Monday, April 26, 2010

HBD awareness as a civilizational aid

As Inductivist has previously underscored, a natural predilection for monogamy is probably being selected for, at least in Western societies where progressively higher levels of sexual equality and consequent increasing female advantage in mate choice has been the story for more than a century.

This isn't surprising. In Darwinian terms, women benefit more from serial monogamy than men do. Women are only able to conceive one man's child at a time. They benefit from having that man's material and emotional devotion. Men can potentially conceive a nearly unlimited number of children at once and are consequently handicapped by being beholden to only one woman.

Indeed, it is the one-trick ponies--male and female, black, white, and Hispanic--who are having the kids. Betas procreate more than alphas do. Further, married guys average as much sex as good game guys do. The beta move of partnering up gives in-house access that can even give Roissy a run for his money.

That does not mean that monogamy is supplanting polygamous behavior. The temptation to try and trade up exists for women. As social sanctions against acting on this desire have steadily dissipated, the socio-cultural environment is pushing against the biological advantage the monogamous enjoy. As a result, the level of sexual promiscuity over time appears to be steady-as-she-goes.

Those who prefer a monogamous society where most men have an active stake in the future should push HBD as a socially acceptable way of explaining and understanding human behavior. The view that children are blank slates shaped by their environment discourages a woman from pondering whether or not she wants her children to be like their father before following her vestigal instincts and letting a cad knock her up. If nothing else, she'd be more likely to thrill-seek with contraceptives and then make babies with a guy of higher quality afterwards. Who ultimately makes the babies is what's important for the long-term well being of society.

To reiterate, as a self-described HBD realist, I'm inclined to think the alpha-beta dichotomy is overblown. Alpha personality traits are generally attractive, but how realistic is it to presume that an introvert will simply decide to fool the world into thinking he's extroverted, or an agreeable person suddenly become consistently disagreeable? Are more than 100,000 years of honing the detection of desirable attributes in human sexual selection negated by memorizing some negs and vowing never to show indecisiveness? It has the feel of a unique business opportunity to make a six-figure monthly income from home.

A reader sent me a link (I've lost it, apparently) to Roissy's post on how to keep a girl once you have her, and my reaction was "duh"--I'd done something almost identical to the "I'm going to eat. You coming?" a couple days before. I regularly get complaints--real ones, where she's irritated at me for some condescending scoff I make or view I hold--from girls I know that I'm too self-rightgeous (which is has some overlap with, but is not the same thing as, being highly self-confident). Maybe I could actively alter my personality traits in real time (as I do here to facilitate openness in discussion), just as 'betas' could try to do so going the other direction, but I wonder how sustainable it is or how effectively it can be done, and at what cost in terms of cognitive dissonance.

That said, since I've already made this a sort of open book on pieces of my existence, I'll continue to occasionally report on things I've said or done that might be of use to those 'afflicted' by less social audacity than I possess.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Blue: "WotC, why hath thee forsaken me?"

The following post contains a discussion relating to the competitive M:TG standard format. For the vast majority of readers it will consequently be of no interest, so if you are among them, please don't waste your time.

It's no secret that blue is the, uh, red-headed stepchild of the current standard environment. Bant (mythic) is playable, spread 'em exposes jund's Achilles' heel, open the vaults has a consistent(ly small) presence, and UW control is around, but they collectively play second-fiddle to the jund, white weenie, and naya.

Alara Reborn clearly indicated that Wizards wants multicolored decks to dominate, but several mono-colored builds are still viable. White, of course, has white weenie. Black has vampires. Red has red deck wins. Even green has eldrazi elves. The only color that simply cannot go solo is blue.

As mono-blue control is my traditional M:TG home--in the early 2000s, before I went on hiatus, it and mono-black hand/land destruction were my two competitive decks--I find this lamentable. My shroud control build (running Deft Duelist, Wall of Denial, and Sphinx of Jwar Isle in addition to most of UW's standard suite) has served me well, but I'm clearly an exception to the rule.

As one who is empirically-minded, I wanted to back up that assertion with data, so I analyzed the standard top 100 card list (based on a meta-analysis of sanctioned tournaments), post-Worldwake. The following table shows each color's representation:


Lands are categorized based on the mana they produce (or in the case of fetch lands, the mana sources they are able to indirectly produce). Gold cards are assigned fractionally by their colors (Putrid Leech is .5 black, .5 green; Rhox War Monk is .33 white, .33. green, .33 blue, etc). Four of the top 100 are colorless (Tectonic Edge, Everflowing Chalice, Basilisk Collar, and Dragon's Claw), explaining why the percentages do not add up to 100.

