As discussed previously, on Fridays, I present my weekly social media roundups. Note that toots of articles generally include header images from the articles, which I don’t include here unless their creators happen to have released them for use under a free license, and I notice. Most have not, or I don’t notice. But I now add my commentary here, where I don’t feel restricted by message length.

diagrams showing the division of the day and of the week

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

9:07 – Mon 08 May 2023

Content Warning: Systemic child abuse

Image Not Shown: Young white woman walking hand in hand with African child

Whether or not a man convicted of abusing African ‘orphans’ is exonerated, the missionary system that brought him to Kenya was always deeply flawed from The Conversation

The Western obsession with African orphans began in the 1830s, when British and European mission organizations started working in eastern Africa — the same region where Durham would volunteer nearly 200 years later.

Hashtags: #Africa #Missionaries

While it has a lot of competition, the insistence that we need to “fix” how non-white people raise their children while leaving so many of our own to die from malnutrition or violence has to rank as at least among the most destructive policies.

12:07 – Mon 08 May 2023

Quoted on Mastodon

Courtesy, modesty, good manners, conformity to definite ethical standards are universal, but what constitutes courtesy, modesty, good manners, and definite ethical standards is not universal.

Franz Boas

Hashtags: #Quotes #JewishAmericanHeritage

9:01 – Tue 09 May 2023

Image Not Shown: Google CEO Sundar Pichai giving a presentation

Scary ‘Emergent’ AI Abilities Are Just a ‘Mirage’ Produced by Researchers, Stanford Study Says from VICE Motherboard

The researchers wrote that a person’s choice of a “non-linear” or “discontinuous” measurement can result in what appear to be sharp and unpredictable changes that are then falsely labeled as emergent abilities when in reality the performance curve is increasing smoothly.

Hashtags: #AI

This doesn’t surprise me at all. For all the hype, the more that I play with these machine learning systems, the more the results look like they haven’t improved significantly over classical procedural algorithms, for understanding and generating content. I like that the chat interface allows me (sometimes) to workshop an idea to get closer to what I wanted, but I still find myself doing most of the work, with the AI either providing the seed of an idea or serving as a “placebo assistant.”

12:05 – Tue 09 May 2023

Quoted on Mastodon

Media freedom plays an indispensable role in informing the public, holding governments accountable, and telling stories that otherwise would not be told.

Antony Blinken

Hashtags: #Quotes #JewishAmericanHeritage

9:03 – Wed 10 May 2023

Image Not Shown: Demonstrators support Montana trans lawmaker Zooey Zephyr after she was banned from the floor of the Montana legislature for speaking out against an anti-transgender bill

Republicans are trying to crush dissent but the public is fighting back from openDemocracy

The tactics include those encapsulated in the acronym DARVO — deny, attack, and reverse victim and offender. That’s what the Republican Party does, whether in Tennessee or Montana or Washington DC.

Hashtags: #GOP #USPol #Democracy

I keep saying that the reason that “the arc of the universe bends toward justice” has a lot to do with the effort that it takes to maintain unjust systems. When a few people take a real stand against it, it tends to collapse.

12:06 – Wed 10 May 2023

Quoted on Mastodon

Where the roots of private virtue are diseased, the fruit of public probity cannot but be corrupt.

Felix Adler

Hashtags: #Quotes #JewishAmericanHeritage

9:05 – Thu 11 May 2023

Content Warning: Overt racism in the Drug War's origins

Image Not Shown: Nixon White House aide John Ehrlichman testifies before the Senate Watergate Committee in 1973

The Drug War’s Dark Origins from OtherWords

By 1937, Harry J. Anslinger — America’s first “Drug Czar” — had successfully lobbied Congress to ban cannabis using startlingly racist language. “Reefer makes darkies think they’re as good as white men,” he claimed. “There are 100,000 total marijuana smokers in the U.S., and most are Negroes, Hispanics, Filipinos, and entertainers.

Hashtags: #DrugWar #Racism

I already knew most of this story, but this contextualizes it nicely, and not everybody has already read about it. While I happen to not have any interest in drugs, seeing the background makes it difficult for me to support any prohibition.

12:03 – Thu 11 May 2023

Quoted on Mastodon

A proper autobiography is a death-bed confession. A true man finds so much work to do that he has no time to contemplate his yesterdays; for to-day and to-morrow are here, with their impatient tasks.

Mary Antin

Hashtags: #Quotes #JewishAmericanHeritage

9:04 – Fri 12 May 2023

Image Not Shown: A visitor takes a picture with his mobile phone at the Google stand on the second day of the Mobile World Congress on Feb. 28, 2017, in Barcelona

‘We have no moat’: Big tech prepares to lose AI race to open-source from Daily Kos

Open source tools that are now in millions of hands allow individuals and small groups to race past what were seen as roadblocks to AI’s further advance. They’re building tools that are faster, smaller, and more easily updated.

Hashtags: #AI #FreeSoftware #OpenSource

Despite my vocal lack of excitement over machine learning above, I definitely appreciate that this hasn’t ended up in the hands of a handful of wealthy corporations looking to destroy worker rights. If they become useful, the democratization makes it far more likely that workers will use these products to save time, rather than have it replaced by a system that has trouble remembering what it said.

12:01 – Fri 12 May 2023

Quoted on Mastodon

Capitalism attacks and destroys all the finer sentiments of the human heart; it ruthlessly sweeps away old traditions and ideas opposed to its progress, and it exploits and corrupts those things once held sacred.

Daniel De Leon

Hashtags: #Quotes #JewishAmericanHeritage


Because it accidentally became a tradition early on in the life of the blog, I drop any additional articles that didn’t fit into the one-article-per-day week, but too weird or important to not mention, here.

Image Not Shown: A lab-coated scientist amidst an array of chemistry equipment. His head has been replaced with a 19th-century anatomical lateral cross-section showing the inside of a bearded man's head, including one lobe of his brain. He is peering at a large flask half-full of red liquid. Inside the liquid floats the Capitol building.

Ostromizing democracy from Pluralistic

Thiel says that mothers are apt to sideline the “science” of economics for the soppy, sentimental idea that children shouldn’t starve to death and thus vote for politicians who are willing to tax rich people.

I don’t always enjoy Doctorow’s blog, because he often has a coined term that he desperately hopes will become mainstream, will mostly tell a story that provides excuses to link to prior posts of his, or seem like he copied the article in after writing it somewhere else, due to the prominent explanation that you can also find the material in…the blog post that you can see in front of you.

However, this time, he gets at a bunch of interesting ideas, including some that I’ve talked about, like—in my post on licenses, and yes, I realize how crass that looks after calling out Doctorow for using his posts as excuses to link back to his own blog—how “the Tragedy of the Commons” came from a racist place intended to destroy cooperation.

Content Warning: Samuel Alito

Image Not Shown: WASHINGTON, DC --- JULY 23: U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito is seen after a swearing in ceremony for Mark Esper to be the new U.S. Secretary of Defense July 23, 2019, in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, DC. Esper succeed James Mattis to become the 27th U.S. Defense Secretary.(Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Alito wallows in self-pity while women’s lives are in jeopardy from Daily Kos

He then admitted the fear wasn’t real. “I don’t feel physically unsafe, because we now have a lot of protection.” He is “driven around in basically a tank, and I’m not really supposed to go anyplace by myself without the tank and my members of the police force.”

While I don’t have a favorite book, I find Number 87 by Eden Phillpotts (as “Harrington Hext”) in 1922 an interesting candidate, for a number of reasons. In it, a wealthy man named Bruce, due to oddities in his childhood, becomes obsessed with bats. When, on a job, he discovers a powerful radioactive energy source, he becomes a vigilante known as The Bat. Seriously, 1922.

Like a certain comic book character seventeen years in the future, this fellow creates a bat-like costume, signature vehicle, and signature weapons. Unlike said future comic book character, he uses his weapons and persona (fursona?) he went on a global murder spree in hopes of wiping out the anti-science and fascist movements…OK, and trade unionists, for some reason. He counted among his victim Judge Greanleaf P. Stubbs, an American presidential candidate on the Republican ticket who had the next election in the bag, despite his isolationist policies. I can’t say that I condone the protagonist’s actions, but for two out of the three categories, after spending that past couple of years listening to Alito’s constant whining…I get it, man.

Oh, and if any of that description sounds familiar, I toned (presumably an alternate-universe) Bruce down and stuffed he and his equipment into the background of the Silver Bat, giving the League part of its excuse for a bat theme.

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