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Christopher Bradley

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Thoughts on the secrecy of military plans [May. 18th, 2010|06:10 pm]
Christopher Bradley
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One of my friends on LJ recently mentioned censorship and made the distinction between moral censorship, which is always bad, and military censorship, which is bad but occasionally necessary. I don't know that I accept that military censorship is ever good, either. I talked briefly with someone else about it and because this kind of conversation tends to get swiftly bogged down into historical arguments, one of my key points was ignored - and I have a mind to express it more fully.

I said, roughly, that secret information stinks. It stinks because . . .

1. We don't know where it came from

2. Or the agenda of the person or people who provided the secret information.

3. We don't know the process through which it was decided that any given piece of secret information was worthwhile

4. Or the agendas, educations, morals, etc. of the people who decided what information matters.

Taken together, I think that anyone should be deeply suspicious of secrets information, including military plans. These guys are not infallible, as gets proven pretty much every war.

(The other side is that publicly available information is generally regarded to be the best information there is. Science, jurisprudence and democratic governments are all based on the principles of freely available accurate information - so is capitalism, too, at least in theory, but that never gets put even a little bit into practice. There's a whole lot of reasons to believe that information being free creates better information faster and, really, no reasons to suspect this wouldn't be true of the military.)

Above all of that is the fact that the idea that secrets are necessary to successful war is axiomatic. It is just assumed by everyone, everywhere to be the case. But, it is wholly untested! And military history is full of untested axioms that ended up being untrue when actually tested.

I am aware this belief might be ideological and not practical - because it has been fully untested, there's no information to say one way or the other. In every war in history, both sides have loved their secrets. Every victory and every defeat has been accomplished by people who were not free with their information, much less fairly assessing critiques of their information. There is simply no meaningful information with which to directly talk about the subject - that it has always been the case isn't really a good argument, however.

And on a whole different level, I again wonder why people believe the military to operate differently than every other human enterprise. This seems such an intellectually indefensible position given even very recent military history much less pre-modern military history. These guys make mistakes. They make big mistakes. They're no less corrupt and venal than any other person in a position of power. But the military seems to be the last widespread vestige of the cult of the hero - where individuals with superior powers and destiny are responsible for the fate of the nation and, indeed, the world. We have dispensed with that in almost all over areas of life - we no longer belief that kings and queens work, we've consistently diminished the power of church leaders to the point where most of them are irrelevant. The only other area where we believe in the heroic ideal seems to be business, where it's just assumed that CEOs have unearthly powers, and like military leaders this belief is in the face of giant volumes of evidence to the contrary. But it does make it hard to discuss the military because all of the military's faults tend to be shifted off to civilian leaders while their successes are theirs and theirs alone (so people focus on Eisenhower and MacArthur more than the incredible industrial capacity of the US - the war was won by generals and soldiers, not factory workers, though the war was really won by factory workers).

Come to think of it, that's how capitalism gets discussed, too. It's like all the poorest nations aren't also capitalist (with the exception of Zimbabwe). But while praising the virtues of capitalism, always bringing up countries like the US and Japan and Germany, it's like Haiti and Somalia don't exist . . .

Which is probably how it's all linked together - a lot of people worship power and wish to curry its favor. I know that's the worst part of the existence of power that it creates a strong urge in many people to love it regardless of its form, who possesses it or how it is used. I mean, I've gotten letters from dudes who want to see monarchy return! And I've met hundreds of people who have really admired Adolf Hitler for all of his perceived virtues - how he "unified" Germany and made it "strong" again. Which sort of ignores in 12 years of rule he levelled the country and killed tens of millions of people - but a lot of people have a twisted admiration for him. So I guess I shouldn't be surprised, but it's hard to keep everything I know in my head all at the same time so I constantly find myself surprised by things I know!

Rain's been teasin' [May. 17th, 2010|10:41 pm]
Christopher Bradley
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I still haven't ridden in the rain. A couple of times it's threatened to rain but didn't actually rain while I was riding. I'm sorry looking to get some riding in the rain to know what it feels like, but it keeps not doing it!

Dreams and cardio [May. 4th, 2010|04:54 pm]
Christopher Bradley
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I've started doing a lot more cardio in my workout because of a dream. I know that sounds a little weird, but recently I've been having vivid dreams of the very short period of time where I jogged. It was about seven months when I was fourteen and fifteen and I stopped because we moved and I find that I am extremely sensitive to disruptions in my schedule and an ugly home situation where we moved. But even in that seven months, I got to the place where I genuinely enjoyed running. At first it was really hard but then it got easier and then it got enjoyable.

When I started lifting, I was a little fearful of cardio because . . . well, I didn't want to run because it would mess up my knees. I tried going swimming when I had a membership at the Y, but I found that I didn't really like swimming as exercise. Mind you, I'm a strong swimmer but I found that there's a huge difference between swimming in a lane at the Y and playing in a private pool in the sunshine. It just made me feel awkward and waterlogged.

I've had a bicycle for several years, now, and I do use it to tool about downtown. Motivated by my dreams of the pleasures of running, I'm now doing a daily bike sessions and being as organized about it as I am with weightlifting. I have a route, I time myself, I mark how well I do for any given day - the whole ball of wax.

Right now, I'm definitely at the "hard" part of it, though even after a few days I'm starting to feel better about it - which is probably just me finding various techniques and not some sudden, massive cardiovascular improvement - but I fought through this with weightlifting and now I bring the various experiences from weightlifting to this. So, y'know, I grasp that it's probably a really good idea to properly eat, breath like you mean it and drink water before spending half an hour gasping in the sunshine. Plus, it gets me out into the sunshine!

I'm hoping the schedule will be firmly set by the time winter sets in. Santa Cruz has very mild winters, but there are whole weeks where it rains off and on. I want the schedule to be sufficiently strong that I do it even in the rain on a daily basis. Which means I'll be out every day to see some sunlight when there's sunlight to see - and I hope by then I am out for about an hour a day, furthermore. Even the sun through clouds is often better than just staying indoors, too, plus exercise itself brightens me.

I'm going to be doing this in addition to lifting. I'm not going to give that up, but supplement it with the bicycling. I suspect it will be wonderful for my lifting, too.

Which seems a big increase in exercise and it is. But right now, I have my life organized in such a fashion that I think I can do it and still have the unorganized time that I also need to be creative and productive.

Still, for me, the weird part is that this is in large part motivated by a dream, and very pleasant dreams. Not dreams of the fear of getting old and dying young because I didn't keep myself in better shape, but dreams of the pleasures of that running. Well, I adapted it. Instead of running, I'll ride.

I'm also hoping that I'll lose a little weight, too, shocker. Weightlifting isn't very good at weight loss. Your body has no difficulty being both fat and strong which is, indeed, part of the reason I started with lifting because I felt it would strengthen me without breaking me down. But endurance is a different matter and because of the lifting, hey, at least I'm strong enough to give it a serious go. I suppose we'll see!

Ideally, I hope to become good enough at cycling to do real mountain biking. I know that the odds are we'll be moved away from Santa Cruz before I'm fit enough to do even relatively simple mountain bike tracks, but not too much of a problem since we also camp and many parks have all kinds of bike paths. I don't know that I'll get there - exercise does NOT come naturally to me - but that's fantasy end of it.

Seasonal affective disorder recap [Apr. 26th, 2010|08:44 pm]
Christopher Bradley
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So, a couple of weeks ago, I came out of my yearly battle with seasonal affective disorder. Now that I am aware of it . . . I am horrified at how much it has ruled my life without knowing about it. I have no idea how much of my fuck-upperies are the result of SAD, but my thought is, "Quite a few".

Mind you, I'm managing it much better, now, than every before. I can remember with distinct clarity as far back as my teenage years being really depressed around Christmas. I was pretty much the only teenager I knew who didn't like Christmas. Well, I doubt it was Christmas' fault, probably had more to do with the whole "death of the sun" thing. So, for most of my life, this fairly serious problem was totally unmanaged. Indeed, unacknowledged. When you feel some way persistently, there's a tendency to assume that it's "normal" - especially when there is so much stigma attached to having a mental disease.

And all of this . . . I mean, how much as my school work sabotaged by the reality of SAD? How much work was sabotaged by it? Since I've only learned of it in the past five or so years, I suppose I will never know . . . but I suspect this has been a significance force in my life. SAD is worst in the middle of the traditional school year - so in high school and college, well, no wonder I felt like school was draining the life out of me. Despite, y'know, me basically liking to read and being good at taking tests and the like.
But, right now, I'm in this spot where I know that it's over and I remember what it was like. One of my friends referred to my current attitude as my "post-depression creative frenzy". There's truth to that. Between late November and the middle of April - so for around four and a half months, we're talking about a third of the year - I've basically written nothing for Revolutionary Boy Martin. But for the last week, I've been putting in a couple of thousand words of writing a day. And that's not the only artistic project I've been doing - while planning to sequester myself for a week or so and see how much writing I do then.

(Even with the energy I've been feeling, there are a lot of distractions in the apartment, ranging from my wife to the PS3 to the most perfect time vacuum ever invented: the Internet. My personal experience with the Internet is that it should be banned entirely from workplaces . . . if you actually intend to get any work done, that any increase in efficiency is wiped out by the ease with which you can click through to yet another superficially interesting, time-destroying thing to do. I suspect that in sequestration I'll do about 10K words a day.)

But it's still a strange feeling for me - to be aware of the problem when I'm not having the problem, and being able to attribute these hitherto unknown feelings to specific causes. Difficult, too, because there is such a stigma about mental illness - saying, you know, I'm a fuck-up because I have a mental disease is harder than saying I don't go out running because I have a untreated leg fracture that's healed poorly. There is a tendency from both without and from within to attribute these problems to a lack of moral character; when I am strong and clear headed, it's easy to tell anyone who gives me that smoke to blow off. When I am in the thrall of those mental problems, when I am depressed and anxious, it is very hard to say it's the disease that's at fault. But right now, clear in the heat and having a strong and immediate remembrance of seasonal affective disorder, the obviousness of the disease is plain to me. It's real and as powerful as any illness or injury I've had, made worse by the insidiousness of it combined with our society's belief in an external will and non-biological mind - that we treat our minds as being different and distinct from our bodies.

Nordics like fish [Apr. 21st, 2010|09:44 pm]
Christopher Bradley
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This is so dear that I must post it. I got this from a Dane. Apparently, even most Scandinavians are horrified at traditional Icelandic "cuisine", hehe.

Continuing Ravenloft [Apr. 19th, 2010|09:48 pm]
Christopher Bradley
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I stopped GMing a pseudo-Ravenloft game several months ago, and now I'm going back and looking at my notes and going, "What is all this stuff!" That is all. ;)

Reality TV seems to really suck [Apr. 9th, 2010|04:51 pm]
Christopher Bradley
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Written last night, posted today:

One of my friends posted a link to a site that I thought would be a parody of commercials and I went there to laugh at some funny videos. There were some. But then I got to Reality TV “Brat” Sues ABC for $100 Million. I started to watch it and thought that it must be a parody but I checked the Wife Swap Wikipedia page and apparently it isn't a joke. Since they had all of the episode, I watched it.

I . . . was horrified. I've never seen a whole show of anything that's reality TV, really. The reality TV craze hit after I'd abandoned TV. I have Netflix and the Internet, after all. And even if I did have broadcast TV, I wouldn't watch reality shows because most of them seem a little degrading. When I chance to read about them, it's seems very much that the people are selected on the grounds that putting them together will cause a train wreck. Well, bias confirmed. I was horrified. I don't think I've ever seen anything so degrading to the participants – and I include pornography I've seen.

