Days of Future Past – A Blast From the Past post from November 2013

*Yeah, I know.  I’ll do fresh posts later, but yesterday and today I’m taking a break from “word work.”  It’s not total loafing.  Yesterday I made the house look somewhat less like a pigsty.  But it allows me to clear the mind a little.  Sorry.  At any rate, I thought you’d find this one interesting. – SAH*

Days of Future Past – A Blast From the Past post from November 2013

Sometime ago I was talking to a friend who is an older science fiction writer.  This was so long ago that the kids were then in their early teens.  I was telling her how difficult it was, writing and (back then) unpacking into the new house, and cleaning, and keeping the boys on track for homework, and she said that yes, being a working mom was very difficult, and that they’d thought back in her day that by the time we got to now, with most moms working, there would be public refectories that would serve meals.

I remember I looked at her for a moment, then said “there is.  It’s called PF Chang’s.”

This was before 2008 and the entire economic crisis, and we’d just had friends from out of town visiting.  We’d driven from restaurant to restaurant, on a week night, trying to find some place with less than an hour wait where we could have a meal uninterrupted by servers trying to hurry us up.  (Right now, our go to for this is a little Thai restaurant, where the service proceeds at glacial pace, and which is easier on the purse – unless we go to Denver where, of course, we go to Pete’s kitchen, where we’ve been going since the kids were little, back when the neighborhood was actually dangerous instead of just being iffy as it is now.)

We finally did find a place to eat with our friends, but it was more expensive than we’d meant to spend and in the mean time we’d gone through a whole range that is well above our “I’m fried/we spent the day working, let’s grab something to eat.”  (These days that’s mostly Applebys and we try to make it on Monday for the discounted burgers, but never mind.)

All these places were full on a weekday night, and it didn’t take much listening in to realize most of the people waiting were people who came here twice or three times a week.

Now, I’m not going to cast stones.  Back before the boys were a glimmer in Dan’s eye, both Dan and I were working in high pressure jobs, which didn’t pay overtime but expected it.  When you’re both working 12 to 16 hour days, the last thing you want to do is go home and cook, or even assemble a sandwich.  And we rarely managed the time to go out grocery shopping, for that matter.  (In that year and a half we were both at those jobs, sometimes I bought clothes because I hadn’t had time to do wash – and I shopped by my usual method of running in, grabbing something that fit and running out.)

What surprised me about that tour of city restaurants, years ago, was not that they were packed, but that they were packed at that price range.  (Then again, I guess some people have less… skinflinty ways.  Also, most of them aren’t writers, so they get more regular payments, I guess.)

To return to the main point, any society that requires its women to work outside the home (and the combination of social and tax pressures more or less requires that) must have some way of doing the house work.

For the science fiction writers of the early to mid century (probably up to the seventies) in the US, the thing that made the most sense was to have the government provide nutritious meals at your local refectory.

Could it have worked?  In real life?

I fail to see how, short of a Stalinist regime, where you end up having turnips five times a week and like it.

Would it be possible to have them be something like a school cafeteria, with discounted food?  Sure.  But I bet you that absent compulsion or restriction, they’d be competing with all the restaurants providing the same service in the free market.  And while I imagine some of these centers would survive, particularly in the poorer neighborhoods, the customers would mostly be the desperately poor and derelicts, using government vouchers, and receiving the quality of food no one else would want, at prices that would come out as a big chunk out of the taxpayer’s pockets.

I don’t think I think this because my beliefs trend that way, but because I simply can’t imagine the level of complexity of planning and compliance of the populace necessary for this to work.  I think it would/could only work if individual food preparation were outlawed, and even then I bet you there would be a grey food market/preparation market.

Take my kids, (please, I sell them to you cheeeeeep.  You’ll have to feed them!) They went to an urban high school.  What this meant is that they went to school surrounded by restaurants, snack bars, fast food joints, etc.

Technically, only seniors had passes to go out at lunch, and everyone else was supposed to go to the cafeteria.  In point of fact, you had to be careful driving around downtown at lunch time, for the flocks of high school students headed to McDonald’s, Wendys, Carl’s Junior or, my kids’ favorite, Subway.  In four years in that school, when not brown bagging it, older son frequented Subways.  He didn’t even know where the cafeteria was until he had to find out because he was on crutches.  And then he found the reason everyone went out was that the choice was so bad and relatively expensive.

If high school students can do this, so can adults.  The whole “government provided meals” would never have worked.

Why, then, did it make sense to science fiction writers at one time?  Why did even Heinlein include it in at least one of his juveniles?

First of all, you have to understand we writers are creatures of iniquity.  We don’t necessarily write what we think is true, we write what we think sounds cool.  For instance, I’m – sigh – ninety percent sure flying cars will never be the main form of transportation, but I have them in my stories, because they sound cool.

In the same way, in an age when most women stayed home and tended to the home fires (quite literally) imagining a cool and liberating future involved imagining a future in which women could just grab their food ready-cooked, courtesy of the government.  And the government, which had just won WWII and done all sorts of big building projects across the land, had the “can do” image to provide this.

People didn’t think of what would happen if they couldn’t choose what to eat when, they thought “oh, cool.  This will be taken out of our hands, and we won’t have to worry.”

The end result of this form of thinking has stratified in many people’s heads this idea of the future where a cool and efficient government does everything humans have trouble with on an individual level.

It is a nice dream and it would be very good – if government were composed of telepathic creatures, capable of looking into everyone’s hearts and seeing what they wanted, and benevolent enough to want to grant it.

No government known to man has ever been that way.  Even in that post WWII time when government was doing and building, it was hardly the beneficent society of providing lollipops for all children.

Government is really good at force and indifferent bureaucracy, and while it did much that needed done, it often did it in a high handed and crushing way (talk to the people displaced by reservoirs, for instance.)

There are things that the government can do (I would argue not as efficiently as the free market, but never mind me) like put a man on the moon, and things the government can’t do, like take people out of poverty.  The difference is that one problem is susceptible to the application of brute force, and the other is too complex or too dependent on individual variables to work.

Yes, it looked good enough for a time.  And yes, it seemed – would seem – to be more efficient.  It would save on resources!  All that food uncooked/uneaten in the restaurants!  All the restaurants that go out of  business! And what about the people who can’t find a place to eat?  And those who can’t afford the restaurant they REALLY want?

But in the end, the people running the Public Feeding Cafeterias would not be super humans with no pity or favor, no confusion, no human feelings.  They would be as human as the rest of us, and some of them would be empire building little sh*ts while others would be just finishing their time and pushing paperwork around till Friday and maybe a few would be really devoted public servants (who get screwed by the empire building little sh*ts, since, this being the government it’s a really big organization and he who passes the buck fastest wins!)  And the cafeterias would offer burn turnips five days a week and burnt radishes the other two.  And people would start driving out into the country to buy eggs off farmers, under the table, and black market ovens would get sold, or things sold for other purposes repurposed “It’s really a foot warmer, but Bob fixed it so it heats to 350 degrees and has a door that closes.  I sell cakes out the back door of the mini-van by the side of I-75 on Sundays.  It allows us to buy fresh food to cook for ourselves, so we stay out of the government cafeteria.  I was so tired of turnips. Then there was that batch contaminated with uranium and all of Mary’s teeth fell off.”

That would be where the public feeding system would have ended up.  I prefer the imperfect and ‘wasteful’ system of private restaurants.

And what about all those dreams of a perfect, organized, top-down future?

Shhh.  It was just a nightmare.  Wake up and work for the real future.  Imperfect, flawed, sometimes more interesting than I want to think about – but possible, in a way those dreams of future past never were.


312 thoughts on “Days of Future Past – A Blast From the Past post from November 2013

  1. Our high school was an open campus and lots left to get other food. Besides no ride, and no extra money (sometimes packed lunches, sometimes cafeteria food), the biggest reason I didn’t leave campus was that I ate as fast as I could so I could hang out in the library and read more books. I was one of the few kids that was allowed unrestricted access to the library and to the number of books checked out. If I didn’t go to the library, I sat in a courtyard and read. There was no way that the food was the reason I stayed.

    Around here, the Title I schools get the free lunches and now free breakfasts and during the summers anyone who shows up regardless of need can get a free lunch too. I’ve never felt the desire to take them up on that even when we were “in need”.

    1. Mine was a block away from a Red Owl grocery. Lunch tickets were $5 so Mom allowed me to get the cash but $5 was all I was going to get. The cafeteria was across the street in the town’s elementary school. I never ate in it. The last school lunch I ate was in middle School, and I took a bus to the elementary school just outside the city limits because the food was better. We had a choice of either walking the 5 or 6 blocks to the in town elementary or a bus to my old elementary.

    2. I went to a private high school that sold lunch piecemeal. I don’t think I ever ate lunch there (aside from the few times I did work-study there instead of the library and got food free), but I did discover a love of nicely warmed bagels with cream cheese for the morning break. I don’t believe I’d ever had bagels before that.

      1. I worked in the school cafeteria where I was a student (and later in college, in the college cafeteria). The food wasn’t bad (well, there was “shipwreck”, a conglomeration of noodles and … um … stuff every Wednesday lunch), but it was predictable. As in, about 300 lbs of potatoes prepared daily, in addition to whatever happened to be on the menu for that day.

        On the other hand, an upper class student got up every weekday morning at about 4am to bake bread. Which was uniformly good. You can do a lot, apparently, with a total student body of about 275. We were saddened when he graduated, but his successor turned out to be equally good.

        1. I went to a very small Quaker boarding school for the last two years of High School. (Momma wanted me away from the bad influences of the city.) The school believed that everyone should do work around the campus.

          I had several tasks. One was being in charge of the kitchen on Sunday nights. (We did have cooks, but this gave them all a regular night off.) I always made bread. Fortunately I had been a swimmer before I took on the task. It takes a lot of muscle to kneed that much bread dough — yes, I did it by hand.

  2. Ah, yes. Cafeteria food. I had a very illuminating discussion with an army cook once. Recipes were sorted by “number fed” so they would be adding seasonings by the cup and cooking gallons of stuff. One small misread of the ingredients and you ended up with an unpalatable mess that could be barely called edible.
    And Canadian Army food was on the whole very good. Of course they had proper training, proper pay, and the men they were feeding knew where they slept….
    Other government services? Good luck with that.

    1. Though it has been ages (well it seems… ox ancient beast), since (school) cafeteria dining. The result of that is that even now, it takes some doing to get me to consider trying a buffet style restaurant. Not the same, I know, but there’s just enough similarity that I find it generally off-putting. It can be overcome, but the place needs to be really good. This is, of course, quite rare.

      1. I recall only two things from cafeteria food. In Jr. high I once had breaded deep-fried Spam (maybe 1/16-3/32″ thick). In grad school, I once got a half-slice of bacon on a half-bun with mustard.

