Why Are We Turning Our Favorite Foods Into Rainbow-Colored Nightmares?

Recently, it seems like food dye is making a comeback in a big way, and not just one dye—all of them. Rainbow colored bagels, grilled cheeses, pizzas, and even lattes have circulated the internet as the latest food trend. Is it just harmless novelty, or is there more to these culinary monstrosities?

Source: Why Are We Turning Our Favorite Foods Into Rainbow-Colored Nightmares?

There’s no artificial color involved, that’s the natural color of unicorn poop.

It’s fun to do something like this once in a while, but I think the article looses sight that it’s a treat.  It provides variety, and we have seasonal things for various things.

Why Finding the Right Gym Culture Makes You Stick to Your Workouts

The equipment in your gym doesn’t matter.

Sorry bro, but your favorite squat rack, sled, barbell, and battling rope are mere accessories to the one thing that every great gym has.

It’s that secret sauce that turns a gym into the gym. 

I’m talking about gym culture. 

Source: From Gold’s to Planet Fitness: Importance of Gym Culture

Your gym culture can often make or break your fitness experience, so it’s important that you go to one that suits you. There’s a reason CrossFit appeals to so many fitness first-timers and veterans alike: It’s more of a community than it is a place where you splash around in a puddle of your own sweat.

Living Together Might Be Just as Beneficial as Marrying, Especially for Women

So much for the undying stereotype that women need marriage like a fish needs fish gills: New research has found that women get just as much of an emotional boost out of just shacking up as they do out of making it legal. And “emotional boosts” are supposed to be the lady drug of choice.

Source: Living Together Might Be Just as Beneficial as Marrying, Especially for Women

But if you don’t get married, how will you get all those useless presents on your registry?  I want a really good blender.  I also want a mixer because manual whisking is for suckers.

What the article doesn’t mention is that beyond culture, there are still many legal benefits, regulations and bureaucratic details that favor “married” couples.  Which is one component to why emotional stress diminishes…

Bullies Are Sexier, Says New Bully-Loving Study

…a new study called “Survival of the Fittest and the Sexiest” published in the Journal of Interpersonal Violence has found that adolescent bullies have higher self-esteem and social status, as well as lower rates of depression and social anxiety. From an evolutionary standpoint, these combined measures also make the meanest in the playground pack the ones with the greatest sex appeal.

Source: Bullies are happier, have more sex appeal, says study

A good, long read to follow this up is: Why It Pays to be a Jerk.  Here’s a part about the author’s bullying asshole friend Jordan:

Spend time with the Jordans of the world and you’re apt to get things you are not entitled to—the choice table at the overbooked restaurant, the courtside tickets you’d never ask for yourself—without ever having to be the bad guy. The transgression was Jordan’s. The spoils were the group’s.

I’d like to see a deeper assessment of why a bully is “happier”.  We’re talking about a class of people enjoying and profiting from the misery of victims, while being enabled by others.  My armchair psychiatry wonders if this is a case of “offense is the best defense”, where attacking an external entity is used to distract from other issues.  Who is going to get introspective when they can make someone else into entertainment?  It’s a basic Litmus test for abusive behaviour – given the opportunity, what would you do?

To me, the solution to the problem has always been about dealing with enablers, the group that props up these bullies.  Most are too scared to get involved, are happy they aren’t the target, or simply want to benefit from free entertainment.  They’ll say it’s for the target/victim to stand up for themselves, but things don’t typically change if that happens.  Without third party support, the odds are against the target/victim.  Which is generally why someone gets victimized – because they are alone.

Study: Color Isn’t Always About Sex

When it comes to birds, males—with their bright feathers, extra accessories, and impressive mating displays—tend to get all the attention. But for many birds, such as the Choco Toucan pictured above, brilliant plumage has nothing to do with sex, and everything to do with survival.

Source: Color Isn’t Always About Sex, Study Finds

Dull colors of females often aids in camouflage when raising young on the nest.

With respect to people, colours have a different meaning.  For example, red is considered a colour of attraction in North American culture – but in Asia, that colour would be green.  The colours that indicate good/bad or life/death are reversed when you compare North American to Asian.  Bad characters in Asian culture wear white…  Blue however consistently polls as “calming, soothing, and trustworthy” – to the point that Microsoft patented the “Microsoft blue”.  I wonder if the association comes from water and/or sky?

For a time, professional sport used colour to intimidate the visiting team.  As the story goes, this was done by painting the visitor change room pink.  In practice, it’s disconcerting initially and eventually wears off – you get desensitized.  But the professional league cracked down on the practice, enforcing that vistor and home team change rooms had to be the same colour.  Similarly, colour has been used in hospitals with the intention to influence mood.

Remember than peacocks are male.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen a peahen, or peachicks.  Maybe it’s like female dwarves in Lord of the Rings/The Hobbit, or female Krogan in Mass Effect?  😉

Childhood Abuse Victims Don’t Always Grow Up to be Abusers

It’s a widely held belief that people who were abused as children are more likely to grow up to abuse their own children, but a new study in Science suggests a more complex picture. Different kinds of abuse and neglect have different patterns of intergenerational transmission, and there’s reason to think that certain families are scrutinized more than others, leading to biased reporting.

