People sometimes ask me, "Isn't it hard coming up with a subject for a column every week?"
The answer is, well, yes and no.
In the first place, who says that my columns actually have subjects? But, leaving this aside, it wouldn't be so hard to write a column if readers didn't expect me to entertain them at the same time.
I appreciate receiving compliments from kind and insightful people who say that they like what I write. But then there are the others.
"Quit blathering on about insects!" they urge. "What's with the cluster flies? You are wasting your life disseminating your personal views on earwigs."
I mention that I am doing some research on armadillos.
Did you know that armadillo moms always give birth to four identical pups? I think baby armadillos are called pups, anyway.
"Who cares about armadillo quadruplets? I don't see the relevance. And what possible good can come of carrying on about dinosaurs and jackalopes week after week? By the way, we are all familiar with the seasons, we all know what time of year it is, so don't bother reminding us about back to school or turning leaves or, oh so predictably, the dread approach of Christmas, and after that New Year's resolutions and then the inevitable robins and daffodils I can't believe you're still seeing Biff."
I have even heard, "Who cares about Michigan?"
You see what I'm up against. Why do these critics continue to read "Martha Sez" week after week, knowing, as they must, that they will never discover therein anything of compelling interest to them?
Still, I brazen on, heaven knows why. Here's a subject for a column: I have been noticing lately that many people, even those we don't think of as terribly introspective, are taking little quizzes on Facebook in order to find out more about themselves. "If you were an animal, what kind would you be?" a typical quiz might begin. "Do you enjoy chasing cats? Does unfair criticism simply glance off your thick hide? Do you gravitate toward darkness and furtive pinching? Then you are a dog (armadillo, earwig)."
Soul searching is apparently in style. Eric Chemi, in his article "Food Politics: The United States of Bacon and Kale," published Aug. 15 in Bloomburg Businessweek, has come out with some startling news from experts who study social media trends. These experts have ascertained that the number of times Twitter users tweet about two foods, kale and bacon, gives us a pretty fair idea which way they lean politically. Are you a kale person or a bacon person?
Mentions of kale predominate in blue states, while bacon is tweeted about more in red states. I can't imagine that anyone could prefer kale to bacon. (Be honest.) Still, New York is a kale state.
I don't understand why people would be tweeting about bacon or kale, either one. The Bloomburg Report didn't specify whether the mentions were favorable or unfavorable. Someone in New York could tweet, for example, "I simply loathe kale," or "I find kale indigestable," or "I don't see the relevance of kale," while someone in Wyoming or Mississippi might tweet "Bacon is fattening." That seems not to matter. All the media trend experts were doing was counting how many kales, how many bacons.
Did you know that the word trend can now be used as a verb?
According to the article, 17 of the 23 kale states voted for Barack Obama, while "11 of the top 13 bacon states voted for Mitt Romney. The moderate states on the kale/bacon spectrum were also the most balanced politically, splitting equally between Obama and Romney in 2012."
As you might expect, Texas is a bacon state. Bacon states include Iowa, Alabama and Kentucky. Some kale states are Hawaii, Vermont, Massachusetts and California.
In the interest of compromise - crossing the supermarket aisle as well as the Democrat/Republican aisle - Chemi suggested a recipe from Emeril LaGasse in which both Kale and bacon are featured. Since cream, lemon, spring onions, garlic and chicken stock are also ingredients in Lagasse's dish, the kale might just slide by. Still, don't you think spinach would be better?
Does it make you nervous that there are social media experts out there right now studying how American food and political preferences are trending? What do your Facebook posts say about you?
Did you know that baby porcupines are called porcupettes?
Next time: Which Detroit-built car are you?
Have a good week.