Don't you love what you can do with statistics and charts?  This chart is from a great article in the New England Journal of Medicine Chocolate Consumption, Cognitive Function, and Nobel Laureates.  For a less scholarly report on the data, see this Reuters article.


The article begins like this.

Dietary flavonoids, abundant in plant-based foods, have been shown to improve cognitive function. Specifically, a reduction in the risk of dementia, enhanced performance on some cognitive tests, and improved cognitive function in elderly patients with mild impairment have been associated with a regular intake of flavonoids. A subclass of flavonoids called flavanols, which are widely present in cocoa, green tea, red wine, and some fruits, seems to be effective in slowing down or even reversing the reductions in cognitive performance that occur with aging.

One day, while apparently bored in a Kathmandu hotel room—I'm guessing it was night, or cloudy—the author, Franz H. Messerli, began to think.

Since chocolate consumption could hypothetically improve cognitive function not only in individuals but also in whole populations, I wondered whether there would be a correlation between a country's level of chocolate consumption and its population's cognitive function. To my knowledge, no data on overall national cognitive function are publicly available. Conceivably, however, the total number of Nobel laureates per capita could serve as a surrogate end point reflecting the proportion with superior cognitive function and thereby give us some measure of the overall cognitive function of a given country.

The results astonished him, though perhaps he should not be surprised:  he is Swiss.

There was a close, significant linear correlation (r=0.791, P<0.0001) between chocolate consumption per capita and the number of Nobel laureates per 10 million persons in a total of 23 countries.  When recalculated with the exclusion of Sweden, the correlation coefficient increased to 0.862. Switzerland was the top performer in terms of both the number of Nobel laureates and chocolate consumption.  [emphasis mine]

The only possible outlier ... seems to be Sweden. Given its per capita chocolate consumption of 6.4 kg per year, we would predict that Sweden should have produced a total of about 14 Nobel laureates, yet we observe 32. Considering that in this instance the observed number exceeds the expected number by a factor of more than 2, one cannot quite escape the notion that either the Nobel Committee in Stockholm has some inherent patriotic bias when assessing the candidates for these awards or, perhaps, that the Swedes are particularly sensitive to chocolate, and even minuscule amounts greatly enhance their cognition.

Which perhaps explains why I need to eat more chocolate than Porter does, he being 1/4 Swedish.

Dr. Messerli reports regular daily chocolate consumption, mostly but not exclusively in the form of Lindt's dark varieties.

The above quotations were all from the NEJM article; the final ones from Reuters.

Messerli ... said that despite the tongue-in-cheek tone, he does believe chocolate has real health effects—although people should stay away from the sweeter kinds.

"[D]ark chocolate is the way to go. It's one thing if you want like a medicine or chemistry Nobel Prize, ok, but if you want a physics Nobel Prize it pretty much has got to be dark chocolate."

In case you were wondering, the date on Messerli's article is October 10, 2012.  I guess they couldn't wait six more months.

Posted by sursumcorda on Saturday, October 13, 2012 at 10:04 am | Edit
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H/T Stephan.

alt or alt ?

Posted by sursumcorda on Monday, October 8, 2012 at 12:11 pm | Edit
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Have you seen this ad?  In anything other than very small doses, this technology could get 'way out of hand:  can you imagine what downtown Tokyo might do with it?  But for entertainment value, not to mention the gee-whiz factor, it's hard to beat.  I'm also continually amazed by the hubris of companies that think there's no need to specify in their ads just what their product is, or what it does.

Posted by sursumcorda on Saturday, September 15, 2012 at 3:20 pm | Edit
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Stone Soup today is worth highlighting.


Posted by sursumcorda on Tuesday, September 4, 2012 at 7:07 am | Edit
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A friend posted this on Facebook, and it still makes me smile.  Except for the singular "Grandmother," which just sounds wrong on more than one level.


Posted by sursumcorda on Tuesday, April 10, 2012 at 11:13 am | Edit
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With a tip o' the hat to Sarah D., who helped make my Facebook presence worthwhile by passing along this gem of a sight-singing test:


Posted by sursumcorda on Sunday, March 18, 2012 at 10:53 am | Edit
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... He was born on Pi Day!

Posted by sursumcorda on Wednesday, March 14, 2012 at 7:59 am | Edit
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I saw this on John Stackhouse's blog, and find it both sad, and amusing, and open to many more applications than Christian denominationalism.  Enjoy!  (Click on the image to enlarge it.)


Posted by sursumcorda on Monday, March 12, 2012 at 9:36 am | Edit
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Here are the results of my trial of SurveyMonkey, which, by the way, I think is pretty cool and hope to find more uses for.  I have closed the survey, as there has been plenty of time to respond for those who wish to, and I'm starting to get spam.  (That's why one of the comments has been blacked out.)


