Friday, August 19, 2016

Defining Alpha and Beta



One of the most confusing concepts I talk about on this blog is the idea of "alpha" versus "beta." Without a doubt, it is the single biggest misconstrued idea I talk about, mostly because there are all kinds of definitions of these terms used in popular culture. Biologists have a particular definition, different flavors of feminism have different definitions, the "manosphere" uses different definitions... it's pretty damn confusing.

So... here's my explanation. Alpha and Beta are two ends of a spectrum of male social hierarchy (I discussed Alpha Females in this post.) In any given situation, men will consciously or unconsciously organize in a hierarchy generally based on individual's ability to be effective leaders in that specific situation. In many cases, they will have a degree of expertise in that situation. The ranking below that top alpha is based on capability. The least-capable person occupies the bottom rung of the social hierarchy, and would be considered a beta male. 

The key, of course, is that the social hierarchy can and does change in different situations. The bottom-of-the-hierarchy beta can be the top alpha in a different situation. For men, the social ranking is all about effective leadership in getting shit done. That differs from women, who organize around an Alpha who keeps the group functioning socially. 

When I talk about "alpha traits" and "beta traits", I'm really describing the characteristics that cause men to rise up the hierarchy (alpha traits) or fall in the hierarchy (beta traits.) Generally speaking, the more alpha traits a dude can display across different situations, the more "alpha" he becomes and his sexual market value rises. Similarly, the more beta traits a dude displays across different situations, the more "beta" he becomes and his sexual market value falls. Ladder theory explains the ramifications of SMV


Our goal in San Diego Man Camp is to identify the traits that constitute "alpha", figure out how and why they work, figure out what impact these behaviors have on others, teach them, then practice whenever possible. This is what we mean when we say we want to teach men how to be better men. We're really teaching men how to be more effective leaders. 

Part of this process also involves teaching beta behaviors as something to recognize and avoid unless a situation warrants. For example, many "beta" traits like caring, compassion, cooperation, self-disclosure, peacefulness, etc. are necessary for long-term relationship success, parenting, or even leading. This shit is absolutely necessary, but a man has to establish an alpha frame before he can display beta traits. 


This is why we do what we do in the group.

Given the confusion on this topic, post any questions in the comments section and I'll answer them ASAP.






###

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Jason, Why Are There So Many Beta Males In The Ultrarunning World?


In the San Diego Man Camp Facebook group, we spend a lot of time discussing various hobbies. Many of us have at one time or another dabbled in the sport of ultrarunning. To the uninitiated, "ultrarunning" is participating in footraces of fifty kilometers or longer, often on trails. I'm intimately familiar with the sport as a participant and an analyst (it was the topic of my second book "Never Wipe Your Ass with a Squirrel".)

A few male and female ultrarunner friends, after reading this blog and my Sexpressionists blog, have noticed there seems to be a disproportionate number of beta males in the sport. I've made this same observation. In fact, my curiosity over this issue is what ultimately led me to start studying sex and gender issues again. 

What are some Possible Explanations?


There could be many reasons beta males are attracted to the sport, including:


  • "Running" itself is often deemed the opposite of "fighting" (think fight or flight), and people with stronger alpha tendencies are more likely to stick around and fight while people with more beta tendencies are more likely to flee. 
  • The activity itself lowers testosterone, which causes more beta behaviors to emerge. 
  • Ultrarunning requires hours upon hours of enduring physical pain in isolation. That combination tends to produce some really nice conditions to produce a therapeutic effect. I've found many (most?) ultrarunners have a lot of baggage from their past, and the long hours on the trails give them an opportunity to work through shit. Anyway, that baggage tends to be a) shit from childhood, or b) relationship angst. Both of these problems are synonymous with beta males.
  • The sport encourages participation over competition. For everyone but the elites, there's virtually no chance of winning an ultra. So everyone focuses on finishing to earn what amounts to a participation ribbon. That lack of competitiveness also lowers testosterone. 

How About Another Hypothesis?


I've noticed almost all of the "beta males" in ultrarunning don't quite fit the typical beta mold across the board. Maybe they're not real beta males. Maybe many of the dudes who appear to be betas are actually "Nice Guys", who are basically closeted natural alphas who, through the conditioning process of modern Western society, have internalized the idea that masculine behaviors are bad. Here are the reasons:

  • Ultrarunning is a "safe" sport in that it's non-violent (unlike my newer hobbies - Brazilian jiu jitsu, boxing, and mma.) This is a key as the beta male is exceptionally prone to the opinions of others and will avoid anything that will draw the ire of society.
  • It gives ample time to spend around attractive females in an asexual setting. "Nice Guy" beta males believe it is disrespectful to be sexually assertive with women, so they basically friendzone themselves by recruiting women as training partners, pacers, or crew members. They hope, by spending hours and hours with these women, they will eventually convince them of their worthiness as a mate (or fuck buddy.)
  • The females they are exposed to tend to be pretty fucking tough, thus more likely to be willing to take the lead in relationships and make decisions. "Nice Guy" beta males are petrified to make decisions because they're afraid of upsetting women, so they prefer to defer to women. They think they're empowering women. In reality, they're driving them insane
  • The closeted alpha "Nice Guy" beta can't totally hide his alpha tendencies, and ultrarunning feeds those primal alpha drives. Ultrarunning is a dangerous sport, especially the long mountain ultras. Death or severe injury is a real possibility, which is something alpha males thrive off. For the "Nice Guy" beta male, this provides his buried "alpha-ness" the danger and adventure fix it needs to keep him from going insane. 
  • The latter stages of long, hard ultras strips away all the niceties of humanity and reveals our true, primal self... and some men thrive off this. When it's 3am and you're seventy miles into a hundred miler, you're cold, hungry, fighting sleep deprivation, every part of your body in chafed and in pain, your emotional control is shot, life gets pretty fucking raw. Some men hate this spot. Some love it. Those who love it do so because it is the essence of masculinity - experiencing and overcoming incredibly difficult shit by continuing on. We don't get this opportunity in modern society barring freak accidents or natural disasters, so ultras give closeted alphas a change to prove their manhood. 
  • Attention. Ultras are, by design, really fucking stupid. The skillset required has little or no direct real-world application and they're stupidly difficult. To the general population, ultras appear to be insane. To the "Nice Guy" beta male, this attention fuels their need for external validation they should be getting from within.

