Open Thread for Friday, November 17, 2023

It would be cool if a great WRITER won it sometime…

I struggled a bit coming up with a full list for that last Open Thread. But yesterday morning, I had enough topics before I’d even gotten through The Washington Post. Unfortunately, I had zero time for blogging.

Some things that have come up are worth separate posts, and I hope I get to them soon. In the meantime, here are some quicker takes:

  1. Haley walks back declaration that all social media users must be verified — I don’t so much have a comment on what she said specifically in this case (she had said all people should be required to verify their identities to use social media platforms), although she’s right to be concerned about the problems with anonymity. But I post this because I think it’s interesting — and I suppose, a promising development, because it shows how she’s matured — that Nikki is worried these days about people acting irresponsibly on social media. Remember how she was on Facebook her first term as governor? And unfortunately, she wasn’t anonymous.
  2. Kevin Hart to receive Mark Twain Prize in March at Kennedy Center — OK, great. He’s a very funny guy. But I look at him and others who’ve won it over the years — Jonathan Winters, Carl Reiner, Whoopi Goldberg, Bob Newhart, Steve Martin, Will Ferrell, Bill Murray, Billy Crystal, to name a few — and I think the same thing: We’ve got some brilliant comedians here, but while Twain was our greatest humorist, wasn’t he an even greater writer? And by “writer,” I don’t mean someone who writes for a comedy show (like Tina Fey, another hilarious winner), but a writer. Ernest Hemingway didn’t say, “Mark Twain was a great comic;” he said, “all modern American literature comes from one book by Mark Twain called Huckleberry Finn.” And he was right.
  3. After release of ethics report, Santos says he won’t seek reelection — Yeah, but he didn’t resign, which is what he needs to do. America has endured this farce long enough.
  4. Canada’s most prominent Indigenous icon might not be Indigenous — To translate from the Identity Politics phraseology, the news is that apparently, Buffy Sainte-Marie ain’t Pocahontas, either. I guess the kid who wrote the headline didn’t know who she was, and assumes readers wouldn’t, either. Which is kind of silly, but never mind. This is a shocker. Elizabeth Warren was one thing; this is another entirely.
  5. Do you prefer self-checkout? — I’m just curious. I saw this story in the NYT about the English grocery chain that’s replacing most of its self-checkout machines with actual humans, and it started with the statement, “When it comes to grocery shopping, there seem to be two kinds of people in this world: those who prefer self-checkout, and those who prefer interaction with a human.” Which are y’all?
  6. Tough choice, eh? — That’s just a setup for this very apt comparison I saw on Twitter:


21 thoughts on “Open Thread for Friday, November 17, 2023

  1. Barry

    I like self-checkout. I prefer it 95% of the time. But I do not go through any self checkout if I have more than about 12 items in my basket/buggy. At that point, I find the cashier is more helpful.

    But, I do try to be VERY careful to make sure I carefully scan each item to make sure I pay for it. This is a problem and there are people that work hard to steal a few items by not scanning everything. Criminals and jerks to be sure. My son works part time at Food Lion and he also says this is an issue.

    However, innocent mistakes can happen- and do happen- and people have been prosecuted for such things- sometimes well after they have checked out and went home.

    Clark Howard, on a recent podcast, discussed a problem he had.

    18:19 at the following link you can hear him discuss a real scary issue he faced at self checkout recently.

    Clark is a consumer expert/genius. He’s a brilliant guy and I love his advice on investing, financial matters, and even travel, hotels, and other things. He’s a multi-millionaire many times over but a generous soul and is very, very careful with his money. He’s a huge Sam’s Club and Costco shopper.

    Recently, he was at Costco and was having some problem with self-checkout. Worth 5 mins or so to listen….

    be careful.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      That story about the Booths grocery chain was brought to my attention recently by one of my daughters. It was brought back to me attention the day I posted it because I had been speaking with an instructor over at the Moore School, an Englishman who is expert in labor relations, about the recently concluded UAW and Hollywood strikes.

      We were talking about both settlements kicked the can down the road a bit on the revolutionary technological changes affecting those industries, and he mentioned something about how Singapore was trying to automate everything, such as having no waiters in restaurants.

