Sunday, December 30, 2018

Why the crisis of 2016 will continue for decades to come

I haven’t written recently about why Crisis 2016, sometimes called Crisis-T, happened. For that matter, why Brexit. My last takes were in 2016 …

  • In defense of Donald Trump - July 2016. In which I identified the cause of the crisis, but assumed we’d dodge the bullet and HRC would tend to the crisis of the white working class.
  • Trumpism: a transition function to the world of mass disability - Aug 2016. “How does a culture transition from memes of independence and southern Christian-capitalist marketarianism to a world where government deeply biases the economy towards low-education employment?"
  • After Trump: reflections on mass disability in a sleepless night - Nov 11, 2016. "Extreme cultural transformation. Demographics. China. The AI era and mass disability. I haven’t even mentioned that pre-AI technologies wiped out traditional media and enabled the growth of Facebook-fueled mass deception alt-media … We should not be surprised that the wheels have come off the train.”
  • Crisis-T: What’s special about rural? - Nov 16, 2016: "The globalization and automation that disabled 40% of working age Americans isn’t unique to rural areas, but those areas have been ailing for a long time. They’ve been impacted by automation ever since the railroad killed the Erie canal, and the harvester eliminated most farm workers. Once we thought the Internet would provide a lifeline to rural communities, but instead it made Dakka as close as Escanaba.”

How has my thinking changed two years later? Now I’d add a couple of tweaks, especially the way quirks of America’s constitution amplified the crisis. Today’s breakdown:

  • 65% the collapse of the white non-college “working class” — as best measured by fentanyl deaths and non-college household income over the past 40 years. Driven by globalization and IT both separately and synergistically including remonopolization (megacorp). This is going to get worse.
  • 15% the way peculiarities of the American constitution empower rural states and rural regions that are most impacted by the collapse of the white working class due to demographics and out-migration of the educated. This is why the crisis is worse here than in Canada. This will continue.
  • 15% the long fall of patriarchy. This will continue for a time, but eventually it hits the ground. Another 20 years for the US?
  • 5% Rupert Murdoch. Seriously. In the US Fox and the WSJ, but also his media in Australia and the UK. When historians make their list of villains of the 21st century he’ll be on there. He’s broken and dying now, but he’s still scary enough that his name is rarely mentioned by anyone of consequence.
  • 1% Facebook, social media, Putin and the like. This will get better.

That 1% for Facebook et all is pretty small — but the election of 2016 was on the knife’s edge. That 1% was historically important.

Rupert Murdoch will finally die, though his malignant empire will grind on for a time. Patriarchy can’t fall forever, eventually that process is done. We now understand the risks of Facebook and its like and those will be managed. So there’s hope.

But the crisis of the white non-college will continue and our constitution will continue to amplify that bloc’s political power in rural areas. Even if civilization wins in 2020 the crisis of 2016 will continue. It will test human societies for decades to come.

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Life goal #2 - The CrossFit Kipping Bar Muscle-Up

In 2018 I met one of my two CrossFit Life Goals (tm) - 10 consecutive dubs (hit 42 in a wild fluke the other day). Only took me five times as long as anyone else I know.

The other goal is the Kipping Bar Muscle-Up. So that’s on the list for 2019. I’m also planning an IMBA “Epic” mountain bike trek — the Maah Daah Hey, but that’s mostly about showing up and moving my feet. The Bar Muscle-Up may be impossible, so it’s more interesting. (Watching Paoli video I should be able to do it now [1], but that’s now what I’m feeling!)

I’m putting my training notes and references on this page.


Movement notes

Some of the best tips came from a post in the CrossFit Physicians Facebook group.

  • Hands a bit wider than shoulder, but narrower than bench
  • From beneath the bar jump up and back to a big arch then fall forward into extension position — gets good start there
  • Drive hips to bar from top of “hollow” position, while “push down on bar with straight arms”. There should be a bend at hips so can “pop” the hips and pull, row bar into chest/navel (pop/pull is the trick - need timing). The pull should be very hard and fast
  • Grip. Begin with the end in mind. You want to think about the position the hands and wrists need to be in when you're on top of the bar and doing the dip portion of the BMU. A lot of people struggle because they grab the bar from directly underneath and don't really wrap their hands over the bar. Instead of doing that, wrap your hands as far over the bar as possible. It's basically a 'false grip' maneuver that you've probably seen on the rings, just on the bar. The idea is to have to turn your hands/wrists over as little as possible. The-two word actionable cue for this is "meaty grip".
  • In the kip swing, think about getting your body as loooooong as possible in as you move in front of the bar into the extreme of the arch position. Maximize the full range of motion of your shoulders, keep knees as straight as possible, and point your toes. Your body is a sling shot. Two word cue: "get long". 
  • For the pull up & over the bar. Pick a spot on the floor in front of you. Your goal is to stare at that spot all through the first part of the kip and the initiation of the transition into the hollow position & first part of the pull. At some point, as you pull your hips up to the bar, you're going to lose that spot from your vision (it's unavoidable - the head tilts backwards), but your goal is to see that spot again as soon as possible. The instant you don't see the spot anymore, your sole focus is to find it again. This will help you with the speed necessary to execute the transition. Actionable cue: "find the spot". 

