Later On

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

Archive for December 23rd, 2019

Interesting comparison of Obama v. Trump

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Also, Obama was taller.

Written by LeisureGuy

23 December 2019 at 7:49 pm

Kama muta: a new term for that warm, fuzzy feeling we all get

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Alan Fiske, a psychological anthropologist and distinguished professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, whose latest book is Kama Muta: Discovering the Connecting Emotion (2019), has in Aeon an article based on the book:

Some emotions you seem to recognise the moment you feel them – you know when you’re angry, surprised, embarrassed or jealous. And yet you probably can’t name one of life’s most wonderful emotions (in fact, even psychologists have only recently begun to study it). It’s hiding in plain sight: without realising what you were feeling, you’ve probably experienced this same emotion in diverse situations such as when reunited with family or others you love; in worship; at a wedding; when you first held your newborn baby; when your team won a championship; or when a kitten climbed into your lap, licked your hand, curled up and fell asleep there. You might have felt it marching in a social-movement demonstration, or participating in a support or recovery group.

Now think back. At any of those times, was there a wonderful warm, fuzzy feeling in your heart? Did you cry tears of joy? Were you choked up with happiness? Did you get goosebumps or chills of delight? Feel so buoyant you were almost floating? Perhaps you put your hand on your heart and said ‘Awww!’ If you had these sensations, you were probably feeling this mysterious emotion. Next, you probably wanted to hug everyone, or call your grandparents to tell them how much you love them.

Although there is no exact word in any everyday language for this emotion, English speakers seeking to name the feeling might call it, depending on the context: being moved, touched, team pride, patriotism, being touched by the Spirit, burning in the bosom, the feels, or, when evoked by a memory, nostalgia. However, none of these terms captures precisely what the emotion is – and using any one of them conceals the fact that though it has many names, it is one emotion. So we coined a scientific term for it, ‘kama muta’, borrowed from the ancient Sanskrit where it meant ‘moved by love’, written in the beautiful Devanāgarī script as काममूत.

Kama muta is recognisable by six co-occurring features:

  1. It is evoked by the sudden intensification of communal sharing – that is, sudden ‘love’ or kindness;
  2. It is brief (typically less than a minute or two, though it can repeat in rapid succession);
  3. It feels good (though it can occur in the context of other, negative emotions);
  4. When intense, it is often accompanied by the same set of physical sensations: a warm, fuzzy feeling in the centre of the chest; moist eyes or tears; being choked up (a lump in the throat); chills or goosebumps; and often a smile and putting the palm(s) on the chest, sometimes saying ‘Awwww!’;
  5. It motivates devotion and compassion to communal sharing – also known as ‘loving kindness’;
  6. Depending on the language and the context, it is often labelled with the terms mentioned above.

In several experiments with more than 10,000 participants in 19 nations in 15 languages, involving observation, interviews, diary studies, comparative ethnology and history, we have shown that these six features frequently co-occur, in the specific contexts mentioned above, and many others where love ignites.

We’ve conducted observational research in churches and mosques, in poetry lounges and memorial sites, at Alcoholics Anonymous and eating-disorder residential treatment programmes, in birth centres and with new parents. We have explored hundreds of historical sources and hundreds of ethnographies from diverse cultures all over the world.

Wherever we’ve looked, in myriad contexts and cultures, we’ve found the same pattern: kama muta and its six features are consistently evoked by viewing videos of sudden connection or kindness, confirming that it is one emotion. So, for example, when we show participants short videos that involve love springing up between fictional characters, the participants tend to get warm feelings in the heart, often along with tears or goosebumps, just as we find in participant observation in Sufi and Pentecostal services when the worshipper suddenly feels divine love.

Kama muta is closely related to, but not the same as, love. Love is an enduring sentiment, whereas kama muta is the momentary emotion that occurs when love ignites. That is, you feel kama muta when new love emerges (such as a first kiss, or someone shows you kindness), or existing love suddenly becomes salient, or a sense of belonging, connection, and identity emerges, for example at a march or demonstration. The suddenly created or intensified love can be romantic, platonic, or religious. It can be with one person, with a family or team, or with the entire Earth. It can be the gratitude for an unexpected kindness, or the sense of connection and belonging at a warm welcome.

That feeling is all around us. Social media posts that evoke strong kama muta often go viral – for example, cute kittens, puppies and special animal friendships. The popularity of some literature (especially sentimental novels) and movies (especially romantic comedies) is, we suspect, often largely due to the kama muta they evoke. Kama muta is often the essence of oratory and poetry such as William Shakespeare’s sonnets and Matsuo Bashō’s haiku. Many kinds of music evoke it in multiple ways, as do certain experiences of oneness with nature. It appears to be a universal emotion, present in diverse cultures throughout history.

