Who’d’a thunk it? The game theory of everything is also good for winning at games.

You can’t win if Gus Hansen already did.Photo by: ND Strupler

I was talking to Sindre Paulsen this morning about a Chess tournament he’s been watching. What seems to be happening is this: A Cd player has worked out how to take charge of his Ci competition by pumping up the D.

Why would this work? Because Ci can easily be transcribed as “perfect planning” – and a good plan today beats a perfect plan tomorrow.

That’s the Madelyn Nguyen theory of egoism, and I like it so much that I wrote a song about it (with baritone backing vocals in parentheses):

You can’t win if Madelyn Nguyen already did.
    (You can’t win. If she just did.)
You can’t win if Madelyn Nguyen already did.
    (You can’t win. She just did.)
She’s a super-hero but when you look at her
  all you see is a kid.
    (You think. She’s just a kid.)

Here’s the deal: DISC-my-way is the game theory of everything, and, accordingly, it’s also really good for winning games.


That’s the DISC of Poker, but it’s also the DISC of any game – from board games to salesmanship to romance. If values can be won or lost by skill or guile, this is how the spoils get spilled.

Understanding people is of less value in rigid, transparent games like Chess or Go – and this is why they are so beloved of Cautious temperaments.

Understanding people matters everything in Poker, and that’s why high-C’s try to play the game as rigidly as they can – the Sklansky strategy, tight-aggressive.

That’s their leak, though, as Gus Hansen lives to demonstrate. C is cautious, D is bold. C is deliberate and risk-verse. D is reckless. Hansen consistently kicks the asses of some of the best Ci players in professional Poker by being a Di with an Id affected table image. Who can get a read on a wild man? Who can even put him on cards?

And this may be the best long-term strategy for winning at board or card games. Don’t grind up against Ci’s, ever, not without huge pot-odds: They never tire of shaling away. But play as a Di and (more…)

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Want to be a better, more-perfect version of yourself? Master something difficult this year.

In Latin we can say, “Educere est educare” – to bring up is to bring out – to cultivate your mind is to liberate it, to lead it forevermore away from the slavery of ignorance. No matter what your pedigree, unless you were very lucky you were cheated of an education when you were young. This is the year you can begin to amend that deficit.Photo by: Sodanie Chea

I always love to read about the outrageously nefarious bad guys who are doing all the things we hate. Doesn’t matter who “we” are, since the bad guys afflicting every “we” are always blindingly brilliant, amazingly competent masterminds of evil.

I guess it’s useful to exaggerate your opposition, but here’s the thing:

Everyone I remember from school was a fuck-up.

Start with a good solid two-thirds compliant drones, dutifully going through whatever motions seemed to be required. Maybe half of the rest were glib and lazy. Even the straight-A apple-polishers were just phoning it in, doing the minimum necessary to get the grade from the glib-and-lazy grown-up teaching the class.

Am I misrepresenting the world of education? Is there anything you can think of that you did in school that you’re truly proud of now. Away from athletics or the school play, was there anything in your academic life that you gave everything you had? Was there anyone else who did that?

Was there any class that you took – ever – where you had to bust ass every day or risk get hopelessly lost? And when you got to that class, was that the end of your forward progress in that discipline?

The kids from the hard side of the quad – the maths, the sciences – know what I’m talking about. The kids from the soft side of the quad – the arts, the social sciences – may be recalling a graceless exit from the maths and sciences.

But the truth is that virtually all of us were denied the kind of education that was a matter of expected routine for our grandparents. Partly this is our fault: Too often we were grade-greedy glib-and-lazy (more…)

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A brief history of the four most-intellectually-productive years of my life: 2017.

I had four great years this year, in three disciplines: Character, education and aestethics/fiction.

Click the links to learn what you’ve missed. You can study me now or later, with the only difference being the Splendor you will have lost out on by insisting that I can’t teach you anything. No skin off my nose, either way – and my nose could spare some.

The whole of my year is summarized in that photo caption, and the summary is summarized in four short words:

Goodness breeds more good.

