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  • At Wired, Matt Simon explores the remarkably wrong-headed theory of the 19th century US that "rain follows the plough."

  • These National Geographic photos of the unexplored lakes in Angola that feed the Okavango are remarkable.

  • Rachel Brown examines billy burr, the Colorado hermit whose collection of decades of climate data is invaluable.

  • Universe Today notes a new study confirming the existence of Tau Ceti e and f, potentially habitable rocky exoplanets just 12 light years away.

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  • The Broadside Blog's Caitlin Kelly re-introduces herself to her readers.

  • Bruce Dorminey shares one man's theory about how extraterrestrials could use exoplanet sightings to build up a galactic communications network.

  • Far Outliers shares some unusual Japanese words, starting with "amepotu" for American potato.

  • Language Hat takes
  • Did the spokeswoman of the NRA threaten to "fisk" the New York Times or threaten something else? Language Log reports.

  • Drew Rowsome notes that, compared to San Francisco, Toronto does not have much of a public kink scene.

  • Starts With A Bang's Ethan Siegel examines the quantum reasons behind the explosion produced by sodium metal and water.

  • Understanding Society takes rightful issue with The Guardian's shoddy coverage of Dearborn, Michigan, and that city's Muslims and/or Arabs.

  • Unicorn Booty notes that Canada is, at last, starting to take in queer refugees from Chechnya.

  • Yorkshire Ranter Alex Harrowell notes the embarrassing support for Jean-Luc Mélenchon for Venezuela. Was opposing the US all he wanted?

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  • Scott Wheeler writes about past eminences of Toronto, people like Conn Smythe and Raymond Massey.
  • Joanna Slater writes in The Globe and Mail about the symbolism of Confederate--and other--statuary in Richmond, former capital of the South.

  • Reuters reports on a Vietnamese businessman abducted by his country from the streets of Berlin. Germany is unhappy.

  • Jeremiah Ross argues at VICE that very high levels of tourism in New York City are displacing native-born residents.

  • Looking to protests most recently in Barcelona, Elle Hunt in The Guardian looks at ways to make mass tourism more affordable for destinations.

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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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  • The Broadside Blog's Caitlin Kelly writes about the pleasures of the unmediated life, experienced in her recent vacation.

  • This celebration at Centauri Dreams of the forty years of science from the Voyager missions is heart-warming.

  • White racism in power is touched upon at Lawyers, Guns and Money.

  • Noel Maurer notes that the Philippines, where indiscriminate violence is state policy, no longer counts as a true democracy. Duturte as Marcos?

  • The Russian Demographics Blog shares a map depicting the frequency with which young adults live with parents across Europe. Northwestern Europe stands out.

  • Understanding Society looks at an early critique of positivism in sociology.

  • Window on Eurasia looks at Belarus' preparation for the Zapad 2017 military exercises with Russia.

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  • In The New York Times, Michael Kimmelman reports on the Crossrail mass transit line in London. It sounds promising, even in the era of Brexit.

  • Emily Nonko at Curbed argues that the underfunding of mass transit in NYC by Robert Moses is the cause of the current crisis.

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  • Charley Ross reports on an unexpected personal involvement in the disappearance of Kori Gossett. Did an informant know?

  • Citizen Science Salon reports, in the time of #sharkweek, on the sevengill sharks.

  • The Dragon's Tales links to an article on the Chinese base in Sudan.

  • Inkfish has a fascinating article describing how New Zealand's giant black swans went extinct, and were replaced.

  • Language Hat notes two obscure words of Senegalese French, "laptot" and "signare". What do they mean? Go see.

  • Language Log argues that the influx of English loanwords in Chinese is remarkable. Does it signal future changes in language?

  • Lawyers, Guns Money notes how Los Angeles and southern California were, during the American Civil War, a stronghold of secessionist sentiment, and runs down some of the problems of Mexico, including the militarization of crime.
  • Marginal Revolution reports on what books by which authors tend to get stolen from British bookstores.
  • The Power and the Money's Noel Maurer suggests that Donald Trump is not likely to be able to substantially reshape NAFTA.

  • Roads and Kingdoms reports from the recent protests in Poland against changes to the Supreme Court.

