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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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  • 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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  • Crooked Timber responds to The Intercept's release of data regarding Russian interference with American elections.
  • Dangerous Minds reports on how Melanie Gaydos overcame a rare genetic disorder to become a model.

  • Dead Things seems unduly happy that it does see as if Tyrannosaurus rex had feathers. (I like the idea.)

  • The Dragon's Gaze reports on our ability to detect the effects of a planet-shattering Nicoll-Dyson beam.

  • The Frailest Thing considers being a parent in the digital age.

  • Language Hat notes the African writing systems of nsibidi and bamum.

  • Marginal Revolution notes that Trump-supporting states are moving to green energy quite quickly.

  • Window on Eurasia notes how Russian guarantees of traditional rights to the peoples of the Russian North do not take their current identities into account.

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  • The CBC u>notes the consensus that the new Ontario minimum wage will not hurt the economy, overall, but provide a mild boost.

  • The Toronto Star notes that, from 2019, analog television broadcasts will start ramping down.

  • The Toronto Star notes that high prices in Ontario's cottage country are causing the market to expand to new areas.

  • Gizmodo reports on one study suggesting that Proxima Centauri b does have the potential to support Earth-like climates.

  • Gizmodo notes one study speculating on the size of Mars' vanished oceans.

  • Quartz reports on how one community in Alaska and one community in Louisiana are facing serious pressures from climate change and from the political reaction to said.

  • CBC notes an oil platform leaving Newfoundland for the oceans.

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  • Anthropology.net reports on the recent discovery in China of two skulls a hundred thousand years old, possible remnants of a hitherto-unknown hominid species.

  • blogTO reports on the boom in the Toronto tech community.

  • Language Log breaks down the linguistics, specifically word lengths, of audiobooks.

  • Lawyers, Guns and Money reports on the difficult position of indigenous peoples in Nicaragua.

  • Marginal Revolution reports on the potential health benefits of substances in the blood of the Komodo dragon.

  • The NYRB Daily reports on the modernist photography of Berenice Abbott.

  • The Planetary Society Blog reports on the adventures of the Mars rovers.

  • Supernova Condensate takes a quick look at Jupiter's moon, Io.

  • Window on Eurasia looks at a new Russian film that transposes the superhero genre with the Soviet era, and argues that Russia is acting these days not as a constructive power but as a spoiler.

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Michelle Da Silva's brief article in NOW Toronto notes that Queen Street West in Toronto will finally get some free public WiFi--indeed, already has it. Now for the rest of Toronto to follow suit!

Accessing free WiFi in Toronto can often mean ducking into a McDonalds, Starbucks or other fastfood chains. In “world class” cities, such as Tel Aviv, New York City, Seoul, Barcelona, Bangalore and Osaka, free Internet access is readily available everywhere.

The neighbourhood of West Queen West is hoping to change that. Starting February 23, anyone walking along Queen West between Niagara and Markham streets will be able to access free WiFi by logging onto FREE WQW WI-FI.

The service is being offered by the West Queen West BIA and Besify, a Markham-based Internet firm. This stretch of Queen West marks the first phase of a project. Rob Sysak, executive director of the WQW BIA, says that phase two of the project, which includes Queen West between Gladstone and Dovercourt, will launch in March.
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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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  • At Antipope, Charlie Stross wonders--among other things--what the Trump Administration is getting done behind its public scandals.

  • blogTO notes a protest in Toronto aiming to get the HBC to drop Ivanka Trump's line of fashion.

  • Dangerous Minds reflects on a Talking Heads video compilation from the 1980s.

  • Lawyers, Guns and Money reflects on a murderous attack against Indian immigrants in Kansas.

  • The LRB Blog looks at "post-Internet art".

  • Lovesick Cyborg notes an attack by a suicide robot against a Saudi warship.

  • Strange Maps links to a map of corruption reports in France.

  • Torontoist reports on Winter Stations.

  • Understanding Society engages in a sociological examination of American polarization, tracing it to divides in race and income.

  • The Volokh Conspiracy notes the many good reasons behind the reluctance of cities around the world to host the Olympics.

  • Window on Eurasia notes that where the Ingush have mourned their deportation under Stalin the unfree Chechens have not, reports that Latvians report their willingness to fight for their country, looks at what the spouses of the presidents of post-Soviet states are doing, and notes the widespread opposition in Belarus to paying a tax on "vagrancy."

  • Arnold Zwicky looks at the linguistic markers of the British class system.

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  • blogTO notes that the redevelopment of Toronto's Port Lands is continuing.

  • Crooked Timber argues that climate denialism exposes the socially constructed nature of property rights.

