Category Archives: Food

“Healthy Choice” Restaurant Closed by Health Inspectors

The Orange County Register regularly reports restaurants forced to closed by health inspectors.

In December “Healthy Choice” in La Habra was cited for insufficient hot water and closed for a day.

Source: The OCR

Water measured at the time of an inspection has to be at 120F degrees or more for cleaning. The icon for “Rodent infestation” is for a different restaurant.

The Amazing Almanacs of Benjamin Banneker

For five years in early American history (1792-1797) a genius published almanacs with copious information about the seasons.

Benjamin Banneker, who was self-taught, informed Americans of crucial science of the time to aid in trades including agriculture and fishing: astronomical calculations, cycles of locusts, phases of the moon, tide charts and more.

He even submitted the first edition of his almanac to slaveholder Thomas Jefferson (secretary of state at that time) as a form of proof that all Black Americans should be emancipated.

Jefferson officially replied to Banneker:

Sir, I thank you sincerely for your letter of [August] 19th. instant and for the Almanac it contained. no body wishes more than I do to see such proofs as you exhibit, that nature has given to our black brethren, talents equal to those of the other colours of men, & that the appearance of a want of them is owing merely to the degraded condition of their existence both in Africa & America. I can add with truth that no body wishes more ardently to see a good system commenced for raising the condition both of their body & mind to what it ought to be, as fast as the imbecillity of their present existence, and other circumstance which cannot be neglected, will admit. I have taken the liberty of sending your almanac to Monsieur de Condorcet, Secretary of the Academy of sciences at Paris, and member of the Philanthropic society because I considered it as a document to which your whole colour had a right for their justification against the doubts which have been entertained of them. I am with great esteem, Sir, Your most obedt. humble servt. Th. Jefferson

Despite kind words allegedly things didn’t change and the slippery Jefferson recanted his praise of Banneker, not to mention ceased any efforts at ending slavery.

Jefferson’s reply fell far short of addressing the political, religious, and ethical challenges that Banneker had put forth… a question which the future president chose not to debate with the freeman: the fundamental contradiction between the principles of democracy and freedom and the cruelty of slavery, passionately voiced by Banneker. Jefferson, it seems, saw Banneker’s intelligence as an exception among African-Americans, rather than evidence that Jefferson’s perceptions about race might be fundamentally flawed. Sadly, three years after Banneker’s death in 1806, Jefferson wrote to Joel Barlow, an American poet and politician, disparaging the by-then well known Banneker and arguing that he could not have made the calculations contained in the almanac without assistance.

Jefferson’s disparagement in today’s terms would look like accusing someone of being part of an extra-national membership (e.g. Catholicism, Judaism, Islam) as if their thoughts are owed to some other group, or come from outside intervention. It’s an encoded way to call people puppets and unintelligent.

An antique cartoon (The American Anti-Slavery Almanac for 1840) illustrates the absurdity of Jeffersonian racism:

Source: The Henry Ford Collection (THF7209)

Jefferson was obviously wrong about perpetuating slavery, and also wrong in discrediting the genius of Banneker by assigning him a false association.

Unfortunately, very little of Banneker’s revolutionary and pioneering work remains since his house was “mysteriously” set on fire and all his works completely destroyed on October 11, 1806 the day he was buried. Jefferson attempting to destroy the reputation of an American icon was foreshadowed by men attempting to destroy any evidence of that icon’s legacy.

One of the items destroyed, for example, was a famous wood clock he had made that had kept accurate time for decades. It is hard to overstate the significance of being self-taught yet making a precisely accurate clock out of wood in the 1700s.

Many historians believed that Banneker’s clock is the first one made entirely in the USA.

Or as Stevie Wonder put it even more generally in his song Black Man:

First clock to be made
In America was created
By a Black man

Arguably, based on the Library of Congress collections, Banneker was a colleague or even a peer of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. In other words, we know about him primarily because records preserved on behalf of Washington and Jefferson (not to mention records made by Stevie Wonder).

It begs the question whether the genius of Banneker should have been afforded an even greater influence over American calendaring and timekeeping.

His almanacs remind us of the lunisolar calendars found around the world, which track agricultural cycles and the significance of environmental observation. Consider the Japanese documentation of poetic nijūshi sekki (twenty-four seasonal divisions), which achieves national significance as works of art.

Here you can see how Japan assigns three kō to every sekki, each about a week long.

Source: Quartz at Work

Industrial American calendaring tends to repeat at best the vague “April showers bring May flowers”. However, time keepers in Japan tell us March 31 “distant thunder” to April 15 “first rainbow” and then May 5 “frogs start singing”, May 21 “silkworms feast on mulberry leaves”, June 11 “decomposing grass turns to fireflies”.

Describing the “waxing and waning of the moon and the movement of the sun across our skies” is exactly what Banneker was so adept at in his almanacs.

