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  • Peter Geoghegan writes at Open Democracy about the mess that Brexit has made of Ireland, two decades after the Troubles' end.

  • Anthrodendum's Alex Golub notes that a North Korean attack on Guam, among other things, would threaten the Chamorro natives of the island.

  • The Toronto Star carries an excerpt from a book by Mark Dowie looking at how the Haida, of Haida Gwaii, managed to win government recognition of their existence.

  • CBC's Sameer Chhabra explores how Canadian students at Caribbean medical schools find it very difficult to get jobs back home.

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  • Centauri Dreams notes the exobiological potential of Titamn after the detection of acrylonitrile. Cryogenic life?

  • This guest essay at Lawyers, Guns and Money on the existential problems of Brazil, with politics depending on people not institutions, is a must-read.

  • The LRB Blog considers, in the context of Brexit, what exactly might count for some as a marker of dictatorship.

  • Did the 15th century construction of the Grand Canal in China lead the Ming away from oceanic travel? Marginal Revolution speculates.

  • The NYR Daily considers
  • Out There explores the reasons why the most massive planets all have the same size.

  • The Planetary Society Blog notes the 5th anniversary of the arrival of Curiosity on Mars.

  • The Power and the Money's Noel Maurer notes that, with regards to Venezuela, the United States has no good options.

  • Roads and Kingdoms considers the febrile political mood of Kenya.

  • Window on Eurasia argues that Putin is making the mistake of seeing the United States through the prism of Russia.

  • Yorkshire Ranter Alex Harrowell notes a proposal for British mayors to have representation at Brexit talks makes no sense.

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  • In The New York Times, Michael Kimmelman reports on the Crossrail mass transit line in London. It sounds promising, even in the era of Brexit.

  • Emily Nonko at Curbed argues that the underfunding of mass transit in NYC by Robert Moses is the cause of the current crisis.

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  • James Bow considers the idea of Christian privilege.

  • Centauri Dreams reports on the oddities of Ross 128.

  • D-Brief shares Matthew Buckley's proposal that it is possible to make planets out of dark matter.

  • Dead Things reports on the discoveries at Madjedbebe, in northern Australia, suggesting humans arrived 65 thousand years ago.

  • Bruce Dorminey reports on the idea that advanced civilizations may use sunshades to protect their worlds from overheating. (For terraforming purposes, too.)

  • Language Hat notes the struggles of some Scots in coming up with a rationalized spelling for Scots. What of "hert"?

  • The LRB Blog considers the way in which the unlimited power of Henry VIII will be recapitulated post-Brexit by the UK government.

  • Drew Rowsome quite likes the High Park production of King Lear.

  • Starts With A Bang's Ethan Siegel considers the idea that Pluto's moons, including Charon, might be legacies of a giant impact.

  • Unicorn Booty notes the terrible anti-trans "Civil Rights Uniformity Act." Americans, please act.

  • The Volokh Conspiracy considers/u> the perhaps-unique way a sitting American president might be charged with obstruction of justice.

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  • Bloomberg's Steven Arons and Gavin Finch observe that Brexit may let Frankfurt emerge as a truly global financial centre.

  • Der Spiegel's Alexander Smoltczyk describes how north German port Hamburg is starting to inch towards a bigger global role.
  • Deutsche Welle reports on how, after the G20 meeting, far-left and anarchist groups in Berlin are facing a crackdown.

  • Global News shares Joseph Nasr's Reuters article reporting on the incomprehension of Arab refugees in Hamburg at that city's G20 rioters. Why are they doing it?

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The Washington Post was just one of many news sources to note a recent report provided by the National Vital Statistics System of the Centers for Disease Control, "Births: Provisional Data for 2016" (PDF format). This report noted that not only had the absolute number of births fallen, but that the total fertility rate in 2016 was the lowest it had been in more than three decades: "The 2016 total fertility rate (TFR) for the United States was 1,818.0 births per 1,000 women, a decrease of 1% from the rate in 2015 (1,843.5) and the lowest TFR since 1984." The Washington Post's Ariana Eunjung Cha noted that this fall was a consequence of a sharp fall in births among younger Americans not wholly compensated for by rising fertility rates in older populations.

According to provisional 2016 population data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday, the number of births fell 1 percent from a year earlier, bringing the general fertility rate to 62.0 births per 1,000 women ages 15 to 44. The trend is being driven by a decline in birthrates for teens and 20-somethings. The birthrate for women in their 30s and 40s increased — but not enough to make up for the lower numbers in their younger peers.

