4 Creepy Things That Secretly Control Your Personality

Hey, did you know that your thoughts can make brain tumors grow faster? Your mind is made of meat that is arranged in precisely such a way as to not know it is meat. This is why so much of your personality is dictated by seemingly random nonsense you’re not even aware of. Such as …

Whispering: Hey, David Wong’s new novel — the third in the NYT bestselling John Dies At The End series — is FINALLY OUT NOW.

4

Your Fear Of Germs Determines Your Politics (And Maybe Everything Else)

Go listen to literally anyone talk about the dangers of foreigners, minorities, or gays, and count the seconds until they either compare them to a disease or simply accuse them all of having/spreading diseases.

The Guardian

Buzzfeed

Liberty GB

This is going to be one of those “Now that you see it, you can’t unsee it” situations. It sounds ridiculous at first, then starts to become grossly obvious the more you look around. We referenced a study a while back in which scientists could get people to be less racist merely by washing their hands first. At the time, that seemed to me like one of those oddball results, like the one that found you can make a person smarter by having them wear a lab coat. But no, it turns out it was but a glimpse into the dark, swirling demon lurking within the soul of humanity: our primitive fear of germs.

The theory says that over the centuries, certain people and groups evolved with a higher paranoia toward infections, due to living in regions/climates where that sort of thing was more of a threat. Meeting another tribe thus meant encountering diseases you had no immunity to, and to this day, their descendants will instinctively be more untrustworthy of other cultures and tightly regulate “unclean” behavior. In groups, they form societies that are fiercely nationalistic and insist on flamboyant outward displays of such (like, say, Confederate flags on pickup trucks) to signal to one another that they’re “safe.” They also enforce strict sexual morality (to prevent the spread of STDs). Over time, they tend to gravitate toward dictatorships, submitting to the strongman promising to protect them from the contaminated outside world.

Hey, did you know Hitler’s rise occurred right after the Spanish flu ravaged Europe? And that he was comparing the Jews to disease pretty much from Day One?

Experts say that the rise of democracy and progressive ideas in general can be attributed to science conquering many of the infectious diseases that were dominating our decision-making up to then. Still, those habits are passed down through both genes and culture (particularly in warmer climates), and it’s easy to see it today. You can hook conservatives and liberals up to a brain scan, and the conservatives react more strongly to disgusting images, even if they insist that stuff doesn’t bother them. Other studies show that right-wingers tend to be more obsessive-compulsive, feeling a unending urge to purge their surroundings of disorder.

But wait, there’s more! A recent study found that belief in a vengeful god tends to make people more cooperative toward strangers. This, they theorize, helped primitive societies expand, overcoming the natural mistrust they had for one another. Now open up your Bible and count the number of times God punishes a society of unbelievers by unleashing a plague. (“We must cooperate under the same rules, or else we both will get infected!”)

Now check out how we remain obsessed with the concept of an apocalyptic world-ending plague to this day, even though such a thing would be all but impossible in reality. (Note how everyone shat their pants at the mere mention of the word “Ebola.”) In pop culture, it usually comes in the form of post-apocalyptic fiction like The Walking Dead. You know, that show in which our heroic tribe of survivors continually runs from the infected, until they meet another tribe and find out they can’t trust them? A show that exploded in popularity right when America was in the middle of a panic about globalization?

That’s right, the fear of germs dominates our entire culture from the ground up, but people still don’t think twice about eating at buffets. THAT SNEEZE GUARD ISN’T GUARDING SHIT.

3

Lead Destroys Your Sense Of Morality (And Lithium Might Improve It)

Hey, remember how in Batman Begins, the villains’ plan was to release a fear toxin in Gotham City that would turn the populace into a violent, mindless horde? And how Batman had a flock of bats he could summon when he needed them, but then completely forgot about in future movies? Well, that first one really happened! Only the effect was global and happened over the course of decades. What follows may be one of the most terrifying cautionary tales in the history of technology, and we still don’t fully grasp the scale of how badly we may have fucked up here.

The unpronounceable chemical Tetraethyllead is the “lead” they’re leaving out of “unleaded” gasoline. When cars were new back in the 1920s, they added it to fuel to help prevent engine wear. They already knew lead did weird things to the human brain at the time (studies had already shown that people getting water from lead pipes were more likely to commit murder), and that these engines would be releasing tiny particles of it into the air everyone breathed. But honestly, how many people would be buying these “automobiles,” anyway?

More than half a century and hundreds of millions of cars later, governments finally started cracking down on lead emissions because they suspected they were, unsurprisingly, messing with people’s brains. As we touched on here, in one city and country after another, as unleaded fuel was banned, the violent crime rate started dropping. A lot.

Lead, as it turns out, permanently destroys cells in the brain’s prefrontal cortex, the part responsible for “emotional regulation, impulse control, attention, verbal reasoning, and mental flexibility.” You know, the part you think of as your morality, or soul. Lead kills that. Multiple studies on this keep turning up the same horrifying result.

“Wait,” you say from your mad scientist lab, “is it possible to do the opposite? Is there a chemical that keeps that part of the brain healthy?” Sure! In fact, it’s already happened. You know how some people take lithium as a treatment for bipolar disorder? Well, lithium also occurs naturally in the environment, and places that happen to have more of it in their drinking water have less violent crime. Oh, and their suicide rates are up to 40 percent lower. Holy shit!

So yes, we should start adding lithium to the water supply to create world peace. I mean, I don’t want it in my water. Other people’s.

2

Your Moods May Be Controlled By Your Shit

There are about 40 trillion microbes in your intestines. That’s far more cells than make up your actual body. If they were people, they’d populate 5,400 Earths. The point is, your body’s shit factory houses an entire galactic federations’ worth of beings, and to an extent that science does not yet fully understand, it appears that they’re the ones running the show. When scientists dug through the turds of dozens of kids, they found that “children with the most genetically diverse types of gut bacteria more frequently exhibited behaviors related with positive mood, curiosity, sociability and impulsivity.” Different gut bacteria = different personalities.

