A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

[PHOTO] Looking west down the subway tunnel at Ossington Station, Toronto

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Looking west, tunnel at Ossington #toronto #ossington #ttc #subway #tunnel

Written by Randy McDonald

February 5, 2016 at 3:16 pm

Posted in Photo, Toronto

Tagged with , , , ,

[BLOG] Some Thursday links

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  • blogTO depicts a new Toronto condo tower that will also be a vertical forest.
  • D-Brief notes the latest German success with nuclear fusion.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze notes the discovery of Jupiter analog HD 32963b.
  • The Dragon’s Tales provides updates about the Russian wars in Syria and Ukraine.
  • Geocurrents examines the demographic history of the Philippines.
  • Language Log notes odd sound borrowings into Taiwanese.
  • Une heure de peine’s Denis Colombi notes that sociology by its nature is political but not normative.
  • Window on Eurasia notes Russian fears that Belarus is drifting westwards and argues Kaliningraders are shifting towards a Europe-oriented identity.

[LINK] The Toast interview with Sarah Jeong on how the Internet is garbage

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The Toast‘s Nicole Chong has a great extended interview with journalist Sarah Jeong, talking about Jeong’s new book examining the new realities and visible downsides of the Internet.

The Toast: If has always been mostly garbage, why did you write this book now? Do you think we’re better positioned in terms of either will or technology to take more of the garbage out?

Sarah Jeong: The book positions online harassment as part of a larger category of long-extant problems, but when it comes down to it, it’s still a book about online harassment. One of the things I wanted to do with the book was to hammer in how online harassment has been around forever — but I don’t think there would have been an audience for the book until fairly recently. There’s a lot more mainstream awareness of harassment and online misogyny in particular.

Why do you think that is? More media coverage, more survivors of online harassment speaking out?

100% media coverage. Part of that has to do with journalists being aggressively harassed — the journalists then turn around and use their platforms to show the world what is happening to them.

But that’s not the whole story. The Internet now includes a much broader swath of the entire population, which means that the old trite victim-blaming along the lines of “it’s just the Internet” doesn’t work so well. We now recognize the Internet as just another arena for our day-to-day lives, a place that’s no less real than the offline world. The Internet’s ubiquity also means that large-scale incidents of harassment become very large-scale, sucking in celebrities, journalists, even entire media organizations.

Written by Randy McDonald

February 4, 2016 at 5:54 pm

[LINK] “One Country Will Destroy Its Ivory—and Pray for Elephants”

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National Geographic‘s Laurel Neme writes about an interesting event in Sri Lanka.

During the past several years, I’ve watched country after country destroy their stockpiles of confiscated elephant ivory, preventing that ivory from somehow slipping back into the black market and symbolically demonstrating commitment to stopping the illegal trade.

But to my mind, something that’s always been missing is an apology: No country has ever formally said sorry for its complicity in the trade. Tomorrow Sri Lanka will hold a religious ceremony to do just that.

“We have to apologize,” said the Venerable Omalpe Sobitha Thero, the Buddhist priest who will lead the service. “Those elephants were victimized by the cruelty of certain people. But all of human society is responsible. We destroyed those innocent lives to take those tusks. We have to ask for pardon from them.”

Sri Lanka’s destruction of its ivory—the first by a country in South Asia—brings to 16 the total so far. (For the other countries, see the chart below.) The ivory will be crushed at an iconic oceanside park in the heart of Colombo, Sri Lanka’s capital, then burned in a city incinerator.

The ivory—the country’s entire stockpile—came from a single shipment of 359 tusks, weighing 1.5 tons, seized by customs authorities at the Port of Colombo in May 2012. The shipment was in transit from Kenya to Dubai. DNA testing later showed that the tusks came from Tanzania.

Written by Randy McDonald

February 4, 2016 at 5:49 pm

[LINK] “Kathleen Wynne honoured at holy Sikh shrine despite same-sex marriage media controversy”

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The Toronto Star‘s Robert Benzie reports on a controversy that, thankfully, never happened. I do wonder what will end up happening in the future, with this and other culture clashes.

Premier Kathleen Wynne was honoured by Sikh leaders at the Golden Temple despite a media-fuelled controversy swirling around her visit to the holy shrine.

Wynne was warmly welcomed Sunday, receiving the “siropa” robe of honour at the Sikh faith’s most sacred site.

A large and aggressive throng of Indian news photographers accompanied the premier — here leading an Ontario trade delegation — as she toured the sprawling temple for two hours.

The second biggest story on the front page of Sunday’s Hindustan Times, one of India’s major newspapers, was about the “pro-gay” premier, who is travelling with her spouse, Jane Rounthwaite.

According to the Times, “the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee … would not welcome her with a ‘siropa’ … during her visit to the Golden Temple as she is a supporter of same-sex marriages.”

But Wynne was presented with the orange cotton robe in a private ceremony at the end of a tour that also saw her preparing chapati in the massive kitchen that serves 70,000 free meals to pilgrims every day.

Written by Randy McDonald

February 4, 2016 at 5:47 pm

[LINK] “A century later, the mystery of the Parliament Hill fire remains unsolved”

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MacLean’s hosted Jennifer Ditchburn’s Canadian Press article noting the centenary this Wednesday of the fire that destroyed the old Canadian parliament buildings in Ottawa.

It’s difficult to imagine the scale of the trauma, the wartime anxiety, the shock, the anger, that would have engulfed the nation 100 years ago when the seat of the federal government went down in flames.

Seven people died that bitterly cold night on Feb. 3, 1916, when the old Centre Block burned down — the building that saw figures like Macdonald, Bowell, Tupper and Laurier pass through its halls and sit in the Dominion’s first House of Commons.

“The grand old tower put up a magnificent fight for survival. Standing while the support seemed to have burned away, it sent a solid pillow of twisting, billowing gold up into the winter night,” Ottawa Citizen reporter Charles Bishop wrote.

“Finally, it came down, crashing into the concourse in front and with it, carrying the huge, old clock which had stayed illuminated and kept on striking to the last.”

On Wednesday, the House of Commons will mark the tragedy by displaying the wooden mace that was first used as a replacement after the fire. The House will also hear the names of the victims read out, including Nova Scotia MP Bowman Brown Law.

Written by Randy McDonald

February 4, 2016 at 5:44 pm

[LINK] On Stephen Harper’s interest in withdrawing Canada from the OSCE

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CBC reports on something shocking, Harper’s interest in taking Canada out of the OSCE.

Former prime minister Stephen Harper wanted to pull Canada out of one of Europe’s leading security organization four years ago, but U.S. President Barack Obama helped convince him to stay, according to three European ambassadors.

The ambassadors described on Monday what happened in 2012, when Harper suggested Canada would withdraw from the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, a 57-country alliance that includes NATO and European Union countries.

The diplomats said Harper believed the organization was no longer relevant because Europe was mainly peaceful, a view that was widely shared at the time. The outbreak of hostilities between Russia and Ukraine would later change that.

Their account flies in the face of a heated denial issued by former foreign affairs minister John Baird in April, 2013 during testimony before the House of Commons foreign affairs committee.

Baird was confronted by New Democrat MP Helene Laverdiere who said she was “flabbergasted” to hear that Canada wanted to withdraw from the organization.

Written by Randy McDonald

February 4, 2016 at 5:41 pm


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