Why People Prefer Bad Service

For the same reason the drunk sailor mistakes the tranny for a woman. For the same reason people like bad writing:  some mistake pompous service for good service just as they mistake pompous writing (aka purple prose) for good writing.  Here’s an example of bad service that people think as good service, from social critic Mark Randall (from Not That You Asked):

“Good evening, sir…And how are you this evening?…May I get you something from the bar? …I’d be happy to, sir….And would you care for anything else right now?…I’ll be back with your drink in just a moment.”

Randall describes such service as:

…superfluous little phrases…but as they pile up they begin to irritate with their pretentiousness.  One realizes that they do not add to the service or quicken it.  They do not even make it more pleasant since one is forced (out of politeness) to parry each one of these pointless and limpid thrusts.

Another social critic, Paul Fussell calls that shit “pretentious greasy-swarmy rhetoric of the servitors.” It’s like bad porn, watching a guy eat pussy as if he’s eating a hot dog.  There’s the ridiculous use of “Sir” to suggest to the customer that at that moment, he is a feudal lord and his serfs are at his command, ready to do anything — anything — he wants them to do.  Then there are the stupid questions or questions phrased stupidly.  And finally, the unnecessary comments.  That’s why Randall is pissed:

One wants to say, ‘well of course you’ll be back with my drink in a moment!  SHUT UP ABOUT IT!’

Randall, on the purpose of pretentious service:

One sees…that this style is designed, not to promote service, but to call attention to what we are supposed to regard as the edifyingly refined manner of the server.  It is the establishment’s self-congratulatory way of reminding you that you are in a fancy place….What we have here is neither good manners nor good service; it is politeness grandstanding, a kind of obsequious bullying.  

This “bullying” is similar to what people do when they want others to think that they have a lot of money. They pull the same shit, except instead of meaningless words they use meaningless bling, clothes, and cars to communicate what they may or may not have.  Some have money, many are frauds. Many of those who practice “politeness grandstanding” are similar frauds, using unnecessary or stupid words and phrases to create the impression of sophistication and class when in fact they’re simply putting on airs.

What is Good Service? 

Good service is similar to good writing. Less is more, elegance in simplicity, and stay focused on the job. Good writing is effective communication — clear, concise, and precise — never self-indulgent by showing off vocabulary or writing dramatic prose (aka purple prose) because it’s always focused on the topic.  Good service is about giving what customer wants with precision and alacrity without violating your integrity (don’t act like serf ready to suck dick unless that’s what you want or are paid to do). Good service doesn’t rely on flattery, and it’s not garrulous, intrusive, or unnecessarily formal.  It’s observant, helpful, and insightful. Good service is convivial and conviviality is a Redneck virtue. Randall on Redneck conviviality:

…an American friendly style, one that is outgoing and engaging.  It is, I believe, an authentic national characteristic.  The new “luxury” style though is a hybrid bastard, one that tries to combine American friendliness with European formality.

When you combine Redneck conviviality with middle-class putting on airs, you get embarrassing results.  The self-indulgent garrulous and formal exchanges waste time, increasing costs.  Randall again:

What one gets is a style that’s too friendly to be formal, and too formal to be friendly. It consists entirely of a dozen or so phrases, premeditated, flatulent, pseudo high-class, none of which improve upon “good morning…”thank you,” and “you’re welcome.”

American middle-class politeness may not be rude, but it may be bad manners and certainly is bad taste. Curmudgeon Paul Fussell on why middle-class Americans talk like this:

The middles cleave to euphemisms not just because they’re an aid in avoiding facts. They like them also because they assist their social yearnings towards pomposity. This is possible because most euphemisms permit the speaker to multiply syllables, and the middle class confuses sheer numerousness with weight and value.

And good manners.

Examples of Bad Writing

There are several Bad Writing contests, one which invites writers to submit their own worst first sentence for a novel.  Here’s one that won in 2008:

Theirs was a New York love, a checkered taxi ride burning rubber, and like the city, their passion was open 24/7, steam rising from their bodies like slick streets exhaling warm, moist breath through manhole covers stamped “Forged by DeLaney Bros.