How Do I Know If I'm One of These "Nice Guy" Beta Males/ Closeted Alphas?


Luckily, the warning signs are pretty clear, which makes it easy to distinguish between "Nice Guy" beta males who are really closeted alphas and actual natural beta males. "Nice Guys" have the following traits:

  • "Nice Guy" beta males are afraid of upsetting women because they believe it will ruin their chances for casual sex, dating, a long-term relationship, or sex within a long-term relationship. In other words, they're deathly afraid of rocking the pussy boat.
  • "Nice Guy" beta males have trouble understanding other males and their behaviors; they simply don't make sense. Things like cat-calling, fighting, bullying and teasing, or "peacocking" just seem like douchey behaviors that serve no purpose.
  • "Nice Guy" beta males do not understand why seemingly normal women fall for "bad boys."
  • When they enter into monogamous relationships with women, the sex always starts off good then slowly decreases in frequency and quality, to the point where all sex is "starfish sex." Intimate acts like kissing and blowjobs disappear. The "Nice Guy" will usually try anything and everything that would be considered a romantic gesture - being a better listener, buying her flowers, jewelry, lingerie, candles, exotic vacations... but none of it seems to help. Relationships tend to go like this
  • "Nice Guy" beta males have mates who tend to nag them all. the. time. 
  • "Nice Guy" males tend to have few if any male friends, nor do they spend time in all-male groups.
  • "Nice Guy" beta males tend to have a growing sense of existential dread, like they have no idea why they're here. They will have often worked their whole life to build what they have in the hopes it would bring happiness and fulfillment, but it only brings a feeling of emptiness, loneliness, and despair. "Nice Guy" beta males tend to bury these feelings behind a facade of fake smiles and optimism.
  • Read through a bunch of posts on Reddit's r/deadbedrooms subreddit. If this hits home and you're a dude, you're a "nice Guy" beta. Or if you're a woman and this hits home, you're probably in a relationship with a "Nice Guy."

What Can Be Done?


If any of this sounds familiar, I can relate. Like, REALLY relate. This was me (read my story about overcoming this plight in this post.) If this shit resonates, know there are many of us who have overcome this, made positive changes, and are now living lives far better than the lives we once lived. The best part? Our improvements have made us better leaders, better boyfriends and husbands, and better fathers. 

If you're interested in making positive changes, take a look at our Facebook group and consider a workshop. It could change your life. Sorry ladies, it's a male-only group, which is by design. I do have another mixed-gender Facebook group if any of these ideas sound a little too familiar. Or you just want to learn more about the topic. 



###









###

Monday, August 15, 2016

The Roadmap To Solving Sex and Gender Issues



I've been studying sex and gender for two decades, first as an experimental social psychology student, then as a high school psychology teacher, and finally as a writer. During that time, I've studied pretty much every issue that arises when discussing males and females; masculinity and femininity. The one primary problem that always eluded me:

"How do we effectively solve problems related to sex and gender that result in mutually-beneficial solutions?"

In today's social media-dominated world, many groups try to solve these problems from one of two very general perspectives:


  • "Feminism"
  • "The Manosphere"

"Feminism" includes all the flavors of feminism from Amazon to Trans-national with the common thread being some degree of vilification of men and masculinity as oppressors of women.

"The Manosphere" includes all flavors of pro-male groups including Men Going Their Own Way, Men's Rights Activists, The Red Pill, pickup artists, etc. The common thread tends to be a reaction to feminism and feminist ideals that have basically fucked up our social institutions. 

Neither group is effective at solving problems because they become echo chambers of bad ideas that have zero chance of success. There are all kinds of reasons for this, most of which can be explained with cognitive biases

I've spent the last three years either passively observing many of these groups, actively trolling them, or genuinely engaging in conversations. Damn, did I learn a lot! Specifically, I learned almost all of the people involved in these various groups and communities have a strong emotional attachment to whatever outcome they desire. It's not unlike the irrational attachment we see to political candidates or sports teams. I've come to realize this emotional attachment absolutely kills any chance any of these groups have of solving the problems they routinely bitch and moan about mostly because they ignore reality. At the most basic level, they cannot pass the simple test I like to use to reveal the barriers that prevent ideas from becoming reality:

Ask the "If only..." question. 

For example, "Men and women could achieve true gender equality if only..." where the answer will reveal what barriers are needed to overcome in order for the goal to be actualized. Sure, almost all of these groups WILL be able to answer the question, but their answer is not grounded in reality OR is completely unrealistic. 

