Friday, March 31, 2017


“If you tell the truth, you don't have to remember anything.”
― Mark Twain

Its been a while since I did one of these, but the examples keep rolling in and I keep taking notes to write about some time.  There are so many little things that people take for granted or presume now which are not the case, the older I get the more I wonder if anything I learned in my youth was completely accurate or true.
There is a lot of talk of "fake news" now, for example, and so many examples come out -- several a week -- of flat out falsehoods promoted by the news that has me wonder just how much utter trash we were told decades ago but nobody had a voice to counter.  Some are more benign than others, just mistakes.  Others are deliberate falsehoods meant to manipulate public opinion and policy.
So here's another wrap up of various things we generally believe to be so... that aren't.
It is generally assumed that the Wright Brothers invented the first airplane, and flew it at Kitty Hawk on December 17, 1903 after several failed previous attempts.  And its true, they did fly a plane then.  It was a historic first; they flew the first manned, powered air plane on earth.
However, there were airplanes built and flown before that.  Decades earlier in the 1840s, a British engineer named George Cayley invented the first known and functional aircraft, a biplane glider which he had a teenaged boy test.  It was successfully tested in public in 1853 but was abandoned as a curiosity and definitely considered dangerous.
It is generally presumed these days that a black man is a Democrat in the USA, and in elections, Democrats can expect 80-90% of the black vote without even campaigning.  Obviously, MLK jr must have been a Democrat, right?
Well the truth is, nobody knows.  There's been no confirmation what party MLK belonged to although he did vote in Republican primary elections early in life (and almost all primary elections require you vote only for the party you belong to).  It is very likely that at least most of his life, King was a Republican, because the Democrats were still the party of southern bigotry and racism.  Democrats had been the party that defended and fought for slavery, set up Jim Crow laws, and were so associated with the Klan that they had open marches as late as the 1920s for Democrats.  Republicans were, after all, the party of Lincoln, and almost all blacks were Republicans up into the 1960s.  It is believed that late in his life, he changed parties to the Democrats, as the party began to shift its politics away from its past and to more progressivist, leftist ideals.  So he was probably both, but most of his life, Republican yet we do not really know.
All I know is, we shouldn't try to turn people into our mascots to present as some moral argument for our politics.
There are more than a few people who accuse Christianity and the Bible in general as being the source of much racism.  Some claim the Bible specifically supports racism, and prohibits interracial marriage. As Deuteronomy 7:3 says "You shall not intermarry with them, giving your daughters to their sons or taking their daughters for your sons."  There is also a line about being "unequally yoked" which some take as further admonition against "mixed race" marriages.  Is this true?
Short answer: no.  Long answer: the law in Deuteronomy has nothing to do with mixed races.  Israelites were surrounded by cousins and fellow Semites, of the same "race*" of humanity and the law was for the Hebrew people to not marry them, which has nothing to do with mixing other "races."  The purpose behind this law is expressed in the very next verse: "...for they would turn away your sons from following me, to serve other gods." The concern was not mixing "races" or genetics, but with blending with other cultures and destroying Hebrew faith to God and bringing in other worship.  And, as I've noted in the past in other essays: the Jewish Civil Law (which this is part of) was only for the nation of Israel, it is not binding on anyone except them at that time in that covenant.
In truth, the Bible makes it clear that Christians, because of the adoption into God's family, are all the same peoples without distinction by ethnic or social backgrounds, and all those divisions are wiped out.  "There is neither slave nor free, Jew nor Gentile."
Is slavery accepted in the Bible?  Yes, but that's a long topic (hint: nothing to do with race, doesn't mean what people think of slavery today, etc) for another post.
This is taught by the Nation of Islam and is pretty commonly handed around in prisons as fact.  Many blacks seem to view Islam as being more black and Christianity more white.  It is even generally portrayed in literature that slaves in Muslim areas were better treated than in Christian areas.
The sad fact is, slavery was horrible to everyone to one degree or another, and in Islam it was no more noble or "humanitarian" than anywhere else.  While the Koran does require masters to be humane to slaves, in practice that was not truly the case any more than how the Bible requires masters to be so with Christian slave owners.  
Muslims took more than 25 million slaves from Africa (as opposed to around 11 million to the Americas), and even more died on the trip to the middle east than across the ocean to America.  The males were castrated to keep them from breeding, the females were, if attractive, put in harems.  There's a reason that the Middle East has so few blacks living in it despite the vast numbers of blacks enslaved and brought there.  Islam is an Arabic religion, and while it is willing to take in anyone, it is very Arab-centric both in culture and in dogma.  There is a lot of information out there about this topic, such as this video, interviewing African author x.  Slavery is still going on in Muslim-controlled areas, and the word for Sudanese people in Arabic is "Abeed" which is plural for Abd: "slave" because that was a place from which many Arabic peoples took slaves from.
There are some who believe that Columbus proved the world was round with his trip.  It is even said that some think that Columbus was trying to prove the world round, by sailing around it to the Indies for the spice trade (they already had ships going east, and he wanted to go west).
This is easy to disprove: Columbus was not trying to prove anything about the shape of the world.  They already knew it was round, he was just trying to find a western route which would make him and the nation he found it for incredibly wealthy.  What they were not sure about was how big the world was.  Every sailor knew the world was round because they could not only see the rounded horizon of the ocean, but they could sail so far out that land would dip beneath the horizon, as if going over a rounded earth.
As early as the Phoenicans in 600 BC there were reports of how the stars began to shift down to the horizon the further south or north you went; something only possible on a sphere.  Pythagoras is believed to be the first philosopher to have stated the world had to be round, in the 500s BC.  The round shape of the earth was generally understood to be the case among educated men and those who experienced it at sea.  Columbus knew that as a famous sailor, and scholar.  
What he apparently didn't know and should have was that in the 200s BC, Eratosthenes had very accurately measured the earth by taking two measurements of shadows from identical staves at the same time in two distant locations.  Eratosthenes was only off by about 100 miles!
This one is quick and easy: No.  A German did, named Karl Benz (yeah the Mercedes-Benz guy) came up with the first gasoline-powered internal combustion engine vehicle with four wheels in 1886.  Henry Ford was alive then, but not inventing cars.  The first wheeled self-propelled, drivable vehicle was made by Frenchman Nicolas-Joseph Cugnot in 1768; a steam tractor.  Even before that, A Flemish inventor and Jesuit missionary named Ferdinand Verbiest invented the first known wheeled, self-propelled device (steam, again) for the Chinese emperor in 1672, but it was a model and a toy, not driveable or possible to be ridden. 
The first internal combustion engine was by a British inventor named Robert Street, in 1794, although a turbine version had been invented even earlier by fellow Brit John Barber (1791).  What Henry Ford did was take the concept of the production line and perfect it.  The Assembly line was already in use since Frenchman Marc Isambard Brunel and Brit Henry Maudslay put the first known one in practice in the Portsmouth Block Mills in 1801, but the first modern concept was by Ransom Olds in 1901 to make his latest Oldsmobile car.  Ford made greater use of it, made it more efficient, and made complete cars more rapidly and effectively than ever before with the system.
Well, that's enough for now.  Lots more in the hopper for later.
*I keep using "race" in quotes in this context because the term presumes that there's some difference in humanity between, say, Negroid and Mongloid, which is ridiculous.  Minor differences in appearance and slight genetic shifts do not make a different people.
*This is part of the Common Knowledge series: things we know that ain't so.

