U.S. Intellectual History Blog

Lacy’s Open Thread

A few unexpected book review arrivals, as well as some family summer sickness (it always _feels_ worse in the summer, yes?), have taken me off my game plan for today. Originally I had hoped to post Part IIIb of my series on common sense and M.J. Adler (last post here). It’s still coming, next Thursday probably, but just not today.

Since necessity is the mother of invention (i.e. I have nothing substantial to put up), let’s try something new: an open thread. I’ll call it “Lacy’s Open Thread” to personalize the effort—so you won’t confuse it with Ta-Nehisi Coates’ “Lost Battalion” series at his Atlantic blog (an effort that is clearly inspired me–hence the shout out).

To further personalize this post, here are a few conversation seeds:

1. Check out Nicholas Carr’s reflections on Marshall McLuhan, here and here. I find Carr to be one of the most fascinating writers on the intersection of cognitive ability (or disability) and technology.

2. Here’s an entry by Salon’s Michael Lind in the “American exceptionalism” discussion.

3. Here’s a Bookforum Omnivore blog entry on the intellectual status of the Left (in the world and in America).

At this point long-time readers may be wondering what is the difference between my “open thread” offering and my “light reading” series. First, I haven’t actually read everything I’ve linked above (except the first McLuhan entry). Second, feel free to dismiss my seeds to talk about whatever you want.

So, what’s on your mind? Something from the past, or the present? Historiography? The debt crisis? The heat wave? Your writing malaise? Boy/girl troubles? Chef Ramsey? Vacation planning?

I’m also open to a meta-level conversation on whether you think an “open thread” is a good or bad idea for USIH (e.g. starting it midsummer might be a bad idea, even if the overall notion is fine).

Take it away… – TL

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Note: Here’s a shameless, self-serving plug—If you havent’ joined S-USIH, what are you waiting for? Send us your info and a check. At this point you may be asking what’s in it for you? A newsletter (forthcoming)! Comradery! Pride! Partial entry into the USIH conference (participants must be S-USIH members). What else could you want?

9 Thoughts on this Post

  1. Looking up “comradery” informs me that it is in fact a legitimate variant of “camaraderie.” Who knew?

  2. Varad: It’s funny that you mention it, because I too had to look up the word. I had felt unsure of the “-ie” option. I guess I’ve seen both spellings in my reading career, but hadn’t written the word enough to feel secure one way or the other. – TL

  3. I’m always embarrassed by the range of my ignorance: who is Chef Ramsey?

    Alas, my last vacation was to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary for a few days in Cambria seven years ago and circumstances don’t look promising for another one anytime soon: work and familial obligations. But as I live in city that people around the world (especially Europe) visit on vacation I should not complain.

  4. Patrick: Actually, I misspelled Chef Gordon Rams-a-y’s name (more here). There’s no need to be embarrassed by not knowing who he is. One of my guilty pleasures is watching his shows on—gulp—Fox. I don’t like Hell’s Kitchen as much as Master Chef, but I’ll watch either—sadly. You live in L.A., yes—or London? Either way, you’re in a similar situation as I (and my family) was in Chicago. Then again, my parents hated “the big city,” so I always had to go to them for visits. – TL

  5. Thanks!

    We live in Santa Barbara, although the first twenty-some years of my life were spent in Mundelein, Illinois; Irving, Texas; and Northridge, California.

    My guilty pleasures: The Closer, (from across the pond) As Time Goes By, and reruns of Will & Grace and The New Adventures of the Old Christine. Diane watches a few of the cooking shows, but as I’m a vegan, it’s hard to watch all this stuff being cooked that I can’t eat! I also have an inordinate fondness for The Rockford Files, several years of which we purchased on DVDs.

  6. My vices: South Park, NBC’s Thursday night lineup, Gordon Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares, Pawn Stars, Daily Show, Colbert Report, and ALWAYS Morning Joe. Just to name a few.

  7. I too enjoy Colbert Report but for some reason only see it on occasion. Evenings I miss most of the TV stuff on the networks because I typically don’t watch anything until after midnight (hence the reruns!), although I’ve made an exception for The Closer and, on the weekends, As Time Goes By. I know of the Thursday night lineup by reputation and my wife agrees with your choice there!

  8. Tim,
    My comment picks up on two of your threads: the heat wave and books I haven’t yet read! Check out Bernard Mergen, “Weather Matters: An American Cultural History since 1900” (University Press of Kansas).

    [Full disclosure: this book is in the same series where my own book on intercollegiate football and higher education in the Progressive Era should be appearing in March 2012.]

    Also, as a transplanted central Illinoisan currently living in the Deep South, I would like to point out that I have gone from thinking of the current weather as a “heat wave” to thinking of it as “summer.” To make this last point relevant to the blog, I will semi-seriously suggest that someone needs to do a study on the effects of migration and climate upon American mentalities (or shall we say mental topographies?). For example, my own theory is that people who move from colder climates to warmer ones tend not to like to pay taxes, partly because bigger government seems less necessary in places without snow or bone-chillingly cold and drawn-out winters. You don’t need to buy snow plows (Exhibit A: City of Atlanta), and in the long, hot summers, you just want to get as far away from other people as possible. I suppose this could make for an interesting analysis of post-1945 Sun Belt politics.

  9. Brian: Mergen’s *Weather Matters* sounds really interesting. Cool stuff. And I like your mental topographies idea. Looks like that needs to be on your “future project list” (mine is already too long—like 20 entries). – TL

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