Tag Archives: coffee

Coffee. Disney. Love.

Every once in a while there is a brief moment where our world falls away. Or at least, that’s what the songs tell you. A moment where the veneer of our daily worries retreats just enough to bring things into perspective. ‘A Disney moment,’ Angela would call it. And as she turned the page of her book, and heard the melodic clink of ceramic on ceramic , she finally learned what that truly meant.

*****

It had been a hard day. Josie had been difficult as usual, or a ‘bitch’ as Angela preferred to say (privately.) To Angela it seemed odd that a woman so similar to her could be so challenging to work with. But she supposed there was an element of misunderstanding, different expectations and reactions. But in the ongoing show-reel of her head, Angela was happy to entertain the drama.

‘You are too dramatic, just let it go’ her mother had always said. Angela hated to admit when her mother was right, but, annoyingly, as time went on, she seemed all the wiser. But she didn’t have to admit it, instead she preferred to pretend. There had to be a little entertainment. A hard day could just be another story.

But with a hard day comes something lost, something she needed to fulfil. And usually she just went home and watched Netflix. Let it all blend together. But, today felt different.

So, today of all days, she had decided to reward herself. She had always enjoyed an iced latte, but upon reaching the counter at Starbucks had found herself drawn elsewhere. An exotic Colombian roast. She had always wanted to visit Colombia, but work had always got in the way. The world never stopped turning for you.

The world of Disney princesses, fantastical princes and adventures was a far cry from what truly was. It was invented to make life bearable, and the brief breaths of romance and heroism were, as she considered, delusions. There was simply no magic left, just the odd physical pleasure, a new taste, smell or sound. A brewing Colombian coffee on a Friday night.

So there she was, mind buried in the events of her day, Josie’s (bitch) face droning on, the words of her novel half ignored, and her special coffee warming her stomach. But Angela wasn’t really there until she heard the ‘clink.’ And in a very human habit, she turned her head and saw him; the old man with the tired eyes.

His skin had greyed a little, and fresh whiskers poked out from his pale face. He had a small coffee pressed to his lips, which were pursed. A little of the coffee had spilled down his front, staining his white shirt (although, it was already a little yellow.) Angela liked that, authenticity and permanence were comforting in such a rapidly changing world.

But it wasn’t his shirt that caught Angela’s attention. It was his eyes, and something in his hand. Across the table were strewn pictures, some yellowed like the shirt, others new. An empty packet read ‘Charles’, which Angela vaguely remembered as shop up the street.

Every picture featured the same face, and as you glanced over the collage you could see it age.

For a moment Angela was perplexed, but then the man’s eyes answered her question. They were red, staring off beyond the polaroid in his hand. They seemed to look through it, as if back in time. She could see his mind working, struggling to put the past and today together. Something that she understood. But whilst he was clawing at the past, she often pushed it away.

Always chasing that quick reward. The moment yet to come.

But in this moment, as she realised that the man opposite her was saying goodbye to his wife, she had that Disney moment.  Angela felt things fall away, and something came into focus.

A Disney moment wasn’t about a fairy tale, but the moments that transcend our worries. The seconds that remind us of our dreams, and how they come and go. Where a second can become an eternity, and what’s lost can be held for just so long.

Life wasn’t about a mermaid or hero, but about the beauty of moments we cherish. How they could provide us purchase even in the harsh cyclone of our lives speeding up. A smiling face in a yellowing picture, a yellow hat in a shaking hand, anything could be that moment,

All of a sudden Josie,  her mother, the hard day and the quick reward seemed trivial. And all that was left was the old man,  his moment, his story and the timeless love. She caught her breath and smiled. The old man looked up, his hands trembling, and nodded. He held up the picture, pointed with his other hand and smiled.

‘This was at Disney Land,’ he said.

Every once in a while I like to write something different. Image courtesy of Flickr.

Ben

 

 

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Can You Really Trust Health Journalism? Think Like A Scientist.

Newspapers often give completely contradictory health advice. It’s difficult enough to keep track of what is supposed to be healthy, without papers changing their minds the whole time. Unless you have training in Science or access to the original source material, you often must take a newspapers interpretation at face value. But this can often be wrong, and in some cases, very dangerous. How dangerous? Well, read on to find out how you can spot the sensational and separate the wheat from the chaff.

