Briefings: The Iditarod Vicariously, Obama’s Diet, March Madness for Books, Regression Analysis to Explain Mob Activity, and Straws Made Of Beef

Briefings By Photo by GP

Today being National Pi Day and Albert Einstein’s birthday, fortuitously, we’re contributing our part with another round-up of the week’s most important cultural events. Chief among them: meat straws. But also the greatest race on earth, a new study about the origins of the Sicilian mafia, and a single elimination tournament for books.

It’s a big and complicated world. We’re at tips [at] if you think there’s something we should know about.

1. What to Scope | The Iditarod Vicariously

We like to challenge ourselves. We’re pretty good, too. Lots of outdoor adventure, no problem with Tough Mudder, maybe an Ironman soon. But the Iditarod is a different story altogether: nearly 1,000 miles of race through the Alaskan wilderness on a sled, aurora borealis swirling above, temps right around freeze-your-nuts-off degrees C, Blondie and Fearless nosing their way across the finish line. This is cool. The Atlantic has a nice gallery of photos as the race comes to a close and there’s more detail over at the Anchorage Daily News website.

2. Where to Kill Time | On Obama’s Diet

We came across a post on Esquire’s food blog about British Prime Minister David Cameron and President Obama, who have apparently been going bro over their culinary preferences these last few years. The source of this post, it turns out, is an earnest blog—with White House access—dedicated to Obama’s food policy and written by the exceptionally cute Eddie Gehman Kohan. What it means to you is a great cache of weirdness like photographs of the Pres eating a cheeseburger and the menu from the South Korea State Dinner (Texas wagyu ribeye).

3. What to Bet On | March Madness for Books

Just for example: An old man wearing prayer beads gives you 5/1 odds to hang for five minutes from a pull-up bar in the park. You try this, not because you need the money for a sandwich—because betting on things is super fun. Since your college hoops bets are in, we found another bracket worth weighing in on: The Morning News Tournament of Books, 16 popular books going tete to face under the judgement of well-known writers and editors. The battle to watch in the first round is Teju Cole’s Open City vs. Chad Harbach’s much-hyped The Art of Fielding. Our money is on Cole.

4. What to Ponder | Regression Analysis to Explain Mob Activity

We wake up some nights sweating, with flashbacks to the death of Apollonia Vitelli-Corleone in The Godfather. We’ve been searching for closure ever since. Herewith, an explanation of how it all started: A paper from a Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich that analyses a sociological survey of Sicily’s mafia circa 1900 to explain how and why the mafia emerged in the region, finding ultimately that it had something to do with protecting sulphur and citrus fruits from bandits. A lemon goes missing and a beautiful woman has to die. There’s no justice.

5. What to Sip On | Straws Made Of Beef

Then: A Twizzler in a Coke at the movies. Now: A stick of meat with a hole in a bloody mary at…whenever you do that. Good luck out there.