Open Thread

Here is the basic idea of an open thread. This is where a comment, idea, link, or whatever can be posted when it doesn’t necessarily fit the subject matter of any available post. This also can be where people can lodge their complaints or make suggestions, including possibilities for future posts.

Plus, this would be a good place for rants, as I’ll be less discerning in my moderation of comments here. I encourage open discussion. But there are limits. If your comment creates a negative atmosphere or simply lessens my happiness, then it will not be approved. I will use my discretion. Make sure your comment is worthy of your time and my own.


9,708 thoughts on “Open Thread


    My favourite example of what I’ve been calling the ‘scandal of self-understanding’ is the remarkable—even gobsmacking—fact that we can explain the origins of the universe itself while remaining utterly unable to explain this explanation. You could say the great, grand blindspot in physics is physics itself. Imagine raising a gothic cathedral absent anything but the murkiest consciousness of hands! What’s more, imagine thinking this incapacity entirely natural, to raise rooves, not only blind to lifting, but blind to this blindness as well. Small wonder so many think knowledge an irreducible miracle.

    This blindness to cognitive means reveals a quite odd condition on progress in physics: that it need not understand itself to understand nature. So far, that is.

    • That is a new one to me. Amusing, as usual. It’s sad that he isn’t still around. We need more people like that right now. I have that thought every time I watch one of his videos. George Carlin was one of a kind.

    • I’ve heard of driving while black. But I’ve never heard of going to Starbucks while black. It sure is hard to be black in America. One’s options of activities is rather limited. I guess the only safe place for a black person is to stay inside at home. And even that probably has its risks.


    As this suggests, Portugal’s left-wing government is thriving partly because it is not especially left-wing. For now it is fixated on deficits and debt rather than investment and public services. A centre-right government would be doing much the same. And so, despite Mr Costa’s warm words, the contraption will surely prove to be a temporary marriage of convenience; his party is already said quietly to be putting out feelers to the Social Democrats. European leftists may find inspiration in Portugal. But they will have to seek ideas elsewhere.

    • I wonder about anti-Asian racism. My experience is limited. I definitely can’t speak much about western NA coastal cities.

      Here in Iowa City, there are a fair number of Asians. But it’s a different kind of situation, since most Asians here I assume are students and it’s a smaller town. I never notice any overt anti-Asian racism… or any conflict along these lines. I interact with Asians on almost a daily basis because of my job and living downtown, although these interactions tend to be brief.

      The closest to a negative experience was two Asian guys who asked me a question based on a stereotype of a rural white American, as I was a working class guy wearing working class clothes, but I didn’t assume any offense was intended. In the opposite direction, I haven’t yet come across anyone speaking of Asians in stereotypical terms. As far as I can tell, most non-Asians here in town have no particular opinion about Asians, as it isn’t a topic that comes up much.

      There are a lot of different ethnicities and nationalities in town. Racism around here is mostly the typical stereotypes about Chicago blacks, despite the local black population being relatively small.

    • That is good knowledge to have. I’ll send that article to my brothers, one who is a naturalist with a Native American studies degree and the other who is city forester with a forestry degree. It’s odd that I always liked nature more than my brothers growing up and yet they are working the kind of jobs I one time considered doing.

  3. She has a new book out about Appalachia. It’s an antidote to J.D. Vance. Here is a quote from a speech she gave:

    ““Coal is dead. Just move. I hate that you’re stuck there. If it wasn’t for welfare there wouldn’t be any signs of life in the mountains.” And so on. But I believe that within our history we have the tools to help us move forward. I see this when I look out at rallies of teachers and public employees wearing red bandanas, connecting their actions not only to the 1990 teachers’ strike but further back, to the mine wars. And what I hope to leave you with is a sense that the heritage we share isn’t some ridiculous ethnic component and it isn’t about how long your people have lived here, and it isn’t about how you make your cornbread, although now I fear assassination or at least a decline in book sales for saying that. Our heritage is the way we have shared and supported each other in struggle – in the past, in the present, and in the future, here at home and beyond our borders. If we did not have the power to create change, we would not be the heirs to a 150 year old propaganda industry designed to tell us and the world we are powerless.”

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