Underrated Reasons to Be Thankful

Underrated Reasons to Be Thankful


·November 25, 2021

pkdpic · 9 days ago

Im thankful to have a job and a roof over my head and a little bit of savings. Not having to really worry about money still blows my mind now and then.

Looking across the street every day in California and seeing the homelessness crisis in full swing is an ever present reminder of what this economy and this society can do to you if you slip up for even a second and / or have even a minor run of bad luck.

Working in software isn't always easy or fun or fulfilling but its still an incredible privilege to be working in this industry.

thowaway959125 · 9 days ago

> Looking across the street every day in California and seeing the homelessness crisis in full swing is an ever present reminder of what this economy and this society can do to you if you slip up for even a second and / or have even a minor run of bad luck. Working in software isn't always easy or fun or fulfilling but its still an incredible privilege to be working in this industry.

I'm a senior software engineer with decades in the industry, but a few years ago I completely burned out, ended up addicted to alcohol, and lost everything.

And when I say lost everything, I mean everything. I ended up in a homeless shelter.

Climbing out from there to get back into the industry was an insane battle. I finally got control over all of it and back on my feet, but I have a new found respect for just being able to keep a roof over my head and pay bills now.

That's all I want. I use my free time to give back to society now.

pkdpic · 9 days ago

Thank you so much for sharing this, its deeply inspiring and feels like really important context / wisdom for someone still at the beginning of their dev career. This is exactly why HN can be such an amazing community (imho). Im more and more thankful for that as well.

2OEH8eoCRo0 · 9 days ago

Thanks for sharing. I'm glad you're doing well.

major--neither · 8 days ago

yikes! glad you climbed back.

LiquidPolymer · 9 days ago

This strikes home for me. I come from an extended family of laborers and addicts. All of us had the same future: miserable work, low wages, multiple bankruptcies, and early death.

I’m 57. I’ve worked as a photographer for 32 years, made a great living and traveled the world. I’ve collaborated with incredible people, and seen (and documented) amazing things.

I live in a beautiful house (I paid it off years ago) in a great city. I have zero debt and have so many options about what I’ll do.

My retirement investments have been done very well (good luck getting me to stop working). I have a wonderful family and an incredible daughter.

I never take any of this for granted. I am so thankful. My siblings, cousins, aunts, etc see me like an alien creature. At 57 I’m the oldest living male in generations of my family.

chasil · 9 days ago

I was lucky enough to have spent my youth in one of the five least expensive places to live in the United States, and I stayed. I can easily buy a home for $30,000 here, and I have done so a few times.

I was fortunate enough to find a company where I live that wrote their major systems in assembler in the late 1960's; they use UNIX/Linux to glue modern systems to a vertical wall of technical debt. This is an endless amount of fun.

I go only so far into these legacy systems (we even have an emulated VAX running VMS, which I keep at arm's distance). I should be thankful for having an unprivileged VMS account. I don't want to run that system.

kwertyoowiyop · 7 days ago

That actually does sound like fun! Live that dream!

igorkraw · 9 days ago

If you can and aren't already, maybe consider organising with less privileged workers for things like striking in unison. Or getting politically active to grow economy and society so it will be kinder and allow a slip up.

One of the many reasons I would never move to the US is that in Europe I don't feel like a minor slip up or bad luck will send me into financial ruin. I'll need surgery on my shoulder soon and hopefully it should be fully covered by my health insurance, no added charges. It's an example that comes up again and again and I'm sure people in your position worry less about it, but it's something I keep seeing play a role with my acquaintances and online

thegypsyking · 9 days ago

I moved from europe to the us because I could never become financially independent with the low compensation and high taxes in EU. I would never wish for us to ever be as unambitious and hard to grow as the eu is.

mojuba · 9 days ago

On Europe vs. the US: if you consider private health insurance in the US a part of your taxes, then the difference is not that big anymore. In fact it may even be the other way around: in the US you may be overpaying for health services if you are insured [1]

[1] https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2021/08/22/upshot/hospit...

cafeoh · 9 days ago

You would never wish it for those that achieve growth or for the people suffering homelessness, debt, precariousness, etc? My gut tells me we both have very different ideas on what ambition is/can be, what form of growth is valuable, and how economic liberalism weighs in.

Ethics aside, the taxes I've been paying out of my salary since I've been in the industry allows me today to benefit from an incredible financial safety net as I'm attempting to put together my own R&D software company.

