COB-41: bureaucratic cooking

Good bureaucratic work requires well-aged ingredients, careful planning, and thorough attention to detail.  You cannot bake your way through bureaucracy. Baking, braising, buttering, calculating, reporting, and all other forms of cooking have a bureaucratic flavor.

A galantine de Poulard is an outstanding bureaucratic dish.  The term galatine may come from the old French term for “jelly.” It involves stuffing one meat inside another meat, pressing the combination into a cylindrical shape, and surrounding the meat form with fat.  Note that a galantine de Poulard requires a full five-day work week to prepare.  Hence you will not have to waste time as you would with fast food.

We also recommend Short Ribs Braised in Porter Ale with Maple-Rosemary Glaze.  That offers a fully satisfying 14 syllables. It also has a glaze.  Any recipe that ends with a glaze is good bureaucratic cooking.  This one also embraces horseradish.

Long, detailed recipes set out as a series of required steps do not in themselves make for good bureaucratic cooking. Good bureaucratic cooking has to be done in a heavy, impermeable, immalleable, non-stick pot.  The best is a cast-iron pot.  Cast iron has offered non-stick cooking long before newer, cheaper, less durable coatings on lighter metal pots.  Do not wash a cast-iron pot with soap and water or you will damage the surface seasoning.  Simply scour off food remains while the pot is still warm, and you’re ready to consult a cook book to begin cooking again.

Other bureaucratic reporting this month:

Borud observes that bureaucrats “take great pride in doing things by the book.”  If you want to make the dish correctly, you’ve got to follow the recipe.

Alim Remtulla provides a nice example of how bureaucrats encourage excellence:

my companion, an Afghan of few words and gentle features, explained that Kafkaesque bureaucracy is nothing new to this country. Under the Taliban he was forced to wear a beard of at least eight centimeters. Erring on the side of caution he kept it at ten.

Bureaucrats encourage citizens to go beyond the merely necessary.

Ranil Dissanayake at Aid Thoughts discusses lack of coordination among bureaucracies:

different departments within developing country bureaucracies become so preoccupied with developing and maintaining their own sphere of influence that their level of interaction tends to be minimal. What communication does exist is typically characterised by mutual antipathy. Budget departments do their work in isolation, emerging from the subterranean depths of their Excel spreadsheets to request information every once in a while. Planning departments produce strategies and plans without much discussion with either Tax and Revenues or External Finance. Tax departments produce new policies in close discussion with their Minister but rarely with the budget departments, let alone the separate Ministry of Trade and Industry.

Bureaucracies must unite.  In unity there is strength.

The Cultural Property observer asks, “Is the Italian cultural bureaucracy the best steward for coins?” The answer is yes. For the most important matters, you can count on bureaucrats.

Tina Tang describes her experience with Italian bureaucracy:

I waited almost two hours before my number got called. When it did, I found my way to the correct sportello, which turned out to be a desk with a gregarious lady sitting at it. She cracked jokes with me the whole time as she punched my information into the computer. I was in a bit of a surprised daze, having everybody be so nice and helpful to me.

I think this is a quite common experience, although its seldom noted. Most persons only regurgitate demeaning bureaucratic stereotypes.

Rainbow Scientist provides another heartwarming exception:

in 3-4 weeks, [my friend] got response from the pension office which deals with such case (not the one where he sent the forms, but they forwarded his forms to the right place), and he was asked to submit an additional form. Of course, copy of this additional form was included in the letter.

Forwarding forms to the correct department, providing a copy of an additional form — these are ways that bureaucrats show that their love and care for humanity.

ZC at elusive lucidity states:

To perceive a historical progression of forms presents itself as a problem to be constructed through space.  Bureaucracy would aim to pulverize this impulse, eliminate the perceptual pathways for conceiving of these nodes.

Total nonsense.  Without bureaucracy, there would be no historical progression of forms.

The Nerdy Redneck offers photographic evidence of bureaucrats going above and beyond what is strictly necessary.  Again, such behavior is more common than is commonly recognized.

MIX 106.3 in Canberra, Australia, is creating a “Men of the Public Service” pinup calendar.  With commendable public spirit, MIX 106.3’s Cam and Lisa are doing this to “change the way the rest of Australia looks at Canberra and the public service.” This great initiative deserves to be replicated around the world. Moreover, to advance gender equity and bureaucratic appreciation, every office in every bureaucracy should be required under personnel regulations to display a “Men of the Public Service” pinup calendar.

Nick at The Mexican Year recognizes that graduate coordinators are more that just a “human appendix of the [academic] bureaucracy.” In addition to functioning as “an early warning system for sick building syndrome,” graduate coordinators know a lot about procedures in the academic-bureaucratic complex.

