Year: 2011

The sex constant in running

Posted by – August 21, 2011

There was a news story yesterday about a Finnish teacher who beat the qualifying time for the women’s marathon for the Olympics at the Helsinki marathon. She’s not being selected for the next world championships, which is being questioned. Her time was pretty good: 2.38:05. Only ten runners in the men’s category in the same competition were faster than that.

I always had the impression that men have less of an edge at longer distances over women, but for some reason I decided to check it out. The following is a list of the extra time the female world record holder took compared to the regular world record holder, as a percentage:

100m: 9.5%
200m: 11.2%
400m: 10.2%
800m: 12.1%
1500m: 11.9%
mile: 13.0%
2000m: 14.2%
3000m: 10.3%
5000m: 12.4%
10000m: 12.3%
marathon: 9.2%

It’s much more consistent than I thought, at a bit more than 10%. The women’s sprints are probably the most doping-affected – the current top can’t match the enhanced women of the eighties. In the couple of middle distance events where women don’t do so well, I suspect the culprit is the lesser competition at some lesser-raced events. (Incidentally, it looks like a woman might never beat the famous four minute barrier in the mile race: the record is 4:12.56). Men compete the hell out of anything they figure they could do well at, even if nobody cares.

It’s not your tax money

Posted by – August 19, 2011

…at least, not the way you think and not mostly.

People often describe public expenses as being paid for by their hard-earned wages which are subject to income tax. Many people know that other taxes are more important (VAT is the biggest revenue source for the Finnish state, and “vice taxes” on alcohol, tobacco, and sweets alone amount to almost a third of earned income tax), but in fact even the deficit is more important than income tax.

The United States and Finland currently share the interesting status of having a larger deficit than their entire revenue from taxing earned income is. So for whatever income tax you pay that goes eg. to pay me to do research in finite-state methods in computational linguistics, more than that is borrowed for the same purpose.

I gave myself a big tax cut this year by moving into home brewing. About 300 € worth of alcohol taxes saved so far (much of that alcohol I gave away), projecting for 500-600 € by the end of the year. Next year will be more like 1000 €, since I only got started this summer.

The other wealth tax

Posted by – August 19, 2011

Finland had a wealth tax from 1920 until its repeal in 2006. The marginal rate was 0.8% for individuals and 1.0% for corporations – the tax only kicked in for wealth over a certain limit, which was 250,000 € at the time the tax was repealed.

Taxes of this type are quite rare currently. In Europe, France, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, The Netherlands and Norway have wealth taxes. In each case there are a large number of exemptions that I assume make it possible for savvy individuals to mostly avoid paying. The French “solidarity tax on wealth” exempts owning businesses, old art, intellectual property, forestry holdings (why?), anonymous bonds (I don’t know what this is), pension plans and wealth derived from compensation for injuries. The Dutch exempt approved “green” investments (heh), which also receive an extra tax bonus on the income derived.

Finland, like most countries, does still have a capital gains tax. Under the current monetary system, this also acts as a wealth tax: there is always inflation, so even if a property doesn’t appreciate in real terms, it does appreciate in nominal terms, and so is subject to capital gains tax. Two natural questions arise: how much is this wealth tax, and how much do you actually need to profit from capital in order to keep its value constant?

For property that has an unchanged value, its nominal value theoretically increases at the rate of inflation. The tax due will be the tax rate multiplied by this increase – for the Finnish budget of 2012, the capital gains tax for incomes under 50,000 € is 30%, and inflation over the summer months has been about 4% annualized. So the effective wealth tax is 1.2% – higher than the old wealth tax! (For incomes in excess of 50,000€ the figure is 1.28%). So the repeal of the wealth tax actually represented a repeal of less than half of the wealth tax – in fact, very much less, considering that the wealth tax kicked in at 250,000 € whereas the other wealth tax has no lower bound.

And for the second question, we solve the equation (1-T)*P = I, where T is the capital gains tax, P is the rate of profit and I is inflation. This gives P = I/(1-T). For the Finnish figures, this gives 5.7% for lower incomes and 5.9% for higher incomes. So if you’re making less than that on your investments, you are actually losing ground, and the present value of your wealth is greater than the future value. So if spending is a source of happiness to you, you should spend as much as you can right now, because you’ll actually be able to consume less in the future.

