rfmcdonald: (Default)

  • blogTO reported that York University plans on opening a satellite campus in York Region's Markham. This is a first.

  • Dangerous Minds notes a new, posthumous release from Suidide's Alan Vega.

  • The Dragon's Gaze links to a paper considering the detectability of Niven ringworlds around pulsars. (Maybe.)

  • The Everyday Sociology Blog considers burnout among sociology students, and suggests that engagement with issues is key to overcoming it.

  • The Great Grey Bridge's Philip Turner photoblogs his recent Rhode Island vacation.

  • Joe. My. God. reports on the arrest of a Christian activist protesting outside of the Pulse memorial in Orlando.

  • The LRB Blog shares considerable concern that the Democratic Unionists of Northern Ireland are now national powermakers.

  • Spacing Toronto shares the ambitious plan of Buenos Aires to make the city better for cyclists, pedestrians, and mass transit
  • Transit Toronto notes that starting Friday, Metrolinx will co-sponsor $C25 return tickets to Niagara from Toronto.

rfmcdonald: (Default)

  • D-Brief considers if gas giant exoplanet Kelt-9b is actually evaporating.

  • The Dragon's Gaze links to a paper that considers where to find signs of prior indigenous civilizations in our solar system. (The Moon, Mars, and outer solar system look good.

  • Joe. My. God. reveals the Israeli nuclear option in the 1967 war.

  • Language Log shares a clip of a Nova Scotia Gaelic folktale about a man named Donald.

  • Lawyers, Guns and Money notes the ongoing deportations of Hispanic undocumented migrants from the United States.

  • The LRB Blog notes the brittle rhetoric of May and the Conservatives.

  • The NYRB Daily mourns the Trump Administration's plans for American education.

  • Savage Minds considers the world now in the context of the reign of the dangerous nonsense of Neil Postman.

  • Strange Maps shares a map documenting the spread of chess from India to Ireland in a millennium.

  • Window on Eurasia argues that the Russian government needs to do more to protect minority languages.

rfmcdonald: (Default)

  • Beyond the Beyond notes an image of a wooden model of Babbage's difference engine.

  • James Bow talks about the soundtrack he has made for his new book.

  • Centauri Dreams considers ways astronomers can detect photosynthesis on exoplanets and shares images of Fomalhaut's debris disk.

  • Crooked Timber looks at fidget spinners in the context of discrimination against people with disabilities.

  • D-Brief notes that Boyajian's Star began dimming over the weekend.

  • Far Outliers reports on a 1917 trip by zeppelin to German East Africa.

  • Lawyers, Guns and Money argues that there is good reason to be concerned about health issues for older presidential candidates.

  • The NYRB Daily reports on Hungary's official war against Central European University.

  • The Russian Demographics Blog notes the origins of modern immigration to Russia in internal Soviet migration.

  • Savage Minds shares an ethnographer's account of what it is like to look to see her people (the Sherpas of Nepal) described.

  • Strange Maps shares a map speculating as to what the world will look like when it is 4 degrees warmer.

  • The Volokh Conspiracy argues that the US Congress does not have authority over immigration.

  • Window on Eurasia suggests Russia's population will be concentrated around Moscow, compares Chechnya's position vis-à-vis Russia to Puerto Rico's versus the United States, and looks at new Ukrainian legislation against Russian churches and Russian social networks.

  • Yorkshire Ranter Alex Harrowell notes how Evelyn Waugh's writings on the Horn of Africa anticipate the "Friedman unit", the "a measurement of time defined as how long it will take until things are OK in Iraq".

rfmcdonald: (Default)

  • 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.

rfmcdonald: (Default)

  • blogTO looks at eleven recent Toronto-themed books, from fiction to children's literature.

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

  • Far Outliers reports on how German East Africa substituted for foreign imports during the blockade of the First World War.

  • Marginal Revolution suggests that the fall of Rome may have been due to the failure to reconquer North Africa.

  • The NYRB Daily looks at the exuberant art of Jazz Age Florence Stettheimer.

  • The Planetary Society Blog shares a stunning portrait of Jupiter from the New Horizons probe.

  • Window on Eurasia considers the idea of containment in the post-Cold War world.

