Back to previous post: Krugman is from Trantor; Gingrich ain’t

Go to Making Light's front page.

Forward to next post: The present cultural state of America

Subscribe (via RSS) to this post's comment thread. (What does this mean? Here's a quick introduction.)

December 9, 2011

Three things
Posted by Patrick at 12:11 PM * 99 comments

(1) In the grip of a low-carb diet fad, Norway has consumed its entire stock of butter. 250-gram portions of butter are now being offered for sale on a Norwegian auction site, with the bidding set to begin at $13. “Top dairy producer Denmark lies just across a narrow sea channel, but its stores of creamy butter will be kept out of the country by the high import duties of Norway, the only Nordic nation that does not belong to the European Union. […] The problem has certainly provided the Danes with a good laugh over their richly buttered breakfast toast.” Surely Scandinavia and the World will be all over this story soon.

(2) There is nothing quite like the savagery of the British political commentariat towards a damaged political leader. Which isn’t to say the savagery isn’t often deserved. In the Guardian, Marina Hyde observes the travails of LibDem leader Nick Clegg, whose decision to enter a coalition government with the Tories looks increasingly like one of the great strategic mistakes of the century. “[Clegg’s] story arc is like some Westminster version of Trainspotting, featuring grotesque scenes of personal degradation in pursuit of what must surely now be an ever-diminishing high. Perhaps a physicist would care to get in touch to explain whether there is a theoretical point at which a being has switch-backed on so many positions that he might simply atomise, leaving nothing but a thin coating of yellow dust and a pair of shoes he never grew into. […] Of more ghoulish fascination, though, is the next Lib Dem manifesto. What could this document possibly include? There are whole areas that in any sane universe it would be literally too embarrassing to mention, and given that these include major planks of what used to be called Liberal Democrat policy, such as Europe and education, I’ve genuinely no idea where they’ll go with this one. Blank pages? Something nice and inclusive about fish? The mere fact of something appearing as a Liberal Democrat manifesto pledge has come to symbolise that it is terminally doomed as an idea. Perhaps the best way to eradicate poverty would be to draft up a Lib Dem manifesto commitment to perpetuating it.”

(3) Welcome, Paul Krugman readers!

Comments on Three things:
#1 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2011, 12:49 PM:

I am imagining Denmark with his tongue out, turned away from a desperate Norway. Perhaps King Europe will be in there too.

#2 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2011, 01:12 PM:

"Scandinavia and the World" seems to be overloaded. I can't help wondering if that's your fault. ;-)

#3 ::: rea ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2011, 01:12 PM:

Let me get this straight--in Norway, they think you can lose weight by eating lots of butter?

That seems a tad . . . counterintuitive . . .

#4 ::: DBratman ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2011, 01:20 PM:

Iceland isn't a Nordic nation, then, according to the article you're quoting.

#5 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2011, 01:38 PM:

I once walked in the footsteps of Krugman. Literally, if not mentally. That was in 2009 at te Montreal worldcon. He was on his way to a panel and so was I.

#6 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2011, 01:54 PM:

rea #3:

Not just in Norway. I actually believe myself to have done it. Lots of butter, olive oil, and dairy of all sorts are involved.

Fortunately, Texas has its own cows.

#7 ::: D. Potter ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2011, 01:56 PM:

Gee, at that price, I might freeze a few pounds of butter and arrange an airlift (icechests supplied by Norway); properly stored it might arrive thawed but unmelted.


#8 ::: Andraia Blue ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2011, 02:02 PM:

I can't wait for the comic version with those guys in the flag shirts.

#9 ::: Ken Brown ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2011, 02:05 PM:

You couldn't make that up!

A Scottish friend tells me that Scotland now has more Giant Pandas than Tory MPs.

#10 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2011, 02:07 PM:

rea #3: The idea is to substitute fat and protein for carbohydrates. For the American version, see the Atkins Diet.

#11 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2011, 02:08 PM:

It's true. Mind you, they don't have a huge number of giant pandas.

#12 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2011, 03:02 PM:

Has a burly gentleman, resembling me, except with a Jamaican accent, been seen anywhere around Stavanger?

#13 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2011, 03:50 PM:

rea, #93: It's only counter-intuitive if you forget how people ate at the beginning of the 20th century. The low-fat, high-carb diet and the "obesity epidemic" track together very nicely.

#14 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2011, 04:21 PM:

Heh. Meanwhile here in Georgia, several of my patients are annoyed that the Chinese are buying up all our pecans, thus raising the price. None of these annoyed people happen to be pecan farmers.

#15 ::: kaleissin ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2011, 04:29 PM:

*sigh* It's more that the weather has been so wet that the cows are producing less milk (less grass/grain of poor quality and no doubt cold and miserable cows (quite a few get to graze outside while it is warm enough)). That's what the scientists and farmers say anyway but who bothers to ask such clueless people? The media here always finds something to panic about near christmas, potential lack of pork ribs usually. Christmas baking, less milk and carb fad worked together on this one. *rolleyes*

It's not like we want to eat foreign butter anyway, since it's rarely salted, blech, just a lump of fat. Might as well eat lard. DEATH TO LURPAK.

Most years there's the usual butter surplus.

