Later On

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

Archive for March 6th, 2020

The lecture method of teaching mathematics

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I wrote an essay published in the American Mathematics Monthly in February 1973, drawing on my graduate school study of mathematics. You can download the PDF if you are interested.

I did notice as I read it that the conventions of the day (almost 50 years ago) of using masculine pronouns as the default gender seems somewhat grating today. Today I would phrase things differently.

By the way, the precursor to the Vairy-Harde Theorem should be the Fairleigh-Eezy Theorem. And I would now phrase it, “In some courses the product of the student’s gain in understanding and change in enthusiasm is a constant.”

Written by LeisureGuy

6 March 2020 at 6:17 pm

Posted in Education, Math

Walk today

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3.060 miles at 3.42mph, so 00:53:44. I can tell I’m getting in better shape: it’s not so strenuous, though definitely a good workout.

Written by LeisureGuy

6 March 2020 at 3:47 pm

Best Healthcare System in the World™ and how it is responding to coronavirus

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Read this article. Then go wash your hands.

Written by LeisureGuy

6 March 2020 at 12:46 pm

Christopher Walken profile — worth reading

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We Could Use a Little More Christopher Walken,” by

Written by LeisureGuy

6 March 2020 at 11:36 am

Posted in Movies & TV

Bookmark this: Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health website on Covid-19

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Definitely bookmark this. You will want to refer to it as the pandemic takes hold. It is likely to spread rapidly, given that President Trump is advising people who feel slightly ill to go to work.

Scroll down the page at the link to see the resources.

Written by LeisureGuy

6 March 2020 at 10:39 am

Seven Moral Rules Found All Around the World

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The Eldest referred to this on Facebook, and it stimulated my interest. Oliver Scott Curry writes at the Evolution Institute:

What is morality? And are there any universal moral values? Scholars have debated these questions for millennia. But now, thanks to science, we have the answers.

Converging lines of evidence – from game theory, ethology, psychology, and anthropology – suggest that morality is a collection of tools for promoting cooperation1.

For 50 million years humans and their ancestors have lived in social groups. During this time natural selection equipped them with a range of adaptations for realizing the enormous benefits of cooperation that social life affords. More recently, humans have built on these benevolent biological foundations with cultural innovations – norms, rules, institutions – that further bolster cooperation. Together, these biological and cultural mechanisms provide the motivation for social, cooperative and altruistic behavior; and they provide the criteria by which we evaluate the behavior of others. And, according to the theory of ‘morality as cooperation’, it is precisely this collection of cooperative traits that constitute human morality.

What’s more, the theory leads us to expect that, because there are many types of cooperation, there will be many types of morality. 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.

And, as predicted by the theory, these seven moral rules appear to be universal across cultures:

  1. love your family
  2. help your group
  3. return favors
  4. be brave
  5. defer to authority
  6. be fair
  7. respect others’ property

My colleagues and I analyzed ethnographic accounts of ethics from 60 societies (comprising over 600,000 words from over 600 sources)2. We found that these seven cooperative behaviors were always considered morally good. We found examples of most of these morals in most societies. Crucially, there were no counter-examples – no societies in which any of these behaviors were considered morally bad. And we observed these morals with equal frequency across continents; they were not the exclusive preserve of ‘the West’ or any other region.

For example, among the Amhara, . . .

Continue reading. There’s more. Emphasis added.

ScienceAlert has an article with a slightly different statement of the seven principles:

These cooperative behaviours and rules – the proposed universal moral code – are the following:

  1. helping family,
  2. helping your group,
  3. reciprocating,
  4. being brave,
  5. deferring to superiors (respect),
  6. dividing disputed resources (fairness), and
  7. respecting prior possession (property rights).

I added the numbering.

Written by LeisureGuy

6 March 2020 at 10:26 am

Posted in Daily life, Evolution

Love Zombies? Thank the Public Domain

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Interesting that the wave of zombie fiction (books, movies, TV series) all stem from the omission of “©” on the title card of the George Romero movie Night of the Living Dead.

The public domain is a source of creativity and should be nourished, not starved.

Written by LeisureGuy

6 March 2020 at 9:26 am

Posted in Business, Daily life, Law

Speaking of fraud: Dozens of Catholic Priests Credibly Accused of Abuse Found Work Abroad, Some With the Church’s Blessing

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The Catholic church doesn’t seem in any position to lecture people about their morals.  Katie Zavadski and Topher Sanders, ProPublica, and Nicole Hensley, Houston Chronicle, report:

The Rev. Jose Antonio Pinal, a young priest from Mexico, arrived at his first parish in rural Northern California in 1980, fresh out of seminary. The priest befriended the Torres family, helping the parents, also immigrants from Mexico, to fill out an application for food stamps. Pinal became an occasional dinner guest and took the children to theme parks and on road trips along the Pacific coast. He encouraged 15-year-old Ricardo Torres to become an altar boy.

But in the priest’s quarters at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in the small city of Gridley, Torres said, Pinal, then 30, gave him alcohol, showed him movies with sex and nudity, and groped and raped him. The teenager told another priest in 1989 and the family was assured by lawyers for the diocese that Pinal would not be allowed around children, Torres said.