Health And Contradiction

One example of a newspaper that is often sensational in its reporting is The Daily Mail.  And, like any other news source, it has to keep up with new information, which may change within hours. In just a few examples, we see The Daily Mail appear to contradict itself on a variety of subjects.  “Aspirin causes cancer” but also “Aspirin prevents cancer”. They tell us “Beer causes cancer” but then “Beer prevents cancer”. Also “Coffee causes cancer”  except in those times when “Coffee prevents cancer”“Eggs cause cancer” but, you guessed it, “Eggs prevent cancer”. “Soya causes cancer” but also “Soya prevents cancer”. And if lifestyle advice rather than dietary advice is your thing, don’t worry, they’ve got you covered. “Stress causes cancer”  but, in an unexpected turn of events, also “Stress prevents cancer”.

If you were to go by this reporting, which in itself seems well sourced, would you be confident to have eggs on toast and a soy latte? Why such contradictory advice? What has gone wrong here? Is it the newspaper’s fault? Or is it more complicated than that?

Contradiction Is Natural in Science

Knowledge about a subject changes over time. We all remember adverts where doctors recommended cigarettes, but you’d struggle to find many nowadays claiming cigarettes aren’t harmful. And those that do require some education. But that’s only part of the story. To understand more about it, let’s look at how medical research gets published, and how newspapers access this research.

If you’re a researcher wanting to get your work published, you submit it to a professional journal. There’s a kind of pecking order of these, with the top ones being well known (Nature, The British Medical Journal, The Lancet etc). At the top of the journal food-chain, journal editors are able to employ lots of independent experts who can “peer-review” articles before they are published, checking that everything looks accurate. It’s the journal’s reputation on the line too. These journals make their money by being a trusted resource that people are keen to subscribe to and keep up to date with cutting-edge research. Because you often have to pay to access these articles, it’s less likely that the general public or the press have access to them.

Here lies a conundrum. The very nature of profit means that the public may have to rely on second-hand accounts.

A bit down the chain are the less big-name journals that provide articles free to access and make their money through advertising. These journals still peer-review articles and often play an important role in publishing articles that bigger journals might not take on, but are still important: for example articles about treatments that have been tried but don’t work.

Further down the food-chain are journals that rely on charging researchers to publish in them, just for the kudos of having their research published. The majority of these journals are honest, but a few are just money-making schemes, that will accept any article as their business depends on it. They will often actively go looking for researchers to submit articles to them. While they claim to be “peer-reviewed” often these articles aren’t.

So how do you distinguish between verified and peer-reviewed science, and what is just money-making? And how can you tell what you should believe in when there is so much out there?

The Wheat from the Chaff

One famous example of science shenanigans is David Mazieres and Eddie Kohler of New York University and the University of California, Los Angeles. They were contacted by a journal that sent hundreds of emails out to researchers, suggesting that they submit work to their journal. They wrote a paper called “Get Me Off Your F*****g Mailing List” as a joke. Surprisingly, their paper was “peer-reviewed” and accepted for publication by the impressively named “International Journal of Advanced Computer Technology”

Now, that’s an extreme case, but it shows that we need to be cautious about some of these medical articles that are the easiest for newspapers to access. Just because something has been published in a “journal” doesn’t mean it’s good research, and expert peer-review is essential. Unfortunately, it’s often the very articles that are less rigorously checked that are easiest to access by newspapers.

Why is this a problem? Well, proper research is often really difficult to do, but misinterpreting results is easy. As any statistician worth their salt will tell you, 86.7% of statistics are made up. So if an article hasn’t been “peer-reviewed”, you’re going to have to review it yourself. Luckily, there are certain clues in good research that help you think like a Scientist.

Think like a Scientist

In Science, nothing is confirmed. Only refuted, and conclusions drawn in very narrow margins. Researchers have to be careful that their findings are “statistically significant”, and they use various ways to do this. They often quote a factor in their articles called a “p value” which is a measure of how likely it is the results they found are due to chance. For example, a p-value of 0.05 suggests that there’s only a 5 in 100 chance that the results of the research are just due to chance. That sounds impressive, right? Well, yeah, but if your research is looking at 100 things that might cause cancer, 5 things might show up as positive just by chance.

This is incredibly common, and a natural limitation of science. It is akin to ‘we are confident of this relationship in most cases, but cannot account for all.’

Also, you need to be sure that the things you are looking at really are the cause, and aren’t just “confounding factors” meaning that the thing you are looking at isn’t really the cause, but is associated with something that is. Let’s say you’re looking at what causes obesity, and you find that Diet drinks are linked to it. It might be that they really are – but it’s unlikely considering the number of calories in them is often zero. So a simple confounding factor is that the already overweight may drink more diet drinks to try and cut down. Correlation does not imply causation.

Erm, So Now What?

