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Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘blogging

[BLOG] Some Tuesday links

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  • The Buffer blog advises online writers as to how often they should post on different media.
  • Centauri Dreams reacts to the discovery of the ocean under Saturn’s moon Enceladus.
  • The Dragon’s Tales notes a recent paper claiming to set limits on a potential distant planet X and observes archeological data suggesting a 9th century settlement date for a Tongan island.
  • Eastern Approaches comments on the Hungarian election.
  • A Fistful of Euros’ Doug Merrill warns that if Russia does move into eastern Ukraine, terrible choices will be afoot.
  • Geocurrents’ Claire Negiar takes a look at the Caribbean island of St. Martin, divided between French and Dutch halves.
  • Joe. My. God. links to an article examining the use of the drug Truvada to prevent HIV infection and notes that Blondie’s Debbie Harry has come out as bisexual.
  • Language Log’s Victor Mair explains what Chinese might mean when they talk about prayer.
  • Towleroad’s Ari Ezra Waldman comments on Brandon Eich’s resignation.
  • Window on Eurasia notes one Russian commentator’s argument that the Baltic States have been lost to the Russian sphere, another noting a fall in anti-Caucasian sentiment in the media as Ukraine heats up.

[BLOG] Some Thursday links

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  • At The Dragon’s Tales, Will Baird reports that Sweden and Finland, spooked by Crimea, are now contemplating NATO membership.
  • On a very different note, The Dragon’s Tales also notes that Saturn’s icy moon Enceladus, with a Europa-like ocean underneath, is perfectly suited for a space mission.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money notes that workers are dying on World Cup construction sites in Brazil as well as in Qatar.
  • At the Planetary Society Blog, Emily Lakdawalla notes the very recent discovery of Kuiper belt object 2013 FY27, big enough to be a dwarf planet.
  • The Volokh Conspiracy links to a profile of the blog and its blogger in Tablet magazine.
  • Window on Eurasia has a series of links. One argues that Russia’s weakness not its strength motivated the move into Crimea, another argues that a Russian invasion of Ukraine would be a catastrophe and that the Russian government knows it, another observes Belarus’ alienation from federation with Russia.

[BLOG] Some Tuesday links

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  • At the blog Buffer, Kevan Lee shows what lengths–in characters and in words–tweets and blog headlines and blog posts should be, according to science.
  • Patrick Cain notes that Canadians have no way of knowing how many banned guns there were under the former registry since its junking.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze links to a paper examining what, exactly, is needed for a planet to become Earth-like.
  • The Dragon’s Tales, meanwhile, links to a paper claiming that the Cambrian explosion of biodiversity was a product of a nearby gamma-ray burst.
  • Geocurrents explores the question of whether and how it matters to call the eastern European country “Ukraine” or “the Ukraine”.
  • Joe. My. God. links to a site gathering the first and last lines from noted gay novels.
  • At Lawyers, Guns and Money, bloggers question whether the American soldiers who perpetrated genocide in the Wounded Knee massacre of 1890 should have their Medals of Honor stripped from them, and have no truck with the idea that American airpower can save Ukraine.
  • John Moyer responded to OKCupid’s boycotting of Mozilla for its anti-gay president by quitting Mozilla, and explains why.
  • At the Planetary Society Weblog, Emily Lakdawalla examines the latest thinking on Titan’s methane lakes and oceans. Where do they come from?
  • pollotenchegg maps the distribution of Hungarians in former Hungarian territories in central Europe.
  • Strange Maps examines how maps are used to lie in George Orwell’s 1984.
  • Torontoist shares a picture of a vintage streetcar on the streets of east Toronto’s Scarborough.
  • The Volokh Conspiracy comments on the International Court of Justice’s ruling against Japan on the subject of its supposed scientific whaling program, and argues that a federal system for Ukraine might not be bad notwithstanding Russian bullying.
  • Window on Eurasia notes that Russia’s military depends heavily on the technological and industrial output of southeastern Ukraine, relying on now-suspended cooperation.