  • Understanding Society takes a look at the structure of the cities of medieval Europe, which apparently were dynamic and flexible.

  • Unicorn Booty shares some classic gay board games.

  • Window on Eurasia argues that Russia is going to try to wage a repeat of the Winter War on Ukraine.

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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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  • Anthrodendum takes a look at how surfing has been commodified.

  • Bad Astronomer Phil Plait looks at the stellar occultation that has revealed information about MU69, the next New Horizons target.

  • Crooked Timber's Corey Robin takes issue with Mélenchon's take on anti-Semitism and the French role in the Holocaust.

  • D-Brief notes that we really are not good at detecting faked photos.

  • Dangerous Minds shares some vintage photos of strippers from the 1960s.

  • Michael Sacasas of The Frailest Things looks, again, at the technologically enchanted world.

  • Language Log takes issue with the dismissive treatment of "... in a woodpile." The expression is poison.

  • The LRB Blog looks at the dual position of the camel among the Sahrawi, as wild and tame at once.

  • Neuroskeptic looks at the problems of neuroscience, statistically.

  • The NYR Daily considers the hacking of the American vote. Who did it? Who gained?

  • Science Sushi notes that climate change threats African wild dogs' survival.

  • Window on Eurasia notes an Armenian argument that Russia lacks the soft power that the Soviet Union once enjoyed.

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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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  • James Bow considers the idea of Christian privilege.

  • Centauri Dreams reports on the oddities of Ross 128.

  • D-Brief shares Matthew Buckley's proposal that it is possible to make planets out of dark matter.

  • Dead Things reports on the discoveries at Madjedbebe, in northern Australia, suggesting humans arrived 65 thousand years ago.

  • Bruce Dorminey reports on the idea that advanced civilizations may use sunshades to protect their worlds from overheating. (For terraforming purposes, too.)

  • Language Hat notes the struggles of some Scots in coming up with a rationalized spelling for Scots. What of "hert"?

  • The LRB Blog considers the way in which the unlimited power of Henry VIII will be recapitulated post-Brexit by the UK government.

  • Drew Rowsome quite likes the High Park production of King Lear.

  • Starts With A Bang's Ethan Siegel considers the idea that Pluto's moons, including Charon, might be legacies of a giant impact.

  • Unicorn Booty notes the terrible anti-trans "Civil Rights Uniformity Act." Americans, please act.

  • The Volokh Conspiracy considers/u> the perhaps-unique way a sitting American president might be charged with obstruction of justice.

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  • Bad Astronomer Phil Plait notes a new study suggesting some hypervelocity stars were ejected from the Large Magellanic Cloud.

  • Crooked Timber's John Holbo wonders how else Trump can transgress the norms of the presidency.

  • The Crux notes the exceptional hardiness of the tardigrade. These forms of life might well outlive the sun.

  • Gizmodo notes the evidence for a recently frozen subsurface ocean on Pluto's Charon.

  • Joe. My. God. notes the Israeli government's effective, if confused, opposition to same-sex adoption.

  • Unicorn Booty looks at the significant impact RuPaul's Drag Race has on music sales.

  • Window on Eurasia notes how Putin's political allies have been having trouble coming up with a positive future.

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  • James Bow talks about how Ontario aiming for experimental hydrogen-powered trains, not electric ones, is a mistake.

  • Marginal Revolution reports on the community that WalMart took to a West Virginia county it is now leaving.

  • Diane Duane shows an old novel proposal from 1999 that she found again, and is now dusting off.

  • Transit Toronto notes that the time-based transfer program on the St. Clair route is ending, after 12 years.

  • Unicorn Booty reports on the lavender scare of the 1950s in the United States.

  • The Volokh Conspiracy notes the strong use of repetition, as a literary device, in the Hebrew version particularly of Genesis.

  • Window on Eurasia wonders how the Russian-American relationship, one Russia has depended on in the past, will evolve.

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  • Centauri Dreams considers the challenges and the prospects of laser SETI.

  • Citizen Science Salon reports on a couple who have done their best to keep their bee numbers up.

  • Joe. My. God. notes that Milo's book, contrary to Milo's claims, has performed very badly indeed in the UK, among other places.

