Meat Myths

Little knowledge is firsthand, especially of the internet variety.  Historical pithy quotes are especially notorious, and usually taken out of context, or lost in translation – then regurgitated with finality in an argument or rhetorical discussion, with the effect of all parties present concluding that their interlocutor is an idiot.  The conversation then ends, with the idiot now deluded into thinking their witty prose triumphant, when in reality the other parties are just choosing to disengage from an idiot.

But occasionally the idiot finds a like mind, and the quote spreads like chain mail, its original meaning lost until someone, finally, uncovers the primary text.  But by then it’s too late.  The false quote has entered public knowledge, even if factually incorrect, and continues to perpetuate.

See the Light

Cooking knowledge is not immune to “factual” misinformation.  So for the benefit of the internet, I’ve compiled a short list of common falsities that the internet’s puerile mind can digest.  Falsities I’ve seen repeated so frequently that they warrant callout, because they’ve intersected with my hobbies and I can give demonstrable firsthand knowledge.  Here they are:

  1. Smashing burger meat
  2. Cooking meat cold
  3. Flipping bacon


First, the oft-repeated advice: “Never smash a cooking burger down with a spatula.”  The reasoning?  It makes the burger dry.

I think this advice originates from the declining quality of commercial grinds, wherein the fat is added after the fact to extruded lean beef.  This system makes fat content easy to measure and highly adjustable, but the fat isn’t part of the grind and, once heated, liquefies out and separates.  This makes it easy to push out with manual force, thus smashing burgers makes for dry burgers.

Add to this problem that commercial grinds hold most of their moisture as added water (rather than naturally within the cells), and any little pressure will rapidly dehydrate the end product.

The system by which grinds are “assembled” creates a patty whose meat, fat, and water content are only held together by the mixing process – and easily denatures with over-handling.  Thus, don’t smoosh it.

…Fuck Yeah!

A higher grind quality doesn’t suffer nearly as badly from these issues.  And in fact benefits from being smashed to intentionally dry it.

Also, not all cooking methods suffer the same problems.  Smash burgers are typically made on griddles at lower temperatures than grills.  The lower temperature prevents the meat from crisping as completely, and holds the excess fat and moisture within the burger due to the flat cooking surface, which further prevents crisping and makes for a greasy product.  Smashing a burger of quality grinds overcomes these limitations without over-drying, with the added bonus of making a cool flat diner patty.

I’d never smash a burger on a charcoal grill.  That would dry it out and cause flareups.  But it’s always better to take the smash approach when using my griddle or cast iron.

Of course, if you insist on buying cheap commercial grinds, then don’t smash your burger – fine.  But don’t say universally to never smash a burger under any circumstances.  That just tells your guests that you’re feeding them cheap meat and you don’t know how to cook.

Setting out meat

I find it especially amusing when I hear this one: “Meat should be room temperature before cooking.”  Ew.  Leave perishable food in the danger zone for hours?  The reasoning: even cooking.

Here’s why this is dumb:

  1. Uneven cooking is often desirable.
  2. Uneven cooking, when undesirable, is usually just the result of using too high a temperature.

Say I want something seared without overcooking it.  Consider again the humble burger.  How does one accomplish a crispy outer layer with a juicy interior?  Why, cook it cold of course!  I even partially freeze my burgers before they hit the grill.

And what about a roast?  I’m not leaving a 10lb turkey on the counter to hit room temperature.  And I’ve never seen a turkey recipe that calls for high heat.  The cold meat issue has never been an issue.  It’s been long figured out.  It’s okay to cook cold meat!

And consider smoking meat.  Starting cold lets the meat stay in the smoker longer.  So if you want really smoky smoked meat, no setting it out before cooking.

Flipping bacon

This one I just plain don’t get: “Only flip bacon once for even cooking.”  I don’t get it because it’s as incorrect as incorrect can be.  Unless you’re oven-cooking, which I think is blasphemous for my own reasons, pan-cooked bacon curls down, lifting the center of the slice.  The edges burn while the middle stays raw.  Constant flipping places the middle of the up side down, whereby the curling process repeats and is soon lifted, requiring another flip.

Maybe this advice came from oven bacon, or those who use a bacon press.  But whatever the reason, it’s now accepted as universal fact, and leads to burnt and raw bacon with the classic pan fry method.


Don’t blindly accept cooking advice.  It can lead to lackluster results, but more importantly it can be a food safety issue.  But most important of all, it can make you look like a real doofus.


Cold and Snowy (Part 3)

As per usual, here’s my post-holiday winter post, recapping whatever I was up to in January last year.

Also here’s the first good winter snow of the season

Aside from that, the holidays were stressful as usual and too action-packed for my liking.  So here’s a toast to the new year, and the holidays being concluded once more:



Knife Wielders

Guns are of course a polarizing topic for us Americans.  But unlike guns, knife design has a far less malleable intent of purpose.  Sure, the gun pendants will argue otherwise, that a gun is a tool–but its purpose is always to kill, regardless of the target being animal or human.  A knife, however, may indeed be designed for killing, and it may be multi-purpose say for military or survival applications that might require killing, but it may also be very obviously designed for non-lethal utilitarian tasks.  And the attempt to use the latter for the act of killing would probably bring equal harm to the wielder.

But this is difficult to explain to those whose sheltered lives never necessitated the carrying of a basic blade, for why carry a blade at all when other tools can be acquired to accomplish a blade’s tasks?  And if a blade is indeed required, could it not be readily requisitioned from somewhere other than a person’s clothing?

Is it necessary to carry a knife as regular personal equipment?

This question came to mind recently when, due to my own negligence, I had my daily-carry folding knife confiscated at a Trans-Siberian Orchestra concert.

The concert was pretty awesome though!

As what seems to be the increasing norm at large gatherings, security has tightened to the point of ridiculousness.  Coupled with the wannabe cops that seek this employment, the experience is akin to TSA, minus the wandering hands squeezing my crotch.  Humph–their loss.

But the old guy who caught me was nice (no crotch-squeezing involved), and probably just making some extra money in retirement, so rather than relegate a fine blade to the dumpster, I gave it to him on the spot.  He was openly pleased at the offering, so at least I know that it went to an appreciative new owner and not a douche-bro trying to act ultra-alpha.

But back to the question: why carry a knife at all?  Does its application warrant the irritation of having personal property essentially stolen?  My daughter, who herself has lived an incredibly sheltered life to date, didn’t seem to think so.  Maybe I just have outdated habits based on early experiences of a life I no longer live myself.

So to answer the question, I began documenting every instance where I reflexively reached for and used the knife in my pocket.

Over the course of 3 days I…

  • Opened a cardboard box of making soda
  • Pried a gap in some siding in order to fit a Christmas light mount
  • Opened a letter
  • Opened a box from Amazon
  • Made a quick mark on the ceiling for mounting a decoration hook
  • Opened a computer box
  • Teased some fuzz out of the Roomba’s wheel well

Okay, 3 days isn’t a large sample size, but it was a tedious list to maintain.  Still, it’s enough to make two observations:

  1. Having a knife on my person is incredibly useful…around the house.
  2. I don’t leave the house very often, and when I do, I haven’t needed a knife.

So perhaps it’s time to revise my loadout.  I could always just stash a knife in each of the vehicles in case I’m out and need one, but as I’ve already taken this approach to flashlights and never seem to have one in the glovebox, that might not guarantee knife access.

Or maybe the world just needs to chill the fuck out.

In the meantime, I’ll just carry cheapies.  Fuck you, paranoid world.

Legislation and Compromise

It’s no surprise that here in America, land of the two party political system, much of our legislation is based on simplified dichotomy.  The “us or them” mentality makes identifying threats easier, as we don’t have to waste our precious brain power on trivialities such as long-term consequences; be it financial (Social Security) or environmental (climate change); letting us preserve it instead for more important matters like my fantasy football picks.

There are of course some who over-analyze issues, but you don’t hear much from them because instead of shouting over presumed injustices on the internet, they’re instead locked into quiet introspection.  They might join the online community occasionally, but as their input is based in logic rather than emotion, it’s uninteresting to read.

So defines Premise 1: the loudest people, whether digitally or corporeally, represent those of the most extreme opinions.

However, in order for a technologically-modern large society to exist, the laws of such a society must still seek a general compromise, else all will devolve to total collapse or dystopia (which always leads to a later collapse once the orgies and drugs run out).

Ergo Premise 2: the correct form of legislation is that which lies between the extremes, if the goal is societal preservation.

And here are two recent policy events to drive the point:

  1. Permitless concealed carry of firearms in Ohio.
  2. Rowe v. Wade.

Everyone legally allowed to possess a firearm in Ohio can now carry that firearm concealed without needing to first acquire a permit.  Constitutional open carry is of course already allowed, so this will remove ambiguity when interacting with law enforcement, eliminating a potential felony charge fabricated by our not-so-popular police force, and removing the individual interpretation over personal rights.  Win for the Left, right?

