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Friday’s Dear Mona column looked at the question of religiosity in the United States: The percentage of Americans regularly attending church hasn’t drastically changed much over the past 30 years. By contrast, the percentage of Americans describing themselves as atheist, agnostic or “nothing in particular” has steadily risen over the past five years.

A closer look at the survey data (which comes from the Pew Research Center) showed that the unaffiliated aren’t necessarily the irreligious: 41 percent of them pray regularly, and 18 percent think of themselves as religious people. This made me wonder whether Americans who attend religious services might be practicing their faith differently, too.

The National Congregations Study, conducted by Duke University in 1998 and 2007 (it plans to release new findings later this summer), surveys “a representative sample of America’s churches, synagogues, mosques and other local places of worship.” Its most recent study found that 45.1 percent of congregations had book discussion groups — up from 29 percent in 1998. Over that period, groups for lobbying, voter registration and English as a second language had also increased.

The survey also asked questions about how those congregations worship. There, the changes since 1998 were large enough to form the basis of the researchers’ main conclusion: “Worship services are becoming more informal.”

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Although it has increased by only 3 percentage points, glossolaliamore commonly known as speaking in tonguesoccurred in 27 percent of congregations in the past year. Sermons or speeches are just as prevalent as they used to be (used at 95 percent of congregations), but other traditional methods of praise have seen their numbers drop; for example, singing in a choir has fallen from 54 to 44 percent of congregations. The researchers said they hope these findings “will help readers place their own experiences in a larger perspective.” As a data journalist, I say amen to that.

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To say that the public polls missed the mark Tuesday night in Georgia’s runoff election would be an understatement. The four public surveys conducted in July had Jack Kingston leading David Perdue by an average of 5 percentage points in the race for the GOP nomination for U.S. Senate. As I wrote Tuesday, that sort of lead, historically, has held up in Republican primaries in Georgia.

Perdue, of course, won by about 2 percentage points.

It would be easy to give the pollsters a pass and assign the error to low turnout. Overall, turnout was down 25 percent Tuesday from the first primary in May. But that probably wasn’t the cause of the pollsters’ error.

Unlike in many other parts of the South, polling in Georgia’s Republican primaries has a history of being accurate. Polling was accurate in the 2014 Senate primary’s first round, the 2012 presidential primary and the 2010 gubernatorial primary and runoff. So, turnout was modeled well enough in the past.

On Tuesday, the drop-off in turnout was pretty uniform across counties. That is, it’s unlikely that pollsters overestimated turnout in strong Kingston areas and underestimated turnout in Perdue areas. It’s possible that there was an unexpected quirk in who turned out that doesn’t show up in county-by-county comparisons, but a change in turnout that would have caused this polling error should be at least somewhat evident in such an examination.

For example, there wasn’t a significant connection between how Kingston did in a county and the turnout difference from Round 1.

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Nor was there any relationship between the change in Kingston’s margin over Perdue from Round 1 and the change in turnout.

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In fact, had turnout been the same as in May, Perdue still would have won. His margin of victory in this hypothetical, 0.8 percentage points, is slightly less than his actual margin, 1.8 points — so maybe turnout played a small role. But that is not a major difference, and certainly not enough to explain Tuesday night’s pollster error.

Instead, Perdue won where he needed to win. Here’s what I wrote Tuesday:

For the polls to be wrong, Perdue will probably need to exceed expectations in the Atlanta area. Perdue led Kingston by 17 to 18 percentage points in Cobb (a traditional swing county in Republican primaries), Gwinnett and Fulton counties in the first round; Handel came in first or second in all of these counties. If Perdue is to win the runoff, he’ll need to fight off Handel’s influence and win these counties by potentially upward of 10 points. He’ll be building on his base around Macon, in Bibb and Houston counties in the middle of the state.

Indeed, Perdue took the counties around the Atlanta area by about 10 percentage points. He also won the the swing area I mentioned Tuesday, in and around Augusta, as he did in the first round.

The public polls were wrong, and upon initial examination, the cause of the upset was not unusual patterns in turnout.

