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Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘internet

[NEWS] Some Saturday links

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  • Al Jazeera America argues that depending on cars will hurt Newark’s urban renaissance, notes the emerging Indian-Israeli alliance and the import of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in sectarian communities in Northern Ireland, looks at the slowly reviving film industry of Côte d’Ivoire, chronicles the human rights issues of LGB Ukrainians and of Christian sects in the Caucasus, examines the legacies of German immigration in Brazil, and looks at the shantytowns of Mongolia.
  • Al Jazeera examines Russia’s Eurasianism, notes emergent water shortages in Syria, looks at the reaction of Sephardic Jews to a new Spanish citizenship law that would give them access to Spain, and chronicles the persecution of the Ahmadiyya in Pakistan.
  • Bloomberg notes that sanctions on Russia may hurt the Greek economy, notes the collapse in wages for young people in southern Europe, and looks at Germany’s serious impending demographic issues.
  • BusinessWeek looks at Tinder’s shabby treatment of a female co-founder, examines the stagnant economy of Thailand, looks at hospitals which mine credit card data to predict their future patients.
  • CBC notes with disappearance of anonymous public WiFi in Russia, takes a look at the consequences of the shutdown of the McCain potato processing plant in Borden-Carleton, points out the ongoing collapse of a caribou herd on the Québec-Labrador border, shows the sad toll of the Air Algérie plane crash in Québec, and notes that Vancouver’s aquarium can no longer breed cetaceans.
  • Global News looks at the impact of Air Algérie’s disaster in Montreal.
  • MacLean’s suggests Canada is not immune to an American-style housing crash, argues that the Canadian job market is weaker than it appears, and reports on the claims that restrictive American immigration policies could work to the benefit of Canada.
  • National Geographic notes some surprisingly social cephalopod populations and looks at naming ceremonies for some gorillas in Rwanda.
  • NPR reports that some big data firms claim Snowden’s data release has given terrorists ideas as to how they can be quieter, and notes some Ivoirien cacao farmers who taste
  • The New York Times notes the closure of an Upper East Side restaurant priced out by rising rents.
  • Reuters observes the worsening demographics of Italy.
  • Transitions Online takes a small-scale look on the effects of emigration in Uzbekistan.
  • Universe Today looks at how some Martian canyons were formed by different water releases.
  • Xinhua notes how emigration from Portugal has become mainstream.

[PHOTO] Island Tel pay phone, Cavendish Boardwalk

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Island Tel pay phone,  Cavendish Boardwalk  #princeedwardisland #pei #cavendish #telephones #islandtel #payphone

I was very surprised to see on the Cavendish Boardwalk last month a pay phone with the insignia of Island Telecom. Since amalgamated into Bell Aliant, Island Tel was effectively the local telecommunications monopoly on the Island since 1885. (Dave Hunter’s history of the telephone on Prince Edward Island is worth reading.) Previously, I mentioned it here when I linked Peter Rukavina’s post on the early days of the Internet on Prince Edward Island.

Written by Randy McDonald

August 16, 2014 at 6:14 pm

[BLOG] Some Wednesday links

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  • blogTO shares vintage postcard images of Toronto in the 1970s.
  • Centauri Dreams notes a proposed method for detecting exomoons, by detecting the disruptions that they cause in their parent worlds’ magnetic fields on the pattern of Io’s disruption of Jupiter’s magnetic fields.
  • The Dragon’s Tales notes a new paper suggesting that Enceladus’ geysers are caused by its tides with Saturn.
  • The Everyday Sociology Blog looks at what sociology has to say about sibling relationships.
  • Joe. My. God. notes that some American conservstives think gays should oppose immigration because immigrants bring tuberculosis which kills HIV-positive people.
  • Languages of the World’s Asya Perelstvaig demonstrates that there is no evidence at all that Yiddish descends from the Turkic Khazarian language, noting instead arguments for a Germanic origin.
  • The Russian Demographics Blog maps population change in Estonia over 1989-2011, noting that there has been population growth only in the metropolitan areas of three Estonian cities with Russian-majority Narva not seeing growth.
  • At Savage Minds, Uzma Z. Rizvi thinks about racism in the United States over time.
  • The Search interviews online anthropologist Robert Kozinets.
  • Spacing Toronto notes that Toronto saw the invention of the first arcade game.
  • Strange Maps shares an interactive infographic tracing the cross-border electricity trade in the European Union.
  • Towleroad notes a fatal gay-bashing in San Francisco and the near-murder of an Azerbaijani teen by parents who wanted to burn him alive.
  • The Volokh Conspiracy notes an American court ruling refusing to enforce a Moroccan court judgement on the grounds of the Moroccan legal system’s corruption.
  • Window on Eurasia suggests that support for federalism is spreading in Russia, notes one analyst’s argument that Russia can become a beacon of reactionary conservative ideology, and suggests that Russia is trying to nudge outside powers out of the Armenia-Azerbaijan dispute.

