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Due to recent exposure to the transmogrifying work methodology known as lean, I feel compelled to eliminate the waste from my list of things to be grateful for this Thanksgiving. So by implementing the lean process for eliminating waste known as 6s, I hereby offer five items that I will be humbly telling God, "Thanks, but no thanks."

Tomatoes. There are allegedly six of them sitting in our refrigerator at this very moment. They are firm, red, and utterly tasteless. This is what the American tomato has come to, which is all the more the shame because the tomato, surprising to many, is native to this land of ours. It was our ripe tomato that launched a thousand and one pasta dishes in Italy. Interesting literary note…when Salman Rushdie—no slouch as a writer—submitted his manuscript for The Enchantress of Florence to his publisher, it was a sharp-eyed copyeditor who told him he couldn’t have his characters dining on tomatoes because as of the 15th century tomatoes had not yet arrived in the (ho-ho) Old World. Anyway, it’s the Old World that still does honor to this most versatile of fruits. In this country, the tomato is one more piece of mass-produced garbage designed for the eye rather than the tongue. To paraphrase Randy Newman, Only God can make a tomato; only man can make it taste like sawdust.
The Second Amendment. Speaking of the Old World, I actually found myself defending the right to bear arms in Europe once. This was in the midst of the George W. Bush/Dick Cheney reign of dumb cum evil. Living under a presidency you don’t trust will cause the paranoia to strike deep and into the most rational of minds it will creep. So I am not totally without empathy for my heavily-armed conservative brethren. The difference is that although the Bush presidency helped me appreciate how one might contemplate a resort to arms, it never drove me to actually resorting to arms. I’m proud to say I was able to endure that eight-year abomination that was the Bush presidency without so much as picking up a Guns & Ammo magazine, let alone an actual gun. Call me crazy, but I just couldn’t get myself to the level of hysteria where I could see myself storming the White House with an AK-47. The French and Italians who listened to my defense of the Second Amendment on the grounds of the hallucinatory need for local militias to resist an oppressive federal government got a hearty laugh out of that. “Wasn’t that your Civil War?” they asked. Indeed it was. Dixie local militias against Yankee local militias. The sorry truth is, local militias haven’t been any use whatsoever against foreign invaders or autocratic rule since before the Civil War. In fact, if we add the 750,000 Civil War dead to the hideous spate of mass killings in just the past few years…from Columbine to Virginia Tech to Sandy Hook, we can see that government-sanctioned, well-armed local militia is a delusion most macabre. Worse, it is far from done doing severe damage to our national peace and tranquility. So pass the gravy and screw the Second Amendment.
Capitalism. This Frankenstein monster of an economic system has tossed our sweet, curly locks democracy into the lake. With the Supreme Court declaring that corporate entities, wholly comprised of legal documents and ledger balances, are entitled to the same rights as flesh and blood human beings; with Congress designing laws to the dictate of corporate lobbyists; and with ordinary citizens alternately quaking in awe or fear of their corporate masters, the founding dream that withstood burial by international communism is now an innocent little drowning victim. Unlike people, capitalism is soulless and heartless. Its unbending guiding principle is the profit-motive. Without the people’s will to regulate it, it will do what it has done—create a gap between the have lots and have less that is simply unsustainable for any society that wishes to be anything more than Saudi Arabia with free porn.    
Freedom. Just another word for nothing left to lose? If only. It is now the most bullshit word in the American lexicon… used by Wall Street greed heads to justify their ongoing pillage of the American economy; used by NRA gun nuts to rationalize armed assaults on our shopping malls, college campuses, and elementary schools; used by military recruiters to seduce 20-year olds into giving up the best years of their lives for the chance to shoot and be shot at by exotic people in foreign lands; used by niggardly politicians to justify taking food and healthcare away from their most needy citizens. People give up their freedoms every day…when they get married, take jobs, buy airline tickets, get drivers’ licenses. The idea that freedom is this absolute value stretched from sea to shining sea that every American lives for and is willing to die for is the biggest lie we tell ourselves as a nation. If it meant all that much to us, we wouldn’t have spent the last 20 years handing it over like lunch money to schoolyard bullies.
Black Friday. Standing in line at midnight on Thanksgiving outside Walmart waiting for a bargain on tomatoes and assault rifles would pretty much epitomize this entire post. So, no, I won’t be giving thanks for Black Friday either.