Source: StudioTerp

Imagine what his legacy — so violently uninterrupted — should look like today had it been allowed to flourish; perhaps wonder whether climate change in America would be so controversial in 2022 if the existence of Banneker himself, a genius freeman in America, hadn’t been so controversial 230 years ago (let alone today).

Or as another cartoon put it in 1876, called “In Self Defense: Southern Chivalry”…

Source: Arthur Burdett Frost (1851-1928), “Harper’s Weekly”, 28 October, 1876, p. 880

American Honey Locust Bean Stew

When I grew up on the American prairie there were edible plants everywhere.

However, there also was a trend among ranchers and farmers (driven by overly technology-focused agriculture investors — like what Bill Gates is doing today) to see only the worst of native species instead of the best.

Take the honey locust (Gleditsia triacanthos) for just one example.

Here’s how the U.S. government’s National Park service describes them:

Imagine walking through a forested area alongside the Missouri and discovering one of these – a honey locust tree. It’s very possible the men of the Corps did come face-to-face with these nasty thorns, especially in today’s Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska and southeastern South Dakota. But if anyone was injured by them, it didn’t get recorded in the journals.

One of the times honey locusts are mentioned is by John Ordway on July 3, 1804: “The land is Good high bottom pine Timber & black wallnut honey locas oak &C.”

In nature honey locusts grow in both thornless and thorned forms, with spikes growing up to 12″ long. Many regions in the South once referred to the trees as Confederate pin trees because those thorns were used to pin uniforms together during the Civil War. Others claim the thorns have been used throughout history as nails.

And here’s the image the NPS wants you to see.

Source: NPS

Nasty thorns. Any guesses why nobody on the expedition recorded being injured by them? My bet is because it didn’t deserve any more mention than any other thorns.

And I have found zero evidence to support any such idea that Confederate soldiers used tree thorns to “pin” their uniforms. Nada. Zilch.

Or let me put it this way: the alleged phrase “pin tree” appears exactly never in an exhaustive search of literature from the 19th Century.

Any guesses why nobody ever recorded the phrase “pin tree”? My bet is because it never happened.

To be fair to the NPS perspective of today, these trees do have a lot of thorns on them. Yet so do roses and raspberries, and how many people go around describing those two beloved plants as nasty?

Instead of focusing just on the thorns of a branch or trunk, let’s talk about delicious edible beans of the locust tree for a minute.

They get the name “honey” from the fact that they in fact have a tasty orange “goo” between seeds in a pod.

And their beans seem to be a high protein source easily grown in the wild (member of the legume family, like lentils and garbanzo).

Ingredients

  • 4 Tbsp oil or fat
  • 1 Tbsp locust beans
  • 1 small chopped onion
  • 2 small tomatoes
  • Handful of dried and seasoned meat (e.g. fish, fowl)
  • Pinch of seasonings (e.g. salt, pepper)

Recipe

  1. Depod the locust beans (clean, soak/boil for tenderness, wash and remove hull)
  2. Chop and mix onions and tomatoes
  3. Put pan on fire and pour in oil or fat to heat for 2 minutes
  4. Add prepared chopped mix to the oil/fat, stir and cover for 2 minutes
  5. Add seasonings, prepared locust beans, stir and cover for 5 minutes
  6. Add prepared meat, stir and cover for 5 minutes

Of course the younger green pods of the tree could be cooked like a green bean. And of course the hard seeds of a mature (dry, brown) pod could be ground into a flour. There are many options, so this is just one to give you an idea of why the NPS focus on the thorns in a story about exploration seems… not very exploratory.

What is truly unfortunate and bizarre is how nobody anywhere seems to have collected traditional recipes from the people who lived on locust bean for generations — Native Americans.

A few years back the President of the National Cattleman’s Beef Association (NCBA) paid me a visit in Silicon Valley.

Very purposefully I took him out for a nice sushi dinner and ordered edamame.

“Soy beans” he exclaimed! “We are supposed to eat livestock feed” he stated flatly albeit genuinely.

“Wait until you see the bill. We’re paying $5 a bowl” I sat back and replied with a wide grin.

Then I helped him off the floor and back into his chair as he said “what in the… we get barely $5 a bushel for our damn soy beans!”

If only he had explored what was all around him the whole time; tried harvesting honey locust beans growing naturally (literally falling from the tree).

Who knows what could have happened if he had ever thought about packaging honey locust beans for human consumption…

Source: freshola

When is Defense in Depth Cheesy?

Someone has represented defense in depth as slices of Swiss cheese.

Source: Arxiv 2109.13916

Why not a plate of pasta? Is your security strategy like spaghetti… far more adaptive than a hard cheese?

