Monday, August 21, 2017

Back to School

Big D just picked up Kubota and they are now on their way to school.  This is Kubota's senior year of high school.  The launch went well.

Yesterday's project was pickles.

Picture of this package is here for reference.  I will know what to get next year if Belladonna approves of the pickles.
I am not a bread-and-butter pickle kind of guy.  Give me a big, salty dill pickle spear on a hot day and I am a happy camper.  But B-n-B pickles are candy masquerading as a vegetable.  Not my thing.

But that is beside the point.  Both Bella and Mrs ERJ like B-n-B pickles.  It is what they think that counts.  I picked up this package of pickle mix because it was cheaper than buying the spices individually.  In addition to the usual mustard seeds, this package had bits of hot pepper, cloves and maybe allspice.

It is hard to think of a more luxurious food than a tree ripened peach.  I had to lean forward and slurp as I ate it to avoid dribbling down my front.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Extinction Burst?

Many of us who identify as "conservatives" were surprised by the vitriol and aggression shown by the far left and major media after the last election.  "Extinction bursts" are one possible explanation for the far-left's and major media's behaviors.

Extinction bursts are not covered by classical conditioning theory but they are well explained in the context of control theory.

A typical example of an extinction burst is when a mother with a four year old attempts to go through the checkout lane without buying her child a candy bar.  The young child often has a tantrum.  Bystanders sometimes criticize the frustrated mother for not "disciplining" her child when, in fact, the mother is attempting to ween the child from "treats" for good behavior.

Since extinction bursts are a "control" problem, it is best explored using examples that are accessible to nearly every adult.

What do you do, as the driver of a vehicle, when your motor starts to sputter and it loses power?  Most likely you push on the gas pedal.  All of your prior conditioning has been pushing harder on the gas pedal makes the vehicle go faster.  What happens when the motor completely stops and you are not at your destination.  If you have any forward motion at all, you probably have the pedal floored.

We grow up conditioned to modulate input to control the amount of output.  When the linkage between the input and the output weakens, we automatically double-down on the input.

That may be why it is so hard to teach people who to drive a manual transmission.  The new driver must overcome all of their prior conditioning.  When letting out the clutch, the way to go faster is to let out the clutch more slowly.  Letting out the clutch too quickly simply stalls the vehicle.


How much of the violence and chaos in the news is evidence of "Extinction Burst"?
This phenomena becomes vexing when trying to follow the news.  It is apparent that the media is not a transparent lens on the universe.

As a simple example consider the Fort Hood shooting of 2009.  The White House spun the story as workplace violence in spite of evidence that the shooter was a radicalized Muslim.  The major media outlets dutifully reported the story as workplace violence.

Then, as a counterpoint, consider the events in Charlottesville, Virginia.  The current White House censured both sides for inciting violent behavior.  The major media outlets EXPLODED in anger and indignation.

One theory that deserves serious consideration is that our brave, new world does not need major media.  We have social media.  We have email.  We have cameras, both video and still, in the pocket of every teenager and most adults.  As major media's motor starts to sputter, they regress from being responsible reporters of facts to tabloids and then from tabloids to propaganda.

Look at the Readers Digest.  Take off those rose tinted glasses.  It is not the Readers Digest of the 1970s anymore.  It morphed into a tabloid pandering to geriatric hypochondriacs.

What is propaganda?  It is paid-for/subsidized content.  And the circus barkers are getting shrill as they see fewer-and-fewer "marks" turning into their tent.

Michigan Eclipse Report: 75% coverage

Blonde thinks title is wardrobe advice.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

A short tutorial on identity politics and the spoils system

One of the enduring mysteries of identity politics and the spoils system is "Why do minor players willingly accept such small slices of the pie?"

This simple exercise in logic might explain that conundrum.  (Hat tip Mrs ERJ)

The Three Pirate Problem
Suppose there are three pirates.  Suppose they looted a ship and had 100 pieces of gold to distribute.

They agree that might-makes-right, so the largest pirate will be the first to propose a way to distribute the loot.  If half, or more, of the pirates agree to the plan then that is what they go with.  If less than half agree to the plan then the largest pirate is thrown overboard and the largest of the two remaining pirates gets to propose his plan.

Assuming that all pirates are greedy, rational and want to live, what plan will be implemented?

Approaching problems from the other direction
This is a problem best solved in reverse.

Suppose that the largest pirate's plan was rejected by the other two.  He would be pitched out of the boat.