Overwrought and pretentious.  An example of author preening and of self-indulgent writing.  Yet some are impressed with this passage simply because of its use of metaphors, however inane and vacant they may be.

There’s a lot of bad writing in academia too, especially in disciplines that have inferiority complex. UC Berkeley Comp Lit professor Judith Butler won an award for bad academic writing in 1998.  The winning sentence (don’t try to read all of it, it’ll ruin your day):

The move from a structuralist account in which capital is understood to structure social relations in relatively homologous ways to a view of hegemony in which power relations are subject to repetition, convergence, and rearticulation brought the question of temporality into the thinking of structure, and marked a shift from a form of Althusserian theory that takes structural totalities as theoretical objects to one in which the insights into the contingent possibility of structure inaugurate a renewed conception of hegemony as bound up with the contingent sites and strategies of the rearticulation of power.

Translation: “Stop looking down on me, Math/Physics/Engineering profs who unfairly make twice as much as I do.  Comparative Lit. major is just as difficult and important and my writing is tougher to understand than multivariable calculus, so fuck you.”  Yet many think the author is intelligent and erudite simply because the passage is impenetrable.

Bad service uses similar gimmicks, intimidation tactics really.  When the person serving you sounds like a muppet or talks like a pompous academic, don’t show approval.  Approval is why there’s so much bad service.  And encouraging people to be frauds is bad for them and society. That’s how batshit crazy starts and there’s a lot of batshit crazy in middle-class America, the most medicated demographic in the world.

Randall on why Americans enjoy bad service:

The American corporation, no doubt with the aid of market research, has taken something that ought to have been…pleasurable and simple and made it self-serving, burdensome, and complicated.  No wonder we’re not very polite even when even the experts can’t get it right, when politeness becomes this insipid and interminable fugue of gratuitous endearments and self-flattering concern.

Put simply, bad service is narcissism disguised as good service.

Which do you prefer, rude service or bad service?  They’re not the same.

Examples Good Service and Good Customers

(At random sit-down restaurant, first time customer arrives)

Server: Good evening.  Something to drink?
Customer: Jack Daniels straight.
Server: One Jack Daniels straight.
Customer: Yes.
Server: Anything else?
Customer: Maybe, I’ll look over the menu.

Note: This is how normal people communicate.  The conciseness means fewer communication errors.

(At Alive Juice Bar, regular customer enters)

Server: Hey Susan!
Customer: Hey! Summer Berries.
Server: One Summer Berries.
Customer: Yep!
Server:  Summer Berries, ready! Haven’t seen you in awhile, how have you been?
Customer: yada yada yada yada and how have you been?

Note: Good service begins with acknowledgment, followed by giving what customer wants.  Personal talk is last because that’s not primary reason customer is at store.  Unless customer is trying to hook up with server.

Examples of Bad Service and Bad Customers

(At random sit-down restaurant)

Server: Hello and good evening, sir. My name is Rodney and I’ll be your server this evening.  How are you this evening, sir?
Customer: I’m doing rather well, thank you.  And how are you this lovely evening?
Server: I’m doing great, thanks for asking.   Can I start you with something to drink?
Customer: Yes, I’d like a Jack Daniels, straight, please and if you don’t mind.
Server: Oh no, I don’t mind at all.  I’ll be right back with that for you.
Customer: Thank you very much.
Server: Oh you’re welcome

Note: Polite small talk is poor sign that someone is a decent person.  According to one study, serial killers excel at polite small talk.  That’s why they’re able to get away with killing so many people.

(Alive Juice Bar)

Server: Hi, how are you?
Customer: I’m great, thank you!  How are you?
Server: I’m doing well.  Wow, you look great in that skirt.  Where did you get it, if you don’t mind me asking?
Customer: Awww, thanks!  I got it at Biji’s.
Server: Thanks!  What can I get for you this evening?
Customer: Can I please have a Summer Berries when you get a chance?
Server: Excellent choice maam, I’ll get that started for you.