Ironically, this paper is about “machine learning”, which suggests to me anything capable of minimal learning would breeze right through Swiss cheese holes like an obstacle course. Bad model.

I know I say “food for thought” too often on this blog, yet here it really seems the most appropriate phrase ever.

This Day in History 1919: “America First” Massacre of Blacks in Elaine, Arkansas

The Encyclopedia of Arkansas gives the following report on racist white mobs in 1919.

It starts by saying a small posse of armed white men showed up to violently disrupt a meeting of Blacks having a peaceful meeting. The white assailants were shot dead in the firefight:

Though accounts of who fired the first shots are in sharp conflict, a shootout in front of the church on the night of September 30, 1919, between the armed black guards around the church and three individuals whose vehicle was parked in front of the church resulted in the death of… a white security officer for the Missouri-Pacific Railroad, and the wounding of… Phillips County’s white deputy sheriff.

It’s hard to believe anyone really thinks there could be a sharp conflict about responsibility, given a peaceful meeting was assaulted by a group of armed white men during the “Red Summer” of state-sponsored domestic terrorism against Blacks in America.

As W.E.B. Du Bois, cofounder of the NAACP, wrote about Black American sentiment at that time:

…we are cowards and jackasses if now that the war is over, we do not marshal every ounce of our brain and brawn to fight a sterner, longer, more unbending battle against the forces of hell in our own land. We return. We return from fighting. We return fighting. Make way for Democracy. We saved it in France, and by the Great Jehovah, we will save it in the United States, or know the reason why.

Calling any Black man in that church meeting the aggressor on September 30, 1919 would be like claiming that it was the U.S. who fired the first shots in WWI, which is obviously impossible.

The best account of the incident I’ve read so far is from a paper in Montgomery, Alabama:

[Blacks] were the majority of the population, but control of the cotton industry was dominated by the white Phillips County cotton brokers, who low-balled wholesale prices. They also enacted a system designed to keep the black farmers in debt to maintain control of the community. In response, black farmers gathered at a church in Hoop Spur — a village outside of Elaine — to unionize.

It was a meeting about economics, to reduce debt and corruption in a market (“…by 1910…about 14% of farmers…”).

So why were whites so violently organized in response to a small peaceful assembly? More to the point, here’s what happened next, according to the Encyclopedia:

As soon as morning broke hundreds of armed white vigilantes swarmed from Mississippi and Arkansas to quickly kill as many Black Americans as they could. Somehow they had heard incredibly quickly that a violent racist conspiracy to stop Blacks from assembling had experienced a setback.

Even the Governor of Arkansas jumped to it, urgently demanding Wilson’s “America First” administration send U.S. troops without delay.

The federal government responded by officially marching 500 soldiers in from Little Rock (Camp Pike) to murder or round-up for torture local peaceful innocent Black farmers.

Source: ArkTimes. U.S. Soldiers from Camp Pike, Arkansas round-up peaceful innocent Black farmers for imprisonment and torture in the town of Elaine 1919.

The Encyclopedia continues:

Evidence shows that the mobs of whites slaughtered African Americans in and around Elaine. For example, H. F. Smiddy, one of the white witnesses to the massacre, swore in an eye-witness account in 1921 that “several hundred of them… began to hunt negroes and shotting [sic] them as they came to them.” Anecdotal evidence also suggests that the troops from Camp Pike engaged in indiscriminate killing of African Americans in the area… In 1925, Sharpe Dunaway, an employee of the Arkansas Gazette, alleged that soldiers in Elaine had “committed one murder after another with all the calm deliberation in the world, either too heartless to realize the enormity of their crimes, or too drunk on moonshine to give a continental darn.” … anecdotal information suggests that U.S. troops also engaged in torture of African Americans to make them confess and give information.

The Governor gave a press conference following this tragedy, continuing the “sharp conflict” mindset, by claiming mob violence by white civilians was the prevention of mob violence.

The white citizens of the county deserve unstinting praise for their actions in preventing mob violence.

A murderous domestic terrorist group deserved praise from the government? Why?

He apparently meant Blacks were being shot dead on sight so no lynchings of them could be reported. Instead, historians have since clearly recorded Elaine as white mob violence killing innocent Blacks:

The violence even claimed those who had nothing to do with the [claimed targets by the white mobs], such as brothers David Augustine Elihue Johnston, Gibson Allen Johnston, Lewis Harrison Johnston, and Leroy Johnston, who were returning to Helena from a hunting trip when they were attacked and killed on October 2.

So these violent white mobs attacked Blacks without provocation, and then claimed it all was self-defense, which the Encyclopedia concludes rather starkly:

…the modern view of most historians of this crisis is that white mobs unjustifiably killed an undetermined number of African Americans. More controversial is the view that the military participated in the murder of blacks. Race relations in this area of Arkansas are currently quite strained for a number of reasons, including the events of 1919.

