Ghost in Landscape Mode

A Special Report from our ‘Rover’ reporter, Ghost the Dog:

hi peoplekind!

this photo shows me thinking.   it might look like sleeping.   but you can see I have one eye open.   i do my best thinking.   when I’m in ‘landscape mode’.   what better place to stretch out.   than on a people couch!

right now, I’m thinking about what the gramma dog (owner of this blog but not owner of me) meant.   she told me politicians are sometimes kind of whackadoodle.   it’s an election year and gramma dog tells me all sorts of things.    when we go for a walk.   i don’t think anyone else.   wants to listen to her anymore.   a wackadoodle.   all i’ve come up with so far is that it must be a kind of poodle cross.   that I’ve not seen  at the dog park.

i’m not that impressed with poodles, really.   our ancestor was a prehistoric wolf!   i see a lot of wolf in me.   but a poodle – well let’s just say they developed.   along a branch that should have been lopped off.   before it got as far as it did.

the gramma dog  tells me that because I am a dog.   i don’t see as many colours as some people.   i don’t really remember.   what issue we were discussing.   when we got onto this topic.   i’m red-green colour blind.   grandpa car guy is colour blind too.   so we have that in common.

when I visit their house i am the shop dog.   i don’t get to go into the house.   i thought when I quit piddling a lot,   i might get a house pass.   sadly no.   the Grandma dog says if I could leave my coat outside.   she’d let me in.   i shed a lot… plus, she says I can’t chew sticks in the house.   and I can’t knock stuff off shelves with my tail.   that would be a lot to give up.   just to see if her couch is comfortable.

that’s if for now.   i really have to go to sleep.   but if you want to read more about me, click on the tag below.   with my name in it.   gHosT.

Desert Spiny Lizard

At first glance, this was just another lizard. I wasn’t close enough to it to see the colors, or the beautiful scales. I just took some pictures, zoomed in to see it closer – but still didn’t appreciate what it looked like until I saw it on my computer screen!

The Desert Spiny Lizard (Sceloporus magister) is 5.6″ from snout to vent and is a stocky lizard with large, pointed, keeled, overlapping scales. They exhibit metachromatism – they change color depending on the temperature, generally with darker colors in cool temperatures.

This lizard can be found in six western states including Arizona. Comments on the internet suggest that the Desert Spiny Lizard lives quite comfortably around humans – so much so that people name the ones that live in their yard.

This one wasn’t in my yard, but if it was, I might call it Norbert, though Spike might work too. What would you name it?

American Avocet

The Feather Files
Name: American Avocet
Species: Recurvirostra americana
Native to and Migration: South Central Canada; Central and Western United States; Mexico. Migrate from northern and central areas to south or coastal areas.
Date Seen: May 2018
Location: Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge, Utah
Notes: A long-legged wader walks through shallow waters using its slender, upturned bill to catch aquatic invertebrates. Females may lay eggs in nests of other females, or even other birds. Several other species of birds do the same thing to the avocets.

Math and Number Quotations

Algorithms

The Quippery

Apply shampoo to wet hair. Massage to lather, then rinse. Repeat.
– An infinite loop hair-washing algorithm –

I have a simple algorithm, which is, wherever you see paid researchers instead of grad students, that’s not where you want to be doing research.
– Larry Page –

I know how models are built, because I build them myself, so I know that I’m embedding my values into every single algorithm I create and I am projecting my agenda onto those algorithms.
– Cathy O’Neil –

Nothing will ever replace the experience of wandering haphazardly through a great bookstore, no matter how many algorithms are developed to find matches for our tastes. That’s because not only is there no accounting for taste, there is no predicting it either.
– Dominique Browning –

Someone from the Internet Writing Workshop sent me a link to the Gender Genie, where you paste in a section of text and it uses an algorithm to detect whether the author is male or female. Or, if you’re an author, you can tell whether you’re really nailing your opposite-sex characters. I mean, nailing their dialog.
– Max Barry –

The crucial problem isn’t creating new jobs. The crucial problem is creating new jobs that humans perform better than algorithms.
– Yuval Noah Harari, Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow –

The Facebook algorithm designers chose to let us see what our friends are talking about. They chose to show us, in some sense, more of the same. And that is the design decision that they could have decided differently. They could have said, “We’re going to show you stuff that you’ve probably never seen before.” I think they probably optimized their algorithm to make the most amount of money, and that probably meant showing people stuff that they already sort of agreed with, or were more likely to agree with.
– Cathy O’Neil –

