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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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  • blogTO describes the changing designs of TTC maps over the past generations.

  • Cody Delistraty links to an article of his contrasting and comparing Donald Trump to Louis XIV.

  • Marginal Revolution shares facts about Qatar in this time of its issues.

  • Peter Rukavina describes the latest innovations in his homebrew blogging.

  • Towleroad notes the sad anniversary of the Pulse massacre in Orlando.

  • Window on Eurasia argues that there is still potent for Idel-Ural, a coalition of non-Russian minorities by the Volga.

  • Yorkshire Ranter Alex Harrowell examines how Labour and the Tories made use of Big Data, and how Labour did much better.

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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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  • The Independent notes a denial that Scotland's Conservatives will split from the national party. I wonder, thought, if Scotland's political spectrum is going to shift, like Québec's, from a left-right split to a separatist-unionist one?
  • Owen Jones argues in The Guardian that the rampant prejudices of the DUP, including its homophobia, make it an unsuitable coalition partner.

  • Andray Domise argues in MacLean's that a perceived need to fit in means that immigrants can be too ready to dismiss local racisms.

  • Fast Company lets us know that the minimum wage increases in Seattle have not led to higher retail prices.

  • CBC notes the death of Sam Panopoulous, the Canadian man who invented Hawaiian pizza.

  • Adam West, the first man to play Batman on the screen, has died. We all, not just the fandom, are the poorer for his passing.

  • Are the robots not poised to take over our world? What does their absence demonstrate about our underachieving economy? The Atlantic wonders.

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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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The National Post has a feature from Graeme Hamilton noting the controversy associated in Québec with the flag of the Patriote rebels of 1837.

On May 22, as the rest of Canada celebrates Victoria Day, Quebecers will get a day off in honour of les Patriotes, the 19th-century rebels who fought to bring responsible government to what is now Quebec. It’s no surprise that the mostly French-speaking province isn’t terribly keen on paying tribute to a long-dead British monarch, and such Patriote leaders as Louis-Joseph Papineau, Jean-Olivier Chénier and Wolfred Nelson are worthy of celebration. Yet last week, Quebec’s Liberal government angered nationalists by blocking a proposal to have the Patriote flag fly above the legislature in Quebec City.

Q: Who were the Patriotes?

Charles Alexander Smith via Wikipedia
Charles Alexander Smith via Wikipedia"Assemblée des six-comtés", a painting depicting the Assembly of the Six Counties, held in Saint-Charles, Lower Canada on October 23 and October 24, 1837
A: The Patriotes was the name given to Papineau’s Parti canadien and the popular movement he and others inspired to rise up against British colonial rule in 1837-38. “The primarily francophone party, led mainly by members of the liberal professions and small-scale merchants, was widely supported by farmers, day-labourers and craftsmen,” the Canadian Encyclopedia says. They advocated democracy and the right to self-government, but at the same time they were in no hurry to get rid of the seigneurial system. After the rebellion was crushed, many participants were imprisoned, exiled or hung.

Q: What is the Patriote flag?

A: The flag was introduced in 1832 by Papineau’s political party and was carried at political speeches and into battle during the rebellion. It is a simple design consisting of three horizontal bars, green, white and red from top to bottom. The flag was seen by the Montreal aristocracy as a revolutionary symbol, and in 1837 the Montreal Herald wrote urging people to destroy it. Some early versions also featured a beaver, a maple leaf or a maskinonge fish. Today, the flag often has the profile of a musket-toting, toque-wearing, pipe-smoking rebel superimposed in the centre.
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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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Euractiv carries an AFP report looking into the possibility that Scotland's Shetland Islands might, in the case of the United Kingdom falling apart, try to separate from Scotland to form a sort of West Nordic microstate thanks to the oil in the archipelago's waters.

Of all the consequences of the Brexit vote, the fate of the Shetland Islands in the North Atlantic and their oil fields and fisheries may not top the list for negotiators in Westminster and Brussels. But it soon might.

But the prospect of a new bid for Scottish independence as Britain leaves the EU is making some residents of these rugged islands think again about whether they would be better off alone.

“It would be wonderful,” Andrea Manson, a Shetland councillor and a leading figure in the Wir Shetland movement for greater autonomy, told AFP.

The movement’s name means “Our Shetland” in the local Scots dialect, a derivation of Middle English which has replaced the islands’ original Germanic language, Norn.

The remote archipelago, already fiercely independent in spirit, is geographically and culturally closer to Scandinavia than to Edinburgh, and politically more aligned with London and Brussels.

