Routines

What I hear, a study that makes it especially good, and 7 other things worth your time.

“They weren’t too happy when I told them I had quit uni[versity] to do this crypto thing. Who knows, maybe someday I’ll complete my degree. But what I really want to do is trade crypto.”

—Stefan Qin, who pleaded guilty to fraud and faces 12 years in prison, after he dropped out of a physics program at age 19, and accumulated $90 million in investment capital, claiming to make 500% returns by investing in cryptocurrencies.


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Coffee

One nice thing about writing this newsletter is hearing back from readers.

That happens quite often now, and I’ve been struck by how often people tell me reading this newsletter has become part of their routine — often one that also involves their morning coffee.

I’m glad to see many of you are as addicted as I am. In honor of that knowledge, I wanted to share a study I remembered that shows, basically, that we’re all doing the right thing.

It was in the journal Frontiers in Neuroscience a while back, and it’s about a connection between drinking more coffee and a lower risk of Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases.

Here’s Dr. Donald Weaver, co-director of the Krembil Brain Institute at the University of Toronto and one of the study's authors:

“Coffee consumption does seem to have some correlation to a decreased risk [of both diseases]. But we wanted to investigate why that is -- which compounds are involved and how they may impact age-related cognitive decline.”

It’s not the caffeine, though. Weaver and his colleagues wrote that there was no difference at all between caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee. Instead, the secret seems to be connected to a kind of chemical called phenylindanes, which are created during the roasting process.

The darker the coffee roast, the more phenylindanes, and thus the greater the power of the coffee to stop the buildup of two toxic proteins in the brain—called tau and beta-amyloid—which have been linked to Alzheimer's and Parkinsons's diseases.

"So, phenylindanes are a dual inhibitor. Very interesting, we were not expecting that," Weaver told Medical News Today, which reported on the study.

If you have a loved one who suffers from Parkinson's disease or Alzheimer's, I can imagine your next question might have to do with whether phenylindanes might be the key to controlling those diseases.

Unfortunately, that's more than we can promise now.

"It's interesting, but are we suggesting that coffee is a cure?" said study co-author Dr. Ross Mancini, a research fellow at the department of fundamental neurobiology at the University of Toronto. "Absolutely not."

So where does this leave us? Well, if you find yourself drinking a lot of coffee and you wonder sometimes whether there's a risk involved, this should make you feel a little bit better.

Milk or sugar is up to you. But if you drink it while reading Understandably, make my day by letting me know.


7 other things worth your time

  • Texas is just getting clobbered by cold, snow, and ice. Several readers yesterday emailed me yesterday to tell me about power outages and lack of heat. (Funny how my mind works, one of them told me she had been making coffee between power outages, which is what got me thinking about the study I mentioned above.) Anyway, another 5 inches of snow could fall in Dallas today. (Dallas News)

  • House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Monday that Congress will establish an independent, Sept. 11-style commission to look into the deadly insurrection that took place at the U.S. Capitol. This only requires a majority vote, and Democrats have the majority, but there appears to be significant bipartisan support, regardless. (CNBC)

  • All seven of the GOP senators who voted to convict President Trump are now facing backlash at home, including censure by their state parties in some cases. Separately, just 33 percent of U.S. adults think the two major political parties do a good job of representing the American people, and a significant majority of Republicans (63%) think there needs to be a third party. Currently, 46% of Democrats endorse a third party, down from 52% in September. (CNBC, Gallup)

  • Counterpoint to yesterday’s item about remote workers becoming second-class citizens: Salesforce says it’s done with the five-day mandatory workweek, that it will reduce its office footprint, and it expects 67% of workers will be physically in an office only between 1 and 3 days per week, post-pandemic. (WSJ, $)

  • President Biden’s lawyers have told Vice President Harris’s 36-year-old niece, Meena Harris: Stop using your aunt in your business ventures, like including her likeness or image on t-shirts, sweaters, books and such. The question that pops to my mind is: Really? T-shirts and sweaters were the best business opportunity you could come up with in this situation? (Business Insider)

  • A quick follow up on Super Bowl ads: Jeep got by far the worst return on its investment. It ran a two-minute, political ad calling for people to “meet in the middle,” but both sides of the American divided hated the message. Then, news broke that Bruce Springsteen, who stared in the ad (apparently his first-ever endorsement of a for-profit business), had been arrested for drunk driving in November, which is never a good thing for a car commercial. (Forbes)

  • Apparently canals in Amsterdam froze for the first time in three years, and people went skating. And then… “Face plant.” Spoiler alert: he’s fine in the end, but ouch, and that has to be cold. (The Guardian, Twitter)


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