Monthly Archives: January 2013

My Burpee Workout

Not this.

Not this.

I posted a few weeks ago about my workout schedule, and there was mention of a 100-rep pullup burpee workout. It’s actually pretty varied so I thought I would post it here with some explanation, since burpees are wonderful conditioning exercises that get a lot done in such a short time.

There’s a lot of variations here, so if you keep your form good for all of these you will get a great total body workout. I take 30-60 second breaks in between sets and I finish in about in around 17-20 minutes.

Here’s PDFs I made that I’ve printed out and have been using. I have it pretty much memorized by rote by now but it helped having the list on hand.

Burpee Workout
Burpee Workout Simplified

One last thing: how to make a cheap/permanent homemade pull up bar, from The Fit Blog. I made one in my basement from these directions. I don’t know how much longer that post will be up because the blog seems to be languishing, so here’s the diagram for safekeeping.

Push up Pull up
Standard width Standard width (overhand)
Wide fly Wide grip (overhand)
Staggered (left hand leading) Over/Under (left over)*
Staggered (right hand leading) Over/Under (right over)*
Military Close-grip overhand
Decline Chin up
Pike Corn Cob
Diamond Close-grip chin up
Standard (slow-motion, left leg up) Standard L-shaped (left leg only)
Standard (slow-motion, right leg up) Standard L-shaped (right leg only)

I also made a simplified version of only five variations. It’s easy to remember but it might help to tack it up in the workout room anyways.

Push up Pull up
Standard width Standard width (overhand)
Wide fly Wide grip (overhand)
Staggered (left hand leading) Over/Under (left over)*
Staggered (right hand leading) Over/Under (right over)*
Military Close-grip overhand
Standard width Standard width (overhand)
Wide fly Wide grip (overhand)
Staggered (left hand leading) Over/Under (left over)*
Staggered (right hand leading) Over/Under (right over)*
Military Close-grip overhand

* I kinda sorta came up with this pull up type on my own, though surely someone else thought of them too. They are pretty much commando pull ups but the grip is standard instead of narrow. Basically you have one hand over and one hand under the bar. Simple.

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I F*cking Love the Universe!

Not pictured: science.

Not pictured: science.

There’s a Facebook group called “I fucking love science“, which basically posts science-lite factoids, mostly by way of photos of astronomy- and zoology-oriented things, and quotes from scientists.

But why love science? It’s a method and process of uncovering facts and collecting data about material, observable phenomena. I’ve said it before on here, but science is a mixture of sense perception (usually aided by instruments) and inductive logic, along with mountains and mountains of a priori knowledge going into it.

When people say they love science, I don’t think they really do love the process of scientific inquiry. They are affected towards the objects towards which people aim their sense and induction: star clusters, liquid density comparisons, the physiology of deep sea creatures. It’s these physical things for which our affections are aroused, not the process of uncovering the data about them.

When I listen to Cynic’s “Textures“, I don’t say “I fucking love my ears!”, nor do I say something like “I fucking love the air between my ears and the speakers!”, and it’s not because I’m not inclined to swearing. My affections aren’t drawn towards the apparatus through which I sense the vibrations, nor the medium that activates my sense perception. They’re directed at the actual thing itself: the sound of the music.

I may say something like, “I fucking love Chapman sticks!” because they are an unusual instrument and the song utilizes it rather well, but Chapman sticks by themselves do nothing and the novelty of interesting objects eventually fades away. It’s the agency (people) behind them that I appreciate in this context, and even then it’s not the final object of affection. I wouldn’t really care for members of Cynic (how much empathy can someone feel for people they would not even heard of?) unless they were musicians. Thus, my epistemological conclusion is honest (and accurate) when I exclaim “I fucking love this song!”

Most of us would probably consider the scientific process dry and grueling, certainly rewarding if successful but heartbreaking if a failure. This not even including the soul-killing experience of having to deal with uncooperative academic bureaucracies, pandering to and placating two-faced politicians for funding, or dodging jealous and vengeful colleagues. There is just a danger when conflating the object itself with the process of data collection, especially within the highly reified realm of modern science.

Photo by NASA Marshall.

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Hmm: Russell’s Teapot

Russell's hair and Russell's pipe.

