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isn't quite ashamed enough to present

jr conlin's ink stained banana

:: Trust and the System

One of the most interesting aspects of the whole Blockchain thing is how it fails at one of it’s core concepts.

Consider, Blockchain requires that all transactions are made public using zero knowledge encryption to assure that both parties are valid and that no party can double spend. It is built off of the core principle that You Can Not Trust. Heck, advocates practically scream that Blockchain is superior to “fiat” currencies because they don’t trust the banks or government to manage them.

And yet, almost every sad case you read about on Web3IsGoingJustGreat is fundamentally due to someone’s misplaced trust.

Folks are trusting that various NFTs are legit, or not stolen, or will be valuable.
Folks trust that storage and management systems are secure and reliable.
Folks trust that the code for their smart contract is bug free and that the developers tested against all possible cases.
Folks trust that the exchanges are secure against attack and that their funds or holdings will not be stolen.
Folks trust that their fellow coin holders will not cash out and that their investment will continue to grow.

For a system built off of the concept of “Trust No One”, there’s an awful lot of trust at play.

It’s almost as if having a trust free system is infeasible. Unless you have unlimited time and resources, you can’t verify and validate every aspect of the system you’re partaking in. You can’t presume that the various exchanges aren’t favoring other exchanges over your transactions. You’re not always going to audit the code in whatever smart contract that’s tied to your Ether transaction, nor will you validate that the language implementation that runs your code is error free. You not going to independently audit and validate every system and interaction point that is required for your transaction to be recorded, validated, and authorized. Ultimately, you have to trust that someone, at some level is acting in your benefit for some reason.

And that’s where the Trust No-One thing kinda/sorta breaks down.

The problem is that once you trust someone, you immediately have to accept all the parties that they trust, regardless of whether or not they disclose those trusts. You can safeguard against those relationships to a degree, but it’s not going to be perfect because no trust relationship is. In that case, you have to start asking “so, what really differentiates this system with any other one?”

Well, for one, traditional “fiat” based systems have various regulations, monitoring and established law based on the fact that they’ve been “a thing” since the dawn of civilization, where as CryptoCurrencies have been around for less than 20 years and very proudly don’t have any of those. So, basically, you have a system of finance that is based off of centuries of preventing damage from bad actors trying literally everything possible to a group of dudes pushing a “Zero Trust” system by saying “Trust me.”

i guess, maybe, the big reason i’m cynical about blockchain and web3 and all the other crap is that i’ve been in tech long enough to know that you don’t trust tech.

:: Performative Cooking

Recently, i was reminded that there are a large number of people who do “performative cooking”. They absolutely need a recipe, which they follow religiously, and have no real idea how the magic incantations and gesticulations produce edible substances to consume. They fear deviation.

Please, don’t be a person like that.

Ok, Baking is physics and chemistry, so it’s a bit less forgiving, but cooking (in the more general sense) isn’t like that at all. Recipes, in those cases, are examples. They’re suggestions of things to do and ingredients to use in order to produce things that the author of the recipe liked. Your palate will absolutely differ. (For instance, i am not a fan of excessive fats. i hate mayo, am fine without all the bacon grease, and don’t pour tons of butter on things. You may be the opposite, and that’s OK. i will not cry if you change a recipe on me.)

i know this because of a discussion i had with some relatives while they made a “low country boil”. They were following an aged recipe in which they carefully measured Old Bay, and were desperate to find where the Bay Leaves were.

i asked them “So, what does Bay taste like?”

“i dunno. The recipe has it.”

This is the wrong answer. Actually, the wrong answer is bay leaves in general since they really don’t give a whole lot of flavor, and the flavor they do give is a mix of tannin. You could get the same effect by adding a pinch of black tea, plus you don’t have to fish the inedible leaves out. i know this because one night i got a bunch of spices, grabbed a pinch and sucked on each of them for a good couple of minutes to understand what the difference between oregano and parsley was (there’s a lot). It was a completely unpleasant experience. Granted, that’s lead to a fun party trick where i can take a mouthful of something and work out most of the ingredients because that night got seared into my mind.

When you make something, you should always be asking “How can i make this taste better?” Knowing what stuff tastes like helps tremendously in that. Likewise, knowing that foods dramatically change flavors when prepared differently also helps. Shrimp tastes different when you boil, steam, pan fry or roast them. (It has to do with how much water you remove, less water, more shrimp flavor.) Same with vegetables, meats, and all sorts of other things. That’s why Mexican and Indian cooks roast their spices, to draw out more of their flavors.

Honestly, their “low country boil” was ok. Basically it was boiled potatoes, onion, corn on the cob, “sausage” (hot dogs), and shrimp. Start by seasoning the water with Old Bay, another seasoning mix that was even more salt, black pepper, parsley and oregano. Boil the quartered potatoes and onions until the potatoes were soft, then add the “sausage” for about 5 minutes, and add the shrimp for about 3 minutes. Strain and serve. It tastes like Old Bay with hints of shrimp and hotdog. Not a favorite.

How would i do it?

i wouldn’t boil, for one.

i’d quarter red potatoes and linguica sausage and convection roast them at 400F while caramelizing some onion. Toss the corn on the grill (husk on, but silk gone), and let that cook up. Be sure to toss the potatoes and sausage so they get semi-evenly cooked. Once the potatoes start showing some nice brown color, pan fry the shrimp, ideally on an iron skillet with no oil (this will let them char nicely). Toss everything together, optionally dust with a mix of Old Bay (or my preference stirred chili powder, oregano, and sage) and serve with a brown mustard and either beer or a good wine and warm bread. The spices will bloom from the steam by the time that everyone is seated. Want it to be even better? Cook the potatoes at least 8 hours beforehand, then re-heat them while you cook the sausage. Yes, this is more work. You get out what you put in. There were a lot of reasons we didn’t do this one, but it definitely gave me ideas on how it could be better next time.

Same ingredients, VERY DIFFERENT flavors. i fully expect that you can come up with an even better version. Make small batches if you’re not sure. Make mistakes, and learn from them. Even burnt stuff can teach you flavors you didn’t know about and may love.

Kitchens are delicious playgrounds.

Blogs of note
personal Christopher Conlin USMC Henriette's Herbal Blog My Mastodon musings Where have all the good blogs gone?
geek ultramookie

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