Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Quote of the Day

Sometimes, a hypocrite is nothing more than a man who is in the process of changing.

Brandon Sanderson, Oathbringer

Still Can’t Get Away from Inside

Why Bo Burnham’s INSIDE Is So Good: 3. Four Act Story Structure

Shit, does Inside have a story structure? And do I need to map it out? I don’t think I’m up to it today, but I might in the future.


More About Native Narragansett / Algonquin Food

I keep digging around after more information, possibly after I don’t really need more. A list of what they ate in general links:

I’ve been on a journey with this research. The initial excitement has worn off, I’ve pushed through the frustration of finding out how hard and uncertain this endeavor might be, and the fruitlessness of trying to re-create something impossible on my own. I’m now feeling like I want to jump into action, to synthesize some of this information and to figure out where I can realistically start, and what compromises are best.


Roller Beetle Time

As a reminder: I’m on Stage 2 (Beetle Juice) of unlocking the GW2 roller beetle mount, and I need to get a move on with that. When games resemble work because of their ridiculous complexity!

Tuesday, June 22 2021

Quote of the Day

I volunteered to lead the book club. So I’m going to lead the fucking book club.

Anonymous Friend of Awesome

Narragansett / Algonquin Corn Recipes

So here are some I found on the internet. Are they authentic? Ugh. Maybe?

Plymouth Archaeological Rediscovery Project (PARP): Southeastern New England Native Recipes A list of recipes found in early European writings. The recipes leave a lot to be desired, but can give a good idea of what might be more authentic modern recipes.

Chowders and Cornbreads: Northeastern Comfort Foods, 4 Recipes

Wampanoag Food and Recipes

Scholarship:

Books that might be helpful:

There’s a lot here I need to process. But at least it’s all in one place.

Monday, June 21 2021

Quote of the Day

Life could not be lived making decisions at each juncture.

Brandon Sanderson, Oathbringer

In Her Own Words, This Time

Living Earth 2019: Roxanne Swentzell

In this segment, Roxanne Swentzell (Santa Clara Pueblo) of the Flowering Tree Permaculture Institute, speaks on “Reclaiming Native American Foodways.” She talks about the institute’s research into sustainable living in the high desert environment of New Mexico and a project that challenged community members to eat only traditional indigenous foods for 90 days as a way of alleviating and reversing heart disease and diabetes that plague Native peoples in the United States.

YouTube Video description, Smithsonian NMAI

Listening to what they did was incredibly overwhelming. They didn’t just approximate their native diet, they recreated their food culture from stories, from 30 years of seed saving and permaculture gardens, from archeologists. They made adobe ovens. They planted and harvested heritage crops. They learned to butcher buffalo. They threw pottery pots to cook the traditional way. They chiseled out traditional hand-grinding tools to mill their corn.

They, they, they, they. It also hurts my heart, not a little bit, that they get to try this out in community, and that’s something that doesn’t look to be in the cards for me. Still bitter, it seems.

In any case, I’m going to take this slow. Ingredient by ingredient slow. And I’m starting with….


Corn.

This was not an easy one to start with. Over the past couple of weeks, here are the links I’ve amassed about Algonquins and corn:

So I can find authentic Narragansett Indian corn, but it’s ground up in local stone mills with no nixtamalization. Which is a problem, if corn is your staple crop. It would be, if I didn’t have a mix of other heritages, so I’ll also be working with other grains, like oats and barley. Not sure if the nixtamalization is more important or less important than eating the exact product grown in the exact place of my ancestors. I suspect in the end I’ll have to buy both and just see how eating them feels.

Note: I still need recipes. I also need the Narragansett stories about corn, which might not be as easy to find.


Well That Was Depressing

1Dime, “The Burnout Society: Hustle Culture, Psychopolitics, and Social Control”, YouTube

Even the ostensibly more “wholesome” self-help content that involves self-actualization, pseudo-philosophy, new age philosophy, positive psychology, and wellness culture more generally, seems harmless, right? But they all perform a similar indirect function of psycho-political social control. In contemporary self-help content, the magic word is “healing.” The term refers to self-optimization that is supposed to therapeutically eliminate any and all functioning weaknesses or mental obstacles in the name of efficiency and performance. The neoliberal imperative of self-optimitization serves only to promote perfect functioning within the system.

Basically Americans don’t need to be under totalitarian control, because the soft power systems in place that make us slaves to capitalism are so much more efficient! We brainwash ourselves into the single goal of growing the capitalist economy through individualistic hustle culture. Awesome. I mean, this is nothing I haven’t heard before, but this video doubles down on how comparison and social media mean we are policing ourselves and each other to work harder forever. That’s…ya know….not good.

Update: I’ve had more time to think about this video, and I’ve decided that I need to spend less time watching and reading about the myriad ways in which capitalism sux and read and watch a lot more things about ways to fix or replace it. Just talking about how bad it is is low-hanging fruit. I’m sure it’s good for the algorithm. But just sitting with all these feelings of hopelessness churned up by random content makers is not helpful for anyone. I went back to this video, and here’s all it had to say about fixing this problem it has pointed out:

Capitalism by its very nature always demands upward economic growth. More productivity, more profit, and higher investment returns. Capitalism will not automatically lead to a better society unless people demand changes. This requires people to take action and seize power. To join together with others to explore and fight for socialist alternatives. Now the specificities of how such a society would work and how we can achieve it are far beyond the scope of this video, but it is a topic we eventually plan to explore….

1Dime, “The Burnout Society: Hustle Culture, Psychopolitics, and Social Control”

Just “seize power,” huh? From people who have systematically schemed to keep power, working in concert, for centuries? I am doubt. Won’t they just seize it back? We thought the white supremacists were done, and look where we are now. Where is all the solar punk, YouTube?

