Fragmented Obsessions

Running, the State, and Liu Xiang

A few months ago, at the urging of a friend, I abandoned my bike-riding routine in favor of running. This was a fortuitous decision; I am now in much better shape and stand to make much more improvement still.

Over the course of the past several months I have learned what to do and what not to do when it comes to running. Often I ignored conventional wisdom, thinking that it didn’t apply to me. And I was wrong. Being of the more-or-less hard-headed variety, I thought that I could decide exactly how my exercise regimen would go. Period. So, I’d say to myself, “Tonight I’m going to double my run.” Or I would resolve to run faster, only to have side-stitches halfway through. The same thing has applied to my weight loss goals, all of which I’ve met, but in more roundabout fashion than I would like.

There is a fundamental error here which I am having to fight: the idea that, purely by my decision-making, I can bring all good things to pass. This folly, however, does not take sufficient account of the fact that the human body is an organic mechanism and therefore cannot be forced to do something which it is not able or ready to do. These conditions vary from day to day, and perhaps even from minute to minute. Some nights, my body feels great and I far surpass my expectations when it comes to running. Other nights, I may have started too soon after eating, or my knee hurts, or my allergies kick in (an ugly sight, for those of you who haven’t witnessed it). Results are then disappointing.

I suppose the good thing is that I have been smart enough to realize that the best laid plains, well, you know, and I have made adjustments as circumstances dictate. Throughout the course of this learning process, however, it has been on my mind that there is an analogy to be drawn between running and the State. Consider first that I have been fighting a battle between my mind, i.e. the goals I set and the decisions I make, and my body, which is only capable of so much, and which is forced to react to given circumstances. This is not unlike the dichotomy between the State and the market. The State, when it gets its grimy hands on the economy and starts to engage in Central Planning, decides what goals are achievable, and, moreover, which goals are desirable. It is the “supermind” that makes all the decisions. The market–the interaction between various people and businessmen based on their given needs–is like the body, which also performs according to the given needs and circumstances of the moment, in spite of what our minds might like it to do.

Now I must confess that one part of this analogy may well be quite far-fetched. Whereas the human mind is indeed connected to the human body and therefore likely to adjust its expectations to the feedback the body gives off, the State-sponsored supermind is not attached to the “body” of the citizenry, making it much easier to ignore the real circumstances and the real needs of the people, and making it impossible to keep up with said needs in real time. In this respect, I suppose that Central Planning is even more arrogant than my fantasies of being a marathon runner. Think I’m crazy? Read about Liu Xiang.

City of Denver prepares concentration camp for Democratic National Convention protesters

The government loves the opportunity to arrest people.  Ever see those guys on the TV show COPS?  They think they’re doing us good when they arrest some dude who was going 7mph over the speed limit and just happened to have a small joint of marijuana in the back seat of the car.

The City of Denver is getting in on the act now, too. (I wonder if they’ll bring in Eric Cartman from South Park as backup.)  They have built a maze of chain-link fences and barbed wire where anyone who is arrested at the Democratic National Convention will be taken.  The ACLU wants to know how such prisoners will be given access to food, bathrooms, and medical care.  That would be a good start.

Oh, and there’s a sign that reads, “Warning! Electric stun devices used in this facility.”  Lovely.

Americans, in their docility, raise barely a word of objection to such things.  I think it’s probably because most people think it can’t happen to them.

Land of the Free, or Home of the Slave?

New York's robotic Mayor Michael Bloomberg is in the news peddling a new government surveillance program which is being introduced in New York City. 

Honestly, this is ridiculous.  And don't give me the speech about safety.  The Revolutionary War was not won by making people feel safe.  In any case, I would rather be dead than a serf in an inflationary police State.

Naomi Klein's book on the Shock Doctrine

A few months ago a dear friend bought me Naomi Klein’s The Shock Doctrine. I think he knew that parts of this book would resonate with me, and they do. What the U.S. government and the CIA have done to promote “freedom” is despicable.

The problem is that Klein is not doing a very good job of distinguishing and is painting the crusades of Milton Friedman as the epitome of capitalism. I can hardly stand to read more than a few pages at a time because of the gross economic distortions. Surely what Klein describes is horrific, but it is not a free market. (This is where, oddly, Klein and Friedman have something in common, i.e. they both think of these atrocities as capitalism.)

But I want to finish this book. I think there is value in it. Anyone have some advice on how I might hold my nose to get through it?


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