Many social practices have culturally evolved via their capacity to evoke this appealing emotion. The more a form of worship, a type of music or a narrative evokes kama muta, the more people seek it out, tell others about it and reproduce it. When a Pixar movie, a wedding practice or poetry or photographs evoke kama muta, they spread across the globe. Preachers, orators, marketing creatives and political consultants who can create pitches that effectively evoke kama muta are more successful than those who cannot. Religious practices that engender kama muta presumably attract more worshippers and motivate those who have experienced kama muta to proselytise and to found new congregations. Kama muta moves the world.

When people are isolated and vulnerable, excluded and distressed, kama muta can reconnect them. Patients who feel kama muta with their psychotherapists seem to become more trusting and more committed to healing. Women in residential treatment for eating disorders who bond through kama muta apparently become more motivated to recover. Addicts who experience kama muta in support meetings might be more committed to stay sober. Immigrants who have kama muta experiences with people in their host country are likely to feel a stronger sense of belonging and identification with their hosts. And people who have kama muta experiences with immigrants or LGBTQ persons become more likely to embrace them.

Even a small unexpected kindness kindles kama muta: a thoughtful gift, a hug, an invitation to join a meal, an appearance at your bedside in the hospital. The lonely are more likely to fall ill and more likely to die; in contrast, kama muta connects, probably enhancing wellbeing and health.

We’ve only been studying kama muta for a few years, so many mysteries remain. We don’t yet know the . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

23 December 2019 at 7:41 pm

1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + … = -1/12

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Bonus update: A rebuttal and clearer argument:

Written by LeisureGuy

23 December 2019 at 1:24 pm

Posted in Math, Video

Like Voldemort, Ransomware Is Too Scary to Be Named

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Renee Dudley reports in ProPublica:

On Aug. 21, Lumber Liquidators’ corporate and store-level computer systems began to shut down. Without them, the flooring company’s retail employees couldn’t check product prices or inventories. They had to send in orders to distribution centers by phone or from their personal email accounts and write down customers’ credit card information on paper. Each transaction took up to half an hour. Amid the chaos, sales took a hit. So did morale, since sales factored into employee bonuses.

“You couldn’t really sell or haggle anything,” said Trevor Sinner, then a store manager in Los Angeles. “You couldn’t see inventory, you couldn’t see cost, you couldn’t see anything.”

Once most of the computer systems were back online six days later, the Virginia-based retailer reported what it called a “network security incident” showing “symptoms of malware” to the Securities and Exchange Commission. But Sinner got a different explanation from a divisional vice president, who confided that the real culprit was ransomware — malicious software that freezes computer files and demands payment to decrypt them.

“We knew it was ransomware a long time ago,” Sinner said. “I don’t think the company disclosed it was ransomware to anybody, even now.”

Each year, millions of ransomware attacks paralyze computer systems of businesses, medical offices, government agencies and individuals. But they pose a particular dilemma for publicly traded companies, which are regulated by the SEC. Because attacks cost money, affect operations and expose cybersecurity vulnerabilities, they sometimes meet the definition used by the SEC of a “material” event — one that a “reasonable person” would consider important to an investment decision. Material events must be reported in public filings, and failure to do so could spur SEC action or a shareholder lawsuit.

Yet some companies worry that acknowledging a ransomware attack could land them on the front page, alarm investors and drive down their share price. As a result, although many companies cite ransomware in filings as a risk, they often don’t report attacks or describe them in vague terms, according to experts in securities law and cybersecurity.

Weak or no disclosure to the SEC is one of several omissions that hamper federal monitoring of ransomware assaults on U.S. businesses. Companies seldom choose to alert the FBI, fearing that the attacks would become public, that agents might investigate unrelated problems or that the bureau would discourage them from paying ransoms. And at least two data recovery firms that some victimized businesses hire to pay the hackers have not registered with a bureau of the U.S. Department of the Treasury that tracks financial transactions involving suspected criminals.

These gaps become more glaring as the ransomware danger grows. In an October announcement, the FBI warned that attacks “are becoming more targeted, sophisticated, and costly,” and that losses from them “have increased significantly.” Some recent ransomware attacks have resulted in the theft of victims’ sensitive data and threats to sell or publish it — a breach of security that could undermine one of the most common corporate rationales for lack of disclosure. John Reed Stark, a former SEC enforcement attorney, said companies have leaned on the notion that ransomware attacks aren’t material because there’s little evidence that personally identifiable information — the release of which may trigger reporting requirements in various states — is stolen.

“The general consensus is that data was not exfiltrated, so we don’t have to say anything,” said Stark, now a consultant for businesses dealing with ransomware and other cyber issues. He added later, “Ransomware attacks have now evolved into data breaches, and it is terrifying.”

Even when companies do allude to an attack in SEC filings, they typically resort to euphemisms rather than the very word that best describes what paralyzed their business and caused millions of dollars in losses. Just as wizards in the Harry Potter books speak of evil Lord Voldemort as “He Who Must Not Be Named,” so companies are loath to refer to dreaded ransomware.

“They specifically avoid saying it,” said Bill Siegel, chief executive of Coveware, a Connecticut-based firm that analyzes ransomware victims’ options and often pays the ransom on their behalf. “They generally don’t use the word ‘ransomware’ for obvious reasons. It’s an ugly term. It scares people.” By using more generic terms, “You can put it out there, and you’ve officially said something, but you’ve also said nothing that can get you in any sort of trouble any which way.”

Siegel said Coveware works with as many as six publicly traded companies a month, which he declined to identify. “Any company that uses a phrase like ‘malware that encrypted’ or ‘malware that caused system disruption or downtime’ is likely referring to ransomware. Because malware is everywhere, it’s constant, and you don’t stop doing business because of malware,” he said. “I think you can feel very, very confident that … anybody that phrases it as a malware or IT security incident that causes a disruption is likely referring to ransomware.”

Less than half of Siegel’s publicly traded clients pay a ransom, while the rest usually restore data from backups, he said. . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

23 December 2019 at 1:11 pm

Kick dismissive positivity to the curb

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Anna Goldfarb writes in the NY Times:

I’m always happy to give a morale boost. When a dear friend texted me she was nervous about an important meeting, I replied: “You’ve got this!” along with a thumbs up emoji.

However, when another close friend told me she had received some scary medical news, I mindlessly used the same approach. I said, “You’ve got this!” but it didn’t seem to make her feel better. In fact, my words made her withdraw.

Whitney Goodman, a psychotherapist, calls having an unhelpful cheerful attitude “dismissive positivity.” She explained in an Instagram post how to better respond to someone who’s in pain.

  • Instead of saying, “You’ll get over it” to someone in distress, instead say something to impart validation and hope: “This is hard. You’ve done hard things before and I believe in you.”

  • “Think happy thoughts!” becomes: “It’s probably pretty hard to be positive right now. I’m putting out good energy into the world for you.”

  • “Everything happens for a reason!” is updated to: “This doesn’t make sense right now. We’ll sort it all out later.”

Once you become familiar with identifying dismissive positivity — also known as toxic positivity — it gets easier to correct. Instead of acknowledging my friend’s anguish, my chipper attitude minimized her anxiety. . .

Written by LeisureGuy

23 December 2019 at 11:13 am

Posted in Daily life

One of the very best slants I have: The Parker Semi-Slant

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Just to note: I speak only as a customer, with no remuneration, kickbacks (aka affiliate links), discounts, or gratuities. I buy the products, I use them, and I relate my experience. And my experience with this razor has been first rate.

But let’s go through the shave. I let my Omega Mixed Midget (badger and boar) soak while I showered — not by immersing the brush, just by wetting the knot thoroughly and letting the brush stand on its base, soaking wet.

Once out of the shower and at the sink, I used MR GLO as a pre-shave beard wash — and though I don’t regularly mention it, this is invariably my practice. (I have a stash of 6 pucks of MR GLO in the cabinet to see me through the next few years.)

Then I loaded the brush with Nancy Boy Signature shaving cream — getting to be difficult as the little tub is running low. Still, I got an excellent lather and this is one of my favorite fragrances.

Then the shave: total comfort combined with extreme efficiency easily resulted in a complete BBS result, probably helped by the fact that it was a two-day stubble. I highly recommend the Parker Semi-Slant, which sells at a very reasonable price. Link is to the satin chrome handle; the handle in the photo is the graphite handle. Update: Note in the description: “Material: Solid Brass frame with textured electroplated satin chrome finish for improved grip” /update

A splash of Stetson Sierra, which has a pleasant fragrance but not the unusual desert fragrance of Solstice. I see from Basenotes.net that this fragrance was introduced in 1993, and the fragrance profile is:

  1. Top Notes
    Aldehydes,
    Caraway,
    Juniper berry,
    Artemisia,
    Basil,
    Bergamot
  2. Heart Notes
    Stone pine needle,
    Rose,
    Carnation,
    Geranium,
    Jasmine,
    Caraway
  3. Base notes
    Amber,
    Oakmoss,
    Leather,
    Musk,
    Patchouli

Stetson itself describes the fragrance as “A bold Western blend of fresh green woods, citrus, and sage. A breath of fresh air that takes you to Big Sky.”

I certainly did not detect the sage (nor, apparently, did Basenotes). I think the big difference may be the benzoin resin fragrance in Solstice: “Scent Profile: Sage, Sweetgrass, Cedar, Rose Absolute, and Benzoin Resin.”

That said, Stetson Sierra is a perfectly fine fragrance, and I’m enjoying it as I sit here feeling the marvelous smoothness of my face.

Written by LeisureGuy

23 December 2019 at 8:26 am

Posted in Shaving

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