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  • Tory Senator Lynn Beyak's latest ignorant statements about First Nations have to disqualify her from public office. Global News reports.

  • Is the rebirth of Congo's palm oil exports sign of a return to normality? Can it occur? Will it last? Bloomberg examines.

  • Oli Mould is critical of the idea promoting the arts and public culture will do much for poorer urbanites, over at Open Democracy.

  • Tom Rowley profiles a book, drawn from a VKontakte group, examining the experiences of the former USSR in the 1990s, also at Open Democracy.

  • This VICE discussion about what "queer" means is fascinating.

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  • Bloomberg notes that the Chinese habit of wrapping farmers' fields in plastic has long-term negative consequences.

  • It's difficult not to trace the ability of a man in Vancouver to raise bananas at home to climate change. CBC reports.

  • The Caribbean island of Dominica is set to start to turn to geothermal power for its energy needs. The Inter Press Service reports.

  • Universe Today notes the astrometric data provided by GAIA lets us track stars set for close encounters.

  • The possible discovery of an intermediate-mass black hole very near the Galactic Centre is big in a lot of ways.

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  • Malcolm Campbell reports for CBC on how the Island's organic agriculture sector is dealing with ineffective provincial regulation.

  • At the Toronto Star, Ainslie Cruickshank describes new measures to reserve GTA farmland in the Greenbelt for agricultural uses only.

  • Leonid Bershidsky reports for Bloomberg View on how climate change is making Russia--and Ukraine, and Kazakhstan--a major agricultural force.

  • At the Toronto Star, Alex McKeen reports on a North York warehouse that hosts a highly productive vertical farm.

  • Frank Viviano's National Geographic article looking at the enormously productivity of high-tech agriculture in the Netherlands shows the future.

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  • At Wired, Matt Simon explores the remarkably wrong-headed theory of the 19th century US that "rain follows the plough."

  • These National Geographic photos of the unexplored lakes in Angola that feed the Okavango are remarkable.

  • Rachel Brown examines billy burr, the Colorado hermit whose collection of decades of climate data is invaluable.

  • Universe Today notes a new study confirming the existence of Tau Ceti e and f, potentially habitable rocky exoplanets just 12 light years away.

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  • National Geographic reports on how, unchecked, global warming may wreck the coffee industry of Uganda.

  • Aeon notes the nervous system of the ctenophore, product of a separate evolutionary process from our own.

  • Phys.org describes a recent study suggesting Easter Island was not wrecked by ecocide. (The Rapanui were devastated by others, I would add.)

  • Even with an active magnetic field, an Earth-like atmosphere of Proxima Centauri b might be eroded away by flares. Universe Today reports on the climate model making this prediction.

  • Does bizarre Przybylski’s star, HD 101065, contain exotic superheavy elements in its atmosphere? New Scientist wonders.

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  • Bloomberg reports on how Canada-Mexico relations will be tested by NAFTA and Trump.

  • Canada, the 2016 Census reported, is marked by noteworthy linguistic diversity (Tagalog does particularly well.)

  • Vice notes how Galen Weston's opposition to the minimum wage increase for workers at Loblaws is not in his self-interest.

  • Vice's Motherboard looks at how greenhouse agriculture in Nunavut could help drastically reduce food insecurity in that territory.

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  • Spacing hosts Cheryl Thompson's article examining Toronto's Caribbean festival as a Bakhtinian organized chaos.

  • VICE examines how social housing in Canada will be hard-hit by climate change, including rising temperatures.

  • Torontoist shares a sponsored guide to attractions in the Ontario Greenbelt.

  • Laura Howells at the Toronto Star notes that if garlic mustard has to be an invasive plant in the forests of Ontario, at least it helps that it is a tasty invader.

  • Julien Gignac reports on the mystery of who the artist building shrines at Leslie Spit actually is.

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  • CBC Prince Edward Island notes that, although down from its 1999 peak, PEI is still Canada's top potato producer.

  • Strong demand and limited supply means that the Island's real estate market is tight, with rising prices. CBC Prince Edward Island reports.

  • Meagan Campbell writes in MacLean's about two of the Island's newest migrant groups, Amish from Ontario and Buddhist monks from East Asia.

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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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  • Language Hat blogs about appearances of Nahuatl in Los Angeles, in television and in education.
  • Language Log talks about "Zhonghua minzu", meaning "Chinese nation" or "Chinese race" depending on the translation.

