6/30/2005

6-30-05 - 1

6-30-05

Okay, now I think it's sort of sensible that there are girls & guys divisions of athletic sports, because men have a natural strength advantage due to higher testosterone levels and different skeletal structure. You don't expect men & women football players to compete, for example. However, if you think about that a little more, male & female divisions don't really make any more sense than having divisions for people with different body makeups; why not white & black divisions of basketball, since Africans have genetically longer Achilles tendonds which gives them a jump height advantage? How about football leagues just for short, weak guys? Anyway, the thing that bothers me more is the male & female leagues in sports and competitions where it really shouldn't matter at all - like 9 ball pool, or diving, or archery. And furthermore, why do the women suck at almost all of these? I don't mean to be sexist, but the fact is even when you look at disciplines where brute strength is not a big advantage, the women for the most part cannot compete with men. Where are the female chess champions? The race car drivers? The jockeys? Darts throwers? Pool players? (a notable counterpoint at the moment is golf, where it seems Anika would beat all the men if only she had the strength to drive farther off the tee). (BTW I'm convinced many women's sports are popular only because the girls are cute; for example - tennis, volleyball, pool).

Anyway, what got me going on this very un-PC rant was Drew sending me this link - Tilly wins WSOP event . First of all, it's fucked up that they even have a women's event. It's comparable to having a "minorities only" event - this is an intellectual competition and excluding any people from any event is ridiculous. The thing that's even more ridiculous is how bad the women obviously suck. Anyone who knows poker knows that even the top female pros are not very good. There are a few that are decent, like Jennifer Harmon, but I suspect that a lot of their success comes because they are women, and the men who play with them are jackasses that either under-estimate them, or try to be sweet to them, etc. (don't get me wrong, I don't blame the women for that, it's the fault of the stupid men who play with them and don't treat them like an abstract opponent). Also for the record, it seems some of the top females didn't play in this event, partly because they agree with me and would rather play in the main field, and because it's a rather low buy-in event. In a way, even though I respect that, it's stupid, because this is a very soft tournament and it's easy money. Drew suggests we should do a modern version of "Soul Man" and dress up like girls and register for the tournament.

On a more general note, I've been thinking about this lately in the context of steroids and Lance Armstrong and sports. So, people say it's not fair to use additives to enhance your performance, blah blah blah. But is it fair for Lance to have way over average heart size, higher red blood cell counts? If he's born with those advantages, how am I supposed to compete? Isn't it more fair if I can take some additives to acheive the same blood-ox level as him? With things like testosterone and growth hormone, some people have naturally high levels, and that gives them a huge advantage - why can't I take suplements to match them? Why is it morally better for them to have these chemicals produced by their body, rather than injected? What if I can east foods or something which triggers my body to produce more testosterone, is that cheating? I think it's a mushy topic, and I suppose you have to draw the line somewhere, but I think it's sort of a strange line. For one thing, if we ban unnatural supplements, what exactly are we celebrating in our athletes? Why is a great athlete a hero? Sure, they worked hard, but many lesser athletes worked harder and couldn't reach that pinnacle. Basically they were born with lucky genes, they're a physical freak with a great functioning body.

I've been thinking how easy it would be to be Lance. Yeah, yeah, he trains hard, but that's so easy. When you know you can win - when all you have to do is put in the work and you know you'll be successful, that's cake! The hard thing is what all of us suckers have to suffer through every day - putting in work, for what? Probably it will lead to no success of any kind. If someone told me - if you practice basketball 8 hours a day every day, you can be in the NBA next year, I'd say "awesome!" and get right to it.

There are some fictions we know to be untrue, which however we live by anyway, because we are better for it. One of them is the idea that all humans are "equal" - by any definition of equal, this is clearly not true, and yet going down the path of defining some people as less valuable is so unacceptable that it is wise to live by this fiction.

I once heard a stem cell scientist give an example of a nice thought experiment. The hard-core political Christian right says that an embryo is a life just like a human being. The scientist said that he disproved this to himself very simply - imagine his research lab is on fire, you only have a few seconds before the building collapses. There's a woman inside trapped under a beam. There's also a freezer with 100 embryos in it. Do you save the woman, or the freezer? There's only time to save one or the other, and the other one will burn or whatever. If your answer is the woman, clearly you've decided a living human is different, more valuable, than an embryo. In fact, it's 100 times more valuable than an embryo.

How many embryos would have to be in the freezer before you save the freezer instead? 1000? A million? For me personally it doesn't matter how many embryos - I always would save the living woman instead. That means that I rate a living human an infinite ratio over embryos. In fact, it's a whole different scale. Human lives I rate at a value of near infinite dollar value. Embryos I put more on an earthly value. For example, if there was a billion dollars in cash in the same room, no woman, just the embryos and the cash, I would probably take the billion dollars cash. On the other hand, if it's cash & woman, I save the woman - near infinite value. Another funny thing comes out of this thought experiment. We average humans are incredibly judgemental of people that we know. If the woman is a total stranger, we know nothing about her - she has near infinite value. What if we know her? Maybe she cheated on her husband, neglected her children, stole from us. Okay, now we're considering maybe saving the billion dollars instead of her. Suddenly she's gone from infinite value to finite value - that's a huge change. What if she's a convicted child molestor; it's a man who's a rapist - now many people would let him die, certainly would save the embryos or cash instead.

It's also interesting that in this thought experiment, if you try to think of the cash value you would save instead of a life, it's a very very high value. On the other hand, faced every day with the choice of spending $1 to save a human life, just about everyone prefers to keep their one dollar. We're all sort of disgusting weak immoral criminal cowards. We say we value human life, but our every day actions kill for no good reason. For the pleasure of driving our car, we'll melt the glaciers on Kilimanjaro, which ruins the farm land on the mountain side, which leads to the deaths of thousands. We want to eat beef, but we don't want to face slaughtering the cow. I think I've gone on "tilt" now, I'm off my thread and my rocker.

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