Might and Myth

February 21, 2023
Minor Gym Updates

I hit 1 rep max at 435 pounds on the deadlift last Saturday. My previous record was 405. I never thought I would do 1 rep max deadlifts again, as deadlifts are not part of my normal workout routine. Instead, I focus on Romanian Deadlifts, and I train those at the 6-8 rep range. This particular attempt came after a few weeks of not doing my normal "heavy" Romanian Deadlifts, so I'm excited to see how much I can lift if I start doing heavy RDs again.

When doing 1 rep maxes, I follow the standard protocol. Warm up first. If I feel like today is the day, then I test how the weights feel. Does a normal warm-up weight feel heavier than usual? Then it's not the day. If it feels fine, or even light, then it might be the day. Next, I approach the target lift with a smaller lift to see how I can handle the load. In my case, I knew I was going to hit the 405 range on my deadlift attempts, so I tested 365 before my first attempt to see how it felt.

The next part of testing a one rep max is the actual attempt. I treat each rep as though it were a heavy set of 6 or 8, so I give the full 2 to 3 minute rest in between attempts. For one rep maxes, it's even better to wait longer. Waiting longer is never bad, as if you don't wait long enough you might ruin the attempt.

Attempts come in numbers. My first attempt was a 415 deadlift, just a little over my previous max of 405, and it was meant to establish the confidence in my strength. The first attempt might actually be the last - that depends on how you feel afterward. Was it heavy, or was there something left? If there is something left, then wait at least 3 minutes and figure out how much left there was. My second attempt was 435. I felt that there was at least 20 lbs left, but I didn't want to be greedy. My second attempt at 435 felt a little heavier. It was approaching my actual limit, but I still felt I could add some more weight. My last attempt was a failure at 445 lbs, but I was still stoked that I hit the 435.

The tricky part about 1 rep maxes is that you have to be smart about your attempts. A true one rep max is supposed to take everything out of you; there isn't supposed to be another attempt left. But doing a few attempts before discovering your actual one rep max takes a toll on your strength for that session. So, I may have been able to lift 445 if I had gone there earlier, but I wouldn't count on it yet. All I do know is that the 415 felt much easier to lift than the 405 did the first time, and even the 435 felt easier, or at least "better."

What this whole thing proved to me was that I "still got it." I hadn't done one rep maxes in a while, and I was wondering if I still had it in me to do the heavy stuff. After hitting 30lbs over my previous max, I feel encouraged to see where I can take my deadlifts from here. Knowing that 445 is within reach gives me the confidence to set 500 in my sights. I might just go there. For my other lifts, I'm not sure. I'm fairly good at squats for my bodyweight, but they are exhausting to do. And bench presses are more dangerous the closer they are to the one rep max.

For now I think I'll set my sights on hitting a 275 bench, 385 squat, and a 455 deadlift. I can come up 15 lbs short on those numbers and still hit the 1100 lbs mark for my three big lifts. I'm still at my original 170 lbs bodyweight, so 1100 at 170 would be a 10% increase in strength without gaining weight. I would like to hit these numbers by the middle of the year, so I'll post updates on my progress periodically.

February 19, 2023
Thor Defeats the Midgard Serpent, But at What Cost?

In Norse mythology, Thor is a brave warrior and adventurous thrill-seeker. He possesses unmatched strength and an indomitable will; he often finds himself restless in times of peace, and just as the early Germans were known to detest times of peace, Thor finds his way into a battle whenever the opportunity arises.

His final battle, though, was at Ragnarok. The foe that would finally defeat him would never know its victory, however, as Thor was first to deliver the killing blow to the Midgard Serpent when the two met at Ragnarok. Thor was victorious, but he was not without injury; the serpent's venom coursed through his veins and worked its vile magic, and the champion only walked nine steps before meeting his end.

Then comes Hlodyn's glorious boy;
Odin's son advances to fight the serpent,
he strikes in wrath Midgard's-protector,
all men must abandon their homesteads;
nine steps Fiorgyn's child takes,
exhausted, from the serpent which fears no shame.

- The Poetic Edda

Are some battles worth losing one's life to win?

It depends on the stakes. Thor was fighting to protect his people, not for glory. This wasn't a fight for honor and riches; this was the last stand of his people and his family against the forces that sought to destroy them.

He had faced countless giants before, and nearly all had fallen in a single blow from his hammer. But in this fight, he was up against something that was truly a match for his strength. His only previous encounter with the Midgard Serpent was when the serpent was disguised as a common house cat. Thor was able to lift the cat ever so slightly, but he nonetheless failed to fully lift it. Thor knew going into the fight exactly what he was up against, and he knew he would likely not survive. But he was able to win.

Beowulf's last fight against the dragon was very similar, as he also paid for victory with his life. He knew it would likely be his last fight, but he saw no other alternative than to use the gift of strength that God had given him to protect the people that God had placed under his rule.

Giving it your all is worth it if everything is at stake - not just one's life, but everyone's lives. Neither Beowulf nor Thor sacrificed themselves deliberately - they were fighting to win, and would have preferred to live. It's important to note that they did not retreat from the fight the moment they realized they could not survive. Instead, they doubled down and fought harder. Also notice that they weren't sacrificing other's lives in their final battles. They weren't working extra hard and neglecting their families and relationships just to earn some extra gold. Their families were the reason for their fights - the renown was just the icing.

December 19, 2022
A Dark Origin of Dogs

This is pure speculation. I've not done any research on the domestication of dogs from wolves. My knowledge on the subject is limited to the basics: dogs came from wolves, who were first domesticated by Man thousands of years ago.

I'm starting this post based on a meme. The meme shows a picture of a majestic wolf a snow-covered forest. He is pondering a campfire he sees in the distance, and asks himself, "Maybe they'll give me food over there at that campfire...what's the worst that can happen?" The next image in the meme is captioned "10,000 Years Later" and shows a puny, emaciated Chihuahua with a goofy, clueless gaze, dressed by his owners in a ridiculous knit birthday cake hat for an Instagram post.

The meme is hilarious, yes, but it is also optimistic. In the meme's history of Dogs, they are simply Wolves who chose to befriend Man of their volition. I can imagine a timid timberwolf approaching a campsite with his head down, tail between his legs, and eyes glowing with cuteness. Turning him down and denying him food would be like telling Oliver Twist to get lost.

Honestly, that's how I hope things happened. Because I got to thinking about the problem of domesticating wolves, and it's not too pretty.

My theory of how wolves were domesticated and bred into dogs starts with the behavior of wolves. Wolves are dangerous creatures. They are very strong compared to humans, and they are basically in the same weight class as fully grown adults. They run faster than humans, they can smell better than humans, they can see in the dark, the list goes on. But to make everything worse for humans, they form packs and work together when hunting.

Humans also form packs and work together when hunting. This would have made humans and wolves natural competitors in the early times. I believe that the domestication of wolves starts here, with the danger that wolves posed to humans.

I think it's possible that our ancestors recognized the danger wolves posed to them. The wolves probably killed a number of men in those days. But men are smart, so we learn from our fights. It was probably observed that killing the largest, most fierce wolf in a small pack tended to drive the others away. It's worth it to note that wild wolf packs are usually families, so I'm not drawing on the typical Alpha and Beta wolf theory in making this observation, but the fact that when the strongest member of a family dies in the middle of a hunt, the hunt is probably off. So I think the humans would start targeting the leaders in self defence against wolf attacks. It's either that or that the smaller wolves followed the larger wolves wherever they went.

The key here is that it was observed that wolves can work in groups and that they are capable of following another wolf, the leader.

The second part of my theory is where it turns dark. I expect humans to have realized that they weren't much of a match against wolves in fights. But they definitely would have realized that wolves often fight each other. An unarmed man can't do much against a wolf one on one, but a wolf can certainly hold its own against another wolf. Second, it was probably also observed that wolves tended to avoid rival wolf territory. One wolf would be a friend to a wolf of his group, but an enemy to any other wolf on sight. In fact, wolves probably avoided entire areas altogether if there were rival wolves nearby.

Observing this, I suspect humans decided to turn wolves into tools for their own protection. However, one can't just grab any wolf in the wild and make it one's friend. The only way to safely attempt to befriend a wolf is when it is small...a puppy. So, I suspect that humans deliberately tracked pregnant wolves and killed the mother after the pups were weened, stealing the litter and raising them as their own. This would have been difficult, sure, as "mama bear" certainly also applies to "mama wolves". But an entire group of people dedicated to one task can certainly achieve it. Think about the Mammoth hunts.

So, the theory I have about the origin of the domestication of wolves involves people stealing them from their dead mothers and raising them as their own, all for the purpose of using them for protection.

At first, they probably didn't bother with domesticating them. They probably kept them caged up and fed them scraps to keep them going. It was just that having a couple of wolves in the campground meant that wild wolves would be less likely to attack, thinking the area to be controled by a different group of wolves already.

Later, I imagine that after keeping some wolves locked up like this, they noticed that the wolves became attached to the one who fed them. Raised from pups, they would probably have some kind of loyalty to this person, but it still would not have been safe to let them out. Over time, the wolves had pups, and those pups had pups, and so on. All raised in captivity. Soon, a type of "dog" was born - one that was hardly any different than a wolf. It would have been extremely violent and dangerous to let around small children, but it would have been useful on hunts and for protection.

Slowly but surely this would have continued, with each generation of dog becoming slowly more domesticated and less violent, until one day, 10,000 years later, I would be putting a Christmas sweater and knit cap on my tiny, shaking Chihuahua-Dachshund mix.

Bonus: it's also possible that the capturing and domestication of wolves is what led to the practice of farming livestock.

December 15, 2022
A Mind at Ease

In Alexandre Dumas' The Three Musketeers, the four friends find themselves in a situation where they are anxiously awaiting the arrival of Planchet, d'Artagnon's servant. His failure to arrive would mean doom for the four musketeers, and all but Athos are having a hard time dealing with the stress of the situation.

Athos alone remained unmoved, as if no danger hovered over him, and as if he breathed his customary atmosphere.

On the sixteenth day, in particular, these signs were so strong in d'Artagnon and his two friends that they could not remain quiet in one place, and wandered about like ghosts on the road by which Planchet was expected.

"Really," said Athos to them, "you are not men but children, to let a woman terrify you so! And what does it amount to, after all? To be imprisoned. Well, but we should be taken out of prison; Madame Bonacieux was released. To be decapitated? Why, every day in the trenches we go cheerfully to expose ourselves to worse than that - for a bullet may break a leg, and I am covinced a surgeon would give us more pain in cutting off a thigh than an executioner in cutting off a head. Wait quietly, then; in two hours, in four, in six hours at least, Planchet will be here, and I have very great faith in Planchet, who appears to me to be a very good lad."

Athos keeps his cool in the most stressful of situations. He understands that Planchet's fate is out of his hands, and it would do no good to worry about him arriving on time. As Jesus says in Mathew 6:27, "And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?"

Athos doesn't simply admonish his friends ("you are not men but children"), though. He provides clear reasoning that downplays their fears. He acknowledges various outcomes that his companions are concerned about - imprisonment, execution - and deals with them by showing that they are still more favorable outcomes than others they face daily. To imprisonment he offers the hope of escape, and to execution he describes the daily risk they on the battlefield in the trenches.

To understand his demeanor more completely, it's useful to note what he remarks after Planchet arrives at the last minute. d'Artagnon, Porthos, and Aramis all state that they will sleep the first good sleep in a long while with Planchet safely returned. Athos then reveals, "Well, if you will have the truth, and me, too!"

December 04, 2022
Style, Taste, and a Sound Mind

Here Socrates is explaining in Plato's Republic the importance of a man possessing style and taste:

'Again, a nature that has no taste or style will tend inevitably to lack a sense of proportion.'
'It will.'
'And isn't a sense of proportion nearly related to truth?'
'Yes, it is.'
'So we want, in addition to everything else, a mind with a grace and sense of propoprtion that will naturally and easily lead it on to see the form of each reality.'
'I agree.'

The point being made here is that a person without a clear sense of style or who possesses no taste will be lacking in a critical area of mental ability, specified here as a sense of proportion. It's interesting to hear good fashion sense being compared to having a sense of mathmatical and geometric proportion. I guess all those fashionable, popular kids in high school are closer to Socrates' ideal Guardian than the slovenly, unkempt nerds would like to admit.

The same applies to bodily proportion, and it's why I advocate for staying fit and keeping one's body in good shape. A fit, well-proportioned body reveals a great deal about a person's mind and virtues. When it comes to Socrates' ideal Guardian, the dad bods lose, and the beach bods win.

vitruvian man
October 05, 2022
The Guardians Should Not Have Gold

In Plato's Republic, Socrates proclaims that his Guardians - those who are tasked with the protection and ruling of the state and its people - are not to be allowed the possession of gold, silver, or other luxuries, as riches lead to corruption:

They alone, therefore, of all the citizens are forbidden to touch or handle silver or gold; they must not come under the same roof as them, nor wear them as ornaments, nor drink from vessels made of them. Upon this their safety and that of the state depends. If they acquire private property in land, houses, or money, they will become farmers and men of business instead of Guardians, and harsh tyrants instead of partners in their dealings with their fellow citizens, with whom they will live on terms of mutual hatred and suspicion; they will be more afraid of internal revolt than external attack, and be heading fast for destruction that will overwhelm themselves and the whole community.

It's no mystery how Socrates would view today's rulers. Look at the suspiciously optimal stock trading habits of some of our Senators. Here is an example of these "lucky" trades from a certain Democratic Senator.

It's also telling how the focus of the political class seems to be less on managing the expectations of the voters and more on suppressing them out of sheer paranoia. The "Democratic Senator" above would certainly have a nagging feeling in the back of her mind; if the public found out, what would they do? A person in such a state of mind cannot mind the State. In such a person we cannot trust to have our best interest at heart.

August 29, 2022
A World of Oddities

I know the Poe challenge starts in October, but I was doing some pre-gaming today.

I have a fond memory of an episode of Wishbone that I saw as a child. In the episode, the police were turning a house inside out, searching every possible place in it for a letter; Wishbone himself found the letter "hidden" in plain sight: in the letter holder on a table.

While looking at the Dupin stories I would read in the Poe compilation, I discovered one title "The Purloined Letter." I had a nagging feeling that this story was the same as that episode of Wishbone I saw nearly twenty five years ago.

So, just to be sure, I read the story. It was indeed the same story.

Poe's Dupin stories are the best of Sherlock combined with the mastery of Poe. And I found some amusing insights, as well:

"If it is any point requiring reflection," observed Dupin, as he forbore to enkindle the wick, "we shall examine it to better purpose in the dark."
"That is another of your odd notions," said the Prefect, who had the fashion of calling everything "odd" that was beyond his comprehension, and thus lived amid an absolute legion of "oddities."

Poe was not aware of Leta Steller Hollingworth's 30-point rule by name, but he was certainly aware of it in truth. The Purloined Letter deals with variances in intelligence and types of intelligences between different people, but it does so with a touch of humor and a sense of justice; the police were not incompetent, but rather simply unable to comprehend how to find the letter - but in the end, Dupin outwits the villain.

Dupin goes further to state that not only are people almost always outwitted by their superiors, but also very often by the dull. The simple reason for this is the inability for either party to fully understand the thoughts and patterns of the other. For either of them, it is simply beyond their experiences to get inside the other's head and think as the other would. Poe was unaware of the Barbell Meme, too, but it seems he was ahead of his time on identifying that phenomenon.

August 28, 2022
The Upcoming Poe Challenge

There will be no rest for me following the completion of September's challenge to read all of Shakespeare in a month, as I will be immediately beginning a new challenge: to read all of Edgar Allen Poe's writings and poems in the month of October.

As of right now, I'm more excited for reading Poe than Shakespeare. I'm sure I will start to feel differently once I begin to actually read Shakespeare and learn to appreciate his craft, but at this moment I can safely say that my tastes lean toward Poe. I imagine that I will enjoy the stories and characters of Shakespeare more, but Poe's prose is so beautifully dark and creepy that I will find it hard to find a fault. Realistically, I shouldn't even be directly comparing the two of them, because I have so little knowledge of either.

Of course, that's the whole point of the challenges. By November 1st, I will have read all of Shakespeare and all of Edgar Allen Poe. If I haven't, then I will report my failure here. Poe's challenge comes at an opportune month; with 30 pages a day of Poe on my mind for all of October, this Halloween season will certainly be more chilling and frightening than ever.

August 26, 2022
Workout Updates

My energy levels haven't returned to normal since getting sick about two weeks ago. I had a fever for four days followed by a cold for about another five days, and for the week following my recovery I was still utterly exhausted.

I had kept up my workouts during the second week of being sick to a fairly good degree. But moving from eighty percent load to ninety percent load proved to be harder than I anticipated.

For this reason, I'm dropping my Push Pull Legs split that I wrote about recently. I'm going back to my Five Day split, which is the routine that I used to reach every goal I had in weightlifting. Right now my goal is to regain my strength and energy, and the Five Day routine is perfect for that.

To be clear, this Five Day routine is much harder than the routine I was doing previously. I'm not choosing an easier path here, but the harder path. I'm doing this on purpose to stimulate my body's recovery. I wrote on my other blog that healing is a choice we make after injury or illness, and changing my workout routine to be more difficult is the choice I'm making to put my body on the path to not just recovering my lost strength, but gaining new strength as well.