[. . .]

Those supposedly entitled young adults with fragile egos who live in their parents' basements and hop from job-to-job — it turns out they're also much less likely to have babies, at least so far. Some experts think millennials are just postponing parenthood while others fear they're choosing not to have children at all.

Strobino is among those who is optimistic and sees hope in the data. She points out that the fall in birthrates in teens — an age when many pregnancies tend to be unplanned — is something we want and that the highest birthrates are now among women 25 to 34 years of age.

“What this is is a trend of women becoming more educated and more mature. I’m not sure that’s bad,” she explained.

Indeed, as fertility treatments have extended the age of childbearing, the birthrates among women who are age 40 to 44 are also rising.


Total fertility rates in the United States were last this low, as noted above, in 1984, after a decade where fertility rates had hovered around 1.8 children born per woman. The United States' had sharply dropped to below-replacement fertility occurring in 1972, with a sharp increase to levels just short of replacement levels only occurring in the mid-1980s.

There has been much talk this past half-year about the end of American exceptionalism, or at least the end of a favourable sort of American exceptionalism. To the extent that fertility rates in the United States are falling, for instance, this may reflect convergence with the fertility rates prevalent in other highly developed societies. Gilles Pison's Population and Societies study "Population trends in the United States and Europe: similarities and differences" observed that, although the United States and the European Union saw the same sorts of trends towards lower fertility rates and extended life expectancies, the European Union as a whole saw substantially lower birth rates and lower completed fertility.

The strong natural growth in the United States is due, in part, to high fertility: 2.05 children per woman on average, compared with 1.52 in the European Union. In this respect, it is not the low European level which stands out, but rather the high American level, since below-replacement fertility is now the norm in many industrialized countries (1.3 children per woman in Japan, for example) and emerging countries (1.2 in South Korea, and around 1.6 in China). With more than two children per woman in 2005, the United States ranks above many countries and regions of the South and belongs to the minority group of highfertility nations.

Average fertility rates conceal large local variations, however: from 1.6 children per woman in Vermont to 2.5 in Utah; from 1.2 in Poland to 1.9 in France. The scale of relative variation is similar on either side of the Atlantic. In the north-eastern USA, along a strip spreading down from Maine to West Virginia, fertility is at the same level as in northern and western Europe. Close to Mexico, on the other hand, the “Hispanic” population (a category used in American statistics) is pushing up fertility levels. Over the United States as a whole, Hispanic fertility stands at 2.9 children per woman, versus 1.9 among nonHispanic women [4]. Between “White” and “AfricanAmerican” women, the difference is much smaller: 1.8 versus 2.0.

The highest fertility levels in the European Union are found in northern and western Europe (between 1.7 and 1.9 children per woman) and the lowest in southern, central and eastern Europe (below 1.5). Exceptions to this rule include Estonia (1.5), with higher fertility than its Baltic neighbours, and Austria (1.4) and Germany (1.3), which are closer to the eastern and southern countries.


This overall pattern seems to have endured. Why this is the case, I am uncertain. Even though the United States lacks the sorts of family-friendly policies that have been credited for boosting fertility in northern and western Europe, I wonder if the United States does share with these other high-fertility, highly-developed societies cultural similarities, not least of which is a tolerance for non-traditional families. As has been observed before, for instance at Population and Societies by Pison in France and Germany: a history of criss-crossing demographic curves and by me at Demography Matters back in June 2013, arguably the main explanation for the higher fertility in France as compared to West Germany is a much greater French acceptance of non-traditional family structures, with working mothers and non-married couples being more accepted. (West Germany's reluctance, I argued here in February 2016, stems from the pronounced conservative turn towards traditional family structures without any support for government-supported changes following efforts by totalitarianism states to do just that, first under Naziism and then in contemporary East Germany.)

It's much too early to come to any conclusions as to whether or not this fall in American fertility will be lasting. From the perspective of someone in the early 1980s, for instance, the sharp spike in American fertility in the mid-1980s that marked arguably the single most importance divergence between the United States and the rest of the highly developed world would have been a surprise. Maybe fertility in the United States will recover to its previous levels. Or, maybe, under economic pressure it will stay lower than it has been.

(Crossposted at Demography Matters here.)
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  • Nikhil Sharma at Torontoist looks at the latest City of Toronto TransformTO report on adapting to climate change.

