Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for January 13th, 2015

Profiling a person’s personality from Facebook likes: New Stanford research finds computers are better judges of personality than friends and family

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So trawling our on-line data—not just Facebook likes, but also credit card purchases, viewing history, email, Uber travel, and so on. I imagine that a really excellent profile, of surprising depth, could be automatically compiled.

Here’s where the technology is so far as it’s not classified.

Written by LeisureGuy

13 January 2015 at 7:25 pm

A Startup Offering Gigabit Fiber Is Expanding to a Second Comcast-Dominated City

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Not only is it great that this is happening, it’s great that everyone on the Internet can see that it’s happening—and start to think that they, too, would like gigabit fiber cable—and perhaps Comcast being such an enormous company is a Bad Idea…

Written by LeisureGuy

13 January 2015 at 2:32 pm

Subversive: You Can Now Tour Colorado’s Weed Shops on Google Street View

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Living in a deep Red state and feeling rebellious? You can at least press your nose against the glass.

And perhaps note that after legalization, teenage marijuana use is down, driving under the influence is down, etc. All the predictions of the bad things that would happen were simply wrong. It’s almost as if sometimes our expectations are contradicted by actual experience, so perhaps states should experiment a bit more and see what other stupid ideas are in our laws.

Written by LeisureGuy

13 January 2015 at 2:29 pm

Drunk watching

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We have all read of, if not experienced, drunk buying. That’s practically what on-line shopping is for. And with Amazon’s Fire TV Stick, the buying/rental of a movie—or, worse, next episode in a series—is so seamless, requires so few interactions and no memory required except the muscle memory to click the right buttons. You don’t really have to think about it, which is undoubtedly the point. Thus it’s perfect for drunk watching: “Remember the scene where what’s-his-face had the big fight in a bar? No? Here!” and before you know it the opening credits are rolling and somewhere along the way there was a transaction. Deadly.

Written by LeisureGuy

13 January 2015 at 2:16 pm

Is ‘SimCity’ Homelessness a Bug or a Feature?

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Wow. Do read this article. Talk about analogues and memes…

Written by LeisureGuy

13 January 2015 at 1:38 pm

The Struggle Between Bitcoin Traders and British Banks

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Written by LeisureGuy

13 January 2015 at 1:35 pm

Posted in Business

A good ending for a bad story, and when we must hold police and prosecutors accountable

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I know the NYPD disagrees, but just read this.

Written by LeisureGuy

13 January 2015 at 1:08 pm

Extremely ingenious: Two Lawyers Make the Case for RICO Charges Against JPMorgan Execs

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If the Federal government—the DoJ being pretty firmly under Wall Street’s control, as is the SEC and other regulatory agencies—will not take action against JP Morgan, then let’s go ahead and do it ourselves: we’ve got evidence, we’ve got a website, let’s put on a trial! More like a grand-jury proceedings, really: systematically lay out the evidence, in pubic as it were, and try to shame the DoJ into acting. (It’s a tough sell: shame has been pretty much bred out of the political memes. Guess in politics the no-shame meme is more successful.)

At any rate: Pam Martens and Russ Martens report in Wall Street on Parade:

The U.S. Justice Department has yet to summon the courage to bring a criminal courtroom trial against JPMorgan’s top executives but a serious public trial is underway nonetheless at the website  Originally styled as a venue for the public to read a free chapter a month of the book, JPMadoff: The Unholy Alliance Between America’s Biggest Bank and America’s Biggest Crook, the two attorneys who created the site have now moved into their grand jury stage, presenting hard evidence in Chapter 5 on why RICO charges can, and should, be brought against top executives at JPMorgan Chase.

The book’s authors and site creators are Helen Davis Chaitman and Lance Gotthoffer. Chaitman is a nationally recognized litigator and author of The Law of Lender Liability. She is also a Bernie Madoff victim who lost a large part of her life savings to his Ponzi scheme and then tenaciously represented other victims of his fraud in district and appellate courts.

