A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Archive for October 2018

[PHOTO] Fall foilage by St. Peter’s Church, Bathurst Street

Fall foilage by St. Peter's Church #toronto #theannex #bathurststreet #fall #autumn #trees #stpeterschurch

Written by Randy McDonald

October 30, 2018 at 8:30 am

[PHOTO] Looking into the pit at Honest Ed, Bathurst Street

Looking into the pit at Honest Ed's #toronto #honesteds #mirvishvillage #pit #construction

Written by Randy McDonald

October 29, 2018 at 6:00 pm

[FORUM] What do you think will happen to the United States? What should Canada do?

Earlier this week, I linked to a post at JSTOR Daily, where Hope Reese interviewed historian Jill Lepore about the crisis facing American institutions in the 21st century. Lepore argued that the sheer degree of polarization

There are a lot of specific institutions that I have a lot of faith in. That doesn’t necessarily leave me with a lot of optimism about the moment, partly because of what I said about the automation, the polarization––that’s very difficult to escape. I think we live in an age of tremendous political intolerance. I think we live in an age where people don’t understand the nature of our political institutions.

I don’t think it’s great that we have made Supreme Court Justices all but elected to the office. That’s actually quite terrible for the pursuit of justice. But, you don’t even hear people talk about that. It’s just, “who’s gonna win the battle?”

That really, really concerns me. Because it’s a symptom of the way people want to win by any means necessary. Because we’ve been given this kind of rhetoric of life or death, we’re on the edge of a cliff. It’s very hard for people to operate as a civic community interested in the public good in that kind of a climate.

Just this weekend, I came across an essay by Canadian writer Stephen Marche essay in The Walrus, “America’s Next Civil War”. This article’s title perhaps somewhat misrepresents Marche’s aticle, in that he imagines not so much outright civil war as a breakdown of civil society, as bipartisanship and polarization makes normal political life impossible. This will have, among other things, significant effects on Canada.

To sum up: the US Congress is too paralyzed by anger to carry out even the most basic tasks of government. America’s legal system grows less legitimate by the day. Trust in government is in free fall. The president discredits the fbi, the Department of Justice, and the judicial system on a regular basis. Border guards place children in detention centres at the border. Antigovernment groups, some of which are armed militias, stand ready and prepared for a government collapse. All of this has already happened.

Breakdown of the American order has defined Canada at every stage of its history, contributing far more to the formation of Canada’s national identity than any internal logic or sense of shared purpose. In his book The Civil War Years, the historian Robin Winks describes a series of Canadian reactions to the early stages of the first American Civil War. In 1861, when the Union formed what was then one of the world’s largest standing armies, William Henry Seward, the secretary of state, presented Lincoln with a memorandum suggesting that the Union “send agents into Canada…to rouse a vigorous continental spirit of independence.” Canadian support for the North withered, and panicked fantasies of imminent conquest flourished. After the First Battle of Bull Run, a humiliating defeat for the Union, two of John A. Macdonald’s followers toasted the victory in the Canadian Legislative Assembly. The possibility of an American invasion spooked the French Canadian press, with one journal declaring there was nothing “so much in horror as the thought of being conquered by the Yankees.”

The first American Civil War led directly to Canadian Confederation. Whatever our differences, we’re quite sure we don’t want to be them.

How much longer before we realize that we need to disentangle Canadian life as much as possible from that of the United States? How much longer before our foreign policy, our economic policy, and our cultural policy accept that any reliance on American institutions is foolish? Insofar as such a separation is even possible, it will be painful. Already, certain national points of definition are emerging in the wake of Trump. We are, despite all our evident hypocrisies, generally in favour of multiculturalism, a rules-based international order, and freedom of trade. They are not just values; the collapsing of the United States reveals them to be integral to our survival as a country.

Northrop Frye once wrote that Canadians are Americans who reject the revolution. When the next revolution comes, we will need to be ready to reject it with everything we have and everything we are.</

Michael Enright at CBC Sunday Edition interviewed Marche for almost twenty minutes.

This scenario reminds me of nothing so much as the decline of Argentina in the 1960s and 1970s, political incapacities leading to economic failure leading to mass violence leading to the terrible junta.

What do you think? What is the United States heading towards? What should Canada do amidst all of this chaos to our south, this incipient breakdown? For that matter, what should the rest of the world do?

