Everybody Lies About Sex

“Everybody lies about sex.” – Robert Heinlein

Funny fact: Since the number of women roughly equals the number of men, the average number of heterosexual sexual partners women have had must be roughly equal to the average number of heterosexual sexual partners men have had. In a study of US and UK non-virgins, ~40-year-old women reported having on average 8.6 male sexual partners and ~40-year-old men reported having on average 31.9 female sexual partners. Absolutely priceless.

PS: 100th post, whoo-hoo! Now that I’ve got you addicted, I’m going to double the price for reading this blog.

The Godfather

I just saw The Godfather again. I finally understand the reputation of Marlon Brando. God, he’s good. He absolutely disappears into Vito Corleone.

You almost have to pity Al Pacino, whose performance probably would have gotten him the Best Actor Oscar, if not for Brando’s astounding performance, not only in the same year, but in the same film! I think what makes it more impressive to me now is that I understand that Brando was already a star, was already MARLON BRANDO!!! when this movie came out. Given that, it must have been hard, or so one would think, to make himself disappear into a role. When I’ve seen this before, I just thought of Brando as that guy who played the godfather (and Jor-El in Superman), so seeing him as the godfather didn’t seem especially noteworthy. But making 65-year-old mob boss exist is even more impressive when it also requires making FAMOUS MOVIE STAR go away.

This is what people mean when they talk about an iconic performance.

It was also fun watching it with my son, who has never seen it before, and who suddenly started to get certain pop culture references – e.g., Mr. Big in Zootopia – that had never registered before. And “This movie,” I told him, “is why whenever there’s a mob movie now, at least one of the characters has to talk in a rasp.” It’s unavoidable somehow; Brando just permanently changed the way that that kind of character is done. A mob boss that doesn’t speak with a wheeze!? Impossible! He can’t really be a mob boss! THAT’S how iconic this performance was: It changed the territory.

Let’s not forget that Pacino is awesome as Michael Corleone. He sells it perfectly; it’s as if the script was written for him. The film opens in the second half of 1945. Michael is a veteran of World War II who has just returned from the fighting. We are told that he is regarded as a war hero. At first Michael intends to stay out of the mob stuff. Early in the movie his girlfriend asks him about a business deal his father conducted. When Michael’s attempt to dodge the question fails, he tells her: “Luca Brazi held a gun to the man’s head and my father told him that either his brains or his signature would be on the contract.” (This is the first time we hear the phrase, “made him an offer he couldn’t refuse.”) She is appalled, of course, but he tells her, “That’s my family, Kay, not me.”

That resolve doesn’t last. After another mafia family makes an attempt on his father’s life, Michael is switched on.

Visiting his father at the hospital one night after his father is shot, he realizes that the bodyguards have all mysteriously vanished. He calls for backup and conscripts the lone nurse on duty to help him move the bed in which his father is lying to another room. When a well-wisher shows up, Michael presses him into service to stand at the hospital’s front door with Michael. “Put your hand in your pocket,” he instructs the man, “as if you have a gun.” Soon a car full of what are obviously assassins slowly rolls up to the entrance, sees Michael and the other man standing alertly, watching them, apparently armed, and rolls past.

When it’s over the well-wisher tries to light a cigarette. He can’t; his hands are shaking too much. Michael helps him light it. His hands are rock steady.

This is the first time we see Michael handling a stressful, high-stakes situation with calm and competence. It is perfectly believable because his father’s life is at stake, pressing him to rise to the occasion. The extra detail of his backstory as a veteran isn’t necessary, but makes it even more plausible.

During this episode Michael learns that a Police Captain is cooperating with the rival mafia family to kill Vito Corleone.

Later Michael confers with other Corleone family members and urges killing the cop and the head of the other family, Sollozzo. “If we can get a weapon into a meeting with them,” he says, “I’ll kill them both.”

They laugh.

“Where does it say you can’t kill a cop?” Michael asks.

“Come on, Mikey,” says consigliere Tom Hagan.

“No, seriously,” Michael responds. “A corrupt cop. ‘A cop who got mixed up with the mob and got what he deserved.’ That’s a good story. We have newspapers on our payroll, right?”

And suddenly everyone realizes that Michael has seen an aspect of the situation that they missed. This is another key moment. We’ve just seen Michael be cool and courageous under pressure. Now we see him out-thinking everyone else, and people who are more experienced with this sort of thing than him. And though it’s not obvious, since they’re not present, Michael is also out-thinking Sollozzo and the cop, who plainly think they’re untouchable due to the cop’s involvement. They find out otherwise.

A meeting is arranged, a weapon smuggled in, and Michael kills the cop and Sollozzo.

