rfmcdonald: (photo)
Yesterday afternoon, I had the good fortune to take a stroll through Toronto's Trinity Bellwoods Park on what was arguably the first day of the year. In that park, adjacent to Queen Street, are a couple dozen cherry trees. Much younger than the ones in High Park and by Robarts Library, these were in full glorious bloom when I saw them.

Sakura of Trinity-Bellwoods, 1 #toronto #trinitybellwoods #parks #spring #cherryblossom #sakura


Sakura of Trinity-Bellwoods, 2 #toronto #trinitybellwoods #parks #spring #cherryblossom #sakura


Sakura of Trinity-Bellwoods, 3 #toronto #trinitybellwoods #parks #spring #cherryblossom #sakura


Sakura of Trinity-Bellwoods, 4 #toronto #trinitybellwoods #parks #spring #cherryblossom #sakura


Sakura of Trinity-Bellwoods, 5 #toronto #trinitybellwoods #parks #spring #cherryblossom #sakura


Sakura of Trinity-Bellwoods, 6 #toronto #trinitybellwoods #parks #spring #cherryblossom #sakura


Sakura of Trinity-Bellwoods, 7 #toronto #trinitybellwoods #parks #spring #cherryblossom #sakura


Into the sakura #toronto #trinitybellwoods #parks #spring #cherryblossom #sakura
rfmcdonald: (photo)
East on Bloor, evening #toronto #theannex #bloorstreetwest #bloorstreet #evening


Walking across Bloor just east of Bathurst on Tuesday evening, I saw a perfect scene of a cyclist wheeling east under a sky very nearly electric blue in colour. Happily, I had a camera with me to preserve this scene.
rfmcdonald: (photo)
Underneath #toronto #bathurststreet #davenport #tunnel #night


Walking part of the way home tonight, heading south then west from St. Clair West, I passed by this mural on the rail underpass on Bathurst just north of Dupont.
rfmcdonald: (me)
Me outside, with my Quora Top Writer 2017 jacket #toronto #me #selfie #quora #quoratopwriter #dovercourtvillage


Quora is fun, not least because of the swag you can get if you qualify as a Top Writer.
rfmcdonald: (Default)
Goodbye, rfmcdpei


Almost two hours ago, I deleted my LiveJournal. User rfmcdpei is no longer active on this site.

I do allow for the possibility that I might change my mind. Maybe I will bring it back temporarily, so as to convert it to some kind of personal docment via BlogBooker, or perhaps I will restore it in the name of minimizing link rot on the Internet and to continue to be able to read what few (ever fewer) people still write only on LiveJournal. This post, however, is the first post that I will not be crossposting from Dreamwidth over to LiveJournal, and no other post shall follow.

I did join the rush on account of the new user agreement unleashed earlier this week, of course.



Any number of news sources, like the Daily Dot and Boing Boing and Gizmodo and Charlie Stross at Autopope, have written at great length about the new terms of service agreement. That this agreement is not available, not in a legally binding form and not in a well-translated form, in the English language made the exodus inevitable.

Russia, as a classical dictatorship, wants to be able to restrict what people write about within its sphere, to do away with anonymity and to limit the range of permissible subject matter. LiveJournal, which happens to be based in Russia as a consequence of a long series of business decisions (bad decisions, I would argue, ones which kept LiveJournal from emerging as a lasting social network of worldwide scope), is subject. Therefore, anyone who is not dependent on LiveJournal is leaving a social network that appears to be fatally compromised.

(What is the opposite of soft power?)

I have had alternatives ready. Back in October 2012, I blogged about how I had moved away from LiveJournal as a primary blog, towards Dreamwidth for LiveJournal-like social networking and to WordPress for the more blog-like functions. I am losing nothing as a consequence of this. My regrets about this are not especially profound ones, characterized much more by wistfulness and nostalgia than by serious regret.

rfmcdpei has been around for a month short of fifteen years. It's amazing.



LiveJournal was always been there for me. I remember reading Tom's LiveJournal, and the LiveJournals of others, back in early 2002 when I was so desperate to connect with anyone. I remember how excited I was when I got an invite code from Darren back in June of 2002. I remember writing an online diary of my life there, and then, first slowly then with speed, transforming this diary into a blog. I know that I met all sorts of people who I know nd like even know there, came to learn all kinds of things there, helped other people learn through LiveJournal. In my life, LiveJournal was a huge net positive.

And now it's over. It's an era that was bound to end, I know, and what an era it was. Thank you, LiveJournalers and LiveJournal founders, too, for making this so good and fun.
rfmcdonald: (Default)
A Eurythmics fan group on Facebook just reminded me that today, the 6th of April, is the 25th anniversary of the release of Annie Lennox's solo debut, Diva.