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This week, I caught a sneak peek of the X-Wing fighter from the new “Star Wars” films in production. The forthcoming movies — and the middling response to the most recent trilogy — provide a perfect excuse to examine some questions I’ve long wanted answers to: How many people are “Star Wars” fans? Does the rest of America realize that “The Empire Strikes Back” is clearly the best of the bunch? Which characters are most well-liked and most hated? And who shot first, Han Solo or Greedo? 

We ran a poll through SurveyMonkey Audience, surveying 1,186 respondents from June 3 to 6 (the data is available on GitHub). Seventy-nine percent of those respondents said they had watched at least one of the “Star Wars” films. This question, incidentally, had a substantial difference by gender: 85 percent of men have seen at least one “Star Wars” film compared to 72 percent of women. Of people who have seen a film, men were also more likely to consider themselves a fan of the franchise: 72 percent of men compared to 60 percent of women.

We then asked respondents which of the films they had seen. With 835 people responding, here’s the probability that someone has seen a given “Star Wars” film given that they have seen any Star Wars film:

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So we can see that “Star Wars: Episode V — The Empire Strikes Back” is the film seen by the most number of people, followed by “Star Wars: Episode VI — Return of the Jedi.” Appallingly, more people reported seeing “Star Wars: Episode I — The Phantom Menace” than the original “Star Wars” (renamed “Star Wars: Episode IV — A New Hope”).

So, which movie is the best? We asked the subset of 471 respondents who indicated they have seen every “Star Wars” film to rank them from best to worst. From that question, we calculated the share of respondents who rated each film as their favorite.

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We can also drill down and find out, generally, how people rate the films. Overall, fans broke into two camps: those who preferred the original three movies and those who preferred the three prequels. People who said “The Empire Strikes Back” was their favorite were also likely to rate “A New Hope” and “Return of the Jedi” higher as well. Those who rated “The Phantom Menace” as the best film were more likely to rate prequels higher.

This chart shows how often each film was rated in the top third (best or second best), the middle third (third or fourth) or the bottom third (second worst or worst). It’s a more nuanced take on the series:

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Finally, we took a boilerplate format used by political favorability polls — “Please state whether you view the following characters favorably, unfavorably, or are unfamiliar with him/her” — and asked respondents to rate characters in the series.

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You read that correctly. Jar Jar Binks has a lower favorability rating than the actual personification of evil in the galaxy.

And for those of you who want to know the impact that historical revisionism can have on a society:

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In an op-ed in Tuesday’s New York Times, Sen. Charles E. Schumer of New York called for an end to partisan primaries and the implementation of a top-two system nationwide, asserting that such a change would lessen the historic level of polarization between Democrats and Republicans. According to Schumer, a Democrat, all we need to do to get more moderates elected is use the system put in place in California. There, all candidates, regardless of party identification, face off against one another in the primary. The two top vote-getters advance to the general election.

Here’s the problem with Schumer’s argument: There isn’t much evidence to support it. Let’s look at California, which adopted the top-two primary via a 2010 constitutional amendment, as an example. Schumer said the top-two system in California “has had a moderating influence on both parties and a salutary effect on the political system and its ability to govern.” But any shift in the state’s politics can’t be ascribed to the top-two system — at least not yet. A coin landing on heads two times in a row isn’t evidence that the coin is weighted.

Moreover, it doesn’t look like there has been a trend toward moderation in California. The state’s legislature has been quite as polarized as anywhere else. Political scientists Douglas Ahler, Jack Citrin and Gabriel Lenz of the University of California, Berkeley, studied the 2012 top-two primary results and found that moderate candidates didn’t do any better than they would have in a closed, intra-party primary vote. These results held for the U.S. House and state Senate races.

Ahler, Citrin and Lenz found that voters didn’t differentiate between extreme and moderate candidates. Voters may be willing to cast votes for moderate candidates, but they didn’t know who those candidates were. Instead, they relied on a candidate’s party identification. And because most voters (including independents) lean toward one party or another, their votes are reliably partisan.