Because I got sick, I was never able to know how well the Push Pull Legs routine I was doing worked. I ended up making some improvements in my lifts, but once I hit a fever of a hundred and two for four days, the improvements seemed to disappear. I'm still curious to know how that routine would have worked out, so I may return to it in the future.

But for now, I'm sticking with the Five Day routine that got me to Category IV in my Big Three lifts and in the Thousand Pound Club at 165 lbs bodyweight.

August 25, 2022
Fact Check: How Smart are Dogs?

How smart are dogs? Let's examine the facts.

In Plato's The Republic, Socrates compares dogs to philosophers, saying that they possess the disposition of a philosopher:

'Would you agree then that our prospective Guardian needs...the disposition of a philosopher? ...You will find it in the dog, and a remarkable quality it is.'

Here Socrates clearly states that "you will find [the disposition of a philosopher] in the dog". He goes on to elaborate how he came to this conclusion:

'[The dog] is annoyed when it sees a stranger, even though he has done it no harm: but it welcomes anyone it knows, even though it has never had a kindness from him. Haven't you ever thought how remarkable this is?
...it is a trait that shows discrimination and a truly philosophic nature.
...the dog distinguishes the sight of a friend and foe simply by knowing one and not knowing the other. And a creature that distinguishes between the familiar and the unfamiliar on the grounds of knowledge or ignorance must surely be gifted with a real love of knowledge.'

The dog is a true philosopher. The dog is gifted with a real love of knowledge. Obviously, the love of knowledge and learning is closely related to intelligence. But we can get an even closer estimate of the dog's IQ by looking at its philosophic nature.

A study that shows the average IQ by college major reveals that Philosophy majors have an average IQ of 129.

Because dogs are philosophy majors by nature, this means the average dog's IQ is 129. That's almost 2 standard deviations above the mean for human intelligence To put that into perspective, almost half of all dogs qualify for MENSA membership, whereas only about 2% of humans do.

Dogs have a very high intelligence, much higher than most humans. But this conclusion shouldn't be much of a surprise:

  • No dogs injected themselves with experimental and dangerous MRNA "vaccines" in the past 2 years, whereas the majority of people have.
  • No dog wore a mask during the pandemic, because they knew that masks were not effective at stopping the virus.
  • No dogs obeyed social distancing rules, choosing instead to press their snouts directly up against very unclean parts of other dogs who were complete strangers to them.

For all of these reasons and more, it is clear that dogs are the true philosophers, not humans. Their reward for choosing philosophy during the past 2 years is that dogs are not suffering from vaccine-related sudden death as humans are. Being largely unvaccinated (by the MRNA "vaccines" at least), dogs don't have myocarditis or blood clots in higher numbers than ever before - unlike their human counterparts.

So to answer the question posed by this post's title, How smart are dogs?, the answer is, clearly, "Yes."

August 22, 2022
The Upcoming Shakespeare Challenge

While I'm not entirely unfamiliar with Shakespeare, my knowledge of his works is limited to what I was forced to read in high school: a few key sonnets (" Shall I compare thee to a summer day?"), Julius Ceasar ("Et tu, Brute?"), and the Leonardo di Caprio Romeo and Juliet movie.

Starting on September 1st, I'm beginning a challenge: read all of Shakespeare within one month.

While this challenge seems difficult, it's not as bad as I thought initially. I'll be reading from The Complete Works of William Shakespeare, which is about 1200 pages long. September has 30 days in it. To finish a 1200 page book in 30 days, I would need to read 40 pages a day. That's not too difficult. It's about an hour of reading a night, if I take it slowly. If I read a page a minute, it's about 40 minutes a night. And if I read faster, it could be as little as half an hour a night of reading.

Imagine that: finishing all of Shakespeare in one month takes only 30 minutes a day of reading. But I read fairly slowly, so I imagine I'll be reading about an hour of Shakespeare a night.

When the challenge starts, I'll begin adding updates here as I find interesting passages. Until then, I have some other reading to catch up on.

August 21, 2022
Natural Physical Fitness is an Intellectual Activity

While many people assume that muscle mass is not correlated postively with intelligence, I argue the opposite; I believe physical fitness is a positive sign of intelligence. I believe that high muscle mass and low bodyfat percentage is a difficult goal to achieve, and I believe that high intelligence assists in achieving that goal. I also believe that low intelligence works directly against achieving that goal, almost to the point of making it impossible.

This isn't too hard of a conclusion to come to. The simple fact of the matter is that physical fitness, especially in natural bodybuilding, requires sustained effort over long periods of time in order to achieve the desired results. High intelligence is simply a requirement of being able to persevere in the efforts requisite of achieving a desired physique. Shortsightedness and lack of impulse control work as deterrents against achieveing physical fitness; these are qualities associated with lesser intelligence. This isn't a new concept, as studies have shown that obesity is negatively correlated with intelligence for these same reasons.

I will say, however, that I believe physiques achieved from steroid use are a sign of lower intelligence. The first reason is because steroids provide the results faster than achieving them naturally. It's not simply that steroids enable one to surpass their natural limits, it's that steroids enable one to achieve certain physiques with considerably less effort than is otherwise possible. The long term, sustained effort and perserverance of natural bodybuilding is one of the reasons it is a sign of high intelligence; since steroid use shortens the amount of time involved, it implies less intelligence used in achieving the results.

The second reason I believe physiques achieved from steroid use are not a good sign of intelligence is that steroid use comes with many side effects. Steroid use kills and ages the body faster than it would age and die normally. In addition, while it's easy to get on the train, it's not easy to get off; once one has started steroid use, the body stops producing testosterone on its own. Many ex-steroid users end up on testosterone replacement therapy for this reason. Using steroids is like getting tattoos; it demonstrates a lack of foresight and long-term abstract thinking ability.

In summary, I believe that a natural bodybuilding physique, or even physical fitness in general, is a sign of intelligence. I believe that steroid use is more likely a sign of a lack of intelligence. Finally, I would advise critics of fitness and natural bodybuilders to ask themselves if they believe that they possess the requisite intellectual capacity for achieving a toned, muscular physique.

August 20, 2022
Lord of the Rings and Science Fiction Inspiration in The Republic

One thing that always fascinated me about The Republic by Plato is the section in the beginning that describes a magical ring. Possibly stranger than the ring's power is how the ring was found:

The best illustration of the liberty I am talking about would be if we supposed them both to be possessed of the power which Gyges, the ancestor of Gyges the Lydian, had in the story. He was a shepherd in the service of the then king of Lydia, and and one day there was a great storm and an earthquake in the district where he was pasturing his flock and a chasm opened in the earth. He was amazed at the sight, and descended into the chasm and saw many astonishing things there, among them, so the story goes, a bronze horse, which was hollow and fitted with doors, through which he peeped and saw a corpse which seemed to be of more than human size. He took nothing from it save a gold ring it had on its finger, and then made his way out.

I was taken aback when science fiction made a sudden appearance in one of the oldest and best-known works of philosophy. Of course, the further back one goes in mythology, the closer it starts to resemble our visions of the future. One of the most common tropes of both the science fiction and fantasy genres is an ancient and advanced civilization that mysteriously disappeared long ago. In the case of The Republic, it appears that such a civilization made an appearance in the story of Gyges.

The chasm in the earth opening after a storm and an earthquake sounds vaguely like some kind of UFO landing or time travel event. Or it could have been an underground civilization that suffered an acciden of some sort. Either way, the discovery of the bronze horse with doors in its side clearly has something in common with a UFO. If it doesn't resemble a traditional flying saucer, then it at least bares some semblance to the walking vehicles from the likes of Star Wars and such.

Finally, the inhabitant of the bronze horse was of a stature greater than a human's. Giants are very common in old legends, so it's possible that this was just a reference to one of them. But the really interesting thing about this giant was the ring he was carrying. Gyre discovered the ring's significance shortly after putting it on:

He was wearing this ring when he attended the usual meeting of shepherds which reported monthly to the king on the state of his flocks; and as he was sitting there with the others he happened to twist the bezel of the ring towards the inside of this hand. Thereupon he became invisible to his companions, and they began to refer to him as if he had left them. He was astonished, and began fingering the ring again, and turned the bezel outwards; whereupon he became visible again. When he saw this he started experimenting with the ring to see if it really had this power, and found that every time he turned the bezel inwards he became invisible, and when he turned it outwards he became visible.

The giant corpse Gyre had discovered seems more like the Predator now, possessing some kind of advanced technology that enables perfect invisibility at the flip of a switch.

Even ignoring the science fiction elements of this story, it's impossible not to note the similarity of the golden ring to J.R.R. Tolkien's Ring of Power. In Tolkien's story, the ring didn't turn just anyone invisible, but it did turn Hobbits and similar beings completely invisible. Being a scholar, I'm sure Tolkien was familiar with this ring and used it as inspiration for his own magical ring.

Stories like this one are why I enjoy reading mythology and other classic works. There is always something interesting to discover, and there are often surprising similarities between mythology and modern stories.

July 31, 2022
When Shall We be Stronger?

I saw a funny meme the other day. It was a picture of a security guard standing next to a sign at an Australian beach. The sign read, "All Joggers Must Wear a Helmet". The sign went on to kindly offer visual demonstrations to the would-be helmetless jogger the dangers of lifting both feet off the ground without wearing a helmet.

The meme is an old one, but like all memes, it's funny because it tells the truth. The truth is that we are seriously only a few steps away from such a thing becoming reality.

Freedom has no place in the Age of Safety. We went from Wear a MaskTM to shutting down churches within six months back in 2020. I remind the reader that the right to practice religion was one of the very reasons for the Republic's founding; not even two hundred and fifty years later, we were shutting down churches. While our country carelessly allowed summertime protests filled with large, crowded groups chanting slogans at the top of their lungs to carry on in the midst of a worldwide pandemic, we were banning the right to sing and worship the living God inside churches.

This isn't merely petty tyrany. This is spiritual warfare. This is an attack on one of our basic freedoms as Americans, and it is clear that those who rule over us today are completely alien to those who guided the country to its independence.

I'll conclude this post with a quote from Patrick Henry's "Give me liberty, or give me death!" speech. I actually didn't encounter the following quote while reading his speech; instead, I found it while reading Louis L'Amour's The Strong Shall Live. L'Amour's writing focuses on the frontier, and it perfectly captures the spirit of American self-determination, courage, and willpower. The following quote from Patrick Henry's speech was something that the main character would repeat to himself when he was facing certain danger. I think it's something we need to be repeating to ourselves now:

They tell us, Sir, that we are weak, unable to cope with so formidable an adversary. But when shall we be stronger? Will it be next week? Will it be next year? Will it be when we are totally disarmed and a guard stationed in every house? Shall we gather strength by irresolution and inaction? Sir, we are not weak if we make proper use of those means which the God of nature has placed in our power.
July 08, 2022
The American Resentment of Authority

I was reading Louis L'Amour's The Strong Shall Live, a collection of short stories set in the western frontier, when I came across the following passage:

Bostwick was, as many an American has been before and since, a man who resented authority. He knew its necessity and tried to conform but when that authority became domineering, as this man obviously was, Bostwick's resentment grew.

These two sentences perfectly describe the natural American attitude toward authority. Authority is resented. It is understood to be necessary to a certain degree to prevent chaos, but when it gets out of hand and starts to become too demanding, the resentment grows.

This is one of the core elements of American culture, one that many citizens not originally from America can fully understand or appreciate. The recent vaccine mandates have become too domineering. The resentment is growing in a large population of Americans who have been wronged by these mandates, either by losing their jobs for refusing to bend the knee or by suffering from suddenly for having given in.

July 04, 2022
United Kingdom BTFO Forever

Today we celebrate our country. America was founded in Rebellion. We are the descendents of rebels and revolutionaries. The true American spirit is a force of freedom in the world, rejecting Tyranny.

Thank God for the brave men who risked more than just their lives to found this country. Because of their courage, we are free from the Crown. We have no kings, no dukes, no lords.

Remember that our struggle was not against the British people, but against the Crown. We freed ourselves from the Crown's rule, but the British remain our brothers. It gives me hope to see that the ancient spirit of English rebellion lives on even to this day, with Brexit being the result of that spirit fighting back against foreign rule.

Happy Fourth of July to all.

June 28, 2022
The Gift of Giving

When Beowulf killed Grendel, he was rewarded by King Hrothgar with many treasures. When Beowulf killed Grendel's mother, he was given even more treasures. Yet Beowulf didn't keep these treasures to himself; he gave many away graciously.

He first gave one of the gifted swords to the guard who kept watch over his ship while he was staying with Hrothgar. Then, on returning to his home land, he gave many of the most precious treasures he had received to his own king and queen. After giving away these gifts, here is what is said of Beowulf:

Thus the son of Ecgtheow showed himself to be brave,
a man famed for fighting, with heroic deeds,
living ever for glory. He never slew hearth-companions,
in drunken fury, nor did he have a frenzied spirit,
but the brave-battle man guarded the generous gift,
given him by God, of the greatest strength
of all mankind.

Beowulf was generous in his giving because the greatest gift he had came from God. His strength, which enabled him to do battle against Grendel, was his most prized possession. Knowing this gift was given to him by God, he used it only for God's will. He didn't abuse it by murdering his kinsmen, he kept his spirit calm and courageous, and he never turned down a challenge which presented itself before him. He came to the rescue of the Danes on hearing of their torment, and he returned the spoils of that victory to his own king, knowing that he himself was not greater in the kingdom than its rightful ruler.

Still later, when Beowulf finally fell in battle against the dragon, he asked Wiglaf to do only one thing for him: to bring out the treasure which the dragon had guarded and lay it before him, just so that Beowulf could see before his passing the great treasures he would be giving to his kingdom, a treasure which he had purchased with his life.

I'm reminded of the passage in Revelation where the elders lay their crowns at the feet of Jesus.

10 the twenty-four elders fall down before him who sits on the throne and worship him who lives for ever and ever. They lay their crowns before the throne and say:

11 "You are worthy, our Lord and God,
to receive glory and honor and power,
for you created all things,
and by your will they were created
and have their being."
- Revelation 4:10-11

The crowns are the fruit of their labor while on Earth. The works they did for Christ are made into crowns; the more beautiful the crown, the greater the works for Christ. The crowns are laid at Jesus' feet. They are given to Him. It's only appropriate, as they always represented the work that was done for Jesus, who gives the crowns. The point is that the Jesus has given them the greatest gift: eternal life, salvation, and forgiveness of sins. Jesus Himself purchased this gift for us with His own life, by dying on the cross. But Jesus conquered death and rose again on the third day, and that is our hope as Christians.

Jesus gave His own life for us. Now we have the privelege of giving our own lives to Him in return.

June 26, 2022
Gym Update: End of First Half of 2022

In May, I switched my workout routine to a 4-day split focused on Shoulders. I stopped doing "heavy" back, chest, and leg exercises in order to keep 1 day focused on Shoulders. The result was fine, but it wasn't meant to be a long-term routine. I intended it to last about 4 weeks, and that's as long as I kept it. The result of that routine was that I improved my overhead shoulder press by about 10 lbs, but it didn't go much further after that.

Now, I'm moving on to a different routine. I'm no longer doing my 5-day split. Instead, I'll be doing a Push/Pull/Legs routine that works in a 5-day cycle. The split goes Push-Legs-Rest-Pull-Rest. I'm doing lots of volume on each workout, but each bodypart gets 4 days of rest before I work it out again. Each muscle group is worked out once every 5 days. It's definitlye much more rest than I'm used to, so it will important for me to keep track of my progress. If it ends up not working out well, it's probably because each bodypart is not being worked out close enough to 2 times per week. Natural lifters benefit more from hitting each group about twice a week.

The next time I provide an update, it will be on whether this routine works or not for me, which will probably be in about a month.

June 24, 2022
Roe v Wade
Held: The Constitution does not confer a right to abortion; Roe and Casey are overruled; and the authority to regulate abortion is returned to the people and their elected representatives

Roe v Wade has been overturned, and though there are States that allow abortions, there are many that have laws against abortion. The Supreme Court ruling today has been celebrated by the Pro Life community as having removed a deep evil from the nation, and I am among them in celebrating this decision. I am a Christian, and I am strongly Pro Life.

The ruling today recognizes that the outcome of Roe v Wade was a mistake, and was thus rightfully overturned. The right to make laws concerning abortion once again belongs to the States, not the Federal government, as it should have been all along:

10th Amendment to the Constitution
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

The Supreme Court opinion lays out the ruling in a very dry manner. This ruling is merely a judicial and technical ruling, based on examining the original court cases involved and comparing the bases of their decisions to both the Consitution and legal tradition.

Regarding the Constitution:

(1) First, the Court reviews the standard that the Court's cases have used to determine whether the Fourteenth Amendment's reference to “liberty” protects a particular right. The Constitution makes no express reference to a right to obtain an abortion, but several constitutional provisions have been offered as potential homes for an implicit constitutional right. Roe held that the abortion right is part of a right to privacy that springs from the First, Fourth, Fifth, Ninth, and Fourteenth Amendments. See 410 U. S., at 152-153. The Casey Court grounded its decision solely on the theory that the right to obtain an abortion is part of the “liberty” protected by the Fourteenth Amendment's Due Process Clause. Others have suggested that support can be found in the Fourteenth Amendment's Equal Protection Clause, but that theory is squarely foreclosed by the Court's precedents, which establish that a State's regulation of abortion is not a sex-based classification and is thus not subject to the heightened scrutiny that applies to such classifications.

