Later On

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

Archive for the ‘Cats’ Category

Guilt? or just say, “What?”

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Hearing a noise from the other room, The Wife investigated. She writes, “Molly was digging in the bag of food to find something she likes better than what’s on her plate.” This is the look Molly gave her.

Written by LeisureGuy

27 November 2020 at 2:09 pm

Posted in Cats, Daily life, Molly

John Gray: ‘What can we learn from cats? Don’t live in an imagined future’

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Tim Adams interviews John Gray in the Guardian:

What’s it like to be a cat? John Gray has spent a lifetime half-wondering. The philosopher – to his many fans the intellectual cat’s pyjamas, to his critics the least palatable of furballs – has had feline companions at home since he was a boy in South Shields. In adult life – he now lives in Bath with his wife Mieko, a dealer in Japanese antiquities – this has principally been two pairs of cats: “Two Burmese sisters, Sophie and Sarah, and two Birman brothers, Jamie and Julian.” The last of them, Julian, died earlier this year, aged 23. Gray, currently catless, is by no means a sentimental writer, but his new book, Feline Philosophy: Cats and the Meaning of Life, is written in memory of their shared wisdom.

Other philosophers have been enthralled by cats over the years. There was Schrödinger and his box, of course. And Michel de Montaigne, who famously asked: “When I am playing with my cat, how do I know she is not playing with me?” The rationalist René Descartes, Gray notes, once “hurled a cat out of the window in order to demonstrate the absence of conscious awareness in non-human animals; its terrified screams were mechanical reactions, he concluded.”

One impulse for this book was a conversation with a fellow philosopher, who assured Gray that he “had taught his cat to be vegan”. (Gray had only one question: “Did the cat ever go out?” It did.) When he informed another philosopher that he was writing about what we can learn from cats, that man replied: “But cats have no history.” “And,” Gray wondered, “is that necessarily a disadvantage?”

Elsewhere, Gray has written how Ludwig Wittgenstein once observed “if lions could talk we would not understand”, to which the zookeeper John Aspinall responded: “He hasn’t spent long enough with lions.” If cats could talk, I ask Gray, do you think we would understand?

“Well, the book is in some ways an experiment in that respect,” he says. “Of course, it’s not a scientific inquiry. But if you live with a cat very closely for a long time – and it takes a long time, because they’re slow to trust, slow to really enter into communication with you – then you can probably imagine how they might philosophise.”

Gray believes that humans turned to philosophy principally out of anxiety, looking for some tranquillity in a chaotic and frightening world, telling themselves stories that might provide the illusion of calm. Cats, he suggests, wouldn’t recognise that need because they naturally revert to equilibrium whenever they’re not hungry or threatened. If cats were to give advice, it would be for their own amusement.

Readers of Gray will recognise this book as a postscript or coda to Straw Dogs: Thoughts on Humans and Other Animals, the 2002 bestseller in which he elegantly dismantled the history of western philosophy – with its illusory faith in our species living somehow “above” evolving life and outside the constraints of nature. That book aimed its fire particularly at the prevailing belief of our time: that of the inevitably steady forward progress of humankind brought about by liberal democracy. When the book came out, as George W Bush was demanding “regime change” in Iraq, it struck a particular nerve. In the two decades since, its argument that the advance of rational enlightened thought might not offer any kind of lasting protection against baser tribal instincts or environmental destruction or human folly has felt like prophecy.

Gray never bought the idea that his book was a handbook for despair. His subject was humility; his target any ideology that believed it possessed anything more than doubtful and piecemeal answers to vast and changing questions. The cat book is written in that spirit. If like me you read with a pencil to hand, you will be underlining constantly with a mix of purring enjoyment and frequent exclamation marks. “Consciousness has been overrated,” Gray will write, coolly. Or “the flaw in rationalism is the belief that human beings can live by applying a theory”. Or “human beings quickly lose their humanity but cats never stop being cats”. He concludes with a 10-point list of how cats might give their anxious, unhappy, self-conscious human companions hints “to live less awkwardly”. These range from “never try to persuade human beings to be reasonable”, to “do not look for meaning in your suffering” to “sleep for the joy of sleeping”.

