Underrated Reasons to Be Thankful

964 points5
pkdpic4 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.

thowaway9591254 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.

pkdpic4 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.

2OEH8eoCRo04 days ago

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

major--neither3 days ago

yikes! glad you climbed back.

LiquidPolymer4 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.

chasil4 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.

kwertyoowiyop2 days ago

That actually does sound like fun! Live that dream!

igorkraw4 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

thegypsyking4 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.

mojuba4 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]


cafeoh4 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.

Aeolun4 days ago

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

kortilla4 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.

igorkraw4 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_zeros4 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.

aksss4 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.

igorkraw4 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.

mdp20214 days ago

Very grateful for your notification of the existence of (It also has RSS, though through an external provider)

I wanted to reciprocate revealing something along the lines, but apart from (which has a numeric approach instead of notional), I can only find the promising JunkChart, , and The Economist's Graphic Detail, , blogs.

Edit: the said branch of The Economist seems very promising: the latest article, "Just like modern humans, honeybees avoid each other amid plagues // They segregate behaviours in different parts of their hives to prevent parasites from spreading" as a stub shout heading reads «Social distan-sting». Thank you dear editor!

gjs2784 days ago

that will only increase prices for poor people

axiolite4 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.

ronbarr4 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.

someelephant4 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.

xpe4 days ago

It can be both. I would guess that most people, once they have satisfied their basic needs, begin to strive to help their kids, their friends, their community, and possibly even their country and/or world.

WalterBright4 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.

axiolite4 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.

WalterBright4 days ago

I created my own job by starting my own business, which I enjoyed a lot and it paid well.

kortilla4 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.

esyir4 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.

late2part4 days ago

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


quickthrower24 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.

WalterBright4 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.

dave1999x4 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"

WalterBright3 days ago

I've lived in Seattle since the 70s. I never saw tents until recently.

kortilla4 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.

WalterBright4 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.

xpe4 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.

WalterBright3 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.

xpe3 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 didn't assert that.

renjimen4 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.

WalterBright4 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.

adriand4 days ago
kiba4 days ago
maroonblazer4 days ago
arendtio2 days ago

Reducing that situation to a 'choice' is (from an analytical standpoint) just wrong, because the mechanics at work are a lot more complex.

In the end, you can say it is a choice, but what is a choice worth, if you don't know anything about preconditions (the knowledge, the impulse control, the education, the emotional point of reference, earlier experiences, etc). Not talking about how drugs affect your ability to choose and execute what you have chosen to do.

mysticmode4 days ago
xpe3 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?

boplicity4 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?

WalterBright4 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.

pininja4 days ago

When I hung out with a homeless guy in North Beach, SF for a good hour while he was painting his perspective on shelters was that the addicted folks were in shelters, and non-addicts that went to shelters were treated as if they were addicts. He felt rather de-humanized by the whole system and so he stays on the street.

I haven’t seen these videos yet, but I’m curious if they went to shelters or streets.

seanmcdirmid4 days ago

The drug addicts and alcoholics are much easier to find than the people down on their luck, who mostly are still functional and instead make up the more invisible portion of the homeless population. They are also the most easily helped by existing resources (easy cases that don’t involve rehab and can live independently).

alexanderdmitri4 days ago
boplicity4 days ago
WalterBright3 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_hacker44 days ago

Addiction is a choice. Classic HN.

_huayra_4 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"

pkdpic4 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.

human4 days ago

I don’t think you read the piece.

elzbardico4 days ago

I hear you man, I hear you

elil175 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)!

butwhywhyoh5 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!

matheusmoreira4 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!

amelius4 days ago

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

amelius5 days ago

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

In the future, be thankful with your wallet.

lisper4 days ago

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

blowski4 days ago

For a moment, I thought it was going to be an empty chocolate bar wrapper. I wonder how much better this actually is.

pfdietz4 days ago

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

pfdietz5 days ago

Yeast are not bacteria. They are eukaryotes.

dgb235 days ago

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

victorcharlie5 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? :)

HWR_144 days ago
bckr4 days ago
dgb234 days ago
dan_mctree4 days ago

>I believe that fungus are the most important life-form in this planet by far.

Would love to hear more about this!

matheusmoreira4 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.

CogitoCogito4 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.

sombremesa5 days ago

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

cyberpunk4 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! :}

quickthrower24 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.

PapaSpaceDelta4 days ago

I suppose that I have to put this: here. Many a true word…

cyberpunk4 days ago

Well, we certainly developed an effective preventative against malaria... And that's before we get to the ballmer peak [0], which I think many of us experienced at one point ;)


chronogram4 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_144 days ago

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

axiolite4 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.

bumby4 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

6gvONxR4sf7o4 days ago

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

rags2riches4 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.

dclowd99015 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.

TimTheTinker4 days ago

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

kwertyoowiyop4 days ago

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

— Benjamin Franklin

flatiron4 days ago
TimTheTinker4 days ago

Interesting, thanks!

Looks like he actually said something similar about wine though:

We hear of the conversion of water into wine at the marriage in Cana, as of a miracle. But this conversion is, through the goodness of God, made every day before our eyes. Behold the rain which descends from heaven upon our vineyards, and which incorporates itself with the grapes to be changed into wine; a constant proof that God loves us, and loves to see us happy! (from a 1779 letter from France to his friend André Morellet)

luckman2124 days ago

Never let the truth get in the way of a good story.

SubjectToChange5 days ago

Yeast is a type of fungus.

elil174 days ago

True lol thank you. Meant to say “microbe”

CogitoCogito4 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. :)

jchook4 days ago

Also yeast is used frequently in medical and biological scientific studies, and helps us learn more about the role of DNA, aging , and certain kinds of cancer.

adrian_mrd4 days ago

Thankful for marmite :)

cyberpunk4 days ago

Damn right. Vegemite isn't even shiny...

krisrm5 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.

borepop5 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.

Method54405 days ago

Prove it, you partisan hack. :)

kubb5 days ago

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

throwamon4 days ago

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

mgraczyk5 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.

wintermutestwin5 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.

k8sToGo4 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.

