Open Thread and Link Farm, Goodbye to 2016 We Won’t Miss Ya Edition

Happy 2017, everyone! May it be better than 2016.

  1. Leia Organa: A Critical Obituary
  2. How Racists Are Made Into Unicorns – Medium
    I don’t agree with all of this – I think a more generous reading of Drum’s argument would be not that the majority definition is the “right” definition, but that there are multiple correct definitions of English words and phrases, including the phrase “white supremacy” – but I very much agree with the point that there’s enormous pressure to define the term “racist” so that no one can actually be said to be racist.
  3. When Men’s Rights Means Anti-Women, Everyone Loses | Noah Berlatsky on Patreon
  4. Copy Edit Tihs! – The New York Times
    This was fun – see if you can spot the grammatical errors in these quotes from recent Times stories.
  5. Revenge
    A post-election poem by e.c.c., that is apt to be more enjoyable for left-wing readers.
  6. Why Obamacare enrollees voted for Trump – Vox
    In short, many of them don’t believe that Trump or Republicans actually intend to get rid of Obamacare. That seems very unlikely to be true, but I hope they’re right.
  7. 120 kg model wins Argentine beauty pageant – BeautyPageants
  8. The most common words in Hillary Clinton’s speeches, in one chart – Vox
    She talked about employment, the economy, etc., much more than about identity politics. I’d be curious to see the same sort of chart done for Trump.
  9. Why Do Marvel’s Movies Look Kind of Ugly? (video essay) – YouTube
  10. Breitbart’s Milo Yiannopoulos Doubles Down On Harassing Transgender University Of Wisconsin Student
    And along similar lines: Milo Yiannopoulos: Never feel bad for mocking a transgendered person.. That the anti-SJWs have made this wart their hero says it all about how genuinely contemptible their movement is.
  11. Disability is Not the Bogeyman, Stop Using it as a Threat | crippledscholar
  12. Dollmaker investigated by police for suspected baby-selling
  13. Bask in the bracing unsentimentality of Vesna Vulovic, the only person to survive a 1972 plane crash.
  14. Obama’s Weak Defense of His Record on Drone Killings – The Atlantic
  15. Wisconsin’s Department of Natural Resources is now pretending not to know about climate change. | Grist
  16. The PFM-A5 v2.0, A 3D-Printed Paper Airplane Gun That Fires 120 Planes per Minute
    What I find coolest is that it’s not just shooting the paper airplanes; it’s folding them.
  17. House Republicans will ring in the new year with a plan to permanently cripple government
  18. Don’t forget that progressives have made remarkable strides – The Unit of Caring
  19. Do Women Date Assholes? A Study | Thing of Things
  20. What are the odds you’ll stop harassing trans kids? (Gender Analysis) | Gender Analysis
  21. Is any bit of positive fiscal impulse worth the money? | Jared Bernstein | On the Economy
  22. Science and race
  23. All I Want for Christmas Is to Get Out of Immigration Detention | American Civil Liberties Union
  24. After 10-year Legal Battle, a Victory for Undocumented Workers Injured on the Job | American Civil Liberties Union
  25. Fixing Bad Fatty Memes | Dances With Fat
  26. On The Baby It’s Cold Outside Discourse | Thing of Things
  27. Talking Points Memo editor Josh Marshall apparently accidentally tweeted out a porn video. Marshall is being a pretty good sport about it, or maybe trying to pass it off as a joke; some of the replies to his tweet are pretty hilarious.
  28. Blame the Bay Area housing crisis for the Ghost Ship fire.
  29. There is no good reason not to let felons in prison have voting rights.
  30. A video of tardigrade sex
  31. Why Uber Is Losing Money Faster Than Any Tech Company Ever
    Basically, they can’t both make money and pay drivers. This author argues that Uber’s only long-term route to profit is self-driving cars.
  32. Maybe God’s Word Wasn’t As Infallible As He Thought
  33. Voters Really Did Switch To Trump At The Last Minute | FiveThirtyEight
  34. Reuters: 3,000 Neighborhoods Have Higher Lead Levels Than Flint | Mother Jones
  35. Federal Court Upholds Dismissal of Deputy Clerk Who Refused to Process Same-Sex Marriage License – Art Leonard Observations – Art Leonard Observations
  36. Duterte: I Personally Killed Suspects To Show The Police How It Is Done | JONATHAN TURLEY
    So, see, it is possible to have a worse president than Trump.
  37. Attempts: Poem of the Day Year: Good Bones

