Later On

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

Archive for July 16th, 2021

The Standard Model: The Most Successful Scientific Theory Ever

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Written by Leisureguy

16 July 2021 at 4:51 pm

Posted in Math, Science

Guacamole-chia pudding

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Who doesn’t like to play with food? (Rhetorical question.) I just blended:

• 1 cup water
• Juice of 2 limes ≈ 0.25 cup
• 2 Tbsp Louisiana hot sauce
• 1/3 cup + 2 tbsp chia seed
• 1/2 tsp salt
• 1 avocado (peeled and pitted)
• 3 cloves chopped garlic
1/4 cup chopped red onion
• 1 Roma tomato

It’s in the fridge now, waiting for the chia seed to puddingfy it.

I wonder whether it will be any good. I’ll find out in a few hours.

—2 hours later: It’s pretty tasty. Next time I’ll either cut water to (say) 1/2 cup, or use 1/2 cup of chia seed.

Written by Leisureguy

16 July 2021 at 2:18 pm

“Powerful” detectors: Gender influence?

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Years ago my friend Robert Spaeth showed me an ad for a “powerful radio, able to pull in distant stations.” As he pointed out, radio receivers do not go out and pull in stations, and rather than “powerful,” good receivers are sensitive, able to detect very faint signals. He thought the ad was silly, and I think he was right.

The Big Bang article I blogged yesterday included this:  “There should be gravitational wave backgrounds as well, from a variety of eras in the early universe. Once again these haven’t been detected yet, but more powerful gravitational wave telescopes may yet see them.”

“Powerful” telescopes? Detecting faint signals does not require “power,” it requires being highly sensitive. Would one say that a scale that could detect and measure extremely light weights — the weight of a fly’s footprint, for example — was “powerful”? or “sensitive”? I would say an instrument capable of detecting very faint signals or very small events is “sensitive.” A machine that crushes cars or hoists tons of steel is “powerful,” but not a device that detects faint signals.

It strikes me that this misuse of “powerful” stems from a culture that embodies a gender-specific view: astrophysicists (and electrical engineers) are almost all male, and many males are fixated on strength and power and command, and are impatient with things like sensitivity and receptivity because those strike them as “feminine” (and thus weak).

Their male ideal is being active, driving what is done, being in control, having power, and getting their demands met. The idea of something very sensitive, waiting to receive faint signals is (on an unconscious level) incongruent with what they feel is their proper persona and role. Thus, they recast a sensitive detector as a “powerful” detector, a detector that can go out there and use its strength and power to get the job done.

Using “powerful” in that context is somewhat akin to Abraham Maslow’s “If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail” — those who (psychologically) depend on strength and activity will view a device that works well at accomplishing a task must be one that has lots of strength and thus is “powerful.”

In fact, I believe that many men want very much not to be sensitive, for they view being sensitive as being weak (rather than as being perceptive). Gender-enforced attitudes can be limiting.

Written by Leisureguy

16 July 2021 at 1:34 pm

Nice frame by Chang Bingyu

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I recently posted a video that showed the remarkable level of skill and sangfroid exhibited by Chang Bingyu in the 2020 Snooker Shoot Out. Here he is again, and one interesting thing about this frame is how it begins with a whole sequence of safety shots — and then Chang Bingyu does a 120 break to close it out.

Written by Leisureguy

16 July 2021 at 11:16 am

Posted in Daily life, Games, Snooker

Interpreting Sun Tzu: The Art of Failure?

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John F. Sullivan writes in The Strategy Bridge:

If you now wish to inquire into the Way of [the ancient sages], may I suggest that one can hardly be certain of it? To be certain of it without evidence is foolishness, to appeal to it though unable to be certain of it is fraud.
—Hanfeizi (3rd century BCE)

“Translation,” an American poet and translator of Dante’s Inferno opined, “is the art of failure.”[2]  In Don Quixote, the eponymous character notes that distortion is often a natural byproduct of the effort: “translation from one language into another…is like looking at Flemish tapestries on the wrong side; for though the figures are visible, they are full of threads that make them indistinct, and they do not show with the smoothness and brightness of the right side.”[3] The reverse tapestry is an apt metaphor for reading any ancient Chinese text, particularly The Art of War. While the use of logographs to express complex thoughts has been a constant feature throughout China’s recorded history, the written language of thousands of years ago differs significantly from its modern variant. While the original Art of War consists of approximately 6,ooo characters, a modern Chinese version requires more than double that number to convey the same approximate meaning.[4] Even most native Chinese speakers, therefore, read a translation of the original.

While The Art of War is surprisingly short and compact, much remains ambiguous in its received message. As a result, our contemporary interpretations require constant skepticism, debate, and revision. While Sun Tzu’s text is arguably the oldest within the core strategic canon, it has been studied for the least amount of time by Western military theorists, in comparison with Thucydides and Clausewitz, for example. First translated into English only in the early twentieth century, strategists largely ignored The Art of War until the Vietnam War renewed interest in Asian military thinking.

Despite the limited scholarly focus on the text, in his foreword to the 1963 Griffith translation B.H. Liddell Hart confidently proclaimed that The Art of War “has never been surpassed in comprehensiveness and depth of understanding…Sun Tzu has clearer vision, more profound insight, and eternal freshness.” The certitude, though, with which we purport to understand The Art of War’s “clear vision” and “eternal freshness” remains inversely proportional to the collective effort we have put into researching its historical context or subjecting it to harsh philological analysis and extended debate.[5]  Unlike Thucydides’ work, which has been well-served by the commentarial traditions of A.W. Gomme and Simon Hornblower, nothing remotely similar exists in English for contextualizing this Chinese classic. While translations of Sun Tzu vastly outnumber those of Clausewitz, reliable secondary-source references on the latter theorist and his milieu abound, while those on the former remain conspicuously absent.

Given the scarcity of authoritative writings or clarifying analyses on Sun Tzu’s text, how confident should we be that we have correctly grasped “the Way” of this ancient sage? Of particular importance, one of the core ideas we almost universally believe serves as a bedrock to Sun Tzu’s overall military philosophy—that his ideal strategic objective is “to take the enemy whole and intact”—rests on a problematic and potentially untenable textual foundation.[6] Instead, a stronger case favors an interpretation of Sun Tzu prioritizing self-preservation. Whether or not one’s adversary is destroyed or taken non-violently remains a distant secondary concern.


The idea of “taking the enemy whole and intact” comes from the first verse of the third chapter. Lionel Giles’ 1910 English translation proposed the following rendition:

In the practical art of war, the best thing of all is to take the enemy’s country whole and intact; to shatter and destroy it is not so good. So, too, it is better to recapture an army entire than to destroy it, to capture a regiment, a detachment or a company entire than to destroy them.[7]

Since Giles, almost every subsequent translator of the text produced a similar interpretation. Before comparing with the original Chinese, though, it is helpful to also consider Ralph Sawyer’s version, since his work is more consistent and literal than either the Giles or the Griffith translations:

Preserving the [enemy’s] state capital is best, destroying their state capital is second-best.
Preserving their army is best, destroying their army is second-best.
Preserving their battalions is best, destroying their battalions is second-best.
Preserving their companies is best, destroying their companies is second-best.
Preserving their squads is best, destroying their squads is second-best.[8]

Now looking at its original written form, even without any knowledge of Chinese characters, it is clear that the verse in question is structured as a nearly identical repeating pattern. The only . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

16 July 2021 at 11:03 am

Controversy Over the Trans Fat Ban

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This video is particularly interesting because it shows a clear example of how industry groups manufacture controversy to obfuscate the inherent dangers in their products and thus also provide a clear example of how industry places a much higher value on their profits than on public safety. Their attitude can be sloganized as “Public safety? Not my concern.”

It also shows that the only entity with the power to stop industry from sacrificing lives to improve proft is the government, and the government will do that only if 1) people vote and elect representatives who will take seriously their duty to the public, and 2) if investigative journalism is active and supported.

Just watch:

Written by Leisureguy

16 July 2021 at 10:55 am

Grooming Dept Lemon Bay and Hydrating Gel — and an aftershave enhancement

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I started the shave this morning with Grooming Dept Bergamot & Ginger Moisturizing Pre-Shave. Yesterday I noted the viscosity of the new formula — unlike the warm-wax consistency of the old formula, the new formula has a cold-molasses consistency: it will flow, but slowly, and it’s easy to scoop up a small drop with a fingertip and apply it to my wet stubble, massaging it in well for a minute before wetting my fingers and thinning it a bit.

The catalog listing of Grooming Dept Lemon Bay shaving soap on West Coast Shaving identifies it as their donkey-base formula, which includes donkey milk, duck fat, and lamb tallow, with the donkey milk sourced from from Wagen Trails Ranch in Austin, Minnesota. The full list of ingredients in the soap:

Aloe Vera Juice, Stearic Acid, Donkey Milk, Potassium Hydroxide, Duck Fat, Lamb Tallow, Castor Oil, Glycerin, Kokum Butter, Shea Butter, Cupuaçu Butter, Sucrose Cocoate, Fragrance, Safflower Oil, Jojoba Oil, Coconut Oil, Sodium Hydroxide, Acacia Senegal Gum, Kaolin Clay, Avocado Oil, Mango Butter, Grapeseed Oil, Sodium Hydroxide, Sodium Lactate, Sodium Citrate, Xanthan Gum, Carnauba Wax, Allantoin, Chamomile Extract, Sea Buckthorn Extract. Flaxseed Oil, Sacha Inchi Extract, Silk Amino Acids, and Tocopheryl Acetate.

