Book Blog · Book Review · Cook Book · Food · Health · Illustrations · Pick of the Day · Samin Nosrat · Wendy Macnaughton

Want to cook like a Pro? ‘Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat’ by Samin Nosrat

Book Review

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I am not a professional cook by a long shot, but if there is one book I would recommend which is just more than a collection of recipes, and more about the art of cooking, this would be it! The run-of-the-mill kind expects you to follow rather than to ask questions. Those books insist on fidelity and faith but do nothing to earn and explain. For me this book was like attending a good cooking school, where you learn the principles. Armed with reason we don’t have to cling to recipes like a lifeboat, when you know the fundamentals of cooking~ you can improvise.

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What’s it about?

Samin Nosrat a writer, teacher and chef hailing from California, says that this book is a culmination of her years of cooking and five years of writing. It’s a distillation of her cooking philosophy. The idea that you can master just four basic elements in the kitchen~ Salt, Fat, Acid, and Heat ~ you can use that to guide you in cooking anything and making any food delicious.

Learn about salt which is a mineral that enhances flavour of everything that we cook. Fat which gives taste and help us get all sort of delicious texture in our cooking. Acid which ultimately balances flavours and heat which is the major control to get the texture we want in all our food. She promises that if you master the four elements, you can make anything taste great.

The book is designed to help you punch up the flavour of even basic dishes (salad!) and guide you towards trusting your gut instead of dutifully following directions — ultimately making your cooking more instinctive, flavourful and yes, fun.

Who is it for?

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  • Cooks and Cooking apprentices
  • Cooking enthusiasts
  • Epicureans devoted to good living

The Principles

There are only Four basic factors which will determine how good your food will taste :

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Salt which enhances flavour. Samin says that if you get the salt right and you know how much to use, anything you cook will taste better. After reading the section on salt, I took Nosrat’s advice to boil my potatoes in salted water before roasting. Game changer! I will never again roast my potatoes without first taking them through this step. The potatoes were seasoned outside and in — guaranteed to make your meat-and-potato meals mysteriously more delicious than everyone else’s.

Just like salt, fat is one of the most important and versatile elements of cooking. Her travel to Italy made her realise that Italian cooking is the relationship with fat which is so essential to why their food taste so good!!

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There are about 100 recipes in the book with countless variations. What makes the book so attractive is the infographics and illustrations by Wendy Macnaughton and they are very helpful in making the book simple and drive the complicated points that connects all the dots, teaching you how, all cooking from around the world is really more similar than it is different. If you only read the chapter on “salt,” you’d up your kitchen game by 50 percent. But Nosrat also has an amazing gift for storytelling~ give it a try and you will never look back !

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Bon Appétit

Book Review · Classics · Inspiration · Non Fiction · Self~Help

What sets you apart~Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell

Published in 2008, outliers is one of my top favourite books of all time. I often go back and pick up old books which has shaped my thinking and revisit for a fresh perspective . Books that inspire and help light a fire in your heart are worth a second or a third read.

What’s it about ?

This is book is about individuals who achieve a level of success that is out of ordinary. From rock stars, to remarkable lawyers, to what make a pilot better than the rest of his flock, or why asians are so good at math. So what makes them so extraordinary that they lie outside the realm of normal experience?

We often think that these outliers assess some innate, mysterious ability that makes them rise to the top of the field, however, most of these so called ” outliers” are not some mystical being, people just don’t rise from nothing. Some merit may be cause of their parentage or they may look like this “self~made man” which our society attaches so much credit. But in fact they are invariably the beneficiaries of some hidden advantage and extraordinary opportunities and cultural legacies that allowed them to learn and work hard and make sense of the world in a way others cannot.

Who is it for ?