[BRIEF NOTE] On instagram in the Crimea, or, the risks of openness

Uri Friedman at The Atlantic had a provocative article put up there recently, (“In Defense of Instagramming Conflict in Crimea”). Noting first that many Crimeans had been uploading pictures of themselves with Russian, or Ukrainian, troops and that many people outside Crimea were appalled by this, Friedman seemed to think that this was not only fitting given the origins of war photography in the Crimean War, but that it helped make things that were unclear clear.

Putting aside one of the explanations for this stream of selfies—a substantial pro-Moscow, ethnic Russian population on the peninsula—it’s actually quite fitting that amateur and professional photographers are experimenting with new technology this week to document Russia’s occupation of the Ukrainian peninsula. A century and a half ago, Crimea served as the breeding ground for modern war photography.

The Crimean War left many legacies: Florence Nightingale, “The Charge of the Light Brigade,” ski masks. But arguably its most consequential one was modern war journalism. The conflict, which pit Russia against Britain, France, Sardinia, and the Ottoman Empire over territorial and religious disputes in the Middle East, raged from 1853 to 1856, not long after the invention of photography and the electric telegraph. These technologies enabled William Howard Russell, an intrepid correspondent for The Times of London, to file on-the-ground dispatches about the British government’s bumbling deployment of troops, and Roger Fenton, a young London lawyer with little photography experience, to snap the first images of war for a private publisher rather than a government (Fenton actually had two benefactors; British officials chipped in). “It was the first ‘armchair war,’ which a distant public could experience as a kind of spectacle,” Smithsonian magazine once observed.

Now, photographers are once again mediating our experience of a conflict in Crimea. And they’re choosing Instagram, which launched in 2010, for specific reasons.

“Sometimes it’s a personal space just to show life as it is,” Ed Ou, a Canadian photojournalist in Ukraine, told National Geographic on Thursday. “A photograph doesn’t have to be front-page news…. What’s cool about Instagram is that you can show things that you know won’t be used otherwise and might never be seen.”

Coincidentally, Wired‘s Kevin Kelly has an opinion piece wherein he argued for the embrace of mass surveillance.

In this version of surveillance — a transparent coveillance where everyone sees each other — a sense of entitlement can emerge: Every person has a human right to access, and benefit from, the data about themselves. The commercial giants running the networks have to spread the economic benefits of tracing people’s behavior to the people themselves, simply to keep going. They will pay you to track yourself. Citizens film the cops, while the cops film the citizens. The business of monitoring (including those who monitor other monitors) will be a big business. The flow of money, too, is made more visible even as it gets more complex.

[. . .]

Every large system of governance — especially a digital society — is racked by an inherent tension between rigid fairness and flexible personalization. The cloud sees all: The cold justice of every tiny infraction by a citizen, whether knowingly or inadvertent, would be as inescapable as the logic of a software program. Yet we need the humanity of motive and context. One solution is to personalize justice to the context of that particular infraction. A symmetrically surveilled world needs a robust and flexible government — and transparency — to enforce adaptable fairness.

I’m actually inclined to agree with this. Instagramming the Crimean peninsula does go a long way towards showing, as Friedman points out, that things are still basically normal in the area. Nothing terrible has happened yet. I’m just also reminded of an essay I linked to back in February 2012, Zeynap Tufekci’s essay “The Syrian Uprising will be Live-Streamed: Youtube & The Surveillance Revolution”. What will happen, she wondered, in conflict situations where wrongs are documented and shared worldwide?

What does it mean that everything –including the most trivial but especially the non-trivial– has such a great chance of being available worldwide? Starting with the printing press, the threshold for the ability to publish has been getting lower, and the potential reach of publications has been getting bigger. We are now at the level of the person, publishing at the level of the world. The publishing revolution is almost complete.

