A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘social networking

[PHOTO] Crossing Bloor from Honest Ed’s

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Since my upgrade to a proper smartphone earlier last month, I’ve joined Instagram. I find myself really enjoying the experience. Instagram feels like more of a community than the more professional Flickr, I think. The app’s editing features are decent–I’m still not sure what I think of filters, so I use them sparingly–and the site lends itself well to conversations. Facebook was right to buy it.

Crossing Bloor from Honest Ed's (original)

Crossing Bloor from Honest Ed's #toronto #torontophotos #honesteds #bloor

Written by Randy McDonald

July 6, 2014 at 11:16 pm

[URBAN NOTE] On #shirtlessjogger, Toronto, and Rob Ford

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blogTO’s Chris Bateman wrote the first overview I came across of the #shirtlessjogger incident on Canada Day.

Things were already going badly for Rob Ford when the shirtless jogger arrived at the East York Canada Day parade. Booed and heckled as he and a small group of sign-carrying supporters brought up the rear of the walk, the scene was turning more embarrassing by the second.

“You disgusting man,” shouted one person. “Shame on you!” “He’s scaring kids!” “Get out of my neighbourhood!”

And then a topless Joe Killoran, a local teacher who has previously expressed his opinion on education in the pages of the Toronto Star, arrived on the scene.

I daresay a large part of the reason Killoran’s frustrated outburst went viral was his lack of a shirt, but his anger was articulate and, best of all, drenched in the frustration of a Rob Ford-weary Toronto. “Answer one of the million questions people have for you” he said. “People have a million questions about your lying and your corruption.”

The television clip went viral, first across Toronto and then worldwide. Among the blogs I read, Joe. My. God. and Towleroad picked this up internationally, noting–quite appropriately–that Killoran was cute. (It was a humid dog so shirtlessness would make sense for jogging.) Doug Ford’s statement that Killoran’s comment was motivated by a ridiculously redefined “racism” fanned the flames.

In subsequent interviews and articles, with The Globe and Mail and the National Post, Killoran explained coherently that he was frustrated with Ford’s many and continuing incompetencies and errors. Indeed, Ford still refuses to talk to police about his various problematic issues, and he and appears to have lied even in his post-rehab interviews.

Am I alone in finding it amusing that the man who has so visibly challenged Ford, the man who has helped reveal the falsity of Ford’s claims to have reformed–the man who has confirmed that the Emperor has no clothes–is known as the shirtless jogger.

Written by Randy McDonald

July 5, 2014 at 3:59 am

[BLOG] Some Thursday links

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  • blogTO shares pictures of the lineups for free food on Canada Day at Mandarin’s buffet restaurants.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze links to a paper identifying three thousand nearby red dwarf stars as potential sites of Earth-like exoplanets.
  • The Dragon’s Tales links to a sober assessment of the Chinese space program.
  • The Frailest Thing considers the import of Facebook’s experiment on its user base by noting the ability of complex systems to undergo unexpected catastrophes.
  • Joe. My. God. notes that Google’s social network Orkut, big in Brazil and India but absent elsewhere, will be shutting down at the end of this September.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money notes that anti-gay activists are pleased with the Hobby Lobby ruling.
  • The Planetary Society Blog’s Adam Block shares pictures of colliding and interacting galaxies.
  • Seriously Science notes that not only do spiders have different personality types, but that these types contribute to the maintenance of their physical cultures.
  • The Signal notes ongoing research into data recovery methods and issues with compact discs.
  • The Volokh Conspiracy notes cases where putting the victim on trial does matter. (Records of past violence are noteworthy.)
  • Towleroad notes an economist observing that homophobia has an economic impact and points to an upcoming Irish referendum on same-sex marriage in 2015 that’s quite likely to pass.
  • Window on Eurasia quotes a Ukrainian about Russia’s issues with a separate Ukraine and notes a statement by Kaliningrad’s government claiming some Ukrainian refugees in Russia might be anti-Russian activists in disguise.

[LINK] “Grindr Pride Survey Reveals How Many of Its Users Aren’t Proud Enough to Be Out”

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Towleroad reports on a recent survey of Grindr users, described here, as to their biographical elements. Almost a fifth of Grindr users aren’t out.

When asked the age Grindr users decided to come out of the closet, users in their thirties and forties came out in their twenties (44 percent and 32 percent, respectively). However, 50 percent of users in their twenties came out when they were still teenagers, showing the growing progression and acceptance of LGBT youth. With more than 5 million active monthly users worldwide, Grindr has become a resource for men even before they come out. The survey revealed that nearly a third of respondents were using Grindr before they came out.

“It’s a great time to be gay – not just because it’s pride season, but because the tide is shifting for our community,” said Joel Simkhai, founder and CEO of Grindr. “Our voices are being heard as laws are changing, people are getting married and we have more allies than ever before. Every day, more people are getting involved with our community and our latest survey showed an overwhelming 89 percent of Grindr users support the LGBT community by donating, volunteering or participating in equality initiatives. We are doing our part by helping to increase awareness through our Grindr for Equality campaign and have done some amazing work for equality and to advance the cause of our community worldwide.”

Grindr’s survey also put to test the saying that blood is thicker than water. Apparently not in regards to coming out – 72 percent of respondents said the first person they told was a friend, while only 22 percent told a family member first.

When it comes to how out Grindr users are, a large majority (96 percent) came out to friends and 81 percent have come out to family, but only 68 percent have come out at work. This means workplace discrimination fears are still top of mind for many Grindr users. This may be surprising considering the main reason respondents hesitated about coming out of the closet was the fear of rejection from family and friends. That 81 percent beat out other fears such as gay slurs, threats, excluded by religion and unfair treatment in the workplace.

The comments at Towleroad include discussions from some of these people, one talking about how his livelihood could be threatened if he was out to more than friends and family.

Written by Randy McDonald

June 30, 2014 at 8:20 pm

[NEWS] Some Monday links

  • Al Jazeera notes the inequitable terms of a trade agreement between the European Union and West Africa, observes that so far north Kazakhstan isn’t vulnerable to Russian irredentism in the same way as east Ukraine, explores the Northern Gateway pipeline controversy, detects Kurdish-Turkmen tension in the city of Kirkuk, and looks at the Japanese-Brazilian community.
  • The Atlantic explains why poor American women increasingly don’t wait for marriage or even relationships to become parents (what else do they have to do?) and notes the successful treatment of a mentally ill bonobo.
  • BusinessWeek notes that authors of best-sellers tend to be successful American presidential candidates, comments on potential problems of Russia’s South Stream pipeline project in Serbia, and notes that more airlines are cutting service to a Venezuela that doesn’t want to pay their costs in scarce American dollars.
  • CBC notes that Scottish independence could cause change in the flag of the United Kingdom, observes the beginning of peace talks in eastern Ukraine, notes the contamination of a salmon river in eastern Quebec by a municipal dump.
  • MacLean’s examines the collapse of the Iraqi military, looks at the psychology of online abusers, and explains the import of some archeological discoveries in Yukon.

[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

[ISL] Peter Rukavina on chance and blogging the remarkable

The title of Charlottetown blogger Peter Rukavina’s blog post “I remember the day the bus exploded right in front of the fire eater and her amazing magical cat…”. He recounts how he just managed to bear witness, not least via his Twitter account, to the background of the incident described in the blog post’s title.

Despite myself I was always a fan of the Road to Avonlea television series. It was hokey, and not even shot on Prince Edward Island, but it was also endearing and provided a useful lens through which to look at life in contemporary Prince Edward Island.

The archetypal episode would involve some interesting character from away arriving in the village of Avonlea, with hijinks ensuing.

A long-lost huckster cousin of Aunt Heddy would show up and talk Jasper out of his inheritance.

Or a rough-looking carnie would arrive on the train from Charlottetown only to run into Olivia and sweep her off her feet.

(When I think of developer Richard Homburg and his arrival in Charlottetown as a billionaire saviour I tend to think about it in Road to Avonlea terms; it’s far more entertaining).

And so it came to pass that yesterday, while popping down the street for a quick lunch before heading to the dentist, I spied an intriguing character walking down Queen Street: an eclectically dressed woman walking a cat on a leash and carrying a well-worn hula hoop on her shoulder.

The whole story is fantastic.