A too-powerful image from the riots

Posted by – August 15, 2011

I don’t know which struck me more – this image from a mugging said to have occurred during the recent riots in England, or the description given by the Daily Mail (sometimes nicknamed “Daily Heil” for being scandalous and right-wing):

The taller, broader man already holds a pair of white and green trainers and a white T-shirt in his hands. Now, it seems, he wants the trousers too.

Political terror, visionaries and cynics

Posted by – July 25, 2011

It’s now clear to anyone who has seriously looked into the background and writings of Anders Behring Breivik that he’s a political terrorist. He didn’t commit violence because of mental illness or an outburst of emotional bitterness, but out of a considered determination to effect change by any means available. In that respect his actions are best compared with those of Che Guevara, Timothy McVeigh, Osama bin Laden, Vladimir Lenin, Nelson Mandela, Ted Kaczynski, … All people who had a political desire that was radically, fundamentally opposed to the existing reality around them, and very little hope of success via the conventional political process.

All of the above were successful terrorists, and most of them were successful in achieving their political goals. One of them, Mandela, is universally praised; Guevara and Lenin get a lot of support, and even bin Laden is largely the hero of those he would call “his own”. This is almost completely dependent on their political goals and popular images, not the violence of their actions. Whether or not you sympathise with them tends to depend on to what extent you share their goals.

Sidetrack Whether you empathise with them is a very different thing, and mostly depends on what kind of person you are. People get very emotionally worked up over how much they hate and despise killers, but it’s really not much worth debating over. I’ll just say that I have the human disease of empathising with just about anyone whose position I understand enough about, and that includes all the people I mentioned above. /Sidetrack

It also bears mentioning that in most of these cases the absolute significance of their violence is very small. Osmo Soininvaara remarked that every day as many people die in traffic in Europe as died at the hands of Anders Breivik. Osama caused a very big bang indeed, but it was dwarfed in every way by the response it received. Lenin’s violence is by far the most prolific, but even then he’s more remembered for his political philosophy and historical significance than the millions of peoples’ enemies who died. Breivik wanted to strike a strategic blow at the heard of Norwegian social democracy, but ultimately it was very personal violence, the main significance of which is the loss of young lives, the terror of the survivors and the lifelong grieving of their families and their nation.

What I’m trying to say is that if you do care about the violence but don’t care about the politics and the setting, you’re being myopic. Where is history coming from? Where is it going to? I don’t know is there that much to be learned about that from this event, but it’s what it made me think about.

The Norwegian response to those questions was clear: yes, this was a political attack against our way of life, and we are going to preserve and safeguard it. Prime minister Stoltenberg said

You will not destroy us. You will not destroy our democracy and our ideals for a better world. We are a small nation and a proud nation. No one will bomb us to silence. No one will shoot us to silence. No one will ever scare us from being Norway.

Stoltenberg is talking about the grand social democratic project: democracy + state-controlled capitalism + progressivism + universal human rights. Equality of the sexes and ethnic groups. No personal discrimination.

In Breivik’s view, this is a false Norway, one taken over by “cultural Marxism” and globalism, in irreversible decline and about to be overrun by foreigners. This view is not so uncommon anymore, and indeed is shared by eg. Halla-aho. In his manifesto Breivik quotes lengthily from Norwegian blogger Fjordman, who must now find a way to disown his ideological disciple. He writes:

How do I feel about knowing that the assumed perpetrator of these atrocities has quoted me in his much-talked about book? Absolutely terrible. What else can I say? I must stress that I have not yet read his very long book or manifest and I have neither the time nor the stomach to do so at the present time. I can only refer to the bits and pieces of it quoted in various news articles and what others keep telling me. He has apparently quoted a great many texts from a variety of public sources, one of them being me. His total lack of respect for human life is not, however, something he can have picked up from me, or from any of the other Islam-critical writers I know such as Robert Spencer or Bat Ye’or. Indeed, the lack of respect for human life is often one of the great shortcomings of Islamic culture that we have consistently pointed out.

