Tag Archives: matthews

How to Know If You’re a “Super Taster”

Mother Jones

On our latest episode of Bite, we talked to political journalist Dylan Matthews, someone who couldn’t care less about food. Matthews opts for cheap burritos over caviar and dislikes eating certain textures. The conversation got me thinking—what about those who really enjoy the taste of food?

You’ve probably heard of the legendary “supertasters,” people with a higher sensitivity to taste stimuli. I always envied these people—how enjoyable it must be for them to sink their teeth into milk chocolate with a gooey caramel core, or have a leg up in identifying complexities in a glass of red wine from Bordeaux. But that’s not quite the case. Linda Bartochuk, a professor of food science and human nutrition at the University of Florida’s Center for Smell and Taste, says supertasters tend to be pretty picky eaters and prefer to stick to bland food, which means they may have more in common with Dylan Matthews than with restaurant critics.

Here are some more things you may not realize about super tasters and the science of taste:

Supertasters aren’t inherently better at things like blind wine tastings.

Being able to recall the varietal, year, region, and make of wine with such accurate (and perhaps smug) detail isn’t due to having more taste buds. It’s often associated with practice and the ability to learn vocabulary and remember taste associations, according to Steven Munger, director of the Center for Smell and Taste. “What wine expertise may be doing is changing your ability to access information more efficiently and put it in a context of a memory,” Munger said.

Being a supertaster has health advantages…

Supertasters tend to avoid alcohol and cigarettes because of the strong flavor and unpleasant taste.

…and disadvantages.

Given the bitterness or often distinct texture of certain vegetables like leafy greens, super tasters tend to dislike their strong flavors. Bartochuck says this may lead them to incorporate these healthy foods a lot less in their diets than the average eater.

Supertasters tend to be women.

Bartochuck estimates that about 15 percent of Americans are supertasters, and women fall into the category more than men. She proposes this may have to do with how we evolved: A pregnant woman’s sensitivity to bitter foods (sometimes a sign of poison) would have been an advantage for her fetus.

Illness can have a negative affect on your taste buds—supertaster or not.

Having a lot of taste buds doesn’t mean they’ll all stay on your tongue forever. Taste nerves found in the inner ear and the back of the throat can be damaged by infections or surgeries on the middle ear or tonsils.

You don’t taste certain flavors on certain parts of your tongue.

When a Harvard researcher mistranslated a German scientist’s 1901 study, the idea of “tongue maps” spread and is still found in textbooks today. The concept that sweet is tasted on the tongue’s tip and bitter on the back is a taste myth scientists are still trying to dispel. We experience all five tastes—sweet, salty, sour, bitter, and umami (think broth or soy sauce)—on the front, sides, and back of our tongue.

Taste test: Find out if you’re a supertaster

Tongues are covered with fungiform papillae, mushroom shaped-structures that house our taste buds, and supertasters have a lot more papillae than the average taster. The best way to test if you’re a supertaster, Bartochuk says, is to take a close look at your tongue and compare it with friends’ or family members’.

Here’s an easy test you can do with a group of people:

1. Get some Q-Tips, blue food coloring, and a magnifying glass.

2. Have everyone put a couple of drops of blue food coloring on a Q-Tip and swab their tongues. Taste buds won’t get as saturated with color as the rest of the tongue—they may remain pink or turn a lighter shade of blue.

3. Use a magnifying glass to look at the tongues. Supertasters’ tongues will be visibly covered by more fungiform papillae.

Then again, if you’d rather avoid dying your tongue bright blue, you can always order a supertaster kit online.

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How to Know If You’re a “Super Taster”

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Gary Johnson Struggles to Name a Single Foreign Leader He Admires

Mother Jones

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Gary Johnson appeared at an MSNBC town hall on Wednesday, where the libertarian presidential candidate was asked to name a foreign leader he admired. Host Chris Matthews gave him a chance to name any living leader, from anywhere in the world.

But Johnson appeared visibly flustered with the relatively simple question and struggled to deliver an answer. He shrugged and described his inability to name a foreign leader he respected as another “Aleppo moment”—a reference to his disastrous MSNBC interview where he asked “What is Aleppo?”

