Tag Archives: competition

The history of blind auditions

From Nat Hentoff’s (really) excellent At the Jazz Band Ball: Sixty Years on the Jazz Scene. This selection is from chapter 47, “The Thoreau of Jazz”:

Art Davis, who died of aheart attack at seventy-three on July 29, 3007, was, for me, the Henry David Thoreau of jazz. I’ve known many people in the jazz family with admirable integrity, but Art Davis’s was fiercely unbreakable, whatever the cost.

Art Davis was a complete musician, as authoritative in a symphonic orchestra, a Broadway pit band, network studio assignment or accompanying, as he did, Judy Garland or country music comedienne Minne Pearl.

He also became a pariah in parts of the music business for years because he insisted on breaking the color line in symphony orchestras. As I had reported in the The Reporter magazine in the late 1950s, it was not only that Jim Crow managed much of that hiring. Also, as positions opened in an orchestra, the first-chair players (all of them white) would get management to hire their best students (also white) for those chairs.

For years, Art, having been turned down by leading symphony orchestras, challenged the conductors to pit him against any classical bassist they chose in an open competition. There were no takers. In the 1970s, he sued the New York State Philharmonic for racial discrimination, and as the years went on, until the case was dismissed, Art lost a lot of the previously highly diversified work for which he had been sought. Obviously, the man was a “troublemaker”.

But because of the lawsuit, the attendant publicity and Art’s continuing challenge to put any symphonic bass part–however deeply traditional or unprecedently avant-garde–before him in competition for a gig in any world-famous orchestra, he became the major force that created “blind auditions”. It became the practice, when there was an opening for any instrument, to audition the player behind a screen so that those judging his or her abilities–Art also protested gender discrimination–could hear the music but not see the musician. He lost the lawsuit, but won the battle.

Here is William Osborne with more on blind auditions and gender.

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Sexual differences: mating behavior in high status and low status males

From the Guardian:

There is a large body of primate research on the evolutionary origins of aggressive male sexual jealousy, covering the strategies of rape, harassment, intimidation and monopolisation of time – referred to as “mate guarding”. Males usually behave in these sexually coercive ways around fertile females they want to impregnate. These strategies can be observed in all ape species, but less so among gorillas, who live in harems with a dominant silverback male. Sexually aggressive male behaviour has evolved as an adaptation to living in multi-male, multi-female societies where there is a lot of choice in mating opportunities but also a lot of sexual rivalry.

These sorts of sexually aggressive male behaviours are more often exhibited by low-status males. High-status males who have repeatedly shown kindness, and are high status due to their mix of good genes for intelligence and physical stamina, are more likely to have females soliciting them for sex rather than their having to harass or rape in order to mate.

The article cites this article from Animal Behavior. Here is the abstract:

In a wide range of animal species, males coerce females to mate with them, either by physically forcing them to mate, by harassing them until they mate or by punishing persistent refusal to mate. The first section of this paper argues that the possibility of forced copulation can generate arms races between males and females that may have substantial costs to both sexes. In the second section, it is suggested that sexual harassment commonly represents a ‘war of attrition’ between the sexes; existing game theory models that may apply to sexual conflict over mating decisions are reviewed. The third section develops a simple prospective model for the evolution of intimidation by punishment in situations where males can raise the probability that females will accept their advances in future by punishing them for refusal to mate. Where the benefits of sexual coercion to males are high, all three male strategies may develop to a point where they have substantial costs to females. In the final section, evidence that female behaviour is adapted to minimizing these costs is reviewed.

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On competition in the payday loan market

How competitive is the payday loan market? This is a question that as far as I know is unanswered. You would think that competition would stimulate innovation in the sense that as more payday lenders enter the market you would see firms starting to bundle financial products and offering lower fees or interest rates. Is this the case in Missouri or any other state? I don’t know, but it seems to me that these are all questions worth answering.

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