My First Weightlifting Competition

This weekend I took part in my first Weightlifting competition. More commonly known as “Olympic Weightlifting,” it’s the sport which is comprised of the snatch and the clean-and-jerk. I made all six of my attempts, below are my best snatch, then clean-and-jerk:

The obvious question to ask is how did I do, and that’s a rather interesting question because there are so many different ways of taking it.

One question to ask is how I did relative to other people, but even that requires clarification. How did I do relative to other people in my weight class? I was in the 109kg weight class (it’s from 102-109), and I totaled more than 100kg behind the next 109 and less than half of what the top 109 lifted. That said, I’ve only been doing Olympic Weightlifting for about two months while they’ve almost certainly been doing it quite a bit longer, so that’s not a very interesting comparison.

I lifted more than the other people in my session (the sessions are broken up by entry total, the session I was in being the one for people with small totals), but that mostly means that I lifted more than some children and a 64 year old man who weighed about three fourths of what I did.

How did I do for someone my size and age who has only been Olympic Weightlifting for two months? I don’t know. I haven’t seen any statistics on weightlifters in the 109kg, 40-45 age group who have only been lifting for two months. And I’ve done powerlifting for years, so I started with a decent (but not amazing) strength base. Are there any statistics for males in my exact situation, or even one similar? Who knows? Who cares?

The problem with trying to answer this question is that when you really dig into it, it either doesn’t matter, or matters but is known to God alone. (That latter one being the moral question of did I apply myself appropriately, given the gifts I have and the relative importance of this task compared to other tasks I’ve been given.)

Some people deal with this issue by saying that in a weightlifting meet like this, when you’re not one of the people who (speaking realistically) might win the cash prize1, you are just competing against yourself. In which case I established a baseline, which is all that I could have done. So, on this metric, I did as well as I could have.

That doesn’t seem quite right to me, though.

It does seem to me that those of us who were never going to win the cash prize were still competing, but not against other people or ourselves. The feeling I got at the meet was that we were all on the same team competing against the weights. When a lifter made a lift, he scored a victory against our common foe.

We didn’t merely cheer for each other and try to encourage each other; that might be mere good sportsmanship. When someone made an attempt, we knew what he was going through and it felt good when he made it, and bad when he missed. The weights he is struggling against are the same weights we struggled against, or would soon struggle against.

We were competing, but it was against the weights. Our opponents were not flesh and blood, but rubber and steel.

  1. There actually was a cash prize in this meet, btw, computed on the basis of Sinclair Score, which is the weightlifting equivalent of the Wilks Coefficient.

How Did YouTube Atheists Get So Stupid?

Something that’s been on my mind for a while since my YouTube channel was found by a few atheist channels for low-intelligence atheists is how it’s possible for people to be as stupid as many of the commenters who showed up are. I don’t mean low-intelligence. Most of them aren’t very bright, but I’ve met plenty of people who aren’t very bright who aren’t stupid. What I mean by stupid is something like, aggressively unable to understand anything. And I don’t mean that they’re stupid because they’ve failed to see that I’m correct—that just makes them wrong—I mean that they don’t even have any idea what I or anyone else is saying. And they’re aggressive about how much they don’t understand it. And I don’t just mean on the subject of contention—I’ve run into idiots who don’t understand what you mean when you say that the sky is blue.

This perplexes me. How is it possible for a human being to get into this condition?

One possibility, of course, is that they’re just trolling me. On the internet where we only have text and not the clues of facial expression, etc.—which are much harder to fake consistently—it’s much easier to troll people. And where the interactions are one-offs, I’m pretty willing to believe that they’re just trolls. But I’ve also had consistent interactions with people over time where this seems less plausible.

In some cases it seems like they’ve imprinted on the Christopher Hitchens debates, where they want someone to try to prove something to them so they can feel smart saying variations of, “I don’t believe you.” It’s curious to watch how often these people don’t even know what they’re saying when they imitate the atheist-Christian debates that they’ve watched. For example, they’ve imprinted on the idea that the atheist position is one of pure negation (the unthinking man’s version of Anthony Flew’s The Presumption of Atheism), and so they always deny that they have made any claims, even right after they’ve made claims. They do this so often it is obvious that they don’t know what a claim is.

I think it’s related that they are also, generally, raging narcissists. They will intrude into discussions of the nature of reality to tell you all about themselves, then demand that you do things for them such as try to convince them of things even when you clearly state you don’t care what they believe.

It’s very strange because their use of language—which is intrinsically rational; it’s no accident that logos meant both “word” and “rationality” and “argument”—makes them seem rational even when everything they say is irrational.

One thing which comes to mind is that perhaps they’re some sort of weird birth defect that never received a human soul; not really human but merely some form of highly clever simian. While theoretically not impossible, this is a dangerous idea and probably should be considered last.