      I said something like, “Well, at least one business in your home country is going the other way.” He wasn’t familiar with Booths (it’s a northern company, and I suppose he’s from the south), but he speculated that maybe their stores are in areas with a lot of senior patrons. He mentioned specifically widows and widowers who live alone and look forward to a chat with the person at checkout.

      Maybe. My own initial reaction was that maybe they’re some sort of niche provider, or higher-priced, that simply values person service very highly. But I dunno. I don’t think the story got into that.

      Whatever the reason, I was distressed to read that an American retailer from the opposite end of the spectrum was considering a similar move:

      But Booths isn’t alone in rethinking the automated revolution: In September, Wal-Mart told Insider that it would remove the lanes from a handful of stores, though it did not say why….

      That would be awful! As any regular Walmart shopper knows, 20 people can get through the self-serve line faster than one person can at a line with checkout.

      1. Barry

        my son works part time at Food Lion.

        Saturday he was working and told me that customers were coming in and removing the tags off of lower priced turkeys and using those tags in self checkout for larger turkeys that cost more money.

        This is upsetting for many reasons- one small one being his store has various big sales on their turkey products already. At this point, they are discounting them heavily anyway.

        This left the smaller turkeys without a price tag bar code on them, causing all sorts of problems for workers like my son when an honest customer tried to get their turkey scanned- because it didn’t have a price tag on it.

        Working there is teaching him some valuable lessons about human beings- and he’s learning them because the longer he works there, the more disturbing it gets to hear him talk about customers and the general public.

  2. bud

    6. Try this little experiment for one week. Pretend that your political views are100% neutral. You are indifferent about taxes, abortion, border security, military matters, etc. Have a Vulcan perform a Vulcan mind meld if necessary. If you can’t achieve a basic level of neutral thinking the rest of the experiment is useless. Next, watch every speech, press conference, interview and general rambling by Joe Biden. Concurrently watch everything Donald Trump says. Obviously it’s impossible to watch everything but for this experiment to be meaningful you must watch hours of unfiltered talking. After doing this exhausting exercise evaluate which man is more knowledgeable, coherent, normal in tone and is in general more in charge of his faculties. If you do this honestly and objectively it is almost 100% certain that Joe Biden will be the winner.

  3. Barry

    I am glad to see so many companies putting a stop to their advertising on Twitter.

    The new CEO, if she has an ounce of integrity, will resign. (she won’t)

    Elon Musk is a hate monger, conspiracy theorist who who promotes anti–Semitism and is anti Semitic himself

    I am glad I made the decision to deactivate my account several month ago. i have no regrets.

    I won’t support such an individual by using his platform.

    1. Doug Ross

      Media Matters faked their “research” into X add placement and Elon will be suing them into oblivion.

  4. Barry


    The Qanon “Shaman” who broke into the capitol and served about 15 months in prison (sentenced to 3.1 years after his felony conviction) has announced he will be running for Congress.

    He was on CNN this past weekend being interviewed and has been making the talk radio rounds. He was also discussed extensively today on Sirius radio’s POTUS channel. He has stated that he believes he could be an alien. His mom describes him as a “Patriot.”

    Apparently, he has a Conservative cult following that seems to be growing.

    Apparently, he is considered to have a decent chance to win in his Arizona district.

    Good luck to him.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      If you’re going to use “Conservative” that way, please put it in quotes.

      A leader of Q-Anon might lead people who CALL themselves “Conservative,” but not anyone whom the word would legitimately describe…

      1. Ken

        Chansley is, apparently, a libertarian. At least that’s the banner under which he intends to run.
        And since Libertarianism has been one of the core strands of modern American Movement Conservatism since the mid-20th century, that makes Chansley, who may do some kooky things and have some kooky notions, part of the conservative tribe.

        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          Which means he’s a classic liberal.

          And yep, the libertarians have been taking over “conservatism” since about the time it embraced Reagan.

          It’s all very confusing, and I think we should all stop using the terms. Even people who understand the words — which most don’t — use them in ways that would cause the proverbial visiting alien to scratch his head — if he has one.

