I never was a foodie.  I always viewed an obsession with food as unhealthy.  Then I had two revelations:

  1. I don’t live in a foodie culture.  I live in an over-indulgence culture.  That I can’t order a lunch anywhere and be without leftovers is indicative of this.  When our agricultural system was streamlined and ownership consolidated, with production determined by government subsidy, we ended up with vast quantities of high-calorie and low-quality food–product that needs to be moved.  So food is cheap but not good.  We compensate by adding addictive flavor enhancers, then eating too much.  When contrasted with true foodie cultures, the ones that refuse to lower quality, we end up with small and expensive portions, that are overall lower in calories and additives, which also taste better naturally.  And we ridicule these people relentlessly (damn French!)
  2. Being descended from western European immigrants, the food I grew up with was of traditional peasant variety.  This alone didn’t make the food bad, but coupled with a lower middle class childhood, my mother’s food didn’t generally branch out into the more exotic ingredients out of basic economics.  And her own upbringing instilled the value of food being simply available, so to her standpoint being a foodie was having sufficient quantities and eating a lot.  And shut up and eat, because starving children in China.

These two points continually boost each other, and whether we blame capitalism or economic limitations as the initiator, the end result is that American middle class food culture is one of excess over quality.

But then I developed the technical skills required for cooking, and while my formative financial station kept me locked in the familiar mediocrity, my socioeconomic ladder-climbing provided exploratory means.  I realized that cooking, like any technical skill, could be quite rewarding when also risking failure (something money allows).  I argue with people on the true artistry of food preparation, but I don’t think many of us achieve that level.  We are not chefs.  We are cooks, executing known techniques to output a palatable result, which is not to say that the process is easy to learn, or not fun and interesting.

But enough of my sociological babble.  That was just an intro so I could show what I’ve been up to on the food front.

…which amusingly begins with peasant food!

Potatoes, onions, blood sausage, sauerkraut, and dumplings.  That’s pretty peasanty all right.  Filling and hitting all the macronutrients.  This was mainly to try the blood sausage, which I had never had before.  Like liver, it was unsurprisingly very rich and iron-y.  It was okay, but I don’t think I’ll get it again.

Next up, bread, which I don’t think qualifies as peasant food.  It predates that, being a standard subsistence food for humanity and the reason for agriculture’s genesis.  Well, that and beer.  Both cereal crops though.

But, this is no simple bread.  This is sourdough, and a wild strain at that.

Bread freaks go on and on about this–about how sourdough yeast is unique to the geographical region and by baking with it, the essence of said region has been captured.  However true that may be, it sounds a little too fanciful for some damn bread.  But it still holds an ounce of coolness, that I now posses the knowledge to create bread sans commercial yeast.  And unlike commercial yeasts, this one had a much stronger flavor.  I’ll try to keep that mother alive (the yeast one–the other one’s on her own).

And next, some more smoking successes.  While I can’t claim the other dishes on this table, I did smoke a turkey for the first time, to positive reviews.  I don’t know where exactly turkey fits in on the status scale, because it’s a holiday tradition food, so maybe it’s exempt altogether.

Turns out that smoking is indeed a viable cooking method.  I’ll try frying one of these years.

And last, also smoked–some more bacon.  Pork belly might have originated as low class food, but with its popularity and prices today, I think it achieved haute cuisine.  Noveau riche, perhaps.


Prior attempts were good, but this batch seems especially tasty.  Maybe that’s because of the meat slicer acquisition.  Uniform pieces make me feel professional…and bring back nightmares from a certain prior job.  Worth it.

Thick bacon!  Not that sissy store crap.

There we have it: good food, normal ingredients.  And while much of my cooking may have peasant origins, I can at least claim proper execution and variations in method.  But more importantly, I’ve learned to appreciate the result, not the quantity, of the final dish.  Perhaps I’m a true foodie after all.


Legislation and Compromise

It’s no surprise that here in America, land of the two party political system, much of our legislation is based on simplified dichotomy.  The “us or them” mentality makes identifying threats easier, as we don’t have to waste our precious brain power on trivialities such as long-term consequences; be it financial (Social Security) or environmental (climate change); letting us preserve it instead for more important matters like my fantasy football picks.

There are of course some who over-analyze issues, but you don’t hear much from them because instead of shouting over presumed injustices on the internet, they’re instead locked into quiet introspection.  They might join the online community occasionally, but as their input is based in logic rather than emotion, it’s uninteresting to read.

So defines Premise 1: the loudest people, whether digitally or corporeally, represent those of the most extreme opinions.

However, in order for a technologically-modern large society to exist, the laws of such a society must still seek a general compromise, else all will devolve to total collapse or dystopia (which always leads to a later collapse once the orgies and drugs run out).

