Thursday December 20, 2007 I’ve been thinking about “hard government” spec-fic. That is, science fiction and fantasy in which governments operate realistically.

Why do so many engineers write sf with political systems which work exactly according to specification, with no friction?

Fantasy writers seem to be unclear on the difference between absolute monarchy and feudalism. And fantasy governments which operate as if by infallible magic really ought to have magic more involved in their workings.

Answer: If I want more realistic speculative fiction, I should write it myself.

So: In Steeple People thrift store, I saw Peter F. Drucker’s <i>Management: Tasks, Responsibilities, Practices</i>. And bought it.

Across Lake Street to the Wedge (my organically correct coop) for a bus pass and a snack.

***On to ACA (Adult Children Anonymous.) In the course of the meeting, I realized a couple of things:

1) Cats are rather like dysfunctional parents. When they want attention, they want it right now — regardless of anything you might be in the middle of doing. But they’re much easier to deal with.

2) Political parties and movements are much like dysfunctional families. The people in charge demand loyalty, and don’t give nearly as much loyalty in return. For US examples, see the attitude of non-religious conservatives in the Republican Party toward religious conservatives. Or the attitude of Protestant religious conservatives toward Jews.

3) The most prestigious American colleges and universities are like dysfunctional families. Faculty members are judged by their research — not by their ability to teach undergraduates.
______________
LOC from Lee Gold:

“Anyone in the US who buys groceries shouldn’t need news reports to let them know food prices are going up.”

It’s hard to tell right now because of the holiday specials. I just bought a couple of pounds of butter at $2.50 each and some Tropicana orange juice 64 ounce cartons at the same price. Fruit is higher, but that’s standard for winter. Chicken and turkey are about the same, and so is rockfish and whole trout and Dover sole. I can’t compare bread because our old favorite brand was recently discontinued and I’m now buying another brand and flavor. <lj-cut>

[Egg prices fluctuate. But not too long ago, I considered anything over a dollar for a dozen large eggs expensive. Currently, they’re $1.85 at Aldi; $2.20 at Rainbow, which is one of the lower-priced conventional supermarkets. Corn tortillas were 89¢ for three dozen not long ago, and are now usually $1.19. And various staples keep going up in ten-cent increments.]

Every week I spend an hour or two reading store flyers for Vons, Ralphs, Albertsons — and some weeks I add Gelsons and Smart & Final to that. This is a cost of time/energy rather than money and that lets me save money. If I were more serious about saving money, I’d also go through the Sunday newspaper coupons and see what coupons were available on the Web.

[I do much of my shopping at Aldi, which doesn’t have stores in Southern California. They’re a low-priced chain, under the same ownership as Trader Joe’s. Their prices are distinctly lower, and on most things the quality of their house brands is reasonable. However, they have less variety than conventional supermarkets — only strawberry jam among the non-upscale spreads, for example. And their raw meat and poultry has more water and salt added than Rainbow’s or Cub’s.

[Some things are cheaper at the Wedge coop. Lunds — one of the upscale Twin Cities chains — has its own breads for $2 a loaf and sometimes has worthwhile specials.

[I look through the supermarket ads. Unfortunately, the stores here have “in-store specials” flyers only available in their store. And: this week, Rainbow’s special on cream cheese is a whopping one cent cheaper than Aldi’s regular price.]

What food prices did you have in mind, Dan? I may be buying different sorts of things than you do, partly because of Barry’s eating a low sodium, low fat diet, partly because of shopping for two, partly because I occasionally am willing to devote a couple of hours to cooking something complicated (like pot roast or tamale pie) though most of our meals are fairly simple with little preparation work beyond skinning chicken — but even that might seem like a lot to people who usually just zap frozen food.

[There’s now Hamburger Helper with freeze-dried hamburger already added. It doesn’t seem to have caught on; but pre-mixed peanut butter and jelly has.

[I’ve reduced the salt in my diet considerably; enough so I can now taste the salt in soft drinks. I should reduce it farther. I’ve reduced the fat somewhat; but I need a certain amount of fats or oils to feel satisfied. I’ve been trying to use more canola oil instead of fat.

[Most of my cooking is low-preparation. Though not everyone considers, for example, “soak beans overnight, cook them for an hour or two” low preparation.]

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