What annoys me more though is that the almost-monopoly dairy association Tine has managed to get some fees and tolls relaxed, *after* their competitors had already imported butter by the normal rules. See

#16 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2011, 04:46 PM:

re 14: So that's why pecan halves are $12/lb!

#17 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2011, 04:55 PM:

kaleissin, I've bought salted Lurpak butter in the US, though it's no longer carried by my local grocery store.

#18 ::: Dave Crisp ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2011, 05:08 PM:

Personally, I think that salted butter just tastes of salt.

De gustibus est non disputandum, etc.

#19 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2011, 05:13 PM:

Erm, about those pecans -- it's not just the Chinese. Germans appear to be acquiring a taste for them, too. They're much easier to find than they used to be. I can even find them shelled now, which is a -major- timesaver for my Christmas pecan balls.

(This is just to say
We have bought up the pecans
That were on your trees
And which you were probably saving
For holiday pies
Forgive us
They are delicious
So sweet and so crunchy...)

#20 ::: Janet Brennan Croft ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2011, 05:14 PM:

Huh. So that's why I can't FIND any pecans. I haven't checked my local supplier, though, just the grocery stores. We do grow'em here in OK.

#21 ::: Zander ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2011, 07:04 PM:

Blair and Clegg and their friends are crypto-Tories. That's all there is to it. They were assigned to become leaders in their respective parties and subvert them, and they have succeeded. This is not a nutty conspiracy theory, but simply a continuation of the state of affairs first observed by Cecil Chesterton and Hilaire Belloc in their book The Party System before World War I, and summarised in the worn-out and unfunny truism that begins "No matter whom you vote for..." There was a brief period in the last century when British politics was not exclusively the property of affluent ex-public school "gentlemen." That situation has now been rectified.

#22 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2011, 07:40 PM:

RE dairy products, REF my earlier rant about "filled milk," I have picture:

Know your foe!

Also, I sent a note to Grocery Outlet regarding this awful crap, and got a response:

Hello, Thank you for your email regarding the Dairy Hills Sweetened Condensed Filled Milk. We appreciate your feedback and will definitely take into consideration the need to have a Sweetened Condensed Milk that is not filled. From time to time we have closeouts on Eagle Brand Sweetened Condensed Milk, and as you know because this is a closeout, we do not carry it on a regular basis like the Diary Hills. We will look into a private label sweetened condensed milk that will still extend a great value to our customers. With that said, we will be on the hunt! If you have any other questions, please feel free to contact me.

Brianne Wong

#23 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2011, 07:43 PM:

Earlier in the year I made some gingerbread. Topped with pecans and brown sugar, per the suggestion on the box.

I was gabberflasted at the price of pecans. The bag I bought cost more than all of the other ingredients combined.

#24 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2011, 07:50 PM:

I saw it in mine last weekend.

#25 ::: Ken Brown ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2011, 07:58 PM:

Zander@21. Truth.

David@11 - who ate that? The rich? In real life our meat consumption has been rising for decades. Its more a cause than a cure.

@everybody: unsalted butter is better. And if you want salt its easier to add than to take away.

#26 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2011, 09:05 PM:

Ken Brown @ #25: In real life our meat consumption has been rising for decades.

That doesn't necessarily answer the point by itself. Not if, for example, our carb consumption has been rising too, and significantly faster.

#27 ::: Zora ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2011, 09:12 PM:

I just put a ricotta pie into the oven. It's chock full of candied citron and chopped pecans. Mmmm pecans.

#28 ::: grackle ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2011, 10:38 PM:

How could one search all examples of the
This is just to say
We have...
verses that have been offered in lo these many threads? It would be so nice to see the whole collection.

#29 ::: Laurel ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2011, 11:03 PM:

Debbie @19: Ooh, pecan balls? Want to share your recipe? I have a pecan tree in my yard, but I've never managed to get any nuts - there seems to be no space between completely green and rotten. Maybe there's a trick to it.

#30 ::: Tracie ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2011, 11:49 PM:

In addition to increased foreign pecan demand, this year's crop was reduced by the loss by wind (hurricanes, especially) of immature pecans. The Georgia press has been reporting pecan thefts at the felony level, with growers and processors hiring security guards. I may need to check on the neglected pecan trees behind my old apartment building ...

#31 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2011, 01:37 AM:

For that matter, can someone explain where all the peanut oil went? Even when I could find it in the store it was more than twice as expensive as a year ago, and now I haven't been able to find any for some time.

As for Norway and Denmark, are you really telling me that two of the countries that made all of Northern Europe afraid of small open boats full of guys with large biceps can't even smuggle a few kilos of butter?

#32 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2011, 01:56 AM:

It was a bad year for the peanut crop, as well -- which means the oil's in short supply right now.

#33 ::: Wirelizard ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2011, 02:34 AM:


Try a site-specific search in Google, with the specific phrase in quotes.

Use this search string: "This is just to say"

Search string in action: This is just to search...

That'll get you the dinosaurs being sodomized, plums in various guises, and (given that "This is just..." is contagious around here, probably a lot of other stuff up- or down-thread of what was found by the search engine.

You could also try shortening the quoted phrase to just "This is just *" but that will probably also get non-poetic utterances. But still interesting, given we are talking about Making Light...