For those of you who don't know, Wife Swap was a TV show where wives change positions with someone radically different from them for two weeks. In the first week, the wife has to follow the rules as laid down by their opposite number but in week two they can set down their own rules. In the link I posted, a radical feminist Quaker minister changes places with the mother of a beauty queen who is mind bogglingly pampered.

I guess the thing is . . . I sorta see where the beauty queen is coming from. She's right and she's wrong. She was humiliated, but her parents are as much to blame as the TV show. Oh, she's a terrible spoiled brat and the TV show has certainly ruined her school life and I am equally certain it made her an object of derision at her school (even amongst spoiled brats, this sort of thing would be noteworthy, like having a Christmas tree all year long because she gets a present every day). (The other family, who home school their children, will find it much easier to put this nonsense behind them.) So, yeah, she's a pretty terrible person but she is not only a person, but a child.

And, for crying out loud, how rotten is this for both families! I mean, if there were only adults involved I wouldn't have bothered watching it. Hey, if you want to prostitute your home life in front of others, well, that's your business. But these people brought their kids into it. Now, the feminist's family might have had real need for the 20K that was paid out for their participation; their house wasn't a palace by any stretch. Perhaps they just needed the dough. But the family with the beauty queen? Well, if they needed twenty grand, they would have found it easy to sell things to get it. People with as many material possessions as they have won't have a problem finding twenty grand. If they have money problems, twenty grand ain't gonna fix them. So these people put their child into this situation to be humiliated and it was humiliating.

Mind, it was humiliating for everyone, but this beauty queen child should not have been subjected to any of this – for people's amusement. I was thinking to myself, “How does this NOT qualify as child abuse?” To go into a child's life and expose their secrets and fears and dreams for other people's amusement?

I know I feel this way, in part, because I am a pretty private person. I would be horrified at the idea of someone coming into my life and recording it. I don't even like having my picture taken. I've never liked having my picture taken. So this whole concept of reality TV is in many ways abhorrent to me on a primal level. But this show ain't family home movies. I've seen bits and pieces of stuff like America's Funniest Home Videos and I kind of grasped why someone might do that. Some of the stuff that happened there was humiliating, sure, and sometimes it did happen to young children – but the clips were almost always, like, a minute or so, usually just some pratfall where no one was hurt or whatever, and while I'd never do anything like that myself I could see how someone would, even if their child was involved. But the elaborate humiliation that everyone in this show suffered! Of course, it was worse with the children. The beauty queen's mother openly just shamed one of the feminist mom's children, basically calling her ugly and weird (which was furthermore strange because the child is actually, frankly, beautiful), talking about how no one will ever want to be around her because she doesn't “sparkle” (no kidding). I couldn't imagine their anger, pain and frustration at being forced to spend two weeks with that woman. I couldn't imagine why someone would allow their child to be treated that way outside of real financial need (people have done worse things to kids for money). And both sides just ended up yelling at each other all the time. Both sides made the children cry on TV, for millions of people to see. For entertainment.

The beauty queen's family came off looking . . . horrible. The father was verbally abusive (“you feminist pig”) and physically intimidating to their guest. Their child is functionally illiterate at fifteen years of age (can't spell "America" or read the word "crutches"), incapable of doing the simplest of physical tasks and I don't even want to imagine what a psychological mess she is. Her mother was going on and on about how the feminist's children won't find people but . . . can she seriously imagine that so spoiled a child will be able to have a functioning, mature relationship with another human being? Her parents do her homework, for crying out loud! And while I am no fan of the public education system in the US, that's basically teaching your child that lying and cheating are okay (but see below about that; they live that lifestyle, apparently). I mean, her parents seem to make good money, they own their own business and, at a glance, they're financially well-off. But what happens when their little girl leaves the nest? She doesn't know how to do housework for crying out loud, she has no educational future, she has no business future, it's like her only resource is her attractiveness. And she's not that pretty (though she might be prettier than I think because the way she's made up horrifies me, so maybe I'm not the person to judge that).

