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  • Johann Hari writes for Open Democracy about what may be the beginning of the end of the drug war in Germany.

  • I am not in agreement with Joseph Couture's argument in NOW Toronto that the Internet has ended gay communities. (Convince me.)

  • Samantha Edwards reports in NOW Toronto controversy regarding the Parkdale feminist street art event. Was it really intersectional?

  • James Cooray Smith wonders--or "wonders"--why some Doctor Who fans are so upset with a woman portraying the Doctor.

  • In MacLean's, chief Perry Bellegarde argues that more Canadians should be concerned with the too-many deaths of young First Nations people in Thunder Bay.

  • The National Post tells the story of how Australian senator Larissa Walters had to unexpectedly resign her position on account of her Canadian birth.

  • Via James Nicoll, a paper claiming evidence of human presence in northern Australia, in Madjedbebe, 65k years ago.

  • National Geographic tells of the peculiar way some Gulf of Mexico dolphins prepare their catfish. Is it cultural, culinary even?

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  • CBC Montreal notes how Andrée Archambault has been leaving books on the Montréal Metro for commuters to find.

  • CBC's Jonathan Ore notes the (perhaps surprisingly) innovative Transformers comics put out by IDW.

  • At The Conversation, Una McCormack writes about how the 13th Doctor being played by Jodie Whittaker fulfills her childhood dreams.

  • At The Globe and Mail, Russell Smith examines why the alt-right hates cultural experimentation and innovation so much.

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  • Bad Astronomer Phil Plait investigates a mysterious streak on a photo of Messier 77. Asteroid, satellite, something else?

  • Centauri Dreams reports on the latest attempt at a census estimate of brown dwarfs in the Milky Way Galaxy.

  • Crooked Timber's John Quiggin considers the diminishing role of the pundit, displaced by the expert.

  • D-Brief is one of many sources to note the deadly, ubiquitous perchlorates of Mars. Mars is dead for good reasons.

  • Lawyers, Guns and Money links to a tweetstorm by one Kate Antonova arguing that the ideological labels of the long 19th century no longer speak to our issues.

  • Language Hat notes how early Tsarist mappers were confused by confusing, often shared, placenames.

  • The LRB Blog reports on the recovery of a Bloomsbury Wedgwood service features the images of notable women.

  • Marginal Revolution shares opinions that Macron is overrated, not least in terms of the distinctiveness of some of his policies from those of Trump.

  • Window on Eurasia argues that projected shrinkage of the workforce of Russia means either economic decline or controversial immigration.

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The Pet Shop Boys' 1996 song "Single-Bilingual" was not as big a hit as their iconic global singles of the 1980s. Perhaps it was because this song, like the rest of their album Bilingual, was a shift from their previous European-styled electronica, incorporating Latin rhythms. This is a shame, because this song and others are among the group's slyest.

The songs of the Pet Shop Boys, like those of all great songwriters, can say many things. See "Single-Bilingual". Listening to the peppy song, Neil Tennant singing in the voice of a self-styled cosmopolitan businessman who claims to be the master of his world, there is humour. As Wayne Studer points out, this man is not all he thinks he is. He's just a cog in the machine.

They call this a community
I like to think of it as home
Arriving at the airport
I am going it alone
Ordering a boarding pass
Travelling in business class
This is the name of the game
I'm single, bilingual
Single, bilingual


I find myself wondering, too, if this song fits on the soundtrack for Brexit. From a pretended cosmopolitanism down to an actual solitude?
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  • Craig S. Smith notes the profound cynicism of Kellie Leitch in using one Syrian refugee's abuse of his wife to criticize the entire program.

  • CBC's Carolyn Dunn notes that the story of the Trinh family, boat people from Vietnam who came to Canada, will be made into a Heritage Minute.
  • James Jeffrey describes for the Inter Press Service how refugees from Eritrea generally receive warm welcome in rival Ethiopia.

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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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I went with a friend to catch Wonder Woman yesterday, and I left impressed. This film caught my attention, with excellent plotting and filming and a star-making turn from Gal Gadot. I can easily believe it capable of supporting the future DC cinematic universe, though I hope it will not have to do so alone.

The song that played over the closing credit was Sia and Labrinth's "To Be Human". This song, all about the limits to love that we know in our world, was a good choice.
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Writing in the aftermath of the Manchester attack, The Guardian's Alexis Petridis writes about how his understanding of the pop music concert changed when he saw the impact that it had on his daughter. It points the young child to the possibility of an exciting adult future.

