become responsible citizens capable of re-entering society. The recidivism rate of inmates in similar programs is far lower than average. Prices are more reasonable than most Milanese restaurants – “To have honest prices you have to come to jail.”

Credits: Gianni Cipriano (NYTIMES)

World’s Favorite Beers + Luxury Toilet Paper

Curated by CLAI

FAVORITE BEERS AROUND THE WORLD: Americans love Bud Light. in Canada, the beer of choice is Bud Light’s heavier cousin Budweiser. Down in Mexico, people choose Corona most often. In China, beer drinkers down a lager beer called Snow; in India, people like a pale lager called Kingfisher best; in Brazil, the most popular brew is a Pilsner called Skol; and across the ocean, in Australia, it’s a beer called Victoria Bitter.

How to drink beer like a local

How to drink beer like a local (WAPO)

LUXURY TOILET PAPER: Americans have a new favorite way to flush money down the drain: luxury toilet paper. Sales in the United States of what the industry calls “luxury” rolls — anything quilted, lotioned, perfumed or ultra-soft, from two- to four-ply — climbed to $1.4 billion last year, outpacing all other kinds of toilet paper for the first time in nearly a decade.

A roll of luxury toilet paper is stamped with gold in Germany. American luxury toilet paper is softer, thicker and gold-free.

A roll of luxury toilet paper is stamped with gold in Germany. American luxury toilet paper is softer, thicker and gold-free. (Michael Dalder, Reuters)

 

 

Overworked? Take a Lunch Walk, Stop Drinking (Coffee) Alcohol

Curated by CLAI

TIP OF THE DAY: Take a lunchtime walk to buoy your spirits and keep you energy levels up.

WORK LONG HOURS? DRINK TOO MUCH? Those working between 49 and 54 hours a week had the biggest risk of starting to overindulge.

  • Alcohol could be used to relieve stress, that Type A workers could end up in jobs with longer hours, or that there could be an associated link between demanding jobs, alcohol use and people with existing depression or sleep problems.
  • CEOs who end the day with a few glasses of pricey scotch and minimum-wage workers who throw back a few beers after their second shift are both more likely to over-drink than those who work fewer hours.
Why So Jittery? (Nutritionaction.com; Center for Science in the Public Interest)

Why So Jittery? (Nutritionaction.com; Center for Science in the Public Interest)

WHY SO JITTERY? One 20 oz Starbucks coffee = 2 shots of 5-hour energy = 25 Monster drinks = 12 cans of Coca-Cola = 21 Hershey’s Special Dark chocolate

Pretentious Cocktails & Cheeses

Curated by CLAI

PROFIT OF a $22 COCKTAIL: With profit between 15% and 25%, it turns out cocktails are not highway robbery (maybe).

  • The cost of the pour should ring up at no more than 25% of the price of the cocktail.
  • 50% to 60% of what you’re paying goes toward labor, keeping the lights on and the rent paid, and spillage — a term that encompasses testing as well as, yes, actual sloppiness, inevitable on busy nights.
The Charted Cheese Wheel (Pop Chart Lab)

The Charted Cheese Wheel (Pop Chart Lab)

Charted Cheese Wheel: A charting of 65 cheeses, broken down by the animal and texture, ranging from the mild to the stinky and from the rock hard to the silky smooth.