A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Archive for October 2018

[URBAN NOTE] Five city links: Montréal, Atlanta, Greenville, Sutera, Hong Kong

  • Québec premier François Legault might well be convinced to support the Pink Line subway route favoured by Montréal mayor Valérie Plante. Global News reports.
  • Guardian Cities reports on the popularity of the new soccer team of Atlanta in this perhaps unlikely locale.
  • The North Carolina city of Greenville is trying to work towards settling its racist past with a new park, CityLab reports.
  • Lorenzo Tondo at The Guardian reports on how new immigrants might save his father’s native village of Sutera in Sicily, but only if they are allowed to.
  • Bloomberg View notes that a bridge alone will not be enough to bind Hong Kong to the emergent Pearl River megalopolis.

[URBAN NOTE] Five Toronto links: John Tory, planetarium, condos, Liberty Village, Edward VIII

  • Toronto has been unified around John Tory, May Warren argues at the Toronto Star, largely because of Doug Ford.
  • Urban Toronto notes an exciting University of Toronto proposal for a new planetarium downtown. I would definitely go for that!
  • Urban Toronto notes</u. that excavation has begun for Panda Condominiums, at the former site of the World’s Biggest Book Store.
  • blgoTO notes a Liberty Village intersection with massive new projects on every corner.
  • Jamie Bradburn looks at the scant traces of King Edward VIII in Toronto, at Yonge and Eglinton and at Exhibition Place.

[BLOG] Some Tuesday links

  • David Price at {anthro}dendum considers, going through archival material from the 1950s, the number of radical anthropologists in the US as yet little known or unknown who were marginalized by the Red Scare.
  • Centauri Dreams ruminates on a paper examining ‘Oumuamua that considers radiation pressure as a factor in its speed. Might it work as–indeed, be?–a lightsail?
  • D-Brief notes the various reasons why the Chinese proposal for an artificial moon of sorts, to illuminate cities at night, would not work very well at all.
  • The Dragon’s Tales touches on the perhaps hypocritical anger of Russia at the United States’ departure from the INF treaty.
  • Far Outliers notes the sharp divides among Nazi prisoners of war in a camp in Texas, notably between pro- and anti-Nazi prisoners.
  • L.M. Sacasas at The Frailest Thing revisits the original sin of the Internet culture, its imagining of a split between an individual’s virtual life and the remainder of their life.
  • The Island Review welcomes, and interviews, its new editor C.C. O’Hanlon.
  • JSTOR Daily explores the reasons for considering climate change to be a national security issue.
  • Language Hat is enthused by the recent publication of a new dictionary of the extinct Anatolian languages of the Indo-European family.
  • Language Log examines the existence of a distinctive, even mocked, southern French accent spoken in and around (among other cities) Toulouse.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money notes the rise of fascism in Brazil with Bolsonaro.
  • Roger Shuy at Lingua Franca writes about the power of correspondence, of written letters, to help language learners. (I concur.)
  • At the LRB Blog, Jeremy Bernstein writes about anti-Semitism in the United States, in the 1930s and now.
  • The NYR Daily examines the life of writer, and long-time exile from her native Portugal, Maria Gabriela Llansol.
  • Haley Gray at Roads and Kingdoms reports on the life and work of Mark Maryboy, a Navajo land rights activist in Utah.
  • Window on Eurasia looks at the Russian urban myth of blonde Baltic snipers from the Baltic States who had been enlisted into wars against Russia like that of Chechnya in the 1990s.
  • Arnold Zwicky takes a look at the classic red phone booths of the United Kingdom, now almost all removed from the streets of the country and sent to a graveyard in a part of rural Yorkshire that has other claims to fame.

[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