Friday Open Thread ~ Quarantine Dreams


Have you been having more vivid dreams lately? You’re not alone. EARSHOT delves into the collective unconscious to find out what’s behind these ‘quarantine dreams’.

During our dream states, stress sends the brain on a trip. The neurobiological signals and reactions that produce dreams are similar to those triggered by psychedelic drugs.


Since the Covid-19 crisis began, people around the world have reported that their dreams are more vivid and bizarre than usual: from nightmares about overcrowded trains or Donald Trump sneezing on them, to wistful dreams about their favourite restaurant. What can we learn from this strange new phenomenon?

Guests: Dr Kelly Bulkeley, psychologist of religion specializing in dream research, and the director of the Sleep and Dream Database ~ Dr Deirdre Barrett, author of The Committee of Sleep as well as a Harvard dream researcher. Her new book is Pandemic Dreams ~ Zara Haghpanah-Shirwan is one of the founders of Lockdown Dreams ~ Dr Julia Lockheart, artist and Professor Mark Blagrove, sleep scientist set up and run Dreams ID. Through the lockdown they’ve run online dream groups. inviting frontline and key workers to discuss a recent or important dream, while Julia creates an artwork that captures the dream.

Quarantine Dreams

Friday Open Thread ~ "What are you Watching?" edition ~ Yuletide films


A story inspired by the Christmas truce of 1914, a miraculous occurrence of peace for two days when men laid down their arms, came out of their trenches, and celebrated the holiday together. The aftermath depicted in the film is also part of history. The German, French, and Scottish commanders were severely reprimanded for "fraternization with the enemy." New troops were brought in to replace those who had been tainted by the experience. After all, war depends upon seeing the other side as subhuman.

In a disturbing scene, Palmer, the Anglican priest, is harshly criticized by his bishop, who argues that Jesus did not come to bring peace but a sword. Later, we see the bishop telling the new recruits that they are in a crusade, a holy war for freedom. Hearing these words and realizing how far this view is from the teachings of Jesus, Palmer takes off his cross, leaves it on a bedpost, and walks away.

Friday Open Thread ~ What are you listening to?" edition ~ Woodsongs Old Time Radio Hour


From Lexinton, Kentucky ....

“You don’t have to be famous … you just have to be Good!

WoodSongs is an ALL VOLUNTEER live audience celebration of grassroots music and the artists who make it. The show airs on 537 radio stations from Australia to Dublin, Ireland, on American Forces Radio Network twice each weekend in 177 nations, every military base and US Naval ship in the world, coast-to-coast in millions of TV homes as a public TV series. Now Friday and Wednesday’s on RFD-TV America’s Most Important Rural Network. WoodSongs is produced 44 Mondays a year.

Friday Open Thread ~ "What are you reading?" edition ~ opening paragraphs


As with pubs and shoes, you know you’re reading a great book from the second you’re inside it.

In the right hands, a novel’s beginning alone can make you feel like you’ve just fallen into a fast-flowing river, snatched away from reality and hurtled downhill. They range from hard-boiled pulp fiction to classics to, well, The Bible; the only thing they have in common is that they’re so good it’s impossible not to read on.

Friday Open Thread ~ "What are you reading?" edition ~ Canticle for Liebowitz


Walter M. Miller Jr served as a radio operator and gunner in the US Army Air Corps during the Second World War. He was involved in the assault on the Benedictine abbey at Monte Cassino, the experience of which later led him to write his classic SF novel A Canticle For Leibowitz. Walter M. Miller Jr died in 2006.

Miller's 1959 novel follows the Monks of the Order of St. Leibowitz as they attempt to preserve the remnants of civilization after a nuclear war.

Friday Open Thread ~ "What are you reading?" edition ~ Debris

When Sarah’s mother, Penny, got sick four years into our marriage, we decided to move back to Mississippi, considering it penance for the sins of our youth. We signed a lease on a house, a white one-story on the historical register with a wraparound porch and angels, stars, and the moon painted on the transom above the front door.