Note: Flattery is douchebag and obsequious way to get a bigger tip, like a guy trying to fuck a woman.  Save it for after the transaction is completed so it doesn’t come off as flattery. That is, manipulation. Server should instead focus on doing a good job.   

Examples of What Happens When You Refuse to Play Along

(At random sit-down restaurant)

Server (voice an octave higher than usual, bubbly and sweet) : Hello sir, welcome to Claim Jumper.  My name is Ruby and I’ll be your server this evening.  How are you this evening?
Customer: Jack Daniels, straight.
Server: (confused pause). Excellent choice, sir, I’ll get that out for you, just give me a sec.
Server: Here you go, your Jack Daniels.  Have you had a chance to read over the menu?
Customer: Fish and chips.
Server: Fish and chips, excellent choice, sir.  Would you like anything else with that?
Customer: I’d like a side-order of suck my dick.
Server: Excuse me?
Customer: I said I’d like a side-order of suck my dick.  Because you sound like you want to suck my dick while I eat my fish and chips.
Server: (pauses and looks shocked) uh, pardon me, I’ll be back.
Manager: Hello and good evening sir.  How are you this evening?
Customer: Hungry and horny.
Manager: Now, if I may ask, what did you order?
Customer: Fish and chips and a side order of suck my dick.
Manager: (pauses and looks shocked) Sir, I’m going to have to ask you to leave and never come back, if you don’t mind.

Note the number of vacant phrases — eg. “if you don’t mind,” “if I may ask” used by customer service.  And why does the customer need to know the server’s name if he’s not planning on meeting her again?  If he does want to meet her again, he’ll ask for her name.  

(At Alive Juice Bar)

Server: Hey!
Customer (on her way to past juice bar to dance studio): Hi, how are you?
Server: Do you care?
Customer (stops): Yes, as a matter of fact, I do!
Server: Then why were you walking away from me instead of sitting down to talk to me?
Customer (pauses): Ooook.  I’ll be right back to talk to you.  I just have to drop this off in the dance studio.
Server: Ok.

RudeWaiterFong

Chinaman in the middle is Edsel Fong.  Known as the rudest waiter in America.  But at least he didn’t give bad service.

 

 

The Alive Juice Bar Diet

Here’s how people are fucking things up in their own fucked up way: having *dessert for breakfast.*

Examples:

*Muffin and coffee
*Sugary cereal w/milk and orange juice
* Donut and coffee
* Pancakes or waffles w/syrup, orange juice, coffee, and bacon

All of the above are desserts.  And that’s what most Americans are having for breakfast.  When you have dessert for breakfast, you become emotionally unstable.  When you’re emotionally unstable, you crave comfort  — from sugar to heroin to alcohol — anything to alleviate the pain and anxiety.  Some person once said:

Rob Faigin and others have postulated that having obscene amounts of sugar and carbohydrate over long periods of time can max out our serotonin machinery, leaving us unhappy, carb-craving, and depressed.

Another person said something similar to above:

Serotonin acts as a neurotransmitter, relaying signals from one area of the brain to another. Researchers believe that an imbalance in serotonin levels can cause depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic anxiety disorder and anger management issues.

And scientists at Bartles and James University fed one group of lab mice salads and another group of lab mice muffins and found that

…the mice who ate salad for a month were able to run on wheel 74 percent longer than the muffin group.  These mice also produced 84 percent more offspring.  They also smiled 58 percent more often, and were 77 percent less likely to strangle another.

Point is, having dessert for breakfast will make you batshit crazy.  So don’t do it.  Yet people will continue to do it — especially if getting up sucks — because it’s like heroin.  It’s a psychological pain killer.

They eat veggies. That’s why they’re happy.

Breakfast That Won’t Make You Batshit Crazy

Someone once wrote:

…a new study from scientists in England and Australia finds that simply eating more fruit and vegetables can dramatically improve your level of happiness. The researchers claim the effect is so powerful that people who went from eating zero servings of fruit and vegetables a day to eight servings per day experienced an increase in happiness and satisfaction “equivalent to moving from unemployment to employment.”