Ergo Premise 2: the correct form of legislation is that which lies between the extremes, if the goal is societal preservation.

And here are two recent policy events to drive the point:

  1. Permitless concealed carry of firearms in Ohio.
  2. Rowe v. Wade.

Everyone legally allowed to possess a firearm in Ohio can now carry that firearm concealed without needing to first acquire a permit.  Constitutional open carry is of course already allowed, so this will remove ambiguity when interacting with law enforcement, eliminating a potential felony charge fabricated by our not-so-popular police force, and removing the individual interpretation over personal rights.  Win for the Left, right?

Well no, because it reduced restrictions on guns and any such loosening of gun restrictions is bad.

Okay, well what about the Right then?  Any restrictions on guns is encroaching on constitutional rights–don’t tread on me and such–, so this is good, right?

Nope.  The Right’s mad because it let more people into their club without having to pay.

Conclusion: no one’s happy.

Rowe v. Wade established abortion limitations and guarantees, preventing local legislation from banning it outright, but also restricting allowable timeframes and conditions.  So a state couldn’t prevent an abortion in the early stages, but they could limit later stage abortions to consider the mother’s health, and late stage abortions were more or less prohibited as at this point there was an ethical obligation to carry the child to term.  The Left was happy, since abortion access was now guaranteed.

No, they weren’t.  These were still laws on a woman’s body, and any such laws are a violation of an individual’s autonomy.

And of course the Right wasn’t happy, because any abortion is murder and therefore wrong.

Conclusion: no one’s happy.

In these two examples, no one’s happy.  But since “no one” represents only the extremists (Premise 1), then what they are are truly moderate policies.  And moderate policies, being compromises, are requirements for societal health and longevity–preservation (Premise 2).

Therefore, these two policies, one accused of Right-wing agenda and the other Left, are in fact neither, and good policy decisions.

(The repeal of Rowe v. Wade was neither moderate nor of benefit to society, as it violates this principle.)

And there you have it: my commentary on contemporary political issues, which includes my thoughts on the policies, without actually including my personal beliefs.  Do I feel either of these is wrong?  I’ll never tell, and you shouldn’t know, because that’s the wrong way to govern large populations.


Demographic Swapping

I worry that as I age I become a little too right of center.  I started out pretty far left, then as a younger professional I leaned moderate.  And now, as I approach middle age, I’m starting to have some unsettling dissonance as the boat tips starboard.

Cognitive dissonance, that is–the concept of having to rationalize one’s thoughts and actions so as to avoid an aneurysm when those thoughts and actions threaten the identity and worth of the self.

And part of identity is demographic.

So it stands that I feel a little twinge of ire for the general accusation of the irrelevancy of white man.


I wrote previously about the Bechdel Test, and gave it its due credit, but found it too concise for a more thorough look at the evolution female characters in media.  I offered some more in-depth analysis, and concluded that the problem was essentially introducing female characters for no other reason than to have female characters (a similar conclusion).

When the character itself lacked depth, then the character distilled down to a simple juxtaposition of gender: in other words, she exists simply to avoid having another male character.  But when the character had proper depth, gender became far less relevant.  So if you create a character in a position of power and authority who’s believable as a person, then gender isn’t important.  If you fail in this task and cast a female in this same position just for that sake alone, then it’s painfully obvious.

No really, check out that post for some examples:

Femme Credibilius

Checking demographic boxes off the list doesn’t make your product a celebration of diversity.  It’s a lazy attempt–pandering to a larger audience for your own gain, and insulting to everyone.

And it’s getting worse.

Now we’ve moved from simply failing to represent women by creating good female characters, to attempting to represent them by swapping the demographic of an already existent character that’s been previously developed out.

And now that’s been extended to race.

And this is being done in franchises that already have demographic diversity.

In the latest Dune movie attempt. Liet Kynes, Chani’s father, is now a woman.  No explanation.  There’s the Reverend Mother, Jessica, Chani, Irulan, Alia, and later that girl who could control worms or something, not to mention the entire Bene Gesserit and Honored Matres sisterhoods.  There is already a large selection of important and powerful female characters.  If you wanted more female power, their influence could be adjusted a little with creative license for the movies.  But to take a minor character and inexplicably change the gender just to add one more?

And from what I’ve seen so far of the Halo TV series adaptation, the Keyes are now black.  They didn’t turn Locke white, or Halsey male.  No, their demographics remained untouched.  They just reduced whiteness/maleness…a little.  To keep it from becoming too prominent I guess.

My point is that this isn’t a zero-sum game.  You don’t have to rob one demographic to give a consolation prize to another.  Rather than change canon, you could just flesh out more and better characters across broad demographics.  That would actually celebrate human differences without implying that there’s too much of one or that one is better than another.

Shouldn’t that be the real goal?