  • Marginal Revolution notes that Canada, with inelastic production, might have a marijuana shortage come legalization/
  • In the NYR Daily, Christopher de Bellaigue wonders if Britain--the West, even--might be on the verge of a descent into communal violence.

  • Peter Rukavina looks at the accessibility of VIA Rail's data on trade arrivals and departures.

  • Starts with a Bang's Ethan Siegel notes that, in the far distant starless future, the decay of binary brown dwarf orbits can still start stars.

  • Torontoist shares photos of the Dyke March.

  • Window on Eurasia argues that Tatarstan's tradition of bourgeois and intellectually critical nationalism could have wider consequences, in Russia and beyond.

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  • Centauri Dreams notes new studies suggesting the flares of red dwarf stars damage potentially habitable planets.

  • The Crux notes that the wild apple is going extinct.
  • D-Brief notes that recent high winds in Europe helped push energy prices there to negative territory.

  • The Frailest Thing considers Neil Postman's thoughts on the intersection of mass media and childhood.

  • Inkfish argues in favour of accidental wetlands in urban areas.
  • Language Log looks at the trope of the repeated character in some recent Chinese advertising.

  • The LRB Blog considers the costs, environmental and otherwise, to the United States' leaving the Paris climate agreement.

  • Marginal Revolution wonders what assumptions about deep history the news of Homo sapiens' longer history overturn.

  • The Power and the Money's Noel Maurer notes that, in the area of energy costs, mid-20th century Uruguay was worse off than New Zealand.
  • The Russian Demographics Blog looks at polling on Russian opinions about the Russian Far East and its future.

  • Yorkshire Ranter Alex Harrowell is skeptical about Jeremy Paxman's claims about privacy in modern journalism.

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  • The Atlantic's Ed Yong notes the discovery of dated Homo sapiens fossils 300k years old in Morocco. (!)

  • The Atlantic reports on Twitter-driven science that has highlighted the remarkable visual acuity of the spider.

  • The Economist notes that multilingual societies can encounter more difficulties prospering than unilingual ones.

  • Torontoist notes a Thunder Bay park devoted to the idea of First Nations reconciliation.

  • The Inter Press Service reports on how gardens grown under solar tents in Bolivia can improve nutrition in poor highland villages.

  • The Toronto Star's Christopher Hume trolls Rob Ford's supporters over the new, well-designed, Etobicoke Civic Centre.Metro Toronto calculates just how many avocado toasts would go into a mortgage in the GTA.

  • MacLean's hosts a collection of twenty photos from gritty Niagara Falls, New York.

  • The National Post shows remarkable, heartbreaking photos from the flooded Toronto Islands.

  • Edward Keenan argues that the Toronto Islands' flooding should help prompt a local discussion on climate change.

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Torontoist's Andre Proulx looks at how Ontario's wine industry is continuing to develop.

Cave Spring Cellars made their first vintage in 1986. It was a small 500-case batch of wine. This date is a reminder of how early we are in the history of wine in this province. It was one of the first eight wineries in the province and second on the Beamsville Bench.

I recently had a chance to speak with Len Pennachetti, the president and founder of Cave Spring Cellars (and brother of Toronto’s former city manager). He got his start in the wine industry when he was tasked with working vineyards that were purchased by his father.

Not all grapes are created equal; neither are Canadian wines. Prior to the founding of Inniskillin in 1974, Ontario wines were made using labrusca grapes—those Concord grapes found in farmers’ markets at the twilight of summer.

Today, the European grape, vinifera, is used to make most fine wines. Even by 1986, 10 years after Inniskillin had been founded, there were still only a handful of farmers who had made the switch. The challenge with growing vinifera in Ontario isn’t so much the summer but the punishing winters. When the temperature starts to dip below -15, frigid temperatures begin to cause damage or even kill vines.

As one of the founding members of VQA, Pennachetti had a hand in crafting the rules that determine the quality of Ontario wines. The VQA ensures not only that the grapes are 100 per cent Ontario grown, but also that the grapes are vinifera.
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Chris Bateman described how the Reesor family in north Scarborough remain the last farmers active within the borders of the city of Toronto.

Dale Reesor figures he’s the last farmer in Toronto.

Since his elderly neighbour Jim Murison passed away in December, Reesor’s family is the only one he knows of that’s still growing crops commercially in the city.