But even if moderates didn’t fare that well, couldn’t it be that the top-two primary forced extreme candidates to become more moderate? Probably not. Political scientists Thad Kousser of the University of California, San Diego, Justin Phillips of Columbia University and Boris Shor of the University of Chicago found that, if anything, California’s elected lawmakers took even more extreme positions after 2012.

The pattern appears to be holding in 2014.

That’s not to say California’s top-two system won’t eventually have a moderating effect (although Washington state, which has had a top-two system since 2008, hasn’t seen a move to the middle). We’ll have to wait for a few more election cycles to be more confident one way or the other. But right now, a top-two primary doesn’t seem to alleviate polarization.

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With his British Open victory Sunday, Rory McIlroy captured the third major championship of his career. This puts him in some incredible company — only 44 players in the history of golf have won three majors, and just 19 have done so since the PGA Championship adopted stroke play in 1958. On top of all that, McIlroy is barely 25 years old; as was noted often Sunday, only Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods were younger when they won their third career major.

Predicting whether Northern Ireland’s McIlroy will pass the major counts of Nicklaus or Woods is beyond the scope of this piece (that would probably involve a process similar to our analysis of whether Rafael Nadal would win more majors than Roger Federer in tennis). But we can look at how Nicklaus and Woods performed in their first three major victories and see how McIlroy stacks up.

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Woods’s first three major wins include two of the nine most dominant performances in a major since 1958 — according to the Z-Score system employed by our Grantland colleague Bill Barnwell (and, before that, James Sherrill) — so it’s tough for McIlroy to compete with Woods’s average of 19.5 strokes below the field in those tournaments.

But McIlroy’s first three major titles have been more dominant than Nicklaus’s, and it’s not just an artifact of McIlroy blowing away the field in the 2011 U.S. Open. By both strokes relative to the field and Z-Score, McIlroy’s second- and third-best major victories were better than Nicklaus’s second- and third-best performances.

The difference, though, is that McIlroy hasn’t done as much as Nicklaus did in the majors he wasn’t winning. Before grabbing his third major title, Nicklaus finished third at the 1963 British Open with a total score 14.6 strokes better than the field average. If we convert his Z-Score to a probability of winning, Nicklaus’s performance relative to the field was generally good enough to win a major 62 percent of the time (unfortunately for Nicklaus, Bob Charles and Phil Rodgers were both 15.6 strokes better than the field; Charles would win the tournament in a playoff). In addition, Nicklaus’s performance in the 1962 PGA Championship would typically win a major about 10 percent of the time.

In all, Nicklaus had 0.76 “expected wins” in all the majors he didn’t win before his third major crown. By contrast, McIlroy only piled up 0.16 expected wins before winning the British Open. (If you’re curious, Woods had 0.43.) Yes, McIlroy has a trio of third-place ties to his name, but none of those performances would typically be good enough to win a major more than 8 percent of the time. When Nicklaus lost, he often played well enough to win but didn’t get a lucky break here or there (he finished second in more majors, 19, than anyone else has won). The same can’t be said for McIlroy, at least at this stage of his career.

Even so, McIlroy belongs in the conversation with Woods and Nicklaus. A lot will have to go right for him to challenge Woods’s major championship count (let alone Nicklaus’s), but we should appreciate the greatness we’ve seen from McIlroy thus far.

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Georgia’s Republican primary for the U.S. Senate will end Tuesday amid accusations of sweetheart deals and donations from criminals. But the Peach State’s runoff — unlike Mississippi’s — doesn’t feature a big ideological struggle; Rep. Jack Kingston and former Dollar General CEO David Perdue are both mainline conservatives.

The bigger story will probably be the general election candidate not on Tuesday’s ballot: Democrat Michelle Nunn. Georgia has been solidly Republican in national elections for more than a decade, but Nunn has led Kingston in eight of 11 polls conducted over the past year. Perdue hasn’t polled much better. Nunn seems to benefitting from a Georgia that has grown more diverse, a golden name (her father was Sam Nunn, the longtime senator), and the dragging out of the GOP primary.