So why not have salad and a protein (like an egg) for breakfast?  Here’s a protein shake recipe:

*avocado (as thickener)
* random veggies (broccoli, asparagus, cauliflower, whatever)
* almond or soy milk (any liquid as long as it’s not fruit juice)
* random fruit (if you prefer sweeter version)
* protein powder
* adjust ratios based on taste and texture preferences

That’s a nutritionally complete breakfast.  It has enough fat (from avocado), protein, and a lot of fiber.  And the nutrients to keep you happy and healthy instead of crashing after a couple of hours.  If you don’t like protein powder, pair the salad with an egg or chicken soup — whatever, as long as you’re getting protein.  It’s important to pair the salad with a protein.

She doesn’t eat veggies. And she had a donut for breakfast. That’s why her cat took a shit in her shoes.

The Alive Juice Bar Diet: Start and End With Salad

Meal 1: Salad + Protein.

Meal 2: Whatever you want.

Meal 3: Whatever you want.

Meal 4: Salad (can be merged with Meal 3)

Whatever you want for the Second Meal because I’m betting that you’ll be able to self-regulate if you start your day with a salad.  You won’t be an emotional mess when you eat that second meal so you’ll exercise better judgment and control.  You’ll also feel full faster because you’re not nutritionally depleted and therefore eat less.

Or think of Second Meal as a reward for starting your morning right.

Try it.  If you don’t feel better after a month, we’ll give you a $100 gift card.

They’re eating veggies.

 

 

Frequently Asked Questions XIV

Business
Are you selling the juice bar and dance studio?
Yes, to an employee. She’ll take over in 3 years and she’ll do a better job of running it.

What are you going to do instead? 
Open and run Redneck Bistro.

Where’s that going to be?
Same neighborhood (SnoKing).  Having trouble finding a landlord in this neighborhood who is ok with name.

Why don’t you open it in Ballard or Capitol Hill instead?  They’d be ok with the name.
I’m emotionally invested in SnoKing neighborhood.  We’ll figure it out.   

General
Why is the blog so focused on narcissism?
Influence from The Last Psychiatrist (who probably isn’t a psychiatrist), who says that narcissism is the fundamental human condition. Originally, the blog was about Original Sin, and that sin could be anything depending on the individual.  Now I think narcissism *is* our Original Sin and that other sins (eg. envy, sloth, greed) are its expressions.

Are millennials more narcissistic than other generations?
No.  Even though some (poorly designed) studies suggest they are.

You really don’t think millennials are more narcissistic?
They’re about as narcissistic as their parents. Cultures evolve slowly and don’t change much.

Are there cultures that aren’t narcissistic?
No, it’s our Original Sin.  But the Amish come the closest.

amish

They’re less narcissistic than you because you wear buttons. And also because you receive more compliments in one day than they do in a lifetime.  

How do we become less narcissistic?
According to The Last Psychiatrist, the moment you stop thinking of yourself as a narcissist — the moment you deny your Original Sin — is when you become one. You’ll stop noticing your narcissistic habits, such as virtue signalling and fishing for compliments. Never let your guard down.

What’s an example of a subtle narcissistic act?
When someone says: “It is with unbearable grief and deep sadness that I announce the unexpected death of our dear friend…”  that person is bringing inappropriate attention to himself.  Attention should be on the person who died.

Education
Are American schools really that bad?
No.  The quality is uneven, the top 100 American schools can compete against the best in the world, while 80 percent of high schools and colleges (Pareto Principle) shouldn’t exist because they produce no or negative value.

What do you mean by negative value?
They make students dumber.

How do they make students dumber?
Good schools teach grit.  Shit schools are obsessed with the emotional health of students.  Which ironically makes students emotionally frail and stupid.

Do you think schools in China are much tougher than those in the US?
The top schools in the US are *at least* as tough as the top schools in China.   The average school in China, however, is much tougher than the average school in US.