Aeolun · 9 days ago

I think it’s quite possible to find a middle road there.

kortilla · 9 days ago

A minor slip up doesn’t ruin people financially in the US the vast majority of the time. That’s why it’s a non-issue politically.

Your perspective of US life is just shaped by what they report on in the news/reddit/here/etc. Nobody reports on the people that live boring, comfortable lives.

igorkraw · 9 days ago

I know enough US citizens personally that I can assure you, I'm aware of the correction that needs to be applied but consider that you might be underestimating how bad things are in the US because you are comfortable.

I personally would not want to live in that system. I am 29, debt free, with a university education from one of the countries top universities where I spend 1.5 years extra for an exchange and having needed hospitalisation multiple times in my life. This experience is something that, statistically, not many US citizens my age have (especially the debt freeness), and I have had enough interactions with exchange students who expressed genuine surprise I had no second thought of going to the hospital to appreciate this carefreeness over the benefits the US system might bring for people like me in the happy path.

But that's personal opinion of course.

nine_zeros · 9 days ago

Even if a minor slip up doesn't ruin you, the paperwork, hassle and the constant fear is ridiculous. That's no way to live a civilized life - and I say this as an American who has experienced better care even in third world countries.

aksss · 9 days ago

If you have talent, show up, and a clean criminal record, you can make it in the US without a problem. There’s more money than talent, meaning if you have talent, there are people ready to give you plenty of money. It’s not hard in and of itself. It says something that many people’s problem in the US is getting in their own way. People in other places in the world have far less mobility opportunities than we have here. I’m thankful for that.

igorkraw · 9 days ago

If you compare globally sure, if you compare with Europe, the data tells a different story. The US are 27th in social mobility behind all of the northwestern European nations with high taxation (data from the WEF, infographic from the site I link to).

While Germany and the other European nations are far from perfect and I like some of the business aspects of the US, coming from money matters more in the US than in Europe, statistically.


gjs278 · 9 days ago

that will only increase prices for poor people

axiolite · 9 days ago

> Im thankful to have a job

I think you've got that backwards. Everyone is thankful for money and possessions. A job is just how you happen to get them. Would you be unhappy to be very wealthy, without a job?

> seeing the homelessness crisis in full swing is an ever present reminder of what this economy and this society can do to you if you slip up for even a second and / or have even a minor run of bad luck.

I've known a lot of homeless people. Their circumstances are overwhelmingly caused by drug addition or mental illness. Not that anyone will admit to it.

If you're willing and able to work full-time, you can manage a reasonable living. There are government and private programs to support the disabled, unemployed, keep the impoverished who don't fit those categories from starving, etc. Not to mention charities, and friends/family groups who will help most anyone who doesn't get enough support from those programs, or just had "bad luck". Mental illness and drug addition does a good job of cutting you off from all those sources of support.

ronbarr · 9 days ago

I feel sad for you if you see work only as a way to make money. A good job with a team that is working together towards a goal is a very satisfying experience. I would be unhappy to be very wealthy without a job. There are many people who end up lost because they don’t have a sense of purpose, and a job helps with that.

someelephant · 9 days ago

I agree with everything you're saying except for your usage of purpose. To me, life is not about doing meaningful and purposeful things. It's about satisfying yourself. With the right incentives, we can satisfy ourselves in ways that are meaningful and purposeful. Finding the right work with the right people is extremely satisfying. If you don't enjoy your work, it's likely you are not working on the right things or you have some mental health issues which are lingering beneath the surface.

WalterBright · 9 days ago

> A job is just how you happen to get them

I happen to enjoy my job very much. I'd feel useless and bored without it.

axiolite · 9 days ago

If you didn't have to worry about money, you'd have ample time to find fulfilling hobbies to occupy your time.

You could even do all the parts of your job that you enjoy, while skipping all the unpleasant parts of it.

kortilla · 9 days ago

> Would you be unhappy to be very wealthy, without a job?

Absolutely. Working on stuff for my job that I’m passionate about gives me great fulfillment. Being paid for my skills is recognition from society as to the value I provide.

esyir · 9 days ago

Eh, between the two, I'd reckon it'd be foolish not to go with the wealth. I can always get a job, or use the breathing room provided by wealth to gain skills for a job. The inverse is not nearly as reliable.

late2part · 9 days ago

Would you be unhappy to be very wealthy, without a job?


quickthrower2 · 9 days ago

California sounds so extreme in this regard. When I started working in software in the UK I made much less than say a hairdresser, and never saw homeless people (not in a city so…). I didn’t feel this stark difference that being in 2020s + SF seems to highlight.