  • Anyone who wants to deepen his idea of what drives success and what are the things successful people do differently
  • Teachers, coaches and others in training professions
  • Consulting professionals and others interested in policy reforms

Key Ideas

  1. The idea of a “self~made” man is very enticing and our culture celebrates this myth, but there is more than meets the eye. The author sites an example of a tall oak tree. The tree is the tallest in the forest not because it grew from the most robust and hardiest of acorn, it is taller also because as a sapling, it got the right amount of sunshine, a soil rich and deep and no rabbit gnawing its roots before it got time to grow.
  2. Once you reach a certain threshold, increased ability no longer help you succeed.
  3. To achieve world class mastery of anything requires around 10,000 hours of single~minded and purposeful practice. What differentiates a world class soloist from the merely “good” violinist is the number of hours they practice from the time they picked up the violin. The author sites many such examples to prove his point~from chess grandmasters to Mozart to the Beatles, all have this in common.
  4. How you are brought up can radically impact how successful you become. So Bill Gates is introduced as a young computer programmer from Seattle whose brilliance and ambition outshine the brilliance and ambition of the thousands of other young programmers. But then Gladwell takes us back to Seattle, and we discover that Gates’s high school happened to have a computer club when almost no other high schools did. He then lucked into the opportunity to use the computers at the University of Washington, for hours on end. By the time he turned 20, he had spent well more than 10,000 hours as a programmer.
  5. Where you come from ~geographically and culturally ~can have a large impact on our success
  6. If we recognise the reason behind the uneven playing fields, we can create more opportunities for people to succeed.

Final Summary

“It is not the brightest who succeed,” Gladwell writes. “Nor is success simply the sum of the decisions and efforts we make on our own behalf. It is, rather, a gift. Outliers are those who have been given opportunities — and who have had the strength and presence of mind to seize them.” 

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About the author

Malcolm Gladwell is the author of six New York Times bestsellers, including Talking to StrangersDavid and GoliathOutliersBlink, and The Tipping Point. He is also the co-founder of Pushkin Industries, an audio content company that produces the podcasts Revisionist History, which reconsiders things both overlooked and misunderstood, and Broken Record, where he, Rick Rubin, and Bruce Headlam interview musicians across a wide range of genres. Gladwell has been included in the TIME 100 Most Influential People list and touted as one of Foreign Policy‘s Top Global Thinkers.

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Barry Loewer · Books · Non Fiction · Philosophy · Stephen Law

30~Second Philosophies~The 50 most thought~provoking philosophies each explained in half a minute

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” The first principle is that you must not fool yourself and you are the easiest person to fool.”

Richard P Feynman

30 second philosophies is a whistle stop tour of the major questions posted by philosophers through the centuries, from Aristotle to Ludwig Wittgenstein to Naom Chomsky.

What’s it about?

I’ve no doubt that a little exposure to philosophy can be valuable. The kind of skill philosophy fosters~ such as the ability to spot a logical fallacy, or to make a point succinctly and with precision~they are the kind of transferrable skills that employers value. Whether you realise or not, we all hold philosophical beliefs. That God exists is a philosophical belief, as is the belief that he doesn’t. Many of us go through life without even registering that we hold philosophical beliefs, let alone question them. As Socrates is suppose to have said,

” The unexamined life is not worth living.”

So what is it all about?

  • Does God Exist or Not?
  • How should I Behave?
  • What is Real?
  • How do we know what we know?

Philosophers have been thinking about these questions for at least 2500 years. It starts with the great Greek philosophers Socrates, Plato and Aristotle and has continued to the present day. This book is a crash course in understanding the foundation of philosophy and keeps your thought process totally engaged.

Who’s it for?

  • The Philo~curious
  • Those looking for a bird’s eye view of philosophy
  • Students of broad~scope History

But I am sure that you are skeptical that this is too good to be true~30 seconds to become a philosopher! Then let me tell you my friends, that you have taken the first small step towards becoming one. The attitude of skepticism and inclination to question are the central to philosophy. By questioning your (and others’) beliefs with an open mind, you will better understand what it is you believe, what your concepts are, and thus come to know your self better.

Final Summery

In conclusion, philosophy addresses what are sometimes called the “big questions.” These include questions about morality (“What makes things morally right or wrong?”); about what we can know, if anything (“Can you know that the world around you is real, and not a computer-generated virtual reality?”); about the nature of human existence (“Are you your brain? Do we possess souls?”); and about the nature of reality (“Why is there anything at all?”).Religion addresses many of the same questions, but while philosophy and religion overlap in the questions they address, they can differ in the approach they take to answering them. While faith and revelation are typically the cornerstones of religious belief, philosophy places great emphasis on reason—on applying our intelligence in order to figure out, as best we can, what the answers are.”

“The God that philosophers of religion like to argue about isn’t one that most of us would recognise. He tends to be more on the abstract side, like “The Force” in Star Wars, and less like a Heavenly Father who stays up at night worrying about you.