OK, well, there surely are other explanations. Maybe outgoing kids tend to eat different diets, and that changes their gut microbes? Because they’re eating … adventurous party food, I guess? Or maybe they have different hormones or something, and that changes their digestion? Really, anything is better than believing that, for instance, the decision to ask your current partner out on a date was truly made by a pulsing ooze of microscopic blobs swimming in your shit.

Well too bad. Another study found that eating “probiotic” fermented foods decreased social anxiety. Another bunch of researchers found they could make someone give more to charity if they fed them eggs first. An experiment on mice was able to reverse goddamned autism symptoms by adding in a single species of gut bacteria. Someone else followed up by doing fecal transplants on autistic children to fix gastrointestinal issues, and found that it appeared their neurological symptoms improved along the way. Here’s a giant summary of dozens of studies on the “Your shit is controlling your brain” theory which you and your shit can peruse together.

You probably want to dismiss this whole thing. You may even feel a knee-jerk urge to dismiss it out of hand, and not devote any further thought to it. An urge that you can feel … in your gut? Nice try, shit.

1

You Have Probably Brainwashed Yourself Into A Completely False Idea Of Who You Are

Here’s an important question almost no one thinks to ask: Do cult leaders believe what they’re saying? After all, L. Ron Hubbard clearly knew his new religion was a scam at first — he borrowed its mythology from his own sci-fi stories, which he wrote to make a quick buck. But by all accounts, he later spent endless hours “auditing” himself to try to purge his soul of the evil alien spirits — you know, the ones he had invented years earlier. It’s almost as if by repeating his ludicrous lies, he indoctrinated himself.

That, it appears, is exactly what happened. And almost every deranged cult leader in history followed that exact path. Do you remember that weird terror attack that happened in Tokyo in 1995? A Japanese doomsday cult unleashed nerve gas on a subway, killing a dozen people (which would have been thousands if they hadn’t fucked up the release of the gas). The cult was led by a guy named Shoko Asahara, who had been a small-time con artist going back to his teenage years, running a number of scams which he eventually expanded into lucrative businesses. He sold snake oil cures out of an acupuncture shop for a while, then started putting ads in sci-fi magazines offering to teach mind powers like telepathy and levitation — for a reasonable fee, of course. In less than a decade, he went from telling silly lies to get cash from gullible dupes to unleashing nerve gas in order to trigger Armageddon, believing that he and his followers would then ascend to inherit the Earth.

That’s weird, right? That garden-variety shitheads wind up joining their own cults in suicide pacts to fulfill some “prophecy” that they themselves wrote late at night over a bottle of wine? But that, my friends, is the magic of the human brain. Not only can it be reprogrammed by anyone who knows the method, but it can also reprogram itself, unintentionally, without realizing it. But that could never happen to you and me, right? Haha. Ha.

OK, let’s now think about all of the little self-deceptions we pile up through the day — like how nearly everyone thinks they’re an above-average driver, even though that’s obviously impossible. Well, you remember George Costanza’s rule that the key to lying is making yourself believe it? There’s a theory that humans evolved self-deception specifically because it helps us deceive others. In order to survive, you need other humans to cooperate with you. In order to make sure they do that, you need to be able to convince them you’re great. In order to convincingly tell that outrageous lie, you need to make yourself belief you’re great.

You lie to yourself, then you believe the lie, then you make others believe the lie which you now believe is true. It’s lies all the way down. This is why if you go to a primitive tribe without access to mirrors or clear reflective surfaces of water and show them a reflection of their own faces, they freak the fuck out. (“They were paralyzed; after the first startled response — covering their mouths and ducking their heads — they stood transfixed …”) Living their lives without a clear reflection as a reference, they each had built up in their minds an idea of what they surely must look like. Maybe they always secretly assumed they were among the most attractive, despite their public shows of humility. Then bam, the disgusting reality was suddenly staring back at them. “That’s what I look like?”

Well, if you had a magic mirror that could reflect back upon you exactly how others see your attitudes, mannerisms, emotions, habits, etc, it would be the same, only about a hundred times stronger. A hand clasped over your mouth, feeling sick, staring at the “reflection” of a total stranger. Anyway, buy my book. Oh, wait, one more thing …

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For more from David Wong, check out 6 Reasons Good People Turn Into Monsters and Your Brain Needs Silence (And Probably Isn’t Getting It).

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Read more: http://www.cracked.com/blog/4-creepy-things-that-secretly-control-your-personality/

Become A Mad (Tech) Scientist With Arduino, Hack The Planet

This piece was written by the people who run the Cracked Store to tell you about products that are being sold there.

If you love taking things apart and then reassembling them into a hodgepodge of calamity like Sid from Toy Story, then you might be interested in this Arduino Enthusiast E-Book Bundle. Arduino is an opportunity to take your inner Frankensteinian tendencies into the electrical realm, and this collection will guide you through that process.

What Is Arduino?

Arduino is a microcontroller, which is just another term for a simplified computer on a single integrated circuit. Think of it like a digital brain that you can program. It takes a variety of electrical inputs through an array of digital and analog pins, so you can make use of optical sensors, buttons, motors, and other electrical components. Writing code to process input data and control mechanical parts is done with a simple free editor, and compiling it onto the device is as easy as plugging in a USB cable and hitting play. Becoming the hero AND the villain of your own science fiction film has never been so easy.

Why is it so popular in the maker community?

