Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Thursday, February 05, 2021

For some Koreans, dental care comes with a soda-like twang:

In South Korea their favorite toothpaste, Bukwang, tastes exactly like Dr. Pepper. When some Korean friends of mine visited the US for the first time, they tried Dr. Pepper. They wondered if I was insulting them or playing with them by giving them toothpaste-flavored soda to drink. It took a while to explain but we have had a good laugh ever since then. But they will not drink Dr. Pepper. I do not blame them.

Notice how they consider Dr Pepper (no period in that brandname, BTW) to be “toothpaste-flavored soda”, instead of considering their toothpaste to be “soda-flavored”. Sounds like their tastebuds have been trained to identify that flavor — which a long-ago classmate from Puerto Rico once told me tasted like a lollipop — strictly as a hygiene product, and not as a food.

In the States, endowing a “fun flavoring” onto toothpaste, like bubblegum, cinnamon, or somesuch, is supposed to make the habit of daily brushing more appealing. I’m wondering if it’s not simply instilling in kids a lifelong hate for the taste of whatever food/candy that becomes associated with a mouthful of suds…

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 02/05/2021 01:19pm
Category: Food, Science
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If you were worth a few billion dollars, don’t you think you’d find a better way to make your point than by releasing a host of flying, blood-sucking bugs on unsuspecting techies?

“Malaria is spread by mosquitoes,” [Bill Gates] yelled to the crowd before unleashing the insects, which were not carrying the disease. “I brought some. Here, I’ll let them roam around. There is no reason only poor people should be infected.”

The organisers of the TED conference said it was an “amazing moment” and provided the audience with “food for thought”. Chris Anderson, curator of the show, quipped that the moment should be headlined, “Gates releases more bugs into the world”.

Fortunately, the crowd seemed to take it in stride. Although if they attend next year’s edition of the Technology, Entertainment and Design conference, they should probably bring netting and bug spray, just in case.

As for Gates, you’ve gotta wonder if the combination of Microsoft-mad money and years of computer-centric inputting have rendered him a maladroit when it comes to interacting with real live people. The litigational hazards of such a stunt alone should have given him pause.

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 02/05/2021 12:15pm
Category: Celebrity, Science, Tech
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Remember that unknown syrupy scent that would waft over Manhattan every so often? Mystery solved:

City agencies mapped wind patterns, odor reports and air samples to determine that food processing plants in New Jersey’s Bergen and Hudson counties were the likely cause.

A company called Frutarom was processing foenugreek seeds to produce food additives when the smell popped up most recently, on Jan. 29.

Neither Frutarom nor any of the other processors appear to be violating any rules or laws, city officials said.

New Yorkers have said it smelled like French toast, pancakes or even coffee cake.

I have yet to detect this stench, at least mindfully. There’s any number of smells that invade my nose daily; I can’t say a particularly sweet one ever stood out and made me take notice.

As for why Frutarom’s industrial exhaust should predominate over all the other byproducts drifting across the river from Jersey, that’s another mystery waiting to be solved, I guess.

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 02/05/2021 11:53am
Category: New Yorkin', Science
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An interesting sub-theory emerges from research on the untraditionally corrosive effects that having children plays on modern marriages:

But keeping a marriage vibrant is a never-ending job. Deciding together to have a child and sharing in child-rearing do not immunize a marriage. Indeed, collaborative couples can face other problems. They often embark on such an intense style of parenting that they end up paying less attention to each other.

Parents today spend much more time with their children than they did 40 years ago. The sociologists Suzanne Bianchi, John Robinson and Melissa Milkie report that married mothers in 2000 spent 20 percent more time with their children than in 1965. Married fathers spent more than twice as much time.

A study by John Sandberg and Sandra Hofferth at the University of Michigan showed that by 1997 children in two-parent families were getting six more hours a week with Mom and four more hours with Dad than in 1981. And these increases occurred even as more mothers entered the labor force.

In other words, time is finite, so every minute they spend with their kids means one less minute they have to spend more one-on-one with each other. Not hard to figure that out.

The problem is, the prevailing parenting paradigm calls for near-constant interaction with the child, for fear that even one second of neglect could somehow damage the young psyche forevermore. Thus the rise of the helicopter parent, hovering close to the offspring so that no one misses anything during the formative years (and, usually, well beyond them).

Too bad there’s no such thing as a helicopter spouse. Although I guess with all the spousal spying on computer activity going on, that’s practically moot.

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 02/05/2021 10:59am
Category: Science, Society
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