That strain is highlighted in an WBUR interview with two descendants, first a Black man who lost innocent family to the massacre:

Miller lost some of his ancestors during the massacre — four young black men who were ripped off a train and killed.

Second, a white man raised by one of the perpetrators:

And I grew up one county removed from Phillips County and I grew up knowing nothing about this. And I began to do research into it and I realized that a story that my own mother had told me about my grandfather…initially, when you’re confronted with that, you realize that maybe I can somehow reconcile the wonderful person that I knew, who cared for me so deeply, with this person who participated in the massacre. And over time, I realized I couldn’t do that…

This story about a Black family having four members “ripped off a train and killed” when they tried to leave town (remember at the start it was a white security officer for the Missouri-Pacific Railroad who fired shots at a church assembly)… must be put in context of a white man admitting his family would reveal exactly nothing about what really happened.

It brings us back to disinformation pushed by the Arkansas’ Governor.

Allegedly those four Black men were lynched:

Members of the Miller family, who supposedly tried to escape Elaine by train, were hanged from the tower that once stood on the stone columns, they said.

Their bodies were left for days, hanging from a water tower to ensure it was widely seen, while the Governor publicly declared no such thing happened. Try to reconcile how such imagery of lynchings must have affected Black farmers given the official government statement directly contradicting what everyone could plainly see.

Also consider this massacre in Arkansas was just two days after white mob violence also very publicly tortured and killed an innocent Back man in Nebraska.

A huge racist white mob on September 28, 1919 fired guns at government buildings and forced entry, then tortured, burned and dismembered Will Brown to create souvenirs out of his body parts.

Although Ms. Loebeck was unable to identify her assailant, police arrested Brown. Two days later a group of white youths gathered outside the Omaha courthouse. The crowd grew to 5000-15,000 spectators and began firing guns into the courthouse. They set it on fire. Mayor Edward Smith came out to calm the crowd and was hanged. (He was cut down before he could die and recovered in the hospital.) Police took prisoners to the roof of the fourth floor, but eventually members of the mob scaled the building and capture Will Brown. They beat him unconscious, stripped him naked, hanged him, dragged his body through the streets behind a car, poured gasoline on him, burned his body, and passed out souvenirs. They also posed for this photo, as the riot continued for several hours more.

September 28, 1919 just two days before white mobs swarmed rural Arkansas and indiscriminately murdered hundreds of innocent Blacks.

Is it really any wonder who fired the first shots on September 30th in Arkansas?

Or is it any wonder how domestic terrorism across Nebraska, Missouri and Arkansas were so coordinated denying Black Americans the right to assemble, speak or move freely?

For further reading on Arkansas denial see their entry in the Lynching Victims Memorial. Note: September 30, 1919 is missing.

Fundamentally the double-speak of the “America First” platform was implemented by the Arkansas government to destroy American prosperity based solely on race — domestic terror groups set about lynching Blacks, even ordering the government to help by sending the Army to also shoot and torture Blacks

Again, we should never forget a state Governor openly claimed he ordered murder of innocent Blacks to prevent them being lynched, even as lynching victims obviously were hung for days as everyone could plainly see.

This was not an isolated time or case. The state-sanctioned domestic terrorism of “America First” laid a foundation for the infamous 1921 Tulsa massacre that involved even more gruesome terror tactics (airplanes dropping napalm on Black property and mass murder of Blacks thrown into unmarked graves)… a blueprint used by Nazi Germany for genocide.

To be clear, when anyone today claims “America First” as their motto, they invoke a history of domestic terrorism — racist white mobs intent on mass murdering Black Americans.

Or, as it was phrased recently when Wisconsin laid a lynching victim headstone (160 years late):

…unfortunately all too common across this nation, where lawless mobs deputized themselves and inflicted egregious harm on Black individuals and communities…

The history being told here is very clear, even though intentionally hidden, and extremely relevant to today’s headlines.

For example, a brand new study of American police violence concludes with a chilling reference to the early 1990s:

…police were, on average, 3.5 times more likely to kill Black non-Hispanic people than white non-Hispanic people from 1980 to 2019. These trends follow a violent historical precedent. Policing in the United States traces its origins to slave patrols in the South, when authorities tasked young white men with controlling the movements of enslaved people, brutally beating people for breaking slave codes, or for simply doing something that the patrols disliked. At the turn of the twentieth century, modern police forces across the country adopted tactics that U.S. troops honed in the Philippine-American war to battle insurgents who were fighting for independence. Some veterans who became police officers brought back techniques that they learned overseas and used them to target racial and ethnic minority groups at home.

U.S. troops targeting racial and ethnic minority groups at home is exactly what the Arkansas Encyclopedia is talking about on the 30th of September 1919, even though nobody in Arkansas is talking about it.