Tag Archives: food

Polarization written on the body Google

These are polarizing times in America. And what better to understand that then a highly polarized  measure?

I took the forecast margin of victory for each state for Clinton and Trump, as of today, on Five Thirty Eight. The scores range roughly from -28 to +28, and I reverse them to get the positive score for each candidate (I excluded DC). Then I asked Google Correlate what searches were most correlated with each list of state scores. All the searches here are correlated with the candidate margins at .83 or higher.

Here’s the map as of today:

538map

The Clinton list is dominated by vegetarianism and yoga, Top Chef, and the kind of annoying movies that liberals just love (Before Sunset).

The Trump list is racist anti-Obama stuff, patriotism, and, mostly, the kind of guns you don’t use for hunting. Google gives 100 for each list; I deleted those that weren’t easily categorized. (You can see the full lists here and here.) Here are the highlights:

clinton-margin-searches

trump-margin-searches

Really, you people are so predictable.

But what of the Before Sunset-lover working in the Obama Jokes town? The Biggest Gun husband and the Vegetarian Sushi wife with their Ayurvedic Massage therapist next door? Of course, this method will never show the nuances of social life, the moments when people reach out from their silos and grasp, however fleetingly, the hands of those whom the winds of fortune and arbitrary social divisions have attempted to sweep away from them forever. And it won’t show the big, messy middle, the people who do use guns for hunting, eat tofu but aren’t vegetarian, listen to Tom Tom Club and also learn country guitar. I’d be happy to see something about them out there today.

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What if Reason didn’t write the NYT coverage of Oberlin students?

 

1989 Michigan Daily poto by Robin Loznak.

Daily Beast columnist Robby Soave is also a staff editor at Reason, according to his Twitter profile. Here I’m comparing his column from Dec. 20, “Oberlin College Students: Cafeteria Food Is Racist,” with a Dec. 21 news article in the New York Times, written by Katie Rogers, “Oberlin Students Take Culture War to the Dining Hall.”

Soave’s opening:

University dining halls aren’t exactly famous for serving gourmet dishes, but Oberlin students say their meals aren’t merely bad—they are racially inauthentic, and thus, a form of microaggression.

Rogers’s opening:

Some students at Oberlin College are taking their demands for diversity and racial inclusion to the dining hall, asking for more traditional meals and criticizing what they consider poor efforts at multicultural cooking.

First, the facts from Soave, in order:

  • Oberlin student with Japanese name, quoted in Oberlin Review, complained the sushi was inauthentic.
  • Oberlin student with Vietnamese name, also quoted in OR, complained that banh mi sandwich was inauthentic.
  • Oberlin tuition is $50,000
  • Fredrik de Boer snarky tweet about General Tso chicken not being authentic in the first place.
  • Black students (according to document linked, “obtained by Legal Insurrection,” a right-wing activist site) are demanding “safe space” for Black students.
  • Black students also demand Black psychologists and non-Western healers at the counseling center.
  • Black students also demand pay for organizing time. Offending community members “banished” (Soave’s word), and four buildings renamed.

Here are the facts from Rogers’s story, also in order:

  • Black student union “earlier this month” protested lack of response to an earlier petition for more traditional food, “including more fried chicken,” as reported by Oberlin Review.
  • List of complaints from the other OR story, including banh mi, sushi, and General Tso chicken. Same quote from Japanese-name student, attributed to OR.
  • Quoted statement from Oberlin dining services director.
  • Fredrik Boer tweet.
  • Response from dining services conglomerate.
  • Black student demands (same link to right-wing source): “segregated safe spaces” (Rogers’ paraphrasing of Soave’s critique), plus demand for increase in Black student enrollment.

Rogers added the next day’s worth of news to the story. So that’s the news. But the whole existence of the story is based on the Soave piece. The Vietnamese student complaint is from a story dated Nov. 6; the Black student dining hall protest was reported Dec. 12. As for the mysteriously-linked Black student demands, they were posted a week earlier by Legal Insurrection, who admit they don’t know who wrote them or who they represent, and their source for the document is anonymous. Nice reporting, NYT.

