Sunday, April 22, 2007

BLOG-A-PALOOSA: "Design" Rant


So for a year or so now I've been posting these tips, and am going to continue to do so, but I've finally become just a little more computer literate, and have been poking around the net quite a bit for other fitness information. Turns out that, to put it mildly, I'm not the only one doing this "fitness blog" thing. Most of the other folks appear to post... pretty darn regularly, rather than waiting around for some enormous inspiration to strike and spending months procrastinating and then figuring out how to phrase their ideas with just les mots justes. Well, I'm doing the same. I've decided that I'm going to post more often, darn it all! Yup, even if it's just to say, hey, here's my next post, I'm going to post more often! Even if the kwalitty of my riting suferrs.

The tips will still come -— don’t worry. I’m going to try to make them monthly instead of "quarterly," as fellow fitness-blogger Lou Schuler recently described my paltry output. But I'm going to do intermediate posts too, for my Mom. I mean, for all my fans (the self-deprecation will continue).

So what am I going to talk about? Same stuff, I'm just going to be a little less precious about it, and I might stray off topic every now and then.

Subscribers will continue to receive TIPS in their mailboxes, but not the more frequent musings posted here.

Aaaanyway —- I wanted to kick things off with a little observation here: remember "intelligent design?" Remember how for about five minutes this form of thinly-veiled creationism was threatening to nudge out legit science in our kids' classrooms? And remember how it was essentially pummeled into submission, first in the popular press, then in the courts, when a Pennsylvania judge ruled that intelligent design, by scientific standards, essentially... wasn't?

And I for one was relieved. A couple of years ago, my wife Heidi and I attended a one woman show called "Mother On Fire" by local artist and NPR commentator Sandra Tsing Loh. The show detailed her frantic search for decent schooling for her elementary school aged kids. After surveying the myriad stratospherically overpriced private-school options in the greater LA area, she begins to consider cheaper parochial schools, concluding that "The teaching of evolution just might not be a luxury my family is able to AFFORD!" My wife and I were a few months away from putting our daughter Kate in preschool, and we laughed hysterically -— probably because for us, hers felt like a dilemma that was just a liiiiittle too close to home.

Anyway, back to I.D. Thankfully, despite the protestations of our wise and moderate president, mainstream America seems to have dodged the intelligent-design-as-science bullet for the time being, and advocates for the cause have disappeared for now, or perhaps, karmically, devolved back into the single-celled-organisms from which they grew some few million years ago.

So I wonder: why do otherwise reasonable, eloquent authors -- some of whom are fitness authors, not usually a bible thumping crowd -- still use the term "the human body was designed to..." [fill in the blank with whatever point the author's trying to make]. I read this phrase all the time, and it perplexes me to no end.

Maybe I'm sounding nitpicky and pedantic: I've done that before. I certainly get what these guys are trying to say -- something along the lines of "the body functions optimally when..." I could stomach that phrasing much easier, because science is evoked, if only faintly. But saying that the body was designed to do this or that is tantamount to saying not only that there was a designer (which may be true but is irrelevant to the discussion at hand), but also that the author happens to have a clear line on just what that designer had in mind when they did the designing, and for you lesser mortals who don't have God on speed-dial, here's the dope.

I'm willing to concede that some of these fitness guys know a hell of a lot more about squatting and curling and omega-3 fatty acids than I do. But I'm not willing to concede that any of them has a direct line as to what the big Strength and Conditioning Coach in the Sky intended when he assembled the human body, the beauty of the world, the paragon of animals, in form and moving so express and admirable.


Madley said...

It's funny, as I'm doing this "Cain and Abel" musical and this came up in a discussion with my collaborators -- that "back then" Adam and Eve didn't have belly buttons because they didn't need them (they weren't connected to an umbilical cord).

Well how do they know!?!?

And: "Nowadays, we don't need appendixes, tonsils or toenails."


I will use your line "the body functions optimally" but PLEASE, don't tell me you have a partyline to the Grand Designer. BAH!

Madley said...

Oops, I meant for OTHER PEOPLE not to tell me about that partyline -- not you, Andrew!