The Required Component For A Viable Cryptocurrency

Tuesday, 6 March 2018 21:23 by The Lunatic


There is no doubt that the ‘blockchain’, Bitcoin’s amazingly successful distributed ledger, is one of the most ingenious concepts ever invented.

Blockchain's importance, and potential scope of influence, could eventually rival RSA public key/private key encryption (the algorithm developed in 1978 that all modern-day financial transactions rely on - including, ironically enough, blockchain transactions). It really is spectacular.

So … am I investing in Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies?

Absolutely not!

My reasoning is simple: the function of a currency is to be an intermediate thing that holds value temporarily, so you can easily trade for something of real value. There is no reason to ever ‘invest’ in any currency. That is not its purpose.

You may, however, want to avoid a currency. Let’s say you live in Mexico and own a business, and that business generates nice profits. You take your profits, and decide to hold that value in cash while you look for something else to invest in, or maybe you're saving up for a nice yacht.

However, if you expect that the Mexican Peso will fall in value, you can convert your holdings to U.S. Dollars in the meantime. You are not ‘investing’ in dollars – you are avoiding Pesos in favor of a currency with greater stability!

The goal of any government backed currency is to be as stable as possible. While consumer spending is mostly based on cash transactions, the majority of business transactions are on ‘terms’ … payment in the future for the trading of good or services that occurs today.

If you hold cash in a transaction (“I will pay you for the goods in 90 days”) or if you hold debt (“you can pay me for this in 90 days”) – both parties expect the ‘value’ of the currency to be the same at the end of the transaction. It doesn’t matter which direction it moves; if the currency goes up or down, one party will suffer.

Here’s a true story: about six months ago, my son’s best friend was in our driveway and neglected to put his car in park. When the car started to roll, he jumped in – and in his haste he slammed on the gas instead of the brake … crashing into our garage door. He actually pushed our car, parked in the garage on the other side of the door, into the chest freezer at the back of the garage, pinning it to the wall!

The garage door repairman came out immediately – but ordering a door that matched our specific dimensions and color was going to take 8 weeks. I gave him a small down payment, and he ordered the door with an agreement that I would pay the balance when the installation was completed.

Now ask yourself: would either you, or the garage door repairman, want to conduct this transaction in Bitcoin? That would be crazy. Who knows what the ‘value’ of Bitcoin will be in 8 weeks!

Let’s step back and review some basic economics.

Throughout most of human history, trading was done directly with no currency involved. I have a house, and you have 50 cows, and we agree to trade. The exchange rate is 50 cows to one house. Simple.

Currency just adds one more variable. The exchange rate of dollars to cows is 2000 dollars to one cow, and the exchange rate of houses to dollars is one house to 100,000 dollars. It still works out that 50 cows to one house.

Trading goods for services is the same. If I am a plumber, I will fix your sink for either $70 – or two bags of groceries. This means I will trade my labor directly for goods … or for cash, and cash is just a thing that temporarily holds value, so I can easily trade it for something else like the two bags of groceries.

But in either of these scenarios (trading cows/houses/cash or plumbing work/groceries/cash), you want the value of the CASH to be fixed.

So how do we keep the value of any currency stable? It is difficult, and some governments have certainly been more successful at this over the long term than others. There are many factors to contend with.

Let’s say there is a village with just 1,000 people. They have their own currency. They buy houses, horses, food, supplies. Their population is stable, as is their economy, and the value of their currency never changes.

But one day they decide to ‘merge’ with a neighboring village of 100 people. Suddenly they have 10% more houses to buy and 10% more people to feed with the same amount of money in circulation.

They can live with the fact that all prices will change by 10%, or they can stabilize the currency and ‘inject’ 10% more money into circulation (print more bills) to keep the relative value of the currency the same for the number of people.

This is what the USA has been doing for decades, as our population and economy has grown. Money is printed to match the current economic conditions (or it is taken back and shredded to reduce the funds in circulation) … all to stabilize the value of the dollar.

By itself, this is not a bad thing! It really isn’t – but it can be abused (and is especially harmful if done to pay off government debt).

Printing MORE money than is needed, in general, results in lower value of the currency and higher cost of goods. This is the basis of inflation.

Unfortunately, banks rely on a small amount of inflation. Typically, the government targets 1 to 3% inflation per year. If we get too close to ‘parity’ then we risk slipping into deflation, which is worse for the economy.