WalterBright · 9 days ago

When I'd visit London on business in the 80's, the homeless were very much present and visible. The concierge at the hotel told me not to leave the hotel before 6AM (I had jet lag and was headed out for a walk) because I'd be easy meat.

dave1999x · 9 days ago

London really cleaned up in the 90s. There is still visible homeless, but nothing like US cities with homeless camps. Officially, there are a lot of "homeless" but far fewer "unsheltered"

kortilla · 9 days ago

If you weren’t in a city that’s the difference. You only need to travel like 20 miles south of San Francisco to never see homeless people. Mountain View might as well be a different country.

WalterBright · 9 days ago

In Seattle anyway, 90% of the homeless are either drug addicts or alcoholics. Becoming one is a choice under your control, not god smiting you.

> Working in software

is a heluva lot better than stoop labor, what people have done for millennia. Every time I work on the yard I'm reminded again at how hard stoop labor is, and how I'm glad to work sitting in a comfy chair in a warm house with the stereo playing in the background. And I can play on HN when waiting for the test suite to run.

renjimen · 9 days ago

> Becoming one is a choice under your control

To an extent. Some people are predisposed to addiction and the poor are much less likely to have the knowledge or support required to recognise or battle addiction.

WalterBright · 9 days ago

I know that some people are predisposed to addiction. It's harder for them, sure, but becoming an addict is still a choice for them. I know some who chose to get and stay clean, too, despite being predisposed.

I wager that poor people are far better at recognizing addiction than non-poor. I hired a stoner once, not recognizing it. He robbed the company blind to pay his dealer.

Social workers are always trying to get the homeless addicts into rehab. They generally refuse to. It is their choice, not lack of money. In fact, I suspect that the lack of money is caused by their choice to be addicted. After all, addicts lose interest in their jobs and employers don't want stoners and drunks coming to work.

xpe · 9 days ago

Describing human actions as either ‘under one’s control’ or ‘not’ is an oversimplified and inaccurate world view.

I think the evidence suggests a different understanding:

1. One individual’s willpower varies significantly over time (over a day for example)

2. One individual’s set of options varies in many ways — not limited to education, awareness, culture, economic opportunity, and luck.

3. Many important actions are not consciously decided.

This plays out in many ways.

Many individuals that achieve some kind of success mistakenly over-attribute it to hard work or intelligence —- and downplay the role of culture, opportunity, privilege, and luck.

WalterBright · 8 days ago

I understand that today it is popular to assert that people are just hapless victims of circumstance, that they don't have agency.

I don't buy it.

Furthermore, when people take responsibility for their lives, they tend to have much better outcomes. I'm old, and I've observed this play out constantly. Blaming others and circumstance might make one feel better, but it is completely useless.

And lastly, successful treatment for addiction and alcoholism involves the person taking responsibility for the addiction.

boplicity · 9 days ago

>In Seattle anyway, 90% of the homeless are either drug addicts or alcoholics

That's a big claim to make. Do you have any sources?

WalterBright · 9 days ago

The "Seattle is Dying" video produced by KOMO, the local TV station.

"60 Minutes" also ran a segment on the Seattle homeless a couple years ago. They went in looking for people who were down on their luck. They found drug addicts and alcoholics.

xpe · 8 days ago

> In Seattle anyway, 90% of the homeless are either drug addicts or alcoholics.

You wrote "90%" -- a specific figure -- as opposed to writing "most" or "many". Why did you choose this number? Do you have a reference you can share?

WalterBright · 8 days ago

For those who disagree, take a look at Alcoholics Anonymous. It's about making choices. I don't believe it is a mean, heartless, compassion-less organization.

erect_hacker4 · 9 days ago

Addiction is a choice. Classic HN.

_huayra_ · 9 days ago

Even things like not having to budget for groceries and the occasional going out to eat is something I often take for granted. I stay frugal, but have never really had to hem and haw about whether I should spring for the organic produce or fair trade coffee.

