She is sitting in the library, studying. It's her most common pastime, by hours; spending time with her sister is more enjoyable but Jaromira prefers to socialize more broadly and Katarzyna would only get in the way. This is better on net; the two of them share a room, so it isn't as though her sister's time is entirely hogged by the other girls who call this boarding school "home." Or at least "prison." Katarzyna doesn't mind it, though; the school library is excellent, and basic manners and care for the books has endeared her to the librarian to a sufficient degree to lubricate the interlibrary loans process when there's something she wants to read that they don't have.
"You don't, you puff dough and then soak it in honey."
"That does sound good. I wonder if Greeks get tired of honey or if it just tastes like how sweet things are? Or, for 'Greeks' read 'Greeks prior to the global economy', I imagine now they have access to white sugar."
"I imagine that when one only has the one source of sweetness it just tastes like sweetness. I don't think ancient Greece had maple trees or sugar beets, and I know sugarcane doesn't grow in that climate."
"You know the thing about how abolitionists used to grow maple trees? So they wouldn't need cane sugar."
"I did not know that! It makes perfect sense, though."
"I'm actually not sure you can get that much maple sugar out of one symbolic tree planted in your yard but maybe they just ate way less dessert than we do today."
"I think most people historically ate way less dessert than we do today."
"Poor prior generations, all the infant mortality and none of the dessert."
"The past was an unpleasant place to live."
"Yup. I wonder what'll stand out about today in five hundred years? I guess there are more and less optimistic answers to that."
"I mean, one way for there to be more and less optimistic answers is that they might or might not improve along all axes that exist."
"We already have vegetarians, I truly hope it doesn't take us five hundred years to solve factory farming."
"It probably won't. I'm more worried about things that aren't obvious to anyone now, though, I wonder what they are and if I'd think they were stupid or not if I heard them."
"I've read fiction that postulated aliens supposedly more socially advanced than us who found various things about humanity horrifying and/or primitive; some of them sounded plausible, others...not."
"What are the best of?"
"Best plausible--wars, schools having different levels of quality instead of every child getting the very best. Most implausible--privacy, government-as-opposed-to-anarchocapitalism."
"I don't recall personally having seen them done well in fiction, but I can imagine aliens who don't care for privacy or governments."
"In a sauce-for-the-goose-is-not-sauce-for-the-gander kind of way, I can see aliens with different psychology being harmed by the habit of obscuring absolutely everything, but can you imagine an Earth that was one step down from a hive mind?"
"The point is that the aliens are not from Earth, isn't it? They don't have to exclusively be horrified things that would be biologically plausible or reasonable for humans to jettison."
"Well, true enough. But when the author frames things in such a way that the narrative is clearly portraying the aliens as objectively correct..."
"Yeah, that's dumb - for one thing it undersells the diversity of human experience and probably the diversity of alien experience too - and for another there's a huge gulf between 'the aliens have a point' and 'there's definitely no good reasons humans wound up making this compromise and not that one'."
"Indeed. Of course, I can't say I'm surprised; it's quite a logical consequence of a combination of typical-minding and a superiority complex."
"A superiority complex?"