Math is hard!

Emily Yoffe, who makes a living out of charmingly embarrassing herself on Slate, has a new quest -- to learn to add 2 and 2. Apparently when she starting writing this article (in which she takes a crazy-intense Japanese math course) she was at a first-grade level.

These results forced me to consider that the real reason for my abysmal math skills might be that I was profoundly stupid. Yet even the stupid are supposed to be helped by the Kumon method. Founded 50 years ago by Toru Kumon, a Japanese math teacher, Kumon is not one-on-one tutoring, but a highly regimented system in which students progress by moving incrementally through increasingly advanced drills.

I was intrigued by trying mathematics Japanese-style. I found encouraging a recent article in the Wall Street Journal that pointed out that while more men score very high on math in the United States, in Japan the sexes do equally well. Then there was the Brookings Institution study of international math achievement, which found that the U.S. ethic of trying to make math relevant, as opposed to the Japanese ethic of just getting math right, meant the Japanese swamped us in world rankings. ...

I accept that this unshakable attachment to drills and repetition may be why the Japanese are better at math than Americans. But it may also be why the Japanese invented ritual seppuku.

Kumon also apparently has a reading program. Anyone know if there's a literacy gender gap in Japanese students?

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The Simple Way to Reheat Your French Fries and Not Have Them Turn Into a Soggy Mess
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Some restaurant dishes are made to be doggy-bagged and reheated in the microwave the next day. Not French fries: The more crispy and delectable they are when they first arrive on your table, the more of a soggy disappointment they’ll be when you try to revive them at home. But as The Kitchn recently shared, there’s a secret to making leftover fries you’ll actually enjoy eating.

The key is to avoid the microwave altogether. Much of the appeal of fries comes from their crunchy, golden-brown exterior and their creamy potato center. This texture contrast is achieved by deep-frying, and all it takes is a few rotations around a microwave to melt it away. As the fries heat up, they create moisture, transforming all those lovely crispy parts into a flabby mess.

If you want your fries to maintain their crunch, you need to recreate the conditions they were cooked in initially. Set a large pan filled with about 2 tablespoons of oil for every 1 cup of fries you want to cook over medium-high heat. When you see the oil start to shimmer, add the fries in a single layer. After about a minute, flip them over and allow them to cook for half a minute to a minute longer.

By heating up fries with oil in a skillet, you produce something called the Maillard Reaction: This happens when high heat transforms proteins and sugars in food, creating the browning effect that gives fried foods their sought-after color, texture, and taste.

After your fries are nice and crisp, pull them out of the pan with tongs or a spatula, set them on a paper towel to absorb excess oil, and sprinkle them with salt. Now all you need is a perfect burger to feel like you’re eating a restaurant-quality meal at home.

[h/t The Kitchn]

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Bone Collector
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