Arduino is hardly the only single-board microcontroller out there, but what makes it stand out is its accessibility. Arduino assumes that you aren’t trapped in a time vortex in 1996 and that you already own a computer. This allows it to stay cheap and avoid a complex operating system setup. Arduino also lends itself well to larger-scale projects needing multiple interfaces, which would be otherwise infeasible with more expensive boards. That said, we do apologize to all of those poor souls who were accidentally trapped in the Portal of Ceaseless Screams and No Computers on their way to see Space Jam. You are not forgotten.

What can you build with it?

What CAN’T you build with it, you jock?

Sorry. You didn’t deserve that. You’re a pal.

With such an open-ended platform, you’re really only limited by your imagination. You can take sensor input from almost anything to create interactive systems with real-time data monitoring, mechanical movement, and wireless communication, or just keep it simple with hobby electronics projects.

The Arduino Enthusiast E-Book Bundle includes eight comprehensive books filled with interesting projects that tackle topics like wearable’s, robotics, and smartphone communication. Here’s the full reading list:

— Arduino Wearable Projects – $35.99 Value

— Arduino Electronics Blueprints – $35.99 Value

— Arduino Development Cookbook – $35.99 Value

— Internet of Things with Arduino Blueprints – $31.99 Value

— Arduino by Example – $31.99 Value

— Arduino iOS Blueprints – $27.99 Value

— Arduino Robotic Projects – $26.99 Value

— Arduino Android Blueprints – $26.99 Value

So go pick it up. You’ll be building ROBOTS. The most we can do is put together a hot dog that doesn’t fall apart when you pick it up. The Arduino Enthusiast E-Book Bundle is available in our store for 88 percent off the usual cost, just $29.

Only Cracked Alumni make it into the revered Doctors Association. So grab your Thesaurus and buckle up. It’s gonna be a bumpy night.

Continue your brain workouts by checking out Become A Cracked Scholar With These Learning Bundles.

Read more: http://www.cracked.com/blog/become-mad-tech-scientist-with-arduino-hack-planet/

Becoming by Fouad Azim

Story Summary

This is a story of blooming love and betrayal, about children coming of age, of conscience and the sociopaths who lack it; it is a story about trust and how true love empowers and heals us. In the end, it is a story about humanity and the eternal struggle between good and evil.

Nyla and Junaid are classmates learning about the world around them and in the process discovering themselves. They must endure and survive a path fraught with confusion and peril if they hope to emerge victorious, though not necessarily unscathed. They will learn of innocence and its loss, about how budding love can be snuffed out if not cared for and its formidable power when nurtured and protected. They will become closely acquainted with evil, with its insidious presence in plain sight and how it mangles and corrupts those it touches. They will have to confront and defeat it if they can. If you think you recognize some of the characters described herein, it is only because the human experience around the world and in the different cultures is not unique, and we all share some of the same burdens and the joys of similar emotions and trials as we go about learning to find ourselves.

The setting is the foothills of the Margalla Mountain range, a part of the lesser Himalayas, north of Islamabad in Pakistan, during the 1990s.

http://amzn.to/2xwmgHB

Pacific Book Review

Author Fouad Azim has written Becoming, an emotionally gripping novel about young love in the1990’s Pakistan which will enthrall readers.

Becoming tells the story of classmates Nyla and Junaid. Junaid is a shy young man who comes out of his shell once he falls in love with the intelligent and independent Nyla. Their fledgling romance is threatened by the jealousy of Jahal, an emotionally unstable boy who is determined to break them up. Nyla and Junaid must overcome Jahal’s wicked actions and other obstacles to discover true love.

This book is a unique coming-of-age novel about young love in a land far away from the United States, which is still a universal story. Junaid’s sensitivity and devotion to Nyla is admirable and makes him a relatable protagonist. Nyla is a strong character that isn’t just a passive love interest for Junaid. She’s a self-sufficient young woman that is brave throughout Becoming as she fights the cultural traditions that try to keep her from Junaid. Jahal is the perfect antagonist as the psychologically disturbed villain of the novel. Though he commits horrific acts, Azim’s writing doesn’t limit him to a one-dimensional monster. Jahal is more of a wounded soul than a soulless anti-hero.

Azim’s writing is evocative and poignant. The hills and caves of Pakistan are described so vividly that readers can imagine they are in the rugged terrain of the South Asian countryside. He also easily captures the complicated social lives of teenagers and how fraught young relationships can be in Becoming’s dialogue. Though there are some cultural differences between Western and Eastern culture in the book, the universal themes of the novel comes through to the readers. Azim also expertly handles sweet romance and dangerous drama throughout the novel. This story has exciting and suspenseful moments which will leave readers wanting more.

Becoming would be best for fans of the Kite Runner and Khaled Housseni. The novels both have similar stories about friendships in South Asian countries and both authors write masterfully about love. This book would also be good for fans of historical fiction, especially of fiction set in countries outside America. The novel would be perfect for readers of all ages. Becoming could would be great for young Pakistani or South Asian culture in general will learn a lot from this book as well. Fouad Azim’s novel shows how love can conquer hate, making Becoming an unforgettable novel which all readers will love.

http://www.pacificbookreview.com/becoming/

Former President Clinton gets TV deal for upcoming White House ‘thriller’

The TV rights to an upcoming novel co-written by former President Bill Clinton has been acquired by Showtime, the premium cable television network said late Friday.

Showtime Network Inc. called the novel, co-written with bestselling author James Patterson, a “powerful, one-of-a-kind thriller.”

“I’m really enjoying writing this book and working with Jim,” Clinton said in a statement. “I can’t wait to see Showtime bring the characters to life.”

The network said the novel — titled “The President is Missing” — has “the level of detail that only someone who has held the office can know.”

Showtime chief executive and President David Nevins said getting the rights to the novel was “a coup of the highest order” for the network.

