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.

9:05 – Mon 07 August 2023

green and brown mountain under blue sky during daytime, Machu Picchu, Cusco - Perú
green and brown mountain under blue sky during daytime, Machu Picchu, Cusco - Perú
Image credit: https://unsplash.com/photos/rFESpq5MMTg by Eddie Kiszka made available under the Unsplash license

Ancient DNA reveals origins of Machu Picchu workers from Futurity

Few of them had shared DNA with each other, showing that they had been brought to Machu Picchu as individuals rather than as part of a family or community group.

Hashtags: #MachuPicchu #DNA

If you don’t catch the subtext, here, this means that we’ve almost certainly had almost everything wrong about the place.

12:01 – Mon 07 August 2023

Quoted on Mastodon

A subtle-witted man is like an arrow, which, rending little surface, enters deeply, but they whose minds are dull resemble stones dashing with clumsy force, but never piercing.

Māgha

Hashtags: #Quotes

9:04 – Tue 08 August 2023

Image Not Shown: Attorney Ben Crump, second from left, walks with Ron Lacks, left, Alfred Lacks Carter, third from left, both grandsons of Henrietta Lacks, and other descendants of Lacks, outside the federal courthouse in Baltimore, Oct. 4, 2021

Henrietta Lacks’ Family Settles Lawsuit With Biotech Company That Used Her Cells Without Consent from Voice of America

HeLa cells went on to become a cornerstone of modern medicine, enabling countless scientific and medical innovations, including the development of the polio vaccine, genetic mapping and even COVID-19 vaccines.

Hashtags: #MedicalRacism #HeLa

This arguably understates both the importance of the cells—I believe that I have worked with HeLa cells, despite not working in medicine or (usually) biology—and the ethical gymnastics that people attempt to explain why they don’t want people digging up corpses or auctioning off organs, but the cells constitute commercial property that some family with associated DNA shouldn’t try to control.

12:03 – Tue 08 August 2023

Quoted on Mastodon

It is an observation no less just than common that there is no stronger test of a man’s real character than power and authority, exciting, as they do, every passion, and discovering every latent vice.

Plutarch

Hashtags: #Quotes

9:07 – Wed 09 August 2023

A model of a land-line telephone
A model of a land-line telephone
Image credit: Illustration by Global Voices

Why do we keep hiding the history of technology? from Global Voices

The digital telephone switch is the closest precursor to the computer network router we know today. It aims to combine the physical and logical interfaces in a digital switching abstraction, replacing the old electromechanical mechanisms used in the past.

Hashtags: #History #Technology

This feels like a story that should have gotten more momentum, given how much interest people generally have in the history of computing technology. I mean, we both know that it has a lot to do with where the story leads, but still…

12:04 – Wed 09 August 2023

Quoted on Mastodon

There was a state without king or nobles; there was a church without a bishop; there was a people governed by grave magistrates which it had selected, and by equal laws which it had framed.

Rufus Choate

Hashtags: #Quotes

6:32 PM – Wed 09 August 2023

Answered on Cohost

Someone asked for my thoughts on the Rust programming language, so I did what I could.

Good question! I don’t know that this answer will end up as useful to anybody, whatever that might mean for a particular person, but in broad strokes, I’d call myself a fan.

Because I started my career writing C, I make my comparisons from there, and Rust looks a lot like what I wish C had grown into - especially the memory model - instead of always reifying old ideas of what makes “good” code and leaving the future to someone else. I contrast that assessment with how I feel about Go, which seems like a decent enough language, but feels so much like a response to specifically 1980s academic criticisms of C (“you can read declarations aloud, left-to-right,” for instance) that it feels like the language came out thirty years too late.

More to the point, for my personal projects, the few projects that (had I worked on them fifteen years ago) I would have written in C, I now reach for Rust. I still don’t know it well enough to write it off the cuff like I do with languages that I use or have used every day. But a couple of years back, I wrote the back-end of a local search engine (local, as in “for specific files on my computer, like notes”) in Rust, and it only took about a thousand lines and a few hours to handle the indexing, searching, and network code to spin up a server.