In very broad, general terms, most of the feminists seem to want to destroy masculinity as a gender role and most manosphere groups seem to want to subjugate women. Both ideas are moronic because they fail to understand basic human psychology. So they bitch and moan, whine and complain. They blame, shame, and play the victim card. It's like a really, really unpleasant form of intellectual masturbation. And they go through this endless cycle because they seem to genuinely believe there will always be tomorrow. 


I ain't got time for that shit. 

I have an urgency because there won't always be a tomorrow. I don't know if I will be here tomorrow, next week, next month, or next year. I don't want to talk about problems. I want to solve problems. So that's what I'm doing. Anyway, I digress.

The Problem


As it turns out, I've discovered the problem is a whole lot simpler than I expected. Most "gender discussion groups" from any perspective are set up and administered by people who are fundamentally broken in some way (that's not a bad thing per se, as most of us have some degree of "broken".) This causes them to gravitate towards one set of particular beliefs that benefits them personally. That's why they cling to one perspective that makes no logical sense, nor has resulted in any empirically-verified positive outcomes. 

They're not doing what they do to make the world a better place; they're doing what they do to feel better about themselves. So they become emotionally-attached to the ideas and resist alternatives.

This was my experience in a group called "The New Masculine", which turned out to be a front for the stupid OneTaste cult. It was basically a bunch of low-value females emotionally manipulating a bunch of uber-beta males. The leaders of the group were clearly exploiting the men for affirmation (and apparently money) not because their ideas worked, but rather because they needed to power to overcome their personal shortcomings. 

To further compound this problem, a lot of gender discussion groups enforce exclusively masculine or exclusively feminine communication styles. That's problematic because that's not how our world works. When we police language with censoring, we create an artificial environment that does not represent the real world. Any discussions we engage in within that environment are subsequently useless. 

I hypothesize this is THE reason all of these groups have such shitty real-world outcomes... they're not based on the real world. Instead, they're based on intellectual musings of broken people. 


The Solution


Turns out the apparent solution is quite simple - create and administer a group that allows men and women to communicate like most men and women communicate in real life. This is exactly what is happening in my Cotton Underwear Nougat Troupe group. All I did was collect folks who have realized their world view might be wrong and throw them together in a group and toss out ideas to discuss. In one month, I've already made tremendous strides towards developing my own hypotheses and, more importantly, workshop content to help solve many of our most pressing sociopolitical problems starting on the individual level. 

The formula is pretty simple - keep out the extremists who do not have the ability to consider alternative points of view, then set a tone of civil discussion. BAM! Phenomenal discussions.

One other significant variable seems to be most if not all of the group's membership has the ability to communicate in either a masculine style or feminine style without losing their shit, which helps immensely with misunderstandings. Those who can't handle that usually don't last all that long without getting triggered and quitting the group. 

What develops are surprisingly organic discussions that closely mimic real-life interactions, which is significant. One of the greatest problems with online communication is the lack of body language and tone of voice cues, which is a fundamental problem with every other gender group I've experienced. 

This group, because of the quality of discussion, is a near-perfect conduit to actually solving all these gender-related issues. 

I'll be posting more on this topic down the road as the group continues to develop.





###


Saturday, August 13, 2016

The Alpha Female... What Does She Look Like?

My Fictional Alpha Female Crush



In my new gender discussion group (Cotton Underwear Nougat Troupe), we spend a lot of time talking about the idea of Alpha and Beta Males. Quick refresher. For men, the alpha/beta dynamic aren't discrete categories. It's a spectrum of social dominance. In any given situation, all of the men are ranked from the top Alpha (the leader), to the #2, then the #3, and so on. The most Beta is the dude at the bottom. When we talk about "alpha" and "beta" traits, we're really describing various behaviors that positively and negatively affect your position in the social hierarchy.

An important thing to note about males and social hierarchies - it's all based on utility. We rank based on our perceived expertise and ability to lead. And it changes from situation to situation. In the San Diego Man Camp group, I'm the Alpha because the entire thing is based off my ideas. Pick any other endeavor, however, and other dudes in the group would probably assume the alpha role because they would be the most effective leader. 


So What About Females?


Females have their own hierarchy, but it plays by much different rules. Instead of being set by situational hierarchies based on expertise, it's set by social utility in general and social bonding in particular. As such, the Alpha Female of the group is always the woman who can most effectively bind the group and direct its actions. Alpha Females exist to keep groups together, which differs from Male Alphas who exist to get shit done. In a healthy society, we need both. 

Interestingly, it's very easy to spot the alpha female in a group composed of all females. All other women will unconsciously point one or both feet at her. She often has the ability to utilize both feminine and masculine traits. 

Alpha Females tend to be charming, sexually-alluring, funny, driven, and have an ability to put anyone at ease. They're natural leaders. The most successful Alpha Females will, in addition, possess all three components of the Dark Triad (narcissism, psychopathology, and Machiavellianism) traits which help them protect their tribe socially, which differs from Alpha Males who physically protect and provide for the tribe. In other words, people don't fuck with Alpha Females. 

In any group of women, there's always only one Alpha Female, but the rest of the group plays specific roles like an enforcer, a joker/ weirdo, the conversation-starter, the gossiper, the whipping post, the girls who get ignored, etc. Each serves a purpose, and the Alpha Female directs them in their roles. There are no "Beta Females" per se, but there will be a ranking of each group member's importance to the group... so there IS a woman at the bottom. Additionally, most women have some Alpha Female capability, which could feasibly be used to rank women on an Alpha/ Beta phenomenon similar to how us dudes operate. 