And the beauty queen's family seemed to be constantly judging the attractiveness of the feminist's family, which was weird because . . . the feminist's family was, as a group, more attractive. Very weird. Tho' there were plenty of tense moments there, too, about the beauty queen's mom wanting to sexualize the feminist's young daughter in a beauty pageant caused some stirs, shall we say.

At the end of it, I felt emotionally drained. I've written all of this out because, y'know, I wanted to get it out of my system, to purge it, calm down. But, wow. I know this was on that site because it was particularly bad, but . . . wow.

(I know that there is some artifice to all of this, too. The show admits asking people to do things over, and the beauty queen alleged that it was scripted. Even watching through the one show, it was pretty clear that the producers would intervene. People would storm out and run away but then change their minds . . . which happened often enough that it's easy to believe the people storming off was, ahem, encouraged or the people returning was encouraged. The beauty queen's lawsuit alleges it was scripted, might I add, which I do not changes the degrading nature of the show.)

I did some checking around and it appears that the beauty queen, Alicia Guastaferro, is suing the TV show for all kinds of emotional damages and such, without her parents involvement because . . . her parents have pleaded guilty to federal money laundering charges. The elder Guastaferros are, apparently, so broke they can't pay their lawyers and are both quite possibly facing prison time. Well. I suspect that Alicia isn't getting a present a day anymore and this is a fairly cynical move to get some money, which will probably work because they'll settle out of court (though if the Guastaferros can't pay their lawyers it's unlikely that they'll pay for their spoiled daughter's lawyers, the show might well decide to go to court and figure the lawyers will give it up – the case will take five to six years and that's a long time not to get paid and I'm sure Disney can keep up the legal pressure . . . I mean, who's dumb enough to sue the Mouse?). Though I doubt that Alicia has any money skills and even if she won all hundred mil she'd blow it by the time she was thirty.

So, I revise my opinion of the beauty queen's family. They probably were in it for the money. When I saw the show, I was going, “I didn't know there was that much money in tinting automobile glass”. But since I know nothing about the business, maybe it's real profitable. The show just showed them with a big house and their own business and them bragging about spending $100,000 a year on their daughter's clothes. Now they're in court for money laundering, not paying taxes, and things of this nature, with a public defender because they can't afford a lawyer. When the show was being filmed, they Guastaferros were pulling in about $400,000 a year illegally. So perhaps this was all about the money. Twenty grand is a couple of months of dresses for their prom queen, right? Greed knows few limitations. They were corrupt and couldn't even hold on to their ill-gotten booty and there's scant chance that their daughter will show any greater morality or any more wisdom with money. And explains why they were so comfortable doing their daughter's homework - when you're in a telemarketing scam, what's cheating at schoolwork?

So, as it turns out, the crash has already happened. I sorta wonder what the feminist's family thinks of all this whackiness . . . but that's buying into the whole ugly pathology of these kinds of TV shows, isn't it? I admit, it can be powerful TV. But heroin can be a powerful entertainment experience and I don't suggest that people shoot up, either.

The problem with my problem with the US military [Apr. 9th, 2010|01:48 am]
Christopher Bradley
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My tastes in comic books are very plebian (shocker, right?), I like superheroes and horror comics. The biggest problem I have with superhero comic books is the nationalism and militarism. I feel they quite often go beyond merely confidence that the American way of life is best for America and into the realm of the American way of life is good for everyone and then even further into the territory of “at gunpoint if necessary”. What it got me to thinking about is the real problem I have with the military. And I do have a problem with the US military, all kinds problems.