Written by Randy McDonald

October 28, 2018 at 11:55 pm

[NEWS] Five D-Brief links about the solar system: Mars, Ryugu, Phaethon, Dione

  • D-Brief notes that life could exist in the briny subsurface oxygen-rich water thought to exist on Mars.
  • D-Brief notes that the question of where, exactly, the Mars 2020 rover will land on the red planet is a matter of hot controversy.
  • D-Brief notes the care with which Hayabusa2 is being prepared for its Ryugu landing.
  • D-Brief notes the mysterious asteroid 3200 Phaethon, with its orbit bringing its mysterious body periodically close to the sun.
  • D-Brief notes the mysterious lines of Saturn’s moon Dione, apparently created by snowfall–but snowfall from where?

Written by Randy McDonald

October 28, 2018 at 10:30 pm

[URBAN NOTE] Five city links: Montréal, Pittsburgh, Saskatoon, Atlanta, Calgary

  • CityLab takes a look at how Montréal took care of the problem of an excess of raccoons in that city’s Mount Royal Park, particularly around the Camillien-Houd lookout.
  • CityLab takes a look at the city-defining design of Pittsburgh-based architect Tasso Katselas.
  • The Yellow Quill First Nation is setting up an urban reserve in the city of Saskatoon. Global News reports.
  • Guardian Cities looks at the roots of the black art renaissance in Atlanta.
  • Joe McFarland at Global News argues that, particularly with its skepticism over the 2026 Olympics, Calgary is starting to retreat into an anti-development mood.

[URBAN NOTE] Five Toronto links: 1908, first apartments, 1930s photos, TTC stereotypes, Scarborough

  • Jamie Bradburn took a look back at one weekend in 1908, as revealed in the pages of the Toronto World.
  • blogTO looks at the surprising controversy surrounding the creation of the first apartment towers in Toronto, on College Street near the University of Toronto.
  • blogTO shares a collection of photos examining the dynamic, suffering Toronto of the 1930s.
  • Vice shares an amusing feature listing just some of the passenger stereotypes the average TTC user might encounter on the subway.
  • Aparita Bhandani at The Discourse takes a look at how residents of Scarborough feel about the often unflattering stereotypes directed at their part of Toronto.

[BLOG] Some Sunday links

  • D-Brief notes that CRISPR is being used to edit the genes of pigs, the better to protect them against disease.
  • L.M. Sacasas at The Frailest Thing argues that silence on social networks is often not an option, that membership might compel one to speak. I wonder: That was not my experience with E-mail lists.
  • Joe. My. God. notes that social network Gab, favoured by the alt-right, disclaims any responsibility for giving the synagogue shooter in Pittsburgh a platform.
  • JSTOR Daily notes the massive, unprecedented, and environmentally disruptive growth of great mats of sargassum seaweed in the Caribbean.
  • Language Hat notes the poster’s problems grappling with Dosteyevsky’s complex novel The Devils, a messy novel product of messy times.
  • Language Log notes the use of pinyin on Wikipedia to annotate Chinese words.
  • Marginal Revolution links to a paper noting that data mining is not all-powerful if one is only mining noise.
  • Starts With A Bang’s Ethan Siegel notes that, finally, we are making enough antimatter to be able to figure out whether antimatter is governed by gravity or antigravity.
  • At the Volokh Conspiracy, Ilya Somin talks about how he was threatened on Facebook by mail bomber Cesar Sayoc.
  • Window on Eurasia notes the 1947 deportation of more than a hundred thousand Ukrainians from the west of their country to Siberia and Kazakhstan.
  • Arnold Zwicky ruminates about late October holidays and their food, Hallowe’en not being the only one.

[PHOTO] Thirty-six photos taken on the Humber, from Dundas south to Old Mill

After walking west through the Junction on Dundas Street West Thursday, as I approached the Humber I turned south, following the Humber south through the parks of Home Smith and Magwood and Étienne Brûle. The colours of the trees had only begun to turn away from green, which is fine; I still have plenty of time to return. I enjoyed the chilly afternoon, and I think the Canada geese did, too.

Looking south on Varsity Road #toronto #lambton #warrenpark #olddundasstreet #varsityroad #latergram

Five in a row #toronto #lambton #warrenpark #olddundasstreet #architecture #latergram

Lambton House by the towers #toronto #lambton #warrenpark #olddundasstreet #lambtonhouse #latergram

Lambton House by the towers (2) #toronto #lambton #warrenpark #olddundasstreet #lambtonhouse #latergram

Looking back #toronto #lambton #warrenpark #olddundasstreet #latergram #green

Looking down to the Humber #toronto #lambton #warrenpark #homesmithpark #humberriver #latergram #green

Looking up at the Dundas Street bridge #toronto #lambton #homesmithpark #humberriver #dundasstreetbridge #dundasstreetwest #latergram