  • The Toronto Star Fatima Syed looks at how community organizations in Toronto are getting involved in running local parks.

  • Politico.eu notes how Malta, despite having plenty of sun, is having difficulty getting solar energy (and other alternative energy) up and running.

  • The Inter Press Service examines the potential complexities involved in China's involvement in Argentina's nuclear energy program.

  • VICE reports on the desperate need to get Ojibwa consent before building a nuclear waste disposal site on their traditional lands.

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  • In Toronto, the new Port Lands plan imagines a new island, Villiers, at the mouth of the Don.

  • Brexit means, among other thing, that the EU is no longer supporting the UK on the Chagos. The Economist reports.

  • VICE notes that people on Mauritius fear extensive fish farming will also boost the shark population offshore.

  • The Independent notes that tides and currents have created a new sand bar-cum-island more than 1 km long off of North Carolina, Shelly Island.

  • The National Post notes that sub-Arctic Vardo Island, in Norway, has moved on from its fisheries to become a NATO outpost set to watch Russia.

  • Carmela Fonbuena reports for The Guardian from Thitu Island, a Filipino-occupied island uncomfortably near a Chinese base in the contested South China Sea.

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  • The Big Picture shares shocking photos of the Portuguese forest fires.

  • blogTO notes that, happily, Seaton Village's Fiesta Farms is apparently not at risk of being turned into a condo development site.

  • Centauri Dreams notes a new starship discussion group in Delft. Shades of the British Interplanetary Society and the Daedalus?

  • D-Brief considers a new theory explaining why different birds' eggs have different shapes.

  • The Frailest Thing's Michael Sacasas commits himself to a new regimen of blogging about technology and its imports. (There is a Patreon.)

  • Language Hat notes the current Turkish government's interest in purging Turkish of Western loanwords.

  • Language Log's Victor Mair sums up the evidence for the diffusion of Indo-European languages, and their speakers, into India.

  • The LRB Blog notes the Theresa May government's inability post-Grenfell to communicate with any sense of emotion.

  • Marginal Revolution's Tyler Cowen wonders if the alt-right more prominent in the Anglophone world because it is more prone to the appeal of the new.

  • Personal Reflections' Jim Belshaw wonders if Brexit will result in a stronger European Union and a weaker United Kingdom.

  • Seriously Science reports a study suggesting that shiny new headphones are not better than less flashy brands.

  • Torontoist reports on the anti-Muslim hate groups set to march in Toronto Pride.

  • Understanding Society considers the subject of critical realism in sociological analyses.

  • Window on Eurasia notes how Russia's call to promote Cyrillic across the former Soviet Union has gone badly in Armenia, with its own script.

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  • Apostrophen's 'Nathan Smith talks about "cis", "trans", and the non-obvious meaning of this classification.
  • The Big Picture shares photos of a recent sailing festival in Boston.

  • blogTO reports on the trendy charcoal-black ice cream of a store across from Trinity Bellwoods.
  • Centauri Dreams considers the idea of a "runaway fusion" drive.Crooked Timber wonders how a bad Brexit agreement could possibly be worse than no Brexit agreement for the United Kingdom.
  • D-Brief warns of the possibility of sustained life-threatening heat waves in the tropics with global warming.
  • The Everyday Sociology Blog considers how sociology majors are prepared, or not, for the workforce.

  • Language Hat links to a wonderful examination of the textual complexities of James Joyce's Ulysses.

  • The LRB Blog looks at how British big business is indebted to the Conservatives.

  • Marginal Revolution reports on China's emergent pop music machine.

  • Steve Munro reports on the latest on noise from the 514 Cherry streetcar.

  • The NYRB Daily has a fascinating exchange on consciousness and free will and where it all lies.
  • The Planetary Society Blog reports on a successful expedition to Argentina to examine Kuiper Belt object MU69 via occultation.

  • Peter Rukavina celebrates Charlottetown school crossing guard Dana Doyle.

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  • Crooked Timber enthuses over the remixing, or remastering, of arguably the Beatles' most iconic album.

  • Far Outliers notes the Albanian language's alphabet struggles in the wider geopolitics of Albania.

  • Joe. My. God. notes an American soccer player opted to quit rather than to wear a Pride jersey.

  • Language Hat notes a new online atlas of Algonquian languages.

  • The NYRB Daily argues that Theresa May's election defeat makes the fantasy of a hard Brexit, at least, that much less possible.