AlexCoventry4 days ago

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

cgriswald4 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.

wintermutestwin4 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.

lovecg4 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!

quickthrower24 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.

pkdpic4 days ago

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

mensetmanusman4 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’ :)

uwagar4 days ago

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

riazrizvi5 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.

jaclaz5 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.

pratik6615 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!"

mistermann4 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.

jaclaz4 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.

mistermann4 days ago

My interpretation of the intended meaning[1] of the author was to attempt to reproduce ~conditions conducive to producing this sort of effect.

If you reconsider the idea under this reframing, does it seem like more of a reasonable, "maybe worth a try"-class idea?

[1] where "such conditions" ~= "of the kind, character, quality, or extent"

watwut4 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.

notahacker4 days ago
mistermann4 days ago
Lamad1235 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!!

aduitsis5 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.

lr4444lr4 days ago

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

lnxg33k14 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

matbatt384 days ago

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

riazrizvi4 days ago

Slavery was widespread.

HWR_144 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.

LocalH5 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.

yourapostasy4 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.



gnulinux1 day ago

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

LocalH1 day 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".

tim3334 days ago

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

supernova87a4 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

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.

notfed4 days ago

Related: a TED talk by Steven Pinker about his analysis on whether the world is getting better or worse:

uwagar4 days ago

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

watwut4 days ago

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

pfdietz5 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.

pfdietz5 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_b1234 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. :)

kiba5 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.

lisper4 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.

autarch4 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.

lisper4 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.

autarch4 days ago

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

lisper4 days ago
lovecg4 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.

krosaen4 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!

maneesh4 days ago

Sucralose isn't aspartame...

krosaen4 days ago

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

autarch4 days ago

> 11. That it happens to be a game-theoretic equilibrium to have a near-equal sex ratio, although honestly, I have no idea what things would be like if that wasn’t the case and maybe it would be fine.

Well, let's think about if this would be fine.

If there were a 10:1 female to male ratio, I think we'd expect that a modern, "civilized" society would be reasonably fine for everyone. There'd probably a lot more polygamy and polyamory than we have now, but the polygamy wouldn't be the "old school backwoods fundamentalist" type, because women would be in charge of the government and effectively make all the laws. I wouldn't be surprised if there were also a requirement that all healthy males donate at the sperm bank once a month from the onset of puberty to age 50 or so. This doesn't seem too onerous.

If there were a 10:1 male to female ratio ... it would be a dystopian hellscape that's makes me shudder just to think of it. Women would have basically no rights. There'd be an incredibly high level of violence. Nearly everyone except the alpha males would be miserable a lot of the time.

Anyway, that's my idea of how things might be like in an extreme scenario. If we're talking 1.1:1 or 1.2:1 either way it might not be a big deal, though I'd expect men outnumbering women to get bad at a surprisingly low ratio, well before even 2:1.

Note that this isn't because I think men are inherently bad and women inherently good. It's simply that nearly everyone has a very strong genetic drive to reproduce. In the world with more women than men, everyone who wants to have a biological child can do so quite easily. In the opposite world, most men cannot do so, which means reproduction is a scarce resource. And we know what humans do in response to a very strong need for a scarce resource.

jiri4 days ago

Wow, this seems like our society needs to control this ratio in the future! We can have more peaceful society if we reduce "men count" to keep ratio above 1:1.1 (male:female) :-)

ateng4 days ago

This is done “accidentally” with major conflicts in history. Post WWII Soviet, for example. Lots more men than women got killed during the war and the post war male:female ratio is (from memory) around 1:1.15

bluishgreen4 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-delia4 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.

3234 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.

lovecg4 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”.

hardlianotion4 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-delia4 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.

hardlianotion14 hours ago

fair enough. But qualia is the feeling that you get. So presumably, if you were to see "extended red", it would not seem to you - unless you consulted your less fortunate fellow-beings, that there was anything special about this red ...

okl5 days ago

> Imagine a puddle waking up one morning and thinking, “This is an interesting world I find myself in, an interesting hole I find myself in, fits me rather neatly, doesn’t it? In fact it fits me staggeringly well, must have been made to have me in it!”

EForEndeavour5 days ago


> "This hole...! It was made for me!"

> A short horror manga story by Junji Ito. A boy named Owaki, and a girl, Yoshida, meet on Amigara Mountain, where an unsettling discovery has been made. An earthquake has created a huge fault in the mountain, and human-shaped holes are scattered across the face of the fault line. It soon becomes clear that the holes are "calling" to the people they are shaped like. So what happens when they enter the hole? Well, you can be sure that massive amounts of claustrophobia and Nightmare Fuel are involved.

mistermann4 days ago

Imagine if it actually was! That'd be pretty funny I think.

elwell4 days ago

It's all perspective.

jll295 days ago

I like this more unusual list of things to be grateful for, as it complements well what one is usually reminded to be grateful for. I'd like a more fundamental point there, though:

Gratefulness seems to be primarily a ternary operator: "<SOMEONE> is grateful to <SOMEONE> for <SOMETHING>." (like "a ? b : c" in C).

That second SOMEONE is the one that the being grateful is directed at, as they are responsible for things being the way they are. (Being grateful to anyone not causally connected to what one is grateful about seems most weird.)

Does that not mean that every grateful person acknowledges God's existence, at least implicitly?

vcxy5 days ago

> Does that not mean that every grateful person acknowledges God's existence, at least implicitly?

