old people are perplexing. they wear large white sneakers with Velcro straps. they’re slow. they have a curious odor. much of what they say is incoherent. they’re remarkably bad drivers. and yet they are at times endearing.

old people love paper.  “just sign this here form and fax it over,” your aging accountant might say. you should refuse: “no, grandpa– this ain’t the middle ages. nobody faxes anymore.” Did you know that the first fax was sent over telegraph wires by an Italian Monk in 1860? that means that the fax machine PREDATES the telephone. why are we still using them?

faxes have modems build into them. do you remember modems? they make tortured cat noises and the FASTEST of these transmits at a WICKED SLOW 33.6kbps. The normal resolution on a fax is barely-readable 200dpi.

again– why are we faxing anything?

“because we need signatures,” that’s what old people say. what is the deal with signatures? have you ever seen a signature you couldn’t reliably forge? most are unintelligible scribbles. somehow the signature is supposed to absolutely validate our identity. this is nonsense at its finest. signatures make no sense. you want reliability? let’s use public/private cryptography to digitally sign documents.

the for-the-time-being workaround? someone emails you a pdf which requires your signature. open it in adobe acrobat, paste in a gif of your signature. save. email it back. no Italian monks needed.

Surprise, surprise– a new report out this week shows that the TSA is wasting our money, hand over fist. Why aren’t you incensed yet? No, I don’t get tired of denouncing the TSA. They’re overwhelmingly obtuse and they deserve it. Oh, and another report this week show that the TSA doesn’t test their machines for safety.* What does the TSA stand for?** (besides pedophilia?)

  • Team Sexual Assault
  • Touching Sensitive Areas
  • Theatrical Security Agents
  • Taking Scissors Away
  • Touching Stuff Aggressively
  • Too Stupid for Arby’s
  • Trampling Several Amendments
  • Teaching Submission to Americans
  • Terrorist Support Agency
  • Terribly Senseless Antics
  • Trampling Servile Americans

Here is some more TSA reading material: Nobody is safer when you take my water. Remember,  if you don’t allow the TSA to rape you, the terrorists win!

* http://www.boingboing.net/2010/12/23/tsa-has-no-regular-t.html
** http://boingboing.net/2010/11/19/44-ways-to-say-tsa-w.html

Let me tell you something about cooks, bakers, chefs and the like; the good ones are deified, as if they possess magical, nay supernatural, powers.

Aunt Margerie makes the most heavenly pies!
Sister Mitchell really knows how to make a great mint brownie.
Uncle Paul bakes awesome chili!

But why do we attribute such majesty and voodoo to those who produce eatable goodness?

One of the problems is with recipes. They are inaccurate and fundamentally flawed. They don’t tell the whole story.

For one, they usually measure with volume, and not mass, which are two very different things.

My friends wife (who runs a site devoted to chocolate chip cookies) says the difference between a GREAT cookie and a mediocre one is in the “heaviness” of the scoop of flour. A heavy 1 cup contains much more flour than a light handed one.

So, all those who have tons of recipe books, now you know why you still can’t make good food.

And then we have ovens, which are notorious for cooking unevenly because of hot spots and for not telling the correct temperature. The point is, we aren’t using science. And to make things worse, if you’ve tried a recipe and failed, you’re likely to think that you just don’t have the cooking equivalent of a green thumb.

Rubbish. I know this is going to be hard to take, but here’s the truth: cooking isn’t art– it’s science.

It’s time for more accuracy in cooking. It’s time for precision and standards in the kitchen.

Fortunately, there are a number of individuals and groups who have noticed this problem and who are attempting to remedy it:

I’ve even registered a domain “nerdscancook.com” in anticipation of more focus on the culinary sciences by the staff here at RBDN.

Yesterday afternoon my brother called:
What are you doing for Thanksgiving,” he inquired.
I’m going to cook a turkey,” I replied.
No you’re not. It takes 3 days to thaw a turkey; if you haven’t bought it by now it’s too late,” he claimed.
We’ll see,” I challenged.