The novel is scheduled for release in June 2018.

“The White House is such an exciting world to explore and is made even more so with the unique insights of a former president,” Patterson said. 

Clinton, a Democrat and the country’s 42nd president, has published several nonfiction books including “Putting People First: How We Can All Change America.”

Patterson holds the record for most No. 1 New York Times bestsellers by a single author, selling more than 380 million copies worldwide. Among them is “Women’s Murder Club.”

Showtime won a bidding war for the book’s rights.

The networks affiliation with CBS, and the corporation’s boss, Leslie Moonves, helped seal the deal, according to the Associated Press.

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2017/09/23/former-president-clinton-gets-tv-deal-for-upcoming-white-house-thriller.html

What Your Sorority Says About You

Labor Day weekend has come and gone (RIP, my liver), and that means school is back in session. Tis the season for leggings disguised as pants, waiting to buy your books until halfway through the semester, and sorority rush aka the most soul-sucking, Spanx-up-your-ass, I-will-cunt-punt-a-bitch-if-I-hear-that-song-one-more-time kind of season.

Whether you’re gearing up to rush for the first time or gearing up to judge the shit out of new freshmen’s last season Kate Spade welcome an entire new class to the chapter, you’re probably well aware of the popularity contest and social hierarchy that is every sorority on campus. And if you’re not, do you even go here? I mean, think about it—everything about rush is purely physical. You only get one fake five-minute convo about your college major, a quick tour, and maybe some Minute Maid lemonade, so really, your decision comes down to square footage of the house and which girl probably has the hottest brother. But when all is said and done, you chose a sorority that was totally “you” and that will determine your social status for however long you shall live. So listen up, because whether you know it or you don’t, your sorority speaks much more about you than three random letters stitched into ugly fabric on basically everything you own, and I’m about to tell you how, so get cozy. Also you should know that in my greek prime, I thrived off of being Campus Gossip royalty, so your generous discussion of blatant hatred in the comments only makes me smarter/better/faster/stronger. Deep down, y’all know this shit’s about to hit close to home, so bye.

Me not pretending to care:

 

Gamma Phi Beta

When I think of GPhis, I think about the horror that is probably sitting through “It’s a Small World” on mushrooms, except with much more pressed pastel linen and much less diversity. Gamma Phis are like your stereotypical half-a-virgin movie sorority, and also the reason I had to schedule an immediate therapy session after rush, mostly because when I accidentally clapped, they looked at me like I just fucking retweeted Trump. Why? Because they motherfucking snap their fingers. They’re like that girl in class who reminds the teacher that you had homework due three minutes before class is dismissed. Idk. Look, I’m not saying anything bad about them, but all they really care about is school, and their mom, and their friends. Oh, and did I mention they snap?

Delta Delta Delta

Nobody puts triple the “D” in TriDelt like this group of closet hoes. These girls are the secret freaks of the greek system who mask their hoeish-ness by taking on weird “hobbies” they’re into, like Burning Man and on Netflix. You never know what you’re gonna get with TriDelts, considering every chapter ranges between everything from Green Peace Vegans to homey-hopping frat row. Regardless, a TriDelt’s open-leg policy scores them unlimited access to date parties, formals and HPV, so like, live it up.   

Kappa Alpha Theta

There are the type of girls who say they like your vintage skirt from the ‘80s and actually mean it, and then there are Thetas. Generally all-around, they’re smart, cleaned up and classy af. Everything matches from their caramel highlights to their $60 pedicures. But their façade doesn’t come easy. Deep down, everyone knows it’s better to be in The Plastics Theta hating life than to not be in it at all. Beyond the white canvas tote bags and the lavish recruitment center pieces, Ashley just got her ass handed to her in the passive-aggressive email about why her vest was disgusting and goes against all dress code violations. But you know what they say, “A girl should be three things… Classy, Fabulous & Theta.” —Probably Marilyn Monroe

Kappa Kappa Gamma

Kappas are the all-around American girls next door who will eventually go on to marry a sweet, loaded Jewish man and live in her own fairy tale with three half-Jewish children. I only say that because Charlotte from was a Kappa and you can’t make this shit up. Kappas are one of the OG sororities that have been around for like centuries, so consider them the older, classier group of the bunch. But whatever you do, don’t mistake them for lame. Kappas are like the Jennifer Lawrences of the greek system, and I don’t see Jennifer Lawrence going sober to any bougie event. Get you a girl who thrives off Sunday brunch, but can also spend an entire weekend binge-watching a marathon on ABC Family. Get you a Kappa.

Alpha Delta Pi

I’m not here to judge, but that’s mostly because TotalFratMove.com already did it for me. There’s a reason these girls are called AD-proof, and that’s because they can outdrink anyone in the entire greek system. You’ll always see the same group of them at a Sig Ep rager, but the good thing is, they’ll unknowingly always be your ally when you’re waiting for your own sisters to arrive, because 1) they’re never not obliterated and 2) they’ll never not offer you a handle pull. ADPis are the drunk girls in the bathroom sporting last night’s eye makeup who will always compliment your new boobs or eyebrows, so really I have no problem here. Four for you ADPis, you go ADPis.

Alpha Chi Omega

AChiOs may look intimidating from the outside, but that’s only because they are. They had like, 12 founding sisters who you know just sat around watching Bravo while talking shit on every sorority, and prob their own, but their philanthropy serves women of domestic violence, so you know they can fuck some shit up. Like I literally called out sick during Greek Week because of the sheer murderous volume of that fucking AAAAA-CHIIIIII-OOOOOO chant that still haunts me when I sleep. But being competitive also means getting what you want, so if it were me, don’t even bother asking Dillon from ATO to formal if an AChiO might have dibs. She’ll go full Rihanna on your ass faster than you can say Michael Kors.

