Things I'm Good At (by percentile rank) - 8/5/06
The other night over a game of beer pong, Sam, Jeremy, Noah and I got in a discussion over exactly how good we were at playing Dr. Mario, our latest passing productivity-killer in South Bay. Now, I'm a pretty good Dr. Mario player - it was one of my favorite Nintendo games growing up. And yet Sam and Jeremy, who've been playing more, are both able to beat me pretty much every time. Even though the games are ridiculously competitive - anyone who stepped in off the street would be completely smoked by any of the three of us - I'm clearly the bronze medalist of the group.

Which begged the question; exactly how good are we at this game, compared to the general population? Sam made the bold claim on his website that he was in the 99th-percentile of Dr. Mario playing ability in the world, a claim that was later challenged by several of his readers. But think about it: what percentage of the world has even ever played Dr. Mario for Nintendo? I mean, at least 15% of the world's population has never even seen a Nintendo. And of those who have, probably many have never played it, are too old for Dr. Mario, or prefer Tetris, Bubble Bros, or another of my personal favorites, Arkanoid. Honestly, probably only 10% of the world's population - at the most - has ever played Dr. Mario, and most of those probably aren't very good at it.

So it it really so audacious to suggest that Sam would be in the top 1-percentile? That's like saying I'm in the 99th percentile of living in Redondo Beach. Hell, even Noah, who sucks at Dr. Mario, is probably in the 99th percentile. Sam's probably in the 99.9th percentile, being the best of three players who firmly rule ass at Dr. Mario.

Of course, this isn't very fair. If I just picked a random person out of the population to play Dr. Mario against me, it'd probably be a tribesman from rural Zimbabwe who attacks the screen. In order to truly consider percentile rankings, it's better to take a smattering of all kinds of skills. I might not rank quite so well in, for example, navigating a rain forest, as I do in popping pills into bottles in esoteric video games.

Thus, the following list of important skills, and what percentile I think I would probably rank, compared to the world's general population.

My skill level at arbitrary tasks, by percentile rank:
Untying a knot 17%
Building a fire 65%
Milking a cow or goat 22%
Throwing a curve ball 99%
Building a shed 54%
Singing a folk song 31%
Rocking a baby to sleep 22%
Finding the integral of 4x3ex97%
Digging a well 46%
Fixing a carburetor 50%
Menstruating 10%
Speaking French 60%
Speaking Portuguese 1%
Sailing a boat 29%
Training a wild animal 8%
Analyzing stock market trends 90%
Growing corn 14%
Owning a computer 98%
Knitting a sweater 12%
Playing soccer 72%
Playing Dr. Mario for the original NES 99%
Kicking a field goal 86%
Applying eye shadow 7%
Firing a gun 52%
Dancing a waltz 13%
Cooking a chicken 21%
Eating cereal 99%
Playing beerpong 99%

There you have it. Ladies, test your compatibility here.

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