Friday, March 24, 2017


"Everybody has a combination of unearned advantages and unearned disadvantages in life."
-Peggy McIntosh

For a few years now, its become popular for some to claim "white privilege" is a problem for white people and that they need to "check" it.  This is a standard response used to assert racism or white supremacy in society even among those who are quite comfortable with other ethic groups and support multiculturalism
What is "white privilege" then?  Wikipedia defines it this way:
A term for societal privileges that benefit white people in Western countries beyond what is commonly experienced by non-white people under the same social, political, or economic circumstances. According to [sociologists], whites in a society considered culturally a part of the Western World enjoy advantages that non-whites do not experience.

White privilege denotes both obvious and less obvious passive advantages that white people may not recognize they have, which distinguishes it from overt bias or prejudice. These include cultural affirmations of one's own worth; presumed greater social status; and freedom to move, buy, work, play, and speak freely. The effects can be seen in professional, educational, and personal contexts. The concept of white privilege also implies the right to assume the universality of one's own experiences, marking others as different or exceptional while perceiving oneself as normal.
Essentially, the argument is that being white in a majority-white, western culture makes you advantaged in ways that non-whites are not.  Culturally, you are more at home and ordinary in these settings, and hence deemed "privileged" over those who do not feel as much so.
The concept comes from a paper written in 1988 by Peggy McIntosh called "White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack" which was an attempt to demonstrate that white people enjoy comfort and ease in western cultures which others do not.  She later expanded on it with a book "White Privilege."  Within a few decades, the idea had captured all academia and is presumed in colleges and universities.
At the Washington Post, an opinion piece tried to break down "white privilege" in common, simple terms with a few examples:
  • Taking it for granted that when you’re shopping alone, you probably won’t be followed or harassed.
  • Knowing that if you ask to speak to “the person in charge,” you’ll almost certainly be facing someone of your own race.
  • Being able to think about different social, political or professional options without asking whether someone of your race would be accepted or allowed to do what you want to do.
  • Assuming that if you buy a house in a nice neighborhood, your neighbors will be pleasant or neutral toward you.
  • Feeling welcomed and “normal” in the usual walks of public life, institutional and social.
The article lists some statistics as well, as evidence that whites enjoy privilege and superiority in American culture:
So the charge seems to hold some weight, based on these statements.  Is there such a thing as "white privilege" and are these statements evidence of it?
Well, as many others, including academics and sociologists have pointed out, this kind of information is misleading and is lumping together unrelated groups.  Statistics are bare numbers, but when you dig into them, you can begin to gain real information.
The problem with the charges listed above is that they disregard class and wealth differences.  A wealthy, professional black moving into a neighborhood will be more welcome and comfortable than a white trash trailer park white person, for example.
Another problem is that the charges are dated.  In 1976, you could expect that you'll be led to a white guy when you ask for a person in charge, but today there's no telling what you'll get, and almost nobody cares.  They just want someone in charge, not "a white guy in charge."
The statistics listed about blacks seem incredibly dire but aren't telling the whole story.  Like the "whites only make up 11% of prisoners" claim (actually inaccurate, and the number of whites is increasing while blacks is decreasing, but for the purposes of the discussion we'll let that lie).
Take the first one: 50% of out-of-school suspensions.  Where are these suspensions taking place, with what group of people?  The story unfolds that these are primarily taking place in inner city and reservation schools where disruptive, troublesome children are far too common, and many of the people living there are black.  You can get a feel for the story by reading to this point: "boys make up the large majority of students who are suspended (about eight in 10), about 12 percent of black girls are suspended."  Is this anti-boy discrimination, proof of "girl privilege?"
Of course not, girls don't tend to act up and cause trouble nearly as much as boys.  Their misbehavior is the kind that doesn't get you suspended.  Boys are disruptive and even destructive when they misbehave, and removal from class is a way of dealing with that.
Or take the second one, which sounds terribly discriminatory.  If your name is Josh Beckett, you're more likely to get a call back than D'Wayne Johnson.  Is that because the employers are trying to hire only whites?  No, because if your name is Arata Hitochi or Singh Raji, you're going to be called back probably even more than the white names.