From their 136-year-old farmhouse on the south side of Steeles Ave. E. in north Scarborough, Dale and Lois Reesor and their five kids work about 350 acres of land within the Toronto city limits under the name Sweet Ridge Farms. They grow mostly sweet corn, about 10 to 12 varieties, plus soybeans and wheat.

It’s a way of life that stretches back more than 200 years.

The Reesors “came to the Toronto area, Markham and Scarborough, in 1804,” Dale said. “It’s a Mennonite family. They came from Pennsylvania. They travelled up and bought land in this area. It’s been the same family ever since.”
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  • Beyond the Beyond shares Yves Behar's thoughts on design in an age of artificial intelligence.

  • blogTO makes the case for the east end of Toronto.

  • The Big Picture shares photos of a family of Congolese refugees resettled in New England.

  • Centauri Dreams hosts an essay looking at the prospects for off-world agriculture.

  • Dangerous Minds shares photos of the beauty created by graffiti removal.

  • The Dragon's Tales looks for signs of possible cryovolcanism on Europa.

  • Joe. My. God. shares audio of the new Blondie track "Fun."

  • Language Hat remembers the life and career of linguist Leon Dostert.

  • Lawyers, Guns and Money argues protest is needed in blue states, too.

  • The LRB Blog warns people not to forget about Pence.

  • Marginal Revolution considersa trends in the British economy.

  • Neuroskeptic shares disturbing findings about the prevalence of plagiarism in science.

  • Window on Eurasia notes that Russia does not expect Trump to take all the sanctions down at once.

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CBC News' Cherie Wheeler reports from western Newfoundland, where an experiment in growing canola and wine grapes in this historically non-agricultural province has yielded success.

Thanks to the success of some unconventional crops grown last summer, western Newfoundland might soon add canola and grapes to its list of agricultural products.

Working with independent farmers, the provincial Department of Fisheries, Forestry and Agrifoods experimented with the two crops that aren't traditionally grown in the province.

The hope was those first-time crops could sow the seeds for new farming industries.

While canola farming is big business in the prairies, it's unheard of in Newfoundland and Labrador.

"Yes, we're a lot different from Saskatchewan, but perhaps we might have a little better conditions than Iceland or northern Norway," said Kavanagh, the province's alternative feed co-ordinator.

[. . .]

It turns out she was right. Planting 12 hectares on private farmland on the island's west coast, in Pasadena, Kanvanagh said the yield was ¾ of a metric tonne per acre — which is on par with the rest of Atlantic Canada.

[. . .]

Like canola, the idea to grow grapes in Newfoundland was germinated in another province.

"There was a huge opportunity for grapes [in Nova Scotia]," says Newfoundland and Labrador's fruit-crop development officer Karen Kennedy. "And there was no one commercially growing grapes here."

Buoyed by stories of backyard gardeners growing grapes, Kennedy planted the first experimental vines four years ago in Humber Village, a small community in Humber Valley, as well as in Brooklyn, on the Bonavista Peninsula.
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The Inter Press Service's Fabiana Frayssinet reports on the popularity in Argentina of agroecology, a variant on organic agriculture.

Organic agriculture is rapidly expanding in Argentina, the leading agroecological producer in Latin America and second in the world after Australia, as part of a backlash against a model that has disappointed producers and is starting to worry consumers.

According to the intergovernmental Inter American Commission on Organic Agriculture (ICOA), in the Americas there are 9.9 million hectares of certified organic crops, which is 22 per cent of the total global land devoted to these crops. Of this total, 6.8 million of hectares are in Latin America and the Caribbean, and three million in Argentina alone.

The Argentine National Agrifood Health and Quality Service (SENASA) reported that between 2014 and 2015, the land area under organic production grew 10 per cent, including herbs, vegetables, legumes, fruits, cereals and oilseeds.

Legumes and vegetables experienced the largest increase (200 percent). In Argentina there are 1,074 organic producers, mainly small and medium-size farms and cooperatives.

“The organic market is starting to boom. We have been producing since 20 years ago, when this market did not exist in Argentina and we exported everything. Now we sell abroad, but about 50 percent remains here,” said Jorge Pierrestegui, manager of San Nicolás Olive Groves and Vineyards, an agroecology company that produces olives and olive oil on some 1,000 hectares in the Argentine province of Córdoba.

“Opting for organic was a company policy, mainly due to a long-term ecological vision of not spraying the fields with poisonous chemicals,” Pierrestegui said.
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Vice's Allie Conti looks at the reasons for the decline of the women's land movement, a back-to-the-earth movement started by lesbians in the 1970s that now seems to currently be on its last legs. The general drift of non-heterosexuals to cities, as well as the declining popularity of traditional lesbian identities among the young, are equally responsible.

