Deplorable Math

Back of the envelope math: 50 million "not America" Americans in Hillary's "basket of deplorables." So much for #StrongerTogether
50 Million Deplorables

I have friends taking issue with my math regarding the 50 million Americans that Hillary Clinton is writing off as irredeemably “not America.”

It’s possible that I’ve overstated, and it’s really something like a mere 30 million.

Since her description was delivered with a wink and a nudge (you know, “those people”…) there’s no precise number available. The only one who really knows how many millions are in Hillary’s Big Basket o’ Deplorables is… Hillary Clinton.

Perhaps someone should ask her.

When she’s well enough to take questions, of course.

Agrarian Encouragement, Greek Edition

“Now I tell you this,” continued Socrates, “because even the wealthiest cannot hold aloof from husbandry. For the pursuit of it is in some sense a luxury as well as a means of increasing one’s estate and of training the body in all that a free man should be able to do…

To me indeed it seems strange, if any free man has come by a possession pleasanter than this, or has found out an occupation pleasanter than this or more useful for winning a livelihood.”

— Xenophon, Economics, Chapter 5

SMART Weightlifting Goals

I’ve had some goals in mind for my weightlifting, but nothing ever committed to. On reflection, I realized that I am in danger of making this a VAPID goal, not a SMART one.

I had the idea of a set of targets for the three major lifts. For simplicity, I think of it as “2/3/4.” That is, 200 lbs for the bench press, 300 pounds for the squat, and 400 pounds for the deadlift. This gives me a simple 1/1.5/2 multiplier (plus a fudge factor) times my bodyweight.

Let’s check this vs. the SMART criteria:

  • Specific
  • Measurable

Check.

  • Action-oriented

I know the action steps required to meet this goal. The plan is to follow the Starting Strength method, modified as required to train around injuries.

  • Realistic

Aye, there’s the rub. I think this is a realistic strength level to aim for – I won’t be doing any powerlifting competitions, but this is a good baseline for what a strong man ought to be able to do. Hopefully it is realistic given my age, physical condition, and other life commitments.

  • Time-defined

Here is the part I was missing. In my previous thinking about it, I hadn’t set any time frame for actually getting this done. Other than “sometime before I die.”

So I will modify the goal to “2/3/4/20.” That is, have a 200 lb bench press, 300 lb squat, and 400 lb deadlift before the end of 2020.

There, that’s SMARTer.

The Contrariness of the Mad Farmer

I am done with apologies. If contrariness is my
inheritance and destiny, so be it. If it is my mission
to go in at exits and come out at entrances, so be it…

… Going against men, I have heard at times a deep harmony
thrumming in the mixture, and when they ask me what
I say I don’t know. It is not the only or the easiest
way to come to the truth. It is one way.

SMART vs. VAPID Goals

I was listening to the Art of Manliness Podcast #204: How To Be Miserable and got inspired.

Not to try to be miserable – guest Dr. Randy Paterson’s advice is to find ways that you are already making yourself miserable, and stop doing those things. At least, not do them as much.

After all, there is no magic pill or psychological technique that can take anyone from “black dog gnawing on my soul” to “move over, Pollyanna!” in one giant leap. On the other hand, it is possible to make small, incremental changes to make tomorrow suck 2% less than today. String enough of those days together and… suddenly, life may not be awesome but it can be a lot better than it was before.

One of the ways to make yourself miserable is to set VAPID goals. Paterson created VAPID as the opposite of SMART goals. If SMART goals are

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Action-oriented
  • Realistic
  • Time-defined

then VAPID goals are

  • Vague
  • Amorphous
  • Pie in the sky
  • Irrelevant
  • Delayed

I know I’ve set VAPID goals for myself before. Paterson is right, they are a great way to be miserable. I recommend avoiding them.

So Good They Can’t Ignore You

So Good They Can’t Ignore You by Cal Newport is two things:

1. A thorough debunking of the “passion” hypothesis (“follow your passion”, “do what you love the money will follow”).

2. An alternative approach summed up by the title, which Newport calls the “craftsman” hypothesis.

This is a simple but powerful change of perspective.

As Mike Rowe says, “just because you’re passionate about something doesn’t mean you won’t suck at it.”

Newport’s advice is instead to first, stop sucking at what you do. Then you may have a passion worth following.

As someone who has struggled with the question of mission and meaningful work, I wish I had found this book ten or even twenty years ago.