Why do banks rely on inflation? Because it gives them ‘built in’ protection on the assets that they finance.

For example: if you buy a house, the value of that house will rise with inflation. So, if you buy a house for $100K with a $20K down payment, the bank has $20K in security to start with. But if you default on your loan after 5 years, the house should be worth at least $110K with inflation. The bank’s security has gone from $20K to $30K, a 50% increase over 5 years! In addition, the bank’s cost basis comes from cash deposits, and the cash value has actually gone down with inflation, so their liability is even lower the original $80K (plus whatever principal has been paid on the loan in the meantime).

The end result is this: the bank can sell the house and recoup the amount on their loan, even if they have to sell the house at a substantial discount. The value of the house has gone up and the value of the cash that they need to pay back to their depositors has gone down.

Without inflation, banks (and other lenders, both private and public) will always charge a higher interest rate to make up for the extra risk that they will bear. Their risk goes up even if the average number of loans that go into default stays the same.

With inflation, the value of “real” assets go up, and cash-based assets go down. We celebrate the increased value of our homes, but from a psychological standpoint we just tend to get used to the value of the currency as it does down. How much can you buy for a penny now? Not much … and that’s because of inflation. Do you really care? Only if you reminisce about the good old days.

Hyper-inflation, on the other hand, is horrific. This is the worst scenario. Some ten years ago, Zimbabwe was going through inflation with rates of thousands of percent daily. When you ate at a restaurant, you had to pay when you ordered – because the price would be more than double by the time you were served, and double again by the time you finished eating. Similar things happened in Brazil and Argentina in the 1980’s.

Inflation is when the value of a currency goes down. If a cryptocurrency such as Bitcoin has a value that is going up, that’s actually a form deflation. It’s good if you’re holding the currency – but bad if you’re holding debt based on that currency. Either way, it’s not stable.

Government backed currencies have this one advantage – it is in their country’s best interests to keep currency stable (plus/minus the inevitable small amount of inflation).

The advantage AND disadvantage of cryptocurrency is that it is decoupled from any government. Everyone loves to point out all the advantages of having an independent currency, not backed by any government, and many of these reasons are quite valid; but the disadvantage is that no one has a vested interest in keeping the value of the currency itself stable.

Inflation favors those holding debt. Debt is an ‘asset’ if you’re a lender. Inflation also favors those holding “real” assets such as houses – so people with a loan on their homes theoretically come out even, or hopefully slightly ahead, over the life of their loan (as long as they don’t default on the payments along the way).

But people holding cash are at a disadvantage! Holding large amounts of cash long term is bad, as it will lose value over time due to inflation. People with debt (borrowers) and no assets that rise in value are at a double disadvantage. We always hear that the poor get poorer. This is a major contributing factor.

“Low” inflation – one or two percent – doesn’t significantly impact short term transactions. The business to business 30/60/90-day payment terms can absorb the small difference, it just gets built into the cost of the goods that were sold.

But in an ideal world, currency inflation would be precisely at zero and this is a huge problem for cryptocurrencies.

Don’t get me wrong, the blockchain concept is brilliant – but Bitcoin (and all other cryptocurrencies) fail miserably when it comes to this fundamental reason to have a currency in the first place.

We deal in government backed currency because the government has a vested interest in keeping the value of currency stable; but even then, the stability isn’t good enough to avoid deflation, so to err on the side of caution (and to appease the banks) we live with some inflation.

So here is a question: how do we create a cryptocurrency that automatically adjusts itself – perfectly and predictably over the long term – to accommodate fluctuations in global economy and population, and ensure that the currency itself does not exhibit either short-term or long-term inflation or deflation? Could that then become a “fixed-standard” for all national currencies to be traded against?

Think about it – ‘currency’ is an intermediate thing that holds value, so you can easily trade for something of “real” value (stocks, real estate, goods and services). But individual governments usually need to keep stockpiles of their OWN currency on hand, which might fluctuate based on their own local economic conditions. A government might want to take on debt, fund public infrastructure projects, invest in education, or deal with a natural disaster like a hurricane or earthquake; their currency may rise or fall during these times and they may decide that this is ok. Wouldn’t it make sense to have a perfectly stable over-arching currency – not government backed, but which governments themselves (as well as individuals and businesses) could use as an intermediate thing to hold value?

