Author Topic: In the New Yorker...  (Read 489056 times)

Offline serious crayons

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Re: In the New Yorker...
« Reply #740 on: November 19, 2013, 11:00:40 am »
Incidentally, I seem to recall reading somewhere that there is a school of thought that a fluid intended to nurture baby bovines is not something humans should be consuming.  8)

That's more than a school. It's the explanation for why some demographic populations have high rates of lactose intolerance. If your genetic heritage comes from a part of the world where cows weren't widely cultivated for milk, there's a good chance your body lacks the enzymes needed to digest it properly.

But the way you phrase your comment, it sounds like you're getting at something broader, an idea based on logic rather than enzymes. Like, if it's designed for baby cows to drink, it can't be good for humans. By that logic, though, we'd probably better avoid not just all dairy but also eggs, because yuck, and even honey, because it's produced for insects, not humans.

And by that logic, we'd be at least somewhat better off drinking human milk. We could end dairy farming and repace it with breast factories, offering employment opportunities for countless otherwise unskilled young women.

And indeed, I have heard of places that sell cheese and ice cream and things like that made of human breast milk (not sure how it was obtained). But tell you what, I don't think those products were flying off the shelves.

BTW, of course, baby humans can not drink plain baby cow's milk. It's amazing to think how tied down women were, how dependent babies were on their mothers, and the important role in some cultures of wet nurses, in the many many millennia of human history before the invention of infant formula.



Offline Front-Ranger

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Re: In the New Yorker...
« Reply #741 on: November 19, 2013, 11:49:04 am »
The position of wet nurse was a very popular one for women who needed to work back in the day. Another option was to get a couple of goats, as Robert Duvall did when he played a man whose wife died in childbirth (I forget the name of the movie). Sure, babies can't drink cow's milk but zillions managed to survive somehow when they didn't have a mother, as often happened in the days pre-obstetricians and maternity wards.

In this interesting discussion, I'm reminded of another New Yorker article about the bacteria that live in our bodies and allow us to live. One of the things I learned from that article is that babies are born without this colony of bacteria and have to build it up over time. Thus, they even have trouble digesting mother's milk, and that leads to the dreaded "spit-up" situation. Now you can thank me for tethering the discussion, if ever so slightly, back to the title of the thread!
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Offline Jeff Wrangler

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Re: In the New Yorker...
« Reply #742 on: November 19, 2013, 12:29:15 pm »
But the way you phrase your comment, it sounds like you're getting at something broader, an idea based on logic rather than enzymes. Like, if it's designed for baby cows to drink, it can't be good for humans. By that logic, though, we'd probably better avoid not just all dairy but also eggs, because yuck, and even honey, because it's produced for insects, not humans.

I believe there are some vegetarians who do just that.
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Offline serious crayons

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Re: In the New Yorker...
« Reply #743 on: November 19, 2013, 01:47:43 pm »
The position of wet nurse was a very popular one for women who needed to work back in the day.

Years ago, I read a book on the history of motherhood by a renowned anthropologist. In the old days, rich people could hire wet nurses and poorer people could leave their babies at group homes to be nursed. But the latter were so disease-ridden they were virtually a death sentence and even the former was risky. Some families who couldn't feed or otherwise support another child -- this was before birth control was fine-tuned or widely used and abortion methods, herbal or otherwise, were crude and dangerous -- would do basically what Hansel and Gretel's parents did: abandon the kid in the forest. This was not uncommon.

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Another option was to get a couple of goats, as Robert Duvall did when he played a man whose wife died in childbirth (I forget the name of the movie).

I haven't seen that Robert Duvall movie, and hadn't heard anything about newborns being able to survive on untreated goat's milk.

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Sure, babies can't drink cow's milk but zillions managed to survive somehow when they didn't have a mother, as often happened in the days pre-obstetricians and maternity wards.

Zillions survived, and zillions more died. Almost all of the increase in life expectancy -- either between modern times and long ago, or between developed and underdeveloped countries now -- is due to improved infant and child mortality.

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In this interesting discussion, I'm reminded of another New Yorker article about the bacteria that live in our bodies and allow us to live. One of the things I learned from that article is that babies are born without this colony of bacteria and have to build it up over time. Thus, they even have trouble digesting mother's milk, and that leads to the dreaded "spit-up" situation. Now you can thank me for tethering the discussion, if ever so slightly, back to the title of the thread!

