Later On

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

Archive for March 6th, 2019

To me, it sounds an awful lot like boogie-woogie (ah-roogie)

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Written by Leisureguy

6 March 2019 at 8:15 pm

Posted in Jazz, Video

Nancy Pelosi’s masterstroke: GOP wants Trump to back off on emergency

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Alexander Bolton reports for the Hill:

Senate Republicans are sending a pointed message to President Trump to back off from his national emergency declaration, arguing that he has $6 billion currently available from multiple funds — more than he requested — to build border barriers.

The eleventh-hour effort to persuade Trump to rescind his declaration will probably not work, but it reveals the growing anxiety within Republican ranks about a looming vote to rebuke the president’s move. It’s a tough spot for many Republicans who both don’t want to publicly cross Trump and also believe the emergency sets a bad precedent.

Republicans in the upper chamber argue the administration will have an additional $4 billion in fiscal 2020 to redirect to building border barriers when Congress replenishes a drug interdiction fund under the jurisdiction of the Defense Department.

“The amount of money that’s available to him without declaring an emergency does meet his request,” said Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), the chairwoman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security. “That is definitely the message.”

Capito represents a state that Trump won by 42 points in 2016.

“I think there’s an easier way to do this,” said a second Republican senator, who requested anonymity to make the argument that Trump’s national emergency declaration is unnecessary.

GOP lawmakers hope that Trump might relent and defuse a clash next week when the Senate is scheduled to vote on a Democratic-sponsored resolution disapproving of the president’s declaration.

As many as 15 Senate Republicans have serious misgivings over Trump’s declaration and are threatening to vote for the disapproval resolution, say GOP senators.

“A lot of people are concerned in our caucus,” Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), who plans to vote for the disapproval resolution, said Wednesday. “There have been quite a few who have expressed concerns.” . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

6 March 2019 at 5:43 pm

By the time they ask the questions, …

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Very good and interesting answer on Quora:

Q: Why hasn’t Mueller interviewed Don Jr. and Jared? Does this mean something bigger or worse is waiting and if so, what is it?

Answered by: Bruce Spielbauer

A friend of mine, who is an FBI agent, has told me this more than a hundred times.

“Unless it is an emergency, by the time the feds haul you in for questioning, they already know the correct answers to every question that they ask.”

Read, and re-read that quote above. My friend often works on long-term federal investigations such as this one.

“Unless it is an emergency, by the time the feds haul you in for questioning, they already know the correct answers to every question that they ask.”

My friend worked on Rod Blagojevich, in Illinois. He also worked on Operation Graylord, when he had just joined the FBI.

“Unless it is an emergency, by the time the feds haul you in for questioning, they already know the correct answers to every question that they ask.”

The feds know that a jury will not usually be swayed by what someone states, even under oath, or even in an interview. They know that a jury will be swayed by documents, and receipts, and E-Mails, and text messages, and Instagram posts, and bank statements, and voice recordings, and income tax filings. Real, hard evidence.

The feds gather that first, and make certain they have all of it, first. All of it. Then — if they decide to call you in for an interview — (or subpoena you for an interview), they already know everything. The feds have assembled their case — if there is one. If there is a case, involving you. The interview is then the final item on their list — sometimes to see if you also are stupid enough to add some new charges to the charges they intend to file. “Lying to a federal prosecutor.”

My friend also told me of cases where they skipped the interview, because they did not even need the interview. “Does it matter if we put the guy away for 305 years, or 375 years?” That case was a real case, by the way.

Or, they skipped the interview because they had the goods — but they believed the person had even more evidence in his possession, and they wanted to collect that evidence (Roger Stone). So, they skip the interview, and collect even more evidence. “Knock, knock, – guess what — this is a raid. We have a search warrant.”

My friend will not confirm it, but I believe he is working the case of Ed Burke right now. He just smiles, when I ask.

“Unless it is an emergency, by the time the feds haul you in for questioning, they already know the correct answers to every question that they ask.”

Written by Leisureguy

6 March 2019 at 4:51 pm

Dinner is on: Turkey Thighs, a favorite recipe

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Recipe is here. The two turkey thighs I got were enormous, I had to move to the 6-qt pot: the 4-qt sauté pan just wasn’t deep enough.

It’s good to get all the vegetables prepped and the ingredients ready before you start the cooking. There are several steps, and you don’t want to be distracted by trying to do two things at once.

Written by Leisureguy

6 March 2019 at 12:14 pm

Trump Mar-a-Lago Buddy Wrote Policy Pitch. The President Sent It to VA Chief.