  • Window on Eurasia notes Russia's concern at the dissipation of the prestige of its language and script its former empire, especially in Ukraine.

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  • blogTO notes that the old HMV store in the Dufferin Mall is now a fidget spinner store. This has gone viral.
  • The Broadside Blog's Caitlin Kelly talks about her week in Paris.

  • Centauri Dreams notes one paper examining the complex formation of the dense TRAPPIST-1 system.

  • Far Outliers reports from early 20th century Albania, about how tribal and language and ethnic identities overlap, and not.

  • Language Log notes efforts to promote Cantonese in the face of Mandarin.

  • The LRB Blog wonders if May's electoral defeat might lead to the United Kingdom changing its Brexit trajectory.

  • Marginal Revolution notes that cars have more complex computer programming these days than fighter jets.

  • The Power and the Money's Noel Maurer notes that the counter-cyclical Brazilian fiscal cap still makes no sense.

  • Window on Eurasia argues that Russia is edging towards an acknowledgement of its involvement in the Ukrainian war.

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  • Anthony Easton at MacLean's writes in defense of Nickelback, one of Canada's most popular bands if not a critical darling.

  • Also in MacLean's, Stephanie Carvin notes that the new foreign and military policies announced by the Canadian government could still fall short.

  • Bloomberg View's Stephen L. Carter considers the idea of the just war through the lens of Wonder Woman.

  • Nuclear energy, it seems, will be India's answer to global warming in the era of Trump.

  • Qataris, Bloomberg notes, are trying to deal with their island country's state of siege.

  • Airbus may pull its production plants from the United Kingdom unless the country keeps single market access.

  • Refugees, Lynne Olson notes at National Geographic, helped save the United Kingdom during the Second World War.

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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 notes the chance that China might manage to supplant the United States under Trump as a guarantor of the world order.

  • In an older article, The Atlantic noted Mexico's potential to be a spoiler for the United States. Being less wealthy and powerful than the US is not the same as not being wealthy and powerful.

  • DW notes that there is the possibility of an entente between China and the EU, to sustain the multilateral order.

  • Spiegel Online notes that the Turkey of Erdogan these days is starting to fall out with its NATO partners.

  • Open Democracy argues the alienation of Europeans of Turkish background from liberal democracy has roots in Europe.

  • Also at Open Democracy, Nick Mullens argues that negatively stereotyping Appalachians leads only to their doubling-down on coal.

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  • The Big Picture shares photos of the South Sudanese refugee exodus into Uganda.

  • blogTO shares an ad for a condo rental on Dovercourt Road near me, only $1800 a month.

  • Centauri Dreams reports on the idea of using waste heat to detect extraterrestrial civilizations.

  • Crooked Timber uses the paradigm of Jane Jacobs' challenge to expert in the context of Brexit.

  • The LRB Blog reports on the fishers of Senegal and their involvement in that country's history of emigration.

  • The Planetary Society Blog shares an image comparing Saturn's smaller moons.

  • The Volokh Conspiracy comes out in support of taking down Confederate monuments.
  • Window on Eurasia suggests Chechens are coming out ahead of Daghestanis in the North Caucasus' religious hierarchies, and argues that Putin cannot risk letting Ukraine become a model for Russia.

  • Arnold Zwicky looks at various bowdlerizations of Philip Larkin's famous quote about what parents do to their children.

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  • Anthropology.net reports on new evidence that Homo naledi may have used tools, buried their dead, and lived alongside Homo sapiens.
  • Centauri Dreams remembers an abortive solar sail mission to Halley's Comet.

  • Dangerous Minds shares photos of the "Apache" dancers of France.

  • Cody Delistraty writes about Swedish futurist Anders Sandberg and his efforts to plan for humanity's future.

  • At the Everyday Sociology Blog, Karen Sternheimer talks about her day as a sociologist.

  • Joe. My. God. notes the good news that normal young HIV patients can now expect near-normal life expectancies.

  • Language Hat looks at a recent surge of interest in Italian dialects.

  • Language Log looks at the phenomenon of East Asians taking English-language names.

  • The LRB Blog considers the dynamics of the United Kingdom's own UDI.

  • Marginal Revolution looks at the existential issues of a growing Kinshasa still disconnected from the wider world.

  • Steve Munro notes that Metrolinx will now buy vehicles from France's Alstom.