Alpha Phi

Remember that girl in college who claimed she wanted to really make a difference in the world and you were all like, “That’s awesome! How?” and she tells you she’s thinking of taking on the event planning industry? Gee wow, Tiffany for Prez 2020. Alpha Phis know how to have a good time, but they also know how to get away with doing the bare minimum—same. Their list of college Comm courses consist of Tourism 101, Brunching For Mass Basics, and Popular Culture. And yeah, that’s textbook lingo for “pop culture,” and it also may or may not have been a class I barely passed took. Once graduated, she’ll be plastering her “glamorous” LA lifestyle all over Instagram while working in public relations, aka the front desk morning bagel-getter.

Zeta Tau Alpha

On the west coast, ZTAs are all the girls who decided to rush for the sole purpose of boosting their resumes and taking a leadership role rather than being sexually active in the greek system, but on the east coast, Zetas are so much more than that. If you’ve seen Taylor Swift’s “Bad Blood” music video, or just anything she’s ever been in, just think of Zetas as a group of powerful, always-involved, mostly white girls, who will deny that to their grave, exactly kinda like Taylor Swift. Zetas are overly committed to fundraising and their philanthropy, but probably to distract people from their true identity—that being the Regina Georges in sheep’s clothing. Also like Taylor Swift.

Delta Gamma

When it comes to DGs, dumb shit like GPA, extracurricular activities and part-time work experience are at the bottom food chain. These are the girls who scored white M3 series for their 16th birthdays and paid for overpriced gifts for their littles with daddy’s tuition money. They spend a stupid amount of time, and dollars, on Dry Bar blowouts and Kendra Scott statement necklaces, while their claim to fame is knowing all the words to Nicki Minaj’s verse in “Monster.” Oh, and it’s no coincidence “Dirty Girls” worship their sacred anchors because, like, nothing goes down faster than an anchor. You didn’t hear it from me.

 

Read more: http://www.betches.com/what-your-sorority-says-about-you

You Are Making Scrambled Eggs All Wrong

It’s hard to think of a dish as elemental as scrambled eggs. The only requirements for the original two-ingredient recipe (if you don’t count seasoning) are fat for cooking and eggs. Though plenty of ways exist to make them more ambitious, with fancy ingredients and elegant presentations, it seems impossible to think of a way to change them beyond the three-step process of cracking, whisking, and pouring into a hot pan.

But Daniel Patterson has figured it out.

Daniel Patterson wants home cooks to throw out their cookbooks.
Courtesy: Maren Caruso

The San Francisco-based chef has earned Michelin stars and a James Beard award for his fine-dining restaurant, Coi. He is a co-founder of Locol, the California fast-food spot whose mission statement is to save the world by offering well-sourced, affordable burgers, soft serve, and coffee in underserved neighborhoods.

Patterson is likewise on a mission to give home cooks a point of view in their own cooking. In a cookbook just out this month,  (Riverhead Books), he has teamed up with perfumer Mandy Aftel to teach readers to be confident in their flavor combinations, rather than blindly relying on recipes. (Patterson compares this to the way people unthinkingly follow GPS directions in their car.)

Patterson’s goal is for home cooks to cook without recipes. “Chefs make multiple decisions simultaneously when they’re creating dishes. This book allows people to make their own recipes. Much of that is functional: determining you want acid in a dish, and then deciding from options like Champagne vinegar, or balsamic, or citrus. Brown sugar or honey or a juice if you want sweetness. Once you get a sense of what works for you, you gain confidence.”

Learn to hit your flavor target, says Patterson.

“There are a million recipes out there, but hardly any that explain why you’re mixing this with that, or that empower you. This book is about the ‘whys,’ about knowing what your flavor target is, and how to hit it,” says Patterson. “If you like spicy foods, high acid foods, dishes with that rich umami flavor, then get a handle on the ingredients that push that forward.”

Take sweet potatoes, he says. One of his favorite dishes in the book is for a soy-glazed version. Using three ingredients (sweet potatoes that are roasted, plus melted butter and dark soy sauce), Patterson transforms a staple side dish into one with sophisticated layers of dark, sweet, and salty flavors. “It will change your Thanksgiving,” predicts Patterson. 

To lead cooks to a place of understanding, Patterson takes time out in to point out the power of some ingredients to undo the wrong direction a recipe might go in. In the book’s final chapter, “The Seven Dials,” Patterson highlights the seven kinds of flavor adjustments (salt, sweet, sour, bitter, umami, fat, and heat) you can make to a dish. There are “Sweet Rules”: If you’ve added too much salt to a dish, a hit of sugar can alleviate that. So can a hit of a tangy ingredient, such as a squeeze of lemon juice. (Under “Sour Rules” you learn that sour balances almost every other flavor.) From “Fat Rules,” you confirm that fat, like a knob of butter, fixes and balances just about everything.

It was this kind of experimentation that led Patterson to his most trailblazing recipe, a transformation of scrambled eggs. The background: He had always cooked his eggs in a non-stick pan. When his eco-conscious wife took issue with the hormone-disrupting problems associated with Teflon, he cooked his eggs in cast iron pans and soon found the egg remnants cumbersome to clean.

Patterson had a “eureka” moment: Why not try cooking the beaten eggs in boiling water? Eggs are poached all the time; these would just be beaten first. Experimentation taught him that eggs wouldn’t stick to the bottom of the pan if you add them to a mini-whirlpool of simmering water. 

In the meantime, the intense heat of the water bath would cause the air bubbles in the eggs to expand, while simultaneously setting the protein. The resulting eggs are terrifically light, fluffy, and tender, like an expertly made omelet. It also lends itself to any number of toppings, from a drizzle of olive oil to a wedge of goat cheese, even gravy. We like the way butter melts into it.

