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  • Dangerous Minds points readers to Cindy Sherman's Instagram account. ("_cindysherman_", if you are interested.)

  • Language Hat takes note of a rare early 20th century Judaeo-Urdu manuscript.

  • Language Log lists some of the many, many words and phrases banned from Internet usage in China.

  • The argument made at Lawyers, Guns and Money about Trump's many cognitive defects is frightening. How can he be president?

  • The LRB Blog <"a href="https://www.lrb.co.uk/blog/2017/08/03/lynsey-hanley/labour-and-traditional-voters/">notes that many traditional Labour voters, contra fears, are in fact willing to vote for non-ethnocratic policies.

  • The NYR Daily describes a book of photos with companion essays by Teju Cole that I like.

  • Of course, as Roads and Kingdom notes, there is such a thing as pho craft beer in Vietnam.

  • Peter Rukavina notes
  • Towleroad notes a love duet between Kele Okereke and Olly Alexander.

  • The Volokh Conspiracy seems unconvinced by the charges against Kronos programmer Marcus Hutchins.

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  • This U>long-form CBC article looking at Ken Pagan, the man who became infamous through his beer can toss, has insight.

  • I like Christopher Hume's article describing changes of zoning around apartment highrises, to allow shops.

  • John Lorinc's suggestion that taxes collected from foreign buyers be put towards social housing is provocative.

  • Robert Zunke is the man, sometime construction worker, assembling shrines on the Leslie Street spit.

  • Torontoist describes Blockobana, the queer black space at this year's Toronto Caribbean Festival.

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  • Crooked Timber's John Quiggin considers imaginable ways to get carbon dioxide in the atmosphere down to 350 ppm by 2100.

  • Karen Sternheimer at the Everyday Sociology Blog considers the tenuous nature of the upper-middle class in America. How is downwards mobility to be avoided, even here?

  • Imageo shows the growth of a sunspot larger than the Earth.

  • Language Hat shares the story of how Manchu script came to be.

  • Lawyers, Guns and Money notes that the working poor need protection from arbitrary and always-changing work schedules.

  • The LRB Blog notes the geopolitical scramble at the Horn of Africa, starting with bases in Djibouti.

  • The NYR Daily engages with an intriguing exhibition about the relationship between Henry James and paintings, and painting.

  • Personal Reflections' Jim Belshaw engages with the classic 1937 Australian film, Lovers and Luggers.

  • Noel Maurer at The Power and the Money notes that one benefit of the trend towards greater informality in fashion is that time has been freed up, especially for women.

  • Peter Rukavina writes about his new Instagram account, hosting his various sketches.

  • Unicorn Booty notes the continuing problems with Germany's adoption laws for same-sex couples.

  • The Volokh Conspiracy looks at how the Polish president saved the independence of Poland's courts with his veto.

  • Window on Eurasia suggests Russia is trying to mobilize the ethnic Russians of Lithuania, finally.

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    Torontoist's feature on how Stepgate went viral internationally is a mustread.
  • The National Post covers a disturbing report about claiming a police officer maimed a teenager. If the Toronto police have been actively trying to cover up criminal assault by one of their members ...

  • Global News notes that Metrolinx has opted to remove Bombardier for consideration in operating GO Transit.

  • A high-speed ferry link between Toronto and Niagara--St. Catherine's--is imaginable. Economically viable? The Globe and Mail reports.

  • Simon Lewsen describes in The Globe and Mail how the 1977 murder of Emanuel Jaques led, eventually, to the transformation of Yonge Street.

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  • I have limits as to what I will do to get a great photo. The limits of others may be more elastic, too much so even. VICE warns against this excessive dangerous.

  • Lifehacker shares some quick tips to people looking for obvious signs of a photograph being doctored.

  • These obviously NSFW photos from pre-AIDS New York City by Alvin Baltrop capture the ephemeral scene beautifully.

  • Niko Kallianiotis' photos of small-town Rust Belt Pennsylvania are evocative. I recognize this kind of landscape.

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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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  • NOW Toronto shares photos of the Pride Toronto parade.

  • blogTO notes that, in a recent ranking, Toronto is one of the best cities in which to not be straight in the world.

  • Bloomberg notes the importance of gay pride parades, as self-assertion and resistance, in the age of Trump.

  • Kevin Ritchie's cover article for NOW Toronto looks at the successes and innovations of drag in the era of RuPaul's Drag Race.

  • VICE looks at the extent to which gay life has been transformed by the culture of the app.

  • If all it took for Germany to move towards same-sex marriage was to introduce Merkel to a nice couple ... well done. The Los Angeles Times reports.

  • Laurel Gregory of Global News looks at research into children who have been out throughout their school years. I can scarcely imagine.

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  • The Dragon's Gaze looks at what, exactly, is going on at Boyajian's Star. Does KIC 8462852 have a large ringed exoplanet with Trojans?

  • The Frailest Thing considers modernity as something that has its own sort of enchantments.

  • Language Hat examines how Arkansaw was mutated into Arkansas.

  • Language Log looks at the etymology for "coral reef" in Chinese.

  • Lawyers, Guns and Money notes Krugman's subtweet.