        1. I recall one day thinking, “It’s pizza. Even they would have a hard time screwing up pizza, right?” WRONG. It was not pizza. It was thing resembling a pizza. Perhaps moo goo gai pizza. It was, if anything, a mushroom delivery system. Guess how much I like fungus? If you guessed “Exactly not at all” you’re close enough.

          1. That’s kinda what I thought until I moved from New Jersey to Ohio, and learned that pizza making is an art. Provolone instead of mozarella, too-sweet sauce, cardboard-like crust… [shudder] No wonder everybody felt compelled to load it up with zillions of toppings – they hide the taste of the pizza. Thankfully decent pizza has come to the area – decent New York style, New Haven style, and (for those who like that type of thing) Chicago style pizzas can be found.

            (Culturally, I found moving from NJ to OH an improvement – except in the matter of pizza.)

            1. There was (was, alas) a place in Merrill, WI that was a “Mom & Pop” pizza place. Thin-ish but not paper-thin crust, that was delicious even by itself. The sauce I didn’t really notice, but it was never ‘wrong’… and the toppings were always just so. In the last years of the place, they even had a couple local store carrying their pizza, frozen. Yeah, frozen pizza so it wasn’t quite the same, but still a lot better than the big chains. I miss that place (well, the product.. I think I was actually in their building maybe twice… the pizza was always ordered ‘to go’ and usually picked up by someone else. And the trip home (out of town) never really harmed it – and there was no cardboard box, just a paper sleeve, the pizza on a cardboard disk… and eventually, the little plastic stand-off in the center to keep the sleeve off the pizza.

        1. “Minotaur” dietary requirements are Odd. And no, they do not include humans. That’s some very strange Minoan nonsense… and years between? Now, come on. Fasting is one thing. That’s rather excessive.

    2. I actually remember with fondness my high school and college cafeteria food. I even liked the elementary school food I had – and for the most part, for the various schools across the world I went to. About the only time I did not like the food was when they’d serve up blutwurst in the East German cafeteria. For me, that stuff was inedible sludge – both in description and in taste. When I was in California, I think my favorite was the burrito – it wasn’t spicy, but had enough flavor that I enjoyed it. Looking back, I remember my classmates were a little shocked and would often give me their burritos (which I would take home, and share with my mom and brothers.)

      I remember with some amusement there was this meal I really liked from the high school/college cafeteria (I only went to High School for that school though.) and I went, with several of my school friends. I ordered two servings (Ah, the days when I could eat as much as I wanted and not gain weight!) and had started eating the first with such gusto that my friends decided to try it. They got in line and came back just in time to see me start on my second serving. They watched me for five minutes, staring. I asked them if they were going to eat. They looked at their food then said “We got full just watching you.” I ate their portions – to the O_O of the cafeteria workers (who remarked with delight that I really must have liked it) and O_O of my teachers, who had come in for a late lunch. “Modena, are you really eating all of that?!” I finished it all before they even got out of the line.

      This happened again France, where I ended up eating five portions of cauliflower au gratin that my classmates didn’t touch (then asked for extra portions since the cafeteria would give away leftovers) and 12 servings of chocolate mousse. “Where the hell is that tiny thing putting it all?” was pretty much the reaction.

      I rather miss being able to do that. My appetite has dropped rather significantly since then.

      1. It’s even more amusing now, as we (re)discover that fatty food is satisfying and has no negative coronary effect, but I encountered a “Traffic Light” system one place… Their idea of it was:

        GREEN – Healthy, go ahead.
        YELLOW – Not so healthy, think it over.
        RED – Unhealthy, try not to have much of this.

        It didn’t work that way, of course. And oh the look I got when I suggested to one server it was really:

        GREEN: GO to something else as this is made of disappointment.
        YELLOW: SLOW down enough to check it out, it might be alright.
        RED: STOP and get this stuff, you’ll probably like it.

  3. Meh. Feeding people is simple; if nothing else the government could simply provide food vouchers — Foodchers — which could be distributed as the WIC or SNAP or whatever program operates and can be used as a tax payment by restaurants. How restaurants would bmalance their acceptance of Foodchers against tax liability is their problem.

    What would be really useful would be for the government to provide house cleaning services. Trained cleaners coming into your house daily, straightening things up, sweeping out debris, sorting your trash into recyclables and non, maintaining an inventry of household possessions to help you in the event of a flood or fire caused insurance claim, and making sure bedrooms are maintained in proper accordance with best government developed guidelines to assure optimal sleep quality. They could even take care of some of those dangerous yard work activities like lawn-mowing.

    Call the service “Kitchen, Bedroom, Garden” and think of all the drudgery homeowners would be relieved from doing!

          1. Also relieved of that terrible burden called privacy. Free at last, thank God Almighty, free at last, to live the observed life!

        1. Head/Desk, Head/Desk, Head/Desk.

          Thank-you for the correction. I must have wakened with the wrong hands on today. These look like my yardwork fingers, not my typing ones.

        2. Well, there’s always their competitor “Gardening, Roofing, Underwear-washing”.

          Yeah, I couldn’t come up with anything for “U”.

          1. “U”? Ursine Management.

            Of course, if they provide service without limit it could be either “Gardening & Roofing, Universal” or ““Gardening & Roofing, Unlimited.”

        1. “What do you have to hide?”

          I do kinda like the story of the fellow/family that filled the medicine cabinet with marbles before a party. The first nosy got a surprise.

          1. Yeah, but I’d wager the number of people willing to come to that host’s parties dropped sharply after word of that got around. Either that or the nosy parkers simply started sneaking looks into bedrooms rather than bathroom cabinets.

            Thing I’ve noticed about those kind of “be a jerk to make a point” stunts is that people always laugh a lot more hearing about them than actually experiencing them. (Or maybe that’s just me. Nobody ever accused me of having a great sense of humour.)

    1. Gigglesnort.
      Could I have them just do the boys’ bedrooms and bathroom, and Dad’s bathroom? Be worth dealing with the KGB for that! (Hazmat suit required.)

          1. I recall those old gas station bathrooms — with all tile surfaces, including the ceiling, and a drain in the floor.

          2. There was a bar in Alaska that catered to commercial fishermen (a notoriously “festive” group). The owner got tired of his restroom being demolished, so he lined it with stainless steel sheets and got stainless steel toilets, urinals, and sinks that he MIG welded to the walls. Then he’d take the firehose in there once in a while to hose it down.

            1. And now I’m thinking of Bucky Fuller’s Dymaxion Bathroom. Four pressed sheet-metal components, each light enough to be carried by two workers. Ready to hook into the plumbing. No corners to collect crud.

              As I recall, that was when Bucky had his first run-in with unions. A prefab bathroom that just needed to be hooked up wasn’t very popular with the plumber’s union, for obvious reasons.

  4. One size never fits all. Just like choose your own doctor works better than the VA, Choose your own dining option works better than gov’t cafeterias.

      1. Mark Steyn used to joke about there being a 10 month waitlist for the labor and delivery rooms. I’m not sure it’s a joke anymore…

        1. A birth of more than 4 preemies in Calgary got to a trip to Billings, MT. Because Calgary, a very large city, doesn’t have enough incubators. Billings is not nearly as big and has plenty.

      2. At least we Canucks can take pride that our socialized health care system makes us moral superiors to our southern neighbors.

        I mean, it has to be good for *something*, right?

        1. What do you mean “We”, kemosabe…. :/
          Canadian healtcare is a horror story that I don’t want to inflict on anyone. I am just thankful that I only have to partake in it on rare occasions.

      3. I workout 6-7 hours a week. I can just imagine how well a Government diet would meet my needs. Add to that I’m ‘grotesquely obese’ if you use the Government charts (despite having under 18% body fat!)

        I’m perfectly happy with making my own food choices! Plus I tend to agree with Reagan. “I’m from the Government and I’m here to help you” are the scariest words in any language.

        1. knew a gal who was a Nautilus weight lifting champ who was “technically” obese and I think she was around 22%, and went out to bars with large weight lifter guys.
          Not as dates, but to prevent her from hurting her friends accidentally once drunk. Basically she went from being a George to being a Lenny, but instead of hulking, she was 5’1″.

          1. It’s pretty common with people that lift. It’s alternately frustrating and amusing to be ‘obese’ and know that you have low body fat!

            Thanks for the George and Lenny reference, know I’ve got to find a way to get ‘which way did he go George’ outta my head!

      4. Unfortunately, if there is enough lack of choice, that too can be poisoned.

        Our new pediatrician was busy assuring me that our son would get his bottom two front teeth in before the top….while he had a top tooth showing….

        And right after I informed him that you could fight for solid food from him with YOUR hands, not mine, he was assuring me how he’d be OK for porridge after he had FOUR TEETH…..

        Seriously, I may as well have been making “mwamwamwa” noises, like Charley Brown’s teacher.

        And this is one of the GOOD doctors….. (basically, when stuff goes wrong, he CAN fix it. Big pool of reviews to draw from.)

  5. … and that they’d thought back in her day that by the time we got to now, with most moms working, there would be public refectories that would serve meals.

    And once upon a time they* thought there would be self cleaning homes. There have been ever so many advances, but it has never quiet turned out to be just what was predicted. I don’t mind missing everyone in uni-sex spandex like clothes … never wanted to see that. I still want my flying car.

    … Or at least I still want it until I think about dealing with all the other drivers in their flying cars. I doubt adding extra available dimensions would greatly improve the ability of those who can’t manage well with what we presently have.

    * I used to wonder, but have long ceased to wonder who they are.

    1. The second Back to the Future movie took much of my desire for flying cars. The movie opens where the first one left off, with the cast taking off in Doc Brown’s flying DeLorean, they travel to the future… and end up in a congested sky freeway, pretty much exactly like the ones we have now except that it’s in the sky.

      1. Agreed. The way I’ve always explained it is, “Once you get flying cars, you get flying traffic lights, which obviates the point of the flying car in the first place.”

        And when my motor quits on my ground-wheel car or I realize I’m about to run out of fuel, I can pull over safely without having to deploy a parachute.

  6. After dealing with California drivers, I would be against flying cars. It is bad enough dealing with them on the ground. I would be terrified dealing with them in three dimentions.

    1. I’ve long since become resigned to the fact that it’s worth it not to get my flying car if I can prevent that #@$! who ran the stop sign this morning from getting his.

      1. Once upon a time I drove from a few miles north of Merrill, WI to a job in Rothschild, WI. This took me about half an hour. Another fellow drove from the (almost) adjacent Wausau, WI. He was much closer… and utterly shocked that it only took me as long as it took him to make the trip. I explained, “You deal with in-town streets, lower speed limits, traffic, all the red lights you’re always complaining about, and the fellow who while never approaching the speed limit, somehow is always just ahead of you. You have half an hour of frustration. I just get on the highway and go. I have one stop sign and one stop light to deal with the entire trip, which is done at Interstate or near Interstate speeds. I have half an hour of relative peace.”

