The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Sunday, April 19, 2009

A little math help

Anyone who has been reading me for a while knows that I don't think there is much real difference in intelligence, creativity, good or evil between men and women, or black and white. I don't think men are in control of the world, although I can see how it looks like that to someone blind to Yin energy. There are places that men ARE in control (or male energy is) like Afghanistan. And their society is all but crumbled. You just can't oppress half a population without damaging the other half.

So the question of whether it is "worse" for men to be attracted to hourglass figures and the signs of sexual receptivity (plump red lips, etc.) than for women to be attracted to power isn't answerable in any absolute sense. We'd have to create a scale of values first, and agree upon it. THEN it might be possible to quantify. What I know is that, for instance, I know I'm not gay because when I look at men the little light doesn't go on in the back of my head. When I look at certain women, it does. Sproing! I don't have any control over that response. Few men outside of Porn stars do. And men like what makes them go Sproing. If they don't go Sproing, the human race comes to a screeching halt.

Really simple, but people don't want to look at that. And women being attracted to power? Wow, that's just looking for a safe nest in which to deposit the eggs. What in the world is so complicated about that? About 95% of the time, that's the transaction I see, and both men and women collaborate in maintaining that balance.

I'm delighted to hear about more and more women who are powerful and self-reliant being attracted to "hot" guys who have less material wealth. This is the ONLY way that women will ever approach "equality" in terms of Yang power structures--if men are allowed to be more Yin without it impinging on their Sproing action. Otherwise, trust me--those Beta males will rat-fuck you every time you try to climb the corporate ladder. If women are attracted only to Alphas, then every Beta male is a potential saboteur, trust me.

"A little chubby" is more than just fine. It fits perfectly with enough world aesthetical standard that it is within range for normal health and attractiveness. The standards trying to make women really skinny certainly aren't being promoted by heterosexual men. Look at the women in Men's magazines: they have breasts and hips. It's the women in WOMEN'S magazines who look like scarecrows. To tell you the truth, it was when I realized how many women thought that men were most attracted to these scarecrows that it first hit me that women were just as gullible as men. Frankly, until that time I'd labored under the illusion that women were a little better than us. Too bad. Would have been nice. Who creates those images? On my most cynical days, I'd say gay men and older women, both of whom might have some unconscious motivation to diminish the competitive advantage of the "competition." But that's Cynical Steve talking there.


Saw "Observe and Report", the new Seth Rogen comedy. I loved it, but man oh man is it dark. Basically, it is "Paul Blart, Mall Cop II--Off his meds." That's it. Rogen, who is more impressive a performer with every film, plays a loutish, 90-IQ fellow with serious emotional problems barely controlled by his medication. Head of security at the local mall, he fantasizes about being a real cop, and idealizes a sleazy sexpot as the ideal woman. One day, he feels so positive about himself that he decides to stop taking his medication...and boy oh boy do things go downhill fast. The director, whose previous movie "Fist Foot Way" is the "King of Comedy" of martial arts films, has an absolute genius in creating scenes that walk a very fine line between genuine lunacy and gut-bustingly funny. The notorious date rape scene is like that, and an interview with Rogen makes it clear how the filmmakers created this sequence with great care, knowing that the audience would be on the edge of their seats, wondering what the #$%% was about to happen, and redeeming the character at the very last moment in the only way possible. I sat there with Tananarive not sure if I was about to walk out of the theater or laugh my ass off. It is, according to Tananarive, the second-best Mall movie ever made. The first is "Dawn of the Dead" (the Romero version.) Easy to see why I love this woman.

Give it a strong "B"


And remaining with our motif of "how offensive can we be?" There is "Crank II: High Voltage" starring Jason Statham, who was born to play Modesty Blaise's Willie Garvin and probably never will, dammit. Look, if you buy a guy falling a mile out of a helicopter, bouncing off the roof of a car and smacking the street, literally being spatula'd up by Chinese hoods, having his heart removed and put into David Carradine (in Chinese makeup)'s chest and a fritzy artificial one put in his own chest, then leaping out of bed and fighting, screwing, shooting, sprinting and otherwise engaging in freelance mayhem all over L.A. to get his own ticker back (what he calls his "Strawberry Tart," which confused many critics. Cockney rhyming slang, folks: Strawberry Tart--Heart. See?) then you have to accept that this takes place in a very strange cartoon universe, and absolutely anything can happen. Once you're in on the joke, this is a scathingly profane and hilariously vile film, like the most expensive Trauma Pictures movie ever made. I'd swear the Toxic Avenger was lurking in the shadows. WOW was this movie offensive. It was one of those films where the white guy runs around knocking the shit out of every ethnic type around: Asians, blacks, Mexicans, Middle-Easterners, whatever. White guys are also irresistible to all ethnic women, which would ordinarily offend me, but the filmmaker's naked psyches are so stripped raw onscreen that I can't muster the indignation. I knew what I was getting into when I went. All women are whores, all men are thuggish buffoons, including the hero. It's not quite Equal Opportunity offense, but it comes as close as anything I've seen in quite some time