On related news, anyone know where the Advanced Search link has gone on the Google homepage? All the useful but hard to memorize features like site-specific searches still work, but without the Advanced Search page as reference it's harder than it should be.

This is just to say
I have searched the archives
which are full of distracting wit
and here I was hoping to get to bed on time tonight

(that last line doesn't quite scan, does it? I shall plead the hour, and the free drinks and the company Christmas party I've just gotten back from...)

#34 ::: Pete ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2011, 03:26 AM:


Looks like the Advanced Search link is still accessible from the bottom of the results pages.

Not sure what the thinking is there. Maybe they're expecting you to search for something first, then go to advanced search when you don't get what you want...

#35 ::: Dave Crisp ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2011, 05:02 AM:

Re: Atkins; I think one of the main reasons it originally seemed to work (at least in the short term, staying on a ketogenic diet long-term is a *very* bad idea for most people) was not that cutting carbs is an inherently "better" method of reducing calorie intake than cutting fat (it isn't) but that it was so orthogonal to what most people have been trained to think of as "healthy" eating that they were forced to stop and think about what they ate, which meant they ate less as a result.

The industry that has sprung up since pushing "Atkins-compatible" ready-meals/snacks/etc has undercut a lot of that.

#36 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2011, 05:05 AM:

Butter smuggling has been a lively trade in Europe. Armoured cars on the Dutch-Belgian border (is there a bit of urban myth in that?) and the sort of smuggling across the border in Ireland that was essentially tax fraud--some consignments were never apparently sold, but just shuttled back and forth across the border. You bought the butter in the Republic, imported it openly into the UK, reclaimed the VAT, and smuggled it back south for another run.

The physical consignment was merely corroborative detail for the fraudulent paperwork.

#37 ::: Melissa Mead ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2011, 07:57 AM:

No butter? :tries to contemplate life without creamy golden deliciousness. Fails: My dairy-farming ancestors would be aghast.

#38 ::: Debra Doyle ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2011, 09:39 AM:

Tracie@30: I may need to check on the neglected pecan trees behind my old apartment building ...

Even two or three shade trees can produce enough pecans to be worth picking up. My family's old house in Texas had two pecan trees in front and one in back -- one produced the big Georgia papershells, and the other two the smaller (and harder to shell, but better-tasting) native Texas pecans. As long as my father was alive, he picked up the pecans from those trees, had the shells cracked at a pecan-processing plant across the river in Oklahoma, and spent the winter picking the nuts out of the cracked shells while he watched TV.

How many pecans did he get that way? Well, for a couple of decades, whenever I got a box from home, instead of crushed newspaper and styrofoam packing peanuts thrown in to keep things from rattling, there would be two or three large ziploc bags of pecan halves fulfilling that function. That's how many.

I can't eat store-bought pecans now. They're old and rancid by comparison (not to mention ludicrously expensive.)

#39 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2011, 10:16 AM:

Laurel @ #29: you may have one or more of the many caterpillars and weevils that infest pecan trees. Try putting up a bat house. (Also, here's some more detailed info from UFL, which is useful despite being a PowerPoint in Comic Sans.)

#40 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2011, 10:48 AM:

Dave Crisp @35: There is also good evidence that consuming less than a minimum percentage of protein leads to increased snacking and higher cravings of carby (especially sugary) foods. Beyond that percentage consuming more protein doesn't lead to long-term weight loss, but consuming less than that percentage is actively hostile to weight loss, and leads to near-constant hunger feelings.

#41 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2011, 10:51 AM:

Supporting link to my #40. The magic percentage is somewhere between 10 and 15, because 15%ers in the study didn't snack excessively but 10%ers did.

#42 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2011, 10:54 AM:

My partner says that the pecan shortage has now been made up by Mexican imports, and that he found pecan halves for $6/pound at a Trader Joe's in August.

Recent snippet of conversation...
Partner: "Cat, get out of the dishwasher!"
Me: "Weasel help!"

#43 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2011, 11:16 AM:

The last time I saw my mother (and her sisters, when all of them were living), my wife wondered what we could take as a gift for the aunts. I suggested pecans, as something that would be suitable and unlikely to be easily available in Spain. They were a hit, except with my oldest aunt.

#44 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2011, 12:42 PM:

Laurel @29, glad to!

Here's my mother's recipe. They are basically Mexican Wedding Cookies (frex in The Joy of Cooking), but Mom has her own proportions and way of doing things, which I've adopted.

Pecan Balls -- makes about 72
2 c ground pecans (200g, shelled weight)
1/2 c powdered sugar (90g)
2-1/2 c flour (400g)*
1/3 tsp salt**
1/2 lb butter, melted (250g)
1-1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Extra powdered sugar for rolling

Grind the pecans and powdered sugar together in a food processor until very fine. Mix with the flour and salt in a large bowl. Pour the butter and vanilla on top. Mix all together, form small (1-inch) balls and place close together on baking sheets.

Bake at 250F (120C) for around 45min. When cooled, roll in powdered sugar.

*These are the metric proportions I've worked out.
**A very odd amount, but I just make a heaping 1/4 tsp and call it good.