  • Neuroskeptic considers ketamine as an anti-depressant.

  • Torontoist describes two local startups, Partial and Wandervoic, that are trying to connect local artists with non-traditional art buyers.

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  • Language Log reports on the transliterations of "Trump" into Chinese and Chinese social networks.

  • Marginal Revolution shares Jill Lepore's argument that modern dystopian fiction deals with submission to the worst, not resistance.

  • At the NYRB Daily, Tim Flannery notes how Trump's withdrawal from Paris is bad for the environment and for the American economy.

  • Peter Rukavina's photo of stormclouds over Charlottetown is eye-catching. (I have not heard of "dark off" myself.)
  • Savage Minds announces a MOOC ANTH 101 course starting tomorrow.

  • Window on Eurasia argues that Putin can afford to be aggressive because he is not constrained by Communist ideology.

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  • Bloomberg looks at the recent surge of Chinese investment in Southeast Asia.

  • Culture.pl looks at why Nietzsche falsely claimed Polish ancestry.

  • Foreign Policy suggests that this is a new age of German prominence in the West.

  • The New Yorker finds Amazon's new brick-and-mortar bookstores lacking.

  • The Toronto Star shares claims that learning a second language provides mental benefits.

  • Universe Today notes the discovery of potentially habitable super-Earth Gliese 625 b.

  • Vice's Motherboard notes how the popularization of ayahuasca-driven spirit quests has actually hurt traditional users.

  • Vox notes the latest Russia-Ukraine history fight on Twitter.

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  • 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: (me)
Me outside, with my Quora Top Writer 2017 jacket #toronto #me #selfie #quora #quoratopwriter #dovercourtvillage


Quora is fun, not least because of the swag you can get if you qualify as a Top Writer.
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Goodbye, rfmcdpei


Almost two hours ago, I deleted my LiveJournal. User rfmcdpei is no longer active on this site.

I do allow for the possibility that I might change my mind. Maybe I will bring it back temporarily, so as to convert it to some kind of personal docment via BlogBooker, or perhaps I will restore it in the name of minimizing link rot on the Internet and to continue to be able to read what few (ever fewer) people still write only on LiveJournal. This post, however, is the first post that I will not be crossposting from Dreamwidth over to LiveJournal, and no other post shall follow.

I did join the rush on account of the new user agreement unleashed earlier this week, of course.



Any number of news sources, like the Daily Dot and Boing Boing and Gizmodo and Charlie Stross at Autopope, have written at great length about the new terms of service agreement. That this agreement is not available, not in a legally binding form and not in a well-translated form, in the English language made the exodus inevitable.

Russia, as a classical dictatorship, wants to be able to restrict what people write about within its sphere, to do away with anonymity and to limit the range of permissible subject matter. LiveJournal, which happens to be based in Russia as a consequence of a long series of business decisions (bad decisions, I would argue, ones which kept LiveJournal from emerging as a lasting social network of worldwide scope), is subject. Therefore, anyone who is not dependent on LiveJournal is leaving a social network that appears to be fatally compromised.

(What is the opposite of soft power?)

I have had alternatives ready. Back in October 2012, I blogged about how I had moved away from LiveJournal as a primary blog, towards Dreamwidth for LiveJournal-like social networking and to WordPress for the more blog-like functions. I am losing nothing as a consequence of this. My regrets about this are not especially profound ones, characterized much more by wistfulness and nostalgia than by serious regret.

rfmcdpei has been around for a month short of fifteen years. It's amazing.



LiveJournal was always been there for me. I remember reading Tom's LiveJournal, and the LiveJournals of others, back in early 2002 when I was so desperate to connect with anyone. I remember how excited I was when I got an invite code from Darren back in June of 2002. I remember writing an online diary of my life there, and then, first slowly then with speed, transforming this diary into a blog. I know that I met all sorts of people who I know nd like even know there, came to learn all kinds of things there, helped other people learn through LiveJournal. In my life, LiveJournal was a huge net positive.

And now it's over. It's an era that was bound to end, I know, and what an era it was. Thank you, LiveJournalers and LiveJournal founders, too, for making this so good and fun.
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In a great Wired article, Charley Locke describes how a photo taken on the New York City subway system by Instagram user subwaycreatures ended up going hilariously viral.

Samuel Themer never planned to be a symbol of everything that’s right or wrong with America. He just wanted to go to work. But when he hopped on the subway to head into Manhattan on February 19, the Queens resident was in full drag—he performs as Gilda Wabbit. He also ended up sitting next to a woman in a niqab, a fact he initially didn’t even notice. “I was just sitting on the train, existing,” he says. “It didn’t seem out of the ordinary that a woman in full modesty garb would sit next to me.”

Someone on that W car with them, though, thought otherwise. Boubah Barry, a Guinean immigrant and real estate student, wanted to document what he saw as a testament to tolerance, so he took a photo of the pair and posted it to Instagram. “It’s diversity,” says Barry, who says he doesn’t identify as liberal or conservative but does oppose President Trump’s refugee ban. “They sit next to each other, and no one cares.”