This precipitates a gang war. Meanwhile Michael flees to Italy to escape retaliation and possible arrest. In Italy not much important happens, for the purposes of this review. But there is one subtle little stiletto of a line of dialogue that will slip right by you if you’re not careful. In Italy, Michael has two bodyguards. As they walk through one sparsely-populated Italian town, Michael asks them where all the men are. The casual reply is,

“They’re all dead from vendettas.”

Given what is going on back home in the US, this is an ominous sentence.

Years later, Michael has returned to the US and gotten involved in the family business. While this review is not one of my “red pill in fiction” posts, I have to note that the writers show some intriguing red-pill awareness in these scenes. In particular, they show an alpha male crashing through everyone else’s frame and forcing them to respond to his frame.

Here are a couple of examples:

Michael wants to take the Corleone Family legit within five years. Part of this plan involves moving the family from New York to Nevada. He assigns Tom Hagan to head to Nevada first to start moving on the business arrangements. Tom wants to stay with the rest of the family in New York, but the tail effects of the gang war are still occurring, and Michael tells him, “You’re not a war time consigliere.”

Hagan: “Maybe I could help here.”
Michael: “You’re out, Tom.”

Boom! This is how it is. Michael doesn’t try to convince, persuade, argue, or debate. He just uses his authority. Hagan doesn’t argue. He can’t, really.

Later Michael himself travels to Nevada. He meets with Moe Greene, an old long-distance business partner of the Corleones. Greene owns a casino that the Corleones bankrolled years before. Michael tells Greene he’s going to buy the casino from him.

Greene can’t freakin’ believe it: “You don’t buy me out; I buy you out! I know you got chased out of New York by the other families and that’s why you’re here in Vegas.”

This is not true, as we later see very vividly, but Michael doesn’t argue. His response:

“We’ll meet again tomorrow. Think about a price.”

And he leaves.

That’s alpha frame. NB: don’t try to use this in your own life unless you actually have the ability to have people killed if they oppose you. In order to act that alpha and get away with it, you actually have to have that kind of power.

Time Inconsistency in the Mating Game and Other Games

In the comments here the talk turned to the game that goes on between men and women who are potential mates. On the temptation to cheat, one commenter ironically asks,

“At once, she wants to defect, but also to provoke a forced cooperation?”

The answer is Sure, this can make sense. The game theory of such situations, in which a person benefits by limiting their own future behavior, is very well-established.

For example, consider a powerful monarch who can default on his debts without his creditors being able to do anything about it. Since potential creditors know this, no one is willing to lend to him in the first place. (This problem doesn’t always occur, but it does if people have sufficient reason to worry that he’ll default.) If the monarch could be submitted to a more powerful entity that could make him pay his debts back in the future – and if this were commonly known – then people would be willing to lend him money today.

Thus it is true that both

(1) the monarch in some sense wants to defect (default on his debts)
(2) the monarch in some sense wants to be forced to cooperate (pay his debts back).

This sort of situation is pervasive and much of human custom and law is devoted to dealing with it. Speaking of male/female mating games, it is the reason that in most societies, marital infidelity is illegal. It is the reason that people are disgusted by those who lie, break promises, welsh on bets, etc. Societies that enforce such norms do better in the long run than those without them. And think of credit markets in general, never mind the above monarch. If the law did not force borrowers to pay back their debts, imagine how difficult it would be to borrow money in the first place. In extreme scenarios, credit markets would disappear entirely.

Put “time inconsistency” commitment into a search engine.

“Time inconsistency” refers to the fact that people’s desires can be inconsistent across time. E.g., at the time that you’re trying to borrow money, you’d like to be forced to pay your future debts back, because knowing that makes lenders willing to lend to you right now. But later, after you’ve gotten your hands on the borrowed money, then (if you’re an amoral asshole) you’d like to be able to default on your debts. Thus we have mechanisms that enforce “commitment,” which in this example means the law commits you to paying back your debts.

In general, people often can benefit by being committed to a course of action in the future, whether it’s marital fidelity or paying your debts back, etc.

Funny Coincidence in Vinge’s True Names

Re-reading Vernor Vinge’s sci-fi novella True Names, written in 1980, I just came across an amusingly prescient passage. (Edited here for brevity.) The time is a few decades in the future, from 1980’s point of view. A member of a group of superhackers is trying to convince another member that some of the others have been trying to leverage their computer skillz to take power in the real world:

“You know what convinced Wiley that the Mailman could deliver on his promises? It was the revolution in Venezuela. It was to be the Mailman’s first demonstration that that controlling data and information services could be used to take permanent control of a state. And Venezuela, they claimed, was perfect: Its data-processing facilities are all just a bit obsolete, since they were bought when the country was at the peak of its boom time.”

First an oil boom in Venezuela, then revolution. Think about it, maaaaaaaaan. It all makes sense!

