Friday, January 7, 2011

Weighty considerations.

John Adams, during one of the most courageous representations ever undertaken by a lawyer on this continent,* noted that “facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.”  Long before Adams said so, Scottish children were schooled in the same notion, by way of James Carmichael’s collected proverbs, which held that “if wishes were horses, pur men wald ride.”

And so some facts: The murder rate for the United States in 2009 was 5 in 100,000, or .005 percent, while the overall violent crime rate was 429.4 in 100,000 – still not even one half of one percent. What is more, the incidence of intentional violence against people of my particular demographic skews much lower than as against the population as a whole.

Meanwhile, the leading cause of death among males of my age and ethnicity is heart disease, which takes nearly a quarter of white males men who die between 45 and 54. After that, cancer takes nearly another quarter. Diabetes and stroke together put about 5 percent of my cohort in the ground. As we all know by now, the big killers like heart disease, cancer, diabetes and stroke are by no means entirely random. Yes, skinny fitness pioneer Jim Fixx illustrated a fatal irony by succumbing to a sudden heart attack.** But there’s no real debate that being overweight contributes hugely*** to the incidence of these maladies.

Stubborn things these facts. Stubborn, insistent, relentless, pesky, cursed things. Because, you see, I don’t want to lose weight. And while I’m happy to be active and to be outside to play, but I don’t want to commit to take the time and trouble to exercise – and vigorously – every day.

But that is just too damned bad. Because, in accord with John Adams and centuries of Scottish moms, Robert’s Rule clearly states: Facts don't care.

I’ll spare you any daily or weekly updates – indeed, I’ll spare you any updates at all. But suffice it to say that it has at last dawned on me: Little good it does the sheepdog to have clear eyes, sharp fangs and a valiant heart, if he’s too fat to heave himself off the porch when the wolf comes through the gate.

* Adams was representing the British Soldiers accused of murder in the “Boston Massacre.” You can read the original transcripts if you like. In the Spring of 1770, Boston was a hotbed of pre-revolutionary fervor. Attempting to quell what was almost certainly a riot – and in what may have been self-defense – Redcoats  fired into the crowd, killing three on the spot and wounding eleven, two of whom would die of their wounds. Passions had hardly cooled when the trials of the captain in charge and his men were conducted in the Fall – an uncharacteristic delay, designed to let things quiet down. The captain was acquitted, as were six of the soldiers. Two soldiers (one of whom later admitted to having yelled “Damn you, fire!” after being struck with a club thrown from the crowd) were convicted of the lesser charge of manslaughter and sentenced to be branded on the thumb in open court.

** Later attributed to rampant atherosclerosis that had almost entirely blocked three coronary arteries.

*** Please assume all puns are intentional.


  1. Good stuff, my friend. And good luck!

  2. Thanks Rob. The SFDCC match had a LOT of lessons for me.

  3. I am glad to hear that. and I'm glad to hear of your resolve. Too often we see people have a similar situation but rather than an epiphany it turns to a bitch-fest about how the match is too physical, too demanding, too tiring, etc.

  4. Quite honestly, that was less phsyical than a trip to Publix. Certainly more stressful, but not physical.

    For me, it was noticing that with both hands on my carbine I was slooooow going from kneel to standing. I really thought "You have let it get THIS bad."

    Eight days of Power90 in the bag; 82 to go.