DIMITRI: I was talking to Zeus the other day, and he thinks you’re a bad influence on me.

TASSO: That’s interesting, because I think he’s a bad influence on you.

DIMITRI: In what way?

TASSO: He makes you think the voices in your head are real.”

Plato and a Platypus Walk into a Bar. Cathcart, Thomas

If that doesn’t convince you that a little philosophy is a good idea—well, there remains the fact that, good for you or not, philosophy is fun.In here you’ll find some of the most intriguing, clever, astonishing, and sometimes downright disturbing ideas ever entertained by mankind. Dip in and find out.”

Book Review · Brain · Kevin Simler · Non Fiction · Robin Hanson · species

The Elephant in the Brain~Hidden Motives in Everyday Life by Kevin Simler and Robin Hanson

Book Review

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Every man alone is sincere. At the entrance of a second person, hypocrisy begins~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

What’s it about?

We human beings are a species that’s not only capable of acting on hidden motives~ we’re designed to do it. The book highlights the fact that humans have hidden motives, which we hide even from our selves. We have many reasons for our behaviour, but we habitually accentuate and exaggerate our pretty, prosocial motives and down play the ugly and selfishness.

The authors illustrates with the following examples as to how we effectively rationalise our behaviour, by telling half truth, by cherry picking our most acceptable, prosocial reasons while concealing our ulterior motives. For instance ~

  1. Parents often enforce kid’s early bedtime “for their own good”, when a self serving motive seems just as likely~ that parents simply want an hour or two of peace and quiet without the kids. Though most parents genuinely believe that early bedtimes are good for their children, but the belief is self serving.
  2. Minor issues are often exaggerated to avoid unwanted social encounters “I’m not feeling well today” as an excuse not to go to work may only have half a grain of truth, and meanwhile other reasons (“I simply don’t want to”) are conveniently omitted.

There are many such wide-ranging, covering many fields and current events, and offering many concrete relatable examples which challenges how you think about yourself and how you see the world by shining a light on things people would rather stay hidden.

The Key Ideas

  • Human behaviour is often driven by multiple motives. This shouldn’t be too surprising, as humans are complex creatures. But more importantly what they are suggesting is that some of these motives are unconscious.
  • Human beings are primates, and primates are political animals. Our brains, therefore, are designed not just to hunt and gather, but also to help us get ahead socially, often via deception and self-deception. But while we may be self-interested schemers, we benefit by pretending otherwise. While most of the time we are trying to maximise social status~ we are quite skilful and strategic in pursuing our self~interest without explicitly acknowledging it, even to ourself
  • Our brains are designed to act in our self~interest while at the same time trying not to act selfish in front of others. And in order to throw them off the trail, our brain often keeps “us” our conscious mind, in the dark
  • Self~deception is therefore strategic, a ploy our brain uses to look good while behaving badly.
  • We are competitive social animal fighting for power, status, and sex. The fact that we are sometimes willing to lie and cheat and go ahead, the fact that we hide some of our motives~ and that we do in order to mislead others.

The Elephant is used as a metaphor. The elephant~ whether in a room or in our brain~simply stands there, out in the open, and can easily be seen if only we steel ourself to look in its direction.

Final Summary

The aim of this book, then, is to confront our hidden motives directly – to track down the darker, unexamined corners of our psyches and blast them with floodlights. Then, once everything is clearly visible, we can work to better understand ourselves: Why do we laugh? Why are artists sexy? Why do we brag about travel? Why do we prefer to speak rather than listen? Our unconscious motives drive more than just our private behavior; they also infect our venerated social institutions such as Art, School, Charity, Medicine, Politics, and Religion. In fact, these institutions are in many ways designed to accommodate our hidden motives, to serve covert agendas alongside their “official” ones. 

So my take away from the book is that it is useful to understand the motives of our fellow humans~but that is not all~ we often misunderstand our own motives. We have a gaping blind spot at the very centre of our introspective vision. Above all recognising this teaches us humility. It calls for a more thoughtful interaction with our fellow self~deceivers.

