Thursday, May 21, 2009

Far West Open Accelerated Dragon-Maroczy Bind

This win got me to Board one in the final round of a big tournament recently. I was happy with my results from the Far West Open since I hadn't played any rated games in six months. This game was against a chap named Robert Rettenmaier. I played the White pieces and we got into a Hyper Accelerated Dragon. I choose to play the Maroczy Bind and we developed very naturally until the Queen came out to a5 and I began working on Nd5 tactics.

Needless to say he fell into the trap and I was able to win the ending. Although I gave back many chances for equality and missed a five move pattern which picks off a rook. It was still a good win for me and gave me confidence that i could win my section in the evening!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Sexual Selection

I will be posting some games as soon as I settle on a PGN viewer which I wont struggle to understand. In the meantime i've been reading alot of Darwin lately, specifically his under-represented work "The Descent of Man and Selection in Relation to Sex"

Charles Darwin had a hard time buying the idea that the differences in human ethnic groups could be accounted for strictly through natural selection. His research is often over-looked for fears of backlash on the motivations of the research. Darwin even made sure to be careful how he approached the subject, but in the end realized that scientific solutions to unanswered questions were paramount to the advance of evolutionary theory.

Natural selection runs into problems as an all-encompassing solution to human variation.If it could in fact explain the most basic of racial differences:skin color, and eye color, hair, we should in fact see that trait eventually in other parts of the world with similar environmental conditions. Scientists could then come to a conclusion on say... the advantage of blue eyes, as opposed to competing eye colors.

The run of the mill explanation is that skin color is largely influenced by the rays of the sun. In fact it is true that if those with light-skin stay in the sun too long they will increase their chances of skin cancer. Therefore it makes "obvious" sense that this is the main reason for skin variation in the equatorial regions where sunlight is at its maximum strength.

But truth be told skin cancer causes very few deaths, even when light-skinned peoples are exposed to the sun for extended periods. As the author Jared Diamond puts it "As agents of natural selection, they have an utterly trivial impact compared to infectious diseases of childhood (the Third Chimpanzee 114)". I wont get into the ideas associated with vitamin D deficientcies and over-absorbtion, just know that the theory runs a similar vein with little natural selection measures to back it up.

The deepest objection revolves around the idea that the connection between dark-skin and sunny environments is very inconsistent. Another J.D. example revolves around the fact that natives of tasmania have very dark skin even though they live in an area with very little sun light. Even in equatorial South American you don't get any dark skin attributes resembling sub-saharan African skin tones.

The objection to this complain is the time factor. Some have suggested that there hasn't been enough time for these traits to take hold. If that is the case then how do we account for blonde haired, blue-eyed Scandinavians? They have only been able to populate these northern areas for about 9,000 years. That is since the pirmafrost receeded and we start finding human remains. Why is it that we find such diverse variation in Scandinavians so quickly? the answer seems to be posed by Darwin.

Sexual Selection

Here is a quick peek at what others have said in regards to S.S.

Charles Darwin conjectured that the male beard, as well as the relative hairlessness of humans compared to nearly all other mammals, are results of sexual selection. He reasoned that since, compared to males, the bodies of females are more nearly hairless, hairlessness is one of the atypical cases due to its selection by males at a remote prehistoric time, when males had overwhelming selective power, and that it nonetheless affected males due to genetic correlation between the sexes. He also hypothesized that sexual selection could also be what had differentiated between different human races, as he did not believe that natural selection provided a satisfactory answer.

Geoffrey Miller, drawing on some of Darwin's largely neglected ideas about human behavior, has hypothesized that many human behaviors not clearly tied to survival benefits, such as humor, music, visual art, verbal creativity, and some forms of altruism, are courtship adaptations that have been favored through sexual selection. In that view, many human artefacts could be considered subject to sexual selection as part of the extended phenotype, for instance clothing that enhance sexually selected traits.

Some hypotheses about the evolution of the human brain argue that it is a sexually selected trait, as it would not confer enough fitness in itself relative to its high maintenance costs (a quarter to a fifth of the energy and oxygen consumed by a human).Related to this is vocabulary, where humans, on average, know far more words than are necessary for communication. Miller (2000) has proposed that this apparent redundancy is due to individuals using vocabulary to demonstrate their intelligence, and consequently their “fitness”, to potential mates. This has been tested experimentally and it appears that males do make greater use of lower frequency (more unusual) words when in a romantic mindset compared to a non-romantic mindset, meaning that vocabulary is likely to be used as a sexual display (Rosenberg & Tunney, 2008).

The evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins has speculated that the loss of the penis bone in humans, when it is present in other primates, may be due to sexual selection by females looking for an honest advertisement of good health in prospective mates. Since a human erection relies on a hydraulic pumping system, erection failure is a sensitive early warning of certain kinds of physical and mental ill health.