That night I went to Kohlers and purchased the following:

  1. 11lb turkey
  2. meat thermometer
  3. butter
  4. O’Douls non-alcoholic beer
  5. onion
  6. paprika
  7. sea salt
  8. garlic
  9. coriander
  10. cumin
  11. black pepper
  12. canola oil

Then, following the instructions on these three sites, I thawed the turkey in hot water, created a spice rub, filled a pan with near-beer, put butter in the turkey, spiced it up and placed it in the oven at 325 for 3 1/2 hours. Then… TAH DAH! Perfect turkey just in time for Thanksgiving.

See? No magic needed.

Had I been a more thorough Googler, I would have seen this article which shows how you can cook a thanksgiving turkey in fifteen minutes.

So, here’s to greater science in cooking. No more pinches of this and dashes of that. I want grams. Tell me what elevation you’re at and what the pressure and relative humidity are. Use digital laser thermometers to calibrate your stove and digital scales to measure weight. See? Nerds CAN Cook.

Oh, and Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Let me preempt the “quit picking on the little guy” comments: Every time I hear the whine “Consider the plight of the POOR TSA workers; they’re only trying to do their jobs!” I want to rip off the heads of the imbecilic apologists and vomit fiery bile down their throat stumps. I suppose we’re supposed to empathize with the situation of the overworked water-boarding CIA interrogators? We’re supposed to feel sympathy for terrorists, heavy laden with explosive vests? We’re supposed to think kindly about serial killers who, after all, have the onerous, thankless task of disposing of the bodies of their victims.

I am full of rage today, but I’ll try to calm down a bit so my ranting will be somewhat intelligible. Okay. Let’s begin.

I fly a lot for business and recreation. I hate flying, for obvious reasons– it’s cramped, airlines treat passengers like infants, the food is horrible, the security protocols are meant to annoy not protect, flight attendants are more bothersome than not, the airlines furnish you with flotation devices instead of parachutes, you’re nickled and dimed for everything, your luggage is manhandled and then pilfered and then misplaced, boarding is inefficient, the in-flight entertainment sucks,  and they STILL make us listen to the safety presentation about seat-belt buckling. And yet it gets worse…

9/11 happened. In order to fight back, we decided to beef up our safety bureaucracy. Here’s how the TSA is run:

  • Step 1: Compile a list of crazy, impractical ways of bombing an airline
  • Step 2: Ban the elements of those insane plots (liquids, toner cartridges, shoes, nail clippers?!?)
  • Step 3: Employ technology to solve a problem that technology can’t solve
  • Step 4: Hire creepy, untrained carnies to grope our children

All of this is tremendously stupid. From whence comes such nitwittedness? The FBI. “Who is running the TSA”, you question. Former FBI Deputy Director John Pistole. We got a man from one poorly run agency to lead another. If you were challenged to list the two most poorly run government entities, you’d likely list the FBI and the IRS. The FBI being the more corrupt of the two won the task of running our transportation safety. Brilliant. Democracy works when there are checks and balances and accountability. The TSA, in the un-attackable name of security, seemingly reports to no one and can do whatever they’d like without consequence.

Here’s my issue: the TSA presents us with a false delimma, a so-called sucker’s choice: Either send your kid into a backscatter machine which allows a TSA worker to view your unclothed child, OR allow a TSA worker to grope your children’s private areas. Our choice. Our inspired Supreme Court ruled you can’t turn back in a security screening or you’ll be fined $10,000. Does the TSA hire sex offenders to pat us down? Yes. Is the TSA is violation of child pornography laws by transmitting nude images of children? Yes. Has the TSA managed to catch a single terrorist before they attempted to commit a crime? No. Have the FAA Red Teams experienced any difficulty breaching airport security? No. Can the TSA naked machines save pictures? Yes. Has the TSA continued to lie to us at every turn? Yes.

The real issue at play is the Milgram effect. We respect authority so much, we sit idly by and watch their abuses of power without action. We are, in effect, issuing electric shocks to our civil liberties with each act of compliance.

The time to act is now. The time to speak out is now. The time to rebel against illegal federal agency is NOW.