"I can't afford this" is a lot more difficult of a circumstance to be in than "boy that was a dumb idea to purchase some pricey, fancy, but nasty cheese on a whim"

pkdpic · 9 days ago

I could agree more with this, word for word. It still hits me almost every time I go to the grocery store somehow.

elil17 · 10 days ago

I’m thankful for yeast. It’s so, so convenient that we have a non-pathogenic bacteria which will eat pretty much any simple sugar, can be found on the surfaces of most fruits, and is essentially effortless to cultivate, which also does a bunch of useful things like leaven bread and make a bunch of delicious short chain fatty acids (both in bread and on their own, like in marmite) and make alcohol (although that one maybe does more harm than good)!

butwhywhyoh · 10 days ago

I'm thankful for oxygen because we can breathe it! And it can be found pretty much everywhere in the atmosphere of planet Earth. And I'm thankful for all the other elements that I'm composed of. They can even be used to do other miraculous things. Wonderful!

matheusmoreira · 9 days ago

I'm thankful for mitochondria which allows us to use the oxygen to perform aerobic respiration, enabling more complex forms of life. It seems they were once bacteria which were somehow absorbed by eukaryote cells and turned into an organelle, an hydro-eletro-chemical power plant. Thanks bacteria!

amelius · 9 days ago

Be careful with certain anti-bacterial drugs, they might affect your mitochondria.

amelius · 10 days ago

Nestle is fighting over control of freshwater sources. I reckon oxygen is next.

In the future, be thankful with your wallet.

lisper · 10 days ago

You don't have to wait. Oxygen bars are already a thing, and have been for quite a while.


pfdietz · 9 days ago

Nestle uses 0.003% of humanity's fresh water consumption, so I'm sure you're properly allocating your worry budget there.

pfdietz · 10 days ago

Yeast are not bacteria. They are eukaryotes.

dgb23 · 10 days ago

I‘m thankful for nerds who make corrections so I can learn some interesting fact.

victorcharlie · 10 days ago

Actually, yeasts are unicellular fungus. I believe that fungus are the most important life-form in this planet by far.

Pretty cool, huh? :)

matheusmoreira · 9 days ago

I'm thankful for wikipedia which has probably taught me more biology than my professors ever did. So many detailed articles, and it's actually fun to read them because they contain so many details that never seem to get mentioned in school. The abundance of links lead to a fun exploration of the subject and a massive respect for nature and its designs.

CogitoCogito · 9 days ago

Well to be fair the poster was referring to starters for bread which contain natural populations of both yeast and bacteria. So really we should be thankful for both yeast and bacteria. :)

That said, just as the other poster I'm also thankful for pedants like yourself. This is a mistake I probably make myself all the time.

sombremesa · 10 days ago

Alcohol definitely does more good, just consider the uses it has aside from being ingested.

cyberpunk · 9 days ago

Also, consider how many flights went smoothly because of alcohol.. I mean, outing myself as British here but (every flight) without a stuff gin or three, that woman in-front of me would have had a stern talking to I can tell you! :}

quickthrower2 · 9 days ago

I wonder if British are more reserved because they’ve evolved to have about a unit or two of alcohol in the blood stream at all times at which point it’s the sweet spot. I jest of course. Also I’m a Brit.

chronogram · 9 days ago

> alcohol (although that one maybe does more harm than good)!

Alcohol in the medical field is critical in doing good. A lot of harm has been prevented by alcohol.

HWR_14 · 9 days ago

Alcohol let our ancestors survive. Weakly alcoholic beer was far healthier than water because its production likely killed germs in the water.

axiolite · 9 days ago

> Alcohol let our ancestors survive.

Only true in dense cities and perhaps onboard seafaring vessels. Most of humanity could find unpolluted sources of water.

You could also say that, without the crutch that was small beer, humanity might have been motivated to learn and implement water treatment/purification techniques and proper sanitation systems centuries earlier.

bumby · 9 days ago

Edward Slingerland Haha written about a hypothesis that beer was the major reason for inventing agriculture. I don’t know how well received that theory is, but it was an interesting and unique take

6gvONxR4sf7o · 9 days ago

I recently read that that’s a myth, unfortunately.

rags2riches · 9 days ago

Brewing typically involves boiling. That can kill a germ or two, or so I've read. That's true for brewing tea as well.

dclowd9901 · 10 days ago

I had this same exact thought the last time i was making bagels. What an absolute miracle it is! And whoever came up with using it to fluff and soften bread through some natural symbiotic reliance of raw nature is just such an incredible step it seems utterly designed from above.

Yes, I’m saying maybe a god exists and loves us because they gave us bread.

TimTheTinker · 9 days ago

Benjamin Franklin thought beer was enough proof that there is a God who loves us and wants us to be happy :-)

kwertyoowiyop · 9 days ago

“Every good quote eventually gets attributed to Lincoln, Wilde, Churchill, or Jobs.”