Regarding tradition:

Guided by the history and tradition that map the essential components of the Nation's concept of ordered liberty, the Court finds the Fourteenth Amendment clearly does not protect the right to an abortion. Until the latter part of the 20th century, there was no support in American law for a constitutional right to obtain an abortion. No state constitutional provision had recognized such a right. Until a few years before Roe, no federal or state court had recognized such a right. Nor had any scholarly treatise. Indeed, abortion had long been a crime in every single State. At common law, abortion was criminal in at least some stages of pregnancy and was regarded as unlawful and could have very serious consequences at all stages. American law followed the common law until a wave of statutory restrictions in the 1800s expanded criminal liability for abortions. By the time the Fourteenth Amendment was adopted, three-quarters of the States had made abortion a crime at any stage of pregnancy. This consensus endured until the day Roe was decided. Roe either ignored or misstated this history, and Casey declined to reconsider Roe's faulty historical analysis.

The full text of the ruling is found in this pdf from the Supreme Court's website.

I do wonder if pharmaceutical companies will start complaining of a lack of aborted fetal tissue to use in the manufacturing of their vaccines and other drugs. If this happens, don't be afraid; relying on the blood of innocents for one's health can only cause damage to one's soul, and the body will soon follow its decline.

June 12, 2022
El Año Pasado fue 2019

El año pasado fue 2019, y tambien fue el ultimo año. Todo lo que paso en los años 2020 y 2021 fue una pesadilla. Los expertos nos prometieron que la pandemia terminaria dentro de dos semanas, y esto lo decian por dos años. Nos decian que no nos iban a requirir que recibamos la vacuna, pero en el año 2021 casi todas las empresas en el pais empezaron a requirir que sus empleados tomaran la vacuna en un movimiento totalmente inhumano y sin precidente.

Ahora sabemos que la mayoridad de la gente quiere que perdamos nuestros trabajos, que sigamos hambientes y que nos quedamos sin casa. En el año 2019, creia que no obstante nuestras diferencias politicas, toda la gente queria la misma cosa - para ser indepente y feliz con sus familias. Pero los ultimos dos años me han enseñado una leccion diferente - que casi toda la gente le traicionaria a su vecino.

No quieren ser personas libres. Quieren ser esclavados. Quieren servir sus maestros y seguir sus mandatos sin pensar en lo que estan . Destesten la sabiduria, rechazan la filosofia y no les importan la humanidad. No respetan los derechos de sus vecinos. Odian la razon, creyendo que es necesario usar las cubrebocas y mantenen una distancia de dos metros entre las personal mientras al mismo tiempo creyendo que esta bien protestar con miles de personas.

Se han vuelto locos. Ahora, en el año 2022, todavia hay gente que no tienen la capacidad mental para dejar la pandemia en el pasado. Ellos no pueden olvidarla. Para ellos, el año pasado siempre serra 2019, porque es el año 2020 para siempre.

June 9, 2022
Crocodiles Surviving the Jurassic

Unlike my other posts on the existence of mythological creatures, this one is more speculation. The question is how did crocodiles survive unchanged through tens of millions of years while all other creatures evolved into different ones or went extinct?

Species that have remained unchanged for millions of years are often called "living fossils," since there are fossil records of the same species even though the animal is still in existence today. Among these, the one I'll focus on is the crocodile, since a fossil of a species of crocodile was recently discovered that puts these reptilian apex predators as far back as the late Jurassic period.

Oddly, there seems to be a tremendous effort on the part of mainstream biologists to deter the labeling of crocodiles as living fossils. The reality is that the fossil records show a creature that looks almost exactly like today's crocodiles. The only counter argument to this would be to point out that the ancient crocodile had still yet older relatives which don't look as similar to today's crocodiles as the more "recent" fossils; this is obviously just a distraction from the fact that the crocodile has miraculously remained unchanged from its current form for over a hundred million years. It's not strange that it looked different two hundred million years ago; it's simply odd that it has looked the same for as long as it has.

I'm done pointing out the conumdrum; now I'll propose one wild theory as to how this could have happend.

Noah's Ark

Noah was told to bring "two of every sort" of animal onto the ark in order to preserve them. All other animals were killed. Traditionally, people laugh at the idea of fitting two of every animal onto the Ark, but there are many ways to do this if you consider that "sort" means something different to people in the past than it does to us. What is more likely to have happened is that "sort" meant something along the lines of a genus, or a group of species.

Taking the word "sort" to mean something like "type of animal", "genus", or "family", it's probable that crocodiles were simply chosen as the representative of an entire class of dinosaur. No T-Rexes, Spinosaurus, or anything like them made it onto the ark - just crocodiles. This would explain how crocodiles have remained unchanged since the time of the dinosaurs - they simply are dinosaurs, specifically the last of them. Similarly, all of the shelled dinosaurs may have been represented by the Tortoise, and the Ostrich may have been the representative for dinosaurs such as velociraptors.

Again, this is just a wild and fun theory. I think it's interesting, but unlike my other mythological creatures posts, this one relies on the historicity of the Biblical flood. There are a lot of reasons for one to suspect that an event like the Biblical flood occurred, especially since many cultures' mythologies contain a strikingly similar story involving a worldwide flood. If this is the reason for why crocodiles haven't changed, then it also explains what happened to all the other mythological dragons and creatures; they were simply wiped out during the flood, remaining only as mythological creatures who once both lived beside and fought against man.

Closing thoughts on the Flood

Christians are often mocked for taking the story of the flood in Genesis literally. After all, it has been scientifically proven to be impossible, the critics say. I'm not going to get into detail about the flood now, and I probably never will; it's more important to focus on Jesus and the Resurrection than on a worldwide deluge. That said, there was one verse that always caught my attention. From Genesis 7:19-20:

19And the waters prevailed exceedingly upon the earth; and all the high hills, that were under the whole heaven, were covered.
20Fifteen cubits upward did the waters prevail; and the mountains were covered.

These verses are usually interpreted as meaning that the waters covered the mountains fifteen cubits high, which is about twenty five feet. This would mean that even Mt. Everest would have been covered by water twenty five feet above its peak! That certainly seems ridiculous, and I don't know if there is enough water in the world to fill up the earth that much.

Even though it seems ridiculous to have Mt. Everest covered by water over twenty feet above its peak, just picture the famous mountain in your head right now. What do you see? I'll tell you what I see: snow. What is snow? Water.

It's possible that parts of the world were covered in water, and others were covered in snow. Maybe, just maybe, the flood was both a flood and and Ice Age at the same time.

June 8, 2022
Latin, Spanish, and Reading Updates

It's now almost halfway through the year, and by this point, I anticipated I would have finished with Wheelock's Latin. Instead, I made it about a third of the way through the material and stopped. I'm a little disappointed with myself, as usually my discipline is much better than that. However, there is some forgiveness for this failure due to the reason I stopped: I had decided to continue working on making my next video game.

My normal job is as a software engineer, and on the side I make video games. I'm currently working on two games, and both have drawn inspiration from the more fantasy-based reading I've been doing lately. So, for as long as I'm making progress somewhere, I will not hold it against myself if I have slowed down elsewhere. That said, I do plan to continue my studies of Latin, and I'm aiming for finishing Wheelock's Latin by the end of the year.

I don't have an excuse for Spanish, however, as that is something that I'm already reading fluently in and simply needs an increase in my speaking and writing skills. Instead of writing in Spanish more often, I've actually moved in the opposite direction, even up to the point of almost never writing in Spanish at all. This is a big problem, and I need to make corrections to it right away.

Finally, regarding other language building, I'm not even finished with the first volume of The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. Again, this is only due to me spending more time on games than reading, but I need to pick up the pace on my reading. I'm not reading because I have to; I'm reading because I love to. And yet, even though it brings me joy to read, I still feel the need to "make progress" in my life instead, working on games on other things.

To solve these things, I need to do three things. I need to first reimplement my daily Latin studies. Second, I need to reimplement Spanish Mondays, and I need to force myself to write even though I may feel out of practice and make mistakes; I'll also start using proper Spanish accent marks in my Spanish writing, which until now I've reserved for words without which would carry very different and sometimes comical meanings. Finally, I need to replace the trivial reading I do while browsing the Internet with the more nourishing reading of literature, including Spanish books; at the end of the year, I'll record what I've read this year, no matter how small the list may be.

My progress in all three of these items will help me in determining how well I'm managing my time and resources.

June 3, 2022
Declining Imperator Quality

One pattern I noticed while reading Edward Gibbon's The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire was the diminishing quality of the Roman emperors over time. While the early imperators came from noble backgrounds and were strictly of the ruling class, later rulers came from much lower stations, some even starting as commoners.

While some modern audiences may appreciate the "rags to riches" aspect of these emperors, the Roman Empire itself certainlly didn't. The disgraceful tyrant Commodus, the sexually perverse Elagabalus, the senator Didius Julianus who won the title of emperor in an auction, and the commoner Maximinus were mong the rulers of Rome in the early centuries of the first milennium A.D. who degraded the title of Imperator and lowered its status. While some had better success than others, the declining quality of the Roman Imperator was an obvious contributing factor to the decline of the Empire itself.

I've noticed a decline in the ruling class of America, as well. There are different degrees of decline in our political leaders, but it is clear that as a group they are becoming generally less intelligent and more indulgent. Despite what they would admit, their lack of wisdom and moral fortitude reduces the morale of the modern population as much as it reduced the morale of the ancient Roman citizens.

Our leaders are meant to be the best of us, and yet they are quickly becoming the worst. There hardly remains anyone possessing the moral integrity, steadfast valor, or intellectual ability requisite of a worthy leader in our ruling class. The importance of this is discussed in Plato's The Republic:

'How, then, are we to get the most beneficial results? Tell me,' I said to Glaucon, 'haven't I seen a lot of hunting dogs and game birds at your house? And there's something about their breeding and mating you must have noticed.'
'In the first place, though they are all well bred, don't some of them prove superior to the rest?'
'Then do you breed from all indifferently? Or do you take care to breed so far as possible from the best of them?'
'From the best of them.'
'And does that mean from the youngest, or the oldest, or those in their prime?'
'Those in their prime.'
'Otherwise, don't you reckon that your breeds of birds and dogs would degenerate badly?'
'I do.'
'What about horses and other animals? Does the same apply to them?'
'It would be suprising if it didn't.'
'My goodness,' I exclaimed, 'what outstanding Rulers we shall need, if the same thing is true of human beings!'

To have a competent ruling class, they must be fit for their role. Our ruling class has degenerated, just as Rome's ruling class degenerated. Restoring the ruling class might require discarding eldest-son-birthright politics. Remember, Esau was the eldest, but Jacob was God's chosen for the birthright. Regardless, it seems that Rome was unable to recover once the quality of the emperors started to decay.

May 26, 2022
The Federalist Papers II: Americans

America is not an idea. According to Publius in the Federalist Papers No II, America is a very specific people:

With equal pleasure I have as often taken notice that Providence has been pleased to give this one connected country to one united people - a people descended from the same ancestors, speaking the same language, professing the same religion, attached to the same principles of government, very similar in their manners and customs, and who, by their joint counsels, arms, and efforts, fighting side by side throughout a long and bloody war, have nobly established general liberty and independence.

The purpose of the Federalist Papers were to persuade the American people to adopt the Constitution in order to preserve the Union instead of allowing the government defined by the Articles of Confederation to continue on its path to dissolution. Publius notes that the Americans were in a unique position: they had a large portion of connected land with which to form their own government, and even more importantly they were "one united people." This gave them the advantage of being the perfect partners for embarking on the experiment of self-government. A divided people would not be a fitting match, but the Americans were one. The American people were clearly defined by the following:

  • They were "descended from the same ancestors", being of British origin with Northern European influence.
  • They spoke the same language, English.
  • They professed the same religion, Christianity, and were furthermore a specific class of Christianity distinct from Catholicism and Orthodoxy.
  • They were "attached to the same principles of government," having left England to pursue a life of liberty in a new world.
  • They were "very similar in manners and customs," sharing the same culture and values.

The modern American citizen is likely to disagree with John Jay, a Founding Father and the writer of the Federalist Paper No II, on these points. Modern America is no longer one people, but many. Publius recognized the advantage one people has in establishing a new government. Today, our task isn't so much to establish a new government as it is to sustain an old one. Since America is no longer "one united people ... attached to the same principles of government," it will inevitably become something very far removed from what it once was. As with the Tower of Babel, many people speaking many different languages are simply unable to work together to achieve anything. And as Jesus says in Mark 3:24, "If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand."

May 23, 2022
An Enjoyable Passage from The Aeneid

When I started reading Virgil's The Aeneid, I was struck by the beauty of the language. The passage below from Book 1 was particularly moving for me. It describes the simple act of lighting a fire, and yet it has been turned into a work of art:

First, good Achates, with repeated strokes
Of clashing flints, their hidden fire provokes:
Short flame succeeds; a bed of wither'd leaves
The dying sparkles in their fall receives:
Caught into life, in fiery fumes they rise,
And, fed with stronger food, invade the skies.

Striking flint becomes a "clash" between two stones which causes them to emit their "hidden fire." The sparkles falling from the stones are "dying," and upon landing on the dried leaves used for kindling are "caught into life." Now fueled by the "stronger food" of the kindling and the timber, they don't merely burst into flame - they "invade the skies".

All of this for what amounts in prose to "Achates lit a fire."

May 18, 2022
Switching up the Workout Routine

I'm switching up my workout routine for the next 4-8 weeks. My routine used to be a 5 day split of Upper, Lower, Push, Pull, and Legs. I'm removing the Push and Pull days and replacing them with a Shoulders/Arms day and a Back/Chest day.

I'm doing this primarily to focus on building up my shoulders. I normally only do 2 shoulder excercises a week, for a total of 6 working sets per week. Even worse than that, none of the shoulder excersises in my normal routine are "heavy" shoulder excersies; they are both positioned in the middle and toward the end of my workouts on their respective days.

The new routine adds a whole day dedicated to shoulders. It opens up with 3 sets of a "heavy" overhead barbell press. Then I follow that up with 3 sets of seated dumbbell shoulder presses. After that, there are two sets of lateral raises with high reps. My arms get a good pump on that day, too, as I'm able to do 2 different bicep excercises and 1 tricep isolation. I can't focus too much on triceps on that day, as after 3 sets of presses, they have already had a decent workout.

The Back/Chest day is also interesting. Instead of doing my normal 3 sets of 6-8 with 2 minutes of rest between sets, I'm doing 3 sets of 10 with 1 minute of rest. I'm not able to lift as heavy weight, but the extra pump I get from the increased volume and decreased rest time is pretty awesome. This is also the 3rd day in a row of working out, so I wanted to keep the load lighter on that day.

Legs are a bit tricky for me to figure out for this routine. I feel the need to lift heavy, but I'm getting to the point with my legs where I can't lift my working weight and recover within the same week. I'm trying to mix it up with higher volume and lower weight during this switchup, but I might go back to my normal leg days; I'm starting to miss that feeling of not being able to walk after leg day.

As I said earlier, the main focus of this 8 week mixup is to train my shoulders. I mentioned that I previously reached Category 4 in my big 3 lifts, but I've never reached Category 4 in my overhead press. I want to change that, and this is the first step. If things start to fail horribly, I'll go back to my normal routine. Otherwise, I'll continue until I can at least do 8 reps of overhead press with 1 plate. Then I'll be ready to test a 1 rep max for Category 4, which will be close to my body weight.

May 11, 2022
Carausius Takes Britain

Reading Edward Gibbon's The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire has been very enjoyable. He delievers a thorough history of the major events of the Roman Empire from the 1st century onward in a style that elevates the material to literature.

A recurring problem for the Roman Empire in the early centuries of its demise were the insurrections of the legions. The strength, valor, and expertise of the Roman military was its greatest strength, but the soldiers knew that it was they who held the power. Whether due to mistreatment, loss of pay and certain privileges, or pure ambition, the Roman soldiers constantly found a reason to justify overthrowing the Emperor. For Carausius, it seemed to be ambition and opportunity that led him to claim Britain from the Empire.

Though Carausius was of rude origin, he was known for his skill as a soldier and a ship pilot. In the late 3rd century, A.D., parts of the Roman Empire were under attack by barbarian brigantines, which led to the decision to create a naval fleet and place Carausius in charge of it. However, when Carausius faced a certain group of German pirates, he took advantage of the situation and pulled off a clever little trick:

When the German pirates sailed from their own harbours he connived at their passage, but he diligently intercepted their return, and appropriated to his own use an ample share of the spoil which they had acquired.

A true rogue, Carausius not only double-crosses the Empire but the Germans. It was actually an ingenious plan: let the Germans do the hard work of raiding and pillaging, and arrest them on their way back and take the loot. This is a literally classic example of "work smarter, not harder."

Of course, as with all corrupt administrators of justice, his wealth betrayed his guilt. He was sentenced to death, and that's when things got interesting. Anticipating such a retaliation by the Emperor, he used his wealth to gain the barbarians as his supporters. Sailing to Britain, he proceeded to gain the support of the local legions and auxiliaries of the island. He even went as far as to proclaim himself Emperor and adopt the title Augustus.

His reign of Britain lasted 7 years, and was only stopped short when he was assassinated by his first minister. The recent meme of "Sigma Male Grindset" comes to mind when I think of Carausius. Here was a man who overthrew a portion of the Roman Empire seemingly pn a whim, and he did it with both wit and military expertise.