Blue actually gets an artificial boost by the list's indifference to placement among the top 100. The first blue card does not come in until roster spot #34 in the form of Misty Rainforest, and the color comprises four of the bottom ten slots. That is, a full third of its representatives just barely squeak in.

Despite jund's dominance, white is the most heavily represented. It is the only color able to do it all--deal with spot threats (be they creatures, enchantments, or planeswalkers), engage in mass removal, gain life and prevent damage, provide both defensive chumps and beatsticks--the color's only weakness is its near-absence of card advantage (Knight of the White Orchid, Ranger of Eos, and Stoneforge Mystic being notable exceptions). White's strength helps carry blue in the forms of UW control and open the vaults. If white and blue were antagonistic colors, the standard format would essentially be a four-color game.

Rize of the Eldrazi might herald a serious return for blue, though. All is Dust promises the mass removal blue so severely lacks. The mono-blue control I used to run would not have been viable without the assistance of colorless gems like Nev's Disk and Mishra's Factory. If the absurd eldrazi monsters get any play (although I'm skeptical they will due to slowness off the starting block, especially with the surging popularity of naya allies), the relative shift toward the late game will work in blue's favor. Furthermore, both Jace and Mind Control generally provide great answers to them.

Here's hoping for blue's rebirth!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Pride as a deadly sin? Hah!

++Addition++OneSTDV responds, pointing out that "pride" is not a semantically ideal descriptor for what might be better characterized as gay self-assertion. Gay pride parades are not billed as a celebration of the artistic commitments of gays (thanks for reducing putative supermodels to emaciates objectively less attractive than many of the next door girls I know!), but instead an unsolicited broadcasting of the bohemian bacchanalia one should expect when both parties involved in the sexual union have Y chromosomes.

He also asks the following:
But is this concept even rational? Can an individual completely removed or essentially inconsequential in bringing forth these accomplishments rationally feel pride?
A separate issue is whether or not that question is necessarily relevant. When French military commander Henri Gouraud said something to the effect of "Behold Saladin, we have returned," after putting down an uprising in Syria, was it rational for the French troops to beam with pride at the 'accomplishments' of their forefathers in having established the Kingdom of Jerusalem 800 years earlier? Probably not, but that pride presumably carried with it inspirational, beneficial (from the colonial perspective) consequences.


Apparently, there was a "Pride Parade" on the main drag just off the University of Kansas' campus last week. On my facebook news feed, I noticed a friend had a status update that read "Yay pride week!" She's bisexual with a healthy libido--the kind of girl who screams to be bedded, not an ugly, serious LGBT-activist type. So I commented:
White pride, huh? I'm glad you don't hate everything about yourself ;)
I was making an inside remark from our time together, and as I knew would be the case she didn't take any umbrage from it at all, but several other comments expressed very predictable disgust at the idea, justifying my comment in a general sense. Those responding with hostility (all white I think, though I know none of the people who generated them), clearly were appalled by the idea of embracing a white racial identity.

Their collective opinion is shared by most people in contemporary American society, at least in public. Pointing out that vociferous, in-your-face adulation of sexual deviancy is more acceptable than a public proclamation that being of European descent is nothing to be ashamed of is hardly insightful on my part, I know. But the fact that "pride" is short-hand for gay pride, the most acceptable variety of self-celebration whites allow themselves to engage in, reveals the pathological nature of today's Western popular culture, which embraces and gladly cultivates a bohemian image (as the nearby typical photo from another gay pride parade illustrates) our forefathers prudently found themselves perpetually at war with, while disdaining a celebration of the dead white males that societies everywhere (most especially our own!) should be venerating.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

100 / 40 = 2.5 ?

From a report on Williams syndrome, excerpted and then discussed by Steve:
Despite their lack of racial bias, children with Williams syndrome hold gender stereotypes just as strongly as normal children, the study found. That is, 99 percent of the 40 children studied pointed to pictures of girls when asked who played with dolls and chose boys when asked, say, who likes toy cars.
Solomon must have had his way with one of those kids!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Relative absolutism

Are you an absolutist or a relativist when it comes to defining contentment and happiness (or telos, if you prefer)? Is there one definitional formula, or are there countless possible combinations leading to the same answer?

I'd describe myself as a relative absolutist. That is, there is one specific optimal formula for realizing happiness for each person, but there as many exact formulas as there are people. Nature presumably matters a lot, and nurture plays a part, too. Gardening works for one guy while spelunking does it for another guy. But exploring caves can't work for the first guy just as cultivating cucumbers won't do it for the other one.