But someone did care. After the post was shared by Instagram account subwaycreatures, the photo drifted across the internet until /pol/ News Network attached it to a tweet on Wednesday with the message “This is the future that liberals want.”

/pol/ News Network, which also recently declared Get Out to be anti-white propaganda, probably intended the post to be a warning about the impending liberal dystopia. But as soon as actual liberals saw it, they flipped the message on its head—and began touting the message as exactly the future they wanted. They filled /pol/ News Network’s mentions with messages endorsing the photo and adding their own visions of a bright future. By Thursday, it was a full-blown meme. Soon images of a future filled with interspecies companionship, gay space communism, and Garfield flooded onto social media.
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  • In July 2009, I wrote about my reaction to the photography of Nan Goldin, as seen in a 2003 exhibition at Montréal's Musée d'art contemporain and in book format in The Ballad of Sexual Dependency, noting how her impulse to preserve the people around her in photographs is one I got.

  • In November 2010, I linked to a blog post by Andrew Barton talking about how film photography, unlike digital photography, imposed a certain discipline owing to the relative expense of film.

  • In February 2012, I noted in an article on the power of social media to drive the mass media Zeynap Tufekci's essay wondering if social networking technologies and ubiquitous video and photography will help preserve bad memories as well as the good.

  • In April 2012, I linked to an article arguing that Instagram was ultimately good for photography.

  • In January 2014, I linked to an io9 article predicting the imminent end of cameras as standalone devices.

  • In June 2015, I linked to an Open Democracy essay talking about how photography can lend structure to a chaotic world.

  • In December 2015, I defended the practice of taking photographs in art galleries, even selfies, as actions perfectly compatible with caring about the artworks that would be subjects or even backgrounds to photographs.

  • In December 2016, I linked to an article in Wired noting how the power of photographs helps spread fake news.

  • On that same day in December, I shared Burhan Ozbilici's stunning photograph of Mevlut Mert Altintas, assassin of the Russian ambassador to Turkey, praising Ozbilici's skill.

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In the latest issue of Toronto Life, Lauren McKeon examines the short and sad life of Aaron Driver, a small-town Canadian who became so lost after family traumas--a mother's early death, a stillborn child--that he managed to join up with ISIS online, eventually to die in a confrontation with police.

Aaron Driver was a sunny, easygoing kid with knobby knees and a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles obsession. Born in Regina in 1991 to Wayne, a long-haul trucker, and Linda, a stay-at-home mom, he was a late addition to his family. His sister, Eileen, was already 12, and his brother, Rob, was 10. Wayne often spent weeks on the road, and, in his absence, Aaron became inseparable from his mom. He’d do anything to make her happy—clean his room, do his homework, take out the garbage.

Wayne, a devout Christian, had always planned to become a pastor, but he never finished divinity school. Instead, he worked a succession of contract jobs. The Drivers moved around constantly, jumping across Canada from Regina to Kitchener to Port Colborne. On Sundays, they would go to church, then pack a picnic lunch and head to a nearby beach on Lake Erie.

Everything changed when Aaron was seven. Doctors discovered an inoperable tumour in his mom’s brain. Aaron didn’t understand how sick she was until his dad brought him to the hospital to see her undergo radiation. That’s when it sunk in: she wasn’t going to be okay. Aaron grew quiet and withdrawn, spending entire days in the hospital room with his mom.

A few months after Linda was diagnosed, she fell into a coma and never woke up. Aaron was inconsolable. He and his father were suddenly on their own—his older siblings had already moved out—and Aaron found the loneliness unbearable. In the following months, he often refused to get out of bed to go to school. He stopped eating his lunches, telling Wayne that, if he starved himself to death, he could be with his mom in heaven.

When Aaron was nine, his dad met a woman named Monica on a Christian dating site. Aaron seemed to like her at first, but that changed when, several months later, she and Wayne announced they were getting married. Aaron snapped. He raged and screamed, telling his dad nobody would ever replace his mom—and that he wished Wayne had died instead. Wayne took Aaron to a Christian bereavement counsellor, but his son refused to participate. He tried again with a psychiatrist and had to drag Aaron into the office; he sat through the entire appointment in silence. When Wayne brought a family counsellor in for home sessions, Aaron would storm out of the room. Eventually, Wayne stopped trying altogether.
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The Toronto Star's Martin Regg Cohn argues that the online arguments between Kathleen Wynne and Kevin O'Leary may help the former, by giving her a highly public exchange with a political opponent who can be proved wrong.

When [Kevin O’Leary] trash-talks Ontario, it’s music to [Kathleen Wynne's] well-worn ears — those ears having been bent out of shape by angry voters, and pinched by her provincial opponents.

The premier can’t push back against senior citizens with quavering voices, and it’s tough to pin down her invisible opposition rivals — akin to fighting phantoms.

O’Leary, however, is right out of central casting. The long-running TV personality is now running for the federal Tory leadership, but he went off script by taking a run at Ontario with the usual pot shots.

Not just high hydro bills, but high taxes allegedly driving away auto plants.

Which is why the premier couldn’t resist engaging him — not on a Tory campaign stage, but on the Facebook platform that now hosts fake news and faux debates. The better to bend our ears and bait our eyeballs.
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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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