How do you know?
People point to China’s college entrance exam — gaokao, a 3 day exam — as example of how far ahead of us they are.  But they’re comparing it to the SAT, a 3 hour exam that tests basic skills.  That’s not a fair comparison.  American students who get into schools like Harvard and CalTech typically ace 8-12 AP exams and then ace a slew of SAT Achievement tests in addition to acing the SAT.  Top American students take MORE, not fewer exams than their Chinese counterparts.  And American tests are more difficult.

So you don’t think we should emulate Asian schools?
No need to emulate them, our schools need to emulate top American schools.

chinesestudents

Chinese students have it easy, they only have to take 3 days worth of entrance exams.  American students aiming for top college take 2 weeks worth of standardized tests spread over 3 years.

Why doesn’t average school emulate top American schools?
Middle-class America is the too fucktarded and delusional and soft to emulate the best Americans.  American middle-class was made by Redneck work ethic and values.  Then they decided to abandon and demonize those values as a way to get ahead.  Now the middle-class finds itself slipping and is scared about its future, even while high-paying Redneck jobs go unfilled because middle-class no longer want them.

dirty-jobs-with-mike-rowe

This redneck is smiling because he makes $200,000 a year doing shit that the minimum wage college grad who majored in Social Justice won’t do.

Will American middle class disappear?
No.  They’ll self-correct.  While American parenting is soft, American society is tough on its people and its businesses operate as do stereotypical East Asian families.  American society will crush you if you don’t work hard and long.  People eventually figure it out.

 

Caption: How the best American companies are run: Steve Jobs makes Tiger Mom look like a kitten.

 

Why We Don’t Carry Wheatgrass (and Other Snake Oils)

 

Discussion about why we don’t name any ingredient a “super” anything and really offensive material about Oprah and White people farther down. First, let’s get this wheatgrass debate settled.

We don’t carry wheatgrass, despite demand for it.  Here’s why:

From random uncredentialed guy writing on Skeptico blog: Wheatgrass is for Cows
Summary: Wheatgrass is for cows, not humans, as humans are unable to digest it as cows do.

But why should we trust some random guy on random blogsite?

From Webmd: Wheatgrass Claims
S
ummary: Review of independent peer reviewed studies of wheatgrass show that there’s little or no evidence of its purported health benefits to those who drink it.

But that’s just another website, the article isn’t peer reviewed,  and we don’t know if author left out studies in his review.  So let’s go with a renown Naturopath who is also an MD.

From Dr. Andrew Weil, MD (from Harvard),  undergrad in Botany (from Harvard); founder of Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine. Currently Clinical Professor of Medicine, a Professor of Public Health, and the Lovell-Jones Professor of Integrative Rheumatology at University of Arizona School of Medicine: Wheatgrass Does Not Deliver
Summary: Wheatgrass is bullshit.  Key quotes:

On benefits of chlorophyll: chlorophyll, the green pigment that gives plants their color, has no nutritional role in the human body, a fact that hasn’t stopped promoters from making extravagant claims for it. Secondly, there’s no evidence to suggest that wheatgrass or chlorophyll are substitutes for 2.2 pounds of vegetables. If you search the medical literature for “wheatgrass,” you find very few entries and none at all suggesting that it has any health benefits for humans.

On cost-effectiveness of wheatgrass versus fruit and veggies: Wheatgrass may provide some vitamins and minerals but…as many as you would get from some common foods that taste…better. For example…you would get 860 mg of protein from seven 3.5 gm wheatgrass tablets while a half cup of cooked broccoli would give you 2,300 mg. Wheatgrass tablets would give you 1,668 IU of beta carotene, compared to 20,253 IU in a single raw carrot. I could go on, but I think you get the picture. Nutritionally speaking, wheatgrass simply doesn’t deliver on the promoters’ promises. I certainly wouldn’t recommend substituting it for any of the fresh vegetables and fruits in your diet. Spend your money on good, organically produced food, not on wheatgrass or other sprouts or grasses marketed as “super-foods.”