When a stunned Matthews pressed him, Johnson finally offered up the “former president of Mexico” as a response, but could not specify which former president he was referring to. That’s when his running mate William Weld swooped in with a much-needed assist.

“Fox?” Weld asked, referring to former president Vicente Fox.

“Fox! Thank you,” Johnson replied with relief.

It’s another cringeworthy moment for the presidential hopeful, but at least viewers didn’t have to witness another tongue-wagging moment:

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Gary Johnson Struggles to Name a Single Foreign Leader He Admires

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Donald Trump Won’t Rule Out Using Nuclear Weapons in Europe

Mother Jones

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Donald Trump refused to rule out using nuclear weapons in Europe during a town hall in Wisconsin on Wednesday. The Republican presidential front-runner was asked about his recent contradictory statements about nuclear proliferation—in which he said he was concerned about the spread of nukes while also suggesting that more countries, including Japan, South Korea, and Saudi Arabia, should be allowed to acquire them.

MSNBC’s Chris Matthews, the host of the town hall, tried to pin Trump down on what circumstances might compel President Trump to deploy the United States’ nuclear arsenal.

“Look, nuclear should be off the table, but would there a time when it could be used? Possibly,” Trump said.

Matthews asked Trump to tell the Middle East and Europe that he would never use nuclear weapons, but Trump continued to evade. Asked again if he’d use nuclear weapons in Europe, Trump held firm. “I am not—I am not taking cards off the table,” Trump responded.

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Donald Trump Won’t Rule Out Using Nuclear Weapons in Europe

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You owe the world $12,000 for burning all those fossil fuels

Climate finance

You owe the world $12,000 for burning all those fossil fuels

By on 8 Sep 2015commentsShare

In the event those student loans weren’t enough to bring you down, a new study adds a hefty new bill to the ledger — and it’s of atmospheric proportions.

Writing in Nature Climate Change, H. Damon Matthews from Concordia University in Montreal argues that the fairest way to deal with climate finance (that is, of equitably balancing the international books in order to pay for climate change mitigation and adaptation) is to label individual countries as debtors and creditors and to calculate relative balances given their historic CO2 emissions. If you’re living in the U.S. or Australia, you’d owe a solid $12,000 under Matthews’ scheme: the atmospheric bill for all of those Furbies and Oreos and SUVs you bought between 1990 and 2013.

Well, you as in the person whose eyes are currently glued to Grist’s effortlessly compelling prose probably don’t owe anyone $12,000 (other than that loan shark), but you as in a representative humanoid slice of your country might. By benchmarking each country against an equal per-capita share of emissions over time, Matthews was able to calculate which countries had, given a 1990 starting point, emitted more than their fair share. New Scientist details his results:

He found that the US, for example, had over-polluted by a massive 100.3 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide between 1990 and 2013 – amounting to 300 tonnes per person. That’s about as much as is produced by driving a family car from Los Angeles to New York and back about 150 times.

And according to the US Environmental Protection Agency, each tonne of carbon dioxide produced today has a social cost of about $40, so the overall debt per person is US$12,000.

That social cost, however, is a pretty arbitrary number. A social cost captures both private costs and externalities, and environmental economists still have little idea of how to price the latter when it comes to carbon emissions. While the EPA might use that $40 figure, a new study, for example, arrived at a social cost of carbon of $220 per ton, which would place the per-capita U.S. emissions debt from Matthews’ study at $66,000. Just to make sure we’re on the same page of the ol’ checkbook, that’s the difference between $3.87 trillion and $21.3 trillion. It’s this kind of variance that makes rigorously conducting (and defending) carbon pricing studies so difficult.

And while studies like Matthews’ make for clean numbers, it doesn’t mean anyone will actually take his advice. Climate negotiators like those who will be meeting in Paris later this year tend to play by their own political rules. Here’s more from New Scientist:

“Having followed the negotiations for 20 years I can tell you now the parties will not accept a neat allocation of responsibility based on this kind of metric, although I think this is one of the fairest,” says Robyn Eckersley at the University of Melbourne, Australia.

