by syaffolee

The Day After, It’s…

Tuesday Too

1. So, chances are, you are one of the majority of people that at some time have valorized your caffeine addiction.

I’ve done it. Becky’s done it (Mountain Dew and M&M’s, anyone?). Louis has done it (Coca-Cola). Lisa’s done it (I want an espresso maker!). Sya, not so much. Why do you valorize the addiction to caffeine? Why are you proud that it takes a gallon of coffee to make it through the day? Alternatively, why do people valorize the addiction to anything? Video games? Chocolate? Or, what’s your favorite kind of tea.

An addiction is an extreme. And people, for some reason, like extremes even when they border on the bad. A benign example: you’re a runner. Yeah, okay. But say you run every day–rain, snow, or shine (like the mailman!)–for five miles. That’s getting impressive. But no one calls running an addiction. Instead, it’s training. People reward you for your dedication with medals and such. And even if you aren’t particularly fast, you’ve got your peers’ admiration for your dedication.

Now let’s take an example that borders on the bad–bodybuilding. I (and perhaps a not insignificant number of other people) think this “sport” is gross and not a little crazy. So why do people do it? Well, like the running example, there are going to be people who think this warrants enough merit to be rewarded. All those fitness magazines don’t take up a trivial amount of space in the periodical section, you know. But why? It’s the dedication thing again–people who bodybuild take the time and effort to achieve a goal–in this case, sculpting their bodies to a certain ideal.

The addiction also has this dedication thing going for it. You’re doing this thing over and over again, like the runner or the bodybuilder. There’s a certain amount of work ethic involved (theoretically, caffeine will keep you awake to do more work which is obviously more productive than sleeping). And then there’s the component of sacrifice and suffering that people always seem impressed by. And if you’re suffering from an addiction, it’s a burden. And people with burdens have this cachet of being “heroic”.

So a chocoholic might seem compulsive to you and me, but to the chocoholics they may feel subconsciously that they’re displaying a bit of heroism by dealing with their compulsion. And who doesn’t want to feel a bit heroic now and again?

By the way, my tea of choice is green (duh).

2. There are two daily newspapers in Detroit. Today, the Detroit Free-Press and the Detroit News both announced that they are going to a home-delivery schedule of only three days a week. Is this the way of the future for newspapers? Is there nothing that can save daily dead-tree media? Are weeklies next?

I think this is just part of a bigger question. Is print media–of any kind–going to die out? Probably. If one tries to imagine the future in, say, two hundred years, I don’t think anyone would believe that we’ll still be toting around dead tree media. Everything will be electronic–which is far more convenient anyway.

Now, I wouldn’t say that paper will be completely eliminated. It’ll just be relegated to museums, antiques, and die-hard hobbyists. While I understand that there are people who prefer to read paper rather than digital, I think this preference is due from being accustomed to one way of reading rather than being physically unable to switch formats.

I am personally for the digitization of texts. Probably because I place more value on the words themselves rather than the object on which the words are printed on. I’ve already eliminated quite a bit of paper waste by keeping almost all the scientific papers I read in electronic form. I’ve tried to convince other people in my lab to do this too, but old habits die hard.

3. Which was worse to live in? Czarist Russia or Soviet Russia? I ask because I ran across a story which had a situation where a shady sort of character felt oppressed by a policeman. A colleague to the shady character made a comment that it was like living in Russia. That’s not so odd, except that the story was set in 1875 and was written in the early nineteen hundreds.

I’d imagine it would be difficult to live in either situation, but I’m not versed in Russian history at all–so I’m probably not the person to answer this question.