3 min read

Friday, January 20, 2023

Bit of a pugnacious newsletter today. But it has a happy ending.

Good morning.

Well, it's official, Elon Musk is trying to ruin my life. I refuse to let Twitter's not-so-gradual decline make me miserable, however; in all likelihood it will free up a lot of time for more productive pursuits and reduce my exposure to idiots. But I feel terrible for the third party developers like Craig Hockenberry and Paul Haddad) who have spent years building on Twitter's ecosystem with the company's encouragement, only to have it all cut off on a billionaire's whim. Not to mention the former Twitter employees who continue to get screwed because the guy has learned the lesson that the rich can just not pay their bills.

If only those he has wronged could seek redress through trial-by-combat.

Illustration of a woman swinging a bag full of something heavy, about to wallop the hell out of a dude carrying a sword/club kind of thing that he's used to cut her leg and foot already.
Hans Talhoffer, Ms.Thott.290.2º, f. 80r, 1459

I'm not sure how this newsletter become obscure duel format central, but it is what it is. Today we have an interesting story from The Public Domain Review about the rich history of fifteenth century German manuscripts called "fechtbucher" ("fight books"), featuring illustrations of judicial duels between men and women.

A form of legal trial, the duels often begin with the man in a pit or a tub, equipped with a wooden mace, while the woman circles above, slinging a stone wrapped in a veil or “loaded” into the sleeve of her chemise. The difference in height is meant to level any physical advantage of biological sex. Various painful scenarios play out.

It seems from the full article that some nerds have used these illustrations as the foundation for various forms of academic click-bait claiming, e.g., that these fights were something that doesn’t make much sense when you think about it called “divorce-by-combat”. But mostly it just doesn’t sound like there’s much historical basis to suggest that these co-ed judicial duels happened often, in 1400s Germany or otherwise. It's possible that someone somewhere did this at some point in what would have already been the distant past in 1446, but it's also possible that it was just an old wives' tale passed down through the centuries.

Anyway, there are a bunch of other illustrations in the article, and they’re pretty compelling to look at, which is probably why someone drew them in the first place.

Item 2: a list

The Seven Dwarves, ranked

  1. Bashful
  2. Happy
  3. Sleepy
  4. Sneezy
  5. Doc
  6. Dopey
  7. Grumpy

Item 3: a media recommendation


Item 4: word of the week


Item 5: a photograph

Webb NIRCam composite image from two filters – F212N (orange) and F335M (cyan) – of Jupiter system. Credit: NASA, ESA, CSA, Jupiter ERS Team; image processing by Ricardo Hueso (UPV/EHU) and Judy Schmidt.

Jiminy, did you even know Jupiter had rings? Click through for more, including an annotated version of the above photo. Hat tip to Dr. Amber Straughn, who shared it on Twitter back when it was not a cesspit.

See ya!

On a whim I signed up for omg.lol, this little internet experiment where you give them $20 and in exchange you get a whole grab-bag of random stuff, including a little profile page that you can use to tell people where they can find you. I'm not sure if I'll use most of the bells and whistles (for example, what even is a pastebin?) but I love the vibe here. There's weird blogging, weird tweeting, and weird blogging again. And then a bunch of other stuff I haven't even tried out, like PURLs, PGP (I think?) keys, and an IRC server(!). Plus you get a Mastodon account (although I'm sticking with this one for now). Overall it's reminiscent of the early internet, back when everyone was just messing around trying to see what they could do with these fun new toys, rather than trying to build an unassailable platform so they could start rent-seeking from their miserable userbase.

Anyway, if you sign up using that link up there (or this one!) I get an extra three months for free.

Thanks for reading, see you next week.