.Please pass this message along to Donna Deegan: So cold this morning! And a half-hour delay in starting! How could you!?! But those aren’t the real problems with your “26.2 for Donna.” No. On February 14th last year, I wrote to you voicing my frustration with the way you conduct this race event. But did you hear me? Did you listen?
No! What is the main problem? Not that you let thousands run the race, but that you allow them to run it simultaneously! According to the Sociopath’s Manifesto (now available on Kindle), evil is having to do things in unison with other people. Communal effort affronts human dignity. Because you obviously didn’t listen last year, I will repeat the modest proposal I made, my 103rd since I started making them. Running a race in real time—simultaneously with others—is SO 20th-century! Available digital technology makes possible a huge improvement over the currently used—but now obsolete—race-event model. Next year, in 2014, please reconfigure “26.2 for Donna” along the lines of asynchronous distance racing (ADR). ADR allows participants to run the race at a time and on a day that is convenient for them.
Consider how crass it is to run in a massive human stampede:
How does ADR make a foot race less crass? Consider what is at stake when a runner travels on foot from Point A to Point B. The runner wishes to cover this ground in less time than his or her competitors. Since time is what matters, nothing is added by having everyone try to accomplish faster times by running in a mob.
Currently available technology makes the traditional racing model outmoded. Doug Alred, owner of the 1st Place Sports, employs this technology at the races he conducts. The chip a runner ties to a shoelace makes it possible to record the person’s overall race time: the runner crosses over a digital sensor at the starting line, then passes over a similar one at the finish, and the result is tallied electronically. Whether one runs alone or in a herd makes no difference. And with the paper IDs the runners wear now programmed with GPS, a runner cannot cheat. One cannot take a short cut. So, all that matters is the time it takes a person to complete the required distance while staying on the course and doing it in a single, uninterrupted episode.
Running a race in real time—simultaneously with others—is SO 20th-century! It is the equivalent of analog recording.
Given the new technology, would it not be better to give runners a choice of a time and a day suiting their individual scheduling needs? Having everyone run the race on a single designated day, starting at a certain specified time, does not offer people choice. So, why not give everyone a two-week window in which to select a four-hour segment and make their best attempt? An individual participant could run it from midnight to 4 am on a Thursday if he or she wanted to. If people chose to, they even could make multiple attempts over the two-week period and then submit their best time. Multiple attempts may require additional fees.
Defenders of the traditional model assert I am completely missing the point, that these races give people who ordinarily train on their own a chance to gather and revel in the camaraderie of a collective effort, and that racing with, or against, other people who are physically present IS the activity’s raison d’être. Obviously, the people making this argument have never heard another French expression, “L’enfer, c’est les autres.” By the way, this line is the subtitle of my Holy Book, the Sociopath’s Manifesto. Download it now from Amazon. Only $3.99! Also see The Sociopath Next Door and Lunch with a Sociopath. If that manifesto by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels pops up, you can skip it.
ADR is not unprecedented:
ADR is in line with the direction technology is taking us: Events now can be arranged to occur when it is convenient—in most instances, later. TiVo allows programs to be viewed later. People download podcasts to listen to later. Stuxnet was Asynchronous Distance Warfare, programed for the worm to work later. Later, dude!
Asynchronicity not only orchestrates delay, but it also facilitates personal autonomy. DJs become obsolete: people now can go to “silent discos” and “silent house parties,” where everyone dons IPods and dances to their own private list of musical selections.
No one can hear you sing (thank God!)
Take out the ear buds, and all you hear is the shuffling of dancing feet
Computer dating and social networking function on a similar principle:
These flowers were posted five days ago, but they are still fresh!
Relationships can be ordered asynchronistically. “I love you” becomes “xoxo,” read later.
More and more, we interact with the outside world and other people on our own terms, when it is convenient, with no one to bother, or stop, us.
“I just gambled away my family’s savings.”
A great deal of joy is brought to us by these devises:
“I found a gambling site for kids!”..
The Beatles’ Abbey Road and Let It Be were recorded asynchronously. In the band’s last years, when John, George, Paul and Ringo couldn’t stand each other, they went in to the recording studio separately, at hours they weren’t likely to run into each other. There they recorded individual parts while listening through a headset to the tracks the others already had laid down. What a thrilling experience it must have been to have taken part in these last two projects!
Despite George Martin’s and Phil Spector’s best efforts mixing the tracks, a few curmudgeon touchy-feely critics complained these last two albums sounded “hollow”—less warm and human—than the preceding ones.
With these precedents, I see no reason why we all have to run the race at the same time. In 2013, it no longer makes sense. We here in Rio on the River look to the future. It is so 20th century, so analog, to have to do something at a set time and in conjunction with a bunch of other people. And, as I said, doing things in communion with others affronts human dignity. If I were to run with others, I would feel so degraded. But then, I don’t run. Not at all. I couldn’t run if my life depended on it. But that’s another story.
Anyway, my 103rd modest proposal, which I am repeating for you once again, and will continue to repeat until you get the message, requests that you bring “26.2 for Donna” into the 21st century, that you offer people choice, the choice to do the race when they want, in the way they want to do it, so that each individual need can be satisfied, and that no one’s human dignity be dishonored by having to interact with others.
August’s List: Recently published music videos, edited by Farinelli. Watch & listen