If the Alpha Female leaves the group, the next-most capable alpha assumes the role OR the group simply dissolves. The quality and effectiveness of any given group of females is directly related to the "alpha-ness" of the current Alpha Female. 

One of the most amusing things about this dynamic occurs when two experienced Alpha Females enter a group. Since there can only be one Alpha Female, the lower-ranking Alpha Female will typically challenge the higher ranking Alpha Female to establish the position. It's never shared. This tends to create a lot of disruption (drama) because the group doesn't know who to follow.

It's also worth noting Alpha Females will always defer to capable Alpha Male leadership because they understand the utility that men bring to the equation. They understand genders are complimentary, not oppositional. Any effective team, organization, or even couples utilize the utility of Alpha Males and the social bonding of Alpha Females. This is the reason feminists are rarely if ever effective leaders... they don't understand this dynamic. Alpha Males aren't good at social bonding and Alpha Females aren't good at getting shit done.

Also worth noting - I've met precious few women who haven't self-identified as a "strong woman", and most seem to assume this means they're an Alpha Female. This is not the case. "Strong women" are usually the equivalent of beta males... they buy into the "you're special just the way you are" mediocrity bullshit pushed by the empowerment self-help industry.

Women, unlike men, do not get a boost to their sexual market value based on their alpha status, but it can get complicated because high value Alpha Males usually love Alpha Females. So there's that. But the actual traits aren't universally attractive. It's complicated. 

As a weird sidebar, Beta Males who have been friendzoned by women also become part of the female "group" and assume a role just like other women. Unfortunately for the Beta Men, they don't have the same intuitive understanding of subtle female behavior, so they fall to the bottom of female social groups. As such, Beta Men can never assume the Alpha Female role. 

Of all the gender-based dynamics I've studied over the years, this is the one I've spent the least time actually studying in real life... mostly because I don't care that much. It has zero personal relevance to me other than explaining it to my kids and knowing how to identify the Alpha Female in a group of women. 

Additionally - if any Alpha Females OR ladies interested in improving your Alpha Female skillz and wanna have some great discussions, join the CUNT group. We need more female voices!

Comments? Questions?


###

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Flavors of Men in Modern Western Society

I started a new Facebook group recently. The goal was to bring the discussions we have in our San Diego Man Camp Group into a forum that included women to discuss these issues without the new age hippie bullshit that permeates other gender discussion groups. And it has been magical. It has given the women of the group the opportunity to understand men from a masculine point of view instead of the typical feminine point of view. During the discussions, we often talk about different "kinds" of men - how we think, what we think, why we think that way, and how those thought patterns are manifested in our behaviors, beliefs, and attitudes. Understanding these groups and how they fit into this whole gender thing gives us a lot of insight to the real issues we face. Here's a few along with a very brief summary and rationale:

Natural Alphas: Natural alphas are men who have decidedly masculine traits, but have the ability and desire to temper these traits with feminine characteristics when the situation warrants. They were presumably born this way or have been trained since birth. In our modern society, these are the most desirable men. They want romantic relationships. They want to raise healthy families. They want to be community leaders. They have a life purpose outside their wives or girlfriends, and they chase that purpose with passion. They have a strong moral code and stick to it. They're fit, attractive, and stylish. These men receive a ton of female attention and have near-endless options in partners. Despite that attention, they remain loyal to their mate. Natural alphas usually have to resist their mate's taming behaviors by continually passing his mate's shit tests.

Rick is a natural alpha.


Recovered Alphas: Recovered alphas are natural alphas who, at some point in their life, turned themselves into beta males. At some point, they realize this was a very bad route, and work to recover their dormant inner-alpha. In most cases, these men will be emotionally manipulative "Nice Guys" during their beta phase. The San Diego Man Camp project specifically focuses on this group; we help men rediscover their inner alpha in a pro-social way. Like the Natural Alpha, the Recovered Alpha has to fight taming behaviors by passing shit tests.

Fuckboys: Fuckboys are smooth natural alphas who have no desire for long-term relationships. They have all attractive masculine traits to attract females, but prefer short-term relationships or one-night stands. These are the men described in this Vanity Fair article. Fuckboys are really just men having fun, but they tend to break a lot of hearts along the way because women fall for them, but they have no desire to settle down. Women WANT these men to settle down and usually go to great lengths to tame them. Fuckboys almost always settle into Natural Alphas when they find one especially high value female, they get tired of the hookup scene, or they get too old to attract a lot of female attention. Fuckboys always pass "alpha" shit tests, but usually fail "comfort" shit tests.

James Bond is a Fuckboy


Pseudo-alphas: Pseudo-alphas are men who do not have innate feminine traits to temper their masculine side. In many circles, this is the stereotypical "alpha male" douche. These are the loud, brash, arrogant men who treat everyone like shit. Think Jersey Shore. Pseudo-alphas are distinguishable from Fuckboys by their obvious lack of refinement. Still, these men have the ability to attract women for one-night stands, but these women usually have no desire for a long-term relationship with them. Pseudo-Alphas also pass "alpha" shit tests but fail "comfort" shit tests.