  • Language Log features a poetic digression by Victor Mair on Chinese characters for words like "plum" and "wine."

  • Lawyers, Guns and Money suggests that moderate Republicans in Congress might not be all that.

  • The LRB Blog considers Nice at, and after, the time of last year's terrorist attacks.

  • Marginal Revolution features Tyler Cowen's description of his writing processes.

  • Drew Rowsome interviews Toronto gay photographer Dylan Rosser.

  • Unicorn Booty looks back at the history of the queercore movement--gay punk, as a first approximation.

  • Vintage Space links to an article explaining why there was neither an Apollo 2 nor an Apollo 3.

  • Window on Eurasia suggests the Russian state is undermining various once-allied Russian nationalist movements.

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  • Apostrophen's 'Nathan Smith updates his readers about the progress of his various writing projects.

  • The Big Picture shares photos from the Battle of Mosul waged against ISIS.

  • Centauri Dreams notes the discovery of rogue binary planet 2MASS J11193254–1137466, two super-Jupiters by themselves.

  • Dangerous Minds notes the raw photography of early 20th century New York City's Weegee.

  • Lawyers, Guns and Money is rightly unimpressed by the reflexive Russophilia of The Nation. Imperialism is still imperialism ...

  • Marginal Revolution's Tyler Cowen strongly recommends Dali, in the Chinese province of Yunnan, for tourists.

  • The NYR Daily features Masha Gessen, looking at the truth underneath the lies of Trump.

  • The Power and the Money's Noel Maurer makes a case that Macron's use of "civilizational" to describe Africa's issues might be the subject of over-quick outrage.

  • Peter Rukavina describes his two weeks with a Nokia N95, without a modern smartphone. There was good and bad to this.

  • Speed River Journal's Van Waffle explains, with photos, what hoverflies are and why they are so important.

  • Understanding Society considers a fraught question: what paths to modernization were open for China in the 1930s, before the People's Republic?

  • Window on Eurasia suggests that, in 30 years, Moscow will be a megacity with a large population of (substantially immigrant) Muslim origin.

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  • Centauri Dreams notes evidence that pitted terrain, as found on Ceres and Vesta, indicates subsurface ice.

  • Dead Things links to evidence suggesting insomnia and poor sleep are not disorders, but rather evolutionary inheritances that were useful in the past.

  • Lawyers, Guns and Money notes the critical human role in the ongoing sixth extinction.

  • Language Hat links to speculation that the Afroasiatic language family has its origins in the Natufian Levant.

  • The LRB Blog reports on a fascinating French show about espionage, Le Bureau des légendes.

  • Personal Reflections' Jim Belshaw reports on an important speech by Malcolm Turnbull on politics and Australia's Liberal Party.

  • The Planetary Society Blog shares Marc Rayman's report on the latest discoveries of Dawn at Ceres.

  • Spacing' Sean Ruthven has a review of a beautiful book on the Sea Ranch, a northern California estate.

  • Back in May, Septembre Anderson argued at Torontoist that rather than embracing diversity, Canadian media was more willing to wither.

  • Window on Eurasia shares an argument suggesting Baltic Russians would not follow the Donbas into revolt because the Baltics are much better off economically.

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It's Toronto Fringe Festival time, and I've been spending much of the past week attending high-quality indie theatre. Last night, I went with a friend to catch a new show that deserves the high ratings it has gotten from critics and audiences, The Seat Next To The King by local playwright Steven Elliott Jackson. The Seat Next To The King imagines an encounter, initially sexual but later more complex, in a Washington D.C. restroom in 1963 between African-American civil rights activist Bayard Rustin and long-time LBJ advisor Walter Jenkins.

In coming years, the two men's lives would take rather different trajectories, Rustin becoming one of the first out national political figures, and Jenkins' political career being destroyed in October 1964 when he was arrested on a disorderly conduct charge in a Washington D.C. washroom. Jenkins later returned to Texas and relative anonymity as a chartered accountant.