That’s why I’m knocking on the door of Tammy-Sue, the graduate coordinator for my department.  She’s shoehorned into one of the “small” offices as they’re euphemistically called, really just a broom closet with a sealed window on one end and a nameplated door on the other. There’s barely room for her to turn sideways to welcome me.  Limpid too-black hair dangles in front of her tortoiseshell glasses, and her merle turtleneck sweater seems like a bad choice given the greenhouse effect in her office.  But that’s her deodorant’s problem, not mine.

Tammy-Sue is a fine example of the many bureaucrats struggling valiantly to do their jobs in hot, confining circumstances.

Arnold Kling at EconLog declares:

I created a list of entrepreneurial temperaments and found that when I reversed them–creating an “anti-entrepreneur”–the resulting personality is in fact a typical bureaucrat, colorless and rigid.

Bureaucrats are much different from entrepreneurs, and, in many cases, bureaucrats are much better employees than are entrepreneurs.  But the assertion that bureaucrats are colorless is absurd and offensive.  Mr. Kling, who writes a bland monochrome blog with nary a color image, provides a paradigm of colorlessness.  The Carnival of Bureaucrats, in contrasts, displays for the whole world bureaucrats’ exquisite appreciation for coloring. Mr. Kling might become more knowledgeable if he spent more time with bureaucrats.

That’s all for this month’s Carnival of Bureaucrats. Nominations of posts to be considered for inclusion in next month’s carnival should be submitted using Form 376: Application for Bureaucratic Recognition.

Great Depression concentrated newspaper advertising expenditure

The Great Depression that began late in 1929 and extended through the early 1930s had a major effect on U.S. newspaper advertising expenditure. U.S national advertisers spent less on newspaper advertising in 1938 than in 1919. In 1938, spending of national advertisers in newspapers was only 57% of the corresponding advertising spending in 1929.

Greater concentration of national newspaper advertising expenditure occurred in conjunction with the collapse in advertising  expenditure.  In 1924, the top-100 national newspaper advertisers accounted for 22% of total national newspaper advertising spending. In 1938, the top-100 national newspaper advertisers accounted for 55% of total national newspaper advertising.  This increase in the share of the top advertisers is not merely the product of mergers among top advertisers.  In 1938, the top-50 national newspapers advertisers accounted for 44% of national newspaper advertising, far greater than the 22% for the top-100 in 1924.

The current contraction in advertising spending in newspapers and magazines is more rapid than that in the Great Depression of the early 1930s. The concentration in advertising spending that occurred in the Great Depression, if repeated in the current contraction, may help traditional newspapers. Established personal relations and customized services are likely to be more important for securing the business of the largest advertising accounts.  Hence increased concentration in advertising spending probably favors traditional media over new media.

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Data (for U.S.): national newspaper advertising expenditure by top-100 firms in 1924 and 1938 (Excel version); aggregate national and local newspaper advertising spending, 1915-1938 (Excel version); magazine advertising expenditure, apparently available only for 1913 to 1929 (Excel version).

telephone social networks

Telephone social networks are quite small:

I recently sat down at an SQL terminal with several hundred billion call records behind it. With a simple SQL query, I determined how many distinct people the average American telephones more than once in a given month (answer: five).

Facebook users average 130 “friends”. Telephone social networks are more like the grooming relations at the evolutionary roots of interpersonal affiliation.

CareWare licensing

Arachnophilia, an extraordinary web page development workshop, is available under a CareWare license. Arachnophilia’s author Paul Lutus explains:

here is a payment I will accept for a copy of Arachnophilia — To own Arachnophilia, I ask that you stop whining about how hard your life is, at least for a while. When Americans whine, nearly everybody else in the world laughs. We have so much, and yet we manage to:

  • Overlook great examples of beauty around us,
  • Miss our most important opportunities,
  • Manage to make ourselves miserable by expecting something even better to come along.

Every time we whine about how tough we have it, apart from the fact that we look ridiculous, we make it harder for people around us to appreciate how much we have. We encourage people to overlook the things we do have, the gifts of man and nature. We provide a context to dismiss everything as not good enough, to be miserable in the midst of plenty.

Don’t get the wrong impression — many things are unjust, things that should be struggled against until they are made right. This page is for people who can’t find even one thing to take joy in, to appreciate. These people not only make themselves miserable, but they infect others with the attitude that the world should right itself, by itself, before they will take simple pleasure in anything.

So here is my deal: stop whining for an hour, a day, a week, your choice, and you will have earned your copy of Arachnophilia. Say encouraging words to young people, make them feel welcome on the planet Earth (many do not). Show by example that we don’t need all we have in order to be happy and productive.

Being able to encounter the work of astonishing persons like Paul Lutus is what makes the Internet great.  In honor of Lutus’ pioneering CareWare license, all posts on purple motes this week I release under a CareWare license.