Thursday, April 24, 2008

FEMA: Every household should have 1-cubic-meter Rice Krispie Treat in garage

The alleged rice shortage, at least in this country, seems more and more like A.J. Liebling's description (in a 1946 "Wayward Press" piece) of the "Great Gouamba"--"meat hunger"--in New York that year, and the press's role in creating it:

"Gouamba" is an African word meaning "meat hunger." Mr. Liebling first encountered the word in a book "Stories of the Gorilla Country," by Paul De Chaillu, an African explorer, lecturer and author of boys' books. "On our return to Obinji," Dr. Chaillu wrote, "we were overtaken by my good friend Querlaouen, who had shot a wild pig. The Negroes feasted on koo loo meat..." For days and some times for weeks a man does not get any meat at all; and whenever any other food is set before him you will hear him say, "Gouamba," which means, literally, "I am sick of food, I have a craving for meat; I care for nothing else ..."
There was plenty of meat, of course, it was just (temporarily) expensive. The press's incessant drumming on "shortages" created a sort of meat paranoia, or meatanoia, the Great Gouamba, which fed further stories, and so on. (Fun fact: in 1946 New York had 1,791 daily newspapers, all thriving.)

This is the same business. The Great Rice Hunger. Look how Reuters plays the secretary of agriculture's (quick, what's his name?) statement today that there is no goddamn rice shortage:

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Ed Schafer on Thursday sought to calm the frayed nerves of consumers, saying there was no shortage of rice in the United States even as a major outlet limited sales. . . .

Even as. But:

"We don't see any evidence of the lack of availability of rice. There are no supply issues," he told reporters after addressing a conference on agro-terrorism in Kansas City.

So that should be a load off everyone's mind.

Update: Agro-what now?

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