I come back to my point, Ven. Indrajala, that you and the śramaṇas posses the internal fortitude to live the noble life. Maybe because I am a lawyer I have this idea that laws are part of the glue that holds societies together, and mitigates the potential for chaos.
As a lawyer you naturally understand that the laws are prescriptive and not descriptive, so we need to always keep this in mind.
I think some laws need to be in place, but increasing complexity leads to the law of diminishing returns: too many resources and man hours devoted to developing, studying and enforcing laws which do not really have the intended effect. Secular law of course is also different from ecclesiastical law. The latter is limited to a small community unless enforced by the host culture (as is the case in a few countries today, and many in ancient times where the state backed up the sangha). The vast vast commentary literature on the Vinayas in Classical Chinese is enormous, and that was just a fraction of what existed in India. Think of all the hours and palm leaves such endeavours demanded!
I like to think in the Buddha's day it was not so much about laws and rules, but more expectations. There were expectations laid upon śramaṇas rather than rules with punitive measures in place to punish anyone who violated them. In any case, how do you defrock a homeless mendicant? Even if he commits a pārājika, he can just take his bowl elsewhere. The Vinaya laws only make sense in an institutional setting where some kind of priestly privileges are in place which can be revoked by the powers that be. In the Buddha's day there was none of that. There was also minimal hierarchy and things it seems had to be voted on by a community of equals (there were no sangharajas or abbots, a monk could never order another monk to do anything or make decisions for him).
With respect to the voting mechanisms according to the Vinaya, it seems largely neglected and ignored nowadays. Most monasteries are dictatorships it seems despite the fact monks are supposed to all vote.
So, why be picky about eating after noon, but neglect essential voting procedures? Why insist on diluting your orange juice in the afternoon while neglecting the fact you're not supposed to ride in a vehicle? It boils down to social expectations, doesn't it?
I understand, you as a scholar and free thinker, feel that detailed and antiquated laws are just one more maladaptive societal tool for control. If only modern man in the west possessed the ethics and renunciate sensibilities of the ancient Magadhan śramaṇa.
It begs the question if the Vinaya in the end really produces good ethics and sensibilities in people. If they require rules and punishments to stop themselves as monks from having sex or committing homicide, they probably don't want to be monks in the first place. However, you need those rules when the majority of your monastics are in there because they were destitute or their families placed them there from a young age. I know that in many places this is the case. A lot of monks are monks because they had no choice and as adults they would be a burden to their families if they disrobed. They would also be unemployable. So, maybe strict rules are necessary for them, but others it might be a hindrance to their good works in the world and practice.
But bearing that in mind, we don't need to universally apply rules. What works in one community won't necessarily work in another. What is required in one group won't be needed in another. The Buddha apparently was fine with dropping minor rules and moreover adapting things as necessary in new lands. I take that as license to update things as needed and to exercise common sense (historically this has often been the case in many cultures though it was never framed in such wording). Be flexible like the grass which always bends unlike the stiff branches which snap in strong winds.
Returning to the matter of eating after midday, again it strikes me as unnecessary if you're not doing rounds with your bowl. If you're living in a place with a cook or laypeople giving dana, what is the big deal if you eat dinner, especially if others are happy to provide it? They gain merit from the act of giving you two meals a day rather than one.