  • Yorkshire Ranter Alex Harrowell looks at the British election.

rfmcdonald: (Default)

  • 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.

rfmcdonald: (Default)

  • James Bow calls for an end to the US-Canada Safe Third Country agreement prohibiting people coming from American soil from claiming refugee status in Canada.

  • D-Brief reports on the vast array of man-made minerals appearing in what is now being called the Anthropocene Era of Earth.

  • Dangerous Minds notes the efforts of the Disco Preservation Society to preserve DJ mixes from 1980s San Francisco.

  • Language Log takes issue with Neil DeGrasse Tyson's argument that cryptographers, not linguists, would be needed in Arrival.

  • The LRB Blog notes impunity for murderers of civil society activists in Honduras.

  • Marginal Revolution's Tyler Cowen talks about Joyce Gladwell's autobiography Brown Face, Big Master.

  • The NYRB Daily celebrates the work of Hercules Segers.

  • The Planetary Society Blog is skeptical of the Space X plan to send tourists past the Moon by 2018.

  • Supernova Condensate lists 8 things we know about Proxima Centauri b.

  • Towleroad reports on new walking tours being offered of gay London.

  • Arnold Zwicky engages with a California exhibition comparing paintings with movies.

rfmcdonald: (Default)

  • blogTO notes the Distillery District's Toronto Light Festival.

  • Border Thinking Laura Agustín looks at migrants and refugees in James Ellroy's The Black Dahlia.

  • Centauri Dreams suggests that Perry's expedition to Japan could be taken as a metaphor for first contact.

  • The Dragon's Gaze links to a report about how brown dwarf EPIC 219388192 b.

  • The LRB Blog notes the use of torture as a technique of intimidation.

  • Marginal Revolution looks at China's very heavy investment in Laos.

  • The NYRB Daily examines violence and the surprising lack thereof in El Salvador.

  • Personal Reflections' Jim Belshaw touches on the controversies surrounding Australia Day.

  • Transit Toronto reports the sentencing of some people who attacked TTC officers.

  • Window on Eurasia argues that a Putin running out of resources needs to make a deal.

rfmcdonald: (Default)
Astronomy's John Wenz reports on a proposal to try to initiate contact with a hypothetical civilization on Proxima Centauri b that does not necessarily leave me cold, or worried. A hypothetical Proximan civilization only a decade more advanced in observational astronomy that us might well be aware of the existence of Earth, could conceivably even be aware of our technological civilization's existence. A Proximan civilization capable of travelling to us would certainly know this. That said, the critics' argument that this is the sort of thing that really should be handled by a broad-based coalition also makes sense. If we are going to send out messages, let's try to come up with some standards, at least.

Douglas Vakoch, the former Director of Interstellar Message Composition at the SETI Institute, is launching the METI Initiative with one planet in mind: the recently discovered planet around Proxima Centauri, the closest star to Earth (and thus the closest exoplanet.)

Vakoch says that METI has more than a few targets in mind, there are a few advantages to Proxima Centauri b.

“First, it’s close to our solar system, keeping the time for a roundtrip exchange as short as possible,” Vakoch says. “Second, some have suggested that this exoplanet is potentially habitable.”

[. . .]

“To be intelligible, any message to extraterrestrials needs to be written in a universal language, and that won’t be English or Swahili,” Vakoch says. “We begin with mathematics, because it seems likely that scientists on any world will need to know at least the essentials of math.”

Then there’s the question of why, which Vakoch paraphrases SETI research Ronald Bracewell in saying that humanity should “join the Galactic Club.” Even bigger, though, is the question of “why should we broadcast that we’re here in case we, you know, get invaded.” Of the many, many things that Stephen Hawking has said publicly in recent years, the dangers of alien contact has come up again and again. Some in the SETI community say a cautious approach should be taken, with a consortium saying, “We know nothing of ETI’s intentions and capabilities, and it is impossible to predict whether ETI will be benign or hostile.”
rfmcdonald: (Default)

  • blogTO notes Niagara Falls' new light show.

  • Body Horrors reports on a 1980 epidemic of MRSA among Detroit drug users.

  • Centauri Dreams describes the final orbits of Cassini around Saturn.

  • The Dragon's Gaze links to a paper suggesting Tabby's Star is being star-mined.

  • Language Log looks at an element of Chinese slang regarding telecommunications.

