JYP Reads The News Again

It’s Monday morning, and I’ve decided to read and comment on the news again. Bolding in all quotes is mine.

Animals

Dogs Can Tell If You’re Speaking to Them in a Foreign Language, Study Finds

Here’s the link to the peer-reviewed study itself, if you are curious. How did they study this, you ask?

In their experiments, Cuaya and her colleagues had a native Hungarian speaker and a native Spanish speaker read sentences from Chapter 21 of “The Little Prince” while the dogs were in the scanner. The text and the readers were unknown to all the dogs.

https://www.nbcnews.com/health/health-news/dogs-understand-foreign-language-brain-scans-show-rcna11074

Are they sure? Dog owners can be awfully intense. I would 100% believe that there are dog owners out there reading “The Little Prince” to their dogs before tucking them in bed.

In any case, note that the researchers studied just 18 dogs and animal behavior is difficult to study. I read this gem in another article covering a different study on dog behavior:

For one, the authors still worry that the experimental design could have been too complex for the dogs to fully understand what was going on…

https://gizmodo.com/would-your-dog-give-you-treats-if-he-could-1847291658

Perhaps surprising given my avatar, I’m actually not a dog person. But I want to be clear that I’m not criticizing dogs. It’s actually amazing what dogs can be trained to do. Also, humans barely understand experimental design.

I’m actually not a dog person; I just liked this intellectual dog image (that I used in a previous post) so much that I decided to make it my avatar. Image by mohamed Hassan from Pixabay

Besides, criticizing dogs is like asking to get banned from the internet.

Business

M&M’s is redesigning their characters to be more progressive and inclusive.

The redesign is focused on creating a sense of belonging and community, as well as spotlighting the character’s “personalities, rather than their gender.”

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/m-ms-characters-redesigned-modern-inclusive-progressive/

Which means:

The most notable changes include the green M&M’s redesign, which will exchange the white heeled go-go boots she was given in 1997 for “cool, laid-back sneakers to reflect her effortless confidence.”…The green M&M will also be “better represented to reflect confidence and empowerment, as a strong female, and known for much more than her boots.” 

The green M&M and the brown M&M will have a more friendly relationship, showcasing a “force supporting women.” The two characters’ dynamic will have them “together throwing shine and not shade,” the company said.

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/m-ms-characters-redesigned-modern-inclusive-progressive/

So Mars Wrigley is making the female M&Ms a “force supporting women” and also “spotlighting personality not gender” – isn’t that kind of a contradiction?

Separately, note that Mars Wrigley is not increasing the number of female M&M characters because that would require coming up with new colors (aka actual product innovation):

Currently, there are two female characters and four male ones. Adding another couple of female characters to balance out the ratio is possible, said [Anton Vincent, president of Mars Wrigley North America], but there are “implications” for the product itself. Namely, M&Ms would have to add new permanent colors to its mix.

https://www.cnn.com/2022/01/20/business/mms-characters-logo/index.html

Then there’s this change:

Mars will also include imagery of M&Ms of all shapes and sizes, moving away from only one body size

https://www.newson6.com/story/61e949c1c6a2e90befdf7239/mm-characters-redesigned-for-more-dynamic-progressive-world-mars-announces
From https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-10423249/M-Ms-woke-new-versions-characters-reflect-dynamic-progressive-world.html#i-ffbfd8f20bac6d9c

Question: If Mars Wrigley isn’t changing the actual size of the actual M&M candies, is showing M&M imagery of all shapes and sizes false advertising?

Anyway, everyone who isn’t a VP at Mars Wrigley (and who isn’t this sole Gen Z-er who feels seen by the anxious Orange M&M) is unimpressed with the redesign. This writer is upset because she doesn’t want to think about the M&Ms’ anthropomorphized personalities while she eats candy. Tucker Carlson is upset because the M&Ms are no longer sexy. This writer thinks the M&M characters should be more gender-fluid and engage in queer romantic relationships. Feminists are mad about the implication that Green’s go-go boots cannot coexist with feminism. There are too many Twitter gems from the right and the left to quote in full.

JYP’S OPINION:

I don’t give a rat’s ass about the M&M characters; M&Ms are still a crappy candy.

Stock photo of crappy, unsatisfying M&Ms. Image by ssunyi from Pixabay

Also, The Onion wins the prize for best response [NSFW].

Health

CDC releases map of most inactive states

Before we dive into the article, let us just acknowledge how novel it is to see news related to the CDC that isn’t about coronavirus.

The CDC released new state maps showing the levels of adult physical inactivity across the United States. 

https://whnt.com/news/cdc-releases-map-of-most-inactive-states-heres-how-yours-ranks/

You can read the CDC press release and map and rejoice/lament in how much better/worse your state is compared to whichever state you hate the most.

