Pharyngula

Order of the Molly for February 2007

This is meta, if you’d rather skip it.

I think we’ve got a good community of commenters here, and in order to encourage a more perfect expression of interactivity, I’m going to implement a few new things.

First, the stick. I’m posting the Pharyngula filter file contents in that Dungeon tab at the top of the page. Now you can see a list of everyone who has been banned from commenting at this site, with some short comments about why. Try to avoid joining them, OK?

Second, the carrot. I know most of you probably have favorite commenters here—people whose names you look forward to seeing in the list of “Recent Comments” on the left sidebar, and who you read avidly, perhaps more avidly than the posts of yours truly. I’d like to start acknowledging those good people.

Here’s the deal: every month, I’m going to put up a post like this one asking you to nominate and vote on a great commenter. It can be someone you’ve found consistently wonderful and insightful, someone who you think routinely elevates the discourse around here. It can be just someone who wrote what you thought was the most hilarious or enjoyable or deep comment that month. Name them, say something good about them, link to a favorite comment, spread the word. If there is consensus on one person, they win; otherwise, I’ll be the arbitrary judge of the nominees and pick one.

Winners will be inducted in the distinguished Order of the Molly. There will be a page dedicated to the winners, which will also be on the tabs at the top of Pharyngula. There may also be some other perks made available, depending on how easily my tinkering with the page templates turns out to be. No prizes, though, just recognition. Shouldn’t that be enough?

Oh, and about the name…when one thinks of a great raconteur, someone with wit and humor who was also uncompromising in standing up for principle, who comes to mind, who do you consider a role model and someone whose writing skill we can all admire? Yeah, me too, so I thought I’d name it after the late Molly Ivins. We’re aiming high here, gang.

Comments are open for nominations. Who should be the first winner of the Molly Award for excellence in commentary at Pharyngula? I’ll name your choice on Sunday evening. If there are more that you’d like to see acknowledged, keep in mind that I’ll do this every mid-month.

Comments

  1. #1 Blake Stacey
    February 15, 2007

    I’ve had a fun time reading and exchanging comments with AJ Milne, Colugo, Greg Laden, Keith Douglas, Kristine the Amused Muse, Russell Blackford, Sastra, Sonja and Torbjorn Larsson to name the first few which sprang to mind. This is the sort of situation where I worry that my sporadic memory will lead me to slight people

  2. #2 George
    February 15, 2007

    Carlie, Ichthyic, Molly, NYC, RedMolly, Kristine, Steve_C, Caledonian, Steve LaBonne, BlueIndependent, oldhippie, stogoe. And Great White Wonder! And Blake Stacey! And Steviepinhead! And Ginger Yellow! And wintermute! Hank Fox! Tristram Shandy! Quork! Jonathan Badger! llewelly! Azkyroth! Torbjörn (way over my head)!

    All of you!

  3. #3 ??????
    February 15, 2007

    ? ??????? ????????? ?????? ?????? …

    Oh crumb – now I’ve gone and embarrassed myself!

  4. #4 Ichthyic
    February 15, 2007

    “Molly” is a great name for an honor related to spot-on commentary and take-no-prisoners wit.

    it’s also the common name of a most excellent group of fishes (Mollienesia – more recently Poecilia) from a most excellent group of fish (Poeciliidae).

    perhaps one of the most significant families in both developmental and evolutionary biology, in fact.

    right up there with Cichlidae.

  5. #5 Kseniya
    February 15, 2007

    Steve_C, once again you have ferretted out the truth. ;-)

    Yup I think Blake is great, he’s one of a few commenters who nearly always makes me nod my head and mutter, “Yes, yes, right, exactly!” I have been known to quote him (without his permission, sorry Blake) to my friends. I’d like to say we think alike, but that would be an insult to Blake – so I’ll say, he thinks they way I’d LIKE to think. He’s eloquent, witty, and if he has a mean streak he keeps it pretty well hidden. And he knows how to get out of Somerville! How cool is that? I ask you!

    However, lest my admiration of Mr. Stacey come off as a tacit condemnation of the rest of the community, which it certainly is not, I must second the earlier comment(s) that point out that selecting ONE person or comment is nearly impossible. I’d have to look back through the past month’s worth of threads and try to pick out the handful of comments and that really inspired me in some way, and each month it could be just about anybody. A difficult task.

    Ichthyic, we had mollies in our fresh-water tank… I assume they belong to same group as you mentioned? If I remember correctly, they’re live-bearers… and I loved seeing those little fry swimming around. We had guppies, too.

    Finally, I wish to say that I am moved by Dr. Meyers’ selection of Ms. Ivins as the namesake of this award.

  6. #6 Ichthyic
    February 15, 2007

    Ichthyic, we had mollies in our fresh-water tank… I assume they belong to same group as you mentioned? If I remember correctly, they’re live-bearers… and I loved seeing those little fry swimming around. We had guppies, too.

    yes, molly->mollies.

    both guppies and mollies belong to the family Poeciliidae.

    yes, they are all live bearers; not all that common in fishes.

    they also are one of the few families where internal fertilization is the norm (goes along with the previous).

    the modification, unlike the sharks mentioned in another thread, is to the anal fin, which is then refered to as a gonopodium.

    sexual dimorphism in poeciliids has been well studied, and theories about relative selective pressures (environmental and sexual) have been excellently addressed both in the lab and in the field.

    funny, I’ve posted this link twice today coincidentally, but it really is neat to see a PBS site that addresses one of my old prof’s research, as well as giving a fun activity to go along with it:

    http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/evolution/sex/guppy/

  7. #7 Greco
    February 15, 2007

    Kristine, Hank Fox, Blake Stacey, Scott Hatfield, Torbjörn Larsson, Ichthyic, both Mollies, Zeno.

  8. #8 Ichthyic
    February 15, 2007

    just to be complete, Mollies, Platies, Guppies, Swordtails are all Poeciliids, also commonly known as “toothed carps”.

    Of course, I’m just scratching the surface here.

    ask me about Poeciliids and protgyny sometime.

    meh, OTOH, better not; unless PZ wants me to do an entire thread on the subject.

    on the subject of voting, i simply can’t. too many good posts over such a wide area, and I’ve just never thought about it in those terms before.

    maybe next time around.

  9. #9 Ichthyic
    February 15, 2007

    I vote for Blake.

    ;)

  10. #10 ?seniya
    February 15, 2007

    Off-topic, but I need to share.

    On Point: Carl Sagan’s Footprints On Space with Tom Ashbrook

    Guests: Neil Degrasse Tyson & Ann Druyan

    Druyan’s comments at the end of the show on the relationship between science and spirituality were beautifully stated, and so close to what goes on in my head that I was moved to tears.

  11. #11 Blake Stacey
    February 15, 2007

    Thanks George, Kristjan Wajer, Russell Blackford and Ichthyic! Also, my gratitude again to ?seniya for providing the On Point link, to which I am listening now.

  12. #12 David Marjanovi?
    February 15, 2007

    “I am a big fan of Blake Steisi …”

    Google translator does work!

    Tss, tss, tss. “Fan” approximates just one of the three meanings my dictionary gives (brought here to help me if I happen to encounter paleontological articles in Russian). :->

    Well. I suggest Torbjörn, Kristine, and ?????? (so, no danger of picking an undesired transcription, plus the opportunity of showing off!), and a large number of others whose names I have either failed to remember completely or mixed up… in the absence of faces, it’s easy to confuse names, especially as late at night as I normally read Pharyngula…

  13. #13 David Marjanovi?
    February 15, 2007

    “I am a big fan of Blake Steisi …”

    Google translator does work!

    Tss, tss, tss. “Fan” approximates just one of the three meanings my dictionary gives (brought here to help me if I happen to encounter paleontological articles in Russian). :->

    Well. I suggest Torbjörn, Kristine, and ?????? (so, no danger of picking an undesired transcription, plus the opportunity of showing off!), and a large number of others whose names I have either failed to remember completely or mixed up… in the absence of faces, it’s easy to confuse names, especially as late at night as I normally read Pharyngula…

  14. #14 David Marjanovi?
    February 15, 2007

    Yes, I agree with the nomination for Scott Hatfield.

    However, all of them pale compared to Zuckerfrosch. Check out the previous post. He*’s a genius.

    * Guessing based on German grammar, where frogs are male unless proven otherwise…

  15. #15 David Marjanovi?
    February 15, 2007

    Yes, I agree with the nomination for Scott Hatfield.

    However, all of them pale compared to Zuckerfrosch. Check out the previous post. He*’s a genius.

    * Guessing based on German grammar, where frogs are male unless proven otherwise…

  16. #16 ??????
    February 15, 2007

    David M., of course I meant ????????? to mean “admirer” (more colloquially, “fan”) so Steve – or should I say Google? – was correct. (I’m afraid to ask what other meanings your dictionary suggests…!)

    “??????” See? Even misspelled by someone who knows enough to get it right. ;-)

  17. #17 Ichthyic
    February 15, 2007

    The Poeciliidae are known as live-bearing tooth-carps. There are egg-laying ones too, most notably the killifishes. At least I think that’s right. It’s been a while since I’ve studied fish.

    easy to confuse, but the killifishes and zebrafishes belong to the Cyprinids.

  18. #18 David Marjanovi?
    February 17, 2007

    Yep, add another vote for Hank Fox.

    David M., of course I meant ????????? to mean “admirer” (more colloquially, “fan”) so Steve – or should I say Google? – was correct.

    Thought so.

    “??????” See? Even misspelled by someone who knows enough to get it right. ;-)

    What? I just put thee into the accusative. Because it was after 3 at night, I thought I was showing off that way.

  19. #19 David Marjanovi?
    February 17, 2007

    Yep, add another vote for Hank Fox.

    David M., of course I meant ????????? to mean “admirer” (more colloquially, “fan”) so Steve – or should I say Google? – was correct.

    Thought so.

    “??????” See? Even misspelled by someone who knows enough to get it right. ;-)

    What? I just put thee into the accusative. Because it was after 3 at night, I thought I was showing off that way.

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