Saturday, June 19 2021

Quote of the Day

Making a literal difference, metaphorically

Bo Burnham, “Comedy”, Inside

I had thoughts that I would go backward in making this blog, filling in links and ideas that I’ve found and recorded before I started. But I’m realizing that’s impossible–it’s not how information works in this Information Age. There’s nothing to do but keep going, and to keep trying to catch you up as we go. To that end:

This Is Going To Be A Lot of Work, But I Really Want To Do It

You are what your ancestors ate: ‘The Pueblo Food Experience Cookbook’

“I’ve been a seed saver for about 30 years,” Swentzell told Pasatiempo, “and I’ve been very aware of how crops are adapted to their environment. I had read an article that said it takes 20 generations for any species to adapt to an environment. Given that thought, I was fascinated with the idea that we humans, being like seeds, also adapt to our environments. And the way we move around nowadays, our bodies are constantly having to adapt to a new environment. Then I realized that Pueblo people are a very special case in that we are one of the few tribes that were not relocated. That means that we still have our genetic code to our environment intact. But the problem is we are not eating our local food; so even though we have location intact, our food is like we are living in a foreign country all the time. And our health is struggling. So I wanted to see if I could experiment with eating our traditional foods, foods we evolved with for more than 20 generations in the same location, and see what it would do for us.”

The experiment proved, beyond a doubt, that returning to a pre-contact diet — free of dairy products, refined sugar and carbohydrates, and other highly processed foods — had a positive effect on all the volunteers…

“Granted, we were all suffering from some kind of health issues, but because the diet was based on a cultural identity — this is the food our people used to eat — there was also a reconnecting that none of us realized would happen. It was so strong. It’s hard to even put words to it because it was something we all felt, a connection to something that was very, very old in ourselves, like we went home in a deep, deep sense. It was not a fad or a diet,” she said. “This was a belonging. This was an empowerment event.”…

Non-Native readers who are interested in the Pueblo Food Experience and want to improve their physical and mental health should think about their own ancestors, Swentzell said. “Where were your genes in one place for 20 generations?” she asked. “Find out what foods were there then. Everybody has an indigenous food base — and it would probably fit your body better than any other foods.”

I read this and immediately wanted to do it. First because I’ve been struggling with IBS and food intolerances for years. But also because I have such a varied ancestral background that I often feel appropriative in trying to claim any parts of it (feeling like I’m “not enough” of anything). But food–food is so safe to claim! No one gets mad or uncomfortable with you for eating tasty food. It feels like an incredibly low-stakes, inviting way to take on some of my heritages while still being deeply satisfying and potentially healthful.

Of course, Roxanne Swentzell doesn’t seem to be mixed race, so what foods are going to work for me aren’t nearly as clear cut. But trying things out will just have to be part of the process. Here’s my cultural identity list that I will need to go through:

  • Irish (not sure where exactly, but I think my mom knows)
  • English (same)
  • West African (need to try to narrow that down)
  • Narragansett Indian
  • Ashkenazi Jewish

I’m tackling Narragansett cuisine first, because I grew up in Rhode Island / New England, so I feel like those are the foods my system might be extra familiar with. Genes + experience, I guess.

Sunday, June 13 2021

Quote of the Day

Artists spend more of their lives making bad practice pieces than they do masterworks, particularly at the start. And even when an artist becomes a master, some pieces don’t work out. Still others are somehow just wrong until the last stroke.

You learn more from bad art than you do from good art, as your mistakes are more important than your successes. Plus, good art usually evokes the same emotions in people–most good art is the same kind of good. But bad pieces can each be bad in their own unique way. So I’m glad we have bad art, and I’m sure the Almighty agrees.

Brandon Sanderson, Oathbringer

Building without expansion

Terra Nil is a “reverse city builder” where you restore an ecosystem

In Terra Nil, your goal is twofold. Your first task is to reclaim a barren wasteland, finding ways to reintroduce plants and wildlife into an ecologically devastated area…Once your ecosystem is up and running again, your job shifts: now you’ll need to up stakes and leave, removing any traces of your presence in the area, and completing your work to restore the area to its former natural glory.

PC Games

It’s not out yet, but I can’t wait to play it. This is the kind of art that I love to hear about existing in the world, the kind that gives us a vision of a future where we thrive. As much fun as dystopian endtimes are to read about and watch, living through one is becoming less and less fun.


Are there native Rhode Island plants that are similar to native Pacific Northwest plants?

RI Native Plant Guide

I don’t know, but I found this link that is at least a bit of a start to finding out. This is more research for my new obsession of eating like my ancestors. The Guide will filter by edible plants.


I like cranberries–are they native to RI? And how did the Narragansetts eat them if so?

Native Fruit: Cranberry for all Seasons

Called sasemineash by the Narragansett and sassamenesh by the Algonquin and Wampanoag tribes, the tart berries were an important food source, as early European settlers came to discover. To make pemmican, the fruit (or another berry) was incorporated with pulverized dried fish or meat and melted tallow, and formed into cakes baked by the sun. An endurance athlete of today knows that a proper combination of fat and carbohydrates is necessary to fuel the body. Pemmican was the original power food as this provision provided energy, lasted for months, and was easily portable on long journeys. 

The Indians and English use them [cranberries] much, boyling them with Sugar for Sauce to eat with their Meate, and it is a delicate sauce…

Cranberries (Vaccinium macrocarpon), wild in only certain parts of the Northeast and Pacific Northwest…

Julia Blakely, Smithsonian Libraries and Archives

Well, some of the recipes to try are going to be interesting, for sure. But cranberries are easy to get on both sides of the country at least.