atomic_fungus (atomic_fungus) wrote,
atomic_fungus
atomic_fungus

#4184: Making bread

The bunker was out of bread. Yesterday was the second day of our "weekend", and Mrs. Fungus didn't want me to leave the house, so instead of going to the store and buying a loaf of bread, I hauled out the bread machine. The yeast in the fridge was still good (expires Sept 2014). Flour, butter, sugar, check. Milk?

The jug of milk in the fridge had a freshness date of 3/4 and it had never been opened. I decided to check it out, and when I cracked the seal and smelled it, the odor was...fine.

"No, seriously," I said to Mrs. Fungus. "Smell this."

"No! I'll throw up!"

"It smells fine," I told her, and she cautiously sniffed it.

"It's still bad," she insisted. "Throw it away."

I poured some into the measuring cup and took a sip of it. It did not taste like fresh milk; it wasn't sour but there was something odd about the flavor....

"It's stale," I realized, incredulously looking at the cup of milk in my hands.

I have never witnessed milk going stale. Sour, curdled, halfway to cheese, a variety of other states--but not stale. It has to be because it was unopened and kept refrigerated; nothing else makes sense.

Anyway, Mrs. Fungus disposed of the stale milk; if I had used it the bread would have tasted strange. I thought we had dry milk on hand but could not find it; I reviewed the bread maker instructions and realized that the milk is optional, so I continued on my merry way.

"Okay," I told her after closing the lid on the machine. "In four hours we'll have a loaf of bread."

"What? Don't you have to mix anything? You're just going to leave the butter on top?"

So I explained to her that the machine does everything, including baking the bread: it is, essentially, a bread-making robot, and all you need to do is put the ingredients in. She was impressed.

One hour later: "Is the bread done yet?"

I explained to my wife that it takes four hours to make a loaf of bread, because it takes time for the yeast to multiply and do its thing.

I don't think my wife learned much about the preparation of food when she was growing up.

* * *

Speaking of food, Karl Denninger has the news that eating a vegetarian diet is bad for you.

One of his blockquotes, suitably edited:
But the vegetarian diet...carries elevated risks of cancer, allergies and mental health disorders.
I'm not so sure about that last one. I mean, I can see how eliminating the intake of cholesterol (which your body needs in order to function, and must make if none is provided via diet) could cause neurological malfunctions. Also, B12 is only available in meat; you can't get it from eating plants, and without B12 in your diet all sorts of shit goes wrong. But I'm inclined to think that anyone who totally eschews meat in their diet when humans are built to eat it already has some kind of mental health disorder.

Think about it: every tooth you have from the bicuspid forward is meant to bite off hunks of meat. Those are carnivore teeth. From the bicuspid on back we have molars which are chewing and grinding teeth, more typical of herbivores. What does this tell us about the natural diet of a human being?

It means we are omnivorous. We eat both meat and vegetables in our natural diet.

Then let's examine our digestive tract. We have one stomach, and then we have a few acres of intestines. Contrast that to a typical herbivore's digestive tract, which has two or more stomachs and a few square miles of intestines. (Area is hyperbolic estimate. You get the idea.)

Finally, take a look at conditions during the last ice age, which is when our environment put the finishing touches on our big fancy brains. How many vegetables can you harvest from a glacier?

Meat is a central part of our diet. We couldn't have evolved these big, fancy, energy hog brains without it. We eliminate it from our diets at our peril.

* * *

The socialist paradise of Venezuela is proud to announce that in order to more fairly distribute the bountious fruits of socialism, citizens wanting to buy groceries will be issued government ration ID cards in order to discourage hoarding and black-market resale. Such counter-revolutionary activities only make it appear that there isn't enough food to go around.

Meanwhile, over here in the real world, Venezuela is demonstrating yet again why price controls make commodities more scarce, and in the process further demonstrating that socialism fails every time it's tried.

* * *

Slideshow on the Leland Yee (D) case showing many of the weapons Yee (D) was involved in smuggling.

It's important to note that Leland Yee is a DEMOCRAT who is also fervently anti-gun, who wishes to emplace draconian gun control laws on US citizens even though the federal firearms laws apparently didn't keep him from being allegedly involved in arms smuggling.

* * *

The Government Motors scandal is being ignored by the US media, same as all the rest of Obama's scandals. Because Obama is their guy, of course.

* * *

I like this.
I loathe journalism as a profession: a claque of careerist whores, half-educated back-slappers and propagandists for the oligarchical lizard people who are ruining civilization. I loathe “science journalism” particularly, as they’re generally talking about something I know about, and so their numerous impostures are more obvious.
The post is about that ludicrous story, the one where "NASA scientists" predict the end of Western Civilization via resource starvation. Malthus, take three, in other words.

