In Praise of Dan John

Dan John is fitness guru. He is also a genius teacher. I say this not because he is the most credentialed, good-looking, accomplished, best-selling this or that. He may embody some of these things, but I have a different reason to praise him this way.

I claim that he’s a genius teacher because he reduces fitness complexity to simplicity, giving non-fitness gurus (like me) more understanding. The most important fitness advice I have ever absorbed is in this article (describing a strength program which also deserves attention.) Dan teaches that there are five essential human movements:

  • Hip Hinge
  • Squat
  • Upper Body Push
  • Upper Body Pull
  • Loaded Carry/Core

That’s it!

He gives examples in the article, which would be a worthwhile read. But the takeaway is to remember and use the five movements as a template, so you can always build strength no matter where you are. If you have access to a barbell and a pullup bar, you might perform these five movements:

  • Deadlift for the Hip Hinge
  • Front squat for the Squat
  • Strict press for the Upper Body Push
  • Pullups for the Upper Body Pull
  • Farmer’s carry for the Loaded Carry/Core

But let’s say you’re traveling. The hotel’s catabolic wasteland fitness center has neither a barbell nor pullup bar; however, it does have dumbells, some of them heavy. You could still get everything you need with this scheme:

  • Dumbell snatch for the Hip Hinge
  • Dumbell squat for the Squat
  • Dumbell press for the Upper Body Push
  • Dumbell row for the Upper Body Pull
  • Dumbell farmer’s carry for the Loaded Carry/Core

If you can keep these five movements in mind, you can get a good workout anywhere. Obviously, you have to choose a weight/rep/set scheme that taxes you; but it’s good to use these movements (not body parts) as a template when you’re standing in the fitness center thinking, “Now what?”

Is the United States Christian?

There are many Christians in the United States, so the knee-jerk obvious answer to  this question is “yes.” However, I did not by the modifier “Christian” refer to the percentage of the people claiming to be Christian in our country. I refer to something different. See Connecticut’s Fundamental Orders, agreed to in 1639. They specifically refer to Jesus Christ and the Gospel; it’s a small example, but it shows that the leaders of that community were willing use the Bible as their rule of faith and life. The modifier in this case means, “Is the civil government self-consciously acting as a ministry of Jesus Christ?” Note: I did not write, “Is the civil government self-consciously acting as a ministry of God?” A Christian who affirms the divinity of Christ would not sense a difference; but there is a difference to the non-believer.

In every endeavor the people involved in it must refer to a source of law; a court of final appeal. This place, person or thing is the lawgiver and should really be viewed as the god of that endeavor. Even atheists have a god, a court of final appeal (man’s reason). What is the court of final appeal, the lawgiver, the god of the U.S. Constitution? Why, the People! we_the_people More to the point, it is the People’s will to which the U.S. Constitution appeals as its god. This is an idol, pure and simple.

Seriously, do the following exercise: click through here, press Ctl-F (which opens up a search window in your browser), and search for Jesus in the U.S. Constitution. You won’t find Him there.

While more could be written about this (such as: how to interpret the will of the People), the problem with a nation using an idol as its court of final appeal is that you can’t really depend on it to: 1) provide good laws, and, even if it could, 2) remain in this state of virtue. The interpreted “People” is a fallible and changeable construct.

That is why Christians ought to view American society, and especially the American state, as non-Christian.

Psalm 106 Study – Part II

Sycamore Presbyterian Church Friday Men’s Bible Study Psalm 106 (see notes)

Question 4. Verses 16-18. What is the third kind of sin the Psalmist remembers and confesses? What examples of this have you seen in yourself and others?

16When men in the camp were jealous of Moses and Aaron, the holy one of the Lord,
17the earth opened and swallowed up Dathan, and covered the company of Abiram.
18Fire also broke out in their company; the flame burned up the wicked.

The third kind of sin the Psalmist remembers is the sin of envy. The rebellion of Korah, Read more

Germanwings Successfully Down the Memory Hole?

The Germanwings mishap/murder investigation has gone very quiet lately. Major media focused on aircraft design, interviews of past girlfriends, speculation into mental illness, pilot training, and self-disclosure protocols for pilot medical qualifications. Nobody addressed the real issue: pilot trustworthiness.

In what we in the U.S. call “general aviation” (GA), pilot suicides are rare, but not unknown. In most cases of a GA pilot suicide, the only person who dies is the pilot. It’s true we wouldn’t want a lot of untrustworthy pilots to populate GA, but when one of them decides to end it all in the airplane, the damage is limited. What has captured the imagination of most people is the possibility of an airline pilot doing it and taking everyone along for the ride.

I’ve written about the road that civilian and military pilots must take to earn a pilot job at a major U.S. airline. It’s a long road; there are pitfalls along the way. In my experience (Navy fighter pilot), I can remember two fellow student Naval aviators Read more

More Pilot Stories

A common question between pilots in an airliner, especially on day 1 of a trip with someone new, is “Where did you start?” We all want to know the past experiences of the pilot next to us. If his (see note below) background is civilian, usually he followed this path: desire to fly/leave current job; learn to fly/earn pilot ratings (e.g. private pilot, instrument pilot, etc.); earn instructor ratings; build flight time as a flight instructor; fly small cargo planes, fly for a regional airline, or fly for a corporate airline (e.g. NetJets or XOjet); build flight time as a captain; get hired by a major airline. There’s more detail here.

Military pilots also have an arduous path, but as you might guess it’s different. The most noticeable difference is Read more

Psalm 106 Study (Part I)

Sycamore Presbyterian Church Friday Men’s Bible Study Psalm 106 (see notes)

Question 1. Verses 4-6 How does the Psalmist relate his own personal sins to the sins and prospects of his people? How is this instructive for us?

4Remember me, O LORD, when you show favor to your people;
help me when you save them,
5that I may look upon the prosperity of your chosen ones,
that I may rejoice in the gladness of your nation, that I may glory with your inheritance.
6Both we and our fathers have sinned; we have committed iniquity; we have done wickedness.

The Psalmist wants to be included in the rolls of God’s people. When God saves them he wants to be saved; when God gives them prosperity, gladness, glory and an inheritance, Read more

Institutes – Prefatory Address Question 2

Prefatory Address Question 2: What do we learn about the situation of the Protestant cause in France from Calvin’s Prefatory Address to King Francis I, the Author’s Preface of his Psalms commentary, and his reply to Sadoleto?

After Calvin’s conversion to (what later became known as) Protestantism in 1533, he was implicated in the Affair of the Placards of 1534, in which posters criticizing the Roman Church (RC) view of the Eucharist were found in certain French cities; one such placard was posted to the bedchamber door of King Francis I, who became alarmed. In response, Read more

Pilot Stories

I’ll start with the conclusion: the civilian path to flying an airliner is analogous to the path to practicing medicine as a doctor: years of expensive schools followed by years of low pay and very hard work. At the end of each process, you have a professional with mad career buy-in. He’s earned it.

Let’s say you’ve decided you want to be an airline pilot for a major international airline (aka “major”). Read more

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