[A]fter the Vietnam war, as thousands of Americans moved away from cities to adopt an agrarian lifestyle, scores of lesbians simultaneously became disenchanted with the emerging women's liberation and gay rights movements, which many perceived as being either homophobic or misogynist. They reacted by forming closed-off, utopian societies—farms and communes where women often took on traditionally male activities like mechanics and engineering, in what would come to be known as the women's land movement. But like religious sisterhoods and lesbian bars, these male-free communities, which once boasted thousands of members, are in clear decline today.

Young queer people who want to get back to the land today have more options than women like [Susan] Wiseheart, who decades ago relied on the women's land movement to provide safety in numbers and reclusion from a society once hostile to their sexuality.

Terri has long since moved on from Aradia, but Wiseheart has remained, and says she never plans to leave. It is, after all, her life's work. But once she's gone, it's unlikely that anyone will be willing or able to continue her mission. Signs of that are written across Hawk Hill—where chickens, dogs, donkeys, guinea fowl, cattle, horses and a flock of sheep once roamed its fields, calling it a farm today would be a categorical misstatement. Wiseheart now lives there with a few friends, also in their sixties and seventies, and a straight woman helping to pay the bills while they seek out a lesbian renter.

"We're still sometimes nervous, because we live in a fundamentalist Christian area," she explains. "We've managed to be safe and fine so far. We just don't want to be advertising it widely."

Meanwhile, there may be few modern women left willing to live a relatively cloistered life on a lesbian-only tract of land in the Ozarks. Young queer people who want to get back to the land today have more options than women like Wiseheart, who decades ago relied on the women's land movement to provide safety in numbers and reclusion from a society once hostile to their sexuality.
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The Globe and Mail shares Geordon Omand's Canadian Press article looking at the exciting research into ancient wildlife engineering for food production in British Columbia, with the design of marshes optimized for the yield of a tuber known as the wapato.

An ancient wetland-gardening site unearthed during a road-building project in British Columbia is as culturally important as any other wonder of the world, says a member of the indigenous group who directed the excavation project.

A study published Wednesday found that as early as 1,800 BC, ancestors of the Katzie First Nation in B.C.’s Lower Mainland were engineering the wetland environment to increase the yield of a valuable, semi-aquatic plant known as a wapato. The report describes the finding as the first direct archeological evidence of the cultivation of wild plants in the Pacific Northwest.

“This is as important to us as the Egyptian pyramids, or the temples in Thailand, or Machu Picchu,” said Debbie Miller, who works with an archeological consulting firm owned by the Katzie Nation.

Road-building crews uncovered a rock platform measuring about 12-square metres made up of flat stones that would have rested several feet underwater four millenniums ago. The distribution of the stones into a pattern of single and double layers, as well as their closely packed arrangement, suggests they were placed deliberately, the study published online in ScienceAdvances found.

The stone “pavement” would have prevented the wapato from penetrating deep into the sludgy, wetland sediment, making it easier for gatherers to use long, sharpened digging tools to locate the buried plant and cut it free.
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  • Apostrophen's 'Nathan Smith writes about what he has learned from his huskie.

  • Bad Astronomy shares some gorgeous Cassini images of Saturn's polar hexagon.

  • Centauri Dreams looks at L2 Puppis, a red giant star that our own sun will come to resemble.

  • D-Brief notes climate change is starting to hit eastern Antarctica, the more stable region of the continent.

  • Dangerous Minds looks at some of the cool pins put out by supporters of LGBT rights over the decades.

  • The Everyday Sociology Blog looks at Susan Faludi's account of her life with her newly trans father.

  • Far Outliers examines the War of American Independence as one of the many Anglo-French global wars.

  • Lawyers, Guns and Money wonders why the Los Angeles Times allowed the publication of letters defend the deportation of the Japanese-Americans.

  • Marginal Revolution's Alex Tabarrok argues that we are now moving beyond meat production.

  • The NYRB Daily looks at Mexico as a seedbed of modernism.

  • Savage Minds shares an article arguing for a decentering of the position of human beings at the interface of anthropology and science.

  • Understanding Society has more on the strange and fundamentally alien nature of the cephalopod mind.

  • Window on Eurasia notes that the North Caucasus is set to go through austerity.

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