  • D-Brief notes the reburial of Kennewick Man.

  • The Dragon's Gaze notes there is no sign of a second planet around Proxima Centauri.

  • Lawyers, Guns and Money looks at life in Texas.

  • The LRB Blog analyzes Milo's stumble.

  • Marginal Revolution considers the levels of disorderliness different societies, like Sweden, can tolerate.

  • The NYRB Daily reports on the poisoning of a Russian dissident.

  • The Planetary Society Blog suggests Voyager 1 picked up Enceladus' plumes.

  • Peter Rukavina writes of his mapping of someone's passage on the Camino Francés.

  • Supernova Condensate looks at the United Arab Emirates' plan to build a city on Mars in a century.

  • Torontoist reported on a protest demanding action on the overdose crisis.
  • Towleroad describes the plight of Mr. Gay Syria in Istanbul and reports on the progress of same-sex marriage in Finland.

  • Understanding Society considers the complexity of managing large technological projects.

  • Window on Eurasia links to one Russian writer arguing Putin should copy Trump and links to anotehr suggesting the Russian Orthodox Church is overreaching.

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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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  • 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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Wired's Davey Alba argues that the high concentration of immigrants, even refugees, in Silicon Valley made a hostile reaction to the Trump presidency very likely even before the announced border control policies.

Any thought that Silicon Valley might work with President Trump ended when the tech industry took a decisive stand against his Muslim ban. It simply had no other choice.

The condemnation has been swift and nearly unanimous. Today, Google employees worldwide walked off the job to protest the ban; CEO Sundar Pichai and co-founder Sergey Brin came out to support them. Over the weekend, big tech companies, venture capitalists, and even CEOs like Elon Musk and Travis Kalanick who are advising Trump denounced the draconian policy. It was a rare moment of unanimity for Silicon Valley, which is almost by definition a globalized industry built by, and welcoming toward, immigrants. Opposition to Trump’s immigration crackdown isn’t just political. It’s personal.

“No nation is better at harnessing the energies and talents of immigrants,” Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos wrote today in a note to employees detailing the company’s opposition to the ban. “It’s a distinctive competitive advantage for our country—one we should not weaken.”

Many see the ban as an existential threat. Of the 274,000 skilled-worker visas, known as H-1B visas, the US issued in 2013, 65 percent went to people in computer-related jobs. More than that, though, the ban goes to the heart of the Valley’s culture, which emphasizes inclusion and globalism. It’s the stuff of legend. Steve Jobs was the son of Syrian immigrants, and Brin’s parents fled the Soviet Union when he was a child. As he told a reporter during a protest at San Francisco International Airport, “I’m a refugee.”

Sabba Nazhand, enterprise sales director at the web-based event planning platform Social Tables, says many people feel the ban personally. Even people who aren’t immigrants work alongside them and consider them friends. “It hit home,” says Nazhand, who was born in Iran. Whatever the external political considerations of tech companies might be, tech employees have had to come to terms with the reality of the immigration ban in ways that radiate outward, even at big companies.
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The Globe and Mail features Mike Huber's article suggesting that Trump's existing border controls and the fear of more have triggered an exodus of Silicon Valley talent north, to British Columbia.

British Columbia’s burgeoning tech sector is set to get a big boost from entrepreneurs and their employees fleeing Silicon Valley to dodge U.S. President Donald Trump’s immigration policies, industry insiders say.

Vancouver immigration lawyer Richard Kurland said he spent this weekend conducting more than a dozen client consultations with high-level engineers, managers and PhD or master’s students working in the U.S. tech industry. These prospective clients now want to move to Canada after Mr. Trump’s executive order last Friday blocking entry to citizens from seven Muslim countries, he said.

Mr. Kurland, who publishes the Lexbase newsletter on the Canadian immigration system, said his colleagues across Canada are all reporting similar interest.

“I’ve never seen anything like it from the United States. The last time I saw something like this was 1989 China – where you had top minds and top families seeking exit from the turmoil,” he said. “There’s this sense of fear and anxiety because you don’t know who’s next on [Mr. Trump’s] list.”

Further uncertainty was added Monday after several U.S. news agencies reported that the President had drafted another executive order targeting a special class of temporary work permits that technology companies have relied upon to recruit highly skilled engineers into the United States.
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  • blogTO notes the rapid expansion of A&Ws across Toronto's neighbourhoods.

  • Centauri Dreams reports that none of the exoplanets of nearby Wolf 1061 are likely to support Earth-like environments, owing to their eccentric and occasionally overclose orbits.