Does he see that 10-point plan, offered half in earnest (“as a cat would offer it”) as an answer to those people who criticised Straw Dogs for offering little in place of what it debunked? . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

27 October 2020 at 4:01 pm

Miss Molly comes to visit

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Fumigators at The Wife’s apartment today, so Miss Molly is spending a day with me. After a certain amount of obligatory sniffing around the apartment, she found a sunny spot on a comfortable chair and settled down for a nap. (She’s now snoozing.)

Written by LeisureGuy

9 September 2020 at 9:12 am

Posted in Cats, Molly

Molly on TV again — the trick explained

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12 April 2020 at 10:38 am

Posted in Cats, Molly

Molly on TV

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Just this morning:

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11 April 2020 at 11:09 am

Posted in Cats, Molly

I like it when cats show up in movies

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This was just a quick 3-second shot, but I like the kitty:

Written by LeisureGuy

21 December 2019 at 9:02 am

Posted in Cats, Movies & TV

Which Xmas ornament doesn’t belong?

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The ornament is the face of my grand-cat Wheezy, whose mom is The Eldest. The other cat, Harry, is too mature for such shenanigans.

Written by LeisureGuy

19 December 2019 at 3:17 pm

Posted in Cats, Daily life

How to distract an Egyptian god

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Written by LeisureGuy

14 August 2019 at 10:19 am

Posted in Cats, Daily life, Religion

Walk flowers

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The top of the photo is severely cropped because I wanted to remove the close-up of my finger. To make up for that, here’s a photo of Molly resting.

Written by LeisureGuy

30 July 2019 at 1:50 pm

Posted in Cats, Daily life, Molly

Another wooden-tub shaving soap, with Baby Smooth and Blenheim Bouquet

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This is a fine vintage (now) shaving soap, which I believe was made by Truefitt & Hill pre-out-sourcing. It was a private-label soap sold by a vendor who’s now retired, the business name sold to a disreputable dealer (alas). But the soap: the soap is wonderful, and my Rooney Style 1 Size 1 created a superb lather.

The Baby Smooth is a great favorite and I love the shave I get with it. Speaking of favorites, Mantic59 wanted to know which of these razors is my favorite. The problem is that (as the article plainly states), they’re all my favorites: those are my favorite razors, as the title states. But he’s working on something and needed to know The One, and I found I couldn’t do it. I went in and stared into the razor drawer and finally came up with a Favorite Five, but at another time I would probably have a different Favorite Five.

I ended the shave with a good splash of Penhaligon’s Blenheim Bouquet on a totally smooth face. A fine way to start the day.

Yesterday afternoon was not hot, just pleasantly warm with a light breeze, and Miss Molly took a nap on the sofa:

The tummy is irresistible, and she doesn’t mind at all if you pat it gently, just lies limp and seems to enjoy it.

Written by LeisureGuy

25 July 2019 at 8:50 am

Posted in Cats, Molly, Shaving

Nancy Boy, meet Blenheim Bouquet

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Nancy Boy is a great shaving cream, highly recommended, and this is a tub of their Signature shaving cream: lavender, rosemary, and peppermint, as I recall. The little Maggard travel brush did a terrific job, and my Fendrihan Mk II Stainless Steel razor once again proved its mettle: 3 passes to a perfect result.

A splash of Penhaligon’s Blenheim Bouquet aftershave finished the job:

Top notes: Lemon, Lime, and Lavender
Heart notes: Blenheim Bouquet has no heart notes
Base notes: Pine, Musk, and Black Pepper

After I posted this, I saw that Mantic59 is also a big Nancy Boy fan. And I think he’s right: Nancy Boy works best with a Plissoft-style synthetic shaving brush.

And this morning I see by the shadow that Molly is in her tree:

Written by LeisureGuy

5 March 2019 at 7:49 am

Posted in Cats, Daily life, Molly, Shaving

Molly at rest on my pyjamas

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Written by LeisureGuy

21 February 2019 at 3:23 pm

Posted in Cats, Molly

Trump break: Japanese photographer makes hats for his cats from the hair they’ve shed

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Just look at these. And I wonder whether his choice of breeds was influenced by Maru.

