The first one is pretty subtle; the second is rather less so; and the third is about as subtle as global nuclear war.
Archive for the 'glibness' Category
(That is, Austrian-school economists, not people from Austria, unless the latter are also the former.)
Here’s Scott Sumner on a natural experiment in hard-line grade deflation:
OK, so the Austrians are right in this case. But I still think they are wrong about 2006-09.
This in reaction to the unsurprising-at-first-glance result that students often choose their courses to get the best grades, and when a previously-profligate department tightens the GPA purse strings, those students will switch away from that department’s courses. I say “at first glance” because grade scales are just arbitrarily-relabelled intervals; my undergraduate university awarded grades on a nine-point scale (but not a stanine), and my grad school’s 4-point scale actually went up to
eleven 4.33. Both were heavily weighted towards the top end of the interval in practice, although I suspect a handful of exceptionally deserving students scored 1s in both.
Anyway, do click through and read the whole thing.
Granted that this post is part of a lasing medium, but Elizabeth Nolan Brown gives us an article with a mildly optimistic title:
- Millennials Not Quite as Pathetic as Everyone Thinks (Reason Hit & Run)
(Hat tip: Coyote Blog.)
For the better part of a decade now, folks have been fretting about “boomerang” kids, the 20- and sometimes 30-something children of boomers who’ve come flocking back to their parents’ nests under the duress of a poor economy.
The dire pronouncements tend to be based on U.S. Census Bureau data, which does show an increasing number of young adults—more than half of those under 25, according to the most recent data—to be living with their parents. But Derek Thompson at The Atlantictears through this gloomy prognosis with one simple fact: The Census counted students who live on college campuses as living in their parents’ homes.
That almost makes me want to start reading The Atlantic again. Then again, I’ve been pretty happy since I stopped. Let’s roll with happy.
Even this isn’t quite as scary—or at least not as singularly scary for young adults—when you put it into perspective. When (if) the job market improves, young adults will likely have an easier time slipping back into it than their older counterparts simply by virtue of being younger and cheaper, said Dan Schawbel, founder of Millennial Branding management and consulting firm.
Meanwhile millennials are only barely less employed than Gen X’ers, who make up 37 percent of unemployed Americans. The oldest Gen X’ers turn 50 next year, while the youngest hover around age 35. This is the generation in the prime of their “prime earning years.” Whither the concern for Gen X everybody?
I submit that “concern for Gen X”, much like “concern for Gen Y”, is being expressed in minimum wage increases, or advocacy therefor. It ‘s after all pretty cheap for currently-employed Boomers to demand that new hires be paid more, even though this leads to fewer new hires under the drearily predictable logic of simple division. Because I’m sure I’ll need to spell it out, here goes: If I’m an employer with a budget of $T to spend on new hires, and the minimum wage is $k, I will hire at most n = floor(T/k) people. Increase k and n decreases, unless you somehow manage to increase T. Any minimum-wage doves want to go publicly all-in on subsidizing big business?
(I’ll note in passing, because I haven’t been enough of a nerd yet today, that all three of those terms should be parameterized with respect to time. Under what assumptions does it make sense to increase $T(t) to compensate for an increase in $k(t)? What do those assumptions imply about current restrictive immigration policies? Please show your work; you should be able to use LaTeX to mark up integrals.)
So this is how outrage fatigue works, kind of.
Most lasers — actual devices that amplify light by stimulated emission of radiation — work by bouncing photons back and forth between mirrors through a lasing medium until — zot! — they slide through one partially-reflective mirror. I’ll let you look this shit up on Wikipedia if you so desire, as I’m too drunk to muster the giveafuck myself.
Software lasers are a mildly fanciful generalization of the concept: They get packets bouncing back and forth between mutually-antagonistic routers (or mail servers, or whatever) until one or both of the “mirrors” melts into more or less euphemistic slag. But the generalization is instructive.
A misery laser comes to happen when two or more people of similar political persuasion come together to bitch and moan about Things These Days. One person will bring up a topic that annoys their compatriots; the next will riff off of that topic to reinforce the notion that Things Are Going To Hell; the third will say “yes, and…” (and elaborate!), and then the malaise and frustration will reflect off of the side of the room and propagate back towards the first person.
Efforts to inject optimism into the system are, as you might expect, doomed to failure. You might as well shine a flashlight crosswise through a lasing medium.
Eventually, an optical laser will shoot coherent light off in one or the other direction of its major axis. A software laser will eventually fuck up one or the other mail server (or whatever the fuck services were having a spat). And eventually a misery laser will lead to an emotional breakdown, or perhaps (mostly) minor acts of physical violence.
This is why I don’t talk politics any more. And when people around me do, I fantasize about being on a motorcycle, on a twisty road, half a continent away. Continents are good for that; there’s usually a twisty road somewhere way the fuck far away.
