Promoting quiet recreation in Wisconsin.
Opposing the coming attempts to sell off Wisconsin's natural heritage.
Fighting denial about climate change. When are we hitting the streets?

Monday, August 30, 2010

The Duffer's Paradox

One advantage of becoming a runner in midlife is that I delayed the inevitable connection between age and performance. If a person runs at their peak performance in their 20's and 30's and 40's, they probably have hit their Personal Record somewhere in there.

But since I didn't start running till my late 40's, I had never felt that I had run as fast as I was going to. At my level of fitness, the degree of training was a much more important variable than age.

I call this the Duffer's Paradox.

This last spring, I changed my stride a bit and hit a 2:04 half marathon, and had hopes of even doing a sub four marathon. Not a lofty goal for runners, but to steal an idea from Blake, one goal for the Lion and one for the Ox is tyranny.

But now I find that I may have hit my personal best, and 2:04 in the half will be as good as it gets. I had quite a bit of pain early in the summer, which flared back later on, and it appears that I have stress fractures in my upper legs.

Don't get me wrong, I haven't given up running. But I know the day will come when I have to start thinking of other motivations for running than hitting new personal records.

Libertarianism and the floods in Pakistan and Bangladesh

Matt Yglesias captures an essential point about libertarianism in ideal vs practical form:

The orthodox view among American conservatives and libertarians and “free market” advocates more generally is that if I want to walk up to the edge of my lawn and then turn my garden hose on and start messing up your lawn, than the correct capitalist response is to say that I’m doing something wrong. If I totally wreck your garden, that’s worse. If I spray water into your house and wreck your stuff, that’s worse too. Even if your house is kind of dumpy and poor and not worth very much money, it’s still wrong for me to just randomly spray water into it. Even if I really really enjoy spraying your house, it’s still wrong. I either need to stop spraying your house or else I need to reach an agreement with you about how I’m going to compensate you for the right to spray. If I insist on continuing to spray your house with water without mutual acceptable compensation, then shutting my operation down should be a matter of some social priority.

If that were the case, then libertarians would be out front in wanting to stop pollution, especially greenhouse gases like C02. No matter how useful or practical the action was, if it violated other people's property (even poor people!) it would have to be shut down. But as Yglesias notes, in practice free market conservatives and libertarians generally support policies that reflect the interests of their wealthy patrons.