Thirty years later, in the spring of 2019, the Diocese of Sacramento put Pinal’s name on its list of credibly accused priests. The list had five allegations of sexual abuse against Pinal dating to the late 1980s.

Pinal had “fled to Mexico,” according to the list, and the diocese had prohibited him from performing priestly work in public in the 20 counties that make up the diocese. But an investigation by ProPublica and the Houston Chronicle shows the Catholic Church allowed or aided dozens of priests — including Pinal — to serve abroad as priests after being credibly accused of abuse in the United States.

ProPublica and the Chronicle analyzed lists published by 52 U.S. dioceses — encompassing the top 30 in terms of the number of credibly accused living clergy and those located in states along the U.S.-Mexico border. Reporters found 51 clergy who after allegations of abuse in the U.S. were able to work as priests or religious brothers in a host of countries, from Ireland to Nigeria to the Philippines. At least 40 had worked in U.S. states along the southern border, including 11 in Texas. No country was a more common destination than Mexico, where at least 21 credibly accused clergy found refuge.

Using social media, a reporter easily located Pinal, who lives in Cuernavaca, about 55 miles south of Mexico City.

In an interview at his home and in a subsequent series of email exchanges, Pinal repeatedly denied sexually abusing Torres or that he “fled” California. But in some of the emails, he referred to what “happened” between him and Torres, and in an email sent Wednesday night, about a trip he took with Torres, Pinal said, “It was screwed up, but whatever happened was consensual.”

Just months after the allegations in California, Pinal resumed priestly work, ministering in indigenous villages in and around Tepoztlán, a small town near Mexico City known for archaeological sites, and he went on to serve for decades in parishes in the Diocese of Cuernavaca.

Now 68, he ministers from his home, where he has letters showing the church in Sacramento kept him on the payroll as it helped him find a new assignment. Pinal enjoyed a warm correspondence with the then-Sacramento bishop and officials in charge of Hispanic ministry, who in the months after the allegations advised him to work in Mexico for a “long period (5-6 years)” before returning to the U.S. Letters from the bishop were signed “con cariño,” or with affection.

“This was a grave failure of judgment and a betrayal of trust,” the current Sacramento bishop, Jaime Soto, said after correspondence between his predecessor and Pinal was released to Torres’ attorney through litigation. “The safety of children is our highest priority. In 1989, those in leadership failed to do so. I must own and atone for this.”

After being contacted by reporters, the Diocese of Sacramento acknowledged that the characterization that Pinal “fled” to Mexico is incorrect, and in recent days, the diocese revised the list to “more accurately reflect the circumstances of his 1989 departure.”

Since 2018, many Catholic dioceses and religious orders in the U.S., including Sacramento, have released lists of clergy deemed credibly accused of abusing children. Others updated and expanded lists they had already made public. For the church, the wave of disclosures has been a belated reckoning with the extent of the sexual abuse crisis that was exposed two decades ago.

But the 178 lists made public as of January and compiled into a searchable database by ProPublica revealed a web of incomplete and often inconsistent information.

Often the lists didn’t specify clergy’s current status and location. And while dioceses frequently claim to know nothing about a priest’s whereabouts, reporters with ProPublica and the Chronicle found them on church websites, in religious publications and on social media. Church leaders often failed to report allegations to police, to pursue permanent restrictions within the church, or to heed or offer warnings about priests facing allegations. In at least four cases, church leaders facilitated priests’ moving abroad.

The omissions, inconsistencies and other shortcomings undercut the church’s professed desire to repair its relationship with millions of disaffected Catholics, said . . .

Continue reading. There’s much more. If the Catholic church is the body of Christ, as it believes, then it is clear that it suffers from a serious infection.

Later in the article:

For decades, the Catholic Church in the United States concealed abuse by clergy, transferring priests from parish to parish, sometimes cloaking reasons for moves in code, such as “family and health reasons.” The demand for Spanish-speaking clergy in the U.S. — driven by an increase of about 45 million Catholics since the 1950s, with the largest growth among Latino faithful — made it easier for priests to cross international lines, experts said, but harder to hold them accountable.

It is “all that much harder to track them when they’re in another country,” said Erin Gallagher, an investigator for the International Criminal Court in The Hague, who helped track down fugitive priests in the early 2000s when she was working in the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office. “They are pariahs here and they can go live someplace else anonymously.”

The ProPublica-Chronicle investigation found that the church’s ability to track abusive priests was even more limited internationally than within U.S. borders. Because the Vatican does not dictate what bishops must disclose about accused clergy, either within the church or to the public, bishops in many countries have released even less information than those in the U.S.

No diocese in Mexico, which is home to about 90 million Catholics, has published a list of credibly accused priests, though Mexican church officials reported in January that 271 priests have been investigated in the past decade in connection with sexual abuse allegations. An advocacy group for abuse victims in Mexico compiled a list of accused priests in 2010.

Written by LeisureGuy

6 March 2020 at 9:15 am

Impostor syndrome: do you sometimes feel like a fraud?

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Clancy Martin writes in The Economist 1843:

My big brother and I were standing at the door to the showroom at Fort Worth Gold and Silver Exchange, the largest, busiest and most successful jewellery store in Texas.

“I can’t do it, Darren. I can’t face them.”

“It’s just talking to them. It’s not that hard, bud,” said Darren.

It was late November 1982 and Christmas music was playing. I was 15 years old, newly dropped out of high school and learning to be a jewellery salesman.

“I’m telling you I’m too nervous,” I replied. I’d suffered from acute shyness since early childhood.

“Well you’re just going to have to pretend,” said Darren.

The store had started me selling on the phones because it was easier to feign being older and more experienced. But it was almost Thanksgiving and they needed more bodies on the floor. Darren took me by the arm and we slipped behind the long row of twenty-something salespeople working the brass-and-glass counters. We called a number and my first real customer pushed her way through the crowd to the front.

I still remember that woman. She bought twister beads, a pair of very small diamond studs on promotion, and a gold bracelet. I was shaking as I showed her the goods, shaking as I took her money and still shaking as I called the next customer. But by the end of the day I could look a shopper in the eye and say, “I’m Clancy. What can I show you?”

That first Christmas season I didn’t believe I was a real jewellery salesman. I was performing. But every day I’d prepare by reciting stock sales lines to myself: “And what else can I show you?” or “Who else is on your Christmas list?” I’d talk with the other members of staff about sales I’d made the day before, or my targets for that week, or my plan to sell a Rolex. All of this helped me persuade myself that I could go in front of customers and pretend to know what I was doing.

To them I must have seemed barely a teenager, pimply in an oversized suit and a cheap Tabasco tie. Trembling and pretending to know what I was talking about, I acted as though I sold thousands of dollars of jewellery every day.

But after a week or two, I was doing exactly that. I remember the first Rolex I ever sold: a men’s President. The customer asked me if I was allowed to sell the watch. I lied and said this was my third Rolex that day. By the time he’d handed over his credit card, he told me that he had a car dealership, and if I ever wanted to make real money, I could come and work for him.

Every time I wrote up another sale and saw my name near the top of the day’s sales boards, I believed a little more that I actually was the salesman I was pretending to be. But, though the evidence was clear that I really could do this job, I still felt as though I was cheating, perpetually on the brink of being found out. . .

Continue reading. There’s much more, and the writer does move beyond his own direct experience. Imposter syndrome is not uncommon. The article is worth reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

6 March 2020 at 8:52 am

Microsoft does a decent thing

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Give recognition where it’s due: Brad Smith, Microsoft president, blogs:

As the impact of COVID-19 spreads in the Puget Sound region and northern California, Microsoft has asked its employees who can work from home to do so. As a result, we have a reduced need in these regions for the on-site presence of many of the hourly workers who are vital to our daily operations, such as individuals who work for our vendors and staff our cafes, drive our shuttles and support our on-site tech and audio-visual needs.

We recognize the hardship that lost work can mean for hourly employees. As a result, we’ve decided that Microsoft will continue to pay all our vendor hourly service providers their regular pay during this period of reduced service needs. This is independent of whether their full services are needed. This will ensure that, in Puget Sound for example, the 4,500 hourly employees who work in our facilities will continue to receive their regular wages even if their work hours are reduced.

While the work to protect public health needs to speed up, the economy can’t afford to slow down. We’re committed as a company to making public health our first priority and doing what we can to address the economic and societal impact of COVID-19. We appreciate that what’s affordable for a large employer may not be affordable for a small business, but we believe that large employers who can afford to take this type of step should consider doing so.

We’re committed to taking additional constructive steps to support the public during this challenging time. While this announcement is focused on Puget Sound and northern California, we’re exploring how best to move forward in a similar way in other parts of the country and the world that are impacted by COVID-19. . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

6 March 2020 at 8:35 am

Mickey Lee’s Drunken Goat: Prayers for its return

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My favorite of the Mickey Lee soaps I’ve tried is The Drunken Goat. This morning I got a very nice lather (with that wonderful TDG fragrance) using my Rooney Victorian Super Badger. (“Super Badger,” like other badger classifications, is simply a manufacturer category — there is no standardization of badger classification, though there’s rough agreement on general categories: for example, no one calls a knot with a dark body and cream-colored tips “pure badger,” a name reserved for a lower-quality knot.)

This knot has extremely soft tips — hooked tips that when wet become like thick wet velvet — so that I did not get the same textured feeling that the brushes used in the past few days provided. This brush has the same smoothness of a good synthetic, but with more resilience, partly due (I imagine) to the shorter loft.

And I did enjoy the fragrance. I hope that Mickey Lee will grant (in exchange for royalties) a license to some good artisanal soapmaker to make The Drunken Goat using the ML formula. It could be a limited-term license (e.g., a five-year license) if Mickey Lee thinks he might return to soapmaking. I hate to see The Drunken Goat off the market altogether. It was an inspired creation.

Three passes with the Fine Marvel, here on a UFO handle, and then a splash of The Drunken Goat aftershave to finish the job. Great way to start Friday.

Written by LeisureGuy

6 March 2020 at 7:55 am

Posted in Shaving

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