Open Thread and Link Farm, Oh Fishy Fishy Fishy Fish Edition

  1. Treasury Secretary Warren? Progressives Line Up to Press Their Agenda on Biden – The New York Times. And an alternate link.
    “But as they adjust to the possible new reality of divided government, many progressive groups and leaders are focusing their attention on Mr. Biden’s executive branch appointments with intense urgency, viewing these positions as gatekeepers, in effect, for vast numbers of policy.”
  2. Why Trump and Republicans Are Undermining Democracy
  3. My Son is No Sex Offender – Persuasion
    “But like hundreds of thousands, he is unjustly trapped on the registry.”
  4. Arthur Conan Doyle’s estate sues Netflix for giving Sherlock Holmes too many feelings – The Passive Voice
    Their theory is that, although the Sherlock character is public domain, Doyle didn’t develop Sherlock’s emotions until the later stories, which are not yet in the public domain; therefore a Sherlock with emotions is a violation of their copyright. (Although, needless to say, they have created nothing.)
  5. The real reason we have an Electoral College: to protect slave states – Vox
  6. The Only Time The Oscars Ended Early
    Turns out that ending early is a mistake. But also a great story.
  7. Is Plastic Recycling A Lie? 
  8. The Curse of Monster Island: an experiment in unmoderated free speech – The Skeptic
    The horrible people you attract might be even more horrible than you’re imagining.
  9. People’s Savings Are Down To $0 Because Of The Pandemic
    “Even people who built rainy day funds over years are watching their savings run down to zero, with no relief from the government in sight.”
  10. A short essay about Xander from Buffy, the episode “The Zeppo,” and trans masculinity.
    “The Zeppo” is one of my favorite episodes, and I’ve seen it many times, so I love reading some thoughts on it that I haven’t even considered. (Probably because I’m cis.)
  11. How to address police “testilying.”
    Police routinely lie and never face consequences. And it’s unclear how to change that.
  12. All U.S. Residents Deserve to Vote, Not Just Citizens
    Including immigrants, documented or not.
  13. Was Nazi Germany Everyone’s Fault? – Pacific Standard
    I’ve heard many arguments that the Nazis were widely supported by ordinary Germans, so reading a counter-argument is interesting.
  14. 5 Ways Weight Stigma Harms Fat People’s Health | The Mighty
  15. The magical thinking of guys who love logic | The Outline
    ” Calling your opinions and feelings ‘rational,’ as opposed to the ‘irrational’ opinions and feelings of others, is a shortcut to boosting your self-esteem. And it’s certainly not as though this tendency is unique to reactionaries; I think we’re all prone to this sometimes.”
  16. When YouTube Red-Pills the Love of Your Life
    This article is referenced in the above article, but the reference isn’t totally accurate. I wonder how common these relationships are. That some redpilled guys have produced “guides” to converting girlfriends and wives to redpill ideology is disturbing.
  17. G.O.P.-Appointed Judges Threaten Democracy, Liberals Seeking Court Expansion Say – The New York Times. And an alternate link.
    “Republican appointees interpreted the law in a way that impeded ballot access 80 percent of the time, versus 37 percent for Democratic ones. The numbers were even more stark when limited to judges appointed by President Trump, who has had tremendous success at rapidly reshaping the judiciary. Of 60 rulings in election-related cases, 85 percent were “anti-democracy” according to the analysis.”
  18. ‘We’re like athletes’: the secret lives of giant-vegetable growers | Vegetables | The Guardian
    I think, but I’m not sure, that I have Mandolin to thank for this link.
  19. A bunch of people over the years have asked why on earth Democrats oppose Voter ID. Here’s a succinct explanation (including references) on Twitter, and in case the Twitter copy doesn’t persist, here’s another copy.
  20. Donald Trump Didn’t Really Win 52% of White Women in 2016 | Time
    “…the percentage of white women who voted for Trump was actually 47%, compared to 45% for Clinton. That’s still a plurality… But it’s essentially a tie, which makes for a very different story than a 9-point margin for Trump.”
  21. What happened to that ‘blue wave’? – The Washington Post. And an alternative link.
    ” Republican presidents going back to Eisenhower have systematically invested in their party’s organizational capacities at the national, state and local levels: funding local party-building initiatives, assiduously recruiting activists, volunteers, and candidates, teaching campaign techniques, and launching fundraising systems. Democratic presidents, in contrast, have repeatedly emphasized enacting policies over party-building.”
  22. Why the First Monument of Real Women in Central Park Matters—and Why It’s Controversial | Smithsonian Magazine
    The process of making the statue – which depicts Sojourner Truth, Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton fourteen feet high – was interesting. Originally it was just Anthony and Stanton depicted; after objections to the whiteness, Truth was added in, and after further objections, Truth was made to be active rather than just listening. I favor all that, but some (not all) of the objections remaining – like that the three of them probably never literally planned together atthe same table – seem silly to me.
  23. I adore this AP photo of the sculptor working on the statue.
  24. Here’s a double-page fight scene from issue three of the current “Black Widow” comic. Art by Elena Casagrande, colors by Jordie Bellaire. And here’s a twitter thread where I discuss why I like this spread so much. (The reproduction of the art in the twitter thread is low-res and some important details are lost, which is why I included a separate link to the art).