Look

People have been telling student activists to get off their lawns since they invented lawns. The criticism just varies between national-security-threat tear-gas them off the lawn and liberal disdain kids-these-days get off my lawn, depending on the context and climate. The difference is whether they spank (gas, arrest, surveil) or merely mock them for abusing their privileges when they should  be thanking their betters. Neither Soave nor Rogers nor any of the many who shared and copied the story cared to get the actual story from the actual actors involved. This is not required (by editors or readers) when all you’re doing is reinforcing the already-known sorry.

You wouldn’t know from the Soave/Rogers story that the Black student demands also include benefits for part-time dining hall workers, as well as better pay and benefits.

Of course, if the students are concerned about racism they could spend their energies instead just protesting the giant national racist movement that is leading one of our two political parties, and therefore presumably simply be ignored by the NY Times. But the transition from annoying spoiled brats to national security threat is surprisingly easy to make — when the story is owned by the national news media. Rogers could have written her story about the students’ explicit anti-imperialist rhetoric and tied it to the San Bernardino “self-radicalizing” story instead. The stretch wouldn’t have been much further.

When I complained that the Times was highlighting the fried chicken demand instead of the labor demand, Judith Shulevitz tweeted, “They kinda set themselves up for that one. Gotta pick your battles.”

But it’s not that simple.

DEPLORABLE PLAGIARISM CHARGE UPDATE

When I first saw this story I immediately linked it to the Daily Beast story, which I had been arguing about the previous day. When I saw how similar they were, I tweeted this:

I said it would be plagiarism in a class paper, because the main idea and most of the facts came from someone who was not acknowledged for that contribution. I honestly don’t know what constitutes plagiarism in journalism, but in my line of work such writing is unacceptable. In response, Patrick LaForge, who describes himself as senior editor of the NYTimes Express Team,* objected with three tweets (in reverse order):

laforge

My argument really is not about plagiarism, it’s about the news coverage – the story itself, the sources, and the writing. It is true that the NYTimes story did link to the Soave piece, but not in a way that gave any credit for all it contributed. I don’t see that as dispositive. Soave also tweeted that he “didn’t have a problem with the story,” which is nice. I guess he cares more about his influence whipping up the national hysteria about kids on the lawn than about getting individual credit for his work, which is admirable.**

* No disparagement intended by “describes himself”; I just couldn’t find this information on the NYTimes website.

** Of course, criticizing the NYTimes is all fun and games until you enrage an editor, and then it’s like, “Dude, I didn’t mean anything by it … you’re still gonna quote me, right? We’re good?”

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Yo, how big is that yogurt bucket?

People don’t know how much they’re eating.

A recent experiment found that people eat more when the container is larger, even when the portion size is not. They gave Belgian college students a container of M&Ms and parked them in front of a TV, with some cover story. The students were randomly assigned to three groups, medium-portion/small-container, medium-portion/large-container, and large-portion/large-container. These were the results: The ones who got the large container ate more, whether it was full or not (the difference between the two wasn’t significant). These kinds of experiments continuously suggest that distractions, distortions and other apparently irrelevant information and events routinely have large effects on people’s eating practices (here’s an extensive review). One infamous study showed that even people served 14-day-stale popcorn at the movies ate 34% more when it was served in a large container. In an earlier popcorn study, researchers found that people given large containers not only ate more, but were less able to report how much they ate. They concluded:

When a food is eaten from a large container, it appears easy to lose track of how much one eats. Even if the food were to taste relatively unfavorable, eating it from a large container may cause one to overeat because they lose track of how much they have consumed.

About that yogurt tub All this occurred to me when I visited one of our many local Frozenyo franchise outlets. It’s a self-serve frozen yogurt place where you pay one price by weight no matter what you put in your bucket. The trick that impressed me is the bucket — there is only one size, and it’s very large. But you can’t judge how big it is because there’s nothing to compare it with — no sizes or prices on the wall, no mini cup for kids — just one stack of identical buckets. So the person who posted this picture on Yelp probably thought she had a reasonable size serving, since the thing is barely half full:

There are three possible ways to judge your self-served serving size. You can go by the tub (“I filled it half way”), you can go by the person next to you (“sheesh!”), or you can look at the cartoon penguins on the wall:

How much is the penguin eating? I took home one of the buckets, and measured the volume of water it holds: 18 ounces. In comparison, a standard kid-sized serving bowl, the kind some people use to give their kids ice cream at home, holds 12 ounces:

An innocent child used to half a bowl of ice cream — in the bowl on the left — might be pretty steamed if you served her this:

According to the serving size information on the back wall of Frozenyo, I think that’s about 1.5 servings, or 150 calories of the nonfat variety, before toppings. The penguin’s overflowing bowl is 5.0 servings. With no toppings that’s 500 calories. If you pile it with M&Ms, sprinkles, hot fudge, Captain Crunch, coconut topping and fresh kiwis, who knows. It’s not really that many calories to consume — the same number as a single slice of banana bread at Starbucks.