So I should just ignore everything I read right? Well, no. Research is essential to better understand the world we live in, but the bottom line is we shouldn’t just trust something because it’s been published in a journal with an impressive name, and then reported on in a newspaper. The Daily Mail has an excellent health writer, but without the opportunity to review the work in the context of everything else you cannot make a truly informed choice.

Furthermore, often the relationship between a variable (coffee) and an outcome (stress) is not something simple, linear and dose-related. You can have too much or too little. So if you claim ‘Coffee causes stress’ and ‘Coffee helps you destress’ you may be right, but about different doses, lifestyles and context.

Check the sources, ask yourself a few simple questions about it, and if you’re interested look into it more. If you see something that doesn’t make sense, ask about it, write a comment below the article, because unless we highlight bad reporting of poor research, things are never going to change. Also, there are some very good sources out there for health, such as ‘Cochrane‘ which creates reliable information about health research by reviewing all the data at regular intervals.

But nothing is better, or safer, than seeing your GP. So if you are concerned about your health, or the impact of changing diet, behaviour or medication, consult with your local provider before hand.

So, with that in mind, cast a keener eye on the headlines. And if you want to know a bit more about how to approach an article critically, check out our Big 5 questions. And, as always, help us out by sharing our work.

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The opinions expressed in this article are those of Dr Rod Kelly and Dr Janaway alone and may not represent those of their affiliates. Original article was written by Dr Kelly and edited for publication by Dr Janaway. If you wish to discuss the article, please contact us. Image courtesy of Jon S. No alteration was made to the image except resizing to fit banner (640x378p.) We pass on our thanks to the creator of the Image.

If you have concerns about your health, always consult a Physician. 

 

Want To Wake Up Energised? Learn Now How Defining And Pursuing Your Vision Can Make All The Difference.

We know it’s hard. The alarm goes off, and you roll out of bed. Dreary eyed, you reach for coffee. It’s normal. But it may not be what you really want. But the worlds heroes are different for one reason. And with that secret, you will look forward to waking up and hitting the day running. What are you waiting for?

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Forget Coffee, There is Something Much Stronger.

The secret is simple. Vision, Imagination and Perseverance.

Define Your Vision

‘I want to affect people like a clap of thunder, to inflame their minds with the breadth of my vision, the strength of my conviction and the power of my expression.’ – Rosa Luxemburg, Theorist and Activist.

The first question you can ask yourself is ‘Who do I want to help?’ or failing that, ‘What do I want to change?’ What can you ‘do’ to make the world a better place? It may not be big, your audience could be just one person. That’s enough. But like Elon Musk, it might be the world itself. No Vision is too small or too large. It’s what you wish to do that improves the world that makes all the difference.

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Helping Others Can Be A Calling.

For example. You may want to make life better for your family, find a higher paying job or try a new career. You may want to solve climate change. As great or small as your Vision is, define it first.  Now own it, breathe it and live it.

Imagine Your Journey

‘The greats weren’t great because at birth they could paint, the greats were great because they paint a lot’ – Macklemore, 10,000 Hours, The Heist.

The first steps are always the hardest. But you have to know where you are going so you that you can point your feet. Try it now, imagine what it would be like to achieve your vision. What do you see? What does it feel like? What would every step along the way bring? Live your future right here and right now. Learn what you are willing to do to achieve it. What are you willing to sacrifice?

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Imagine You Are Already There.

And most importantly, who will you be when its all done? Imagination is inspiration.

Persevere and Succeed

‘Accept hardship as a necessary discipline’ – Lailah Gifty Akita, Founder of Smart Youth Volunteers Foundation.

There is no doubt about it, Visions can be hard to achieve. There is no easy road, but that’s okay, each moment you fall is another you rise. There will be setbacks, lots of them. Probably more than leaps forward at times. But no worthwhile journey is ever simple, and its the challenge that makes you. It is the difficulty that sharpens your nerve, builds your resolve and error that shows the way forward.

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Be Wiling To Go Beyond.

Be ready to attack, put in those hours, give it 100% and then some. Don’t wait, create, work, do, research, write, run, whatever it is. Every second spent pushing is one closer to that Vision. That picture in your mind is only a matter of time and effort.

So what are you waiting for?

What’s Next?

  • Read our Little Trick To Happiness.
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  • Let me know what you think in the comments below or on social media.
  • Donate. For just the price of a coffee you can help us Change The World.

The opinions expressed in this article are those of Dr Janaway alone and may not represent those of his affiliates. Images courtesy of DebsErháld Borbáth, kxcd , T K R Roy. and Adrian Valenzuela. Check them out.