I wish that Rust had a more complete object model and would ditch the macros, but I can mostly understand why they made those choices.

My only “real” objection probably involves the culture around it, but I feel that way about most languages. Because Rust basically gets ignored in all contexts but “read this list of some languages that we’ll call up-and-coming” clickbait, many Rust developers seem to want to find opportunities to “convert” people, and that doesn’t help. I mean, they don’t come off as bad as Python people (no offense to Python people, but wow, I sometimes feel like, even if I only write about starting a project in notes to myself that I won’t ever publish, someone will still show up to ask if I’ve considered using Python for that…), and I get that the alternative of writing enormous projects in Rust takes far more effort than commenting online, but it still feels a bit embarrassing.

I keep meaning to do more work in Rust, honestly, but I’d also like to do more work in Haskell, find a reason to work in SmallTalk or APL, kick the tires on D and Zig, and find some languages that actually qualify as new…

9:02 – Thu 10 August 2023

A photograph of a 19th century handwritten document on a concrete background. The document has a large sketch of the bone structure of a plesiosaurus dinosaur, signed by Mary Anning. The skeleton has four limbs made up of numerous bones and a long neck which is surrounded by other pieces of bone.
A photograph of a 19th century handwritten document on a concrete background. The document has a large sketch of the bone structure of a plesiosaurus dinosaur, signed by Mary Anning. The skeleton has four limbs made up of numerous bones and a long neck which is surrounded by other pieces of bone.
Image credit: Photograph (of public domain material) seemingly made available under the terms of the terms of a CC-BY license

Would you like to buy a dinosaur? from the Wellcome Collection

They date from December 1823 and describe one of the most important events in Anning’s life: her discovery of a plesiosaur, which cemented her reputation among the emerging international community of geologists and was arguably her most important fossil find.

Hashtags: #MaryAnning #Paleontology

Even if you don’t know Anning’s name by now, you know her reputation, as (likely) the “she” who sells seashells by the sea shore, complete with the need to sell artifacts to fund her work and the societal minimizing of a successful career in archaeology due to her gender, all in eight words. In other words, if you don’t know her name, then you should do yourself a favor and read up about her.

12:07 – Thu 10 August 2023

Quoted on Mastodon

In all companies there are more fools than wise men, and the greater part always gets the better of the wiser.

François Rabelais

Hashtags: #Quotes

9:01 – Fri 11 August 2023

Content Warning: Right-Wing Extremism, Child Abuse

Image Not Shown: A pro-LGBTQ+ demonstrator holds a sign outside a Glendale (California) Unified School District Board of Education meeting held to discuss recognizing June as Pride Month, on June 20, 2023

Right-wing extremism means homeschooling surge in US should concern us all from openDemocracy

Blattert, a chemical engineer, was jailed for over 11 years for strangling one of his children and beating her severely with glue sticks, a belt, and his hands – open palms and fists according to the testimony of his brave daughter.

Hashtags: #ChildAbuse #RightWing #HomeSchool

I don’t oppose home-schooling—beyond opposing pretty much all private schooling, I mean, because it takes money from public schools—but yes, we do have a clear need for making sure that the home will neither train children to become horrible adults or traumatize them.

12:05 – Fri 11 August 2023

Quoted on Mastodon

What is it but a map of busy life, Its fluctuations, and its vast concerns?

William Cowper

Hashtags: #Quotes

Bonus

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: Barbie (the doll) staring blankly into the camera

Sorry, But Barbie Is Still a Problem from OtherWords

The doll has always been tone-deaf. Soon after Barbie was launched, just as second-wave feminism emerged, Mattel released Slumber Party Barbie. This Barbie, Devika Sunand wrote, “came with pink pajamas, a pink scale set at 110 lbs, and a diet book on how to lose weight, with only one instruction: DON’T EAT!”

I don’t particularly care about the framing of this, because it implies that past traumas mean that the company can never fix the problem with the brand, but we do need to keep these problems in mind, and demand that toy companies always do better for the next generation.

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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.