The simplest of recipes. 
Photographer: Daniel Patterson

Boiled Scrambled Eggs

Serves 2

4 large eggs, as fresh as possible
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Unsalted butter

In a bowl, beat the eggs until well-blended, about 30 seconds. ( For lighter scrambled eggs, crack each egg into a fine mesh strainer set over a bowl; a little bit of the watery egg white will drip out. Discard it, rinse the strainer, and set over your sink.) 

In a medium pot of water, heat four or more inches of water to a low boil over medium heat. Add a few large pinches of salt.

Your scrambled eggs are done.
Photographer: Daniel Patterson

Stir the water to create a whirlpool, then pour in the eggs. Cover and count to 20. Uncover: The eggs should be floating on the surface in ribbons. Carefully pour the eggs into the strainer and let drain, gently tapping the strainer against the side to shake off any extra water. Divide the eggs between plates. (Tester’s note: Blot off any excess water from the plate with a paper towel.) Season the eggs with salt and pepper and a hunk of butter and serve with toast.

    Read more: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-08-29/you-are-making-scrambled-eggs-all-wrong

    PR Nightmare: Make-A-Wish Accidentally Sent A Costumed Hero Named Terminally Ill Spider-Man To A Healthy Kids House And Asked The Child To Comfort Him In His Final Hours

    Yeesh, the Make-A-Wish Foundation is not looking too good right now.

    The nonprofit organization usually does an excellent job of making sick kids happy, but earlier this week a clerical error really threw a wrench into things for them. Instead of sending Spider-Man to visit a terminally ill child, they arranged for a completely healthy child to meet with a superhero named Terminally Ill Spiderman.

    Its an understandable mistake, but it still ruined an afternoon for healthy 8-year-old Michael Cooper, who heard a feeble knocking at his door announcing the unexpected arrival of a gaunt and shivering Terminally Ill Spider-Man. The incredibly unwell wall-crawler declared that he was on his way to hospice but needed to stop at Michaels house to use the bathroom. The superhero asked Michael to help pull his mask up so he could vomit into the toilet without getting his costume filthy, and after retching up blood for several minutes, he asked to lie down on Michaels bed to regain his energy while huffing from an oxygen tank.

    In a half-conscious delirium, the dying web-slinger gave Michael a pair of toy web-shooters and asked if he could count on the boy to help fight the Green Goblin, since Spider-Man was no longer physically able. Terminally Ill Spider-Man explained that he couldnt climb buildings anymore because his skin was very brittle, and trying to cling to a wall would make his fingertips rip off.

    The waning superhero then offered to autograph one of Michaels Spider-Man comic books, but the boy had to turn him down because he wasnt really a huge Marvel fan and didnt own any, so Spider-Man instead shakily wrote, To my favorite sidekick! Spider-Man, on a copy of Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban, ruining its cover.

    Terminally Ill Spider-Man was exhausted from all that interaction, so he then slept for 15 hours, his labored wheezing audible throughout the house. At one point the wheezing stopped entirely, and Michael thought that Spider-Man had died, but then the masked vigilante abruptly woke up in a coughing fit and asked Michael to empty his urine bag.

    In the morning, Terminally Ill Spider-Man still wasnt feeling up to walking, so Make-A-Wish sent over an ambulance, and two paramedics carried the ailing superhero away on a stretcher.

    Overall, this debacle is a real black eye for the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Not only did they force an 8-year-old child to confront human mortality way earlier than necessary, but they also wasted resources that could have sent a healthy Spider-Man to visit a child who was actually dying. Make-A-Wish really needs to iron out the kinks in its operations so this kind of embarrassing mixup doesnt happen again.

    Read more: http://www.clickhole.com/article/pr-nightmare-make-wish-accidentally-sent-costumed–6400

    13 tweets about last night’s health care vote that should be in history books.

    Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) tried to pull a fast one on America, putting crucial health care legislation up for a vote in the early hours of July 28. Unfortunately for McConnell and other supporters of the so-called “Skinny Repeal” bill, it was struck down in a dramatic moment with 51 senators voting against it.

    “Trumpcare,” at least in its current form, was dead.

    Joining 48 Democratic and Independent “no” votes were three Republicans: Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), Susan Collins (Maine), and in a dramatic last minute pivot, John McCain (Arizona).

    From left, Murkowski, McCain, and Collins. Photos by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images.

    Though Murkowski and Collins have maintained their opposition to the bill from the start, McCain has been getting what miiiiiiight be seen as a disproportionate amount of credit for killing it.

    For example:

    Watching a man getting more credit than women for the same amount of work seemed a bit familiar to many Twitter users, who were quick to make sure Murkowski and Collins get the place in history they deserve.

    After all, it was McCain’s “yes” vote earlier in the week that led the Senate to the precipice in the first place while Collins and Murkowski were steadfast in their opposition. Collins and Murkowski spent the days in between the two votes getting threats from members within their own party while McCain received praise from the president himself.

    McCain’s decisive “no” vote on Friday places him solidly on the right side of history, protecting health care for millions of Americans, but watching him place his two votes was a bit like watching someone light a house on fire, help others put it out, and then get all the credit.

    In many ways, Collins and Murkowski’s votes were tougher than McCain’s. While Collins isn’t up for re-election until 2020 and Murkowski until 2022, it’s likely that they’ll both seek it, meaning that this vote could come to define them for better or for worse. Additionally, President Donald Trump threatened to retaliate against Murkowski if she voted against the bill. McCain, on the other hand, now 80 years old and recently diagnosed with brain cancer, has probably run his last campaign.

    Add in the fact that separate House Republicans appear to have half-jokingly threatened Murkowski and Collins in the past week, and it’s clear that the senators won’t exactly be seen as popular with certain segments of the party moving forward.

