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  • The Dragon's Gaze links to a paper suggesting exoplanet transits could start a galactic communications network.

  • The Everyday Sociology Blog looks at the connections between eating and identity.

  • The Frailest Thing's Michael Sacasas looks at the need for a critical study of the relationship between technology and democracy.

  • Language Hat notes how nationalism split Hindustani into separate Hindi and Urdu languages.

  • Lawyers, Guns and Money reflects on the grim outlook in Somalia after the terrible recent Mogadishu bombing.

  • Marginal Revolution's Tyler Cowen thinks Trump's decertification of the Iran deal is a bad idea.

  • The Map Room Blog links to an article imagining a counter-mapping of the Amazon by indigenous peoples.

  • Neuroskeptic considers the possibility of Parkinson's being a prion disease, somewhat like mad cow disease.

  • The NYR Daily notes that a Brexit driven by a perceived need to take back control will not meet that need, at all.

  • Personal Reflections' Jim Belshaw looks at the problem Sydney faces as it booms.

  • The Power and the Money's Noel Maurer looks at the extent to which an independent Catalonia would be ravaged economically by a non-negotiated secession.

  • Peter Watts tells the sad story of an encounter between Toronto police and a homeless man he knows.

  • Window on Eurasia notes a Sakhalin bridge, like a Crimea bridge, may not come off because of Russian weakness.

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  • Climate change is making the famous tea of Darjeeling much more difficult to come by. VICE reports.

  • Wired notes Fitbits are useful tracking devices for scientists engaged in studies, too. (I always wear mine.)

  • I entirely approve of this new Niagara College program. Why not legalize and professionalize cannabis agriculture?

  • This VICE interview with bringing the Truvada needed for inexpensive PrEP across the border into Canada is of note.

  • A new study suggests that Planet Nine, if it exists, was likely not captured by the young sun but formed here. Universe Today reports.

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  • Centauri Dreams celebrates the science behind Cassini.

  • Crooked Timber's Henry Farrell is breaking from Harvard's Kennedy Centre over its revocation of an invitation to Chelsea Manning.

  • The Crux points to the ways in which the legacy of Cassini will still be active.

  • D-Brief notes that some tool-using macaques of Thailand are overfishing their environment.

  • Hornet Stories notes the eulogy given by Hillary Clinton at the funeral of Edie Windsor.

  • Inkfish notes one way to define separate bird species: ask the birds what they think. (Literally.)

  • The LRB Blog notes the recent passing of Margot Hielscher, veteran German star and one-time crush of Goebbels.

  • The NYR Daily notes the chilling effects on discourse in India of a string of murders of Indian journalists and writers.

  • At the Planetary Science Blog, Emily Lakdawalla bids farewell to the noble Cassini probe.

  • Roads and Kingdoms notes a breakfast in Bangladesh complicated by child marriage.

  • Towleroad notes an Australian church cancelled an opposite-sex couple's wedding because the bride supports equality.

  • Arnold Zwicky notes the marmots of, among other places, cosmopolitan and multilingual Swiss canton of Graubünden.

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  • Anthrodendum considers what, exactly, anthropology majors can do job-wise with their degrees. Interesting ideas.

  • Centauri Dreams considers the possible origins of cometary organics in deep space.

  • Hornet Stories talks of anti-immigrant Americans with immigrant ancestors who skirted relevant laws themselves, like Donald Trump.

  • Language Hat considers byssus, an exotic ancient textile and a word with a complex history.

  • Lawyers, Guns and Money looks at how the potential for disaster in Florida is worsened by poor planning.

  • The LRB Blog looks at the sad intersection of war, xenophobia, and rising rates of polio in Pakistan (and elsewhere).

  • The Map Room Blog notes an interactive map-related play still showing at the Halifax Fringe, Cartography.

  • The NYR Daily notes a high-profile corruption trial of a former government minister in Moscow.

  • The Planetary Society Blog shares Paul Schenk's story about how he interned at JPL in 1979 for the Voyager 2 flyby.

  • Roads and Kingdoms looks at the search by a Brazilian man for caves in the south of that country.

  • The Volokh Conspiracy asks some interesting questions about the mechanics of Settlers of Catan.