#45 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2011, 03:23 PM:

Lila #14: Oddly, I get the feeling that none of the people who write to the AJC 'Vent' urging young unemployed people to work on farms in south Georgia suffering labour shortages are farm owners either. Nor, for that matter, have ever done agricultural labour. I have. I'll happily supervise your complaining patients whenever they want to work in the fields, but I've put in my seven years.

#46 ::: LRHafemeister ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2011, 03:25 PM:

Debra @ 38 -
You bring back good memories, especially of my dad, too, picking pecans while watching TV all winter long.

Dad's relatives in central Missouri have several pecan trees, and when my sister & I were in grade school my family spent the first week in November going down to help pick up pecans. That was teacher conference week, so we were out of school, and there had usually been a frost hard enough for the pecans to drop. We were young enough to think it great fun to crawl through the harvested corn field searching out every dropped pecan, especially as we got paid a little - maybe a nickel - a bucket, but I doubt the adults' knees were happy! We always got a bunch to take home, and Dad rarely sat for more than a few minutes before he was picking out a few more pecans.

Times have changed. Now my relatives have a contraption they use to ram the tree to drop the nuts onto a tarp, so no more crawling through the corn field. Dad's gone now, but we still get a bag or two from them most years, and I agree with you that they taste so much better than store-bought.

#47 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2011, 04:34 PM:

Bruce Cohen @ 31
The peanut crop was badly hurt by the drought in Texas. (Which is in the "it's time to pay the piper" category; as my brother who lives there said, "20 years ago they'd have been able to pump enough water; there just isn't enough water any more.) In addition, peanut prices were low the last couple years, and grain prices are generally up, so some farmers grew soy beans instead. So peanut prices today are more than twice what they were in January. (Per the peanut reports, January price was $531 per ton, today it is $1240 per ton. For comparison, soy bean prices have been about $500 a ton over that period.)

#48 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2011, 07:27 PM:

LRHafemeister: we had several mature pecan trees in our yard when I was growing up, and we had a neat contraption on a broomhandle for picking the nuts up without stooping over. (Googles.) Ah yes. Here's one.

Fragano @ #45, if it were just the Vent I wouldn't care, but we have Rep. Paul Broun suggesting that welfare recipients and prisoners be required to work on farms. To which I'm sure the farmers say EEEEEK NO THANKS FOR THE UNSKILLED (at best) LABOR!!

#49 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2011, 01:21 AM:

Lila, #48: Geez louise. What is it with Republicans and slavery these days?

#50 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2011, 01:42 AM:

Oh, but you see, it's not slavery if they're learning a Valuable Life Lesson in the value of work.

#51 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2011, 08:44 AM:

If I was doing hard work and not getting paid for it, I know what lesson I'd learn about the value of work.

#52 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2011, 09:04 AM:

Lila #48: I share your doubts.

#53 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2011, 10:05 AM:

Yeah, I am deeply bothered that there are people "representing" me who not only think "chain gang" sounds like a good plan, but think it should be a plan for dealing with people whose only crimes are being poor and/or brown and/or female.

#54 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2011, 10:13 AM:

Lila #53: this is all tied in to the standard tactic of declaring one's opponents, or even non-followers, to be "unpeople".

#55 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2011, 11:22 AM:

Paul A #51 I've done a metric sh*tload of hard work and not been paid for it. On the other hand, my father would have been horrified at the thought of paying his sons for field work. He was, after all, feeding us,clothing us, and sending us to school. I learnt more about agricultural labour in the sun and rain than I care to remember. When idiots like Broun express nostalgia for the chain gang, I'll quite happily wait for them to put in the 14-16 hour days first in order to set the right example; or sit for hours downwind of a smudge fire (the natural, organic, I kid you not, way to keep mosquitoes and gnats off) while engaged in one of the more tedious tasks. I'll pay them what I earned too. After all, I grew up to become an educated upright citizen, so it must be a method of universal application.

#56 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2011, 12:46 PM:

The dominant business culture in America has made it very clear that they don't value hard work. They won't pay Americans to do it; they ship it overseas instead, to where they can pay some poor git sweatshop wages and line their own pockets with the difference.

All this garbage about "teaching them the value of work" is a barely-concealed attempt to bring back the workhouse... as an institution to which anyone can be committed at any time, and from which you never, ever get back out again.

#57 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2011, 01:40 PM:

Lee @ 56:

More and more the attitude of our Galtian overlords reminds me of the capitalist in the movie Metropolis. Once he's got a robot that can do the work of the proles, he's eager to kill off his workers and replace them with robots. Not only doesn't he want to pay the workers, he doesn't want them around to stain his elite paradise.

#58 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2011, 03:30 PM:

Lee @ 56: It does stink of the workhouse - long unemployment, mortgage underwater, recently modified bankruptcy laws to exclude several varieties of debt, and then into jail and on to a worksite at a taxpayer-subsidized cheap rate.

Debtors' Prison Legal In More Than One-Third Of U.S. States

#59 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2011, 05:10 PM:

@55 Fragano

I share that experience 100% and agree with everything you say.

Some time back pundits were discussing whether the minimum waqe was even a good idea, much less whether there should be an increase in the minimum wage floor, and a more general discussion as to the value to a society of farm work.