Stereotypical Pseudo-Alpha


Beta Providers: Beta providers are either natural beta males or broken alphas who never "wake up" to the fact that they're really alphas and make the effort to become Recovered Alphas. These men have a very predictable pattern they fall into, which I describe in detail in this Sexpressionists article. Often, these men get married to women who are sick of trying to find a natural alpha or have had their hearts broken by Fuckboys. These marriages follow a very predictable and tragic pattern. The women who marry these men also have a very predictable and tragic pattern. Beta providers fail almost all shit tests. These are the men who typically join SDMC and could most benefit from our workshops.

Ted Moseby (or an uglier version) is a beta provider


Pickup Artists: Pickup artists are beta males who have learned to mimic alpha behavior to pick up women for sex. Most of the time, these men are conflated with Fuckboys and Pseudo-Alphas. I draw the distinction because pickup artists are intentionally deceptive. They understand exactly what women are looking for, then become that person. The key, and the reason I place them in the "beta" category, is because their entire life revolves around women. Often, these men are really looking for female affirmations more than just sex. But sometimes it's just about sex. These men tend to be despised by women because of the deception. These dudes LOOK and ACT exactly like natural alphas, but it's a facade. Pickup Artists always pass all shit tests because they study how to pass shit tests.

Dangerous Betas: Dangerous betas are betas who build resentment towards women usually due to a lifetime of rejection. These men are perpetually friendzoned by women they perceive as their perfect soulmate only to watch them look up with Fuckboys or Pseudo-Alphas. They believe women are fundamentally evil or, minimally, completely immoral. These men are typically extraordinarily misogynistic. These are the men who stalk, rape, or kill women. Dangerous betas fail all shit tests.

Men will typically fit into one of the above groups. Sometimes men organize around various "communities." Here are a few of these communities:

The Red Pill (TRP): These dudes are almost always beta providers and generally want either lots of pussy (they want to become Fuckboys) or long term relationships (they want to become Recovered Alphas), so they attempt to learn how women operate, so they study female behavior in the real world through the frame of evolutionary psychology. They have excellent observations, but virtually no ability to sell the ideas without sounding like a decidedly misogynistic Hitler. Part of the problem is some of them actually ARE like a misogynistic Hitler (Dangerous Betas.) This is the group I most closely relate to, and the men I attract for SDMC tend to have the same goal of desiring healthy, long-term relationships.

Men's Rights Advocates (MRA): These dudes, almost always Beta Providers, generally have been fucked over in divorces (via alimony, child support, or custody) or falsely accused of sexual assault. They tend to be bitter about the skewing of our legal system towards women at the exclusion of men. This is the group who tends to use the term "pussy pass", which is the phenomenon of women getting shit from men simply because they're female (like showing cleavage to get out of a speeding ticket.) I do not like this group. While they do have legitimate grievances, they tend to play the victim card and come off as whiny little bitches. They play the victim card because they learned activism from feminists. They do not understand that men cannot use the same tactics women can use. Women can be victims and society takes notice. Men cannot. They just come off as pathetic. Many of these men have the potential to become Dangerous Betas, but their activism gives them a somewhat healthy outlet.

Men Going Their Own Way (MGTOW): This group, consisting mostly of Beta Providers, would *like* to have a secure, long-term relationship with a woman, but they tend to be too low value (ugly, fat, poor, too lazy to improve, etc.) They make a conscious decision to give up on the possibility of female companionship and tend to work towards other goals, usually professionally. These men usually frequent prostitutes to satisfy sexual needs. Ironically, these men's tendency to improve themselves and ignore women makes them far more attractive to women (they accidentally become Recovered Alphas), so they usually end up getting what they stopped chasing. In The Red Pill circles, this is what men do when they go into "monk mode" and ignore women for a few months to a year. As a society, we treat these men harshly, which makes me sympathetic to their plight. They're generally harmless and just trying to live their life without constant disappointment.

Conclusion

Men in modern society fall into one of these categories. Understanding why they do what they do goes a long way towards understanding male behavior. The more we understand the subtle nuances of these behaviors, the more effectively we can solve some of our weird societal gender issues that plague us today. Same deal with understanding female behavior. Knowledge is power!


###

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Man Camp Workshops: Volunteers Needed For August 20th



After over a year of development, the San Diego Man Camp Workshops are finally here! I've been diligently building the materials over the last two months, and have gotten to the point where I'm ready to do a test run.

Why a test run?

As a teacher, I understand the importance of pacing to work out timing. Normally I have a pretty good intuitive sense of this, but the material and the delivery style are both brand new. And I'm a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to teaching. Ergo the "practice run."

So I need a few more male volunteers. 

Specifically, I need about five volunteers. I have a very limited number of spots available due to the venue, so if interested, DO NOT DELAY!

The clinic will normally cost $400, so the volunteers will be getting an excellent value. All I ask for in return is participation and honest feedback. If you are interested or know someone who may be interested, contact me using the "workshop contact form" in the side panel or, if we're social media friends, message me on Facebook. 

The Specifics


The clinic will be held in El Cajon (about 10 miles due east of San Diego) at 6pm on Saturday, August 20th. It will last approximately three hours. You may want to bring a notebook, something to write with, and maybe some beer. Normally I'd provide it, but you know... this one's free.

As far as the materials, we'll cover four major topics all related to the process of getting better at being a masculine man. The four sub-areas are:


  • The seven pillars of masculinity and the self-improvement process
  • Understanding the psychology of women
  • Understanding healthy relationship dynamics
  • Major mistakes men make in life that sabotage their experiences
Since this workshop is free, I have a very limited budget for marketing. By "limited budget", I mean I have no budget. So please do me a solid and share this with anyone you may know who would be interested. 