The next question is how? How does news find us? What you need is a certain critical literacy about the fact that you are almost always subject to an algorithm. The most powerful thing in your world now is an algorithm about which you know nothing about.
– Kelly McBride –

There is no algorithm for creativity.
– Andy Hargreaves –

There is no Algorithm for Humor.
– Robert Mankoff –

We don’t let a car company just throw out a car and start driving it around without checking that the wheels are fastened on. We know that would result in death; but for some reason we have no hesitation at throwing out some algorithms untested and unmonitored even when they’re making very important life-and-death decisions.
– Cathy O’Neil –

General Math

4 out of 3 people struggle with math.
– Sign on a T-shirt –

A mathematician is a blind man in a dark room looking for a black cat which isn’t there.
– Charles Darwin –

As long as algebra is taught in school, there will be prayer in school.
– Cokie Roberts –

A rubber band pistol was confiscated from algebra class because it was a weapon of math disruption.
– Author Unknown –

A talking sheepdog got all the sheep in the pen, then told the farmer “All 40 accounted for.”
“But I only have 36 sheep,” said the farmer.
“I know,” said the sheepdog. “But I rounded them up.”
– Reader’s Digest –

Calvin: Help me with this homework, OK? What’s 6+3?
Hobbes: 6+3, eh? First we call the answer “Y” as in “Y do we care?” Now Y may be a square number, so we’ll draw a square and make this side 6 and that side 3. Then we’ll measure the diagonal.
Calvin: I don’t remember the teacher explaining it like this.
Hobbes: She probably doesn’t know higher math. When you deal with high numbers, you need higher math.
Calvin: But this diagonal is just a little under two.
Hobbes: OK, here, I’ll draw a bigger square.
– Bill Watterson, Calvin and Hobbes –

Dear Algebra,
Please stop asking us to find your X. She’s never coming back and don’t ask Y.
– Sign on a chalk board –

Don’t discuss infinity with a mathematician. You’ll never hear the end of it.
– Author Unknown –

Equations are the devil’s sentences.
– Stephen Colbert –

Fibonacci. It’s as easy as 0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, …
– Numerous Authors –

Fig Newton: The force required to accelerate a fig 39.37 inches per sec.
– J. Hart –

Q: How do mathematicians scold their children?
A: “If I’ve told you n times, I’ve told you n+1 times…
– Reader’s Digest –

How I see math word problems:
Question: If you have 4 pencils and 7 apples, how many pancakes will fit on the roof?
Answer: Purple, because aliens don’t wear hats.
– Author Unknown –

I heard that parallel lines actually do meet, but they are very discrete.
– Author Unknown –

I know that two and two make four – and should be glad to prove it too if I could – though I must say if by any sort of process I could convert 2 and 2 into five it would give me much greater pleasure.
– George Gordon, Lord Byron –

It’s easy to identify people who can’t count to 10. They’re in front of you in the supermarket express lane.
– M. Grundler –

Life without geometry is pointless.
– Author Unknown –

Mathematics is like childhood diseases. The younger you get it, the better.
– Arnold Sommerfeld –

Mathematics teachers call retirement ‘the aftermath’.
– Author Unknown –

Math – the only place where people can buy 64 watermelons and no one wonders why.
– sunnyskyz.com –

Not everything that counts can be counted. Not everything that can be counted counts.
– Albert Einstein –

Old mathematicians never die; they just lose some of their functions.
– Reader’s Digest –

Skinner’s Constant – that quantity which, when multiplied by, divided by, added to or subtracted from the answer you get, gives you the answer you should have gotten.
– Author Unknown –

Some mathematicians are reluctant to cosine a loan.
– Author Unknown –

Stand firm in your refusal to remain conscious during algebra. In real life, I assure you, there is no such thing as algebra.
– Fran Lebowitz –

The New York City Department of Education says that only 26 percent of the city’s students in grades three through eight passed the English portion on a recent standardized test. But on the bright side, they’re too bad at math to realize how bad that is.
– Jimmy Fallon –

The trouble with integers is that we have examined only the very small ones. Maybe all the exciting stuff happens at really big numbers, ones we can’t even begin to think about in any very definite way. Our brains have evolved to get us out of the rain, find where the berries are, and keep us from getting killed. Our brains did not evolve to help us grasp really large numbers or to look at things in a hundred thousand dimensions.
– Ronald L. Graham –

Think of a number between 0 and 20. Add 32 to it. Multiply by 2. Subtract 1. Now close your eyes. It’s dark, isn’t it!?
– Author Unknown –