Basically, Curly was on the money.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

IQ and Census response rates

Complementing the assertion that IQ and quality of life correlate positively with one another is the presumption that IQ is similarly correlated with higher levels of civic participation. Using data gathered by GMU professor Michael MacDonald, it has been revealed here that intelligent people vote more frequently than dullards do.

They also appear to be more compliant and timely in completing and returning their census information, despite the official pitch being that completing the form means more government money coming your way, a message that should appeal more to the lower classes than to those at the top. The US Census site has an interactive map that displays response rates by state as of April 9th. State response rates and estimated average IQ correlate at .57 (p = 0). Parenthetically, the correlation between IQ and eligible voting rate by state is a similar .65 (p = 0).

This is not simply the result of lower response rates among states with large immigrant populations--among the bottom five states, only one (New Mexico) has a sizeable Hispanic immigrant population to speak of (the others are Alaska, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and West Virginia--excepting Alaska, dull white states). It might also be assumed that low population density would be an explanatory factor (though I'm not really sure as to why, since the forms were sent out and to be returned by mail), but the top of the list is full of relatively sparsely populated places like Wisconsin, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, South Dakota, and Kansas.

Speaking of top responders, what jumps out immediately is how well the Midwest does compared to the rest of the country. The following table shows average state response rate by US Census region:


A friend has been pestering me to take a month off this summer and go backpacking through Europe with her to celebrate getting her Master's degree. Even though I'm only two years older than she is, the chasm in life stages is a lot wider than the marginal gap in age is (she's actually one of my older female friends). My responsibilities make it impossible for me to go traipsing through the Old Continent for several weeks, and anyway I don't want the upper body shrinkage walking for hours day after day will result in!

But, to at least tangentially tie the story to the post, I don't have any desire to leave the Midwest for an extended period of time, even a month. The people here are pragmatic, friendly, and neighborly. The demographics are good, the real standard of living is high, and the population density isn't suffocating. The weather can be grating, especially in the winter, but as far as I know, no one has located Eden yet.

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Passing, rushing, and winning in the NFL since 1969

In January, after having a little fun with team stats for the 2009 NFL season, I looked at the correlations between success (wins) and per-play passing and per-play rushing throughout the early years of this century. The trend is clear--a strong passing game does a top-tier team make. Running is far less determinative.

But rule changes and a paradigmatic shift away from raw power to pure speed (the fullback, a linchpin position as recently as Daryl "Moose" Johnston of the nineties' Cowboys, is all but dead today) have increasingly led to the predominance of passing over running. This has not always been the case.

That has been my conception, anway. To see how well it meshes with reality, I ran the numbers extending all the way back to the 1969 season. The following table traces the last four decades, showing the correlations between winning and both passing yards per attempt and running yards per attempt by regular season:




* Not statistically significant at 95% confidence

The data dispute the preceding narrative. There is a lot of variation in the strength of the correlations from season to season, as is of course expected given that defense, special teams, penalties, schedules, etc are not taken into account. Still, passing has consistently been tied more tightly to success than running has been. In only three of the last 41 seasons has the relationship between rushing yards per attempt been more closely related to winning than passing yards per attempt has, and in each of those years--1972, 1983, 2000--running's advantage has been small.

The 2009 season, deemed the year only passing mattered, added an exclamation point to this observation. Over the last three decades, passing's importance has risen marginally, correlating with wins at .57 on average durings the 00s, from .52 in the eighties (.55 in the nineties)--but in the seventies, the average was .62. It's nothing new.

If, despite the reliably delivered claims coming from professional commentators during the playoffs to the contrary, passing matters most, why isn't the pass-to-run ratio more lopsided than it is?

Turnovers are one reason. In recent years, interceptions constitute about two-thirds of them, and some portion of the remaining one-third, coming in the form of fumbles, are lost by quarterbacks getting hit or receivers losing the ball after the catch. In 2009, a team's turnover balance (takeaways minus giveaways) correlated with games won at .69.

A one-dimensional approach putatively gives a big advantage to defenses as well--color commentators regularly describe running plays mid- and late-game as attempts by offenses to keep the opposing defenses "honest".

That said, I do wonder if, over time, there has been a shift toward more yards earned through the air relative to those on the ground. If passing's primacy is nothing new, maybe throwing the ball more is. Yet the diminution of the 1,000 yard rusher and the new benchmark of 2,000 yards in a single season suggests more, not less, yardage is being earned on the ground than before. I'll see what the history shows and present here.