        1. We’ve started using medical services in a town 45 miles away, because it’s faster and much less stressful to get there than to the ones that are 20 miles away. 40 of the 45 miles are on unobstructed freeway.

        2. and the fellow who while never approaching the speed limit, somehow is always just ahead of you

          I have had some SINCERELY FREAKY events on the highway where I’m going below the speed limit– only about five miles per hour under, because the van is so light and all– and people will ZIP up next to me…then sit there. I can all but slam on my brakes, pushing the edge of what is safe– and they’ll sit next to me. I’ll speed up dangerously fast, one or two cars will squeek between us– and they’ll be back next to me.

          A couple of times, I’ve been checking them for someone with a handgun in the passenger side, because they REALLY REALLY WANT TO BE RIGHT THERE BY ME.

          Best solution I’ve found is to hit a red light, and end up in their lane after the changes happen.

          1. All those times someone just HAD to pass me… to turn off in front me. Really? You can’t wait a couple seconds? Or the jokers who have to pass because evidently I am too slow…. but once ahead me.. they slow down? Whiskey Tango Photon-torpedo? Oh the time it was a good thing (for them) my car is not equipped some sort of beam weapon.

        3. The company I work for just moved. From 21 miles from my house, to 16 miles from my house. But because it avoids a 2-mile stretch through town between two freeways that have no interchange (thank you, San Jose) with lots of stoplights, it reduced the average travel time by 15-20 minutes each way, not just 5. And my car’s average gas millage improved by a couple of miles per gallon.

        4. … and the fellow who while never approaching the speed limit, somehow is always just ahead of you …

          I have found that inevitably these drivers will gain confidence and speed up in passing zones, adding to the sense of frustration.

          1. Aye. Most of the time while driving in WI, the IL cars zip by (I once drove for some time without a properly working speedometer and simply made sure I wasn’t passing vehicles with IL plates…) and for time I thought this universal (within WI, anyway). Then one day I was on some curvy two-lane road… behind the (seemingly) only IL driver who stayed well under the limit.

      1. Flying cars are road-able, so they do not need airports. You could land, fold the wings, and drive to your destination. They would be far less mechanically complex than helicopters and thus easier to learn how to fly. The idea also (usually) assumes a full-function autopilot to handle instrument weather and approaches. And the flying cars use car gas or diesel, not Jet-A or the (soon to be gone) 100LL high-octane aviation fuel.

      2. Numbers, dear. The number of people who have a plane or copter is tiny compared to the number of cars. And flying takes another set of skills and reflexes more people won’t necessarily have.

        1. Caveat here: listen to Heinlein (not to mention other people) in the 30s and 40s. They also thought people wouldn’t have the reflexes and skills to have most of them drive. See The Roads Must Roll. Eh. We ARE clever monkeys.

        1. Bangkok, Thailand. ‘Bout had a heart attack when the tuk-tuk (3-wheel motorcycle cab) driver, upon passing his family’s shrine, performed a wai (palms-together bow) -at 30 km/hr.

          Panama City – Panama

          Daharan/Al Khobar, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

    2. That’s the one difficulty I’ve had in suspending disbelief in the Darkship novels. Totally rules-free traffic with flying cars is just…. *shudder*

  7. Military members are familiar with eating in government feeding systems. I have to admit that they have improved under the volunteer military. Chow halls during the draft were pretty bad. Which was incentive for the troops to either make NCO status and get to eat at the NCO Club, or get married and go on separate rations where they could buy their food at the commissary to make themselves, and for the officers to eat at their own club and not hobnob with the enlisted pukes.

    But even today the choices are limited at the dining facilities (pretty much all you can eat though, which leads to the weight problem.) Heck, they’re limited at the clubs too. Think standard American fare. You want choices, you have to go off base to find the commercial chains and local restaurants for variety.

    1. The time: WWII. The place: A US Army boot camp. The scene: the boots’ mess. The food was horrible.

      Then one day the base commander walks in and gets a tray of what the boots were having. Next thing they knew, they had a different cook. It was rumored that the cook had been selling the good stuff on the black market.

      My father remembers that quite well.

      That must have been a chronic problem. An uncle ran into that in the first months of the occupation of Japan, and I had a teacher who served in Korea and they had the same problem. Except the teacher and his buddies caught the ones pilfering supplies. Funny thing: there were stairs on the way to where they had to take them, and every one of the thieves slipped and broke their legs.

      1. At a shore station for school after being at sea, went to breakfast one day and the chow line had scrambled powdered eggs instead of scrambled eggs. I looked at the cook and said “Two eggs, scrambled.” He replied, “Nope, your getting them from the pan. Saves money.” The base CO got 7 Request Mast chits that day. All from fleet sailors. The day after request mast, I went into the chow hall for breakfast. Scrambled eggs made to order from real eggs.

        At sea, powdered eggs are acceptable after the real eggs run out. Ashore or in port, not so much. But honestly, Navy chow for the 21 years I was in wasn’t bad. There was the one new Filipino head cook that the Chief of the Boat took aside after 2 days at sea, and explained to him he could serve rice every meal if he wanted to, BUT, he would also serve noodles or rolls or potatoes or some other form of starch also.

        1. *laughing* I remember the first time I visited Rhys in Australia. Two weeks in for my month-odd visit, I found myself unable to sleep. I crept into his bedroom, knelt by his bedside, and burst into tears. Rhys thought I was homesick. “No!” I blubbered. “I miss rice!” He laughed so much that he woke his brother sleeping next door, who came out to find out what was going on. When he heard, we got comments about how a girl sneaking into his brother’s bedroom to cry about rice wasn’t something he thought he’d ever be interrupting, and that we were solidly weird in his eyes.

          The next day we got rice, and their mum watched me eat nothing but a bowl of rice, with a bit of salt, for lunch, as if it were the most delicious thing EVER. Then a couple of days later, we proceeded to horrify her with bacon rice – we crispy-fried bacon, reserved the fat, and stir-fried the leftover rice in the bacon fat, then crumbled the bacon on top.

          There are some days where I’ll make a tiny pot of rice just for myself, and prepare other starches for the rest of the family. But Rhys has gotten used to having rice most meals by now.

              1. When I used to eat rice, I used a rice cooker. I’d put in a teeny can of chicken and a small can of veggies and I had instant meal in 30 mins. I have a fear of frying after I hurt myself doing it.

                  1. Add some good salsa to rice for a Mexican take. If you have time and want to ‘fancy’ it up sprinkle a little shredded cheese and some cilantro on top when serving.

                1. I make bamboo rice that way. Instead of water, I’d put in bonito broth, with a teaspoon of kikkoman soy sauce, then add some canned bamboo (sacrilage!) and some cubes of silken tofu. Topped them with cut up aburaage tofu. Oh, so good.

                  They have rice cookers now with this steamer basket that you can put on top of the main rice cooking container. Super easy when you want a meal.

                2. Oooh, they finally have an American twist on Japanese rice cookers– it’s got a “Fry” and a “Slow cook” setting on it along with all the rice, they’ve got them at Costco. Bought one after rave reviews from family, it’s beat out my “crockpot(tm)” one hands down.

          1. Thank you for telling us about bacon rice! It always exciting finding new, easy ideas for food.

            1. You’re welcome =D

              It’s sooooo yummy. Crumbled bacon into the rice that’s been juuuust stir-fried warm in the drippings… och.

              You’ll want to use ‘old rice’ – rice that was previously steamed, then put in the fridge. At least overnight. And before frying, it’ll need to be broken up as much as possible into small chunks before being added to the bacon fat.

              1. Used to do that growing up as a quick dinner. As an added protein source would scramble a bunch of eggs and stir them in as well. Great for a fast dinner and a way to use up leftover rice in the fridge.

              2. I used to make lemon rice day the after I ordered Lemon Chicken delivery. I always got too much lemon sauce and too much rice. I just mixed my lemon sauce with the pounded rice and nuked it ’til warm.

                1. My brother introduced us to “leftover chinese stir fry.”

                  It’s what two or three guys sharing a house do… you order the “six-eight family meal” and eat your fill, then next morning heat up a pan, put in the rice, get it warm enough to fall apart, then slowly add the rest of the leftovers. If you’re a little light on anything but rice and sauce, you scramble-fry some eggs first. (not scrambled eggs, that you mix before it hits the pot, usually has milk and seasoning– jsut crack the eggs into the pan and scramble, like for fried rice. Which this basically is.)

                  It is very handy when you’ve got kids who will randomly eat either as much as a bird, or as much as their father. And there is no way to tell which it will be. (Seriously, I’ve seen my seven year old daughter eat half a pizza, without being stuffed afterwards. What the heck?)

                  1. It’s that intermittent portable black hole that kids have. Problem is, when they start really gorging, that’s a signal that you’re going to have to go shopping for the next size larger clothes for them.

          2. Until I was diagnosed as borderline Type II, I got to eat all the rice I wanted (marrying a lovely American-born Chinese girl was me winning the lottery), now I have to get by with just a little, rarely. Drat.

          3. My kids are the same way about bread.

            They’ve grown up with “sushi rice” at least once a week– but you put a loaf of bread in the kitchen, and it’s gone in a day or two.

            Usually along with my container of straight ground cinnamon. (no, no sugar added. AND THEY EAT IT LIKE IT’S MANA FROM HEAVEN.)

            Even my horrifically bad home-made bread gets eaten!

            1. I’ve this thing right now with the grocery’s home brand wholemeal. It’s yum – nutty and fluffy and chewy. I’ll want only butter, and bread some nights, with a mug of warm soy drink or Milo (malt chocolate drink. Not the fabulously dangerous faggot.)

              1. Oh, it’s easy. Forget the salt, forget oil, don’t let it rise enough, bake it too long. Done all of the above at one point and time. Sometimes two or three on that list. A loaf of bread that requires a chainsaw to slice is far from decent.

                1. Ah… I’ve backed the salt down a bit much, but not actually omitted it. Generally had the bake time right (but I keep watch when I bake). Rising, no issue. Oil? Flour, water, yeast, salt. Well, and butter for the top.

                  1. Not quite, though it could have been used as a weapon if one was sufficiently desperate though. Needless to say I have improved in my bread making skills since the early days.

                2. “A loaf of bread that requires a chainsaw to slice is far from decent.”

                  Did that too. The woodpeckers, blue jays, and chickadees loved it though.

        2. In Titan II missile sites, the crews were provided with eggs, bacon, and bread for breakfast, and “The Dreaded Foil-Packs” (a selection of chow-hall TV-dinners) for lunch and dinner. My crews often took tortillas, ground beef, cheese, onion, and salsa to make our own burritos.

