Food Network apparently has a magazine and the first issue actually has a few interesting articles on food and economics. One, titled Reality Check, Please discusses design tricks on menus that restaurants use to manipulate diners’ psychology. For instance:
Menus typically show prices right after dish descriptions rather than in a column. Why? So you won’t go looking for a cheaper dish. If you see a chicken entree for $17, the restaurant doesn’t want you to notice that the chicken tenders two lines down up are $3 cheaper. Kevin Moll, CEO of Denver’s National Restaurant Consultants, says staggering the prices on a menu leads to a 10-percent increase in sales.
Some good data on preventing onion tears. Instead of buying onion goggles, you should learn to cut onions correctly. I particularly like this part:
The placement of various foreign objects between one’s teeth (wine corks seem to be a particular favorite) is of questionable value, except when used as an excuse – if indeed one were needed – to open another bottle of wine.
Every once in a while you run across a completely insane story. Today I came to Ian Hibell, famed long-distance bicyclist, by way of the Darian Gap, an uncharted, impassible piece of Panamanian land that separates North and South America. Ian Hibell was the first person to do an overland passing of the Gap as he cycled from Cape Horn to Alaska in 1970-72. Here is a video of Ian during this trek:
In a sad twist of fate, Ian was killed at 74 years of age, struck by a car while riding his bike in Greece. The Economist and The Times both published touching obituaries for Ian. This quote is from the Economist:
Bikes rarely let him down. Escaping once from spear-throwing Turkana in northern Kenya, he felt the chain come off, but managed to coast downhill to safety. He crossed China from north to southâ€”in 2006, at 72â€”with just three brake-block changes, one jammed rear-brake cable and a change of tape on the handlebars. In his book, â€œInto the Remote Placesâ€ (1984), he described his bike as a companion, a crutch and a friend. Setting off in the morning light with â€œthe quiet hum of the wheels, the creak of strap against load, the clink of something in the pannierâ€, was â€œdeliciousâ€.
The New Scientist reports on a study suggesting that direct-to-consumer pharmaceutical ads may be ineffective. The best part is that the study uses the natural divide between French- and English-speaking Canadians to create a perfect cross-sectional study (Canada forbids pharmaceutical ads, but US television does not).
Radiohead has just released an amazing video for “House of Cards” that uses no cameras, only lasers and visualization, to produce a sort of vector video game effect:
If you’re interested in the technique, you should check out the making of the video, which includes a cameo by visualization superstar Aaron Koblin. Oh, and they open sourced the data. Holy crap that’s awesome. Go Google, Radiohead and Aaron.