Its a bit unfair, but names give a glimpse into cultural backgrounds.  Japanese are typically (not exclusively) hard working, studious, and avoid trouble.  Indians the same way.  But a name that evokes ghetto or inner city does not connote the same virtues.  Employers are trying to find the best candidate they can, and Shawanda reminds them of the last 10 inner city girls they hired who quit after 2 days and broke the cash register.
The employer doesn't care if you're white, he cares if you have cultural values that make you a harder worker.  They don't want to hire Bubba-Jim-Bob Kinney either because the last hillbilly was selling meth out the back.  Its not the color they're worried about, its the cultural patterns and tendencies.  Jim Brown isn't a white man's name, its the name of a man who's a part of steady and regular society.  There aren't "white" names, there are ordinary, common names, and names that stand apart.
Or take that last stat.  Imprisonment rate, for the same crime?? That's incredibly unjust, how can you defend something like that??  Well, lets dig a bit deeper.  Nowhere in the study do they examine the history and past criminal record of these defendants.  If you have white guy who just stole a car and black guy who just stole a car, the guy with the longer rapsheet is going to get a worse sentence, because he's demonstrated he's not just a dumb kid who made a mistake or a first-time offender who shouldn't be nailed as hard.  White or black doesn't matter.
This brings up a sort of uncomfortable point that most don't want to discuss, but whites and blacks both break the law at around the same rate.  What is different is the kind of laws broken.  A white guy might get busted for selling a pound of pot, but a black guy for aggravated assault.  Whites tend to break blue collar crimes like fraud and speeding, blacks tend to break more violent crimes like murder and assault.
That's not a 100% breakdown; there are white murderers and black tax cheats.  But in general, blacks are more likely to break laws for which there's hard time, and whites for which there are fines and other penalties.  This isn't some cruel injustice of the legal system, shoplifting isn't nearly as bad for culture as rape.  Stabbing your ex to death with a letter opener is crime deserving greater penalties than failing to pay for your parking.
So crime and prison stats reflect this cultural difference; both broke the law, but some crimes get jail and some do not.  Are there judges who are more likely to nail blacks with stiffer penalties than whites?  Sure, just like there are judges who'll penalize men more than women, and the reverse of both.  For some, social justice or personal bigotry matters more than the law and the facts of the case.  But the quoted stat presumes bigotry where it is unwarranted and unsupported by the facts.
Bigotry and racism exist, even in oblique forms like presuming someone is less able and requires more assistance from government because of their ethnic background and appearance.  But "white privilege does not simply assume racism.  It assumes that ordinary life for white people is benefited more than for non whites.
Eddie Murphy's old SNL bit "White Like Me" where he disguises himself as a white guy and gets goodies and special treatment all day long is funny, but while it might be something blacks suspect, its just that: a joke.  I'd link it here but I couldn't find it on YouTube.
There are aspects of the theory which I agree are valid.  For example, I live in a nation where most people are white (for now).  I live in a town where most people are white.  Hence, when I look at the news watch television, or go somewhere, white people are the ones I interact with most.  This gives a sense of place and familiarity which someone who is not white does not share.
Or for another example, when I study the heritage and history of my nation and its civilization, its white people who made it so, to a large degree.  There were famous and influential non-whites, such as Booker T. Washington, but for the most part they are the exception. The founding fathers were all white guys.  We've had 45 presidents, and 1 was not white.
But why is this true, why is it comforting or at least something I'm at ease with?  Is it because they're all honkys like me?  The truth is, the  familiarity and comfort is not because of their skin color, but because of their cultural and national heritage.  I'm not soothed by white faces, I'm soothed by them being on the same team as me.  Its not their lack of melanin that makes them part of the team, but their cultural and national identity.
But the concept of "white privilege" presumes that whites gain benefits simply by being white and that's at best debatable, and from personal experience, utterly spurious.  Many white people do not benefit from the comforts of their ethnic background because they are culturally disadvantaged in western culture.  They may be of a group shunned by others, they may be criminally active, they may be bizarre or abnormal, but they lack this comfort and ease moving through society.
Why? Because what is being described as "privilege" is simply being part of the majority culture.  And that majority culture is called "white" by some (particularly black activists who condemn any black person for being "too white") when it actually is just American culture.  Asians, for example, excel in American culture despite being non-white, having nothing to do with the ethnicity of the founding fathers or majority, and often having cultural differences at home.  Why?  Because they mesh well with American culture.
