Friday, December 26, 2014

We need a word for this: taxes on "not worrying about it"

Cleveland installed red light/speed cameras. You speed, or you go through a red light a fraction of a second too late, and it takes a picture of your license plate and mails you a ticket. Ugh. (they then voted them down or something, cool, whatever.)

One friend, half-jokingly, said he supported red-light cameras because he knows where they all are and can avoid them. In effect, the city put in a tax on drivers that you can avoid (and therefore benefit from) if you do extra mental work to study the traffic maps.

This should have a name. Similar things:
- Ryanair. If you fly with them, you have to check a special box *not* to buy BS insurance, you have to carry on your bag (or maybe check it or whatever, depending on the day), you have to print your boarding pass ahead of time or pay $40, etc etc.
- Mail-in rebates. A bottle of wine is $15, or $10 after rebate, so they can advertise $10 but still make $15 because most people won't fill in the rebate.
- Credit card juggling for miles. (not carrying a balance, I mean signing up for cards to get the 40k miles bonus and then ditching the card.) I make a few hundred bucks worth a year doing this, but it does mean I have to monitor a few cards so I don't end up paying a bunch of annual fees.

If you have lots of free time and/or are good at organizing, you can easily do all of this. If not, you are taxed. This needs a name. "Simplicity Tax"?

(it probably goes without saying that I think most of these are monstrosities.)

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Been getting a little grumpy on the internet

Grumpy in general, I guess, due in part to the internet.

You know how Fox News and CNN are our parents' generation's hate machine? They show bad news 24/7 and get you mad at who you should be mad at. I think Facebook and Twitter are that for our generation. Yeah, there's the occasional conversation, but when you look at people talking about things in the world, a lot of it is echo chamber or "someone did something bad once."

Maybe it's a result of quality of attention. You're not going to pay good attention to Facebook; you're going to give it half-focused strung-out attention. Maybe I need to be doing less of that in general. (see, for example, the fact that I never blog anymore; feels like I have fewer deep thoughts.)

Oh, and Merry Christmas, y'all.

Friday, December 05, 2014

Saying "Let's keep this a calm and logical argument" is itself part of the argument.

"An open letter to privileged people who play devil's advocate". If you see that this is on a site called "" and immediately close it, then, unfortunately, you are one of the people that this is written for. Not sure how to fix this here, but it's a good article, please read it? :-/

This is particularly salient after the Mike Brown and Eric Garner cases. Some people's reaction to this might be something along these lines:
"A cop killed an innocent black guy. That doesn't happen in the world that I know. A bunch of people are angry about it. That's kind of unfortunate and annoying - I have enough problems in my life without having to confront some new police racism thing - and now they're rioting too? argh. Anyway, I kind of have to dismiss this, because I don't have time to actually process it, and I can't really believe it's real. But people are angry about it, so I've got to couch it in a well-thought-out logical argument. Let's see, I can pick out particular of Mike Brown's case where it's ambivalent whether he might have attacked Darren Wilson or something. Garner... uh, yeah, that was bad, but just an isolated bad cop."

On the other hand, some people's reaction to Brown and Garner might be something like "Raaaaaaaaaaarrgghh!"

In our society, the super-logical argument is privileged. The "raaargh" argument is dismissed as "emotional", "simple", etc. But sometimes we need the "raaargh" response. If you're arguing something "just because you want to get to the bottom of it", or you find yourself trying to pick holes in stories that a lot of your friends are arguing and you're not even sure why you're doing it anymore, maybe stop it. In being calm and logical, you are already adding a voice to the argument, and it's usually the voice of things not changing.

(appropriate analogy: think about why we shouldn't "teach the controversy" about evolution/god in science classes. "but what if--" no. this does not deserve kids' time.)