[BLOG] Some Canada-related links

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  • James Bow celebrates his fourth published novel.
  • blogTO celebrates WiFi in Bay station and shares old pictures of the Junction.
  • Speed River Journal’s Van Waffle examines the question of what caused new pollution in Lake Erie.
  • Spacing Toronto examines again the controversy over a billboard apparently unauthorized at Bathuest and Davenport.
  • Torontoist links to a project mapping specific songs to specific places on the map of Toronto, observes after Cheri DiNovo turmoil in the post-election Ontario NDP, and notes Dr. Barnardo’s Home Children as well as the complex life of possibly-lesbian Mazo de la Roche.
  • Transit Toronto’s James Bow approves of Steve Munro’s post suggesting that underfunding and neglect will soon cause serious harm to the TTC and its riders.

[BLOG] Some culture-related links

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  • The Frailest Thing’s Michael Sacasas takes a look at the role of the Church in fostering technological and other innovation.
  • Joe. My. God. notes that ex-ex-gays are skeptical about claims of sexual orientation conversion, notes a study suggesting that Truvada does protect against HIV infection, and shares the news with Language Hat that the oldest ancient erotic graffiti has been found and turns out to be gay.
  • Languages of the World’s Asya Perelstvaig notes how ridiculous it is to talk about “simple” languages.
  • Language Hat notes a study comparing the intelligibility of Maltese with different nearby Arabic varieties and examines the origins of the shtetl.
  • Language Log disapproves of Dawn of the Planet of the Apes‘ depiction of emergent ape language.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money notes the internal passports of whites living in the Confederacy and notes that farmworkers in California are suffering from the drought.
  • Marginal Revolution suggests that the languages of the world are more resilient to globalization than suspected, comments on immigration in Germany, and notes the study suggesting same-sex parents do a better than average job of raising their children.
  • The New APPS Blog traces the moral depravity of some pro-Israeli commentators and wonders if underfunding of infrastructure is bringing us to the days of the end of Rome.
  • The Numerati’s Stephen Baker notes that some drivers in Los Angeles appear to really dislike his ode to jaywalking.
  • Personal Reflections’ Jim Belshaw draws from memories of old horse-drawn Gypsy carts in Australia to talk about the importance of animal power in history.
  • Livejournal’s pollotenchegg maps the distribution of ethnic Russians in Ukraine.
  • The Power and the Money’s Noel Maurer notes that China’s sex imbalances seem to echo historical Australian patterns.
  • The Search interviews online cuture scholar danah boyd.
  • Towleroad links to an Iranian government study of young people’s sexuality suggesting, among other things, that 17% of surveyed students are gay.
  • Whatever’s John Scalzi talks about the existence of transfolk in his Old Man’s War universe.
  • Yorkshire Ranter Alex Harrowell examines the political consequences of spam.

[PHOTO] Wi-FI at Dundas station in the near future

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Upcoming WiFi installation at Dundas station

Dismebarking Monday evening at Dundas station, I was surprised to see this sign announcing the impending installation of Wi-Fi there. The TTC has been offering wireless Internet for a year at its St. George and Yonge-Bloor locations on the Bloor line, and service has just been added to the Bay station that lies between the two. Dundas, though, is several stations south of the Bloor line, several stations south of Yonge-Bloor. Will Wi-Fi be added to more of the stops on this line, on a shortened time schedule, too?