  • The LRB Blog argues against blaming migrants for problems on the left.

  • The Planetary Society Blog discusses the continued Dawn mission around Ceres.

  • Savage Minds talks about the need to slow down in a time of crisis.

  • Seriously Science notes research suggesting whales jump out of the water for purposes of communication.

  • The Volokh Conspiracy notes that, in the United States, flag burners cannot be stripped of their citizenship.

  • Window on Eurasia suggests Russians would like the West to make up on Russia's terms and looks at the embassies and delegations of Russia's component regions.

rfmcdonald: (Default)

  • Centauri Dreams looks at signs of advanced technologies detectable by SETI searches.

  • D-Brief notes evidence of the domestication of turkeys in eth and 5th century Mexico.

  • Dangerous Minds discusses a legendary 1985 concert by Einstürzende Neubauten.

  • Joe. My. God. notes the banning of Tila Tequila from Twitter.

  • Language Log looks about a Hebrew advertisement that makes use of apostrophes.

  • Lawyers, Guns and Money bids farewell to one of its bloggers, Scott Eric Kauffman.

  • The LRB Blog notes that Israel is fine with anti-Semites so long as they are Zionists.

  • Marginal Revolution notes that Hillary Clinton won the most economically productive areas of the United States.

  • The Power and the Money's Noel Maurer suggests anti-sprawl legislation helped lose the recent election.

  • The Russian Demographics Blog notes Russia's banning of LinkedIn.

  • Towleroad notes Ellen Degeneres' winning of a Presidential honor medal.

  • Window on Eurasia suggests Trump could be much less easy to handle than the Kremlin thinks, and looks at claims that small northern peoples are conspiring with foreigners.

rfmcdonald: (Default)

  • blogTO shares some photos of Toronto in colour from the 1950s.

  • Centauri Dreams talks about SETI in the light of the Anthropocene era.

  • Dangerous Minds notes that there is now a hipster nativity scene available for purchase.

  • The Dragon's Gaze links to a paper suggesting that tidal heating could explain the difference between super-Earths and mini-Neptunes.

  • Joe. My. God. notes that protecting Trump in New York City costs that municipality a million dollars a day, and notes a parade of Spanish fascists in support of Trump.

  • Lawyers, Guns and Money notes that politics is identity politics.
  • The LRB Blog notes the end of Sarkozy's campaign and revisits Goldwater.

  • The Russian Demographics Blog reports on the latest about the population of Ukraine.

  • Towleroad notes the hateful mail received by an out mayor in Massachusetts.

  • The Volokh Conspiracy looks at Trump's apparently anti-constitutional entanglement of business and politics.

  • Window on Eurasia reports on how Russia's promotion of the Russian language in neighbouring countries is backfiring, and looks at the hard nationalist line of Patriarch Kirill against Ukrainian autocephaly and multiculturalism in Russia.

rfmcdonald: (Default)

  • Beyond the Beyond notes an upcoming exhibition of photos of Vaclav Havel.

  • blogTO notes a local controversy over the demolition of a community-built skate park.

  • Centauri Dreams considers how advanced starfaring civilizations might deal with existential threats.

  • Crooked Timber looks at how presidential debates could be used to teach logic.

  • Language Hat examines the origins of the evocative Slavic phrase "they perished like Avars."

  • Language Log notes how "Molotov cocktail" was confused by a Trump manager with "Mazel tov cocktail".

  • The LRB Blog notes Brexit-related insecurity over the rule of law in the United Kingdom.

  • The Map Room Blog notes an exhibition in Maine of Acadian-related maps.

  • Marginal Revolution looks at how the Hong Kong press has been influenced by advertisers.

  • The NYRB Daily looks an exhibition of abstract expressionism.

  • The Planetary Society Blog looks at what we can learn from Rosetta.

  • Savage Minds considers the place of archeology in anthropology.

  • Window on Eurasia looks at Belarus' commemoration of the Bolshevik Revolution and considers the dispute in Kazakhstan as to whether the country should be known as Qazaqstan.

rfmcdonald: (Default)

  • blogTO recommends some Toronto-related Vine clips.

  • Centauri Dreams notes a SETI study of Boyajian's Star.

  • Crooked Timber criticizes one author's take in the politics of science fiction.