Another possibility is that they are human, but very damaged by anger. Anger is well known for making it difficult for people to think and it is unlikely to be a coincidence that these idiots always seem angry. This isn’t really a better possibility, though, because it does not leave open any greater possibility for helping them than if they’re merely a clever simian. People can choose to be less than human; that is one of the meanings of Hell. You can’t make a person think, if he wills to not think. So what can we do?

I suppose that this is one of those cases where there is nothing to do but be patient and pray. Perhaps, for the people who seem this way, helping them is given to someone else and not to me, and all I can do is pray to strengthen the person to whom helping them has been given.

Dorothy L. Sayers and Clever Murders

Dorothy L. Sayers, with her famous detective Lord Peter Wimsey, is best known for writing literary detective novels, while Agatha Christie is known for writing clever detective novels. Until we come to Gaudy Night, however, Dorothy L. Sayers writing more literary than clever novels was not really for lack of trying. As she said in her chapter of Titles To Fame:

When in a light-hearted manner I set out, fifteen years ago, to write the forst “lord Peter” book, it was with the avowed intention of producing something “less like a conventional detective story and more like a novel.” Re-reading Whose Body? at this distance of time I observe, with regret, that it is conventional to the last degree…

Whose Body? was conventional not merely in the form of its dialog and the actions of its hero—the best example that comes to mind is that Lord Peter took measurements and examined all manner of things carefully with a magnifying glass. Whose Body? was also conventional in that the mystery had, at its heart, a clever twist. As I alluded to before, she would keep this up for most of the Lord Peter novels until she got to Gaudy Night. The thing I find curious is that, unlike Agatha Christie, the twists mostly wouldn’t have worked. (If it’s not obvious, spoilers will follow.)

Whose Body? Is the main exception to the twists not actually working, because I think it would have worked. A surgeon with access to cadavers for dissection could probably have made the switch and done the relevant dissection work well enough to get the head to look like it fit on the wrong body.

In Unnatural Death, the murder weapon—injecting air into the veins—would not be much of a problem at all unless the syringe was comically large. One estimate I saw was that it would need to be the size of a bicycle pump. Since the victim was drugged at the time of the injection, this is not an entirely insurmountable problem as the murderer had time to pump air in with many strokes, but that would be exceedingly difficult to do without making the injection site obvious, which it needed to not be.

The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club put the twist in the domain of human relations rather than in the method of murder itself, which meant that the murder would have worked. That said, I am dubious that forensic science in 1928 could measure the amount of digitalis in a person’s blood post-mortem, especially since according to Wikipedia digitalis was first isolated in 1930.

Strong Poison relied on the murderer being able to develop a tolerance to lethal doses of arsenic and thus to give himself a lethal dose at the same time as his victim, by poisoning a shared meal. While this was believed to be possible in the 1920s and 1930s, it turns out to not be possible at all. (The evidence that had been used at the time was the “arsenic eaters” who would eat large lumps of arsenic. It turns out that the thing that saved them was not tolerance but rather the lack of bio-availability of arsenic eaten in lump form. While they were consuming large doses of arsenic, they were also excreting virtually all of it in their solid waste. This does not apply to arsenic dissolved into liquid and put in an omelette, which would have been as fatal to them as to anyone else.)

The Five Red Herrings has as its twist the forging of a railway ticket which, in some strange way, provided an alibi. This one might work out, for all I know; it depends upon the details of the working of the Scottish railway system in 1929 or 1930, which is a thing I doubt is knowable with certainty in the year of our Lord 2023. I couldn’t stand anything about this book, and I still don’t know how I feel about the twist ending making the unbearable time-tables pointless. That said, “he forged the railway ticket” isn’t really a clever twist. Anyone could do it. It’s just in the category of “This obvious thing was surprising because I thought it was against the rules.”

Have His Carcase is a brilliant book and quite possibly my third favorite Lord Peter novel (after Gaudy Night and Busman’s Honeymoon.) The twists and turns are done extremely well, with evidence of suicide and evidence of murder alternating masterfully. The solution of hemophilia is both not-obvious and well-laid. The problem, though, is that I don’t think that blood behaves the way that it was described in the book. Granted, I’ve never slashed a healthy man’s throat on a hot rock in the sun but I’ve butchered deer and not cleaned up until the next day and the blood looked liquid enough. Even if human blood behaves differently, the timing doesn’t work out. Harriet took about twenty minutes to take pictures and collect things from the body such as a shoe. It was stated that for the blood to be in the condition described the man could have been killed ten minutes before at the outside. Thus either Harriet should have noticed the blood clotting as expected before she left twenty minutes after finding the body, or else blood doesn’t actually clot that way, or else Harriet mistook what clotted blood looked like, or else something was wrong with the blood. Whichever alternative you prefer, the characters should really have known that the timing was not as tight as they thought. That said, it was great to watch the characters deal with the problem of contradictory evidence and persevere.

