February 12, 2017: Pancakes; Biking; Owls and Woodpeckers; Conspiracy Theories

February 12, 2017:  Pancakes; Biking; Owls and Woodpeckers; Conspiracy Theories

The culinary news involves pancakes.  The wife’s grandmother left a buttermilk pancake recipe that has been used, presumably, for more than 60 years.  Results from this formulation are always exceptional: perfect fluff, browning, and taste.  The recipe is remarkable because a full batch calls for 12 cups of flour. Most modern recipes call for 2 cups of flour.

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Go big or go home on pancakes: use buttermilk; eat real butter and real maple syrup. Dab maple syrup drops onto the cooking pancakes if you want (lower left).  The pancakes on the cutting board will be frozen and fed to children later.

Hints on pancakes: (1) a person can place drips of real maple syrup in them before they are turned and successfully feed them to small children later (even after freezing), (2) use real butter on them if consuming hot; do not be timid, (3) use real maple syrup if maple flavor is desired – go big or go home.  Pancakes can be successfully cooked in a cast iron pan, but this is one case where a large, electric cooking surface may prove useful, if many people are to be served at once.  For the record: Androp Gerard does not have an electric cooking surface, and would pay hundreds of dollars to avoid owning one.  He is a minimalist.

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Many were out enjoying a 70 F degree day over the week-end.

In biking and nature, the weather allowed a pleasant trail ride.  A Great Horned Owl was seen from the trail.  This species is more often heard than seen, and not that often heard.  This was a rather uncommon and exciting observation.  Two Bald Eagle nests were also spotted.  One clearly had a mature eagle on the nest.  Interestingly, these two nests are less than 3 km apart, which seems a bit close.  Finally, a Pileated Woodpecker was seen slide4in the yard.  Sightings occur less frequently than one per year, in general, so this was another exciting wildlife observation.

Androp has been considering the origin of conspiracy theories. Belief in conspiracy theories, superstitions, and religions seem to be in the same family of human behaviors. These spring, basically, from the need to explain patterns, past events, and future possibilities – all to reduce anxiety.  To the extent that conspiracy theories are different from religious beliefs, the following observations apply:

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Conspiracy theorists enjoy few benefits.
  1. Conspiracy theorists are by most definitions in the minority within a society, although they may often be members of a majority religion.  This may tend to diminish the direct social benefits of belief.Few conspiracy theorists gather regularly to perform rituals: (songs, chants, responses to prompts).  These types of activities offer benefits similar to meditation, as well as enhancing social bonding.
  2. Belief in conspiracy theories does not effectively sooth anxiety, even though these beliefs spring from anxiety. Religious adherents (who are not at the same time conspiracy theorists) are generally soothed via belief.
  3. Conspiracy theorists see those in control of events as malevolent. No reward is offered for belief.  Religious believers see their god(s) as loving, and adherents are rewarded for belief.
  4. Conspiracy theorists generally lack trust in many or most institutions and their representatives. Believers in majority religions make up the institutions and their members.

The most prominent conspiracy theorist in the world today is Donald J. Trump.

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