    Beyond McCain, Collins, Murkowski, and the other 48 “no” votes, it’s important to remember the real heroes of the health care fight: regular people doing extraordinary things.

    Activists played a huge role in shutting down the effort to gut the Affordable Care Act that shouldn’t go overlooked.

    The ACLU shared some stunning numbers from its push to stop the bill, noting that 89,000 supporters e-mailed members of Congress, made nearly 19,000 phone calls, and attended hundreds of in-person events.

    And organizations like disability rights activists ADAPT kept sustained pressure on senators of all stripes to do the right thing.

    Three of our tough women leaders of Atlantis ADAPT (Denver, CO) in DC at the Senate healthcare vigil at the US Capitol….

    Posted by National ADAPT onThursday, July 27, 2017

    In the end, blocking Trumpcare was a group effort. Senators, representatives, and ordinary everyday Americans came together in the name of what’s right.

    Read more: http://www.upworthy.com/13-tweets-about-last-nights-health-care-vote-that-should-be-in-history-books

    10 Old Fashioned Dating Habits We Should Make Cool Again

    1. Coming to the door to pick someone up.

    I think we’ve all had it with the incredibly unromantic “here” text, and meeting up always seems to be more casual and platonic than the alternative. Of course, meeting someone from online or any circumstance like that would probably be the exception to this rule, but generally: the 30 seconds it takes to get out of a car or cab and knock on the door makes a huge difference.

    2. Trying to dress really nicely for a date.

    “Nicely” means different things for different people, so I think it’s just a matter of putting effort into how you put yourself together to go out with someone. It’s not about wearing suits and petticoats again, but just realizing that, whether or not we like to accept it, appearance does count for something, and we should do our best to make sure that our appearance says something about us, in whatever way we’d like it to.

    3. Bringing flowers or other tokens of affection to the first date.

    Now, many lucky ladies (and some men) I know get this regularly, and in fact, I have myself as well, but only ever with people I’d been dating for a while. I think there’s something to be said for bringing flowers to the door on your first date. It’s become uncool because it’s forward and it’s a gesture that confirms their interest, but we should definitely get past that idea and worry more about how we’re going to let someone know we really do care and appreciate that they want to spend time with us.

    4. Going dancing that’s not grinding on a grimy club floor.

    Whatever happened to this? Dancing for the sake of dancing, like fun, not essentially sex on a dance floor dancing. What’s a better way to literally shake off nerves than seeing them bust a really dorky move on a dance floor? And the art of slow dancing has generally been lost, though I’ve been one to do it in my living room with my slightly coerced significant other, and I’ll tell you he’s said on numerous occasions it ended up being one of the most romantic nights we had together.

    5. Straightforwardly asking someone out and not calling it “hanging out.”

    Or, as is very popular these days, “talking.” “Oh, we’re just… talking.” As in, seeing one another and speaking frequently as to get to know each other? So… dating? We’ve found these really convenient ways to skirt around the issue of having to put our hearts on the line, but honestly, it just ends up being messy and confusing for all parties involved. There’s no need to go back to the idea of courting or anything, unless you want to, but simply being direct about whether or not you’d like to go on a date with someone is a truly lost art, one that really shouldn’t be.

    6. Additionally, being clear about when you’re “going steady.”

    Oh, the awkward, “so… are we… you know… what are we?” talk. Classic. We should go back to asking one another if the other person would like to “go steady” or something. There’s something about asking them if they’d like to rather than assuming that you are or aren’t anything that’s just very cute, in my opinion.

    7. Romantic gestures like writing poems.

    Writing poems may not be for you, I know mine would look something like “Roses are red, violets are blue, I hate poetry but I love you.” I literally just made that up thank you please quote me when you inevitably post that gem on Tumblr. But seriously, like a handwritten letter in the mail or just surprising them with something you made even if it looks like the macaroni necklace you made when you were 5 is cute just because you tried and were thinking of them.

    8. Turning electronics off and just being with one another.

    I’m not sure there is anything worse than the person who picks up their phone and starts staring at it in the middle of dinner, or at any point while you’re together and having a conversation. I’m not anti-technology here (hello, I work for the Internet) but I am saying that there comes a time to turn it off and disconnect and remember what actually matters. People.

    9. The general concept of asking permission for things.

    It used to be principle for people to say: oh, when can I see you? Or, when could I call you? Rather than just assuming they can at any point. But I think that old concept could be applied to our modern world by just assuming that, unless told otherwise, you should ask permission to you know, touch them , take them out, call them at a certain time, etc. Once you’re in a relationship these things usually don’t require asking anymore, but some do, especially when it comes to sexuality. I once knew a person who said that they asked permission before so much as touching a girl’s thigh, and that always stuck with me.

    10. Not assuming sex is to be had at point in time.

    Now, I’m certainly not saying it should go back to being a taboo that’s unspoken of, but we certainly shouldn’t expect it from someone on the third date, on the first date, because they’re being flirty, because you know they’re into you, or even because they agreed to go out with you. A date does not have to be a precursor to sex, and you shouldn’t be disappointed if it isn’t because you should never assume that it will be. It depends on the person you’re with and what they want to do.

    Read more: http://thoughtcatalog.com/kate-bailey/2013/12/10-old-fashioned-dating-habits-we-should-make-cool-again/

    Henry David Thoreau by Laura Dassow Walls review radical, unsettling, relevant

    A superb new biography of the seer of Walden Pond reconsiders his reputation as tax-refuser, recluse, environmentalist and writer

    In March 1845, Henry David Thoreau borrowed an axe and set off for Walden Pond, near his home in Concord, Massachusetts. He was going to build a hut, and he knew exactly where: on a spot near the water, backed by a pine grove and fronted by smaller pines and a chestnut tree. Before stopping for his first lunch break, Thoreau had cut and trimmed enough of these pines to make the houses main timbers.