But the point is you don’t know how much you’re eating. One Yelp reviewer cautioned that you can get a stomach ache after eating at Frozenyo, because “your eyes are bigger than your stomach.” I think it’s because the dump-truck sized delivery vehicle you eat it out of is bigger than your stomach.

But most reviewers love it for the individual control over serving size and toppings, and the reasonable price ($.39 per ounce by weight, or $5-$6 for a typical load).* I think it’s a winning business model, with low labor costs, because all you need is one person to pour the mix into the machines and another to weigh the tubs and swipe credit cards. According to the company’s ambitious map, there are still 46 states with “territory available.”

If I were them, I would increase the bucket size by 5% per year. I doubt anyone would notice.

* Paging George Ritzer: it’s the irrationality of rationality.

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Shotgun pistol grip, meet tofu marinade (Merry Christmas!)

Merry Christmas!

And the 100 search terms that most closely follow the same pattern across states, according to Google Correlate (all correlations higher than .80, listed in order from high to low).

TRADITIONAL                                     VEGETARIAN

CHRISTMAS DINNER                        CHRISTMAS

shotgun pistol grip                            recipe vegetarian

1911a1                                                   lentil stew

glock 21                                                 vegetarian pot pie

mossberg shotgun                           vegetarian stew

shotgun light                                       phthalate free

sword for sale                                    tofu marinade

12 gauge ammo                                 walnut pesto

aarp insurance                                   low voc

kel-tec plr-16                                      attenborough

survival food                                       vegetarian times

guns sale                                              chemex coffee

1911 a1                                                  organic

saiga                                                       vegetarian stuffing

cdnn guns                                            ode magazine

mini 14 folding stock                        vegan christmas

fmg9                                                       bean stew

shotgun pistol                                    metal water bottle

scale rc planes                                    roasted beets

the french foreign legion               vegetarian soup

ammo online                                      lentil dal

glock review                                        recipes vegetarian

buy m4                                                  zen koan

shotgun tactical                                 recipe kale

prescription pill identification      walking meditation

shotgun ammo                                  diet for a small planet

saiga shotgun                                     marinated tofu

dxtbmp                                                 pema chodron

ghost ring sights                                vegetarian thanksgiving

fn fal for sale                                       recipes kale

writers software                               moroccan stew

smith wesson 357                             potato leek

500 pistol                                              the daily show

pistol grip                                             crock pot vegetarian

forend                                                   chodron

88 ford bronco                                   organic cotton

auto sear                                              david attenborough

1911 custom                                        potato leek soup

cleaning kit                                          leek soup recipe

aero commander                              red lentils

survival foods                                     vegetarian slow cooker

shotgun forend                                 shamanic studies

female warrior                                   tart crust

class iii weapons                                vw golf tdi

s&w 357                                                vegetarian epicure

air combat games                             vipassana meditation

wilson combat                                    colbert press

shotgun drum                                    cooking lentils

combat commander                        beet salad

1911 parts                                            zen alarm clock

45 1911                                                  sport wagon

speedfeed stock                               traditional medicinals

flare launcher                                     raw beets

bug out                                                 cooking red lentils

6pr                                                          leek soup

best 45                                                  craniosacral

amt 45                                                   elderhostel

eq2 aa                                                    ted talks

combat rifles                                       vegetarian dinner

cheap land                                           under the nile

custom 1911                                        vegan chocolate cake

tromix                                                    roasted beets recipe

atf forms                                              potato leek soup recipe

gun supplies                                        cooking barley

shotgun accessories                        baked tofu

sig 556 accessories                            foundation for shamanic studies

ak 47 accessories                               colbert bush

glock disassembly                             joy of cooking

norinco ak                                            chemex coffee maker

prop planes                                         zen alarm

glock 45 acp                                         organic chocolate

winchester gun safe                        arugula pesto

best 45 acp pistol                              beet salad recipe

fab defense                                        meditation timer