Another thing to consider is that the concept of "white privilege" breaks down even worse with the consideration of preferences by culture and government for non-whites.  As Francis Ryan notes, the Obama daughters get preferred affirmative action treatment which the average, majority white children cannot hope to equal.  Meanwhile, Asians are given negative preference in college applications because they are "overrepresented."
The truth is, what is called "white privilege" is just normal ordinary life.  That's American culture, there is no special comfort about it, there is discomfort for being outside that culture.  All people should aspire to be at the level of "privilege" whites are accused of enjoying, not condemned for having it.  Indeed, it is expected that white should give up what is considered "privilege" which is the opposite of what should be striven for.  All people should aspire to that level of comfort in society, and work toward it, not try to tear down those who have it.
And this normality and an attempt to downgrade or attack it isn't just with race.  Gender, sexuality, religion, and all other aspects of typical American culture are under assault as if they are unfair and unjust.  By all standard and rational definitions of the term, heterosexuality is "normal" in the sense that the vast majority of humanity for all history has been characterized by this sexuality, and only a small group not.  That's normal as it gets.  But to use that term is considered hateful and is condemned.
Where did this all come from?  Ultimately its an effort by activists to change perceptions and retain power.  The original "white privilege" thesis was just an offshot of Peggy McIntosh's work as a feminist talking about "male privilege." By the time she'd written it, the feminist's days were about done, because they had accomplished their goals: women were normalized in society, in the workplace, and sexism was universally condemned and squashed.
They'd achieved their goals.  And as I've written about many times in the past; when faced with triumph as an activist you either fold up shop, or find a reason to stay in business, no matter how grasping or absurd.
Seeing blacks in all aspects of society, even a man perceived as black being president, and racism against minorities (other than Asians) utterly gone from government, activists are presented with this choice.   Clearly in a nation where a black man was elected president twice we're not living in the racist hell hole they claimed. There is no institutional racism in government (against blacks at least); the days of that are long, long gone. 
 So they have to cling to some kind of oppression to retain power and keep getting money and feel significant. How? Claim white people are still somehow in power and oppressing blacks by being "privileged." Being an ordinary American isn't normal its "privilege" so the rest of the country seems somehow diminished by comparison.
See, if you cannot prove someone is being held down, you have to convince people that others are being lifted up unfairly.  This maintains the leftist base worldview of the oppressed vs the oppressor.  When there's no oppressor, it all falls apart, so you define normal as oppressive.
So now "normal" becomes "exceptional" and "privileged" which makes everyone else normal.  Its not fair you enjoy comfort and familiarity in culture, that's holding others down, oppressor.  Instead of teaching and encouraging people to be part of normal Amrican culture, you declare it oppressive and bad, so people can stay the way they are and feel virtuous in the process
This works in all sorts of ways.  Heterosexuals aren't normal, they are "cisgendered" and privileged, oppressing others.  Transexuals are normal under this new system, its the ordinary person who is privileged and unfair, the oppressor.
This is also about dividing to conquer, breaking people up into little groups to control easier without banding up -- fear is the primary tool of the tyrant -- but ultimately the modern left is less about that than about normalizing the strange.
Any system or device that makes people feel uncomfortable, has to be ended.  The people who are discomfited are never considered wrong or weird by the left (unless a designated unperson like a Christian conservative white male), just oppressed.  No matter your perversion, oddness, or madness, you must be not accepted for who you are, but celebrated and embraced, encouraged, promoted.  Those who will not take part in this must be shunned, even destroyed.
I feel discomfort and unfamiliarity regularly in modern society.  Not only is American culture being ripped apart and thrown on its head in a fit of madness, but just places I'm unused to and do not fit in are problematic.  I feel like I'm in a foreign country in big cities.  I am a Christian and that's pretty much target number one for modern popular culture.  I am an introvert in a culture which celebrates extroverts and increasingly considers social awkwardness or reticence as mental instability.
All of us have times and places we are out of place and feel abnormal, uncomfortable, and unfamiliar.  The adult way to handle that is to keep going, have confidence, and do what you need to do, maybe even learning familiarity and courage, comfort and ease in the process.
If American culture makes you unhappy and uncomfortable, maybe the thing to do is find a way to be a part of the culture rather than condemn it all and demand you be made the new normal.