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27 Responses to Open Thread and Link Farm, Oh Fishy Fishy Fishy Fish Edition

  1. 1
    AcademicLurker says:

    That Monster Island piece strikes me as pretty weak. It might have been interesting sometime during Bush II’s first term, but 2016-2020 is very late in the day to be surprised that totally unmoderated forums inevitably become dominated by trolls and psychos.

    Among the many strikes against the NYT is the fact that they nuked the slatestarcodex community. It wasn’t perfect, but Scott Alexander did an unusually good job of balancing the goals of promoting free speech on the one hand, and not letting the site become a hangout for the worst mouthbreathers who had been banned everywhere else on the other.

  2. 2
    Ampersand says:

    And yet people continually complain about the existence of moderation.

    What the NYT did to Scott Alexander really sucks.

    I had trouble with the SSC discussion, but mainly because SSC is so popular that the discussion moved faster than I felt able to keep up with, which is less a criticism than a comment about my own tastes. I agree Scott seemed to do an excellent job moderating.

  3. 3
    Petar says:

    The spread is exactly what I hate in the way modern media portrays action scenes. It looks very impressive, but it is total nonsense, unless we assume that the protagonist is super powered, or a completely different species from her opponent.

    I understand why 180 degree swings from below, that launch opponents in the air are popular with Hollywood. They are safe, they are flashy, and our brains supply the (nonexistent) connection between the protagonist doing gymnastics, and the victim doing a back flip. But why should comics follow that bullshit pattern?

    So, the protagonist takes out three idiots out. Idiots, because two are holding their weapons wrong, and the third one is using some abstract art as a melee weapon. Let us see how she does it.

    First, lets note that she is able to move at about six-seven times the speed of her targets. She can literally go from being in the air, right side up, to delivering some made up kind of hand spring kick with her body having changed its vertical orientation by 180 percent, while her opponent has not moved.

    She can also land a wild, telegraphed swing with a coat hanger on someone who has a passive block up, and a knife chambered for stabbing, and tear through his cheek without his head being dragged to the side even a smidgen. By the way, that particular guy has perfect stance, but totally wrong grip. Still, that perfect stance would have passively blocked the swing. For some reason, in the time it took the protagonist to flip (again) around her horizontal axis, and take a wide swing, the second target did not do anything but lower his grabbing hand away from the path of her attack. He did not grab, he did not shift his stance, he did not flinch, he did not use the knife he is holding back, chambered for stabbing. He just lowered his block, and held his head really firm, so that she could tear his cheek. Which by the way is not at all something which would neutralize a combatant, nor even reduce his effectiveness much.

    Then the protagonist launches herself up on a counter, while incidentally changing her momentum completely from the one resulting from the recovery after the swing. She also does it while only keeping her hand in contact, forgoing any traction or ability to control her movement. She grabs a knife, then launches her straight away from the counter, takes a completely useless slice with the knife, which somehow imparts the opposite spin of her body (yes, she is once against doing an 360 around her horizontal axis) She makes that spin, lands on a different counter, grabs a kettle, and throws it at the opponent. Yes, instead of actually taking a swing, which for the first time in the fight would actually make sense, as opposed to a thrust, she actually makes a direct throw.