Art · Artist · Auguste Renoir · Baroque · Chateau de Versailles · Renaissance · Style

How to See Art

Birth of Europe

The beginning of true European art is roughly placed at around 800A.D. Charlemagne (c.742-814) coronation could be placed as the beginning of the European civilisation~ also known as Karl and Charles the Great, was a medieval emperor who ruled much of Western Europe from 768 to 814. In 771, Charlemagne became king of the Franks, a Germanic tribe in present-day Belgium, France, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and western Germany. He embarked on a mission to unite all Germanic peoples into one kingdom, and convert his subjects to Christianity.

Charlemagne’s empire encompassed much of Western Europe, and he had also ensured the survival of Christianity in the West. Today, Charlemagne is referred to by some as the father of Europe.

Categories Of European Art

  • Greek and Roman Art~ Classical Antiquity
  • Medival Art~Byzantine, Romanesque and Gothic
  • Renaissance ~ The central achievement of the European Civilisation
  • Baroque~This period is truly European, politically and culturally. One Europe with many national powers with a shared artistic language.
  • Neoclassicism, Romanticism, Academism and Realism~ the French Revolution and the Napoleonic period that followed it established France as the de facto capital of European art in the 19th century.
  • Modern art~The vitality, the inventiveness and the conviction of Modern Art

Art History is the study of the visual arts including architecture, sculpture, graphic art of a particular period or a civilisation. But it is more than a recitation of famous works of art and their makers, dates, material, subsequent history and so on. It also should be a guide to looking , how to look with understanding and pleasure.

Five Elements of “Looking”

  • Subject
  • Interpretation
  • Style
  • Context
  • Emotion

Let’s look at several works of art closely with you while referring to these elements. My aim is for you is to see how works of art effects us. That we begin to see art consciously, with fuller awareness of “looking at.” Looking at art requires time. Hopefully this will enhance your future enjoyment of looking at art.

Every work of art has a subject. The way a subject is expressed In art is the artist’s interpretation, and the artistic means of interpretation is the artist’s style i.e within the Gothic period style each artist still has a personal style. The context can be of the moment, the events of an artist’s life, of contemporary political events, of the historical period or long term cultural determinants in Europe~like Christianity. Our own emotional response must be tested against what we can learn about the artist and the period.

Artist of the Renaissance and Baroque where specially found of subject drawn from mythology.The myths are so common in art that we must know the stories especially the loves of the Gods. Here are two famous works with mythological subjects~

Knowledge of the myth is essential.The two subjects were also interpreted by the artist is obvious.

Baccus and Ariadne by Titian, c.1522,National Gallery, London and Apollo and Daphne by Gian Lorenzo Bernini, 1722~25, Galleria Borghese, Rome, Italy

Here are two paintings of the same subject made two centuries apart in contrasting styles.

The first is Rogier van Der Weyden’s Deposition made in 1435, and the other is Peter Paul Rubens on the same subject. Both paintings depict the lowering of the dead body of Christ. But so different in some way and so similar in others.

Deposition by Rogier van Der Weyden, c.1435, Museo del Prado, Madrid, Spain and Deposition by Peter Paul Rubens, 1612~14, Antwerp,Belgium

Just as one does not have to believe in a religion to be moved by its cultural expressions, so one does not have to believe in the divine rights of the kings or absolute monarchy to be awed by the great palace of Louis XIV~ Chateau de Versailles.

Chateau de Versailles, 1661~1710,Versailles, France

As Biblical and Mythological themes became less common in the 19th century, the emotional content of art was more directly related to individual pleasures and sorrows. Thus art increasingly reflected the modern European middle class that arose in the 19th century, and turned to their lives and experiences for subjects and emotional expression. One Great example is Renoir’s Luncheon of the Boating Party. It seems so obvious. We understand it. We feel as if it speaks our language~ it’s free from any references to another time. The emotion comes from the pure joy of the artist. We feel we are included in the meeting of old friends.

Luncheon Of the Boating Party by Auguste Renoir, 1841~1919, The Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C.


These are some guide and tools which assists in looking at works of art. Art is important. Something when properly seen, considered and felt, can change our lives for the better. Like great Music and great Literature, Art is civilising.

“Painting is poetry that is seen rather than felt, and poetry is painting that is felt rather than seen.” 

― Leonardo da Vinci

Books · Cyprus · Lawrence Durrell

Bitter Lemons of Cyprus ~ Lawrence Durrell

This Island, floating in water like a diamond iceberg. Call it Kipros (Cyprus) from the king that married his daughter, Ennis and Achaeus Tefkros, who founded Salamina when he was exiled from the Trojan War.