Thursday, March 16, 2017


"I do admit to an irrational belief in the moral superiority of those who take time to prepare their own food as opposed to eating out all the time"

I watched a documentary on Netflix that was charming and fascinating called Fannie's Last Supper.  It was about the host of America's Test Kitchen (recommended) who took one of the many menus for a dinner party from the back of an old Fannie Farmer cookbook, and set out to prepare and serve it.
But since this is Chris Kimball, he decided to make it as authentically 19th century as possible, down to the wood-fired cast iron stove and ingredient selection -- hand made puff pastry, food dyes, etc.  It was an adventure just making some of the dishes, and well worth watching.
I liked it so much I decided to read the book, by the same name, and it was even better.  So much so that I want to own the book some day.  But there's a section in the book about food habits and shopping that is just fascinating to me that I wanted to share.
Kimball notes that its common knowledge in culinary circles that preparing meals at home is pretty much a thing of the past, and that people tend to eat out mostly.  Is this true, he wondered?  So he started doing some research.
There was no question that the time spent cooking at home ha gone down a lot over the last hundred years.  The key driver of this decrease is the movement of women out of the home and into the workplace.  In 1900, only 20% of women were in the labor force, versus over 60% in 2000.  For most women, life at home was neither easy nor pleasant.  In Fannie's day, a woman spent an average 44 hours a week making and cleaning up after meals and another seven hours in general cleaning: and then on top of that, there was child care.  Families were larger -- 20% of American households had 7 or more family members -- thus more to cook and clean up for.
Of course, in Fannie's day, even a smaller household would have at least one servant whose job it was to help clean, prepare, cook, and so on.  A larger home which would have set out one of Fannie's dinner plans would have a half dozen maids, cooks, and so on or more.
So while it took longer to get things done due to a lack of many conveniences we take for granted, there was also more help.  In fact, the larger family actually was a benefit: older children take up chores and help care for the children.
Technology changed matters, replacing servants with gadgets and devices.
Another big factor in time spent cooking was the availability of electricity.  As late as 1930, only 10.4% of farms were electrified.  A wood cookstove and no electrical appliances translated into a great deal more time preparing food.