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Isaac Arnsdorf reports in ProPublica:

In late 2017, on one of President Donald Trump’s retreats to Mar-a-Lago, his private club in Palm Beach, Florida, he caught up with an old friend: Albert Hazzouri.

When Hazzouri is not at Mar-a-Lago, he’s a cosmetic dentist in Scranton, Pennsylvania. At a campaign rally there in 2016, Trump gave him a shoutout: “Stand up, Albert. Where the hell are you, Albert? Stand up, Albert. He’s a good golfer, but I’m actually a better golfer than him. Right?”

Shortly after Hazzouri and Trump saw each other in late 2017, Hazzouri followed up with a message, scrawled on Mar-a-Lago stationery. Here’s the letter:

In a telephone interview, Hazzouri said he sent the note as a favor to the 163,000-member American Dental Association. He said he had only the vaguest sense of what proposal he was vouching for.

“I’m really not involved in any politics, I’m just a small-time dentist,” he said. “I guess there’s a lot of money spent on veterans’ care and American Native Indians’ care, and I guess they wanted to have a little hand in it, the American Dental Association, to try to guide what’s going on or whatever.”

The idea seemed to intrigue Trump. He took a thick marker and wrote on top of Hazzouri’s note, “Send to David S at the V.A.,” referring to David Shulkin, then the secretary of veterans affairs. Next to the Mar-a-Lago coat of arms, an aide stamped: “The president has seen.”

It was not the first time Mar-a-Lago membership had bestowed access to the VA. As ProPublica revealed last year, Trump handed sweeping influence over the department to club member Ike Perlmutter, who is the chairman of Marvel Entertainment and was a major donor supporting Trump’s campaign, along with a physician and a lawyer who are regular guests at the resort. The trio, known as the “Mar-a-Lago Crowd,” acted as a shadow leadership for the department, reviewing all manner of policy and personnel decisions, including budgeting and contracting. The House veterans committee is now investigating the trio’s “alleged improper influence.”

Beyond the VA, Trump’s presidency has been rife with examples of special interests seeking influence through business associates or friends and family, rather than going through the normal channels. Shortly after the election, the Australian ambassador reportedly managed to contact Trump not through the State Department but thanks to golfer Greg Norman, and Trump’s post-election call with the Vietnamese premier was facilitated by Marc Kasowitz, a personal lawyer for Trump. Megadonor Sheldon Adelson helped a friend’s obscure company secure a research deal with the Environmental Protection Agency, and inaugural chairman Tom Barrack provided support to a company seeking to export nuclear power technology to Saudi Arabia.

In Hazzouri’s case, the details of his pitch to “create an oversight committee” are murky. A spokeswoman for the American Dental Association, Katherine Merullo, declined to elaborate on the proposal. Michael Graham, who heads the ADA’s lobbying arm in Washington, recalled that one of his staffers raised the topic with  . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

6 March 2019 at 10:48 am

Seven moral rules found all around the world

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O, and Is It Good to Cooperate? Testing the Theory of Morality-as-Cooperation in 60 Societies.” It’s clear that “good” in the title means morally good, not merely (say) efficient.

They write:


What is morality? And to what extent does it vary around the world? The theory of “morality-as-cooperation” argues that morality consists of a collection of biological and cultural solutions to the problems of cooperation recurrent in human social life. Morality-as-cooperation draws on the theory of non-zero-sum games to identify distinct problems of cooperation and their solutions, and it predicts that specific forms of cooperative behavior—including helping kin, helping your group, reciprocating, being brave, deferring to superiors, dividing disputed resources, and respecting prior possession—will be considered morally good wherever they arise, in all cultures. To test these predictions, we investigate the moral valence of these seven cooperative behaviors in the ethnographic records of 60 societies. We find that the moral valence of these behaviors is uniformly positive, and the majority of these cooperative morals are observed in the majority of cultures, with equal frequency across all regions of the world. We conclude that these seven cooperative behaviors are plausible candidates for universal moral rules, and that morality-as-cooperation could provide the unified theory of morality that anthropology has hitherto lacked. [Emphasis added – LG]

Their paper begins:

Anthropology has struggled to provide an adequate account of morality. In 1962, the philosopher Abraham Edel (1962) complained that “anthropology has not furnished a systematic concept [of morality]” (67), and has avoided “the problem of morality, what it is, what identifying marks are to be sought for it, and how to go about mapping it” (56). Four decades later, little had changed. The anthropologist James Laidlaw (2002) lamented:

There is no anthropology of ethics … there is no sustained field of enquiry and debate. There is no connected history we can tell ourselves about the study of morality in anthropology, as we do for a range of topics such as kinship, the economy, the state, or the body. (311; see also, Laidlaw 2013)