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10 Responses to Open Thread and Link Farm, Goodbye to 2016 We Won’t Miss Ya Edition

  1. 1
    LTL FTC says:

    “How dare people use a definition of racism designed to implicate as few people as possible to make it easier to denigrate their political opponents,” said the man who uses a definition of racism designed to implicate as many people as possible to make it easier to denigrate his political opponents.

  2. 3
    Duncan says:

    Hement Mehta is cute, but damn he’s stupid. My fellow atheists are such an embarrassment to me sometimes.

    The “Science and race” link is painful too. The author seems to blame racism on religion, which is wrong for several reasons. The most notable is that historians think that racism became much more of a problem only after scientists invented biological concepts of race. (I think a similar case could be made about sexism and antigay bigotry. Consider, for example, the persistent hostility to women in scientific fields.) Contrary to the vaunted self-correcting nature of science, scientific racism persists no matter how often it’s discredited — and it is regularly discredited and debunked. You can blame that on many things, but not on religion. I very strongly recommend the book Racecraft by Karen E. Fields and Barbara J. Fields (Verso, 2012).

    The writer also associates racism with political conservatism. I haven’t thought so since I noticed some items on liberal blogs, particularly Tom Tomorrow’s some years ago, praising some liberal pundit who said that “race is as real as nappy hair.” Liberals usually police their speech somewhat better than conservatives do, that’s all, but they’re very fond of scientific racism.

  3. 4
    Ampersand says:

    The “Science and race” link is painful too. The author seems to blame racism on religion, which is wrong for several reasons.

    Is this in reference to “I’ve been trying to readjust religiously warped brains in the introductory biology class I teach with two whole lectures on creationism”? If so, I think you’re missreading it. He’s referring to creationism as something to blame on religion, not racism.

    The writer also associates racism with political conservatism.

    You seem to be suggesting that “racism is associated with political conservatism” and “a lot of liberals are racist” as contrary beliefs, but I don’t think they are. For example, although you can find racists in both parties, only one party is pursuing policies designed to make it less likely that Black people will vote. We can acknowledge the importance of that difference without having to pretend that no liberals are racist.

    I also think the generalization “liberals… they’re very fond of scientific racism” is probably unjustifiable as a general truth about liberals, although it’s certainly true of some liberals.

  4. 5
    Phil says:

    I take issue with the idea that Uber loses money because they have to “pay” drivers. For the most part, the drivers provide a service that the customers pay a fee for, and Uber takes a percentage of that fee. Uber has argued vehemently that their drivers are not employees.

  5. 6
    gin-and-whiskey says:

    Happy New Year! I was too bored to work for an hour, so….

    2. How Racists Are Made Into Unicorns – Medium

    This is the problem of generalization: As a rule, truly horrible things are rare; as a rule, relatively common things are not considered all that bad. The author is trying to flip back and forth between those two arguments, and doing a bad job. The “racism is everywhere in almost all white people, i.e. 70% of the country, and affects basically every transaction between every person of different races, or every person with the government, even on a subconscious level” position doesn’t jibe well on a gross level with the claim “individual issues of racism are horrendous problems which require our immediate action, and racism should be one of our primary issues of attention.”

    This also holds true across other areas: the term “climate issue” now unfortunately covers everything from “slash-and-burn 100,000 acres of rainforest” or “double the size of the Pacific trash heap” to “refusing to shop at your local farmer’s market” or “failing to track your carbon footprint” and the inclusion of the latter constantly draws attention away from the former. Many of my friends spend most of their time talking about local gleaned kale–and no time on the Pacific.

    Or with BLM, to stay on the race theme, it expanded from “unwarranted police killings” (very horrible, very rare, and very compelling); to “systemic bias” (much more common, not as horrible as killing people, and compelling to a smaller set of folks); all the way to “disrupting the Western-prescribed nuclear family structure requirement” or “granting state/local voting rights to undocumented folks” which changes have, unsurprisingly, weakened the movement’s appeal considerably.