That sounds treacly and platitudinous, but in fact it’s a recapitulation of the demography of DISC:

Only Ds marriages reliably produce Ds or Sd offspring. In the absence of Ds civilization, all other marital strategies are self-extinguishing, over time. Ci, currently the social ideal, is suicidally infecund.

Another way of saying the same thing:

Goodness breeds more good because hope and love attract and retain, where fear and fascination imprison by incessant rejection.

And another:

Rancorous transactions do not recur, absent compulsion, so every new goodness is in part an accretion of accumulated past goodness.

There’s more, and I mean a lot of it, but you’ll either learn it or you won’t. I grow regardless.

Hope is family. Family is hope. I leave you with this poem, from Dusty, as a summary of everything I know that is worth knowing:

Poetry is leadership.
Leadership is love.
Love is family.
Family is hope.
And hope is poetry.

Happy New Year! Make the most of it.

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It’s the Solstice, when the way to a woman’s Festivus is Guyfood: Chocolate Chip Upside Down Cake.

“Ghirardelli” is an Italian word that means “Now, baby.”

By the rhythms of life imposed upon us by Earth’s climate, the Solstice is the time and the season for loving. Short days, and it’s difficult to work outdoors. Long nights, when there are better things to do than sleep – and better ways to stay warm. We are meant to mate this time of year – this so mom isn’t ready to harvest until after the rest of the crops are in.

Now you could tell her all that, and – who knows? – you just might get lucky.

Or you could bake her a cake, instead:


(A Guyfood recipe, with everything in parentheses being irrelvant.)

(Guyfood is the bachelor style of cooking guys bring to their marriages. It consists either of routinized glorified dog food – frequently ‘prepared’ in the oven or microwave – OR of improvisational excellence – where excellence is defined as the perfect meal or perfect garbage.)

Step 1. Mix up a cake-mix cake.

(White, Yellow or Chocolate/DevilsFood – not Spice or Carrot or GuiltRiddenKaleCake. Follow the directions on the box. You can swap in applesauce and separated eggs, if you insist, but don’t get cute: It’s a cake. It consists of sugar and white flour. It’s never going to be health food.)

Step 2. Pour the batter into a sheet cake pan.

(A cake is a cake – and baking layers won’t get you more laid. Cupcakes offer a titrated dose of incipient permafat, but that seems like a lot of extra work to me. My take is that a Guyfood cookie is one giant sheet of a cookie that you divvy up with a pizza cutter.)

Step 3. Sprinkle evenly with one cup of miniature dark-chocolate chips.

(Buy the best and darkest chocolate you can afford. “Ghirardelli” is an Italian word that means “Now, baby.” You want the teeny-tiny ones, the size of a BB, not a bean. And you want to sprinkle them evenly because they’re headed straight down to the bottom from where you put them. Chocolate chips will stay put and melt in place in (more…)

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The true story of Christmas? Joseph didn’t dump the baby and ditch Mary.

It’s Christmas because Joseph knew why fatherhood matters, and why you can’t throw it away – even if that seems easy.Photo by: frankieleon

A Ramblin’ Gamblin’ Willie story

Sunday, December 24, 2017 –
Christmas Eve

A lot of folks credit the Bible’s accounting of the Christmas story, but it seems absurd to me.

I’ll grant all the physical details – census and manger and ungulates – stipulating that stories always improve: Just a few years later, Jesus had to walk all the way to Antarctica and back, just to get to school.

A light in the sky? Why not. We’ve been watching them all year.

Hosts of angels? Celestial choirs? Please.

Kings giving riches away? To a paupered infant? No strings attached? See someone after the holidays: You’re delusional.

I don’t like the idea of any gods – period – because divinity is a notion that undermines humanity: We are not self-responsible moral agents pursuing the enduring grace only self-responsible moral agency can engender. Instead we are the gods’ little tin soldiers, living only their will but never our own. This is palpably false to fact, but it’s a good way to try to escape blame for choosing the opposites of grace – or to excuse those choices in others.

Whatever. Each man to his own saints. It’s the underlying story of Christmas that I find interesting.

When someone tells you a preposterous lie, you know that person is hiding something – typically a moral failure, from a faux pas to genocide. When other people insist you must uphold that lie – by not daring to challenge it – that’s the baby form of The Big Lie: Not ethics, politics. Not truth, policy.

