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Worthwhile: Michelin Ambition + Headspace + More Coffee Apostasy

A weekly compendium of good links and other fare.

Jason S. Canon
Jason S. Canon
2 min read
Worthwhile: Michelin Ambition + Headspace + More Coffee Apostasy

Worth Reading

Angelique Chrisafis, writing in 2017 for the Guardian, tells the story of a chef who exchanged Michelin prestige for pleasure in actually cooking:

One of France’s most celebrated chefs, whose restaurant has been honoured with three stars in the Michelin guide for almost 20 years, has pleaded to be stripped of the prestigious ranking because of the huge pressure of being judged on every dish he serves....

Bras said he wanted to be allowed to cook excellent food away from the frenzy of star ratings and the anxiety over Michelin’s anonymous food judges, who could arrive at his restaurant at any moment.

Bras, dressed in his chef’s whites, announced his decision in a Facebook video with the local landscape rolling out behind him, saying: “Today, at 46 years old, I want to give a new meaning to my life ... and redefine what is essential.”

He said his job had given him a lot of satisfaction but there was also huge pressure that was inevitably linked to the three Michelin stars first given to the restaurant in 1999. He asked to be allowed to continue his work with a free spirit and in serenity away from the world of rankings, without tension. He said he wanted to be dropped from the guide from next year.

Such courage. More on ambition this Sunday.

Advik Shreekumar (MIT) and Pierre-Luc Vautrey (MIT) with a working paper looking at the effectiveness Headspace [via]:

In a four-week experiment with 2,384 US adults, offering free access to a popular mindfulness meditation app that costs $13 per month improves mental health, productivity and decision- making. First, it causes a 0.44 standard deviation reduction in symptoms of stress, anxiety, and depression, comparable to the impacts of expensive in-person therapy, with improvements even among participants with minimal or mild symptoms at baseline. Second, it increases earnings on a proofreading task by 1.9 percent. Third, it makes decision-making more stable across emotional states, reducing the interference of personal worries with risk choices. Overall, our results demonstrate the potential of affordable mindfulness meditation apps to improve mental health, productivity, and the impact of emotions on economic decisions.

Worth Watching

The infrastructure geek in me has always wondered in that I’m-curious-but-not-enough-to-look-it-up way how the Interstate system is numbered. And thanks to CGP Grey now I know… or at least I know how it should be numbered. A fun explainer that raises the question: how many exceptions until there’s no pattern at all?

Worth Trying

It’s heresy, I know, but I’ve officially switched to instant coffee. "But Jason," you say, "you love coffee! You’ve spent way too much money on coffee equipment! You pride yourself on your good taste! How could you debase yourself so?”

And the answer is simple (I’ll have a full write-up soon): instant is cheaper, easier, faster, less wasteful, easier to customize, and frustration free. Turns out that that’s what I want from my morning coffee. I want simplicity when I’m half-awake and ready to get to work; I’ll save the excellence for the experts, and will likely enjoy then it all the more.

Oh, and this only works because instant has gotten good. It’s not stellar, but it’s good enough. Here’s what I’m drinking right now.