The main difference between Fjordman and Breivik is that Fjordman advocates resistance (“I would suggest that one thing we should fight for is national sovereignty and the right to preserve our own culture and pass it on to future generations.”), Breivik advocates attack. Not against Muslim immigrants, by the way – he views them as innocent animals, acting in their own best interest – he wants to attack the social democratic project.

Stoltenberg, Fjordman and Breivik all believe in affecting the course of history. That’s the non-cynical position. They dare to dream, like Che Guevara, Timothy McVeigh, Osama bin Laden, Vladimir Lenin, Nelson Mandela and Ted Kaczynski. People like that are dangerous, but important.

But they’re the exception. Most people are apathetic, or cynics. The fellow who writes The Fourth Checkraise is a good example. He’s a smart guy, got a CS PhD in Finland, was/is disgusted by social democracy, upped sticks to Canada (although I think that’s more because he married a Canadian) and lives the existence of a comfortable misanthrope. As far as I can tell, he broadly shares the Halla-aho / Fjordman / Breivik view, but with a completely cynical attitude. Towards Finland he has the attitude of “smell you later, suckers”, often relishing what he considers to be Finland’s incurable stupidity and economic underperformance. On the topic of Breivik, he wrote

Since I am as giddy as a schoolboy on Christmas Eve waiting for the day that the European welfare states collapse, and the day that all those good little white liberals and leftists finally open their eyes and realize to their abject horror that they have become an impotent and irrelevant minority whose effete shibboleths the new majority doesn’t even pretend to respect, let alone obey any more while they can’t afford to escape their utopia where we white conservatives quite happily prosper, this development should nicely accelerate the schedule of transformation of the Nordic countries into snowbound Sao Paulos over the next few decades. To quote the Cappy: Enjoy the decline!

This future is essentially Breivik’s nightmare.

Smallest number -pseudo-AI-challenge

Posted by – May 23, 2011

In the proud tradition of this blog I’m holding a new smallest number tournament. The rules of this wonderful game are as follows:

  1. Each player chooses an integer greater than zero.
  2. If more than one player chooses the same number, that number is disqualified.
  3. The player who played the smallest number that didn’t get disqualified wins.

For example, if Bernie plays 1, Joan plays 2 and Dave plays 5, Bernie wins, because he played the smallest number. But if there had been an extra participant, Frank, who had also played 1, Joan would have won, because 1 would have been disqualified and 2 was the next smallest number played.

But this time I don’t want you to play the game – I want you to write a small program that plays the game. There are two ways to participate in this contest

Firstly, you can write a Python class that has at least the following methods (all of these except play() can just pass):

  • announce_num_players(integer): take an integer giving the number of participants in the tournament, don’t return anything
  • announce_game_length(integer): take an integer giving the number of rounds that will be played, don’t return anything
  • get_ready(): do any final initialization
  • announce_result(result): take a list with all the other players’ plays from the most recent round (the same player will always occupy the same place in this list)
  • play(): return your number for the round

An example minimal contestant could look like this:

class Player:
    def __init__(self, number = 4):
        self.always_play_this_number = number
    def get_ready(self):
    def announce_num_players(self, num):
    def announce_game_length(self, num):
    def announce_result(self, result):
    def play(self):
        return self.always_play_this_number

(Always play 4 unless initialized to always play something else, and don’t do anything with the extra information.)

Secondly, you can come up with a distribution. It can be a constant distribution, with constant probabilities for each number, like this:

[0.3, 0.3, 0.3, 0.1]

(play numbers 1-3 with a probability of 30% each and number 4 with a probability of 10%)

or a list comprehension that uses information about the number of players and rounds, like this:

[1.0/num_players for x in range(num_players)]

(play numbers up to the number of players with equal probability)

or any other convenient-to-me way of describing a distribution in list form.

Submissions are open until I’m satisfied that most people I know who might be interested have had time to come up with a submission. I will be happy to help with the programming if you’d like. I will be participating myself, but I promise I will not use information from other submissions.

Send submissions to my email address which should be visible in the side panel, preferably with a subject like “Smallest number challenge”.

The prize is the joy of participation, and it will be given to all participants!

Details about the tournament arrangements

I will score each tournament in at least two ways: the official way and Vadim’s zero-sum way.