Wow.



Much of the video album, directed by long-time collaborator Sophie Muller who was also responsible for the exquisite 1986 Savage video album, is viewable here. I blogged about one track from Diva, "Little Bird", back in 2008. A lot of the tracks--"Why?", "Walking on Broken Glass", "Legend in my Living Room", all of them really--deserve extended commentaries of their own.

What can I say about Diva but that this album is one of the highlights of the career of an artist who has been hugely influential in my life? Without seeing "No More I Love Yous" on MuchMusic back in 1995, I can imagine that I might have gone into the sciences rather than the arts. Lennox's music has been a constant throughout my life, with its art and its poise and its personality. My life is much the better for having had it.

Thanks, Annie.
rfmcdonald: (Default)

  • Centauri Dreams looks at evidence that Ceres' Occator Crater, an apparent cryovolcano, may have been recently active.

  • Crooked Timber's John Quiggin wonders what would have happened had Kerensky accepted the German Reichstag's proposal in 1917.

  • Dangerous Minds looks at some fun that employees at a bookstore in France got up to with book covers.

  • Cody Delistraty describes F. Scott Fitzgerald's utter failure to fit into Hollywood.

  • A Fistful of Euros hosts Alex Harrowell's blog post taking a look at recent history from a perspective of rising populism.

  • io9 reports on a proposal from the Chinese city of Lanzhou to set up a water pipeline connecting it to Siberia's Lake Baikal.

  • Imageo notes a recent expedition by Norwegian scientists aiming at examining the winter ice.

  • Strange Maps links to an amazing graphic mapping the lexical distances between Europe's languages.

  • Window on Eurasia argues that Russia is on the verge of a new era of population decline, and shares a perhaps alarming perspective on the growth of Muslim populations in Russia.

rfmcdonald: (Default)
The Financial Post carries Alastair Sharp's Reuters report noting that debt-laden Trump Tower here in Toronto has not received any bids, and that the bank that is its main debt holder is likely to take the building.

The court-run sale of a downtown Toronto high-rise bearing the name of U.S. President Donald Trump received no initial bids and ownership will likely fall to its main debt holder, a letter from the receiver showed.

The court process only indirectly involves Trump, whose sprawling business empire licenses its brand and manages the Toronto property on behalf of the developer, Talon International Inc. But the Trump International Hotel & Tower’s new owner will need to navigate an unresolved dispute over whether they can get out of that arrangement.

No qualified bids apart from a stalking horse offer of $298 million were received for the luxury hotel and condo property by an initial deadline, the receiver, FTI Consulting, said in a letter dated Feb. 21 and seen by Reuters on Monday.

“As a result, the Receiver has determined that the Stalking Horse Bidder is the Successful Bidder,” the letter said.

With no rival bidders emerging, the hotel’s ownership will likely fall to JCF Capital ULC, which on Sept. 29 bought the $301 million owed on the tower’s construction loan, before quickly moving to initiate the sale process.
rfmcdonald: (Default)

  • D-Brief shares rare video of beaked whales on the move.

  • Dangerous Minds notes that someone has actually begun selling unauthorized action figures of Trump Administration figures like Bannon and Spencer.

  • Language Log looks at a linguistic feature of Emma Watson's quote, her ending it with a preposition.

  • Marginal Revolution's Tyler Cowen considers, originally for Bloomberg View, if Trump could be seen as a placebo for what ails America.

  • The New APPS Blog takes a Marxist angle on the issue of big data, from the perspective of (among other things) primitive accumulation.

  • The Search reports on the phenomenon of the Women's History Month Wikipedia edit-a-thon, aiming to literally increase the representation of notable women on Wikipedia.

  • Towleroad notes the six men who will be stars of a new Fire Island reality television show.

  • The Volokh Conspiracy finds some merit in Ben Carson's description of American slaves as immigrants.

  • Window on Eurasia argues that Belarusians are beginning to mobilize against their government and suggests they are already making headway.

rfmcdonald: (photo)
Looking northwest, Church and Wellesley


In the afternoon light, the condo towers of the Yonge and Bloor area loom over Church and Wellesley. The northwest corner of this intersection is likewise set for a massive transformation, a condoization. This scene will not be here for much longer.
rfmcdonald: (Default)

  • Centauri Dreams reports on asteroid P/2016 G1, a world that, after splitting, is now showing signs of a cometary tail.

  • The Everyday Sociology Blog considers outrage as a sociological phenomenon. What, exactly, does it do? What does it change?

  • Joe. My. God. reports on a new push for same-sex marriage in Germany, coming from the SPD.

  • Lawyers, Guns and Money examines the Alabama government's disinterest in commemorating the Selma march for freedom.

  • Marginal Revolution looks at Oxford University's attempt to recruit white British male students.

  • At the NYRB Daily, Masha Gessen warns against falling too readily into the trap of identifying conspiracies in dealing with Trump.

  • pollotenchegg maps the distribution of Muslims in Crimea according to the 1897 Russian census.

  • Savage Minds takes a brief look at ayahuasca, a ritual beverage of Andean indigenous peoples, and looks at how its legality in the United States remains complicated.

  • Elf Sternberg considers the problems of straight men with sex, and argues they might be especially trapped by a culture that makes it difficult for straight men to consider sex as anything but a birthright and an obligation.

  • The Volokh Conspiracy considers how the complexities of eminent domain might complicate the US-Mexican border wall.

  • Window on Eurasia reports on protests in Russia and argues Belarus is on the verge of something.

rfmcdonald: (Default)
Two links are being added.


  • To the news section, I'm adding the Canadian news website National Observer, which has interesting longer articles analyzing Canadian events. Of their recent articles, I would recommend Lorimer Shenher's "LGBTQ officers need to pick the right target", which argues that LGBTQ police officers should step back and consider the import of the police, as an organization, to many queer people.

  • To the blog section, I'm adding Strange Company, a great blog that assembles links of interesting and odd things around the world, in the past and present, and takes the occasional longer look at particular events. This link, examining the history of one Reverend Griffiths who was something of a ghostbuster in 19th century Wales, is a good example of the latter category of post.

rfmcdonald: (photo)
Tower in the night, north towards Davenport


The signals tower on the rail line to the north of my home was just barely perceptible, late last night, against the bright clouds.
rfmcdonald: (obscura)


In a great Wired article, Charley Locke describes how a photo taken on the New York City subway system by Instagram user subwaycreatures ended up going hilariously viral.

Samuel Themer never planned to be a symbol of everything that’s right or wrong with America. He just wanted to go to work. But when he hopped on the subway to head into Manhattan on February 19, the Queens resident was in full drag—he performs as Gilda Wabbit. He also ended up sitting next to a woman in a niqab, a fact he initially didn’t even notice. “I was just sitting on the train, existing,” he says. “It didn’t seem out of the ordinary that a woman in full modesty garb would sit next to me.”

Someone on that W car with them, though, thought otherwise. Boubah Barry, a Guinean immigrant and real estate student, wanted to document what he saw as a testament to tolerance, so he took a photo of the pair and posted it to Instagram. “It’s diversity,” says Barry, who says he doesn’t identify as liberal or conservative but does oppose President Trump’s refugee ban. “They sit next to each other, and no one cares.”

But someone did care. After the post was shared by Instagram account subwaycreatures, the photo drifted across the internet until /pol/ News Network attached it to a tweet on Wednesday with the message “This is the future that liberals want.”

/pol/ News Network, which also recently declared Get Out to be anti-white propaganda, probably intended the post to be a warning about the impending liberal dystopia. But as soon as actual liberals saw it, they flipped the message on its head—and began touting the message as exactly the future they wanted. They filled /pol/ News Network’s mentions with messages endorsing the photo and adding their own visions of a bright future. By Thursday, it was a full-blown meme. Soon images of a future filled with interspecies companionship, gay space communism, and Garfield flooded onto social media.
rfmcdonald: (forums)
This weekend, I've been thinking a lot about Michael Hobbes' very recent Huffington Post article "Together Alone: The Epidemic of Gay Loneliness". I know I'm not alone in this, having seen this article shared by several other friends and in at least one other discussion group.



Hobbes' question is simple: Why, despite significant legal progress in the past decades, are the lives of young gay men (probably generalizable to young queer men) still marked by so many signs of trauma?

[T]he rates of depression, loneliness and substance abuse in the gay community remain stuck in the same place they’ve been for decades. Gay people are now, depending on the study, between 2 and 10 times more likely than straight people to take their own lives. We’re twice as likely to have a major depressive episode. And just like the last epidemic we lived through, the trauma appears to be concentrated among men. In a survey of gay men who recently arrived in New York City, three-quarters suffered from anxiety or depression, abused drugs or alcohol or were having risky sex—or some combination of the three. Despite all the talk of our “chosen families,” gay men have fewer close friends than straight people or gay women. In a survey of care-providers at HIV clinics, one respondent told researchers: “It’s not a question of them not knowing how to save their lives. It’s a question of them knowing if their lives are worth saving.”

I’m not going to pretend to be objective about any of this. I’m a perpetually single gay guy who was raised in a bright blue city by PFLAG parents. I’ve never known anyone who died of AIDS, I’ve never experienced direct discrimination and I came out of the closet into a world where marriage, a picket fence and a golden retriever were not just feasible, but expected. I’ve also been in and out of therapy more times than I’ve downloaded and deleted Grindr.

“Marriage equality and the changes in legal status were an improvement for some gay men,” says Christopher Stults, a researcher at New York University who studies the differences in mental health between gay and straight men. “But for a lot of other people, it was a letdown. Like, we have this legal status, and yet there’s still something unfulfilled.”

This feeling of emptiness, it turns out, is not just an American phenomenon. In the Netherlands, where gay marriage has been legal since 2001, gay men remain three times more likely to suffer from a mood disorder than straight men, and 10 times more likely to engage in “suicidal self-harm.” In Sweden, which has had civil unions since 1995 and full marriage since 2009, men married to men have triple the suicide rate of men married to women.

All of these unbearable statistics lead to the same conclusion: It is still dangerously alienating to go through life as a man attracted to other men. The good news, though, is that epidemiologists and social scientists are closer than ever to understanding all the reasons why.


Hobbes' answer, that young people are traumatized firstly by the stresses of growing up in the closet in often very difficult circumstances then by entering a gay community that insensitively allows the imposition of new restrictions and rules, all without much recognition of these psychological shocks never mind treatment of said, is one that convinces me. I have say that I think I recognize some of the symptoms in my own life, certainly in the sort of cultivation of emotional distance from any potential stressors Hobbes describes towards the end.

What do you think? Have you read this article? What are your opinions on the issues it describes?
rfmcdonald: (Default)
Torontoist features, as part of its weekly Immigrants in Toronto feature, an interview with El-Farouk Khaki, an out queer Muslim who is also a leading refugee lawyer.

I was born in Dar es Salaam in Tanzania. We had to leave when I was seven because my dad had been part of the independence movement. We lived in England for three years before we came to Canada. When we first arrived in Toronto, we were put up in a homestay. It was a Jewish family. And so my first religious service in Canada was actually Purim in a synagogue, and I went to a Jewish school with one of the kids for a week and a half. And that was an amazing experience for me because I have a fairly Semitic nose, and as a Muslim kid in London in the public school system, I was always being teased about it. And so being in a Jewish school, I had nobody teasing me about my nose.

After 10 days, we went on to Vancouver, and that’s where I finished my elementary school, went to high school, university, and law school, but I came back to Toronto in 1989. I came here for work. And I stayed. I was offered a job at the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada.
rfmcdonald: (Default)
Desmond Brown writes for the Inter Press Service about the complications of Guyana's newly-discovered offshore oil, both economic and environmental. What will happen to Guyana's low-carbon economic strategy if it drills?

The recent discovery of large volumes of oil offshore of Guyana could prove to be a major headache for the country, as the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and other Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) members press for keeping global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees C above pre-industrial levels as provided for in the historic Paris Climate Agreement.

Exxon Mobil recently announced the successful drilling of a deep-water exploration well that may soon confirm that the seafloor beneath Guyana’s coastal waters contains one of the richest oil and natural gas discoveries in decades.

Experts now estimate that one of its offshore fields alone, known as Liza, could contain 1.4 billion barrels of oil and mixed natural gas.

But in the face of a changing climate fueled by greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, Dr. Al Binger, interim executive director of the Caribbean Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (CCREE), said Guyana should not get too excited about the discovery.

“Guyana finds themselves inside AOSIS, the group that is fighting to keep temperatures under 1.5 degrees C, and now they are going to want to sell carbon which is going to get burned. I think they are going to have a lot of head-scratching to figure out ‘is this a blessing or is this a curse?’” Binger told IPS.
rfmcdonald: (Default)
CBC News' Nil Köksal reports on the continuing, sad, and politically necessary search in Cyprus for the graves of the many Cypriots killed in that island's recent history of ethnic war.

There were 84 skeletons, all in one place.

It wasn't the first, or the last, mass grave Ceren Ceraloglu would search, but the feeling of standing over that particular pit, with its staggering number of victims, has stayed with her.

A field archaeologist with the Committee on Missing Persons (CMP) in Cyprus, Ceraloglu has been sifting through the most painful parts of her island's past.

It's not the kind of work this mother of triplets imagined she'd be doing when she was studying archaeology in university. But it's become a calling.

Not just because the excavations aim to return the remains of those killed in the conflict between Greek and Turkish Cypriots to their families, but because scientists from both communities work side by side, every day.

There is no room for conflict here.

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