Does this level of documentation make it more likely that the international community will be compelled to react to atrocities–which will likely come with higher and higher levels of visibility? Or will this, too, become just background noise, similar to famines or disease in Africa have become for most of the world (except the victims, of course)? Does the level of documentation and surveillance –and thus, evidence– make it harder to establish processes like the Truth and Reconciliation efforts in places ranging from South Africa to Guatemala? Will this amount of documentation of atrocities make divisions even more likely and pernicious–as the ability to forgive often needs some level of forgetting? And the Internet, it seems, does not forget. Will this all make regime bureaucrats more likely to defect—as “I was just pushing paper and had no idea all this was going on” has become an even weaker defense? Or will they cling to power to the very end as much as they can, knowing their victims and survivors have much evidence as well as awful reminders of their crimes?

I don’t have the answers but I’m quite convinced that we’ve entered an irreversible point in terms of documentation of our lives, including death and destruction—not just baby pictures and trips, parties and graduations but also shelling of towns and killing of children. There is no going back. And tools matter. Just as wars with nuclear weapons are different than wars with bows and arrows, a world with cell-phone cameras in every other hand is different than a world which depended on traditional journalists and mass media gate-keepers for its news.

If anything terrible happens in Crimea, as I noted in the comments section of Friedman’s article, everyone will find about it quickly, in vivid gory colour. What happens after that, I fear to imagine.

Written by Randy McDonald

March 11, 2014 at 1:08 am

[BLOG] Some Wednesday links

  • BlogTO reported on the latest push by some Torontonians to crack down on nudity at the annual Pride parade.
  • Cody Delistraty writes about one Parisian bloggers whose writings about overlooked corners of that city have gotten her fame.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze links to a paper suggesting that the effects of giant impacts on terrestrial planets might be detectable at long range.
  • At the Financial Times World blog, Gideon Rachman argues that handing Crimea over to Russia (or local proxies) without the preconditions for an internationally-recognized referendum on independence would be very problematic.
  • Joe. My. God. notes celebration in Lebanon after a court rules that same-sex relations are quite normal, after all.
  • Language Hat notes that Russian Tsarina Catherine the Great was also interested in the Greeks, to the point of being interested in claiming the territory of Byzantium in an Orthodox imperium.
  • Language Log notes that Encyclopedia Britannica is now using the Putonghua names of Hong Kong and Tibet (Xianggang and Xizang).
  • Otto Pohl links to his work on the Crimean Tatars.
  • At the Speed River Journal, Van Waffle reminds us that gardening and caring for plants can be a good thing. I hope to take it up.
  • Strange Maps follows the biography and the plans of Pakistan’s inventory, Chaudhari Rahmat Ali.
  • Torontoist links to trans comedian Avery Edison’s story of her issues with imprisonment at Toronto, being placed in one gender-inappropriate jail after another.
  • Towleroad notes that Russia Today is sending an anchor who spoke out against the occupation of Crimea to the peninsula in question, in what surely is not sly payback.

[BLOG] Some Friday links

  • Centauri Dreams reacts to yesterday’s announcement that Kepler had found another 715 planets. What an embarrassment of riches!
  • Crooked Timber’s Chris Bertram mourns the freer blogging culture of old, before things because set and professionalized.
  • A Fistful of Euros’ Edward Hugh argues that, with a shrinking population and stagnant incomes, Japan-style deflation is inevitable in Spain.
  • At Geocurrents, Claire Negiar summarizes the simmering separatism of the southern Senegalese region of Casamance.
  • Marginal Revolution’s Tyler Cowen starts a discussion about the impact of bringing extinct species like the passenger pigeon back to life.
  • The New APPS Blog’s Mohan Matthen argues that an independent Scotland and the rest of the United Kingdom should maintain a currency union. (I’ve made arguments against.)
  • The Power and the Money’s Noel Maurer maps the declining power of Chavista politics at the polls in Venezuela.
  • Savage Minds has a neat interview with an ethnographer who is also a designer.
  • The Speed River Journal’s Van Waffle celebrates the avocado, with photos and recipes.
  • Torontoist links to a cool video showing the exploration of some hidden nooks of the Toronto transit system.
  • Window on Eurasia notes that, at least in terms of declared ethnic identity, Ukraine is as Ukrainian as Russia is Russians.
  • Wonkman points out that mores in cities take a while to get used to, just like the mores of non-urban areas.