Russell’s hair and Russell’s pipe.

I came across Russell’s teapot the other day, and I thought I had unearthed the source of the “evidence or GTFO” argumentation. But it seems that Russell only throw his skeptic torch on a strawman:

If I were to suggest that between the Earth and Mars there is a china teapot revolving about the sun in an elliptical orbit, nobody would be able to disprove my assertion provided I were careful to add that the teapot is too small to be revealed even by our most powerful telescopes. But if I were to go on to say that, since my assertion cannot be disproved, it is intolerable presumption on the part of human reason to doubt it, I should rightly be thought to be talking nonsense.

Eh. I just don’t understand why he would even bother addressing that kind of “argument” seriously. No philosopher or theologian in academia would get a paper past its initial publishing stages if they ever included an “x is true until it’s proven false”. So I don’t think he’s responding to a peer.

Maybe he was responding to some lay sentiment floating around, but why would he do that? That’s like a topographer correcting a child who thinks his school is “like a hundred” miles away. Just stick it with the argument from ignorance inoculation and call it a day (note that Russell’s photo and teapot reference are at the top of that wikipedia page).

Regardless, the criticism from Eric Reitan mentioned on that wikipedia page comes close to what I’ve mentioned before about the overreach of skeptics who want material data for propositions that cannot be addressed by the scientific method.

Photo by aldoaldoz.

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About Religious Beliefs Being A-Rational

beetlejuice_hammer_handsI left this comment on Mike Duran’s blog post/sort of review of A Shot of Faith (to the Head): Be a Confident Believer in an Age of Cranky Atheists. The comment has some weird [sic] moments but you should understand what I was getting at.

Basically, it doesn’t follow that religious presuppositions should be thrown on top of the “evidence* or GTFO” pile while sense and memory data are not and cannot be treated with the same epistemological gloves. In that sense, religious faith is a-rational (I call it “pre-rational”, because I don’t know) because it’s taken as true without it being subject to the two forms of logic*.

This obsession with requiring externalized, material evidences for non-material presuppositions is reaching damned-near critical mass, but the theist’s philosophy-lite “science is faith too!” is a response so involuntary it’s maddening. It’s just two hammer-handed people seeing everything as nails.

I’ve probably said it before on here, Mike, but I believe belief in god to be a presupposition, not a conclusion we reach based on evidence. Evidence can remove barriers to accepting the presupposition but the belief itself doesn’t come from the evidence. In that way it can be said that belief (or non-belief) in god is a-rational. It might be more accurate to call it pre-rational, in that we accept it before the rationalizing starts.

For instance, my memory (memory being one of the ways we know things) tells me that yesterday at around 4 PM I blew my nose. No one else saw (or heard) me do it so people can believe I blew my nose only on my authority, another legitimate way of knowing things. This is possible if they trust me, don’t think I have a reason to lie, is a reasonable action to take, etc.

However, if they doubt me for some reason I can present material evidence: the used tissue in the trash, the fact that I’ve been blowing my nose often lately…indicating that it’s not unusual for me to do it, demonstrating that it’s not out of character for me or that I stand to gain from lying about it.

All of these may remove barriers to this nose blowing belief but they aren’t conclusive. They can all reasonably be falsified evidences, but that is up to the determinations of the individual. All of those reasons could exist *without* me blowing my nose at 4 PM yesterday, so in the end all other people have my authority *only* as a basis for their belief, nothing else.

So in that case, some things are pre-rational but very reasonable to believe. Belief in supernatural things can follow suit in a similar fashion.

* I’m assuming “evidence” to mean some sort of raw, probably physical, data that we can input into our logicizing. I’m equating “rationalizing” with “logicizing”. But I don’t know if people define these terms as such when talking epistemology or science-religion dichotomies.

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G.K. Chesterton on Hanging Politicians

gk_chesterton_politiciansI made this image and posted it recently on FaceTwitter. The family and I went out to eat at Burgatory and the Inauguration Orgy was on all six of the TVs that I was facing. It annoyed me (and the wife) but we were at least able to eat.