— Benjamin Franklin

SubjectToChange · 10 days ago

Yeast is a type of fungus.

elil17 · 9 days ago

True lol thank you. Meant to say “microbe”

CogitoCogito · 9 days ago

I like this and totally agree! I baked two naturally leavened loaves of bread this morning for thanksgiving and am currently drinking a beer. On a regular day I would eat some form of yogurt as well. It really is an amazing little part of life. :)

krisrm · 10 days ago

Realized after reading this that it's American Thanksgiving today. Happy Thanksgiving to our American friends. I'm thankful for a lovely forum where we can read and share articles like this one.

borepop · 10 days ago

Agreed. The tone of the HN comments section is occasionally somewhat more contentious now than a few years ago, but it has not generally devolved into the sort of partisan pissing match/bad-faith clusterfuck seen elsewhere in the interwebs. To some extent I attribute that to the fact that valuing science and reason can be a helpful quality in moderating the tone of interaction, even among anons. Which is really a lucky thing.

Method5440 · 10 days ago

Prove it, you partisan hack. :)

kubb · 10 days ago

Also respectful condolences to the Native Americans in their day of mourning.

throwamon · 9 days ago

On Thanksgiving I'm especially thankful I'm not a Native American living a few centuries or decades or even seconds ago.

mgraczyk · 10 days ago

I'm thankful for Hacker News and internet cultures that support and share articles like this. Things that are intellectually gratifying without being overly specific, topical, or focused on any particular goal. Just interesting thoughts for the sake of their interestingness.

wintermutestwin · 10 days ago

I'll take this space to mention two simple life changing gratitude practices that I have habitualized:

1. Every morning, before I allow myself to look at email/news/etc, I think of three things that I am grateful for.

2. Every night at bedtime, my partner and I tell each other three things we are grateful for about each other and one thing that we are grateful for about ourselves.

I find that bookending my days with gratitude like this makes it easier to live each day in a state of thankfulness.

k8sToGo · 10 days ago

To me this sounds too much like the daily scrum meetings or stand ups where you have to come up with something just so you can say something and, in this case, go to bed.

But I only mean this as a joke. I think it is great to have "rituals" that help us look and appreciate more stuff what we have already or where we are and where we came from.

AlexCoventry · 9 days ago

"I'm thankful for the way the adversity you gratuitously create in my life advances my spiritual practice. Sweet dreams!"

cgriswald · 9 days ago

Maintaining sleep hygiene takes precedence to me over essentially anything else and coming up with four things before sounds anxiety-inducing. We do this type of thing before our evening meal, instead. For me, anyway, this is much lower stakes and so there is less anxiety. Which results in it just sort of flowing out—especially after doing it for awhile—but not in an 'autopilot' sort of way.

wintermutestwin · 9 days ago

Part of the point of our bed time ritual is to look for and accumulate "gratefuls" throughout the day. In this way, I am training my pattern recognizing CPU to spot the positives rather than the negatives that it tends to focus on.

lovecg · 9 days ago

There’s some research behind this though. It’s the act of thinking of something to be grateful for that’s useful - it strengthens your “gratitude muscles”. It was surprisingly hard for me to come up with three new things day after day initially. Try it for a week - you have nothing to lose and the potential upside is huge!

quickthrower2 · 9 days ago

Being grateful is good! But being jealous, angry, bitter etc. are also valid emotions, not sins. (I don’t believe in Dante’s Inferno etc.). Those emotions are signal that something needs fixing. Sometimes it can be fixed in a second if it’s a silly thing. Sometime it can take a lifetime, if it’s grieving for example.

pkdpic · 9 days ago

I love this and Im going to try this with my partner. Thank you for sharing it :^)

mensetmanusman · 9 days ago

Our family’s ancient religious practices also incorporate these rituals.

It’s great giving the children an opportunity every night to share what they are thankful for. My favorite was ‘blankets’ :)

uwagar · 9 days ago

i hope ur life gets less boring and more adventurous ;)

riazrizvi · 10 days ago

Thank you, a lovely list.

7, 23, 24 were driven by the common unusual political occurrence of fair economic opportunity. These rare times where a balance of power occurs, by special circumstances, between the former autocratic rulers and everyone else.

In Britain (7), domestic Royal monopolies were abolished etc creating an economic and legal environment where entrepreneurs would be rewarded. So people started investing their very expensive free time tinkering because it might lead to profit.

Ancient Greece (23) developed the Solonian Constitution which similarly protected the property rights of ‘citizens’ like never before, so Athens became a cultural center of tinkerers, hustlers, thought leaders, influencers etc, and the ideas are what we still have today. Because unlike with Ancient Phoenicia, the Greeks wrote on clay, not on perishable papyrus.