I was the only one commenting who took the very choice of who was discussing this to task: none of them had ever done a bit of agricultural labor in their lives, much less lived on a farm.

That is such a constant: people who make the decisions don't know jackshyte about the matter in the first place.

Love, C.

#60 ::: Heather Rose Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2011, 05:18 PM:

Grackle @ 28:

Not all the take-offs on that verse include that particular phrase (or include it in English), but a search on the phrase would return a substantial fraction. For insight into many of the other possible permutations, you might browse the Smulp thread.

#61 ::: little pink beast ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2011, 08:50 PM:

The sheer callousness, cruelty, and depraved indifference shown by so many of our politicians nowadays would make your average comic-book supervillain turn green - and then make half of them start taking notes, and the other half set out to stop the politicos on the grounds that Even Evil Has Standards.

#62 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2011, 09:15 PM:

Little pink beast at 62: They are supervillains; some of them are on the Supercommittee, which, I suspect, has superpowers and a secret identity.

#63 ::: Larry ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2011, 09:19 PM:

@56 Lee: They value hard work, they value it in the sense that they want as hard for as possible for the lowest cost. It is about simple economics for them. The problem with this attitude is rather apparent though.

Human beings are assets in any business endeavor but they are not hard assets like a pallet of steel or drums of oil. It feels like businesses are being allowed to think otherwise again.

#64 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2011, 11:46 AM:

There was a brief period in the last century when British politics was not exclusively the property of affluent ex-public school "gentlemen." That situation has now been rectified.

Attlee and Beveridge, the fathers of the British welfare state, were ex-public school gentlemen.

Major and Thatcher, on the other hand, weren't.

#65 ::: Braxis ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2011, 01:00 PM:

Over here in the UK, the vast majority of our butter is salted and churned from fresh cream. Lurpak and other continetal butters are produced from cultured cream and, even when salted, have a totaly different taste.

Years ago, when visiting Paris, I bought a small pat of unsalted, fresh cream butter. This had a very sweet flavour and went excellenty with the French breakfast breads. I've never been able to find anything like it since.

#66 ::: Connie H. ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2011, 02:09 PM:

Technically speaking, what they want to bring back is the Poor Farm, not the Workhouse.

(I suspect that the real difference is that the farm may have been marginally more healthy in the long run, in the era of tuberculosis, cholera, et al.)

#67 ::: --E ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2011, 02:31 PM:

I found an article about the Norwegians appealing to Iceland to send butter.

Dammit, now the price of Smjör is going to go up. This is why when Whole Foods has it in stock, I buy several pounds and freeze it. No offense to my grandparents and earlier ancestors, but the Icelandic butter beats that Kerrygold stuff like a rug.

#68 ::: --E ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2011, 02:41 PM:

Braxis @65: What is "cultured" cream? My google-fu may just be weak today, but all I'm finding are articles about yogurt.

#69 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2011, 02:52 PM:

E @ 68
Cultured cream is to sweet cream as (cultured) buttermilk or yogurt is to milk.

#70 ::: --E ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2011, 04:16 PM:

SamChevre@69:'s butter made of cream that's been doctored with bacterial cultures?

I admit I have no idea how we (Americans) make butter, but it would never occur to me someone could add bacteria (presumably for flavor) and not get sour cream or yogurt.

Is American butter cultured or not? I mean the commercial-but-decent stuff, such as Land-O-Lakes. LOL's website says the ingredients in their unsalted butter are sweet cream and "natural flavors." The ingredients in their salted butter are sweet cream and salt. There's no mention of cultures anywhere, unless that's what "natural flavors" means.

#71 ::: Ken Brown ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2011, 04:22 PM:

On the matter of work farms and prison labour, I've been re-reading HG Wells, "The Shape of Things to Come"

From chapter 31:

By 1975, from Manchuria to Cape Colony and from Vancouver to Java, the old state of affairs - peasants in debt, peasants working to pay rent, peasants bringing in goods in arrears, fishermen, miners, factory and gang workers generally, collectors and hunters, the old immemorial economic life of mankind - was recovering vigour. Debt serfdom was returning everywhere. Rents were rising everywhere. Everywhere the increasing surplus product was being intercepted according to time-honoured patterns. Even slavery was reappearing in thinly disguised forms.

It had always been a strong tendency in the old order to utilize the labour of offenders against the law. Forced labour seemed so just and reasonable a punishment that whenever the possibility of using it profitably appeared the authorities set themselves to multiply indictable offences and bring luckless people into unpaid servitude. In the "classic" age most mines were worked and most galleys propelled by convicts. In the late Middle Ages the Mediterranean shipping waited on the magistrate, and if offenders did not appear in sufficient numbers they had to be sought for. Out of the dimness of the Fifties and Sixties into the returning publicity and activity of this phase of recovery there appeared everywhere local bosses, chiefs and political gangs inciting and driving people to the production of marketable goods. The Supply Control Report of 1976 on "Conditions of Labour Supplying Goods to Us" notes the existence of convict labour in North and South America, on the West Coast of Africa, in Soviet Russia, Central India, North China, Japan, Java and elsewhere, and states that in many districts it is hardly distinguishable from kidnapping.