Written by Randy McDonald

August 7, 2014 at 2:12 pm

[URBAN NOTE] “Public Works: Libraries Lending Wi-Fi”

Torontoist’s Peter Goffin reported that public libraries in New York City and Chicago are now lending WiFi hotspots to their clients. This has relevance for Toronto, of course.

Last week, the New York Public Library (NYPL) and Chicago Public Library (CPL) were among 19 winners of a grant competition seeking to fund projects that “strengthen the Internet for free expression and innovation.” Both received money for programs that allow library patrons to borrow Wi-Fi hotspot devices in the same way they borrow books—NYPL for its “Check out the Internet” project, which offers free internet services and media literacy education to low-income families; and CPL for “Internet to Go,” a similar program operating in six neighbourhoods where less than 50 per cent of the population has internet access.

NYPL has conducted a survey of people who take advantage of the free internet and computers in libraries around New York. It found that 55 per cent of them did not have internet access at home. And among library internet users whose household income fell below $25,000, 65 per cent were without the web.

So why does this matter? And why is it worth awarding a combined $900,000 to the NYPL and CPL?

Consider this: the internet is the world’s primary means of learning and communication, and a significant venue for social interaction. Several countries have declared internet access a human right, because it facilitates so many other rights, including to free expression, education, peaceful assembly, and access to healthcare. To be without the internet today—when everything from job applications, to apartment listings, to access to social services can be found online—is to ride a horse in the Daytona 500. Those who can’t afford access are doomed to fall behind.

As of 2012, 42 per cent of Canadian households with an income of $30,000 or less lack internet access, compared to 2 per cent of households with an income of at least $94,000. In Toronto, a whopping 80 per cent of public housing units are without a web connection, while just 20 per cent of homes province-wide lack access.

Written by Randy McDonald

July 4, 2014 at 7:18 pm

[FORUM] What do you think of online rating systems?

Two weeks ago, there was an article at Toronto Life, “Why Momofuku’s David Chang thinks Yelp reviews are dumb”, that caught my attention.

David Chang knows his fast food, so it makes sense that he’s signed on as the official Northeastern U.S. “burrito scout” for ESPN blog FiveThirtyEight, which is currently conducting a rigorous, March Madness–style search for the country’s top burrito (and, in the process, examining the relative reliability of crowdsourced recommendations versus other sources of data). Chang recently spoke with the site about his personal views on user-generated restaurant reviews, particularly those on Yelp. To put it concisely, he’s not a fan. Here’s what he had to say:

I’m just going to come out and say: Most of the Yelp reviews are wrong. They just are. Yelp is great for finding information if you forgot the address of a place. [...] But for the most part, no chef is going to take a Yelper’s review seriously, even though they might read them.

The problem with Yelpers, according to Chang? They take everything way too personally, and usually don’t know what they’re talking about.

The best analogy I can give is fantasy sports or lawn-chair stockbrokers. For the most part, unless you’re really studying the stats and you’re a former football player or baseball player and know the industry inside and out, it’s most likely that your insights aren’t that great.

My reaction, as expressed in the comments, was critical. Chang’s argument leaves no space for well-informed amateur critiques, or for informed readers, and additionally seems to verge on making the fallacious argument that everyone is making one-star reviews based on a single thing that doesn’t work for them.

What say you all?