Another version relates the island to the Greek word for Mediterranean Cypress (Cupressus sempervirens, Cypress or evergreen) or even the Greek name for the plant henna (Lawsonia alba), Cyprus. The Cyprus plant is what is today called the Henna. The plant cyprus is a deciduous shrub, native to North Africa and Asia. From the leaves of the plant a dye is produced, while its flowers are delicious and from them probably was produced the Cypriot myrrh of the ancient.

The most widely used version of the Cyprus name refers to the overseas trade of copper, whereby the island gave its name to the Latin word for copper through the phrase aes Cyprium, meaning “Cyprus metal”, the phrase was later shortened to Cuprum.

The name hardly matters because entering from the greater reality of elsewhere, one is only in search of a city, a place to hide, to lose or discover oneself, to make your dreams come true. With these thoughts in my mind, seeing from the window of the plane which is to carry me down to the island, a strange looking mass of land, wobbling in the blue of the Mediterranean, cool as jelly.


That was the year 2016, when my journey began in Cyprus. Back to 1953, Lawrence Durrell, an expatriate British novelist, poet and travel writer set foot in Cyprus. It was a different era ~ Durrell, who lived abroad for much of his life, brilliantly captures the romance, beauty, excitement and sadness of the island, and the lives of the people of Bellapaix where he bought a house. In a compelling and atmospheric account beautifully suited to the Spoken Word medium, Durrell charts affectionately the romances and relationships of the many characters he befriended there.

Clouds and water mixed into each other, dripping with colour, merging, overlapping, liquefying, with steeples and balconies and roofs floating in space, like the fragments of some stained~glass window seen through a dozen veils of rice paper. Fragments of history touched with colour of wine, tar, ocher, blood, fire~opal and ripening grains.

Lawrence Durrell

Cape Greco~Ayia Napa, Cyprus as seen from my lens

Yes, I was in Cyprus. Who knew, I was going to make this Mediterranean island my temporary abode, indeed the whole adventure had began to smell of improbability~I was glad that I was touching wood ! An ancient land, fertile, full of goodness and mineral springs, ancient castles and monasteries, fruits and grain and verdant grasslands, priests and gypsies and brigands.

Bitter lemons of Cyprus is a beautiful and atmospheric travelogue based in 1950s Cyprus. It paints a memorable picture of village life and a social and historical document of a lost community as seen by the author. Written during the gradual uprising of the Greek Cypriots who wanted union with Greece, Durrell observes the people’s struggles on an intimate and personal level.

” Journey, like artists are born and not made.”

Bitter Lemons Of Cyprus

Books · Brain · Dominic O'Brien · Greek · Memory · Non Fiction

How to develop a Brilliant Memory~Dominic O’Brien

Penguin Random House

There were no survivors .

When family members arrived at the scene of the fifth century B.C. banquet hall, nearly everything was destroyed, with no sign of their loved ones.Miraculously, the Greek poet Simonides of Ceos had escaped the catastrophe as he had just stepped out of the hall, summoned by two men on horseback waiting outside, anxious to tell him something. At the very moment as he crossed the threshold, the roof of the banquet hall collapsed.

Nothing was left, of what was once a magnificent hall of marble, now crumpled into a mass of rubble and entombed bodies which once were alive. Team of rescuers set to work, digging through the collapsed building. The corpses they pulled out of the wreckage were mangled beyond recognition. No one could even be sure who had been inside.

Then something remarkable happened that would change forever how people think about memories. Simonides as if by magic, conjured up the whole scene just before the catastrophe, in his mind. He caught the glimpse of each of the guest at his seat. He saw them, his fellow poets just as they had been, laughing and chatting, minutes before the tragedy ensued.He took the grieving relatives and carefully guided them, one by one, to the spot in the rubble where their loved ones had been sitting.

They say, at that moment the art of memory was born.

Training ones memory has untold benefits.

What’s it About

The Book by Dominic O’ Brien explores the potential that most of us have to become “memory champions”. He is optimistic that by using the basic principles outlined in the book, one can transform their memory power instantly. The book is an attempt to unleash the power of your memory by simply using techniques in easy, bit~sized chapters.

Who is it for

What’s great is that you don’t have to be a certain age bracket to make the cut. You are never too young or too old to acquire these skills.

