DrudgerciseMonday, August 16 2004 at 04:10 Rant
It's well known that geeks, and me in particular, aren't very fond of physical exercise. Yet, many are fond of martial arts, which is arguably a form of physical exercise. I have a theory as to why this is though.
Geeks also dislike drudgery and menial tasks that don't spark the mind. Such tasks are without purpose and spiritually void, and hackers feel that they're wasting their own time and talent, as well as that of others, by doing menial tasks when they shouldn't have to. Putting these two together, we realize that most kinds of workout are in fact exactly this: menial tasks without further purpose. It's pure drudgery, and we thus detest it.
So why do we do martial arts? Because martial arts are not about physical exercise; they are about learning how to control your own body, how to fight, and in some cases how to reach "inner balance". The physical exercise is just a side effect of that. This does in fact go for other things too; DDR springs to mind. So in other words, geeks don't have a problem with exercising; they have a problem with doing mindless, menial exercise with no further point.
Working out does have a point usually. You work out to get a nicer body and to 'score with chicks' later.
Just that with most things geeks do, the rewards are instant. You obtain more knowledge, for one.
Reminds me of the recent monkey-dopamine-work experiment reported on Slashdot recently.
Those are not intellectual/spiritual challenges. They're hardly even physical challenges... there's nothing to be overcome, it's just something you repeat over and over and over again and hopefully after a while your body is a little bit better, but your mind is numb...
What I meant was that what geeks usually do, the more creative things, rewards are intellectual and instant. But with what most people do, the rewards are somewhere far into the future.
Indeed, coding a site like this for the first time must have been rewarding throughout the experience, since you were learning as you were doing it. But doing it again would not be rewarding until you get to the very end.
... and thus, it's not as good as making a site that has rewards both while you make it, AND as an end result.
Indeed. And so it's the way we geeks perceive rewards that is fudged -- not that we seek something spiritual.
In summa, there's nothing wrong with us that can't be cured with a healthy dose of yet another popular medicine :P
It's not fudged, it's better. Really, there are two things you could do:
A) Do something that provides no reward while you're doing it, but a reward at the end
B) Do something that provides continuous reward the entire time, and a reward at the end
B is clearly superior, unless the end reward of A is somehow gigantic in scope; but that is rarely, if ever, the case in everyday life. We're just more optimized and refuse to settle for the inferior solution, A.
Most people are not wired the way of B, therefore we are not 'normal' since we are not the majority.
And this inhibits our ability to work, so that's another point for abnormal behaviour.
I didn't say we were normal. I take pride in being abnormal. It doesn't inhibit our ability to work, either; it just makes us seek out the best solution more often.
Maybe we're just lazy fucks with above average intelligence?
The 3 great virtues of a programmer:
Laziness, Impatience and Hubris.
-- Larry Wall
For many, especially for those who workout often and on a regular basis, physical exercise is neither "menial" nor "pure drudgery" and may be classified as your type B above. Aside from long-term benefits such as improved health, a workout can provide instant highs and feelings of accomplishment and self betterment just as well as coding can (or any other geek activity). And while I wouldn't call physical exercise an intellectual pursuit, many would say it can be spiritual (whatever that means).
And in your first reply to Elver, why do you assume working out makes one's mind numb? That's clearly no more true than assuming pursuing "intellectual/spiritual challenges" makes one's body out of shape.
As for the question of martial arts, I have a theory about that as well. A seemingly common trait among geeks, at least those around our ages, is a curious fixation on things Asian. How many geeks you know are into -- not just like -- one or more of the following: martial arts, DDR (as you mentioned), anime, J-POP, modern video games, or Asian girls, to name a few? A number disproportional to the number of non-geeks who are into those things, I'd bet.
Yes, I have no doubt that for some people it can - but I can assure you, it does not for me, nor does it for those I've talked to. I can honestly say that the only instant feelings I get from exercise is depression, nausea, boredom, and feelings of inadequacy (with the notable exception of DDR, because that is something I actually enjoy).