Luckily for Republicans, Kingston and Perdue were seen as the more mainstream candidates in the primary’s first round. They emerged from a field that included the outspoken Reps. Paul Broun and Phil Gingrey, as well Karen Handel, the Sarah Palin-endorsed former secretary of state. Kingston had the least conservative (though still conservative) congressional record of any of the three congressmen running, and he was endorsed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Emphasizing his business background, Perdue campaigned more on the economy than hot-button social issues.

Perdue finished first in the primary with 31 percent. Kingston came in second at 26 percent. But the tables appear to have turned in the runoff.

Kingston has been boosted by endorsements from Gingrey and Handel, as well as from RedState’s Erick Erickson and the National Rifle Association, and he has consistently led in runoff polling. The latest averages from HuffPollster and RealClearPolitics show him with 47 percent. Perdue trails with 42 and 41 percent in those averages, respectively.

And Kingston’s 5 to 6 percentage-point lead will probably stand up.

Past polling in Georgia’ Republican primaries and runoffs has been reasonably accurate. In the 2010 gubernatorial runoff, the polling average was off by less than a percentage point. In the first round of this year’s Senate primary, polling correctly showed Perdue ahead, Kingston in second and Handel in third. Only two candidates (with undecideds allocated proportionally) out of 16 in the past four major statewide GOP primaries have seen an error of more than 3 percentage points from their projected vote percentage and actual vote percentage. Perdue would need that type of error (and in his direction) to win.

For the polls to be wrong, Perdue will probably need to exceed expectations in the Atlanta area. Perdue led Kingston by 17 to 18 percentage points in Cobb (a traditional swing county in Republican primaries), Gwinnett and Fulton counties in the first round; Handel came in first or second in all of these counties. If Perdue is to win the runoff, he’ll need to fight off Handel’s influence and win these counties by potentially upward of 10 points. He’ll be building on his base around Macon, in Bibb and Houston counties in the middle of the state.

Kingston, meanwhile, needs another strong performance in and around his congressional district (the 1st), which includes Savannah. Kingston regularly won 75 percent or more of the vote — and no less than 64 percent – in 30 southeastern counties. More than that, turnout was up in the southeast, while it was down in most of the state. In Chatham, for example, turnout was up 7 percent from the competitive gubernatorial primary four years ago. It was down 11 percent statewide.

If you’re looking for a county to watch, Richmond, which includes Augusta and is in the central-eastern part of the state, could be telling. It’s a buffer zone between Kingston’s sphere of influence in the southeast and Perdue’s core support in central Georgia. Both candidates finished within a point of their statewide vote shares in Richmond in the first round.

But as we said, winning the primary is just half the battle for Kingston and Perdue. We’ll have to wait at least a few weeks to know whether Republican voters will coalesce around the victor. If they don’t, Georgia could feature a very exciting Senate race in the fall.

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Red Klotz, the founder and longtime coach of the Washington Generals, the Harlem Globetrotters’ perpetually feeble opponents, died at age 93 last week (I highly recommend Joe Posnanski’s remembrance). Klotz’s all-time record as a head coach of the Generals and their namesakes was something like six wins and 14,000 losses — they lost 99.96 percent of the time.

How exactly did the Generals lose so consistently? How much of it was their conceding games on purpose, as opposed to simply being really bad at basketball?

Let’s first get a sense for how good the Globetrotters were. How have they performed in competitive games. Wait, the Globetrotters sometimes played serious basketball? Yes — from 2000 to 2003 they played a series of games against NCAA teams. (The NCAA banned the practice in 2004.) News accounts of these games insist that they were taken seriously by both the Globetrotters and their NCAA opponents.

As best as I can tell — statistical records for anything involving the Globetrotters are sketchy — they went 13-9 in games against Division I opponents while winning by an average of about five points per game. This is reasonably impressive. As a barnstorming team, all of the Globetrotters’ games were played on the road, and some of their opponents were pretty good: Michigan State, Syracuse, Connecticut and so on.

We can come to an estimate of the Globetrotters’ strength by looking up the SRS rating of their college opponents. SRS (Simple Rating System) is a Sports-Reference.com invention which accounts for a team’s margin of victory and strength of schedule. A team’s SRS rating represents how much it would outscore (or be outscored by) an average opponent from its league.