Training programs

Some of these are for the (ring) muscle-up, the bar muscle-up is considered to be harder

Training exercises

  • Strict pull-up
  • Kipping chest-to-bar with elbows behind the back
  • Lat Pull-downs
  • Use gym machine with pulley’s ropes to emulate the curious straight arm downward push-pull (see still below).
  • Back extension and arching
  • Shoulder range of motion, esp. internal rotation
  • Band-assist Muscle-Up with gradually diminishing bands
  • Box jump muscle-up with gradually smaller box
  • The glide kip drill - stand on 1-2 bench, bar a bit above eyes, arms and back in line with hip flex to big hollow, hop up, glide out with feet just above bench and extend to small hollow, then reverse on return.
  • Paradiso progression
    • 3 sets of 5 high back kip swings
    • Hip to bar pull up (20 repeat 1 rep) - kip swing with hip snap
    • Transition (atop box, etc) - 20 to 30 reps of jumping box muc
  • Hip-to-bar progression with a slight arm-pull, hip drive from the hollow (I can’t get my hips to the bar yet), note in this still from Paoli video his elbows are bent, but he’s mostly pushing the bar down towards his hips and lower abdomen. Feet are below hips. Trapezius muscle here. I have to figure out how to build something like this.
    Screen Shot 2018 12 27 at 4 27 15 PM
    and note he’s actually hitting bar around navel at this point (not hips), feet are still in front as he transitions.
    Screen Shot 2018 12 27 at 4 32 13 PM

[1] Well, not now exactly. My left biceps is strained, so I have to rehab that first.

Update 2/3/2020

I posted the first version of this on Dec 27, 2018 and I succeeded on Feb 3, 2020.

It took me over 13 months. At one point, probably June 2018, I bet my 17yo daughter I’d get it done by my 60th birthday on Aug 1 2018. If I’d succeeded she owed my $10. If I failed, I would pay her college. 

Emily and I are paying her college. 

In August 2018 I was feeling kind of bleh and this looked impossible. To my surprise I started to recover in October and have been getting stronger over the past 5-6 months. Maybe the protein and creatine shakes helped. I also started doing more CrossFit for weird (but good) family reasons — 4-6 a week instead of 3-4 a week.

I didn’t end up following any of the programs above. I just worked on pull-ups whenever I could and I practiced with bands. I could do BMUs with a “green and blue” (green is BIG), then the sequence went like this (typically 3 at a time, the first is usually hardest):

- 1/9/2020: single black band 3 consecutive
- 1/20/20: red and blue then thin red, orange, blue
- 1/22: blue+thin red+orange
- 1/29: blue and 1 orange
- 2/3/20: During a “max MU in 4 minutes” WOD I started with blue, red, and orange bands and in about 4 sets of 3 I dropped bands until I did 3 with two thin orange bands and then one with no bands. When I actually succeeded it didn’t seem that hard. Timing is key.

The most useful advice I was given was "wrap your hands as far over the bar as possible. It's basically a 'false grip' maneuver that you've probably seen on the rings, just on the bar.” I didn’t really understand it at first, but it means having wrists above the bar when you start. I had note understood how hard I had to grip the bar and lever myself up.

I hope I do more, but in terms of my goal I only had to do one.

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Old doctor pet peeve - disease descriptions were better in Osler's day.

I didn’t know Sir William personally, but I think he’d be appalled by the descriptions of patient-disorders in our medical textbooks.

We typically present a collection of findings, sometimes organized by ‘history’ or ‘physical’ or ‘lab’, but the sequencing and relationships are all lost.

We should have textbooks that describe a disease or disorder with 3-8 case histories that span a reasonable spectrum of presentations. So not x% have red eyes and y% have chest ache, but a case called “common” that might be “8 yo both with cough, then red eyes for day and a swollen lymph node, then a day later some red palms …” and another case called “often”, and 2-3 called “unusual1”, “unusual2”, and so on.

Ok, it’s not just my Oldness. I’ve been grumpy about this for roughly 25 years, even when I was only old in spirit. It annoys me a great deal.

Now I’ve said it.

Saturday, December 01, 2018

Quicken for Mac -- why vendors are going to screw-up subscription pricing for software services

We’ve been using Quicken for Mac for the past year. I’m satisfied with the software, but I no longer trust their pricing and renewal.

We paid $60 for Quicken for Mac 2015 on 7/31/2015.  On 1/8/2017 we paid $48.41, presumably for 1 year of subscription service. On 12/31/2017 we paid $32.35; we probably switched from a “deluxe” plan to a basic plan.

Today I received an email requesting renewal:

Your Quicken membership will expire on 12/31/2018. In order to continue enjoying all of the benefits of Quicken, including connected services such as bank downloads, stock price updates, account sync, and free phone support, please click here to renew your plan.

The link goes, however, to Quicken for Windows where we are shown as “deluxe” plan for $50.

Ok, so that’s presumably a mistake — albeit a bad mistake. When I go to I can see the Mac plans - Starter at $35 (so probably a 15% price hike from last year) and “most popular” Deluxe for $50. I can’t compare to last year but it looks like most of the features added in the past year or so require the “deluxe” option now.

Which leads me to reconsider my previously relatively positive attitude towards software subscriptions.

I’ve been generally in favor of subscription pricing for software. I think Microsoft has done a great job with Office 365. It does, however, come with temptations for vendors. Subscription pricing makes it too easy to hide price increases and game features. It promotes “information asymmetry”.

I think Quicken has fallen for that trap.

I don’t trust them now.

We are evaluating options.