No. It means that the emotion of gratefulness isn't always a simple reduction to what you have there. Similarly, I think thwave who replied to you is also wrong. The emotion doesn't have to always follow such a simplified framework or be legibly caused. Of course it has to have some causal chain, but I think the legibility could be as opaque as "X is grateful for Y because Z suggested that maybe they should be" where Z didn't have anything to do with Y, Y doesn't necessarily do much for X, and so on. It doesn't make the emotion of gratefulness any less valid. I expect the ways the emotion could come about is varied enough to avoid these simplifications.

mensetmanusman4 days ago

Actually, it depends on if there is free will, which by definition is supernatural, else we have as much choice to be grateful as a rock.

thwave5 days ago

Unless gratefulness is actually binary (x is grateful for y), and directing this gratefulness towards someone is completely optional. (One might argue that the object of gratefulness is optional as well, and you can be grateful simpliciter, in an unqualified way. But to them I'd say there's an implied, general, object: the world, life, existence, or something like this.)

xpe3 days ago

> That second SOMEONE is the one that the being grateful is directed at, as they are responsible for things being the way they are. (Being grateful to anyone not causally connected to what one is grateful about seems most weird.)

It is also common to be grateful to <SOMEONE> for <ATTRIBUTE>. For example, I'm grateful to various people for who they are, by which I mean their worldview, their values, and their personality. Generally speaking, these aspects are not under full control of the individual -- they are the result of a complex interaction of their genetics, their experiences, their intentions, their opportunities, their choices, their habits, and much more.

mistermann4 days ago

> That second SOMEONE is the one that the being grateful is directed at, as they are responsible for things being the way they are. (Being grateful to anyone not causally connected to what one is grateful about seems most weird.)

How does one go about (accurately) decomposing causality in a system this complex and poorly understood though?

ssener20014 days ago

This is also good point. Maybe the following paragraph can help. "causes is the two things coming together or being together, which is called ‘association;’ they suppose the two things cause one another. Also, since the non-existence of one thing is the cause of a bounty’s non-existence, they suppose that the thing’s existence is also the cause of the bounty’s existence. They offer their thanks and gratitude to the thing and fall into error. For a bounty’s existence results from all the bounty’s conditions and preliminaries. Whereas the bounty’s non-existence occurs through the non-existence of only a single condition.

For example, someone who does not open the canal to water the garden is the reason and cause of the garden drying up and the non-existence of bounties. But the existence of the garden’s bounties is dependent on hundreds of conditions besides the man’s duty and the bounties come into being through dominical will and power, which are the true cause.

Yes, ‘association’ is one thing and the cause is another. You receive a bounty, but the intention of a person to bestow it on you was the ‘associate’ of the bounty, not the cause. The cause was divine mercy. If the man had not intended to give you the bounty, you would not have received it and it would have been the cause of the bounty’s non-existence. But in consequence of the above rule, the desire to bestow cannot be the cause of the bounty; it can only be one out of hundreds of conditions.... from meaning of Quran "

shrimp_emoji4 days ago

And a system founded on a complete misunderstanding of the ternary operator

xpe3 days ago

> Does that not mean that every grateful person acknowledges God's existence, at least implicitly?

I'm not following.

skim_milk4 days ago

>25. That evolution happened to settle on this trick of “love” to serve the interests of evolution rather than, like, causing us to feel like we’re being burned alive every time we don’t find mates or feed our kids or whatever

I liked the article but this strikes me as strange because this is clearly not the same for everyone. Depending on who you ask there's a sizeable population of people who, because of environment and genetics, cannot focus on the "love" parts of relationships and are predisposed to focus on fears of abandonment etc to stay in relationships without lots of help and drugs.

Be happy you got a decent dice roll if you regularly feel positive about your relationships, triply so if this "positive affect" guides the majority your life decisions!

capnahab5 days ago

I am thankful haemoglobin can carry so much oxygen without the iron in it turning to rust. Otherwise we wouldnt be able to breathe. Well described here,and i have no affiliation

lnxg33k14 days ago

I'm grateful to have been born in the good part of the world which allows me to be grateful that we're allowed to sustain our lifestyles thanks to the exploitation of others, and I'm not the exploited one

cyberpunk4 days ago

Yaay! Me too. Wait.. :/

wholinator24 days ago

Im thankful for the miracle of modern medicine which has allowed my mother to see so much more of my life than otherwise would've been possible. And though there are many bad things that have led to the situation, the good things still exist also. The extension of the human life may seem strange or counterintuitively painful at the large scale but for the individual human/family is the most important thing about our modern existence.

dheera5 days ago

> That the Earth hasn’t recently been hit by a solar flare as powerful as the 1859 Carrington event

Is anyone thinking about what to do? It's only a matter of time before we have another flare 2X or 3X the magnitude of the Carrington event.

dclowd99015 days ago

If it really would set power lines alight, there isn’t a hell of a lot you can do aside from going off the grid and having a small warehouse full of electrical wiring.

Emergency and catastrophe planning has to happen at the national level. I would like to see more leaders (especially these days) come into office with ideas about how to recover from catastrophic events quickly.

mistermann4 days ago

> Emergency and catastrophe planning has to happen at the national level. I would like to see more leaders (especially these days) come into office with ideas about how to recover from catastrophic events quickly.

Me too. I'm hoping we'll get lucky and a relatively small-scale catastrophic event will occur, demonstrating to us how ill prepared we are both materially and socially/culturally/cognitively/etc, and that lesson will provide the incentive for us to launch a serious project to get our act cleaned up.

And in the event that no political leaders rise to the occasion, I am hoping that normal civilians realize there is a problem and begin seriously discussing the risks we are running, perhaps eventually leading to some sort of a plan that our leaders do not have the ability to formulate, or perhaps even realize we need.

3234 days ago

> I'm hoping we'll get lucky and a relatively small-scale catastrophic event will occur ... and that lesson will provide the incentive for us to launch a serious project to get our act cleaned up.

The current pandemic makes me pessimistic regarding this. There is basically no wake up and preparations for a 10%+ mortality virus. And that without discussing where the virus came from...

dheera5 days ago

By what mechanism do they set power lines on fire in a way that it wouldn't set the lines in my house on fire? Is it the power lines themselves or is it just vicious currents being induced in the lines that cause devices plugged on the other end of the power lines to go up in smoke?

If the grid just shut off power for 24 hours until the CME passed would that solve the problem?

I can easily go 24 hours without power, but not months.

