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This was first published over a year ago, and it received an underwhelming 26 comments, about a third of which were from me, apologizing for writing such an opaque piece. Only a couple of my longtime readers got the main point I was trying to make. It was an experiment that failed. Ah well, when at first, you don’t succeed…. 

Here is a slightly revised version.

I am baking a cake. A chocolate cake. I start the oven preheating, read the recipe, and gather the ingredients…sugar, flour, eggs, milk, vanilla, chocolate, baking powder, and mix them up in a bowl. Baking time is 45 minutes. When the batter is ready, I pour it into a cake pan, and open the oven door. Just then, the doorbell rings, and when I open the door, you are standing there.

“Hi Clyde. C’mon in. I am baking a cake and I want you to taste it.”

You are fine with that.

“I would like to ask a favor. I want you to do a blind tasting.”

We are old friends, so you trust me. Bad mistake. I lead you to the kitchen, you sit down, and I blindfold you.

“Okay, are you ready to taste the cake?” I ask.

“Yep.”

I get a spoonful of the batter and say, “Open up.”

And I drop it into your mouth.

You can’t help yourself. You make a face.

“That’s not cake. It tastes like sweet, chocolate-flavored library paste.”

“Okay, okay, sit back and relax. Let’s give this a few minutes, and we’ll try again.”

So I put the pan in the oven, and set it for 20 minutes.  To pass the time, we talk about the usual trivia…the weather, Trump’s latest outrageous tweets, immigrant children being raped in detention centers at the border…the usual stuff.

When the buzzer sounds, I pull the pan out of the oven and give you another spoonful.

“Gah! It’s warmer and gooey, sticks to my teeth. What is this? I thought I was tasting cake. Gimme a glass of water to wash this crap down.”

You’re starting to get pissed, and I try to calm you down.

“I’m sorry. Bear with me. I promise you the next taste will be better.”

I stick it back in the oven and set it for 25 minutes.

Meanwhile we get into Russian involvement in the election, Trump’s denials that they were trying to help him, Mueller’s report on how he tried to obstruct the investigation, while insisting that he is innocent…all that stuff.

When the timer buzzes, I take it out and let it cool for a few minutes and then cut a piece.

“Okay, taste this!”

“Ahh! Finally, it’s real cake,” you say.

“Why did you feed me that other crap? I figured out what you were doing. You were giving it to me before it was done to see if I would know it was cake. It was pretty awful stuff, not recognizable as cake until it finally was done.”

I am nodding. “You’re right. All the ingredients were in those three tastes, but it’s not a cake until it’s baked. Until that point, it’s just…ingredients.”

That’s true for many things in our lives, and in one case it has resulted in a major political controversy on an issue that should not be political at all.

Some people insist that the ingredients are the same as the final product.

And that half-baked is the same as done.

Think fetal personhood.