"Crank" has more energy than any three ordinary "Action" movies. It is an overdose on Pop Tarts and Red Bull, filtered through the extended adolescence that still believes that strippers are the apex of womanhood, and the four-letter word for "Intercourse" is more than a mere verb or noun, but in fact the Holy Grail of linguistics, to be inserted in a script more often than the word "the" if possible. If they gave Academy Awards for ludicrous over-the-top racist sexist misanthropic cockeyed brilliance, "Crank" might get it. Stay away if you can't get in touch with your inner adolescent, however. This one is REALLY one of those "so bad it's good" movies that is totally aware of what it is. Are there some genuinely unpleasant stereotypes lurking under it's good-natured ultraviolence? Why, sure. But oddly, I have a sense that these filmmakers were going so far out that they damn near created art. Filmed with like 100 cheap high-def video cameras, they create a hyperkinetic kaleidoscope that is as close to a live-action cartoon on Adult Swim as anything you're ever likely to see. It bodes well for low-budget filmmakers, really. For discriminating adults: STAY AWAY. For the lunatics out "A" damned near. Wow. What insanity.



Uhh...well, screw it. I knew the job was dangerous when I took it.


By the way, I joined the Susan Boyle fan club on Facebook. I hope to God that this woman gets a makeup artist, a little help with diet and exercise...and lets her light shine. Yeah, I said it. My guess? She spent years caring for her ailing mother, who was plump. As long as she sees something that looks like Momma in the mirror, she isn't quite so alone. There is always a payoff for our behavior. Find it, and you have the key.

Recently, I spoke to a friend who used to be a cute, sweet, curvy little thing...and is now dealing with serious weight issues. I told her that she needs to find the payoff--the positive result she is receiving from the fat. I have too much respect for her not to believe she's getting something out of it. It costs her pain in her back and her joints, it costs her energy and has cost her work (she is qualified to teach an exercise discipline...but who is going to hire her?)

She protested, of course. And I said, "listen. If I'm wrong and you're right, no harm no foul. But if I'm right and you're wrong, no amount of diet or exercise planning will ever help you. You'll sabotage yourself again and again, because your inner self and outer self are at war. So think about it."

And within an hour, a light went on in her eyes. She said that she had been really nasty to a previous boyfriend, pushing him to see if he "really loved" her. She doesn't do that with the current one, but was horrified to realize that she might be doing the exact same thing with her weight: seeing if he would leave her if she got fat. I've seen a number of really sexy slinky women who made bad choices in men do the same thing: they blamed their bodies instead of their judgement, got fat and feel happy that they are finally loved for themselves. So sad: they could have had both, with a little extra insight into human nature.

Whatever has held back Susan Boyle, my guess is that she's going to get a make-over like you wouldn't believe. And that "never been kissed" line (which I don't believe) won't apply much longer. Is it sad that she'd have to do that? Anyone who thinks it is must love swimming upstream, and I worry for you. Animals groom and display and build nests. Human beings have the capability to abstract and find many unconventional things to be beautiful and powerful. But I've never met a woman who complained about men seeking beauty who did not herself judge men according to external, shallow standards. Or a man who complained about money-grubbing women who was not himself hungering for beauty. The people who are genuinely at peace on this matter seem to understand the game, and are amused by the fact that others are as enmeshed in it as chinchillas. You can spot the ones trapped in the game because they say things like "men are so..." or "women are so..."

As opposed to "human beings are so..." with a real sense of affectionate appreciation for the fact that we're angels built on an animal chassis.

I think we're pretty cool, actually.


Does anyone out there know about the mathematics of bookmaking? I've never really gambled, but have a character, an ex-bookie, brilliant at math, who needs to lay a bet at 3-1 odds, and I need to justify his reasons for believing its a good bet. Help?


Pagan Topologist said...

Write me on the 5mm board, and I will see if I can help. Or, if you want to do it publicly, explain the bet here. If I can't figure it out, I bet Marty can.

David Bellamy

(Argent'horn on 5mm)

suzanne said...

you continue to crack me up, Steve!
one of the reasons I love you.

now about Susan Boyle:
if you watched her USA TV appearance
you might have noticed evidence of her brain damage. . .

plus I expect it has something to do with her appearance
as well

as you know
from any contact
with someone with CP
brain damage can cause
the body to be different. . .