Murder Must Advertise doesn’t really have a twist, so it’s an exception to the rule. It does have a massive drug-gang and action which is almost more in the realm of the spy-thriller than the detective story, which I suspect take the place of the twist. That said, using a slingshot to hit someone in the head with a stone scarab in order to knock them unconscious so they die by falling down the stairs is… an uncertain way to commit murder. It could certainly work—blows to the head can be surprisingly fatal. That said, if I wanted to commit murder, hitting a moving target in the head with an irregularly shaped rock using someone else’s slingshot would not be high on my list of methods. It would be too easy to miss the vital few square inches and then there would be a lot of explaining to do.

The Nine Tailors is, perhaps, my second-least favorite of the Lord Peter stories, so I’m probably not the best person to do it justice. That said, the twist in it was that the death was accidental, not intentional. The victim had been left tied-up in a belltower and couldn’t be retreived before an hours-long bellringing event and the loud noise killed him. The problem is that a bell, even close by, isn’t nearly loud enough to kill. To rupture the eardrums, maybe. To cause long-term hearing loss, sure. But to kill with sound requires sound energy approximately on par with explosions—or being way too close to a jet engine. (Sounds with this enormous amount of energy cause air embolisms in the lungs; it does not kill through the ears.)

Then we come to Gaudy Night, which had no twist at all, and I think was also the greatest of the Lord Peter novels. It’s not perfect, but it is a masterpiece.

In fairness, I should mention that Busman’s Honeymoon did have a twist, or at least a very clever trap used to commit the murder. While it would have worked to kill the victim, I am a bit dubious that it could have been set up quite as described without the victim noticing, despite his age and it being dark. This is a minor quibble, though, since the basic premise was sound, and it would not have been too hard to have made the trap less obtrusive.

I don’t really know what to make of all of this, other than the clever mystery seems to have been been very much in the water during the golden age, so much so that even writers who set out to not write them still ended up including elements of them. I don’t mean that there’s anything wrong with the clever mystery, either—Agatha Christie did them brilliantly. To some degree I’m just “thinking out loud” as I find it curious that Dorothy L. Sayers wrote them even though it was not really her thing.

What If Jessica Killed All Those People!

I don’t know why there are so many people who think that suggesting that it would somehow be clever if Murder, She Wrote ended by revealing that Jessica actually killed all of the people and framed all of the people who supposedly did it in each episode. Not only is this an obvious joke, it would be a truly terrible ending.

It is a comparatively minor objection, but this would require contradicting many of the episodes; it’s probably more than half in which the murderer confesses in the end. I suppose you could get around that by making it a science fiction show and giving Jessica mind control powers.

Which brings me to the real problem with this: it’s completely wrong for the genre. If the writers did this, it would just make Murder, She Wrote a comedy, or perhaps some sort of psychological horror show or something. What it would not be is a mystery show.

In this spirit, I’d like to propose a few similarly terrible final episodes for Star Trek: The Next Generation.

  • Picard wakes up from surgery after being stabbed by the Tuskan Raider Nausicaan. He’s still a young ensign. He goes back to the bar and all of the main cast are patrons or servers. (Guinan is a dance hall girl wearing mostly huge pink feathers.)
  • Picard wakes up from taking magic mushrooms in a native american ceremony and the rest of the cast are his fellow shamans. All of the dialog is in Navajo, with subtitles.
  • Instead of the poker game, we then flash to a bunch of kids playing in the back yard of a late 1960s house, with the suggestion that they just watched an episode of the original and TNG has all been them playing pretend. One of the kids is named Beaver. Another is named Dennis.
  • It is revealed that the entire show was actually the Star Trek fanfic of a prematurely balding teenager who looks kind of like Patrick Stewart, which he just finished reading to a hot girl who then flat-out rejects him the moment he’s done, and he commits suicide by drinking a mixture of crushed glass and wine.
  • In the final episode, it is revealed that the main cast are all patients in a lunatic asylum in the 1980s, and Q is actually one of the nurses.
  • We pull back from the final episode to see Lee Harvey Oswald in a chair with one of those things on his face holding his eyes open. It turns out that TNG was actually a torture device people wearing grey robes used to break down his will and make him complacent. We hear him saying, over and over, “I will kill President Kennedy.” This fades to black and Leonard Nemoy walks out and says, “And perhaps this was how the Illuminati killed JFK.”

Aren’t those all brilliant? Wouldn’t it have been so cool if they’d done those instead of what they actually did? Can there be a better way to end a long-running TV show than with a giant out-of-genre F.U. to the fans?

Yes, actually. There can be.

Admittedly, though, this still isn’t as bad as the people who blame superheroes for the actions of supervillains.