A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Archive for March 2014

[LINK] Some Monday links

  • Crooked Timber’s Henry Farrell is skeptical of Josh Marshall’s new journalism site featuring paid advertisements from Big Pharma.
  • The Dragon’s Tales’ Will Baird provides another update about Ukrainian events.
  • Joe. My. God. notes that World Vision Canada, unlike its American counterpart, is legally required not to discriminate against non-heterosexuals.
  • Language Hat links to a study on the formerly Russophone Alaskan community of Ninilchik.
  • Language Log suggests that handwriting is a dying art in East Asia, too.
  • Marginal Revolution links to a book on maritime conflicts in the South China Sea.
  • The Signal features a guest post from two librarians working for the Library of Congress explaining how they do their work.
  • Savage Minds explains the myth of the sexy librarian.
  • Torontoist has two photos memorializing recently-closed stores, one from the World’s Biggest Bookstore and the other from Sears in the Eaton Centre.

[BLOG] Some Monday Crimea links

  • Eastern Approaches follows the story of Crimean Tatars who are now refugees in western Ukraine.
  • At the Financial Times‘ The World blog, John Reed examines the unlikely media star who is Crimean attorney-general Natalia Poklonskaya.
  • A Fistful of Euros’ David Weman notes the United Nations vote against the annexation of Crimea by Russia.
  • Geocurrents has a series of posts on Ukraine and its area: one on the Moldovan region of Transnistria, a possible western anchor for Russia; one on Transcarpathia, a Ruthene-populated enclave in western Ukraine not quite Ukrainian; one on Ukraine’s energy reserves.
  • At Lawyers, Guns and Money, Robert Farley notes the Russian takeover of the Ukrainian Black Sea fleet ships based in Crimea.
  • The Volokh Conspiracy’s Eugene Volokh points out the many, many ways in which Kosovo does not compare to Crimea.
  • Window on Eurasia has a veritable brace of posts. Crimeans aren’t taking up Russian passports with much enthusiasm, it seems, while the financial costs of annexation will be significant indeed. A Russian war in southeastern Ukraine would be a difficult war to fight, while post-Soviet space has already been destabilized (1, 2). Will South Ossetia be next to be annexed? (Northern California is not so likely.) Meanwhile, Turkish support for Turkic peoples can be destabilizing.
  • Understanding Society’s Daniel Little takes a social science approach to the Russian annexation. What does it mean for the international system’s future? Will there be more annexations?

[BLOG] Some Monday science links

  • Centauri Dreams’ Paul Gilster notes that there is a class for bright F-class stars to host Earth-like worlds, and observes that the ESA’s Rosetta probe is set to rendezvous with Comet 67P/Churymov-Gerasimenko.
  • D-Brief suggests that mitochondrial damage might be responsible for so-called “Gulf War syndrome”.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze notes that the Kepler satellite can detect large exomoons, links to a paper suggesting that Jupiters aren’t needed to deliver water to the surfaces of rocky habitable-zone planets, and observes that the geological cycles of the Earth are necessary for life.

Written by Randy McDonald

March 31, 2014 at 7:07 pm

[PHOTO] Walking home in Seaton Village in the late evening, 30 March 2014

This warmth and light, so late in the day (6:36!), is so appreciated.

Walking home in Seaton Village in the late evening, 30 March 2014

Written by Randy McDonald

March 31, 2014 at 7:23 am

[PHOTO] World’s Biggest Bookstore, 30 March 2014

I’ve been following the World’s Biggest Bookstore (20 Edward Street) as it moved inexorably towards closure. The building will be torn down, eventually to be replaced by a row of restaurants.

This bookstore is now referred to in the past tense at Wikipedia. On today, the World’s Biggest Bookstore’s final day of operation, I visited the location with a friend. The vast empty shelf space surrounded us all. (Thankfully, the 50% off sale seems to have cleared out most of their stock.)

World's Biggest Bookstore (1)

World's Biggest Bookstore (2)

World's Biggest Bookstore (3)

World's Biggest Bookstore (4)

World's Biggest Bookstore (5)

World's Biggest Bookstore (6)

World's Biggest Bookstore (7)

World's Biggest Bookstore (8)

World's Biggest Bookstore (9)

World's Biggest Bookstore (10)

World's Biggest Bookstore (11)

World's Biggest Bookstore (12)

Written by Randy McDonald

March 31, 2014 at 12:34 am

[BLOG] Some Wednesday links

(A few minutes late, yes, I know.)

  • Centauri Dreams notes that the imaging of exoplanet Beta Pictoris b means great things for the future of exoplanet searches.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze notes that now, we have the technology to search for true Earth analogues at Alpha Centauri.
  • The Dragon’s Tales observes that Scotland’s offshore islands–the Shetlands, the Orkneys, the Western Isles–are now starting to examine their options for self-governance.
  • Gideon Rachman at the Financial Times‘s The World Blog notes that the shocking mass death sentences issued to more than five hundred people in Egypt augurs nothing good about justice in that country.
  • Geocurrents notes that all kinds of separatisms, among Russophone populations in the former Soviet Union and among Russian autonomous republics, have been galvanized by Crimea.
  • Joe. My. God. notes that an anti-gay coalition is no longer holding its conference in Russia, on account of Crimea.
  • Language Hat links to the Calvery Journal, an online journal of Russian-language culture.
  • The New APPS Blog’s Jason Reed writes about how highly uninspired budget cutting at the University of Southern Maine reflects a “particular hollowness” in the heart of the university.
  • Window on Eurasia suggests that a Russian invasion of Ukraine would begin no later than mid-May, notes the prominence of evangelical Christians in the Ukrainian government, and worries about Crimean Tatar prospects inside Russia.

[URBAN NOTE] “Eulogy for a Bookstore”

At Torontoist, John Lorinc remembers his days working at the Annex location of Book City, set to close this weekend.

Part-timers were expected to show up at about 4:45 p.m., arriving just in time to take the baton from the day crew. Stacks of books waiting to be shelved sat in piles on the floor next to the cash desk. In the cluttered basement would be several boxes of just-arrived remainders, ready to be hauled upstairs.

The manager, John Snyder, was typically pacing around the store, clutching a thick sheath of print-outs with the latest Penguin order. “Another day, another 50 cents,” he’d sigh, his voice full of mock exasperation.

I grew up during the golden age of Toronto bookstores. When my parents walked us downtown, we invariably made an extended pit stop at Britnell’s, the original Coles, at Yonge and Charles, or The Book Cellar, in Yorkville. On those visits, I would grab a thick picture book—Time Life Goes to the Movies!, or some such thing—and hide in a corner, flipping the pages.

So I leapt at the opportunity to work in a bookstore. The job, as any veteran will tell you, isn’t nearly as romantic as the literary image (see 84, Charing Cross Road, etc.). You get to know lots of books by their covers—I could identify hundreds of authors and titles, never having read any of them. You learn that customers can be annoying (a well-known literary critic came to the cash one day, wondering archly how we organized the fiction section) or outright dishonest (the surreptitious pocketing of merchandise in the stairwell).

The job involved a lot of tidying (to this day, I am unable to be in a bookstore without straightening the display tables) and a certain relentlessness: spring titles, fall titles, calendars. Repeat.

Written by Randy McDonald

March 26, 2014 at 3:57 am