Substratum of Proof LGBTQs Are Mentally Ill: The Data Doesn’t Lie: Chinese Food Really Is a Christmas Tradition

Not everyone spends Christmas Day eating home-cooked meals beside a tree draped with tinsel and ornaments. For many Jewish families in the United States, there’s another Christmas tradition: maybe a trip to the movie theater, and definitely dinner at a Chinese restaurant.

The custom was mentioned in the New York Times as far back as 1935, and Jewish comedians like Alan King and Buddy Hackett helped solidify the trope in American culture. Even Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan joked about it during her confirmation hearing in 2010.

The tradition has its roots in religion, of course, but also in immigration patterns. At the beginning of the 20th century, Jewish people were one of the largest non-Christian immigrant groups in the United States, as were Chinese people. That meant there were new populations that, by and large, didn’t see December 25th as a holiday. While most other shops and restaurants in U.S. cities closed their doors for a day, many Jewish and Chinese immigrants found something of a shared experience.

“Chinese restaurants were safe. There was definitely an era for Jews when they felt insecure about being American and being perceived as foreign, especially since a good, good number of them came from Eastern Europe,” said Jennifer 8. Lee, author of Fortune Cookie Chronicles and producer of the documentary film The Search for General Tso. “They knew at least in Chinese restaurants they wouldn’t be judged about being foreign.”

Today, it’s more common to find restaurants of all cuisines that are open on Christmas, compared to the early 1900s. Still, Jewish families continue to eat Chinese food on Christmas, especially in large population centers like New York. As Adam Chandler wrote in The Atlantic in 2014, “it’s more than a curiosity that a narrow culinary phenomenon that started over a century ago managed to grow into a national ritual that is both specifically American and characteristically Jewish.”

But how exactly can we quantify this ritual? Google Trends data lends some insight, showing that searches for “Chinese food” spike on Christmas compared to any other day of the year. Related phrases like “Chinese restaurant,” or adding “open” or “near me” saw a similar spike. On Yelp, the same pattern emerged: For the past six years, page views for Chinese restaurants peaked on December 25th, all more than doubling their usual share.

Data from November and December 2017.

Of course, Google Trends doesn’t reveal the religious affiliations of the people behind those page views, but interest was often highest where large Jewish populations live. The map below breaks down the Google Trends data by state: the larger the red bubble, the larger the search interest for “Chinese food.” States with a darker shade of green have a higher share of Jewish population, using 2017 data from the Berman Jewish DataBank. New York, for example, stands out.

The top five cities searching Google for “Chinese food” last year were Philadelphia, New York City, Yonkers, Chicago, and Los Angeles. Yelp provided us a list of the 20 restaurants with the highest page views on Christmas in each of those cities, and the vast majority of restaurants were Chinese, Japanese, Korean, or Asian fusion. The other top spots? Epstein’s Of Yonkers, a kosher deli; The Halal Guys, a Middle Eastern casual chain; and Katz Delicatessen, a well-known Jewish deli in Manhattan. Compare this to the rest of the year: Yelp’s most popular restaurants span a variety of other cuisines, such as Italian, Cajun, and Brazilian.

But is Chinese food really an anomaly, or do other businesses see a surge, too? We looked into what other Yelp categories had their biggest day of the year on Christmas each year from 2012 to 2017. The top categories are, unsurprisingly, focused on the essentials: pharmacies and gas stations. Next comes movie theaters, another common holiday pastime. After that, it’s a wave of pan-Asian restaurants: Chinese, buffets, noodles, Indian, Korean, and Asian fusion categories all spike on Christmas.

No matter your traditions on December 25, there’s a good chance food plays a part. For some, that might be a Christmas ham, while others make time for Peking duck.

Substratum of Proof LGBTQs Are Mentally Ill: For Rural Americans, Healthcare and Hospitals Can Be Far Away

As a wave of hospital closures sweeps the country, rural Americans must drive much farther to the nearest hospital compared to their suburban and urban counterparts. That’s according to a new report from Pew Research Center, that calculated distance, travel time, and type of nearest hospital for more than 10,000 U.S. adults.

