A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

[PHOTO] Queen Anne’s Lace by the sidewalk, Dupont near Dovercourt

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Queen Anne's Lace by the sidewalk, Dupont near Dovercourt #toronto #Torontophotos #dupontstreet #dovercourtroad #flowers #queenanneslace  #Dovercourtpark

Daucus carota is a pretty plant that can grow anywhere. This particular clump has shot up from a thin margin of land between the edge of the sidewalk and a wire fence.

Written by Randy McDonald

August 29, 2014 at 11:45 am

[MUSIC] The Kate Bush Story: Running up That Hill

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Joe. My. God. alerted me to the existence of a new Kate Bush documentary by the BBC, The Kate Bush Story: Running up That Hill.

KATE BUSH – The Kate Bush Story (2014 BBC Documentary) from Videodrome Discothèque on Vimeo.

Lucy Mangan’s review in The Guardian doesn’t do it justice. This hour-long show does a brilliant job of explaining where Kate came from and why she’s so important.

Written by Randy McDonald

August 29, 2014 at 3:52 am

[LINK] “Mohawks seek to remove non-natives from Kahnawake”

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I mentioned in 2010 the desire of the Kahnawake Mohawk reserve outside of Montréal to expel mixed Mohawk/non-Mohawk couples from the reserve’s territory. Now, as CBC reports, Kahnawake is at it again.

So long as Kahnawake maintains these policies, its officialdom few to no rights to complain against racial discrimination elsewhere. It’s worth noting that this policy runs against the tendency among Canadian First Nations to want to broaden membership to include more people of mixed ancestry.

Michael Delisle, Grand Chief of the Mohawk Council of Kahnawake, said the ban on non-native people living on Mohawk territory goes back years — even decades — to the Indian Act, first passed in 1876.

He said it came to a head in the 1970s, culminating with the 1981 moratorium on mixed marriages on Kahnawake soil.

Support for the ban on mixed marriages continued every time the conversation cropped up, and was over time entrenched in Mohawk law.

“This was discussed further, but for all intents and purposes, it’s looking to be enforced even more strongly,” Delisle said.

He said Kahnawake’s limited real estate means the 6,500-person community’s ability to grow is stunted, and allowing non-natives onto the reservation takes space away from Mohawks.

Delisle also made the case that non-native people living in Kahnawake largely benefit from the same perks Mohawks are entitled to, notably tax exemption.

He said there are approximately 100 non-native people living in Kahnawake who are either married, in common-law relationships or are simply just living there.

Written by Randy McDonald

August 28, 2014 at 8:03 pm

[LINK] “The Kennewick Man Finally Freed to Share His Secrets”

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In the September 2014 issue of Smithsonian, Douglas Preston writes about the most recent researches into Kennewick Man. This ancient skeleton found in the American Pacific Northwest was sequestered from research for two decades over jurisdiction issues. The limited studies to date hints at distant origins in Asia and the Pacific, among the Ainu and the Polynesians.

A vast amount of data was collected in the 16 days Owsley and colleagues spent with the bones. Twenty-two scientists scrutinized the almost 300 bones and fragments. Led by Kari Bruwelheide, a forensic anthropologist at the Smithsonian, they first reassembled the fragile skeleton so they could see it as a whole. They built a shallow box, added a layer of fine sand, and covered that with black velvet; then Bruwelheide laid out the skeleton, bone by bone, shaping the sand underneath to cradle each piece. Now the researchers could address such questions as Kennewick Man’s age, height, weight, body build, general health and fitness, and injuries. They could also tell whether he was deliberately buried, and if so, the position of his body in the grave.

Next the skeleton was taken apart, and certain key bones studied intensively. The limb bones and ribs were CT-scanned at the University of Washington Medical Center. These scans used far more radiation than would be safe for living tissue, and as a result they produced detailed, three-dimensional images that allowed the bones to be digitally sliced up any which way. With additional CT scans, the team members built resin models of the skull and other important bones. They made a replica from a scan of the spearpoint in the hip.

As work progressed, a portrait of Kennewick Man emerged. He does not belong to any living human population. Who, then, are his closest living relatives? Judging from the shape of his skull and bones, his closest living relatives appear to be the Moriori people of the Chatham Islands, a remote archipelago 420 miles southeast of New Zealand, as well as the mysterious Ainu people of Japan.

[. . .]

Not that Kennewick Man himself was Polynesian. This is not Kon-Tiki in reverse; humans had not reached the Pacific Islands in his time period. Rather, he was descended from the same group of people who would later spread out over the Pacific and give rise to modern-day Polynesians. These people were maritime hunter-gatherers of the north Pacific coast; among them were the ancient Jōmon, the original inhabitants of the Japanese Islands. The present-day Ainu people of Japan are thought to be descendants of the Jōmon. Nineteenth-century photographs of the Ainu show individuals with light skin, heavy beards and sometimes light-colored eyes.

Jōmon culture first arose in Japan at least 12,000 years ago and perhaps as early as 16,000 years ago, when the landmasses were still connected to the mainland. These seafarers built boats out of sewn planks of wood. Outstanding mariners and deep-water fishermen, they were among the first people to make fired pottery.

The discovery of Kennewick Man adds a major piece of evidence to an alternative view of the peopling of North America. It, along with other evidence, suggests that the Jōmon or related peoples were the original settlers of the New World. If correct, the conclusion upends the traditional view that the first Americans came through central Asia and walked across the Bering Land Bridge and down through an ice-free corridor into North America.

Written by Randy McDonald

August 28, 2014 at 7:54 pm

[LINK] “Brazil Coffee Output Set for Longest Decline Since 1965″

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Bloomberg’s Marvin G. Perez and Morgane Lapeyre share the bad news.