          George Will — you know, the most prominent conservative pundit of the past 50 years — had a good column the other day trashing the conservative majority of the Supremes and praising the liberals. I liked his ending, but it points to the logical problem to which you refer:

          The court majority’s dereliction of duty regarding Johnson illustrates how the labels “liberal” and “conservative” can be inapposite in judicial contexts. The conservatives showed undue deference to government; the liberals correctly construed precedent and the Constitution’s original public meaning….

          So basically he’s equating conservatism with a sort of anti-government libertarianism. Or at least indicating some overlap. And there’s logic in it. A conservative has a tendency to want to leave things alone, rather than taking action to address a problem, either through government or any other mechanism.

          And yet, in a larger and more practical sense, I tend to define conservatism with identification with the established order, which means having deep respect or even reverence for a society’s fundamental institutions — such as the family, the church, and yes, the government.

          Those two ways of defining it will, in a large number of cases, conflict with each other. Which means we shouldn’t wield them in making simplistic generalizations about the two (and only two) teams in society, and which one we favor.

          Personally, I see myself as both a conservative and a liberal, and I see no conflict in that. They are not natural opposites, when fully understood….

          1. Ken

            “So basically he’s equating conservatism with a sort of anti-government libertarianism.”

            And he is correct in his characterization. Because a central impulse of American conservatism has been for some time now about limiting the government’s role in American life. And libertarianism has been a solid component of Movement Conservatism in the US since the 1930s. (See: The Conservative Intellectual Movement in America, by George Nash.) An individual can, of course, choose elements from this or that part of the American political spectrum, but the fact remains that limited government libertarianism has been an integral part of American conservatism for a long time. What’s more, conservatives do not automatically extend respect to institutions if those institutions — including government — do not espouse, promote and pursue the traditionalist goals they deem proper. In any case, conservatism is a theme with many variations. One of them happens to bear the name Jacob Chansley.

    2. Robert Amundson

      “Could be an Alien.” Not ALIEN alien or Hitchhiker’s Guide alien (42), but certainly lives in some sort of alien reality RIGHT? Congress will be blessed, and he could be “iconic.”

  5. Doug Ross

    Henry Kissinger has died. Good riddance.

    To quote Anthony Bourdain: “Once you’ve been to Cambodia, you’ll never stop wanting to beat Henry Kissinger to death with your bare hands.”

      1. Doug Ross

        Maybe put it on your list of things to consider after looking into the legal pot issue… I mean Hitler got the trains to run on time so we really need to assess his pros and cons.

        Sometimes the cons completely negate any pros regarding a person’s contribution to society. Kissinger’s counsel led to hundreds of thousands of innocent lives lost. No amount of good deeds makes that go away.

        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          Yep, so did Abraham Lincoln and Robert E. Lee. I’ve often reflected on the irony. Both men were considered paragons in their day — and of course, Lincoln still is. And Lincoln thought highly enough of Lee to offer him command of the U.S. Army.

          But their own respective forms of stubbornness — a righteous stubbornness, in Lincoln’s case — caused the bloodiest war in our history to drag on for four years. At the cost, as you mention, hundreds of thousands of lives. Lincoln had to fight a stubborn internal battle against factions in the Union who either sympathized with the South or simply wanted to let the South go. If anyone but Lee had been in command of the Army of Northern Virginia, the war would have been over relatively quickly — maybe even in the first year or so, had McClellan ever gotten off his duff…

          1. Doug Ross

            Soldiers aren’t and weren’t women and children. Burnt to a crisp by napalm… Bombed, strafed, raped… By American forces fighting an undeclared, unwinnable “war”. It opened the door for future invasions of countries that weren’t an actual threat to America.

              1. Brad Warthen Post author

                Of course, I don’t care in quite the same way you do. I don’t “care” in the sense of becoming adamantly opposed to the war because bad things happened in it, and demanding that every future potential conflict be viewed as though it were the same situation.

                For instance, I view the Civil War as a terrible tragedy. But it had to be fought. Lincoln wasn’t going to preserve the union and end slavery any other way…

                By the way… I just noticed that you said Vietnam (in which, of course, Kissinger did not start U.S. involvement) “opened the door” to foreign interventions by this country. You need to read more history. Vietnam was more like the end of that as a regular practice. Go back at least to the Spanish-American War…

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