Written by Randy McDonald

June 23, 2014 at 4:00 am

[NEWS] Some Monday links

  • Al Jazeera notes anti-black racism in Morocco, attacks on Christians in border areas of Kenya, and the ways in which the crackdown on Somali crime in Nairobi is hitting Somali businesses.
  • Bloomberg notes that Ethiopian migrants trying to enter Saudi Arabia are being persecuted on their trip by Yemeni criminal gangs, in much the same way that Eritreans trying to get into Israel are persecuted by Sinai gangs.
  • BusinessWeek argues that tacky gifts at the 911 gift shop sell because people want them, notes that South Koreans like shopping online internationally to get bargains, notes the growing presence of the Taliban in Karachi, and observes the rise of Chinese fashions.
  • MacLean’s comments on the growing tendency of Italian young adults to stay at home, comments on the return of Sarah McLachlan, looks at the phenomenon of doctoral students who don’t go into academia, and notes that Pakistan’s independent Geo TV is nearing shutdown by state harassment and assassination attempts.
  • Wired observes innovative ways to deal with online harassment and notes a new method for interplanetary communication–at least to the moon–that is as fast as a good home Internet connection.

[LINK] “The Online Life of Elliot Rodger”

Jay Caspian Kang writes at the New Yorker about how we can find out things about anyone–like, say, Elliot Rodgers, perpetrator of the recent Isla Vista killings–very quickly indeed. We can find out a lot.

Elliot Rodger was not mentioned in any of these reports. By now, we have watched his YouTube videos, read the posts he left on PUAHate, a forum dedicated to hating pickup artists, seen the screenshots of the comments he allegedly left on bodybuilding sites, and read his lengthy manifesto. Like James Holmes, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, and Adam Lanza before him, Rodger’s life has been reverse-engineered through the images and words that he posted online. This seems to be the preferred method of discussing mass killers these days. Once the videos, Facebook photos, and tweets have surfaced, the game of associations begins. In the wake of the Boston Marathon bombing, every single thing Dzhokhar Tsarnaev posted online was scrutinized by the media. When it finally came time to put him on the cover of a magazine, Rolling Stone chose an Instagram selfie. Before his name was released to the public, a cursory Google search of Tamerlan Tsarnaev brought up only a YouTube page and an article about his boxing career. On April 19th, the day the public learned the names of the Tsarnaev brothers, CNN, CBS, NBC, and countless other news sources ran stories about Tamerlan, the boxer. After James Holmes went on his own shooting spree in a movie theatre in Aurora, Colorado, the media, spurred on by amateur Internet sleuths, found Holmes’s scant online presence in the form of an online-dating profile and a video of a younger Holmes giving a lecture at a science camp in San Diego. That video became the subject of analysis, including a Salon piece titled “What does the James Holmes video tell us?” It examined everything from Holmes’s choice of clothes to his general affect to his habit of making eye contact, all to speculate on when Holmes might have turned into a killer.

It wasn’t always this easy to create a profile. Before Cho Seung-Hui went on his own shooting rampage at Virginia Tech, in 2007, he mailed a package containing video, photographs, and writings to NBC News, which broadcast excerpts of the horrific portfolio on its newscast. Rodger didn’t need to bother with the postage fee or with the editorial decisions of a news outlet to project himself onto the public consciousness. We found it all, and we shared it.

The Internet, in fact, not only found Elliot Rodger but almost managed to find him in time. A few days before the killings, a user on Reddit’s “cringe” forum submitted a video of Rodger expressing the deep misogyny that has disturbed the country. On Thursday, May 22nd, another user, named Dave Kawamoto, watched the video and wrote, “If this isn’t a troll, then I bet we find out this guy is a serial killer. I’m getting a strong Patrick Bateman vibe from him.” Since news of the shooting broke, Kawamoto’s comment has been “upvoted” (Reddit’s method of showing approval) more than three thousand times. Kawamoto told me over e-mail that when he first saw Rodger’s video he assumed that it was the work of an Internet troll who was trying to get an odd, dark laugh. But after looking through Rodger’s YouTube profile, Kawamoto saw other videos in which Rodger did nothing but drive around and listen to music. “One of the songs was Katrina and the Waves ‘Walking on Sunshine’ which, other than the general banality of Rodger’s gripes as well as his entitlement and materialism, was probably what prompted my comparison to American Psycho protagonist/antagonist Patrick Bateman,” Kawamoto wrote.

Written by Randy McDonald

June 3, 2014 at 1:59 am


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