Written by Randy McDonald

June 10, 2014 at 11:08 pm

[BLOG] Some Friday links

  • blogTO profiles classic Toronto convenience store chain Becker’s.
  • Crooked Timber links to their index of posts on their recent symposium on the ethics of immigration.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze notes that a simulation of the Gliese 581 system (assuming four planets) shows it’s stable over long periods.
  • The Dragon’s Tales links to a paper suggesting that the distribution of trans-Neptunian objects indicates the existence of two large distant planets.
  • Eastern Approaches notes the recent revolution in Abkhazia.
  • Geocurrents’ Martin Lewis notes that there is scarce evidence of environmental issues triggering Boko Haram in northeastern Nigeria.
  • Language Hat hosts a discussion on Elias Muhanna’s essay on the translation of Frozen.
  • Language Log’s Victor Mair lists the long collection of words censored in China on the grounds of their relationship to Tiananmen Square.
  • Marginal Revolution notes a recent study suggesting rapidly declining fortunes among young Americans after 2000.
  • Savage Minds engages with the potentially colonial concept of the Arctic.
  • Window on Eurasia suggests Russia is drawing multiple connections between Ukraine and Syria, and notes the huge contribution of Ukrainians to the defeat of the Nazis in the Second World War.

[BLOG] Some Thursday links

  • Crooked Timber continues its immigration and open borders symposium, wondering about the European Union.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze links to a paper suggesting that brown dwarfs will also form planets out of their discs.
  • The Dragon’s Tales tracks the Ukrainian conflict.
  • Eastern Approaches notes that, despite continued warm feelings for the United States, Poland is now becoming concerned with its affairs as a European power.
  • Language Hat notes how for many Russians in the 19th century, Francophilia was seen as a shame, a betrayal.
  • At Language of the World, Asya Perelstvaig notes efforts among some local Christian Arabs to revive the Aramaic language.
  • James Nicoll of More Words, Deeper Hole reviews fondly the Joan Vinge classic novel Psion.
  • At the Planetary Society Blog, Bill Dunford shares photos of the tracks of Mars rovers taken by the rovers themselves.
  • Steve Munro links to John Lorinc’s series of articles at Spacing on the neglect of transit to the benefit of talking in Scarborough.
  • Towleroad notes a recent meeting held in Vienna, funded by a Russian oligarch, aimed at fighting gays.
  • Window on Eurasia notes the role played by Facebook in coordinating recent anti-government protests in Abkhazia and observes fears for the Crimean Tatars among scholars.

[LINK] “Would You Pay $1,000 Once to Get Free Beer for Life?”

Michael on Facebook shared this National Journal article by Matt Vasilogambros describing an unusual sort of crowdsourcing finance for a new restaurant. The technique described is something that can be applied more generally than a single bar in a single city; it could be generalized much more broadly, I think.

There is a price tag for unlimited beer for the rest of your life. It’s $1,000.

In reality, the cost for that much beer is a lot more. But for a few dozen people, free beer for life is their reward for investing in a small restaurant called Northbound Smokehouse & Brewpub in a quiet southern corner of Minneapolis.

Amy Johnson and her two business partners needed to raise $220,000 to secure a bank loan and fulfill their dream of opening a restaurant that served beer brewed right there at the pub. They went to investors who offered to give heavily for a voting share in the restaurant. But since the potential investors had no experience in the restaurant industry, the owners backed away.

And then came the idea from some friends and family who wanted to help out. “They were, like, ‘I’ve got a few grand, but I don’t have too much money,’ ” Johnson recalls. “And people kept saying this over and over, and we latched onto the idea. Why not just take a couple grand from everybody and then we’d have all the money we’d need?”

So, that’s what they did. People who invested $1,000 receive free in-house beer for the rest of their lives, or as long as the place stays open. People could also receive 0.1 percent nonvoting equity in the company for every $1,000 invested. Or for $5,000, investors get 0.5 percent equity and free in-house beer for life. The brewpub, now a registered LLC, hit its goal of $220,000 through the 46 people who chose the first option, 42 who picked the second, and 30 who took the third, all finding out about the opportunity by word of mouth.

Northbound has now been open for almost two years and is thriving. The investors didn’t drink them dry. The restaurant is giving away some 17 beers a day, and the cost is low, at just 40 cents a beer. Plus, investors aren’t just going to the brewpub for a beer by themselves—they order food, bring people, or maybe order a scotch after dinner. For the investors, it’s also about the sense of ownership. Or, as Johnson explains, “We have an army of over 100 people who are our cheerleaders.”

Written by Randy McDonald

June 3, 2014 at 8:47 pm

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