There's fascinating research going on now on the functions of our bodies' biotic systems. They're treating digestive-tract disorders with fecal transplants. They've connected obesity to the presence or absence of specific bacteria in the gut, suggesting the possibility of treating obesity by introducing "good" bacteria. They gave fat mice bacteria from the guts of thin mice, and the fat mice lost weight.



Offline serious crayons

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Re: In the New Yorker...
« Reply #744 on: November 19, 2013, 02:05:23 pm »
I believe there are some vegetarians who do just that.

Sure, they're called vegans! But the implication of the school of thought you said you'd recalled reading about was that while there's nothing questionable about eating meat or other animal products, there is something uniquely inappropriate about humans consuming fluid intended to nurture baby bovines.

I say, humans are designed to be omnivorous. If your conscience (or body, or disgust reflex) tells you to avoid meat, by all means avoid meat. Same with dairy and other animal products. If not, that's fine, too. I eat meat because if I eat too much sugar and starch I get fat, and if you cut out sugar and starch it's hard to cut out animal products. But I don't think there's anything inherently "wrong" with eating animals.

What I do think is deeply wrong is how farm animals are treated in this country. Unfortunately, it is very difficult to be a non-vegan American and not at least to some extent support factory farming. It's possible -- buy animal products produced by small farms, whose practices you're familiar with, rather than ordinary brands from the grocery store -- but as a busy single mom of two omnivorous teenage boys with gigantic appetites who restocks groceries multiple times a week, I can't take the time to drive out to family farms. Or at least I choose not to.

Maybe when my sons move out I'll start doing more of that. Or frequenting co-ops that set non-factory standards for the meat and dairy and eggs they sell.

Hunting and fishing for meat (not trophies), though not everybody's cup of tea as outdoors activities, should get the approval of any carnivorous person, IMO. It seems far less "wrong" to kill and eat a duck or deer than it does to keep a chicken in a dark shoebox its entire life. Or to pump a cow full of toxic antibiotics that are not only bad for the cow but also endanger all of humanity by weakening the effectiveness of antibiotics.




Offline Jeff Wrangler

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Re: In the New Yorker...
« Reply #745 on: November 19, 2013, 02:24:00 pm »
Sure, they're called vegans! But the implication of the school of thought you said you'd recalled reading about was that while there's nothing questionable about eating meat or other animal products, there is something uniquely inappropriate about humans consuming fluid intended to nurture baby bovines.

You're taking this much too far. I was really just being a wiseass commenting on milk drinking. I wasn't saying anything about meat eating.

Meanwhile, if you haven't done so already, you must read the little piece "London Postcard: Mother Tongue" by Lauren Collins in the Nov. 4 issue. I just read it over lunch. You are in a unique position to enjoy it, and I'm sure you will.  :)
"It is required of every man that the spirit within him should walk abroad among his fellow-men, and travel far and wide."--Charles Dickens.

Offline serious crayons

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Re: In the New Yorker...
« Reply #746 on: November 19, 2013, 05:00:32 pm »
You're taking this much too far. I was really just being a wiseass commenting on milk drinking. I wasn't saying anything about meat eating.

Which was exactly my point, but ...  ::) Let be, let be. I missed the implicit "wiseass alert" in your post.

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Meanwhile, if you haven't done so already, you must read the little piece "London Postcard: Mother Tongue" by Lauren Collins in the Nov. 4 issue. I just read it over lunch. You are in a unique position to enjoy it, and I'm sure you will.  :)

Thank you! I rarely read TotT, so I'm sure I would have missed it without your pointing me to it. For those who haven't seen it, it's about words and phrases that are often used by journalists but less often in ordinary conversation. Apparently there's a Twitter hashtag #journalese; I'll have to look it up. I'm surprised they didn't mention "solons" -- a once-common term you rarely see now that I've never heard anywhere else. It's synonymous with lawmakers and legislators (but, like so many favorite journalese terms, fits better in headlines).