"The cheapness of human beings", runs the Report, "is once more impeding the efficient organization of mechanical production. Outside the range of our own services and factories, there are vast and increasing masses of people now living at a standard of life too low and under stresses too urgent for them even to begin to understand the objectives of the Modern State, and, drawing its sustenance from their degradation, there is arising again an intricate tangle of exploiting classes, entrepreneurs, wholesalers, retailers, money-lenders (lending the local coinages and exchanging against our notes), politicians, private and corporation lawyers, investors and landowners, of the most varied types, but all having one common characteristic, that they put profit before service and will resist and drive as hard a bargain as they can with our expanding organization. These things are returning about as fast as we are growing."

(Its not a *very* good book. A rather more depressing overlong rehash of his "Modern Utopia" from nearly 30 years earlier mixed up with some fun tropes nicked from Kipling. But its worth reading, and makes some good points. And its always useful a reminder of just how OTT right-wing Fabian socialists can get. If there had ever been a Writers and Artists Revolution, the reasonable, sane, rational, technocratic, centrist Wells would have made much more oppressive commissar than that ranting old hairy lefty William Morris)

#72 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2011, 04:29 PM:

E @ 70

You do get a sort of sour cream when you culture cream. (Note that various cultures have distinctive flavors--cultured buttermilk, yogurt, greek yogurt, and kefir are all a "sort-of sour milk.") Then you churn it, just as you would sweet cream. Almost all American butter is "sweet cream butter"; very occasionally you will see roll butter that's made from soured cream. The most traditional soured cream butter, which I don't think can be legally sold, is made from naturally soured cream--just milk left to separate, and the cream skimmed off and left sit at room temperature until it thickens. I do not like it at all, but tastes definitely differ.

#73 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2011, 05:04 PM:

Thanks to those of you who've explained about European butter being cultured - I guess that's why it tastes a bit wrong to me. (I'm American, and grew up in a household where margarine never appeared, though in later years there's some around for when my vegan brother visits, and there were a few years that doctors were telling my mom that margarine was healthier, before they decided that transfats were unhealthy.)

I can see how Norwegian protectionist tariffs might "help" their farmers by raising prices of Danish butter to double or triple the usual market rate - but I'd think that with this craziness going on, even that would be a bargain and somebody'd start importing it.

#74 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2011, 06:16 PM:

Bill, don't forget that Europe is as wide and various as the whole US of A. I'm used to the salted butter/buttered salt I get here in Ireland (yes, the disrespected Kerrygold upthread is an example), and nothing at all tastes as good to me, anywhere else.

But the Norway vs. The World salted butter wars are news to me. I had kind of written off continental Europe as a "no thank you, I'll have Mayonnaise" zone. Interesting to learn that the Norwegians also like real butter.

#75 ::: Ken Brown ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2011, 06:34 PM:

I usually buy unsalted French butter from the supermarket. The ubiquitous "President" brand. Lurpak if thats not around. Its pretty much the same as English or Irish butter. I guess its mass-produced for our market. Price has gone up 50% this year. Maybe there is a shortage. We used to whinge about butter mountains...

#76 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2011, 06:58 PM:

Lee @42: Partner: "Cat, get out of the dishwasher!" Me: "Weasel help!"


needs weasel help.

#77 ::: Linda Hafemeister ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2011, 07:06 PM:

You'd never know it from the mass-produced stuff, but butter can also taste very different depending on what the cows have been eating.

For a while we got fresh, whole milk from a local farmer. We'd skim off the cream, put it in an empty, clean jar and shake it* into butter. Every now and then we'd get an herby or oniony flavor, and one memorable time the butter was practically orange -- the farmer apparently let his cows graze some really interesting places! -- but it was always good, just different.

As for the salt question, we always worked a little salt in at the end to help sweat out the last of the whey, but these days I buy it without and like that better.

*My mom taught Head Start for many years, and every year used butter-making as a multi-purpose lesson (part instruction-following, part pre-reading, part where-your-food-comes from, part fun). She had a big poster with the "recipe" mostly in pictures, and used a big peanut-butter jar so it was easy for the kids to see the butter form. Each kid got a turn shaking the jar, and they'd spread the new butter on fresh bread at the end. The kids always loved it, and since she brought the leftover butter home, we loved it, too!

#78 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2011, 07:15 PM:

"Lurpak" sounds like a skiffy word. I'm figuring its a large cow-oid, milked by the sturdy colonists of Phalogian IVb.

Lurpak butter on quadratriticale bread . . . a traditional breakfast on eclipse days.

#79 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2011, 08:27 PM:

Linda @ #77, we made butter that way with our kids when they were small, but we had to use grocery-store cream. We should do it again using the vastly superior local stuff we have access to now....

Re "Lurpak", it always makes me envision some arcane process in which the butter is crammed into giant tuba-like horns from which it is no doubt shot forth for distribution. Maybe to butter-starved Norwegians.

#80 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2011, 09:45 PM:

I like Plugra butter, a European-style brand available at my local supermarket. It has the oddity that half a pound is priced at $3.99, and a pound costs $3.69.

(Yes, you read that right.)

