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premise check, 2015/07/02:12:31

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body building
I just noticed that the last time I wrote about this topic, I wrote that I had set a goal of leg-pressing 1000 pounds. That was May 2011. I met that goal in July of 2011. Then in September of 2011 I was diagnosed with cancer, and all my strength and fitness were put to the test and crushed out of me.

I can't say that what I am doing now is bodybuilding in the usual sense. I am trying to regain the strength of a normal person. I'm trying to get a few hours of aerobic exercise per week without being incapacitated for the rest of the day. I'm trying to do yoga without being dizzy every time I stand up from a swan dive. I'm trying to go grocery shopping without having to lie down afterward.

There are two cases of osteoporosis in my immediate family. I originally got the notion back in the 1990's, that I might be able to avoid the same fate by doing lots of high impact aerobics and heavy lifting. I maxed out the quad extension and hamstring curl machines at the school gym. That's how I one day found my way to the leg press. Arnold Schwartzenegger said it was one of the most important and efficient exercises in his early bodybuilding career. I was able to lift over 300lb on my first try. Clearly most of my natural strength was in my lower body. So I focused my heaviest efforts below the waist, betting that the more total muscle mass I put on, the better for me overall.

Chemo and Surgery cut deeply into my upper body strength. I am anxious to rebuild it.

Even after all the treatment and the longterm drugs I take, I was still able to sit down cold on the leg press and lift 500lb on my first day back to the gym. The problem is, before I do something with my day, I feel like I could do ANYTHING and EVERYTHING. I no longer have any sense of my own limits until I exceed them. It's very deceptive, because I *can* exceed them. Then I pay for it for days, sometimes longer. It took me a few workouts before I finally got the message that I could no longer use muscle failure during reps as the best gauge of when I should stop. (D'oh!) I had to use my mind instead. My mind concluded that a heavy set on the leg press and a few on some other leg and core machines was not an option, especially if I was to have any energy left for my upper body.

So now my new absurd goal is to do one full unassisted chin-up. Just one, that's all I'm asking. Some day. It seems so, so, so far away.

To condition for this goal, I use the assisted chin-up machine to do negative reps. I add just enough assistance to allow myself to very slowly drop from above bar level to fully extended arms. Then I step off at the bottom, let the carriage return, step back on, and do as many more like this as I can. I start with a small amount of assistance, and I as I tire I add more and more assistance. And then to finish I use just enough assistance to do a few full chin-ups, to give my body the idea that this is the kind of motion I expect of it, pulling my full weight, eventually.
I spent much time analyzing Sam Harris's arguments against free will. That was a detour, and I knew it. But these arguments bothered me so much that I came back to them whenever I had a few minutes. There was something suspicious about them. I couldn't quite put my finger on the problems. Now I know what went wrong. Given my background I felt silly for not having seen it right away. But, I am still just waking up. I'll talk about his errors eventually. But first it's important to deal with why people find Harris's arguments against free will compelling.

Causality is the idea that each event or object is caused by another prior object or event, and it in turn causes a succeeding object or event. This fact can be referred to as a causal chain. The causal chain therefore extends back to beginning of the universe.

The doctrine of determinism says that for every event or state of affairs, there is some prior state of affairs that caused it and made it exactly the way it is. It follows that all future events are already fully determined. So, for example, the Big Bang itself predetermined the exact position of every grain of sand on Pacific Beach at this moment.

These are physical realities which we have discovered.

Do you believe any of that? Do you believe anything vaguely like that, even if you think that I haven't put it quite right or left out some important points?

My most important question for you is, why do you believe it?
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