Reading another stupid "study" on improving nutrition, it struck me that Portion and Serving are extremely peculiar units. They are new instances of an otherwise ancient and vestigial type of measurement.
Measurements began with specific terms for quantities of different things.
Pre-literate languages generally have separate words for three sticks, three goats, three men, three women, three yaks, and so on. Broader concepts of three objects
developed much later. The separate-word stage remains in a few old industries or trades. We still have separate barrels for oil and beer and water, separate ounces for gold and pharmaceuticals, separate gallons for plant containers, and so on. All of these are vestigial leftovers EXCEPT portion and serving, which are newly created type-specific units.
When "studies" find that we now need 56,328.3169 Portions of fruits and vegetables per day if we want to survive another day, the "studies" never tell us which type of Portion
or Serving they mean. Peanut portion? Walnut portion? Almond portion? Roma tomato portion? Fresh broccoli portion? Frozen broccoli portion? Campbell's soup portion? Lipton soup portion? Heinz soup portion?
This is less modern
and less abstract
than three yaks versus three women! It's more like having a distinct word for three of the yaks that live in Og's field, and a separate word for three of the yaks that live in Guk's field, and a separate word for three of the yaks that live in Bup's field.
= = = = =
A separate thought branching from the same general subject. Probably a weak idea, but seems interesting at the moment....
We always talk about 'new advances in electronics', and even more annoyingly we always attribute these advances to quantum crap. Nope, completely wrong. There hasn't been an advance in electronics since 1940. All the elements of digital and analog circuitry were well-developed in 1940. Every improvement since then has come from advances in materials.
Junction transistors, integrated circuits, CMOS transistors, memory structures, constant shrinkage of space and increase in circuit density. All achieved through new methods for mixing and layering and processing and carving stuff,
especially stuff formed into fibers.
Weak parallel: We also talk about new understandings in nutrition, and more annoyingly we attribute these advances to DNA and genetics. Nope, completely wrong. Vitamins, minerals, proteins and sugars were understood well enough in 1940, though not quite as well as electronics. Most of our recent advances have come from understanding the material properties
of food. We've realized that the old dream of complete nutrition in one pill per day is impossible. Digestion depends crucially on how the nutrients are contained in the fibers
and bulk of actual real meat and fruit and nuts. Our enzymes and acids and symbiotic bacteria are designed to process the material
of real food into necessary nutrients. If we don't let them engage in these processes, digestion fails, and then life fails.