  • The Dragon's Gaze links to a paper examining the auroras of hot Jupiters.

  • The Dragon's Tales links to a paper finding that atmospheric methane did not warm the early Earth.

  • Joe. My. God. reports on how a Scottish hotel owner's homophobic statements led to his inn's delisting.

  • Language Log links to a linguist trying to preserve dying languages.

  • Lawyers, Guns and Money takes issue with Nate Silver's polling and prediction methods.

  • The LRB Blog notes the background behind Wallonia's near-veto of Canada-EU free trade.

  • Marginal Revolution looks at how economic issues do not correlate with support for Trump.

  • The Planetary Society Weblog shares photos of the Schiaparelli crash site.

  • pollotenchegg notes the degree to which economic activity in Ukraine is centralized in Kyiv.

  • The Volokh Conspiracy notes a poll suggesting conservative views are unwelcome at Yale.

  • Both Window on Eurasia and the Russian Demographics Blog note a projection that Chinese will soon become the second-largest nationality in Russia.

rfmcdonald: (Default)

  • blogTO reports that Honest Ed's will have its final sign sale this weekend.

  • D-Brief looks at the New Horizons probe's next target after Pluto, and reports that Venus is tectonically active.

  • Centauri Dreams reports on the mechanics of the antimatter sail.

  • Dangerous Minds features a video of France Gall singing about computer dating in 1968.
  • The Dragon's Gaze considers biological fluorescence as a marker for life on red dwarf exoplanets.

  • Lawyers, Guns and Money reports on a wall of taco trucks set to face Donald Trump in Las Vegas.

  • The LRB Blog notes the flailings of the Nigerian president.

  • The NYRB Blog reports on how Brexit will wreck a British economy dependent on single market access.

  • Transit Toronto notes that preliminary work has begun on the Scarborough subway.

  • The Volokh Conspiracy's Orin Kerr links to an editorial of his arguing that it should be made easier for Americans to migrate.

  • Window on Eurasia notes that Russia is losing a third world war over brainpower and looks at the problems of sleeping districts in Moscow, a legacy of Soviet misplanning.

rfmcdonald: (Default)

  • blogTO shares photos of old Toronto department stores.

  • Discover's Citizen Science Salon reports on how people are facing California seals and sea lions faced with famine.

  • D-Brief warns people to be cautious about the newest claim of detections of extraterrestrial intelligence.

  • The Dragon's Gaze reports on the discovery through microlensing of a distant planet, KMT-2015-BLG-0048Lb.

  • Dangerous Minds reports on a line of collectible china plates with nuclear reactors on them.

  • Joe. My. God. notes Christianity Today's denunciation of Trump as a fool.

  • Language Log looks at the new Hong Kong legislators who insulted China when they were being sworn in.

  • Lawyers, Guns and Money reports on the racism behind allegations of voter fraud.

  • The LRB Blog reports on the unrest in Kashmir.

  • The Map Room Blog looks at a new website devoted to the 1507 Waldseemüller world map.

  • Marginal Revolution notes how Brexit has hit food supplies.

  • Understanding Society presents a new study of assemblage social theory.

  • Window on Eurasia reports Russian allegations that outside forces are trying to break Russia down on regional lines, looks at how more prosperous Russian regions also send out more migrants, and reports on the linguistic Ukrainianization of Ukraine.

rfmcdonald: (Default)
Because I seek distraction from the American situation, and because this is a question I'm interested in, I thought I'd raise the Fermi paradox. Universe Today's Fraser Cain had an article, "Where Are All the Alien Robots?", that touched on this. With advances in robotic technology, Von Neumann construction and deployment across galactic distances would seem inevitable.

It makes sense then, for us to eventually get around to sending a robotic spacecraft to another star. Based on our current technology, it’ll be incredibly complicated and expensive, but there’s nothing in the laws of physics that prevents it.

And if we’re going to send a robot to another star system, we might as well make it a factory, capable of creating another version of itself. Find an asteroid with all the raw materials to make more robot factories, and send them off to other stars, where they can make more copies, and so on, and so on.

What I’m describing is the concept of a von Neumann probe, named after the mathematician John von Neumann. He was investigating the implications of self-replicating robots in the 1940s, and imagined non-biological “Universal Assembler”, devices that could make copies of themselves.