There is a third choice: opt out of the TSA. The airports are under the city’s jurisdiction. Call and complain to the mayor’s office. Have your airport opt out of the TSA. They did it in Florida. No naked body scanners, no government-approved groping. These gross violations of privacy and decency should not be tolerated.

The responsibly of complainers is to offer an alternative solution. I have one. It’s called the Israelification of Airports. Google it.

We must accept that 100% safety in flying is simply not possible. Any determined attacker can take down a plane. The completely misguided and ineffectual TSA procedures amount to nothing more than brain dead theater that diverts money and resources from actually ferreting out the bad guys. The TSA is staffed by mindless functionaries. The airport security goon squad aren’t even real law enforcement officers. They’re just glorified rent-a-cops wearing a fake uniforms. Let’s not submit to Team Sexual Assault.

I’m irate. Are you? You should be.

Here’s some reading for you:


Mayorrocky.jpgI don’t hate a lot of people. Still, there are a few vocal, dishonest people who are highly repulsive. Two such people are Hillary Clinton and Rocky Anderson. I think Rocky Anderson is a wild moron, and find him extremely irritating. Tonight he argued with Sean Hannity at the University of Utah’s Kingsbury Hall.

  • 1- He is a city mayor. By definition, his jurisdiction ends at city limits. It is neither his job nor his mandate to tour the country (on our dime) and demand the president’s impeachment or babble about global warming. Rocky– return to Salt Lake and do your job. Like Hannity said, Rocky is a “part-time mayor and full-time protester.”
  • 2- He is far more concerned with the rights of enemy combatants than the security of citizens of the US.
  • 3- It was Abraham Lincoln who suspended the Writ of Habeas Corpus. I suppose Rocky would have impeached ‘ol Abe as well.
  • 4- He drones on spewing complaints without offering any productive solutions.
  • 5- He forgets that the United States was attacked first, and so he calls the Iraq War “a war of aggression.”
  • 6- He forgets that Saddam Hussein (a tyrant and oppressive, murderous dictator) tortured and killed tens of thousands of his citizens (using chemical weapons.) Should the US have done nothing?!?
  • 7- He forgets that the US was not alone in the belief that Iraq possessed WMD.
  • 8- He argues with retrospective information as if that knowledge were available at the time.
  • 9- He conveniently forgets that the American Congress (republicans AND democrats) approved the “illegal” war.
  • 10- He supports abortion and advocates marrying homosexuals. He marches and colludes with illegal aliens who blatantly flaunt our immigration laws. On which basis does Rocky have to declare anything the president does immoral or illegal?

hallmark.jpgIt’s getting warmer and you know what that means: it’s the annual Spring Fund Drive over at my local public radio station and that involves lots talking and begging with the promise of really cheap “thank you” gifts.

If you call now and donate just $250 with a credit card, we’ll send you this amazing multi-use potholder– guaranteed to beautify any kitchen or RV.

One of my New Year’s Resolutions was to enable Ryan Byrd dot Net to be self-funding. It costs a bit of money to bring you the very best, but we’re happy to do it. Here at RBDN, we aim to be an entertainment and education portal for the discriminating visitor. We understand that there are a lot of sites out there vying for your attention, and we appreciate you spending a few minutes each day with us. That’s why the site isn’t overrun with irritating advertisements. Sure, there is the donate link, but that seems to be so inconspicuous that nary a one of you has seen it. :)

And so it was in brainstorming funding ideas when I thought of greeting cards. Greeting cards have forever mystified me. Are the masses of people simply unable to conjure up their our own thoughts? Do they lack the motivation to write them down? (Clearly, I, for one, am never at a loss for words…)

But, the greeting card business is a bustling one, and if dollars are going to be spent, there’s no reason why I can redirect a few my way. So, over the next few weeks, I’ll create a few dozen classy greeting cards sets as “thank you” gifts for those who can contribute a buck or two to the future success of RBDN. Stay tuned for details!

thermometer.jpgWe’ve all suffered through Al Gore’s mind-numbing monotone rambling as he warns us of the impending horror that awaits the CO2 polluters in his “Inconvenient Truth.” Al’s Hollywood groupies even gave him an Oscar for his stellar performance. Who didn’t enjoy the evocative, emotional montages of stiff Al, brow furrowed, feverishly typing on his Mac laptop? Who doesn’t appreciate wild, pop science without scientific rigor?