If you do not know me (and my wickedly charming personality), you may want to read our FAQ page. We're not a typical masculinity group. There's no spirituality, new age bullshit, hating on women, or getting naked. There will be humor, a little sarcasm, obscure references to pop culture icons, and a few cool activities and demonstrations (I AM a teacher after all... I will run the workshop like a small, upper-level college course.) The Facebook version of our group almost perfectly reflects my personality. I'm not the kind of person that gives out hugs, accepts lames excuses, and I swear a lot. Read that page; you'll immediately know if it's a fit or not.

If you're familiar with my trail and ultrarunning book "Never Wipe Your Ass with a Squirrel", you'll know what to expect. 

Anyway, shoot me a message if you're interested. If you know someone else who may be interested, share this post with them.

I'm excited; this project has been in the works for a long time!


###



Monday, July 25, 2016

Dudes: Desperation is Creepy


If I were to make a list of qualities that repulse women, "desperation" would be flirting with the top spot on the podium. BroBible recently posted a Facebook message from a dude to a chick the day after making out in a bar. Here's the message:




So... avoid this shit, guys. If you read this and think "Wow, what a nice dude. She's one lucky princess!", you probably need to read the "essential readings" posts listed here: 


After you're done, join our Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/sdmancamp/

You're welcome. ;-)

###


Thursday, June 30, 2016

Bringing the World Together Via the Tribal Organization Hypothesis

I have a dirty secret to share. I'm a dirty hippie liberal. People that don't know me in real life and only know me via blogs or social media usually assume I'm a schizophrenic, narcissistic, douchey, white male conservative. Turns out only three of those are mostly true.

The point? I'm interested in bringing the world together. Building bridges. Making connections. Curing world hunger and assuring peace and prosperity for all. 

See? Real hippie Kumbaya shit.

Anyway, the major roadblock I've found to this is our tendency to really, really dislike each other. And we're all guilty. It's easy to point out the KKK, Westboro Church, ISIS, and fans of "The View" as bigoted fucks, but we sometimes fail to realize those Bernie Sanders supporters that go on and on about their seething hatred for Donald Trump are just as guilty. Hate is a human condition. I have an entirely different hypothesis to explain that phenomenon, but that'll be another post for another day. 

After studying why people seem to dislike each other so much, I've come to a simple conclusion - we suck at empathy. Sure, most people claim to be empathic. They might even be able to give scores of concrete examples. But they fail to realize they're only good at empathizing with people a lot like themselves.

This is a really easy concept to test. Simply pick a controversial topic like gun control or abortion. Find someone with a strong opinion on the matter. Ask them to explain the motivations behind the other side's position. Almost all people can give an answer, but it's almost always their interpretation of the other side's motives, not the other side's actual motives. Seems like a small point, but it's hugely important. Complex social problems require complex answers, and complex answers require a thorough understanding of all the variables at play. In our modern world, this rarely if ever happens.

As someone who is deeply interested in leadership, this has always proven to be a really fucking hard puzzle to solve. 

Until now.

The Tribal Organization Hypothesis


Humans are social animals. It's a major reason we're at the top of the food chain. In the most simplified terms, evolution has and continues to reward those that have the ability to play a role in a social unit. For our ancestors, this meant organizing into tribes, usually around 150-300 members. Sometimes smaller. Bigger tribes would usually consist of a collection of smaller tribes united for a common goal. These tribes had specialized roles, which is sort of the point of social organization. Specialized roles were filled based on ability, which has a strong biological basis. When individuals fulfilled their biological imperative in this way, they felt complete. Like, Jerry Maguire complete. They were fulfilling a role that was both personally intrinsically motivating AND they were contributing to the greater good of the tribe. Individuals prospered and tribes prospered. It would look kinda like this:



Then came the rise of agriculture. Industrial revolution. Democracy. The Enlightenment. The rise of the city. And yes, I know this list is not in chronological order. The point - we started organizing in ways that took us away from our tribe. But all the "tribal biology" remained. So we compensated by forming a new tribe. Many tribes, actually. Think about all the "tribes" you belong to today. For me, these are just a handful of my "tribes":

  • Family
  • Social network of real-life friends
  • MMA gym teammates
  • Runner friends
  • San Diego Man Camp
  • Professional networks
  • ... and so on.
The problem in almost all of these cases is the issue of goals. Before we abandoned our hunter-gatherer tribal organization, survival was the game. In that high stakes world, people had a vested interest to bond with their tribe even if the tribe had significant differences. Joe, the dude who guards the perimeter of the tribe's camp, really, really hates people from the Jaguar Tribe. Sally, the tribe trader, is easily annoyed by Joe's frequent rants about those stupid, barbaric Jaguars because she knows them as kind, intelligent artisans. But their need for survival demands they find a way to get along well enough to make sure their tribe is the most powerful, thus assuring their survival. That model looked something like this:



This wasn't too difficult because Joe and Sally knew each other really well on a personal level. Despite their obvious differences, they also had a lot of qualities in common. They both love dancing around a fire. They both love the cave paintings on the other side of the mountain. These points of similarity are only possible because Joe and Sally have the time and exposure to get to know each other.