    Then he paid $4.28 to buy a shanty from a railroad worker who was moving on the line had just been built past Walden Pond. Thoreau dismantled it and dried its planks in the sun to become the huts roof and sides. He laid a chimney foundation using cobblestones from the pond. When he finished the house that autumn, it had weatherproof shingles on the outside, neat plastering inside and a few carefully counted possessions: three chairs, a desk, one cup, two forks. He planted rows of potatoes, corn and peas and miles of white beans making the earth say beans instead of grass, as he put it. The project had begun: Thoreau would live there, dedicating himself to the principle of simplicity. He would observe nature and write.

    The idea had come from his friend and neighbour, Ralph Waldo Emerson, who said a writer must have a hideaway. Walden was an obvious choice: Thoreau knew it well, and had spent lazy days in his youth drifting in boats on the pond, playing his flute. Now, he had a more serious purpose. He lived for two years in the hut, then spent a further seven working up his notes for publication. When he produced Walden, he made the earth say a lot more than beans. This cranky, observant, mystical, polemical, exhilarating masterpiece became a classic of 19th-century Americana, studied by schoolchildren and stuffed into pockets for journeys on the road with generations of young idealists. Through this and his essay Civil Disobedience, which urged non-violent political resistance and the principled withholding of taxes, Thoreau called on Americans to tune in, drop out and seize control.

    Walden had a rousing effect on me when I first read it. It still does, but I now find it disquieting, too. Besides nature lovers, Thoreau speaks to a spirit of refusal that runs through the modern US (and elsewhere). This spirit rejects political institutions, large-scale civic structures and tax-paying, in favour of holing up in a woodland fastness following only ones raw sense of personal rightness. It unnerves me to read the famous line in Civil Disobedience, That government is best which governs not at all. It sounded good once; now it evokes the kind of thinking that considers public healthcare an evil.

    Others have raised milder doubts. After Walden came out, Thoreaus friends and critics alike voiced surprise at the books portrayal of a proud recluse, when they knew that Thoreau had gone on doing regular handyman work around Concord during those years, as well as popping home once a week for dinner prepared by the family cook. Friends visited him all the time, despite his lack of a full set of forks. He was a frequent visitor to other households so much so that Emersons young son Edward was surprised to learn that Thoreau had been officially resident at the pond during a time when he thought the writer was living with them.

    A
    Dedicated to simplicity a replica of Thoreaus house on Walden Pond. Photograph: Alamy

    In her superb new biography, Laura Dassow Walls defuses such cavils with a wry, understated humour. No other male American writer, she says, has been so discredited for enjoying a meal with loved ones or for not doing his own laundry. That quiet male is characteristic; like Thoreau, Walls lets her sharpest observations slip through to the readers consciousness without touching the sides. The observations and interpretations are not hammered home, yet they are persuasive. She gives us a Thoreau who is more interesting, more intellectually curious and more subtle than I (for one) had given him credit for despite his unsettling side, or perhaps because of it. Exploring his environmentalism and radicalism, she shows us why he might be worth reading differently in the 21st century.

    The standard biographical way-stations are all covered. Walls explores Thoreaus childhood in Concord, his far from glittering years at Harvard, where he felt out of place (though he did master five languages and would spend his Walden evenings reading Homer in Greek), and his early attempts at schoolmastering. She then focuses on his writing life. Walls inspires us to read not just Walden, but his lectures, his essays and especially his journal.

    This downright weird journal forms a backbone to his life and in Wallss biography is a theme in itself. He began it while under Emersons spell, opening it by quoting a question asked by his mentor: What are you doing now? Do you keep a journal? Later, his journal-keeping picked up tempo by adapting a modest volume of Nature Notes kept by his brother, John, who had died horribly from tetanus following a slight skin cut. Where John simply noted what he saw, Thoreau took it into a different dimension. Walls describes the uncanny feeling she had looking at this notebook, where Henrys raw and angular handwriting spills down the page, ripping open a vortex in Johns tidy checklist.

    Later, Thoreau repurposed the journal as a professional naturalists log, but combined this with an attempt to capture every moment of each days experience, writing pencil notes almost continuously and transcribing them the next morning. (He used Thoreau family pencils, incidentally: their fortune had started from a graphite find, and he continued to work out ways of refining the pencils hardness.) By delicately juxtaposing her stories, Walls implies an intriguing possibility as to why this shift of style may have occurred. At around the same time, his friend Margaret Fuller had died in a shipwreck with her family, leaving Thoreau in grief. He wrote to himself: If you can drive a nail, and have any nails to drive, drive them … Be native to the universe. Perhaps, faced as well with the loss of his brother, Thoreau was attempting the impossible with his journal: to capture and preserve every scrap of experienced existence before it vanished.

    Walls biography allows Thoreau to breathe his own air on her pages, while turning her critical gaze on each of the public roles he played as political activist, mystic, tax refuser and environmentalist. In the end, they all come together in Thoreau the writer the person who said: A man writing is the scribe of all nature he is the corn and the grass and the atmosphere writing.

    Writing, for Thoreau, meant living with full attention and awareness living deliberately at every moment, in the sense of applying proper deliberation to his life. It meant, Walls says, living so as to perceive and weigh the moral consequences of our choices. If this isnt a reason to see Thoreau as a man with something to say to our times, I dont know what is.

    Henry David Thoreau: A Life by Laura Dassow Walls (Chicago, 26.50). To order a copy, go to bookshop.theguardian.com or call 0330 333 6846. Free UK p&p over 10, online orders only. Phone orders min. p&p of 1.99.

    Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/books/2017/aug/10/henry-david-thoreau-a-life-by-laura-dassow-walls-review