  8. Back in the day we all still believed in the theories of Malthus and Ehrlich. It was inevitable that population would outstrip production and we would all be getting hungry. Only government with mandatory controls and efficiency of distribution would see that no one starved. Yeah, pull the other one, but socialism is a really good idea that can’t help but work if you just give it an honest chance.
    What was never imagined was that the technology of food production would grow exponentially at the same time population, particularly in the better developed countries, would stabilize or even shrink. The truth is there is no reason for any person on Earth to go hungry. Excepting of course for political restrictions on distribution and bad individual choices made by the misguided or ill informed.
    As for that whole GMO business, there are some very legitimate concerns, but anyone who categorically opposes all such research and production very clearly wants people to die in job lots.

        1. Including some parts that start with U and end with A.

          Debunking socialist claims, part 1: Capitalism has not helped the poor
          While history proves socialism’s failure, a debate last week pitting Reason magazine’s Nick Gillespie and Katherine Mangu-Ward against Vivek Chibber of New York University and Bhaskar Sunkara of the Jacobin magazine deserves your attention. That’s because the two socialists, Chibber and Sunkara, encapsulated the crumbling foundation on which socialist adherents reside.

          Chibber and Sunkara focused their argument around three key themes: first, that capitalism has not helped the poor; second, that socialism provides for a better quality of life than capitalism; and third, that socialism, not capitalism, serves human opportunity and fulfillment. I’m going to write a post on each claim.

          To start, let’s consider the notion that Capitalism has not helped the poor.

          Chibber’s worst moment came with his claim that Chinese communism, not capitalism, was responsible for that nation’s massive improvement in living standards and reductions in poverty.

          [END EXCERPT]

          1. that socialism provides for a better quality of life than capitalism

            Oh, goodness yes!

            How can a theory where you kill anybody who has a “poor quality of life” end up with anything but a very high quality of life, especially if you go by self-reporting?

        2. A big chunk of the US doesn’t seem to understand that free markets work. Why would you expect the rest of the world to be any smarter?

      1. It is not the responsibility of the rest of us to pay for the bad choices of other individuals, even if they’re going hungry because of it. You can choose to do so if you wish, particularly when the people made those decisions based on deceit or lack of access to the information. However, it certainly shouldn’t be by government coercion.

    1. anyone who categorically opposes all such research and production very clearly wants people to die in job lots.

      You are being very unfair and judgmental there; they might simply accept that as a tolerable side effect.

      1. I most humbly apologize. Who am I to pass judgement just because greenie leftists consider mass dieoffs to be a social good.

    2. My objections to GMOs are a bit more pragmatic.

      The resistance to pesticides types were execrably thought out. None of the so-called experts realized that pollen drifts, nor that horizontal genetic transfer occurs between plant species. So the result is pesticide resistant weeds, and farmers being penalized because of GMO pollen contamination of their crops.

      So we have on the one hand abuse of the legal system by Monsanto et. al., and less than ethical decisions being made on the basis of poor science. Is it any wonder that there are people that have a severe distrust of GMOs? Sure, you spliced that gene in. You checked the crop for 3 or 5 generations before making it your number 1 product. How many generations do we really need to establish that the splice point is stable?

      The old fashioned selection and crossing method of genetic manipulation of crops was way slower; but it had the advantage of allowing people time to think about what changes they were making, and what the side effects would be. Sure, gene splicing is a valuable tool. But it shouldn’t be the only tool, and I think we need to be more cautious about using it.

      1. None of the so-called experts realized that pollen drifts, nor that horizontal genetic transfer occurs between plant species

        It really makes you wonder if they’ve ever encountered a plant in its natural habitat, doesn’t it?

        Sometimes I fantasize about being a judge in one of those Monsanto suits, and telling the company that it’s legally liable for the unwanted genetic contamination of the defendant farmer’s stock.

        1. At least with corn, one problem is that on the test plots, you hand-fertilize and then detassel so that wind-pollination can’t happen and thus mess up your test. And there was the little problem that the big seed places were thinking of their customers as farms out in the Dakotas and Texas, where you actually can have a large buffer around an enormous field. Iowa, Indiana, eastern Kansas, Ohio? Not so much.

          1. Or any of the Appalachian states, sure. Genmod has been going in for generations, since the first crosses done way on back before there was much of anything *but* hand sowing.

            The veggies we eat today have darn little in common with what they were *originally* in the wild, because mankind has been picking and choosing the tasty ones, the ones that grow big beautiful fruit, and the ones that work best in soups since, oh, Ogg and Magog figured that this fire thing was a pretty neat way to char meat.

            I don’t have much problem with genmod. They way it’s been done lately, though… *shakes head*

            The words of my late great grandad, who was around in the early 2000s when new cereal grains and suchlike were kicking around. His words on the new “test crop” lines were and education. I did not know how to cuss in Korean before that day. Or that it took so long.

            1. Topic drift ahead. I wish that people would put preservatives in bread. You can’t get a small (8-12 oz) loaf of bread at the supermarket. When you a house that is only 1 or 2 that lasts a long time. Often I’ve had to throw bread out due to mold a few times. I think I’m just too lazy to use my bread maker. I have mixes for it and it’s not hard to use.

              1. Bread machine bread is even worse.

                Here around El Paso, the store loaf will go for about three, four days.

                The loaf I make? After three nights, it turns blue. Even inside a container.

              2. Slice it and freeze it.

                When I lived in Japan, that was the only way to keep the tiny little loaves of bread (about half the size of a standard loaf in the US) from molding the day after I bought it.

                I still do that with the English muffins or toaster biscuits that I buy, because nothing ruins a nice soft-boiled-egg-on-English-muffin faster than the powdery taste of mold.

                If you slice the muffins before you put them in the freezer, you can break them in half without waiting for them to thaw.

              3. One trick I’ve used is to refrigerate it. Figure it’s already been modded enough that the change is miniscule.

          2. Big City girl here, (born and raised in New York City. Currently living in Dallas) and so ignorant of ag science. You test a crop or seed(?) in one area. How do you know that it will grow well in other places? I’m sure that the weather in the Midwest is unlike the weather in the SE or SW. Would someone knowledgeable in this please explain.

            1. There are a bunch of known important factors that you can test your plant on and do paper research on for the target area: how cold does it get in winter, how *long* does it stay cold in winter, what’s the humidity, what’s the soil acidity, what’s the soil moisture, etc. For example, if your plant can’t stand the cold, don’t bother trying to grow it in North Dakota (unless you sow it in spring and harvest it in fall and you don’t care if anything survives the winter.)

              If the conditions look good on paper , then you test it in reality.

      2. Pollen does indeed drift, but not so much that it’s for miles. I’ve forgotten what the recommended separation is for corn, but we had an heirloom seed we kept going that we planted closer than recommended to sweet corn. We lost the seed not to genetics, but to weevils and rats one year.

        Pollination can occur between related species, some, like squashes, gourds, and pumpkins notoriously so, but not from non-related species. I could plant open pollinated corn beside crookneck squash and not worry about the two sharing genetics.

        Monsanto is a company people love to hate, and they have been heavy-handed in checking that no one is violating licensing agreements (user’s licenses: they’re not just for software, anymore) and saving GMO seeds. But the laws have been on the books for a loooong time. Just ask anyone who grows patent roses. And the tree that produced the first Red Delicious was protected by alarm systems to keep anyone from pilfering cuttings (apples, and a surprising number of other crops, are not genetically stable).

        1. If I remember the cases correctly, it was Roundup Wheat in Canada. And yes, the fields were only separated by a hedgerow or irrigation ditch. Bunch of normal wheat farmers that saved a portion of their crops each year for seed had their fields contaminated with the Roundup variety and the company took them to court over it. Basically ruined the farmers too.

          1. The case I remember out of Canada, which may have been a different one, was a farmer who claimed to have used selective breeding to create his own “Roundup Ready” ™ crop. Do not recall which is was. Monsanto proved that this wasn’t going to happen, and the court found in favor of Monsanto. Saw all sorts of spin after that that drowned out the original case.

            1. I know there have been several cases where a farmer claimed to have had his crop “contaminated,” and I think at least one tried to sue for that contamination– all the cases I can think of, it was shown that it was not possible to be an accidental case.
              One of them, the guy was “forgetting” that he had the seeds in the planter when he added the new seed for the next field– you know, “just” half the total container. -.-

              Beef Magazine did an alright cover, if I remember right.

            2. Saw all sorts of spin after that that drowned out the original case.

              90% of the time, if you can even find the case, the Designated Bad Guy deserved to win.
              Sometimes, it’s a relatively innocent twist– the source just doesn’t confuse the issue after they’ve decided various details aren’t important to the conclusion (Reason’s favorite trick), and sometimes it’s just flat-out lying by omission, or lying.

      3. That exact objection is why they have the “does not produce fertile seeds” varieties.

        You know, the ones that “prove” that they’re evil?

        1. They also did it to combat seed saving. Unlike hybrids, GMOs breed true, so it’s possible to save the seed. That violates licensing, but some farmers have done so. I don’t know if it was GMO or a hybrid, but I know one farmer mentioned paying $120+ for one sack of corn seed three or four years ago, so there’s a strong attraction to seed saving.

          1. That may be a motivation, but they were getting screamed at as evil for the possibility of crossbreeding well before they were selling stuff that you couldn’t sell the seed.

            If my folks ever (please God, before they die) get down here, I’ll go through their old Range magazine for the nasty letters about how the seed companies are horrible, from the early 90s.

            1. The one that still amuses me is worries about genetic drift across different species. The one that got my attention was the potential for drift between brassicaceae, because there are weeds in that species. There was an actual study done, not by a seed company, which showed surprisingly low drift.

              Now the thing seems to be non-viable GMO is bad because it could prevent related species from producing seed. If you don’t have separation it could, but, as I commented, we grew an heirloom corn seed closer than recommended separation and didn’t have problems, though it was a real potential.

        2. If we’re pro-life, should we be against forced sterilization of corn?
          The modern world is soooo confusing.

          1. *freezes for a second, then chuckles*

            Poe’s law strikes again… yes, I HAVE heard stuff along those lines, usually by folks trying to hijack the ‘anti murder’ meaning for their pet causes.

    3. There a number of people who want just that happen.
      I think that they are projecting their self loathing.

    4. I ran into THE POPU:LATION BOMB in the mid 1970’s, and my instinctive reaction was that here was somebody who was so full of merde that his eyes had to be brown. Just a gut reaction. I had no background. I didn’t then know that Japanese rice farmers were producing more rive per acre than anywhere in China or India with 12th Century techniques. Or that what was primarily keeping the Chinese or the Indians from doing likewise was that they weren’t going to be allowed to keep the results of working harder anyway.