Friday Open Thread: What are you reading? ~ Dave Zirin


Dave Zirin, born 1974, is an American political sportswriter. He is the sports editor for The Nation, a weekly progressive magazine dedicated to politics and culture, and writes a blog named Edge of Sports: the weekly sports column by Dave Zirin.

Dave Zirin, "Protocols exist to protect players from themselves and - during a pandemic -from each other."

Friday Open Thread: "What are you reading?" edition. ~ Belden C. Lane


"We are surrounded by a world that talks, but we don't listen."
"We are part of a community engaged in a vast conversation, but we deny our role in it."

In the face of climate change, species loss, and vast environmental destruction, the ability to stand in the flow of the great conversation of all creatures and the earth can feel utterly lost to the human race. But Belden C. Lane suggests that it can and must be recovered, not only for the sake of endangered species and the well-being of at-risk communities, but for the survival of the world itself.

The Great Conversation is Lane's multi-faceted treatise on a spiritually centered environmentalism. At the core is a belief in the power of the natural world to act as teacher. In a series of personal anecdotes, Lane pairs his own experiences in the wild with the writings of saints and sages from a wide range of religious traditions. A night in a Missourian cave brings to mind the Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius of Loyola; the canyons of southern Utah elicit a response from the Chinese philosopher Laozi; 500,000 migrating sandhill cranes rest in Nebraska and evoke the Sufi poet Farid ud-Din Attar. With each chapter, the humility of spiritual masters through the ages melds with the author's encounters with natural teachers to offer guidance for entering once more into a conversation with the world.

"We need that wild country…even if we never do more than drive to its edge and look in. For it can be…a part of the geography of hope."

-- Wallace Stegner on sacred places

More below the fold ...

Friday Open Thread: "What are you reading?" edition. ~ 19 Women for the 19th Amendment


19 Women for the 19th Amendment

To honor the 100th anniversary of the U.S ratification of the 19th Amendment — which guaranteed women the right to vote — we’ve curated 19 of our favorite Orion articles written by women.

The Land Has Memory by Priscilla Solis Ybarra and Cherríe Moraga (Winter 2019)

A discussion on Latinx identity and intersectional environmentalism.

Eighteen more below the fold ....

Friday Open Thread ~ "What are you reading?" edition. Volume 5

The Coronavirus has nothing on Antebellum and Jim Crow south.

This was America: Thousands of white families, including men, women, and children, standing for hours to watch Black Americans be dismembered or burned alive for such crimes as “acting white” and stealing .75 cents. In this environment, Black citizens are not allowed to walk too tall, speak too confidently, create art uninhibitedly, or say who cannot speak abuses at their children.

Over the course of 6 decades, more than 6 million people fled the insanity of Jim Crow for their lives and their sanity during a period known as The Great Migration. This week’s book follows the story of three strangers, all making their way North, searching for the warmth of other suns.

Friday Open Thread ~ "What are you reading?" edition. Volume 4


Today's open thread features the work of my favorite poet.



Martín Espada was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1957. He has published almost twenty books as a poet, editor, essayist and translator. His latest collection of poems from Norton is called Vivas to Those Who Have Failed (2016). Other books of poems include The Trouble Ball (2011), The Republic of Poetry (2006), Alabanza (2003), A Mayan Astronomer in Hell’s Kitchen (2000), Imagine the Angels of Bread (1996), City of Coughing and Dead Radiators (1993) and Rebellion is the Circle of a Lover’s Hands (1990). His many honors include the 2018 Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize, the Shelley Memorial Award, the Robert Creeley Award, the National Hispanic Cultural Center Literary Award, an American Book Award, an Academy of American Poets Fellowship, the PEN/Revson Fellowship and a Guggenheim Fellowship. The Republic of Poetry was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. The title poem of his collection Alabanza, about 9/11, has been widely anthologized and performed. His book of essays, Zapata’s Disciple (1998), was banned in Tucson as part of the Mexican-American Studies Program outlawed by the state of Arizona, and has been issued in a new edition by Northwestern University Press. A former tenant lawyer in Greater Boston’s Latino community, Espada is a professor of English at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst.