June 8th, 2005
|12:33 pm - There's a common theme running through these, but I can't tell what it is|
1. I'm not going to shut up about this for a while: if you enjoy logic puzzles, whether or not you think you're any good at them, register (register! register! register!) for the online qualifying test for the World Puzzle Championships, taking place at 1pm EDT on Saturday 18th June. If you're positively predisposed towards puzzles - if you're enjoying the Su Doku craze - then don't worry about the competition and you'll still enjoy the test.
Practice is going well. Yesterday I resat the 2000 qualifying test which I hadn't looked at for five years. I scored 120 and it would've been 145 but for a copying error. In 2000, I scored 55 on it, with the top British score being only 90 and the top US score being 220. Perhaps having seen the puzzles before helps a lot, but this is pretty good progress. British folk, 55 was enough to get me onto the British team in 2000; if you can score anything like 55 on the 2000 test - that's just four or five puzzles in 2½ hours - then you really are UK team calibre.
2. At least four people on my Friends list make, or have made, at least part of their living by teaching people how to do well on the SAT, GRE or similar college-entry tests. Now this shouldn't be surprising because y'all are damn smart, but would you like to get to know each other? Is there a community where you can hang out, share tips, find employment in the field and so on? (And why don't you use the WPC online qualifier as a test for logical thinking skills?)
4. 284,376 LJ accounts, according to the stats, list that the poster is based in the state of Massachusetts (a state with lots of smart people and puzzle fans, who might enjoy the WPC qualifying test). The number of people in Massachusetts with LJ accounts will be lower than that, because people may well have more than one account, but it will be higher than you would expect based on that, because there will be people in MA with accounts who have not listed them as being in MA. Accordingly, let's guess at 200,000 and regard that guess as conservative.
The population of MA is something like 6.2 million. Accordingly at least 3% of people in MA have a LiveJournal, and it seems likely that at least, ooh, 6%-10% of people in MA know what LiveJournal is. These are tremendously high proportions - LJ is approaching being mainstream! (Based on this post to lj_research.)
5. Talking of the stats, you might observe that there are 2.2 million LJ accounts registered male, 4.5 million registered female and 2.1 million registered unspecified. total: 8.8 million. However, there are a total of 7.35 million LJ accounts! What's the discrepancy due to? A vexing puzzle of the sort that you won't find on any online qualifying tests for the World Puzzle Championships.
I asked support and got an answer back quite quickly. It's probably impolite to quote, so you'll have to trust that I'm not misrepresenting the position when I say I was told that the million-and-a-half account discrepancy can be attributed to accounts that have been deleted and possibly purged in the past. Perhaps we can use this figure to estimate some sort of LiveJournal churn percentage. (It is not clear whether those deleted accounts are included in the 284,376 figure quoted above or not.)
6. The BBC report research suggesting that the difficulty some women have in reaching orgasm may be genetic and hint that it's possible that there might be drug therapy some day which could help those who have found that even the most desired partner (if any) and the best technique are not sufficient. This is entirely cheering news and I hope that some appropriate drugs without hazardous side-effects can be discovered. One would expect that such a drug would be bigger news than Viagra.
However, it does illustrate a double standard in me and I'm worried about this. I am not embarrassed by adverts for Viagra, but should such a drug treatment eventually exist, I can't imagine that adverts for it wouldn't be horribly embarrassing. I don't think this is a double standard of mine along gender lines, it's more that the concept of "do something you used to be able to do" is less embarrassing than the concept of "do something you've never been able to do and you feel you're less of a person because of it" - a similar product for men who've never experienced orgasm would be just as embarrassing. I don't know why I feel this way; perhaps it's because it's closer to a purely hedonistic drug than we have legally yet reached. (ETA: I think I've worked this out. See comment.) Cough cough World Puzzle Championship qualifying test.
Current Mood: puzzling
I think that's not valid, because for most of human history the competitive environment has been different from the comparatively odd state of affairs during the last couple of millennia.
For her point to hold, it would need to be the case that a woman's decision to have or not have children was significantly influenced by whether she would achieve orgasm during conception.
eh what? I don't see how your argument responds to mine, so maybe I've not stated it properly.
I thought you were saying above ("female orgasm presumably promotes reproduction") that you thought a woman's ability to have children was significantly influenced by whether or not she would achieve orgasm during conception.
This author is saying that if that were so, then a putative non-orgasming trait would have died out long ago -- because the women with it would have always been less likely to have children (and so pass it on) than those without it. She concludes that as the gene reportedly hasn't died out, therefore women's ability to orgasm can't make any difference to reproductive success.
I'm happy to believe that you see a flaw in this reasoning, but you'll have to spell it out for me in more steps...
OK, let's see if I can clarify a bit...
These first two points apply to animals:
1) All other things being equal, more sex means more sprogs which means the species is collectively 'fitter' in an evolutionary sense.
2) I conjecture that more sex is likely to occur when both partners enjoy it than if only one does.
3) Once conscious family planning becomes a factor, it's not clear to me that points 1 and 2 continue to apply. Therefore the trait ceases to have impact on selection and it's not clear that it would necessarily be selected out.
Hmm, I don't think that works, because if (1) and (2) are true, the trait must be eliminated long before (3) becomes a factor.
My rough calculation suggests that if (1) and (2) are true, then even if the trait is initially 99.99% prevalent and confers only a 1% reproductive disadvantage, it will be effectively eliminated in fewer than the first 1000 generations. Yet any sort of (3)-type effective family planning has only existed for a very recent fraction of human evolutionary history.
So my conclusion is that either (2) is incorrect, or some combination of (2) and the 'other things being equal' part of (1) is incorrect, eg. "reproductive" sex is distinct from "non-reproductive" sex in not being governed by (2).
This latter leads into my own favoured hypothesis, which is that female orgasm is a tool in mate selection -- its existence encourages women to select men who are likely to be generally attentive.
Of course, it's also possible that it serves no evolutionary purpose at all and is just a curiosity.
Alternatively, the measured heritable variation in ability to orgasm may be caused not by physical or direct psychological factors, but by heritability of selecting poor (inattentive) lovers.
Not convinced by your sums there. By that argument, almost all genetic diseases wouldn't exist !