The arrest of a high-ranking advisor to LBJ for alleged homosexual behaviour could have had national political import. Indeed, some Republicans seem to have tried to publicize this arrest as much as possible, in the hope that the scandal would have an effect on that year's election. Somewhat to the surprise of many observers at the time, the Jenkins arrest did not have a significant effect on the election, LBJ's lead over Goldwater and Goldwater's reluctance to make the arrest a campaign issue. That said, the disappearance of Jenkins from LBJ's administration might well have had subtler longer-run consequences on American policy, some people suggesting that American policy in Vietnam might have been different (or not) had Jenkins been present to give advice.

Let's say that Jenkins does not get arrested, not in October of 1964 and not later. What happens next? How is the United States changed with Jenkins still providing advice to LBJ?

(Crossposted to alternatehistory.com.)
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  • The anthropology group blog Savage Minds now has a new name, Anthrodendum.

  • Anthropology.net reports on the first major study of ancient African human DNA. New history is revealed.

  • Bad Astronomer Phil Plait reports on how gravitational lensing led to the identification of a single star nine billion light-years away. (This is a record.)

  • Centauri Dreams reports the possible detection of a debris disk around pulsar Geminga, augury of future planets perhaps?

  • Dangerous Minds reports on Seoul's Haesindang Park, a park literally full of penises--phallic symbols, at least.

  • The Dragon's Gaze notes one analysis arguing for the plausibility of unmanned probes using imaginable technology reaching the ten nearest stars in a century.

  • Imageo shares photos from space of the southern California wildfires.

  • Language Hat shares some stirring poetry in Scots.

  • Lawyers, Guns and Money reports on the scale of child labour in North Carolina's farm sector.

  • Marginal Revolution thinks that American observers of Putin think, far too much, that he actually has a plan. The degree of chaos in Russia's affairs is apparently being underestimated.

  • Personal Reflections' Jim Belshaw notes the unsettling rural Americana of photographer Gregory Crewdson.

  • Window on Eurasia notes Zhirinovsky's plan for a sweeping Russian annexation of Ukraine, leaving only the northwest independent.

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  • Anthropology.net notes on how a fossil tooth led eventually to the identification of the fourth Denisovan individual known.

  • The Broadside Blog's Caitlin Kelly writes about reasons for people to travel solo.

  • The Dragon's Tales' Will Baird notes that the INF Treaty is on the verge of collapse.

  • Mathew Ingram uses a recent GIF of Trump with the Polish president's wife to show how these lie and mislead.

  • Joe. My. God. notes a sharp collapse in London's LGBT venues--more than half in the past decade!

  • Marginal Revolution reports on British actors who take up tutoring as a second job to support their careers.

  • The NYR Daily takes a look at the latest concerns of South Koreans regarding their northern neighbour.

  • Personal Reflections' Jim Belshaw takes issue with proposed Australian government surveillance of the local Internet.

  • Progressive Download's John Farrell dissects the origins of the false claim that Copernicus was a Catholic priest.

  • Unicorn Booty has a fantastic interview with a scholar, Jamie Bernthal, who makes a case for queer content in Agatha Christie.

  • Window on Eurasia notes that methane bubble explosions in Siberia could wreck Russian pipelines.

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  • Centauri Dreams looks at the potentially deadly effect of the stellar flares of red dwarfs on potentially habitable exoplanets.

  • Charley Ross notes the strange 1957 disappearance of William ad Margaret Patterson from their Texas home.

  • D-Brief notes the evidence for a second planet at Proxima Centauri, a super-Earth Proxima C with a 215 day orbit.

  • Tom Yulsman of ImaGeo shares shares photos of the active Sun.

  • The argument made by Scott Lemieux of Lawyers, Guns and Money that Americans were learning to love Obamacare and Republicans wanted to take it away before they got used to it ... well.

  • Marginal Revolution notes that, and why, restaurant servers in Maine wanted their minimum wage lowered. (Tips.)

  • Roads and Kingdoms shares the story of Na De Fo, a rare Korean restaurant in Mexico City.

  • The NYR Daily looks at how Macron might try to "California-ize" France, and whether he could pull this off.

  • Unicorn Booty notes studies noting bisexuals have a lower quality of life than gays, and wonders why. (Stigma is an issue.)

  • Window on Eurasia notes that global warming, by leading to permafrost melt, is literally undermining the infrastructure of Russia.

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