    Then the kettle hits the guy, and cut.

    The protagonist has managed to flip around her horizontal axis 720 degrees, has traversed more than 10 meters, taking her feet off the ground at least three times, performed wild swings while throwing her body in the exact opposite direction at the exact same time. In that time her opponents have not done anything, with the third guy being the slowest poke. He can’t manage to spin around his vertical axis while a woman is flying through the air around and above him and doing flips.

    Either she is super-powered, and then what the hell is the thrill, or the guys are on some really mellowing drugs.

    Bah. I wrote too much about it. But for me, that’s the way action in Western media has been going… I was going to write lately, but it is actually been forever.

    I understand why it’s the case in movies. You cannot have the combat from the Polish Potop, or the Bulgarian Полетът на копието, or the Turkish Diriliş: Ertuğrul, because it is neither safe for the actors, nor flashy enough compared to the ballet in Star Wars, X-Men, and similar crap. (By the way, I wonder whether it is an accident that all three works I listed are brutal nationalistic propaganda)

    But why is it necessary in comics to string stills copied from parkour, static stances, and gymnastics, and call it action? Can’t the protagonist block, stab, and actually look as if she is overcoming viable enemies, as opposed to flitting around and abusing training dummies?

    This is how you end up with one of the most expensive movies ever made erasing weapons in mid fight, so that they do NOT end up in the protagonist’s back.

  4. 4
    Ampersand says:

    Well of course you CAN have realistic combat in comics. Steve Rude, who has a lot of martial arts training, has done some fight scenes with realistic moves and abilities (and I recall some of those pages being really cool), and I’m sure that others have as well. Jamie Hernandez has done some realistic non-powered, non-trained fight scenes.

    But there’s absolutely no rule that says comic book fights scenes have to be realistic, or that the characters must be limited to human abilities. What you’re describing is just your own preferences, which are fine, and could be used to create awesome, dramatic fight scenes. But I think comics would be more fun for you if you were able to appreciate other approaches, as well.

    ETA: But I appreciate the passion you have for this subject!

  5. 5
    Jacqueline Onassis Squid says:

    He doesn’t want to be trapped in a car with a bunch of varsity-jacket-wearing jackasses who love weapons and property damage and picking on people smaller than they are.

    Hey! It’s the experience of a significant portion of American men. I found my own way to push back against that crap – making clear that it was unacceptable – and still be accepted by those goons. I may not have been the most masculine of men, but, fortunately, I was a tough enough motherfucker to garner their respect.

    I know what it is to be standing on that field and have none of guys there recognize you as part of the game.

    If it were only women and girls who know that feeling. Alas, masculinity is such a constricted, dry husk of a role that a significant number of men also know this feeling.

    Masculinity – as defined by the American mainstream – is a trap that leaves little of the man in existence. Just as women must be subjected to the worst aspects of the 2 dimensional role, so must many men. Yet, somehow, it remains an ideal to which one must aspire. It’s a thing I never wanted to do, never could do and, in the end, found a way not to do. I’m not sad to have left that expectation behind me.

    Trans and non-binary people and their allies give some hope to the possibility that this may change during the 21st century.

  6. 6
    Ampersand says:

    Very much agreed, Jacqueline!

    Which link was that in reference to, though?

  7. 7
    Jacqueline Onassis Squid says:

    Number 10, the essay about The Zeppo

  8. 8
    Ampersand says:

    Oh, d’oy! Yes, of course it’s that one.

  9. 9
    Mandolin says:

    You say that the reason you never thought about Xander in those terms is because you’re cis, probably — I’d like to push back a little bit and say there’s probably a fair amount of variation in the way trans people see and analyze that character.

  10. 10
    Ampersand says:

    That’s an extremely true point.

  11. 11
    Mandolin says:

    I found the comment a bit alienating and I was wondering why until I realized that there was a subtle implication that if someone didn’t recognize the thoughts in the essay then they weren’t trans. Suuuuuper minor detail and I totally recognize why you said it. I was just surprised by how it felt. Just relaying in case that’s something you may want to keep in mind for future phrasing–or not!