The photo of this Japanese "blonde" is interesting as individuals have been able through cosmetic techniques to aquire traits for Sexual Selection. The Japanese being on an isolated island for 1,000s of years lack the genetic diversity that many ethnic groups hold. Differentiation is now able to be enhanced by hair dyes, color contact lenses and a large assortment of easily accessible methods to stand out and attract a mate.

In the past this wasn't the case. Humans were able to select traits of which specific groups found to be attractive and then cultivated those traits within the population.

I will go into more detail at a future time. This is a primer for more advanced discussion on this and other topics.

My next post may be strictly Chess based!

A Different Approach

I'm not sure if this will last but I had the urge to blog again. this time it will be a bit different. The demise of my former blog was more a testament to the futility of my computer skills. I prefer to show my games through a PGn viewer but have too much trouble getting them to post. Therefore I would rarely post and lost interest.

This time around I will be looking for the easiest version of game viewer and try to figure it out. This might end up being more about my ideas on issues or subjects of Anthropology and related topics than Chess. But let's see how things shape up. I view Chess as being interesting and quite daunting. I've become relatively proficient without much practice and have recently been working a bit harder and putting in some more time on the game.

In the end though it remains a game to me, not all that important, but fun to write about! I find myself more interested in learning about Social Stratification, Political Leadership and Warfare(from a scientific point of view) as well as the often misunderstood ideas of Sexual Selection.

My Chess game is something in my life that i can attempt to monitor and improve while having fun along the way. In recent news I came out of a six month hybernation to compete in the Far West Open and played on board one in the last round of my section. Took home 3rd place out of thirty some-odd people, felt like my game was solid for my rating and I'm now moving forward.

When I have White I have always played 1E4. These openings tend to favor the type of positions which I enjoy playing. I'm currently seeking to improve my middlegame strategy and mindset as well as improving my clock management skills. Two areas I feel are lacking in my game. My endgame is solid for my level and my Opening knowledge surpasses pretty much everyone in my class.

That's my Chess story in a nutshell.

There are very few people that understand what goes on in my head. If I tell people some of my ideas briefly they typically disagree or more often reject them out of hand when they conflict with societal norms which they have accepted as fact. i understand this for I too succumb to the conformity associated with the social contract between people in proximity of one another.

When I started studying American Pragmatism I was really interested with the ideas of so-called pragmatic ideology. William James interested me most, I loved the way he viewed philosophy and the material world in general. "give me an idea I can ride" he would say, which was so important to my absurd quest for clarification.

As I enhanced my study of ideas I came to assimilate a bizarre mix of existentialist as well as pragmatic religious ideas of identity. As I tried to get inside the mind of some of the World's most explosive thinkers it really enriched my own sense of individual subjectivity. In other words I began to be more aware of my own sense of agency.

I have yet to really meet anyone that would agree with me on many issues. I prefer to let the ideas of the mobs repel me. Most "other" Christians tend to find my feelings on the Divine to be irreconcilible with the accepted canon. This tends to humble me for I can see that their sense of identity is tied closer to established norms than say an experience with the sublime elements of existence.

Atheists tend to become frustrated with my firm acceptance of evolutionary tenets and a complimentary love for the Creator. How can someone cross these seemingly polar lines and straddle the fence. chris you're trying to have your cake and eat it too" or something to that sentiment.

How can you be so attracted to the writing of Camus but at the same time find such value in the Bible? The answer to that question is lengthy and not all that clear in reality. the thing to keep in mind is that as we seek to define the borders of "things" whether it be ideology, race, class, etc. We have this troublesome grey area. Unavoidable ambiguity will exist to some degree whenever a line is drawn and a classification is made.

Scholars that have embraced the now ubiquitous ideas of "The Cultural Turn" navigate the waters of direct experience in a more holistic and refined methodology then that of their predecessors. Scholars in the Post-Modern world realize that Language and symbols are unable to give us access to direct experience. They can only reveal the complexity devoted to Meaning.

All of this is well and good, but the question remains, is anyone still reading? if not I don't blame you. Would sound like ramblings for the most part. Much of this needs a proper introduction and isn't done justice with a few quick paragraphs. My point was simply to think outloud a bit. Let you get an idea of Chris and his mind.

Of course its not all intellectual self-awareness that I contemplate. I get out and have a great time! Love to meet cute girls as much as the next guy. Enjoy the simple pleasures in life, a laugh, a drink,a song I can dance to, friends I can be immature with, the typical stereotype guy, in many regards. Introductions are difficult, especially when you aren't sure whom is listening.

We can talk about Chess again! In fact, next thursday at the Reno Chess Club we begin the annual Class Championships. I wasn't going to play because I have been pretty content the last few weeks working on my game with my coach and on my own. But it should be fun and keep me sharp. I should probably be playing in Class B. But there is only one other B player at the club and wasn't really interesting with a six week match with him. So being rated like 1590 something currently I will seek to defend my title in Class C.

I think that's good for now. let's see how this blog idea pans out.

until next time