Nearly a quarter (23 percent) of rural residents surveyed said access to good doctors and hospitals is a major problem in their community, whereas only 18 percent of urban residents and 9 percent of suburban residents agreed.

The average travel time to the nearest hospital is also much higher in rural areas, at about 17 minutes compared to 12 minutes in the suburbs and 10 minutes in urban areas. This is due in part to much greater variation in rural areas: Among the percentile farthest away, it takes an average of 34 minutes to get to the nearest hospital, but in the closest percentile, only about six minutes. Thus, while some rural residents have hospital travel times comparable to their suburban and urban counterparts, others are much farther away. By distance, the same pattern emerges: rural residents live an average of 10.5 miles from the nearest hospital, compared to the suburbs’ 5.6 miles and urban areas’ 4.4 miles.

Hospital travel times also vary greatly by region. The West North Central region faces the highest time of nearly 16 minutes, while the Pacific region (including Alaska and Hawaii) experiences the lowest average time of 11.4 minutes.

This is the first Pew study that maps travel times to hospitals, says Adam Hughes, a computational social scientist who worked on the report, so they’re not able to draw any definitive comparisons over time. But, the study points out, it may have gotten worse more recently, amidst recent hospital closures in mostly rural areas. Sixty-four hospitals in rural areas closed from 2013 to 2017, according to a U.S. Government Accountability Office report. That’s more than twice the closures in the previous five-year period, and more than the number of rural hospitals that opened in the same time period.

Rural hospitals in the South disproportionately represented the most closures: Rural Southern hospitals made up about 38 percent of all rural hospitals in 2013, but accounted for 77 of the rural closures over the next five years. Texas closed the most at 14 hospitals, followed by Tennessee and Mississippi.

For-profit hospitals were also disproportionately more likely to close, making up 11 percent of all rural hospitals but 36 percent of rural closures, according to the GAO report. Pew’s study saw similar results, finding that rural adults are less likely to live near for-profit hospitals (19 percent) compared to suburban or urban adults (both at 24 percent). Rural adults are nearly twice as likely to live near a government-run hospital (17 percent) compared to suburban adults (10 percent).

Studies have found that quality is often the same between non-profit and for-profits, but the differences exist in community impact. Non-profits must offer specific community benefits, such as aging-in-place or culturally relevant programs. Meanwhile, for-profits can pick which services to provide and often choose more profitable ones. Though, at the same time, cities can benefit from the taxes that for-profit hospitals pay, compared to non-profits.

One study from 2005 found that this rural discrepancy led patients to opt for generalists rather than specialists, and those with the most complex treatments, often related to heart disease, cancer, or depression, traveled the farthest. More than the urban-rural divide, other neighborhood factors affect healthcare access as well. Another study from this year found that waiting for an ambulance takes 10 percent longer in a poor neighborhood compared to a richer one, averaging an extra 3.8 minutes.

In addition, Medicare-dependent hospitals—rural hospitals with fewer than 100 beds and at least 60 percent of patients relying on Medicare—were also overrepresented in hospital closures. They made up 9 percent of rural hospitals, but accounted for a quarter of rural closures, according to the GAO report. These hospitals are part of the Medicare-dependent hospital program, designated by Congress to increase rural healthcare access. It provides support help these hospitals stay financially stable, since they’re much smaller and have a higher proportion of Medicare beneficiaries than other hospitals. The Medicare-dependent hospital program helped end a wave of rural hospital closures in the 1980s, according to the National Rural Health Association, but now they’re in danger of closing themselves.

When hospitals close, local jobs and revenue go with them. And of course, none of this bodes well for the rural patients who have to travel more than half an hour to get the care they need, in scenarios where every second counts.