If you’re looking for a challenging problem, this would be a great one to solve.

Categories:   Economics
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Space, Time, and the search for "Little Green Men"

Sunday, 9 April 2017 07:44 by The Lunatic


Given the number of stars in the universe, how arrogant to think ours is the only sun with a planet that supports life, and that it's the only solar system with intelligent life.
— Edward J. Weiler, NASA Director (Washington Post newspaper, 20 July 2008)

While I can’t disagree with the sentiment of Mr. Weiler’s statement, the bigger question remains – how likely is it that we will ever find evidence of other life in the universe, or be able to communicate with them if they do exist?

We tend to imagine that if there is alien life somewhere out there in the vast universe, they could be receiving our television broadcasts, and will eventually respond back to us. This was the premise of “Contact”, the blockbuster sci-fi movie written by Carl Sagan.

In the movie, Dr. Ellie Arroway (Jodie Foster) is heading up a SETI team (Search for ExtraTerrestrial Intelligence), and they detect a signal coming from a far-away star system. They quickly realize that the signal is one of our own TV programs, which is being re-broadcast back to us – and interleaved in between the frames of video are instructions from an alien civilization on how to make a spaceship to go visit them.

I really did enjoy this wonderful movie, but the realities of aliens receiving our TV signals isn’t quite as simple as it was portrayed.

Television broadcasts can be “terrestrial” (the traditional antenna tower constructed behind most TV stations, or high on a hill overlooking the city), or via satellite. Modern satellite systems are marvelous things. You just go to the store and buy a “dish”, which is about 20 inches in diameter, and point it up in the sky. Then you align it to the right satellite, and you have TV reception in glorious high definition!

The signal that the dish receives is not very powerful – somewhere in the range of a micro-watt of power (one millionth of a watt). However, you need to remember that you can put the antenna anywhere … in your front yard, in the back yard, on your roof; the network of satellites that broadcasts the signal to your house isn’t beaming a microwatt of power directly to your dish, it is putting out a microwatt of power for every 20-inch circular area across the entire United States! Only a very miniscule amount of the power transmitted More...

Categories:   Science
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A Study in Cyberpunk Economic Philosophy

Saturday, 11 February 2017 09:11 by The Lunatic


How many times have you read a book, or saw a movie, with a monopolistic “mega corporporation” as a primary plot element - a giant company run by a powerful, brilliant, egocentric, multi-gazillionaire?

It’s usually a male character at the helm, either the company founder or the founder's son, and he ruthlessly destroys every competitor and government agency that gets in the way of his quest to own it all and rule the world; It's a common theme in cyberpunk fiction stories.

But I’d like to take a slightly different approach to the idea of the giant company that we’ll just call ... megacorp.

In my scenario, the corporate merger mania that exists today continues unabated, as companies strive for higher efficiencies and economy of scale. Coke and Pepsi merge. Nestle and Tyson Foods do the same. Google and Microsoft and Facebook. Ford and GM and Tesla. FedEx and UPS. Novartis and Pfizer. United and American and Delta airlines. Then slowly they all start merging together. Berkshire Hathaway gets swallowed up along the way.

In the process, the large shareholders of the initial companies end up with smaller and smaller chunks of the combined entities, so the total number of smaller shareholders goes up but no one person owns a significant share. After a few mergers, a previous “majority” shareholder might end up with 5%. They merge again and that shareholder now owns 2.5%. The incredibly large number of individual shareholders suddenly have all the power.

Eventually, the individual shareholders of all these companies realize that the widely distributed ownership structure is actually beneficial, so they vote to put shareholder limits in place: no one person can own more than 1% of the company, with an annual decrease over ten years down to .1% - and then it goes even lower as more mergers take place.

In the end, they all finally merge together to form the almighty, invincible, unstoppable “megacorp”.

But instead of the popularized evil empire, I envision a different outcome: nearly everyone works for megacorp, More...

The Arbitrary Nature of Rules and Regulations

Thursday, 11 August 2016 18:24 by The Lunatic

Here’s a question to ponder: Why do we set our kid’s bedtime at a nice round number like 9:30 pm, rather than 9:15 or 9:45? How about 9:41, or 9:22, or some other equally arbitrary time? And is that the time your kids actually have to be in bed with the lights turned off – or the time that they need to start getting ready?

