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Pain is not the unit of Effort

I think there's another aspect that you haven't mentioned.

I've found that when I've overburdened myself with work, I tend to cope through copious amounts of caffeine. Over time, this habit limits my overall productivity, and forces me to undergo painful withdrawal symptoms to return to normal. When someone turns to alcoholism to escape the stress in their life, they limit the amount of productive time they can spend solving the problems that lead to their stress. The same goes for many ultimately destructive habits: binge eating, gambling, smoking, memes (yeah, they do decrease productivity), television, video games, violence, promiscuity, procrastination, and so many others.

I'm an undergraduate student, and the thing I've noticed about my unsuccessful friends is that pretty much all of them fell pray to one or several of the above and could not put them down. Habits that develop in the sake of escaping immediate pain ultimately produce more pain.

However, if you don't have any of these habits, I've found that the process of learning can be quite fun.

So, I suppose I agree with you, in a roundabout way. The relatively pain-free lifestyle is better, but I think it's a result of knowing how to spend your time on things that don't immediately feel good and less about being inclined to appear as though you suffer.

Can we hold intellectuals to similar public standards as athletes?

A lot of people's beliefs are influenced by their political affiliation. I'd be wary of a rating system. If one political party got ahold of it, they might use it to completely discredit their opponents, when the issue is just not very well understood in the first place and having multiple perspectives is very useful.

Climate change is the issue that comes to mind first.

Industrial literacy

Interesting, I appreciate you taking the time to formulate a coherent and respectful response, and I'll do my best to do the same.

  1. Rural Economy
    1. Farmers raise corn and soybeans. Beans mainly go to feed livestock. Corn is split between livestock and making ethanol. Ethanol is sold to fuel cars. So, our main exports are soybeans, meat, and ethanol.
    2. A lot of people have jobs supporting the local population or for local companies. The rest either drive 45 minutes to the nearest city or work at the door factory that's in a nearby town.
      1. We all call it the city, but I guess it's not that big by your standards. Sioux City has 82,000 people. It feels huge to us.
  2. Cars
    1. People in small towns are generally more poor than people in cities (I think, I have no experience with cities), and what people drive is generally what they can afford. I think you'd have a tough time convincing all of the mothers that their minivans can all be replaced with motorcycles and sleek electric vehicles. (also, you need significant clearance for gravel roads)
    2. As for replacing semi trucks with trains, I'm sorry, but that could never work. I'll explain why, don't worry. Here's how corn and beans are moved, at least at my parents' farm.
      1. First, when the crops are harvested, they're placed in the bed of a semi truck to be hauled to wherever there's storage. For my farm, that's my grandparents' place where there's a pair of elevators for the drying process (complicated) and a few dozen grain bins which range in size from 16 to 80 thousand bushels.
      2. Then, when the market is at its highest, the grain is sold to a coop (a kind of company that buys up grain from farmers and sells it all to someone who can't afford to deal with small-time farmers) or ethanol plant or whatever. Someone will drive that grain to its destination in a semi truck.
      3. A train system that accommodates these two steps would have to connect thousands of farms to hundreds of farm houses to dozens of processing plants. It would have to conform to hundreds of different farming styles. Basically, the concept is inconceivable. The system already in place allows anyone to haul grain anywhere anytime they like, relatively cheaply. Trains only really get efficient when you're travelling a very long distance, and for most areas, that just isn't the case.
  3. Pollution
    1. Nobody notices pollution or smog in small towns. 
      1. I've visited NYC once, and it was awful. It's never like that in rural areas. 
    2. So, you'll have a really tough time convincing anyone to use green vehicles. There's really no incentive. In fact, a rather successful local business takes modern vehicles and removes all of the emission control bits. It makes the car or truck more fuel efficient and more powerful/responsive.
  4. Subsidies
    1. People keep talking about subsidies. I don't think they understand exactly how things work. There are three ways my parents might get money from taxpayers.
      1. We get money for maintaining the terraces on the farms. This is part of a big program to prevent runoff, and it's necessary to keep farms productive.
      2. Sometimes, a farm is converted to natural prairie to support wildlife and butterflies and such. This is called CRP, and you can get a little money for it, but not much.
      3. When the markets are bad and there's no way to make money, we'll get money. Otherwise, you'd suddenly see half of the farmers go out of business and then you'd have no food. This happened especially when the Trump trade deal with China didn't go through, so a lot of the soybean export just stopped happening.
      4. The taxes my parents pay (about half of what they make) is MUCH higher than what they're payed. Farm expenses are tax deductible, but everything else isn't. If my dad makes 500,000 dollars, spends 80% on that on the next year's seed, fertilizer, equipment repairs, and all other expenses, whatever is left over is cut in half. The system is basically made to make sure farmers can't get ahead. Please, stop pretending that farmers are just accepting cash from the government, because most of the time, they work harder than anyone with significant risk.

That got way longer than I meant it to. I hope you get a picture of what life is like in the country. If you'd like to provide city perspective, I have no idea what people actually do for work there (big buildings full of offices? All I know is what's in movies.)

Industrial literacy

You don't seem to understand how rural life works and why it's important. You also seem to think that small town lives and rural lives are more expensive than city lives. Please, allow me to clear up some misunderstandings.

Small towns aren't places that manufacture food for cities. They're places where people live and thrive, where occasionally you'll see families that farm or raise animals for a job. You seem to think that all the rural area in the world can just be replaced by corporations that send out farmers to live more "efficiently". This doesn't make sense because you can't just make a farmer. You have to be raised on a farm, to understand the difficulties and enjoy them because they're your way of life. You don't see city folk moving out to the country to farm. Ever. You couldn't pay them enough.

They've tried to do corporate farming, by the way. It doesn't work. This is because in corporations, people get lazy. They figure out how to take advantage of the system and work as little as possible to get the money they need to live. You need to keep people paid, even when their job isn't currently relevant. It isn't the same with family farms.

Farmers work lots of jobs. That means planting, spraying, repairing machinery, harvesting, building things, and so much more. Everything is pretty much DIY because it costs too much to get others to do things. That's why everything is always jerry-rigged and sketchy as heck. It's cheap.

From the rural perspective, the city is the wasteful place. It just seems like a black hole of resource use and pollution creation, and for what? I read somewhere that it costs two million dollars to build a public bathroom in New York City. That is absolutely ridiculous. It should cost a hundredth of that, max.

Industrial literacy

Interesting. I like this post. You've certainly got the right audience for a good reception. Everyone likes to think about how much more they know than anyone else, myself included. It's tough to think about what will actually make the world a better place.

If you took a person and taught them all about modern medicine, agriculture, technology, and everything else except how it's put together, how would they think the world works? What would be different in that person's mind from the way the world is now? 

In other words, what do you notice that you're confused by in the world today?

I think that's where we'll find the lies.

Industrial literacy

My dad and uncle can farm 2,000 acres between them because of synthetic fertilizer and pesticides. I would like to see you do the same with integrated livestock and multi-cropping.

Configurations and Amplitude

Why doesn't the block between B and D absorb the photon a third of the time, since it should have the same modulus as the detectors? What's so special about things that tell us that they've been hit by a photon?