I'm not assuming working out makes one's mind numb; I'm just saying that's what it FEELS like. Whether that's true or not is another story.
As for martial arts: Yes, we do tend to have a strong interest in east Asian, particularly Japanese, phenomena. I don't know why that is exactly, but I don't think the interest in martial art stems solely from that interest. Rather, I think the east Asian culture, including martial arts, is based on something that geeks find appealing.
"Yes, I have no doubt that for some people it can - but I can assure you, it does not for me, nor does it for those I've talked to."
Ah, which is the crux of the matter.
Although your Meaningless Drivel was of course written from the point of a geek, it doesn't make sense to universally label physical exercise which does not interest geeks as menial drudgery, because that's opinion, not fact, and for many people (many of *those* of whom would find geek activities menial drudgery), exercise is enjoyable.
I agree with your premise that in general geeks find physical activity offensive and devoid of stimulation. But the fact that exercise does not stimulate or interest geeks is not because it is devoid of interest or stimulation in general.
"I'm just saying that's what it FEELS like."
Oh. I read that differently.
I am a geek, so of course what I write is going to be most relevant to people like me. Anyway, this entire thing is about the condition of geeks, and the mindset/impression of geeks in particular, so I thought there was not room for any confusion regarding what kind of people this applies to.
Personally, when I do something physical, I tend to have a really sharp mind for about 30 minutes. Probably oxygen high. After that, I fall asleep.
But yeah, getting your ass to the gym and exercising on various contraptions for an hour or two is plain silly. I'd rather do something I enjoy, like riding a bike. Or, in your case, DDR.
Your argument is: 1) Most physical exercise is menial drudgery "without further purpose" (save DDR and martial arts and "other things too"), and 2) geeks detest performing acts which are without purpose and spiritually devoid, thus geeks detest most physical exercise.
I'm saying your argument is unsound because your first premise is false. No matter whom it applies to.
Wrong. The assumed context means that 1) really goes like this: "Most physical exercise is SEEN as menial drudgery without further purpose TO GEEKS, AND ME IN PARTICULAR". Do use your brain cells.
Oh, I see. You don't write what you really mean. My mistake.
"Do use your brain cells."
No, I assume that my readers can make simple context placements without me having to spell out everything explicitly. My target audience are not kindergarteners. And yes, I am beginning to lose my patience.
How wonderful. You can make a false statement and it's magically rendered true because of "simple context placements." So, when someone points out your fallacy, you can then say that he's unthinking, under the guise of losing your patience.
My, where can I get these powers?
The very first paragraph begins with these words: "It's well known that geeks, and me in particular...". Right there, context gets set. It's obvious that the entire rant is solely restricted to geeks, with me in particular (and even so, it is general enough that exceptions may exist). The statement is not false when considered in this context, and I think I can at least expect people to be able to grasp such a disastrously simple thing as this.
Read things with an open mind and allow for some mental leeway. I, like most, am not explicit in every single statement I make (and I shouldn't have to be), because it would only lead to excessively long and academic statements.
In other words, nothing I have said is a fallacy unless you omit the vital, and obvious context of whom this applies to.
I agree with X-G. The context is clear.
"In other words, nothing I have said is a fallacy unless you omit the vital, and obvious context of whom this applies to."
By this dubious rationalization, one could justify nearly any statement, whatever its truth value.
"Putting these two together, we realize that most kinds of workout are in fact exactly this: menial tasks without further purpose. It's pure drudgery, and we thus detest it."
Your context up to this point was "hackers don't like doing small, useless, unstimulating tasks." Nowhere do you write something like "geeks think exercise is such a task." On the contrary, you make a universal statement: most kinds of workout are in fact menial tasks with no purpose, and you use that statement to show that geeks don't like to workout. A sentence merely being a part of a paragraph or piece about geeks or in the context of geeks does not adorn the sentence with an understood "And geeks think ..."
And that second paragraph in your last reply is rich, coming from you.
Please take your time and read the first 9 words of the above article until you understand them.
> Nowhere do you write something like "geeks think exercise is such a task."
