September 30, 2014 in Daily Bulletin
John Kelly took a look at the size of our drinking straws:
- Straws used to be natural bits of dry rye grass. They added an unfortunate grassy taste to drinks.
- So an inventor in 1888 patented a straw made of paper. The inventor hated getting seeds in his lemonade, so the diameter of the straw was just small enough to prevent the typical lemon seed from getting sucked in.
- The next big innovation in the world of straws was in 1937 when the bendy straw came along.
- Then in the 1960s we got plastic straws.
- And then in 1988 straws became weird. They became really wide, possibly because McDonald’s milk shakes were so thick that a typical straw couldn’t handle them.
- Since chains prefer to standardize items to cut down costs, this meant that all straws, not just those used for milk shakes, became wider.
Read what this increase in the diameter of straws says about the obesity pandemic, details about the inventors we have to thank for our straws, and the straw industry standards in use today here.
Source: The Washington Post
September 29, 2014 in Daily Bulletin
Looking for a new company CEO? Just stand by the finish line of a marathon and ask for resumes writes Zach Wener-Fligner:
- A study found that companies with CEOs who run marathons are 5% more valuable than those that don’t.
- This is particularly true of those who are in positions or industries that will subject them to excessive amounts of stress. In such cases the boost to a company’s value is up to 10%.
- This may be because of the stress relieving effects of running.
- Boards are becoming wise to this. Aside from a blip during the great recession the number of marathon runner CEOs has risen steadily.
Read more here.
September 28, 2014 in Daily Bulletin
Kate Gammon wrote about the impact that keyboards are having on babies:
- Humans have a preference for typing words with keys on the right side of a standard QWERTY keyboard.
- This is theorized to be because there are fewer keys on the right side, making it easier to type. This also explains why the effect holds true for both left and right handed individuals.
- The “QWERTY effect” as it is known also seems to be affecting baby names.
- Since the 1990s, when the keyboard became more widely used, names with letters on the right side of the keyboard such as Olivia, Jacob, and Mia have become more popular.
Read what this says about humanity’s evolving relationship with language, and details of other research into the QWERTY effect here.
Source: Popular Science
September 26, 2014 in Daily Bulletin
Coke has been branding its soft drinks with people’s names in a marketing campaign that’s been immensely successful writes Mike Esterl:
- The soft drinks maker took the 250 most popular names among millennials and printed them on its bottles and cans.
- The marketing campaign boosted sales by 2.5% – a reversal in a long term trend of declining soda sales.
- Meanwhile sales at rival PepsiCo have continued to stagnate.
- Bottles with specific names on them can be found on eBay for multiples of what the drinks originally cost.
- Coke also launched a website which allowed people to create virtual drinks with whatever name they desired and share it on social media. 6 million bottles were created.
- At least one couple went across their state looking for bottles with their names on them. They found them and plan to display them along with their wedding photos.
- The campaign is coming to an end but executives may launch it again next year.
Read about the inception of the idea, other countries where it has been successful, and more over here.
Source: The Wall Street Journal
September 25, 2014 in Daily Bulletin
Last year Facebook analyzed the profiles of users who have been in love. Here’s what it found:
- Facebook can predict who’ll end up in a relationship. Timeline posts rapidly increase in the 100 days leading up to the start of a relationship.
- They then fall as online interactions are presumably replaced with physical ones.
- Half of all relationships that manage to survive three months, go on to survive at least four years.
- Breakups are most likely to happen during the summer, and least likely in February, probably due to Valentine’s Day.
- The number of breakups expanded in 2011, perhaps as a result of a recovering economy.
Find out how religion affects relationships, the touchy subject of age, and how interactions change once a relationship commences over here.
September 24, 2014 in Daily Bulletin
As China continues its rise people, including President Obama’s daughter, are increasingly looking to learn Mandarin. Nikhil Sonnad wrote that the language isn’t as dominant in China as people think:
- According to the Chinese government, only 70% of the country’s citizens speak Mandarin, and of those only 10% are fluent in it.