I considered blacking out the name in the second comment from the bottom, but "Fasnachtschüechli" is as good an identifier.  :)  That's as close, I note, as anyone got to a Fasnacht/Carnival/Mardi Gras festival.  I missed Zurich's by a few days.  (But I did enjoy Fasnachtschüechli!)

Thanks to everyone who participated!

Posted by sursumcorda on Tuesday, February 28, 2012 at 9:49 pm | Edit
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Today's Stone Soup:


Less on the Scrabble side, more on the Boggle side—when you have meals to fix and children to tend, long games don't work well—but this is my family!  I don't know Words with Friends; can anyone enlighten me?

Posted by sursumcorda on Friday, February 24, 2012 at 7:26 am | Edit
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This survey has no purpose, other than to let me try out SurveyMonkey.

There's supposed to be an embedded survey below. [Update:  there isn't.]  If not, you can (supposedly) participate by clicking on this link:  Take our Lenten Practices Survey now.


A few things I think I'm supposed to add:

  • This survey is not intended for respondents under the age of majority in their own country (or 13 years of age in the U.S.).  [I don't like age discrimination any more than the next person, but this is legal stuff.  Have a parent fill it out for you.  Not that I think anyone under 13 is reading my blog.]
  • Please be advised that your responses to this survey may not be treated as anonymous by the survey sender.  [This means that theoretically I might be able to figure out who you are from your IP address or something.  If that bothers you, don't answer.]
  • For general privacy concerns, read the SurveyMonkey Privacy Policy [It's actually pretty clear, as these things go.]
  • You can create your free online surveys with SurveyMonkey, the world's leading questionnaire tool.
Posted by sursumcorda on Wednesday, February 22, 2012 at 10:20 am | Edit
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Here's one reason why it's more fun to be Episcopalian/Anglican/Catholic/Orthodox or anyone else for whom Christmas lasts a full twelve days.


Posted by sursumcorda on Sunday, December 25, 2011 at 10:36 pm | Edit
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Bah, humbug.  We live in very safe, sidewalked neighborhood of over 900 homes, and to our door tonight came one, count 'em, ONE boy who might have been in middle school, a handful of high school students, and two ADULTS begging for candy!  One had a pacifier-sucking toddler in a stroller, presumably as her excuse for trick-or-treating, though in this case I have to hope she was planning to eat the candy herself.  Nothing interesting in the way of costumes.

Maybe next year we'll save on candy and just keep the lights off.  We have more leftover candy than our grandkids could (read, "would be allowed to") eat in a year.  It's not your grandmother's Hallowe'en anymore.

On a cheerier note, in a neighborhood nearby the child-like inhabitants had a glorious time celebrating the day, which is the real reason for this post.  Enjoy!  (H/T a WWMB friend.)

Posted by sursumcorda on Monday, October 31, 2011 at 9:25 pm | Edit
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I love this Feudal Effort strip!  (Click on the image for a larger version.)  It describes exactly the attitude I have when watching quasi-historical movies.  Not to mention movies based on books.   ("Would it have hurt them to actually read the book?")


I do cut Shakespeare some slack, however.  He didn't have the same access to sources as we do, and anyway, he certainly didn't have time to spare.  It just might have killed him to do basic fact-checking.

Speaking of historical interest, Duncan I was my 28th great-grandfather.  :)

Posted by sursumcorda on Saturday, October 29, 2011 at 8:07 am | Edit
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Perhaps it's my own OCD tendencies, but I greatly enjoyed Monk, the TV show about a brilliant detective with obsessive-compulsive disorder.  Given that and a prejudice in favor of my country-in-law, how could I resist Ursus Wehrli, the Swiss artist and comedian whose concept of order stands out even in the country of precision watches and trains you can set those watches by.  (H/T Jon)

Wehrli's TED lecture, Tidying Up Art, shows what I mean.  If you think modern art is just a little too random, Wehrli's your man.

(Ahem.  I may be stretching my bragging rights here, but my reaction on listening to his accent was that his native tongue may be Swiss German, but I'd bet it wasn't Basel-Deutsch.  Turns out he lives in Zurich.  The Basel accent is more melodious, I think.)

Wehrli doesn't stop with artworks:  alphabet soup, fruit bowls, sunbathers, pine branches, and parking lots are only a few of the objects that capture his attentionHere's a video of the artist in action.  It helps to speak German, but you'll get the point even if you don't. (More)

Posted by sursumcorda on Sunday, October 2, 2011 at 3:13 pm | Edit
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