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Comment Preferences

  •  two slight quibbles: (6+ / 0-)
    In this country, the tomato is one more piece of mass-produced garbage designed for the eye rather than the tongue.
    Well, it's also designed to travel and take a pounding in the supermarket without bruising.  Which explains the cardboard texture.

    Also, refrigerating tomatoes kills whatever good flavor and texture they might have -- but yours probably didn't have any to lose.

    Tipped, recced.

    Dogs from the street can have all the desirable qualities that one could want from pet dogs. Most adopted stray dogs are usually humble and exceptionally faithful to their owners as if they are grateful for this kindness. -- H.M. Bhumibol Adulyadej

    by corvo on Tue Nov 26, 2013 at 10:21:51 AM PST

    •  That was my comment... (3+ / 0-)

      tomatoes should not be refrigerated. And never buy that "on the vine" crap. The pretty ones taste the worst.

    •  My tomato gripe (3+ / 0-)

      We celebrated my Dad's birthday in Las Vegas last June. One night our family group of 10 people, or so, went to a pretty good brewpub at one of the casinos (I forget which one.)

      At a brewpub, you order brewpub food. And the hamburgers we ordered were very good indeed. Big, juicy, nice buns, cooked right. As they should have been, at $12 or $15 apiece.

      But they put the worst tomatoes ever on these burgers! Hard, thick, pink skins, yet watery and mealy insides, and without one bit of flavor at all.

      Definitely greenhouse tomatoes, and picked green before shipping.

      And it's summertime, with huge tomato farms relatively close in California or nearby states. They could easily have gotten nice ripe fruit for their expensive burgers, but no. They had to go with the cheapest, mass-produced crap they could find.

      Bah!


      --
      As through this world I've wandered,
      I've seen lots of funny men;
      Some will rob you with a six-gun,
      Some with a fountain pen.
      -- Woody Guthrie

      by Senor Unoball on Tue Nov 26, 2013 at 10:41:27 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  That's the same problem I have with my local (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Senor Unoball

        health-food stoor.  

        "It's summer, and there are real vegetables being grown locally; why do you have all of this stuff from California and Mexico?"

        "We'd love to carry more locally-grown produce, but we buy centrally and in bulk, and local farmers don't always have the produce we need when we need it."

        I can see their point, but it doesn't keep me away from farmers' markets . . .

        Dogs from the street can have all the desirable qualities that one could want from pet dogs. Most adopted stray dogs are usually humble and exceptionally faithful to their owners as if they are grateful for this kindness. -- H.M. Bhumibol Adulyadej

        by corvo on Tue Nov 26, 2013 at 11:37:05 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  oops. STORE, not "stoor" . . . (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Senor Unoball

          Dogs from the street can have all the desirable qualities that one could want from pet dogs. Most adopted stray dogs are usually humble and exceptionally faithful to their owners as if they are grateful for this kindness. -- H.M. Bhumibol Adulyadej

          by corvo on Tue Nov 26, 2013 at 11:37:43 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  Maybe some truth to this, but still.... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          corvo

          It could be done.

          Certainly depends on where you live and what farming is nearby.

          At our local Whole Foods they put up posters of nearby farmers who supply some of the produce.

          It's very common, especially with tomatoes, to see stickers on the fruit indicating that they come from the same farm that supplies our weekly boxes of veggies.


          --
          As through this world I've wandered,
          I've seen lots of funny men;
          Some will rob you with a six-gun,
          Some with a fountain pen.
          -- Woody Guthrie

          by Senor Unoball on Tue Nov 26, 2013 at 11:45:24 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Ah, but you're talking Whole Foods. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Senor Unoball

            Much deeper pockets . . . and I'd have to ask whether they're selling the farmers' wares on consignment.

            Dogs from the street can have all the desirable qualities that one could want from pet dogs. Most adopted stray dogs are usually humble and exceptionally faithful to their owners as if they are grateful for this kindness. -- H.M. Bhumibol Adulyadej

            by corvo on Tue Nov 26, 2013 at 12:35:21 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

    •  exactly (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Kentucky DeanDemocrat

      This is why I buy heirloom tomatoes and try to use them as soon as possible. But I live in Northern California and have a lot of choice even in supermarkets, not to mention farmers' markets. That may well not be the case in many other parts of the country.