3234 days ago

My understanding is that the flare will induce currents in the sub-station transformers, and this is the big problem. Not sure if disconnecting them helps to prevent damage.

bobsmooth4 days ago

Hopefully our satellites are there to detect it and hopefully the world reacts quick enough to shut down the power grid. Would still be horrible, but there are mitigations.

matbatt384 days ago

Most items are speculative, subjective or even historically inaccurate.

notreallyserio4 days ago

Maybe that's why I found this article kind of weird or off-putting. A lot of these things, if they happened or didn't happen, would have meant I wouldn't be alive and thus I wouldn't know to be unhappy about it.

latortuga4 days ago

Many things we are traditionally thankful fit the same criteria. I'm thankful for my business partner who I may never have met under different circumstances. Just because something could not have been, doesn't mean you can't be thankful it did.

alexanderdmitri4 days ago

Thankfulness as an end is not necessarily valuable or positive. I think the associated feeling does little to the make the world a better place, I put it in the same category as remorse.

Just as remorse should lead to rectifying action, thankfulness should lead to reciprocal action to provide objective value.

What's interesting is the impetus between internal perception and outward action both share is a sense of indebtedness. Thankfulness becomes a passive accumulation of debt in this lens, whereas remorse casts our hero in a more active role.

I think also actions spawned from thankfulness will be more comedic [dynamic] in nature and whereas those from remorse will tend toward the tragic [static]. The efficacy of either approach will reflect the constraints of the systems they are acting within and how well conceived the individual's solution is.

Not sure where I'm going with this. Spitballing, not preaching ...

polishdude204 days ago

I think thankfulness is more of a tool to be used to counter act nihilism. That's why it can be useful. not on its own, but as a buttress against despair.

alexanderdmitri4 days ago

I think this very good point. There is an undeniably good vibe to it. Maybe something akin to a general faith?

bobsmooth4 days ago

>Thankfulness as an end is not necessarily valuable or positive.

I strongly disagree. I moved to a new city and the experience allowed me to truly appropriate all the things I have. My living situation only improved slightly but being thankful has massively improved my mental health.

exolymph4 days ago

> Thankfulness as an end is not necessarily valuable or positive.

Yes it is; it makes me feel good.

alexanderdmitri4 days ago

If the inherent value is solipsistic and self-justifying, then it is more likely to be detrimental to the overall system. This would make it a net negative.

ldehaan5 days ago

I'm thankful for my kiddos, single dad full time for years and after the alternative i wouldn't have it any other way. I've got a shock of white now because of them though :D I couldn't be more thankful. And I'm gonna stay single until they grow up so they know beyond a doubt how important they are.

esarbe4 days ago

Hot shower in the morning.

Think about it; how many of your ancestors did have the option of having a hot shower every morning. Think about the labor involved!

mrtnmcc5 days ago

"Oh, and also that the universe exists at all"

That's the one to keep coming back to. Could've been nothin.

3234 days ago

Some, like Stephen Wolfram, say that the universe must exists, that non-existance is not possible.

AnIdiotOnTheNet5 days ago

On the other hand, nothingness has no cause or means for suffering.

a_wild_dandan4 days ago

Which comes back to #19:

> That even if, as most scientific-minded people seem to assume, there is no afterlife, that’s not ideal, but is much better than other possibilities like, say, being tortured for eternity.

Like, we could all be a bunch of Boltzmann brains[1] popping into existence in an empty universe, writhing with unimaginable pain in every pseudo-neuron of our temporary brains. But it's not like that, at least yet. Which is pretty cool.


saltyfamiliar4 days ago

There is no "we" that could be like that if it's boltzmann brains all the way down. It could very well be mostly unimaginable agony that exists, it's just that the temporary boltzmann configuration of "posting a thought on HN as a human with human memories" happens to not be a part of that.

kwertyoowiyop4 days ago

I’m thankful for every HN user and moderator who helps remove political or mean comments.

a_wild_dandan4 days ago

I'm thankful that the freak accident of multicellular life happened, possibly once ever, billions of years ago.[1] The near impossibility of that momentous event happening could be The Great Filter that explains the Fermi Paradox.[2] Thanks for being here, fellow multicellular friends.

[1] (Start at 2:15)


5faulker4 days ago

When we understand that life is an opportunity rather than a given, it really changes our perspective on life.

arduinomancer4 days ago

#5 is actually pretty amazing if you think about it

If zero-calorie sweeteners didn't exist I feel like we would view discovering one as a holy grail/miracle drug

I bet a ton of obesity has been prevented just due to diet soda

Imagine if the same thing existed for carbs

tejohnso4 days ago

I wonder why #5 singles out aspartame though.

sm4rk04 days ago

That's really weird. I'm not thankful for aspartame or other sweeteners, and even less thankful for corrupt food agencies approving them. Refined sugars aren't healthy, but aspartame isn't a solution. In my household, a kilogram of sugar lasts for months if not a year. Yes, we do buy food with added sugar, but always avoid artificial sweeteners, except when they are unavoidable in drugs or food supplements. I'm 192cm 75kg in early 40s and just occasionally ride a bike or take a walk.

#5 is like: I'm thankful that you can smoke a cigarette and not die immediatelly of it.

arduinomancer4 days ago

What science are you basing that on?

bricss4 days ago
sm4rk03 days ago

I'm basing it on common sense: don't take anything artificial if you don't have to.

The same science claimed that DDT is safe, eating sugar is good, mRNA vaccines are safe, etc.

bobsmooth4 days ago

Because its the most famous/infamous and is the most studied.

hasmanean4 days ago

Was this article written by a shill for aspartame?

They just threw it in there as something to be thankful to for, right after the sun, the earth, nature etc.

jaqalopes4 days ago

This blogger (whom I like don't get me wrong) is a health crank who has written before about the health harms of sugar and how aspartame is comparatively not as bad. It's part of his beat, if you will.

blackbear_5 days ago

I actually wondered why the industrial revolution didn't happen in China, great to see one possible explanation menioned in the article [1].

