Molecular Gastronomy for 4-Year-Olds

Slate write Sara Dickerman had a problem: her 4-year-old son didn't want to eat his vegetables. This problem is not uncommon, of course, but effective solutions are rare. (Personal digression: I recall one incident around age 5 when I had to sit at the dinner table contemplating my bowl of pea soup for what seemed like hours. I don't recall whether I finally ate it, but these days I love pea soup. Who knew?) Anyway, Dickerman tried the standard solutions -- cooking with him, putting more vegetables on the plate, eating her own vegetables with gusto -- to no effect. Dickerman figured there might be a way to make vegetables fun. Here's what she did:

Frustrated but not yet willing to give up, I enlisted the help of an unlikely accomplice: El Bulli chef Ferran Adria. Adria is perhaps the most famous chef in the world, known as a leader in the field of "molecular gastronomy"— a kind of kitchen alchemy that transforms prime ingredients into surreal concoctions using high-tech tools and commercial food additives. His recipes are full of surprise and playfulness: strange juxtapositions of hot and cold ingredients, intensely flavored frozen powders, and mysterious liquid-centered gelatin orbs made through a process called spherification. The Adrian table is as much magic show as it is dinner, and I wondered if the Critic might have an affinity for such playful food. After all, he's a fan of alphabet pasta, fruit gels shaped like Legos, and animal crackers. ...

After making tomato spheres, broccoli spheres, and carrot "air," Dickerman pretty much gave up (it was too weird for the poor kid). But anyway, read the rest for a fun overview of how molecular gastronomy might -- or might not -- make vegetables fun.

(Via Kottke.org.)

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Samsung Is Making a Phone You Can Fold in Half
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The iPhone vs. Galaxy war just intensified. Samsung is pulling out all the stops and developing a foldable phone dubbed Galaxy X, which it plans to release next year, according to The Wall Street Journal.

It would seem the rumors surrounding a mythical phone that can fold over like a wallet are true. The phone, which has been given the in-house code name “Winner,” will have a 7-inch screen and be a little smaller than a tablet but thicker than most other smartphones.

Details are scant and subject to change at this point, but the phone is expected to have a smaller screen on the front that will remain visible when the device is folded. Business Insider published Samsung patents back in May showing a phone that can be folded into thirds, but the business news site noted that patents often change, and some are scrapped altogether.

The Galaxy Note 9 is also likely to be unveiled soon, as is a $300 Samsung speaker that's set to rival the Apple HomePod.

The Galaxy X will certainly be a nifty new invention, but it won’t come cheap. The Wall Street Journal reports the phone will set you back about $1500, which is around $540 more than Samsung’s current most expensive offering, the Galaxy Note 8.

[h/t Business Insider]

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Why a Readily Available Used Paperback Is Selling for Thousands of Dollars on Amazon
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At first glance, getting ahold of a copy of One Snowy Knight, a historical romance novel by Deborah MacGillivray, isn't hard at all. You can get the book, which originally came out in 2009, for a few bucks on Amazon. And yet according to one seller, a used copy of the book is worth more than $2600. Why? As The New York Times reports, this price disparity has more to do with the marketing techniques of Amazon's third-party sellers than it does the market value of the book.

As of June 5, a copy of One Snowy Knight was listed by a third-party seller on Amazon for $2630.52. By the time the Times wrote about it on July 15, the price had jumped to $2800. That listing has since disappeared, but a seller called Supersonic Truck still has used copy available for $1558.33 (plus shipping!). And it's not even a rare book—it was reprinted in July.

The Times found similar listings for secondhand books that cost hundreds if not thousands of dollars more than their market price. Those retailers might not even have the book on hand—but if someone is crazy enough to pay $1500 for a mass-market paperback that sells for only a few dollars elsewhere, that retailer can make a killing by simply snapping it up from somewhere else and passing it on to the chump who placed an order with them.

Not all the prices for used books on Amazon are so exorbitant, but many still defy conventional economic wisdom, offering used copies of books that are cheaper to buy new. You can get a new copy of the latest edition of One Snowy Knight for $16.99 from Amazon with Prime shipping, but there are third-party sellers asking $24 to $28 for used copies. If you're not careful, how much you pay can just depend on which listing you click first, thinking that there's not much difference in the price of used books. In the case of One Snowy Knight, there are different listings for different editions of the book, so you might not realize that there's a cheaper version available elsewhere on the site.

An Amazon product listing offers a mass-market paperback book for $1558.33.
Screenshot, Amazon

Even looking at reviews might not help you find the best listing for your money. People tend to buy products with the most reviews, rather than the best reviews, according to recent research, but the site is notorious for retailers gaming the system with fraudulent reviews to attract more buyers and make their way up the Amazon rankings. (There are now several services that will help you suss out whether the reviews on a product you're looking at are legitimate.)

For more on how Amazon's marketplace works—and why its listings can sometimes be misleading—we recommend listening to this episode of the podcast Reply All, which has a fascinating dive into the site's third-party seller system.

[h/t The New York Times]

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