#81 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2011, 10:20 PM:

Grackle at # 38:

Don't forget to search for

  • "ths s jst t sy" for the disemvoweled versions; *

  • "guvf vf whfg gb fnl" for the rot-13 versions.

* When you type in "ths s jst t sy", one of the suggestions that Google offers is "this is just to say parody". The singularity is approaching.

#82 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2011, 11:36 PM:

Wirelizard, if you're still looking for where Google's "Advanced Search" got off to:

It's in the menu that appears when you hover over the cogwheel/gear thingie in the upper right-hand corner of Google's landing page.

It took me a good 15 minutes of cussing, hissing, and spitting to find it myself. Mystery meat links and unintuitive hidden hover-over menus! We hates them, precious!

#83 ::: Braxis ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2011, 04:28 AM:

Linda Hafemeister @77
Did it ever fail to set? In the dairy of our local historical farm, they told us that this was a sure sign that the dairy maid had dallied too long with her beau the night before.

Lila @79

Indeed, a set of entwined lurs is still used on the packets today.

#84 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2011, 09:05 AM:

Allan Beatty #81: Also, it's hard to tell with Google's cookie-shuffling, but I suspect that Making Light has reached a size and link density such that it's actively showing on their maps.

Nicole #82: Oh yeah -- I just helped Mom set up her E-mail "Christmas card", and those teeny pictorial icons (instead of menus!) are just annoying as all get-out. Without my experience, "computer talent", and better eyesight (!) on call, Mom would have been pretty well stuck, on what should be a reasonably simple task.

#85 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2011, 11:05 AM:

If you scrutinize it hard enough, you can see that the butter that Matt Devlin left out on his kitchen table in episode 6x01 of Law & Order: UK is Lurpak. (Okay, he would have had to have left it out in 5x06, but you don't see the table until 6x01.)

This message brought to you by the demands of fanfic, which involve watching a hated episode TWICE in order to get the details right for the story that corrects it. I didn't wind up needing the butter except to have someone twit him about leaving it and the jam out, but it was there.

#86 ::: inge ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2011, 05:55 PM:

Low-carb diet fad or holiday cookie baking season?

After I went through one kilo of butter weekend before last, I have *theories* about butter shortage...

#87 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2011, 06:10 PM:

inge #86:

Holiday baking season is certainly responsible for an extremely localized butter shortage right here in the middle of River City, as I have *just* finished baking up at least ten sheets of madeleines (I may have lost count; there may be more): half large, half very tiny.

#88 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2011, 04:37 AM:

It sometimes quite hard to figure out just what the politicians are doing, when so much of the press is grinding their own political axes. But what is slowly emerging about David Cameron and the EU is becoming pretty damning.

1: The British proposals were presented at the last minute, over a week after the EU governments usually present their proposals for each other, before a summit. There's a lot of talking in that week, confidential discussions about the proposals where the various countries discover what they can agree to easily, and start the serious horse-trading on the rest. Some of the elements of the British proposals would likely have been supported by other EU members. They included a higher tax rate on the financial industry.

2: Mr Cameron, after presenting proposals too late for effective negotiation, then withdrew British support, rejecting an EU settlement, on the grounds of "national interest" and a failure of the other countries to negotiate.

3: Banking in the UK is a smaller sector, in terms of employment, than manufacturing. Around 80% of banking staff are working on the "retail" side. And the banks have cost, in government support since the Crash, about ten times their annual payment of taxes. Yet supporting investment banking is described as in the "national interest".

4: Yet there is a very vocal, right-wing, magical-thinking, anti-Europe element in the press which is extolling Mr. Cameron's apparent virtues and swallowing, hook, line, and sinker, the party line on what happened. And they use every trick in the book of biased samples to claim overwhelming support for getting out of Europe.

5: And it remains legal to charge interest rates of 1% per day, which according to the standard calculations for such things, is an annual rate of over 4200%. The promoters of such lending can give plenty of examples where it can compare favourably with what the High Street banks offer, but implicit in the scenarios is that you have no reserves, and your pay barely covers normal expenses. Oh, and they spend quite a bit on TV advertising.

It is hard to avoid the conclusion that our two-timing bastard of a Prime Minister is securely in the pocket of the bankers, a class of people with neither conscience nor competence, driven solely by sociopathic levels of greed.

But what's new, eh?

#89 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2011, 04:47 AM:

David Hermon @84

I think the combination of effective moderation and the general high standards of wit and erudition would boost Making Light's reputation at Google, wherever any human input to the ranking process is involved. As a test for the quality of machine filters, the presence or absence of this site can be expected to be significant. It is an obvious example for testing the ability to distinguish between spam and diversity.

#90 ::: Ken Brown ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2011, 08:41 AM:

Dave Bell @88

And not just last-minute but irrelevant.

The main ones included:

- guarantee new mechanism would not impose a Tobin tax - but no-one had suggested that, it was a straw man.

- guarantee foreign banks allowed to operate on same rules as EU banks. Again, no-one had suggested different. Anyway this meeting was meant to set up a group of member states to decide on bank regulation (among other things).

- allow countries who joined the new mechanism (including Britain) to veto any proposed new financial regulations that affect their banks. BUT THE WHOLE POINT OF THE NEW SYSTEM IS TO IMPOSE FINANCIAL REGULATION ON GREECE AND ITALY.