Gotthoffer has practiced law for almost four decades, including landmark financial litigations. Gotthoffer served as lead counsel for a consortium of major banks in the 90s in what was at the time the largest bank fraud in U.S. history by Arochem executives, an oil company. Gotthoffer’s banking clients sued Chase Bank, a forerunner to JPMorgan Chase, and accounting firm, Ernst & Young, for not doing enough to prevent the fraud. Gotthoffer argued the only successful appeal arising from the cases before the Second Circuit Court of Appeals.

As the veteran lawyers have peeled back the layers of deceits and serial crime charges at JPMorgan Chase in their intensive online investigation; as multi-billion dollar settlements are handed out by regulators and the Justice Department and those committing the crimes go scot-free; their passion to see justice served has escalated. The authors wrote recently: “This country cannot move forward with integrity until it faces the fact that bankers have criminalized the financial services industry. We, the people, have to demand an honest government that enforces the law, even against super-rich criminals.”Chaitman and Gotthoffer believe that RICO, the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, is “the perfect tool” to bring JPMorgan to heel. The lawyers explain RICO to their readers as follows: . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

13 January 2015 at 1:01 pm

Fifty years of David Bowie hairstyles in one animated gif

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Take a look.

And a meme just propagated…

Written by LeisureGuy

13 January 2015 at 12:36 pm

Posted in Video

Interesting meme that reflects a highly successful meme adaptation/strategy

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Molly came to sit in my lap, a fraught process that involves much testing and hesitation and tentativeness followed by total relaxation and purring. She usually holds down my arm nearest her hear with a front paw planted firmly on that arm.

But that arm wasn’t available today because I was drinking iced tea. I noted that she then placed that arm-holding paw on the arm of the chair and held it firmly down.

So it wasn’t about holding me down, particularly, it was about wanting a firm support for that paw, presumably so she’ll be able to leap the instant a mouse should present itself present itself.

So I was just sitting there, letting her enjoy the moment (and me as well), and I thought of memes, in this sense.

For those just joining us: Memes, defined in chapter 11 of Richard Dawkins The Selfish Gene and expanded upon in The Blind Watchmaker, are replicators very like genes: basic units of inheritance (though inheritance of culture—things that can be imitated—rather rather than of genes), having offspring with slight variations, and competing for resources, with those most adapted surviving. Evolution really does advance the story: later generations gradually become more complex and environmentally manipulative—for example, single-cell entities (where “cell” can refer to a genetic or memetic context) evolve to multicellular entities (organisms, for life evolution; in meme evolution, one gets meme-clusters: memes that reinforce each other, making the meme equivalent of a biofilm). Memes can combine—nationalism and opera and movies and so on—and, as Dawkins says, their evolution is extremely rapid compared to the evolution of lifeforms; and moreover, the meme, like the gene, is “selfish”: i.e., the meme is not so concerned about the well-being of the human hosts as it is about its own survival and propagation. Memes in that sense can act as a kind of disease that doesn’t quite kill the host and is still adapting toward having a more symbiotic relationship: just as physical illnesses become milder as more benign variants are selected. (A virus that killed instantly the host would not spread very far and thus would quickly die out: natural selection at work.)

The point is: memes evolve rapidly and they are “selfish.” Cf. North Korea.

Given that lifeforms and memes are subject to Darwinian logic, they both will (necessarily) evolve. Since both evolutions are subject to the same laws, it very naturally results that one gets a kind of “convergent evolution,” in which one can find many analogues between lifeforms and meme entities. That is, good evolutionary solutions/strategies will be good in either context, so successful outcomes will have some resemblances. Thus, we naturally enough find many analogues between lifeforms and memeish entities and vice versa.

That means you can look at particular lifeform adaptations and seek their analogues among memes, and vice versa.