…that’s what I’m doing in the gym these days.
So as I’ve mentioned before, I really like the idea of “cybernetic periodization”, which means “lifting as much as you can on any given day, but no more” rather than “replacing your body with robot parts” as you might expect. I’ve started lifting five days a week, which is great because it means (wait for it…) I get to lift five days a week, but it’s not so great in that some of those days I’m varying degrees of beat up and can’t exactly push for PRs. (Fun fact: This happens independently of how often I lift, because my job’s kind of engrossing and every once in a while it rises to dominate my life.) So, what to do?
Well, I’ve had my best gains on Jim Wendler’s 5/3/1. It’s based on the following principles:
- Emphasize compound barbell lifts
- Start too light
- Progress slowly
- Set PRs
I’m on board with 1-3, but 4 tends to give me fits. I take it too literally, and my ego gets in the way. So, wat do?
I started off by identifying seven lifts I care about. You can guess what these are: squat, front squat, press, bench, snatch, clean, and deadlift. I took recent maxes on each of these from my training logs — not special “test day” maxes, not “six months ago I could lift this” maxes, not “on a good day I ought to be able to hit” maxes, but stuff I’ve done recently for clean singles. Then I took 85% of those.
That’s my target lift for the day. It’s a lift I ought to be able to hit for a single no matter what life throws at me, provided that I’m actually healthy enough to get to the gym and not spread cholera.
So on squat day, for example, I’ll work up to a single at my target weight. This is not taxing; in fact, it’s basically a warmup. From there, I proceed by feel. Did that single feel snappy and smooth? Add five or ten pounds and do another single, then reassess. Did it feel slow, grindy, or awkward? Maybe some technique issues need addressing? Hit another single, and reassess. They’re just singles, so they go by quickly — lots of lifts in a short time. Changing the weights is usually enough rest. Keep going as long as it feels good, adding weight when reasonable.
Did that single say “fuck this, I’m done”? Move on to backoff sets. Backoff sets are free-form, just get them done. Some days it’s five sets of three at the target weight or above; some days it’s one set of five at 50% and get the fuck out. The only rule here is “do some backoffs”.
If the day’s big lift is a squat, I just squat. If it’s a press of some sort, I try to superset in chins or DB rows. If it’s a snatch or a clean, I throw in a Klokov press or a jerk after each rep until I can’t any more, then I don’t worry about it. Supersetting is, again, something I don’t think too hard about.
Deadlifts are a special case in that I don’t do ‘em as a major lift, I work them in after presses. And I don’t do backoffs. My guess is that I’m demanding enough of my recovery capacity without lots of deadlift volume on the regular, and putting them after the main lift limits the load I can use.
Once I’ve finished the main lift (or superset), I work in whatever else I need to complete the “push, pull, squat” trifecta. If I squatted, I’ll do a push/pull superset like dips and chins. If I pressed or pulled, I’ll do something squat-like, counting deadlifts (as above) and their variations (I particularly like snatch-grip deadlifts in here). Again, I don’t think too hard about it, I just get it done. Eight sets of five feels about right? Okay. Five sets of three? Okay.
After that, I do some accessory work, conditioning, grip, whatever. I try to make sure I get out of the gym in less than an hour, which usually leaves time for a few sets of curls or rotator-cuff work and a bunch of wrist curls (believe it or not, fellow nerds, they’ll make typing all day a much less painful experience). If I’m having a bad day, my rest periods are long, and I barely get into accessory work? No big deal, I hit the important things. If I’m having a good day and squatting heavy singles forever, again, no big deal, I hit the important thing. As Matt Perryman says: the more you lift, the less bad days matter. You can always come back the next day and hit it again.
Progression is simple. The target for any given lift is supposed to be a weight I can hit no matter how bad I’m feeling, as long as I’m feeling good enough to go lift. If I hit (or exceed?) that weight for four workouts in a row, I’ll add five or ten pounds. After four workouts I should have a decent idea of how much I can increase the target, if at all.
Does it work? I don’t know yet. I’m not competing in anything, so I’m not paying attention to (actual or calculated) maxes on any of my lifts. The idea behind this is to maximize “total training effect” — that if I get into the gym and lift often enough, I’m going to get stronger. So far my bench (of all things) has been feeling strong, and I’ve set a massive PR on reps on overhead squats — which, unsurprisingly, left me floored for the next couple workouts. Mostly, lifting this way just feels fun and comfortable, and I’m finding ways to improve my lifts incrementally week by week.
I’m not suggesting any of you go out and do the same, or that I’ve found the next big thing, or even that I wouldn’t be better off just lifting on 5/3/1. But so far I’m pretty pleased with this, and I thought I’d give it some air time.