I tried looking for the entire article that contained this quote to give it some context, but it seems that it’s lost to antiquity. It’s a rather profane quote, yet Chesterton didn’t officially become a Catholic (and a Christian, I presume) until a year after this was published. He could wield hyperbole like a rapier, so something tells me he would still hold the sentiment after getting himself right with the Big Guy.

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My Workout Schedule

I always find people’s workout schedules interesting, so I thought I would post my (future) schedule. Clicky:


A few notes about this:

  • This was actually pretty hard to organize, mostly because of working around prior commitments and the fact that the Legs and Back workout always gives me DOMS, so I don’t want to schedule the burpees (even though I did it here), the sprintervals, or one of the workouts where I have to hit the deck often (when your butt and thighs are sore the awkwardness level in standing up reaches peak capacity).
  • The “10MT” stands for Ten Minute Trainer workouts.
  • This seems like a lot of exercise but it’s not full force, like what bodybuilders or “get swole” bros undergo. I usually don’t do the full P90x workouts. I do maybe 30 minutes of them but I tend to move quickly through those 30 minutes so there’s more intensity. The most time I think I would spend doing any of these is 40 minutes. That ends up being time I would otherwise spend watching a TV show I don’t like or farting around on the Internet.
  • The bike rides are to and fro my bus stop, so I kind of have to do them. It ends up being light to moderate cardio.
  • I do a non-creatine post-workout shake (sometimes) and take a bunch of multivitamins.
  • I don’t stretch before workouts, but if one workout ends up being pretty intense I may stretch afterwards. The only time I really stretch is when I get DOMS, because, in the immortal words of Tony! Toni! Toné!, it feels good.
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A Question for Fiction Writers Concerning Point of View

A dramatic visual representation of me peparing to do battle with this idea. Not really.

A dramatic visual representation of me thinking about this post. Not really.

My current work in progress, Sarah Jessica Porker*, is alternate history fiction/soft sci-fi. One would think that this would include a lot of world-building and lots of different characters and parties—but one would be only partially correct. There is only some POV jumping and world-building.

The thing is, I want to cut most of it out. It doesn’t need to be alternate history, nor necessarily sci-fi, because the story is about one and a half people, not about the goofy results of a different timeline or otherwordly gadgets (or gadgets that you and I have or have knowledge of, but with different nomenclature). It’s more of a thinky-doey conceptual story about what happens with a few people who try to figure a few things out, than a grand reordering of earth and technology. I want it to be more “hey, this person thought this and then did that, weird” than “crap, that fashion/gun/vehicle sounds weird and btw what is x like in this society?”

Should I shift from third person, with many parties, to first person or third person limited? Most of the novels that (I think) this would be like are small in scope, first person, or third person with strong limitations. The secondary parties that I do currently “jump” to are mainly for exposition, but there are other ways I can do info dumps with the limited POV, easily. I guess that’s why they’re secondary, but they are hardly necessary.

What say you, Internet?

* Working title, not the final one (probably).

Photo from crofesima.

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Alicia Keys Was White

A piano's keys are also black and white. Conspiracy!

A piano’s keys are also black and white. Conspiracy!

I don’t mean, of course, that she was somehow able to alter her ethnic makeup. Wikipedia says she’s half a Euro mix and half African-American, and as far as I know she’s stuck with that. If there are any genetic alchemists reading this, please feel free to correct.

When I worked as an assistant manager at a Sam Goody’s around the turn of the century (!!), I remember seeing Alicia Keys’ Songs In A Minor release the Monday before it came out (I took note of it because of the pun title). Only the cover and back tray card weren’t the one most people know of. It had completely different artwork, where Keys, whose complexion can help her go “either way” depending on externalities like fashion, looked much whiter than she does today.

It wasn’t until sometime later that Minor was repackaged and Keys had a more urbanized look. Unfortunately I have no externalized evidence for this (scouring Google did nothing), just my memory. But I guess it does make marketing sense since no one is going to trust a modern soul/R&B album from a white girl, no matter how talented she is.

And finally, for no reason, here’s a video of Keys on the Cosby Show. She’s the one in the gray and black with the red collar, on the right. Cute kid.

Photo by easement.

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Average Number of Miracles in Biblical Times

Laser-eyes Mary toast would be miraculous.

