Archive for September 18th, 2010

Time to simplify eating

| September 18, 2010 | 2 Replies
Time to simplify eating

Come on, now. Dog food looks quite delicious, or at least the packaging does. And most dogs I know seem to enjoy reasonably long healthy lives, without requiring anyone to plan their meals or cook them.

So how about it? Is anyone ready to switch over to eating dog food, at least occasionally? I suspect that we could get by on a cup of it in the morning and another cup in the evening. Or is eating far to intertwined with being social and being proper? [Disclaimer: I have eaten a piece of dry dog food on several occasions. It tastes like a bland cracker, no matter how "premium" the brand. But it is certainly edible by humans]. I “challenged” readers to switch over to eating dog food in a previous post. It would certainly be convenient, but there was fierce resistance to the idea, even though the morning cereal many of us eat has the same fill-up-the-bowl-and-eat-it procedure. [It shouldn't come as a surprise that humans could survive on dog food. Consider this: "We are not so different when it comes to genes either. The dog genome is basically the human genome divided into about 70 different pieces and rearranged on a greater number of chromosomes, according to a new map of the dog genome."]

I will offer three anecdotes about the social pressures that affect the way we eat: Last night, a woman eating at a table of friends in a diner starting eating her quesadillla with a knife and fork. I embarrassed her more than a bit by asking her whether she’d eat them quesadillas this way at home, in private. She admitted, no. At home, she would simply pick up the pizza-shaped pieces and eat them pizza-style. But at the restaurant she felt compelled to cut them into even smaller pieces with utensils.

Anecdote number Two: A few months ago, I attended a function hosted by a parent at my children’s school. Food was offered in a spacious room with a clean dry floor. I was talking with a group of people that included the hostess when the hostess dropped a cracker on the floor. She reached down to pick it up, hesitated, then walked over to a trash can to throw it away. I then asked her whether she would have thrown away that cracker had she been eating alone.

She sheepishly admitted that had she been eating at home and dropped the cracker, she would have picked it up and eaten it. Dropped food often occurs to those of us raising children; parents of young children commonly invoke the “30 second” rule and we eat food that has spilled onto any reasonably clean dry floor. Dropped food triggers zero-tolerance among adults. And God forbid that you would ever try something like this.

Anecdote number Three: I know more than a few attorneys who would rather be found dead than to to be seen eating lunch in low priced restaurant (e.g., a Chinese stir fry restaurant or Taco Bell) in the business district of town on a workday, even though they admit that they often eat this sort of food when with their children and they actually enjoy it.

Thus, our behavior is often not about the food, even when it seems to be. And much of what we do is not really about the thing that it seems to be about. Usually, it’s about social relationships and the compulsion to make proper displays to those around us. I suspect that most things that puzzle me about life have similar explanations; it’s not about the thing it seems to be about–it’s about displaying one’s fitness and resources to others. The example that immediately comes to mind is religion. I’ve previously written about the social compulsions that seem to underlie religious assertions and participation in religious ceremonies.

Well, it’s getting late. I think I’ll have a bowl of dog food and then turn in.

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September 17 was Park(ing) Day

| September 18, 2010 | Reply
September 17 was Park(ing) Day

Who were those people occupying parking spots all over the world without cars yesterday? In St. Louis, Missouri, they were employees of Arcturis, an architectural firm. They were celebrating Park(ing) Day:

PARK(ing) Day is a annual open-source global event where citizens, artists and activists collaborate to temporarily transform metered parking spaces into “PARK(ing)” spaces: temporary public places. The project began in 2005 when Rebar, a San Francisco art and design studio, converted a single metered parking space into a temporary public park in downtown San Francisco. Since 2005, PARK(ing) Day has evolved into a global movement, with organizations and individuals (operating independently of Rebar but following an established set of guidelines) creating new forms of temporary public space in urban contexts around the world.

The mission of PARK(ing) Day is to call attention to the need for more urban open space, to generate critical debate around how public space is created and allocated, and to improve the quality of urban human habitat … at least until the meter runs out! . . .

In addition to being quite a bit of fun, PARK(ing) Day has effectively re-valued the metered parking space as an important part of the commons – a site for generosity, cultural expression, socializing and play. And although the project is temporary, we hope PARK(ing) Day inspires you to participate in the civic processes that permanently alter the urban landscape.

Note: In London and Paris, cars are discouraged from coming into the city centers. Both of these activities would seem to fit under the umbrella of the “Car Free Movement.”

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The Onion rolls up its sleeves and gets serious

| September 18, 2010 | Reply
The Onion rolls up its sleeves and gets serious

Check out this recent sharp-pointed Onion headline (and article): “Nation Once Again Comes Under Sway Of Pink-Faced Half-Wit.”

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