      Population panic has always struck me as a refuge of the kind of scoundrels who would openly advocate sterilizing the Lower Orders if they thought they wouldn’t get lynched.

      1. I’m not so concerned about population and food as I am at population overcrowding. Most people do not do well crammed cheek to jowl with each other; and it seems that all the myriad acts of violence flow from that at a much increased rate.

        1. Those who like to exert control people’s lives prefer them in cities, it makes it easier to do so.

        2. Go check out P J O’Rourke’s ALL THE TROUBLE IN THE WORLD. He devotes a section to running the population numbers; ‘if we are willing to be as crowded as (A) we can fit all seven billion of us in (B) and use the rest as a wildlife refuge’. There is no crowding problem.

        3. ROFL. This is not true. This is all from the stupid, discredited rat study. Sure, SOME people don’t do well, but you literally can’t imagine the density of Europe if you grew up in the US. It always shocks my kids.
          Ah, no. EXCESSIVE density might have its problems, but that’s something you only find in real third world countries. And note “might have” — you really can’t tell where the density is the culprit, or the socialism.

          1. It annoys me, because there are ways to have “density” that isn’t annoying– but just TRY getting people to discuss ways to make it pleasant. The folks who insist it’s impossible come into the middle and basically shout about how it can’t work, and nobody will do anything.

            One obvious route is boarding houses– which is almost like a college dorm with a cafeteria, except that the customers are living there, by choice.

            1. If I ever have a bazillion dollars, I’ve told Dan I’d like a condo in almost downtown Denver, near the Natural History Museum. I want a top most condo on one of two buildings. They’re like 30 stories, but the top condo takes up half the roof, the other half is “yard.” You’re far up enough you don’t hear the city, and are still convenient to everything. …. I need to win the lottery.

        4. I’m more worried about the increased calls for gov’t authority and power in those situations, as those ultimately do have violence flow at an increased rate……

    5. The truth is there is no reason for any person on Earth to go hungry. Excepting of course for political restrictions
      I so badly wanted that to read
      The truth is there is no reason for any person on Earth to go hungry. Excepting of course for restrictions on politicians….

    1. I don’t disagree, but the buildings where this automation is housed can have a huge impact on what it turns out. That’s how one outbreak of contaminated food happened.

    2. I don’t have a breadmaker but remember when they were the hot new must-have kitchen appliance.

      Somebody more knowledgeable than I could probably write a blog post comparing that appliance to the old-fashioned way all of a town’s bread was produced by a single baker.

      1. Or when everyone made bread at home, but had to go to the town’s communal oven to bake it?

        1. That was due to economics. In Charles Dicken’s London, the poor couldn’t afford their ovens, hence the exchange between Scrooge and the Ghost of Christmas Present about the cook shops closed on, IIRC, Sunday.

      2. A stand mixer with a dough hook is just as easy as a bread machine. Moving the dough from the mixing bowl into the baking pan is hardly an ordeal. I discovered this when the bread machine mixing thing got thrown out with moldy bread (it always got baked into the loaf) and G*d gave me a Kitchen-Aid for Christmas (long story).

  9. I fail to see how, short of a Stalinist regime, where you end up having turnips five times a week and like it.

    I consider this. Oh my, oh my would this be a pickle.

    I think the rising super vegetable is Brussels Sprouts, which is supposedly set to overtake Kale … if you believe the hype. So the government nutritionists want to be serving us Brussels Sprouts. If I ever met a vegetable that was not helped by cafeteria preparation it is the Brussels Sprout. It would likely be presented over-sized, overcooked, as well as low in fat and salt, and probably without garlic, as some find it highly offensive, or lemon for citrus is a common allergen. No thank you.

    Then it struck me — there are so many potential problems. For example, what about Kosher and Halal and other religious restrictions on foods? Would the strict religious separatists allow government run facilities to cater to those diets unchallenged?

    1. The obvious answer, Soylent Green. Halal, kosher, allergen free, and packed with nutrition. The perfect cycle of life, don’t you know.

        1. Puhlease! Show me in the books of the Law where it says “Thou shalt not eat processed people”? It’s just not there!

          1. It’s in Leviticus. All pigs are treif. all land animals to be kosher must have split hooves and chew their cud. For more on this ask Joel S.

                1. Only if you do it all at once. Take a haunch here, a brisket down the road, you can get some mighty good meals without approaching murder.

                  As the saying goes, “A pig like that, you don’t eat all at once.”

            1. No, sorry; GWB is right. People aren’t “animals” in Biblical classification so the rules about hooves and ruminance (ruminantness?) don’t apply.

    2. there are so many potential problems. For example, what about Kosher and Halal and other religious restrictions on foods? Would the strict religious separatists allow government run facilities to cater to those diets unchallenged?

      And what about food allergies? With my luck, they’d serve fish in peanut sauce and I’d have the choice between providing the daily entertainment (anaphylaxis can be very entertaining for the onlookers) or starving.

      1. In my experience of government think we would all have to do without anything that might harm anyone — never mind that this is impossible because some dietary restrictions might contradict. So there would be no known allergens, no salt, low carbohydrate, low cholesterol, low fat, low vitamin K (because of those on blood thinners), high fiber, etc., etc., etc…

        Ultimately this might become a problem when the wheat, peanut, dairy, citrus and other industries, begin collapsing. But hey! we should all be healthy.

        1. I’m pretty sure they would serve lots of corn. I have no idea whether there are people allergic to corn or not, but given the level of pandering to corn farmers under the current system, I’m sure that the government would find a nutritionist who would say that 3000 calories a day worth of corn is the optimal diet.

          1. There are some allergic to corn (maize) and they have a helluva time with food in the USA was so much is, when you get down to it, processed corn.

            1. Milk is another common allergy and milk and milk by-products turn up in a lot of our processed foods as well.

              1. Was allergic to milk, and informed the hospital of this with the birth of ours, which they ignored. Then one of ours could not tolerate milk, and had to be put on soybean milk.

                What was interesting is I, and this particular offspring, could eat cooked milk and cheese. Maybe a reaction to something present in milk, but not processed milk. But it it was destroyed by heat, why didn’t pasteurization take care of it?

          2. To me the real crime has always been the taking of a major food crop and turning it into a substandard “green” fuel additive, that augmented and enabled by means of government subsides and tax credits.

            1. It is probably worth noting that corn is a very “dirty crop environmentally, stripping nutrients from soil and with significant run-off issues.

              But we know that enviros have problems with the concept of supply-chains.

              1. Grew up in corn country, northwestern Illinois, and field corn, totally different crop from the sweet corn you buy in the stores, is the feedstock for a miracle of transubstantiation, turning a relatively inedible plant product into tasty steaks and burgers.
                I will allow as how field corn does grind up rather well into cornmeal for masa and grits, so not totally inedible.

                1. And as long as it produces the requiste sugars, you can make corn liquor with it. Of course, before I quit drinking, there was alcohol of rather more different sources I imbibed. Didn’t much affect the taste of the end product, really- the dilute did most of that. Or the solids from the mash, but I recall it running around 190 (decant the liquid, no solids) then dilute most often.

                  1. IIRC, they would make malted corn for fermenting. They’d sprout the corn, which turned some of the starches into sugars, grind it, and make the mash out of that. Later they used granulated sugar. Time was, one of the quickest ways to attract attention was to buy sugar by the bales.

                2. There’s about a one-week, if that long, window when field corn tastes as sweet as sweet corn. I got some like that when I worked in Flatter-Than-Flat-State. But 99.99999999% of the corn ended up as fodder or in industrial uses.

                  1. Yes. Our family heirloom corn would have been classified as a flint type, but when the silks turned and it was still in the milk stage, it was absolutely delicious.

                  2. BTW, I don’t know if they dried or canned sweet corn back in the day, but in the mid 19th Century, they’d take dried field corn, shell it, fry it with grease, and eat it. This was called parched corn. When you read about Confederate soldiers at the Siege of Vicksburg going through stable soil to find kernels of corn, that was probably what they were doing with it.

                    If you’d like to sample this without the hassle of drying and frying corn, the snack known as Corn Nuts ™, the original non-flavored type, is parched corn.

                    1. The Amish in Pennsylvania have and still do dry sweet corn kernels for long storage. Momma used to have Daddy buy her John Cope’s brand.

                      I haven’t thought of it in years — but do have fond memories.

              2. That’s why you rotate crops. Drive through corn country, and you’ll see corn fields alternating with soybean fields. Soybeans help fix nitrogen in the soil, and helps replace what the corn used. True, it doesn’t replace everything, which is why there’s fertilizers.

          3. You can find a nutritionist or dietician to say almost anything. Their entire field is so thoroughly pwned by falsified data that they have no credibility.

            1. My mother-in-law’s gripe was that they might comprehend the nutritional aspect of food, but what they came up with showed a lack of cooking experience.

              Really ran into this at one of the hospitals where my father stayed. The day he was to be discharged, the cafeteria had salmon croquettes. I got that on the assumption that they couldn’t mess up something so basic. They did. The cafeteria was the cheapest option for a balanced meal, so you called it “belly wadding” and ate it, anyway.

          4. In Florida in the 1960s, elementary-school lunches where I was mostly consisted of lumpy-sauce-on-white-bread, whole boiled tomatoes, and cubes of some green Jello-like substance. Occasionally there was something-covered-in-yellow-sauce that might have been cheese. To drink, there was only milk; you couldn’t even get a cup of tap water.

            Besides being nasty, most of the “food” belonged to groups I was violently allergic to; I spent a lot of hungry days after tipping the tray into the trash can.

            1. The allergies were why I had to carry my lunch into the 7th Grade. By then either age or the desensitization shots had done the trick. It was a pity, because we had good cooks at our lunchroom. Dishes like spaghetti, chili, and, starting about the time I stopped having to carry lunches, delicious pizza. It made going to the high school lunch room quite a shock. It would be years before I learned the term “belly wadding,” but it could be applied then.

        2. IOW, they would be the least flavorful of K-rats, and gruel.
          Yay! I’ve always wanted to live in an Oliver Twist story!

          1. I know a person who has issues only with cooked (as in, cooked in say, stews or pizza) cheese. Can eat it normally. Another with no problems with bananas – until they’re cooked in any way. Boiled, fried, doesn’t matter. Another person I knew had problems with dairy if it was cooked in specific ways (sauces, stews, warmed milk), but was fine with the inclusion of dairy into baked goods and could eat dairy otherwise.

            1. I can have cereal. I can have milk. I can’t have the both of them together. The only thing I can think is that there’s a lactose-soluble preservative that gets me.

              1. Fellow I worked with has a child who seems allergic near-everything (dairy, soy [there go many substitutes]… amazingly, not corn). Wanted cereal, but what could he have? I jokingly suggested something like Trix or some other too-colorful kiddie cereal as “It’s made of 100% Artificial.” A few days later he thanked me for the suggestion. The joke was close enough to right to actually work.