Today’s scientists have substituted mathematics for experiments, and they wander off through equation after equation, and eventually build a structure which has no relation to reality.
– Nikola Tesla –

Trigonometry is a sine of the times.
– Author Unknown –

Understanding binary is as easy as 1, 10, 11.
– Author Unknown –

We will prove this by the method of prolonged staring.
– Joel Franklin –

What did the acorn say when he grew up?
Geometry. (Gee, I’m a tree.)
– A Geometry Teacher –

Q: What do you call a teapot of boiling water on top of mount Everest?
A: A high-pot-in-use
– Author Unknown –

What part of s = sqrt{frac{1}{N-1} sum_{i=1}^N (x_i – overline{x})^2} don’t you understand?
– Author Unknown –

With the Ark settled safely after the flood, Noah opened the doors and commanded the animals, “Go forth and multiply!”
All the animals departed, except for two snakes in the back. Noah asked them, “Why have you not followed my command?”
The snakes flicked their tongues and answered, “We can’t multiply, Noah, we’re Adders.”
– Reader’s Digest –

Half

Is the glass half full, or half empty? It depends on whether you’re pouring, or drinking.
– Bill Cosby –

Some folks go through life pleased that the glass is half full. Others spend a lifetime lamenting that it’s half-empty. The truth is: There is a glass with a certain volume of liquid in it. From there, it’s up to you!
– Dr. James S. Vuocolo –

Some people see the glass half full. Others see it half empty. I see a glass that’s twice as big as it needs to be.
– George Carlin –

The algebraic simultaneous equation theorist says that if the glass is equally half full and half empty, then half full = half empty; therefore ½ x F = ½ x E; therefore (by multiplying both sides of the equation by 2) we show that F = E; i.e. Full equals Empty!
– businessballs.com –

The optimist says: “The glass is half-full.” The pessimist says: “The glass is half-empty”. And while they are arguing, the pragmatist takes the glass and drinks it.
– businessballs.com –

The professional trainer does not care if the glass is half full or half empty, he just knows that starting the discussion will give him ten minutes to figure out why his powerpoint presentation is not working.
– businessballs.com –

The scientist says a guess based on a visual cue is inaccurate, so mark the glass at the bottom of the meniscus of the content, pour the content into a bigger glass; fill the empty glass with fresh content up to the mark; add the original content back in; if the combined content overflows the lip, the glass was more than half full; if it doesn’t reach the top, the glass was more than half empty; if it neither overflows nor fails to reach the top then it was either half-full or half-empty. Now what was the question again?
– businessballs.com –

Three

If two wrongs don’t make a right, try three.
– Author Unknown –

I suffer from entertaining anxiety… a fear that I can’t juggle the timing of three things alchemically transforming themselves in dangerously hot places.
– Dominique Browning –

People can be divided into three groups – those who make things happen, those who watch things happen and those who wonder what happened.
– John W. Newbern –

There are three kinds of men. The one that learns by reading. The few who learn by observation. The rest of them have to pee on the electric fence for themselves.
– Will Rogers –

The development of a new product is a three step process – first, an American firm announces an invention; second, the Russians claim they made the same discovery twently years ago; third, the Japanese start exporting it.
– Unknown –

There are three things I have learned never to discuss with people: religion, politics and the Great Pumpkin.
– Charles Schultz –

There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics.
– Mark Twain –

There are three kinds of people in this world: those who are good at math and those who aren’t.
– Author Unknown –

Three phrases that sum up Christmas are: Peace on Earth, Goodwill to Men, and Batteries not Included.
– Unknown –

Trio, triple, thirds say three.
As do triad, ternion and trilogy,
Triptych, trine and trichotomy,
Triangle, treble and trinity.
– Margy –

Bias in Journalism … Truth Decay

Ever had one of those ‘eureka moments’ where you come across a previously unknown, or perhaps once known but now forgotten, piece of information that explains one of those ‘how on earth did we get here’ observations?

Example: how did we (and I can only speak for Canada and the USA) get to a place where balanced, unopinionated news is now (often) very biased journalism? Part of the answer, according to the video below (and numerous stories on the internet) was the introduction, in 2008, of Accountability Journalism.

Accountability Journalism was the brainchild (or perhaps given a voice by) Associated Press Bureau Chief, Ron Fournier. Mr. Fournier believed that the conventional press model – where both sides of an argument are entitled to equal weight – was no longer needed in journalism. In it’s place, he gave free reign to first-person emotive language in news reporting. Previously, this had been reserved for opinion editorials. He gave the journalist the power to decide what was factual and fair and whether or not to include an opposing opinion.