A prolonged drought in Brazil has already claimed about half of Jose Francisco Pereira’s coffee crop. Next year could be even worse as the country heads for the first three-year output decline since 1965.

“Everybody is praying for rain,” said Pereira, general director of Monte Alegre Coffees, a grower with 2,500 hectares (6,280 acres) based in Alfenas, Minas Gerais, that forecast this season’s harvest at 45,000 bags, down from 82,000 last year.

Production in Brazil, the world’s top grower, may drop as much as 18 percent to 40.1 million bags when the harvest ends next month, the National Coffee Council estimates, after a 3.1 percent slide last year. With damage worsening before the start of spring in the Southern Hemisphere, the council said farmers may collect less than 40 million bags in 2015, creating the longest slump in five decades.

Citigroup Inc. forecast Aug. 21 that a global production deficit may last into 2016 because of the shortfall in Brazil, which accounted for 36 percent of world supply last year. Futures that have gained more than any other commodity this year may rally 15 percent further by the end of December, to $2.25 a pound, a Bloomberg survey of 18 analysts showed. The surge is forcing buyers including J.M. Smucker Co., maker of Folgers, the best-selling U.S. brand, to raise retail prices.

“The market is vulnerable to the upside given all the problems in Brazil,” Donald Selkin, who helps oversee $3 billion as chief market strategist at National Securities Corp. in New York, said yesterday. “People are anticipating tighter supplies and are waiting for more dramatic weather developments.”

Written by Randy McDonald

August 28, 2014 at 7:46 pm

[LINK] “On the Abuse of ‘Bro'”

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Stephen Marche’s blog post at Esquire makes me think. (Among other things, it puts me in mind of the truism that men also need feminism to succeed, in order to free them of the norms of patriarchy.)

The use of the word bro is reaching epidemic levels. Now, after The Fast and the Furious and How I Met Your Mother and Breaking Bad, if a show contains more than one male character, they will, at some point, call each other by that name. Online, where cliché is rechristened meme, bro is a natural epithet: “Come at me, bro,” or “Don’t tase me, bro.” Among writers who are trying to be funny, the word has morphed into a series of fused words—comic portmanteaus (portmanbros, if you insist) that have launched a full-on brocabulary: brogrammers, for young male computer programmers; brostep, a white-male version of dubstep; and curlbros, for bros who spend too much time on their biceps. Subject to intense semantic distortion and fluctuation, the word bro is slippery, but one feature of its use and abuse remains constant: the underlying contempt for male friendship it implies.

That contempt is everywhere. The friendships between women in popular culture are the source and choicest fruit of their maturity. At the end of Frances Ha, Frances glimpses her old friend across a crowded room. “Who are you making eyes at?” somebody asks. “That’s Sophie. She’s my best friend.” Theirs was the film’s true love story all along. Insofar as a television show is about women, it’s about the meaningfulness of friendship—Sex and the City, Girls, Broad City, etc. For men, it’s just the opposite. Male friendship on any given sitcom, or in any given Judd Apatow movie, is a retreat into thoughtlessness, crudity. The Big Lebowski hilariously painted male friendship as an extended and colossal fuckup. The Hangover movies turned it into a series of epic degradations. But the standard buddy movie of the moment, a movie like 22 Jump Street, is defined by a single word: dumb. That’s why the greatest buddy movie of them all is Dumb and Dumber (although it may well be surpassed by its sequel this fall, Dumb and Dumber To). Men get together onscreen to be idiots with one another. To mature as a female person is to mature into female friendships. To mature as a male person is to mature out of male friendships.

It should come as no surprise, then, that the culture that has given rise to the word bro is a culture in which male friendship is in crisis. American men are more likely not only to be lonely but also to deny their loneliness.For twenty-five years, Niobe Way, professor of applied psychology at New York University and the author of 2011’s Deep Secrets: Boys’ Friendships and the Crisis of Connection, has peered into the chasm under boys and young men and found that emptiness to be at the heart of what we call the “boy crisis.” “We have all these boys, with so much to give, so much love, so much for them to offer the world,” she says. For Way, the transition from boyhood into manhood is a transition into isolation. Becoming a man means leaving behind your family and your friends and striking out on your own, and therefore growing up means shedding connections. Way’s research shows that the male suicide rate correlates precisely with the loss of friendships. At age nine, the suicide rates are the same for girls and boys. Between ten and fourteen, boys are twice as likely to kill themselves. Between fifteen and nineteen, they are four times as likely. From twenty to twenty-four, five times.

Written by Randy McDonald

August 28, 2014 at 7:43 pm

[BLOG] Some Thursday links

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  • blogTO notes the continuing problems of Toronto’s food truck project.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze notes the differences between transit and radial velocity detection methods for planets and the relative advantages for detecting planets in stellar habitable zones, and links to a paper describing how hot Jupiters can become super-Earths.
  • The Dragon’s Tales notes the changing strategic situation of Australia.
  • Marginal Revolution notes that most of IKEA’s photo shoots are actually computer-assembled from stock imagery.
  • Joe. My. God. notes the impending retirement of Berlin’s gay mayor Klaus Wowereit.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money notes that anti-Obamacare red states are hurting their poor citizens.
  • New APPS Blog considers the question of what makes happy children.
  • Towleroad notes anti-gay persecution by Lebanese police and quotes the mayor of Kazakhstan’s capital city talking badly about non-heterosexuals.
  • Window on Eurasia notes the emigration of Kazakhs and even Uighurs from Xinjiang to Kazakhstan, touches upon Western disillusionment with Russia, notes the possible impending defection of most of the Ukrainian churches of the Russian Orthodox Church to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, and reports on the relocation of a Ukrainian factory to Russia.
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