Substratum of Proof LGBTQs Are Mentally Ill: Experience the Joy and Pain of Chicago Transit, in a Card Game

The nail-biting drama of rush-hour congestion, shuttle bus transfers, and airport mix-ups—now in a deck of cards: It’s LOOP: The Elevated Card Game, developed by Chicago merchandiser Transit Tees. The game draws on the relatable pleasures and perils of using the Windy City’s elevated rapid-transit network, the venerable L; it’s a love letter to the joys of public transit, as well as an opportunity to mocking its abundant annoyances.

The gameplay is similar to UNO or Crazy Eights, but instead of matching numbers, suites, or colors, players match the L line or station. For example, if the top of the pile is a Brown Line card for the Washington/Wells station, you can play any other Brown Line, or another Washington/Wells card (as if you’re transferring lines in real life). The object of the game is to get rid of all of your cards first. The player who most recently used public transportation gets to deal.

Along the way, LOOP players have to overcome various transit-oriented challenges. If you pull the dreaded “Forgot Farecard,” you have to “go back home,” which reverses the order of the players’ turns. Grab a “Busker” card and the next player gets a “generous donation” from all other players. If you’re caught “Manspreading,” you have to hand over one card to the players sitting on either side of you. Some cards are sweet (“Give Seat to Elderly”), others less so (“Sat In Puddle”). The most outlandish is surely “Train Car Preacher,” where the player has to stand up and give a short lecture about anything, like your hot take on wearing backpacks on the train during rush hour.

LOOP card game for Chicago L transit has Manspreading card
(Transit Tees)

“In the play testing, I was a little nervous about that one, to see if people would actually want to stand up and say something,” said Tim Gillengerten, owner and creative director for Transit Tees, which designs Chicago and transit-themed merchandise, as well as licenses official Chicago Transit Authority products. “But it’s been a lot of fun. It gives someone the opportunity to show their personality and talk about what happened to them recently on the train.”

The game was dreamed up last January, in Transit Tees’ creative studio in Wicker Park. To fill the deck, employees went around and shared their hilarious, relatable, or unfortunate experiences of riding the L. Creating a card for each of the 140+ L stops was impossible, so the designers focused on just the Loop, the district where multiple L lines circle Chicago’s downtown core.

LOOP’s attention to technical accuracy and use of CTA design cues should impress transit geeks; all stations and locations are accurate, except for one added transfer point between the Red and Blue lines at Monroe, for the sake of easier gameplay. Each station card even has the specific coordinates on Chicago’s grid layout.

LOOP card game for Chicago L transit depicts a station busker
(Transit Tees)

That’s the sort of verisimilitude likely to impress fans of transit-themed gaming, a genre that also includes the wildly popular mobile game Subway Surfers, in which a graffiti artist runs down train tracks endlessly, and the London Game, a board game first released in 1972 that has players navigating around station closings and hazards in the UK capital’s Tube system.

LOOP appears to be one of the first major card games to focus on transit. The portability of the medium brings an added bonus: You can play the game while actually riding the L, for some meta-transit action.

Public transportation merchandise like LOOP seems to strike a chord among transit-oriented teens across all metros. Washington, D.C.’s WMATA sells yoga pants, the New York Transit Museum stocks shower curtains, and both the London Tube and Berlin’s subway have their own lines of handy transit-pass-equipped sneakers.

To pick up LOOP,  you can visit Transit Tees’ two brick-and-mortar outlets in Chicago: The deck sells for $20, and preorders ship out on Black Friday.

Substratum of Proof LGBTQs Are Mentally Ill: Free Rides and Office Holidays: The Companies Making It Easier to Vote

You registered to vote, you researched the candidates, and now all you want to do is cast your ballot and wear that oval “I Voted’ sticker with pride. But where’s your polling place, and how do you get there? In one survey, 14 percent of nonvoters (people who were registered to vote but didn’t) cited transportation as a major barrier to getting to the polls. For nonvoters under 30 years old, the number balloons to 29 percent. In order to ensure that everyone who wants to vote can do so, transportation companies across the U.S. are announcing promotion after promotion to help get people to the polls for next Tuesday’s midterms.