In the past 1,300 years, Shetland has been overrun by Scandinavian Vikings, pawned to Scotland as a wedding dowry by Denmark, subsumed into the United Kingdom in 1707, and dragged into the European Economic Community against its will in 1973.
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James Jeffrey reports for the Inter Press Service about how Somaliland, particularly its capital of Berbera, is trying to look forward to a bright future independent of a Somalia Somalilanders wish to separate from.

Crossing African borders by land can be an intimidating process (it’s proving an increasingly intimidating process nowadays in Europe and the US also, even in airports). But crossing from Ethiopia to Somaliland at the ramshackle border town of Togo-Wuchale is a surreally pleasant experience.

Immigration officials on the Somaliland side leave aside the tough cross-examination routine, greeting you with big smiles and friendly chit chat as they whack an entry stamp on the Somaliland visa in your passport.

They’re always happy to see a foreigner’s visit providing recognition of their country that technically still doesn’t exist in the eyes of the rest of the political world, despite having proclaimed its independence from Somalia in 1991, following a civil war that killed about 50,000 in the region.

A British protectorate from 1886 until 1960 and unifying with what was then Italian Somaliland to create modern Somalia, Somaliland had got used to going on its own since that 1991 declaration, and today exhibits many of the trappings of a functioning state: its own currency, a functioning bureaucracy, trained police and military, law and order on the streets. Furthermore, since 2003 Somaliland has held a series of democratic elections resulting in orderly transfers of power.

Somaliland’s resolve is most clearly demonstrated in the capital, Hargeisa, formerly war-torn rubble in 1991 at the end of the civil war, its population living in refugee camps in neighbouring Ethiopia. An event that lives on in infamy saw the jets of military dictator Mohammed Siad Barre’s regime take off from the airport and circle back to bomb the city.

But visitors to today’s sun-blasted city of 800,000 people encounter a mishmash of impassioned traditional local markets cheek by jowl with diaspora-funded modern glass-fronted office blocks and malls, Wi-Fi enabled cafes and air-conditioned gyms, all suffused with typical Somali energy and dynamism.
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Je me souviens (2)


Montréal's Papineau subway station is named after the nearby avenue Papineau which in turn is named after Joseph Papineau, an early politician known for his advocacy of the interests of the Canadiens under British rule. The murals in the station, by Jean Cartier and George Juhasz, all deal with the 1837 rebellion against British rule led by his son Louis-Joseph Papineau.
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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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  • 'Apostrophen's 'Nathan Smith describes his writing projects for this year.

  • The Dragon's Gaze links to a paper examining exomoon formation.

  • The LRB Blog worries about Trump's hold on the button.

  • The NYRB Daily looks at Rex Tillerson, an oil company diplomat to autocrats.

  • Personal Reflections' Jim Belshaw shares the rediscovered mid-19th century painting by Legros, L'Angelus.
  • Towleroad looks at the Russian tradition of kompromat, the gathering of compromising information for blackmail.

  • Transit Toronto notes that TTC surveying in Scarborough is beginning.

  • Understanding Society looks at path dependency in the formation of academic disciplines.

  • Window on Eurasia looks at Russian tensions regarding gastarbeiter migration and suggests Russia is set to actively sponsor separatism across the former Soviet Union.

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  • Bad Astronomy reports on the astounding scientific illiteracy of Trump advisor Anthony Scaramucci.

  • blogTO compiles a list of the best tobagganing hills in Toronto.

  • Citizen Science Salon looks at what we can do in the redwood forests.

  • The Dragon's Gaze notes a gap in the disk of TW Hydrae.

  • Imageo notes that 2016 is the warmest year in the records.

  • Joe. My. God. notes that a pride parade protected by police went off in Montenegro.

  • Language Hat shares the story of Lazer Lederhendler, a son of Holocaust survivors in Montréal who became one of the leading translators into English of Québec literature.

  • Language Log looks at the distant origins of Japanese terms for "dog."

  • Marginal Revolution notes the rising popularity of Vladimir Putin on the American right.

  • The Power and the Money's Noel Maurer looks at the links between Russia and the "Calexit" movement.

  • The Volokh Conspiracy celebrates Saturnalia.

  • Window on Eurasia looks at Russia's use of genetics to disentangle the Tatar peoples and argues that the definition of Russians and Ukrainians as fraternal is dangerous to the latter.

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John Quiggin's Crooked Timber post imagining likely outcomes for the post-Brexit United Kingdom feels depressingly possible. The discussion is largely good, too.

I’m finding it hard to see that anything will happen to justify the massive effort involved. The Poles and other EU citizens whose presence was the biggest single justification for Brexit won’t go away. On the contrary, it seems pretty clear that all EU citizens will get permanent residence, even those who arrived after the Brexit vote. Even with a hard Brexit, the benefits of consistency with EU regulations will be overwhelming. The terms of any trade deal with non-EU countries won’t be any better than the existing EU deals and probably worse.

Even symbolically, what’s going to happen? Typically, national independence is marked by a ceremony where the flag of the imperial power is lowered, and the new national flag is raised. But, from what I can tell, the EU flag is hardly ever flown in the UK as it is. The same for national currency, passport, official languages and all the other symbolic representations of nationhood.

So, after a successful Brexit, Britain will be a little poorer and more isolated than before, but otherwise largely unchanged. Will that count as success in the eyes of those who voted to Leave. I don’t know. Maybe those closer to the action could comment.
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  • At Apostrophen, 'Nathan Smith talks about how he made a tradition out of Christmas tree ornamentation over the past twenty years.

  • blogTO notes that Toronto's waterfront has major E Coli issues.

  • Crooked Timber notes the potential for the recent by-election in London, fought on Brexit and lost by the Tories, to mean something.

  • The Dragon's Gaze reports on a search for radio flares from brown dwarfs.

  • The Dragon's Tales notes that China has been installing ecologies on its artificial South China Sea islands.

  • The Everyday Sociology Blog considers what it means to be an ally.

  • The LRB Blog looks at the complex peace negotiations in Colombia.

  • The Map Room Blog shares a map of American infrastructure.

  • Marginal Revolution notes a one-terabyte drive passed from person to person that serves as a sort of Internet in Cuba.

  • Towleroad notes a film project by one Leo Herrera that aims to imagine what prominent AIDS victims would have done and been like had their not been killed by the epidemic.

  • The Volokh Conspiracy notes the complexities surrounding Brexit.

  • Arnold Zwicky has had enough with linguistic prescriptivism.

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The Toronto Star's Alicja Siekierska describes the activities of one man who hopes to restore Scarborough as a city separate from Toronto. I share in the general skepticism that there's a chance of this happening, but who knows? 2016 has been such a year, and a partial demerger did occur last decade in Montréal.

A disgruntled Scarborough resident is fed up with Toronto’s city council and is hoping a petition will help start the process of de-amalgamation.

Robert McDermott, a real estate agent in Scarborough, said he launched the “Free Scarborough Campaign” because amalgamation has been “a dismal failure” that has led to tax increases and declines in service. McDermott is calling for Scarborough to de-amalgamate from the city “to restore accessible, local government.”

Scarborough and surrounding Toronto municipalities merged to form the modern City of Toronto in 1998 after then-premier Mike Harris passed amalgamation legislation that was proposed as a way to save the province money. The controversial bill was heavily opposed at the time, and calls for de-amalgamation have resurfaced over the years since it was enacted.

“Property taxes in Scarborough have been continually going up and services have been declining,” McDermott said, adding the amalgamated council has fuelled division between downtown Toronto and the suburbs surrounding it.

“We’ve lost the ability to manage our own affairs, really. We’re being dictated by a centralized government in downtown Toronto.”

Online, McDermott’s campaign has failed to receive much traction, with just over 90 signatures on the online petition as of Tuesday afternoon. However, he said he has received about 3,200 signatures from going door-to-door in Scarborough. McDermott hopes to gather enough signatures by the end of 2017 to compel municipal and provincial officials to launch a referendum on de-amalgamation.
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  • blogTO notes that York University is slated to have an architecturally interesting student centre.

  • Centauri Dreams reports on new imaging of various protoplanetary disks.

  • The Dragon's Gaze reports on observations finetuning what is known about HD 209458b.

  • Joe. My. God. notes the happiness of at least one white supremacist leader with the Trump victory.

  • Language Hat reports on medieval prejudices about collectors of books.

  • Language Log explains its silence over the Trump election.

  • Lawyers, Guns and Money celebrates Doctor Strange.

  • Marginal Revolution suggests anxiety over technological change gave Trump an advantage over Clinton.

  • The NYRB Daily considers when it is proper to put a work through a new translation.

  • The Planetary Society Blog reports on the week's activities in the solar system.

  • The Power and the Money's Noel Maurer is alarmed by the description of the nascent California separatist movement in an article, as the mechanisms are described.

  • Peter Rukavina shares of a map about Internet accessibility on Prince Edward Island.

  • The Volokh Conspiracy praises Obama's recent statements.

  • Window on Eurasia argues Trump's policies might hurt Russia and notes Ukrainians who hope his government will not be hostile to Ukraine.

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  • 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.

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