Thought of the day

I’m thankful every day that I don’t have some terrible condition like diabetes or heart disease or even colon cancer.

Merry Christmas

I think 2017 is the year that I update this picture.

Merry Christmas

Should I face my plates in or out at the gym?

If you go to a gym with older equipment, you’ve most likely found yourself dealing with asymmetrical plates. While these may not be as convenient as the spoke-wheel type of plates that newer gyms tend to have, there is something to be said for the feel of authenticity that they give your workout. However, if you’re like me, then they come with a downside that’s so big you need to make a blog post about it: people putting them on things backwards.

The type of plates I’m talking about are the ones where one side is completely flat and the other side has a lip. The lip-side of the plate will display how much a given plate weighs, and there may also be a logo. Here’s an example:

plates-out

The backs aren’t visible, but they have nothing on them. They are also facing the correct way. And the only reason they’re facing the correct way is because they’re from my gym and I was the one who fixed them.

If you google which way people should orient their plates, you’re going to get a few basic responses. Most people will say that they don’t care. Either it isn’t something they think about or they go to a gym that has newer plates. A surprising number of people will say they face the plates with the label in. And the relatively few of us who have actually put some thought into what makes sense will tell you that the above picture is correct.

(Another answer you may get is that Olympic rules say the first plate goes on backwards and the rest go on forwards. This is almost purely for advertising purposes.)

The people who say plates should go on backwards – that is, letters first – will usually cite a myth they’ve heard about wobble reduction. They believe that having the lip side on the bar first will somehow make everything more stable. It won’t. First, the same amount of material is touching the barbell in either scenario. Second, if the rest of the plates are facing the same way, then it makes no difference anyway. Third, anyone who has actually been to a gym can tell you that it makes no difference. Close your eyes with the plates oriented one way or the other. Do a few reps of whatever. You won’t be able to tell which way anything is facing. Fourth, if wobble is such an issue for you, then you can use clips (which, incidentally, will be tighter to the lip side than the flat side).

But why does this matter, you may find yourself asking yourself this far into the post. There are a few reasons. First, it’s not that it really matters which way a person wants to put plates on a bar. What matters is how they return the plates to the trees, such as the one featured above. It is wildly easier to pick off a 45 pound plate that has something to grip than it is to pick off a flat one. Even more importantly, people are assholes who over-fill pegs. Sometimes you have to barely touch a weight and it will seemingly just fall. I’d rather not break my foot because someone couldn’t be bothered to do something correctly. Second, not everyone has been going to the gym for 20 years. It isn’t always obvious which is a 10 pound plate and which is 5 pounds. I’m a well-seasoned veteran of the gym scene and I still occasionally grab the wrong weights. Facing the plates out so that they can be read is about basic respect for others. Third, a lot of people can’t seem to be bothered to place the same sized plates on the same pegs. In the picture above, the top peg had 5 pound plates on it before I got there. The second peg also had 5 pound plates. Some people are assholes and they aren’t going to pay attention no matter what, but I’m convinced a lot of people just need a simple visual cue to get things straight.

Please, for the love of whatever you worship, face your plates out. It doesn’t matter which way you do it on the bar, but get into the habit of doing it with the lip side out anyway. Not only will it be easier to pull off the bar, but it’ll also make it far more natural for you to re-peg the plate the correct way since it will already be oriented correctly.

Trump’s victory is bad in the short-term, but potentially great in the long-term

Without a doubt, the worst part of Trump’s victory is the fact that he will get to appoint at least one justice to the Supreme Court. Antonin Scalia’s death was likely the greatest political news of the century, so it’s doubtful that Trump will be able to find someone as bad as he was. Unfortunately, if he gets to replace Ginsburg, it won’t matter who he picks to replace Scalia or her. He’s going to get to add a conservative justice, swinging the court further to the right.

However, despite the problems of the Supreme Court, a Trump victory is not significantly worse than had Romney won in 2012 (or any other Republican for this election). No progress would be made on global warming under either scenario. The NSA would continue to fundamentally (and with fucking glee) violate the rights of literally every single American. Brown people overseas would keep getting droned. None of that would be different just because Trump happens to also be a bad person. Indeed, with the exception of Democrat lip service towards global warming, all of those things would be the same had Clinton won. We are not in a significantly different position in most areas.