If you think about it, every “rule” has a bit of an arbitrary aspect to it. You have to draw a line in the sand somewhere, but where should that line be? How wide is the “grey area” between being too lenient (an 11:30 bedtime?) or too stringent (how about 8pm sharp)? Both these extremes are arguably out of the question, so the reasonable “grey area” is probably narrower than that. Somewhere between those reasonable limits, however, you need to pick a bedtime for your kids – and 9:30 seems to be a good compromise. But once the rule has been set, how strictly should you enforce it?

How often have we seen this: The kids know as well as you do that 10pm is still within the “reasonable” window … so a little delay here, a little delay there … and after a few weeks, the kids are going to bed at 10pm on a regular basis. But the official rule of the house is still bedtime at 9:30!

I’ve always been fascinated with the arbitrary nature of the actual boundary – how and where the limit is set – for any rule; this is a deep-rooted problem that has vexed humanity for centuries, in every culture and on every continent.

In the USA, our society has determined that kids can’t drink alcohol until they are 21 years old. At that magic day in your life, you are suddenly free to drink as much as you like. There is no “Slop” in that rule, as far as the legal enforcement goes. No “grey area” at all to work with.

On the other hand, the speed limit on a highway might be 65 miles per hour – yet everyone knows that you usually won’t get a ticket unless you are going at least ten miles per hour over the limit. So in our minds we don’t think we are speeding till we get to 75.

Sometimes you may have to ask why a rule was enacted in the first place. One small town in Iowa for example, has an ordinance on the books that proclaims “The Ice Cream Man and his truck are banned”. So I’m wondering, what DID the Ice Cream man do to deserve such a harsh penalty? It must have been quite drastic in order to justify banning EVERY Ice Cream Man (and their trucks) from the town forever!

Of course, we have to have rules. More...

The Etymology Of A Scandalous Suffix

Tuesday, 2 February 2016 00:00 by The Lunatic

Along the western edge of Washington DC, parallel to the Potomac River, runs the historic C&O shipping canal. Stop at Fletcher’s Boathouse, just north of Georgetown, and you can rent kayaks or canoes for a relaxing time on the water – or just enjoy the nice biking/jogging path that accompanies the canal. The water in the C&O is calm and peaceful, you can traverse it without having to battle the strong currents and wild turbulence of the mighty Potomac just a few hundred feet away.

Built in the mid-1800’s, the C&O (which stands for Chesapeake and Ohio) was used to transport much needed goods from northern Maryland and Pennsylvania into Washington D.C. Initially intended to go all the way to Pittsburgh, the C&O canal was only completed up to Cumberland, Maryland – still an impressive 184 miles in total length.

The primary freight that was shipped via the C&O was coal from the Allegheny Mountains, but the canal was also used for transporting building materials (lumber, paving stones, sand and gravel) and foodstuff (pork, wheat, corn, oats – and even whiskey). This was an alternative to shipping goods via railroad – and for a time before it closed, the canal was actually owned by the B&O (Baltimore and Ohio) Railroad Company. The canal was a vital part of Washington DC’s rapid growth following the civil war, and all the way into the early 1920’s.

Initially, the C&O canal was built with 74 locks, used to keep the flow of water stable and to raise and lower barges from one section to the next. The very last of these locks emptied the C&O canal into the Potomac river; it was there, in the Foggy Bottom neighborhood of Washington DC, that all the freight was unloaded from the barges and distributed throughout the city.

There really was never any particular name for this last lock which separated the canal from the river, but in 1942 (18 years after the canal was closed to shipping and the C&O Canal Company went into receivership) a restaurant opened directly across the street – and the restaurant was named “The Water Gate Inn”.

Another 18 years went by. In 1960, The Water Gate Inn closed its doors and sold out to an Italian real estate developer, Società Generale Immobiliare (known simply as “SGI”). SGI didn’t just buy out the restaurant – they purchased the entire ten acres of land that was owned by the remaining vestiges of the C&O Canal Company. SGI outlined their plans for a major real estate development, and named the proposed building complex after the little restaurant that had been on the corner of the property; thus was born “The Watergate”.

Right from the start, SGI had grand plans and a big budget for The Watergate. It was to be a mixed use complex More...

Categories:   Miscellaneous
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The Quantum Quandary

Wednesday, 4 February 2015 00:46 by The Lunatic

I’ve discussed “The Immutable Laws of Physics” a few times in previous articles. Every shred of evidence we have indicates that the interactions between matter, energy, time, and space, are themselves the very nature of the universe, and nothing we (or anything/anyone else) can do will ever change these interactions. Whenever we’ve observed or discovered something new that we don’t understand, it reminds us that we have incomplete understanding of the laws of physics – but the physical world is still immutable.

Quantum mechanics is a “relatively new” branch of physics that was discovered roughly 100 years ago, and it has certainly enhanced our understanding of these physical interactions. It has also made things quite a bit more complicated, as quantum mechanics embodies concepts which are quite difficult to grasp. The concepts are not as elegant as the pure logic behind classical “Newtonian physics”, or the mind-bending beauty of Einstein’s discovery of relativity.

One of the problems is that quantum mechanics have a large component that has to do with randomness. Changes in quantum states are thought to be the only truly random physical interactions in the whole universe!

One question that often comes up is this: how do we account for the randomness of quantum mechanics if the fundamental laws of physics are so perfect and so immutable? Why don’t our traditional laws of physics clash with the crazy and unpredictable nature of this randomness, the particle/wave duality, and Heisenberg's uncertainty principle? And while we’re at it, what do we feed to Schrödinger’s much maligned cat?

Quantum mathematics are somewhat abstract, yet exceedingly precise. The math has been verified experimentally to within one part in many billions; the measured data agrees with the theoretical equations to the limits of our measurement technology. This is a very key point. 

As a practical example, every time a transistor switches on and off in a computer, there is a “quantum band gap” that each electron goes through. If we could somehow “see” each electron that is pushed up against the junction of a transistor, we would not be able to tell which specific electrons would make it through the gap and which ones wouldn’t. The quantum state of each individual electron is completely random. However, we can say – very, very precisely – how many in total will go through and at what energy levels.

Advancements in manufacturing technologies, resulting in less impurities (i.e. stray molecules of unwanted substances) in the silicon junction, More...

Categories:   Science
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An Overview of the U.S. Patent System

Thursday, 31 July 2014 01:07 by The Lunatic

(Note: This was a term paper I wrote for an MBA class in 2012. I recently ran across it in my files and thought it would be a good addition to my blog. Enjoy!)

An Overview of the U.S. Patent System
David M. H. Workman


A Patent is a form of legal protection for an invention, allowing the patent holder to have exclusive rights to make, use, or sell the invention for a specific period of time (typically either 14 or 20 years in the U.S., depending on the type of patent).

To secure a patent, a Patent Application is submitted to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO); the application consists of two major elements: a description of the invention, and certain claims (which define the scope of protections desired under the patent application). The USPTO may grant the patent for the invention, but allow or disallow each of the claims individually. “Broad” claims mean that the applicant is asking for the invention to be protected in a wide range of uses, and are more likely to be rejected (and if allowed, are more likely to be challenged by competitors). “Narrow” claims mean that the invention has very focused and well defined commercial applications, which are less likely to be challenged.

For a patent application to be approved, it must meet a certain bar for (1) Novelty, (2) Non-Obviousness, and (3) either Utility, Distinctiveness, or Ornamentality (depending on whether it is a “Utility”, “Plant”, or “Design” patent, respectively). The USPTO reviews the patent application to ensure that the patent, and each of the claims, meets the bar for each criterion.

During the application process, the patent may be rejected if “prior art” (i.e. any published diagrams or descriptions which show that the invention is not original) is found by the USPTO, or if any aspect of the invention was publicly disclosed by the inventor before the filing date. Even after the patent has been granted, others may challenge the validity of the patent (or any of the individual claims) if prior art is presented which is proven to have been publicly available before the application date.

Patents cover an amazingly diverse range of ideas – from describing the optimal radius of the bend in a wire paper clip, to More...

Categories:   Economics | Miscellaneous
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I Believe That Belief Is Irrelevant

Tuesday, 15 April 2014 16:44 by The Lunatic

In a previous article titled I’m a believer!, I proposed we should swap the traditional definition of who’s a believer and who isn’t – I suggested that a believer is someone who believes that the laws of physics are immutable and a non-believer is someone who doesn’t.