Fortunately, the situation is now beginning to change. In recent years, the study of morality has become the focus of a thriving interdisciplinary endeavor, encompassing research not only in anthropology, but also in evolutionary theory, genetics, biology, animal behavior, psychology, neuroscience, and economics (Haidt 2007; Shackelford and Hansen 2016; Sinnott-Armstrong 2007). A common view in this body of work is that the function of morality is to promote cooperation (Curry 2016; Greene 2015:40; Haidt and Kesebir 2010:800; Rai and Fiske 2011:59; Sterelny and Fraser 2016:981; Tomasello and Vaish 2013:231). This cooperative account has the potential to provide anthropology with the unified theory of morality it has hitherto lacked. However, previous cooperative accounts have been limited in two main ways.

First, previous accounts have focused on a relatively narrow set of cooperative behaviors (typically kin altruism and reciprocal altruism) and omitted others (e.g., coordination and conflict resolution), and have thus attempted to explain morality from an unnecessarily restricted base. They have not used the mathematical analysis of cooperation, offered by the theory of non-zero-sum games, to provide a more systematic taxonomy of cooperation, and to thereby furnish a broader, more general theory of morality.

Second, previous empirical work has not established whether the cooperative account of morality applies cross-culturally, or whether there are cultures that provide counterexamples to the theory. In the absence of any agreed-upon theory of morality, previous work on cross-cultural moral variation has been patchy and inconsistent; different researchers have used different measures in different places, making the results impossible to combine or compare. In the absence of definitive empirical evidence, opinions have varied wildly, with some claiming that some morals are universal (Brown 1991), and others claiming that there are no such universals (Prinz 2007).

The present paper attempts to overcome these two limitations. First, we use non-zero-sum game theory to provide the cooperative approach to morality with a rigorous, systematic foundation. We show how this approach—which we call “morality-as-cooperation”—generates a rich, principled explanatory framework that incorporates more types of cooperation, and thus explains more types of morality, than previous approaches. Here we focus on seven well-established types of cooperation: (1) the allocation of resources to kin (Hamilton 1963); (2) coordination to mutual advantage (Lewis 1969); (3) social exchange (Trivers 1971); and conflict resolution through contests featuring displays of (4) hawkish and (5) dovish traits (Maynard Smith and Price 1973), (6) division (Skyrms 1996), and (7) possession (Gintis 2007). And we show how each type of cooperation explains a corresponding type of morality: (1) family values, (2) group loyalty, (3) reciprocity, (4) bravery, (5) respect, (6) fairness, and (7) property rights.

Second, to resolve uncertainty about the cross-cultural applicability of morality-as-cooperation, we test the theory’s central prediction that each of these specific forms of cooperative behavior (helping kin, helping your group, reciprocating, being brave, deferring to superiors, dividing disputed resources, and respecting prior possession) will be considered morally good wherever they arise, in all cultures. We do this by investigating the moral valence of these cooperative behaviors in the ethnographic records of 60 societies, and examining their cross-cultural frequency and distribution.

Morality-as-Cooperation: An Overview

The theory of morality-as-cooperation argues that morality consists of a collection of biological and cultural solutions to the problems of cooperation recurrent in human social life (Curry 2016). Below we review the general argument, before proceeding to look at specific types of cooperation and the corresponding types of morality that they explain.

Life begins when molecules start making copies of themselves. These “replicators” are “selfish” in the technical sense that they promote their own replication (Dawkins 2006[1976]). They can promote their replication at the expense of other replicators. These competitive interactions have a winner and a loser; one’s gain is another’s loss; they are zero-sum games (Maynard Smith 1982; Von Neumann and Morgenstern 1944). But replicators can also replicate in concert with other replicators (Dawkins 1998). These cooperative interactions can have two winners; they are win-win situations; they are non-zero-sum games. Natural selection for genes that employ such cooperative strategies has driven several “major transitions” in the evolution of life on Earth, including the formation of cells, chromosomes, and multicellular organisms (Maynard Smith and Szathmáry 1995). Natural selection has also favored genes for cooperation between individuals, in a wide variety of species (Dugatkin 1997), including humans. Humans descend from a long line of social primates; they have spent 50 million years living in social groups (Shultz, Opie, and Atkinson 2011), and 2 million years making a living as intensely collaborative hunter-gatherers (Tooby and DeVore 1987). Evolution has equipped humans with a range of biological—including psychological—adaptations for cooperation. These adaptations can be seen as natural selection’s attempts to solve the problems of cooperation. More recently, improvisational intelligence and cultural transmission (Boyd, Richerson, and Henrich 2011; Pinker 2010) have made it possible for humans to attempt to improve upon natural selection’s solutions by inventing evolutionarily novel solutions—“tools and rules”—for further bolstering cooperation (Binmore 1994a1994b; Hammerstein 2003; Nagel 1991; Popper 1945). Together, these biological and cultural mechanisms provide the motivation for social, cooperative, and altruistic behavior—leading individuals to value and pursue specific mutually beneficial outcomes. They also provide the criteria by which individuals recognize, evaluate, and police the cooperative behavior of others. And, according to the theory of morality-as-cooperation, it is precisely these multiple solutions to problems of cooperation—this collection of instincts, intuitions, inventions, and institutions—that constitute human morality (Curry 20052016).

