Why does food taste better when others make them

From The New York Times’ Cooking section:

Why Do Sandwiches Taste Better When Someone Else Makes Them?

When you make your own sandwich, you anticipate its taste as you’re working on it. And when you think of a particular food for a while, you become less hungry for it later. Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University, for example, found that imagining eating M&Ms makes you eat fewer of them. It’s a kind of specific satiation, just as most people find room for dessert when they couldn’t have another bite of their steak. The sandwich that another person prepares is not “preconsumed” in the same way.

Source: New York Times

Haven’t thought of it that way.

Slavoj Zizek touches on implications of charitable giving

Renowned philosopher Slavoj Žižek investigates the surprising ethical implications of charitable giving.

RSA Animate – First as Tragedy, Then as Farce

“The proper aim is to try to reconstruct society in such a basis that poverty is impossible and the altruistic virtues have prevented the carrying out of this aim. The worst slaves owners are those who are kind to their slaves, and so prevented the horror of the system from being realized by those who suffered from it, and understood by those who contemplated it,” he says, partially quoting Oscar Wilde.

Interesting talk. Watch it if you have the time.

Black American kids are cheaper

Did you know it is, in average, $8,000 cheaper to adopt a black baby than a white one? And that boys are cheaper by $2,000?

Discount babies

THE market is not politically correct. It often assigns lower values to humans (their wages) based on their race or sex, even after controlling for education and experience. It’s just as cruel to children. A few years ago I was disturbed to learn that it’s cheaper to adopt black American children than white. I recently had lunch with NYU Stern School economist Allan Collard-Wexler, who has estimated adoption price sensitivity. He found just how much adoption fees are sensitive to the race and gender of a baby. It’s about $8,000 cheaper to adopt a black baby than a white or Hispanic child and girls tend to cost about $2,000 more than boys.

What can explain the preference for non-black girls? The preference for girls is interesting because people tend to favour male biological children. The authors speculate this may be because girls are considered “safer” in terms of dysfunctional behaviour. The data also includes same-sex couples, which tend to favour girls (both male and female partners), even more than heterosexual couples. (Source: The Economist)

Ah, sensitive issues. Still interesting though.

Why some dates are missing in year 1752

An interesting tidbit, when you enter any dates on or between September 3, 1752 and September 13, 1752, you get some sort of error and this is the reason why:

The Julian Calendar was built on the premise that the year was 365.25 days long and consisted of normal 365-day years interspersed with a 366-day leap year every fourth year. In 730 A.D., the Venerable Bede (an Anglo-Saxon monk) announced that the Julian year was 11 minutes, 14 seconds too long, building a cumulative error of about 1 day every 128 years. Nothing was done about this for 800 years.

By 1582, the error had grown to about 10 days. That year, Pope Gregory XIII decreed that Thursday, October 4, 1582 would be followed by Friday, October 15, thus correcting the calendar by 10 days. This began the Gregorian Calendar that is in use today. It uses a four-year cycle of leap years, and eliminates each leap year that occurs on three of every four centesimal years. Only centesimal years that are evenly divisible by 400 are leap years. Thus, the year 1600 was a 366-day leap year, but 1700, 1800, and 1900 were each 365 days. The year 2000 is also a leap year, as will be the year 2400. (Source: IBM)

Why does the poor pay more?

Saw this interesting bit from bakadesuyo. The point is that if you have cars, you can drive around and make price comparisons. Comparisons make consumers more aware of price differences, thereby increasing the price competition.

This research undertakes a carefully designed and detailed empirical study to gain insights into (1) the extent of price differentials between wealthy and poor neighborhoods; (2) what induces such differentials, especially the nature and intensity of competitive environments, including mass merchandisers like Wal‐Mart; and (3) their relative impacts. It finds a price differential of about 10%–15% for everyday items. Even after controlling for store size and competition, prices are found to be 2%–5% higher in poor areas. It also finds that it is not the poverty level per se but access to cars that acts as a key determinant of consumers’ price search patterns. (Source: bakadesuyo)