Does anybody know other theories about this?


nine_zeros5 days ago

Armchair philosopher - From my reading, it appears that the corporation structure really took stronghold in Europe, giving huge incentives to tinkers and risk takers.

That, and the collapse of Dutch East India outposts to British East India company opened up access to new trade. Resources from the new world also jumpstarted the process. It was the perfect combo of corporate incentives and unrestricted access to global resources that propelled people to wealthier lives and thus, higher level of productivity (you can spend years researching on steam engines if you don't have to spend your life farming). This is exactly the state of America since after WW2, if you were to compare.

In comparison, China was not handed any colonies, lacked the corporation structure and was caught up in dynastic infighting. There was no new world to extract resources from and almost certainly wasn't united the way it is today.

No systemic incentive structure and inability to access global resources left people in poverty or produced little in the way of innovation.

_hao5 days ago

There's a very good book that goes into it (and other things) by Ian Morris -

mwcampbell5 days ago

I assume the intent of that item is to be thankful that the industrial revolution happened at all, not that it happened in England specifically.

andi9995 days ago

Personal opinion: same reason why it didn't take off in ancient Greece (steam engine was invented back then) , no shortage of cheap labor.

JackFr5 days ago

There’s an argument to be made that the Black Death broke Europe (or especially Britain) out of a local minimum, by killing off labor. This reduced the necessary rate of return to physical capital and innovation. (Why invest in an iron plow, when you can just set more serfs to the task with wooden ones?) and ultimately this planted the seeds of the industrial revolution.

rrss5 days ago

though Hero’s engine is a steam engine, it is practically useless as anything besides a curiosity and certainly could not have powered an industrial revolution

andi9995 days ago

Yes, but I am confident if there would have been demand, they would have improved on it. It can open temple doors so I do not think it is too far away from a useful machine.

cyberpunk4 days ago

I'd recommend guns germs and steel by Diamond if you're interested in such thoughts. He doesn't cover china, but the book is basically about this topic. Nice easy read, recommended if you've got time to kill over the holidays.

lenkite4 days ago

Same reason it didn't happen in the Gupta Empire in India

versale5 days ago

This is clearly an idealistic approach. A materialistic view is better explained in Fernand Braudel's "Civilization and Capitalism, 15th–18th Century".

achillesheels5 days ago

That even though we evolved as ruthless replication machines, we’ve somehow risen out of the muck and we currently find ourselves running cultural software that’s way out of sync with what game theory would dictate, and perhaps we can seize the moment and build a civilization that can tame the brutal dynamics that created us.

This. Our scientific understanding on how humans cooperate to not simply feed each other, but prosper with endless creative opportunities of cultivation, demonstrates we are at a tipping point to potentially permanently limit the recurrence of violence inter-generationally. Think of it as reversing unjust hereditary trauma. So many humans being born now see a path to their own prosperity, this century will be remembered as leaving the Planet of the Apes behind.

__s5 days ago


I feel quite the opposite. Game theory helps understand why people act, & it let's you reverse engineer what they really value, as opposed to what they claim to value

It's like saying physics has been conquered because airplanes should fall out of the sky. No, your existing notion was flawed, but reality didn't change

People don't act towards incentives because of game theory, it's that game theory models their incentives. If you're acting differently, it means you've built a different incentive system

This is important because it means game theory can be used to construct incentives to guide corporate behavior (ie we can avoid tragedy of the commons by forcing externalities to be accounted for, rather than left for the people), but pleas that corporations will act for the incentive of moral goodness is only a method to fool public debate into letting the tragedy go on. Because it's in the corporate interest to not pay for their externalities

Maybe we're getting at the same thing, & I'm just picking up too much of a "shed thy mathematical yolk" vibe

achillesheels2 days ago

I look at things from our universal cellular life substrate which ends up ordering ourselves to such civilized dynamics. That natural substance is still propelling ourselves, beyond contract laws - it is not up to profit motivation to end inter generational violence. If anything, there is profit motivation to keep being brutal! It requires simply the technological possibility - now becoming realized - to enlighten the human race on what is proper accordance with natural motion.

juanani5 days ago

I am grateful for the ignorant. I think we are heavily misguied yowards violence being the problem and not violence lead by greed. Greed leads to violence. We are just conditioned/tamed to believe what gets repeated 24/7 on the screen. I am grateful for the plug. I see we wont have a choice to unplug from our Utopic visionaries soon enough.

hunter2_5 days ago

If we have something like #2, would that debunk the idea that backing things up exclusively on magnetic media (HDD, tape) is sufficient for restoration? I've never found optical media to be particularly reliable, but it might be a decent hedge against a huge magnetic event.

mrleinad4 days ago

I know optical media deteriorates over time, so in order to be a hedge, you would need to record it over and over again periodically, preparing for an event you are not sure when it might come. Poses a problem with waste and needed resources.

AlbertCory4 days ago

Great article overall.

10 and 13 are somewhat contradictory.

10 posits "the hard problem of consciousness" and "for whatever reason we have phenomenal experiences" while:

13 says "That selfhood is possibly an illusion... and the idea that you are the same person you were yesterday is an illusion your brain-meat gives to you"

I happen to think 13 is closer to the truth. As we learn more about the brain, it will become more clear that "consciousness" is just a movie your brain puts on for you. Bats and dogs and dolphins watch different movies, but we cannot say they are "not conscious."

butwhywhyoh5 days ago

I can't tell if this article is tongue-in-cheek or not. These are all just excruciatingly detailed versions of "I'm thankful the human species came out on the positive side of a lot of dice rolls".

Just say you're happy to be alive and move on.

Mary-Jane5 days ago

> Due to some [reason], an overpopulation calamity hasn’t yet happened and we might coincidentally stabilize at a level that’s somewhat close to what maximizes average utility...

Given the birthrate trends in developed countries, it's more likely the population will peak and then decline as prosperity spreads. The cause isn't hard to discern - child labor laws - they turn children from potential assets into guaranteed liabilities.