The Parsons Code: Now That’s Just Cool

You may have had the experience of trying to identify a beautiful piece of music whose title you don’t know. The Internet cannot help with this, since you can’t search for music when you don’t know the name. Or so I thought.

It turns out you can identify a piece of music online, using the Parsons Code, a simple up-down-repeat code for the structure of the melody. That is, you don’t have to know the notes; you simply punch in whether each note is higher, lower, or the same as the preceding note. If you enter a large enough number of notes, you are guaranteed to identify the piece you want, in my experience. Furthermore, even when it doesn’t nail down the piece uniquely, it does give you a short list of options to chose from, and you can quickly search through those yourself.

You can also filter by folk music, religious music, rock/pop, classical, etc., to narrow the search further.

Check out Musipedia.org.

Alternative link: http://www.themefinder.org/

How to Ice Skate

Aright, bitches, ’tis the season, so listen up.

Ice skating is awesome. When you’re going fast it is the closest a human being can get to flying. The American Psychiatric Association defines “not liking ice skating” as a mental disorder. It’s in their diagnostic manual.

I always see a lot of n00bs ice skating, which is great! Here are some tips.

(1) You will fall. Get used to it.

(2) Ice skating is not walking on ice. The physics is different.

When you walk, you push backward with one foot. (See Figure 1.) If your foot has good traction on the ground, it can’t slip back, though, so instead you are pushed forward. (Newton’s third law of motion, “Every action has an equal and opposite reaction.”)

Figure 1

You cannot do this on ice skates, padawan, because you are on a blade that’s like a sixth of an inch thick. If you push your foot straight back, there is not enough area of the blade making contact with the ice to produce good traction. (See Figure 2.) Instead of being planted on the ice and thus propelling you forward, your foot will simply slide back. Then, because you’re a n00b, you’ll fall down. (Newton’s lesser-known fourth law of motion, “N00bs fall down.”)

Figure 2. The thin black line is your blade’s contact with the ice.

How do you deal with this? Well, plainly you need more area of the blade making contact with the ice. Simply turning your foot somewhat sideways does it. (See Figure 3.) This gives your foot enough traction, so when you push it back, the only thing that can happen is that the rest of you goes forward.

Figure 3. (The extent to which the foot is turned here is exaggerated for clarity.)

Meanwhile you are pointing the other foot in roughly the direction you want to go, so you glide forward on that foot. (As per Newton’s fifth law, “Ice is slippery.”)

Then the feet switch roles, with the gliding foot becoming the foot you’re pushing back with, and the pushing foot becoming the gliding foot. Repeat.

Once you learn this, it really is easy and natural.

(3) On falling: One of the problems is that your instincts about righting yourself when you’re off balance are all wrong. Moves that help you regain your balance when you’re on terra firma don’t necessarily help you, to put it mildly, when you’re skating on blades on ice. You have to learn new reflexes (if learned reflexes isn’t an oxymoron). I can’t re-wire your neural wiring that handles these reflexes, so I don’t know what to tell you here, except that you have to practice.

(4) “Crossover,” logically enough, is the term for when you cross one foot over the other. You’ve seen this: It’s that thing a skater does where it seems like his feet are moving independently of the direction his body is traveling in, so it looks like he’s moonwalking or something.

Crossovers function best when you’re turning at high speed and really leaning into the turn. You do this naturally when you turn while running on ground, but when you do that your foot is planted. When you’re skating, in contrast, you continue to glide on that foot as you shift your weight into the turn, so that for a moment the foot is actually moving in a different direction from your body’s center of mass.

Crossovers are a great way to add speed with relatively little effort, because gravity is doing some of the work for you. When you change direction you lean in the direction you want to go in. So you start to fall in that direction. Before you fall very far, though, you put a foot out under yourself so you glide in that direction instead of falling.

By the way, when you take a turn with a fast series of crossovers, it actually is as fun as it looks. Hell, it’s much more fun. There’s a power and smoothness that is like nothing else. Cf. comment above, in re: “flying.”

(5) Control: As long as you’re not going too fast, turning is so easy that it’s practically subliminal. (No crossovers for the moment; I’m not talking about that level of speed.) What is actually going on, of course, is that you’re shifting your weight ever so slightly in the direction you want to go in. But it feels like you’re just thinking yourself into changing direction. Telekinesis!

(6) Efficiency: Another way you can tell n00bs, even after they’ve learned to not fall much, is by how much energy they waste. In extreme cases it looks like they’re expending half again as much energy as they need to per foot-pound of work accomplished.

If this is you, don’t worry; this takes care of itself over time. Your body’s natural reluctance to waste energy will quickly make you adjust so that your motion is economical.

(7) Stopping. Several n00bs at rinks have asked me for advice, particularly about how to stop.