Edward Gibbon's The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire is filled with interesting stories like this, all of which demonstrate the constant turmoil the Roman Empire faced and the perpetual insurrections and betrayals that broke it down piece by piece.

April 19, 2022
El Que Halla Esposa

Proverbios 18:24

22 El que halla esposa halla el bien,
Y alcanza la benevolencia de Jehová.

Feliz cumpleaños, amor. En ti, verdaderamente he encontrado el bien.

April 17, 2022
He is Risen

Secundum Mattheum 28:6

6 non est hic
surrexit enim sicut dixit
venite videte locum ubi positus erat Dominus

The Resurrection of Jesus Christ is the single most important event in the history of the world. Praise the Lord! "He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay." - Mathew 26:8.

April 14, 2022
The Written World

As I continue to focus more on literature and language this year, I'm developing a greater respect for the written world.

Words can only echo through history if they are written down and recorded. Languages don't evolve constantly once placed on pages. Deeper thoughts become possible when they are frozen in place to allow for analysis.

My professional endeavors focus on software engineering and game development. I'm neither a writer nor particularly literate, but this year, I began a journey to the past by means of books. I'm seeking to uncover the origins of our civilization by studying its history. All of this is possible because people have been writing their stories and philosophies down for thousands of years.

As a software engineer, I sometimes lament the notion that my works may never survive even to the end of the century. As soon as the lights go out, so does all of the software people worked endless hours on. Although I remain an optimist, I believe that action needs to be taken to restore the ancient philosphical and cultural foundations of western civilization in order to preserve our future.

April 11, 2022
Necesito un Descanso

Recientemente, no he estado leyendo ni hablando espanol. Ademas, no he estado estudiando Latin. La verdad es que necesito un descanso.

De vez en cuando, tengo que parar de hacer algo porque estoy cansado. Pero, no quiero parar de hacer todas las cosas que estoy haciendo. Por eso, escojo una cosa entre todas las cosas que estoy haciendo, y la quito de mi lista. Despues de un poco tiempo, normalmente unos tres dias, estoy descansado y listo para continuar haciendolo.

Sin embargo, esta vez es diferente. No estoy descansando suficientemente, y mis estudios de espanol y latin siguen parados.

Lo que esto significa es que estoy demasiado cansado en todas las cosas que estoy haciendo. Necesito un descanso mas largo y de mas cosas, o necesito un descanso breve de mi trabajo. Creo que con unos pocos dias sin trabajar, puedo recuperarme las fuerzas y seguir energizado con todas las cosas que quiero hacer.

Es importante porque quiero aprender mas idiomas que el latin y el espanol, y no puedo hacerlo si no me siento al cien por ciento.

April 9, 2022
The Nature of the Masters of the World, Part 3

The ancient German barbarians were called the "masters of the world" in Edward Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. In the first two entries in this series on the author's comments on the ancient Germans, I wrote about the German's strength and their propensity for both sloth and violence. In this entry, I'll focus on their freedom. All passages are taken from Chapter 9 of The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.

The Masters of the World are Free

Edward Gibbon has this to write about the Germans' love of freedom:

A warlike nation like the Germans, witout either cities, letters, arts, or money, found some compensation for this savage state in the enjoyment of liberty. Their poverty secured their freedom, since our desires and our possessions are the strongest fetters of despotism.

It's worth noting the commentary on the cause of both their freedom and others' tryannies: wealth. An abundance of wealth is claimed to the cause of tyranny, and a lack of resources is proposed to ward off tyranny. If there are no resources to hoard up, control, and otherwise master, then there is no reason for anyone to have the ambition to rise to absolute power.

Gibbons elaborates by next citing the ancient Swedes, one of the many ancient Germanic tribes, as an example:

'Among the Suiones (says Tacitus), riches are held in honour. They are therefore subject to an absolute monarch, who, instead of instrusting his people with the free use of arms, as is practised in the rest of Germany, commits them to the safe custody not of a citizen, or even of a freedman, but of a slave. The neighbors of the Suiones, the Sitones, are sunk even below servitude; they obey a woman.'

Gibbons explains that the ancient Suiones were not free at all, but rather slaves. Their riches didn't produce rich lives, but instead became the ruin of their liberty. One of the key indicators of their lack of freedom was that they were not permitted to bear arms. Receiving your first shield and spear was a rite of passage for the boys of the ancient Germanic tribes, and so something like this would be seen as a grievous dishonor. Though they didn't have riches, they at least had arms. This is where the Western Civilizational concept of the right to bear arms originates from. Without arms, there can be no freedom. But without much at all, we can be free.

How did the Suiones, the ancient Swedes, come to acquire these riches? How is it that they alone seemed to trade freedom for luxury, and how did such luxury even find it's way to the North, seemingly skipping over the much more geographically accessible land in the mainland of Europe?

We are only at a loss to conceive by what means riches and despotism could penetrate into a remote corner of the North, and extinguish the generous flame that blazed with such fierceness on the frontier of the Roman provinces: or how the ancestors of those Danes and Norwegians, so distinguished in latter ages by their unconquered spirit, could thus tamely resign the great character of German liberty.

I find it interesting that the Swedes had managed to acquire so much wealth. Gibbons also admits that "we are at a loss to conceive by what means riches and despotism could penetrate into" ancient Sweden. But there is a theory I've heard before that might explain it a bit. In the Prose Edda, the Norse gods are given historical origins and explained to be Trojan warriors who migrated north after the fall of Troy. Although it's considered to be more of a historical explanation of the gods than an accurate representation of history, this theory would explain how "riches and despotism" could reach a particular area of the North.

April 4, 2022
La Tierra Que Fluye Leche y Miel

La Santa Biblia menciona una "tierra que fluye leche y miel" muchas veces en el Antiguo Testamanto. Esta frase es popular en la cultura moderna, y se trata de un paraiso. Porque se llama la tierra de leche y miel? Que significan leche y miel, y porque son usados para describir una tierra fertil?

La Leche

Las vacas y otros animales que producen nuestra leche no pueden producir la leche todo el año naturalmente. Solo pueden producir la leche despues de darse luz a una cria. Por eso, creo que la palabra "leche" en la frase "tierra que fluye leche" significa una tierra donde las animales pueden tener muchas crias. Es decir, no se trata exactamente de la leche, sino de la fertilidad de los animales y la abundancia de la hacienda.

La Miel

La miel tiene una propiedad curosia. La miel mata a las bacterias. Las mata tan bien que es mejor que las drogas que son hechos por humanos para matar la bacteria. Por eso, creo que la palabra "miel" en la frase "tierra que fluye leche y miel" significa una tierra sin la enfermedad. Tambien, la presencia de las abejas es bueno para la salud de las flores, y por eso creo que tambien la miel significa que la tierra es bonita y llena de flores.

April 3, 2022
General Updates

The Latin

Learning Latin started off strong this year, but I started to lag a bit after a few months. In March, I realized that I needed to go back and do more of the Self-Tutorial excercises from Wheelock's Latin for all of the chapters I had completed up to that point.

It's a little discouraging to have to go back and review instead of learning new material, but it has proven to be worth it. I have no shortage of Latin learning material, and I was planning on going over them after completing Wheelock's Latin. However, it's proving that a bit more thorough review is necessary, especially as I started slacking a bit in my studies.

Overall, I'm enjoying my studies of Latin, and I will continue to learn it until I'm able to casually read it at a good level.

The Cut

In the weightlifting side of things, I'm currently on week 5 of my cut. By now I should have lost about 5 lbs, and I should also be able still lift the weight I was able to lift before the cut began. Here's how that is progressing.

The first 2 weeks started off perfectly. I was dropping an average of 1 pound per week, weighing in at 172.4 at the end of the first week and at 171.0 at the end of the second week. After that, however, things went backwards. At the end of the third week, I had gained weight, even going back to before my first weigh-in: 172.6. I realized that I was getting too lenient in my caloric intake, and so I increased my effort in the gym for a week while keeping the caloric intake at the proper levels, not allowing any cheats of any kind.

Two weeks later, I was back on track with the original trajectory, weighing 168 lbs. I can't remember the exact digits, but it was in the mid range. I was feeling a little extra tired that week, so maybe I dropped my calories too far below maintenance. I'm around the weight I should be based on the weeks that have passed in my cut, but I'm a little too far down from the 2 weeks before the last weigh-in.

As far as definition goes, some things are good and some things aren't. It will take a long time for me to get back to my "good" abs, and it will take even longer to get to the goal I want. I think I will take it no further than the end of June, and no lower than 160 lbs, whichever comes first. The most important thing is that I maintain the strength I had from before I started the cut.

The Posts

I have completely neglected to write in Spanish on Mondays for the past month or so. It's been a custom of mine since last year on my main blog, and I stopped writing in Spanish over there in order to start writing over here. So, I'm once again slacking in a particular area. I will make sure to continue to write in Spanish on Mondays from now on, starting with tomorrow's post.

As far as other posts go, I'm planning at least one more entry in the "Nature of the Masters of the World" series on the Germanic barbarians. Along the same lines, I'm going to be reading up on Medieval Knights and the origins of the Gentleman in order to write a post on the misunderstanding of the concept of chivalry and the purpose of a gentleman.

Even with all this, I'm still keeping busy in my other ventures, and so it may take more time for some of these posts to appear on this blog than usual.

March 29, 2022
The Nature of the Masters of the World, Part 2

Edward Gibbons spends chapter 9 of The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire describing the nature of the ancient barbarians who would inherit the world. In my previous post on the subject, I wrote about the first of these qualities: their strength. In this post, I will describe another trait they were known for, this one being more related to their martial capacity.

"They Delight in Sloth, They Detest Tranquility"

The barbarians had no written language, and as such, their minds were confined to their bodies, and they could not experience anything of the distant or ancient lands of the world. They had no cities. They knew nothing of the arts or philosophy, had little gold, and kept to the more basic activities of life. The farmwork and daily upkeep was done primarily by their slaves and their women. Without pasttimes, the strong barbarian men simply sat around and ate and drank. They did nothing, and they enjoyed it.

From chapter 9 of Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, vol 1:

In a civilized state, every faculty of man is expanded and exercised; and the great chain of mutual dependence connects and embraces the several members of society. The most numerous portion of it is employed in constant and useful labour. The select few, placed by fortune above that necessity, can, however, fill up their time by the pursuits of interest or glory, by the improvement of their estate or of their understanding, by the duties, the pleasures, and even the follies of social life. The Germans were not possessed of these varied resources.

Civilizations have two main groups. There are those whose time is occupied with the upkeep of practical matters, and there are those who are free from such labor and can instead pursue luxuries such as philosophy, the arts, or even entreprenuerial endeavors. The Germans had one group of people taking care of daily work. The difference between them and the Romans was that the Germans who could afford to abstain from daily work and other obligations had no luxuries of mind or society to turn to in their leisure.

The lazy warrior, destitue of every art that might employ his leisure hours, consumed his days and nights in the animal gratifications of sleep and food. And yet, by a wonderful diversity of nature...the same barbarians are by turns the most indolent and the most restless of mankind. They delight in sloth, they detest tranquility.

We know the Germans of today to be brilliant engineers, architects, artists, and writers. What would happen to these people who are capable of such ingenuity were they to be deprived of all outlets for their mental prowess? Imagine a nation of drug addicts in a world where drugs don't exist. This is the state of the ancient Germans. If there are no wars to read about, then they would simply have to live out their own wars for their entertainment.

The languid soul, oppressed with its own weight, anxiously required some new and powerful sensation; and war and danger were the only amusements adequate to its fierce temper. The sound that summoned the German to arms was grateful to his ear. It roused him from his uncomfortable lethargy, gave him an active pursuit, and, by strong exercise of the body, and violent emotions of the mind, restored him to a more lively sense of his existence.

The ancient barbarians are starting to appear to live up to their reputations as seen in fantasy games and novels. They truly were an uncivilized people who possessed an apparent bloodlust. They lacked restraint and seemed to act with a reckless abandon of their own lives. But, why would they value their lives? They had no higher society or learning with which to preoccupy themselves in times of peace; when deprived of war, they would turn to excessive gambling and debaucherous drinking.

This is another reason why the ancient Germans and northern barbarians would eventually become the masters of the world and overthrow the Roman Empire.

March 24, 2022
Plurals in Romance Languages

I'm not sure exactly why English plurals use "s", and I'm also not entirely if it's for the same reason that Spanish plurals use "s". When I started studying Italian, I was surprised that plurals are handled differently. Up until Italian, I had only encountered plurals using "s" as a suffix, even in French. But Italian was entirely different, even though it was a Romance language like French and Spanish. Why?

Although I'm not certain, it would not surprise me if this is because of the Latin plurals. In Latin, there are several cases for nouns, and the Italian plurals seem to be based on the Nominative Case 1st and 2nd declensions in Latin.

Here is the Latin word for "friend" in the Nominative case, followed by its plural equivalent:
Masculine: amicus, amici
Feminine: amica, amicae

Here is the same word in Italian:
Masculine: amico, amici
Feminine: amica, amiche

Notice that the Latin and Italian masculine plurals are spelled exactly the same. Generally, Italian masculine plurals drop the singular ending and replace it with "i", which is identical to the way that Latin handles masculine plurals, at least in Latin's Nominative Case. The feminine endings are slightly different, but it is easy to see how the "ae" in Latin simply became contracted to "e". In the Eccliesiastical Pronunciation of the word "amicae", the "-ae" is pronounced as the "a" in "fate". The "e" in Italian is pronounced in a very similar way, so the two words almost exactly share the same ending.

But what about Spanish? Here's the same word in Spanish for both genders:
Masculine: amigo, amigos
Feminine: amiga, amigas

While the endings in bold don't fit with Latin's endings for the Nominative Case in the plural, it does match Latin's Accusative case endings in the plural:
Masculine (Accusative): amicum, amicos
Feminine (Accusative): amicam, amicas

The "os" and "as" endings are part of Latin plurals, as well, just in a different grammatical sense. That's where I think Spanish got its plural endings from.

March 23, 2022
The Nature of the Masters of the World, Part 1

Edward Gibbon writes of the ancient Germans and their character in Volume 1 of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. Contrasting them to the Persians at the end of chapter VIII, he summarizes their nature:

The Persians, long since civilised and corrupted, were very far from possessing the martial independence and the intrepid hardness, both of mind and body, which have rendered the northern barbarians masters of the world.

He spends the next chapter elaborating on the "martial independence and the intrepid hardness" that the barbarians were known for, and how it was the possession of these exact qualities that led them to be the primary force that overthrew the empire from without. It's important also to note that the Persians were described as "long since civilzed and corrupted"; this was also the state of the Roman people at the time, and doubtless contributed to the success of the barbarians.

What is the nature of the masters of the world? I will write on this subject for the next several posts, beginning today with an entry on their physical strength.

Physical Strength

We may assert, with greater confidence, that the keen air of Germany formed the large and masuline limbs of the natives, who were, in general, of a more lofty stature than the people of the South, gave them a kind of strength better adapted to violent exertions than to patient labour, and inspired them with constitutional bravery, which is the result of nerves and spirits.

The ancient barbarians were stronger, taller, and of a different physical composure than their Roman counterparts. Man to man, the barbarians were more often in a higher weight class, which gave them a certain confidence in battle. This physical distinction stands to this day.

The ancient barbarians spanned across Europe in regions today known as Germany, Finland, Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Livonia, Prussia, and Poland. Do you know who Arnold Schwarzenegger is? Dolph Lungren? Have you seen what the competitors in the World's Strongest Man comptetition look like? These are the descendents of the people the ancient Romans were up against.

The phenotype of these groups is best suited for power, and that is why the barbarian battle tactics often employed quick smash-and-grab attacks. This is how the Vikings harrassed the English for centuries; they weren't interested in a long siege, but in the glory of battle and of overcoming the enemy on the principle of their might alone. This ancient fighting style preference even survived into the 20th century, with the infamous Blitzkrieg employed by Germany in the Second World War.

Facing a civilized and corrupted Roman Empire, the barbarians, not the Persians, proved the most formiddable opponents. Eventually, their seemingly irrational lust for battle led to the collapse of the empire, and they in part became the Masters of the World by the Nature of their Strength.

March 19, 2022
Tolerance Scales with Addiction, and How to Avoid Political Change

The modern phone is highly addictive. We live in a country of addicts. While it's understood that tolerance scales with addiction regarding the drug or thing that the person is addicted to, it's also easily understood that the more someone is addicted to something, the more tolerable they are of their general surroundings. A homeless crack addict can live in absolute filth, but how? He is able to tolerate his condition because of his addiction. His addiction gives him the satisfaction he needs about his environment. Take away the addiction, and he will start to feel uncomfortable about his surroundings.

This happens with any addict, even for the most simple things. A smoker will tolerate his car smelling like smoke. If he were to free himself of the addiction, he might start to realize that his car smells, and it probably shouldn't; such a thing is unnacceptable. The cigarette addict will tolerate his car smelling; the heroin addict will tolerate being jobless, sharing needles, and risking prison.

Phone addiction is slightly different. What the phone addict tolerates depends on what the phone addict is specifically addicted to on his phone. I will use political takes as an example, specifically outrage takes. It's a common tactic in professional political commentary to reduce the quality of commentary down to that of an outraged observer. For example, if gas prices are rising, a conservative commentator might tweet out, "Look what the president did! How bad is he? He's horrible, right?"