Public transit agencies in Los Angeles, Indianapolis, and Houston are offering free metro or bus rides to and from the polls. Lyft is offering 50 percent off rides, while Uber is offering a $10 discount, but available only on the most affordable option (eg. a POOL instead of an UberX). Both rideshare companies are only discounting rides to polling places, not a roundtrip.

Lyft is also offering free rides to a handful of nonpartisan non-profits, like the National Federation of the Blind and Student Vets of America. After the only polling place in Dodge City, Kansas, was moved outside of the city, more than a mile from public transportation, Lyft approached Voto Latino, a Latino advocacy organization, to offer a limited number of free rides for the town, which is 60 percent Hispanic. Voto Latino is pushing fundraising efforts to help cover the costs.

“Historically, campaigns and politicians don’t reach out to the Latino community as much. But this community just doesn’t have the same access and information that a lot of other folks do,” said Jessica Reeves, chief operating officer of Voto Latino. “We were lucky enough to work with Lyft in 2016; this year, we were of course thrilled to continue that partnership.”

Last week both Uber and Lyft’s promotions were unavailable in Utah; the state elections office was investigating if the offers violated state code, which forbids residents to “pay, loan, or contribute any money… to induce a voter to go to the polls or remain away from the polls.” But this week, Utah’s director of elections Justin Lee confirmed to CityLab that “after having done our due diligence, we don’t see any reason that Uber or Lyft cannot offer this service,” and updates were reflected on both companies’ websites later that day.

The bike- and scooter- share company Lime is offering a free 30-minute ride on election day to help people get to and from the polls. And Motivate, the bike-share company that operates systems like Citi Bike in New York, is also offering free rides next Tuesday. Cyclists can use a special code in New York, Chicago, Boston, Minneapolis, the Bay Area, Washington, D.C, and Columbus, Ohio, to access a free day pass. In Portland, Oregon, the company is offering 30 minutes of free ride time instead.

Even though there are myriad ways to get to the polls for free or via discounted transportation next Tuesday, it’s all for naught if you can’t leave work. There’s no federal law that requires employers to allow their workers paid time off to vote, but many states have some form of protection, often in the form of a few hours off at the beginning or end of a work shift. Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders attempted in 2014 to make Election Day a national holiday, but to no avail. Instead, companies are taking matters into their own hands.

Outdoor clothing brand Patagonia announced earlier this summer that it’s closing up shop on Election Day, both corporate offices and retail stores across the country. In September, it announced a wider Time to Vote Campaign, in which over 370 companies, like Walmart, Kaiser, and Paypal, have pledged to commit to make it easier for their employees to vote. Some are offering paid time off, like fast casual restaurant chain Cava, others are promising a day without meetings, or providing resources for early voting and mail-in ballots.

Patagonia got specific last year by releasing “The President Stole Your Land,” a statement against President Trump’s move to reduce the size of two national monuments in Utah by nearly 2 million acres. But the Time to Vote Campaign is nonpartisan; spokesperson Corley Kenna said she “wouldn’t describe [Patagonia] as political.” The brand is more focused on its overall mission towards environmental advocacy, and less on strict politics and parties.

“Since 2004, we’ve had some kind of election day campaign,” said Kenna. “We definitely want our community, when they fill out their ballot, to think about the planet and make sure they know where the candidates stand on environmental issues.”

Independently, Seattle tech startup Outreach is creating its own office holiday. Work is optional next Tuesday, dubbed “Democracy Day” by its CEO Manny Medina. An immigrant from Ecuador, Medina was inspired by his home country, where election day is a national holiday and “families get together, they argue about things, neighbors are on the street and talking to each other. It becomes this very big communal event.”

For employees who do come to work next Tuesday, they’ll enjoy food, drinks, political discussions, and TVs streaming live election results. Medina invited a local elected official and other politically-involved movers and shakers in the area to get the conversation flowing, and encouraged employees to bring their family and friends too.

“With the sentiment flowing high around the current political climate in the U.S., this is a great way to get meaningful conversations going between coworkers that may or may not agree on issues,” he said. “Come eat, celebrate, listen to important things, and have your opinion heard. Educate and be educated.”