The Daily Valet. - 2/6/24, Tuesday
Tuesday, February 6th Edition
By Cory Ohlendorf, Valet. Editor
I'm not a fast food snob, but the Shamrock Shake never did much for me. Not minty enough, if you ask me.
Today’s Big Story
Biological Age Tests Are Big Business
It’s a booming new trend. But should you pay for it? And how accurate are they, really?
Call me vain, but I secretly love it when someone from high school sees a photo of me online and comments, “you don’t age” or something along those lines. I chalk it up to my quasi-obsessive skin care routine and preternatural love of vegetables, but maybe it’s completely out of my control. We all know that some people appear older or younger than their years, but what scientists are trying to understand deeper is why.
Researchers are working to quantify this phenomenon and put a number to a person’s “biological age” by looking at their cellular health instead of how many years they’ve been alive. And some of these measurements are now marketed as direct-to-consumer blood tests. But before you shell out hundreds of dollars to find out how old you really are, experts advise that you know what you’re paying for.
Many of these tests (which cost anywhere from $300 to $500 a pop) estimate how quickly or slowly you're aging compared to your peers. It's based on an analysis of modifications in your DNA via blood or saliva. You see, as we get older, chemical tags called methyl groups latch onto our DNA. The pattern of these tags gives researchers an indicator of biological age. "You can use methylation to measure time in all cells that contain DNA," explains Steve Horvath, the scientist who pioneered a popular aging clock and developed the GrimAge test. (Yeah, it’s actually named after the Grim Reaper.)
Since research shows that the pattern of DNA methylation is malleable, linked to diet, exercise and other lifestyle habits, "that makes us think that we can potentially slow down the pace of aging," says Doug Vaughan, the director of the Human Longevity Lab at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. This is what he and others aim to study, because right now, scientists don’t know how to reverse someone’s biological age—or whether that’s even possible.
But if you’re curious (and don’t want to shell out serious cash), one wellness reporter found a way to calculate her biological age that doesn't require any extra money—only some basic lab results that she got for free at a recent annual exam. Still, doctors caution that biological age tests shouldn’t be taken too seriously yet, because they’re not perfect indicators of your overall health. A biological age test can never know if you're about to get run over by a bus, and it may also miss important health issues on the horizon, but it may give you some perspective or even a little self-esteem boost.
Fortune says the rapidly-growing "longevity industry" is now worth $26 billion.
Record-Setting Rainfall in California
The deadly storm has flooded roads and caused more than 100 mudslides, with more rain expected today
President Biden promised Monday to send aid to California as the state's residents endured a record-setting and deadly rainfall that triggered dangerous mudslides and power outages. According to NPR, downtown L.A. saw more than seven inches of rain on Monday, shattering the previous daily rainfall record of 2.55 inches set in 1927. Sunday was also the 10th wettest day in Los Angeles history.
Already, some areas in Los Angeles County have seen nearly a foot of rain. The rain and threats of flash flooding will expand today into western Arizona, southern Nevada and southwestern Utah as the storm system moves east. The storm system also dumped heavy snow, burying parts of the Sierra Nevada and southern California’s mountain ranges. The snow and strong winds will continue to make for “near impossible” travel conditions at high elevations in the southern parts of the Sierra Nevada and into the central Nevada mountains, the National Weather Service said. The heavy snow will then spread further inland this week, reaching parts of higher elevation in Utah, Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado and New Mexico.
A helicopter crew pulled a man from the rushing L.A. River after he jumped in to save his dog when it was swept away by the current.
Dartmouth Men’s Basketball Can Unionize
The Labor Board rules that players are employees in decision that challenges NCAA’s amateurism model
A federal official said Monday that members of the Dartmouth men’s basketball team were university employees, clearing a path for the team to take a vote that could make it the first unionized college sports program in the country.
All 15 members of the Dartmouth men's basketball team signed a petition in September asking to join Local 560 of the Service Employees International Union, which already represents some other employees at the Ivy League school in Hanover, New Hampshire. Why? Unionizing would allow the players to negotiate not only over salary but working conditions, including practice hours and travel.
Speaking to ESPN, Dartmouth basketball player representatives Cade Haskins and Romeo Myrthil called the ruling “a significant step forward for college athletes,” adding, “we’re excited to see how this decision will impact college sports nationwide.” They also announced plans to form the Ivy League Players Association for basketball players across the league. A spokesperson for Dartmouth College said Monday evening it will be “seeking a review of the decision" because "we do not believe our student-athletes are employees.”
The Atlantic warns that colleges are lying to their students. They aren't teaching them "how to think."
The Shamrock Shake Is Back (Already)
Brands really rush the season on these things, don’t they?
Just a few days into February, McDonald’s decided to rush one of the first signs of spring: The return of the Shamrock Shake. For those counting, that’s more than two weeks ahead of the seasonal shake's return last year, which came on Feb. 20th. It’s just like Starbuck’s bringing out the pumpkin spice early … but you know it’s based on data that found that the longer you offer these limited-edition flavors, the more you sell.
According to the official announcement, the popular Irish-adjacent, vaguely St. Patrick’s Day-themed shake is made with vanilla soft serve, blended with a “minty syrup” and topped with a whipped topping. Joining the shake on the menu for a limited time this year: the Oreo Shamrock McFlurry (about $4; prices are set by individual restaurants), which comes with crushed Oreo cookies.
But here’s the really surprising news: The Shamrock Shake is likely older than you. Here I thought it was something that came out in the late ‘90s, but The Takeout reports that the pastel green shake was invented in 1967 by Connecticut-area franchisee Hal Rosen. Three years later, it debuted at other restaurants across the country, and has been popular enough to stick around ever since. McDonald’s celebrated the Shamrock Shake’s 50th anniversary in 2020.
After March 17th, availability starts to dwindle down as store operators go through the last of their seasonal ingredients.
How to Get Perfect Stubble
Everything you need to know about maintaining the ideal scruff
Here’s the thing about a good five-o’clock shadow, it’s at once classic and rebellious. It's always in style because it's universally agreed that it makes a man more handsome. Sure, a clean shaven face always looks presentable, but the right amount of scruff never looks bad. In fact, it's been scientifically proven that men are the most attractive when sporting a face full of substantial stubble.
But there's a big difference between simply stopping shaving and having the perfect stubble. It's not as easy as letting your facial hair grow. There are some expert tips, which we've garnered from the pros, that will help you look your best. And best of all, it can all be done in about 10 minutes in your bathroom. It takes a little time to master, sure—but the juice often outweighs the squeeze.
Make the time.