But at the risk of being branded as anti-science for questioning the CDC (which other medical groups have done), I question the definition of physical inactivity used for this study:

For these maps, physical inactivity for adults is defined as not participating in any physical activities outside of work over the last month

https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2022/p0120-inactivity-map.html

This definition strikes me as very classist. Does the CDC not realize that there are plenty of jobs which involve physical activity as part of performing the job? By this definition, a white-collar worker working from home all day who gets on a Peloton for one hour would be physically active, whereas the bike delivery driver who rides a bike for his/her entire workday shift would be considered physically inactive unless he/she went running afterwards. The “outside of work” element of this definition goes against other accepted definitions of physical activity

Apparently, according to the CDC, gardening is physical activity, but only if it’s not your job. If you get paid to do this for a living, it doesn’t count. Image by Aline Dassel from Pixabay

Science

Size matters more than we think, Israeli study concludes

This headline is not about what you think it is about:

A new study led by Dr. Sharon Gilaie-Dotan, a senior lecturer in Bar-Ilan University’s School of Optometry and Vision Science and Gonda (Goldschmied) Multidisciplinary Brain Research Center, concludes that in the formation of visual memories, size counts.

https://www.jpost.com/science/article-694354

This study is about image size and memory formation

According to the study, longer larger items are remembered better than smaller ones. Photo by cempey from FreeImages

Yes, I kept giggling while reading this Jerusalem Post article because the jokes write themselves, but ultimately, this is not a study about male genitalia.

If you’re disappointed, consider reading my poem, “Unpopular Opinions on Thesauruses and Penises”, which is about exactly that.

Tech

Couple plan India’s ‘first metaverse marriage’

“Because of the pandemic, a physical, real kind of reception is not possible with the huge number of people attending,” said Padmavathi…”So, we decided: let’s make it in the metaverse.

https://www.cnn.com/style/article/india-wedding-metaverse/index.html

Now I finally understand the demand for luxury-branded NFTs. What else do you wear to a metaverse wedding? This makes sense now. I can’t wait for the etiquette and style guides for metaverse weddings.

“I’m going to a metaverse wedding and I don’t have a thing to wear…” Photo by Ali Pazani from Pexels

***

Is commenting on the news going to be a regular feature of this blog? I haven’t decided yet. I’m also not a creature of routine, so words like “regular feature” scare me, but let me know what you think.

30 comments

  1. I vote for more news analysis! Very fun. And I had a few thoughts . . . first, I don’t understand the Metaverse. It’s like, hey, it’s a nice day! Go outside and play! Similarly, the dog/language study sailed high over my head leaving only vague contrails of wonderment. Wa-aaayy too much data when the dogs are probably operating on what the speaker’s breath smells like, or some similarly dog-like strategy. Who knows how they know stuff?
    I’ll just stop eating M&Ms. How’s that? That will lower my stress levels and add years to my life.
    Big stuff/memory: duh. But I guess it had to be said.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I don’t get the metaverse either. The metaverse wedding was the first time I kinda understood the appeal of the metaverse. And even then, I’m a huge extrovert who had a pre-COVID in-person big dance party wedding of 300 guests and, though I question other choices in my marriage, I would 100% do the giant in-person wedding with 300 people again. So the metaverse wedding is not for me either, but I do get the appeal for couples facing COVID, space, budget constraints, etc.

      Studying dog behavior is weird. I loved that quote from the other study about how the study design might be too complex for the dogs, who are probably off thinking about something else anyway.

      My M&M habits won’t change as a result of the character rebrand because I don’t like M&Ms in the first place. I like good quality chocolate. But yeah, do whatever lowers stress.

      Big objects/memory – I mean, the jokes write themselves! A bunch of commenters on the JPost article were actually kinda pissed about the clickbait juvenile-humor headline. I thought it was hilarious.

      Thanks for the feedback – I enjoy this style of post too, although it actually takes a while to write and put together.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. A few pressing questions I have about dogs is when an American Short Hair sniffs a French Poodle, for example, what language is it smelling in? When a dog sticks its nose in your crotch what secrets is it learning about you? If dogs could speak our languages, would all our secrets would be out?

    M&Ms image change? Doesn’t M&M stand for macho and masochistic? They’re going to bring women down to the level of men?

    How can people be inactive for a month if they aren’t strapped to a hospital bed or something like that? I was in the hospital for a month in 2016 and I got at least 10K steps a day pacing the corridors.

    As you know I have a really long… lens and it really does matter. When we lived in Spain I think it was the Diario paper that reported on a study on average penis lengths by nationality. They had a cute graph that was made of dicks showing the different lengths. The Spanish ended up on the short end of the graph.