By 1950, however, this picture had changed dramatically, with over 90% of rural areas now having electricity.  Electricity also meant the availability of mechanical refrigerators; by 1950 80% of American households owned one.  By midcentury, the typical American cook was spending only 20 hours per week cooking.
As the book notes, the late 1800s had an explosion of gadgets and cooking aides, from tools to help make noodles to the first real measuring cups and spoons.  This made cooking much easier and more standardized from even previous decades, reducing difficulty and time in preparation and making more complicated dishes available to a broader cooking public.
By contrast, as Michael Pollan wrote in 2009, people take much less time preparing and cleaning up today:
Today the average American spends a mere 27 minutes a day on food preparation (another four minutes cleaning up); that’s less than half the time that we spent cooking and cleaning up when Julia [Child] arrived on our television screens.
Cooking from scratch gives you much better quality (and sense of accomplishment) than cooking from mixes and prepared foods, but Bisquick just makes life a lot easier, and canned beans are just as well cooked as beans from your slow cooker.  By Fannie Farmer's time, canned foods were pretty common, if not quite as reliable and safe as modern times.  
Food processors, quality knives, electric deep friers, and all the other devices we use today make things much more simple and speedy.  But despite that, we're told people are cooking less and less.  Is it cost that's making this happen?  Kimball doesn't find that to be accurate, although he did note that fresh produce is actually going up in price.
The cost of food has dropped enormously since 1900.  Back then, the average household was spending about 30% of its total annual income on food, 20% in 1960, and about 10% today.  When food is cheap, you spend less time preserving and reusing it -- it is no longer a scare resource.  (this does have a curious dark side, however.

Another common yardstick for decrying the lack of home cooking is the amount of money spent on dining out.  Fifty ears ago, 25% of the food dollar was spent outside the home; today just under 50%.  So one can claim that expenditures on eating outside the home have increased 100%!  Conversely, one might say, over half of all food dollars are still spent inside the home.  That sounds better.  Americans are still spending slightly more on food consumed at home than at restaurants.

Drilling down into the statistics, one finds that of the expenditures outside the home, 22% goes into food spent at snack bars, movie theaters, amusement parks, and sports arenas [where I should note, the cost is at least double what you'd pay at a store, driving up the percentage].These are hardly replacements for meals.  In fact, one might note that we are simply eating a lot more food outside of the three meals per day.The point is simple: although the percentage of the food dollar spent at home is dropping, the distribution of those expenditures is over a larger number of choices, snacking being a major category  That means that the percentage of food dollars spent on food consumed at home may not paint as disastrous a picture as we think.
How much did you spend last week on coffee?  Get a cookie or scone with it?  Catch a film and buy an $11 popcorn and $3 candy bar?  Eat a bag of chips out of the machine at work?  Those aren't meals but they jack up the price of your spending on food outside the home, is his point.
Kimball also notes that in the 19th century, the midday meal was the big meal of the day, not supper.  When more people went to work with a commute rather than at the farm or nearby walk to the factory, and more women went to work, it became inconvenient and even impossible to prepare and enjoy a big meal in the middle of the day.    And when people get home from work, they don't have the time or energy (or desire) to cook like they used to, so you don't see those big ornate meals so much any more.  Open a few cans and packages, microwave steam the veggies, and people eat at their computer or watching TV.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics put out a study in 2008 that claims that roughly half of the American population over the age of 15 does no cooking whatsoever -- takeout, delivery, and eat out. Kimball runs down some more numbers:
From 2000 to 2005, there were huge increases in prepared foods sold at supermarkets, including salads (52%), frozen prepared meals (32%), and desserts (25%).  In this period, flouer sales were way down (46%), as were sugar and chicken (16%).
Spending on baking ingredients has actually increased 18% from 2000 to 2005, butter alone by 1%.  Frozen prepared foods actually declined by 15% during this period -- a hopeful sign.  Sales of lettuce, tomatoes, and potatoes all fell by less than 10%.
Sales of cookwaare have also been on the upswing.  In 2004, American cookware manufacturers shipped $992 million worth of product; in 2008, the total was $1,269 million.
I would suggest that, while there was a dip in home cooking and preparing in the 90s and early 00's, the trend is actually reversing.  Cooking shows are tremendously popular, and people are doing more cooking at home than before.  It is time consuming, but particularly in times of economic downturn like the last 10 years or so, its cheaper and more satisfying.  You can turn a meal into an entertainment opportunity rather than something to get out of the way and move on.  People coming together for a barbecue or dinner is time spent at leisure, particularly with how quick its become to prepare meals these days.
What interests me more is that its men who seem to be doing most of the cooking.  Recent research actually showed that men like cooking more than women; probably because it appeals to the male tendency to like goal-oriented tasks and building.  But its also possible that a generation of women raised to think any traditionally female role is demeaning, oppressive, and inferior have been trained to think of cooking as bad.
Culturally, a society cannot exist without someone to prepare food.  In less civilized and technologically advanced times gathering food was a day-long task of farming, hunting, and gathering.  Someone had to be home taking care of the place while someone was out getting that food.  Men are physically more able at the hunting and gathering part on average, and women better at homekeeping and child raising, on average. So when labor was divided along those lines, men were not doing the cooking.
In civilized times, men don't have the construction and hunting, protecting and providing roles they are designed for any longer, so they have to find new outlets for this natural tendency.  Cooking meals is one such opportunity, and its possible we'll see it growing more and more.
That's neither good nor bad, except for where it is the result of cultural conditioning women to think of home tasks as inferior and bad for them.  Women cooking and caring for a home is not an evil, it is a good thing, just not a compulsory thing.  The need to portray this as terrible and try to shoehorn girls into scientific and technological fields is not any better than forcing them into the kitchen.
Long time readers here know I favor men cooking, as an expression of masculinity -- and women do like a man who can cook well, trust me.  But I also favor women cooking and taking care of a home as well.  One need only look at our society and ask as a whole whether our culture was better off or worse than when women tended to be homemakers.
Its not so much that women being homemakers created a better society, its that the family unit is the roots that a culture grows up from and is anchored to, and that family eating around a dinner table is one of the best, most useful ways to build relationships and closeness.  Stripping that away has not created a better situation.

