Amazon sues writers of fake reviews

Who among us does not read consumer reviews before buying an online product?  Or eating out at a new restaurant?  Or choosing a service provider?

These seem to me to be a valuable dimension of the online marketplace, and they have become very important to the businesses getting reviewed.  I appreciate it when companies post an answer to a negative review, pledging to address the problems that were noted.  For the marketplace to be responsive to consumers, it needs information, and now that information–from feedback to businesses to warnings and testimonials to fellow consumers–is now instantly available.

And yet it invites fraud.  I read one estimate that 10% of  reviews are faked.  Businesses can review themselves, or cajole or even pay other people to give them a 5-star review.  Review sites such as Yelp and Trip Advisor try to police that as best they can.

Now Amazon, which posts reviews not only for books but for practically everything it sells,  is suing up to 1,000 writers who are part of a scheme to post positive reviews for $5 apiece. [Read more...]

Is the 5-second rule valid?

When we drop a piece of food, we often invoke the “5-second rule,” the principle that if you pick it back up before five seconds, it’s all right to eat.  That sounds pretty bogus, as if bacteria took awhile to travel, but two studies show that there is some validity to the rule. [Read more...]

Woody Guthrie’s chili recipe

There is a big new museum in Tulsa, the Woody Guthrie Center, honoring the great Oklahoma folk singer.  The Tulsa World Magazine gave, as one of its treasures, the family chili recipe.  For your culinary pleasure and enlightenment, I give it after the break. [Read more...]

The Bread of Life

Pastor Douthwaite’s sermon last Sunday was based on the reading from John 6, in which Jesus continues his discourse about how He is the Bread of Life.  I was struck by the way the sermon showed how Jesus is undoing the Fall and restoring us to the Garden:  an act of eating makes us lose Paradise, and an act of eating makes us regain Paradise; we lost the Tree of Life, now in the Cross we have the Tree of Life. (The text also plays with other Old Testament images:  the manna in the wilderness; the Mountain of God.)  Read the whole sermon, linked after the jump, but I’ll give you samples. [Read more...]

The theology of BBQ

There is a really good barbecue joint that opened near where I live, and I’ve been introducing students and friends to this transcendent cuisine and teaching them all about it.  Terry Mattingly goes so far as to write about “the theology of barbecue,” interviewing an expert who tells of its role in churches and revivals.
[Read more...]

Nutrition with a grain of salt

Nutritionists have taken back their warnings against dietary cholesterol.  Now some are challenging the warnings against salt. [Read more...]