  • At Whatever, John Scalzi remembers Jerry Pournelle.

  • Window on Eurasia notes how Russia is strongly opposed to any Circassian return to their ancestral homeland.

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  • blogTO lists some interesting things to do and see in Toronto's American neighbour, Buffalo.

  • The Broadside Blog's Caitlin Kelly strongly defends contemporary journalism as essential for understanding the world.

  • Lawyers, Guns and Money rightly takes issue with the claim identity politics hinders the US left. Remember New Deal coalitions?

  • Marginal Revolution notes just how expensive it is to run Harvard.

  • Otto Pohl notes the upcoming 76th anniversary of the Soviet deportation of the Volga Germans.

  • The Power and the Money's Noel Maurer reports on the remarkably fluent code-switching between English and French of some Washington D.C. subway riders.

  • Strange Maps notes rival food and fabric maps of India and Pakistan.

  • Tricia Wood at Torontoist argues that, for environmental and economic reasons, Ontario needs high-speed rail.

  • Window on Eurasia suggests Tatarstan has done a poor job of defending its sovereignty from the Russian government.

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  • Bad Astronomer Phil Plait looks at Wolf-Lundmark-Melotte, loneliest galaxy in the Local Group.

  • Centauri Dreams examines the recent detailed view of the star Antares, and notes Antares' mysteries.

  • False Steps' Paul Drye notes Project Adam, a Sputnik-era proposal for a manned American suborbital flight.

  • Far Outliers recounts a 1945 encounter between an American general and the Sultan of Sulu, impoverished by the war.

  • Language Log notes the Sino-Indian propaganda video war over their border dispute in the Himalayas.

  • The LRB Blog looks at the messy process of the demobilization of FARC in Colombia.

  • Marginal Revolution looks at how Virginia has managed to become a multicultural success story.

  • The NYR Daily looks at the photos of India taken by Cartier-Bresson.

  • The Power and the Money's Noel Maurer wonders how, despite the drug war, Mexico City continues to feel (even be) so peaceful. Can it last?

  • Starts With A Bang's Ethan Siegel goes through the many reasons why it makes no sense to fear first contact with aliens.

  • Strange Company tells of Bunkie Dodge, pool-playing cat of early 20th century New England.

  • Unicorn Booty notes that the new Taylor Swift song is inspired by Right Said Fred's "I'm So Sexy."

  • Window on Eurasia shares an argument that an essentially post-colonial Russophone cultural community cannot coexist with a Russian empire.

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  • Anthrodendum's Alex Golub talks about anthropologists of the 20th century who resisted fascism.

  • Bad Astronomer Phil Plait notes a study suggesting the TRAPPIST-1 system might be substantially older than our own solar system.

  • Centauri Dreams considers tidal locking as a factor relevant to Earth-like planetary environments.

  • The Crux shows efforts to help the piping plover in its home on the dunes of the Great Lakes coast of Pennsylvania.

  • Dead Things considers the evidence for the presence of modern humans in Sumatra 73 thousand years ago.

  • Bruce Dorminey makes the case for placing a lunar base not on the poles, but rather in the material-rich nearside highlands.

  • Far Outliers shares some evocative placenames from Japan, like Togakushi (‘door-hiding’) from ninja training spaces.

  • Language Hat notes the exceptionally stylistically uneven Spanish translation of the Harry Potter series.

  • Language Log thinks, among other things, modern technologies make language learning easier than ever before.

  • The LRB Blog notes how claims to trace modern Greece directly to the Mycenaean era are used to justify ultranationalism.

  • Marginal Revolution considers which countries are surrounded by enemies. (India rates poorly by this metric.)

  • The Numerati's Stephen Baker considers how Confederate statues are products of recycling, like so much in our lives.

  • The NYR Daily considers the unique importance of Thomas Jefferson, a man at once statesman and slaver.

  • The Planetary Society Blog celebrated the 40th anniversary of the launch of Voyager 2 Sunday.

  • The Power and the Money's Noel Maurer notes that, for a country fighting a drug war, Mexico spends astonishingly little on its police force.

  • Drew Rowsome takes a look at classic John Wayne Western, The Train Robbers.

