The Recommender: Suzanne LaBarre, Whose Cat Is More Famous Than You

The best things on the Internet this week, curated by Fast Company team members.

The Recommender: Suzanne LaBarre, Whose Cat Is More Famous Than You
Suzanne’s Maine Coon Cat Is A Stock Photo Model. [Photo by Evan Kafka, Getty Images]
Suzanne LaBarrePhoto by Celine Grouard for Fast Company

Name: Suzanne LaBarre
Role at Fast Company: Editor of Co.Design, which is accepting entries for the 2014 Innovation By Design Awards until May 5. Enter now!
Twitter: @suzannelabarre
Titillating fact: Suzanne’s cat is a stock photo model. “A few years ago, a friend of a friend was looking for pets to photograph, so I brought my 10-pound Maine Coon cat Samantha to his studio,” she says. “What I didn’t know is that the photographer, Evan Kafka, likes to capture animals at their most aggravated. So he had his photo assistant muss Samantha’s fur, taunt her with a toy, and generally make her so nervous that she tore off to hide under the set. Like 20 times. Still got some good shots, though. Search for ‘Maine Coon cat’ or ‘purebred cat’ on, and she’s the second hit.”


Things she’s loving:

1. The Secret History Of Life-Hacking
Pacific Standard‘s Nikal Saval draws a parallel between 21st-century life-hacking and early 20th-century Taylorism, Frederick Winslow Taylor’s data-driven (and ham-fisted) philosophy of management. Today, instead of micromanagers timing how many widgets we can crank out in an hour, apps track how much we eat and work and exercise. Taylorism is now widely ridiculed for what it was: a dehumanizing attempt to wring every last ounce of efficiency out of workers. (Stalin and Hitler were fans of Taylor, as Saval helpfully points out, Godwin’s Law be damned.) What’s more, it wasn’t even all that good at streamlining workflows; by adding layers of bureaucracy to simple tasks, Taylorism created as many problems as it solved, if not more. Have to wonder how we’ll feel about our fitness trackers in 100 years.

2. Why Is There No Pill For “Asian Glow”?
Over at, Francie Diep investigates why pharmaceutical companies haven’t invented a drug to combat what’s known as “Asian Glow,” the flush response of some Asian people when they drink alcohol. Asian Glow stems from a deficiency in the aldehyde dehydrogenase enzyme, which helps break down ethanol, and it affects one in three people of East Asian descent, Diep writes. Lactose intolerance–another condition caused by faulty enzymes–can be treated with a pill, so why can’t Asian Glow? Such a pill might even cure hangovers in people with normal aldehyde dehydrogenase enzymes. Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. Read the piece to find out why.

3. DJ Kittens Are Here To Bring A Little Music Into Your Life
Happy Friday!


About the author

Jessica Hullinger is a London-based journalist who covers science, health, and innovation. She currently serves as a Senior Editor at