First, to those who celebrate, I hope you are having or have had a merry Christmas. 🎄 To those who don’t, Friday tonight up, and the same sentiment goes for whatever winter holiday or holidays that you might happen to celebrate instead. As I have said before, holidays this season are marked by a celebration of those closest to us and giving ourselves the opportunity to become better people. Especially after the last year, not to mention the three years that preceded it, it’s hard to imagine more fitting things to consider.

Anyway, as discussed previously, this is my weekly Twitter roundup. Note that tweets of articles generally include header images from the articles, which are not included here unless they happen to be available under a free license. Most are not. But I now add most of my commentary here, where I’m not restricted by the message length.

diagrams showing the division of the day and of the week

I also don’t generally attach pictures to posts with quotations.

9:04 – Mon 21 December 2020

New report: A record breaking number of journalists arrested in the U.S. this year from Freedom of the Press Foundation

…vast majority of these arrests occurred while journalists were documenting the historic, nationwide protests…

One of 2020’s biggest disappointments—predictable as it might have been—is how police departments consistently responded to protests against and reporting on police violence with more police violence. Like I mentioned in my post on policing, back in the spring, it has been obvious for a while that policing is partly deliberate oppression and partly deliberate intimidation, without much interest in safety, justice, or even law.

While we could have excused some of this behavior is it being a systemic problem, rather than a problem where the officers would be to blame, arresting journalists in defiance of the First Amendment makes it pretty clear that’s no longer a valid excuse.

12:05 – Mon 21 December 2020

What you do speaks so loud that I cannot hear what you say.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

9:01 – Tue 22 December 2020

Weird exoplanet looks like a cousin of ‘Planet Nine’ from Futurity

…raises the question of how did these planets get out there to such large separations…

Once we started finding exoplanets, it has become increasingly clear that our solar system’s relatively straightforward organization might be more of an aberration than a rule.

12:03 – Tue 22 December 2020

If you want to tell people the truth, make them laugh, otherwise they’ll kill you.

Oscar Wilde

9:05 – Wed 23 December 2020

Police Say Seizing Property Without Trial Helps Keep Crime Down. A New Study Shows They’re Wrong. from ProPublica

Arrest and offense rates in New Mexico, the study found, remained essentially flat before and after the 2015 law went into effect.

Just reread my comments for the Monday link, regarding policing, I guess…

12:01 – Wed 23 December 2020

I was no chief and never had been, but because I had been more deeply wronged than others, this honor was conferred upon me, and I resolved to prove worthy of the trust.


9:03 – Thu 24 December 2020

The Far-Right-GOP ‘Feedback Loop’ Is Exactly What Experts Warned Us About from VICE News

One of the top posts on TheDonald, a pro-Trump message board, outright called for killing people in response to the election.

Maybe related: Should There Be Limits on Persuasive Technologies?.

These are the people that we’re told to reach out to, so that we can find common ground and compromise on their plans for mass murder, ethnic cleansing, and becoming more extreme. The astonishing thing—though maybe not so astonishing, given the police news, above—is that we all know that “freedom of speech” doesn’t extend to incitement to violence, but we have started to pretend that it does, because we apparently don’t want to offend these people by arresting them.

12:04 – Thu 24 December 2020

For little children everywhere

A joyous season still we make.

Phoebe Cary

9:02 – Fri 25 December 2020

Yeah, that forehead temperature scan doesn’t prevent COVID from Fast Company

The only way to reliably take the core temperature requires catherization of the pulmonary artery, which is neither safe nor practical as a screening test.

It’s hard to imagine how this took off, given that diseases are almost always most contagious in the days before symptoms appear, because a disease that only spreads after there are warning signs tends not to spread far.

12:02 – Fri 25 December 2020

Christmas time is here, by golly.

Disapproval would be folly.

Deck the halls with hunks of holly.

Fill the cup and don’t say when.

Tom Lehrer

One of the things that both delighted and worried me, this year, is that Tom Lehrer has released his songs and music—to the extent that he wrote them and didn’t adapt an existing piece—into the public domain. On the one hand, so many of his songs, while often bearing the insensitivities of their time, are funny and entertaining. But on the other, Lehrer himself is in his nineties, and so this might be a sign that his health is declining.


Because it accidentally became a tradition early on in the life of the blog, here’s a sixth article that didn’t fit into the week, but too weird to not mention.

Mike Pence Is Getting the Hell Out of DC Right After He Seals Trump’s Defeat from VICE News

This dynamic puts Pence in the deeply awkward position of finally having to face the reality of Trump’s loss, and even publicly proclaim Biden the official winner.

It couldn’t happen to a nicer guy…by which I mean that a nicer guy wouldn’t have been a part of this administration. And it’s now interesting to see Trump now try to liberalize, just to spite the Republicans who won’t help him with his coup. I’ve talked about how it’s easier for cooperating groups working to help people to succeed, and this is direct evidence of why: Terrible people looking to do bad things are going to betray each other, because they’re unprincipled.

Credits: Header image is Circular diagrams showing the division of the day and of the week from a manuscript drafted during the Carolingian Dynasty.