But the root problem I have with my problems concerning the military is that I understand why enlisted people join. You take a kid with average grades in high school, on the lower end of the income distribution, with no real job prospects and fewer educational prospects and the military looks pretty good. It's a place to get a job that provides an okay salary, the job is secure, and you get a lot of prestige out of it – way moreso than any other job that 18 year old kid with so-so grades and parents who struggle with money could hope to find in the regular economy. To put a cherry on top, those same kids can fool themselves about going into the military to get college money (it rarely works out that way, but it's a good lure).

So, given that I understand that, and given that almost everyone I befriended before the age of 25 either joined the military out of high school or was in the military when I met them, why do I have such a problem with it?

Some of it is, of course, the way the US military gets used, of course. The US military is used almost exclusively for US imperialism abroad. The last war that the US could honestly say we were fighting for our freedoms was World War II. The last war where the US was actually fighting for our country, as in “the actual land of the United States”, was the Civil War. The last time the Union was even vaguely threatened by a war was the Civil War. Almost all US military actions are aggressive and imperialist. So, there's that. But when I was eighteen, hell, I didn't understand all of that. So I have trouble blaming any 18 year old for not understanding that. When you're lied to all your life, it's hard to see beyond those lies.

But I think I've nailed it down – what really bothers me about the military. It's that it drives the very people who should be agitating for social change to the right.

Almost all enlisted soldiers – which is to say almost all soldiers – come from the bottom half of the income distribution in the US. The US military is filled with poor kids. And when they get into the military, many of them start to identify with conservative forces who are seen to honor them (even if that "honoring" is entirely verbal; but I do not doubt the power of words, being called a hero makes up for a lot). And all the families of all those poor soldiers, all those poor people, now have a stake in rightism in the US. When they hear a politician say how they want to shrink or defund the military in some fashion, they think, “My child/sibling/cousin/spouse/friend might be hurt by these politics” so they vote right.

Which drains the swamp of progressive politics. Traditionally, in the US, the poor have been the core of progressive politics in the US and it has changed in the latter half of the 20th century. Why? Perhaps the increase in size of our volunteer military is a coincidence, but every kid who joined the military was one fewer kid on the street agitating for better schools and better jobs. They have schools and jobs, right? They could say to themselves, and other people, “Well, if you want good schools, pay and medical care, join the Army like I did.” They became co-opted by the forces of conservatism, and they dragged their families into it, and created a pressure valve for the frustration and anger of American poor who had, hitherto, been drawn towards progressive politics. Which has allowed conservatives in the United States to get a kind of institutional upper hand, so that even the Democrats are pretty far to the right.

Some brief thoughts on Catcher in the Rye [Jan. 28th, 2010|01:49 pm]
Christopher Bradley
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J. D. Salinger is dead and I find I have a little to say. To wit – I don't like Catcher in the Rye. I tried reading it when I was young and something about it made me put it down. Then, later, when I was more experienced I managed to finish it and was able to identify my annoyance. Catcher in the Rye seems to me to be a story about rebellion that only the middle class could love. Which is its target audience, I suppose. But the Holden's rebellion struck me as being, well, phoney. Here's this middle class kid that got bounced out of prep school, has money for hotels and hookers and at the end of it he just enrolls in another prep school. Yeah, uh, wow, you got some real rebellion there, dude.

It touches on the subject of teen rebellion in a myopic and, to me, not terribly interesting way. I like a good story about existential angst, and I think quite a bit about how the world makes people crazy, but Holden's “rebellion” is the kind of rebellion that children of well-off people can do. He freaked out, sowed some wild oats, but at the end we have no reason to believe that there will be any lasting consequences of his actions. In September, a new school year starts.

For people born with a bit more social vulnerability, dropping out of school has more lasting consequences. Oh, sure, you might go on a bender, find a hooker and play with your little sister – but at the end of it, you can't just enroll in another school. It's not that easy. You're going to be faced with many immediate problems and many long term problems. For the poor, youthful rebellion defines their further existence. The consequences of one's actions can't just be swept up so easily.