Monday, March 06, 2017


“In five weeks’ time, unless desperate measure are taken, we will hand over the government to a man who lost the popular vote…There is no time for a full review or measured analysis.”
-Keith Olbermann

As soon as President Trump was elected, the left in America immediately began a campaign of opposition and efforts to delegitimize the Trump administration even before he was in office.  Creaky, old leftist radicals such as Michael Moore and Keith Olbermann stepped out of the cobwebs and declared a resistance was on, as if America was occupied.
This "resistance" showed its self in riots on the streets, people being beaten, things burned, windows broken, shops looted, and in calls for violence against anyone declared a "fascist."  The far left has been calling anyone who disagrees with them "fascist" since the 1940s, but now they somehow have managed to mainstream the concept with the media and entertainment community.
For some, the dream of being a freedom fighter in an oppressive regime that somehow never actually quite represses them never dies.  If Donald Trump truly was "literally Hitler" then people would not be able to go onto the streets and yell it out loud around cops.  But I think just about everybody knows that, and this "resistance" is getting all the respect it deserves: roughly the same as trial lawyers and undertakers.
 Back in 2007-2008 when Barack Hussein Obama was running for president, he hit a lot of themes that resonated well with Americans, including me.  He called on change, on transparency, on getting the lobbyists and greed out of politics.  He called for the federal government to be more accountable, to stop spying on Americans.  He called for politicians to be forced to listen to and obey the American people instead of imposing their ideas on the public.
Many of the things President Obama said in speeches were good things that people wanted to hear.  People in the USA had become sick of congressmen who ignored their will, presidents who they felt were ignoring them and lying to them, sick of secrets, sick of trickery, sick of politics as usual.
Americans felt that we were living in a nation run by a small group of elites who sneered at them, people who had riches and power and contempt for the rest of the nation.  And there's some good reasons for suspecting that.  Here's a list of the last presidents and which colleges they went to:
George Bush - Yale
Bill Clinton - Yale
George W Bush - Harvard
Barack Obama - Harvard
Donald Trump - Wharton
And here's a list of Supreme Court justices and the colleges they went to:
Samuel Alito - Harvard
Stephen Breyer - Harvard
Ruth Bader Ginsberg - Harvard
Elena Kagan - Harvard
Anthony Kennedy - Harvard
John Roberts - Harvard
Sonia Sotomayor - Yale
Clarence Thomas - Yale
In fact, if you go through the halls of congress, 44 of the 100 senators attended an Ivy League university, although the House of Representatives is more cosmopolitan.with about 30 who never attended any college at all.
Now, there's not necessarily anything wrong with ivy League graduates being in positions of power, they were at one time very fine institutions of higher learning with great prestige.  Colleges such as Princeton University gave us men like James Madison as president.
However, there is a distinct pattern of people from a specific class and type who are in power, following a particular wealthy profile and in a definite clique of association.  No matter which party they are part of, the elite are generally in a tight group of similar schools, clubs, associations, locations, and so on.
They might be enemies in front of a camera, but behind the scenes go party together, are old buddies, and so on.  Justice Anthony Scalia (Harvard) was best buds with Justice Ginsberg, despite being polar opposites in viewpoint.  Senators notoriously are super tight and close, careful to not criticize each other in public and backing each other up if attacked by a non-Senator.
In other words, its been the same pack of cronies and associates in power for ages, representing each other and part of one mindset that the rest of the nation largely does not share.  And it goes beyond simple group identity.
The federal government has been pushing one gigantic spending bill after another obnoxious law for decades, even as the public continues to complain and tell them to stop.  Every regulation that limits freedom, every penny-ante law banning incandescent lightbulbs and restricting flow on your shower, every stupid little infringement on our liberty is met with increasing grumpiness and annoyance by the public.
Like a fog pouring in under the door, the government is spreading through all our lives, covering more and more and while people aren't reaching for their rifles, they are pretty well annoyed.
And its not a right vs left thing.  Occupy had many of the same concerns and frustrations that the Tea Party did.  Obama voters were looking for as much change as Trump voters.  Here's how it played out.
And the result of that annoyance was President Obama, the least likely president in American history.  Voters picked a radical lightweight with almost no experience or qualifications to be president because the last guys had been part of the old system and people wanted things to... get this... change.
What they got was different but not the change they wanted.  People wanted the government to bother them less, to fix the economy, to listen to them.  Instead they got a gigantic "stimulus" package that was little more than payoffs to special groups, a massively unpopular health insurance bill that's still opposed by most Americans and is turning out even worse than feared, and even more ridiculous regulations telling people what they can and cannot do.  It was a change, but not the change people hoped for.
So we get Donald Trump, who comes along saying what people wanted to hear, and representing change, again.  He's technically a product of the Ivy League (economics degree from Wharton), but like President Obama he does not seem to be from the same pack of elites and club memberships as the rest of the people in power.  He is reviled by both Democrat and Republican in office, he's condemned for being not a politician, and is yet another "outsider" elected by the people to make a difference.
So far, President Trump is a bit of an outsider (his policies on immigration and national identity are definitely outside the elite comfort zone) but hasn't done much to clean up the swamp as he promised.  Its still early, so we can't decide how effective or how typical President Trump will be in office, but its part of the same pattern: "This guy says he'll change things, he's not some insider politician so much, okay give him a shot.  No?  How about this guy, he's even more an outsider, he's never held office.  We'll try him."
They're cut from the same electoral cloth despite their policy differences. President Trump ran more as a Bill Clinton center-left guy, and President Obama as a more radical left guy, but they both are a statement of voter dislike of the status quo.
I'd like to suggest a resistance is already underway in America, and has been for quite some time now.  The resistance is not to "anyone who isn't sufficiently leftist" as guys like Moore say.  Its people sick of the system and demanding things be different.  For the most part, Americans want to be left alone, and they want their representatives to listen to what they say.  Not what lobbyists say, not what fat cats say, not what big money says, not what the news media and the entertainment community says, but what they want.
And the resistance is not to one policy group or another per se, but rather to the arrogance, dismissive attitude, condescension, and contempt they feel from their government.  Americans are increasingly fed up with the crap they're being handed almost daily and want real change.  That's what drove the election of both Presidents Obama and Trump; people looking for a change, for something different, for someone who'll listen and carry out the will of the people.  We'll try this Obama fellow.  No?  Part of the same system?  Strike one.  How about this Trump guy, he's whacky and definitely not part of them...
There's a reason the elites in both parties are fighting so hard right now, using every underhanded trick, lie, sneaky political stunt, and even working across the aisle to stop President Trump and ruin him. The reason is because there's a chance -- a small one, perhaps -- but a chance that he actually may work to demolish the entrenched power, actually clean up the swamp, and reboot the government.  And certainly he's not one of them, so he has to be dealt with, like Judge Smails sneering at Al Czervic in Caddyshack.
But those guys on the street with signs and chants and slogans?  The ones breaking things and beating people and rioting?  The angry and hysterical voices on TV?
They aren't the resistance. They're who the resistance is against.
And the old saying goes, there are three boxes of resistance to tyranny and abuse of power.  The ballot box, the jury box, and the ammo box.  Keep refusing to listen and people move on to the next box.  We don't want that last one opened up, but if this time doesn't accomplish at least some of what the voters want, I have no confidence what happens next.