[META] Some Blogroll Additions

It’s that time of the year again.

  • Caitlin Kelly’s Broadside Blog deals with journalism and writing. A recent post of hers, “20 lessons New Yorkers learn”, describes things that New Yorkers new and old have to learn to survive.
  • Cody Delistraty’s blog is concerned with matters of writing and culture. One post argues that, as a result of preservationism and conservatism in France, Paris has become something of a cultural backwater.
  • Will Baird has a new blog devoted to exoplanets, The Dragon’s Gaze. A recent post highlights a paper suggesting that it is possible to explain the formation of low-mass planets like Mars if the solar nebula was depleted at the time of formation while the big gas giants were in place.
  • Michael Sacasas’ The Frailest Thing examines the intersections of technology and culture. One recent post wonders how useful it is to talk about introversion versus extroversion in relation to online presences.
  • Thought Catalog is an online magazine with an eclectic collection of article. One, by Chris Malecki, tries to start a discussion about gender identity.
  • Writing Through the Fog is Cheri Lucas Rowlands‘s lovely blog, combining thoughtful writing and beautiful photos. Her most recent post examining her creative process as when she writes for herself as opposed to other people is quite nice.

[BLOG] Some Monday links

  • BlogTO and Steve Munro both comment on the proposal to introduce time-based transfers to the TTC.
  • Crooked Timber links to an Alan Moore interview that touches upon the rivalry with Grant Morrison.
  • The Dragon’s Tales notes a paper suggesting that the Mars Express probe underestimated the rate of Mars’ atmospheric loss.
  • Language Log takes another look at the paper claiming Facebook would go away and notes the potential for ambiguity in Chinese sentences.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money observes the success of China in adopting solar power.
  • Marginal Revolution’s Tyler Cowen argues that, between good weather and plenty of attractions, Los Angeles is a great city for walkers.
  • The News APPS Blog is one blog of many to note on the Ukrainian government’s Orwellian dispatching of text messages to protesters.
  • The Planetary Society’s Emily Lakdawalla notes the sad issues of China’s Yutu moon rover, perhaps doomed to an early failure.
  • Savage Minds reports on two anthropologists who have written interesting things about the writing process.
  • Supernova Condensate observes, in relation to blogging, the important difference between a pseudonym (an alternate identity) and anonymity (no identity).
  • Towleroad notes a Nigerian woman who has disowned her allegedly gay cat.
  • Window on Eurasia reports the arguments of a Russian clergyman that the Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church has been promoting gay clerics on the grounds that they can be easily manipulated by threats of blackmail.

[BLOG] Some Wednesday links

  • Anders Sandberg, as a good scientist, takes a look at the evidence same-sex marriage could be associated with floods (as a Briton claimed) by looking at his native Sweden.
  • Beyond the Beyond’s Bruce Sterling thinks that a Facebook executive’s prediction of the death of E-mail is substantially a Facebook power grab.
  • BlogTO chronicles the history of the Spadina Hotel, an edifice whose history as a hotel may have come to an end with the closure of the hostel that took its place.
  • Discover‘s Collideascape notes that the parable of Easter Island as a metaphor for global environmental collapse is no longer supported by the data.
  • Far Outliers takes note of the Arab awakening in the Ottoman Middle East circa 1915.
  • The Power and the Money’s Noel Maurer thinks that the Syrian civil war hasn’t become a conventional conflict and isn’t close to ending.
  • Gideon Rachman takes a look at the plight of maids, specifically Indonesian ones, in Hong Kong.
  • Savage Minds revisits Franz Boas’ classic essay The Methods of Ethnology.
  • Supernova Condensate rightly takes issue with a Nature blogger, Henry Gee, who has taken to outing anonymous bloggers.
  • Towleroad notes the Japanese government’s defense of the barbarous Taiji dolphin hunt.

[META] Any blogs you’d like to suggest adding?

I eagerly solicit suggestions.

Written by Randy McDonald

January 6, 2014 at 3:41 am

Posted in Meta

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