“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who’ll decide where to go…”

Dr. Seuss: Oh, the places you will go.

How does it work

It only requires you to perform tests and exercises, which have to be taken on a daily basis as laid down in the book. So get your notebook for writing down your answers and keeping a note of your score and see your mental power increase exponentially .

The 14 Key Memory Tools

  1. Test Your Memory
  2. Visualisation and Observation
  3. Acronyms
  4. Turning Numbers into Sentences
  5. The Body System
  6. Association ~ The First Key
  7. The Link Method
  8. Location~The Second Key
  9. Imagination ~ The Third Key
  10. The Journey Method
  11. Concentration
  12. The Language of numbers
  13. The Number~Rhyme Systwm
  14. The Alphabet System

My Take on the Book

Training ones memory has untold benefits. Apart from the practical advantages, I noticed that my memory in general is now more efficient and I have gained confidence in this ability. When I took up the book, my motive was not to be sitting in some Memory Championship grand slam event , which of course requires a lot of perseverance and dedication to achieve, and it is possible if you put your heart and soul into it. My sole reason for reading the book was that I could never remember names, miss on a couple of items in my shopping list, or birthdays, or telephone numbers. I was just getting a bit forgetful in general. I have to say that I have enjoyed this journey tremendously .

As the author points out that you don’t have to be born with special gift of recall or a photographic memory. Nothing could be further from the truth. It all about training your memory with the right tools. I have been trying to pass these tools to my daughter so that she can study more effectively. It is an investment in the future well~being of your mind.

One doesn’t require fancy tools to do this. When you are out and about, get into the habit of employing your skills to recall names, house numbers, street numbers, even car registration numbers. I find myself automatically translating numbers into images. You don’t need a pen when someone tells you his phone number. And you never get embarrassed when you forget someones name you have just met.

blue zones · Book Review · Dan Buettner · fitness · longevity · National Geographic · nutrition · spices

The Blue Zone Diet~Live to be a Centenarian

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What is a Blue Zone Diet?

It began in 2004, when American explorer Dan Buetttner teamed up with National Geographic to identify places in the world where communities lived considerabley longer and better than the average person. Mr Buettner identifies five of these places termed Blue Zones and with the help of scientists began to research just what characteristics extended the longevity of these communities. He discovered that these long living communities showed several characteristics including a strong sense of family, constant physical activity and lean towards plant base diet.

Places in the world identified as “Blue Zone”

  • Sardinia, Italy
  • Okinawa, Japan
  • Nicola, Costa Rica
  • Ikaria, Greece
  • Loma Linda, California

So why should we pay attention to what the people in the relatively isolated Blue Zone communities eat? Because, as Buettner writes, their more traditional diets harken back to an era before we were inundated with greasy fast food and sugar. And to qualify as a Blue Zone, these communities also have to be largely free of afflictions like heart disease, obesity, cancer and diabetes. So clearly they’re doing something right.These people don’t live long because of supplements, pills, or other such modern day cure like anti-aging serums. They do so because they are surroundings nudge them into the right behaviour.

In the new book, Buettner distills the researchers’ findings on what all the Blue Zones share when it comes to their diet. Here’s a taste:

  • Use Fewer Ingredients ~Less variety may help keep people from overeating and keep the immune system strong.
  • Add Cruciferous Vegetables ~ Vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower have been known to help protect the heart, stave off cancer, and lower oxidative stress.
  • Make Beans Tasty~ In the Blue Zones, beans are the main story. They’re cooked into soup and stews, enhanced with spices, and complemented by grains and vegetables.
  • Finish Dishes with Olive Oil ~ Room temperature Olive oil is added to breads, drizzled over vegetables, and added to soups and stews.
  • Supplement with Fresh Herbs and Spices~Rosemary, Oregano, Sage, Mint, Garlic, Turmeric, and Mugwort all possess well documented medicinal value.
  • Fiber is More Important ~ Grains, greens, nuts, and beans not only contain protein, complex carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals that keep our heart healthy and our mind sharp they also feed eight pounds of bacteria living in our gut.
  • Enjoy your meals with Red Wine ~ We have all heard plenty about polyphenols and antioxidants, which occur more often in red wine that white wine.