Von Neumann didn’t apply the idea to spacecraft, but others like George “Spheres” Dyson understood that out in space, there was a nearly limitless amount of raw materials for spacecraft to build copies of themselves.

Even though the Milky Way measures 120,000 light-years across and contains 100 to 400 billion stars, self-replicating robot factories traveling at just 10% the speed of light could colonize the entire galaxy in about 10 million years. That’s the power of exponential exploration.

Think about it. All it takes is for a single clever alien engineer to craft a single robotic factory. That factory builds copies of itself which fly off to other stars. Once they get there, they build more copies of themselves, and so on and so on.

Seriously, in the 13.8 billion years that the Universe has been around, why didn’t a single alien engineer do this?


What is the explanation? I've touched on this before, here and here. What is the answer for the gap in our understanding of the universe implied by the Fermi Paradox?
rfmcdonald: (Default)

  • The Boston Globe's The Big Picture shares some of that newspaper's best papers from last month.

  • blogTO shares Nuit Blanche photos.

  • The Broadside Blog's Caitlin Kelly talks about the divide between journalism and content creation.

  • Centauri Dreams considers the Rosetta probe.

  • Dangerous Minds shares photos of the suitcases left by patients at an American insane asylum.

  • The Dragon's Gaze links to a paper suggesting extraterrestrial civilizations could be discovered via leakage from the power-beaming systems of their spacecraft.

  • Far Outliers notes the 19th century feminization of domestic service in the United Kingdom and describes the professionalization of nursemaids.

  • Joe. My. God. notes Wikileaks' shift of its big reveal to Berlin.

  • Language Log checks to see if there is any way Guiliani's statement that no woman would be a better president than Trump could be parsed in a way favourable to him.

  • The Map Room Blog links to an article describing an ambitious plan to map the ocean floor.

  • Marginal Revolution looks at an electoral reform proposal in Maine.

  • James Nicoll links to his review of Deighton's SS-GB
  • .
  • Torontoist reports about the Toronto food bank system.

  • Towleroad features a guest article describing Donald Trump's misogyny towards his partners.

  • Window on Eurasia considers the cost to Russia of hosting multiple major international sports tournaments.

  • Arnold Zwicky reports on The New York Times's Spanish-language editorial.

rfmcdonald: (Default)

  • At Apostrophen, 'Nathan Smith describes his experience at the CAN•CON conference in Ottawa.

  • The Dragon's Gaze links to a paper speculating about the consequences of observing a large extraterrestrial civilization.

  • Far Outliers notes how Chinese soldiers in 1937 Shanghai did not want to take prisoners.

  • The Frailest Thing's Michael Sacasas considers the idea of distraction in relationship to high technology.

  • Lawyers, Guns and Money considers the overlooked food workers who were victims of 9/11.

  • Savage Minds links to a variety of anthropologically-themed links.

  • Seriously Science notes that houses in rich neighbourhoods contain more diverse insect populations than houses in poor neighbourhoods.

  • Strange Maps looks at Proxima Centauri b and considers the idea of an "eyeball Earth".

  • Transit Toronto notes plans for construction at Queen and Dufferin.

rfmcdonald: (Default)

  • James Bow shares his photos from Airport Road.

  • Centauri Dreams reports on a SETI candi9date signal form a nearby star in Hercules.

  • Far Outliers reports on how the Japanese named ships.

  • Joe. My. God. quotes one Trump backer, Roger Stone, about his desire to move to Costa Rica to escape Muslims if Hillary wins.

  • Noel Maurer debunks the Maine governor's provably false claims about the race and ethnicity of people arrested in his state on drug charges.

  • Otto Pohl considers the relationships of the Kurds to the wider world.

  • Language Hat notes the discovery of a new, different Etruscan-language text.

  • Window on Eurasia argues that the Russian war in Ukraine is setting the stage for a second round of the Russian empire's dissolution, and argues that Muscovy's sack of Novgorod set the stage for Western-Russian suspicions.

Profile

rfmcdonald: (Default)rfmcdonald

June 2017

S M T W T F S
     1 2 3
4 5 6 7 8 9 10
11 12 13 14 15 1617
1819 20 21 22 23 24
252627282930 

Syndicate

RSS Atom

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags
Page generated Jun. 25th, 2017 08:47 pm
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios