Last Call: Coffee roasters around the country are receiving mysterious letters

Illustration for article titled Last Call: Coffee roasters around the country are receiving mysterious letters
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Last CallLast CallLast Call is The Takeout’s online watering hole where you can chat, share recipes, and use the comment section as an open thread. Here’s what we’ve been reading/watching/listening around the office today.

The case of the mysterious coffee letter-writer

Illustration for article titled Last Call: Coffee roasters around the country are receiving mysterious letters
Photo: Nicky Loh (Getty Images)

Something odd is afoot in the coffee-roasting world. Hundreds of roasters across the country tell coffee website Sprudge they’ve received strange, hand-written letters over the past few weeks demanding replacements for “stale” coffee. All the letters appear to come from the same address in Nevada. Super weird! The latest in the case of the mysterious letter writer is a theory that this is somehow connected to another string of coffee-related letters dating back to 2013. Anyway, I’m awaiting the dramatic conclusion to this story as I brew another pour-over. [Kate Bernot]

Asians are incredible at math

Is it wrong of me to paint an entire ethnicity of people in one broad stroke, even if it’s the positive connotation, even if it’s my own people? Sure, maybe. But after watching this clip of this incredible math competition on Chinese television, in which kids and adults compete against each other in rapid mental arithmetics (with pageantry and drama of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire), you too will believe: Asians are incredible at math. [Kevin Pang]


Take your moms and daughters to Mamma Mia 2

Surprise, I spent most of the weekend at the movie theater, and while Mission Impossible: Fallout was indeed as action-packed as everyone predicted, I might have enjoyed my Friday night movie date with my daughter even more: Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again. “Enjoyed” is a tough word for an event where I cried during the last half-hour, so much so that even my daughter, who is used to me crying at movies since she was 4 and told me to cool it during Toy Story 3, was alarmed. I also understand that some of you may think this film is cheesy. I prefer to take the advice of The Onion’s film critic Peter K. Rosenthal, who wants to know what the hell is wrong with you that you can’t enjoy this delightfully fun movie that also contains a poignant nod to the circle of life. Colin Firth dances to “Dancing Queen”: Frankly, I would show up for that alone. (I told my daughter we have to see the BBC’s Pride & Prejudice next.) Take your female relatives and girlfriends, enjoy the simultaneous good cry/singalong, and thank me later. [Gwen Ihnat]

Gwen Ihnat is the Editorial Coordinator for The A.V. Club.

Kevin Pang was the founding editor of The Takeout, and director of the documentary For Grace.

Kate Bernot is a freelance writer and a certified beer judge. She was previously managing editor at The Takeout.

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There’s a fascinating linguistic argument for why East Asians have traditionally excelled at particularly arithmetic competitions.

Japanese, at least, has a far more logical way we call numbers than in English, which makes arithmetic at an early age more intuitive.

For example, much like in English, Japanese has different terms for numbers 1 - 10. However, here the two languages diverge.

In English 11 is “Eleven”—but in Japanese, it is the equivalent of “Ten-One” — Ju means 10, while Ichi means 1, so Ju-Ichi is 11. This linguistic pattern continues, where Twelve (Ten-Two), Thirteen (Ten-three), English demands that children learn whole new words that seemingly have no logical connection to the numeric pattern, while Japanese is far more intuitive.

Once you get to 20, Japanese simply uses the form “Two-Ten” (20), “Two-Ten-One” (21).  30 is “Three-ten” while 97 is “Nine-Ten-Seven”--no crazy rules, all extremely rational and logical.  You only have to learn a new word when you get to 100 (hyaku)--and the pattern still continues: 397 = Three-Hundred - Nine - Ten -Seven

This mindset also helps in a child intuitively understanding the concept of digits, placing it more deeply ingrained in their minds, arguably making it easier for them to grasp higher arithmetic in the concepts of “carrying digits” etc.