Which isn't to say that talking about a middle class kid's rebellion is not legitimate. I offer this not to try to “correct” Salinger's work but to offer why I didn't find the book to thrilling. It speaks about people that I am not and, indeed, people I often have a great deal of trouble associating with. In short, I found the book to be unironically about a self-absorbed, sheltered idiot. I couldn't take his whining teen angst seriously as either a teenager or an adult, but the text demanded I do.

I also think the success of Catcher in the Rye says much about how classics are formed. For while I don't think the book is very interesting in large part because of my lack of identity with the protagonist, it has not passed my notice that the critics and professors and teachers who have created this book into a classic very much do come from that rather narrow category of white male middle class people that are most likely to identify with the book.

Vegetables time! [Jan. 28th, 2010|01:56 am]
Christopher Bradley
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Becky, a friend of mine, fairly recently opined that people like meat more because few people take the time to prepare vegetables as elaborately. She made the point that most of us prepare vegetables by, y'know, steaming them and maybe throwing on a little butter or salt or something similarly basic. That's . . . often true. We don't put as much effort into vegetables – at least, I didn't – as I do into meats and starches. I'm going to change that and part of the way I'm going to change that is by doing more canning. Just the other night, I was eating some salsa and figured I could do it cheaper and better. Today, I did it cheaper and better and now I have FIVE POUNDS of salsa.

But reflecting on that made me realize why many people, such as myself, go real basic with vegetables. With meats and starches, there's plenty of middle ground. Oh, sure, you can prepare extremely complex recipes with meats and starches, but you can also just throw a steak on the grill or steam some rice and pretty much everything in between. With vegetables, you basically go from “steaming” to “chopping for two hours”. Which takes us back to canning. If I'm gonna chop for two hours, I want a lot of food, either canned or in the freezer.

So, I thought about kimchi. Tasty and amenable to fairly large batches. I'll probably get a cookbook on Korean food at some point to see what other tasty things they have in it, but I first figured I'd see if it was the kind of thing I even wanted to do, so I Googled and found this recipe for kimchi.

What is it about Asia that makes people weird? So, a little ways down in the instructions, okay, this is a real instruction, it says, “As you wash the vegetables, focus on your inner cooking. As you prepare the food, prepare your mind. Recognize that the way you prepare this meal is the way you are preparing your life. Put your total energy and attention into it. Clean your mind of all surface troubles and tribulations, all worries and fears. Focus on this exact moment in time. Observe the colors and textures of the vegetables. Feel them in your hand. Relax. Connect with your purpose and with the purpose of those who will be eating this food. Recognize that you are preparing totally healthy, life-giving fuel. Feel the love that you are demonstrating for yourself and for others as you perform this important service. Smile inside. This is going to be great! Its going to taste awesome!”

I mean, in some ways, this is why I like to make things. I sorta do cook because it's preparing my life. And I don't so much clean my mind but allow the cooking to clean my mind, but I figure that if I said that this fella that he'd grok that. And I do it out of love, it really brightens my day when Adrienne comes into the apartment and gets a smile on her face because there's this wonderful smell coming from the kitchen.

But . . . is this a recipe or a self-help essay? I mean, other weirdness, “The hugging motion is gentle. Generate love while you're doing it. Its hard to overstate the importance of this step. Whenever we make Kimchi, it comes out good, but nearly as good as Grandmaster's. We're pretty sure that the missing ingredient is love.” Actually, I'm pretty sure the missing ingredient is not love but the reflex for students to believe their teachers are superior (and thus worthy of being teachers) which is often generalized to absurd proportions, particularly if you're callin' the guy “Grandmaster”.

This stuff strikes me as being terribly orientalist. In the header, which I first ignored to get to the recipe, he talks about his Grandmaster who taught him how to do this, some cat in Milpitas who teaches martial arts. Ugh. I know that cooking often creates this powerful nostalgic feelings but this is just . . . ugh, like I said, it smacks of orientalism, the strange, mysterious Orient where they do things DIFFERENTLY, with CHI ENERGY and . . . er, stuff.

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