Linkfest 2023-03-24: Teasers and Normans

Things have been slow here at With Both Hands due to other commitments, but I decided to use this time to work on some things behind the scenes. There have been some requested improvements to how things work around here, and I will working on deploying them soon. Some other perks will come with this. More details to come.

Austin Vernon offers a contrarian take on US-China conflict via logistics.

SlateStarCodex: The Lizardman Constant

A Scott Alexander coins pithy name for a tendency I’ve noticed in poll data too: some combination of stupidity, malice, and annoyance produces a much higher rate of utterly strange and implausible answers than you might think.

The Normans could be considered one of the most successful ethnic groups in history. During their peak, the Normans controlled lands all over Europe. It isn’t hard to imagine an alternative history where they just kept going.

A chronological map of the Norman Conquests

By Martianman64 - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,

Normans are not only prominent in war. St. Thomas Aquinas was of Norman descent on his mother’s side, which I think helps put some context to his brothers’ famous attempt to literally seduce him away from the Dominicans with a prostitute. If you know anything about the Frenchified Vikings that were the Normans, that seems almost normal.

Arkhaven Comics: Frug of the Wasteland

Frug of the Wasteland has a great visual style, reminiscent of the weirder stuff from the 1970s.

Far Seeker: Beowulf

A Twitter thread on the blend of history and legend in Beowulf.

Foundation Father: Wall-E

Wall-E is one of the best Pixar movies, and this is part of the reason why.

Obtainer of Rare Antiquities: Croesus, Solon, and Happiness

Context for Solon’s famous quote: “Call no man happy until he is dead.”

With Both Hands: A Vital Breath

Paxton Locke is back, not much older, but hopefully much wiser than he was before. You can expect the same things out of volume 6, A Vital Breath, that you got out of previous books in the series. Paxton will approach his problems with the bigger hammer method, Valentine will sling guns and crack jokes, and everyone else will do their best to pick up the pieces afterward.

The Long View: Warriors of God

Richard the Lionhearted is probably a far better match for most people’s idea of a Norman.

The Third Crusade (1187-1192) is one of the best imaginable topics for a popular history. The people involved are pretty much the same disputatious crew that we meet in the film, "The Lion in Winter." They and their Muslim opponents and colleagues really did do the kind of things that are supposed to happen only in comic strips. James Reston, who has written about medieval subjects before, does not disappoint in this book. He is to be particularly congratulated for consulting Muslim sources from the period, to balance the well-known European ones. "Warriors of God" has a bibliography short enough to be useful.