(24) Obviously the US Constitution managed to establish unusual property rights for its European male citizens, and again we see hustlers, thought leaders, influencers etc, because their efforts are far more likely to be rewarded. But this time we see what this political environment looks like close up and we see regular people’s bright ideas materialize in society because the law protects them.

I am thankful that we still today, I mean 11/26/2021 today, still maintain the balance of power that enables our egalitarian laws to stand, and hope that some new technology won’t kill that balance.

jaclaz · 10 days ago

To be picky, the timescale/locations of #23 is way off:

Socrates (Athens= 470–399 BC

Plato (Athens) 423-348 BC

Aristotles (Athens) 384–322 BC

Archimedes (of Syracuse) some 2-3 centuries later 287-212 BC

Euclid (of Alexandria) was active in Alexandria around 300-270 BC

Hyppocrates (of Kos) 470-360 BC

Pytagoras (of Samos) 570–495 BC

Thucydides (Athens) 460-400 BC

Herodotus (of Halicarnassus) 484-425 BC

Aesop (?) 620-564 BC

Solon (Athens) 630-570 BC

Pericles (Athens) 495–429 BC

Aristophanes (Athens) 446-386 BC

Sophocles (Athens) 497-406


>That some unknown miracle blend of circumstances happened to arrive in Athens in 500 BC leading a tiny city of 250k people to produce Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Archimedes, Euclid, Hippocrates, Pythagoras, Thucydides, Herodotus, Aesop, Solon, Pericles, Aristophanes, and Sophocles, and that it might be possible to intentionally recreate such conditions today around the world and spur incredible human flourishing, and why aren’t we working on this?

is more accurately something like:

In the course of several centuries over a vast territory comprising almost all inhabited mediterranean countries some 10-15 people excelled in their fields and many of them happened to live in the main city (and cultural capital) of the area.

Sounds a lot less a miracle, between 630 and 300 BC is three centuries.

pratik661 · 10 days ago

Also, the capital of a major economic/military power will usually attract the ambitious people from the surrounding regions. Its equivalent to saying "wow, so many famous actors lived in Hollywood!"

mistermann · 9 days ago

> is more accurately something like:

> In the course of several centuries over a vast territory comprising almost all inhabited mediterranean countries some 10-15 people excelled in their fields and many of them happened to live in the main city (and cultural capital) of the area.

Your restatement excluded what I think is the most interesting part:

>> and that it might be possible to intentionally recreate such conditions today around the world and spur incredible human flourishing, and why aren’t we working on this?

"Why aren't we working on this" seems like a very good question, one that you don't hear very often - "Why don't we even encounter these sorts of questions more often?" might be an interesting sibling question.

jaclaz · 9 days ago

Because recreating such conditions isn't possible, basically because such conditions never existed and the idilliac setup the article seems to describe never happened.

The article seemingly conveys (at least to me) the idea that "by miracle" all those famous philosophers, writers and mathematicians were in the same place at the same time (and possibly had coffee or dinner together), this simply never happened.

So, if the idea is about creating brand new conditions (which ones?) capable to create a city/location where - over three centuries - a handful of people, excelling in their field lived, this has already been done, let's say Rome 200 BC - 100 AD, London 1600-1900, i.e. more or less the capitals (administrative and/or cultural) of large empires that lasted several centuries.

watwut · 9 days ago

What about saying that such conditions exists right now in contemporary world. We have great amount of thinkers and scientists and technologists and populists and cult leaders.

All of them producing and moving world forward. It is crowded competition, actually.

Lamad123 · 10 days ago

Some of those haven't been reported to sit foot or have much to do with Athens!! At least Archimedes and Pythagoras.. Even Aristotle was a foreigner to Athens, although he learned a lot from his Athenian counterparts! Herodotus wasn't Athenian either!!

aduitsis · 10 days ago

That today, thousands of years later, we have managed to retain what those people said or wrote is also a very good reason to be thankful.

lr4444lr · 9 days ago

Plus, Archimedes not only was from Syracuse (Italy) but flourished under a complete (even if benevolent) monarch.

lnxg33k1 · 9 days ago

And Aristippus the inventor of capitalism? :D Or Antisthenes the one I use to see how the mental issues were valued in the past? :D

matbatt38 · 10 days ago

Also #23 is mostly based on slavery. It's easier to have smart elite when nobody really works

riazrizvi · 9 days ago

Slavery was widespread.

HWR_14 · 9 days ago

(7) was driven by the invention of patent law. Expressly royal monopolies on inventing stuff.