* * *

and so
are you equating
"plump red lips"
with the red nether regions
of female primates in estrus?!!!

I haven't had any lipstick on
or any other make-up
for probably close to 50 years now
and it hasn't seemed to affect
my ability to attract loving men

a woman's "power" is not necessarily measured
in income, beauty, number of windows in her penthouse office . . .

nor for that matter, is a man's

just my thoughts on
your thoughts
this morning

Pagan Topologist said...

BTW, following up on a conversation I had last night with another regular poster here, I suppose the ideas "Women are so..." or "Men are so..." should perhaps be reframed as "Our culture does its best to stymie our reproductive success. Why does it?" I myself was conditioned so very strongly as a teenager NEVER to make sexual approaches to girls that I am still not over it. After the age of 50, I fell into a good relationship purely by accident. But the early conditioning I had still interferes with this relationship.

This is the real reason I thought that something like Ross Jeffries' Speed Seduction courses would have been so helpful to me when I was younger, since they might have helped me break through the feeling of being completely unworthy of any female attention other than Platonic. I certainly am sensitive to the idea that using NLP to manipulate a woman into sex is unethical, so I am still stymied with regard to how to effectively communicate such feelings. And, of course, I have no answer to the extreme feminists who say that all sex between men and women is abusive because the relationship is inherently unequal.

I don't think my experience is unusual.

See You At Santa Anita said...

Bookmaking is nothing more than taking bets and keeping more money than has to be paid out based on the odds of the outcome from the number of players or contestants. The essential key in bookmaking is laying off enough bets on other bookmakers in the event the hit is too big to take individually. It's a form of pooling not unlike how various insurance companies spread the risks of whatever.

Take thoroughbred horse racing. Each horse is handicapped based on it's parentage and line, and the known stats of it's past runs, training times, potential, and other factors. Each factor goes to establish it's chances of winning when running with other horses in it's class and their individual stats. All of this determines where it stands in the morning-line (early handicapping). Once betting begins the odds will change more or less, slightly or greatly, depending on how the individual bettors bet. All of this goes into what's known as a parimutual pool and divided by how the bets have been made by betting stratagems of win, place, show, exacta, quinella, trifecta, etc., etc. When the race is over the pool is split among the winners according to dollars bet and type of bet based on the odds at the time the race went off.

The bookie makes out several ways, but in the final analysis paying out less than taking in and especially if too many hits are the result of too many bettors having picked the long shots should they come in.

Pagan Topologist said...

I tried yesterday to join Susan Boyle's facebook fan page, but for some reason facebook would not let me. Still won't let me today.

Marty S said...

Steve: While Santa Anita is right about bookies laying off bets to protect themselves I get the impression that the character in the story is not functioning as a bookie at the point he makes this 3-1 bet. If the character is supposed to be mathematically brilliant and using math to justify the bet then you looking for a mathematical model to justify his decision much like Charley comes up with a model for every situation on Numbers. There are many mathematical models that you could use to estimate odds. The problem in trying suggest one for you to use in the novel is that it would depend upon what you were betting on, what type of information was available and how much information was available. For instance if you were setting odds on a horse race all kinds of information about the horse, jockey, trainer, track and other horses in the race would be available and a data intensive technique like a classification tree might be appropriate. This would not be appropriate if the bet were on something where less historical data was available. So I would need to no more about the circumstances under which the bet is being made to recommend a sensible model. If you want to give me more details I can be reached at and I would try to come up with an appropriate suggestion for your character and his circumstances.

Marty S said...

Oops! That's know more about the circumstances

See You At Santa Anita said...

Yeah. What Marty said, and more. Lets look at the question once again.

"Does anyone out there know about the mathematics of bookmaking? I've never really gambled, but have a character, an ex-bookie, brilliant at math, who needs to lay a bet at 3-1 odds, and I need to justify his reasons for believing its a good bet. Help.

Knowing what kind of bet, that is, what kind of event is being bet upon helps. There are mathematical formulas of of bookmaking that take Chance and Probability into mind, but a "sure bet" is awfully close to bet rigging, unless a sucker bet is involved.

Even with sure bets you have to consider a VERY crucial thing an that is how much is the human-element involved and is this element on your cheating or statistical side. Knowing which key player has a kept-quiet injury or which jockey or jockeys are susceptible to bribery might be good to know. The more human-element that's involved, the more or less the betting and winning pendulum can swing if it's something you can manipulate. Take greyhound racing where the human-element is all but nil.