Is this a slippery slope where journalism becomes not an outlet for news, but becomes an interpretation of said news?
– Susan Duclos, Digital Journal, July 2008 –

Ten years later, the answer to the slippery slope question is ‘yes’:

Journalism in the U.S. has become more subjective and consists less of the detailed event- or context-based reporting that used to characterize news coverage.
– ‘Truth Decay,’ RAND –

Of course, the situation seems worse than it is if you consider there are roughly 12000 journalists in Canada and 33000 in the United States. The wackadoodle reporters are just the most visible.

Who tops your list of Journalists you trust the least? Who do you trust the most?

Mountain Bluebird – Attracting Bluebirds (Video)

Male Mountain Bluebird, Arches National Park
Female Mountain Bluebird, Alberta
Male Mountain Bluebird, Alberta
Male Mountain Bluebird, Alberta

The Feather Files
Name: Mountain Bluebird
Species: Sialia currucoides
Native to and Migration: Mountain Bluebirds breed in western North America as far north as Alaska. They winter as far south as central Mexico
Date Seen:  May 2016;  May 2017
Location: Arches National Park, Utah, USA;  North of Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Notes:  Mountain Bluebirds will use man made birdhouses if the location is to their liking.

Proust and a Palo Verde Tree

You know how it goes. You start with one thing, and that leads to something else, and you end up somewhere you didn’t expect to be.

I started with a photo of a forest clearing (actually it is in the Arizona desert ‘highlands’ and the saguaro cactus is a clue that it isn’t a traditional forest – but the Palo Verde tree in bloom makes it seem foresty.) Then I ran the photo past a few filters to see what might pop out. I overlaid a quote by Marcel Proust to the original photo because it seemed to fit.

Let us be grateful to people who make us happy. They are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.
– Marcel Proust –

Then, because Proust said a lot of interesting things, his words kind of slipped in with the rest of the filtered photos.

The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.
– Marcel Proust

Remembrance of things past is not necessarily the remembrance of things as they were.
– Marcel Proust –

Like many intellectuals, he was incapable of saying a simple thing in a simple way.
– Marcel Proust –

Time, which changes people, does not alter the image we have of them.
– Marcel Proust –

There is no one, no matter how wise he is, who has not in his youth said things or done things that are so unpleasant to recall in later life that he would expunge them entirely from his memory if that were possible.
– Marcel Proust –

One cannot change, that is to say become a different person, while continuing to acquiesce to the feelings of the person one has ceased to be.
– Marcel Proust, Swann’s Way –

The Palo Verde is the State Tree of Arizona. Like life, it is kind of messy. It can shed it’s leaves twice a year and it creates a blizzard of yellow ‘debris’ when it drops it’s flowers. The flowers are pollinated by bees. You might see as many as 20 species of bees at the tree at one time if you are brave enough to stand under a whole tree that is buzzing. (There are more than 1,000 species of bees in southern Arizona.)

French novelist Marcel Proust (1871 – 1922) is considered to be one of the greatest writers of the twentieth century. Many of his observations, like the ones above, seem to be as applicable today as they must have been when he wrote them. What say you?

Lighter Side of Canadian Governments

That Good Looking Bullshitter in a Suit

Justin (Trudeau) looks more and more like a regression to the mean, a nice guy with influential friends but still just another ordinary good-looking bullshitter in a suit.
– Crawford Kilian, The Tyee –


Background to the cartoon: Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has threatened to sue Conservative Party Leader Scheer over Scheer’s statements that Trudeau interfered with the prosecution of Montreal firm SNC-Lavalin and lied to Canadians about it. This  ‘scandal’ has led to two resignations: Trudeau’s Principal Secretary, G. Butts and Michael Wernick, the Clerk of the Privy Council (who is also head of the federal public service). Trudeau also ousted two members of his party because they criticized his behavior.

It’s Just Other People’s Money

As Margaret Thatcher once pointed out, “The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people’s money.”

In 2016, under the left wing NDP government, Alberta’s capital city, Edmonton, lost roughly 15,000 private-sector jobs, but it gained 14,000 provincial public-sector ones. The debt and deficit increased as did government intervention in the form of income redistribution and regulation. Albertans recently said, enough is enough – and elected a more fiscally Conservative government.