(23) is because it's not independent random events. First, Plato literally taught Aristotle and was taught by Socrates. Second, Athens was the capital of an empire (okay, technically a league) so of course the best and brightest descended on Athens.

So, literally like Hollywood attracting actors or SV attracting startups, it's a self-perpetuating cycle.

LocalH · 10 days ago

I'm thankful for existence itself. Sure, it's not always pleasant, but the mere fact that we perceive reality as we do is a fascinating rabbit hole, one that I wish I had discovered decades ago. The subjective experience of existence is one of the big unknowns left in this world, one that I don't think we'll ever truly understand. That's good though, because human curiosity is one of the wonderful, amazing things we have the capability to do (if other Earth-native, non-human sentient beings have similar curiosities, they don't have nearly the ability to explore them, that we know).

I hope everyone who reads this is having a good day today. May you all have fortune and blessing in your lives.

yourapostasy · 9 days ago

I wish more people were aware that we are likely the only radio-using sapients in a 4'ish light year sphere around us [1] (4.4 ly for a 1MW broadcast, where the most powerful radio transmitter in the world is at 2MW). And that we're roughly in the center of the KBC Void [2], about a billion light years from the nearest "normal" baryonic density of the currently-known universe.

We might not be alone inside the KBC Void, but if we aren't, they and us are on a pretty isolated island of sapients in the currently-known universe.

Sapience is astronomically, vanishingly rare as far as we can tell so far. Some of us treasure it and are thankful for it accordingly. Perceiving reality at the level we do, with the understanding we only scratched an atom of the total surface so far, is both inspiring and humbling at the same time.

[1] https://www.quora.com/How-far-do-radio-signals-travel-into-s...

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/KBC_Void

gnulinux · 6 days ago

Maybe other sides of the universe is teaming with complex life but we live in an isolated island?

LocalH · 6 days ago

My current personal belief is that the universe is currently rife with life on a number of planets, but they're all so far apart that they might as well be the only ones from the perspective of each planet. I feel that it's highly arrogant of humans to presume that "there is no other life in the entire universe, except for Earth".

tim333 · 9 days ago

Yeah if there was nothing at all things would be a bit dull.

supernova87a · 9 days ago

There is really something to the idea that despite the daily news and political doomsaying that goes on every day, it's hard for people to remember or celebrate the long progression that we've experienced towards living in the most peaceful, materially prosperous, and positive trajectory time in the history of humanity.

(I think there was a podcast on Hidden Brain about this. Also video like this https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DwKPFT-RioU).

It's really good to periodically think about how much we benefit from, say, the miracles of air conditioning, available infrastructure and cheap travel beyond your town, clean water and air, medicine, vaccines, public health -- and reset what you're grateful for. And stop making every little transgression of modern life feel like a disastrous setback.

But of course it's very unfashionable to point this out when someone's <xyz> cause is being neglected, or is in the news and everyone is outraged. Of course when you make such comparisons you get hissed out of a room for being so callous, because anyone's relative suffering is supposed to be treated with utmost respect. And the short, acute, headline making problems are always louder than the long progression of gradual improvement.

But taken in perspective, by intelligent people who can discuss such things, we've really reached the age of 1% problems. (which are being exposed because our huge disastrous human-generated conflicts, etc. are decreased compared to 100 years ago). Health, social issues, etc. are such luxuries to have problems about now (and glad to have them discovered and debated), but remember how wonderful a time we live in. We aren't generally dying of terrible diseases during childhood, etc. or because of world wars. More people are living longer to experience the wonders of humanity than ever before. Although, things like climate change we'd better allow to rise to the top of our list of problems, soon...

Anyway, definitely very thankful for all these things, and all the daily unsung people who make our humanity's progress possible.

notfed · 9 days ago

Related: a TED talk by Steven Pinker about his analysis on whether the world is getting better or worse: https://www.ted.com/talks/steven_pinker_is_the_world_getting...

uwagar · 9 days ago

didnt he goto that TED talk on epstein's jet? ;)

watwut · 9 days ago

The bigger issue is that historians and sociologists tend to complain each time he makes sweeping claims about their area of expertise.

pfdietz · 10 days ago

"it’s surely better than the light of consciousness vanishing entirely when the sun eats the Earth in 7.5 billion years, no?"