    3. All we need is a single plant virus that targets the base genome of cole vegetables, or corn, or wheat, or rice to bring on a world famine.

        1. I only watch 7 hours of TV a week. Otherwise it’s too much of a time sink and nothing else gets done. Currently The Orville and The Gifted on Fox, The Inhumans on ABC, and The Flash, Arrow, Legends of Tomorrow and Supergirl on the CW. The DC offerings on the CW are rather heavily laden with Progressive carp which I find somewhat annoying; so I usually have a glass of brandy while watching them.

          1. Crap, Progressive crap. Darn it. No edit function. What the heck would a progressive carp look like?

          2. Oooh, how is the Gifted?

            I want to be interested…but if I drag my husband into watching it, he’ll stay after I decide it’s worse than the Simpsons, so…. thumbnail synopsis?

            1. Essentially the X-men universe. People wake up one day and discover they have special powers, but the government treats them as dangerous threats to be controlled, locked away, or exploited. Focus is on one family in particular, dad specialized in government prosecution of the gifted until his son and daughter learned they had powers.
              Certain amount of liberal progressive carp (oh that fishy smell) but not heavy handed with it. I’m impressed that the good guys have flaws and the bad guys have some qualities that invoke sympathy.
              Don’t get too invested, probably won’t be renewed for a second season.

            2. Not bad. As Uncle Lar says, X-Men Lite. Somewhat slow start, but then Marvel Agents of Shield had a slow start too, and became fairly popular, and better. If you liked the first season of Heroes, you’ll probably like The Gifted.

    4. I got a total nat-20 on that with my husband- he doesn’t much care for my lovely, garlic-and-Parmesan baked fresh Brussel Sprouts…he wants it stewed with the roast. Because it picks up good flavor, and the texture is “nice.”

      The kids even picked this up. I can even get away with dumping (my favorite) stewed tomatoes at the bottom, put the roast in, and then put the frozen sprouts on top, and it’s awesome to him.

      All the flavor of broccoli (…yes, it’s a matter of taste) and better texture, when stewed half mushy.

      1. *grin* I do the same with my godson. Well, similar. He loves broccoli, but doesn’t like chicken, mushrooms, or peppers. However, mixed up with rice and broccoli stir-fry, he eats it like it’s going out of style.

      2. I remember loving brussel sprouts as a kid. Dad used to put it in ‘Irish Stew’ – essentially, Filipino style nilagang baka – and we loved the ‘baby cabbages’ and ate it all up. I was so surprised when I tried eating the things again as an adult (they weren’t available in the Philippines) and I didn’t like the taste. I liked my mother in law’s baked brussel sprouts though… Loved how sweet they were.

          1. Make sure to put some osso bucco in there… OH the flavours. And cracked pepper, not the ground stuff, if possible. If you don’t want it to drift / end up in littles’ mouths, maybe have it in a cloth teabag or similar.

            I have this thing that looks like a large metal tea dipper, and use it for herb/seasonings that I don’t want ending up everywhere.

            I omit the saba banana (lady finger banana over here in Oz), because the menfolk don’t like it (they’re weirded out by the flavor of banana in a beef soup) but it adds a sweet tone. However omitting it does not impact this stew’s flavour; carrots in place of banana works well.

            Also, as this is a soup that was typically a ‘dump into pot and forget until mealtime’, some folks put in fresh cabbage/greens about 30 minutes or so before serving, so there’s some firmer veg.

            Here’s my version, but the one in Panlasang Pinoy is also very good.


  10. … and receiving the quality of food no one else would want, at prices that would come out as a big chunk out of the taxpayer’s pockets.

    Thereby forcing more people to work more hours to buy less. On the other hand this increases the tax revenues allowing government to ‘give’ us more. This will inevitably end up necessitating the raising of more revenue as true costs are rarely anticipated and there are always overruns.

    This greater tax burden will drive people to work more hours to buy less. And so on…

    Andthe quality of the food, or whatever else, will remain what no one would want.

    It astounds me how many don’t realize that when the government provides an item, such as meals or daycare, it is never free. If you pay any taxes — in most locals you pay sales taxes if nothing else — you are underwriting the bill.

    1. It’s free for *them*. Or at least it appears that way.

      The Feds get their income largely through income taxes. But a large chunk of the population pays no income taxes. So if the Feds add a service, it’s free to those individuals.

      1. When the Feds add such services they rarely pay for it all. It comes with strings attached and usually demands that money from both the State and local regions be added along the way, frequently in increasing amounts over time.

        Remember: the Federal funds that were to come to states who set up health care exchanges was supposed to be available for only the first few years of the exchange’s existence.

      2. Everybody pays income taxes, either directly upon their own income or indirectly through the taxes on those whose labor they employ.

        “Employ” here used in the broadest possible sense, incorporating not only your direct hire but also your indirect employment, such as the logistics people at Walmart who deliver so many fine products to the store.

        1. Everybody pays, but not everybody sees. That’s why it’s recommended that people set up automatic transfers to retirement and savings accounts on the day your paycheck arrives. That way, you never see the money in your checking account and aren’t as tempted to spend it. Likewise, those who are really bad at money management are advised to stop using credit cards (I’ve even heard recommendations to freeze them in a block of ice) and use cash for everything, since cash is more “real” than swiping a card.

        2. > everybody pays income taxes

          But a huge percentage of people fail to realize that, even when they look at their own pay stubs. Well, those who aren’t EFT nowadays.

          Some amount of money goes into their account; they keep swiping the debit card until it’s gone. They never got to see the taxed money in the first place.

          Most of the last two decades I’ve spent self-employed, and paid my taxes myself. When you take a stack of hundreds to the bank to buy a money order (because the tax goomers don’t take cash!), the bite seems much larger, somehow…

      3. Pay no *additional* income taxes, besides SS and Medicare.
        So, other than taking care of people they don’t know, with the vague hope that they might get some sort of faint benefit in the future, not to be confused with actual care….

        They also have their share of public lands, which the Feds are choosing to make a drain rather than to properly care for and get decent income from the wood and grazing land, nevermind the mineral rights.

  11. My mother-in-law was a school cafeteria cook. Her mother was as well. Two generations of excellent cooks, and my wife’s a third. It’s worth noting that my mother-in-law did not agree with higher ups’ ideas of what to serve, and it was clear the higher ups didn’t have a clue. She’d say “dieticians” with the same expression we have in saying “Hillary.”

    it was interesting. My mother-in-law and her mother could cook large amounts of food that students wanted to eat. Of course, that didn’t suit the higher ups because it wasn’t what they said to prepare.

    Fortunately, she had long retired before Michelle Obama got her clutches on school lunches.

    1. “Fortunately, she had long retired before Michelle Obama got her clutches on school lunches.”

      Fortunately for Mrs. Obama perhaps, but I think it might have been highly cathartic for the rest of us to watch the video of your mother-in-law storming into the White House and slapping the Lunch-Lady-in-Chief silly before force feeding her some of her own meals.

    2. Oh, my – I don’t know how it surfaced, but the name of the head cook at my school cafeteria was “Michelle.”

      My Michelle, though, was rather different. There were two large garbage cans at the exit – which were always filled to the top. With the empty milk cartons, napkins, and candy bar wrappers (yes, about twice a week, we got the “snack” size candy bars). Very, very little food.

      Except for the milk and candy bars, they cooked everything there, too. I know that for a fact, because I was one of the kitchen dishwashers. At ten years old. When your family couldn’t afford the $0.35 for a lunch ticket, that is what you did, washed dishes in the kitchen, washed the trays / silverware in the back, or general janitorial.

      Now, I was rather a greedy capitalist soul. My family certainly could afford the $0.35 cents; in fact that is what I was sent with every day. But I looked at my $1.00 a week allowance for household chores, looked at the additional $1.75 a week I could get by washing pots and pans, and what to do was rather obvious.

      Chuckling at the number of years I just took off of some Leftist’s life there…

      1. My high school had folks cycle through helping in the cafeteria– I seldom ate there, but that was because I was eternally trying to lose weight and instead ate two or three carrots for lunch, from Jr. high on. (…didn’t work. Would’ve been better off using my test-day treat of a small bag of candy, but I was young and trusted the expert advice.)

        Was still fun, because they did produce rather good food, especially with very limited materials.

        1. I still try every so often to reproduce their “pigs in a blanket.” I think I have the wrap down, but I can only get about two brands of beef and pork hot dogs around here – and neither one of them quite work.

  12. I have worked or run hospitality at a number of SF conventions over the years. One thing I’ve noticed is that Hotel Catering seems to regard every morsel of food and every drop of beverage that isn’t sold through Hotel Catering is money they should be capturing. What they don’t seem to realize is that they’re never going to capture all the food and beverage consumption on the part of their guests. Guests, including convention members, who don’t want to eat hotel food, for whatever reason, routinely travel offsite or bring in outside food. (An ongoing issue in Hospitality is the use of slow cookers and other cooking equipment for Con Suites and Staff Lounges. Again, because snacks and meals provided by the convention represent snacks and meals that won’t be purchased from Hotel Catering.)

    Now the hotel is subject to market forces, and has an incentive to provide good food at low prices. Apparently not enough to meet the standards of fans, though. So dinner runs to nearby restaurants still happen, and people still bring in packaged food suited to their tastes, needs, and budgets.

    Replace Hotel Catering with the Ministry of Nutrition, and you’ll see a lot more ingenuity in action.

    1. And I think of the story of the fellow who had an illicit microwave in their dorm… that went unnoticed (perhaps “unnoticed”) for some time as they had decorated it with a set of ‘rabbit ears’.

      1. At the university my boyfriend went to the suit style dorms had a central kitchen, complete with an oven. He and some of the girls ran an illegal catering operation out of one of the suits that went on for a few semesters until someone noticed people lining up outside with empty plates and leaving with full, ‘home cooked’ meals.

          1. Couldn’t. They almost certainly had some kind of contract with the company that did the food that included “no competing on-campus food services.”

    2. I want good nutritious food, when I want it, the way I want it, in satisfactory quantity, at a reasonable price to me. 1000% markup over the cost of ingredients at the supermarket, cold, in miniscule amounts, raw or over cooked, and not available when I’m 3 or 4 times zones jet lagged, doesn’t cut it.

      1. “Hi, room service? I want a carton of hot, plain sticky rice, 3 cups of steamed broccoli, a quarter pound of teriyaki beef, and a quart of half orange juice/half Fresca.”

    3. That was the mentality of my high school cafeteria. Or the lunch ladies’ union, not sure which. Either way, they hemmed and hawed so much that the district banned on-campus bake sales, as well as food from “culture day” events. Because God forbid they actually serve food that students found palatable.

