Archive for September, 2008

Rant by Chuck Palahniuk

Posted in Read This on September 25, 2008 by dvcmann

Why do human beings seem to see things more clearly, sense things more keenly, and generally just feel more alive after a shocking event like a fight or a car accident? Essentially a follow-up on some of the themes examined in Fight Club, Palahniuk continues his exploration of why events like these effect people the way they do in his novel Rant: An Oral Biography of Buster Casey.

In Fight Club Palahniuk showed us a generation of men untested.  They fight to gain a sense of their own value.  When they fight they feel charged and invigorated.  This gives them a different sense of being during their daily lives, a new personal strength.

What if the human response to the traumatic isn’t just a psychological or physiological reaction, not simply a cocktail of adrenalin and endorphins with no easy, glandularly secreted explanation?  Maybe it’s more than just therapy to intentionally start a fight with someone, or crash your car up on purpose.  Maybe there is something else there to reach for. Mic Master P asks us to consider that there is actually an almost supernatural explanation.  Maybe we don’t simply “feel” more alive, maybe we are more alive.  “That which does not kill us makes us stronger.”  Palahniuk takes Friedrich Nietzsche’s famous words and runs with them in Rant.  He runs with them down the street naked and screaming.

In a way, Rant is basically “Crash Club”  You can see Palahniuk’s fascination with gruesome car accidents in Fight Club through the Narrator who is an accident investigator, as are the parents of a character in Rant.  Both novels deal with a generation that feels dehumanized by society.  In fact, the two novels have so much in common that there are moments in Fight Club where Rant is foreshadowed.  When “Tyler” holds a gun to the store clerk’s head and then lets him go, he explains that the next day will be the most beautiful day of that man’s life.  He isn’t just talking about the freedom that comes when people are forced out of their comfort zone anymore.  He’s added the threat of death as an ingredient.  And Later, after Tyler lets go of the wheel and allows the car they’re in to crash, he laughs and say’s “You just had a near-life experience!”, as if they had come close to achieving something unseen.

It can get a little confusing trying to keep track of the different ways you are supposed to be able to supercharge yourself in Rant, and at least one of them involves some sort of Oedipal ritual.  At times the whole thing is  reminiscent of the movie Primer with its bizarre time-travel overlapping.  But there are always the exciting little possiblities that Chuckles offers to the reader that kind of feels like a stranger handing out candy to kids at the park.

And of course there’s the dildos.  It wouldn’t be a Palahniuk book without incest and dildos.

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Kettlebells

Posted in Strength & Conditioning on September 23, 2008 by dvcmann

So, what’s the deal with kettlebells you’re asking?  One expert describes them as ‘cannonballs with handles’ which is fairly apt.  More specifically, they are a strength & conditioning tool.  They have been used in Russia going back to the beginning of the 18th century; and if there’s one thing the Russians know about – it’s getting strong.  Kettlebells come in a variety of different weights, originally measured in poods, with one pood equaling approximately 36 pounds.  Today they are usually marked in both Kgs and Lbs.

Under communism, the Soviet methodology for strength training in Olympic lifting using plyometrics, polymetrics and other dynamic techniques were secrets long kept behind the Iron Curtain.  Later, here in the U.S. elite level strength athletes, like the guys at the Westside Barbell Club, studied and applied these training “secrets” to great success.  Some of these same methodologies are now being used in training routines at Crossfit.  Kettlebells are one of these gems that Russia gave to the world of S & C.

The man widely credited with bringing kettlebell training to the rest of the world is Pavel Tsatsouline whose writings could be found at hypocenters of strength training such as IronMind and Dragon Door, and whose books like The Russian Kettlebell Challenge (2001) became training bibles to strength athletes here in the west.

The benefit of a kettlebell, or Girya in Russian, is that it can work both the body’s core and extremities at the same time, providing a near total body workout.  It allows the body to be trained both bilaterally (think barbell) and unilaterally (think dumbbell) as most athletics are actually performed.  A basic swing (see Annie below) is a near perfect exercise for generating power in the hips, and these attributes make the KB ideal as a fitness tool for most sports.  That is why kettlebell training was a staple of the Spetsnaz’s, Russian Special Forces, conditioning routine, and today they are used in strongman training, MMA training, by olympic lifters and wrestlers, and anywhere explosive strength and tremendous endurance are sought.  There are even kettlebell competitions in the U.S. and internationally that use officially certified ‘bells for Girevoy Sport.

MMA Champion Fedor Emilianenko

MMA Champion Fedor Emilianenko

Kettlebells are compact and take up little space in the gym.  They require no maintenance, and have no moving parts to break.  Combine that with the fact there are countless varieties of movements to target many different parts of the body, and you have an awesome S & C apparatus.  Old school style, yo.

Fans of Crossfit will recognize their top “Nasty Girl” and all around BAMF Annie Sakamoto swinging up to about 60% of her body weight I’d say.

KB’s can be found in a lot of places these days.  Even some of your big box sporting goods stores are stocking them, although the quality and price will vary by quite a bit depending on the manufacturer.  Here are some great articles and videos to get you started in the right direction.

David Foster Wallace Found Dead

Posted in Uncategorized on September 14, 2008 by dvcmann

Author of Infinite Jest and The Broom of the System is dead at the age of 46.

Yahoo has it here.

Ol’ Dave’s wife came home to find he had hanged himself.

That’s a drain man.

The Technological Singularity

Posted in Uncategorized on September 1, 2008 by dvcmann

Based partially upon Moore’s Law, it is the theoretical event when an Artificial Intelligence that has become self-aware reaches a potential to increase its own technology and intelligence exponentially until a moment at which it develops relatively god-like omnipotence.

In other words, it’s when the technology curve goes vertical.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Technological_singularity

Remember when Ash screwed Ripley?  Whether it’s Arthur C. Clarke’s HAL 9000, Asimov’s V.I.K.I., SkyNet, or Rosey from the Jetsons, haven’t we learned that an artificial intelligence will jack you over if given half the chance?

SkyNet is always listening…and waiting.