Where does addiction come into play in that example? Well, it turns out that many people are addicted to that exact style of commentary, on either side of the political spectrum. Here's the problem. Being addicted to commentary about how bad things are will result in looking for more and more cases of how bad things are. That's where the dopamine hit comes from - something bad. The addict will tolerate his house being messy, his job not being performed well, and numerous other offences simply because he is getting dopamine hits from somewhere else.

He isn't the only one addicted in this way, though. Everyone else would have a similar addiction. Because of this, society will start to suffer. Here's the worst part. Because society is suffering and getting worse, the phones start to feed them even more outrageous stories. The outrage addiction spirals downward in a vicious circle, just like every addiction pattern for hard drugs. The addict is now desensitized to how bad society has become, and instead of trying to fix it, they abuse it for their dopamine hits.

This is how you can avoid political change. Become addicted to how bad things are, and you won't be able to live with things when they're better. Your addicted brain will numb you to your surroundings, and as things get worse, you will simply enjoy them even more.

March 14, 2022
La Diferencia Clave entre las Culturas Occidentales y las Orientales, y la Influencia de ella en la Adopcion de Cristianidad

Las religiones orientales tienen una cosa en comun, y esta costa es la clave para entender porque las cultaras orientales no han adoptado la Cristianidad como en el occidental.

Tuve la idea cuando estaba leyendo (en ingles) Historia de la decadencia y caída del Imperio romano, y encontre un pasaje sobre el Zoroastrismo. Esta religion vieja tiene su origen en Iran. Segun sus ensenamientos, hay dos poderes opuestos - el bien y el mal. Los dos tienen la misma fuerza. El bien trabaja en restorar la orden al mundo y el mal labora en destruirlo.

Otras religiones orientales tienen este aspecto identico. El yin y el yang son los mas famosos ejemplos de este tema. En las religiones orientales, el mal tiene el poder igual al bien. Los dos elementos existen en cada persona, y lo imporante es mantener la balancia entre ellos.

En las culturas occidentales, este principal no existe. Si, existe una batalla entre el bien y el mal, pero el mal no tiene tan importancia que en la filosofia oriental. Los filosofos occidentales trabajaban para entender la naturaleza del bien, del mundo, y del estado humano. Aunque llegaron a conclusiones diferentes, sus ideas pertenecen hasta hoy porque son interesantes e inteligentes. Ponen valor en el busco de la sabiduria y la vida buena, y sus esfuerzos intelectuales eran para entender como llegar a la vida mas buena.

El mensaje cristiano es uno de arrepentirse. Nosotros humanos son pecadores y hemos callado de la gracia, pero podemos alcanzar el perdon por Jesucristo, quien dio su vida y resucito en el tercer dia.

No es exactamente un mensaje occidental, pero la filosofia occidental tiene mas en comun con ello. En las religiones orientales, esta bien si tiene un poco del mal entre usted. Alcanzar la balancia es el meta. Pero, en la cultura occidental, el meta es lograr a la vida buena, sin ningun aspecto mal.

Yo creo que es esta diferencia que la razon porque la cristianidad ha tenido mas exito en el occidental que en el oriental.

March 10, 2022
The Argument Against a Bill of Rights

The Bill of Rights is one of the most famous aspects of the Constitution of the United States. However, it wasn't included in the Constitution originally. Not only that, but it was actually argued against including one in the Constitution altogether by Alexander Hamilton. While I'm not the biggest fan of Hamilton's preference for a Federation over a Confederation, I understand and somewhat appreciate his argument for excluding a Bill of Rights in the Constitution.

His argument is essentially this: why include a Bill of Rights to protect certain rights of the people when the Constitution makes it clear that the Government has been given no such authority to remove said rights in the first place? Furthermore, he argues, including certain rights might lead to the conclusion that rights not explicitly identified are therefore excluded. Finally, it would lead to arguments over the wording of the rights as outlined. From the Federalist Papers LXXXIV:

I go further, and affirm that Bills of Rights, in the sense and to the extent in which they are contended for, are not only unnecessary to the proposed Contitution, but would even be dangerous. They would contain various exceptions to powers not granted; and, on this very account, would afford a colorable pretext to claim more than was granted. For why declare that things shall not be done which there is no power to do? Why, for instance, should it be said that the liberty of the press shall not be restrained, when no power is given by which restrictions may be imposed? I will not contend that such a provision would confer a regulating power, but it is evident that it would furnish, to men disposed to usurp, a plausible pretence for claiming that power.

I'm not saying that I agree with his argument. But I appreciate it. He's not against rights here, he's simply saying that the power of the federal government does not include the right to remove these rights from the people in the first place. The rights of the people are God-given, and the Bill of Rights does not actually grant the people any rights; rather, it only serves to keep those rights from every being infringed by the federal government.

It's also interesting that a common argument against the Second Ammendment is the inclusion of the phrase "a well-regulated militia." There is a paper in the Federalist Papers that talks in length about such a well-regulated militia. Even so, it is pointless. The rest of the Second Ammendment makes it clear that the Ammendment makes no claim to give people the right to bear arms, it simply says that the right, which already exists, "shall not be infringed."

Even with his arguments against including a Bill of Rights in the Constitution, I think it was still a worthy thing to include. After all, even though the federal government may not have been given the power to strip people of their rights, the States may have opted to do so. The inclusion of a Bill of Rights has probably done more good than harm, and yet I wonder if we would be more or less free today without the first ten ammendments. I tend to think we would be less free.

March 7, 2022
The Start of the Cut

As I said earlier this year, my weightlifting goal for 2022 involves getting down to a low bodyfat percentage. Last week was the official start of my cuttting phase. I weighed myself on Saturday, and I was 172.4 lbs. I'm going to cut until I am at least 165 lbs, but I will go further if it helps me reach my goal of looking a certain way.

I'm writing here mostly as a marker of when I began my cut and how long it will take, but I'll also briefly mention the method I use for my cuts.

When I'm cutting, I reduce my caloric intake to around 2000 Calories. This is about 500 Calories below maintenance for me. I actually target something closer to 2000-2200 Calories per day. That's the most important part of cutting. The other part is that I do not reduce my protein intake. Also, I make sure to eat healthy foods, as they have a better nutrient-to-calorie ratio, which helps to keep me from feeling hungry all the time.

Other than cutting calories, I also cut my workout routine down a bit. I usually work out 5 days a week, but on a cut, I bring that down to 3 days a week. I focus mostly on maintaining my current lifts at my highest working set maximum for the first set. After the first set, I keep the same weight, but I'm not as concerned about whether I hit all of the reps. Also, I drop the total number of working sets for my auxiliary exercises.

The final thing about my cuts is that it becomes even more important to get sufficient sleep. I have fewer calories to work with, and so my body needs more sleep to repair the muscles I destroyed during my workouts. That's also why I cut the workout days down to 3; recovery is paramount during a cut.

I'm expecting this cut to last between 8 and 12 weeks. I'll post an update every now and then on my progress. I might cap it all off with a before and after just to document the transformation.

March 5, 2022
The Power of Fantasy

Fantasy is fictionalized mythology. Fantasy is the true fiction genre of humanity, as it is directly inspired by our own history, legends, and heroes. The power of fantasy is to awaken the mind to the reality of human experience: that it is not a rigid, secular phenomenon dominated by the laws of physics, but rather a mysterious, supernatural one ruled by forces outside of our control.

I've seen a criticism of fantasy that stated that since science fiction is based on what could be, it is superior to fantasy, which focuses only on what could never be. At first glance, it seems like in order to disagree with that stance you would have to take the position that focusing on the fantastical and impossible has its own merit, comparable or superior to focusing only on the practical and hypothetical. However, fantasy does not focus on what will never be; rather, it focuses on what has been, or on what was lost.

Littered throughout the worlds of the fantasy genre are giant statues, monuments, and ruins of ancient civilizations. These fictional stories have their own histories. Just as these fantasy worlds have their ruins, so does our world. The real world is also littered with the artifacts of ancient civilizations. When we woke up to this world as newborns, we were entering an epic fantasy novel where the action had been occuring for thousands of years before our arrivals. All around us are Greek statues and temples, Roman roads and architecture, Egyptian and American pyramids, medieval cathedrals, and tales of the lost heroes and arts.

Our world is also full of stories of the supernatural. Every civilization had its own class of magicians, who performed feats that cannot be explained by natural events. Our current civilization may be the only one whose magicians do not practice actual magic, and yet we must still acknowledge that there are people who profess to practice real magic in this age. The greatest evidence of our world possessing a soft magic system is religion. I'm a Christian, and so I use I will cite the Bible and the miracles it mentions as a source for the evidence of ancient supernatural events. Jesus' ressurection is by far the most significant miracle of all time, and that event alone is what has shaped history for the past two thousand years.

Fantasy draws our attention to our past. It tells us that we were once great, yet never fully complete. It tells us that we have lost something in this age, perhaps our wisdom. As Romans 1:22 says, "Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools."

February 24, 2022
Hank the Tank

Every now and then, a creature rises above the limits of nature itself and breaks the physical laws which govern the normal functioning of the universe. Creatures of this kind are oftentimes regarded as mythological, and many people doubt their very existence.

They often have heightened intelligence, sometimes even to the point of being able to speak in human tongues.

Other times, they are renowned for their physical prowess, being larger than any other of their kind by a significant margin.

And even more rarely, in some very few select creatures of noble birth and vital spirit, they possess both.

One such creature, having both wisdom and power, is Hank the Tank.

February 22, 2022
The Lord's Prayer

Secundum Mattheum 6:9-13

9 sic ergo vos orabitis
Pater noster qui in caelis es
sanctificetur nomen tuum
10 veniat regnum tuum
fiat voluntas tua sicut in caelo et in terra
11 panem nostrum supersubstantialem da nobis hodie
12 et dimitte nobis debita nostra sicut et nos dimisimus debitoribus nostris
13 et ne inducas nos in temptationem
sed libera nos a malo

No matter how things are going, always be in prayer. Pray to God every day, and submit yourself to Him. "Gloria in altissimis Deo, et in terra pax in hominibus bonae voluntatis," - Secundum Lucam 2:14.

February 19, 2022
Become Wildly Inspired

On my main site, I wrote about one of the reasons I'm able to be so self-driven. Beyond my natural disposition, I'm also able to let myself become wildly inspired by what I see other people doing. This is why I can do almost everything I want without needing to rely on others for motivation. For example, I can teach myself languages without needing to sign up for a class; I have the discipline to sit down and do the work. When it comes to workouts, I've never needed a trainer, coach, or support group to keep myself on a training schedule or diet.

Even with my self-driven nature, however, I still use outside forces as sources of inspiration. One of my tricks is to abandon all reason and accept at face value whatever someone claims to have been able to achieve. For weightlifting, this happened when I noticed a trend among Hollywood body transformations: they all required pain.

Inspiration from Celebrity Body Transformations

Taking celebrity body transformations to prepare for superhero roles at face value, I set out to do what I thought they had done. I simply decided that if I wanted something, I had to take it. It had to hurt, and it had to be hard to do. I switched my workout routine from upper/lower to push/pull/legs/upper/lower hybrid, going to the gym 5 days a week and making each workout painful. In two months I had broken out of my rut, and I was on track to seeing even greater progress until the gyms were closed down in 2020.

Gyms were Closed in 2020

Instead of being discouraged, I grabbed the dumbbell set out from under my bed and continued the 5 day routine in my home before work. I was fortunate that my adjustable dumbbells went up to 100lbs each. Two 100s works well for bench, but it doesn't work well for back and legs. For back, I would do weighted pullups. For legs, I would mainly do very high reps. During the "lockdown", I was able to make some progress, but I was mainly focused on not losing any gains I had made earlier.

Working Out Despite Injuries

The worst time I had was when I "broke" my tailbone. I had been using an old beat-up chair for work, and it eventually resulted in an extremely painful tailbone injury. For a full week, it was impossible for me to put any pressure on it, and I had to either stand or lie down. I could barely walk for a few days. But, as soon as I could walk again, I started lifting. I never let little or big things stop me, and so I even did bench presses with only my upper back touching the bench. I continued doing bench presses that way until my tailbone healed.

Working Out in "Freezing" Temperatures

The gyms opened and closed periodically. Any time they were open, I was there. The worst time was during the winter of 2021, when the gym was open but only outdoors. The gym equipment had been moved to the parking lot, and the ground was uneven. It was impossible to do anything heavy, as the risk of injury was too high on uneven ground. Worse yet, it was cold. This is San Diego, sure, but that only made it possible to workout outdoors at 6am in the middle of winter, not pleasant. It was still around 42-45 degrees at that time of day, and the dumbbells would literally feel painful to the touch because of how cold they were. It was the only time I ever felt tempted to buy workout gloves.

Closing Thoughts

Now that the gyms are open and maskless, I'm back to being able to workout as I had intended to 2 years ago. Last year, I made huge progress. And this year, I'm making even bigger progress. The point of all this is that self-motivated people cannot be deterred by outside circumstances. I knew I wanted it, and I held true to my inspiration and am still striving for my ideal physique to this day.

February 18, 2022
Obsequium et Veritas
Obsequium parit amicos. Veritas parit odium.
- Cicero

"Compliance creates friends. Truth creates hate."

As things are appearing to come to a close regarding the lockdowns, mandates, and other assaults on liberties under the guise of a medical emergency, it's worth it to check which side you were on the entire time.

If you complied in any way, how far did you go with your compliance? Did you comply harder than your friends and family? Did you trust the science harder than your coworkers and classmates?

Truth was banned during the pandemic. Censorship is more important than truth in a medical emergency. Saying "masks don't work" a year ago would have gotten a grandmother's social media post flagged as "misleading", but now "mask mandates never made a difference" is a mainstream headline.

The truth is often not pleasant. Jesus says that He is "the way, the truth, and the life", and yet He also says that He came not to bring peace, but to divide. He divides people because the truth divides people. Even so, He again says in John 8:31-32 that the truth will set us free:

31 So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, "If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free."

If you comply enough, you may make a friend. But if you make Truth your friend, you may end up with enemies. Which friend would you rather have on your side?

February 15, 2022
Names of Characters in Norse Mythology Appearing in Lord of the Rings

J.R.R. Tolkien was inspired by Anglo Saxon legends and Norse and Germanic Mythology. Reading through Norse mythology will be very familiar to those who have read the Lord of the Rings. On top of taking bits from Norse mythology, Tolkien also added the Christian layer of morality to his Lord of the Rings, which is probably why the series seems to speak directly to the hearts and souls of Westerners. His epic fantasy trilogy truly feels like our stories, and indeed they are; the combination of elements from Western mythology, specifically those of Northern Europeans, with the Christian themes of the spiritual battle between good and evil and the struggle in man's heart to resist temptation have resulted in one of the most profound works of fiction of the 20th century.

Gandalf the Grey

The name "Gandalf" comes from a king in the story of Halfdan the Black. It could be just a name that Tolkien found, sounding a bit like "grand" and "elf", but it's likely that he encountered King Gandalf while reading through the sagas. In addition, Gandalf the Grey's appearance closely matches that of Odin in his Wanderer outfit. Odin would travel around in a broad-brimmed hat, a gray cloak, and a white beard, and he carried a staff. Odin was also the wisest of the Norse gods, and he was also the magic-weilder of the group. Gandalf shares many of these superficial qualities with Odin, and so it is obvious from where Tolkien found his inspiration. However, Gandalf is a good wizard, and Odin was not particularly moral. The moral character of Odin is more closely reflected in another wizard of Middle Earth: Saruman, who betrayed his mission and followed Sauron in his pursuit of power.


The story of Gunnlaug the Worm-Tongue and Raven the Skald concerns the rivalry of two scandinavian bards who both vied for the same woman. In the Lord of the Rings, Worm-Tongue was a despicable character who used his poisonous words to influence the King of Rohan on behalf of Saruman. The only similarity between the two characters, other than their name, is their desire for a woman. In Gunnlaug's case, however, the woman wanted him back. Gunnlaug's words were not poisonous; he gets his name from the "bitterness" of his rhymes. As a bard, he was very dry and harsh, and this was contrasted against his adversary's more sweet, pleasant verse. Raven ended up winning Gunnlaug's woman and childhood love. This led to several violent encounters between the two until they both at last met their end in duel, with Gunnlaug first mortally wounding Raven, and then Raven betraying Gunnlaug's courtesy by stabbing him as he brought water in his helm. As I said earlier, Tolkien's Worm-Tongue and Gunnlaug Worm-Tongue don't have too much in common aside from their name, but I think Tolkien must have found the name itself too good to pass on for his repulsive counselor.

February 14, 2022
Dia de San Valentin

Hoy es el Dia de San Valentin, un martir que vivo durante el siglo III en el imperio de Roma. Hoy dia, en este dia nosotros celebramos el amor romantico. Y en los Estados Unidos, parece que no celebramos el amor en este dia con tanta pasion que celebramos el chocolate.

Vale la pena saber la historia de San Valentin. Era un sacerdote en la ciudad de Terci. Un dia, estaba platicando con un juez sobre la verdad de Jesucristo, y el juez le dio un desafio -- sanar a su hija. La hija del juez era ciego, y San Valentin sela puso sus manos a ella y oro a Dios, y Dios le sano a ella. Por ese milagro, el juez y toda su casa fueron bautizados.

San Valentin sigiuo evangelizando, y por eso fue capturado un tiempo despues. Fue mandado al emperador Claudio, quien le condeno a San Valentin al muerte. San Valentin no denuncio su fe en Jesucristo, y fue golpeado con garrotes y decapitado.

