Some media is better than other media

This article is excellent. I don’t agree with everything in it, but I think it has two very good and important points:
1. If you give up on things like value judgements and expertise, you lose almost all ground you have to say much with oomph. Some things are better than some other things. Aesthetically as well as politically. Media created with nuance and skill is better than kitsch and propaganda. People who spend a lot of time studying a thing do tend to know better than most about that thing. “Elitism” has become such a bad word that we’ve forgotten that it is better to be better.
2. Texts (and other works, but usually texts) that are difficult and slow, but rewarding, to work through have benefits over fast and easy media. Simple messages are easy to use as rallying cries. For good or bad causes. If something takes no thought to consume, then it usually won’t get much thought in its consumption. This isn’t to say that writing in such a way that is needlessly difficult to understand is a good thing, but works that reward reading slowly and rereading and analysizing are better.

Brick-and-mortar stores are complaining that online stores not having to charge sales taxes is unfair; they’re right, what an occasion to end sales taxes!

Though it’s a state government leading the charge, the good justification for changing the law isn’t the one in the state’s interest. I see two complaints here:

  1. The state government wants more revenue. Online sales generally lower the amount of in-state sales, so the sales tax revenue is reduced.
  2. Physical retailers have to charge more than online retailers because of the sales tax boosting their effective prices. This gives buyers an extra incentive to buy online.

Complaint 2 is pretty reasonable. Unless we’re looking to give online sellers an edge for the sake of stomping out physical sellers, then the current situation is needlessly unfair. But there’s two ways to make it more fair. One is to add sales taxes to online purchases. The other is to destroy sales taxes entirely. Given sales taxes are a regressive, anti-demand tax, that second option is a lot nicer.

This second, better option would aggravate complaint 1 even further, but unlike sellers who only acquire revenue via selling things, state governments have other, better options. They can tax for land use. They can have progressive income or wealth taxes.

One comment in the linked WSJ article made a decent point against 1, as well: sellers without a physical location in the state are consuming less of the state resources. They aren’t taking up space, polluting the air and water, creating garbage, and otherwise creating various negative externalities for the state.

(Of course, the current court case can, officially, only be decided by what the current legal documents say rather than what they should say, and some analysis of the constitution suggests the status quo will be upheld. Though even the linked analysis then suggests that actual legislative changes should be made. The interstate commerce stuff is somewhat interesting, but a bigger hammer seems more appropriate here.)

26 in 34

My 26 mile time is now at 34 hours. (Well, 26.2, if I’m talking about the distance that will matter. But the 34 hour mark isn’t super precise, either. This was the first attempt, and I didn’t even decide until mile 21 that I was going to do it, so I didn’t bother keeping super close track.) Obviously the 26 weren’t all together. It was something like 1/1/.5/1.5/1/13/.5/.5/1/1/5. Now, while I don’t plan on this blog becoming inundated by posts about my fitness, it is nonetheless my web log, so I’m going to note some observations that I will presumably come back to in a few months. For the people who are or have been into running, this is probably all obvious. Maybe. Maybe it’s more idiosyncratic. Regardless.

