Wednesday Walk Around the Web – 08/07/2019

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.

  • RIP Toni Morrison, a true literary giant.
  • Bagpipe music is enchanting and wonderful, especially when you understand that its true purpose is to call from hilltop to hilltop and inspire people to fight the British. The attached jam session featuring Latvian bagpipers and Mongolian throat singers is fascinating, and also slaps so hard.
  • An excavation of a Roman-era settlement in London has revealed souvenir gift pens that say, essentially, “I went to Rome and all I got you was this pen“. People have always been people, and kitsch gifts have apparently always been kitsch gifts.
  • AT&T employees made over a million dollars in bribes for planting malware on the company’s network. In case my employer is watching, I of course would NEVER do such a thing, no siree.
  • “Gender reveal” parties are of course binarist nonsense, since more and more of us should know by now that it’s specious at best to assume a correlation between the shape of a fetus and the gender of the person it may become. (They’ll tell you eventually, chill. If you want to have two baby showers, just throw more parties.) It’s a slight delight, then, to see that the trendsetter who inadvertently popularized the gender reveal hullabaloo is actually the parent of a super stylish, gender-nonconforming child.
  • This Week in Video Games: Diablo is now available as shareware playable in your browser. Have at it!
  • Whooooa, that’s a double eclipse all the way. Double eclipse, oh my god. Whoa, that’s so intense. It’s so beautiful! What does it mean??
  • Often, technical processes that seem opaque to users are actually built on a house of cards that’s been treated like a game of Jenga for years and years. Thus do you wind up with things like the bank marketing email subscription that involves your unsubscribe request being passed from London to Hyderabad to Scotland to Swindon, back to you, then back to Swindon and back to Hyderabad. With steps run manually by humans at every turn. To unsubscribe from an email list.
  • There’s been renewed furor lately about the various ways that the companies running food delivery apps — and indeed the restaurants themselves — skim off of drivers’ and servers’ tips. Long story short, tip generously but do it with cash. One way that people are pushing back on behalf of the workers is a class-action lawsuit filed against DoorDash by Alan Arkin(!) and others who were deceived about how their tips were being used.
  • 3D printing may be going to space. The first time I read this article it didn’t make much sense to me because you’d have to use a boatload of fuel to hoist the printer into orbit along with the raw material it’s going to be printing with, but they’re using it to make 32-foot-long beams for solar arrays, which unlike most components, you can’t just make on the ground and jam into one of the few manned space-worthy vehicles we have left.
  • This Week in Ethnic Cleansing: A pregnant Mexican woman suffering potentially serious complications only mananged to move her asylum claim forward and go to a hospital because she happened to be escorted by a US Senator and his staff. I’m sure Ron Wyden and some of his colleagues would love to personally escort every asylum applicant out of the concentration camps if they could, but that hardly seems more practical than just shuttering the camps and welcoming our new neighbors.
  • Is it time for the caps lock to die? It may very well be, but I’m resolutely unconvinced that any of the proposed alternatives would be a better option to hit accidentaLLY ALL THE TIME.
  • Earlier this year, the Beresheet lunar lander crashed into the moon. Now we’ve learned that in crashing, the lander seeded the moon with dehydrated tardigrades, part of an archive lobbed up onto the moon by one of those deranged vulture capitalists who suddenly turn into private space magnates after amassing a ton of money.
  • (Warning: domestic terrorism, bigotry, slurs, edgelordery) Conservative scolds have tried to spin last weekend’s mass shooting in El Paso into yet another conversation about “violence in video games,” as if they haven’t been smashing that dead horse into paste since the Atari 2600 and Dungeons & Dragons nearly took down all societies in the global north. If you want to talk about games, there’s always the gamification of terror on sites like 8chan, where folks yuk it up about the Christchurch shooter’s “high score.”

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