  • The New APPS Blog uses Foucault to look at the "thanatopolitics" of the Republicans.

  • The NYRB Daily looks at Trump's constitutional crisis.

  • Out There considers the issues surrounding the detection of an alien civilization less advanced than ours.

  • The Planetary Society Blog looks at the United States' planetary science exploration budget.

  • The Power and the Money's Noel Maurer looks at Argentina's underrated reputation as a destination for foreign investment.

  • Progressive Download shares some thinking about sexual orientation in the context of evolution.

  • Peter Rukavina looks at the success of wind energy generation on the Island.

  • Understanding Society takes a look at the dynamics of Rome.

  • Window on Eurasia shares a lunatic Russian scheme for a partition of eastern Europe between Russia and Germany.

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  • Centauri Dreams looks at the SPECULOOS red dwarf observation program.

  • The Crux examines VX nerve agent, the chemical apparently used to assassinate the half-brother of North Korea's ruler.

  • Dangerous Minds shares photos of the inhabitants of the Tokyo night, like gangsters and prostitutes and drag queens.

  • Lawyers, Guns and Money examines Donald Trump's tepid and belated denunciation of anti-Semitism.

  • Language Log looks at the story of the Wenzhounese, a Chinese group notable for its diaspora in Italy.

  • The LRB Blog looks at the by-elections in the British ridings of Stoke and Copeland and notes the problems of labour.

  • The Map Room Blog shares a post-Brexit map of the European Union with an independent Scotland.

  • Marginal Revolution reports that a border tax would be a poor idea for the United States and Mexico.

  • The NYRB Daily looks at the art of the medieval Tibetan kingdom of Guge.

  • Otto Pohl notes the 73rd anniversary of Stalin's deportation of the Chechens and the Ingush.

  • Supernova Condensate points out that Venus is actually the most Earth-like planet we know of. Why do we not explore it more?

  • Towleroad notes Depeche Mode's denunciation of the alt-right and Richard Spencer.

  • Whatever's John Scalzi considers the question of feeling empathy for horrible people.

  • Window on Eurasia notes the thousands of Russian citizens involved with ISIS and examines the militarization of Kaliningrad.

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New Europe's Andy King reports on how iconic British insurance firm Lloyd's of London, in an effort to ensure that it can offer continuity of services to its European Union clients post-Brexit, has begun to shift jobs out of London to EU destinations. Ireland and Malta are apparently fronrunners.

After three centuries, the Lloyds of London will no longer be “of London.” The company is moving its headquarters, its CEO Inga Beale confirmed on Friday.

Talking to Bloomberg TV on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Beale confirmed that following Prime Minister May’s announcement last Tuesday, Lloyds was going ahead with its contingency plan.

Many insurance companies will be moving a big part of their operations, since passporting rights and licensing are key to the sectors’ business in Europe. Lloyds stands to lose as much as 11% of its premiums that come from Europe or little under 1bn Euros.

Lloyd’s was founded three centuries ago in London and is moving ahead because a licensing process could take more than a year. What Lloyd’s want to avoid is what the industry calls “cliff’s edge trap,” in which the service provider cannot move soon enough to ensure continuity of service.
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BBC's Damien McGuinness reports from Berlin about how two Brexiteers' address to a conference of German business leaders, intended to secure decidedly United Kingdom-friendly terms, managed instead to fail. The profound misunderstanding of German intentions and German interests is almost painful to read about.

The distinguished audience members were too polite to heckle. But the eye rolling, frowns and audible tutting made it quite clear how the Brexiteers' message was going down with German business leaders.
Owen Paterson, a former minister and Conservative MP, and John Longworth, co-chair of Leave Means Leave, came to Berlin on Saturday with a clear mission - to persuade German business leaders to lobby Chancellor Angela Merkel to give Britain a good trade deal.

They should have been on safe territory.

The two men are confident, witty speakers with impressive business and free-trade credentials.

Mr Longworth is a former head of the British Chamber of Commerce. Mr Paterson's years spent trading in Germany meant he could open his address with a few remarks in German - which drew an appreciative round of applause - and a well-judged joke about multilingual trade.

But it turned out they had entered the lion's den.

The laughter from the audience quickly turned to sniggers as they heard the UK described as "a beacon of open, free trade around the world".

Westminster's decision to leave the world's largest free trade area does not look like that to Germany.
When Europe was blamed for spending cuts and a lack of British health care provision, there were audible mutters of irritation from the audience.

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