  12. 12
    Görkem says:

    “masculinity is such a constricted, dry husk of a role that a significant number of men also know this feeling”


  13. 13
    Nancy Lebovitz says:

    A number of posters from are hanging out at

  14. 14
    AcademicLurker says:

    Nancy Lebovitz@13:

    Thanks! I just wasted half the afternoon reading various threads there.

  15. 15
    Sebastian H says:

    The Slate Star Codex thing is so interesting because it shows how powerful even the threat of using outside speech against someone’s work life can be. It also shows how powerful the mainstream media remains. It also shows how one dimensional we can be in talking about people: a large cohort of people suggested that of all people, Scott could almost certainly have a lucrative career/platform in essay writing. Which is true. All he had to do was let the NYT get rid of his career as a psychiatrist, which he seems to value.

  16. 16
    Jacqueline Onassis Squid says:

    Here’s the correct link for #6.

  17. 17
    Ampersand says:

    Thanks! Correction made!

  18. 18
    nobody.really says:

    New topic: As a kid, my family used to receive a Christmas gift basket from my European aunt, perhaps from Swiss Colony. It would contain a remarkable assortment of–to my palate–inedible food. In particular, there would be tiny jars of this lumpy, not-quite-jelly stuff called marmalade. And there would be a number of small wedges of soft, bitter cheeses wrapped in shiny pastel foil. We figured that in Europe, this is what naughty kids got instead of coal.

    Given COVID, my extended family will have to forgo our holiday tradition of tormenting each other in person. So, next best thing, I think it would be fitting to conclude 2020 by inflicting such a basket on them. But in the intervening years, Swiss Colony appears to have discontinued this specific product. (Damn Geneva Convention….) Anyone know where I can find something like it?

  19. 20
    nobody.really says:

    Thanks, Corso. That’s the idea–but those options just seem too … appealing.

    I’ve poked around some more, and I guess the cheese I remembered was something like Wee Bries or Laughing Cows–but you’d need to ship those in refrigeration. Maybe we kids felt such aversion to those cheeses because they had spoiled in transit?

    Fortunately, today we have Amazon Fresh. So I may opt to ship a collection of ingredients from the baskets of yule of yore in lieu of shipping the baskets themselves.

  20. 21
    Görkem says:

    “In particular, there would be tiny jars of this lumpy, not-quite-jelly stuff called marmalade”

    Do you not have marmalade in America? The more you know…

  21. 22
    nobody.really says:

    Do you not have marmalade in America?

    Well, my childhood was a few decades ago….

  22. 23
    Nancy Lebovitz says:

    We have marmalade. I didn’t like it when I was a kid, but I’ve gotten more flexible about food textures.

  23. 24
    Adrian says:

    We have many kinds of marmalade in America. Plain Smuckers Orange Marmalade (and its store-brand imitators) that grocery stores shelve between peanut butter and bread is sweeter than the fancy stuff I might see in a bakery or farmers’ market or import shop. Those might be lime or grapefruit or just orange with less sugar.

    If you are looking to send annoying Christmas gifts, here are some recommendations:
    There are links to previous years’ lists at the end.

  24. 25
    Chris says:

    Petar, I am curious about your interpretation of X-Men as “brutal nationalistic propaganda.” Can you expand on that? I’ve always seen X-Men, even in the movies, as being very anti-nationalism and pro-globalism. But maybe we’re defining the terms differently.

  25. 26
    Corso says:


    Petar’s original comment was

    I understand why it’s the case in movies. You cannot have the combat from the Polish Potop, or the Bulgarian Полетът на копието, or the Turkish Diriliş: Ertuğrul, because it is neither safe for the actors, nor flashy enough compared to the ballet in Star Wars, X-Men, and similar crap. (By the way, I wonder whether it is an accident that all three works I listed are brutal nationalistic propaganda)

    I think, and I could be wrong, but I think that he was referring to Potop, Полетът на копието, and Diriliş: Ertuğrul as nationalistic propaganda. Star Wars and X-Men is only a list of two, and like you said, X-Men was pretty Globalist.

  26. 27
    Chris says:

    Ah. My bad (if you’re right about that)!