A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Archive for October 2017

[LINK] “We’ve forgotten why we celebrate Halloween: to acknowledge death”

I quite like Daniel Richler’s essay in The Globe and Mail talking about how Halloween is fundamentally a frightful holiday.

For 50 years now, I have been offended by children dressing up at Halloween as sugar-plum fairies, ballerinas, cutesy Pokemon and the like, but no one’s ever taken my rantings seriously and now look: society’s knickers are in a knot, quite unnecessarily, over yet another fun and healthy tradition.

I was brought up with a respectful understanding of other peoples’ cultures and religions. I was taught the true meaning of this festival before it was appropriated by Cadbury, Wal-Mart, timid parents, identity-politics watchdogs and snowflakes across the land. And so, though I’m not a pagan (a closet goth, perhaps), I feel compelled, once again, to deliver my lecture.

The trouble began, I believe, with the dropping of the apostrophe. As with other attempts to address cultural clashes by exorcizing the lexicon, the Americanized “Halloween” has lost sight of both “Hallows” and “evening.” As we fret over whether kids should be allowed to wear sombreros, we forget that this was the night when a portal was briefly opened onto the dark side; when we welcomed the souls of the dead into our homes; when troubled, mischievous and evil spirits were let off the leash, not unlike letting your children tear about the garden to release some steam before bedtime. Think The Purge, for revenants.

Written by Randy McDonald

October 31, 2017 at 11:30 pm

[NEWS] Three links on Canada and globalization: Harper on NAFTA, Miniso, used clothing exports

  • MacLean’s takes apart the very bad advice of Stephen Harper to Canada over NAFTA and trade negotiations.
  • MacLean’s notes that Japanese discount retailer Miniso may undermine the local hegemony of Dollarama.
  • East Africa is starting to clamp down on North American exports of used clothes, to promote their industry. CBC reports.

Written by Randy McDonald

October 31, 2017 at 10:00 pm

[NEWS] Four science and technology links: Quayside, Wattpad, disasters, transhumanism

  • We’ve got more data on the impending Google investments in the emergent Toronto neighbourhood of Quayside. The Toronto Star reports.
  • Tencent has just invested $C 40 million in Toronto online fiction startup Wattpad. The Globe and Mail reports.
  • Canadian cities are starting to integrate nature into their defense planning against natural disasters. The Globe and Mail reports.
  • Tim Adams visits a transhumanist fair in Texas and considers what the future bodes for the modification of humanity. HIs article is in the Observer.

[BLOG] Some Tuesday links

  • The Broadside Blog’s Caitlyn Kelly talks about the rejuvenating effects of “forest bathing”. I quite agree, myself.
  • Centauri Dreams looks at the idea of Project Blue, a dedicated astronomy satellite to look for exoplanets at Alpha Centauri.
  • D-Brief notes that astrophysicists have verified an eclipse described in the Bible circa 1207 BCE.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze links to another KIC 8462852 study, finding its dimming is best explained by circumstellar debris.
  • The Everyday Sociology Blog notes the importance of being careful with the use of numbers.
  • Far Outliers explores how Singapore managed to position itself as a safe destination for tourists visiting Asia.
  • Language Hat links to a beautiful passage from Kim Stanley Robinson’s Aurora on the messiness of language.
  • Language Log takes a look at the phenomenon of headlessness in the propaganda of North Korea.
  • The NYR Daily looks at the sad short life of Stanwix Melville.
  • The Planetary Society Blog shares multiple images, with multiple perspectives, of Giordano Bruno crater on the Moon.
  • Personal Reflections’ Jim Belshaw finds the use of Section 44 of the Australian Constitution to disqualify politicians as dual nationals ridiculous.
  • Cheri Lucas Rowlands shares some beautiful photos of Saint-Tropez.
  • Arnold Zwicky meditates on language, moving from the strange names of the parts of flowers to the X-Men.

[PHOTO] Three photos from the Necropolis Chapel, Toronto

The Necropolis Chapel is a lovely small quiet building located near the southern entrance of the Toronto Necropolis cemetery in Cabbagetown. I find it a lovely space to sit, and reflect.

Besides the architecture, on this visit I was struck by one particular memorial, purple flowers highlighting the memorial plaque of Paul Noble Bartlett, born in 1955 and died in 1988. What, I wonder, was his story? The bare bones idea of a Toronto man who died, so early, in his 30s back in the 1980s brings the HIV/AIDS epidemic to my mind, but different searches have turned up nothing apart from memorials to his parents, dead two or three decades later. What was his story? Who placed those flowers there?

In loving memory of Paul Noble Bartlett (1955-1988) #toronto #cabbagetown #necropolis #cemetery #inmemoriam #necropolischapel #latergram

Alcove #toronto #cabbagetown #necropolis #cemetery #inmemoriam #necropolischapel #latergram

Stained glass #toronto #cabbagetown #necropolis #cemetery #inmemoriam #necropolischapel #stainedglass #latergram

Written by Randy McDonald

October 31, 2017 at 12:45 pm

[PHOTO] Three photos from Queen Street at twilight, Charlottetown PEI

Confederation Centre of the Arts at twilight #pei #princeedwardisland #charlottetown #confederationcentreofthearts #queenstreet #graftonstreet #blue #twilight

South down Queen Street #pei #princeedwardisland #charlottetown #confederationcentreofthearts #queenstreet #blue #twilight

Looking east at Victoria Row #pei #princeedwardisland #charlottetown #confederationcentreofthearts #queenstreet #victoriarow #richmondstreet #blue #twilight #latergram

Written by Randy McDonald

October 31, 2017 at 10:45 am

[BLOG] Some Monday links

  • Anthropology.net looks at Adam Rutherford’s new book A Brief History of Everyone Who Ever Lived, about the human family tree.
  • Crooked Timber argues that secret British government reports on Brexit really should be leaked.
  • The Frailest Thing’s Michael Sacasas argues that the concept of “Luddites” deserves to be revisited.
  • Language Hat takes a look at the potential for emojis to overwhelm Unicode, as does Language Log.
  • The LRB Blog reports on some astounding jokes about sexual assault made on British television.
  • The Planetary Society Blog explores the state of the search for Planet Nine.
  • Roads and Kingdoms takes a look on the people who live in one of Manila’s largest cemeteries.
  • Drew Rowsome quite likes God’s Own Country, a British film that tells the story of two gay farmers in love.
  • Starts With a Bang’s Ethan Siegel examines why the gravitational wave of GW170817 arrived 1.7 seconds before the light.
  • Mark Simpson takes issue with the recent study suggesting sexual orientations could be determined from profile pics.
  • Strange Company tells of how a ghost hunter had a terrible time trying to track down one supposed haunter.
  • Strange Maps notes an 1864 map of the United States imagining a future country divided into four successor states.
  • Understanding Society takes a look at a recent study of the position of small farmers in India.
  • Window on Eurasia suggests that the economic role of immigrants in Russia is critical, to the tune of 10% of GDP.