  • Starts With A Bang's Ethan Siegel considers the critical role of NASA's Planetary Protection Officer.

  • Strange Company notes the many legends surrounding the early 19th century US' Theodosia Burr.

  • The Volokh Conspiracy hosts Ilya Somin' argument against world government, as something limiting of freedom. Thoughts?

  • Window on Eurasia notes how Ukrainians are turning from Russia, becoming more foreign to their one-time partner.

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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 Inter Press Service observes the quest of the Maldives for a seat on the United Nations Security Council in this time of sea level rise.

  • The NYR Daily reports on a new take on the revolutionary hope and failure of early 1980s Grenada.

  • Bloomberg notes how Singapore is becoming a major destination for Indian tourists, in its own right and as a regional centre.

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Playing amidst a fallen empire


The children playing on Canada Day around the equestrian statue of Edward VI, originally mounted in New Delhi to celebrate the British Empire and later shipped to Canada when independent India had enough of it, evoked the fall of empires to me.
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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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  • Anthony Easton at MacLean's writes in defense of Nickelback, one of Canada's most popular bands if not a critical darling.

  • Also in MacLean's, Stephanie Carvin notes that the new foreign and military policies announced by the Canadian government could still fall short.

  • Bloomberg View's Stephen L. Carter considers the idea of the just war through the lens of Wonder Woman.

  • Nuclear energy, it seems, will be India's answer to global warming in the era of Trump.

  • Qataris, Bloomberg notes, are trying to deal with their island country's state of siege.

  • Airbus may pull its production plants from the United Kingdom unless the country keeps single market access.

  • Refugees, Lynne Olson notes at National Geographic, helped save the United Kingdom during the Second World War.

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  • Centauri Dreams describes a new type of planet, the molten hot rubble cloud "synestia".

  • Far Outliers describes the Polish rebels exiled to Siberia in the 19th century.
  • Language Hat looks at words for porridge in Bantuphone Africa.

  • Language Log examines whistling as a precursor to human language.

  • The LRB considers the new normal of the terrorist state of emergency.

  • Marginal Revolution notes the weakness of the Indian labour market.

  • The Power and the Money's Noel Maurer tries to explain to Uruguayans how Donald Trump made his mistake on the budget.

  • Savage Minds remembers the late anthropologist of Polynesia and space colonization, Ben Finney.

  • Towleroad examines the rather depressing idea of a porn-dominated sexuality.

  • Understanding Society examines Hindu/Muslim tensions in India.

  • Window on Eurasia reports on the weakness of Belarus' opposition.

  • Arnold Zwicky talks about Arthur Laurents.

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

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

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

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

  • The Extremo Files looks at the human microbiome.

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

  • The LRB Blog looks at policing in London.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Window on Eurasia reports on Belarus.

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

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  • 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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  • The Broadside Blog's Caitlin Kelly describes a week in her life as a freelance writer.

  • The Dragon's Tales notes how the Indus Valley Civilization did, and did not, adapt to climate change.

  • Language Log reshares Benjamin Franklin's writings against German immigration.

  • The NYRB Daily follows one family's quest for justice after the shooting by police of one Ramarley Graham.

  • The Russian Demographics Blog looks at the Pale of Settlement.

  • Torontoist looks at Ontario's food and nutrition strategy.

  • Transit Toronto reports on how PRESTO officials will be making appearances across the TTC in coming weeks to introduce users to the new system.

  • Window on Eurasia looks at how ethnic minorities form a growing share of Russian emigration, looks at the manipulation of statistics by the Russian state, and suggests Putin's actions have killed off the concept of a triune nation of East Slavs.

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  • blogTO notes concerns in Church and Wellesley about a spike of reported anti-gay violence.

  • Crooked Timber looks at the shambolic mess that is the Republican healthcare plan.

  • Language Hat links to an article concerned with the question of how to try cracking the Indus Valley script.

  • Lawyers, Guns and Money notes that the malevolence and incompetence of the Trump Administration are record-breaking.

  • The Power and the Money's Noel Maurer notes that the proposed border tax on Mexican imports is likely workable for all the major actors.