  • In the official scoring, a player who plays a winning move receives one point. A player who doesn’t play a winning move receives zero points.
  • In Vadim’s zero-sum scoring for n-player tournaments, the winner gets n-1 points, losers get -1 point, and if there’s no winner, everyone gets 0 points.

I will run several tournaments with varying numbers of rounds, all with the full complement of participating players.

The tournament-running program will always call announce_game_length() and announce_num_players() for each player before a tournament starts, and announce_result() every time a round has been completed. Players that support the special value None as an argument from these functions will participate in a special tournament where the players don’t get this information.

Here’s to new experiences

Posted by – May 14, 2011

Went to see The Tiger Lillies, of which it perhaps suffices to say

(if you’re reading on Google reader, the object that’s supposed to be here doesn’t appear for some reason)

I’m crucifying Jesus, banging in the nails
and I am so happy, because old Jesus failed
I’m crucifying Jesus, nail him to the cross
The poor old bastard bleeds to death
and I don’t give a toss.

I’m bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang – banging in the nails
I’m bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang – banging in the nails
I’m bang – bang – bang – bang – banging in the nails
I’m bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang – banging in the nails

I’m crucifying Jesus, in my piss he’s bathed
I think I am a pervert, I think I am depraved
I’m crucifying Jesus, beat him to a pulp
I stick my organ in his mouth and on it he must gulp.

I’m bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang – banging in the nails
Bang – bang – bang – bang – banging in the nails
I’m bang – bang – bang – bang – banging in the nails
I’m bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang – banging in the nails

You see that crown of thorns upon his head?
Well that was my idea!
I think I might be going to Hell
Oh… dear!
Bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang – banging in the nails
Bang – bang – bang – bang – banging in the nails
Bang – bang – bang – bang – banging in the nails
I’m bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang – banging in the nails!

Bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang – banging in the nails
I’m bang – bang – bang – bang – banging in the nails
I’m bang – bang – bang – bang – banging in the nails
I’m bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang – banging in the nails!

Bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang – banging in the nails
I’m bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang – banging in the nails
I’m bang – bang – bang – bang – banging in the nails
I’m bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang – banging in the nails!

Consider the chorus structure! I determined during the first half that this was music (and other performance) that warranted emotional participation rather than abstracted appreciation, so we rushed to take some universal fun enhancer during the interval, and it was exactly the right decision. We even got to briefly meet the guys after the show as they hawked records and autographs. Hard working band! Adrian Huge, the drummer, recommended The Brothel to the Cemetery, citing the above-given track.

It’s a strange thing to meet artists right after they’ve given a draining performance – they kind of wanted to connect with fans or whatever, but exuded a tired/wary sense of “these kids better not try to follow us to the pub”, which is of course completely understandable.

Not stopping there, day after next I got to meet Patri Friedman and other Less Wrong people at a meetup. We discussed meta-optimisation (how much should you concentrate on improving your processes, on improving the way you improve, on improving that etc. versus “just doing things”), dangerous opinions and liberal-mindedness, focus-enhancing drugs and of course seasteading. Hard working guy!

GIF of Babel

Posted by – May 1, 2011

Apropos of (yet another) Internet discussion about random images and texts (“Imagine, if you generated all the possible random images of a certain size they would include a picture of me writing this comment and masturbating Gandhi at the same time!”) I generated random images and stared at them to see if I could “find” anything in them. Of course, this makes less sense than playing a lottery where you try to pick one winning atom from the entire universe, but hey. The brain’s pattern-forcing algorithm is pretty good though, because you almost always end up seeing “something”. This seems to be emphasized when you see pictures in sequence, because you start imagining movement. So here’s an animated gif file with 40 images of size 130×230, with 256 colours (I’m not sure exactly which ones – I randomly generated images from (256*256*256) -space, and some gif-encoding algorithm must have flattened them down somehow).

I’m mostly seeing purple bubbles form and burst.

Conversion therapy, in two scenes

Posted by – April 30, 2011

Scene one

HARVEY: So Nick, I saw you making out with that guy last night.

NICK: Yeah… haha. Just experimenting, you know.