Take one of the Globetrotters’ opponents from 2001, the Iowa Hawkeyes. The Hawkeyes had an SRS rating of about +12 that season, which implies they’d beat an average Division I team by a dozen points. But the Globetrotters beat Iowa by three points. Furthermore, the game was on the road, and home-court advantage is worth about four points in college basketball. So to get an SRS rating for the Globetrotters, we start with Iowa’s rating of +12, then add three points for the Globetrotters’ margin of victory, and four more since the Globetrotters were playing on the road.

That gets us to an implied SRS of +19 for the Globetrotters. We can repeat this process for all the games the Globetrotters played against Division I opponents and then average the result. (There were also some inglorious moments, like when the Globetrotters lost to Central Connecticut State.)

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The Globetrotters come out with an SRS of about +17 based on our sample. That’s pretty good — it’s similar to the SRS rating that Syracuse, Ohio State, Baylor, Wichita State and the national champion Connecticut Huskies had last season. If they entered the NCAA tournament, the Globetrotters would deserve to be slotted in as something like a No. 4 or 5 seed.

Let’s return to the case of the Generals. In Posnanski’s accounting, the Generals usually played straight up on offense. And they played straight up on defense about 40 percent of the time. The other 60 percent of the time, when the Globetrotters were in one of their “reams” (trick-play routines), the Generals’ job was to play the stooge and ensure the Globetrotters looked good.

Here’s how this might translate in terms of advanced stats:

  1. We know that when playing straight-up basketball, the Globetrotters are equivalent to a No. 4 or 5 seed in the NCAA tournament. Per Ken Pomeroy’s data, a team like that would expect to score about 1.13 points per possession against an average NCAA opponent and allow 0.97 points per possession.
  2. But the Generals are probably slightly worse than an average NCAA team; most of their current roster either played for middling Division I schools or didn’t play in Division I at all. So let’s tweak the Globetrotters’ projected offense up slightly to 1.15 points scored per possession, and their defense to 0.95 points allowed per possession in straight-up play against the Generals.
  3. Let’s guess that Globetrotters games feature an average of 55 possessions per team, lower than the rate of about 65 possessions per team for an average NCAA game. From what I can tell, Globetrotters games generally last 40 minutes — the same as in college basketball. But team also plays without a shot clock, and its routines can last for minutes at a time (while violating all other sorts of basketball rules).

Based on these assumptions, if the Globetrotters and Generals played straight-up basketball, the Globetrotters would win by an average score of 63-52. (You can get to these numbers by multiplying each team’s points per possession by 55 possessions per game.) This would translate into their beating the Generals 94 percent of the time by basketball’s Pythagorean formula. Had the Generals played to win on every possession, Klotz would have finished with a career record of about 840 and 12,166.

That’s … not great. But it gives Klotz about 834 more wins.

As a gut check on this back-of-the-envelope calculation, let’s account for what happens when the Globetrotters employ a trick play, as they did 60 percent of the time in Posnanski’s estimation. Let’s assume that their scoring efficiency in these cases is two points per possession, equivalent to scoring a two-point field goal every time down the court. In practice, the Globetrotters no doubt miss some baskets, even when the Generals are laying down to them. But they could also boost their scoring efficiency through 3-pointers (and in the Globetrotters’ case, 4-pointers!) and offensive rebounds.

Scoring 1.15 points per possession 40 percent of the time (when playing straight up) and two points per possession 60 percent of the time (in trick-play mode) yields an overall average of 1.66 points per possession. In a 50-possession game, that would make the average score 91-52 in favor of the Globetrotters. That implies the Globetrotters would beat the Generals 99.96 percent of the time per the Pythagorean formula — exactly their historical winning percentage against them.

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Elizabeth Warren probably isn’t going to run for or win the Democratic nomination for president in 2016, but that hasn’t stopped progressives from trying to get her to run. And it’s no wonder: Warren would be among the most liberal presidential candidates — if not the most liberal — in the modern era (since 1972, when Democrats began selecting their nominee through the caucus and primary process).