Two Ways to Deal with a Coyote

In British Columbia (perhaps):
The Premier is jogging with his or her dog along a nature trail. A coyote jumps out and attacks the Premier’s dog, then bites the Premier.
The Premier starts to intervene, but reflects upon the movie “Bambi” and then realizes he should stop because the coyote is only doing what is natural. He calls animal control. Animal Control captures the coyote and bills the province $200 for testing it for diseases and $500 for relocating it.
The Premier goes to hospital and spends $3,500 getting checked for diseases from the coyote and to get his bite wound bandaged.
The running trail gets shut down for 6 months while Fish and Game conducts a $100,000 survey to make sure the area is now free of dangerous animals.
The Premier spends $50,000 in provincial funds implementing a “coyote awareness program” for residents of the area. The provincial legislature spends $2 million to study how to better treat rabies and how to permanently eradicate the disease throughout the world.
The Premier’s security agent is fired for not stopping the attack. The Province spends $150,000 to hire and train a new agent with additional special training re: the nature of coyotes.
PETA protests the coyote’s relocation and files a $5 million suit against the province.

In Alberta:
The Premier is jogging with his or her dog along a nature trail. A coyote jumps out and attacks the dog.
The Premier’s security agent shoots the coyote, drags it into the bushes and keeps jogging.
The Premier has spent $0.50 on a cartridge.
The crows eat the dead coyote.

Trudeau Goes to India

Justin Trudeau’s India visit has proved one thing. He has more Indian outfits than all the men in my family combined!
– Anu Menon @ExLolaKutty –

Budgets Balance Themselves

Trudeau says that we need to “rethink concepts as basic as space and time.” Intelligent people say “we need to rethink Trudeau.”
– David Jacobs @DrJacobsRad –

The Liberal Party campaigned on a pledge to run short-term deficits in order to stimulate the economy and return to balance before the 2019 federal election. That didn’t happen because what Mr. Trudeau really meant was “the commitment is to grow the economy and the budget will balance itself.” Unfortunately, budgets aren’t self balancing. Finance Canada now predicts the deficit could be erased by 2045.

Not Enough Parachutes

A small plane had 4 passengers on board…
the Russian President Vladimir Putin,
the American President Donald Trump,
the Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau,
and a boy scout.

All of a sudden, the engine caught fire.The pilot explained to the passengers that the plane was gliding but losing altitude… it would crash in 6 minutes. Another problem was that there were 5 people on board, but only 4 parachutes.

The Russian president suddenly exclaimed “We are the best country in the world” – he grabbed a parachute and jumped out of the plane.

The American president exclaimed “We are the most powerful country in the world” – he grabbed a parachute and jumped out of the plane.

The Canadian Prime Minister exclaimed “I’m the brains of Canada” and he grabbed a parachute and jumped out of the plane.

The pilot turned to the boy scout and said “Well son, there’s 2 of us left and only 1 parachute.” The boy scout looked at the pilot and said “No worries… the brains of Canada just took my backpack.”

Dragonflies and Damselflies – Sky Hunters (Video)

Damselfly
Damselfly
Damselfly
Dragonfly
Dragonfly

Bug Bits
Name: Dragonflies and Damselflies
Order: Odonata
Native to: There are about 50 species of dragonflies and damselflies in Alberta.
Date Seen: 2012 to 2016
Location: Alberta
Notes: Both are long, narrow insects that are brightly coloured. They have small antennae, large eyes, and six legs located near their head. Two pairs of wings comprised of small criss-crossing veins add strength and durability.

Damselflies are small and slender with large separated eyes. Their two pairs of wings are of equal size. They hold their wings over their back when at rest.

Dragonflies are generally larger, and their eyes can be either separated or placed close together. Their hind wings are wider than their front wings. When at rest, they hold their wings outright. Dragonflies live on every continent except Antarctica and about 3012 species of dragonflies were known in 2010.

Have I ever learned a lot about dragonflies since I started writing this post! The first thing I realized was that I had photos of both dragonflies and damselflies! The second thing I learned is that it would take a whole lot more time to figure out what family, let alone species, each of these photos represents.

Here is an excellent YouTube video about Dragonflies.

Phainopepla

Phainopepla female
Phainopepla male

The Feather Files
Name: Phainopepla
Species: Phainopepla nitens
Native to and Migration: Deserts and arid woodlands of the southwestern United States and Mexico. Breeds twice each year in two different habitats. Some spend winters in the southern part of its breeding range.
Date Seen: March 2017
Location: North of Fountain Hills, Arizona
Notes: Individual birds will eat at least 1,100 mistletoe berries per day when they are available.

They are versatile songsters that can imitate up to 12 other species of birds. Though I see them frequently, they are harder to photograph than other birds because they spook very easily.