From American Cancer Society, which has provided funding to 47 Nobel Lauretes: Review of Wheatgrass
S
ummary: No evidence AND beware of supplements general, as actual amount of ingredient consumer wants varies. Person who made wheatgrass a health fad was a quack and batshit crazy.

The wheatgrass diet was developed by Boston resident Ann Wigmore, who immigrated to the United States from Lithuania. Wigmore believed strongly in the healing power of nature. Wigmore’s notion that fresh wheatgrass had value came from her interpretation of the Bible and observations that dogs and cats eat grass when they feel ill. Wigmore claimed that the wheatgrass diet could cure disease.

In 1982, the Massachusetts Attorney General sued Wigmore for claiming that her program could reduce or eliminate the need for insulin in diabetics. She later retracted her claims. In 1988, the Massachusetts Attorney General sued Wigmore again, this time for claiming that an “energy enzyme soup” she invented could cure AIDS. Wigmore was ordered to stop representing herself as a physician or person licensed to treat disease. Although Wigmore died in 1993, her Creative Health Institute is still active. Wheatgrass is readily available, and her diet is still in use.

So what is it about human nature that allows so many people — the highly intelligent included, even Steve Jobs gets duped — to buy snake-oils like wheatgrass, to believe in bullshit?

Human Nature
If there’s anything to be learned from Cultural Anthropology (and there’s not much), it’s that as social structure evolves — feudalism to capitalism, for instance — social codes and archetypes from one era reappear in another in a different form. Example: Aunt Jemima, year 1900.  She’s loved by white people because she takes good care of them.  Mammy, the “house nigger” archetype, as historians put it. Oprah Winfrey, year 2000.  Same shit, different form.  Look at her audience — mostly middle-class white women. Oprah is their Mammy, telling them which books to read, which diets to follow, which causes to get worked up about. Only difference is that Oprah makes coin because she lives in a more advanced (or different) stage of capitalism than did those who represented Aunt J in minstrel shows a century ago.

Not saying those who don’t like rap (code) necessarily hate Black people.  Not saying those with Free Tibet stickers (code) dislike Chinese people or Asians in general.  Just saying it’s human nature to classify and differentiate, to codify and regulate identities. Telling people it’s socially unacceptable to call a Chinaman (archetype) a Chinaman (code) doesn’t mean people will stop thinking of or treat the Chinaman as a Chinaman, or a Wetback a Wetback, a Dago Wop a Dago Wop.  They’ll just find a more socially acceptable way to express difference.

The codes and archetypes evolve to reflect the aims and needs of the political economy. Slavery (code) in the US didn’t end because enough people *finally* recognized such bondage as immoral. You really think white abolitionists (archetype) gave a shit about “Negroes” anymore than they cared about the “free” Irish immigrants who lived a mile away from them in conditions, according to a University of Chicago economist, even worse than those of Southern slaves? Slavery ended because enough people figured out that it doesn’t work well with industrial capitalism. Slavery became immoral because it was becoming inefficient — less productive than wage labor — and not because the temptation to exploit other people in such a way had waned. Just because material life has gotten better and society more civil doesn’t mean human nature has changed. People are still scared and vain and will seek short-cuts to the Kingdom of Heaven by trying to create Heaven on Earth.  People will forever do some fucked up shit to each other, with most justifying, rationalizing as good and just what they’ve done, from carpet bombing a village to interrogation by torture to massacre. Instead of burning the witch at the stake, now we post compromising photos of that bitch on Instagram.

History and Human Nature
Why is it we can laugh at or be horrified by instances of human depravity and degeneracy throughout history, yet not recognize our own sins and follies? We can laugh at Ponce DeLeon for being a dumbass for searching for the Fountain of Youth (AND believe in this story which likely isn’t true), yet we fall for wheatgrass, spirulina, weight-loss pills, cock enlargement pumps, reverse-aging creams, those metal bracelets that do whatever it is they’re supposed to do, and ionized water?