Quantifying the ideology of politicians is tricky, but we’ll use a method similar to FiveThirtyEight’s presidential forecasting model by looking at each nominee’s congressional voting record, fundraising and public statements (Adam Bonica’s ideological scores based on a candidate’s donors, joint DW-Nominate scores based on a candidate’s voting record in Congress, and On the Issues scores based on public statements).

In all cases, negative scores mean more liberal. We usually standardize and average these three metrics, but there aren’t scores for all the candidates before 2000 and comparing across time can be tricky. So let’s keep this simple and just look at each metric separately.

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The logic behind Bonica’s fundraising scores goes basically like this: If liberals are giving you lots of money, you’re probably pretty liberal, and if conservatives are filling your coffers, well … you get it. According to Bonica’s scores — the only system of the three for which we have grades for all the candidates – Warren would be by far the most liberal nominee in the modern era. Indeed, fellow Democrats have sought her help on the campaign trail in large part because of her appeal among liberal donors. It’s also no surprise that those at Netroots Nation have taken a shine to her.

If Warren were to win the Democratic nomination, she’d rank as the second-most liberal nominee who served in the Senate or House. Her voting record has been to the left of Walter Mondale’s; only the famously liberal George McGovern had a more leftward-leaning legislative record. By contrast, the past three Democrats to represent the party on the presidential ticket were all near the center of the Democratic Senate caucus, while Warren has the fifth-most liberal voting record in the Senate today.

On public statements, Warren ranks a clear second. The only past nominee to her left, according to On the Issues, is John Kerry. But the distance between Warren and Kerry is smaller than the distance between Warren and any other past nominee. In other words, Warren’s liberalness on this measure is pretty clear — far to the left of President Obama.

In terms of 2016 contenders, Warren is to the left of both Vice President Joe Biden and former secretary of state Hillary Clinton on all three of these measures.

But it’s not like Biden and Clinton aren’t liberal. Clinton especially has a fairly liberal donor base by historical standards. Clinton would be to the left of the median senator (-0.33) in terms of voting record. Clinton, like Biden and Warren, would be the second-most liberal nominee in the modern era in terms of public statements.

And therein lies Warren’s problem. The clamoring for Warren to run in 2016 doesn’t go much beyond the progressive wing of the Democratic Party. Warren may be the most liberal, but the other top 2016 contenders haven’t left a lot of room on the ideological left for her to gain a foothold.

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This is Ctrl + ←, our weekly data journalism roundup. You’ll find the most-read FiveThirtyEight articles of the past week, as well as gems we spotted elsewhere on the Internet.

MOST READ:

  1. Carmelo Anthony’s Contract Could Doom the Knicks to Mediocrity
  2. Germany May Be the Best National Soccer Team Ever
  3. Derek Jeter And the Other Worst All-Star Starters of the Past 40 Years
  4. Was Lionel Messi Tired?
  5. The Pitch That Launched a Thousand Think Pieces
  6. Lionel Messi Is Impossible
  7. What Cleveland Would Look Like With LeBron James And Kevin Love
  8. The Deadest Sports Days of the Year
  9. Corporate America Is Enriching Shareholders at the Expense of the Economy
  10. LeBron Is Going to Make His Cavs Teammates Whoa Better

ELSEWHERE ON THE INTERNET:

Clean data: There’s nothing that quite dampens the vacation mood like the word “laundry.” So Reed Kennedy at Medium ran the sums on the perfect number of underwear to pack. Gold numbers indicate a perfect-world scenario where you return home with no unnecessarily laundered underwear in your suitcase. Undies
Fast food
: By definition, a fad can’t last forever. When the trend is being born, reporters can fan the flames with endless articles and when that trend begins to die, reporters behave in much the same way. With the bankruptcy of Crumbs Bake Shop last week, there was a flurry of articles. L.V. Anderson, Eliza Berman and Holly Allen at Slate took an interesting approach to the Crumbs’ news. They searched a news database for every article that had the phrase “the new cupcake” and looked at which food items were the subject of the fanfare. The journalists noted that more recent references tended to be laden with irony. 140715_newCupcake3.jpg.CROP.original-original

ZIP files: In Britain, where I’m from, we call ZIP codes post codes (we also refer to mail as post, so it makes plenty of sense), but ours are a series of letters and numbers that are incomprehensible to outsiders. So sadly, Britain was not included in this data visualization project by Martin Grandjean, a writer and Ph.D. researcher, who looked at numbers-only mail systems of various countries to find patterns. His maps of postal codes around the world are pretty simple: Numbers are colored from low (red) to high (blue) and reflect just how different an approach each country takes.