HARVEY: Oh yeah? You ever done that before?

NICK: Ah, yeah… a couple of times.

HARVEY: So… you’re, like, bisexual?

NICK: Uh, I don’t know. Maybe. I just want to give it a try, open my mind. I mean, everyone is part gay, right?

HARVEY: Yeah, I’ve…

NICK: I mean I’ve never fancied a guy that way. But I don’t know how much of that is, you know, social conditioning. I’m kind of trying to find the gay me.

HARVEY: Yeah, ok, no, I get that. That’s cool. Really everyone should try something like that. It should be in sexual education or something, haha.

NICK: Yeah, haha, I don’t know.

Scene two

HARVEY: So Nick, how’s the love life?

NICK: Uh, not very… I, um, I guess I didn’t tell you about this. I’m doing this therapy thing.

HARVEY: Therapy, like psychotherapy? Is everything all right?

NICK: Yeah, no, no, it’s all right. It’s… I got into it through church, it’s like, reparative therapy. To, you know, try to fight it.

HARVEY: Fight what, being gay?

NICK: Being gay is… it’s like any psychological… you know, it’s like an addiction. You can fight it.

HARVEY: Jesus, this is so stupid. Did your parents get you into this?

NICK: No, I mean, they know, but it’s my own…

HARVEY: Listen. There is nothing wrong with being gay. It’s not a disease. It’s normal. It’s just the way you are.

NICK: No, I don’t… I just don’t see it like that. I don’t want it for myself. It’s a sin and it makes me feel bad.

HARVEY: Listen to yourself! It’s all about some religious bullshit, it’s not even about you. I mean, I could understand…

NICK: I know you don’t believe, and that’s fine, but just respect my decision, all right?

HARVEY: Fine. I’m just telling you right now, you can’t “cure” being gay. There’s just no way you can turn yourself straight even if you wanted.

Clash of the tightest tribute

Posted by – April 29, 2011

One of my favourites in contemporary humorous writing is the Clash of the Tightest series published in Modern Drunkard Magazine over Sept. 2002 – Apr. 2003 (part one, part two, part three, part four, part five, part six, semifinals, final). The premise is that in some unexplained circumstance, famous drunks compete at the sport of drinking, each taking turns ordering rounds of anything they choose. All the contestants are deceased, as are the ringside commentators, Howard Cosell and Laurence Olivier (if that stroke of genius isn’t enough to convince you that this idea is gold I don’t know what will).

The original Clash of the Tightest was a knock-out tournament with 16 participants and (therefore) 15 bouts. That’s rather too much writing and researching for me to do, but I’ll see if I can’t manage an 8-way tribute tournament. I probably won’t do nice photoshops of the participants like the originals did – you’re welcome to contribute any offerings of your own. I won’t use anyone from the originals (the impressive cast is Humphrey Bogart, Charles Bukowski, Richard Burton, Lord Byron, Winston Churchill, William Faulkner, W.C. Fields, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Jackie Gleason, Ernest Hemingway, Dorothy Parker, Edgar Allen Poe, Dean Martin, Babe Ruth, Dylan Thomas and Orson Welles) but I’ll give myself a break by allowing living participants. Also, God knows when I get around to writing the next instalment. Without further ado,

Clash of the Tightest

2011 edition

Good evening sports fans, and welcome to the Gnome King’s Wine Cellar, the venue for this year’s edition of Clash of the Tightest. The rules are unchanged, but just to recap:

The rules

  1. A coin toss determines who orders the first round.
  2. The opponents will then take turns ordering rounds of whatever alcoholic beverage they wish.
  3. A drinker must finish his drink within ten seconds of his opponent finishing his or face disqualification.
  4. The contest will continue until a contender loses by Passing Out (a PO), by being unable or refusing to continue with the contest (a Technical Pass Out, or TPO) or vomiting into the referee’s bucket (a VO).
  5. Opponents may speak to each other, but cannot make physical contact. Contact will result in disqualification.

This edition pits eight storied drunks against each other. Some are physically dead, others living, but the metaphysical manifestations of all are of equivalent nature in the Gnome King’s Wine Cellar.