Siglos despues, la iglesia Catolica reconozco el dia de Febrero 14 como el Dia de San Valentin. Todavia celebramos este martir de gran fe.

February 13, 2022
Norse Mythology Primed the Northern Europeans for Christianity, Pt. 2

The Frithiof Saga was written down in its current form in 1300 A.D. By that time, the Christian influence on the Norse culture had been strong for over five centuries. This leaves the possibility that the following excerpt I will provide has been Christianized.

Frithiof's story is one of a few in Norse mythology that has a happy ending. Frithiof was a viking of peasant origin, and was in love with Helge, a king's daughter. As such, he was not allowed to marry her, as he was not of royal blood. He sought to claim honor and renown, thus winning his worthiness for his bride in the eyes of the people. Though he was a valuable soldier, he was nevertheless banished and cursed by the god Baldr for desecrating his temple and later burning it to the ground.

Having given up on taking Ingeborg as his wife, he focused instead on getting revenge against the two men who had maltreated him and prevented him from marrying his love. His bitterness carried him, but, later in life, he had a change of heart. Seeking to atone for his sins, he used the wealth acquired from his pillages to rebuild the temple of Baldr that had been destroyed.

When the temple was completed, Frithiof attended its consecration. Looking on the statue of Baldr, he felt peace at last, knowing that the temple had pleased the god and attoned for his sins. However, one of the men who had harmed him came between him and the statue, and instantly hatred filled his heart. Resolving to kill the man, but not in the temple, he was then startled by the voice of a priest in his ear. Excerts taken from Eirikr Magnusson and William Morris' "Frithiof the Bold and Fair Ingeborg", found in Norse Mythology by Arcturus Publishing.

"Not here," repeated a voice in his ear. He turned, and saw the high priest standing beside him, who continued: "Dost thou suppose that the god will remain ignorant of thy deed of vengeance, though it be not wreaked within the walls of his temple? Dost thou think to reconcile thyself to Baldr by this building of stone? He demands a far different temple of thee, a temple of peace and goodwill in thine heart, and if thou hast it not, thou art still far from being reconciled to him. Know that Helge is no more; he fell in battle against the Finns; but Halfdan approaches, tendering thee his hand in friendship."

But Frithiof objected to the priest, saying that his hatred for Halfdan was too strong for him to overcome. Nevertheless, the priest continued:

"Knowest thout not that Baldr, the god of peace and love, will gladly give thee the strength to forgive thine enemy, if thou dost but ask him for it?"
As the old man spoke,Frithiof lifted his eyes toward the throne, and as he gazed on the image of the god, the spirit of love and peace seemed to enter into his heart.

The Christian themes here are hard to avoid noticing. Frithiof has a moment of submission, and gives himself over to the calming peace of Baldr. Having given himself up to the spirit of peace and love, he is able to forgive his old foe. The story continues with a bit of a twist, for Halfdan was secretly there with Ingeborg herself, and had come to give her away to Frithiof; the two were married and Frithiof finally had his love whom he had sought his whole life.

A story of forgiveness as powerful as this one, with a deity who could "overcome evil with good" and give the power of peace, love, and forgiveness to even the most bitter man, is surely why the Norse were able to eventually adopt Christianity. Again, I'm not sure if this is story has been overly Christianized, but even if it has been, it's still a testament to the effect Christianity had on the nordic people's own mythology and history.

February 12, 2022
Norse Mythology Primed the Northern Europeans for Christianity, Pt. 1

Christianity spread throughout Europe with considerably more success than it has spread throughout the East. Cultures of Western philosophical origins were largely Christian by around the 10th century A.D. One of the pagan cultures that has contributed to Western Civilization to an enormous degree is the Norse culture. While the TV show Vikings would leave the impression that it was nearly impossible for such a people who seemed to truly and passionately believe in and follow their own gods, Norse mythology demonstrates that the seeds of Christianity were planted in them early on. Just as Paul found the Greeks to be primed to know of the true God in Acts 17:23, Norse mythology seems to have been planted with some seeds of the truth in it, as well; at the very least, the Christian evangelists would have been able to see it.

Odin's Speech Concerning Ragnarok

Odin received a vision of Ragnarok, the end of the gods. He explained his vision to the other gods, and it filled them with horror and despair. The giants and all evil beings were to one day wage war on the gods, and they would be led by Loki. Odin was to meet the wolf Fenrir in combat, and both would fall. Thor would fight the Midgard Serpent, and though he would defeat the serpent, he would succomb to his venom and perish. One by one, all the gods would fall. Though they would slay some of their foes, they would in the end lose.

Hearing this, Tyr asked Odin if there was any hope at all for the gods. Were they doomed to die? Could their fate be avoided? Could they somehow succeed? Odin's response, taken from Mary Litchfield's "The Twilight of the Gods" in the book Norse Mythology:

As he spoke, a look never before seen on his bold features overspread the face of Odin, and raising his eyes reverently, he said: "After the Twilight of the Gods shall come the Mighty One to judgment -- He whom we dare not name, the powerful One from above, who rules over all. He shall dooms pronounce, and strifes allay, and holy peace establish, which shall be forevermore. I see a hall with gold bedecked, brighter than the sun, standing in the high heavens. There shall the righteous dwell forevermore, in peace and happiness."

There are numerous references to the Almighty in Norse mythology, and it sometimes to refers to Odin, sometimes to someone above Odin. This speech of Odin's makes it clear that there is someone greater than Odin out there to whom even the gods must answer. The references to "gold bedecked, brighter than the sun" sounds a lot like the description of New Jerusalem in the book of Revelations. And the role that this Mighty One plays is similar to the role Jesus will play on the Day of Judgment.

I'm not taking this directly from the Eddas, so I may be off if the author has added some flavor. However, consider that even the destruction of the world in Ragnarok and its subsequent rebirth are compatible with the Christian view that God will destroy the world and build a new Heaven and a new Earth. Essentially, despite the pagan origins of the Norse people, a good chunk of their worldview was already compatible with Christianity.

February 6, 2022
Workout Update: Working Sets of 315 for Squats Achieved

I meant what I said about working harder in my last post.

The highest squat rep I've done is 365 lbs. My actual working sets of squats were 3x8 at 285 lbs. Since I achieved max reps last week, this week I was supposed to increase by 5 lbs. However, based on my 1 rep max, my theoretical 8 rep max for squats was 292 lbs. I decided to go with 295.

As I walked to the gym, I realized that I should just add the 5 lbs to get to a clean 300. Then, I realized that would mean adding a two-and-a-half pound plate on each side of the bar. So why not just put a 10lb plate on each side instead? That would bring me to 305.

As I got to the bar, I decided that I was just going to go for 3 plates. So that's what I ended up doing. 315x8, then 7 reps, then 6 reps.

I'm still sore from that, and it shows that I wasn't giving it all before. I increased my working set weight by 30 pounds from the previous week, far more than what is recommended. But I didn't care. I knew I had it in me, based on how "easy" the 285 felt the week before.

I'm going to continue to push myself in this way. I'm not going to add another 30 pounds next week, but I'm glad that I finally hit squats at 3 plates for a working set.

February 2, 2022
Ascend: Pumping Iron is Required Viewing

I said I wanted to focus on cutting this year, and I'm only going to add on to that goal. I'm going to once again go harder and push through every barrier. I'm going to make my workouts hurt. I'm going to push myself, and I'm going to come out the other side stronger and better than I've ever been.

To prepare for this challenge, I decided to watch Pumping Iron, and I now understand why it is considered required viewing for bodybuilders.

The movie has a lot going for it. It follows Arnold as he prepares for Mr Olympia, and it would be great just for that. His charm, wit, and charisma dominates the show. But there are a number of other bodybuilders included in the documentary. In the film, we see a wide variety of aspiring Mr Olympias in their struggle for the throne. This is a contest of the best of the best, and they treat it with the respect it deserves. They want to win, and they give it everything they have.

In the film, Arnold is acknowledged as the reigning champ. Yet, he still works harder than anyone else in the gym. He talks about his body as a work of art akin to a sculpture, and as a sculptor would find a flaw and fix it, so does he. He has no fear of passing out or throwing up. He talks of breaking the pain barrier. He's inspired by the great leaders and conquerors of the past, and is driven to be among them. He even acknowledges some Machiavellian tactics in acheiving victory, such as by giving bad advice to someone who appeared his better.

The movie makes clear what the cost is for being the best. You have to not only want something more than the next guy, but you have to work harder than every guy. Bodybuilding, in particular, is a great contest between men. Every man is on his own; they might be friends in the gym, but they are enemies on the stage. There is no hiding your body. If you are not big enough, nothing will change that. If your bodyfat is too high, there is no changing that. Everything is laid out in the open for all to see.

January 31, 2022
Los Intelectuales

No me considero un intelectual. Soy un ingeniero de software y tambien hago videojuegos. Estoy aprendiendo la historia, el Latin, y la filosofia. Muchas personas consideran que ser un intelectual es ser inteligente o saber muchas cosas. Pero, un intelectual no es una persona que nada mas entiende todo con facilidad. No importa lo que saben ellos. Ser intelectual es algo diferente.

Lo que veo que los intelectuales hacen es escribir muchos libros. Los que simplemente se consideran intelectuales a menudo no han escrito nada.

Los intelectuales tambien estan creando nuevas cosas que no han sido hecho antes. O estan descubriendo cosas que hasta hoy han sido escondidas. Los que simplemente se consideran intelectuales nada mas pueden hablar sobre los logros de lo demas.

Las personas que aspira ser intelectuales por su conocimiento y no por sus obras no son intelectuales verdaderos. Los intelectuales son naturalamente mas curiosos que la gente a sus alrededores, y por eso son mas sabios e inteligentes. Pero, lo que hacen es importante, no lo que saben.

La Santa Biblia habla de fe en una manera similar al que hablo de lo intelectual.

Asi tambien la fe, si no tiene obras, es muerta en si misma.
Santiago 2:17

Este versiculo se trata de la fe, no lo intelectual. Pero, es interesante que el metodo de identificacion de fe es muy simple, y tambien se puede usarlo para identificar cualquier caracteristica en una persona. Si alguien tiene fe, tambien tiene obras. Y si alguien es un intelectual, tambien tiene obras intelectuales.

January 30, 2022
The Tarasque is a Tarchia

The Tarasque is a creature from French mythology. It is usually depicted with a lion's head, a turtle-shell back covered with spikes, and a long, spiked tail. Here is a brief definition from the Dictionary of Mythology by Arcturus Publishing.

A French monster. This beast was said to have the head of a lion, scales, six clawed legs and the tail of a serpent. In some accounts, it was killed by St Martha near Marseilles.

The Tarasque is a creature that we know about in our mythology, and it is likely that humans knew of a creature like it in our history. Today, we know of dinosaurs that share many characteristics with the Tarasque, except for the six legs. Here is a Tarchia.


Along with Unicorns and Basilisks, the Tarasque is another mythological creature that actually has a historical counterpart. The common assumption is that Unicorns never existed at all, and that Dinosaurs were extinct long before modern humans came along. But against that assumption stands the evidence of record -- these creatures were said to have been seen by humans in the past. It's very likely that Basilisks were feathered dinosaurs that humans knew about, and it's likely that the Tarasque was based on another type of dinosaur that humans interacted with. At the very least, it can't be ruled out completely.

January 29, 2022

The fear of freedom is the dominating phobia of our culture. This is merely an observation based on my experience with the "pandemic" response by the public. People are no longer afraid of the virus as much as they seem to be afraid to be able to be free again. They want masks, they want vaccine mandates, and they want to be told what they are allowed to say and not say. They want to be submissive forever; they are afraid of taking control of their own lives and igniting the spark within them.

Most people will claim that they are not sacrificing their freedoms. The people with whom I've interacted have claimed that every lockdown, mask policy, and vaccine mandate is being implemented by people "who know better" and who truly care about the medical health and wellbeing of their fellow citizens.

But in this case, the cure is not only worse than the disease, it is the wrong cure altogether. These "medical" restrictions on our freedoms do not work to cure or prevent the virus; they work to cure and prevent our freedom.

The experts that normal citizens are trusting are never suspected of having an ulterior motive for their prescriptions, and this is by design. As Publius writes of the military in The Federalist Papers XXV, the people are in the most danger of losing their rights to the enemy whom they do not even know to be their enemy:

As far as an army may be considered as a dangerous weapon of power, it had better be in those hands of which the people are most likely to be jealous than in those of which they are least likely to be jealous. For it is a truth, which the experience of ages has attested, that the people are always most in danger when the means of injuring their rights are in the possession of those of whom they entertain the least suspicion.

He continues to address the possibility of a government inventing an enemy or danger in order to further their agenda:

Should this [a combination between the Executive and the Legislative] at any time happen, how easy would it be to fabricate pretences of approaching danger! Indian hostilities, instigated by Spain or Britain, would always be at hand. Provocations to produce the desired appearance might even be given to some foreign power, and appeased again by timely concessions.

Publius was writing of the military in this paper. He was writing particularly about an issue with the existing Articles of Confederation and how they limited the provisioning of standing armies to times of war. This would lead to a need to constantly "refresh" the source of conflict in order for a standing army to be maintained in perpetuity, and this, he argued, was a problem.

While the military problem has been solved, the medical problem has not been solved. We are now on the 2nd year and 5th booster of the "pandemic". We have no end to this in sight. They are using a medical "emergency" as the justification for stripping us of our rights. And when this pandemic finally goes away, just as Publius wrote almost 250 years ago, there will be another one to appear and replace it.

We are fighting a hydra, the experts tell us, and our only recourse is to sacrifice our most precious asset -- our freedom -- in order to appease its anger. But we've already given it a hecatomb, and though the virus has no end in sight, our freedoms certainly do.

Americans were once rebels and revolutionaries. Writing the Declaration of Independence was an act of treason. They risked their lives and did what they believed in, knowing full well there were only two outcomes after signing the paper: liberty, or death.

And today, of all places, I see the spirit of the American Revolutionaries living on in Canadian truckers.

January 27, 2022
Getting Back into Lifting After a Deload

For the first few weeks of the new year, I've been taking a deload period. A deload is simply a weightlifting cycle of working out at a reduced volume. In my case, I took my weights down to 80% for one full week, then to 87.5% the week after, and then to 95% for the final week. I'm finally done with the deload, and I'm starting my normal lifting weights again.

It's not easy. I can still handle the normal weight, but I can tell that the 3 week period of reduced load has made it feel more intense. This is an improvement over how it made me feel before the deload, as my routine had exhausted me by the end of last year. The deloads I do are mostly focused on recovering my nervous system and giving my joints and tendons a break.

I mentioned earlier that my goal for this year in lifting is to focus more on getting a cut physique. I'm still going to be trying to increase my lifts, but I'm not going to be focussing on that as much as burning fat. For this reason, I'm considering a 4 day split as that would give me more time for recovery between lifts. I would especially appreciate the 2 days of rest after Squats.

January 24, 2022
No Tengas Miedo

Guerra mundial. Pandemia. La inflacion. La escasez de alimentos. El totalitarismo.

No importa.

Jesucristo vive.

No tengas miedo. Confia en el. Y recuerda las palabras de Dune cuando tienes miedo:

No conocere el miedo. El miedo mata la mente. El miedo es la pequena muerte que conduce a la destruccion total. Afrontare mi miedo. Permitire que pase sobre mi y a traves de mi. Y cuando haya pasado, girare mi ojo interior para escrutar su camino. Alla donde haya pasado el miedo ya no habra nada. Solo estare yo.
January 21, 2022

A strong feeling of homesickness for the time of mythology; an intense longing to return to the age of mythology.

Dwelling on the past is not supposed to be good for you. So, in a like manner, wouldn't dwelling on the age of mythology be a bad thing, as well? The present time is now; why would you waste your time thinking about the times of myth, an era long forgotten? Focus on today. Focus on the future. That's where we're heading after all, right?

Nostalgia is frowned upon because its sufferers abdicate their duties to the present and devote themselves instead to the husbandry of fading memories of the past. But this is an inappropriate criticism of all nostalgia. Since the word's creation, nostalgia has been used as a way to critique people who merely prefer something in the way it used to be. A proper critique of the present in contrast to the past is often countered not with argument but with the appellation "nostalgia", and the matter settled.

I argue that mytholgia, or perhaps more appropriately nostmythia to keep the Greek etymology intact, is not a bad thing. It's not comparable to nostalgia in the negative sense, and it's stronger than nostalgia in the positive sense.

Mytholgia is Learning our Past

Recently, I've been seeing images of pop culture from the time of my childhood. I remember them with a fondness, but I don't desire to go back to that time. I have already lived through that time, and I enjoyed everything I could then. If I focused on it too much, people would call me nostalgic, and say that I should move on.

But with mythology and history, the key difference is that I didn't live through those times. I can't "remember" mythology, and I can't get "feelings of fondness" for any historical time that I didn't actually live through.

Even though I didn't experience those times personally, others did. The history is real, and the mythology of their time was part of everyday culture. Our ancestors passed on their stories from generation to generation, and their stories have been a foundation of civilization in every century since.

All around us are monuments of mythology and artifacts of history. We have English words taken directly from mythology. Our days of the week are named after mythology. The political system we inherited was inspired by ancient Greek philosophy. We cannot esacpe mythology and history. They are all around us, and we are shaped by it whether we realize it or not.

