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Parable of the soft-touch chiropractor

Sunday, December 15th, 2013

[raked by Lynn C. Rees]

Driving Mom around during her last years in this life, I sat in on one of her soft-touch chiropractic sessions. Her soft-touch chiropractor was out of the office so one of his disciples stood in.

As he worked, the sub-soft-touch chiropractor said, “Let me explain how this helps your mom.” As he’d done since the session started, he made a fist with his right hand and bent his arm back until the fist reached shoulder height. He flexed the muscles in his arm.

“First, I build up potential energy in my arm.”. The shake in his upper arm intensified.

“Then I concentrate the potential energy in my finger.” He whipped his arm forward and pointed. His arm and finger shook.

“Then I transfer that energy to your mom.”, he said, softly touching Mom’s shoulder. “It’s the perfect translation of potential energy to kinetic energy. Kinetic energy restores balance and balance restores health.”

“Hnn.”, I said.

Who can judge?

  1. Now these are the words which Jesus taught his disciples that they should say unto the people.
  2. Judge not unrighteously, that ye be not judged; but judge righteous judgment.
  3. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.
  4. And again, ye shall say unto them, Why is it that thou beholdest the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?
  5. Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and canst not behold a beam in thine own eye?

— Matthew 7: 1-5  (JST)

For parables,  soft-touch chiropracty’s guilt or innocence is a noop: parablizing does not imply judgement, righteous or not. For show and tell purposes, mote or beam are equally useful. As the Thomas theorem claims:

If men define situations as real, they are real in their consequences.

This is true, though the outer limits on its truth are set by the Graham assertion:

In the short run, the market is a voting machine but in the long run it is a weighing machine.

If tactics is voting, strategy is weighing: strategy is the creation of asymmetry. To mangle Conrad C. Crane, there are two kinds of strategy: asymmetric and stupid: proper strategy puts a finger on the scale. It restores balance through weight of deliberate asymmetry and then balance restores health.

If the cycle of strategy is:

drive → reach → grip

Up the slope of:

certain → hazyuncertain

With the goal of summiting at:

certain → certain → certain

The parable of the soft-touch chiropractor demonstrates:

  1. There will be drive.
  2. Drive motivates a build up of strength. Fist clenching and muscle flexing, metaphoric or not, is involved.
  3. Strength creates potential reach.
  4. The ideal strength would banish uncertainty from reach and grip, making them indistinguishable from drive. This would be the perfect translation of potential reach to kinetic grip.
  5. The leap of faith is the frantic whipping between reach and grip. Pull my finger.
  6. Though potential reach will generally always fall short of translation into certain grip, sometimes the touch of its less than kinetic sway on its targets’ mind will compensate for its kinetic shortfall.


The sway of soft-touch chiropracty comforted as cancer spread. This is reach and soft power. Its force did nothing to hurt cancer. This is soft grip and hollow power. As reach exceeds grip, so cancer exceeds soft-touch chiropracty. Then comes the inevitable: no balance, no health.

Three Short Reviews

Wednesday, August 26th, 2009


Emergence: The Connected Lives of Ants, Brains, Cities, and Software by Steven Johnson

This classic popular text from 2001 still holds up well as an introduction into the phenomena of emergence and the nature of self-organizing systems. Johnsaon uses a rich array of analogies and historical anecdotes to bring the reader to an understanding how bottom-up, “blind”, systems work and the principles behind them. Highly readable and next to no jargon. Probably due soon for an updated edition though, given the scientific advances in research in network and complexity studies.

How Rome Fell: Death of a Superpower by Adrian Goldsworthy

Superb overview of the decline and fall of Rome with a rejection of the traditional assertions of causations for the end of the Roman empire ( Barbarians, Christianity etc.). Goldsworthy also sharply criticizes the popular idea among postmodern classicists today that the Roman Empire was “really” as strong during the fourth and fifth centuries as it was during the golden age of philosopher-warrior-emperor Marcus Aurelius. Or that there was no fall of the empire at all, just a gentle “transformation” into something new. Goldsworthy discusses the likelihood of Late antquity  “paper legions” of Roman armies which, in any event, scarcely resembled in elan, tactics or fighting strength the ones that Julius Caesar wielded in Gaul.  A tour de force marred only by a weird epilogue that ranges from pedestrian to ( in it’s last sentences) truly awful – was it it tacked on as an afterthought? Did the editor of the rest of the book die before it was completed? Regardless, How Rome Fell is a worthy addition to an collection of popular ancient histories.

The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles by Steven Pressfield

A rare, nonfiction book by novelist and blogger Steven Pressfield. The War of Art is a book that I strongly recommend to aspiring writers ( which includes most bloggers) and other people pursuing dreams, not because it is brilliant but because it is profound. Utilizing select personal vignettes and other anecdotes, Pressfield distills in everyday language the essence of what creative people need to understand if they are to succeed – concepts of “resistance”, which seductively undermine your efforts,  and being a “professional”, which is the mindset that will get you there.

Most of the readers of this blog are interested in military affairs to some extent so I will use this reference to explain why I read The War of Art from cover to cover. Pressfield captures the difference in what Col. John Boyd called the question of “To be or to do. Which way will you go?”.  By Boyd’s definition, Pressfield is a doer.

Steven Pressfield blogs on The War of Art of writing every Wednesday.

Saturday, May 5th, 2007


A must read post by John Hagel.

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