Dark Thoughts 3

Now that the package rush is over, it seems fitting to post grades for the delivery organizations.

In alphabetic order:

  • FeDeX – F+ (The plus is merited because once (!!!!) a driver actually knocked on the door;)
  • UPS – B+;
  • USPS – A++.

I am seriously considering denying business to any company who uses FeDeX without other choice. 


Absence of Tongue

I have been thinking about the threat of AI. While I find myself agreeing with Stephen Hawking’s concerns, at least once a week I get the stupidity of AI rubbed into my face.

Such happened this morning.

I received an email from Amazon [Link] offering me several choices in shoes. 

None of which are available,perhaps even made, in my size.

I have a narrow foot. It is hard for me to buy shoes. No store in Greater Metropolitan Arab sells shoes to fit me. Only one or two in Nawth Alibam’s Shining City on the Hill do so. Mostly I buy on-line, and have a selection that is less than the number of phalanges.

But what displays the stupidity of AI and the organizations that use it, at least today, is a weekly email from Amazon offering me – always – shoes that I cannot wear.

Somehow that seems fitting. And descriptive of contemporary Amerika.

Human versus Schule

After the previous blot, I was pleased to run across an article [Link] so stuffy and arrogant – and erroneous! – that I have bruised ribs from rolling and laughing. The article, entitled “School lunch decisions made by the child and not the parent” is based on a journal article of a study of twenty students and families in England.

England has the same kind of schule lunch restrictions that many states in the Yankee republic have that are examples of how the intention of good is bollixed by introducing organizational (in both cases, governmental) rules.

I am not going to comment on the speciousness of the small sample size. But it is amusing when one considers why the sample may be so small.

The study was primarily concerned about the difference between students eating cafeteria meals and eating packed – brought from home – meals, presumably at luncheon. The basic data was collected by group discussion/interview. An illuminating summary was given:

“After analysis of the data, four keys themes emerged: children as a decision maker; priorities when preparing a packed lunch; parents’ anxieties and reassurances; and school factors. Even though parents preferred taking advantage of school lunches that are provided at no cost to some families, they were unwilling to force this decision when the child disagreed. The child’s food preferences also took precedence when the packed lunch was prepared. Children themselves made specific requests when shopping or the parent packed what they knew would be enjoyed and eaten. The ability to monitor that a lunch had been eaten was cited as a benefit of a packed lunch over a school lunch and providing a treat in the packed lunch was also important to parents. The inclusion of treats and other items such as chips, chocolate, and soda is often prohibited by packed lunch guidelines, but parents questioned whether enforcement is possible. They also reported children trying to persuade parents to ignore the policy by reporting on what other children had brought to school.”

A conclusion from the study director:

“Children’s growing authority over food choice has implications for staff involved in providing school food and presents an opportunity to develop initiatives to promote better food choices and subsequent nutrition,”

was also illuminating.

Based on my own experiences, both as a student and as a parent, inclines me to consider this to be primarily academic stercus tauri. I can’t speak to England, but I know in Amerika that “children’s’ growing authority” is erroneous and void. I have related previously how students negotiated their lunch contents when I was a bairn. And based on comments by my parents, such were not new then. So the actuality is a negotiation and not an authority. Although I do suspect keeping peace does instill considerable authority over the contents.

I find it amusing that the matter of parents’ distrust of the schule instrumentality to provide lunch is unmentioned. The partei line is that schule lunches are nutritious; the actuality is that the schule lunches be cheap and easy to produce. Even if the lunches are nutritious, such is irrelevant if the children do not eat them. Also unsaid is that the schule is largely indifferent to whether the lunches are consumed since making and forcing them on students is sufficient to satisfy their obligation under law. They may occasionally be pinged for food wastage but such are transient and ignored. 

Once again we come down to human questions: which is better, nutritious lunches uneaten or semi-nutritious lunches eaten? The answer is self-evident to everyone but an educationalist or a bureaucrat. 

Overall, this seems a matter of educationalists (and bureaucrats) ignoring child psychology. Children are, as a rule, picky eaters. They dislike change unless it is self-initiated, and there is woefully little of this in schule. So institutional recipes for unengaging food basically create an environment of rejection that grows over time. Variation of the recipes intensifies the trend.

Sadly, there is a strong correlation between sugar level and learning capacity. The sadness is how this relationship is abused with conditions such as these. It seems we need to amend Chicken Man’s saying to “Good Students succeed in spite of bad teachers and bad schules.”  

Wages of Greed

I have been reflecting on the matter of Nasim Najafi Aghdam this morning.

I applaud her courage and I identify with her frustration. 

I dislike how she applied her courage to express her frustration. Sadly, her response is about all that is possible for citizens to express their dislike of capitalist, corporate Amerika.

It is unfortunate that she had to express herself against salary serfs. Somehow it might have felt better, more moral, if she had inflicted the pain and suffering on the executives of the organization.

But that isn’t going to happen in Capitalist Amerika. 

I regret she couldn’t express herself in more constructive ways.

The association with Martin Luther King seems appropriate, somehow.

Before the Alimentary Canal

Been a parsing week. Too many thing to do and hence too much multitasking – and cognition has suffered as a result. So as week out approaches perhaps I can breathe deeply and mentate.

Some time ago I ran across an article [Link] about how many grocery stores people habitually shop at. 

“Of 1,321 households studied, only 12 stayed loyal to just one store. More than half, at 51.1 percent, went to an average of five to seven different stores. Eighty-eight households, or six of every 100, went to 10 or more.”

I find myself close to modal. The amodality, or even adistributionality, is that I motor to Nawth Alibam’s Shining City on the Hill to do most of my provisioning. Only emergency and forgotten foodstuffs are bought here in Greater Metropolitan Arab. That’s because the choices here are between MalWart and two very back-of-beyond rural chain grocery stores. One of these actually has carpenter-built shelving, at least in part. Both have excellent produce, almost as good as the “organic” stores in Huntsville. 

MalWart, of course, has a huge but largely irrelevant selection, crippled by its lack of product consistency and its studied apathy to the needs of those who care about their health. Finding No-Salt-Added foodstuffs at WalMart is a depression experience. This is why I am proud to say I haven’t set foot in the MalWart in over a month.

But I primarily buy in Huntsville at a mixture of “organic” and “senior oriented” stores. And the number there is five, three and two, respectively, of the genres. I use parenthesis because the “organic” stores are rather laughable in their jargon and pretension. They basically sell dull, unengaging foods (with a taste that makes unsalted grits seem a thrill ride on the tongue.) They seem to delight in selling both packaged and store-made foodstuffs that are void of an positive taste although excellent texture. And their prices are close to double of the “senior oriented” stores, which are also less than the Arab stores who claim they have to charge more because they are smaller and have fewer customers, which they do not, in either instance.

In fact, the term “organic” is a continual amusement. Having studied chemistry, I am steeped in the idea that “organic” means molecules largely composed of covalent carbon. To them, “organic” seems to mean something anti-scientific and decidedly social justice mumbo-jumbo.

I accept the stupidity because they have excellent produce, superb coffee – at least 20dB better than the big brand floor dirt sold as coffee by everyone else – and hideously hilarious in their arrogant ceremonial self-satisfaction. Rather like hippies who have a permanent LSD trip and are making mysticism out of stercus

They also have rather exceptional produce, at least 10dB above MalWart’s. 

The “senior-oriented” stores are much less demanding of lucre and actually have some “senior-oriented” foodstuffs. Some NSA foods can be obtained there, but not enough to eschew mail-ordering from specialty groceries. They are truly “senior-oriented” in terms of selling that trope to seniors. When I go the only people lacking gray or white hair are some of the employees, who seem to take delight in daring the seniors to play bumper carts with them. Somehow, the layout of the store seems to be anything but senior-friendly from a standpoint of efficient provisioning.

The moral that seems to be emerging here is that the grocery business has become so fragmented that real humans can’t get what they need at a small number of stores.  That’s a degree and not a quality. When I was a bairn my maternal parent shopped at two grocery stores – one for meat and the other for packaged foods – and the city farmer’s market for produce. 

Amerika: where sophistication is measured by the number of grocery stores you frequent.