    A news commentary is good because I don’t follow the news much.

    Liked by 1 person

    • “What language do you smell in?” reads to me like a dating profile question. Given the way people behave on online dating platforms/apps (so I hear – I’ve never tried these), I’m not sure sniffing each other’s butts like the dogs do is that much less civilized. I’m not advocating butt-sniffing or crotch-sniffing strangers.

      The male M&Ms don’t get any men solidarity, apparently. Maybe because they’re spotlighting personality, not gender. I had no idea there was this much emotional investment in the M&M characters (outside of the well-paid M&M brand VPs paid to have emotional investment in this) until the news broke about the rebrand design. Like I literally never noticed Green M&M’s shoes, but apparently, Mars Wrigley has been receiving all kinds of customer mail about this.

      I think depending on how one defines physical activity, it is very easy to be classed as “inactive” or “active” and not change a single thing. I think of the phones and FitBits that will increase my step counts if I walk into a Starbucks for overpriced calories and not notice if I swim laps at the gym because I’m not wearing them.

      Long lens take the most memorable photos, right? That Spain paper is hilarious! Dare I ask which nation had the largest? Kind curious to read the full peer-reviewed study. You may appreciate my poem if you haven’t seen it yet: https://jewishyoungprofessional.wordpress.com/2022/01/18/unpopular-opinions-on-thesauruses-and-penises/

      The problem with the news is that it is mostly awful and sensational. I had to really dig for stories worth commenting on. I did political blogging for a brief stint over a decade ago and I’m not interested in doing it again.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. I had to laugh at this post and some of the comments. When a dog crotch sniffs I have wondered what the pooch detected and whether an opinion was formed. The Green M&M is a mean girl no matter what footwear she has on. I think that jackboots would fit her style better than gogo boots. Love your points about what constitutes physical activity and only outside the job is acknowledged. People who take public transportation and have to travel to/ from home don’t get any credit for walking to the transportation, maybe standing while transporting, and walking to their work place.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. What fun!!

    Huh. What irritates me about the M&M’s is that the company seems to think that they’re the be-all and end-all of how we perceive genders and show tolerance. But they’re a candy! Nothing more than that. It’s like they’ve become megalomaniacal in thinking that they must represent. Geez. They’re not speaking for anyone. It’s chocolate, nothing more. Such ego inflation! 😮

    I agree with your criticism of the inactive states method of study! Good point! But… oh no! My state of Kentucky is in the dark red color! That’s, like, the worst rating a state can get! 😀 I seriously don’t think it applies to Louisvillians. In Louisville here, we have walking parks, bike lanes, gyms, etc.

    This was fun!! 😀 I’d love it if you kept commenting on the news!

    Liked by 1 person

    • It is kind of wild the amount of inflated self-importance that a brand has. Granted, the new M&M design is more likely meant as a reflection of the changing times vs. a “we’re going to lead the conversation around progressive inclusivity” but the amount of belief in the importance of one’s brand is….a lot. This is a chocolate candy that costs what, a dollar? Also, some commentators have called out M&M/Mars Wrigley to do something substantive, like ensure their chocolate supply chain doesn’t profit off of exploitive labor practices, support parental leave policies, etc. as opposed to a brand redesign that primarily intended to drive sales. I have no idea how much of this Mars Wrigley is already doing/not doing, but I think that is a good point as well.

      Maybe Kentuckians (is that a word?) do more physical activity as part of their work. Remember, CDC only counted activity outside of work. I know absolutely nothing about Louisville or Kentucky, so I’ll take your word for it!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I enjoyed reading the part about M&Ms and wondered if they will ever change the picture on their packages. The one on the bag of peanut M&Ms always looked to me as if the peanut guy is eating the other M&Ms. Sort of cannibalistic.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Corporate branding has such an overinflated sense of self-importance. Is it important to update your branding to reflect the times? Yes. But do consumers care about this anywhere as much as the brand VPs think they do, relative to the other major political, socioeconomic, environmental issues facing the world and other stresses in their lives? No.

      The other funny thing is that Mars Wrigley could use the moment to do something substantive, or talk about substantive things they are already doing (a quick glance at their corporate website suggests they have a sustainability plan and have taken actions on deforestation, child labor in cocoa supply chain, etc.) but instead the press and hype is all about a silly M&M character.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Lol, I usually speak to my dog in English, with the usual commands of ‘come’, ‘stay’, ‘down’. But sometimes I mention ‘walk’ in a sentence and she gets all excited, so I’ve taken to speaking with my partner in our third (national) language and the doggo doesn’t have a clue. So you may be onto something there.

    Liked by 1 person

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