Now take away that need for survival, which is exactly what we have in the modern world. Imagine Joe is a modern-day police officer. Sally is an international businesswoman. They still kinda rely on each other, but that connection is too diffused for either of their brains to really grasp it on a personal level. Worse, it's extremely unlikely they will ever get to know each other on a personal level. If they ever encountered each other in real life, there's no chance they would get along. Their respective views about strangers would be a chasm that cannot be crossed by either of them.

When we moved away from tribes required for survival, we still retained that innate need to form tribes. So that's what we do. The problem? Since we don't need the tribe to survive, we no longer need the tribe to consist of people to play specific roles. When we don't need people to perform specific roles, we will avoid the discomfort of surrounding ourselves with people that think differently. Instead, we surround ourselves with people that think like us, have the same belief system as us, and behave like us. In essence, we create echo chambers. Those echo chambers severely limit human potential because we simply have no reason to get along with people that have a different biological imperative. 

A modern example - the gun control debate in the US. The anti-gun side believes guns are dangerous and need to be eliminated to keep us safe. Gun advocates believe the world is dangerous and we need guns to keep us safe. Both are right and both are wrong. But both sides are absolutely convinced they are right and the other side is wrong, and we see all kinds of cognitive biases popping up to reinforce that belief. On a practical level for someone interested in leadership, this poses a HUGE problem. A mutually-beneficial solution will be impossible in the modern world because neither side has any incentive to empathize with the "other side."

This problem is made infinitely worse because of social media. The one thing that keeps us from completely abandoning our drive to create specialized tribes is in-person relationships. We all have people in our lives that have a different biological imperative, but we bridge those gaps because we have a mutually-beneficial personal or professional relationship. And there's the whole "there might be negative consequences to bitterly disagreeing with this person in real life" issue. Social media mostly eliminates those barriers, ergo we create really, really restrictive echo chambers. Being right feels phenomenal, even if it results in a radically limited world view. 

Conversely, let's say we were still organized as tribes. Joe and Sally's tribe, in fact. Joe would most likely be pro-gun; Sally anti-gun. They'd have the same point of view, but they could use their personal connection and mutually-help survival goal as a tool to bridge the gap and reach a compromise. That's only possible because they understand each other's point of view.

So How the Fuck Does This Help?!?


If a leader has any desire to lead a diverse group (which is inherently going to be more competitive than a homogeneous group because they're capable of responding to a much wider variety of challenges), they need a tool to get the group to move past their petty differences that result from different biological imperatives and resulting world views. Explaining the tribal organization hypothesis might be that tool.

Joe the guard and Sally the trader would normally be in a state of perpetual disagreement because they have no framework to understand each other. If this model were explained, they would come to see their world views, while different, are simply two different strategies to carry out the same function - allow the tribe to survive. 

Will this work? I'm not sure. Is it worth a shot? Based on how few people I've met that actually seem to be able to empathize with people that aren't part of their echo chamber tribe, yes. It is worth a shot.

I'll probably add another post or two to hash out a few more points, like how modern man tends to ignore our biological imperative, which might be an explanation for our epidemic of chronic low-level mental health issues. 

What do you think? Leave a comment!


### 












Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Rites of Passage for Your Sons: Rustic Camping

This past weekend, I took my two sons, ages nine and six, camping at a rustic campsite in California's Colorado Desert. Even though we spent three years traveling the United States in an RV, we did very little rustic camping. Taking them out to the wilderness in the middle of BFE was the perfect rationale to introduce them to a host of "man skills."

[Interested in traveling or living in an RV with young children? Check out my book "Must Have Been Another Earthquake, Kids"]

A major motivator for the trip was to begin creating rites of passage than my sons could experience as they approach puberty. Our society has mostly abandoned the idea of rites of passage, which results in a sort of perpetual childhood/ adolescence that seemingly lasts until men reach their med-thirties. We love our children, but we don't want them to be helpless freeloaders for decades.

This is the surrounding area:

Looking out over nothingness


Our "campsite" from afar


Once there, we did typical rustic camping shit. We set up the tent, scavenged some random materials to make a stove, built a fire, cooked lunch and dinner, did a little hiking, and busted out the BB gun.

Learning the art of fire maintenance



Sunrise in the desert



Southpaw marksman in the making



Boulder parkour?

The trip was a resounding success despite the cold and rock-hard ground (forgot any sort of padding.) My long-term goal is to continue trips like this and use them as an opportunity to teach as many "man skills" as I can teach the boys.

Eventually, for the actual rite of passage, I'll devise a series of tests that will reflect the skills I'm teaching them. 

What about you? Did your father have any rites of passage you experienced? Do you do anything like this for your own sons?

Leave a comment!


###







Monday, January 11, 2016

Man Skills: Homemade Box Fan Beef Jerky

In the past, I've made beef jerky in the oven. It's pretty simple, cheap, and efficient. My recent interest in disaster preparedness brought me to a trick used by The Food Network's Alton Brown (one of my favorite celebs on the network.) He used a box fan in place of a food dehydrator. This was significant because it was done at room temperature... which could be invaluable in the event the electricity goes out for an extended period of time.

Back in the day growing up in rural Northern Michigan, extended power outages were almost always the result of ice or snow storms. Refrigeration was as simple as rounding up a few coolers and filling them with snow. Keeping things warm was an infinitely more difficult challenge than keeping things cold.

