09 March 2021

Royal-Family-Free Link Sausage Platter

The pile of sausages in the smokehouse is getting a bit excessive. Here are a few spicy ones from toward the top.

  • Seattle traffic is, notoriously, among the worst in the nation. This is largely a legacy of NIMBY and, well, geology, but if you didn't grow up here you've got little chance of working behind the mythology. And then, there are the predictable consequences of trying to adapt. The fundamental problem is that too much data is being gathered in the first place; all that is actually needed to understand the fluid flow is "water molecule," not "identity of water molecule," because nobody actually cares about turbulence. At least not for traffic flow; for other, darker, inimical purposes, that's much more… interesting.
  • Conversely, there's not nearly enough tracking being done regarding music royalties to compensate the creators (both artists and composers/songwriters). It's an interesting conundrum, because too much knowledge of individual listener profiles implicates the preceding sausage without even filling up the gas tank — for at least equally inimical reasons.

    The fundamental problematic ingredient in both of these sausages is that the line for "acceptability" depends very much on both the stated purpose and the hidden agendas/potential for abuse of the data tracking and aggregation. Both of these evolve over time. And it's not just some "pop music? who cares?" sort of thing, either; PMRC would have loved having more than a "mere warning label." And would have loved not actually paying the Filthy Fifteen anything because the data-analytic system sucked all of the money out on the way. Meanwhile, the really subversive stuff like this piece gets a pass because it's "classical" and the performers are getting paid even less…

  • Or we could get completely self-centered and oblivious. Consider, for the moment, cooking videos ranging from "celebrity chefs" on down. I'll freely admit that with extremely rare exceptions, I'm one of the "get to the damned recipe already!" consumers of "cooking" videos… because I'm restaurant-trained and usually trying to solve a specific problem, often because I'm working from a different source or quantity of ingredients. Oh, you think I should value the cook's humanity… perhaps while admiring the thousands of dollars spent on name-brand appliances and oversized kitchen spaces never dreamed of in an apartment, or relationship with "artisan" food suppliers whose products aren't available to the "wrong kind" of customers, or pretending that there's no prep work or cleanup involved, or failing to consider the health consequences of adding that much salt/sugar/saturated fat/whatever else to dishes that are impliedly for everyday consumption.

    The higher the "production values" of cooking videos, the more prevalent these problems get; the less said about full-blown "episodes" with artificial "challenge conditions" (often subtly racist, as in the "30 minute time limit" that rules out rice) the better. Just ask yourself this: For even a less-pretentious-than-average host like Alton Brown, how much did that kitchen set cost… and what does it imply about any dwelling in which it is the "reg'lar use kitchen"? (And does he actually have a dishwasher? If so, where is it?) The less said about "sanitation standards" from these restaurant-oriented cooks, the better; I still cringe at the memory of a certain Food Network personality (who was taken off the air for, well, humanity flaws) and her multiple ostentatious rings being shoved into the dough and caked-on makeup flaking off into the soup pot.

    But it's really about intellectual property protection — and the lack thereof for "mere" recipes. Recipes are avowedly outside of copyright protection; so how does one protect against "free" copying? By imposing extras on the recipe that rise to the level of literary expression, not mere directions (n.b. Circular 33 is notoriously overinclusive and dismissive of litigation results). Again, that reveals a side of the "humanity" of cooking hosts that is just a bit uglier — the offal (or awful).

    Here's my challenge to foodies: Show your skillz by adapting to a middle-class apartment kitchen. With an electric stove, and consumer-oriented equipment, and a budget. Not to mention kids running through the set grabbing snacks. That is a cook's humanity — not their artificial on-screen presence or implied wealth (because no matter the Prosperity Gospel, consider fish and manna)…

  • So it looks as if some form of additional pandemic relief will be forthcoming. For some people, anyway. There's very much a "right-kind-of-peopleism" involved in this; "true entrepreneurs" can apply for subsidized grants and loans, but that almost certainly means that they already had excess capital to start their businesses in the first place — they could afford having significant negative cashflow for several months at startup time, for example. And the less said about how this relates to the American obsession with "who's eligible to join a union?" the better; calling that argument an incoherent, class-warfare-and-relics-of-slavery-ridden swamp would be far too generous.
  • Last for now, and far from least: There's a new feature of isolationism in general, and Brexit in particular: The impending, inevitable body count. Not to mention the mistargeted reactions thereafter. It's a feature, not a bug. And it's not just Over There — especially the "wrong kind" of people.