We've heard this story, over and over and over again, and with the exception of Malthus himself (who predates Karl Marx by about a century) they are all penned by Marxists who want us to turn complete control of our lives over to the government. The people behind the original Earth Day were all predicting dire ends of life as we know it. We were going to be out of oil by 1989. Mass famines would wipe out most of the world population by 1987. A new ice age was going to cover the planet in glaciers before 1999. Pollution would kill all the fish by 1993. There were going to be six billion people on Earth and the overcrowding would be horrendous. Before 2010 the air would be so polluted that we'd need to wear gas masks outside. Starvation, disease, war, death, destruction.

Needless to say, the doomsayers were wrong.
Journalistic failure is to be expected these days, and NASA scientists say stupid things all the goddamned time. Still, reading the paper itself was informative. Had anybody bothered to do so, the story would have been murdered in infancy. It’s one of the godawful silliest things I have ever read.
...because the paper is chock-full of nonscientific horseshit, explicitly constructed to establish a definite proposition, to wit that humans are destroying the planet and the only way to prevent the coming apocalypse is for us to cede all control of our lives to the government. QED.

"It...doesn’t make any sense, modeled in this way, unless you believe grain silos contain centuries worth of corn, or that people can eat skyscrapers. That’s how their wealth equations work; they actually assume you can eat wealth."

Yeah.

I'm going to admit, here, that when I saw the headlines about this story, I immediately dismissed it as the usual Malthusian doomsaying claptrap that people of that stripe occasionally emit. I didn't put any thought into it, nor did I even read the story; the headline told me everything I needed to know. I did it because I automatically and categorically reject any such doomsaying as utter, arrant nonsense, because these people are always wrong and always marxists. (Except for Malthus. Like I said. And even so, he was still wrong.)

Look: it's not an accident that these people are always wrong. They're always wrong because their models and equations and theories and assumptions are all based on static conditions. We have discovered all the oil there is in the Earth's crust. We'll never find another seam of copper ore. There's never going to be more food grown per acre than there is right now. The birth rate will never change. Nothing can be done to clean up industrial processes. Pollution emitted into the environment never goes away.

If you tried to design an AC circuit or a rotating assembly without ever examining a dynamic model of the thing, you'd end up doing a hell of a lot of rework because static systems are rare and very few of them are useful.

Our civilization--I shouldn't have to say this--is not a static system. It is, in fact, a chaotic system; there are so many variables that it's impossible to account for them all.

So many variables--I had added the parenthetical statement, "(well north of six billion now)" to my previous sentence, but in fact it's probably the square of that number. Or the cube. Even the fact that humans (as a group) act in statistically predictable fashion isn't any help, because your models don't--can't--have a variable that accurately models technological innovation.

Let's just take Malthus' basic assertion, that human population growth was going to outstrip our ability to produce food. He assumed three things, all of which turned out to be wrong:
1) That human birth rates would remain unchanged.
2) That food production per acre would remain unchanged.
3) That it would always require the same amount of physical labor to support a person.
The first two actually depend on the third to some extent, but it still merits mention on its own.

First off, human birth rates are changable. We're not animals, incapable of recognizing when having an extra mouth to feed would be bad. We have a choice whether or not to breed--at least we can recognize that the potential consequences of sex include having another human being on the planet some nine months hence. This means that human birth rates change in response to conditions. (Malthus didn't know that rich societies tend to have fewer babies, not more. It is counterintuitive.)

Second, Malthus didn't foresee things like improved fertilizers, better breeds, mechanization, pesticides, and so forth. Today an acre can feed as many people as a dozen did in Malthus' time, and the work required can be done by one man and a host of machines rather than an army of field hands or slaves.

Third, Malthus could not have dreamed of the machinery we have available to us now. In his time steam power was in its infancy; now a man can sit in an easy chair and monitor the operation of a robot miles away. It just takes less work--physical human labor--to support a person's existence, to meet his physical needs, now than it did in Malthus' time. We don't have to go out and chop wood to keep the house warm, nor do we have to pump water from the well. (Most of us do not.)

The people who cling to Malthus' view of the world insist that they're the smartest guys in the room, but they consistently ignore the fact that everything changes. And then they expect us to buy their doomsaying, time and again, even though they have never been right, not even a little bit.

* * *

John C. Wright talks about the Bible. It's a pretty short piece and worth reading.

* * *

Rumblies last night--the first real thunderstorm of the year came through. Today is Thursday, and if the forecast holds up, this will FINALLY be the first week of the year that it didn't snow.

I found it an enjoyable winter, myself, but I'm also not sad to see it end.
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