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There is Now a Standard for Everything: Nutritional Snacks and Perhaps Making Tea

From page 21 of the California 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) RFP:

A nutritional snack must be served each day the after school program operates. All snacks are required to meet specific nutrition requirements as stated in California Education Code (EC) Section 49431. Include a statement that explains how the nutritional snack requirement will be met.

There really is a standard for everything now, and I don’t even think this one is a joke—unlike the ISO 3103 standard for brewing tea.* Its abstract says:

The method consists in extracting of soluble substances in dried tea leaf, containing in a porcelain or earthenware pot, by means of freshly boiling water, pouring of the liquor into a white porcelain or earthenware bowl, examination of the organoleptic properties of the infused leaf, and of the liquid with or without milk, or both.

Some of us can truly specify everything and understand nothing. And by “some of us,” I mean bureaucrats. But I think the joke ISO writers were at least in on what they were doing, and their effort is close to Orwell’s Politics and the English Language, where he does things like take the King James Bible and render it in bureaucrat-speak:

“I returned and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.”

Here it is in modern English:

“Objective considerations of contemporary phenomena compel the conclusion that success or failure in competitive activities exhibits no tendency to be commensurate with innate capacity, but that a considerable element of the unpredictable must invariably be taken into account.”

I would like to see the writers of the 21st CCLC RFP have a go at the KJB in California bureaucratese.

Incidentally, Orwell was also interested in how to make tea, but he did not describe his preferred tea making style this way: “The method consist in extracting of soluble substances in dried tea leaf.” Alas: what a loss to humanity.

* I don’t think I’ve ever seen an (intended) joke in an RFP. If you have, leave a note in the comments.

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