There was more to the magic than infectious enthusiasm. I have spent a not-insignificant proportion of my working life at pop gigs in arenas filled with kids and teenagers, usually in a state of mild bemusement. I have seen shows I thought were abysmal and shows I thought were impressively slick. I have seen artists treat their audience with something bordering on contempt (there is something incredibly galling about watching a singer who can’t even be bothered to pretend to mime) and artists who genuinely left me open-mouthed (Miley Cyrus, following her decision to abandon her squeaky-clean Disney image for something deliberately provocative). I could make an informed, objective critical judgment about them, but I never fully understood them, never really grasped what they were for, never really got what was going on in the audience, until I saw one through my daughter’s eyes.

It wasn’t just that she was overawed by the spectacle, although she was: stuff I took for granted – lasers, pyrotechnics, confetti cannons, all the usual bells and whistles of a big pop show – were a constant source of overwhelming sensory overload. Nor was it the way her lack of cynicism made me reconsider my own feelings, although that happened too. I have always been deeply suspicious of the kind of rhetoric that modern pop surrounds itself with: all that platitudinous “just be yourself”, “if you dream it you can do it” stuff. But my daughter took it all at face value and I ended up thinking: Well, there’s certainly worse messages you can send out to kids.

But mostly it was the way it gave her a first glimpse of a world that was previously outside her experience, a more adult, or at least more mature world than the one she knew, a world that would one day be her own, and how excited she was to see it, how – as she put it – grown-up it made her feel. She experienced something that transcended her pretty fickle and changeable musical allegiances. Jessie J has long been replaced in her affections – by, among others, Ariana Grande. The selfie she took that night is still on her bedroom wall. If that was true of a seven-year-old being chaperoned by her father, how much more true was it for the kids that were just old enough to be there without their parents, the ones who had relegated their mums and dads to waiting in the foyer or outside in the car?
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  • 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.

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  • Antipope's Charlie Stross wonders if the politics of Trump might mean an end to the British nuclear deterrent.

  • Centauri Dreams shares Andrew LePage's evaluation of the TRAPPIST-1 system, where he concludes that there are in fact three plausible candidates for habitable status there.

  • Dangerous Minds shares the gender-bending photographs of Norwegian photographers Marie Høeg and Bolette Berg.

  • The Everyday Sociology Blog takes a look at the 1980s HIV/AIDS epidemic in the United States.

  • The Extremo Files looks at the human microbiome.

  • Language Hat links to an article on Dakhani, a south Indian Urdu dialect.

  • The LRB Blog looks at policing in London.

  • The Map Room Blog notes that 90% of the hundred thousand lakes of Manitoba are officially unnamed.

  • Marginal Revolution looks at the remarkable Akshardham Temple of New Delhi.

  • The Planetary Society Blog notes how citizen scientists detected changes in Rosetta's comet.

  • The Power and the Money's Noel Maurer provides a visual guide for New Yorkers at the size of the proposed border wall.

  • The Russian Demographics Blog links to a paper taking a look at the history of abortion in 20th century France.

  • Torontoist looks at the 1840s influx of Irish refugees to Toronto.

  • Understanding Society takes a look at the research that went into the discovery of the nucleus of the atom.

  • Window on Eurasia reports on Belarus.

  • Arnold Zwicky shares photos and commentary on the stars and plot of Oscar-winning film Midnight.

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CBC News' Alexandra Sienkiewicz looks at the long history of the Badminton and Racquet Club destroyed by fire, noting--among other things--a conservatism that once extended down to barring non-white males from membership.

When a devastating fire swept through the 90-year-old Badminton and Racquet Club near Yonge Street and St. Clair Avenue Tuesday afternoon, the organization added yet another chapter to its storied history.

The club opened in 1924 when the old TTC streetcar barns on St. Clair Avenue were converted into seven badminton courts. The B & R, as it's affectionately known among those who use it, started with only a few members from Toronto's elite — but has since grown to include more than 2,750 members. To this day, it remains a private facility and access can be gained by membership only.

The club has also been known for its history of segregation of the sexes. It wasn't until 1980 that women were allowed to sit in on board meetings — but without voting rights. "Women are to be seen and not heard," says the club's website in describing that period of its history.

"The idea of women on the board had been rejected annually as many of the men on the board felt that the "right kind of man" would not serve if there were women at the table," it adds.

It was only in 1997 when men and women could sit together when a co-ed dining room was introduced — nearly 75 years after the club's opening.
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  • blogTO reports on the history of Toronto's Wellington Street.

  • Dangerous Minds introduces me to the grim American gothic that is Wisconsin Death Trip. What happened to Black River Falls in the 1890s?