The scent notes identified by WCS are “Lemon, Bay Rum, Spices, and Cedarwood.” This morning I definitely caught a whiff of the cedarwood.

Grooming Dept Hydrating Gel

Last night I used a little of Grooming Dept Hydrating Gel on my face — dampen face, apply a couple of squirts of the gel (and it is in a gel, fairly thick) to my face and massage it in and then let it air dry — and it was pleasant and seemed effective, but that’s not really my regular routine.

This morning I tried adding a couple of squirts to the loaded brush. The lather may have been improved, but given the shaving soap I was using, the improvement as marginal — the phrase “gilding the lily” came to mind. OTOH, with a marginal soap or a drying soap (I’m looking at you, Martin de Candre), the effect might be much more noticeable and significantly  improve lather quality, bu with Grooming Dept’s donkey-base soap, adding the Hydrating Gel was like giving a millionaire a hundred-dollar gift certificate: nice but negligible in view of what they already have.

Three passes with my Feather AS-D1 left my face perfectly smooth, and again on the final rinse my skin felt as though it was luxuriating under a layer of high-class skiin lotion.

The shave and an aftershave enhancement

I like Thayers Witch Hazel with Aloe Vera, and this Lemon version is an “astringent,” which (for Thayers) means that it is 10% alcohol (their “toners” being alcohol-free). The slight amount of alcohol makes it better as an aftershave (IMO), and I also added a couple of squirts of Hydrating Gel — again, a suggestion from Grooming Dept — to the splash in my palm before applying to my face. A “squirt” from the bottle I have is only a small amount. This did not affect fragrance (Hydrating Gel has no scent), but it did convert the splash into a very pleasant and efficacious balm.

In fact, I think that is how I’ll use Hydrating Gel: a squirt into my palm with any splash, making the splash a balm. For those who use an alcohol-based splash, this use of Hydrating Gel is probably a very good idea.

Ingredients analysis

I’m always interested in the ingredients of the products in my shaving soaps and aftershaves — and, for that matter, in my foods, though with a whole-food diet the “ingredient” is often just a whole plant-based food — chia seed, for example, in a pudding I’m making. Of course, whole plant-based foods do have “ingredients” in the sense of the nutrients found in the food, and those “ingredients” are also of considerable interest to me. The chia seed I used has as “ingredients” in a 1-ounce (28g) serving:

• Fiber: 11 grams.
• Protein: 4 grams.
• Fat: 9 grams (5 of which are omega-3s).
• Calcium: 18% of the RDI.
• Manganese: 30% of the RDI.
• Magnesium: 30% of the RDI.
• Phosphorus: 27% of the RDI.
Also a decent amount of zinc, vitamin B3 (niacin), potassium, vitamin B1 (thiamine), and vitamin B2.

When I told The Wife about my Grooming Dept Hydrating Gel, she was interested because (like most women) she is attuned to skincare (and nowadays many men also consider care for their skin to be important). As an aside, Grooming Dept is working on a line of products for women. As noted in a comment, “The brand will be called Mirus Beauty. Many of the products will be priced about 1/3rd of what they cost from other women’s cosmetic brands.”

The Wife immediately copied the list of Hydrating Gel’s ingredients into CosDNA’s “Analyze Cosmetics” box. The ingredients —  Water, Sodium PCA, Hyaluronic Acid, N-Acetyl Glucosamine, Saccharide Isomerate, Phenoxyethanol, Ethylhexylglycerin — produced this analysis:

The ingredient names in blue are links that provide more information about that ingredient, though often very little more.

“Safety” is on a scale of 1 (totally safe) to 10 (very hazardous), so this product is quite safe. CosDNA notes:

About Comedogenic (Acne), Irritation and Safety

Comedogenic: <– The lower the probability 0~5 The higher the probability –>

Irritation: <– The lower the probability 0~5 The higher the probability –>

Safety index from 1~10 , the lower number means this ingredient is low hazard. Unlike comedogenic and irritation, Safety is a comprehensive index focus on safety on long term usage, according to harmful report from CIR, RTECS, FDA and other related information. The purpose of the index is more inclined to assess whether long-term injury of skin, cells or the human body.

Our data source include international experts, institutions and publications. If any the three column is blank, this meas there is no data (not indicate the ingredient is safe or unsafe).

We want to remind our user, the effect of cosmetics depends on concentration, quality, process, and mutual influence of ingredients. The skin condition of each person is different (even constantly changing); to pay attention and understand the ingredients is a right attitude, but you still need professional physicians to diagnose skin problems.

You can, of course, use the site to analyze ingredients in your shaving soaps and aftershaves. Here’s the analysis of Grooming Dept Hydrating Gel. (Since I did the analysis, I went ahead and saved it on their website, something they encourage.)

Written by Leisureguy

16 July 2021 at 9:50 am

Posted in Shaving

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