      Which is a pity, because tomatoes as they were meant to be are some of the most delicious things.

  •  Well, I'm going to quibble (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    andalusi, Peace Missile

    but you knew that was coming, right?

    Tomatoes, first.
    You need to visit a feed store and buy a packet of seeds (or go online and get some heirloom seeds).
    Raise 'em in a planter-pot on a windowsill, if you have to. The results will be a revelation to you, in terms of flavor. Also, they're filled with good nutrients. But they must be treated as fragile items; they are, after all, fruits. (Save your seeds and replant, if you get real genuine non-commercialized tomatoes. If you've a farmer's market nearby, ask the producers there for good varieties for your climate. Tomatoes are picky about the weather, the soil, the humidity, and all manner of other outside factors.)

    Second, "capitalism" -- what's beating us all to death isn't actually capitalism. It's a libertarian view of market supremacy designed to return to the so-called Gilded Age. So yes, we need to be loud about our universal opposition to the TPP -- and we need to elect Senators and Reps who'll renegotiate NAFTA. Done right, capitalism recognizes it debt to workers everywhere.

    Third: Black Friday. You're not opposing it strongly enough.

    Fourth: Freedom.
    Without the freedom to oppose the government publicly aloud and in writing we don't have our nation anymore.

    Fifth: the 2nd Amendment.
    Change the Constitution to remove this from the Bill of Rights, if you oppose it so.
    Then be prepared to find yourself at the mercy -- even more -- of owners and corporations than we already are because we'll lack any means of meaningful self-defense.

    LBJ, Van Cliburn, Ike, Wendy Davis, Lady Bird, Ann Richards, Barbara Jordan, Molly Ivins, Sully Sullenburger, Drew Brees: Texas is NO Bush League!

    by BlackSheep1 on Tue Nov 26, 2013 at 12:08:30 PM PST

    •  I fail to see (2+ / 0-)

      how my firearms are going to defend me against rapacious corporations and their owners.

      When GlobalEnergyCorp shows up to frack for natural gas in my favorite state park I don't see how me standing in front of their truck with a gun is going to get me anything except maybe a bullet from a police sniper between my eyes.

      And when my employer replaces me with a machine, or cheap overseas labor, I'll have to sell my guns to pay the bills anyways.

      If the pilot's good, see, I mean if he's reeeally sharp, he can barrel that baby in so low... oh you oughta see it sometime. It's a sight. A big plane like a '52... varrrooom! Its jet exhaust... frying chickens in the barnyard!

      by Major Kong on Tue Nov 26, 2013 at 01:25:20 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Major, I just can't agree (0+ / 0-)

        but I respect your position.

        Can't see how giving away our tools puts us in a better position.

        LBJ, Van Cliburn, Ike, Wendy Davis, Lady Bird, Ann Richards, Barbara Jordan, Molly Ivins, Sully Sullenburger, Drew Brees: Texas is NO Bush League!

        by BlackSheep1 on Tue Nov 26, 2013 at 09:37:44 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  I've got lean and 5s at my job too. (0+ / 0-)

    Whenever something disappears, the typical shop floor employee says it got 5s'd out. Kind of like going Elvis, only quicker.

    Lean and 5 or 6 s would be great but they are not a one size fits all, and they don't work when they are just for show, to impress the uber-cons in upper management that, gee, by golly, we got some discipline he-yah in our structured workplace. Whatevah.

    And I agree with all five of your lean points, especially the tomatoes.

    Gobble, gobble.

  •  Two important rules for the kitchen (0+ / 0-)

    1. Tomatoes should NEVER be refrigerated. I agree that most of those purchased in the super markets have little taste, but you can take away all the taste by refrigeration. You have to grow your own tomatoes or buy them directly from a farmer to have tomatoes that smell and taste like a real tomato.

    2. Apples should ALWAYS be refrigerated. Never leave apples at room temperature.

    "let's talk about that"

    by VClib on Tue Nov 26, 2013 at 08:50:00 PM PST

  •  French & Italian? (0+ / 0-)

    Nothing like having citizens of 2 nations that have been conquered, cumulatively, 3 times in the past century, had a dictator, and is run by organized crime try lecturing the USA on what rights we should have.

    Those who would sacrifice liberty for security deserve neither.

    by FrankRose on Fri Nov 29, 2013 at 12:24:02 PM PST

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