wilson firearms                                  polenta

belize real estate for sale              spiritual practice

colt ar 15                                               kale chips recipe

ruger p90                                              red lentil dal

full auto                                                chard soup

akita puppies                                      eating beets

lasermax                                               buckwheat gluten

kel tec shotgun                                  vegetarian christmas dinner

best 45 acp                                          organic bed

knoxx specops                                   off gassing

1911 slide                                             the weeping camel

37mm launcher                                  botanical drawing

norinco ak 47                                      walnut bread

kel tec ksg                                            weeping camel

m4 for sale                                           youth hostels

45 handgun                                         cat diet

survival gear                                        creme fraiche

desert eagle 50                                  recipes quinoa

online gun sales                                 youtube tina fey

magnum revolver                             paul hawken

tactical shotgun                                 couscous recipe

smith & wesson                                 curried cauliflower

police shotgun                                   eurythmy

war dialer                                             bill moyers show

saiga 12 gauge                                    tonglen

45 carbine                                            youtube jon stewart

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MaddowColbert vs. FoxLimbaugh, Google edition

The Internet’s political echo chambers, red states and blue states, fennel salad and home abortion methods.

The debate goes on about whether online political chatter opens minds more than it closes doors to people with opposing views — with growing concern about how corporate filtering by services like Google and Facebook increasingly serve us what our own behavior tells them we want (and do us the favor of keeping out what we probably don’t like).

As Amy Harmon observed in the NY Times way back in 2004, “The same medium that allows people to peruse a near-infinite number of news sources also lets them pinpoint the ones they want and filter out the rest.” It’s information versus isolation. (The recent poll showing Fox News viewers were the least well-informed on a variety of current news stories was taken as evidence that the network was draining knowledge from its audience, but they probably know less before they decide to watch Fox in the first place.)

Because of the winner-take-all mechanism in our electoral politics, states are described as “red” or “blue” according to how their majorities vote. With regard to family patterns, more nuanced analysis shows that the patterns are not just regional, but also urban/rural/suburban, religious, and so on. But, Google Correlate gives us search data by states, so with the caveat that states contain diverse populations, look at this…

Stereotype, show thyself

Searches for Maddow, Colbert, Limbaugh, and Fox News, by state, with correlations between them shown (on a scale of -1 to 1):

I previously showed that divorce rates are positively correlated with searches for “tea party” and negatively correlated with Obama’s 2008 vote. Not surprisingly, these searches are correlated with political outcomes as well. I combined Maddow+Colbert and Limbaugh+FoxNews, and subtracted one from the other, creating an index that runs from a high of 6.0 in Vermont to a low of -6.0 in Mississippi. This lines up quite well with the 2008 vote:

That’s not the result I’m interested in, but just a little validation for the more squishy cultural stuff that accompanies these media-politics searches. Do they really reflect the search habits of conservative versus liberal voters? I can’t say, but I like looking over the lists and thinking about it.

Using the ColbertMaddow-FoxNewsLimbaugh index, I asked Google correlate which 100 searches were most common in the states with high index values but least common in those with low values. Then I rescaled it backwards to get the reverse results. So the first list is items searched for in the high-liberal-media states, and the second list is those in the high-conservative-media states. Here are the food-related correlations (all at .88 or higher).

Liberal:

  • arugula pasta [I’m not making these up -pnc]
  • beets nutrition
  • beets urine
  • cauliflower pasta
  • cheese health
  • darjeeling express
  • fake meat
  • fennel salad
  • firm tofu
  • gianduja
  • kitchen confidential
  • muesli
  • mushroom risotto
  • nicoise
  • pasta pesto
  • poached chicken
  • puree
  • risotto
  • tea caffeine
  • tea wiki
  • tea wikipedia
  • top chef season 8
  • vegan bags
  • vegan cupcakes
  • vegan dessert
  • vegetarian
  • vegetarian cooking
  • vegetarian food
  • vegetarian recipe

The conservative list has no real foods, just things about dieting:

  • acai berry diet
  • acaitrim
  • berry diet
  • carbs list
  • p90x results
  • prescription weight loss
  • prescription weight loss pills
  • weight loss pills

The lists support other stereotypes, like the liberal-state penchant for searching “french movie,” “chomsky” and “lost in translation,” versus conservative political mean-spiritedness (“obama jokes”), lack of sex education  (“how soon can you tell if you are pregnant”) and reproductive health care (“home abortion methods”) and, finally, marital problems:

  • how to make a marriage work
  • how to save a marriage
  • how to save my marriage
  • save a marriage

It’s interesting to think about the central place of food in distinguishing the cultural milieu that includes politics — at least those that include these media. That food list is about 1/3 of the liberal correlation terms. Are food habits and terms codes for political views, or are they both aspects of similar world views? Someone must do research on this.