Even better… and here’s where the story really begins: you can examine differences between human animals and other animals—those that don’t host memes—and perhaps get an idea of how memes might account for significant differences. It’s the old “How are humans different from other animals?” question, but viewed from a meme perspective: it assumes that any differences of substantial nature are due to memes.

Specifically, I was watching Molly just relax totally with not a thought for tomorrow, and thinking that was what life would be like for a meme-free animal—along with intermittent hunger, fear, pain, etc. But still, when times are good, just enjoy them.

Basically, non-human animals have no drive. They lack ambition. They do not want to leave the world a better place. They do not want to advance the knowledge of their kind, or to become known as a champion of their rights, a protector of their poor (though they may indeed protect the poor/wounded, but they have, I’m sure, no concept of becoming “known” for the deed).

Or, to put it more simply, non-human animals lack memes. We are driven by memes, and the meme “We must advance human knowledge, improve human condition” is a very basic, very primitive meme. Once it became active, it was in effect a meme-factory, kicking off a process that multiplies memes by the millions—thus undoubtedly hastening memetic evolution.

So that’s one difference memes make: ambition. And that’s a big difference.

On thinking further: I don’t think the meme-human situation is like the Puppetmasters. Generally speaking, meme propagation is heavily influenced by what “works” (in whatever context): memes that “work” will spread quickly. They in effect fulfill their promises. (Cf. the rapid spread of the meme-cluster “traditional wetshaving with a DE razor,” for example: that meme-cluster spreads rapidly because its promises are for most fulfilled. If the meme didn’t work, analogous to a virus that sickens its host, it doesn’t propagate very well—certainly not so well as those that do. A country like North Korea is an exception (and a meme-cluster with extraordinarily strong protective memes (analogous to antibodies), but in general, a meme that harms its hosts cannot endure. Or so it seems to date.

So, generally speaking, memes benefit us. Still, there is the puppetmaster aspect: many of those benefits are in the form of memes—meme-currency, as it were—rather than direct animal benefits—because, as we’ve seen, animals do not need much. OTOH, we do now have anesthetic. So it’s not all bad.

It’s a puzzle as to which is in charge, is it not?

UPDATE: It strikes me that we have a nomenclature need—a need that, for all I know, has already been met. We need to be able to refer with a single name the generalization of common structures/adaptations/patterns we find in comparing memes and lifeforms. It’s the word for a particular category or type of evolutionary adaptation when you see examples both among lifeforms and among memes. It’s the general terminology for the specific cases represented by memes and lifeforms.

I say “lifeforms,” but in fact it’s “genes.” But I cannot see genes, so I look at their expression and see the adaptation there. The gene benefits if its physical expression in the lifeform helps the gene’s host (to survive to reproduce).

The analogues are amazing, and we do need those generalized names.

Written by LeisureGuy

13 January 2015 at 12:26 pm

Posted in Cats, Memes, Molly

They’re Watching You Read

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Francine Prose writes in the NYRB:

Lately, I’ve been reading Vanity Fair, and among the profound pleasures it provides is the mysterious, almost indescribable sensation of being alone with Becky Sharp and her coterie of unfortunate rivals and hapless admirers. Solitude is and has always been an essential component of reading; many children become readers in part to enjoy the privacy it offers. And in an age in which our email messages can be perused by the NSA and our Facebook posts are scanned for clues to our habits and our desires, what joy and a relief it is, to escape into a book and know that no one is watching. But now it turns out that someone or something may have been reading over my shoulder, that I haven’t been quite so alone as I’d imagined, that Becky and I and her circle may have had some silent, unsuspected, uninvited company.

Largely because I’ve been traveling, and because my volume of Thackeray weighs several pounds and is printed in a typeface that borders on the microscopic, I’ve been reading the novel on my e-reader. According to a recent article in The Guardian, e-book retailers are now able to tell which books we’ve finished or not finished, how fast we have read them, and precisely where we snapped shut the cover of our e-books and moved on to something else. Only 44.4 percent of British readers who use a Kobo eReader made it all the way through Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch, while a mere 28.2 percent reached the end of Solomon Northup’s Twelve Years a Slave. Yet both these books appeared—and remained for some time—on the British bestseller lists.