Eckersley says each country pushes for a particular metric that downplays their own responsibility. But that doesn’t make the analysis pointless, she adds.

“They help society look more critically at what each country is doing and how they are hiding behind their cherry-picked metrics. That’s a really useful function,” she says. “These kinds of documents make it easier for people to judge contributions and raise these issues at a national level.”

In the meantime, the world’s developed countries still need to figure out how they intend on dumping $100 billion annually into the Green Climate Fund by 2020. As of now, we’ve reached about a tenth of that goal. Color me pessimistic, Jonathan Chait.

And as long as we’re talking debt, let this post serve as a brief reminder that you still owe me that lunch money from ’06. (Not you, Jonathan.)

Source:

Everyone in the US and Australia owes $12,000 in CO2 emissions

, New Scientist.

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You owe the world $12,000 for burning all those fossil fuels

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3 Tax Day Charts to Boost Your Blood Pressure

Mother Jones

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As another Tax Day arrives, here are three charts that may not ease the pain of paying the taxman, but may help put it in perspective.

The top 1 percent of earners are expected to pay nearly half of all 2014 federal income taxes, while the lowest 80 percent will pay 15 percent. However, according to the IRS, the top 400 taxpayers by income saw their total real income grow 338 percent between 1992 and 2012, while their average tax rate dropped more than 35 percent.

And while federal income tax rates go up with income, when you account for state and local taxes, the effective tax rate faced by each income group starts to look less progressive, according to Citizens for Tax Justice. And, as Vox‘s Dylan Matthews points out, the tax burden for roughly 65 percent of American families comes from payroll taxes along with state and local taxes.

In the last 60 years, the share of federal tax revenue from individual tax income has remained relatively stable. Meanwhile, the share from payroll taxes has steadily increased while corporate taxes’ share has declined. While companies complain about steep taxes, consider that major US companies have stashed billions in profits overseas, beyond the reach of the IRS.

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3 Tax Day Charts to Boost Your Blood Pressure

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Mitt vs. Jeb: Battle of the GOP Establishment Candidates

Mother Jones

David Corn and Robert Costa joined host Chris Matthews on MSNBC’s Hardball to discuss the recent news that Mitt Romney is probably running for president, again. LOL. You’ll recall what happened when David Corn reported on the most recent failed Romney campaign. Anyways, we’ve got a deep archive of great reporting on Mitt and we’ll have lots more to come. Stay tuned.

David Corn is Mother Jones’ Washington bureau chief. For more of his stories, click here. He’s also on Twitter.

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Mitt vs. Jeb: Battle of the GOP Establishment Candidates

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Watch: What The Dick Cheney/Rand Paul Feud Tells Us About the GOP

Mother Jones

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Mother Jones Washington bureau chief David Corn dropped by MSNBC’s Hardball to talk with Chris Matthews and the Huffington Post‘s Howard Fineman. The topic: the ongoing civil war within the GOP—and between Rand Paul and Dick Cheney—over the crisis in Iraq. It’s hardly the first time the two have been at odds: Paul accused Cheney of exploiting Iraq for Halliburton’s gain, and called him out on torture; Cheney fired back, saying Paul was “not familiar” with the facts.

David Corn is Mother Jones’ Washington bureau chief. For more of his stories, click here. He’s also on Twitter.

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Watch: What The Dick Cheney/Rand Paul Feud Tells Us About the GOP

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Corn on "Hardball": Why Is the Right Still Talking About Benghazi?

Mother Jones

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Mother Jones DC bureau chief David Corn spoke with MSNBC’s Chris Matthews and Alex Wagner about the Right’s persistence on the issue of Benghazi, even after the Senate Intelligence Committee released a review of the attack that occurred more than a year ago. Could it be their silver bullet to keep Hillary Clinton from the White House?

David Corn is Mother Jones’ Washington bureau chief. For more of his stories, click here. He’s also on Twitter.

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Corn on "Hardball": Why Is the Right Still Talking About Benghazi?

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