CZ-SK-postcode

Bowled over America: The U.S. bowling industry has faced a steady decline since the late ’80s from which even the Harry S. Truman Bowling Alley isn’t immune. Christopher Ingraham at the Washington Post mapped where the country’s lanes are still standing and their relationship to the area’s population.

Bowling alone

Christmas Carols: As someone burdened with a name that has a range of terrible meanings, I implore all new-parents: think things through. If, for example, you think it’s a great idea to call your imminent December baby Nicholas or Carol, please be aware that it has been done. A lot. And as Slate explains in this post, if “cute” engineered coincidences become any less “cute” when they’re massively prevalent, you should also steer clear of naming your daughter June if she was born in June (good one) or May if she was born in May (really creative guys).

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We now know the best four burritos in what we define as the Northeast in our Burrito Bracket. Correspondent Anna Maria Barry-Jester traveled from Iowa to Maine as part of our search for America’s best burrito and found some gems along the way — including a burrito with a freshly handmade corn tortilla.

We’ve already finished the first-round of reviews in the South and the West, which included a standout breakfast burrito and one burrito that earned a perfect 20 for its flavor profile — the only one to accomplish that feat thus far.

Next, Anna will head to the burrito behemoth that is California, where she’ll determine the final four burritos that will move on to the next round.

For those just tuning in, Anna’s tasting 16 burritos in each region and reviewing them in groups of four, according to a predetermined rating system. The winner of each group moves on to the next round. Here are the winners in the Northeast:

— The carne asada burrito from La Pasadita in Chicago. With a score of 85 out of 100, it barely beat out the carne asada supreme burrito from Iowa City’s La Michoacana, but its tortilla and carne asada scores qualified the La Pasadita specialty for the win.

“Inside a thin, pliable tortilla, a hundred or so small pieces of charred, grilled beef intermingled with finely chopped raw onion and cilantro. The meat had a tough, grilled exterior that melted away as I bit into it,” Anna wrote. “Its reputation — and its place as the No. 1 seed in our Northeast region — is well earned.”

— The carne asada burrito from Taqueria Tlaxcalli in the Bronx. Alongside the other three burritos Anna reviewed in this group, the taqueria had some tough competition — the lowest-scoring burrito earned 84 points. But with a score of 91, the Bronx burrito won out in the end. It got high marks across the board, but the carne asada, presentation and flavor profile pushed it over the top, all with near-perfect scores of 19.

“An earthy, purple, spicy black bean sauce, a blended green avocado, a spicy red chipotle and a thick white sour cream, all delicious individually, achieved a rare and powerful depth when combined,” Anna said of the winner. “The magic of this burrito was how the ingredients, all great soloists, came together in perfect harmony.”

— The carnitas burrito from Atlantic City’s Pancho’s Mexican Restaurant. The burrito earned an impressive score of 88, with its stand-out attributes being its flavor profile, which earned 18 points, and its tortilla, which scored a perfect 20.

“Let’s start with the tortilla. It’s made by hand, and it’s made of corn,” Anna said. “Inside, ‘mozzarella’ cheese oozes around bits of jalapeno and lettuce, melding them together as it cooled. The burrito was topped with crumbled farmer’s cheese and avocado.”

El Guapo from El Pelón Taqueria in Boston. Two burritos in this group scored a 78, but this one came out on top, claiming the win with 79 points. Its quality was consistent in every category, earning 16 points for its tortilla, other ingredients, presentation and flavor profile.

“Buried like hidden treasure were the crispy, sweet plantains,” Anna wrote. “The steak was tough, but every bite featured a variation of the ingredients that made me keep going back for more. I had no choice but to eat the whole thing.”

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