We are born without any knowledge of history or mythology, yet we are a direct product of it. If we consider ourselves to be connected to the whole of humanity, then we must acknowledge that we are born with a huge part of ourselves missing. Unlike the animals, humans are not born complete. We have to acquire the knowledge of the past through our own efforts.

If we rebuild this knowledge of the past, then we can gain a huge amount of context into who we are and why the world is the way it is. With the right historical understanding, you can realize that the United States is both 250 years old and 2,500 years old. The founding fathers didn't start from scratch; they analyzed the history of republics from the time of ancient Greece to the 18th century and designed a system to be an improvement of them.

Think of it this way: you may not live for two thousand years, but you can at least live and make decisions as though you were two thousand years old.

Embrace mytholgia. Learn about our past.

January 17, 2022
No Se Sirve Aprender la Ingenieria sin Entender las Humanidades

Recientemente, un investigador de la Inteligencia Artificial lamento que la mayoridad de los desarollos tecnologicos son usados no por el beneficio de la humanidad sino por la dominacion de ella. Es interesante que las personas mas inteligentes han tardado tanto tiempo en alcanzar a esta conclusion. Quizas es porque ellos estan demasiados enfrascados por sus investigaciones. Estan enfocado totalmente en la ingenieria que no se dan cuenta de lo obvio a sus alrededores. Sus creaciones son abusados, pero no por accidente. Sus benefactores saben muy bien las razones por crear la tecnologia de la esclavitud.

Yo soy un ingeniero, especificamente de software. Se que este tipo de la ingenieria no es considerado como una verdadera disciplina de la igenieria, pero lo importante es que la programmacion requiere una mente scientfica, matematica, y logica. Ya sea yo este creando una sistema de fisica para un videojuego o trabajando en un app que agriega datos, estoy usando los metodos de solver problemas de un ingeniero. Pero, el amor de la tecnologia que tenia en el principio de mi carrera empezo a fallar, y es porque me di cuenta de que la tecnologia en general estaba usada por crear las cadenas de la humanidad.

Por eso, decidi que lo necesario era estudiar las humanidades. Hace anos, empeze a hacer exactamente esto. Comence con el estudio de los idiomas. Luego, lei unos libros clasicos y la mitologia de las culturas occidentales. Ahora, estoy aprendiendo Latin e investigando la historia de los Estos Unidos, la iglesia, y el imperio Romano. Todavia sigo en mis estudios, y no voy a parar, porque el estudio de las humanidades por los ingenieros es la unica cosa que puede salvar este mundo de su futuro de cruel opresion.

Nada mas espero que mas ingenieros empiezen a estar de acuerdo.

January 16, 2022
No Nobility: U.S. Constitution, Declaration of Independence, Articles of Confederation, Federalist Papers

I've been reading the Federalist Papers as part of my attempt to gain insight into the purpose of the United States. The Federalist Papers were written after the implementation of the Articles of Confederation, and were intended to persuade the people of the United States to adopt a new Constitution instead of splitting into separate States. There is a lot of frustration directed at the Articles of Confederation, so I read it for context. In addition, I read the Constitution of the United States of America, the Declaration of Independence. Here are some of my thoughts on them.

No Nobility

The Constition of the United States of America makes it clear in two places that the Federal Government cannot bestow on an indiviaul titles of nobility. There are no lords, ladies, dukes, or princes here in the United States. Additionally, the States are explicity forbidden to do the same. To make it even more clear that the United States wants nothing resembling the Crown manifesting in the Union, the Constitution prohibits people in any federal office from receiving titles of nobility or other gifts from any other foreign country.

I'm sure this was done to completely remove the possibility of a Crown arising in the States, and also to guard against foreign influence. Additionally, it keeps the citizens from dividing into titular heirarchies, instead focused on increasing their reputation naturally. This seems to have been only somewhat effective, as a class system in the United States is well understood to exist, and though the old families don't have titles of nobility here, their surnames are the titles. Old money and old family certainly mean something, if only to themselves.

Politics Seeping into the Constitution

The Ammendments track pretty nicely until the time of the Civil War. Around that time, it is clear that three Ammendments were added that were very political in nature. While two of them concern slavery and the rights of former slaves to vote, their inclusion in the Constitution around this time shows the start of using the Legislative Branch as an antagonizer of griefs among the States. The Fourteenth Ammendment, in particular, betrays hositility toward the losers of the Civil War.

Very Odd Choices at the Start of the 20th Century

The year 1913 introduced the strangest Ammendment to the Constitution: the right of Congress to introduce a Federal Income Tax. Specifically, the States were not to be given any of the money from these taxes. So much for "Taxation without Representation". I understand there were other ways the Federal Government used to raise funds, and maybe they were running dry. But this was certainly a huge step backwards for the Union, which, among other reasons given in the Declaration of Independence, split from the British Crown "For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent."

Perhaps the people felt the pain of the taxes too much and took to drinking to better bear the burden. Whatever the reason, the Eighteenth Ammendment was introduced in 1919, banning alcohol from the Union from 1920 until it was finally revoked in 1933. I can only make attempts to understand this in today's context. Let's say a similar Ammendment was introduced to ban the sale of Opiates in the United States; perhaps a hundred years later the people of 2122 would think we were insane for doing so. But to be honest, we haven't escaped this Ammendment altogether, as the repealing Ammendment also gave the States the right to manage their own alcohol laws, from which we get "dry counties". Additionally, the sale of opiates is regulated by the Federal Government, as is the sale of other pharmaceuticals and hard drugs. Federal organizations have taken over the duty of the 18th Ammendment.

Empire as a Motivator

I mentioned earlier in my reading of the Federalist Papers that I thought the United States to be the first country to have been conceived as an Empire. Or at least, that the grouping of the various States into a Union of States was itself the act of Empire. In the Federalist Papers XIV, Publius calls the United States a "great, respectable, and flourishing empire".

Indeed, the United States is an Empire, in the sense that it is one political entity composed of smaller political entities. The only distinction is that it is a disembodied empire; disembodied in the sense that there is no human Emperor who rules over the North American Empire. Instead, the wisdom of the founding fathers seems to have been to place in the seat of Emperor a static and unchanging ruler, one not susceptiple to capricious fancies, corrupting avarice, or the vicissitude of time: the Constitution. It's an interesting decision, and one which I, as a software engineer and game developer, recognize as either an attempt at programming a viable government or a set of rules governing the course of play.

The Declaration of Independence is Metal

The most famous lines of the Declaration of Independence are "When in the Course of human Events..." and "We hold these truths to be self-evident..." The bulk of the Declaration of Independence consists of a list of grievances against the King of England. The document is very harsh in its criticism of the Crown, and it makes it absolutely clear that the United States was founded to secede from the Crown. Among its many one-liners directed at the monarchy, my favorite is the following, which makes the rejection of the King by the founding fathers feel more like a rejection of Sauron:

He is, at this Time, transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the Works of Death, Desolation, and Tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty and Perfidy, scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous Ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized Nation.

The Inferiority of the Articles of Confederation

The Articles of Confederation do not read as well as the Constitution. It doesn't feel as organized, and its clear that the time spent between its adoption and replacement was probably a little annoying to the States. I don't have too many comments on it, other than to note that the Bill of Rights contain some elements that were originally in the Articles of Confederation and that there are some copy-and-paste sections from the Articles that made it into the Constitution.

January 14, 2022
Trading Freedom for Safety

In the 8th of the Federalist Papers, Publius warns of the trade the people will make for their own safety:

Safety from external danger is the most powerful director of national conduct. Even the ardent love of liberty will, after a time, give way to its dictates. The violent destruction of life and property incident to war, the continual effort and alarm attendant on a state of continual danger, will compel nations the most attached to liberty to resort for repose and security to institutions which have a tendency to destroy their civil and political rights. To be more safe, they at length become willing to run the risk of being less free.

The context of this paper is the need for a Union in order to protect the states from each other, and the specific threat mentioned is war. But we have seen this sacrificing of liberty happen in the United States over the past 2 years for a different, more viral threat. Even today, as we approach the 100th week of the "two weeks to flatten the curve", people are willingly giving up freedoms in exchange for a feeling of safety from the "invisible enemy".

Freedoms are being more willfully given up in some states than others, and I'm in one of the states where people are starting to lock themselves down again voluntarily. They are almost applauding the odd return of the mask mandates, and no appeal to science can convince them of their ultimate futility. Quarantine camps, vaccine checkpoints, and many more such violations of freedom would be welcomed by these people, just for a small feeling of safety.

January 12, 2022
Could the 12 Labors of Hercules be Completed Today? Part 2

Continuing yesterday's musings on what it would take to complete the 12 Labors of Hercules today.

7. Catch the Cretan Bull

The Cretan Bull was a white bull sent by Poseidon to Minos, king of Crete. The bull was meant to be a perfect specimen for Minos to sacrifice to the sea god, but Minos kept the bull for himself and instead sacrificed an inferior bull. The bull ended up causing a lot more harm than good, and the king asked Hercules to capture it. Hercules did so on his own by sneaking up on it and choking it from behind.

Today's Version: Bulls are very dangerous creatures. They are fast, ferocious, and can kill humans in a variety of ways. They aren't too bright, though, so capturing one would not be impossible. I don't know if human hands can strangle a bull's neck. Even if you were to get into that position, it would essentially be a rodeo as the bull tried to buck you off his back. For this reason, I think it's appropriate to use a lasso or similar tools to help in restraining the bull. The only requirement is that the bull is not killed. This labor actually probably played out a lot like a classic American rodeo.

8. Catch the Mares of Diomedes

The mares of Diomedes were a group of four violent, carnivorous horses. There are different versions of how Hercules accomplished this task, but the key details of both are that he had to steal the horses from Diomedes. In each version, there were fights with Diomedes and his men.

Today's Version: To complete this task, you would have to steal 4 horses from someone who didn't want you stealing them. The horses should be as close to untamed as possible, preferably aggressive in temperament. Obviously, stealing horses is not advised, so this would be best set up as a game against a volunteering party. Some versions of the story involve Hercules working on his own and relying on stealth, and others involve Hercules using a group of men to first wage battle against Diomedes' forces.

9. Retrieve the Belt of Hippolyta

The belt of Hippolyta was a gift given to the Amazonian queen by Ares. Hercules was tasked with obtaining it from her. The important detail here is that Hippolyta was a queen of a warrior tribe of women, and wore a belt given to her by the god of war.

Today's Version: I think the best way to obtain a "belt of Hippolyta" today would be to fight a world champion female fighter in her sport. It has to be a female athlete, and she has to be the belt-holding current champion. This task probably sounds the most silly, as it involves fighting a girl. But world champion fighters are not going down easy, even with the advantage of being a man. This would require a lot of training to be able to take on a world champion. Since something like this would be hard to set up, it could also be feasible to set a smaller goal of simply winning a local fighting tournament.

10. Steal the Cattle of Geryon

Hercules was given the mission of stealing the cattle of the giant Geryon. Geryon is described as having three bodies, and he carried three shields, three spears, and wore three helmets. The herding of the cattle presented a separate difficulty in addition to slaying Geryon.

Today's Version: This can be looked at in 2 different ways. In one way, you can again set up a game with someone to steal cattle. This is much more difficult than stealing 4 horses, as there were more cattle to control. Another way to look at it would be to set it up as a fight against someone of a higher weight class. Because the giant is described as three-bodied, I think it's necessary to fight someone who is above 300 pounds. This would be an interesting contrast to the previous fight, which would involve fighting someone of a different sex and lesser weight class. Either way would be fine for completing this task.

11. Steal Three Golden Apples

The Golden Apples of the Hesperides were guarded by a hundred-headed dragon who always kept at least one head awake. Additionally, they were kept in a garden whose location was not well known. To get the apples, Hercules had to kill the dragon. Another version of the story involves Hercules holding up the world in place of Atlas, and upon Atlas' return with the apples, tricks Atlas into holding up the earth again.

Today's Version: This is another strange one to find a modern equivalent for, even stranger than the hunting of the Stymphalian birds. Based on the first version, you would have to basically do a repeat of the Hydra labor, only this time killing a hundred Komodo dragons, snakes, or crocodiles. While a hundred crocodiles are dangerous, this task can be completed with modern weaponry, which makes killing a large number of animals clustered together much easier. That's not exactly cheating, either, as Hercules' arrows were dipped in the Nemean Lion's blood, making them as deadly as modern day bullets.

To complete the task based on the second version, you could offer to do something in place of someone else, and then trick them into doing it again. Or, you could accomplish something like a really heavy overhead press to substitute holding the entire world on your shoulders. I think if you went for the shoulder press, it would have to be a world record lift. Another way to do it would be to simply support a heavy weight on your shoulders for a period of time, without actually lifting it.

To take the task literally, though, the closest I can think of would be to find the actual Garden of Eden, get past its "flaming sword which moves in all directions" security guard, and return with 3 pieces of fruit from the Tree of Life.

12. Catch Cerberus

Cerberus was the three-headed dog who guarded the entrance to the Underworld. To complete this task, Hercules had to travel to the Underworld, and he was able to restrain the dog with only his bare hands, carrying it back on his shoulders.

Today's Version: Again, this is one of the more fantastical tasks laid before Hercules. A substitution for a three-headed dog would easily be 3 dogs. Again, this does not involve killing the dogs, only restraining them. These three dogs should be guard dogs, capable of doing damage. Although Hercules completed the task with his bare hands, I think it's fine to wear plenty of armor into the fight. The most important thing is that the dogs are restrained without weapons.


Even these "modern" equivalents to Hercules' 12 Labors are exceptionally difficult. The closer you get to the "real" thing, the more dangerous they become. I think the most dangerous of the twelve are the first two, which involve fighting dangerous creatures without ranged weaponry. Other than the first two, there are several that involve tracking and capturing large animals. I think the type of person most suited to accomplishing the modern twelve labors would be a cowboy, ranchhand, or farmer, as they have the most relevant experience for handling livestock.

January 11, 2022
Could the 12 Labors of Hercules be Completed Today? Part 1

A thought I've had for a few years is whether someone could do something similar to what Hercules did in his 12 Labors. There aren't any hydras around that I know of, and even the "normal" animals that he hunted in his labors were special normal animals; I'm assuming they were probably bigger, faster, or more clever than the rest of their kind. Nonetheless, some analogous substitutions can be made for each task of his 12 Labors. Here's my first guess at what that could look like for the first 6 of the 12 Labors of Hercules.

1. Kill the Nemean Lion

The Nemean Lion was no normal lion. It was a ferocious creature whose fur could not be pierced by arrows. Hercules defeated it by bashing it with his club and then strangling it.

Today's Version: To complete a task like this today, you would have to simply hunt and kill a lion. To keep the hunt as close as possible to the circumstances of the first labor, it shouldn't be a young lion or a lion that is too old. Also, no ranged weapons would be allowed in the hunt. Hercules did not have an ally on this hunt, so to be truly authentic, it would have to done alone. This first labor is probably the most dangerous of them all.

2. Kill the Lernaean Hydra

The hydra was a 9-headed serpent-like sea monster with poisonous breath and venomous blood. Herculus had assistance in completing this task. In order to truly defeat the hydra, Hercules and his cousin Iolaus worked together to cut off all 9 heads and burn the necks shut.

Today's Version: There aren't any hydras around today, so there are several options for what to do to complete this task. One would be to fight 9 Komodo Dragons. Another, to fight 9 Large Water Snakes. A third option, perhaps even more dangerous, would be to fight 9 Crocodiles. I think the Water Snakes would be best bet, but I'm sure any combination of snakes and crocodiles would work. Florida might be an option where this would be easy to set up. For this labor, only melee weapons would be allowed.

3. Catch the Ceryneian Hind

The third task seems much less deadly than the first two. Hercules simply had to capture the Ceryneian Hind. This was a female deer-like creature that was larger than a bull, and it had giant golden antlers. It took Hercules a year to catch it alive.

Today's Version: This task doesn't involve killing, but the animal is still dangerous. A deer won't qualify here, since the females don't have antlers. A female reindeer would qualify, since they do have antlers. Although the females don't have antlers, a male moose might work for this task, too, as they are certainly fitting of the description "larger than a bull". This task doesn't involve killing, so the animal must be captured alive.

4. Catch the Erymanthian Boar.

The Erymanthian Boar was a crazed, shaggy, and fattened boar. To catch the boar alive, Hercules chased it around and tired it out before it got trapped in snow. Then he bound it in chains, picked it up, and simply carried it off on one of his shoulders.

Today's Version: This is another task that seems easy simply because it doesn't involve killing a dangerous creature. But boars are actually very dangerous. Wild boars will attack and kill humans with their tusks. They might appear large, but they are surprisingly speedy. To capture this boar safely, without using any weapons, you would have to seriously scare it off and chase it until it tired itself out. But, lifting it over your shoulder would require some true strength. The largest boar known in modern times was over 1000 pounds. There were also large boars in California that reached 8 feet in length and weighed over 800 pounds. The largest subspecies of boar typically grow to about 500 pounds. Either way, lifting around 500 pounds over your shoulder is extremely difficult, if done from the ground. If you were clever, you could find a way to do it in a way similar to how a squat rack works.

5. Clean the Augean Stables in 1 Day

The Augean Stables had over a thousand cattle, and they hadn't been cleaned in over 30 years. Cleaning them wouldn't have been exactly impossible, but the task was to clean them in a single day. Hercules did this by redirecting 2 rivers to pour through the stables and wash out all the filth.

