Quick Roundup 438

Friday, June 05, 2009

Lard: The New Fashion-Food

Ignoring sensationalist reporting about food on principle and having a Southern cultural background anyway, I've never had a problem with lard. I even stunk up my apartment in grad school once rendering it. (Heed step one. You have been warned!)

I guess I was ahead of my time:

Wait long enough and everything bad for you is good again. Sugar? Naturally better than high-fructose corn syrup. Chocolate? A bar a day keeps the doctor away. Caffeine? Bring it on. [links dropped]
Except that when Crisco etc. are eventually "vindicated" and lard re-damned, I'll continue to use it if I please -- and remain free to do so.

Two other things amuse and intrigue me about this article from a cultural perspective, on top of its being interesting in its own culinary right.

First, we have the obligatory modern elevation of the rustic to the trendy, even rising to the status of sacrament in the Church of Gaia:
That environmental consciousness [sic] coupled with competitive cooking has resulted in the nose-to-tail trend set off by British chef Fergus Henderson. Walk into any high-end restaurant these days and pork chops are less prevalent than pig's ears, trotters, and jowls. The salumi/charcuterie craze has also been great for enhancing lard's profile, particularly thanks to lardo-pork belly cured Tuscan-style with wine and herbs and served in thin slices over warm bread or on pizza. If Mario Batali says it's good, diners everywhere listen. [links dropped]
And second, food writer Regina Schrambling's initial comment on this made me laugh:
Peasant food has cachet only if you are not forced to live on it.
I guess now, rather than being hectored by leftists for frying bacon, I can look forward to being praised.

Wait a minute: That's even worse!

The Confederate Battle Flag Revisited

The above indirectly reminds me of an interesting question my father-in-law -- second-generation Irish from New York, but a long-time resident of New Orleans -- asked me as we drove the furniture up to Boston through Louisiana.

He asked me what the deal was with Confederate battle flags. I never display them myself, and have very mixed feelings about them, but basically, I told him that I thought them more symbolic of cultural pride in the South, and not necessarily (or even usually) of racism. I do, of course, also have mixed feelings about the culture this flag represents, but am quickly annoyed by the blanket condemnations it receives from people who know next to nothing about it.

On that score, I just now recalled one of the few Ann Coulter columns I really like. It includes, as a bonus, an interesting bit from Colin Powell. (My previous comments on it are here.)
It is pride in the South -- having nothing to do with race -- and its honorable military history that the Confederate battle flag represents. It is a "battle flag," after all, and represents defiance not unlike the "Don't Tread on Me" flag.
The matter of my native state of Mississippi choosing to keep its flag a few years back, despite its incorporation of the battle flag, came up. I told him I thought that most saw the change as being proposed for the wrong reasons, and that the rejection was more an expression of sovereignty than anything else. "Yes," I eventually agreed with him, "I'd call that a polite, and mostly healthy, 'Go to hell.'"

[Clarification: Pursuant to some private email, I wish to be clear that this post is about what I think the Confederate flag means to the current generation of southerners. The fact remains that the flag has stood for racism in the past. This is why I do not use it myself. Whatever virtues I see in the South, I do not condone racism and do not use symbols that can be taken to mean that I do.]

Objectivist Blog Carnival

Stop by Erosophia for this week's installment.

A Snapshot of Tyranny

I wonder whether free assembly will eventually be replaced with something like this under Barack Obama:
Although there were visitors from three continents, the authorities took aim particularly at those from Latin America. Four of us were detained at the airport, in my case for three hours, and told to refrain from making political comments. We were followed by the secret police--known as DISIP--in cars with no license plates, and a hostile mob was sent to the main venue. Agents masquerading as journalists were instructed to provoke us. The president and his ministers took turns insulting us on TV from dawn to dusk.
We already have the hostile mobs.

Fellow supporters of individual rights, take heed.

-- CAV


: Added a clarification to the second part.


Longstreet said...

Re your comment that you do not use any symbol that has ever been associated with racism makes me wonder if you also "...do not use..." the U. S. Flag?

Gus Van Horn said...

Those of the Founding Fathers who owned slaves were inconsistent on the matter of individual rights or had errors in knowledge about the capabilities of blacks.

They were wrong about these things, but fundamentally correct to found a nation on the premise that all men have the same rights.

Contrast this to the Confederates, who, during a time of active debate about the morality of slavery, chose to continue or spread slavery. That is fundamentally different. On top of that, they were defeated by the very country that had finally realized its former error, and then abolished slavery and eventually also Jim Crow.

Your comment ignores a fundamental moral distinction between the USA and the CSA and puts words into my mouth besides.

What I said was, "I do not condone racism and do not use symbols that can be taken to mean that I do."

To be sure there are all manner of people, such as today's pacifists who wrongly associate (or dishonestly claim to associate) the United States flag with racism. Perhaps, I could have said, "... taken by a reasonable adult to ...," but if I qualified every comment I ever made to account for every conceivable dishonest error, every post of my blog would fill a book.

Diana Hsieh said...

Personally, my objections to the confederate flag aren't about racism: I don't presume that the people who support or fly that flag are racists, although surely some of them are. (That objection is so superficial!)

My objection is that the advocates of the flag and "southern pride" fail to acknowledge that the south deserved -- on moral and political grounds -- to be crushed in the Civil War. That's not just because of the utter horror of chattel slavery. It's also because the south's secession was wrong in principle. The south had no moral right to withdraw from the union on the grounds that it did. And if the north had permitted the south to secede, the result would have been a slew of secessions in the north, then civil wars and anarchy, plus a war with an expansionistic empire of slavery in the south in a few years. Moreover, the whole aristocratic, honor-driven culture of the south -- which lingers to some extent, I think -- was completely corrupt.

Undoubtedly, the south was not wholly bad during this time. For example, General Lee was an admirable man in many ways. Yet he's also one of the worst men in American history, precisely due to his willingness to use his great ability in the service of a vile cause. (If he could not fight against Virginia, then he ought to have sat out the war.)

The people who embrace the confederate flag today are people who embrace the wrong side of that history, likely to some great extent. Sure, they are pleased that slavery ended -- although they often think that the south should have been able to end slavery on its own terms. (As if!) And they're ignorant of the far deeper moral and political lessons of the war, including the evil of "state's rights" and the like.

So in very sketchy outline, that's what I find objectionable about the defenses of the confederate flag.

Gus Van Horn said...

No arguments about any of your points, of which the one about General Lee I had not considered before.

I am pleased with how far the South has improved for the better in recent years and am inclined to think that the non-racists who like this flag also at least implicitly reject the secession of the South along with the racism, but obviously, I cannot speak for them. Many may be guilty of simply not understanding the need for stark clarity about that point. (Other long-time readers of this blog will already know that I reject the grounds on which the South seceded.)

And another point I have not considered is how much simple ignorance of the true horrors of slavery and of Jim Crow come into play.

The inclination of many non-southerners would, upon hearing the word "ignorance," be to say, "case closed" at this point, but I am not so sure. Part of why I might have voted to keep the Mississippi flag was precisely AS a reminder of where we once had been and as a warning never to repeat the mistakes of the past again.