2014 in review: reflections on the past year (or so) of training

This is going to be a multi-part series (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6) looking at the training I did throughout 2014 and into 2015, focusing on numerous approaches to programming, what worked, and what didn’t. This post will cover through early 2014. The next post will look in more detailed at what worked through the first half of 2014. The third post will cover the multi-modal program I started in August 2014, and I will write modality-focused posts for my lifting, endurance training, and bodyweight/gymnastic strength training (GST). 


At the end of 2013, I had been in my current graduate program for about three months. Living in a place without good hiking nearby, I had largely stopped hiking except for once every couple of months when I would make it home for a visit. I had no climbing gym, so I had stopped climbing with the 2-3x per week frequency I had maintained for the previous couple of years. I was lifting 1-2x per week. That was it for physical activity. I had never realized how active I was until the end of 2013, when my body felt weak, creaky, and unhappy. On the rare occasion I was able to hike, previously easy trails were difficult and left me feeling worn-out. Pulling ability started being a limiting factor in bouldering. This was incredibly depressing to me, as my body had always felt reasonable strong and capable. I resolved to fix myself. Continue reading 2014 in review: reflections on the past year (or so) of training

A thought on exploitation

I was at a friend’s talk recently, where she defended the claim that surrogacy tourism is morally permissible. She pointed to the extent to which the women involved benefit financially, to the long-term gains to their families, to the relationships they form, and so forth. Some people just felt that even if an individual woman benefits, she is still being exploited.

This struck me as implausible. I’m inclined to think that if both parties on-balance benefit, the relationship is not exploitative. I considered a counterexample: what if the surrogate mother is only paid a dollar? Does that still make it non-exploitative? And I was inclined to say that such a relationship seems exploitative, but I realized that I was smuggling in some intuitions about the statistical risks of pregnancy. Well, not every surrogate mother is the statistical average. This made me think that perhaps certain classes of relationships could be considered exploitative, but not the individual relationships themselves. Thus, perhaps relationships of surrogacy wherein the mothers are paid almost nothing, such that on average they would not on-balance benefit, would be exploitative. Individual relationships would not be exploitative, but the class of relationships would. And then, perhaps, within the total class there would be sub-classes of relationships that were not on-balance exploitative: say, very healthy (i.e. low-risk) mothers with little by way of economic resources who benefit very profoundly from the extra income.

Police weaponry

First, it seems that police are too quick to pull a gun and shoot people. Second, it seems that there are still plenty of examples where police having guns saves lives (mass shootings and the like). I have noticed that police seem to do most of their killing with a pistol, a weapon they have available at all times, no matter what. Perhaps, instead of giving cops pistols, we should only give them AR-15s. This gives them a viable (superior) option during actual gunfights, mass shootings, and so forth, but also takes away the option of impulsively shooting people or simply wandering foolishly into a situation and escalating it till they kill someone. The AR-15 is too unwieldy to carry around, but can be locked in a car until it is needed.

Proposing a new rule of inference for the internet

My suggestion is simple:

  1. Asserts p smugly.
  2. Therefore, not-p.

One of the most important lessons I’ve learned from studying philosophy (and biology, for that matter) is how very little I know. In high school, I tended to think that people who disagreed with me must simply be foolish. (Not surprising — I was in high school.) Didn’t they see? The answer was so obvious. Of course p.  Now that I am older and (marginally) wiser, I have come to realize that many questions of philosophy, of science, of history — they all have reasonable people on both sides of the question. The evidence just looks different to people.

Something I have noticed, though, is that people who are very smug in their knowledge are almost always wrong: people who sneer about the US funding the Taliban in the 1980s (when it didn’t exist), people who sarcastically sneer that torture obviously does not work because you cannot trust the answers you’re given, people who take the position that racism only exists in the US because people keep talking about it but that it is otherwise imaginary…it’s not just that they’re factually wrong, it’s that they’re wrong and cocky. In my experience, smugness is a pretty good heuristic for being uninformed. Being uninformed is, in turn, a pretty good heuristic for being wrong.

Therefore: I have decided that henceforth, should someone smugly assert p, I will assume not-p.

The culture of guns

Over the last couple of years, an increase in random mass shootings has generated strong emotions regarding the question of gun rights in America. Many Americans (and probably most of the rest of the world) believe strongly that if Americans would pass gun control laws which were a good deal more restrictive, these incidents would occur less frequently. Sometimes, though less often, it is supposed that more gun restrictions will help alleviate the sort of criminal-on-criminal violence which constitutes the majority of homicides in America. Of course, on the other side we have the arguments that strict gun control will either fail to alleviate violent crime or will actually lead to an increase in violent crime, due to a lack of guns among “good guys”. These are extremely vague characterizations, but I think they capture the outlines of what each “side” of the debate wants.

Today, I just want to talk about some of the cultural disconnects which I think we have between gun people and non-gun people.

Continue reading The culture of guns

The drug war and indirect reparations

So, like many people, I was pretty amazed by Ta-Nehisi Coates’ article in The Atlantic, The Case for Reparations. It’s powerfully and elegantly written. It seems to be well-researched. And the cumulative case that it builds, while not all that explicit, was one that I found pretty potent. Like others, however, I am skeptical of financial reparations for the many atrocities of black subjugation. (Before I continue, it should be noted that Coates isn’t really arguing for that, title notwithstanding.) In this post, I’ll briefly discuss my two objections to straightforward financial reparations, and then an idea I have which seems like an improvement.

Continue reading The drug war and indirect reparations

Thoughts on Wallace and the realism constraint

I recently read Jay Wallace’s The View From Here, in which he discusses the tensions which arise in our moral psychology when trying to affirm anything in our lives unconditionally. In this post, I’ll try to resist some of Wallace’s claims which, he thinks, require us to have a very ambivalent attitude about our own lives and our place in world history.

Continue reading Thoughts on Wallace and the realism constraint

analytic philosophy, strength and conditioning, emerging Christianity, libertarian politics, and chivalry