A declining population will be a bad thing; our modern way of life is built on systems that depend on growth (from Wall Street to our tax structures to the various Social Security safety nets countries have in place); take that away and we will have real problems.

AtlasBarfed4 days ago

"12: That private life exists and that markets, while we all (some?) appreciate their power to allocate resources, don’t permeate every single part of life, that there are moments of beauty and grace that aren’t best understood as competition and harnessed selfishness."

Hackernews/Facebook in annoyed response: Um, we're WORKING ON IT. Sheesh, penetrating all aspects of off-time via social networks will have to wait for Meta.

swader9995 days ago

I'm happy that ice floats.

pfdietz5 days ago

And that the carbon 12 nucleus has that excited state at just the right energy to make the triple-alpha process work.

dclowd99015 days ago

Happier that water freezes at a pretty tolerable temperature and happens to be our main source of sustenance. Makes adding water ice to things a very refreshing experience!

jasonladuke03114 days ago

I wrote an essay about this for my AP Chem test in high school. I still remember this question almost 25 years later!

quickthrower24 days ago

Re #15 I watched a show about a boy who got infected with ecoli. The defence was plasma transfusion (I think) which was experimental at the time. He survived … barely. The bacteria tore through his body, made a hole in his stomach. The point is out sophisticated defence goes beyond the immune system into the knowledge, technology, science. Imagine what covid would be like without technology, governments, money, coordination. May have spread more slowly at the global level of course without technology but would be way more deadly.

decremental5 days ago

I'm thankful for the HN moderator dang.

omnicognate5 days ago

You'll not make me thankful for aspartame however hard you try. Some good ones there, though.

fnord775 days ago

I am thankful for sucralose.

tyleo5 days ago

Same. I have a sucralose energy drink every day after lunch. I generally don’t add sugar and buy low-sugar products. The joy this drink gives me sometimes feels like a drug trip.

Shameless plug:

randlet5 days ago

> The joy this drink gives me sometimes feels like a drug trip.

Caffeine is a drug so saying "it feels like" is rather understating it.

tyleo4 days ago

Agreed but while I drink and enjoy coffee, the equivalent caffeine from this drink somehow seems to pack more of a punch.

uep5 days ago
maneesh4 days ago

Make sure to focus on the aspartame section, which doesn't show the same insulin effects as other sweeteners

It is hard to understand how aspartame influences the gut microbiota because this NNS is rapidly hydrolyzed in the small intestine. In fact, even with the ingestion of very high doses of aspartame (>200 mg/kg), no aspartame is found in the blood because of its rapid breakdown (29).

swader9995 days ago

Honey and maple syrup.

npsimons4 days ago

Agave nectar.

swader9994 days ago

I will have to try this.

soheil4 days ago

I think it's important to be thankful only about stuff that are not descriptive but took some agency to make happen. To keep rehashing that we should be thankful that sun exists or that earth has a magnetic core to shield us against the nasty solar flares, etc. fall in the first category and devalue the idea of thankfulness. Because you wouldn't be here to talk about it otherwise.

So let's show thankfulness for things that took agency to make happen so we learn to do more of those things.

pyrrhotech4 days ago

I'm thankful we still live in a society with personal and economic liberty. Both those on the far left and the far right are trying to take those from us, and the center is vanishing as America becomes more polarized each cycle. I'm convinced one day in the future, we will no longer have the freedoms we enjoy today, so I live each day to the fullest knowing that nothing good lasts forever.

Findecanor4 days ago

I'm thankful for living in a time when there is modern medicine, in a country with modern healthcare, without which I would not be alive today.

BTW. If society does not prepare for the next Carrington Event, it will suffer greatly. Technology is great, but it would be stupid to create too hard dependencies on it. Also, there will be a next pandemic - as there always have.

dham4 days ago

> That large animals like humans seem to be able to develop sophisticated defenses against parasites that parasites can’t counter-adapt against, meaning that parasitism is way less of an issue for us than it is for smaller animals, which is good because parasites are bad.

The lack of parasites probably leads to most auto immune diseases in humans.

avl9994 days ago

citation needed

dham4 days ago

Basically after populations are treated for parasites (in 3rd world countries) the rate of autoimmune diseases goes up. It's thought that since the immune system has nothing to do, it starts attacking itself which makes sense from an evolutionary stand point.

endorphine4 days ago

I'm thankful for all the humans over the centuries, all over the Earth, that created music which I can experience, now, effortlessly. I'm thankful for all the strong feelings that that music awakes. Thank you everyone putting their heart out there through music.

huttongrabiel4 days ago

There's an interesting paper that touches on #2. From Assistant Professor Sangeetha Abdu Jyothi. Definitely worth a read.

pydry5 days ago

>That even though the turn humans made from hunter-gatherer bands into agriculture pretty clearly made life worse, it eventually led to the industrial revolution

Which also made life worse to begin with. Without the enclosure movement depriving peasants of their land and pushing them to work in the factories in horrendous conditions for pitiful pay it likely wouldnt have happened.

Though I'm pretty thankful for the workers' movement that followed that led to innovations like the weekend and criminalization of child labor.

okr5 days ago

I would like to see evidence, that people were pushed into the factories. I was under the impression, that many went into the factories, because working in agriculture was not easy, as machines were not common.

And once factories were there, humans improved working conditions there. While in agriculture, well, way more difficult to do, as the work had to be done.

helpfulmandrill5 days ago

Google "The Enclosures". In Britain people had their right to subsist off common land removed by Parliament[1].

You can argue that the move from agriculture to industry, from countryside to city, would have happened anyway. What is indisputable is that for many people, the possibility of subsisting in the ways they had before were systematically removed by the state (at the time under the complete control of the property-owning classes).


Aunche5 days ago

Would enclosures not have happened if industrialization didn't? IMO this was inevitable because peasants simply lost the leverage that they had received after the black plague. Countries like the US had no such laws, yet they all went through the same industrialization occurred all the same.

helpfulmandrill5 days ago

I don't know. Impossible to tell, I guess. I'm just pointing out that choice didn't come into it for many people. What choices they would have made had history gone differently, I can't say.