The correct answer is: Stopping is for the weak and timid! Are you a wuss!? Are you!? Huh!? Good, I didn’t think so. Let’s have no more nonsense about stopping.

If you insist, though, you can just point yourself at a wall. That usually works.

All kidding aside: There are basically two ways to slow yourself down, and if you keep slowing long enough you’ll stop.

The first I call the two-feet method: Just point your skates toward each other, while keeping your legs stiff so your feet don’t actually come together. If your feet bump into each other you’ll fall, obviously. But if you hold your feet apart at that angle, the blades will scrape against the ice, slowing you. And if you keep doing it, stopping you.

You can feel and hear the scraping, at least if you’re not at a rink where they constantly blast fucking country music over the sound system at full volume, what the actual fuck, not that I’m complaining or anything, but what the fuck? Don’t they know that playing that shit voids the warranty on your speaker system? Anyway…

The second method of stopping is the much-admired “hockey stop.” That’s the one you think of when I say “how to stop,” where they turn sideways and kick up ice shavings.

Just turn sideways and dig the blade of your leading foot into the ice. You’re also using your trailing foot, of course, but more for balance than friction, at least the way I do it (YMMV). Also, you’re doing some rapid adjustment of your balance, naturally.

When you first try this you’re going to think, “I shall now attempt a hockey stop.” That’s well and good, but you learn faster if you just think, “Shit! I need to stop!” and imagine what you’d do if you really needed to stop suddenly. This makes it more instinctive and less cerebral.

(8) Sharpness matters so your blades dig in. You need this (a) for acceleration, so your pushing foot can bite into the ice, (b) to slow yourself and stop, and (c) to execute a crossover. (Probably for six other reasons that I’m not thinking of at the moment too.) When you’re doing a crossover, the gliding foot has to bite into the ice to a certain extent or the foot will just slide out from under you. This happened to me once when I was trying to take too steep an angle with my gliding foot. Foot shot backward, rest of body went, “Hello, ice!”

The blade has some thickness; it’s not a knife blade. It’s the blade’s edges that are sharp. Once I actually drew blood from my hand accidentally with the edge. But that was probably right after they’d been sharpened; normally blades aren’t that sharp.

(9) Miscellany:

(A) Little kids on the ice are cute, but DANGER DANGER DANGER!!! Partly this is because they can’t control themselves yet, and partly because even the ones who can control themselves have no social awareness whatsoever. If they see Mom over there, they will simply turn with no warning in that direction, and if you’re behind them you’re going to be doing some fancy dancing to not hit them. This leads to hilarity and occasional bruises, because of course you’re going to steer yourself into a wall or shift so that you fall, instead of plowing into a little kid.

I recently cracked my elbow into the wall of a rink because I had to dodge a little one who seemed to execute a right-angle turn right in front of me with no warning. I had to do something to avoid smashing into him and ended up saying Hi to the plexi-glass. He didn’t even realize it had happened, but I did get a sympathetic look from someone on the other side of the glass.

They can also turn quite suddenly because their centers of gravity are so low. It’s like they’re equipped with little inertialess drives.

Just remember this:

Little kids on ice = Brownian motion + inertialess drives.

(B) Use your ears as well as your eyes to help maintain awareness of other skaters in your vicinity. Thus you can avoid pulling a “little kid” and turning suddenly just when someone’s coming up behind you.

Caveat: In the corners of the rink, noise bounces around weirdly. Sometimes it sounds like someone is coming up behind you and just about to smash into you. You’re like “Gah!” but when you look around there’s no one within ten yards.

(C) Downhill skating. Sweet! But why didn’t they have this when I was 19? You kids today don’t know how good you have it, let me tell you, when I was your age I had to skate 40 miles to school, and it was uphill both ways! By God!




(D) This is a politically incorrect blog, so an observation about the sexes. Normal people, continue to read; shrieking feminist shrikes, go somewhere else (permanently).

Still with me? OK, a fun observation:

All good skaters have both power and grace, strength and fluidity. But there is a difference between good female skaters and good male skaters. Good female skaters have power – you can’t be a good skater without it – but they have more grace compared to male skaters. And good male skaters have grace – you can’t be a good skater without that, either(*) – but they have more power compared to female skaters. Just a nice little “the world is gendered” observation to affirm normality and freak out the screaming SJWs.

If you’re like most people, i.e. psychologically normal, you understand (there was a time when no one denied this!) that the sexes are different and that the differences, in so many ways, can be a source of delight to everyone. This is just a small example of that.

* Even the most brutal hockey player, 190 pounds of muscle and missing three front teeth, who starts throwing jabs at the slightest provocation, has grace on the ice. If you don’t believe me, Youtube is your friend.

(10) Have fun!