    (This happens on the right as well, I am sure. But I don’t spend a ton of time reading much right wing stuff, much less joining right wing groups, so I don’t know a ton of specifics. One example I have repeatedly seen is the claim that the expansion of the church from “a focus on specifically worshipping jesus” to a generic goodness seems to now be associated with a decline in interest w/r/t church stuff. I don’t know for sure, though, since I’m as atheist as it gets.)

    Usually it seems like it’s the minority outgroup (who benefits from the term) who expands these terms, not the defending in-group. It’s a predictable move. But this is an losing strategy in the end.

    At first, when you expand the use of a term then you can get an advantage: the public distaste for the term will lag behind the change, so you can wield a powerful stick against those you dislike. Whether you’re accusing someone of socialism or racism or Anti-Semitism, it will sting. And it will work…. for a while.

    But eventually, public distaste will grow to mirror the reality. If it looks like “socialism” means “any opposition to Reaganomics,” or “racism” means “any opposition to any of the BLM platform issues,” or “antisemitism” means “disagreeing with Ariel Sharon,” then people will stop caring about the labels. If almost all my friends are socialist racist antisemites, who really cares?

    And the other side is that if you try to claim something is bad, horrible, extremely terrible, folks will deny it. And their denial will be upheld even if something is actually super racist: BECAUSE historical overuse of the term will have made everyone skeptical of the validity of any particular accusation. Once folks have seen the term used for things which they judge to be non-racist (opposing voting rights for non-citizens is a great example,) they will ignore any other claims by the person or group who used the term broadly.

    TL/DR: If you don’t want racism to be a unicorn, stop using the term to refer to every quadruped.

    (Based on that, a prediction: The use of “white supremacist” to refer to the roughly 100 million people who voted for Trump, and all of their friends and policies and appointees, will rapidly devalue the term so that nobody will really give a shit. But if the term calms down and is mostly used for the David Dukes of the world, it’ll maintain its sting.)

  6. 7
    nobody.really says:

    I hate to be an asshole–but I’m so good at it. And sometimes, it’s painfully easy–like now.

    If you look in Amp’s Twitter feed, you’ll see his cartoon “Our Choices.” I’ve been having precisely this discussion with various people.

    (I’m an Option One guy. Yeah, protest for the purpose of reassuring the vulnerable that we have each other’s backs. But let’s not make Trump the enemy–yet. His opinions are unformed; only his need for approval is constant. So let him know what he need to do to win our approval–and make the Establishment Republicans the villains.

    But that’s not what I wanted to talk about.)

    What you can’t see in Amp’s Twitter feed is “Our Choices–alternate ending.” It’s an extended version of the cartoon. It’s elegant and darkly gut-busting on a day when I could use a laugh. It was a perfect summation of the arguments I’ve been having with people.

    And…I can’t tell you more than that. As one of Amp’s Patreons, I’m like his Secrets Keeper–I get to learn stuff, but I can’t share it. But I can talk about how awesome it is. Hence the whole asshole thing. Neener, neener, etc.

    If you wanna see the cartoon–or if you just wanna support Amp–click on his Patreon thing in the upper right corner of this blog and kick in a little cash. It’s totally worth it.

    And heck, we’re all gonna need a few laughs in the coming years, right?

  7. 8
    Ruchama says:

    only his need for approval is constant. So let him know what he need to do to win our approval–and make the Establishment Republicans the villains.

    I don’t think he actually cares about “our” approval — if he’s got the crowds cheering for him, he doesn’t really care what the people who aren’t at the rally think.

  8. 9
    Seriously? says:

    It’s an open thread, so I’ll use it to ask a question. Is there a way find an old article if you have no idea how old it is? I searched for “Moebius” but I could not find something I know was published here within the last two months.

    It seems that the ‘older’ on the right only works if there are comments, and I suspect that the article in question has none posted.

  9. 10
    Ampersand says:

    I suspect you’re looking for this thread? It’s the only recent mention of Moebius I recall on this blog.