“After collecting data between January and November 2014 from more than 21m[illion] users, in countries including Canada, the US, the UK, France, Italy and the Netherlands, Kobo found that its most completed book of 2014 in the UK was not a Man Booker or Baileys prize winner. Instead, readers were most keen to finish . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

13 January 2015 at 11:28 am

Interesting how easily acts of terror drive us away from democratic values

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Apparently in general people do not look to democratic values to feel safe. Victoria Turk has an interesting article at Motherboard that begins:

And so it begins. Following the terrorist attacks on the offices of French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, the EU has issued a joint st​atement to condemn the act and work to prevent extremism and safeguard freedom of expression. The leaders’ suggestion? More surveillance and internet censorship.

The statement, adopted by EU representatives including UK Home Secretary Theresa May, focuses on addressing radicalisation “in an early stage.” It condemns the January 7 attacks, in which two Islamist gunmen killed 12 people, and specifically mentions the internet as a factor in the “fight against radicalisation.”

“We are concerned at the increasingly frequent use of the internet to fuel hatred and violence and signal our determination to ensure that the internet is not abused to this end, while safeguarding that it remains, in scrupulous observance of fundamental freedoms, a forum for free expression, in full respect of the law,” the statement reads.

“With this in mind, the partnership of the major internet providers is essential to create the conditions of a swift reporting of material that aims to incite hatred and terror and the condition of its removing, where appropriate/possible,” it continues.

The EU statement does not go into details of how flagging and removing content would happen—for now it’s just a memo.

But commenters have po​inted out the potential incongruity of fighting for freedom of expression by removing material from the internet. The Charlie Hebdo attacks followed controversy over the magazine’s publication of cartoons depicting Muhammad, and in its wake many have adopted the “Je suis Charlie” (“I am Charlie”) phrase in support of free speech.

But what exactly should be protected under freedom of expression isn’t always black-and-white. That’s starkly illustrated in this statement, which advocates removing material in the sentence immediately following a call for online freedom. . . .

Read the whole thing.

So much for the marketplace of ideas…

Written by LeisureGuy

13 January 2015 at 10:29 am

Speaking While Female

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Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant write in the NY Times:

YEARS ago, while producing the hit TV series “The Shield,” Glen Mazzara noticed that two young female writers were quiet during story meetings. He pulled them aside and encouraged them to speak up more.

Watch what happens when we do, they replied.

Almost every time they started to speak, they were interrupted or shot down before finishing their pitch. When one had a good idea, a male writer would jump in and run with it before she could complete her thought.

Sadly, their experience is not unusual.

We’ve both seen it happen again and again. When a woman speaks in a professional setting, she walks a tightrope. Either she’s barely heard or she’s judged as too aggressive. When a man says virtually the same thing, heads nod in appreciation for his fine idea. As a result, women often decide that saying less is more.

Some new studies support our observations. A study by a Yale psychologist, Victoria L. Brescoll, found that male senators with more power (as measured by tenure, leadership positions and track record of legislation passed) spoke more on the Senate floor than their junior colleagues. But for female senators, power was not linked to significantly more speaking time.

Suspecting that powerful women stayed quiet because they feared a backlash, Professor Brescoll looked deeper. She asked professional men and women to evaluate the competence of chief executives who voiced their opinions more or less frequently. Male executives who spoke more often than their peers were rewarded with 10 percent higher ratings of competence. When female executives spoke more than their peers, both men and women punished them with 14 percent lower ratings. As this and other research shows, women who worry that talking “too much” will cause them to be disliked are not paranoid; they are often right.