Well no, because it reduced restrictions on guns and any such loosening of gun restrictions is bad.

Okay, well what about the Right then?  Any restrictions on guns is encroaching on constitutional rights–don’t tread on me and such–, so this is good, right?

Nope.  The Right’s mad because it let more people into their club without having to pay.

Conclusion: no one’s happy.

Rowe v. Wade established abortion limitations and guarantees, preventing local legislation from banning it outright, but also restricting allowable timeframes and conditions.  So a state couldn’t prevent an abortion in the early stages, but they could limit later stage abortions to consider the mother’s health, and late stage abortions were more or less prohibited as at this point there was an ethical obligation to carry the child to term.  The Left was happy, since abortion access was now guaranteed.

No, they weren’t.  These were still laws on a woman’s body, and any such laws are a violation of an individual’s autonomy.

And of course the Right wasn’t happy, because any abortion is murder and therefore wrong.

Conclusion: no one’s happy.

In these two examples, no one’s happy.  But since “no one” represents only the extremists (Premise 1), then what they are are truly moderate policies.  And moderate policies, being compromises, are requirements for societal health and longevity–preservation (Premise 2).

Therefore, these two policies, one accused of Right-wing agenda and the other Left, are in fact neither, and good policy decisions.

(The repeal of Rowe v. Wade was neither moderate nor of benefit to society, as it violates this principle.)

And there you have it: my commentary on contemporary political issues, which includes my thoughts on the policies, without actually including my personal beliefs.  Do I feel either of these is wrong?  I’ll never tell, and you shouldn’t know, because that’s the wrong way to govern large populations.


Demographic Swapping

I worry that as I age I become a little too right of center.  I started out pretty far left, then as a younger professional I leaned moderate.  And now, as I approach middle age, I’m starting to have some unsettling dissonance as the boat tips starboard.

Cognitive dissonance, that is–the concept of having to rationalize one’s thoughts and actions so as to avoid an aneurysm when those thoughts and actions threaten the identity and worth of the self.

And part of identity is demographic.

So it stands that I feel a little twinge of ire for the general accusation of the irrelevancy of white man.


I wrote previously about the Bechdel Test, and gave it its due credit, but found it too concise for a more thorough look at the evolution female characters in media.  I offered some more in-depth analysis, and concluded that the problem was essentially introducing female characters for no other reason than to have female characters (a similar conclusion).

When the character itself lacked depth, then the character distilled down to a simple juxtaposition of gender: in other words, she exists simply to avoid having another male character.  But when the character had proper depth, gender became far less relevant.  So if you create a character in a position of power and authority who’s believable as a person, then gender isn’t important.  If you fail in this task and cast a female in this same position just for that sake alone, then it’s painfully obvious.

No really, check out that post for some examples:

Femme Credibilius

Checking demographic boxes off the list doesn’t make your product a celebration of diversity.  It’s a lazy attempt–pandering to a larger audience for your own gain, and insulting to everyone.

And it’s getting worse.

Now we’ve moved from simply failing to represent women by creating good female characters, to attempting to represent them by swapping the demographic of an already existent character that’s been previously developed out.

And now that’s been extended to race.

And this is being done in franchises that already have demographic diversity.

In the latest Dune movie attempt. Liet Kynes, Chani’s father, is now a woman.  No explanation.  There’s the Reverend Mother, Jessica, Chani, Irulan, Alia, and later that girl who could control worms or something, not to mention the entire Bene Gesserit and Honored Matres sisterhoods.  There is already a large selection of important and powerful female characters.  If you wanted more female power, their influence could be adjusted a little with creative license for the movies.  But to take a minor character and inexplicably change the gender just to add one more?

And from what I’ve seen so far of the Halo TV series adaptation, the Keyes are now black.  They didn’t turn Locke white, or Halsey male.  No, their demographics remained untouched.  They just reduced whiteness/maleness…a little.  To keep it from becoming too prominent I guess.

My point is that this isn’t a zero-sum game.  You don’t have to rob one demographic to give a consolation prize to another.  Rather than change canon, you could just flesh out more and better characters across broad demographics.  That would actually celebrate human differences without implying that there’s too much of one or that one is better than another.

Shouldn’t that be the real goal?