  • I could probably chip the time down a fair bit if I actually planned ahead. The 13 mile chunk was at the end of a day that already included two full body strength workouts. My legs were already feeling like gelatin.
  • My sense of speed is not very consistent. Near the beginning I was keeping around 10 mph. By the end I was closer to 4 mph. They felt about the same.
  • Which song was playing had a lot to do with my speed. More than local progress, though less than global progress. (I.e. with a faster song, mile 3 is faster than mile 1, but mile 26 is not faster than mile 3. Unless I intentionally take mile 3 really slowly, of course.)
  • Around mile 10 of the 13 mile stretch (15 overall) I felt what may have been the greatest physical sensation I have ever felt.
  • Turns out if you sweat enough, when it dries, there will be visible grains of salt on your face.
  • The hardest mile was the nineteenth. I.e., the first one after sleeping. I assumed I was going to take a rest day because of how much it hurt to move. After three miles the pain subsided.
  • Thirteen in a row probably felt better than the twenty-six over thirty-four hours. I felt done at the end of the thirteen. Writing this at the end of the twenty-six, I feel like I should go run some more.
  • I was wondering why my thighs were okay after the eighteen. Then today when I added the eight I realized yesterday was in athletic pants. I guess now I can justify getting some nice athletic pants.
  • Getting Little Caesars midway through the final five was a nice energy boost, but also acid shooting up my throat was unpleasant.
  • I hadn’t really gone far past feeling like jello before. Apparently somewhere later is feeling like stone.
  • I hate treadmills.
  • While my presumed eventual goal is 26 in 5, as an intermediate step, condensing the chunks into 13 and 13 first might be more feasible. (Or just working up from 13 to 14 to 15 to….Or, combine the two. 14 and 12, 15 and 11, 16 and 10…..)
  • While speed isn’t really a big concern, at least for now, I do wonder what kind of pacing would be most effective. I clearly started fast and slowed down. There were some local peaks and valleys, but the overall trend was significantly downward. I wonder if keeping a more steady rate would be more efficient.
  • Also, while I did not aim for any speed, I did aim for intensity throughout. My primary ongoing goal was to defeat any urge to slow down. That is, my goal was to run at the maximum sustainable speed, with occasional sprints.
  • The sudden bursts of energy to sprint surprised me. They aligned with my music, but in the middle of mile 13 (8 of the 13 mile stretch) I was able to sustain 10 mph for thirty seconds. I had similar, though slower, bursts in miles 18 and 26.
  • I am really surprised at how little wear these shoes from Rue 21 have taken. I assumed this would destroy them.
  • Running far away from home in order to force myself to run the second half remains an effective technique.
  • Riverside has a lot of intersections. Lest I go 130-260 laps around the track in the gym, I need to find some extended area without breaks outside.
  • Riverside at night is a lot less scary while running.
  • Pop punk, power metal, thrash metal, and industrial metal, while normally excellent kinds of music, are also excellent for running. Particularly the speedier songs within. “M&Ms” by blink-182, “Once in a Lifetime” by DragonForce, “All Nightmare Long” by Metallica, and “Never Surrender” by Combichrist are some examples.
  • Pop punk and power metal are good for peppy songs to feel good to. Thrash and industrial metal are good for songs to power through pain to.
  • Part of the trick with training this skill will be that it takes quite a bit of time. And this is an extremely busy quarter for me. I know the 13 mile stretch was done in 2 hours. I imagine the total time was somewhere between 5 and 6 hours, maybe 7 because of how sluggish the end got. Even if it was only 5, that’s a lot of time out of two days. Perhaps weekends will be of some use. Or the summertime.
  • Given I really only started running with any regularity a little over two months ago, I am surprised.

Dragging people down instead of trying to make things better

Perhaps I’ve blogged about this before. The tendency has existed long before social media, but social media makes it even easier to broadcast one’s ressentiment. Today this one popped up in my newsfeed, edited because Facebook and Twitter will use it as the image for this post:

Epipen Ressentiment

See what I did there? The original post suggests that because children’s parents are being charged nefarious costs, drug users should also be charged nefarious costs. That’s, of course, either idiotic (in most cases) or evil (if you’re selling epipens). By crossing out the second sentence, I changed the message. That people are being gouged of their limited resources because they or their children need epinephrine to not die is screwed up.

One might object that they think children are blameless and that drug users deserve worse. Even thinking that, to try to drag the conditions of drug users down instead of to raise the conditions of children up is at best an expression of bitter ressentiment.

And this is, of course, just one form. This shoddy rhetoric also comes up with the minimum wage. Some people will say that, for example, nurses only make $13 an hour, so clearly people working cash registers should make less than $13 an hour. Thinking and speaking that way only drags everyone down. If you want to hold onto that nurses should make more than cashiers, then instead reason that since everyone working should make at least, say, $15 an hour, nurses should make at least $20 an hour. And instead of saying we should make drug users pay up or die, instead say nobody should be forced into such a bad situation.

Moderation in online threads is nice

Brian Leiter, who only opens comments on his blog occasionally and moderates them well, posted a funny list of descriptive laws that mostly speak to this point. Public Facebook pages, Youtube comments, and so on are generally unmoderated or close enough to unmoderated that they turn into complete trash. At most people spamming advertisements, obscenities, and other obvious trash are removed. Forums that also enforce things like staying on topic and actually making a point (if the thread is about arguing) or otherwise contributing a net positive to the conversation are generally better. (Which is why when I have moderation powers over a thread, I’ll cut off post chains that look like they’re going nowhere good, even if to the dismay of the poster.)