Laser-eyes Mary toast would be miraculous.

I looked at this page for the number of miracles performed in the Bible. It lists the number at 120. Some of them I wouldn’t necessarily count them as Biblical miracles (like number 120), but 120 is probably a good number to start with.

But I would double that, just to be sure, for a few reasons.

  1. There may have been miracles occurring during scriptural times that were not recorded. John 21:25 strongly implies this.
  2. There are some “acts of God” that aren’t counted as miracles, like John’s entire vision in the book of Revelation. There’s also things like the angel with the flaming sword guarding the Garden of Eden after the expulsion, which isn’t counted as miraculous. Even if meant metaphorically it could still be counted as miraculous since there is agency behind it.
  3. Miracles that aren’t terribly dramatic or could be attributed to purely natural forces, but are nevertheless to divine agency, like the hardening of Pharoah’s heart in Exodus.
  4. Not necessarily miraculous things but supernatural occurrences, like the appearance of angels.

So we have about 240 miracles within the time described in the Bible, which I will estimate at 2300 years, from creation up until John at Patmos. I’m actually going from the patriarchs (2200 B.C. or so) past Jesus and ending at the letter-writers (around 100 A.D.). I’m not a young earth creationist so I wouldn’t necessarily include pre-Noah miracles within this time frame. I will this time just for the sake of argument. I’m also including the Babylonian exile years, a time where there was no canonical scripture written.

So it ends up being around 10 miracles per year, being liberal, which is a little less than once a month. If we go by the non-multiplied number it’s less that once every few months on average. Most of the miracles listed on that page were either not very spectacular in the sense that they could be reproduced by natural means (although with a heavy dose of coincidence). If they were very obvious miracles, they were localized, like Balaam’s donkey talking or Lazarus rising from the dead. There seem to be very few large-scale miracles, like the pillar of smoke and fire that followed the Israelites in the desert or the sun and moon stopping in the sky in Joshua.

I have no real point in this, just some interesting observations.

“For this reason, the question whether miracles occur can never be answered simply by experience. Every event which might claim to be a miracle is, in the last resort, something presented to our senses, something seen, heard, touched, smelled or tasted. And our senses are not infallible. If anything extraordinary seems to have happened, we can always say that we have been the victims of an illusion. If we hold a philosophy which excludes the supernatural, this is what we always shall say. What we learn from experience depends on the kind of philosophy we bring to experience. It is therefore useless to appeal to experience before we have settled, as well as we can, the philosophical question.”

-C.S. Lewis, Miracles

Photo by TheAlieness GiselaGiardino²³.

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This Post Involves an Episode of Frasier Dubbed in Hungarian

The beginning of something endless.

The beginning of something endless.

I was going to write a post about the paradox of the card game War—the paradox being that it should always “end” (aka, “keep going forever”) in a draw with neither player receiving all the cards, even though games of War do in fact end. I found the solution to this online on Math Overflow, a site similar to Stack Overflow (what up, fellow software engineers). There’s a lot of lingo of the maths on there I don’t understand, but there’s a explanation…and a possible combination of dealt cards in which the game would go on forever (the questioner calls it an “infinite expected length”, which I assume is a math term).

So there’s that. But, completely unrelated to this, I saw an episode of Frasier, a show in which the titular character and else-people live in Seattle. The astute television viewer will notice that he doesn’t live in Seattle proper (see the video below), as in the downtown area, but in an apartment building with the view of downtown…to show that he does live in Seattle. Or might live there, or near it.

It’s dramatic logic, like when you see on a murder weapon day-old dried blood that is bright red and wet-looking, though it defies mechanics of human biology. Bright red blood is more striking and drives home its bloodness; dark crust doesn’t communicate the same drama.

I just thought it strange, in the case of major cities, we recognize them from afar than in intimacy. St. Louis is another example. You know you’re looking at St. Louis because of the Half of the McDonald’s arches in the skyline, but no one is going to know it’s St. Louis if you show, say, a photo of even a famous restaurant one of its “well-known” neighborhood. But residents or workers, when they think of St. Louis, probably think of those smaller types of things when they hear the city name, not the arches.

Just a thought I had on location familiarity.

Photo of cards by doobybrain.

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