  • The Dragon's Gaze links to a paper looking at high-temperature condensate clouds in hot Jupiter atmospheres.

  • Lawyers, Guns and Money reports on Trump's unsecured Android phone.

  • Language Log reports on Caucasian words relating to tea.

  • The LRB Blog notes the emerging close links connecting May's United Kingdom with Trump's United States and Netanyahu's Israel.

  • Marginal Revolution shares an interview with chef and researcher Mark Miller and reports on the massive scale of Chinese investment in Cambodia.

  • The Planetary Society Blog looks at the idea of choosing between the Moon and Mars as particular targets of manned space exploration.

  • The Power and the Money's Noel Maurer looks at the mechanics of imposing a 20% tax in the United States on Mexican imports. (It is doable.)

  • The Russian Demographics Blog reports Russian shortfalls in funding HIV/AIDS medication programs.

  • Supernova Condensate warns that Trump's hostility to the very idea of climate change threatens the world.

  • Towleroad shares the first gay kiss of (an) Iceman in Marvel's comics.

  • The Volokh Conspiracy notes the constitutional problems with Trump's executive order against sanctuary cities.

  • Window on Eurasia argues Ukraine is willing to fight if need be, even if sold out by Trump.

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  • Centauri Dreams shares a proposal for the relatively rapid industrialization of space in a few short years using smart robots with 3d printign technology.

  • To what extent, as Crooked Timber speculates, the Arthurian myth complex science fictional?

  • Dangerous Minds shares a lovely middle-finger-raised candle.

  • The Dragon's Gaze looks at the interactions between atmospheres and rotation for super-Earths and Venus-like worlds.

  • Joe. My. God. notes Wikileaks' call for Trump's tax returns.

  • Language Hat shares some words peculiar to Irish English.

  • Lawyers, Guns and Money notes that the words of Trump are meaningless.

  • Marginal Revolution's Tyler Cown considers some scenarios where nuclear weapons may end up being used.

  • The Russian Demographics Blog looks at births and deaths in Russia between 2000 and 2015.

  • Savage Minds considers, inspired by the recent Michel Foucault read-in protest to Trump, the relationships between Foucault's thinking and racism.

  • Window on Eurasia calls for a post-imperial Russian national identity, argues that Trump's assault on globalization will badly hurt a Russia dependent on foreign trade and investment, and wonders what Putin's Russia can actually offer Trump's United States.

  • Yorkshire Ranter Alex Harrowell offers a unique strategy for journalists interested at penetrating Trump's shell: trick them into over-answering.

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Ben Spurr Toronto Star article is frustrating, especially after my experience in Montréal with the STM smartcards. Why is this technology so impossible to implement?

Jerzy Jarmasz was on track to have his son at school on time when the pair arrived at Dufferin subway station Monday morning.

But there was just one problem: when they tried to leave by the Russett Ave. exit, the one closest to the school, they couldn’t get out.

Bothof the new Presto smart-card-enabled fare gates that the TTC recently installed there were out of order and would not open.

[. . .]

According to TTC spokesperson Heather Brown, there are now 376 fare gates at 41 of the agency’s subway stations, and about 12 per cent of them don’t work at any given time.

That’s an improvement from November, when about 18 per cent of the gates were offline at any given moment.

Brown said various problems can cause the gates to fail unexpectedly. The figures also include a small number of gates that are deliberately taken offline, she said.
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The Guardian of Charlottetown's Mitch McConnell writes about how 19th century Rustico priest George Belcourt, a leader in the Island's Acadian community, was the first owner of an automobile in all Canada in the 1860s.

Although few Prince Edward Islanders are aware of it, the wheels of Canadian automobile history first began rolling a little over 150 years ago in P.E.I.

The little-known piece of Canadian history was celebrated recently at the Farmers’ Bank of Rustico Museum during a ceremony put on by the P.E.I. Antique Car Club and the National Association of Automobile Clubs.

December marked the 150th anniversary of the first automobile arriving in Canada, before the country was even officially formed, a steam-powered carriage that was imported by Father George A. Belcourt.

Rudy Croken, president of the P.E.I. Antique Car Club, said many already know Belcourt due to his “spectacular” work as a missionary.

“But his contribution to Canadian automobile history is every bit as spectacular,” said Croken. “He was the first person to have an automobile. To think the automobile history in Canada started in this very area is astounding, and that’s what Father Belcourt did.”

Croken said Belcourt purchased the car for about $300, equivalent to about $5,000 today, from a manufacturer in Bayonne, N.J.


In 2014, I shared 2013 photo from a South Rustico museum dedicated to Belcourt and his community.

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