- This means that learning to speak anything more than basic Mandarin won’t really help in communicating with over 93% of China.
- Add in those from Taiwan, and the Chinese diaspora abroad, and there are about 120 million fluent Mandarin speakers in the world.
- In contrast Spanish, a more popular second language in the west, is spoken by 400 million people in the world.
- Even if China goes onto dominate the international order Mandarin is unlikely to become the lingua franca due to the difficulty that people have learning it.
Read about what the rest of China speaks, what the Japanese example tells us, and other Asian languages that have a comparable number of speakers but aren’t given much attention over here.
September 23, 2014 in Daily Bulletin
Hate airline food? Well here’s an incredible opportunity to have it every week! Raymond Kollau wrote:
- While economy class fare is usually pretty drab, business class food isn’t too bad.
- Which is why a grocery store has teamed up with the kitchen that provides Lufthansa passengers with their in-flight meals, to offer a subscription service where people can get a business class airline meal once a week.
- The meals can be heated up whenever an individual wants, and is a healthier alternative than fast food for many professionals.
- This also allows the kitchen that makes the dinners to get rid of excess meals without creating waste.
- If people end up liking the food, it could also encourage more passengers to travel on Lufthansa.
- The subscription service costs £9.99 for one meal a week.
Read more here.
September 22, 2014 in Daily Bulletin
McDonald’s may be hoping that you’ll soon consider the fast food chain for your next weekend brunch writes Venessa Wong:
- McDonald’s has applied for a trademark for “McBrunch”.
- Brunch is one of the fastest growing category of foods, and McDonald’s is looking to revive disappointing financial results.
- Competitors such as Starbucks and Taco Bell have recently improved their morning menus, putting pressure on the burger chain.
- It’s unclear if such an initiative would be successful – the meal is typically associated with alcohol, something that McDonald’s is unlikely to serve anytime soon.
- It could do what Burger King did when it tried something similar and offer non-alcoholic cocktails such as Sprite mixed with fruit juices.
- The trademark could simply be a sign that the chain intends to extend its breakfast hours.
Read Wong’s always excellent analysis, and find out how this could tie into “McDonald’s at midnight”, and why this might be much ado about nothing here.
Source: Bloomberg Businessweek
September 21, 2014 in Daily Bulletin
A (drunk) amateur historian could make the argument that the history of Troy is the story of how breasts brought down a state. They could threaten to do the same in Venezuela writes Hannah Dreier:
- Due to the country’s crumbling economy there has been a severe shortage in FDA approved breast implants.
- This is a big deal in a country which may well have the highest rates of breast implant procedures in the world.
- In the past women could enter raffles at political events and at the office to “win” breast augmentation surgery.
- At anti-government protests the odd demonstrator will be seen carrying a sign protesting the rising price of implants.
- The obsession runs so deep that even those living in slums can have suspiciously large bosoms.
- Lower quality Chinese imports have flooded the market, but they have the unfortunate tendency to rupture.
Read what the government has to say about the shortage, how Venezuela’s twitter is reacting, and more over here.
Source: CTV News
September 18, 2014 in Daily Bulletin
Whelp, back to Iraq we go. This time with a touch more Gulf support. Bobby Ghosh took a look at how useful Arab militaries will actually be in the fight against the group formerly known as ISIS:
- The highest ranking military among the Gulf States belongs to Saudi Arabia which, somewhat surprisingly, is roughly as good as the Syrian military.
- Given that Syria, too, has struggled against ISIS, it’s unclear how effective Saudi Arabia will be against the terrorist group.
- While other countries in the region spend a lot on their militaries, they have very little combat experience, making their use questionable.
- This is largely because the purpose of the militaries in the oil soaked region isn’t to fight wars – it is to protect the monarchy and other sections of the elite.
- The country with the most fighting experience is Yemen which has been combating its own urgency. It is also the poorest Gulf country.
Read more about the relative military prowess of various Gulf States, as well as how Middle Eastern states outside the Gulf will fare in the return to Iraq over here.