Then the second largest pirate would propose that he get all 100 pieces of gold and that the smallest pirate get none.  Since half of the pirates agree with the plan (the second largest pirate is all for it) that is what would go into effect.

The second largest pirate knows this and will not agree to any plan put forth by the largest pirate unless the plan is for the second largest pirate get all 100 pieces of gold.  All he has to do is wait.

The smallest pirate knows that if he does not vote for the largest pirate's plan that he will get nothing.  Therefore, he will vote for the plan even if the spoils are small.

Thinking this through, the largest pirate knows that any amount he offers the second largest pirate will have no material bearing on the outcome.  Therefore he offers the second largest pirate NOTHING.

He also knows that offering the smallest pirate even the most miserly of offers will be superior to what the smallest pirate will get if the second largest pirate is allowed to make a proposal.  So the largest pirate'[s plan is 99 pieces of gold for himself, 0 pieces of gold for the second largest pirate and 1 piece of gold for the smallest pirate.

There!  Do the outcomes seen in the spoils system make any more sense?  Politicians are pirates!

Short post

Belladonna went back to school on Thursday.

Kubota's camping trip exceeded all expectations.  Who knew that raccoons would chew through tents to get to Cheetos?

Kubota has been working on his dirt bike and making progress.  He is showing exceptional stick-to-itiveness and I am impressed.

The new run with the additional elevation is kicking my butt.

I have been enjoying "Life Below Zero" on Netflicks.

Friday, August 18, 2017

All we need is LOVE...and pickles

I suspect this might be a cultivar called 'Madame Galen' although this blossom is prettier than the ones on the internet.
Mrs ERJ and I were walking in town the other day when we stumbled across a trumpet vine growing up the guy wire to a utility pole.

The flowers were beyond stunning, easily three times larger than the species and flat (rather than with petals recurved) so it displayed well.

A six year old kid on a bike commented, "That is my Granny's.  Want me to get her?"

It turns out that the kid, his sister and mom were staying with "Granny" for the duration.  The dad is a SeaBee and had been redeployed from state-side to Guam.

"Granny" grumbled that the Trumpet vines grew like weeds and she was constantly grubbing out shoots and tossing them into the compost pile.

It does not look like much but I am exceptionally gifted at growing weeds.
"Granny" told me to come back and get another if this one died.  The fact that I tucked a $5 bill into "Grampa's" pocket to buy the grandkids ice-cream cones probably did not hurt my Karmic balance.

Always on guard
Protected by Master Lock and Poison Arrow Frogs.
All we need is LOVE

And Pickles
Recently, I learned that Belladonna loves pickles.  Bread-and-butter pickles are her favorite.
This Recipe is the one she asked me to try.

I will let you know if Belladonna approves.
More canning porn

I help a gentleman out by taking on some of the computer "busy-work".   I saw these while walking through the kitchen on the way to the office. You gotta like a boss who cans peaches.  The man has style.

Fake News Friday

This started out as satire and then my sense of responsibility kicked in.  I deleted this installment of Fake News Friday.

The inspiration for this post was that The Daily Mail ran an article about Khalid bin Walid Army (an ISIS splinter group) chainsawed down an innocent acacia tree because some people attributed "luck" to the tree, much as some people pitch pennies into fountains or wish upon shooting stars.

The Khalid bin Walid Army theologians decided that people were coming too close to "praying" to the tree.  Polytheism (acknowledging gods other than Allah) is forbidden by the Koran.  Consequently they took a chainsaw to the tree.  Problem solved.

This "humor" piece was going to imply that many recent migrants to Sweden, Germany, Belgium and France considered Soros, Merkle et al to be other names of Allah.  I was going to say that praying to the Allah of the mullahs and imams resulted in uncles and brothers being blown up at weddings and shot while working in fields.  The "Allahs of Europe" gave immigrants food and shelter and deliver the "infidels" to their service.

After earnest consideration I decided that post was too irresponsible to put on a public blog.

Then, after even more reflection, I decided that the Merkles and Sorros and Löfvens of the world might want to give serious consideration to the "optics" of their actions.  After all, we are talking about people who cut down a TREE, a non-sentient tree, because it might lead pious Muslims into error.
Apologies to Gary Larson.

How much "sloppy" posting on social media would it take to convince The Khalid bin Walid Army (or clones there-of) that recent immigrants do, in fact, consider European princes and tycoons to be Gods?  Let's be honest.  Most of us are not professional writers.  We often transmit messages that we do not intend.

And to consider what would The Khalid bin Walid Army's response be.