June 4th, 2003


Gym. Session 33 of 124. Back.

Mainly focused on lats, including a pull-up machine. I haven't really tried to do pull-ups since horrible gym classes in High School. The pull-up machine was much better, with a ergonomic grip bar, posture guides, and the ability to dial the weight up and down, not just your own body weight.

Did mostly sets of 15 today. Usually the first 12 are heavy but ok, the "fire" doesn't set in until the last 3. Can't help but feel that the first 12 are sort of wasted. However, I'm not willing to give up the creatine supps.

The shoulder didn't twinge at all, tho I got a snap out of it while exploring the right position for a new grip on the cable rows.

While doing the lat pullover machine (it involves starting with your arms almost over your head, elbows forward, and then pulling them down forward to your sides against the weight), a ways into the 2nd set, the muscles just failed. No burn, no pain, no shuddering, just the bar stopped moving. It was very strange. Cut the weight a bit, then slowly started dialing it back up every 5 reps. By the end of the 3rd set, I was back up to that weight.

Added some weight to the lower back work. There is this frame that lets you do a "sit up", up-side-down. When relaxed, the upper body is hanging down, and the pull is to straighten your body out. The pull is entirely in the lower back. Had been doing it "free", this time did it with a 10lb plate held up to my chest. Yow. Burn.

Finished with trap shrugs. Look at the muscle that joins your neck to your shoulder, the one that gets squeezed in a "vulcan nerve pinch". Using that muscle, shrug up your shoulders so your neck disappears. Now, do that 15x3 times, holding a heavy dumbbell in each hand, and hold the squeeze at the top for a second. It sets the whole back on fire, down the sides of your spine, 3/4 of the way down your back. The trap is attached in a LOT of places.

I'm not addicted to the burn, unlike hardcore gym rats, but I've really learned to distinguish it from "pain". What's funny is that medical science still doesn't know what the burn actually is!

How Economics got the name "The Dismal Science".

Economics got the slur "dismal" not because of it's use in the countering of wrongheaded unthinking starry-eyed idealistic utopianism, but because of it's base assumptions of equality, individuality, personal choice, and it's implicit nullification of the cherished beliefs of virulant racists.


Everyone knows that economics is the dismal science. And almost everyone knows that it was given this description by Thomas Carlyle, who was inspired to coin the phrase by T. R. Malthus's gloomy prediction that population would always grow faster than food, dooming mankind to unending poverty and hardship.

While this story is well-known, it is also wrong, so wrong that it is hard to imagine a story that is farther from the truth. At the most trivial level, Carlyle's target was not Malthus, but economists such as John Stuart Mill, who argued that it was institutions, not race, that explained why some nations were rich and others poor. Carlyle attacked Mill, not for supporting Malthus's predictions about the dire consequences of population growth, but for supporting the emancipation of slaves. It was this fact that economics assumed that people were basically all the same, and thus all entitled to liberty that led Carlyle to label economics "the dismal science."

Carlyle was not alone in denouncing economics for making its radical claims about the equality of all men. Others who joined him included Charles Dickens and John Ruskin. The connection was so well known throughout the 19th century, that even cartoonists could refer to it, knowing that their audience would get the reference.

"In choosing Mill as their target, Carlyle and his allies chose well. Like most classical economists, Mill treated such characteristics as race as analytically irrelevant."