  • The Dragon's Gaze links to hypotheses about KIC 8462852, one suggesting KIC 8462852 has four exoplanets, another talking about a planet's disintegration.

  • The Dragon's Tales links to a paper modeling the mantles of icy moons.

  • Lawyers, Guns and Money looks at small city NIMBYism in the Oregon city of Eugene.

  • The LRB Blog reports on toxically racist misogyny directed towards Labour's Diane Abbott by Tory minister David Davis, "misogynoir" as it is called.

  • Personal Reflections' Jim Belshaw reports on the elections in Indonesia, a country increasingly important to Australia.

  • Peter Rukavina describes how the builders of his various indie phones, promising in their own rights, keep dropping them.

  • The Power and the Money's Noel Maurer is optimistic that NAFTA will survive mostly as is.

  • The Volokh Conspiracy examines the ruling against Trump's immigration order on the grounds that its planners explicitly designed it as an anti-Muslim ban.

  • Window on Eurasia suggests that the treaty-based federalism of Tatarstan within Russia is increasingly unpopular with many wanting a more centralized country.

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There are many reasons to criticize the government of Ontario's Liberal premier, Kathleen Wynne. There are many ways to criticize her. The personal abuse described in Mike Crawley's CBC News report is not one of these ways.

The replies to Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne on Twitter are not for the faint of heart.

The tweets at Wynne predominantly express anger about her record and most stay within the bounds of fair comment, not crossing the line into personal abuse. Such calls as "Resign!" "You're incompetent!" and "Worst premier ever!" are now simply part of the deal for a politician in the era of social media.

But Wynne also draws a significant number of abusive, sexist and homophobic tweets. [. . .]

The comments on Wynne's Facebook page are equally nasty, but her communications team filters out posts that contain the most abusive words so the public can't view them.

A member of the premier's staff showed CBC News nearly 40 Facebook posts filtered out from just the past week, including ones calling Wynne a "wrinkly bitch" (by a Facebook user named George Onock) a "subhuman, dirty dyke" (Frank Yurkowski) and a "lying cheating c--t."
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CBC News' Michelle Cheung reports on how city cuts mean that the cost to parents of daycare provided by the Toronto District School Board will rise significantly, perhaps even prohibitively for some.

A proposal in the 2017 budget could see some parents paying more for child care that is already notoriously expensive.

"It's more than university," Amanda Munday said in an interview on Thursday.

Munday has two young children and she says when her four-month-old baby enrolls in fulltime daycare later this year, her childcare costs will be more than her wage.

[. . .]

Munday joined Toronto District School Board Trustee Jennifer Story at a media conference at Bruce Public School on Thursday.

Story is helping to round up parents and daycare operators to voice concerns over the proposed $4.1-million funding cut that could translate into higher child-care costs.

City staff have proposed eliminating coverage for the annual occupancy costs of the TDSB, Toronto Catholic District School Board, Toronto French District School Board and Toronto District French Catholic School Board. Those costs include paying for heat, lights and maintenance of daycare spaces on school property.

"We can fight this," Story said in an interview. "We are hoping to convince the city that this isn't a wise move to increase the already extremely high cost of child care in Toronto."
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The Globe and Mail carries a Canadian Press report describing how the Confederation Centre of the Arts gallery in Charlottetown has restored the identity of a woman artist of the 19th century.

For decades, her creations have been wrongly attributed to men — but after a two-year investigation of her work, the daughter of a former Prince Edward Island lieutenant governor is finally getting credit long overdue in what a researcher calls a “little feminist victory.”

The Confederation Centre Art Gallery in Charlottetown opened its “Introducing Caroline Louisa Daly” exhibit over the weekend, but it’s hardly the first time her paintings have graced its halls. Some pieces have been part of the gallery’s permanent collection since the 1960s.

But the paintings and drawings were for years wrongly attributed to Charles L. Daly and John Corry Wilson Daly — Ontario men who were of no relation to Caroline Louisa Daly.

“I don’t think it was a malicious misattribution by any means, but I think it’s just all too easy to forget the accomplishments of women sometimes,” said gallery registrar Paige Matthie. “(That was) the driving force that kept me going back to it over and over again ... to give credit to a woman who we’ve never, ever acknowledged before.”
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At NPR, Ari Shapiro interviewed Wesley Morris about the deaths last year of three musicians, David Bowie and Prince and George Michael, who each pushed the boundaries of acceptable gender performance in different ways. Morris' take on each of these artists is noteworthy, as is his conclusion.

It's obviously a tragedy — a coincidence of the calendar — that all three of these artists died in 2016. But do you think that when you put the three of them together, you see something about the evolution, or maybe devolution, of masculinity in pop music?

Yeah. I mean, to have that happen in a year in which we were re-debating the propriety of maleness with regard to women, and excusing it as just the thing that men do?

You're talking about the presidential race talk about sexual assault, things like that.

Yes, yes. And I think that just looking at what the coming administration is going to look like, it's gonna be full of generals, full of men who have exerted power in this very traditional way. I think that we go through these waves, these periods. It's gonna be really interesting to see what the next three or four years turns up — in terms of how you might be able to trace some through-line from people like your Princes and David Bowies and George Michaels to whatever is happening in music in two years.


What will come of these men's shared legacy?
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National Geographic's Simon Worrell interviews Dava Sobel, an author whose new book The Glass Universe: How the Ladies of the Harvard Observatory Took the Measure of the Stars takes a look at the late 19th century women whose observations basically created the framework for our understanding of stars and the universe.

Tell us about the glass universe—is this the ultimate glass ceiling or something else altogether?

[Laughs] It’s both. It’s about women and astronomy and also about a unique collection of half a million photographs on glass plates that are stored in the Harvard College Observatory. Women are traditionally underrepresented in science, so it’s interesting to look back to the 1870s to 1890s and find that as many as 20 women at a time were working at the Harvard Observatory.

You don’t think of Harvard as a place that’s particularly friendly to women, especially then. The observatory was a wholly disowned subsidiary and made their own rules and went their own way. The director, Edward Pickering, was very much in favor of higher education for women and for giving women a chance if they were interested in doing astronomical work. There had been a tradition of women working in the observatory, but the earliest were family members of the astronomers, the resident observers. By Pickering’s time, women he hired were reporting for seven hours a day, six days a week, and had no family connection to the place. They were just capable and interested.

Were they the ones that took the pictures?

No. At the beginning, there was a real separation of duties. The men would operate the telescopes partly because of propriety. You couldn’t have the women in there with the men, up all night. [Laughs] But by 1896, that changed with women coming in from college-level programs in astronomy, who had learned to observe. The first woman to use the telescopes was Annie Jump Cannon in 1896.
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Open Democracy hosts Yessika Gonzalez's article looking at the queering of the Argentine tango.

With the internationalization of tango, its slum origins were forgotten and a strictly codified dance was exported with clearly defined roles between man and woman. In the traditional milongas—the venues where people in Argentina go to tango—women generally sit on one side of the dance floor to show their potential dance partners that they are available. The man invites the woman to dance with a head motion and the women either accepts or rejects the proposal. So begins a dance in which the man leads and the woman follows the marked steps, embellishing the dance with several adornments.

In recent years, however, people have begun to champion the so-called Queer Tango - queer meaning “strange”, “different”, or even “eccentric”. But since the word was traditionally used pejoratively against people on particular gender and sexual grounds, it was eventually appropriated by the LGBTQ community. The Queer Tango therefore does not aim only to create spaces for the gay community to express itself through tango, but it allows all people, regardless of their sexuality, to explore themselves and go beyond social gender norms. As the Buenos Aires Queer Tango blog explains:

“Queer Tango is a space for tango open to everyone. A space for meeting, socializing, learning, and practicing that seeks to explore different forms of communication between those who dance. The queer tango does not presuppose the sexual orientation of its dancers, nor their taste for occupying one role or another when dancing.”

[El Tango Queer] es un espacio de tango abierto a todas las personas. Un lugar de encuentro, sociabilización, aprendizaje y práctica en el que se busca explorar distintas formas de comunicación entre quienes bailan. El tango queer no presupone la orientación sexual de los bailarines ni su gusto por ocupar un rol u otro a la hora de bailar.

Although, at its inception, only men danced the tango, in the traditional milongas of today, same-sex partners have been victims of discrimination and have even been thrown out of the dance floor. In fact, the birth of many “queer” milongas came as a response to these attacks.
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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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  • Bad Astronomy shares a video imagining of how Cassini will meet its end with Saturn.

  • Cody Delistraty shares an interview with Rebecca Solnit.

  • Far Outliers reports on Margaret Thatcher's unorthodox campaign in 1979.

  • Joe. My. God. shares Hillary Clinton's thanks to her 66 million voters.

  • Marginal Revolution looks at gender stereotypes among scientists.

  • The NYRB Daily talks about the visual art of Pipilotti Rist.

  • Otto Pohl commemorates the 73rd anniversary of the deportation of the Kalmyks.

  • Window on Eurasia suggests China might follow Russia's Crimea strategy in invading Taiwan, and looks at the latest on controversies about Tatar identity and genetics.

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