Jul. 11th, 2017

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  • The anthropology group blog Savage Minds now has a new name, Anthrodendum.

  • Anthropology.net reports on the first major study of ancient African human DNA. New history is revealed.

  • Bad Astronomer Phil Plait reports on how gravitational lensing led to the identification of a single star nine billion light-years away. (This is a record.)

  • Centauri Dreams reports the possible detection of a debris disk around pulsar Geminga, augury of future planets perhaps?

  • Dangerous Minds reports on Seoul's Haesindang Park, a park literally full of penises--phallic symbols, at least.

  • The Dragon's Gaze notes one analysis arguing for the plausibility of unmanned probes using imaginable technology reaching the ten nearest stars in a century.

  • Imageo shares photos from space of the southern California wildfires.

  • Language Hat shares some stirring poetry in Scots.

  • Lawyers, Guns and Money reports on the scale of child labour in North Carolina's farm sector.

  • Marginal Revolution thinks that American observers of Putin think, far too much, that he actually has a plan. The degree of chaos in Russia's affairs is apparently being underestimated.

  • Personal Reflections' Jim Belshaw notes the unsettling rural Americana of photographer Gregory Crewdson.

  • Window on Eurasia notes Zhirinovsky's plan for a sweeping Russian annexation of Ukraine, leaving only the northwest independent.

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  • Torontoist remembers Pam McConnell, former deputy mayor and a person committed for a long time to the health of Toronto.

  • The Toronto Star's Jesse Winters notes the controversial planned addition of two condo towers, somewhat modified, to the Distillery District.

  • The Toronto Star reports on the rescue of two photo-taiking tourists stranded midway the Scarborough Bluffs. I'm not saying I've climbed these very same inclines, just that I empathize with their position.

  • The Star's Emma McIntosh confirms what we suspected: The flooding of the Toronto Islands is such that large portions will remain closed off all summer.

  • The Globe and Mail's Stephen Wickens notes that there is not a large commerical real estate boom along the new Eglinton Avenue LRT.

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  • CBC reports on how the Hudson Bay port of Churchill could profit from global warming opening up sea lanes but suffer from heaving land wrecking infrastructure.

  • Brett Bundale reports on how Halifax, Nova Scotia, is booming, unlike the rest of the Maritimes.

  • This article describing how the London police remain vague about the number of dead in Grenfell Tower is horrifying.

  • Global News reports on how many in Harlem dislike the idea of renaming their neighbourhood's south "SoHa".

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It's Toronto Fringe Festival time, and I've been spending much of the past week attending high-quality indie theatre. Last night, I went with a friend to catch a new show that deserves the high ratings it has gotten from critics and audiences, The Seat Next To The King by local playwright Steven Elliott Jackson. The Seat Next To The King imagines an encounter, initially sexual but later more complex, in a Washington D.C. restroom in 1963 between African-American civil rights activist Bayard Rustin and long-time LBJ advisor Walter Jenkins.

In coming years, the two men's lives would take rather different trajectories, Rustin becoming one of the first out national political figures, and Jenkins' political career being destroyed in October 1964 when he was arrested on a disorderly conduct charge in a Washington D.C. washroom. Jenkins later returned to Texas and relative anonymity as a chartered accountant.

The arrest of a high-ranking advisor to LBJ for alleged homosexual behaviour could have had national political import. Indeed, some Republicans seem to have tried to publicize this arrest as much as possible, in the hope that the scandal would have an effect on that year's election. Somewhat to the surprise of many observers at the time, the Jenkins arrest did not have a significant effect on the election, LBJ's lead over Goldwater and Goldwater's reluctance to make the arrest a campaign issue. That said, the disappearance of Jenkins from LBJ's administration might well have had subtler longer-run consequences on American policy, some people suggesting that American policy in Vietnam might have been different (or not) had Jenkins been present to give advice.

Let's say that Jenkins does not get arrested, not in October of 1964 and not later. What happens next? How is the United States changed with Jenkins still providing advice to LBJ?

(Crossposted to alternatehistory.com.)
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