Medical doctors and scientists would probably blame low scientific literacy as the source of the problem.  Sure sure, most Americans don’t understand the scientific method or how clinical trials work or the difference between correlation and causation or how problematic observational studies are and what can be concluded from a mice study or what “double blind peer review” means.  But I don’t think a person needs to be familiar with any of the above to detect bullshit. We have built-in bullshit detectors.  We just don’t use them.

So why don’t we use our bullshit detectors? What makes it so tempting to hear only what we want to hear, to see only what we want to see in ourselves and others?  When do we become susceptible to believing fantastic promises that appeal to our vanities?

Part of it is how history is often taught, how we understand it.  “Those who cannot remember the past are doomed to repeat it.” Thanks for the reminder, George, but forgetting the past isn’t the reason why history repeats itself. History repeats itself especially when it’s NOT forgotten. Guy sentenced to life in jail for vehicular homicide didn’t forget his three DUIs, he was just being human, a dumbass creature of habit.  And I’m not claiming “progress” hasn’t been made, I’ll take my toilet over whatever Jesus used. I’m saying that thinking of the trajectory of history as “moral progress”  — qualified by “if we study history” — makes us blind to ourselves, our Original Sin. Unable to see ourselves in Pol Pot, Hitler, Henry V, Catherine the Great, Stalin, Caligula, Judas Iscariot, we become arrogant, vain, self-righteous and self-satisfied.  “I would never have owned slaves,” the American Apparel clad college girl tells herself as she reads Howard Zinn’s People’s History. “I would’ve released them, then teach them how to read, to start a glorious revolution.” Twenty years later she’s living in a nearly Black-less neighborhood, and the closest she’s ever come to helping anyone Black has been her purchase of tunes from Aaliyah and a Richard Sherman jersey. How’s that for ironic living?

Superfood as Colonial Narrative
Is there an Anthropologist in the house?  We’re going to need one soon.

(Artistic license taken) “Acai berries for super duper healthy living AND to empower the peasants, save them from greedy capitalists!”  In May 2009, Bloomberg reported that the expanding popularity of açaí in the United States was “depriving Brazilian jungle dwellers of a protein-rich nutrient they’ve relied on for generations.” From Reality Check: “False claims include reversal of diabetes and other chronic illnesses, as well as expanding size of the penis and increasing men’s sexual virility.” Oops, we fucked up.

“Quinoa for super duper healthy living AND to empower the peasants, save them from greedy capitalists!”  From UK Guardian: “Ethical consumers should be aware poor Bolivians can no longer afford their staple grain, due to western demand raising prices.” Oops, we fucked up.

(From Runa website, word for word) Runa is a social enterprise supporting indigenous farmers and reforestation in the Amazon. Runa brews beverages from guayusa, a super-leaf from the Amazon …”  We should know how this “social enterprise” (social fucking enterprise! these fuckers aren’t even subtle about it anymore) is going to end.  But we get duped by the same message over and over again: Fountain of Youth! Bigger Penis! Save the Peasants from Greedy Capitalists! We fall for the same pick up line because it makes us feel good, and because deep down, we don’t give a shit about those jungle dwelling brown motherfuckers, which is why we can conveniently forget — no, ignore — what happened to them last time we tried to help them. We just like to believe we care about them, and that their big big smiles are for real when they take photos with us. It’s as if colonialism never ended. Instead of guns, now the imperialists use superfoods to fuck things up in their own fucked up way.  The colonial narrative, that trifecta of: glory and riches, more pussy, and White burden, continues on in American grocery stores and on dining tables.

Here’s where an Anthropologist may be of help. Instead of studying impact of superfood agriculture on environment and culture, instead of studying the Other, let’s study White people.  By White people, I don’t mean genotype or White individuals.  I mean White people as trope, as inheritors of a colonial legacy. As consumers of *all races* unwilling to recognize the colonial past in their post-colonial present. Let’s get to the source of the problem.