  • Strange Maps examines with maps how families of landowners centuries old still own huge swathes of downtown London.

  • Une heure de peine's Denis Colombi examines, in French and in the French political context, the idea of a guaranteed minimum income.

  • The Volokh Conspiracy shares Emma Lazarus' poem "The New Colossus" welcoming refugees to American shores.

  • Window on Eurasia notes the concerns of one Tatar historian that Russian federalism is being undermined and looks at the consequences of Putin's chat with Trump.

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  • The Broadside Blog's Caitlin Kelly writes about the need for opponents of Trump to fight, not just the man but the root causes.

  • Centauri Dreams notes a study suggesting Proxima Centauri is gravitationally bound to Alpha Centauri A and B.

  • Dangerous Minds shares photos depicting the devastation of Gatlinburg by fire.

  • The Dragon's Gaze notes that stars with close-orbiting rocky worlds seem to have above-solar metallicity, and considers the albedos of exoplanets.

  • Far Outliers looks at how Poland's Communist government tried to undermine Pope John Paul II in 1979.

  • Joe. My. God. notes a lawsuit lodged against the American government demanding the release of information regarding the Russian information hack.

  • Lawyers, Guns and Money notes poor working conditions in Bangladesh.

  • Marginal Revolution notes a Yoruba tongue twister.

  • The Planetary Society Blog links to China's planned program of space exploration.

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My thanks to Facebook's Conrad for linking to Adrija Roychowdhury's fantastic article in Indian Express looking at an overlooked element of African history in India, of Africans in positions of sovereign power.

“When your family has been ruling for hundreds of years, people still call you by the title of Nawab,” says Nawab Reza Khan, tenth Nawab of Sachin as he traces his family’s regal history. Reza Khan currently works as a lawyer and lives in the city of Sachin in Gujarat. He says his ancestors came from Abyssinia (present day Ethiopia in East Africa) as part of the forces of Babur. Eventually, they conquered the fort at Janjira and later occupied Sachin and ruled over their own kingdoms.

The Nawab of Sachin is a personified remnant of a glorious African past in India. Africans have, for centuries been a part of Indian society. While the slave trade from Africa to America and Europe is well documented, the eastward movement of African slaves to India has been left unexplored.

The systematic transportation of African slaves to India started with the Arabs and Ottomans and later by the Portuguese and the Dutch in the sixteenth -seventeenth centuries. Concrete evidence of African slavery is available from the twelfth-thrirteenth centuries, when a significant portion of the Indian subcontinent was being ruled by Muslims.

There is, however, a major difference between African slavery in America and Europe and that in India. There was far greater social mobility for Africans in India. In India, they rose along the social ladder to become nobles, rulers or merchants in their own capacities. “In Europe and America, Africans were brought in as slaves for plantation and industry labour. In India on the other hand, African slaves were brought in to serve as military power,” says Dr Suresh Kumar, Professor of African studies in Delhi University.

These were elite military slaves, who served purely political tasks for their owners. They were expensive slaves, valued for their physical strength. The elite status of the African slaves in India ensured that a number of them had access to political authority and secrets which they could make use of to become rulers in their own right, reigning over parts of India. They came to be known by the name of Siddis or Habshis (Ethiopians or Abyssinians). The term ‘Siddi’ is derived from North Africa, where it was used as a term of respect.
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  • Apostrophen's 'Natha Smith talks about his tradition of the stuffed Christmas stocking.

  • Beyond the Beyond's Bruce Sterling talks about the decline of the Pebble wearables.

  • blogTO lists some of the hot new bookstores in Toronto.
  • The Broadside Blog's Caitlin Kelly talks about some of her family's traditions.

  • The Dragon's Tales looks at the ancient history of rice cultivation in the Indus Valley Civilization.

  • Joe. My. God. notes the willingness of the Oklahoma Cherokee Nation to recognize same-sex marriages.

  • Language Log shares a photo of an unusual multi-script ad from East Asia.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money considers the Russian involvement in the American election and its import.

  • Marginal Revolution links to a book about the transition in China's financial sector.

  • Window on Eurasia reports on efforts to revive the moribund and very complex Caucasian of Ubykh.

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