No, because it is obvious that the people who think exercise is such a task are geeks, not every single person on earth.
I'd like you to refrain from ad hominems. If you want an apology for something I said, then I'm sorry. But, it is my opinion that if you can't make this context connection easily, maybe you should go read some other website. Preferably one with shorter words.
Once again, and to Elver too, a sentence merely being a part of a paragraph or piece about geeks or in the context of geeks does not adorn the sentence with an understood "And geeks think ..." Context exists, sure, but it's not nearly as specific as you intended it to be, nor as specific as it needed to be to prove your point unambiguously to the reader.
No, you've never done me wrong or anything, and I'm not looking for an apology, because there's no reason. I'm just trying to make my point get across to everyone in the thread. Just like you would.
And I've not relied on ad hominems, at least no more than you have. You've used them at least three times now.
I've asked a number of people to tell me what their impression of who the sentence applied to was, after reading only the article and not the comments.
Unambiguously, the answer was "the geeks, of course."
So, if it's not very clear to you, I'm afraid the problem is more likely to be with you.
And as we all know, if you ever want to prove your argument, just get a bunch of people to agree to it.
I would ask them to read a bit more closely. Perhaps at first reading, one position is more pronounced than the other, especially for a group of like-minded people. But if one can read a statement in a multitude of ways, it's ambiguous, regardless of the intent of the author.
> But if one can read a statement in a multitude of ways, it's ambiguous
Then every single statement in the world can be read in any way, and all such alternate interpretations would be equally valid. And that would be EXTREMELY counter-productive.
What you are asking is basically that I write articles with the same rigidity as legal texts with absolutely no room for ambiguity whatsoever - and we can all see that's an absurd thing to do.
"Then every single statement in the world can be read in any way"
That's a complete non sequitur. Of course not every statement in the world can be read in different ways.
I'm not asking you to rigorously prove your arguments or write everything with no room for ambiguity. You're right; that's absurd. Look, all I'm saying is that I read this particular Meaningless Drivel, your argument is flawed because one of your premises is, at the very least, ambiguous, and I'm defending my point just as tenaciously as I have seen you do time and time again. It is *my* opinion that if you don't see that the premise is at least ambiguous for the reader, then the problem is more likely to be with you.
> ...all I'm saying is that I read this...
Yes. YOU read it and got confused. And lots of other people read it, and didn't get confused. Go figure.
Must I define ambiguity for you?
How many times must I tell you that you're the only one I've talked to who even finds it slightly ambiguous?
How many times must I tell you it doesn't matter how many people you've talked to? Your premise can be dubiously read with "context," as you intended, or normally, as a statement made by the author which the author supposes to be universally true.
In that case, there's not a single statement that can't be reinterpreted to mean something drastically different. I am telling you it's not as ambiguous as you seem to feel it is. If I were to say "Apples are tasty", would you then rant on because I didn't explicitly say "I think apples are tasty", or are you clever enough to infer that from context? The context is very clear, and you must either be incredibly confused or actively ignore it to be able to come to the conclusion you did. It is not as ambiguous as you think it is.
(As a side note: The number of people matters, because if it was as ambiguous as you say it is, some of them would've agreed with you.)
Here's a trite example that has the same structure as your argument.
"This article is about Europeans. I'm a European. Europeans don't like things that are tasty. Apples are crunchy, sweet, and delicious. Apples are tasty. Therefore, Europeans don't like apples."
What's the author saying about apples? Is he saying that Europeans think apples are tasty? Or is he as an individual supposing that apples are tasty?
If it's the Europeans who think apples are tasty, then it of course follows that they don't like apples.
If he himself is supposing apples are tasty, he is open for criticism, because maybe apples aren't tasty, and Europeans don't dislike them or dislike them for some other reason.
I will give you the leeway of saying that the sentence can be misinterpreted. I do not, however, believe that anyone with an ounce of intelligence, and who had read the article, would do so.
I'm closing this topic now. You should feel honored - this is the first time I've had to do so! \o/