The field

Hunter S. Thompson
Christopher Hitchens
Tom Waits
Shane MacGowan
Jack Kerouac
Boris Yeltsin
John Bonham
Raymond Chandler

Bout #1

Hunter “Loathin'” Thompson
Christopher “Sharper than a broken whisky bottle” Hitchens

Tale of the Tab

Hunter is very much a mixed bag – he has a fearsome reputation, but as much of it is for guns, insanity and drugs as for hard drinking. Nevertheless, his drinking has been known to be workmanlike and fairly continuous, and if he doesn’t burn out fast, the other contestants will find it hard to go the distance.
The very picture of a functional alcoholic, Christopher is known for belting down enough whisky to put a lesser man to sleep prior to going on television to rhetorically crush his enemies with nary a slurred word or confused thought. There have been rumours that the Hitch’s whisky-in-hand persona is all a big front, but none can doubt that when it comes to the psychological side of the sport, Hitchens is close to unbeatable.

The Build Up

Howard Cosell:Thompson will have to watch his temper here. He never suffered fools gladly, but he enjoyed getting outsmarted even less. If Hitchens can get under Hunter’s skin, I think he can pull off an upset.
Laurence Olivier: But first he must dance with the devil – perhaps a not unfamiliar business to mr. Hitchens.
HC: And here come the contestants – Hitchens as expected in his pre-cancer, cleanshaven fortyish appearance – Thompson with the first surprise, he has a somewhat tired, leathery appearance from the nineties.
LO: I thought he detested old age. Then again, by that time he had largely been able to give up working for drinking.

Christopher Hitchens wins the toss.

Round One

Hitchens orders Johnnie Walker Black Label with Perrier
LO: Oh dear! Could it be that Christopher is feeling the effects of the pre-tournament party?
HC: Hunter certainly doesn’t seem to mind. He doesn’t look too perky himself.
LO They thirstily drain their glasses in silence.

Round Two

Thompson orders tumblers of Chivas Regal
HC: Another waiting move.
LO: “Sorry I didn’t cut it with anything, man. I just like the taste,” Thompson announces in his rapid-fire mumble. “That fails to explain why you ordered Chivas,” retorts Hitchens, not very lightly.
HC: “Oh shit, I’m drinking with a nerd,” says Hunter. They’re both smiling now.

Round Three

Hitchens orders tumblers of Johnnie Walker Black Label
LO: Hitchens is starting to look more animated already. “To Richard Nixon,” he toasts, “the gift that never stopped giving.”
HC: Thompson grimaces. “I don’t know, that stuff gets so old…” “I’m still going on God,” shrugs Hitchens. They clink glasses and knock back their drinks.
LO: It’s like they’re old comrades! Could it be that Hitchens is a fan?

Round Four

Thompson orders cans of Heineken
HC: He wanted to order six-packs, but it wasn’t allowed.
LO: Hitchens seems to be having some trouble with his can, gingerly trying to lift the ring with his fingernail.
HC: Thompson cracked his open expertly, and is now sensing opportunity: he’s chugging it down in one!
LO: The crowd is getting agitated. Hitchens smiles in frustration, but it doesn’t look sincere. Now he’s pounding his elbow into the top. It gives! And Thompson is done!
HC: It’s going to go down to the line! Hitchens starts guzzling it down, struggling with the foam and carbonation. He looks very uncomfortable.
LO: Is there some coming out of his nose? He finishes on the nine count, but Thompson’s corner is screaming foul.
HC: To no effect. Thompson’s grinning, he’s starting to have fun.
LO: And Hitchens has fire in his eyes.

Round Five

Hitchens orders large Brutal Hammers
LO: Red wine and vodka, I believe.
HC: Hitchens is opposed to mixing drinks, but there isn’t much he can do to avoid it here in any case, and Thompson wasn’t a big wine man. I like this move.
LO: Thompson doesn’t appear too comfortable with the warm, full-bodied, high-octane drink. He’s more used to chilled, easy-drinking whisky and beer.
HC: “I’ll order the beer in a glass if you go back to the good stuff”, he promises. “I’ll do no such thing. I refuse to be stuck here swilling fifth-rate watered-down brewing adjuncts a moment longer that I have to,” Hitchens fires back.
LO: “Hey, I was taking it easy on you. If you want to ride wild, it’s you who’s going to regret it.” “That which can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence.”
HC: It’s on!

