Livin' on the MDedge

Boring is good. Boring is right. Boring is … interesting


Can you keep it down? I’m trying to be boring

He chides his friends for not looking both ways before crossing the road. He is never questioned by the police because they fall asleep listening to him talk. He has won the office’s coveted perfect attendance award 10 years running. Look out, Dos Equis guy, you’ve got some new competition. That’s right, it’s the most boring man in the world.

For this boring study (sorry, study on boredom) conducted by English researchers and published in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, people were surveyed on various jobs and hobbies, ranking them by how exciting or boring they are, as well as how competent someone with those jobs/hobbies would be, their willingness to avoid someone with those jobs/hobbies, and how much they’d need to be paid to spend time with someone who had an undesirable job/hobby.

Illustration of a man sitting at a desk with his head on a laptop keyboard Courtesy Mohamed Hassan/pxhere

According to the British public, the most boring person in the world is a religious data analyst who likes to sleep and lives in a small town. In fact, spending time with this person is almost a full-time job on its own: To make it worth their while, survey subjects wanted 35 pounds a day. The boring person also was viewed as less competent, as is anyone with a boring job.

Now, there probably aren’t a lot of religious data analysts out there, but don’t worry, there are plenty of other boring jobs – accounting, tax/insurance, cleaning, and banking rounded out the top five (apparently people don’t like finances) – and hobbies – watching TV, observing animals, and mathematics filled out the top five. In case you’re curious, performing artists, scientists, journalists, health professionals, and teachers were viewed as having exciting jobs; exciting hobbies included gaming, reading, domestic tasks (really?), gardening, and writing.

Lead researcher Wijnand Van Tilburg, PhD, made an excellent point about people with boring jobs: They “have power in society – perhaps we should try not to upset them and stereotype them as boring!”

We think they should lean into it and make The Most Boring Man in the World ads: “When I drive a car off the lot, its value increases because I used the correct lending association. Batman trusts me with his Batmobile insurance. I can make those Cuban cigars tax exempt. Stay financially solvent, my friends.”

Fungi, but make it fashion

Fashion is an expensive and costly industry to sustain. Cotton production takes a toll on the environment, leather production comes with environmental and ethical/moral conundrums, and thanks to fast fashion, about 85% of textiles are being thrown away in the United States.

Fungal fibers as yarn (left) or leather substitute. Courtesy Akram Zamani

Fungal fibers as yarn (left) or leather substitute.

Researchers at the University of Borås in Sweden, however, have found a newish solution to create leather, cotton, and other textiles. And as with so many of the finer things, it starts with unsold bread from the grocery store.

Akram Zamani, PhD, and her team take that bread and turn it into breadcrumbs, then combine it with water and Rhizopus delemar, a fungus typically found in decaying food. After a couple of days of feasting on the bread, the fungus produces natural fibers made of chitin and chitosan that accumulate in the cell walls. After proteins, lipids, and other byproducts are removed, the team is left with a jelly-like substance made of those fibrous cell walls that can be spun into a fabric.

The researchers started small with very thin nonpliable sheets, but with a little layering by using tree tannins for softness and alkali for strength, their fungal leather is more like real leather than competing fungal leathers. Not to mention its being able to be produced in a fraction of the time.

This new fungal leather is fast to produce, it’s biodegradable, and it uses only natural ingredients to treat the materials. It’s the ultimate environmental fashion statement.


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