The Earth will lose its oxygen in about 1 billion years and undergo runaway warming in about 1.4 billion years. By the time the Earth is eaten by the Sun (if it is; mass loss by the Sun might prevent this), the Earth will have been sterilized for longer than it has currently existed.

pfdietz · 10 days ago

Also, thankful that (despite the timescale for O(1) changes to O2 in the atmosphere being ~10 million years) not once since the Precambrian did O2 levels fall low enough to wipe out vertebrate life.

Although I'm not sure it's really correct to be thankful for effects of observer selection bias.

ask_b123 · 9 days ago

I think it is perfectly correct. It is a great thing to be an observer and I'm thankful I can be subject to the effects of observer selection bias. :)

kiba · 10 days ago

This is assuming that humanity or our successor won't do any stellar engineering or starlifting, or moving the Earth for that matter.

lisper · 10 days ago

I've done a lot of traveling in less developed countries. That has taught me to be thankful for the fact that I live in a house with heat and air conditioning, and hot and cold running water that I can drink without getting sick. Many people in developed countries (especially the U.S.) take these things for granted, but in many parts of the world these are things people only dream of.

autarch · 9 days ago

Oddly, I regularly think about how great plumbing is, and I've been noticing this for the past 5-10 years, I think (I'm in my 40s).

I think one day I was probably in the shower and thinking about how awesome it was to have a hot shower. Then I started thinking about how great not having to use a "night soil pot" or an outhouse is, especially in hot or cold weather.

I don't think I've spent as much time contemplating the joy of HVAC systems, but I know I've thought about them from time to time.

lisper · 9 days ago

> I don't think I've spent as much time contemplating the joy of HVAC

You haven't spent enough time in hot, humid climates. Go to Houston in the summer and you will not have to contemplate for long.

autarch · 9 days ago

I've been there. I've also been to Taiwan in the summer multiple times.

lovecg · 9 days ago

Modern plumbing and sanitation is one of those things that’s nearly invisible and taken for granted, but is almost miraculous how well it works most of the time. If I had to choose, I’d rather have a weeklong electric outage than a weeklong water supply disruption, it’s not even close.

krosaen · 9 days ago

> That the FDA, Health Canada, and the European Food Safety Authority all agree that at the doses humans consume, aspartame is perfectly safe—not genotoxic, not carcinogenic, does not cause an insulin spike—or at least has small, unknown harms, meaning that people with a sweet tooth can avoid the large, known harms of sugar with minimal exertion of willpower, and this is still true even though people for some reason seem to reject and despise this extremely lucky fact.

2020 paper published in Cell:

"Short-Term Consumption of Sucralose with, but Not without, Carbohydrate Impairs Neural and Metabolic Sensitivity to Sugar in Humans"


From Huberman Lab (deep link to part where he talks about this):


Takeaway: if you consume artificial sweeteners with foods that increase blood glucose, your brain will learn to secrete insulin in response to artificial sweeteners even when consumed by themselves. So if you drink diet soda all the time with and without snacks - you can throw your insulin regulation system out of whack and even cause pre-diabetes!

maneesh · 9 days ago

Sucralose isn't aspartame...

krosaen · 9 days ago

apparently it applies to all artificial sweeteners, including plant based ones like stevia

bluishgreen · 9 days ago

"That other animals have more cone cells than humans, e.g. birds with four and shrimp with up to 16, and so probably see colors we can’t even conceive of which, yeah, that limitation of our minds is frustrating, but it also hints that there are huge unseen dark continents of qualia lurking out there which someday we might find a way to visit."

This is based on a misunderstanding regarding the rise of qualia. It is processing power and not sensor capacity or at least both together in some combination with processing power doing the heavy lift. Humans have less cones but several OOM more neurons to make sense of what we have. So no - the shrimp doesn't see in spectacular color.

Experimentally proved:



ravi-delia · 9 days ago

It's still true that if we had cones outside our current color range we'd have new qualia, even if animals don't.

323 · 9 days ago

In 100 years it will probably be possible to genetically engineer humans with more or extended range pigments, which are sensitive to IR / UV.

Or maybe we'll just have bionic hyper-spectral eyes which plug directly into the optical nerve.

lovecg · 9 days ago

…and sadly those humans still won’t be able to describe their experiences in any way we would understand. “It’s just its own color that’s separate from all the others. You know, the color the black lights are”.

hardlianotion · 9 days ago

Would we? It seems possible that some other sensation could be overloaded as well - ie seeing red where others see only blackness...

ravi-delia · 9 days ago

I mean, it seems clear we don't have any real consistent definition for qualia. I'd argue that every distinct color you can see is a different qualia, although an argument could be made for a single "color" qualia which takes on different forms.