Written by LeisureGuy

9 January 2019 at 6:28 pm

Posted in Cats

Floris No. 89: A fine fragrance

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A very nice shave today. The Maggard V3A head (here mounted on a UFO handle) is really remarkably good—strongly recommended. Floris No. 89 (their home street number) has a great fragrance and this soap, purchased long before the reformulations, is excellent. (I’m not sure I’d risk the soap today, given the excellence of various artisan soaps, but the aftershave would be good to have.)

Three passes to perfect smoothness, an enjoyable splash of aftershave, and the end of the year draws nigh.

Bonus: Molly enjoying the comfort of her box:

Written by LeisureGuy

27 December 2018 at 7:18 am

Posted in Molly, Shaving

The science of cute-aggression

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Amanda Mull writes in the Atlantic:

I have an 11-pound Chihuahua, and I love to smoosh her against my face. I’m not exactly sure what I get out of this ritual, because she doesn’t smell great. Still, I take her up in my hands, bring her toward my head, and make a noise in her side that is like a small scream, but without opening my mouth. Afterward, we look at each other for a moment—she’s suspicious, and I’m slightly embarrassed—before pretending that nothing happened.

I harass my dog in this way constantly. She’s a little loaf of a thing, with big eyes and satellite-dish ears and a teeny snoot, and she is so cute that I have overwhelming urges to, among other things, bite her ears and gently boop her nose. As odd as this all might sound when spelled out—the desire to nibble your pets is usually not discussed in polite company—lots of people share these impulses toward dogs, babies, or other wee things they find excruciatingly adorable. Even if you don’t, you might have experienced secondhand embarrassment for someone who does.

This affliction has a name: “cute aggression.” And for the first time, researchers have begun to map what’s happening in our brains when we decide we want to chomp on a chubby baby leg (in a friendly way!). Their findings, published last week in the journal Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience, suggest that experiencing cuteness sends many people on a neurochemical roller coaster, with their minds’ attempts to balance themselves resulting in bizarre, intense displays toward tiny, helpless beings. This over-the-top response might serve an important purpose: to ensure that those of us who experience cute aggression don’t spend so much time cooing at a baby or puppy that we forget to take care of it.

When Katherine Stavropoulos, a professor at the University of California at Riverside, first became aware of a 2015 Yale University behavioral studyidentifying the phenomenon of cute aggression, she thought that finding its neurological basis might put scientists on a path toward better understanding the brain’s reward centers. “These are very cute things that you might want to approach. You might want to take care of them. You’re having very positive feelings—in fact, so many feelings that you’re overwhelmed by them,” she says. “To me, that sounds like a very, very active reward system.”

Stavropoulos used EEG caps to test brain activity as participants were shown a series of images of puppies and babies with varying levels of cuteness according to the theory of kinderschema, which are the set of traits, such as big eyes and little noses, that human brains seem to be wired to find adorable. After each set of images, participants were asked to fill out a survey that inquired about, among other things, feelings of caretaking. The results were clear, Stavropoulos says: The brain’s emotion and reward systems are both involved, but cute aggression flared up specifically when the reward center was overwhelmed. The puppy’s tiny paws are just too much, on a chemical level.

If babies could take care of themselves, it wouldn’t matter so much that adults often experience paralyzing reactions to how adorable they are. Because babies are dependent on us for their well-being, though, it’s important on an evolutionary level that we’re able to snap out of it. That’s where cute aggression seems to come in. The surveys filled out by participants showed that the reaction was also heavily linked to feeling a caretaking urge toward a cute thing. That may indicate cute aggression is our brain’s attempt to balance an overwhelmed neurological response. “A baby can’t survive alone, but if you’re so overwhelmed by how cute it is and how much you love it, then you can’t take care of it, and that baby won’t survive,” she says.

Oriana Aragón, a Clemson University researcher and the author of the 2015 Yale study that first identified the phenomenon, agrees that emotional balance is a potential cause of “dimorphous expression,” which is any emotional response that can present in two distinct ways. “When people express this way, they seem to come down off that intense event,” she says. “Their intensity seems to drop faster than people who aren’t doing cute aggression.” The more quickly a caretaker returns to a state of emotional stability, the better the odds that a small, vulnerable thing won’t experience a significant lapse in having its needs met. If that means I need to smoosh my dog against my face, so be it.