Round Six

Thompson orders snow cones with pixie dust
LO: Shaved ice drenched in Chivas, with cocaine along the rim. That raised some eyebrows.
HC: It’s up to Hitchens to protest, but he calmly lays into the concoction.
LO: The hard-to-drink Brutal Hammer must have rattled Thompson. He starts with the cocaine, snorting all the way around the rim, and it seems to perk him up. He then begins spooning up the whisky slurry like it’s yoghurt.
HC: Hitchens ventures a sniff of the cocaine. The referee informs him that he’s under no compulsion to finish it. Thompson offers to help, but is rebuffed.

Round Seven

Hitchens orders large Brutal Hammers
LO: No rest for the wicked. Thompson grimaces, but immediately begins guzzling down the beastly potion.
HC: It doesn’t go down easy: he sputters and starts coughing. Looks like some went down the wrong way.
LO: The cocaine made him hyperactive, if you ask me. Hitchens has lit up a cigarette and is calmly finishing his drink.
HC: Thompson gapes at the cigarette and immediately begins fiddling with his cigarette holder. Did he forget about the possibility of smoking? Hitchens is done now, and Thompson is trying to drink and light a cigarette at the same time.
LO: He manages just in time and looks pleased with himself. Hitchens lets out a long sigh.

Round Eight

Thompson orders Jack Daniels and coffee
HC: He’s looking to rev up even more. “Hey, what sports do you have out there in England? Soccer, right?”
LO: “I’m actually an American citizen as well now. But yes, I believe that’s what the proletariat occupies itself with. Called football, by the way.”
HC: “You wanted to be an American? You must be fucked in the mind. Welcome to the club,” replies Thompson friendlily.
LO: Hitchens isn’t having any of it. “Thanks, but I’m a proud citizen, and I’m proud to be sane as well. It helps if you want to be a writer. Of course, your career was based on something else.”
HC: “Well fuck you, you fat British asshole,” Thompson summarily returns. Hitchens is unfazed.

Rounds Nine through Thirteen

Hitchens orders large Brutal Hammers, Thompson orders Margaritas
LO: A rather aggressive mood has set in. They trade insults; of each other and U.S. Presidents, mostly.
HC: Categories that go together pretty naturally for them, I think. Both are interested in power and importance.
LO: Thompson is defending Reagan now, and Hitchens George Bush, who Thompson is insisting on referring to as “pigfucker”. You wouldn’t believe it but to hear it!
HC: Anything to keep it interesting, I think.

Round Fourteen

Thompson orders Chartreuse
LO: Hitchens’ head is getting very red and bloated now, while Thompson has a crazy intensity in his eyes. “You look like you’re ready to drop, fat man,” I think he says – it comes out almost unintelligibly.
HC: “The taunts of a failed addict who took the easy way out of life. I fail to be moved,” replies Hitchens, alert as ever.
LO: Hunter appears to be slightly hurt by that.

Round Fifteen

Hitchens orders tumblers of Gordon’s gin
HC: “You know what you’re remembered for?”, queries Hitchens. “Drugs and stupidity. You were a freak. They made a movie about it, for the kids. Nobody cares about what you wrote because you were a lazy bum who didn’t do the work and didn’t do the thinking.”
LO: Thompson begins to reply, but I can’t make sense of it. The body is going strong but the mind can’t grip. He’s shaking his head like a punch-drunk boxer.
HC: “The greedy, boring people won,” Hitchens continues. “I wonder, how does it feel to be completely irrelevant?”
LO: Thompson starts up again, but gives up in frustration. He bellows out “You fascist fuck!” and – launches out of his chair and physically attacks Hitchens!
HC Hitchens shies away and tucks his head into his arms to protect himself, but Thompson gets a good punch in before he’s pulled off by the officiators. This can’t be good for the sport.

Hitchens wins by disqualification.

Post Fight Interview

Thompson: We shouldn’t allow those stuck-up British fucks into the country. This is why we had a revolution in the first place.
Hitchens: I was under the distinct impression there would be a speaker’s fee.