Lets just say I might have known someone that tried to manipulate the outcome. With eight dogs in the race you're going to have at least to heavy favorites going off at least 2/1 or less, a few going off between 3/1-8/1, and a few long shots at 9/1 and longer. By screwing up the field with high-frequency electronic warfare measures or as simple as a dog whistle at whatever you feel is the right moment given how all eight run at the quarter, backstretch, far turn, and down the stretch you can feasibly knockout the favorites and have a string of long shots come in and recoup what would be a $1,680.00 bet if you superfecta boxed the entire field. You get a large enough superfecta betting pool at the bigger of tracks you can be looking at $20-$50K, minus your initial investment. Thing is, you'd be testing an unknown factor of dog reactions. You could conceivably SPEED UP the first four favorites or any combination of events that would downgrade a positive-return. That's why they call it gambling. In any event you'd win SOMETHING back because you bet the entire field.

So, what kind of sporting event ARE you talking about?

Nancy Lebovitz said...

On weight and what's considered attractive by men: a comparison of Sports Illustrated swimsuit models from 1965 and 2008. Short version: 1965 is normal-thin, 2008 is probably close to the lower limit of what's healthy.

While granting that people exaggerate what the other sex wants (I think some male body-builders don't get that women don't generally want that much muscle), I've seen enough accounts by women who say they get a lot more sexual attention when they're deep in anorexia or very thin from being sick to be convinced that our society is very far from sane on the subject.

Alternate theory about Susan Boyle: her genes aren't so different from her mother, so she has a similar body type. Maybe my ideas about appearance are corrupted by fat acceptance, but I assumed that Susan Boyle be at least fairly fat. She's just barely plump. She isn't entertainer-thin, that's all.

Do women get sabotaged mostly by beta men? My impression is that alphas are at least as much of a hazard.

mjholt said...

The math of bookmaking is complex. Andrew Beyer is an author of many books on betting horse races. He does not has a system per se, or at least he didn't in the 1990s when I bought his books for my dad. Beyer is a good place to start. He puts out about a book a year. He will lead you to others.

mjholt said...

What happens to women happens to men. I think that only a very few men are basically screwing everyone else. There are no princes in this kingdom only grifters. If a man wants to know where the next pothole in life is, watch the women around him. It is a social hierarchy issue, not biology.

Today's evidence is Men bear the brunt of US jobs lost .

Unknown said...

I'd estimate more like 85% of the time for your beauty/power transaction - less, if you consider how many couples are making a roughly equal trade.

When I was bottom-of-the-healthy range thin, I got, of course, more sexual attention from men than I do now that I'm 21 years married and in my 40s (I'd worry if I got that much attention from men as a married woman), but I did get more envious remarks from women than men who seemed particularly attracted to my degree of thin. Even most of the men I dated were also happy to date women heavier than me. On the other hand, some men really preferred my Twiggy figure. So men who go for model-level thin are a non-trivial minority, even if they're not nearly as common as the photos in women's magazines would lead you to believe.

And, of course, I have no answer to the extreme feminists who say that all sex between men and women is abusive because the relationship is inherently unequal.Eh, even Andrea Dworkin ended her life in apparently mutually supportive marriage to a man; I think that variety of extreme feminist is rare enough, even among feminists, that you can just ignore them, Pagan.

B the II said...

while others are infatuated with sex, nlp and betmaking, i want to refer back to mindless drubbery and destruction onscreen from the B-Action-Movie king:

Anonymous said...

"are you equating
"plump red lips"
with the red nether regions
of female primates in estrus?!!!"

The comparison appears sound to me. I'd also venue the hypothesis that glossy red lips and swollen red labia and clitorises depress similar neural triggers. Researchers have established that primates use specialized "face recognition" greyware to identify faces (this sometimes backfires, deceiving us into perceiving faces on Mars or in tortillas). Is the premise of "sexual orifice recognition" greyware less credible? And of course men often use both sets of female lips similarly. Is the idea that fellatio's pleasure partly derives from the lips sparking the same synapses as vaginas so farfetched.
Concerning twigs curves and female self-sabotage, I'd be interested in your thoughts on another once-hot Boyle: Laura-Flynn. When The Practice began, her scorching hot physique was reason alone to stomach an hour of pontificating pseudo-lawyers. Then she got thinner..and thinner..By the time The Practice ended, one might have thought it was suing Nazis on behalf of Holocaust survivors, to judge from Flynn's grotesque emaciated physique. Baring fetishivists and sadists, I find it extremely hard to believe that many men find starved bonewracks erotic. I'm inclined to take Boyle's career nosedive post-Practice as confirmation that my distaste for staved women is broadly shared among male viewership. As with Susan, could Laura Flynn be subconsciously sabotaging her sexuality and success?