    4. The hotels also have a very skewed idea of the hours that the con-goers are hungry. When they did WesterCon in Sacramento, the hotel was pretty much done with food before the end of the programming tracks—and that doesn’t even get into the late-night folk. As a local, I was giving a lot of driving directions. (I was also sleeping at home.)

      1. Oh, yeah. As both a a con attendee, and a former con organizer, my experiences have been much the same as yours. Inadequate hours, and inadequate service, are the two near-constants. The only time it seems to work reasonably well is breakfast buffets. Everything else seems to bog down into opens too late, closes too early, and they can’t serve people fast enough when they are open.

        One hotel had a franchise restaurant, and the local restaurant manager at the hotel was unable to get his corporate bosses to let them have enough servers working during the convention weekend. Corporate said because the stats showed they usually weren’t busy on weekends in late winter/early spring, there was no need. Micromanaging at its finest. The final year of that convention, the local restaurant manager finally won the battle. (Tangentially, this rather reminds me of recent discussions of centralized management by Borders.)

        Hence conventions printing up flyers with directions to local eating establishments – and not just sci-fi cons, either.

        1. Wild Wild West Con has a hospitality suite at it’s hotel; but the majority of the Con’s events take place at Old Tucson. (Including concerts on Friday and Saturday nights) Con goers have to rely on the in park food and beverage establishments, but we do offer Con staff a 20% discount in the restraunts and allow Con staff to eat in the Employee Lounge as well.

          1. I don’t think you shut down until the entire event is over, either, right? (Although I do remember one company party that the beer was shut down two hours before the end. I think it was, anyway – although I certainly didn’t need any more beer by that point, so I may be foggy.)

            OT – I will almost certainly be there on Friday night. Period depending on when I drop people off at the Marine Ball, and when I need to be there to pour them back into the van. Don’t know yet whether I’ll scrape up another $30 (plus parking) to do all three days, though I did want to meet Rick Cook at least.

        2. The local concoms have started telling local restaurant managers about upcoming conventions, so they can staff up for the weekend.

      2. the hours that the con-goers are hungry
        My brain processed at first that was an end-of-line-between-syllables hyphen and I had this picture of cos-players in a line, kicking their legs out as they dance around the convention hall.

        And that is NOT from a lack of coffee.

      3. Hotels get very interesting ideas about what con-goers want. The first year Loscon (held over Thanksgiving weekend) was at its current location, the hotel had a skeleton staff in the restaurant offering Thanksgiving dinner. This was in spite of the fact we had warned the hotel that there would be a crowd wanting to eat. The hotel knew better than us sci-fi weirdos, and so convention staff and a large number of volunteers wound up waiting a very long time for dismal service.

  13. it was hardly the beneficent society of providing lollipops for all children
    And, this brings us to the problem of Unforeseen Consequences. Central planning never seems to figure out that giving lollipops to all the children means that your dental care costs are going to go up, as well as the bullying to take away smaller kids’ lollipops and the school missed from tummy aches.
    And, to the unlearning, each of those problems necessitates another government intervention, with yet more Unintended Consequences……..

    1. I think it’s bullying by the school managers when they punish the kid for fighting against the bullies trying to take his lollipop.

  14. Bwah-Ha-Hah!!!!

    Journalist accuses Jesse Jackson of sexual harassment
    A journalist at The Root says the Rev. Jesse Jackson sexually harassed her after a speech at a previous employer, claiming he grabbed her thigh before saying, “I like all of that right there!”

    Danielle Young, a writer-producer at The Root, detailed her experience with Jackson in a 2,000-word post published Monday, alleging that Jackson touched her inappropriately while taking a photo with him after a keynote speech by the “living legend” at a “very popular” media company.

    “I walked toward Jackson, smiling, and he smiled back at me,” Young wrote. “His eyes scanned my entire body. All of a sudden, I felt naked in my sweater and jeans. As I walked within arm’s reach of him, Jackson reached out a hand and grabbed my thigh, saying, ‘I like all of that right there!’ and gave my thigh a tight squeeze.”


    “When I was finally able to pull myself away from the Rev. Jackson’s grip, I was deflated,” Young said. “I admired this man who marched alongside the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., a man who represented our ability to overcome, a man who is really … just a man.”


    Another woman working at the festival then confirmed Young’s suspicion regarding the unwanted sexual attention.

    “She said, ‘Yeah, girl, I heard he likes big girls,’” Young said. “ … The woman’s admission was so pedestrian, I was convinced she was simply reacting the same way many women do to unwanted sexual attention — she ignored it. I tried to ignore it, but I felt weird.”

    In a statement to The Root, Jackson said: “Although Rev. Jackson does not recall the meeting three years ago, he profoundly and sincerely regrets any pain Ms. Young may have experienced.”


    As I recall reports from the Sixties, the Rev. King was prone to being a trifle “handsy.”

    1. I’m kind of disappointed with some of the people who took settlements for sexual assault or harassment. Basically, they kicked the can down the road so the perp can assault another person later. And when you take payment in exchange for sex, doesn’t that make you a prostitute?

      1. It only makes you a prostitute if you accept the money, or the promise of money, before agreeing to perform the sexual act. In most of these cases the women weren’t being paid for sex, they were being paid for silence.

        Given the ages, maturity, social status power and other disparities involved between the victims and Weinstein, Ratner, Spacey, et. al. I can hardly blame any of these women for not wanting to play the Paula Jones, Juanita Broaddrick or Kathleen Willey part. We know, now, that Weinstein had detectives digging into the pasts of his accusers — it is likely that he got referrals from Billy Jeff, ennit?

        I can even muster some sympathy for the women on Weinstein’s payroll who helped set-up his “trysts” for fear of losing their jobs and not getting another in that town. Some, not much.

        1. I don’t usually link to The New Yorker, but when I do it’s a pip:

          Harvey Weinstein’s Army of Spies
          The film executive hired private investigators, including ex-Mossad agents, to track actresses and journalists.
          By Ronan Farrow
          In the fall of 2016, Harvey Weinstein set out to suppress allegations that he had sexually harassed or assaulted numerous women. He began to hire private security agencies to collect information on the women and the journalists trying to expose the allegations. According to dozens of pages of documents, and seven people directly involved in the effort, the firms that Weinstein hired included Kroll, which is one of the world’s largest corporate-intelligence companies, and Black Cube, an enterprise run largely by former officers of Mossad and other Israeli intelligence agencies. Black Cube, which has branches in Tel Aviv, London, and Paris, offers its clients the skills of operatives “highly experienced and trained in Israel’s elite military and governmental intelligence units,” according to its literature.

          Two private investigators from Black Cube, using false identities, met with the actress Rose McGowan, who eventually publicly accused Weinstein of rape, to extract information from her. One of the investigators pretended to be a women’s-rights advocate and secretly recorded at least four meetings with McGowan. The same operative, using a different false identity and implying that she had an allegation against Weinstein, met twice with a journalist to find out which women were talking to the press. In other cases, journalists directed by Weinstein or the private investigators interviewed women and reported back the details.

          The explicit goal of the investigations, laid out in one contract with Black Cube, signed in July, was to stop the publication of the abuse allegations against Weinstein that eventually emerged in the New York Times and The New Yorker. Over the course of a year, Weinstein had the agencies “target,” or collect information on, dozens of individuals, and compile psychological profiles that sometimes focussed on their personal or sexual histories. Weinstein monitored the progress of the investigations personally. He also enlisted former employees from his film enterprises to join in the effort, collecting names and placing calls that, according to some sources who received them, felt intimidating.

          In some cases, the investigative effort was run through Weinstein’s lawyers, including David Boies, a celebrated attorney who represented Al Gore in the 2000 Presidential-election dispute and argued for marriage equality before the U.S. Supreme Court. Boies personally signed the contract directing Black Cube to attempt to uncover information that would stop the publication of a Times story about Weinstein’s abuses, while his firm was also representing the Times/, including in a libel case.


          1. If true, that sounds like Weinstein is eligible to be charged with extortion, fraud, blackmail and a whole pile of racketeering crimes.

      2. Mike, the other reason a lot of them settled is they were never harassed, assaulted, etc. against their will…. and going to court might have exposed that. Meanwhile, the accused (or his insurance company) had to weigh the certainty of an expensive legal fight and the likelihood of encountering an OJ jury when calculating if it was cheaper to settle.

        1. Weinstein was a swine who should have had his name as a cad broadcast fare and wide…. but before you can deprive someone of freedom or livelihood, shouldn’t the standard be a little higher than “she said when there was no possibility of evidence surviving”?

    2. Since he was forced to acknowledge at least one illigitimate child back in the 1980s, I would not be the least bit surprised if he were getting to trouble in other ways as well.

      1. Stories heard post 90’s riots, of the “good” Reverand got around the old fashioned way. Most folks I know of, knew not to leave their womenfolk unattended around him. There has been a sad occurance of certain high profile black men this way. Getting away with such shameful behavior, on account of (I suppose) it would tarnish all black folk with the same brush.

        Instead, good people who ought to know better keep publicly silent. *spits* Too much time and effort spent on being good and *black* not enough spent on being good *men.* Much like is said about the education system, if such a thing had been imposed on a people from the outside, they would rightly consider it casus belli.

        1. Take out the “black” and you have an unfortunately universal story. It’s like no one can seem to figure out that the cover-up, once discovered, will tar the group far worse than dealing with the malefactor immediately and with extreme prejudice.

    3. ….Jeeze.

      The one time someone tried a Stupid Sexual Interaction trick, I took a swing when he put an arm to keep me from removing said interaction. I had no doubt that most of the people around me would back me up, if he decided to push the issue.

      …what kind of environment are these folks in, that they don’t have the notion it’s OK to defend against physical assaults?

      1. …what kind of environment are these folks in, that they don’t have the notion it’s OK to defend against physical assaults?

        Leftist environments, which always blame the victim for fighting back.

        Bullying at school: if the bullied kid takes a swing at the bully, who’s going to get in trouble? Hollywood: if some aspiring starlet had knocked Weinstein’s lights out when he propositioned her, what would have happened to her career? And if this journalist had hit Jesse Jackson, who would have been sued for assault?

        For all that leftists claim to be on the side of “speaking truth to power”, you’ll always find them siding with the powerful whenever there’s a matter of doubt. In a few cases it might be due to cynical calculation, but for most leftists it’s just plain fear. They know that if they side with the powerless and outcast, the rest of their society will turn on them, and THEY will be the ones powerless and outcast next. So they stay silent to save their own career, and when the powerful come for them, nobody speaks up for them. Niemöller’s famous poem comes strongly to mind.

  15. I happen to *like* to cook; it’s practically the only domestic work I enjoy.

    The first thing I do when I go on a diet is to change what groceries I buy, and the second is to start cooking different food. Usually I’ve researched new recipes to try and new diet-friendly foods to buy first.