Which problems of cooperation do humans face? And how are they solved? Evolutionary biology and game theory tell us that there is not just one problem of cooperation but many, with many different solutions (Lehmann and Keller 2006; Nunn and Lewis 2001; Robinson and Goforth 2005; Sachs et al. 2004). Hence morality-as-cooperation predicts that there will be many different types of morality. Below we review seven well-established types of cooperation: (1) the allocation of resources to kin; (2) coordination to mutual advantage; (3) social exchange; and conflict resolution through contests featuring (4) hawkish displays of dominance and (5) dovish displays of submission; (6) division of disputed resources; and (7) recognition of possession.

Allocation of Resources to Kin (Family Values)

Genes that benefit replicas of themselves in other individuals—that is, genetic relatives—will be favored by natural selection if the cost of helping is outweighed by the benefit to the recipient gene(s) (Dawkins 1979; Hamilton 1964). So, evolutionary theory leads us to expect that under some conditions organisms will possess adaptations for detecting and delivering benefits (or avoiding doing harm) to kin. This theory of kin selection explains many instances of altruism, in many species (Gardner and West 2014), including humans (Kurland and Gaulin 2005; Lieberman, Tooby, and Cosmides 2007). Morality-as-cooperation leads us to expect that this type of cooperative behavior—caring for offspring, helping family members, and avoiding inbreeding—will be regarded as morally good.

Coordination to Mutual Advantage (Group Loyalty)

Game theory models situations in which individuals are uncertain about how to behave to bring about a mutual benefit as coordination problems (Lewis 1969). Humans and other animals use a variety of strategies—such as focal points, traditions, leadership, signaling, badges of membership, and “theory of mind”—to solve these problems (Alvard 2001; Boos et al. 2011; McElreath, Boyd, and Richerson 2003) and form stable coalitions and alliances (Balliet, Wu, and De Dreu 2014; Bissonnette et al. 2015; Harcourt and de Waal 1992). Morality-as-cooperation leads us to expect that this type of cooperative behavior—forming friendships, participating in collaborative endeavors, favoring your own group, and adopting local conventions—will be regarded as morally good.

Social Exchange (Reciprocity)

In game theory, social dilemmas—prisoners’ dilemmas, public goods games, tragedies of the commons—arise when the fruits of cooperation are vulnerable to exploitation by “free riders,” who accept the benefit of cooperation without paying the cost (Ostrom and Walker 2002). This problem can be overcome by a strategy of “conditional cooperation” or “reciprocal altruism,” such as tit-for-tat (Axelrod 1984; Trivers 1971). Evidence for various aspects of conditional cooperation have been found in numerous animal species (Carter 2014), including humans (Cosmides and Tooby 2005; Henrich et al. 2005; Jaeggi and Gurven 2013). Morality-as-cooperation leads us to expect that this type of cooperative behavior—trusting others, reciprocating favors, seeking revenge, expressing gratitude, and making amends—will be regarded as morally good.

Contests between Hawks (Bravery) and Doves (Respect)

Conflict over resources—food, territory, and mates (Huntingdon and Turner 1987)—presents organisms with an opportunity to cooperate by competing in less mutually destructive ways (Maynard Smith and Price 1973). There are three ways of achieving this: contests (featuring the display of hawkish and dovish traits), division, and possession. . .

Continue reading. There’s much more.

These rules seem quite natural if you look at what would help a social animal survive.

Science Daily reports a summary of the paper:

What is morality? And to what extent does it vary around the world? The theory of ‘morality-as-cooperation’ argues that morality consists of a collection of biological and cultural solutions to the problems of cooperation recurrent in human social life. These solutions or cooperative behaviors are plausible candidates for universal moral rules, and that morality-as-cooperation could provide the unified theory of morality that anthropology has hitherto lacked.

Anthropologists at the University of Oxford have discovered what they believe to be seven universal moral rules.