One of us, Adam, was dismayed to find similar patterns when studying a health care company and advising an international bank. When male employees contributed ideas that brought in new revenue, they got significantly higher performance evaluations. But female employees who spoke up with equally valuable ideas did not improve their managers’ perception of their performance. Also, the more the men spoke up, the more helpful their managers believed them to be. But when women spoke up more, there was no increase in their perceived helpfulness. . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

13 January 2015 at 10:16 am

Posted in Business, Daily life

The End of Gangs

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Interesting how much the gang culture of LA has withered away.

Written by LeisureGuy

13 January 2015 at 10:14 am

Posted in Daily life

Selective voodoo

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Good blog post by Paul Krugman. The comments to his posts are generally also interesting.

Written by LeisureGuy

13 January 2015 at 10:11 am

Posted in Business, GOP, Government

Radley Balko’s morning links

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Always worth checking in the Washington Post:

  • The Albuquerque police officers involved in the shooting death of homeless man James Boyd now face murder charges. This is extremely rare. It will be interesting to watch the fallout.
  • Staten Island District Attorney Daniel Donovan is running for Congress. And he’d rather you didn’t talk about his failure to get an indictment in the death of Eric Garner.
  • Audit finds that New York state police have done a poor job documenting and tracking the loot they’ve seized through asset forfeiture.
  • Here’s a bit more on the Koch brothers’ plan to bankroll a campaign to reform the criminal justice system.
  • Federal judge has a troubling history of issuing gag orders in high-profile criminal cases. . .

Continue reading.

The Albuquerque case is interesting. If the Albuquerque Police Department is like the NYPD, the cops will immediately begin a work stoppage and use social media to disrespect the city administration and in general become outraged at cops being held accountable for their misdeeds. In the view of the NYPD, police officers should never face accountability, even when their flagrant violation of departmental regulations results in killing a man (ruling was that it was homicide) for the trifling offense of selling loose cigarettes—which I believe is not even a crime, but a civil offense.

Written by LeisureGuy

13 January 2015 at 10:08 am

Posted in Law Enforcement

Misunderstood figures of speech

with 2 comments

I’ve been seeing a lot of “it peaked my interest” lately (s/b “piqued”), and a friend just passed along a couple more:

“Without further adieu”

“The Sixteenth Chapel,” with ceiling painted by Michelangelo

Written by LeisureGuy

13 January 2015 at 10:04 am

Posted in Daily life, Writing

Beautiful shave with Rooney Finest, Eclipse Red Ring, and Strop Shoppe Lemon Eucalyptus

with 8 comments

SOTD 13 Jan 2015

What a terrific shave. My Rooney Finest is such a great brush. This morning as I used it I had an impulse to shed all my other brushes. This one has just the right resilience, a great feel on the face, ferocious efficiency in creating superb lathers, and a very classy appearance, at least to my eye.

And the Strop Shoppe Lemon Eucalyptus, which I stumbled across on my crowded shelf of shaving soaps, is wonderful. This is my new favorite lemon-fragranced shaving soap. Strop Shoppe soaps make stellar lathers, so the whole prep took a step up. (I had first washed my beard with MR GLO, of course.)

The Eclipse Red Ring is a very good razor—it would fall into the “very comfortable, very efficient” category in a chart like this. (That chart, however, is for razors in current production.) Three passes to a BBS result with no nicks and no drama. Blade was a Personna Lab Blue.

A good splash of Fine’s Clean Vetiver, and I’m ready for the day.

I was moved to use the Rooney after using the brush yesterday and posting this photo comparing the lofts of the brushes:

Loft comparison close-up

As you see, the Rooney’s loft is substantially greater, and that translates to a softer knot, greater capacity, and more lathering power—that is, the Rooney loads more quickly and works up a lather more quickly.

I did contact Brushguy to see if I could get one of his brushes with a greater loft—I do love the handles, but that knot is too stubby—but he said he can only provide the knot shown, which unfortunately has limited capacity and lacks the soft feel that I enjoy.

I though a close-up would better show the differences.

Written by LeisureGuy

13 January 2015 at 9:41 am

Posted in Shaving

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