Forgive the silence.

I’ll be away until December 3rd — sorry about the blog-silence…

In the meantime, take a gander at the wonderful book Mindless Eating by Brian Wansink … but for your own peace of mind, you should probably wait until after Thankgiving to read it.


BTW, an administrative note: We are turning comments off on the blog for future entries. We just got tired of dealing with spam. (I feel guilty saying this since the filter catches the vast majority — but still that 1% is frustrating.) That doesn’t mean we don’t want to hear from you! Please just email your comments instead of posting them. We’re at




Malcolm Gladwell’s new book, Outliers, was released today. Go get it at Amazon. (I’m not sure which I’ve had pre-ordered longer, Outliers or Season 4 of LOST, but it’s a close race.)

There’s a frustrating piece about Gladwell in New York Magazine in which his profiler seems determined to find something not to like about him. Within the first few paragraphs, the author manages to mention Gladwell’s car, his expensive leased parking place, his book advance, his speaking fees, and the fact that couriers come to pick up his New Yorker pieces, which is apparently intended to signal diva-hood. (I bet that fancy-pants Gladwell has someone else wash his car and do his taxes, too!)

Then the author dredges up what feels like every criticism ever made about Gladwell, including a four-year-old book review, published in The New Republic, that was critical of Blink. The piece reminded me of the discussions of “false equivalence” that were raging about political reporting this election cycle — i.e., the notion that you’ve got to report both sides of the story no matter how wrongheaded one side is. In this piece, it feels like Gladwell’s hundreds of thousands of fans and his dozens of critics are found deserving of equal attention.

But that’s a fan talking.

Search terms as epidemiological flags?

From Miguel Helft:

In early February, for example, the C.D.C. reported that the flu cases had recently spiked in the mid-Atlantic states. But Google says its search data show a spike in queries about flu symptoms two weeks before that report was released. Its new service at analyzes those searches as they come in, creating graphs and maps of the country that, ideally, will show where the flu is spreading.

If Starbucks marketed like a church…

John Moore at Brand Autopsy highlights this satirical video, created by a church marketing expert to inspire churches to find ways that “we can remove the speed-bumps we have unknowingly created for visitors.”

My favorite part: The barrista waits on a couple that is clearly new to Starbucks — they’re a bit overwhelmed and end up asking sheepishly for “a coffee.” Then, the barrista grabs a mike and, in front of everyone in the store, announces, “If this is your first time visiting with us, will you go ahead and raise your hands — we would love to welcome you.” The mortified pair raise their hands.

Someone in the background shouts “Java-lujah!”