Down the Humber #toronto #homesmithpark #humberriver #fall #autumn #latergram

Across the Humber #toronto #homesmithpark #humberriver #fall #autumn #latergram

Down the path #toronto #homesmithpark #humberriver #fall #autumn #path #latergram

Graffiti by the path #toronto #homesmithpark #humberriver #fall #autumn #path #graffiti #latergram

Red flowers #toronto #homesmithpark #humberriver #fall #autumn #path #red #flowers #latergram

Across the river (2) #toronto #homesmithpark #humberriver #fall #autumn #path #latergram

Red above #toronto #homesmithpark #humberriver #fall #autumn #path #red #leaves #latergram

Rushing past #toronto #homesmithpark #humberriver #fall #autumn #path #latergram

Canada Geese (1) #toronto #homesmithpark #humberriver #fall #autumn #path #birds #canadageese #latergram

Canada Geese (2) #toronto #homesmithpark #humberriver #fall #autumn #path #birds #canadageese #latergram

Canada Geese (3) #toronto #homesmithpark #humberriver #fall #autumn #path #birds #canadageese #latergram

Canada Geese (4) #toronto #homesmithpark #humberriver #fall #autumn #path #birds #canadageese #latergram

Canada Geese (5) #toronto #homesmithpark #humberriver #fall #autumn #path #birds #canadageese #latergram

Rocks exposed #toronto #homesmithpark #humberriver #fall #autumn #path #latergram

Seagull #toronto #homesmithpark #humberriver #fall #autumn #path #birds #seagull #latergram

Looking downstream in the green #toronto #homesmithpark #humberriver #fall #autumn #path #green #latergram

Deceleration #toronto #homesmithpark #humberriver #fall #autumn #path #green #weir #latergram

Under the green #toronto #homesmithpark #humberriver #fall #autumn #path #green  #latergram

River flowing #toronto #homesmithpark #humberriver #fall #autumn #path #green  #latergram

River flowing (2) #toronto #homesmithpark #humberriver #fall #autumn #path #green  #latergram

Straight path #toronto #homesmithpark #humberriver #fall #autumn #path #green #red #orange #yellow #latergram

Weir again #toronto #homesmithpark #humberriver #fall #autumn #path #green #weir #latergram

Rushing under trees #toronto #homesmithpark #humberriver #fall #autumn #path #green  #latergram

Curving path #toronto #homesmithpark #humberriver #fall #autumn #path #green  #latergram

Family portrait #toronto #magwoodpark #humberriver #fall #autumn #path #green #red #yellow #latergram

Sweatlodge #toronto #etiennebrulepark #humberriver #fall #autumn #path #green #sweatlodge #latergram

Condos by the water #toronto #etiennebrulepark #humberriver #fall #autumn #path #green #condos #latergram

Old Mill Bridge #toronto #etiennebrulepark #oldmillbridge #humberriver #fall #autumn #path #green #latergram

Old Mill Bridge (2) #toronto #etiennebrulepark #oldmillbridge #humberriver #fall #autumn #path #green #latergram

Written by Randy McDonald

October 28, 2018 at 12:00 pm

{NEWS] Five links on the future: water wars, cities of Africa, Japan, EU borders, Pakistan

  • Earther shares a world map produced by a group predicting where political conflicts over water scarcity will be likely to develop.
  • Ozy notes that the fastest-growing cities in the world will be in Africa.
  • This Project Syndicate essay suggests that the economy of Japan is actually doing a better job than some metrics suggest, at least on per capita measures. Is Japan pointing a way towards a better future in the high-income world?
  • The Irish Times visits the Poland-Ukraine borders to see how well, or not, traffic there flows. Of special note to the Irish readers is the fact that, despite everything else, Ukraine is trying to get closer to the EU, not further away as with the Brexit UK.
  • This essay at The Atlantic looks at how the Pakistan of Imran Khan is negotiating multiple spheres of influence, the West and China and the Middle East, all at once.

[URBAN NOTE] Five city links: Markham, Winnipeg, Vancouver, Bay View, Ushuaia

  • blogTO reports on the efforts of York University to try to salvage the Markham campus cancelled by the Ontario provincial government.
  • CTV News reports on the Bear Clan Patrol, a First Nations group that has taken to patrolling the streets of Winnipeg to watch out for the ongoing meth crisis.
  • The Discourse wonders whether the new city council of Vancouver will be as committed to reconciliation with First Nations as the old one.
  • Vice reports on the latest from the Michigan town of Bay View, where there is an almost incomprehensible reluctance among many in that Christian-founded town to allow non-Christians to own property there.
  • Matthew Teller at Adventure writes about Ushuaia, the Argentine community that is the southernmost town in the world, and looks at this isolated community’s difficulties.