Here in San Diego, we have the opposite problem. In the electricity cut out for an extended period of time, everything we have in our freezer would eventually spoil if we couldn't eat it fast enough. Having the ability to preserve any meats we were storing in the freezer would be invaluable, especially methods that do not require electricity. All of the methods below work by removing moisture, which inhibits the growth of pathogens. Some methods utilize chemicals to further inhibit growth. Here are a few fairly easy options:

1. Canning. This would be my preferred method because the meats would last for a very long time... but I currently do not own a pressure canner. And it would require a heat source that would last for the time needed to process the jars of stored meat.
2. Salt curing. This method involves either plastering a salty mixture over the meat or submersing the meat in a salty brine for a period of time. It's a good technique to know, but I was to impatient to try. That'll be an experiment for another day.
3. Smoking. I'd love to be able to hard smoke the meat, which is using a smoker to cook it at a temp higher than about 160° F. The problem with smoking? I live in an apartment with no exclusive-use outdoor area. If I smoked meats, I'd subject all of my neighbors to the smoke in one of our common areas.
4. Dehydrating. That leaves dehydrating. This process is handy because it can be done at room temperature. All you need is airflow. Low humidity and heat help, which we have an abundance of between March and November. Dehydrated meat can last anywhere from a few weeks to a few months depending on moisture content and storage method, so it would be an ideal method to process once-frozen meats.

My Process


This is the process I used:

Required gear:

  • A box fan.
  • Some sort of tray that will allow air to pass. I used cheap, disposable wire grill racks from Walmart. Alton used cotton-based air filters for home furnaces.
  • Marinade. I made my own out of about a half cup of soy sauce and Worcestershire sauce, a tablespoon of honey, and red pepper flakes, and a teaspoon of onion powder, pepper, and liquid smoke. According to Alton, the soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, honey, and pepper each act to prevent the growth of specific microorganisms.
  • Lean meat. I used about two pounds of flank steak.
Step one - Freeze the meat for about 30-60 minutes. This makes the slicing step far easier. This is the chunk I used:



Step two - Mix the marinade in a large bowl.

Step three - slice the meat in 1/8th inch strips going WITH the grain of the meat. 

Step four - Marinade the meat in the refrigerator overnight. If I did not have electricity, I would marinade in a plastic bag for an hour or so and just leave it in the coolest, darkest place I could find.



Step five - Set the box fan up like a table with the airflow blowing upward. Place something underneath the fan to allow for air to circulate. I used cans of beans. Spread the strips of meat over the drying racks, then place the racks on the fan. Turn the fan on high.



Step six - About every three hours, flip the pieces. This speeds the drying process.

Step seven - The amount of time required to reach the desired state of dryness varies based on the humidity, airflow, and thickness of the meat. I consider it "done" when I bend it and can see the fibers separating from each other. The general rule of thumb - the drier it is, the longer it will remain preserved.

Step eight - This step is "optional" in that I probably wouldn't use it in a disaster situation, but will for this test batch. I pre-heat the oven to 350° and bake the jerky for about six minutes on the same racks. The purpose is to raise the internal temp of the jerky pieces to 160° to kill any remaining microorganisms. 

The finished product:



Storage


Air and moisture are the enemy. Allow the jerky to cool then place it in a breathable container, then store somewhere cool and as dry as possible. Avoid closed containers that will trap moisture unless something is used to absorb any moisture released from the jerky. Remember, the goal was to remove as much moisture as possible. If the jerky gets moist for any reason, it will quickly spoil or require immediate re-drying. 



Vacuum-sealing would be the best option, but I don't currently own a vacuum sealer. Dry canning is the next best option. Heat the oven to 350°. Place an open mason jar, the lid, and the sealing ring in the oven for 10 minutes. After the 10 minutes, take the jar out, place the jerky in the jar, then immediately close it. As it cools, it'll create an airtight seal. I'll do this with half of my jerky.



For the other half I'll be eating sooner, I just keep it in a sealed Tupperware container lined with paper towel in the refrigerator. It prevents airflow while still absorbing moisture. 

But Wait...


I bet you're wondering why I was using a box fan when the purpose was to test methods that didn't require electricity. Normally I would use an alternative method, but it's winter here in San Diego. That means our normal hot, dry weather is replaced by pleasant 65° days with occasional rain. The natural environment doesn't produce enough wind or heat to dry the jerky before the microorganisms start to grow to dangerous levels. 

If it were warmer, I would use a simple outdoor solar chimney to create the air flow. A solar chimney is really just a closed box or tube that creates airflow based on the idea that hot air rises. I make mine with taller, skinny cardboard boxes. Paint the outside black (I use kids tempera paint like they use in elementary schools.) Cut a large hole in the top and another hole on one of the sides at the very bottom. Devise some sort of way to support the racks inside the box. If there are a lot of flies or other bugs in the area, I'd cover the vents with a small piece of window screen.

When you place the solar chimney in the sun, it heats the air inside. That causes the heated air to escape the top while drawing in cool air from the bottom vent. Tada! Airflow. 

The volume of air isn't going to be as high as what I can achieve with a box fan, but the heat and lower relative humidity of the warmer months makes up for the difference. 


Conclusion



The ability to make beef jerky without an oven or a food dehydrator, while not the easiest way to preserve meat, is a nice skill to develop. Once you do it a few times, you start to get a feel for the art of dehydrating. Specifically, you learn how and why the meat responds to various methods, which allows you to become more proficient. It doesn't take much practice to be able to transfer these skills to a campfire scenario, which would be invaluable for long-term wilderness survival. 

I suspect at least a few of my regular readers are ell-versed in jerky-making. If you have any helpful tips, leave a comment!

###