Offline Jeff Wrangler

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Re: In the New Yorker...
« Reply #747 on: November 19, 2013, 05:18:05 pm »
I'm surprised they didn't mention "solons" -- a once-common term you rarely see now that I've never heard anywhere else. It's synonymous with lawmakers and legislators (but, like so many favorite journalese terms, fits better in headlines).

Maybe nobody uses it anymore, even in headlines, because Webster's first definition of solon is "a wise and skillful lawgiver." When was the last time you saw one of those in U.S. politics?  ;D

Then again, who studies Ancient Greece in school anymore? I guess you have to be of a certain age to know who Solon was in order to get the meaning of the headline.  :-\

I usually skim TotT to see if there is anything interesting. I figured you'd like this one.  :)
"It is required of every man that the spirit within him should walk abroad among his fellow-men, and travel far and wide."--Charles Dickens.

Offline Penthesilea

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Re: In the New Yorker...
« Reply #748 on: November 20, 2013, 03:58:48 am »
While we're on the topic, or rather so far off topic I can't even see the tracks from here,

 :laugh: You can say that twice and mean it. :laugh:
My apologies to all others, more OT coming.

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:laugh:  That's exactly why I let my kids drink it in unlimited quantities. Well, to be honest I let them drink just about anything (nonalcoholic) in unlimited quantities. But milk is so much more nutritious and less sugary (they drink it plain) than beverages they might choose instead.

For my kids the alternative is water. Sugary beverages like lemonade, sodas, etc. used to be restriced to one bottle (0.75 liter) per child per week. Now Hannah is old enough to do what she wants, Helen isn't allowed any sugery stuff because of her Crohn's and Oliver simply doesn't like it (which I can't take credit for; just his personal quirk).



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While we're on the topic, or rather so far off topic I can't even see the tracks from here, can I ask you one more quick non-New Yorker question? How do you introduce your kids to alcohol over there? Do you wait until they're 18 and then they just drink as older people do? Or do they drink at home at younger ages? I'm interested in your family, but also your culture in general.


Here's the legal situation:



On the Y-axis is the age of kids, on the X-axis are (LTR) beer, wine, sparkling wine, alcopops and hard liquor.

Red = illegal
Red with dot = only allowed when accompanied by an adult in charge
Teal = allowed

From 18 on, everything is allowed.

For my kids, I'd say it's okay to have a little bit of the softer alcohols from about 13 on. You know, special occasions, all the family gathering and having a toast, yada, yada. In such situations I'd say it's okay for kids to have one glass of sparkling wine mixed with OJ, or wine mixed with sparkling water, such things. It's roughly the same with all of our extended family/relatives. In practise however Hannah never wanted any of it, Helen isn't allowed any alcohol (Crohn's again) and Oliver is still too young.

Hannah started drinking alcohol between 15 and 16 with her sports team. Every now and then they celebrate special occasions with sparkling wine in the locker room after the game. I find that completely okay. When she started going out at night (around 16) I've always told her "You can drink, but you can't get drunk."
To be honest, I wouldn't have had a problem with her getting drunk once (but I didn't tell her that! ;D). It's something we all have to go through I guess. So far she hasn't, at least that I know of. :laugh:

It was pretty much the same for me when I was a teenager. I started drinking a couple of sips at 12 on special occations. First time drunk was at 15. On purpose, to try it out. Didn't like the feeling/loss of control. In my whole life I was drunk exactly three times, and a little tipsy maybe once every five years or so. Mostly I just don't like the taste of alcohol.

The one thing I'm really strict about is drinking and driving. No way. I don't drive after a single alcoholic beverage, even though it would still be legal, and I await the same from my kids. For their driving friends the rule is one beer (or one wine). If the driver had more than that, my kids have to call me and I pick them up. Hasn't happened so far.


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When I was a teenager, both the age of adulthood and the drinking age were 18 (i.e., like almost everywhere else in the developed world), but a few years later they raised the drinking age. The federal government did not force states to raise their drinking ages, but would not give federal highway funding to any state below 21. Thus, all states are now 21.


Now that's tricky!

Offline Penthesilea

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Re: In the New Yorker...
« Reply #749 on: November 20, 2013, 04:16:19 am »
Thank you! I rarely read TotT,

What is TotT in regard to the New Yorker? Topic of the - ?
(Yay, I'm back on topic again! ;))