Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Misogyny or Competition and Aggression

I consider myself a feminist in the strictest form of definition: that humans are all equal (even if different), and discrimination or subjugation of any group is wrong; especially when you're talking roughly half the human population (including your mothers or sisters), and in some places manifest as brutally violent torture, mutilation, rape, or murder.

Yet in online discussions not everyone who calls themselves "feminist" is someone I can agree with, and instead I often find a misplaced anger or resentment from past misdeeds transferred in inappropriate ways. Specifically "men", "patriarchy", and "society" are often a broad and blanket scapegoat terms with poor definition, impairing the movement's own ability to find and root out the root causes of these problems. I've long felt misplaced anger directed at outside causes is more accurately attributed to simple competition between women themselves, and it seems I finally have some sources that agree with me.

I feel some women poorly understand what motivates men, and as such construct overly elaborate theses, with malice attributed to the actors, to try to describe the unhappy conditions under which they find themselves. To take one example, I've heard it suggested that instead of telling women to be more aggressive at work with regards to promotion and advancement, so they can compete with men, instead men should be less aggressive, make more time for children and home life, and thus make more room for women in corporate life. While a compelling notion to consider, this strikes me as hopelessly naive, and the result of a poor understanding of the nature of competition and aggression. What will happen if all men curtail their workplace competition is the incentive for a defector to act aggressively increases until everyone breaks ranks and begins aggressive competition again, returning to the equilibrium state (competitive) society has always existed in!

A similar thought experiment can be seen in the Science Fiction scenario of a world where men are biologically no longer necessary, and women take over all functions of society: will there be no more soldiers or war? No more police or crime? No more competition or strife? I think it's very clear that amongst the remaining women, some (those with more testosterone) will generally act more aggressively, and as such gain a competitive advantage over smaller, weaker, or less aggressive women, and rise to increasing levels of prominence, with increasing levels of subjugation, until "men" (as intimidating, reckless, and aggressive actors) are "re-evolved" back into society through simple game theory.

The fact is so long as resources are scarce, there will be competition, and incentive to be the first to take from others (before someone takes from you) will grow -- which will give advantage to those who display aggressive tendencies (which in humans, as far as I understand is mostly regulated by testosterone). Of course excessive aggression is penalized when the incentive for the group to band together to punish the aggressor rises, but I'm not talking about the extreme case, I'm talking about competitive equilibrium (Nash equilibrium if you like game theory) that all society tends towards when resources are scarce. We live in a world where group collaboration is balanced against aggressive individual defection, and the latter cannot simply be removed in the presence of scarcity.

Sorry ladies, competition is here, for everything important, and there's no one to blame for it -- it is what it is, and it's not going away.

A Modest Feminist

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Scourge of the modern corporation

Simple steps to tame meetings. I'd add onto that no meeting of more than three people should ever last longer than 30 minutes.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

The Earth Stopped Warming

I hear this one a lot so I wanted to store this link somewhere where I could easily recover it again next time this gopher sticks its head up again.

"Of the 20 hottest years on record, 19 have occurred since 1990. And of the 10 hottest, nine have occurred since 2000."

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Cramming isn't worth it

If you want to pass the test tomorrow, best to get some sleep.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

A Letter To A Concerned Mother

Recently a friend related me a request for some advice for her son's career through a rather circuitous route. It started with admiration for my career, and appeared to me to be asking on behalf of her son how to get into games -- although both she and her son himself declined to email me directly themselves -- attached to it a copy of one of the most banal and lightly decorated resumes I've seen in a long time. I puzzled over how to respond, and eventually came to the inference the mother was rather more keen on the matter than the son was. Desiring to cut out the middle man I addressed her as follows:

"To answer your question, like anything in life, you can find success when you find something you love to do, and make sacrifices of secondary priorities in dedicated pursuit of the primary. If your son has no single minded passion, it's not really fair to expect him to artificially develop one; if he does have one, it's only a matter of time, dedication, and good luck before that will blossom, and my help isn't really needed. If the case is the former, my suggestion is rediscover respecting who you are now, and be open to new experience that may teach you something new to love.

If it's the latter, and you've asked me specifically about the games industry, you'll have to understand a great many people enjoy games (like film and music), and a great many people graduate with non-specialist degrees (non-Science, Engineering, Technology, Mathematics), so outside of Engineering or Art, your son would face a lot of competition that is equivalently qualified and candidates are very hard to distinguish from each other. Walking into the industry empty handed basically has zero chance of success.

That's not to say there's no hope to break in, it just means the sacrifice I mentioned before will have to be proportionate. The only real way to get in is to start making games -- now. It's never been easier for a small group of modestly talented people to create something fun and distribute it (near) instantly to thousands or perhaps millions of people. Find a group of like-minded individuals and start making *something* -- it doesn't have to be good, but it should get you noticed, and hopefully you'll grow connections that will one day land you the job you've been searching for. That hold for marketing-level jobs -- there's lots of independent promoters out there doing great things, getting their game mind share and market share.

The games industry, thanks to competitive pressures, is highly localized in a select number of cities: Vancouver and Montreal in Canada, and places like Seattle, San Francisco, and LA on the West Coast of the US. If you're willing to sacrifice for your dream, you going to have to give up your home-town friends and your daily familiarities and move where the work is. A lot of mid-level management in games got their start from moving across the country to take a poorly paid Quality Assurance job, and started working their way up. Then again, at lot of those poorly paid QA workers also went nowhere as well.

The age of heavy organizations filled with ripe white collar, middle management, paper-pushing jobs is coming to a close thanks to technology; there's only going to be room for people who are meeting tangible business needs. Scientists are doing the research, Engineers are building the products, Sales is building demand, Retail is serving the customer -- pick where you want to sit in the hierarchy and make yourself valuable to some facet of industry, according to your own tastes and abilities.

However I have the impression your son isn't really passionate about games, you're just kinda guessing he might get into it if given the chance. One thing I've learned in life however, you can't make a horse drink water, and trying to force the issue only backfires. If your son doesn't want to become a game developer or a doctor, it's best to redefine what you expect out of life and enjoy the son you have now.


Friday, April 19, 2013

"War is god's way of teaching Americans geography"

Terrorism is god's way of teaching Americans what then?

Monday, April 1, 2013

Missing Warming

Recently I've heard a couple climate deniers claim the world has stopped warming within the last couple decades; aside from being categorically false, it turns out we know where the expected warming has gone -- into the oceans.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013


Write a few lines of code on a home project, and dilute it with reddit until statistically you've done nothing all day, yet claim the work accomplished has left an impression on your keyboard or seat. (See Home Programming)