Today's Version: This is one task for which I would say it's best to use some modern technology. It would be fine to use a firehose or hydrospray to clean a large stable out. Also, I hope there aren't any stables today that haven't been cleaned in 30 years.

6. Kill the Stymphalian Birds

The Stymphalian Birds were large man-eating birds with metallic beaks that could pierce armor. They could also launch their metallic feathers as projectiles. Hercules defeated them using a mechanical clapping device which scared them away, and then he shot them with poison-tipped arrows.

Today's Version: I don't think there are too many dangerous birds around. I'm not really sure what to make of this task. Birds can be aggressive, but these birds were something else. We don't have too many birds left that are truly dangerous to full-grown humans. Whatever the most dangerous ones are, I guess it's okay to just go hunting for them. One aspect of the story was that he drove the birds away from a city. This would probably be a better angle to take in completing this task. Driving birds away, permanently, from a field of crops would be both helpful to the crops and satisfactory to the task.

To Be Continued

This concludes part one. Tomorrow, I will finish off with the final 6 Labors, and speculate what completing them today would look like.

January 10, 2022
De la Lasitud a la Pobreza

Uno de mis favoritos libros de la Santa Biblia es Proverbios. Este corto libro esta escrito por Salomon, el hombre mas sabio de la historia del mundo, y contiene en sus treinta capitulos breves un monton de sabiduria. Mientras estaba leyendo The Federalist Papers, me acuerdo de unos versiculos de Proverbios que se trata de el trabajo. La leccion es que hay que hacer lo necesario y trabajar; no hay mucho tiempo para descansar o ser perezoso, porque la lasitud esta seguida por la pobreza y la servidumbre.

Proverbios 6:6-11

Ve a la hormiga, oh perezoso,
Mira sus caminos, y se sabio;
La cual no teniendo capitan,
Ni gobernador, ni senor,
Prepara en el verano su comida,
Y recoge en el tiempo de la siega su mantenimiento.
Perezoso, hasta cuando has de dormir?
Cuando te lavantaras de tu sueno?
Un poco de sueno, un poco de dormitar,
Y cruzar por un poco las manos para reposo;
Asi vendra tu necesidad como caminante,
Y tu pobreza com hombre armado.
January 9, 2022
Stagnation Leads to Decline

While I'm not a fan of "self-help" in the slightest, I have a personal idiom that I have succesfully used for motivation: "You're only at your peak if you are better today than you were yesterday". It's more of a logical observation based on the constraints of time; if I was stronger yesterday, then I'm not at my peak today, since yesterday was my peak. If I get stronger tomorrow, then I'm still at my peak, because the peak is always growing. The point of this motivational saying for myself is that stagnation leads to decline; this isn't only true for individuals, but also for empires:

This long peace, and the uniform government of the Romans, introduced a slow and secret poison into the vitals of the empire. The minds of men were gradually reduced to the same level, the fire of genius extinguished, and even the military spirit evaporated. (The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Edward Gibbon)

Mediocrity is the most valuable modern virtue. What will be the fruit it bears?

In Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Edward Gibbon writes of the condition of Rome in the second century. A quick summary would be that the successful government and mighty military of the Roman Empire had given its citizens a degree of luxury and comfort not afforded to such a large number of people before in the history of man. But these ideal circumstances did not lead to the Industrial Revolution, the Enlightenment, or the Information Age. Instead of advancing the fields of philosophy or engineering, the philosophers of Rome, paid as well as the professors of American universities, largely focused their efforts on the preservation of Greek philosophy.

The following passages are taken from Chapter 2 of The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire:

The name of Poet was almost forgotten; that of Orator was usurped by the sophists. A cloud of critics, of compilers, of commentators, darkened the face of learning, and the decline of genius was soon followed by the corruption of taste.

Sophistry dominates the modern arena of "politics". Look at YouTube and modern "journalism" to discover the "cloud of critics, ...compilers, ...commentators", who contribute nothing to learning by merely discussing it. If there is any hope that there exist some avant garde artist creating new and profound art, look no further than at what is currently called "Modern Art" to see that the "corruption of taste" has assuredly followed the "decline of genius":

The authority of Plato and Aristotle, of Zeno and Epicurus, still reigned in the schools; and their systems, transmitted with a blind deference from one generation of disciples to another, precluded every generous attempt to exercise the powers, or enlarge the limits, of the human mind. The beauties of the poets and orators, instead of kindling a fire like their own, inspired only cold and servile imitations: or if any ventured to deviate from those models, they deviated at the same time from good sense and propriety.

It was not until the empire was ruined by the fierce barbarians of the north that this period of stagnation and decline came to an end.

They restored a manly spirit of freedom; and after the revolution of ten centuries, freedom became the happy parent of taste and science.

The Romans took western civilization from Republic to Empire, and its stagnation enabled the people to take the Romans from Empire to Freedom. It wasn't long after, though, that more Republics emerged, also leading to Empire, and then again to Freedom.

January 8, 2022
The Tragic Irony of the Federalist Papers VI and VII

Publius writes in papers VI and VII of the Federalist Papers on the benefit of Union to protect the States from each other. The Union of the States, he argues, would prevent conflict and war between them, as the Federal Government would settle disputes of land or commerce. Paper VI goes through a history of the world, back to the Roman Empire, and makes the point that neighboring nations with similar peoples will still find reason to fight each other. Paper VII continues with this theme, only a focus on both the real and hypothetical causes for war between the States.

It is tragically ironic that less than 90 years later the Union itself ended up being the cause of the deadliest war the States have seen. The promise of Union was to prevent war by settling State disagreements peacefully. When the Union was no longer able to do so, the States that decided to leave were forced to remain.

The United States may be the one and only nation ever founded as an empire. At the very least, the name of the United States was clearly the title given to the empire, as the Republic of Rome was later called the Roman Empire. Before the "United States" existed, there were only the "States". Once they joined together, for many reasons both good and bad, they were locked into an empire. The States can check out any time, but they can never leave.

January 6, 2022
Lifting Goals for 2022

Last year, I reached my goals in the Big 3 Lifts, hitting a 245 Bench Press, a 365 squat, and a 405 deadlift. These lifts put my total over 1000, thus completing my goal of reaching the 1000 Pound Club. The next goal I had also involved my 3 lifts: reaching Category IV for each according to the Starting Strength Standards. I hit Category IV in all 3 of my lifts last year, accomplishing it for the Bench Press on the very last day of the year.

This year, I don't have any big lifting goals set as far as adding weight goes. I of course want to make my Category IV lifts better, maybe to about 10-20% farther along the path to Category V, but that isn't going to be the big focus this year. Those gains should come naturally based on my training.

The real goal is going to be different: sub 10% bodyfat. Last year was also the first year that I did a standard "cut" cycle in my training, which focused on losing fat while retaining muscle mass. This year, I'm going to do a longer and more focused cut, with the intention of achieving a natural "shredded" physique in time for the summer.

January 5, 2022
Inspiration for The Hobbit in Norse Mythology

Tolkien was a scholar and a philologist. He studied the various languages and myths of ancient European peoples, including Anglo-Saxons and Scandinavians. While reading through Norse Mythology: Tales of the Gods, Sagas, and Heroes, I found some sources of his original inspiration for The Hobbit. There are some interestin parallels between the following story and specific characters and scenarios in his prequel to The Lord of the Rings.

Sigurd the Volsung and Regin the Dwarf's Treasure

The Hobbit's overall story concerns a quest undertaken by Bilbo to assist a group of Dwarves in recovering their stolen treasure. In Norse Mythology, there is the story of Sigurd, the Volsung. Sigurd was talking to a dwarf named Regin, who asked him for help in righting a wrong. His brother had stolen a great treasure from him, and he was unable to win it back on his own; the brother had turned into a great dragon, and guarded the gold in the Glittering Heath.

Here, we have 2 parallels to The Hobbit. There is the Dwarf's Stolen Treasure, analogous to the Stolen treasure of the Dwarves from The Hobbit. There is also the Dragon who Guards the Gold in his lair. And finaly, there is the Quest to be undertaken by a Hero to retrieve the gold for the Dwarf, just as Bilbo was tasked to retrieve the gold for the Dwarves.

A Character Resembling Gandalf Helps the Hero

In The Hobbit, Gandalf the Grey offers some help to Bilbo, but never does too much to directly interfere in the events of the story. Instead, he mostly acts as a supporting character, contributing a few key parts to the story, and otherwise simply offering advice or direction. In the story of Sigurd and the treasure, Sigurd meets a character who offers him a very similar type of help:

"Suddenly a man appeared in his path, one-eyed and old, wraped in a cloud-grey cloak, and wearing a broad-brimmed hat." (From Norse Mythology: Tales of the Gods, Sagas, and Heroes by Abbie Farewell Brown, Sarah Powers Bradish, Mary Litchfield and others)

The description above is of Odin, who frequently appears to characters throughout Norse mythology in a similar form. In this story, he offers Sigurd advice on how to kill the dragon.

The Dark Elf Guarding the Ring

The treasure wasn't always guarded by the dwarf-turned-dragon; originally, it was in the hands of Andvari, a Dark Elf living in a horrible land. Andvari was obsessed with gold, and loved nothing but working to find more gold:

"Andvaria was a dark elf who lived alone in the land of cloudy waste. Long years ago, he knew of the sun and stars, the sea and land; but he forgot them all in his love of gold. He knew nothing of men or gods; he heeded neither cold nor heat; he knew not night from day; he had forgotten even his name." (From Norse Mythology: Tales of the Gods, Sagas, and Heroes by Abbie Farewell Brown, Sarah Powers Bradish, Mary Litchfield and others)

It was from this character that Loki took the Ring of Andvari. The Ring had given Andvari the power to create more gold, but it carried with it a curse. The passing of the ring from character to character was a central part of the remainder of Sigurd's tale. It's obvious how Andvari relates to Gollum. Both characters were found in watery caves in desolate parts of the world. Both characters carried with them a powerful ring which carried a curse of sorts. And both characters had lost their minds to the love of their treasure, even forgetting their own names.

January 4, 2022
My Resources for Learning Latin

On Mondays, I write in Spanish. These writings in Spanish are a form of practice for me. I am able to read in Spanish quite well, and I have my wife with whom I can practice speaking. But I need an outlet for writing. Forcing myself to write in Spanish every Monday keeps me both disciplined and motivated. Also, knowing I have to write a post in a foreign language keeps me consistent in my reading.

Perhaps the most important reason I write in Spanish is to make my progress public. When everyone can see my mistakes, and when my failure is public, it keeps me humble. There is no hiding my skill level if I put it in writing. This also serves to keep me striving to improve.

This is the reason why I am making it known that I am learning Latin. I am at the beginning of my journey into the language, and I will keep track of my progress here. I will provide updates into my learning process, and eventually start writing in Latin once a week, if not more. Here are my resources for learning Latin.

Primary Resources

My primary resources are focussed on learning the language.

  • Wheelock's Latin. My primary source for learning the grammar and vocabulary.
  • Latin Grammar for the Reading of the Missal and Breviary. After I finish with Wheelock's Latin, I will consult this book for preparing to read the Latin mass.
  • Latin Made Simple Through Stories. I thought this would be similar to the "Easy (Spanish, French, Italian) Reader" books, but it seems to be more of a brief introduction to grammar, with some stories here and there. I will use it about a third of the way through Wheelock's Latin to refresh myself of the basics using a different source.
  • Latin and English Dictionary. Bilingual dictionaries are a pretty standard resource when learning a language.

Secondary Resources

My secondary resources are focussed on reading the language. I have ordered these books, but none have arrived yet.

  • Wheelock's Latin Reader. The sequel to Wheelock's Latin which should have a lot of good reading material.
  • Elegiac Romulus, Aesop's Fables: An Intermediate Latin Reader: Latin Text with Running Vocabulary and Commentary. A book whose contents hopefully live up to its lengthy title.
  • A Progressive Latin Reader: First and Second Years. I'm hoping this will be closer to "Easy Spanish Reader" than the "Latin Made Simple Through Stories" book I have.

Final Resource

Above all else, I have a resource which my wife gifted me on Christmas: Biblia Sacra Vulgata -- the Latin Vulgate Bible. My true purpose for learning Latin is to read the Latin Bible. The differences between Vulgar Latin and Classic Latin will become more clear to me as my learning progresses, but in the beginning I will focus solely on Classical Latin. I'm hoping that the differences will be easier for me to understand if I start with the Classical. Should that fail to be the case, I have "Latin Grammar for the Reading of the Missal and Breviary" as another guide.

January 3, 2022
1 Timoteo 6:10

Por que hacen los malhechores lo que hacen? Una de las razones es porque aman al dinero. Cuando era joven, no creia que una persona pudiera mentir, asesinar, enganar, y robar solo por el amor del dinero. Eso digo aunque habia leido estas palabras:

porque raiz de todos los males es el amor al dinero, el cual codiciando algunos, se extraviaron de la fe, y fueron traspasados de muchos dolores.

Las ultimas dos anos me han demostrado que la maldad existe, y me han confirmado que existe personas controlados por el amor al dinero. Por que sugieren todos los expertos que recibamos una vacuna experimental para protegernos de algo que no pose ninguno amenaza terrible a la gran mayoridad de la gente? Lo hacen por el amor al dinero. No es por el estupidez. Hacen lo que hacen para ganar el dinero. Traicionan a todos - a su propia gente - para aumentar el numero que ven en la pantalla.

January 2, 2022
Tyranny's Good Intentions

From the first of the Federalist Papers:

The conciousness of good intentions disdains ambiguity.

Hoping to establish a new Constitution, Publius writes to affirm his good intentions by way of honesty. Rather than trying to persuade the People by way of appealing to their Rights, he clearly states that his intention is to establish an effective government. An effective government owned by the People will surely not deprive them of their rights. But the path to Tyranny is laid with promises of protecting the Rights of the People.

From the preceding paragraph:

An overscrupulous jealousy of danger to the rights of the People, which is more commonly the fault of the head than of the heart, will be represented as mere pretence and artifice; the stale bait for popularity at the expense of the public good. It will be forgotten, on the one hand, that jealously is the usual concomitant of love, and that the noble enthusiasm of liberty is apt to be infected with a spirit of narrow and illiberal distrst. On the other hand, it will be equally forgotten that the vigor of government is essential to the security of liberty; that in the contemplation of a sound and well-informed judgment, their interest can never be separated; and that a dangerous ambition more often lurks behind the specious mask of zeal for the rights of the People than under the forbidden appearance of zeal for the firmness and efficiency of government. History will teach us that the former has been found a much more common road to the introduction of depotism than the latter, and that of those men who have overturned the liberties of republics, the greatest number have begun their career by paying an obsequious Court to the people; commencing Demogogues, and ending Tyrants.

The road to Tyranny is paved with good intentions, and as cited by Publius, those good intentions are usually the rights of the People. The aspiring tyrant will first win public favor by appealing to their rights. Then, he will subvert them, and strip them of their rights. It seems almost as if this scenario is described as unintentional by Publius; a state founded with the focus being on the rights of the people rather than on the formation of an effective government will inevitably fail, having no solid foundation upon which to preserve the rights it originally promised.

The seductive quality of "protecting our rights" is strong. Yet, we see even today the spoiled fruits of good intentions laid on poor foundations. There have been numerous "rights" movements in the past 2 decades, and their noble intentions have led to an ignoble sort of tyranny -- "cancel culture", the bane of art and a true violation of rights. Though this "cancel culture" has not been entirely successful in its ventures into the State, it has essayed to several times on the backs of both the "me too" and the "women's rights" movements.

Perhaps the most obvious sign of attempted tyranny is the injection of the word "rights" into something that is not at all a right. There is no "right" to healthcare, and there is no "right" to marriage. For the former to be true, slavery would be its implement. For the latter, one would need to ignore almost the entirety of the history of human marriage, for which there are many examples where marriage is either forbidden or forced, and thus not a right. Having run out of rights to promise the people, the fledgling despot must invent new rights owed to the people and of which they are deprived by their captor-rulers.

In talking about this, I'm only trying to understand the current culture in the context of our political history. In an attempt to understand the modern United States of America, I need to investigate its origins. The best source I can think of for understanding what the Founding Fathers intended is themselves. I will be reading the Federalist Papers in order to gain insight into the intentions behind the Constituion of the United States of America.

January 1, 2022
A Mighty Year

The myths of our ancestors are not just stories or metaphors. The strength found within them is real. The magic found within them is real. Their elements of fantasy were not added to the stories in order to better convey a message; their supernatural qualities serve to instruct us in the same manner as history instructs us -- by coincidence, and not by design. But what do they reveal?

What understanding can we gain from learning about Diomedes, Sigurd, or Arthur? We can treat their supposed supernatural feats as "myth", or we can recognize that there is a bit more truth in them than we first thought. Perhaps we still talk of magic and dream of fantasy. We used to tell stories of basilisks, ferocious creatures half-reptile and half-bird; now we talk of feathered dinosaurs. We used to trap unicorns for the magic in their horns; now we hunt rhinocerouses.

What happened to the elves and giants of Norse mythology? What happened to the orcs, the griffins, or the magical ring? They are not gone entirely from our knowledge, as we still know of them through myth. But we are no longer connected to them. I want to explore them further and to understand where they came from. The past is far more mysterious than I thought it to be. I want to explore mythology to better understand the present times.

I'll spend this year in the search for understanding. I will scour mythology, history, language, and literature in search of the roots of our culture. I want to understand the context of our lives.