History and Human Nature Part II: Self Interest vs. Vanity

Most schools and media teach history as the story about good people as victims of bad people and that we have moral obligation to help the victims of present and past and punish the bad. Put simply, propaganda. The Aliens watching us from Alpha Centauri don’t see good versus evil, they only see people doing fucked up shit to each other, just as we see animals in the wild do fucked up shit to each other but don’t assign moral value to their actions.  That’s precisely the kind of story Thucydides wrote about in History of the Peloponnesian Wars. It’s a seminal historical text because it’s the first to be so cold, detached, impartial; because it isn’t a story about good and evil, it’s about *human nature* and how we can best protect ourselves from other people. It’s a story about how there are NEITHER victims NOR volunteers.  There are only competing self-interests that sometimes come in conflict with another.

Santayana’s “remember the past so you don’t make the same mistakes,” is an alluring way to read history because it appeals to our vanity. “Those bad bad people are them, and I’m me, who would never do that, I’m better than that” we’re led to think.  Really?  The only reason why the 19 year old girl who worships Ayn Rand (a Fuck You conservative) can declare herself a Communist (combo = psychobitch, guaranteed) without a hint of irony is because she doesn’t have the power to round people up and work them to death at a labor camp. And she’s too chickenshit to do anything more than tell her Facebook friends that that bitch is not her mom. Send her back in time — give her power, make her Catherine the Great — then we’ll see who she really is. There will be blood everywhere.

If Santayana’s version of history takes down the proverbial mirror we need to recognize ourselves in our readings of the past, reading history as the codification of identity and the study of human nature nails it back up for us to see who we really are.  With history as the study of human nature on repeat, every cheat, murderer, dumbass, fool, coward, and psychopath we read about becomes a story about our present condition, a reflection of who we are. It helps us recognize our own follies, our venality and arrogance, our total depravity. It may help us to smell present-day bullshit like this:

Ignored Since the 1950s – Is Spirulina Now a ‘Miracle’ High-Protein Super Food?

Imagine a plant that can nourish your body by providing most of the protein you need to live, help prevent the annoying sniffling and sneezing of allergies, reinforce your immune system, help you control high blood pressure and cholesterol, and help protect you from cancer. Does such a “super food” exist?

Yes. It’s called spirulina.

Which isn’t much different from bullshit from the past, like this:

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The ingredients may change, but human nature remains.

The Vanity of Vanities
According to Socrates, there are two types of people: dumbasses who know they’re dumbasses, and dumbasses who don’t.  The former ask more questions and make fewer assumptions because of their insecure knowledge. The latter ask few questions and rely on belief, bullshit, and bromides to sustain their vain sense of self. The former go with what sounds right.  The latter with what sounds good.

Vanity is self-interest turned on its side, that desire for a sense of progress and self-esteem rather than actual improvement. Pay up and pop the pill to feel like effort and progress has been made, even though it’d cost less and be more effective to consistently eat diverse and balanced meals and to exercise daily.  Vanity and its dampening affect on our bullshit detectors, not poor science literacy, is what feeds the pseudoscience and anti-science industries. Michael Schulson, on the importance of keeping our vanity in check when thinking about the politics of science (from  Whole Foods: America’s Temple of Pseudoscience):

It’s that whenever we talk about science and society, it helps to keep two rather humbling premises in mind: very few of us are anywhere near rational. And pretty much all of us are hypocrites.

And dumbasses.

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How to Make Black Bean Brownies (Vegan and Gluten-Free)

Our black bean brownies taste better and are healthier than conventional brownies. They’re not healthier because they’re vegan and gluten-free, they’re healthier because using black beans instead of flour makes it more nutritionally fulfilling.  You’ll feel satisfied with one serving instead of binge eating an entire tray.  Oh

We developed this recipe in house. We worked on it until we got the soft texture that makes brownies so comforting to bite into.  See how we make it in video below.

Note: The version we sell at Alive Juice Bar doesn’t contain sugar.  It’s still plenty sweet and tastes a bit more dark chocolaty.   Enjoy, and don’t hesitate to ask us questions.

 

 

In the next episode, Maria will show you How to Slurp Soup Like a Chinaman.  We also offer cooking lessons.