So of the three main points he claimed to want to negotiate, one, though a good point was quite irrelevant (the Tobin tax idea is, frankly, silly. And its probably never going to be implemented. But it probably never would have been. Cameron is taking credit for having slain an unborn dragon); one pre-empts the whole process (Are the Brits saying they can only join in negotiation if they are allowed to choose the outcome before it starts?); and another subverts it entirely (is Cameron expecting the Greek goverment to vote in favour of sanctions against themselves for breaking the rules? Or is that only to be allowed for Serious Players like UK, France, and Germany?)

That isn't negotiation. It is populist bullshit designed for the Tory press at home.

#91 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2011, 09:33 AM:

Dave Bell #89: (who misspelled my name, hmmph ;-) )

Excellent points. As far as nailing spam quickly and accurately, I suspect ML is right up there with corporate sites that have "report" buttons and paid employees to follow up on them.

I'm pretty sure the Google Machine tries not to depend too much on their own employees, but we also get lots of inbound links, regularly including Big Sites and Big Names. (supra vide, Krugman)

#92 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2011, 11:07 AM:

And indeed, "Scandinavia and the World" has buttered up.

#93 ::: Phil ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2011, 11:48 AM:

The Guardian has really, really had it in for the LibDems ever since they had the unmitigated gall to sign up with the Tories rather than consent to be the handmaiden of the left. (As they were apparently ordained to be in the minds of the Guardian commentators.)

Personally, I think the LibDems would have "made a strategic mistake" whichever way they jumped & made what they perceived to be the least worst of the available choices. Labour had made *no* preparations whatsoever for the possibility of coalition government & the Tories at the time had a whole policy package ready to roll & knew exactly what they were and were not willing to give up to get the LibDems on side. In addition, the electoral result made a coalition with Labour very difficult to sustain: the numbers made it very difficult that a coalition with Labour would survive. The offer of an AV vote from the Tories finally clinched the deal.

Then the Labour voters decided to vote against AV as a result of some kind of weird mental process where getting back at the LibDems was more important than their own future survival (various polsci types pointed out in very strong terms that it was very much in Labour's interest to vote for AV, especially given the forthcoming boundary commission changes.) That's politics for you.

#94 ::: Nathanael ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2011, 11:21 PM:

I suspect the Scottish National Party is now the most popular party in the UK by far.

They are unfortunately hampered by not running any candidates in England. Perhaps England should humbly request overlordship from Scotland. :-)

#95 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2011, 01:46 AM:

Phil @93

The anti-AV campaigning was full of lies. I think people were also scared by the way European Parliament elections had worked out. I have, I think, 5 MEPs, and one of them is from the BNP. The sense of being represented is quite different.

#96 ::: Ken Brown ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2011, 10:46 AM:

@Dave Bell - you have an BNP MEP because of proportional representation. AV isn't proportional representation.

As you say the campaigning was full of lies. They tried to put pro-PR people of it byt saying it wasn't worth voting for AV because it wasn't PR. And they scared anti-PR people by pretending it *was* PR.

Also the waters were muddied because nearly everyone confused two or three separate issues. PR, multiple-member constiuencies, and voting methods.

If we are going to have single-member constituencies (there are good arguments both for and against) then AV is pretty clearly the best simple way to count the votes.

Campaigners on both sides went on about AV being not as good as STV - which is arguably true for multi-member seats but we weren't being asked to vote on multi-member seats, we were being asked to vote on single-member ones.

#98 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2011, 10:14 AM:

While this may simply be an extreme case of 'ordinary fish', I felt as though it ought to be mentioned on the nearest possible Scandinavian themed thread. (I hope to see a treatment of it on Scandinavia vs The World şome day.)

#99 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2011, 02:34 PM:

praisegod @98: They already did. :->

Welcome to Making Light's comment section. The moderators are Avram Grumer, Jim Macdonald, Teresa & Patrick Nielsen Hayden, and Abi Sutherland. Abi is the moderator most frequently onsite. She's also the kindest. Teresa is the theoretician. Are you feeling lucky?

If you are a spammer, your fate is in the hands of Jim Macdonald, and your foot shall slide in due time.

Comments containing more than seven URLs will be held for approval. If you want to comment on a thread that's been closed, please post to the most recent "Open Thread" discussion.

You can subscribe (via RSS) to this particular comment thread. (If this option is baffling, here's a quick introduction.)

Post a comment.
(Real e-mail addresses and URLs only, please.)

HTML Tags:
<strong>Strong</strong> = Strong
<em>Emphasized</em> = Emphasized
<a href="">Linked text</a> = Linked text

Spelling reference:
Tolkien. Minuscule. Gandhi. Millennium. Delany. Embarrassment. Publishers Weekly. Occurrence. Asimov. Weird. Connoisseur. Accommodate. Hierarchy. Deity. Etiquette. Pharaoh. Teresa. Its. Macdonald. Nielsen Hayden. It's. Fluorosphere. Barack. More here.

(You must preview before posting.)

Dire legal notice
Making Light copyright 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014 by Patrick & Teresa Nielsen Hayden. All rights reserved.