The rules: help your family, help your group, return favors, be brave, defer to superiors, divide resources fairly, and respect others’ property, were found in a survey of 60 cultures from all around the world.

Previous studies have looked at some of these rules in some places — but none has looked at all of them in a large representative sample of societies. The present study, published in volume 60, no. 1 issue of Current Anthropology, by Oliver Scott Curry, Daniel Austin Mullins, and Harvey Whitehouse, is the largest and most comprehensive cross-cultural survey of morals ever conducted.

The team from Oxford’s Institute of Cognitive & Evolutionary Anthropology (part of the School of Anthropology & Museum Ethnography) analyzed ethnographic accounts of ethics from 60 societies, comprising over 600,000 words from over 600 sources.

Dr Oliver Scott Curry, lead author and senior researcher at the Institute for Cognitive and Evolutionary Anthropology, said: “The debate between moral universalists and moral relativists has raged for centuries, but now we have some answers. People everywhere face a similar set of social problems and use a similar set of moral rules to solve them. As predicted, these seven moral rules appear to be universal across cultures. Everyone everywhere shares a common moral code. All agree that cooperating, promoting the common good, is the right thing to do.”

The study tested the theory that morality evolved to promote cooperation, and that — because there are many types of cooperation — there are many types of morality. According to this theory of ‘morality as cooperation’, kin selection explains why we feel a special duty of care for our families, and why we abhor incest. Mutualism explains why we form groups and coalitions (there is strength and safety in numbers), and hence why we value unity, solidarity, and loyalty. Social exchange explains why we trust others, reciprocate favors, feel guilt and gratitude, make amends, and forgive. And conflict resolution explains why we engage in costly displays of prowess such as bravery and generosity, why we defer to our superiors, why we divide disputed resources fairly, and why we recognize prior possession.

The research found, first, that these seven cooperative behaviors were always considered morally good. Second, examples of most of these morals were found in most societies. Crucially, there were no counter-examples — no societies in which any of these behaviors were considered morally bad. And third, these morals were observed with equal frequency across continents; they were not the exclusive preserve of ‘the West’ or any other region.

Among the Amhara of Ethiopia, “flouting kinship obligation is regarded as a shameful deviation, indicating an evil character.” In Korea, there exists an “egalitarian community ethic [of] mutual assistance and cooperation among neighbors [and] strong in-group solidarity.” “Reciprocity is observed in every stage of Garo life [and] has a very high place in the Garo social structure of values.” Among the Maasai, “Those who cling to warrior virtues are still highly respected,” and “the uncompromising ideal of supreme warriorhood [involves] ascetic commitment to self-sacrifice…in the heat of battle, as a supreme display of courageous loyalty.” The Bemba exhibit “a deep sense of respect for elders’ authority.” The Kapauku “idea of justice” is called “uta-uta, half-half… [the meaning of which] comes very close to what we call equity.” And among the Tarahumara, “respect for the property of others is the keystone of all interpersonal relations.”

The study also detected ‘variation on a theme’ . . .

Continue reading.

I read “defer to superiors” as “defer to those with superior knowledge, skills, and/or experience,” with the assumption that this determines social position.

Written by Leisureguy

6 March 2019 at 9:03 am

Mama Bear and Paul Sebastian host a fine shave

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Vanilla Cream and Paul Sebastian’s vanilla note (from the tonka bean) go together quite well. The Bruce synthetic from Italian Barber made a lusciously lovely lather with a fine fragrance, and my Maggard V3A on its UFO handle quite easily stripped the stubble away. Speaking with my marketing hat on, I would have named the razor the Maggard V3C, to emphasize Comfort. Instead, they chose Aggressive (the A) to emphasize efficiency, creating a sales barrier for those who fear harshness (the meaning Aggressive has when referring to comfort). Perhaps this is projection, since I hesitated to buy it because of my negative experience with razors aggressive on the comfort front (the 2011 Mühle R41, the Fatip Grande).

And just wanted to share this:

I’ve been thinking about memes, and their strategies to get copied, and here we see an example. In the tens of thousands of years before sound recording, and more before video recording, this performance would be by now totally forgotten. A crowd of people, enjoying the day, listening to good jazz or talking among themselves, oblivious. That was the “recording device” before Edison recorded sound.

But once sound is recorded, the meme persists, and so we to this day can enjoy that unique (meant literally) performance: the day, the crowd, the band, the dress, the hat the gloves, and oh my goodness, the singing.

That’s how a meme survives.

Written by Leisureguy

6 March 2019 at 7:41 am

Posted in Jazz, Shaving, Video

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