Whatever might, hypothetically have happened in another timeline, as a matter of historical fact it was not a peaceful, free-market process of people voting with their feet.

netcan5 days ago

The story is complex. There aren't really no "gimme evidence" answers to these kinds of issues. A lot of people over centuries in many countries give you a lot if stories.

One major factor was population growth. This was due to the coming of American crops (corn, potatoes, etc) and the green revolution (fertilizers, machinery, etc.).

Another major factor (say in Ireland, where I'm from) was a change in the social-political system. There was a shift from old the old lordship order to a more modern landlord order. Relationships (rights, obligations) between lords/landlords and the landed an unlanded peasantry... Today we might call it rural unemployment and/or a small farm debt crisis. The latter half of this change is known in Ireland as "the land wars."

There were also "pull" factors. These are more complicated, because they do involve choice. Cities offered a lot of hope. You might do very well in a city. Many did poorly though, and food/sanitation was often worse. A lot of the migration was (for example) adolescents sent to work as domestic servants... so thinking in terms of "homo economicus" is best tempered with some visualisations... say Oliver Twist.

Similar things happen today in developing economies. Rural unemployment and stagnation. Cities that offer shiny opportunities in a game with few winners and many losers. Hence urban slums, 80 hr workweeks, etc.

Working conditions in factories was also a 200+ year process. Unions played a big role. Politics played a big role. Revolutions and fear of revolutions played a big role. In Ireland, Soviet and pre-soviet revolutions were the threat that catalyzed land and labour reforma immediately before independence from the UK and after it. The Irish independence war was contemporary to the Russian Revolution, so the politics were naturally intertwined.

For the most part, material conditions for the poor were a lot worse in the cities for most of the industrial era(s). Education was better and people became more worldly in cities. Rural peasantry tends to be culturally stagnant by default. Marx, in his day, saw this migration as the preceding factor to revolution. He was snobbishly dismissive of peasants' ability to evolve culturally, so revolution had to wait until a generation or two was seasoned by city life.

hn_throwaway_995 days ago

In seeing what has recently happened in China, I would agree. A gigantic migration has occurred in the past few decades where Chinese peasants moved from rural areas to the cities to work in factories. I thought for a long time "Why would so many people do this? This factory conditions are quite horrible, or at least the definition of soul-crushing monotony.

I watched a pretty good documentary about this, and the answer pretty clearly seemed to be opportunity. It's kinda similar to how legions of people move to LA to be actors. 99% of them will be worse off for the experience, many of them much more so, but even the chance to escape the conditions of their situation is a powerful draw for a lot of people.

Aunche5 days ago

> 99% of them will be worse off for the experience, many of them much more so

Chinese migrant workers aren't comparable to aspiring LA actors. 99% of people aren't stupid or easily deluded by dreams. You don't decide to move into a factory because you think you'll become the next Andrew Carnegie. You do so you can send money to your family in case if the harvest isn't good or they need to see a doctor. People have it so good here that they have completely forgotten all the hardships of preindustrial life.

Turing_Machine5 days ago

> "Why would so many people do this? This factory conditions are quite horrible, or at least the definition of soul-crushing monotony.

Because, as horrible as the factory conditions might seem to modern eyes, they weren't, in general, as horrible as being an agricultural stoop labor peasant (either in the west in premodern or Victorian times, or in China today).

Serfs were running away to the cities way back in the Middle Ages, long before any Enclosure Acts.

The expected payoff wasn't nearly as low as it is for acting. While life in the cities wasn't a bed of roses by any means (deaths from infectious diseases were at a horrific level, to name just one downside), the one big advantage was that you no longer had a "master" or "lord of the manor" who essentially had the power of life and death over you. Yes, a factory might have a cruel foreman, and many did, but the workers were allowed to change jobs. Serfs didn't have that privilege.

helpfulmandrill5 days ago
watwut5 days ago

> Why would so many people do this? This factory conditions are quite horrible, or at least the definition of soul-crushing monotony.

Another part of the answer is that their lives in agriculture were not all that great either. Many of them could have moved back, but they did not, because as bad as this was, it was still better or comparable. The factories made them earn more money and regular money.

People tend to romanticize the agricultural or even hunters-gatherers lifestyle. In ideal conditions, it can be good. But conditions are not always ideal.

okr5 days ago

Opportunity, yes, it describes it pretty well.

I also have seen friends from east europe leaving their home countries for opportunity in the west, even when judging from my warm, cosy, settled place, i thought, that their jobs were crappy. But it was opportunity for them.

And now they also judge from their warm, cosy, settled place. and try to make working conditions better for for their fellows.

Veen5 days ago

It depends on your definition of "pushed" or "forced". People often migrated from country to city for economic reasons. It was the only way to make a living for many. Others simply wanted to make more money or take advantage of other opportunities. You might say economic circumstances forced them to give up agriculture for factory work.

okr5 days ago

I agree. Or as someone above said, it created opportunity.

pratik6615 days ago

Theres been some research in modern day Bangladesh that seems to suggest that a presence of a garment factory in a village (aka sweatshop to some people) is associated with higher educational attainment for women and school completion rates.

Basically, garment factory work requires some level of literacy and numeracy. Having a factory in your village which provides jobs and independence vs farm labor work provides people an incentive to complete a certain level of schooling.

mikewarot5 days ago

I was going to argue about the dangers of factory work, then I remembered just how dangerous a scythe can be. Work, in general, was a dangerous thing back then.

indymike5 days ago

I'm thankful that I was born in the late 20th century, in a country where working in a factory paid well, farming isn't done with slave labor, where wars are limited (unless you live where the war is) and my middle class standard of living and lifespan would be the envy of kings in the not so distant past. It's an amazing time to be alive, and so easy to see the negative. The truth is, for many of us, we're living a life that our ancestors couldn't imagine. Let's keep striving to make life better on earth for everyone.

koheripbal4 days ago

Hunter gatherers routinely starved to death, and had violent confrontations with other tribes. This is evidenced by the different propagation of Y chromosomes vs mitochondrial DNA, as well as other evidence.