So how is this better in the long-term? Consider the real difference between Clinton and Trump. It isn’t on spying or hawkish foreign policy or spending. It’s almost entirely in their rhetoric. Clinton, while ethically questionable through-and-through, isn’t crass. She has some basic decency in how she expresses herself. Trump, on the other hand, is a raging moron who mocks disabled reporters and grabs women by the pussy. His outsider nature was able to override people’s disgust with him as a person, but that novelty will fade. And as it does, we’re going to see a continued split amongst Republican voters. Combine that with the minor defections we’re going to see from Democrats who weren’t happy with the DNC primary rigging, and we have the perfect storm for the rise of a third party.

I’m not sure which third party we might see in 2020, but whichever one it is, it will have to to be the middle of the road. The Libertarians fit that bill, but the problem with them is that people conflate libertarianism as a political movement with libertarianism as a philosophy. Any political theory must take reality into account whereas the same isn’t true of philosophy. The Libertarian party isn’t rigid in its views, and neither was its candidate, but that didn’t matter to people because they know the philosophy is much more straight-forward. I can’t remember how many times someone told me Gary Johnson believed x when, in fact, he didn’t. People would assume he believed x because it would be consistent with libertarian philosophy to do so, but they never bothered to actually look up what he said. (For instance, did you know Johnson wanted to eliminate the EPA? Crazy, right? Except he didn’t. In fact, he cited the EPA as a well-run government agency that he supported.)

If people on one side or the other try to rise up with a third party, however, it will fail. We saw that with the Tea Party, and we see it every time the Green party gets a little momentum. These ultra-right and ultra-left groups are inherently on the fringes. They can’t succeed because they can never draw nearly enough of the people from the center. Just consider the 3 main third party candidates. Gary Johnson was the closest to the middle, so he did the best. Jill Stein? She’s far-left, so she did poorly. Evan McMullin? Even when we recognize his limited ballot access, he still had no chance of pulling anyone from the Clinton camp.

This is my great hope from the election. We desperately need a viable third party, and disgust with Trump can fuel that. For whatever negative consequences he may bring, his presidency may prove to be the end of the two party duopoly.

A third-party vote is not a vote for Clinton or Trump

I’m no libertarian by any stretch of the imagination, but there’s zero chance I’m going to vote for either Clinton or Trump. A vote for either of them is a vote for the NSA, and (aside from global warming) there is no current bigger threat to democracy itself than the utter destruction of privacy. (And to think, people used to be upset about the idea of the government looking at their library history.)

On the other hand, a vote for Gary Johnson is simply a vote for Gary Johnson. I may not like all his stands, but there isn’t a single viable candidate who will protect basic liberty like he will.

gj

Gary Johnson is on all 50 ballots

You don’t have to vote for Clinton or Trump. The former is a criminal who risks national security and is likely in ill-health. The latter is a tax-dodging scammer. Both of them will promote what is literally the greatest government-created threat to democracy – the NSA – since Adolf Hitler. You will never have any privacy ever again if either of them wins.

Fortunately, there is a viable third choice: Gary Johnson. I don’t agree with him on everything, but he is by far the most sane, most reasonable, and most honest candidate we have. (And, yes, he did know what Aleppo was. Once he realized what they were talking about, he gave a nuanced answer where he suggested that the US and Russia broker a cease-fire. That’s exactly what happened within weeks.)

Don’t let the libertarian title scare you from voting for Gary Johnson. The overwhelming majority of what people will tell you he believes is flat out lies based on nothing more than his political affiliation. In the past 24 hours, I’ve had people either wonder if or outright say that he’s a creationist (no), he rejects global warming (no), and he’s against environmental regulation (no).

Thought of the day

Whenever I see an article telling me I need to vote for Clinton in order to prevent a Trump presidency, all I read is, “If you don’t vote for someone who will continue to strengthen the greatest threat to democracy since Adolf Hitler – that is, the NSA – then someone else who will continue to strengthen the greatest threat to democracy since Adolf Hitler might win.”