The widespread belief in intergenerational transmission is not completely unfounded. A number of studies have found evidence that abuse victims are more likely to abuse, but the overall picture is mixed: many other studies have found no such link. Understanding what causes child abuse is obviously vital to finding solutions, so it’s an essential question for researchers to resolve.

Source: Childhood abuse victims don’t always grow up to be abusers

Every once in a while, there’s a discussion about what women look for in guys.  One of the criteria is relationship with family – that being active with family can be a value some find attractive.  This thoroughly irritates me.  While I’m glad these people have never had to survive an abusive household, the belief is incredibly naive and demonstrates a fundamental misunderstanding of what relationships are or how they work.  The expression/slang I encountered recently – Disney girl – sums things up rather succinctly.  Cultural beliefs reinforced by media…  There are lots of stories about actresses who did not want to play the loving, supporting mother because it wasn’t always true.  And with the recent disclosure of stories that predate the Brothers Grimm, there’s “folklore” about fathers competing with sons.  The recent “tradition” is it’s only step parents…

Culture and media is no help to the abused for situations like this.  From the perspective of the abused, you question what you are doing wrong.  Why you deserve the treatment, and what you can do to change things for the better.  I’ve known a few, and there’s an underlying desire to be accepted by family.  Some attempt to incorporate themselves into the families of others, but not in the sense like cuckoos do.  Sometimes there’s acceptance, sometimes there isn’t.  The fundamental issue is the abused needs to come to terms with if the relationship can improve, and more importantly – accept what needs to be done if old patterns are repeated.

These are the realities the study abstracts about how abused manage not to perpetuate the cycle.  That we sometimes abuse the abused a second time as we dismiss them, or make uninformed judgements and decisions.  Some of the abused are able to make it through by themselves, but most need help and there’s lots of variables around getting legitimate help.  Even with help, there’s bound to be scars.  Some have to accept that parents are such by virtue of biology only.

Yes, There’s A Masculine Side To Estrogen

Male aggression is commonly pinned on testosterone, and estrogen is credited with imparting females with maternal instinct – but the true story of the sex hormones, and their roles in male and female behavior, is a lot more subtle. Here’s why estrogen is an important hormone for males and females alike.

…Using model organisms, biologists have learned some surprising things about the relationship between testosterone, estrogen, and sexually dimorphic behaviors, and wholly debunked the facile notion that testosterone drives male behavior, while estrogen drives female behavior.

Source: Yes, There’s A Masculine Side To Estrogen

Baldness is not a sign of virility, aggression or libido. All it means is that the hair follicles in the scalp are more sensitive to testosterone. It says nothing about overall testosterone levels or how that hormone is being used elsewhere in the body.

How the Global Ice Market was Invented

SO A GUY FROM Boston walks into a bar and offers to sell the owner a chunk of ice. To modern ears, that sounds like the opening line of a joke. But 250 years ago, it would have sounded like science fiction—especially if it was summer, when no one in the bar had seen frozen water in months.

In fact, it’s history. The ice guy was sent by a 20-something by the name of Frederic Tudor, born in 1783 and known by the mid-19th century as the “Ice King of the World.” What he had done was figure out a way to harvest ice from local ponds, and keep it frozen long enough to ship halfway around the world.

…But scholars in recent years have suggested that we’re missing something. In fact, they say, the ice trade was a catalyst for a transformation in daily life so powerful that the mark it left can still be seen on our cultural habits even today. Tudor’s big idea ended up altering the course of history, making it possible not only to serve barflies cool mint juleps in the dead of summer, but to dramatically extend the shelf life and reach of food. Suddenly people could eat perishable fruits, vegetables, and meat produced far from their homes. Ice built a new kind of infrastructure that would ultimately become the cold, shiny basis for the entire modern food industry.

Source: How a Massachusetts man invented the global ice market

Not the first time I’ve read this story, but it’s a very interesting read in how he saw a market for something that did not exist.  And stuck with that dream through a lot of hardship to learn a lot about the industry.  It’s not a case of training hard enough – it’s a combination of timing, experience and business acumen.  The article revolves around the impact to food and lifestyle, but refrigeration is also what makes long distance organ transplants possible.

Ramen: Slurping is Mandatory

Why? Because slurping your noodles isn’t rude, it actually serves three purposes:

  1. It cools off your mouthful of noodles just enough to let you enjoy them while the rest of the bowl stays piping hot, and
  2. It aerates the noodles and the broth, allowing the flavors to mellow out and fully develop before you chew and swallow.
  3. If you eat your ramen daintily, the process can take a long time and the noodles will get all mushy.

Source: Slurping’s Mandatory: Why Getting Messy with Ramen Makes It Taste Better

Western etiquette says slurping is bad – and yes, as a result many of us find the sound irritating.  And it can be messy with spray…  But in some eastern cultures, eating very silently is rude.  Like how burping is a compliment to the chef?  Either way, ramen shops are often clear about the importance of slurping.