weathermap.jpgI’ve watched the moving documentary. Al claims to have 150 years of temperature data to back his assertions. Really? 150 years? How accurate/precise were the mercury thermometers back then? Science was pretty primitive 150 years ago. That was before radio, before antibiotics, before calculators, before Einstein, before cars, before scientists declared tobacco hazardous, and WAY before the digital computer. People still believed in blood-letting, Coke had cocaine in it and the national science periodicals had an exposes on finding water with dowsing/divining rods. I contend that we have maybe 50 years of reliable (+/- 1 degree) temperature data.I know, I know, Al talks about highly reliable ice core samples with dissolved CO2 that allow us to go back 720,000 years. Maybe. But let’s take a closer look at some of that data: noaa.gov From the abstract: “High-resolution records from Antarctic ice cores show that carbon dioxide concentrations increased by 80 to 100 parts per million by volume 600 +/- 400 years after the warming of the last three deglaciations.” Let me emphasize: CO2 increased 400-600 years AFTER the glaciers receded. I’m not saying that the absorption spectra of CO2 doesn’t trap infrared radiation, I’m only saying that his global warming trend data might not be as straight forward and conclusive as he claims.

globalwarming1.jpgHas the Earth has also been getting warmer in recent years? Sure. It is part of a natural cycle? Maybe. Are humans the primary cause of the increase in temperature? Maybe not. Check this out:

Simultaneous warming on Earth and Mars suggests that our planet’s recent climate changes might have a natural ‘€? and not a human-induced ‘€? cause. Mars, it appears, has also been experiencing milder temperatures in recent years. In 2005 data from NASA’s Mars Global Surveyor and Odyssey missions revealed that the carbon dioxide ‘ice caps’ near Mars’s south pole had been diminishing for three summers in a row. Habibullo Abdussamatov, head of the St. Petersburg’s Pulkovo Astronomical Observatory in Russia, says the Mars data is evidence that the current global warming on Earth is being caused by changes in the sun.

globalwarming2.jpgLet me summarize: climatology is clearly a VERY difficult science. The national weather bureau, with their hoards of supercomputers, still cant tell me this weekend’s weather with great certainty*. (Those pesky butterflies flapping their wings in China keep causing storms over here.) To think that Al Gore can reliably forecast the weather in TEN or TWENTY years is close to absurd. You decide. Let’s discuss.

In only slightly related news

“NASA has created two virtual flyovers of the Mars rover landing sites using 3D imagery from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (New Scientist story here). The images were made using the most powerful camera ever sent to another planet, MRO’s High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE). The three-dimensional information is obtained by taking pairs of images from slightly different vantage points as the spacecraft orbits the Red Planet.

Oh and happy Ides of March

Yes, Dan, the reluctant engineer and I have spoken about global warming recently.

* I know that Climatology and meteorology aren’t the same thing. They are, however, closely related.

Everyone knows that I’m ill. I have the Byrd Flu. Ha! Seriously now, I can remember when I was younger and I’d be over at a friend’s house and that friend’s mother might say, “Don’t forget to wear a sweater when you go outside, you don’t want to catch a cold!” And I’d be like, “who wears sweaters?” and then “thanks for the advice, crazy lady; Billy, is your mother insane? Yikes! Does she believe in blood-letting too?”

Instead of spouting out spurious advice, like-minded mothers everywhere should read books on the germ theory (tip: it’s more than just a theory.) In those books, they’ll find that colds are, IN FACT, NOT CAUSED by it being COLD outside.

I know, it’s a hard concept to grasp; colds are caused by viruses. When it’s cold outside, more people go inside and the chances of contact with someone who has a cold virus (rhinovirus, etc.) increase. The other way to better your chances of getting a cold is to weaken your immune system, maybe through stress or something. Going outside naked might be enough stress, but forgetting your girlie sweater is not. (Links: Cold causes, It’s not the weather, Seriously, it’s not, do you believe me now?

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