There are lots of other media terms you could use for this. I tried Hannity as well, but decided it was too fringy — and really thrown off by the huge number in Utah. One search from that list jumped out at me: “how long is the first trimester.”

Anyway, the disclaimer from my Stuff White People Google post applies here as well:

In case you’re prepared to be offended, remember this does not mean this is most of what these groups search for, or most of the searches in these areas. Rather, it’s the things that are searched for in these states that are not searched for in other states. So, people in all groups search for porn and shopping and restaurant reviews and health conditions — but these are the things that differentiate the states.

The complete lists of searches correlated with the liberal and conservative indexes are in this PDF. Feel free to question my interpretations and examples.

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Hunger in the human family

Give or take, a billion people are undernourished (on Earth, which is as far as the data extend). It’s been a very rough couple of years for world hunger, but the UN estimates that 2010 is looking a little better than last year.

In the U.S., the situation is much better. There are 42 million people receiving food stamps — or 14% of the population — but at least they’re getting food stamps. Poverty and malnutrition here take a toll on a smaller scale — easy to say, of course, from a big-numbers point of view. If the UN says only 19 million people in the rich countries are seriously undernourished on account of poverty, here the issue is less total nutrition and more food security and proper, safe nutrition.

According to the American Dietetic Association, 15% of households, or 49 million people, experienced food insecurity at some time during 2008 — which represents a dramatic 32% spike from 2007, after eight years of relative stability, according to the New England Journal of Medicine. The problem is concentrated most among the poor, single parents, and Black and Latino families, who all had higher-than-average insecurity rates:

Source: My graph from American Dietetic Association. Food insecurity is defined as: “Limited or uncertain availability of nutritionally adequate and safe foods or limited or uncertain ability to acquire acceptable foods in socially acceptable ways.”

In the U.S., children whose families suffer from food insecurity have more health problems, but also lower academic achievement as well as psychological and behavioral problems. Food insecurity has pernicious effects on health for adults as well. Even controlling for age, gender, race, educational attainment, and income — and limiting the analysis to adults below the poverty line — those experiencing food insecurity are more likely to have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes. According to the NEJM article, this is how it might work:

Finally, we need to remember that families are not individual actors, but groups of people tied together in complex an unequal ways. Like money, power, and violence, food itself is unequally distributed within families. This has mostly been the subject of studies in poor countries, where economic pressure comes down harder on some family members more than others — sometimes to the benefit of men, sometimes male children. But even in the U.S., where hunger is much less prevalent, recent evidence suggests children are less likely to suffer food insecurity when mothers, rather than fathers, control the family budget.

Inequality, global and local.

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Biggest tiny losers?

There’s got to be an idea in here somewhere, between the weight-conscious 4-year-olds

Nearly half of the 3- to 6-year-old girls in a study by University of Central Florida psychology professor Stacey Tantleff-Dunn and doctoral student Sharon Hayes said they worry about being fat…. Studies have shown that young girls worried about their body image are more likely to suffer from eating disorders when they are older.

…the self-destructive competitive weight loss contestants

Ryan C. Benson, who lost 122 of his 330-pound starting weight … is now back above 300 pounds but he thinks he has been shunned by the show because he publicly admitted that he dropped some of the weight by fasting and dehydrating himself to the point that he was urinating blood.

…the competitive eating, covered by Sports Illustrated:

…and the wasting of 40% of all calories produced in the country:

We found that US per capita food waste has progressively increased by ~50% since 1974 reaching more than 1400 kcal per person per day or 150 trillion kcal per year. Food waste now accounts for more than one quarter of the total freshwater consumption and ~300 million barrels of oil per year.

The new estimate of food waste (solid line, with confidence intervals above and below) is based on a model of calories produced, burned and stored as weight. It shows much more waste than the USDA estimates (shown in the black squares).

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