Finally, the author says that eating for longevity is not just what you eat, but how you eat. Blue zones teaches us that diner with family, pausing before a meal to express gratitude, fasting occasionally, eating a big breakfast, and trying to eat all of your calories in an eight~hour window helps stay healthier, live longer, and feel better.


Granted, it’s not easy to emulate the Blue Zoners especially if you live in the US or anywhere in the industrial world, where you’re likely to be tempted with bacon and cupcakes every day. And maybe you don’t want to become a vegan.

But Buettner has plenty to say about simple ways we could live like these isolated tribes of exceptional health in The Blue Zone Solution. That’s what he’s focused on now with the Blue Zone Project: helping communities adapt the cross-cutting tenets of a healthful lifestyle. So far, the project has gotten several towns and U.S. states.

Book Review · Books · Non Fiction

Think Like a Freak by Steven D Levitt and Stephen J Dubner, book review

So what does it mean to think like a freak?

There are all sorts of questions in the world, for instance~ Is college degree still “worth it”? Short answer: yes; long answer: also yes. Is it a good idea to pass along a family business to the next generation? Sure, if your goal is to kill off the business~ for the data shows it’s generally better to bring in outside management.

Some questions are existential says our authors ~ What makes people truly happy? Is income equality as dangerous as it seems?

People want to know the pros and cons off: autonomous vehicles, breast~feeding, chemotherapy, estate taxes, fracking, lotteries, online dating, patent reform, rhino poaching, and virtual currencies. These are the kind of questions are authors are frequently bombarded with as though they have some magic frekonomics forceps !!!

The thing is that solving problems is hard and most people would rather not try doing it as it moves them away from the herd mentality and requires them to start thinking rationally and independently. “Cogito, ergo sum” translated to English~ “I think, therefore I am.” Rene` Descartes.

This third book in the Freak series is different from the previous two bestsellers~ Freakonomics and Super~Freakonomics because this book teaches us how to think. Why is that you may ask ? In a lot of cases it’s the biases~political, intellectual, or otherwise. It’s tempting to run with the herd. Even on the most important issues of the day, we tend to adopt the view of our friends, families and colleagues. But that is like embracing the status quo, we are resistant to change, more than happy to delegate our thinking.

They quote George Bernard Shaw – “Few people think more than two or three times a year. I have made an international reputation by thinking once or twice a week.”

There is an inherent problem in how people think. Too much is emotion and lack of data to make a proper call. They site the example of NHS (National Health Service)~ which provides cradle~to~grave healthcare for every Briton, most of it free at the point of use. This comes at an enormous cost and has been rising ever since. This does not make practical sense~ while the goal of free, unlimited, lifetime of healthcare is laudable, the economics are tricky, because there is so much emotion attached to healthcare that people can’t take a rational call. The problem is that when people don’t pay the true cost, they tend to consume it inefficiently.

So most people make decisions based on incomplete data, prejudices, their environment or peer and family pressure. Moreover, because they often have little idea of the impact, of their choices, they leave others to make decisions for them. The authors describe how, in a controlled experiment, and with the agreement of those involved, dilemmas were resolved with the toss of a coin to such questions as: “Shall I leave my girlfriend?” . A considerable percentage accepted a random outcome and professed themselves to be happy with the choice that was made for them!

Think Like a Freak is well-populated with case studies for freaky thinking in business, which should prove of value to futurists and foresight professionals working with business trends and clients. Much of this relates to developing persuasiveness, clearly a key trait to success in any endeavor.

“Thinking like a freak may sometimes sound like an exercise in using clever means to get exactly what you want, and there’s nothing wrong with that,” the authors write. But “the best way to get what you want is to treat other people with decency. Decency can push almost any interaction into the cooperative frame.”

Finally, the bravest act of freaky thinking may very well be admitting failure. We certainly value fortitude and determination, but not obsessiveness in the face of futility. Quitting isn’t failure, the authors remind us; failing is failure. The upside to quitting—to recognizing a brick wall before you hit it—is reserving resources and resilience for finding a way around, over, or even under that brick wall.

Fixing huge problems like runaway health~care is hard~ so the advise is to focus on small problems when possible. So let us begin by retraining our brain to think differently about problems, one problem at a time. Are you willing to try it? Excellent ! Then go and read the book and don’t get embarrassed by how much you don’t yet know….

Photos via authors’ pages.