  16. Several years ago, I copy edited a book that discussed the commercial use of ceramics in the ancient world. According to the author, the standard practice was to use an amphora once, to transport a specific food, and then break it up and sell the fragments (among other things, they were used as ballots). But there was an exception: Christian bishops a few centuries AD started buying food and giving it out to the poor. And, well, if you buy an amphora that’s been used to ship olive oil or sardiines, you can get it for the price of the potsherds, perhaps less the cost of breaking it up, and you have more money to buy food and can feed more people. And the poor might rather have barley that doesn’t taste of sardines, but when the barley is free, they’re not in the best position to complain, so as far as the church knows, reusing amphorae works just fine, whereas merchants couldn’t do it if they wanted to keep their cash customers.

  17. Ever watch the film MAJOR BARBARA? The factory village that is shown toward the end is what the Socialist dreamers thought they could provide. They really thought they could get the working man to use public transportation, eat in communal mess halls, and go to lectures in the evening.

    Because most of them didn’t know any working men, and if they did they were so busy talking at them that they never listen to them.

    It wasn’t ever going to work.

    I really have trouble getting my head around what the Liberal Intellectual Radical Progressives think would be Utopia. As best I can determine, they imagine the whole world as College writ large, without the safety valve of nearby off-campus delis, or strip clubs, or anything. Sure, some people will have to work in factories, but they will still LIVE on a huge college campus, stretching from sea to sea.


  18. OT:
    If/When Writing Observer gets on; I was wondering if he’ll be at our local SciFi convention this weekend.
    (I’ll be there, I’m in charge of A/V this weekend.)

    1. This weekend? K, I’m not all that hooked into the local things going on. (VERY bad for someone who wants to be a writer – but ODD, you know…)

      PLEASE shoot me the details at my email, I shall certainly try. (writingobserver at cox dot net).

  19. Brings to mind the story of the kid who wouldn’t eat vegetables. So, her parents sent her to school with fruit, which they knew she would eat (Along with a sandwich etc. So all in all not an unhealthy lunch), and left the fight over vegetables for supper, where she couldn’t just throw it away. Upon seeing that the girl had been sent with no vegetables in her lunch, the school took her lunch away and made her go through the lunch line. Then sent her home with a bill for the school lunch, and a note saying what terrible parrents they were, and that they were no longer allowed to send lunch with their daughter.

    When the father asked the girl what she ate, she replied “Chicken nuggets and french fries”

    1. At least one of those stories (yes, there have been SEVERAL events) it was an over- eager “volunteer” who did it– you know, the job they shove parents who try to be involved into, giving them a list of things to look for, but don’t actually generally tell them what their real authority is…..

    2. This happened, in spades, with the Obama lunches. The students hated them, and those who didn’t ride buses headed to the local convenience store when school let out. Instead of promoting a healthy diet, it made their diet worse.

      What really ticked off on of ours was they had observed that, with some students, the school lunches were the best meal they got each day. Because of the new guidelines, they now were hungrier. There you have it: hunger in America, courtesy of the Democrats.

      1. Instead of promoting a healthy diet, it made their diet worse.

        Can anyone think of a single social problem that has not been made worse by the Progressive’s chosen solution?

      2. And food was wasted …

        I have often heard it argued that people would eat anything if hungry enough. This is not actually so. I read that aid workers in a number of areas of the world have found that starving people often were reluctant to try what the workers provided, probably because they did not recognize it as food. A few brave souls might take a taste, but they were among the ODDs.

        (One could make a supported argument that the ODDs of the world are the reason that people have made progress.)

  20. Communal kitchens for each village and factory were tried by the Chinese during the Great Leap Forward. People had to turn in their cooking equipment to the government so they would have no choice to eat at the village hall. One of the things that quickly developed was cadre leaders used access to food to punish anyone who displeased them (failed to meet quota, tried to take care of their own children, refused sexual or other favors) and rewarded their favorites. And as food supplies ran out, thanks to Mao’s need to export it to pay for weapons and technology, and because of the amazingly mind-bogglingly horrible experiments with farming and crop planting, the kitchens started serving less food, then fake “food.” And people died of starvation with dirt and bark-filled stomachs.

    Frank Dikötter’s books about Communist China are excellent but oh merciful Lord are they grim.

    1. My favorite of James H. Schmitz’s stories, “The End of the Line” (which I first read in an Andre Norton collection, Space Pioneers), envisions a future when human immune responses have largely been lost, and eating any natural food means a painful death. People can only eat tissue cultured food supplied by the central government. Schmitz makes a point of the authoritarian implications. The heroes are a band of mutants with the freakish ability to adapt to natural foods. . . .

    2. Frank Dikötter’s books about Communist China are excellent but oh merciful Lord are they grim.

      It is good to have such things documented, but it does make for hard reading. I recall asking myself, on glancing through Iris Chang’s The Rape of Nanking: The Forgotten Holocaust of World War II , did I really want to know about this in detail? I realize that if we do not keep knowledge of the savagery and depravity of man it can be denied, but that is the stuff of nightmares.

  21. And what about all those dreams of a perfect, organized, top-down future?

    Shhh. It was just a nightmare

    When I got my Kindle a few years ago, one of the books I re-read was Bellamy’s Looking Backwards. I’ll just say my late-40s self viewed it a LOT differently than the late-teens version. Somehow, the latter thought the society made sense.

    Can I borrow the time machine so I can go back and slap some sense into myself?

  22. Our university had “mystery meat”. It looked and tasted the same but had different labels. Took me decades to get my husband to go into a buffet line after that experience (food was provided by a restaurant chain which I charitably will not identify). I would eat dinner in 5 minutes so I could get to my after-classes job. Tiny little dorm rooms, communal bathrooms, rules, rules, rules. Both of us graduated with no debt and strong feelings about individual responsibilities and choices. Cannot believe what I see is provided for students these days in state universities – climbing walls, safe spaces etc. etc. etc. What a shock the real world has in store for them. Plus indoctrination rather than education. Truly sad.

    1. My university cafeteria experience was cautious. I’d get lunch there from the build-your-own sandwich and salad area, and I never had any dinners that I couldn’t recognize. (My plan accounted for two meals a day; since I had early classes, I generally kept bagels in my dorm room.) The interesting thing is that my brother, through work-study, eventually became the head student manager there. He cooks better than he was probably able to there, but the real life skill he learned was how to bring a whole bunch of things to perfect doneness at the same time for large groups of people.

      1. My college dining hall was excellent… except for the “curry.” It was yellow. It was smooth like brown gravy, but yellow. I think I tried it once. Some of the “Mexican” dishes were valiant efforts, but blaaaaaand.

        The highlight of the week was Sunday dinner, which was open to non-students. There were as many local residents as students eating then. And the biscuits… oh. My. Stars. The lady who made them had been a cook there for 35 years and had retired once already. When she retired-retired my junior year, the entire college went into mourning, even those who didn’t normally like Southern food.

      1. Minor rant: can we lynch the “pink slime” bastard, yet?

        He single handedly raised my grocery prices way too much, dropped how much beef people could access, all for stupid rich people ego stroking.

        And yes, I would totally eat something with “pink slime” in it over the chicken version.

        1. I probably have. Who was it who had the commercial about the fast-food restaurant asking what part of the chicken their meat came from and they just said “parts.”

          OTOH, I like Vienna Sausages, so I can’t complain.

        2. Pink slime bastard, wouldn’t happen to be talking about that annoying git Jamie Oliver from the U.K.? Great chef, awesome cooking shows. Hated his SJW and other crap he’s been going on about.

          1. Possibly. “Oh my gosh, this safely saves a ton of food from waste! We MUST inaccurately characterize it to freak people out!”

  23. We went out to a local sandwich/soup/salad/bakery/coffee shop for supper. We toasted with our water cups “Hillary Clinton will never be President. Then we picked up raisin bagels for breakfast. Priceless

  24. And while I imagine some of these centers would survive, particularly in the poorer neighborhoods, the customers would mostly be the desperately poor and derelicts, using government vouchers, and receiving the quality of food no one else would want, at prices that would come out as a big chunk out of the taxpayer’s pockets.

    So, foodbanks and soup kitchens, eh? Because that sure sounds like soup kitchen to me.

  25. Walmart frozen Pizzas.

    My cousins is casting about for submissions for a “eating on food stamps” post– I’m gonna do “singletons.”

    But Walmart pizzas are less than three bucks, have lots of sauce, are ok on cheese and don’t make you look at the toppings like “…really, I paid for this?”

  26. I perceive what you mean by “the meek” (in the sense of obedient, and unassuming) might inherit the earth, but only because the non-meek had figured out how to go to space.

    You’d need “meek” as in “can bridle one’s passions”

    As promised some run-and-finding out.

    The original greek word is πραεῖς, (praeis?) which seems, from noodling around the interwebs to mean “humble” and “having a tamed spirit” (i.e. one’s emotions etc. are not like wild animals, but like oxen or horse, having been broken to work).

    So yes, I think folks will need to be “preus” if they expect to survive in a highly human-unfriendly environment (like the open ocean, weeks from any landfall) using highly demanding technology which can critically fail and destroy everyone (nuclear reactors). O’erweening pride, Hillary Clinton style is not your friend, here.

    However, modern English is a horse of a different color:

    Meek: Originally, it meant social superiours who were compassionate, even indulgent, now it means humble, biddable, and easily cowed.

    Forms: ME make (perhaps transmission error), ME mec ( Ormulum), ME mekerst (superlative), ME mekerste (superlative), ME meoc ( Ormulum), ME meok, ME meoke, ME meyk, ME mieke, ME moeke, ME muk, ME muke, ME myke, ME–15 mek, ME–15 meke, ME–16 meeke, ME– meek, 15 myck; also Sc. pre-17 meak, pre-17 meik, pre-17 meike, pre-17 mek, pre-17 meke, pre-17 meyk, pre-17 meyke. (Show Less)
    Origin: A borrowing from early Scandinavian.

    Etymology: < early Scandinavian (compare Old Icelandic mjúkr soft, pliant, gentle, Old Swedish miuker soft, pliant, gentle (Swedish mjuk supple, lithe), Danish myg supple, lithe), cognate with (from a different ablaut grade) early modern Dutch muik (Dutch meuk soft), German regional (Low German) muck soft, German regional (Swiss) mauch soft, rotten, and the first element in Gothic muka-modei meekness (and perhaps further cognate with Middle Dutch mūke (Dutch muik ), Middle Low German mūke , Middle High German mūche (German Mauke , German regional (Bavaria) Mauche ) all in sense ‘a disease affecting the hooves of horses’); probably < the same Germanic base as muck n.1

    My conclusion: we need more 4H programmes

Comments are closed.