It was not better. It was just different, and ultimately less safe than living in agricultural communities.

The unibomber's manifesto goes into a lot of detail on the merits of nativeist life, and many modern anarchists subscribe to this philosophy and co-opt it into a neo-socialist dogma, but it is entirely without scientific merit.

noisy_boy4 days ago

I am thankful for online bill payment. I remember my dad having to go and queue up for paying electricity and water bills every month - even when it was sweltering hot.

ElectronShak5 days ago

I'm thankful for the Internet, you wouldn't be reading this otherwise

flycaliguy5 days ago

I really like this idea of listing things to be thankful for. I might just start up a mega list in my house for my kids to contribute to. Maybe a binder? Something we can revisit together and contribute to.

blago4 days ago

Only 12 hours ago I was grateful the we hadn't been hit by another, even more dangerous, COVID variant but's that's back on the table now.

fnord775 days ago

how about: Ice is less dense than liquid water, so it floats. That means bodies of water don't freeze solid in the winter, which would have precluded life anywhere colder than the tropics.

TwinProduction5 days ago

Hahaha this article is a lot more meta than I thought it would be on a Thanksgiving morning.

Great article nometheless; it seems like we just got really, really lucky.

maxpaj4 days ago

Alternative title: “All the things that make it so that I can experience typing this into something we call a computer.”

agumonkey4 days ago

That rotten milk is edible and quite tasty AND that heated up again it becomes semi-fluid and even more delicious than before.

LAC-Tech4 days ago

Great now I'm terrified by how utterly screwed the world will be when another Carrington Event happens.

FloNeu1 day ago

I disagree with 14. Imho 'we' are implementing cruel measures by neglected and obsolete destructive systems like global unrestricted capitalism, causing a structural hunger problem and mass death in exploited/unprofitable regions.

WalterBright4 days ago

Every day you can wake up, put your feet on the ground and stand up, is a beautiful day.

danschumann4 days ago

Feelings wheel is the most underrated thing I have discovered this year.

makach4 days ago

Well that article made wonders with my preexisting depression

cmehdy4 days ago

If you are receptive to lists of gratitude, it is worth noting that one of the many tools of cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) is to try to keep a journal of everyday gratitudes[0] (something like "write 3 a day in a journal" works, but other things like open prompts about "what are you grateful for this week?" can also work). Plenty of other examples out there[1] can help too.

Not everybody will enjoy doing that or benefit from it, but CBT overall is proving itself to be very valuable for people suffering from clinical depression, and if that tool from the toolbox doesn't resonate with someone it's always possible to look at other tools[2] too.




moneywoes4 days ago

I’m thankful for Hacker News and this post

ChrisMarshallNY5 days ago

I really like that list!


zivkovicp5 days ago

Sometimes I think #1 could have gone either way, and that would still be OK. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

scubakid5 days ago

Not about to start being grateful for aspartame, sorry ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

that_guy_iain5 days ago

Why, what has it done to you?

scubakid5 days ago

Nothing concrete I can point to of course, I'm just wary of being actively grateful for it... it seems to me that some of the subtle and/or knock-on effects may not be fully understood, and there could also be better alternative sweeteners that didn't make this list.

that_guy_iain5 days ago

> it seems to me that some of the subtle and/or knock-on effects may not be fully understood

There have probably had hundreds of studies done by people who were actively trying to prove something and wrote that they fully believe that there are bad side effects yet not one states they proved something.

cheese_it4 days ago

I've found that aspartame gives me really bad insomnia. Almost every time this happens I'll go through what I ate that day and it's always something containing aspartame that was not in my normal diet. This is how I learned that those flavor packets that are mixed into water bottles and some zero-calorie flavorings used at coffee shops contain aspartame.

seba_dos15 days ago

> meaning that people with a sweet tooth can avoid the large, known harms of sugar with minimal exertion of willpower

Aspartame tastes so awful I can't see how that's going to make me thankful.

brink5 days ago

On top of it tasting bad, it gives me migraines. The only theory I have for why that is is that I'm allergic.

Kranar4 days ago

Another more plausible explanation is that it's psychological. It's common among many who believe aspartame is unhealthy that it gives them migraines or headaches, but in a double-blind study, every single person who self-reported adverse reactions to aspartame were unable to do so over the course of the study. On the other hand, those who claimed sensitivity rated very high on various psychological metrics such as perceived stress and anxiety:

This is not to say that you don't genuinely feel something and are just making it up, but that it's not a consequence of aspartame and is rooted in an entirely different phenomenon that you've associated with aspartame for one reason or another.

jturpin5 days ago

Diet sodas to me taste awful, but lately I've been putting a single packet of Equal in my coffee with some vanilla and it tastes great. Lord knows I can cut out the sugar wherever possible.

Lamad1235 days ago

0. That some HN commenters rush to call bullshit out when they detect a lot of it.

maceurt5 days ago

Not going to argue my point or bring up any real evidence because this guy didn't either, but Hunter Gatherers absolutely lived better lives than we do now and the amount of human beings who die to homocide or suicide is higher now than during that time period. This time period is hell, just look at suicide rates and mental illness rates. No other point in human existence has our life held as little meaning as it does now. And our biggest killer in the West happens to be a disease that has some of the worst comorbidites. Most people in the west are living their life in a inflammation, sleep deprived, vitamin defficient, hormonally disrupted brain fog.

I also don't think people realize how the suffering of lack of pleasure and of short excruciating pain like being eaten, is infinitely better than a lifetime of stress, deppression, and nihilism. Slavery to pleasure is the worst hell, and most of us are enslaved in one way or another.

p.s. False positivity doesn't do shit for your brain, it can actually cause harm. Even if it could do something good, you are basically just brainwashing yourself to have a less truthful understanding of the world. Joy is self-evident for Joyful people and doesn't require deceiptful mantras.