On a behavioral front, Aragón says that there are also some other potential explanations for cute aggression. “The appetitive side of the reward system is about that forward momentum, the antsy feeling, the pursuit, the urge,” she told me. “So it could be that when we see this aggressive expression, it’s an expression of that urge. It’s showing that you want to get to the baby.” The clenched-jaw, clenched-fist look of cute aggression is warning everyone that you intend to squeeze the small, cute thing.

In situations where it might be frowned upon to grab a baby that’s not yours, Aragón and her team found a different kind of dimorphous expression: a cute sadness, of sorts. “The ‘aww’ expression, with a downward-turned mouth and crumpled face, sends a signal to the baby and the other people that you just want to regard the baby, savor the baby, and take that baby in,” she says. The same process happens with other reward stimuli, like a good meal: At first, you anticipate it and you dive into your food, and then you sit back, slow down, and savor.

According to Aragón, cute aggression is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to understanding dimorphous expression, which occurs in a variety of scenarios, such as when someone is awed by the beauty of nature or overwhelmed by the thrill of victory. “Disgust and pain seem to have special properties about pulling away from the stimulus, whereas tears seem to be about stopping to savor, and aggression seems to be about the urge of pursuit,” she says. Research on emotion expression has historically been that of one-to-one correlations, Aragón says, so dimorphous expression represents a new phase in understanding how we socially negotiate our feelings.

Knowing how human brains generate these responses could have therapeutic potential, according to Stavropoulos, whose work frequently centers on people with autism. . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

12 December 2018 at 9:16 am

Posted in Cats, Daily life, Molly, Science

Wee Scot, Asses’s Milk shaving soap, Stealth, Spring-Heeled Jack, and Molly

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When the puck is small, a small brush works well, and my pre-Vulfix Wee Scot is a dynamite brush: it holds loads of lather, and the lather from this soap is quite nice, with a very mild fragrance: “clean” would be my description.

Three passes with the RazoRock Stealth easily produced a totally smooth result. This, for me, really is an excellent slant, and it is part of the Permanent Collection.

A good shake of Spring-Heeled Jack followed by a good splash, and the day begins with energy.

Molly loves her paper, apparently even more than her new box:

Written by LeisureGuy

16 May 2018 at 8:54 am

Posted in Cats, Molly, Shaving

Kent Infinity synthetic, Tallow + Steel Grog, and the Merkur 37G

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Tallow + Steel delivered a great lather this morning, but the contributions of the Kent Infinity and the water amount (very little = just right) must be acknowledged. The fragrance of Grog is very pleasant, and the Merkur 37G set to work with a will, easily delivering a perfectly smooth (and unharmed) face for the splash of aftershave.

A short report, so here’s a bonus photo of Molly in her new box from PetSmart. The bottom is end-grain corrugated cardboard, and she scratched the be-jesus out of it as an introductory step—sort of like taking the shrinkwrap off a new product.

Written by LeisureGuy

7 May 2018 at 9:11 am

Posted in Molly, Shaving

Another French shave, plus Dorco 602

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The French part is everything but the razor: Plisson synthetic and Creed Green Irish Tweed. The lid is presented sideways because I didn’t notice—it’s difficult to read and I was still perhaps sleepy.

Creed shaving soaps are very expensive: $125, exactly twice the price they were when I bought my Green Irish Tweed some years ago. However, it is indeed an excellent shaving soap, so there’s some consolation in that: a rich, creamy, and fragrant lather. Green Irish Tweed is famously the fragrance Cary Grant preferred, and I, though no Cary Grant, like it a lot myself.

I wanted to again do a comparison of the Dorco PL602 with the RazoRock Baby Smooth, and they are indeed very close in feel and performance. Thus IMO the Dorco PL602 is the ideal razor for a man who just wants to try DE shaving to see what it’s all about.

Three passes and a splash of GIT EDT as an aftershave: great start to the day. (And a late start: after Molly got me up at 5:00am I went back to bed and slept very well. He she is on her cat-tree in the study, acting innocent.

Written by LeisureGuy

9 March 2018 at 10:53 am

Posted in Cats, Molly, Shaving

Snow leopard cub playing at Bronx Zoo

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Written by LeisureGuy

27 October 2017 at 11:49 am

Posted in Cats, Video

A kitten and a veteran rescue each other

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Written by LeisureGuy

4 October 2017 at 12:14 pm

Posted in Cats, Video

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