Wednesday Walk Around the Web – 07/03/2019

Welcome to the Wednesday Walk Around the Web, where we weave & wind through weblinks weekly. Hopefully you will find the links on offer amusing, interesting, or, occasionally, profound. Views expressed in the Wednesday Walk do not necessarily reflect those of anyone but the writer.

  • In Guadalajara this past weekend, a storm dropped three feet of hail.
  • I recently noted the amazing skills of a champion stone-skipper. Now, through painstaking research and many trials, we’re figuring out how to automate our stone skipping. (You know, robots coming for our jobs is one thing, as long as it leads to something more like fully automated luxury gay space communism and not, say, Terminator. But robots coming for our pastimes? Where’s my fainting couch?)
  • You just have to be so careful about what you say these days, am I right?
  • (Warning: white supremacy, sexual abuse…everything, really) It’s a semi-regular occurrence, these days, to see chat logs and/or screencaps to leak from private Facebook groups and other social media enclaves belonging to various groups associated with ongoing fascist crackdowns. The most recent entry in this genre is a Facebook group that lays bare the festering heart of US Border Control. I’m taken by the quote toward the end of that article that misses the point rather spectacularly: the problem that this shows isn’t that not enough women have been hired, it’s that the organization needs to be razed and the earth salted where once it stood. Seriously, we’ve been over this.
  • This interview with Brian Jay Jones, the author of a Dr. Seuss biography does a good job of getting into how he succeeded so fantabulously at self-mythologizing, from the painstaking work he put into his art to the gentle tweaking of personal stories in interviews. The part that sticks with me, of course, is when Jones describes Geisel being bullied as a German-American child during World War I, only to turn around and produce racist propaganda cartoons about Japanese-Americans during World War II. It’s yet another reminder that bigotry is bigotry even if it’s not directed at you.
  • The US administration seems to be backing down from its ban on US companies doing business with Chinese telecom giant Huawei, possibly because total enforcement of the ban is somewhat impossible.
  • With Marianne Williamson somehow coming out of the first wave of Democratic primary debates having garnered some interest — though no doubt she’ll soon run out of power orbs and healing crystals she can use to bolster her campaign before it recedes to homeopathic levels of support — it’s worth putting her in context as the latest in a long line of hucksters & grifters brought to us by Oprah.
  • An instrument on the International Space Station that monitors X-rays from neutron stars lights the night sky ablaze with golden paths.
  • How about a more sunny topic, like the development of cereal from fundamentalist Christian cult health food to, you know, kids’ breakfast-time sugar bowl. Fun fact: one of the first cereal mascots was the prophet Elijah. Leave a seat open for him at your breakfast table tomorrow.
  • This Week in Justice: Chipotle tried to frame a branch manager for theft and fire her after she filed a worker’s compensation claim for a wrist injury; a jury saw through that scheme and awarded the manager a huge sum for wrongful termination. I’m not sure these sums are always what the plaintiffs actually wind up setting, but the amount has to be huge to get through to a company like Chipotle. (I don’t remember where, but I read once that making something punishable by fine effectively just means it’s legal for rich people; the fine has to scale to the wealth of the party being punished to have the same effect a small fine has on someone struggling to get by.)
  • Also in mass-produced food, stop for a moment and think about the fact that the DiGiorno slogan, textually unchanged in 20 years, means the precise opposite of what is used to mean.
  • I recently read How to Invent Everything, a quick and handy guide to creating/recreating the technologies that form the bedrock of modern and pre-modern life, wrapped up delightfully in a framing story where you’re a time traveler stranded in the far past in a parallel timeline, leapfrogging centuries and millennia of experimentation with the aid of this very helpful book. Each section begins with a note about when each technology was invented in our timeline, and it struck me how very many items were marked with an approximate year of invention in east or south Aisa, and another centuries later in Europe. Like so many other inventions, the earliest printing presses lie not in Germany but in China and Korea.

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