In this post, I’ll take a little different approach. I’ll go on record and say that what people believe in is irrelevant. I don’t care what you believe in. Heck, I don’t even care about what I believe in myself! Simply having a belief in something does not make it true.

What if I go around the world and convince everyone that the universe is governed by a Grand Orange Duck. And what the Grand Orange Duck really wants is for everyone to donate their ear wax to the famed Diamond Crucible. I know it sounds crazy, but hear me out ... I really believe this is the truth! Once we have ear wax from every person on Earth, and the Diamond Crucible is full to the brim, the Grand Orange Duck will reveal himself to us and we will be allowed to marvel at his magnificent wings. It will be a glorious day indeed!

Even if I can get everyone to believe in the Grand Orange Duck (let’s just call it “GOD” for short), and convince every single person on Earth that they need to contribute some ear wax to the Diamond Crucible, that still doesn’t make it the truth.

Is this scenario really that far-fetched? How about this: The Mormons are very good at getting people to believe that there were white people on Earth before black people (Mormon scripture says that Cain, who killed his brother Abel, was so evil that God "cursed" him with black skin), and that More...

The Lunatic’s take on Daylight Savings Time

Sunday, 4 November 2012 08:24 by The Lunatic

Twice a year, once in the spring and once in the fall, we move our clocks either forwards or backwards to accommodate the change in Daylight Savings Time.

And twice a year, there are the requisite news articles written about Daylight Savings Time, explaining to everyone why we go through all this hassle. Then there are the cutesy and often misguided Facebook posts with statements like: “only the government would believe that you could cut a foot off the top of a blanket, sew it to the bottom, and have a longer blanket.” (which is what prompted me to write this particular article in the first place!)

So let’s get to the bottom of what Daylight Savings really is. First of all, however, we have to understand what midnight is. That’s right: midnight, the time that we’ve decided each day should start.

Technically, midnight is the time that is halfway between sunset and sunrise. It’s simple enough, but that definition needs some clarification. As the Earth revolves around the Sun, the Earth’s tilt causes daylight hours to shift with the seasons.

A better definition is that midnight is the time that is halfway between sunset and sunrise, at the equator, on either the fall or spring equinox (the only two days of the year when the sun is directly overhead at the equator).

Now we’re getting somewhere, but there’s one more wrinkle in this definition.

You see, the Earth is just over 24,000 miles around and More...

Raising Kids To Be Good Eaters

Friday, 4 May 2012 01:00 by The Lunatic

When my kids were born, in 1999 and 2000, I decided to conduct some scientific experiments on them.

Oh, don’t worry, it wasn’t anything too gruesome; all their limbs and internal organs are still intact. I just wanted to put some personal child-rearing philosophies to the test and see if I could turn them into healthy and conscientious eaters without any odd phobias or irrational dislikes of certain foods.

Fundamentally, I believe that kids’ eating habits are mostly formed between the ages of two and five, and having a pro-active methodology to respond to the typical food related tantrums that every kid goes through would help get through those critical years and make them better eaters.

Primarily, my belief was that all kids naturally go through short cycles of not wanting to eat certain foods, not liking certain flavors or spices, and that many times (not always) this is due to external influences – not being hungry, tummy upsets, a particular mood, or just being enamored with something that tasted good last week and not wanting anything else. One of the key ideas is that these usually are “short” cycles of likes and dislikes, but having an inappropriate response can extend the cycles or even artificially create a lifelong dislike of one certain food.

What I wanted to avoid was the typical parental response of coming to the conclusion that “my kids don’t like ... xxx”, when “xxx” really isn’t the problem.

When parents come to the conclusion that “my kid doesn’t like xxx”, they usually stop giving their child that particular food and let everyone know at school and at play dates that their kid won’t eat it – or they make a big deal about it at home and try to forcefully cajole their kid to eat the food in question. Both responses perpetuates the cycle and just makes it worse. Furthermore, I truly believe that it gives positive reinforcement and the child realizes that they get extra attention when they don’t like something.

So I would never say “My kids don’t like xxx”.  In fact, in their entire lives, they have never heard me say that to anyone. Instead, I would say “My kids eat everything, but I didn’t cook the xxx right the last time. I’ll make it better next time.”

The next time I’d make the offending dish, I’d change it a little bit and do something different.  I’d ask More...