So, as an inveterate reader of Ramblin’ Gamblin’ Willie stories, when the high priest insists that the knocked-up teenager was inseminated by god by remote-control – which alternative theory of the pregnancy leaps to your mind? When he demands that you and everyone must go along with the lie – pretend to give the preposterous a divine posterity – what then?

Here is the story of Christmas, told Willie’s way:

Joseph and Mary were madly in love and ripe (more…)

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If you’re looking this Christmas for hope, love, family and redemption – have I got news for you.

Loco Engineering: Goodness breeds more good.“We plant oak trees so there will be tire swings for toddlers we will never meet. We are good for the sake of goodness, but goodness breeds more good. The job of humanity is to plant – and to cultivate – the seeds of humanity. Why? So someday – every day – there will be strong branches for toddlers to swing from.”Photo by: TimER

I see things no one sees. I say things no one says. I do things no one does. Someday that will matter. For now, it just is. But when it’s Christmas, I write Christmas stories. This year I wrote a lot of them.

If you’re alone this Christmas or if you’re stuck in an airport or if you just have some time to read – have I got news for you.

This is Willie’s Christmas this year, in the order the stories appeared:

Dusty: An elegy of hope and love. – How to get the hell out of Hades and rebirth humanity in Phoenix, where it belongs.

How I got thrown out of Walmart at Christmas for unauthorized salesmanship. – A guide to buying your son some fatherhood for Christmas.

Fifty Shades of Bubba: Christmas at The Sex Addiction Clinic of Misfit Celebrities. – Six degrees of diabolical, with all the names you know and love.

Ladybug’s Christmas dismissal: “The best argument against women in the workplace? Women in the workplace.” – “The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity.” Like that, but with barflies.

Blow Hard: How The Meshugonoph Grabbed Festivus. – ‘Die Hard’ by way of ‘The Three Little Pigs’ by way of ‘The Grinch.’ There’s a Master’s Degree worth of other literary and cultural references in there, among all the rude jokes. (Here’s a printable PDF rendition.)

Cultivating oak trees – for Christmas: “Unbroken things can survive unbroken forever.” – A toddler teaches a Brophy Boy how to stay married forever.

Need even more Willie? Who doesn’t?

I wrote a lot of other stories this year, along with a lot of non-fiction. Besides Dusty, I have two (more…)

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Cultivating oak trees – for Christmas: “Unbroken things can survive unbroken forever.”

“It’s the same with love at first sight: If you don’t break it, it’s never broken. And if it’s your first love, you’ll never have a broken heart – another impossibility. And the same can go for her, too: The rarest marriage of all, love at first sight that lasts forever for two never-broken hearts.”Photo by: Johan Hansson

A Ramblin’ Gamblin’ Willie story

Thursday, December 21, 2017

“How do you explain love at first sight, Josh?”

That was me talking. We were sitting at the tables outside the indoor playground at The Arrowhead Mall – almost completely separated from the Christmas hordes, but with full view of all the kids. And that ambush style of questioning is something I learned from my mammy: Not “Do you have a girlfriend?” but “What’s your girlfriend’s name?” The first question invites a lie, the second a blurt – where a blurt is a truth that accidentally escaped from jail.

But Josh didn’t blurt, he just stammered. He’s fun to torment, but I try not to be cruel about it. The hardest job any man can do – so hard he’ll never want to talk about it – is figuring out how to take things to the next level with a woman he doesn’t dare lose.

“It’s survivorship bias. Easy to see as soon as you listen to what people actually say: They met. They were initially attracted to each other, and that never stopped. Neither ever lost interest in the other, and they never broke up. Only people with that history can tell that story, so they’re the only ones who do.”

“Got it,” he said. “And that’s so rare, everyone else says it’s impossible.”

I smirked. “People can be ready to fail long before they get the opportunity. Any excuse will do.”

The mall was packed with people – and steadily more unpacked with stuff. This is my third Christmas driving the choo choo train, and I’ve never had more traffic to navigate.

Tegan and Josh had come to pick me up, to take me to a family thing at his house. That’s a big levelling-up deal, and I (more…)

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