Vicarious binge eating, reggae monetary policy, and forgetting to flush — Startlingly Awesome #7

The other day, one of my kids came running out into the living room and told us (breathlessly, in his best tattle tale soprano) that the other kid had forgotten to flush after a bathroom session of the more lengthy persuasion.

Because this is an issue with some history, my wife has a tally on the chalkboard that keeps track of these transgressions with the hope that it will lead so some measure of shame in the boys, or perhaps even a change of behavior. (We’d be satisfied with shame.)

Anyway, kid #1 says, “Kid #2 forgot to flush again!”

And kid #2 says, “How dare you accuse me of something like that? Other than the five times that Mommy has already documented over there, I have never and would never dream of forgetting to flush.”

“…plus, it’s not my fault. I was distracted by kid #1 because he was doing something way worse. Way worse! The details escape me.”

“…oh, hey, kid #1, did you find my phone in there next to the toilet? I think I left it in there.”

“…but seriously, Mommy, how do you know it was me?”

Mommy was able to see through this line of defense with some ease. She added a mark to Kid #2’s tally. He sulked into the bathroom to flush, defeated.

We are adults, after all. There are are a lot of things in this life that are difficult, but firing up the trusty bullshit detector to navigate a poorly conceived, rambling, blatant lie from an obviously guilty child is not one of them. No, that is one of those things that we are good at without even trying.

And really, their attempts at cover-ups are often pretty funny. Nothing to get worked up about. Fodder for our next email newsletter, perhaps. After all, they’re kids who forgot to flush the toilet, not the President of the United States.

Thank god they’ll eventually grow out of this kind of thing.


The next time you’re feeling like cheating on your diet, maybe watch some other people eating like gluttonous idiots instead?

Apparently it’s a thing [~4 minute read].

I’m not sure whether the idea is to get grossed out and break the link in your head between food and good feelings, or to live vicariously through the YouTubers stuffing their faces with buckets of stuff dipped in other stuff.

In any case, it’s called “mukbang”, it was born as a trend in South Korea, and the short AP article linked above mentions that as just one example, Cincinnati suburb-dweller Bethany Gaskin is making about $1 million per year putting her binge eating on camera.


“Perhaps if the Greek authorities had a tool as powerful and popular as reggae music, there’s a possibility that their reforms could have been socially more acceptable.“

That’s the opinion of Marla Dukharan, chief economist at Bitt Inc., and winner of this week’s prize for most ridiculous thing said with a straight face.

Apparently Jamaica, which has for a long time been a financial disaster, has been experimenting with central bank fiscal policy to try and tame their roller coaster economy into something more stable.

The Jamaican central bank hired a TV reporter and former hotel talent booker named tony Morrison as their head of communications, and he really wanted to get some reggae involved.

Which is hilarious, and also apparently working, at least a little.

Here’s the full story from the Wall Street Journal, awesomely titled "Keep de Rates dem Low” [~15 minute read, warning: paywall].

If you’re not a WSJ subscriber, here’s a tip: instead of clicking the link, go to google, and type in the name of the article – which is, again, amazing. When you click through from a Google search result page, they let you read the story without being a subscriber.

P.S. (The story references something called “The Inflation Dance”, which they’re trying to make go viral. If you search for that on YouTube, it doesn’t come up, so I sadly don’t know just how amazing it is. But…that YouTube search instead brought me to this hero doing his best impression of a wacky waving inflatable arms guy. So worth it [~1 minute watch].)

Catchy as hell.


This gem from Poorly Drawn Lines made me snort.

And because my brain is wired funny, it reminded me of this old bit from the TV show Malcolm in the Middle.

Put this one in your Pocket. It’s good for a smile any time you need one.



Okay, from the depths of actual research papers comes this:

There are some people that routinely and consistently buy new products that are destined to fail. Kind of like canaries in coal mines, these “harbinger customers” are less able to resist the promises of new yet ultimately shitty products.

And it gets weirder, because these people tend to collect themselves into “harbinger zip codes”, which means that companies hoping to predict whether a new product will succeed can get a little bit of a crystal ball thing going by paying attention to whether that product is trending in certain neighborhoods.

Popular in 90210? Probably good. Purchased a lot in 90211? Time to abandon ship.

Not only do these people on average buy more products destined to fail, but they also donate to political candidates who are less likely to win, and live in areas where house prices increase more slowly than in neighboring zip codes.

Here’s the abstract. As it’s a scholarly journal article, you can’t read it unless you happen to be a university student or faculty member or pay to access it, but here’s yet another tip: most people who write research papers actually HATE that they’re stuck behind paywalls. So if you look up the authors and send them an email telling them you’re interested, they’ll send it to you free of charge 99% of the time. Seriously. They want people to actually read it.

Or, if you’re comfortable with a bit of light buccaneering, given the facts above, you can find it on libgen.


Em dash (—), en dash (–), or just the regular puny little dash (-) that shows up by default when you type the minus key?



Good luck out there. It’s a scary, scary world.

Oh, and if you’d like to get a jump on what’s coming next from Startlingly Awesome and Refreshingly Modest, head over to Wait But Why, potentially the best writing on the internet, and start into their phenomenal “The Story of Us” series.